Transmuting the Trumpocalypse – Session 3: Collective Realization

Recorded: November 9, 2017

Audio (unedited):


Caroline Savery
Marco V Morell


Adam Brock
John Davis
TJ Williams


When life power and meme power combine, a kind of “collective realization” is the result: material and theoretical power come together in praxis and transform reality—affecting local and future conditions. Many people, particularly Americans today, feel helpless about how to leverage their personal and social power for widespread rewiring of institutionalized [or entrenched] yet deteriorating social/cultural systems. Is there any hope for building a robust, cooperative system of memes and life forms that once more enhances the survival outcomes of both? Could we find a way to cultivate appropriate memes (like appropriate technologies) to positively reshape our minds, our behaviors—and the world? What are the possibilities for tweaking certain individual and group behaviors en masse, and triggering a sea change in the prevailing social order? If we are mutually in danger, maybe it’s time to take a collective risk on investing in more creative, visionary, systems-thinking and innovative ideas, cultures and people.

(Optional) Reading

We are not going to directly discuss the essays in the meeting, but this series by Caroline Savery can provide some background to the entire event. The last three essays in particular correspond to the theme of “collective realization” we will be exploring during our talk.

Learn more:


Thanks to all of the participants on these calls and to Carolyn and Marco for organizing this series. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas very much and I believe this was a very civil discourse. Let’s do more of this and do it even better!

I have mentioned that this event is a dynamic reference point. We can point to this series, the written essays, the written responses, the verbal face to face communications in the conference calls and muse a bit on the interplay of these emerging aesthetic relationships. Out of all of the myriad of associations is there a direction? Is there an action that can be taken to honor the learning that may have taken place, an action that can amplify and perhaps carry forward into our local lives? .

A meta-question I have for Carolyn and Marco would be-When you are collaborating at your best that’s like what? I would love to work with the metaphorical mind. Maybe we can plan that kind of seminar in the near future?

I would be very interested in learning what each of us ( and all of us) has learned through our collective display of intelligence here. How could this group performance become even more effective? What needs to happen to make a more effective performance happen?
If you have a eureka moment please share that! And if you have a eureka I would like to ask you to imagine what the next step could be in order to concertize that eureka.

For example I am now reflecting upon the human scale and the non human alternate realities we are working with in tandem. A dog or a cat can have an influence upon our species, for we spend lots of time and energy caring for them! Birds and bees have a powerful impact on our ecology too. How are we take this discourse event on the human scale and amplify the benefits to meet the needs of so many who have radically different nervous systems? I have to ponder this a bit…what is an imagination for?

Even within the human species there are neurologically atypical people, who have radically different cognitive and affective capacities from the norm. We have blind persons and persons with disabilities with amazing gifts and capacities. The elderly have much to teach as do those with special needs.I have taken care of the elderly and they have taught me so much about our human potentials.

Rather than get swept away by the artificial intelligence craze how could we direct our attention to the subtle realms of our embodied existence and give voice to that? I imagine more ecological social forms could come forward if we explore the propriocpetive abilities of our own observing systems at the human scale. I want to think about this more.

AI machines can reason perhaps but do they think? I would say that thinking and reasoning are not the same and that is why AI is more of a study of pseudo intelligence and if given too much power in our lives is prone to create big distortions. Machines will never be smarter than a human. A machine will never be smarter than a dog or a cat or even a caterpillar.

Pondering all of this I will go to the library and prepare for the meet up scheduled tomorrow on Young’s The Reflexive Universe

For me it was a pleasant and thought provoking exchange of ideas and I believe we are modeling how to use the internet at an appropriate scale.

Thanks to everyone and let’s keep this thing in motion-


I would like to begin with an outside, after-the-matter blather:

The discussion structure of the videos is useful. There is both a general outline of the discussion provided and the personal, free-flowing of responses. I would recommend continuing with this form of discussion (which is probably how it has been done with your past videos). It was mentioned by a few video attendees that is was all over the place (without an underlying structure)…this was fine for an outside viewer. Technical difficulties aside, there was a general feel and understanding of the topic without a need to do the reading before hand. I have completed the essays and, though I sense the core of Caroline’s direction, I need some more time before articulation comes into play.

…I have begun attending Quaker meetings here in Lexington, Kentucky

(additional details)

(Quakers are founded in Christian principles yet open to “that of God in everyone”…this particular Friends meeting is quite beyond Christianity…the group is mostly 50-70 aged, wise beyond my previous understanding of wise, musical and highly creative…they won me over with a First Hour on Laughter Yoga)

and the First Hour discussions are centered on a certain awareness, allowing those who are prone to remain silent (…me) to speak and those that are always “at the ready” to give pause before participating. The cosmos co-op and groups forming here seem to take on this same core awareness.
I bring this up for we had an intense unprogrammed meeting this weekend

Unprogrammed Meeting

(Unprogrammed Meeting: we sit in silent meditation for one hour (though Quakers call it “expectant waiting”…something a bit outside of Buddhist style meditation) and when someone feels moved to speak, preferably from the “higher spirit,” the individual speaks. We may sit in silence the entire hour or it may be one statement after another. It ranges from Zen style koans to personal gripes to expressive dance and poetry, yet, again, this is for Lexington’s particular meeting…most other Quaker meetings will not be open to this…and many are Programmed, as in they have a minister of sorts)

This weekend marked Veteran’s Day here in the US and the messages were quite intense. We keep political talk at bay but there was the underlying experienced chaos that Caroline is describing here…one individual even brought up the idea mentioned in one of the three videos (and writing I think) of the controlled burning required to till the land for new growth and vegetation to occur.
To cut to the point, I was inspired to lead a discussion next week on Tillich’s Love, Power, Justice. I am a member of the Adult Religious Education Committee and often find myself filling in the gaps (weeks in which we find no other takers for leading a discussion), tossing in some of my personal favorites. Since beginning attendance with the Quakers in March I have lead a discussion on the Holy Moment, Deep Friendship, Spiral Dynamics’ +/-, The Listening Society, Krista Tippett’s Civil Conversations Project

A quick introduction of myself: I have “undocumented, unmedicated, self- proclaimed social anxiety”…I have often frozen on the spot when attempting these discussions and have very little experience with public speaking. These presentations have been an attempt to literally break open my shell so I can potentially break open the heads of others.
Just like the Quaker meeting I attend, I am fully aware of the greatness and vulnerability being achieved here. Thank you all for the “safe” environment for creating a path towards the ultimate sense of healing.


We have all been told to shut up and sit down and mind your own business and so many of us have become frozen in shut down mode. I believe we have a good track record here for working with the shy and vulnerable aspects of our human condition. I have often risked saying something that made me intensely uncomfortable and that is a good sign! If we don’t cross that threshold and take a risk we may find ourselves confined to a very narrow range of topics to discuss.

I do hope we can develop transidisplinary capacities. Going beyond our comfort zones and releasing our defense strategies can happen when the trust factor is high. We have unprecedented opportunities to share quality research and we are trying to build rapport skills here. And can you break open that shell?

Can that shell be opened? What happens right before that shell breaks open?


I have listened and will listen again (and am “listening” to your little bird chirp atop my head now as I type) to your clean space and clean language way of “being” (for lack of better words). Thank you for your clarity and choice of professional (as well as recreational) occupation.

Consider the shell to have been pried open by a revelation last year!

Personal Revelation

(built upon years of smaller revelations of the past and further developed by the current every day remembering of this latest revelation): as i was seeking to bypass personal barriers towards better, higher communication with certain people in my life, I ultimately realized that I can have a deep relation with anyone and every one at any time. I hope to find the time and words to go deeper into this personal revelation

I think the Waking Life video clip linked above (Holy Moment) is the best depiction of what this revelation means to me. This depth of possibility in any given conversation can be carried into the realm of the mundane…though extremely difficult to find participants. To carry around with us the awareness that these holy moments, that these connections, can occur at any time is to create this sphere of existence…it is my Wilde map that includes utopia…Tillich would say that he lives every moment searching for this “impossible utopia.” I wish to tie this into Caroline’s stuff soon.

Aside Note

A word about my “connection”: Due to budget and beliefs…I have but only limited internet connection on my phone during the evening (US Eastern time), no hot spot, no subscriptions, etc. This site has got me believing again in the power of the internet. I hope I am willing and able to treat myself to a healthy dose of metapsychosis come Christmas.
A word on “time”: I am a “single-father” on weeknights (wife sleeps from 3-10 to rest for overnight work)…I hope to participate in video connections in the future…but I believe I am getting ahead of myself here!


Well, first of all, @Douggins gets a prize for advanced usage of a forum feature.

Nice use of expanding text

:octopus: @cthulhubot says hello.

Thanks also for the Waking Life clip. That is one of my favorite movies, and I’d forgotten this scene, but it’s brilliant and poignant. I’m also glad to hear of your experience with Quaker meetings. I think I have only been to one such meeting in my life, but the model of listening and speaking as ‘called’ has been central for me, especially as a poet, but also in my attempts at ‘civil conversations.’

I can relate, as well, to your self-diagnosis of social anxiety, and your metaphor (and practice) of breaking out of a perceived egg. For me personally, a big motivator for initiating these dialogues has been to overcome my own social anxiety, self-consciousness, sense of awkwardness, etc. I hope we can help each other crack out of our own shells into ever more freedom (and not cut our feet stepping on egg shells)!

Regarding your offer to host a talk on Tillich’s Love, Power, Justice, would you be willing to schedule it out a few weeks so myself and whoever else would want to join us has time to obtain and read the book? (I have a feeling it’s one of those thin but potent volumes.) I have some other reading underway that I need to focus on this week and next, and I would really want to sit with Tillich and enjoy him and learn what I could with some mental amplitude.

But I don’t think I could do it…justice by next Tuesday. How about a Tuesday afternoon or Thursday evening in early December?

@johnnydavis54, your questions are resonant.

I’d say when @care_save and I are collaborating at our best (which we’re just beginning to learn how to do) we are both inspiring and motivating each other, and…not exactly ‘holding each other accountable,’ since we’re not indebted to each other, such that we need to extract and reinforce a sense of static obligation—but we do focus each other and ourselves, together, on our shared purpose, and yes, desired outcomes.

Regarding your offer to host a seminar on the metaphorical mind, could your flesh out the topic into a paragraph or two (or suggested reading) to initiate a dedicated post, then we can put it on the calendar?


After the conversation on Young and Relflexivity I am drawn to review some of the work we have already done. You may recall Marco that we did the exploration with Zach on the Five Senses, and then Writing at your Best with Ed, Carolyn and then you and I worked on Clean Space. Recently I had a good conversation with Carolyn here in New York and we brainstormed about possibilities. I will put my thinking cap on and ask for your input on what kind of program might serve our community best?. I feel much more confident that Clean Language can work on line than I did before. Perhaps we can figure this out for the top of next year after the holiday madness has subsided?

I’m immnesly interested in modeling Time, which would compliment our work with Gebser. If we could get two or three participants together on a Zoom conference call I believe we could come up with something experiential that would be useful and perhaps even delightful.


After reviewing my writing above, it is easily interpreted as wanting to lead a discussion here. I will be leading a discussion this weekend with the Lexington Friends Meeting. Not quite ready for the big time here! I would love to host at some point…definitely no @madrush to jump into another reading.

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Ah, I see how I misinterpreted your lines. But still, you have piqued my interest in the book! I am going to find a copy, and hope we’ll make some time here to dive in. Please do let us know how your talk goes and what you may have learned. :slight_smile:

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Heh, heh, heh … of all the misnomers floating around here, “leading a discussion” has got to be one of them. Give a couple-of-minutes intro to a text, and it could be you don’t get a word in edgewise thereafter. :wink: One of the fascinating features of conversations in these parts is how naturally they unfold, which is why I think we all like to think of them as “conversations” and not really “discussions”.

Based upon your suggestion, I got Love, Power and Justice, have skimmed over it, and would definitely be interested in a conversation (or more, if need be) with it as the prompter.


A bit late this time, but that time thing, y’know …

You know what was brilliant about this conversation? It was all over the place.
You know what was the problem with this conversation? It was all over the place.
Better all over the place than nowhere at all, that’s what I say.

I admire Caroline’s temerity and tenacity in trying to provoke us into wakefulness, and I’m downright impressed by the quantity and quality of those who were willing to come forth and put their two-cents’ worth into making this all be more than just a whole lot of words. There’s a lot going on and a lot being addressed, but the plea this time was for some indication of what’s being done, and, even more importantly, what can be done. That’s a tall order.

The USA, though not alone, probably has more systemic problems with what it calls “democracy” than many others. The Founding Fathers may have wanted something else, but they certainly didn’t deliver on that and how that “system” is being managed these days – with its absolute rational duality and money=free-speech infection – doesn’t inspire any latent optimism in me that anything is going to get better soon. Gebser noted it, @johnnydavis never tires of reminding us, and I certainly agree, most modern-day “systems”, if not broken, are simply out of step with most of our needs. It’s time to go into in-spite-of-mode: just like most of learned more in spite of school, rather than because of it, so too, we need to manage our economic lives in spite of big corporations and we’ll have to manage our political lives in spite of government as well.

In the end, it all comes down to us … we humans, individually, and collectively, as far as is in our power. We should recall that any given person can probably only deal effectively with about 150 others. We’ve got limits, and so any individual efforts we make will rarely go beyond that. I’m not convinced that our individual reach extends any further than that even if we’re online. Any time we spend online is not with others in our local environment, so, in the end, we should probably just keep that in the back of our minds and use it to our advantage: every personal relationship needs to be intensified at every opportunity. Of course, it is fortunate that our circles of 150 overlap, so we end up having at least indirect effects on others, and vice versa, but the pithily repeated think-global-act-local starts looking wise in this light.

Personally, I don’t put an ounce of hope into AI. Our problem is not information, nor is it knowledge, it’s empathy more than than anything else. John nailed this one: it’s pseudo- not artificial intelligence, and we haven’t the slightest idea what we’re doing to ourselves brashly rushing down that path. The Kelleys and Kurzweils have apparently haven’t read any history: we’ve never gone to the upside on technology, so why would we think we would this time. If we ever had, we wouldn’t be facing a nuclear Armageddon, the planet wouldn’t be warming so quickly, there wouldn’t be continents of garbage swimming in the oceans, we’d have clean air and more hope for a future for our grandchildren. What is more, if you’re not programming your own “AI”, you can forget it. You’ll get what others will allow you to pay for (think only of the FCC ruling expected tomorrow on “net neutrality”), no more no less (unless, of course, there is a radical turnaround in our economic thinking, but to get there, we’ll probably have a meltdown or other catastrophe first).

No, if things are going to change for the better, we have to recognize that it’s up to us, so we’ve got to keep at it.


To take from Tillich’s Love, Power, Justice (this ontological analysis is not meant to give answers but to provide a heuristical understanding or a cultural ethos):

…intrinsic justice is dynamic. As such it cannot be defined in definite terms, and therefore the tributive justice

(or representatives of power)

Ha! A quote within a quote: attributive justice attributes to beings what they are and can claim to be. Distributive justice gives to any being the proportion of good which is due to him; retributive justice does the same, but in negative terms, in terms of deprivation of goods or active punishment

is never adequate to it because it calculates in fixed proportions. One never knows a priori what the outcome of an encounter of power with power will be. If one judges such an encounter and its outcome according to previous power proportions, one is necessarily unjust, even if one is legally right. Examples of this situation are a matter of daily experience. They include all trespasses of the positive law in the name of a superior law which is not yet formulated and valid. They include struggles for power which are in conflict with indefinite or obsolete rules, and the outcome of which is an increase in the power of being in both the victor and the conquered.

Caroline is giving us a solid account of a “superior law” that is “trespassed” by the current law, which is one that will never be adequate…especially America’s outdated system. The problem is that this superior law is yet to be formulated and valid.

Great. I think your take on the Dunbar number is spot on, especially from a friendly-curmudgeon and techno-skeptic (is that an accurate personality profile?). The small group of us here and the thousands of societies, groups, young political parties globally are defining this superior law, or rediscovering it and allowing others to rediscover it. Yes, we are seeing it pop up Moore and Moore…but even Moore’s law will see a bend in the curve. The point is not to cram this techno-utopian thinking into others, but to utilize it to the point in which we are all on a deeper level of understanding, which in turn would bring us an awakened state of civility, relief of psychological suffering, creative justice.

Positive “forceful” influence is the game I am in now. I have thought about the potential to create a psychedelic pill or some cranial brainwave device that literally awakens anyone to a certain level of understanding, it would force us into a deeper understanding. This is wishful thinking and I realize it is a slow crawl, generations even, before we even apply positive influence such as a sugar tax, mediation in schools, replacement of the current criminal justice system into one of understanding of our brain quirks. Tillich repeats that we are a core individual. We oscillate from individuation and participation, going from our core being and reaching out with our tendrils or tentacles, grasping via power, the human drive to survive, the will to power, taking more being into our being and even taking non-being into our being (see Caroline’s Buddhist take on nothingness as a tool to deep understanding).

We are in the presence of such nasty, disgusting influence everywhere we turn. Yes, let us keep at it and creatively create through this forceful force we identify as Love. I really like the last part of Tillich’s words above… “the outcome of which is an increase in the power of being in both the victor and the conquered.” This describes what we are seeing today quite accurately…power is popping up everywhere…and though those in political power seem to be the victors and we the conquered, the scales are in a strange balancing act right now…if our “superior law” of a higher order prevails, so be it.


I agree, Ed, and would add that Small is Beautiful. I actually avoid crowds, which isn’t easy, in Manhattan. But I love a performance, and performances are generative. They teach us how to share attention. Conversation, as the great Goethe said, is an art form. And I read about the boisterous conversations he had with Schiller. And I love the New England Transcendentalists, so much influenced by German Romanticism. It is out of this international mix of voices that Emerson and Thoreau emerged and the great emancipatory movements arose. We get the best of their prose but we must remember the struggles they endured, the hardships, the disputes. They were all over the place, too.

The Pragmatist Movement began in a living room in Boston, where some friends studied together. I think we can predict that small efforts like theirs can add up to create a movement. As we gaze into the abyss together, knowing there is no easy way out, but there may be a way of getting through the obstacles, the impasses and paradox that obscure the light. Whenever I listen to anyone I always assume this person is up to something BIG. When we have high expectations for others, it is amazing how interesting they become.

I often feel a nice buzz after our group thinks together, and the buzz may last for a few days. It is a healthy and tolerant zone where thinking is encouraged and I trust that this is a very good thing. Everything important starts in a study group.

A strategy from US special forces. When in a chaotic situation, capture the high ground, stay in touch, keep moving.


If we developed our empathic capacities (is empathic mastery possible?), could we indeed formulate and validate the deeper laws? :thinking:

I echo Marco’s comments: aspects of “when we are collaborating at our best” include: inspiration, motivation, focus. There’s a sense of faith reflected at each other (of: “you’re smart, what you do is interesting, i want to hear what’s next”) which, as a container, generates a kind of positive pressure–coming out of it, there’s a sense that what we can do or have done by combining the differential of our skills & our minds exceeds what would have been possible without entering that collaborative contained space. Like the excitement of electrons in a closed system, generates additional energy, which, if that too is channelled, leads to more energy in the system, no? At least, that’s one of the premises of–that we generate value in fruitful combining, and that this can be captured and redirected in ways that feed the benefit of all rather than for extraction and consolidation.


The excitement of electrons…and leads to more energy…

.I think it would be fun, after the holidays, to have a clean language session and develop some more of our metaphorical landscapes. We have a lot of experience to look back and reflect upon and I expect we may have had some serendipitous learning along the way that may be interesting to share.

Now that you have published your work and received good feedback, I would love to take this forward into the future. Cherishing a shared dynamic reference point is vital for nurturing an authentic group identity. Thank you.