Torus, Time-Space, and Themes of History: A Doughnutology?

Fair enough, but please take nothing I say as a “defense” or “apology” (in the philosophical-theological sense of the word) of Young (he can speak for himself and stand on his own). This is specifically a response to your kind request. (The interspersed quotes are there to help structure the flow.)

Although I’ve torn that mercilessly out of context, my initial reaction to this was: heh, heh, heh … I am not alone. :grin: I can, and do, sympathize with aversions to authorial attitude. Why do you think I had such difficulty with Sloterdijk who has even outdone my unbeloved French posties in this regard. But, as @patanswer already noted, it looks at first blush a lot less harsh than it really is. Young was and a scientist but he did not have much left over for scientism nor was he willing to acquiesce merely because his positions were not mainstream.

While there is no doubting on the one hand that the number 7 occurs often and poignantly in many unexpected places, we need to also recognize that there has been a long history of dismissing anything that even hinted at meaning in numbers, even though this was a large part of human culture and history for a a period of time that was orders of magnitude longer than the one in which we’ve been dismissive. He gives his reason for why 7, but I also know that he was very supportive of a young scholar who “borrowed” his model and for very different reasons claimed that 9 was the operative number. As it turns out, for what Young was doing, 7 worked better; for what the other guy was doing, 9 worked better, but neither of them ever claimed it-is-this-and-none-other. I believe the sevenness needs to be contextualized and not absolutized, that is all. In Ch XV he comes back to the idea of process in myth, providing us with, I find, a very different, yet insightful perspective on by-gone mentation, which in 1976 was considered hardly any more than primitive, childish, unenlightenment. (Campbell hadn’t made it on the scene yet to make myth respectable again.)

And, finally, in regard to your specific reactions:

Which is always your call whether you want to or not. Again, let’s face it, the attitude is the primary thing, and I have more than full appreciation for that. I braved out Sloterdijk to the end of volume I, but that is not something that I would ever expect anyone else to do.

But, having said all that, let me also say why I said and why I think Young is a must-read. It is not only because of what he says.

When the book first appeared in 1976, you didn’t write stuff like this without repercussions. Young is a scientist, a physicist by training, and one who realized that there were simply certain things you can’t do at certain points in history. His goal was to develop a theory of consciousness evolution (as the subtitle of his book asserts), and he purposely chose to solve an engineering problem (how to make helicopters fly) because he believed that if he succeeded, he’d have the wherewithal to pursue his real goal without having to depend upon the largess of those who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day. The scientific orthodoxy then was even more rabidly materialist than it is now. He succeeded and thereby avoided the otherwise certain censure that would follow, for science, for all its advantages, is not as open and generous as our idealized conceptions of it are.

Around that time, there were other physicists who were also risking and some of whom were experiencing marginalization, from Fritjof Capra to Jack Sarfatti to Fred Alan Wolfe, who were just too interested in consciousness for their own academic good. Capra and Wolfe found ways to work within the system, if you will, Sarfatti felt comfortable enough staying outside, and Young founded his own Foundation, then Institute for the Study of Consciousness to provide a forum for those who were interested in stretching the confinements of the then current scientific orthodoxy. He found a number of scholars and scientists who were willing to risk at least that much to work on ideas that are just now starting to find the respect and interest that they deserve … not because they are right, but because they are for the most part creative, open, and well-thought-through, providing runways, if you will, for others who are willing to put their own devices together for flying further. In other words, it was a very courageous book in its time.

Second, this was one of the first serious attempts to bring together science and consciousness studies. In 1976 consciousness was considered purely epiphenomenal, but it was nevertheless a phenomenon that science should have been studying, yet refused to. Most importantly, his book was a first attempt to bring together a hard science (in fact, the queen of sciences, physics) and a soft science together. This is precisely the kind of creativity that wish there were more of.

Third, the rather fantastic notion that light may be conscious is something I believe is worth thinking about, debating, and most importantly, discussing the implications of … across various domains. I doubt that it is provable one way or the other, but there is a lot of material here to talk about, to explore, and to relate to other things that we have experienced, learned, read, or may even believe.

Fourth, irrespective of its seven-fold nature, I think his process model itself is worth reflecting on and thinking about. It is a useful tool, or at least it has been for me, and there are others who have taken the model – abstracted from its initial purpose to describe consciousness evolution – and applied it to other domains. In other words, it is a way of talking and thinking about the important notion of process which is rarely explicitly but often implicitly presupposed in much modern thinking (Whitehead, de Chardin, etc.), hence it provides a more structured opportunity to talk about something that can get terribly abstract (and hence, vague) very quickly in more concrete terms.

And finally, given the age of the text and given all that has transpired since it first appeared – in science, philosophy, cultural history, psychology, and the current (I believe misguided) neuromania – there are many other issues that follow on from or are tangential to his approach … especially its open-endedness, the meaning of the trajectory he laid out, the nature and role of consciousness itself, or @patanswer’s own reaction of perhaps comparing and contrasting Young’s and Quigley’s seven-staged approachs … that would be worth exploring, which why I first suggested a kind of so-what seminar. I think Young would be very good candidate-text for precisely that kind of discussion.

But that’s just how I see him.


I don’t think we disagree, Ed (@achronon), at least, not about that distinction (science vs scientism). And I do want to make it clear that I am not rejecting so-called paranormal phenomena as “invalid”. However, I do want to say that what you call “scientific materialism”, and what I call an uncritical acceptance of “cartesian mindset” with its over-emphasis on representation, dualities of various sorts starting with mind vs. body but not finishing there, and its arrogant tendency to proclaim unequivocally what is truth and what isn’t, which I am presuming is related to what you call materialistic (although I am not quite sure), have caused untold difficulties, some of which you or @johnnydavis54 have alluded to in our diverse discussions, among others. Nonetheless, I do not regard this as the source of the inability of scientists to “accept” or construct robust theories about so-called paranormal phenomena.

I may be wrong, but I believe the difficulty arises because science, indeed, scientific method (or methods, since there are many of these), are not, in general, equipped to address such questions, at least not yet, although that may be changing, as the polyvagal theory might suggest. You need good method, testable hypotheses, and problem areas that are within reach of the existing knowledge base. It is the jump from, “there is no good evidence to suggest that…” to “such ideas are ridiculous” that is problematic, but no self-respecting scientist would make the latter as a claim without acknowledging that it is a personal judgement. Indeed, the popular press talks about “scientific proof”, but scientists do not use that term, only mathematicians do so formally.

Regarding posties, as you call them, I am not a purist as you seem to be, Ed (no criticism implied, yours is a perfectly valid position, it’s just not my own), I read their work with great interest, and pull from it what I find useful for my own research.

And you are right, perhaps I judged Young a bit too quickly and harshly. I shall give him another chance. But I will also look into Bucky :slight_smile:


What I have always seen in what you post and in your contributions to our online discussions is anything but materialistic reductionism, or any reductionism for that matter. We are certainly on the open-but-let’s-be-honest wavelength. That’s what I think good science is about, and I am very delighted that there are more and more people in both the hard and soft sciences coming to realize that using precise methods, honestly evaluating data (without imposing unquestioned and unarticulated assumptions and presuppositions on them), forming and testing hyptheses, are all important. We will, of course, probably need different, and perhaps more creative, methods to approach a lot of the non-physical phenomena that need to be explored, but what I’m sure both of us also agree on is what I would call scientific rigor when it comes to developing such methods.

Science to me – and it strikes me that it is also to you – about making things clear: what I’m investigating, how I’m doing it, what is influencing my thinking on the subject, you know, those kinds of things. And I realize that this is perhaps a bit more demanding when it comes to, say, philosophy, but it is not impossible, and it is this lack of transparency that gets my goat when it comes to most “theorists”. I personally don’t think expecting a writer to be clear is too much to expect, but apparently it is, so I end up putting up with a lot of nonsense that I think is otherwise avoidable. :roll_eyes:

While I’ve always felt pressed for time, I really hate it these days when I feel my time is being wasted because it is next to impossible to determine just what point a writer is making, if they are making a point at all. I realize that the concept “posties” is a gross oversimplification and overgeneralization, but I’m also making clear that it is a word that results from my own frustration with the lack of clarity and too-often meaninglessness of what they are trying to say. Again, Sloterdijk is a great example for me: he has his lucid moments, no doubt about it, but they are too few and too far between for me to want to spend all the time it takes to maybe figure out what it is he could be saying. It’s probably because I’m just a simple guy with the simple (if not simplistic) desire to make some sense of the world before I leave it. :grin:

So, I would have to say, Geoffrey, I agree; I don’t think we really disagree. :smiley:

On the other hand:

And I’m sure that in the circles in which you circulate that is the case. But it is not what I see in, say, Richard Dawkins or the TED-Talk people who will not allow certain people to even appear (as has been the case with Rupert Sheldrake, (for some reason one of Dawkins’s favorite targets) or Russel Targ who had his talk on psychic abilities pulled from the channel … whereby both of them are respectable and self-respecting scientists by all standards). Whether we like it or not, there are still Inquisitors amongst us, and I think it’s a good idea to at least acknowledge this is the case and perhaps avoid them if at all possible. It is people and situations like that which give science a bad name, and when we look at the current political and societal debates that are taking place these days, science is fighting an uphill battle for acceptance as it is.


A Clean Start. And .when does the observer become a participant? I’m not sure where we are where we are going.

You mentioned, Ed, a seminar leading with SO WHAT? You traced the history of Young and where he was coming from. You claim that you are a simple guy with the simple desire to make some sense of the world before you leave it. I hear you.

Geoffrey expressed doubts about Young but is interested in Bucky. He has pointed out the difficulties of scientific practice when dealing with the paranormal. He agrees that scientism vs science is an issue that needs to be addressed. He also has found Chardin interesting, and expressed interest in the Future rather than the Past in the last video. He also has an interest in writing fiction.

I get the impression that both Ed and Geoffrey are interested in developing certain themes and motifs, some are related and overlap, some are perhaps more distant.

TJ has mentioned Quigley and his 7 stages. I know nothing about Quigley. Is this another writer you want to study? You have an interest in the philosophy of history. Would you like to develop this further in the seminar? I’m very curious, TJ, about what you are up to. I get the feeling you are up to something BIG!

I would ask each of you, and all of you, for this proposed seminar to be of use to you, this seminar will be like what?

And what support do you need from the group for that to happen?

About methodology. I’m not a scientist but I am a lover of science. I consider myself to be an amateur, an advanced beginner. I’ m engaged in qualitative research methods and I want to gain experience in developing a transformative research project. I have already conducted some interviews with members of this community. I love beautiful language and am fascinated by communication theory.I do have many interests as do most of you and so in the effort to bring forward a more transparent agenda I would offer some clean questions to our panel of experts or who ever wants to show up. My passion is to co-create compelling futures. Specifically I’m drawn to developing generative metaphors.

I am a great believer in the cross fertilization that occurs between writing and speech. Verbal and non verbal are registered more easily on video as we did with the Bubbles event. Writing I believe compliments those video participations.

May we use all of our knowledge and use all of it well.



A meta- communique. My main interest in this seminar proposal is not necesserily about developing a consensus about our reading different authors. I’m more interested in exploring bifurcation points. Communicating with writing, the writer is always alone. On the video different kinds of feedback are involved. It is interesting to oscillate between the two and notice how we do that.There is always silence but you don’t get very far with silence.

I was going to say “no, not really”, but instead I went for a walk. I watched some of the news commentary surrounding today’s rally in Boston. I read Gebser’s take on Heidegger and the “end” of the Western philosopheme [EPO, pp. 402-405]. I read some more of Young, ate a late lunch.
To tell the truth I don’t know if I’m up to something or if something is up to me - something that has picked me but knows it needs more help than I in my profound lack of qualifications can give it. (LOL) My peripheral vision glimpses an integral city - a spacetime robust enough for a world and gentle enough for a child. My frontal focus tells me it is all very well and good for a vision to pull toward the future from the future, but that pull must be exerted on the “here and now”, where the past can be both a weight and fuel in both positive and negative ways.
Scientism isn’t it. Neither is historical theorizing which effectively leaves out the human “probability fog”, by the way. But even the blind spots can tell us something, especially with a donut in each hand. :wink:

So to answer the seminar-interest question I would like to (1) make sure I understand Young with input from those who have read him in agreement, disagreement, or “meh”; (2) look at process, perhaps with a glance at Quigley among other examples; and (3) unabashedly continue to pick brains.

John, I deeply appreciate the provocation of thought. I’m sure glad you hit me with this on a Saturday, though; I would have been useless at work. :smile:


I love this. I, too, feel more like something has picked me up, and, as @johnnydavis54 said, “something big”. I mean, I didn’t start writing a 2500 page science fiction opus about a future tugging at us, that would have been crazy, but it chose me and here I am. In my research, I am working on some of the tech and science that gushed forth in my scifi project, so it is all interconnected, I’m afraid.

I’m with Johnny on this. I’m happy to read anyone who others think contribute to the discussion, but I think it is the discussion itself that pulls me in. The dance, to use my analogy from the Sloterdijk thread.

Let us “co-create a compelling future” together. Using our different source materials as fuel for the fire (I am mixing my metaphors!). And let it be “generative”. And by that, I mean, let it spill over into other modes of action/expression. I do not know what, exactly, this might look like, but let’s be open to this and see what emerges.

For references, Ed @achronon, could you give the precise name etc for the Bucky text, and TJ @patanswer , the same for Quigley?


Found the Quigley - The Evolution of Civilizations. Found a pdf of this. Still haven’t found the reference for Bucky though…

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Synergetics by Bucky Fuller has been on my shelf for years, which Ed recommended. I also have Critical Path. I like Bucky’s writing style, his spoken communication is curious. This video is extremely odd and fascinating, he is an interesting character. I have very little experience with him but I would love to discuss. He was a visionary and Sloterdijk considers him a genius. He is very interested in emergence.

I think we can go forward and backward in a zig zag fashion, bringing forward with us into the Now what the visionaries of the past dreamed about. We are such stuff as dreams are made of…

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We are all outsiders to some extent. And we make that distinction for ourselves. Inside, outside, back inside, then outside again and then reentry and knowing the place for the first time. A Self-reflexive mystery.

I find it deeply moving that Bucky Fuller, unemployed, having lost his infant daughter, contemplated suicide. Thank God he didn’t. I posted a link to his talk below which you might enjoy In a complex unstable system moving towards chaos, none of us is really qualified. We can embrace the dramatic difficulties of time. Bucky is doing Big History!

And gentle enough for a child…a lovely metaphor

Whether we focus on Bucky or Young or someone else I hope we can support one another in taking some risks, of stepping a little bit out of our comfort zone. All manner of thing shall be well!


Note: Quigley came to mind because of the seven stages idea. Many of his conclusions are dated (especially in Chapter 6) and I would recommend Chapters 2, 3, and 5 and the ‘must-read’ sections for the interested.

I might have known that Duane Elgin (who appears on the video Marco shared above) has weighed in on this as well with seven stages of his own:

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This looks like a good read, TJ. I’ll work on it tomorrow. And after viewing the last Bubbles video, I was struck by how much information was being circulated. Because there is so much available to us, the great benefit of having peer to peer meshworks is that we save precious time, and stay on track. When we express our preferences and focus attention we can help re-direct each others attention in ways that may be more fruitful, than if we drift around aimlessly. We get a “sixth sense” about what others might find useful, about what resources to develop.


Fuller, Buckminster (1975) Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, In collaboration with E.J. Applewhite, with a preface and contribution by Arthur L. Loeb, Macmillan, NY, 1982.

This is sometimes referred to as Synergetics 1, for there was also a follow-on volume

Fuller, Buckminster (1979) Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, Macmillan, NY, 1983.

More familiar works of his are his perhaps best, or most well-known:

Fuller, R. Buckminster (1969) Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, Simon & Schuster, NY.

And one of my all-time favorites of his where he introduces and clarifies his notion of ephemeralization (doing more and more with less and less):

Fuller, R. Buckminster (1969) Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity, Bantam Books, NY.

Fuller was too techy, I believe, for most people. Opening either synergetics texts can be more than intimidating for anyone who doesn’t find a certain pleasing esthetic in mathematica formulas and complicated diagrams of various platonic and non-platonic solids. Given your background, I’m sure you aren’t one of these folks. The other two of his texts that I have and listed above were written more for the general (though perhaps more academically inclined) reading public and give good insight into how far-reaching his thought was/is.

Fun fact (or not): Fuller was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969, but the prize was awarded instead to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Hope this helps.


And is there anything else about the dance? Does dance have a size or shape or movement? What kind of dance is that dance…and the discussion that pulls you in?..and when you get pulled in what happens next?

And is there anything else about peripheral vision? And when an integral city, and robust …and gentle… is there anything else about robust? Whereabouts is robust? Does it have a size or shape? Whereabouts is gentle? Does gentle have a size or shape? what determines robust/gentle? And what happens to the child when gentle enough?

My intention. I’m asking “clean” questions about your language without adding content as in normal conversational mode. I am using your language to locate patterns in a perceptual space. My main interest is developing and making connections between concrete and abstract portions of experience.

I am not conducting a formal interview but just opening up the semantic space with some clean questions, to pay attention to our attention, and the metaphors that may arise and then we can start to point to that.

Geoffrey’s dance…TJ’s peripheral vision…and is there a relationship between the Torus and the doughnut w(hole)? …and compelling future(s)…and with all of that what wants to happen at our seminar?

I imagine this kind of interplay between metaphors generated by our group could bring attention to how we are paying attention. This is probably an exercise to be done in a public live event like the way we did with the Bubbles conversations. Marco can sponsor us and give us the tech support, we can find a good time to do this seminar and we can prepare for that event here, through, our written communications. Marco expressed curiosity about the self-organization. Me. too. As a participant-observer, how will this seminar organize, how will it happen?

I do believe ( notice I am noticing a belief) that it is possible to create organizations and groups that are mindful of one another’s metaphors and symbolic landscapes. This could be a catalyst for exploring the bifurcation points I mentioned previously.

A belief for me is a temporary structure that I use in an ‘as if’ fashion. I’m open to believe and then work with that hypothetical belief in an abductive way, seeking for the analogy that connects. I’m always open to doubt my own beliefs. A belief is like a costume I try on for a play. I can put it on for a specific part and then take it off. I draw a lot of my metaphors from theatre. This is like a rehearsal

Thanks for your attention!


As I reflect upon my own reflections I notice how a meta-awareness awakens.

I am really interested in the interplay of writing and speech in a group and what happens to communications within and beyond the group?

This a vast project and I’m sharing my expectation that we can develop, through our study of Visionaries, our own visionary capacities, moving towards a more poly-phasic culture, sensitive to the liminal zones. How can we start to model complex adaptive observing systems such as ourselves?

Observing Bucky’s process of developing definitions for structure, his experiments with the necklace is fascinating. He places high priority on the experiential as he formulate his definitions, which is precise. He is meta-aware at a very high level.

A task for me would be to go back and forth from the portions of the written text on structure and the portions of the video where he discusses his process, paying attention to the verbal/non verbal, then perhaps I can make a report about what I pick up. Youtube is a real treasure trove! We have all of these stunning performances to draw inspiration from and also to help give us a much needed direction! I have watched the first two hours three times. I am going to watch the entire program. Wish me luck! It might fry my para-brain!

I’m off to a café with a ton of books…open to feedback!


I am curious about what distinguishes the various authors being discussed as part of this seminar—or rather, what draws them together?

Bucky Fuller and Teilhard de Chardin both strike me as a “visionaries,” which I think has something to do with “seeing the future” (or seeing some possible future, through seeing the deepest potentials of the present) and communicating it to the “here and now,” perhaps coaxing other humans to co-create that future as a compelling reality.

Feynam, Quigley, Young, as far as I can tell, are describing ‘what is’, or broadly doing science, but without the creative (future-invoking) dimensions that Fuller activates…though Ingold argues that anthropology should not be ‘neutral’ with respect to its field of study, but serve life itself (i.e., the experience of being alive) through participatory study. It seems these writers are all describing larger patterns and integrative meta-narratives (at various scales from biological to historical to cosmic, etc.), which are not necessarily part of mainstream science, but involve expansive and insightful moves in relation to it.

Heidegger, meanwhile, extols the figure of the “thinker,” who is closely related to the “poet,” but still enacts a distinct relationship to Being in responding to the “call of Being.” The “thinker” for Heidegger, is a more enduring figure than the philosopher of Western metaphysics, which Gebser identifies with the philosopheme of mental consciousness. A bit of a mystic, and a bit of a poet, but not quite exactly either, the Heideggerian thinker is “picked” by Being to bring forth the Being of beings as a uniquely individuating task.

In another thread, we’ve talked about Sloterdijk as a kind of “magician.” However, I would not regard his Spheres trilogy as “visionary.” When I read Sloterdijk, I often feel that I’m reading philosophy as literature. I’m not really expecting scientific validity (even broadly and generously understood) as much as a certain creativity in the writing itself, and the potentials this opens up for discussion.

And what might a doughnutology be? Or what kind of author might it imply‚ if not a confectionary baker?!

To be clear, I’m not merely trying to tease out a typology between ‘visionary,’ ‘scientific,’ or ‘literary’ writers and their works. Rather, I’m wondering how these authors and their writings intersect—why are they arising in the same space? What is it they have in common? What is the seminar really about? Generative ideas?

Time-space, synergetics, movement, emergence, evolution, historical cycles, complex forms, clean language, structures of consciousness, lines of becoming, mind-bending meta-questions, polyphasic culture, singularity, idiosyncrasy, science fiction, the indicible…something BIG. Is there a name for this place on the map?


Pragmatism, an international philosophical movement, started with a reading group, in Cambridge, Mass, after the crisis of the Civil War, during the big Darwin debates. Charles S Peirce, William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes were members of the group. They called themselves the Metaphysical Club.

James and Peirce were definitively in the Visionary world class of thinkers, but both of them were still young, unknown and experimenting with ideas. Both of them considered philosophy to be a conversation. James famously said, " Truth is what happens to an idea ."

Peirce claimed truth emerged not out of logic but out of communities who had intentions that they acted upon. To my surprise I found out recently that they were both hugely influenced by Swedenborg, one of the great clairvoyants of all time, who communicated directly with Angels. Philosophy according to James always comes with an autobiography. He was upfront and personal and blended first and third person perspectives beautifully.

Peirce said of James," His comprehension of men to the very core was most wonderful. Who, for example, could be of a nature so different from him as I. He so concrete, so living; I am a table of contents, so abstract, a very snarl of twine. Yet in all of my life I found scarce any soul that seemed to comprehend my concepts, the mainspring of my life, better than he did." These guys were really good writers. I wish we had some videos of them on YouTube.

I mentioned earlier that I am less interested in who we study but in the bifurcation points of the group. So I will act ‘as if’ there will be a future that we are willing to think about together. And maybe it’s not something BIG but something small and of great personal interest?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? I like to re-read my journals and look for key words and concepts. I get a meta-perspective on my own scattered process, get in touch with the Stranger within. Sometimes I find the whole attempt to make sense a lost cause, and then I take a deep breath and relax and open to the field…


What links the writers here – from Feynman, Young, and Fuller, as scientists with a pragmatic (I’m avoiding the word engineering on purpose) bent, to Quigley, as scientificly inclined historian, to de Chardin, particularly his noosphere, is consciousness, and I use the term as loosely as possible without it losing its meaning all together. What they have in common is a focus on strong, disciplined ways of thinking about humans that is bigger than any particular, singular individual.

Where Heidegger seems to be talking about the thinker/poet as a type, all the others are concerned with the totality of reality as mediated by human consciousness. This isn’t to say that Heidegger can’t or won’t think in such terms, it is merely an observation that that was not his primary concern and focal length.

Some (I’m thinking of @Geoffreyjen_Edwards in particular) may not see Feynman fitting as easily into this group, but when you look at his approach to physics, his relentless attempt to distill the complexity of physical reality into terms that anyone who hasn’t been dropped on their head too often, should be able to understand. In other words, making his particular object of focus accessible to anyone and everyone. In this regard, there is an extremely strong didactic component in all their work: they wanted others to understand more deeply and more completely what it means to be a living, experiencing human being in a wonderfully complex and, at times even intimidating, reality.

To be sure, I’m doing all of them a terrible injustice in the very moment that I’m trying to lift them all up as examples to be followed, but it seems to me that each of them, in his own peculiar way, allowed for and encouraged us to recognize that we humans had more going for us than our historically documented behavior would lead us to believe. I seem to be hearing each of them saying, "Well, if we better understood , we’d have a better chance of using that understanding in much more positive ways than merely making a lot of money or raping the environment or thinking any one of us is worth more than any one else or whichever other overly narrow perspective one could take on the human condition. Or something along those lines at any rate.

This is certainly not far from the “describing larger patterns and integrative meta-narratives (at various scales from biological to historical to cosmic, etc.), which are not necessarily part of mainstream science, but involve expansive and insightful moves in relation to it” that you speak of as well. But none of them talk or speak in such terms (and they certainly are more eloquent than me). It is as if they say, “Look! Here!” and if you’ve got your eyes open, you’ll see it. Or, to put it in Gebserian terms (and you didn’t think I’d miss the opportunity, now, did you?), it is not integrative, but integrating, a kind of waring, if you know what I mean.


That was a beautiful video, @johnnydavis54. That Roden Crater project that Turrell is working on looks like a perfect destination for an art pilgrimage one day.

I have become very curious about the relationship between consciousness and light, so it’s interesting to read your comments re: the pragmatists and things BIG and small, alongside @achronon’s suggestion that our common subject here is, arguably, consciousness itself.

And at times, while out and about, I’ve been practicing seeing the ‘light of consciousness’ emanating from other people’s eyes. To the extent that it’s there, what is it like? What qualities? What feels? How do the various ‘lamps’ of individuality (as in the example Sloterdijk provides from Pseudo-Dionysus, p. 589) transmit an originally undifferentiated light?

And what is the relation between this ‘conscious light’ and the ‘physical light’ of Einstein? Is light merely a metaphor for consciousness—or the thing itself? And how do we talk about consciousness without collapsing it into an object? (This was Heidegger’s concern.)

I don’t expect hard and clear answers on any of these questions, of course! But I’m onto another twist of the donut, as ever curious about how these inquiries might make a difference or mean something more.


I totally agree, Ed (@achronon), that it is consciousness that is the common connection. Even Feynman wasn’t unfamiliar with the linkages between quantum theory and consciousness, I think. And consciousness, while it has become a realm of scientific study, this study is still largely defined by the Dennetts of the world, the arguments around Searle’s Chinese Room analogy, and the Turing test more than about the connections to creativity, meditation and emotional sensitivity (although some do address the latter). I think a discussion about the broader contemporary thinking around consciousness is entirely appropriate for this particular nexus in history.

I wanted to come back to this wonderful story by @johnnydavis54 about @johnnydavis54… While my early experience with Shakespeare was not quite so driven as this, my father had a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and I think partly at my own instigation, my family used to read them aloud to each other, particularly A Midsummer Nights Dream, perhaps because it was more “childlike” than some of the other plays, although I can also remember doing parts of The Tempest. I remember I used to do a wicked Bottom from Midsummer Nights Dream, and this early experience with Shakespeare carried me forward into encounters with, for example, the Paul Scofield film of King Lear, Hamlet of course, Macbeth (a favourite) and later Romeo and Juliet and so on.

I have (almost) finished reading the Ingold book (the last bit is more about anthropology as a practice and is somehow a little less interesting than the rest - I will read it, but I am less motivated for it), and aside from his over-emphasis on the role of story as the “only” form of knowledge (even as he discusses other forms of knowledge), I thought the book quite extraordinary and touching on many of the issues we are discussion here. Yesterday a wrote a kind of summary that I sent to my colleague here in Australia and I’m going to excerpt part of the text because I think it is relevant here (and this shows the extent to which these discussions intersect with my academic life!) :

To begin with, a few relevant quotes from Ingold (remember this is his book, “Being Alive”) :

“To create any thing, Aristotle reasoned, you have to bring together form (morphe) and matter (hyle). In the subsequent history of western thought, this hylomorphic model of creation became ever more deeply embedded. But it also became increasingly unbalanced. Form came to be seen as imposed by an agent with a particular design in mind, while matter, thus rendered passive and inert, became that which was imposed upon. My critical argument in this chapter is that contemporary discussions of art and technology, and of what it means to make things, continue to reproduce the underlying assumptions of the hylomorphic model, even as they seek to restore the balance between its terms. My ultimate aim, however, is more radical: with Deleuze and Guattari, it is to overthrow the model itself, and to replace it with an ontology that assigns primacy to the processes of formation as against their final products, and to the flows and transformations of materials as against states of matter.” p. 210

Then this particularly brilliant piece of writing, IMHO…

“The world we inhabit is not made up of subjects and objects, or even of quasi-subjects and quasi-objects. The problem lies not so much in the sub- or the ob-, or in the dichotomy between them, as in the -ject. For the constituents of this world are not already thrown or cast before they can act or be acted upon. They are in the throwing, in the casting.” p. 214

Within his discussion, Ingold is talking about the process of drawing (and making, and cursively writing) as distinct from taking photographs or typing on a computer screen…

“The act of drawing… is intrinsically dynamic and temporal, leaving its traces ‘as eddies on the surface of the stream of time’ (Berger.: 124). It is about becoming rather than being. You cannot be a mountain, or a buzzard soaring in the sky, or a tree in the forest. But you can become one, by aligning your own movements and gestures with those of the thing you wish to draw, as Heidegger would say, in its ‘thinging’.” p. 217 “It is a mistake to think that the camera does the same as a pencil, only faster; or that the photographic image achieves the same as the drawing, only with greater accuracy. For the pencil is not an image-based technology, nor is the drawing an image. It is the trace of an observational gesture that follows what is going on.” p.225

And finally, a comment about science as it should be practiced (Ingold is talking about anthropology, but I think one could extend his argument to embrace all of science) …

“My suggestion is that a descriptive endeavour … whose instrument is the pen or pencil rather than the camera and keyboard, would yield studies that are with people rather than of them. Where studying of is a process of othering, studying with is a process of togethering. The first is transitive, the second intransitive.”

Now to my own personal remarks about Ingold …

I think Ingold brings two contributions to our discussions. First, he situtates the act of drawing as a process of making, or “worlding” (word he uses readily but which was introduced by Heidegger and taken up again by Deleuze and Guattari), the practice of working within the flows of materiality rather than imposing some outside order upon materials. As he states, drawing is not an image, “it is the trace of an observational gesture that follows what is going on”. He reinforces this idea by stating the “fish-in-the-water can be understood as but one of many possible emanations of line, of which others would include the words and pictures painted or inscribed upon the surfaces of paper, bark or canvas.”

Along another line of enquiry, I have been exploring the difference between “metaphor” and “metonymy”. Metaphor has been extensively studied for the past several decades, metonymy on the other hand, has been neglected. Metaphor is a comparison of things between domains, it is a kind of mapping, and hence a kind of representation - metaphor privileges the words “like” and “as”. Metonymy is where a part stands for a whole within the same domain. It is a form of abduction, and privileges the word “is”. “The 1:03 is usually on time” is an example of metonymy I thought about this week, refering to the bus numbered 339 from the corner where I live. I think Ingold’s assertions that the line emanates fish-in-the-water is an example of metonomy rather than metaphor. The line, painting, description, etc. are part of a constellation of worlding that includes “fish-in-the-water”, and the line is hence the part that abducts the whole. [This fills in my earlier point about the relationship between metaphor and metonymy. I said I viewed metonymy as more powerful than metaphor. What I meant is, metonymy is a way of “doing” (i.e. abduction) and not only “showing” (i.e. mapping), it is therefore more “magical”, it engages us more fully. Still having trouble explaining myself …]

For his second major contribution, this has to do with [the following] area of inquiry, the question of the relationship between research/researcher and the public. But here the issue is more subtle. Although you can maybe see the argument emerging from the above comments. Essentially, if the making, drawing, and even writing processes are the means by which “practitioners bind their own pathways or lines of becoming into the texture of the world”, then the public must be involved in this for it to have any lasting value.

The key insight is in Ingold’s statement, “The problem lies not so much in the sub- or the ob-, or in the dichotomy between them, as in the -ject”. And then, “the constituents of this world are not already thrown or cast before they can act or be acted upon. They are in the throwing, in the casting.” So the engagement with a participatory public is necessary, in order to ensure that research, “the throwing”, is enacted in pertinent ways. In this sense, “knowledge translation” is a misnomer, because there is no knowledge without enacting. There is no “before” and “after”, no two stages, the research/writing and the reading/understanding. To separate this into two stages is to weaken the process substantively, in fact it leads to only a shadow of knowledge-sharing as it should be. [Note this is part of a larger discussion about so called “knowledge translation” which is a strategy adopted in medical research to ensure that the results of research are taken up by communities of practice - but the idea and the terminology is clearly based on the “hylomorphic model” that Ingold presented earlier, and the public or publics are held at arms distance from the work. Ingold’s arguments suggest that this has to cease, the public needs to be engaged much more fully and much more directly into research itself than is usually done…]

[I continue with my notes…] We buy into this because we believe that knowledge can exist in abstract forms - Ingold makes a case that such knowledge is one of categories and schema. He argues that real knowledge is story-based, or itinerary-based (the unfolding line during drawing). I actually feel that perhaps he goes too far in his argument at this point. He asserts, but does not prove, that all knowledge is story-based, sequential in nature, whereas I believe that some categorizing, some ability to discern whether ideas are close or distant to each other, is also necessary. I am not sure if allowing for this means that knowledge in schematic forms must exist, however. I do believe that one can argue that our existing understanding of knowledge generating practices, which adopt what Ingold calls the “hylomorphic model”, can be recast within a non-hylomorphic framework without losing any of their strengths (although somebody has to work this out, see below). The basic idea is that when scientists read papers by other scientists, their extensive experience leads them to understand papers in terms of research practice, and this is what they “bind into” their own practice. Hence, knowledge is re-enacted rather than coded and then decoded (cf. the hylomorphic model). Similarly, lay readers must contextualize scientific discourse within their own practices in order to “understand” it - they must perform a reenactment. There is no “decoding” going on here, either. This is why it is often so hard for the lay public to understand the nuances of scientific discourse, they have no experience with the practice of science, no matter how carefully things are spelled out. But if all “knowledge translation” requires some form of enactment or renactment, then engaging them in appropriate ways all along would be a much more fruitful approach.

[So this is the point for the Infinite Conversations and Doughnutology discussion … that people don’t really understand the world except through a story-like reconstruction (re-enactment) of knowledge, so you can’t, much as most of science would like to, separate the personal experiences from the knowledge itself. Knowledge doesn’t exist, really, in abstract forms (maybe I have come round to Ingold’s story-only argument…). So Johnny’s @johnnydavis54 discussion of how he encountered Shakespeare as a young man and my own somewhat different encounter with Shakespeare constitute directly relevant contributions to the knowledge building going on here, despite (well, actually, because!) of their deeply personal nature. We need to bring the personal in more in order to develop this new knowledge. Without it, we are left with abstractions that are difficult to assimilate, whereas with the personal background, we learn new ways of being and functioning in the world. So, BRING IT ON!!! :smile:

Long-winded way of saying something, but relevant… I think.