The Shell of the Senses (Comic)

Here’s an interesting comic book by the artist Ron Rege, Jr, author of the esoteric-inspired Cartoon Utopia. Ron was inspired after reading the intro to Gary Lachman’s Secret Teachers of the Western World book introduction, fusing Julian Jaynes bicameral mind theory with Leonard Slain’s Alphabet Vs. the Goddess. While there’s no direct Gebser input in this comic book, it’s interesting to see how contemporary pop culture (or occulture) artists are getting their inspiration.

Read all 12 pages over here.

I sat down to doodle in my sketchbook last weekend, after reading the intro to Gary Lachman’s new book The Secret Teachers of The Western World and a little comic just seemed to write itself. I decided to just make a little minicomic of it. I’ve been wanting to put out some loose, cheap, quicker comics recently. So, this is a test. Maybe I’ll start a subscription or something.

I’ve read a few of Gary’s books, and the introduction to this new one talks about ideas from two other books that I’ve also read and like a lot. The Alphabet vs The Goddess by Leonard Shlain and The Origin of Consciousness and The Breakdown of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynses.

It was cool & kinda strange to hear his ideas and opinions on these two other books I’d read and been interested in lately. I dunno. Nothing like that’s ever happened to me before…


Sometimes schizophrenia sounds pretty normal.

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my friend is currently writing a book on the nature of the plurality of selves (as a more normal condition than has ever been allowed). i believe that there is much truth in this~

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Recently read Gary’s book, too, and loved the sweep of the narrative. Brian Rothman proposes that we are seeing, through the use of the Internet, a Para-Self emerge. A kind of Self that can set up shop in several networks, and run like a computer, without being a computer. He/she can move through time zones, and continents and multiple perspectives without getting caught up in the schizoid dynamics of the attempt to unify a figment of the imagination of a frightened inner child or the big bad shadow. I think shadow work, the fear of being out of control, or deviant, is accepted, there can be a greater infusion of energy without a need to hold anything together to meet the demands of a conformist social set up. We operate more out of resonance than we do with reason. We are lit from within, we experience lights and darknesses as dazzling aesthetic displays, and don’t get so caught up in traditional right or wrong…

I think of the sub personalities of the therapy world are not really sub, or underneath an ego, or super ego, but are just other parts that may or may not be in synch with the part that thinks it is in control and runs the show. The ego is a good servant but a terrible boss. Sub personalities are alternates which need to be welcomed into the Mandala of the evolving Self. When all parts, those in pre-modern and post-modern conditions, or traumatized or transcendent dimensions can be given a place at the big table and are allowed a microphone we can function at much higher frequencies and resonances… I think of myself as a consortium of intelligences which share the same heart space, sort of like a tuning fork that starts up a hum that others are also alert to. This has been demonstrated to me and I trust these demonstrations more than anything else that I read or see printed in psychology journal by fragmented people who don’t resonate at all with what I am saying. What you don’t resonate with has a lot to with what is possible or actual for a person. I resonate with a lot of differences that many don’t. I accept that completely and can move on without rancor into a new set of opportunities that are aesthetically driven.

Ultimately we are a two way mirror that we can cross over. This is a metaphor and it is not a metaphor it has happened to me actually and I am sure many others have done it as well. We are each of us an infinity that is reflecting an infinity to its self and there are many different kinds of senses that are employed besides the basic five or six of the physical realm. Trying to unify the Self in a frozen hydraulics metaphor as Freud did, with ego, id and super ego arranged in a top down configuration is too simple for us now. A Para Self is an image that is helpful. too. an Other than Central Self who gives orders at the top of a pyramid or follows orders from the bottom but another parallel Self that is on the other side of the mirror that knows you and loves you better than you know or love yourself. When unappreciated or ignored this Double figure can become threatening and fierce.This double or twin figure is very common among gay men, a Divine Two, as Kripal would say. Self Love becomes as Oscar Wilde noted a life long romance. When this attachment is healthy, open and fluid there is more energy moving through the system, and a more compassionate embrace of differences, whether from a within or without. Such notions as within and without seem inaccurate as we are in tandem with so many forces that operate beyond such simple, basic image schemas. The breaking down of these image schemas are not pleasant, indeed can be very stressful, but once that has occurred and you gone through the mirror, have gone backstage, behind the curtain, and met up with the stars of the show and the carpenters and the stage hands, you begin to let go without going crazy, into the safety and support of this vast ensemble of the living and the dead, and the unborn and unbegot. The ego of course is shattered by this infusion of energy that can feel annihilating. But the ego gets over it.

And there is always metaphor. You are your own metaphor. I don’t think we are going to run out of metaphors for the Self any time soon. These are some of my notes on this vast subject. Whitman was right. " I contain multitudes."


I love this Johnny. As an artist (and we might have discussed this previously) I work with a variety of mediums. All of my different mediums are distinct and seemingly unrelated, to the point that often people think they are created by different artists. I also use different monikers in different arenas of my life, depending upon who I interact with. (Ari and Lynlee being just two examples). Because Ari has a very precise meaning and history behind it, it serves as a magical name that enables me to psychologically step into the power and healing capacity inherent within it. I consciously chose it as part of a powerful group that I circled with for four years beginning back in 1998. Taking a name on a asking to be called by it is a hugely transformative act, and it takes courage and a willingness to move beyond one’s current structure of consciousness. In truth, for me, it was a movement to reclaim the other three structures of consciousness that up until then solely defined my personality in conjunction with my ego. The taking on of a separate identity is an expansion of that ego.
I think this is what actors do as well.
In studies of those who lead rituals, the efficacy of the person conducting the ritual is absolutely tied to the credibility (believability) of the person officiating. Thus, every ritual/prayer/ is a form of public performance that requires the person officiating to fully step into and own a role. The boundary between real and not real becomes blurred. On ONE level, the shaman is simply a human being who has been assigned (or has taken on) this role, but his efficacy is only effective when OTHERS also hold him in that light and BELIEVE his performance. THIS has to do with the mythical and magical structures of consciousness. Becoming a university professor is no different… it requires an imaginative stepping into a previously unknown role AND it requires a following who suspend disbelief in favor of belief.
It is a compllicated and complex phenomenon, and it functions in our own culture whether we are conscious of it or not. (Empirical science~ DAwkinsesque, tries to convince us that none of that is "real. ") on ONE level, he is right, and on another level, he himself is claiming authority and the right to be “believed” with his own “justifiable” knowledge. What makes something real or not is our willingness to make it so. ( I am NOT saying that science is false, only that it is based on a priori assumptions like all other mythic ideas, and that empirical science doesn’t apply at the edges of our knowing where science morphs into theory).
Having an integral consciousness requires that we understand the imaginal aspect of our entire existence, a constructed world that has largely been created through idea and ingenuity.) The GODS did not build our cities… WE DID based upon ideas that we imagined came from the gods. but that’s another discussion. :wink:
(and I happen to LOVE Freud and firmly believe that unless one actually reads Freud, any ideas one might have are simply based upon the erroneous interpretations that have been passed down…
it does a HUGE disservice to Freud’s actual ideas and contributions when they are reduced to the oedipal complex and penis envy…) <3


Well said Ari and I love the theatre metaphor. The Self is a performance sometimes with little rehearsal. It can be scripted or it could be more of an improve, it depends upon what the person wants to have happen. Our capacity to act upon what we believe to be true about ourselves or about our world is becoming critically important. As our capacities expand so do our responsibilities. Thus Gebser warns us about the intensification phase, and intensification that comes I believe from recognizing the power we have to hurt others in a brutal way through the unintegrated powers of the structures. If we have re-activated these earlier structures to satisfy ego, rather than as you suggest take on a role, temporarily, as a disciplined actor does. A disciplined actress who love the art within herself rather than the self within the art is able to play with abandon within a permeable boundary. She finds the balance between chaos and order. It is quite glamour -less, taking off the makeup, putting away the costume. You served the play and the play is now over so it is time to go have a beer with your buddies and be a normal person. And yet while the performance happens, if it is a good one, a connection can occur between other performers and with the audience and the living and the dead that can awaken a vast dimension.

I recall decades ago when I first came to New York I saw an actress, Irene Worth, play Madame Ranyevskaya in the Cherry Orchard. Meryl Streep played Dunyasha the Maid in a delightful supporting role and there were many fine actors in that performance. I went back three times to see Irene Worth. Each performances was interesting. The first one was amazing, the second one very good, the third one ( closing night) transcendent. I couldn’t sleep, I walked around the block several times.

Years later I saw her on the street dressed casually, looking kind of frumpy. She had a stroke and died after a debilitating decline. Meryl spoke touchingly about what a mentor Irene was. She is of course almost forgotten by everyone, she was a stage actress almost exclusively, but for me I can still feel the connection. Magic? Mythic? Mental? All of the above.


_/I_ beautiful, Johnny~ thank you~

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Thank you Ari and I need to reread my Freud. I think he was more of an artist than a therapist. It is what he did with actual clients that I have a problem with. His theories are a product of his time and place and perhaps I can review my relationship with the troubled history of that period. I have a allergic reaction to much of him and Jung as well. Reading the poet HD about her therapy with Freud is shocking. Though she saw through his crude manipulations of her, trying to make his theory work, she also loved him as a complex person. He was struggling as much as any of his patients were.

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yeah. it is good to acknowledge that he was a product of his time. The part that I have a hard time with is that his ideas were taken and utilized by Bernays in the US, something that Freud was very unhappy about. The outcome of this is that the very thing he was trying to express (that people can be manipulated and are driven by their inner drives) was used to manipulate people.
Our recognition and awareness of this, of how much we are psychologically manipulated, through advertising, through peer pressure, through coercion, through religious ideas, through political ideas, through science, is minimal at best.
For me, (despite obvious flaws or oversights, or just plain bad judgements) Freud was brilliant in acknowledging how much our unconscious drives really do control us, and how anyone who understands this and plays to our drives manipulates us.
We are still unaware of what lurks in our psyches unacknowledged.
I grew up hating Freud too (that is what the culture has taught us to do). until my mentor made me read Freud. Hating Freud without reading Freud is hating someone else’s idea and interpretation.
it’s okay to hate Freud if you read him and disagree. I happen to have discovered that he was pretty brilliant, and pretty insightful, and the “sex drive” that everyone thinks he is talking about is really the eros (life) drive that manifests biologically as procreation, or creatively as art. He contrasted the eros drive (life impulse) with the thanatos drive (unconscious death wish), and actually? we all kind of really DO do that dance. (for me, similar to the creation of the world, the destruction of the world, and the sustainment of the world in Vedic science. really just inherent forces active in the continual process of the universe). IDK. just how I understand it ~
Are you a fan of alex grey? let’s talk sometime regarding ethical behavior… :wink:

Thanks Ari for your appreciation for Freud. I don’t hear him defended often these days and we may be unfair to him. I read him when I was younger and liked his style. He writes with a great flair. I just resist the deep pessimism and in many ways deep conformity to the norms of his time. He was sponsored and made famous in Europe and America by none other that William James! James met him at Princeton when Sigmund was a nobody, James was the leading intellectual of his time. His endorsement lifted Freud out of obscurity. James predicted that Psychoanalysis would be a trend that was necessary but that would eventually die out and make room for something else. Alas it was behaviorism that followed Freud and which erased almost the work of James himself! Our psychology is hugely problematic and shaped by the deficient mental. We all suffer from this.

It is not so much that Freud was wrong about so much but incomplete.,He shared the conformity of his time and wanted people to conform. He was alas a doctor in search of a cure. He and Jung were medical men and had deeply authoritarian tendencies, unexamined prejudice, which they did not transcend.

HD who became a major poet, who was channeling Homer and the Greeks, while having contemporary visions of dead soldiers from World War 2, and was bi-sexual, was in between worlds in a way the Freud could hardly appreciate. Her tribute to Frued is amusing for she did love him as an intellectual but it is clear that she was much more transparent to the ego than he was.He comes off as a timid man trying to fix everyone with his superior knowledge.

I do have an allergy to pathologizing anyone. When I was a teenager I read him and everyone else at the library, looking for loopholes. I was gay but this was in the early sixties before gay was a term that was widely used. In those days we were homosexuals and we were one of the damned. I witnessed a condition that was universally condemned turn into a life style, into an orientation, into a normal human capacity. So it with that embodied experience and outcome ( shaped by my own participation and commitments) that triggers my antipathy towards Freud. He was in many ways deeply conventional character, and he was not an ally in my struggles.

Having said that I clearly was influenced by him as everyone was and recognize where he was on the edge but I feel he did not breakthrough as Jung did. I have other kinds of issues with Jung too and his neo Kantain good doctor routine but that is way beyond what I can articulate now.

Gebser of course was tuned into these currents too and he went in a wildly different direction which brings forward a possibly compelling future for our species. We have yet to flesh this out in any detail, which is I imagine what many of us are trying to do in this forum. I am very grateful to be able to articulate some of my gut responses to this material and figure it out in a community of serious students. I really enjoy this!

I have not followed Alex Grey and no little about him other than his trippy acid head art work. I haven’t heard about his scandals, I am sort of out of the loop with the Wilber crowd who were so attracted to him. So I am open to your views on him.

Thanks again Ari for your contribution to my thinking about this Gebser project and I hope I can find the time to review Freud again. He is a part of my murky past and I may be better able to learn from his mistakes now that we have in so many ways gone beyond him and better appreciate what he was up against in his troubled time. I am open to that possibility.


won’t go into this much, but Freud was Jewish in a time and a place where that was very very difficult (pre Nazi Germany). Freud might have been depressive, (he felt that there were no truly happy people, just a unanimous state of pacification parading as happiness). I think he was largely correct about this observation. He also felt that all human beings were bi-sexual. Rather than perceiving this claim as a literal physical TRUTH, I interpret him to be referring to the inner sacred marriage (the hierosgamos) where the two polarities of being reside in us all. this same idea is the basis for alchemy and for the Vedantic tradition, and was developed later and more fully by Jung. (funny how no on even realizes that Freud spoke of this too). and I think that Jung also misinterpreted Freud which is why Freud was so upset at the time.
I don’t believe that the pathologization of affect was Freudian: it actually began with Aristotle, and it was Aristotle’s ideas, in fact, that shaped MOST of Western thought. We now know that Aristotle was wrong about lots of stuff, but that is another topic. These are exactly the kinds of things attributed to Freud that miss the tremendous hidden value in his work.
Anyway. I hope to clarify more at some point, and I also believe that Rank, who was a contemporary of Freud, was incredibly influential to Gebser. That is why I bring this up so much… Thanks again to you too~ X

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You raise some very good points Ari about Freud and I guess we can have many responses, the ones we had when we were young, struggling against forces that we can hardly understand, and when we are older and have had our own confrontations with history and culture and are still struggling. Freud as you say had a great deal to struggle with. And his value for me is not as a psychologist but as a cultural critic. And it is artists and poets who have used his work best. I loathe what the American psychiatric community has done with Freud, and the attempt to fix people and measure them, to eliminate transcendent experiences with drugs and incarceration is to my mind what was done to Freud’s insights. I have had direct experience with these tendencies and seen the damage done. So I would say Civilization and Its Discontents is an accurate view of his time and place and in many ways still resonates with the deficient mental forces we have to deal with today. I also feel we have gone through the sexual revolution, drugs, sex, rock and roll and the human potential movement and have a flowing relationship with known and unknown aspects of our nature so can move through a lot of cultural shadows. Not everyone however is up to that challenge it is true but I sense we have a greater appreciation for the Imaginal aspects of our nature than eigther Freud or Jung were able to actualize, as heroic as their efforts were. Gebser who was in the same melt down mode as they were had a different kind of response that is worth bringing forward. It would be interesting to blend these thinkers into the matrix of our own times and places, which might be more inclusive and less regressive than our predessors. I am wildly optimistic and pessimistic about that possibility at the same time! No doubt when we are in better rapport with all the structures a more vibrant experience awaits each of us and all of us.
Thanks again Ari for your insights into this rich history!