Author Archives: Stephen Calhoun

Stephen Calhoun

About Stephen Calhoun

Outsider researcher, experiential guide, naive musician and artist. "My beliefs are unbelievable!" (P.Krassner) "Follow the perfume, not the tracks." (Shams)

A Debacle

Freeplay-Oct-19

After two one run games the two Sundays, games in which the visitors prevented the home team from scoring any runs in the bottom of the seventh, the visitors were crushed. As handicapper, two complaints were directed at me, one having to do with not spreading out the weaker players, and, the other with stopping the game “arbitrarily.”

(No comment. Oh, wait, I went one-for-six playing for the winning team, so there sure was a weak player on the home team!)

So:

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Sam Harris Solves the Problem of Islamic Faith

Shortly after viewing the intensely puerile tag team tussle betwixt Affleck/Kristof/Steele and Maher/Harris (on Real Time With Bill Maher, October 3rd,) I knew it would take a little while, but that I would soon get an email sent from the ramparts of the Integral Empire pointing out that the Real Time combatants just don’t get religion like the Wilberians in actuality do get it.

Sure enough, on the 18th, Dustin DiPerna weighed in on The Daily Evolver (email newsletter) with Bridging the Chasm: Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, and a Needed Dose of Integral Theory. In turn, although the link back is not available in the newsletter, Mr. DiPerna contributed a longer article to Integral World, the safehouse for heterodox views of the integral. Finally, at The Daily Evolver itself is Jeff Salzman’s article/podcast Dog and God.

Predictably, came the appeal to the integral framework’s notion of levels in the flux of person and religious system.

DiPerna: Islam, like all of our world’s great religious traditions, is enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved. To be sure, Islam has a particular shape and flavor that has consistency throughout all interpretations. Folks like Harris tend to emphasize the consistent dimensions of faith, often intentionally highlighting the aspects that many consider the most challenging to stomach, as a methodology to provoke or even dismiss entire traditions as “bad ideas”. But just as each tradition has a flavor and shape itself, it is equally true that every human being has a lens and worldview that brings forth particular elements of the tradition according to the world that he or she can see. There is not one version of Islam that is either “Good” or “Bad” but there are at least five versions of Islam, all dependent upon specific levels of interpretation. Each of these levels is not arbitrary. The levels are consistent across traditions and can be correlated with very specific stages of psychological development.

Whether we use the work of Harvard researcher James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or the early models of developmental progression found in the works of Jean Gebser, we see a very similar metric that can be used to explore five basic levels of development. These levels can be referred to using the shorthand terms: magic (Stage 1), mythic (Stage 2), rational (Stage 3), pluralistic (Stage 4), and integral (Stage 5). Each level has particular characteristics and hallmarks of how it shows up in the world. Furthermore, each level has both moderate and extremist orientations.

If an interpretation is dependent, and decisively dependent upon the lens and worldview discoverable at the scale of the individual–and this is implied by religion enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved–then there are as many versions of a religion at such a scale as there are actors.

This follows from DiPerna’s organic analysis that uses the blunt conceptions, via Jean Gebser, of integral analysis. A reader such as myself then can anticipate the arrival of the prescriptions.

DiPerna. Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development. In doing so, this stage of religious orientation seeks to build bridges connecting various levels of interpretation. Understanding that everyone starts the developmental process at stage 1, this level sees the importance of building conveyor belts of potential growth and development in each tradition. Rather than merely sitting in a circle in dialogue (as the Pluralistic level might do) the integral stage combines discernment and compassion acknowledging that some views are broader, more compassionate and more inclusive than others.

In his podcast, Dog and God, Integral insider Jeff Salzman will get to this same Stage 5. (His discussion of religion in the context of stage of development begins at 11m into the podcast. download )

A reader such as myself, (having followed along with the Integral framework since 1979,) can anticipate the arrival of the prescription.

DiPerna. Rather, what is needed is the critical comprehension that individuals, with different levels of development, are enacting Islam (and all other religious traditions) according to their own worldviews and levels of development. And even more importantly, we must come to the understanding that there are paths that can be highlighted that can help individuals move along that developmental spectrum from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral versions of each tradition. As development unfolds, interpretations of faith move from being more restrictive, ego-centric and ethno-centric in view to orientations that more compassionate, open, and world-centric.

Sam Harris, transcript of the clip: 

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim, who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up, and let them reform Islam.

Harris’s view is obviously crude and unreal, and, for someone who spins dimes into bullion on the anti-mythic religion trail, his prescription is shockingly and shamelessly a product of his being deeply ignorant about what religions generally are about, and how religions come to change–let alone, be reformed.

Salzman’s cop from DiPerna is less crude but is no better:

Integral teacher and scholar Dustin DiPerna, also inspired by the Maher/Harris/Affleck flap, wrote a terrific essay for Integral Life on how development trumps religion.

Were Salzman, DiPerna, and Harris deep critics of their own biases, I’d have some hope for the development of better prescriptions with regard to the problem of religiosity and its variable contexts. Although, I don’t know of anybody in the post-conventional community who is so devoted to such radical solutions that he or she is willing to evangelize for free, directly to the target audience. As far as I can tell, Harris mostly preaches his degenerate prescriptions for religion to people who already have ejected themselves from religion’s clutches, or, have little experience with religion.

It would be quite remarkable for it to someday be demonstrated to be the true case that religions actually are driven to evolve in the direction promoted by the Integral idealization, an idealization itself rooted in the nowadays diffuse and defused transpersonal and noetic counter-culture of the late sixtes and early seventies. Wilber’s own philosophy soon enough came to be reactionary, constitute a logo-therapeutics, realize a messianic brand and industry, and engage a magnificently one-sided, touchy but no feely, developmental track today termed the Super Human Operating System. Could this be the inkling of the first world post-religion?

This is to suggest that those higher Integral stages are themselves geared to enlighten, but, at the same time, in the shadow of those later, higher stages, are currents strong enough to evoke the clearly promethean demiurge that supposes the point of a human life is superior development, and, this is given so as to, among many effects, trump religion, blind the religious as it were by the light of higher consciousness, bend the lower stage aspirational wills by contact with consciousness liberated from its worldly objects.

This leads to the chicken/egg problem that can bias investigation of religion. This problem is in extremis in the Integral milieu. The problem clearly comes to the surface when, for example, Harris offers a potential for reform of Islam to be caused in the crucible of ambivalence. I take this lightly to be a person speaking about changing something he is innocent of. Do we understand what the amiable endpoint of Islam will be, from being able to conjure a Fifth Stage?

I consider the Integral view on religion to be largely incapable as a hermeneutical tool. Still, it would be a remarkable coincidence if it turns out Ken Wilber has in fact discovered the optimal stages of human development, and these, as DiPerna states, have come to trump religion!

Harris? Salzman? DiPerna? Wilber? Does such a person carry close to them a criticism of their own prescription? After all, at least with all the starry-eyed advocates for centauric development, it can be presumed he or she has developed powerful tools with which to deconstruct and parse via the AQAL, and further analyze, and, process via the ironic turn, the beneficial and costly ramifications of their own prescription, and such prescriptions would be born from their own experience, biases, expertise, and ignorance.

The complexity of human and social phenomena was long ago subsumed by the abject claim, given here by DiPerna, “Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development.”  Certainly, as a social cyberneticist and Batesonian, the analytic operating methodologies for systematically evaluating spectrums of growth and development as expressed in Wilber’s own body of work is amusingly and ironically reductive, naively one-sided, rarely counter-factually argued in a very spotty literature, and, is shamelessly innocent of the apparently dull details of, to name two gigantic fields of study, psychology and religion.  So, you say “entire” and I hear: gigantic.

There was a time around the turn of the century when Ken Wilber’s vision for the Integral Theory was that it needed adherents to go into the academy and become better schooled and eventually some exchange and synergy and informed evolution on both ‘sides’ might result. But, then stuff happened, and Wilber didn’t ever lead this charge. Instead, he built with help, the Integral Technologies, technologies just recently termed the Super Human OS.

Install this OS and trump really old stuff?

schuon_esoteric_exoteric

Meanwhile, neo-traditionalist, ‘not-of-the-world,’ radical Takfiri Salafism, can’t be understood to center Islam, but, those particular jihadi offshooters are on an intensely devotional mission to convert the unbeliever everywhere, or be martyred making the attempt.

I doubt a unitarian-like revolt from the fringes could make a difference, Mr. Harris.

My own prescription only has to do with what anybody might decide to do in taking initial steps for the purpose of understanding any complex human matter, such as religion, or a religion.

First, how do you identify what your tool set will be?

What are the given problems and opportunities given by where you start your investigation from?

What are the nature of your biases ?

What frameworks and tools for knowledge/sense-making are congenial or seem to carry a prospect for intrinsic motivation?

What do you need to know firstly?

Where will you start, and why start there?

How will you gather up resources and mentors?

What will be the qualitative measure of your inevitable partial understanding?

What will you not understand if you are unwilling to “do” or experience the religion?

Second, speaking very broadly, there are fields for investigation of religion, and religions. For the anthropologist, religions are largely in the local context of historical and present-day development and concrete practice at the small scale where individual, family, community practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions are able to be studied. How is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

For sociologist, religions are largely in the larger scale context given by how institutions and relationships between social groups come to bear upon both local practice and the organization of local practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions into the larger social scales, and, organizational practices and routines, of a society or well-defined group. How is this all to be understood as a driver and sustainer of institutions and their practices?

For modern historians, the development of a religion asserts how a religion came to center or otherwise instantiate crucial social impacts and changes at the scale of community or tribe or group or nation or region or continent or planet, and, at all of those scales altogether.

Psychologically or social-psychologically, the nature of religion refers to its aiding cognitive cum psychological organization of individual and intrapsychic and intersubjective and group: identity, meaningfulness, symbolic systems, inheritable interpretation of history, ethics, birth/life/death, family, theories of mind (or consciousness,) development, aspiration, and relations to the profound objects and possibilities larger than one’s own single mortal self. In a psycho-anthropology, how is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

There are also many other fields and disciplines, like philosophy of religion, plus, all the various fields possess lots of disciplinary subsets.

My gloss here is intended to sketch lots of choices, showcase complexity. Also, this gloss supposes all sorts of tacit relations and subject matters between the disciplinary fields. Obviously, I recognize my own investigations are at the level of what is called the ‘folk,’ and so I also recognize whatever I do happen to know is more lightly disciplined and more subject to error than that of most masterful experts.

As far as I know, most of the thrust of Integral investigators is inexpert too. There is to my knowledge not a single deeply informed integral treatment on the subject of religion, (or on any other subject for that matter!)

I sense the deep irony unintentionally embedded in the various Integral prescriptions.

It is clear to me that even if the post-religion implicit in the higher stages of Integral development drives the good will of those who urge upon Islam reform for the sake of Islam evolving to become trumped by the Integral (!), the various Integral self-proclaimed scholars do not yet seem to me to be at all conversant with religion as a social scientific object of study, let alone conversant with Islam proper.

As for Bill Maher, I enjoy his New Rules, but he is, in the main, an asshat and charlatan.

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Cat Vision

What cats see

This is my favorite cartoon from B.Kliban’s iconic book from 1975, Cats.

Why Cats Paint

From Why Cats Paint.

Why cats Paint

Preface-Why CatsPaint

Great book that is half tongue-in-cheek, and, half a showcase for spontaneous cat painting.

Kizzie

Kizzie, laying about the studio amid guitars

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Deeply 80th Birthday Abdullah Ibrahim

Advise: click on the start triangle above for your momentary soundtrack. Thank you.

I wrote this fifteen years ago.

For over forty years people all over the world have received and been touched by the artistry and music of Dr. Abdullah Ibrahim. Not to stop there, however; the multitude of musical gifts of the African tradition, and, more generally, the gifts of the deeply abiding traditions of peoples’ musics and arts, are vital harmonizing mediums for the sensitive souls of people. Many people allow the artistry of such providers of joyful nutrition to make an essential, sympathetic impression on their own life and creative work.

Here’s a curious thought. In the past year I have been reflecting upon and gathering impressions having to do with, first, my being subjected to experiential learning, and, secondly, coming to understand how it is framed as a modality of constructive transformation in the West.

What I was subjected to for several years was not Western, but it was presumably outfitted for me, the American. Then, under the tutelage and mentorship of Judith Buerkel (1996,) and soon enough, after gaining some knowledge and understanding of the field, I began to reckon with the overlap between applications, learnings, and the means given by, in effect, Western psychology, to understand what it is for a person to experientially learn.

For example, there is some overlap of western theory with this thought:

“Inspiration is a stream of wonder and bewilderment. Music should be healing, music should uplift the soul, music should inspire. The thought attached to things is a life power. In order to define it, it may be called a vibratory power. There is a thought attached to all things made either by an individual or the multitude, and that thought will give results accordingly. The influence put into things is according to the intensity of the feeling, as a note resounds according to the intensity with which you strike it. So it is according to the medium that you take in striking vibrations that the effect is made. In all things there is God, but the object is the instrument, and man is life itself. Into the object a person puts life. When a certain thing is made, it is at that time that life is put into it which goes on and on like breath in a body.” Pir Hazrat Inayat Khan

At the same time, for me, there is a very large non-overlapping area. Question: what has music meant for you?

Abdullah Ibrahim reached 80 today. One thing hasn’t changed over the years, A.I. remains 241 months older than me per the way the calendar differentiates the distinction. Otherwise, comparably, I am a child. When I think of Ibrahim I think secondly of his music, and, firstly of his several lessons. One lesson: everything is always completely at stake. 

(A sufi once, with nothing on his mind, was – without warning – struck at from behind. He turned and murmured, choking back the tears: “The man you hit has been dead for thirty years. He’s left this world!” The man who’d struck him said: “You talk a lot for someone who is dead! But talk’s not action – while you boast, you stray Further and further from the secret Way, And while a hair of you remains, your heart And Truth are still a hundred worlds apart.” Burn all you have, all that you thought and knew (Even your shroud must go; let that burn too); Then leap into the flames, and as you burn Your pride will falter, you’ll begin to learn. But keep one needle back and you will meet A hundred thieves who force you to retreat Think of that tiny needle which became The negligible cause of Jesus’ shame). As you approach this stage’s final veil, Kingdoms and wealth, substance and water fail; Withdraw into yourself, and one by one Give up the things you own – when this is done, Be still in selflessness and pass beyond All thoughts of good and evil; break this bond, And as it shatters you are worthy of Oblivion, the Nothingness of love.)

Lie down beside the flowing stream
and see Life passing by and know
That of the world’s transient nature
this one sign is enough for us

Hafez, r.a

It’s a very hard lesson.

Over on the nogutsnoglory blog I am celebrating the artistry and ongoing vitality of Abdullah Ibrahim with a series of posts, all of which are restorations of archival posts from the defunct Mantra Modes blog. Should you begin with the first post from today MAGIC EIGHTY and work your way through to the last post, you will end up at the gateway of the opportunity to engage Abdullah Ibrahim’s musical artistry. Of course, this is possible only if you haven’t already engaged his artistry. Everybody with a sensitive soul would do well to engage his artistry.

I’ve provided an initial opportunity at the head of this post. Dr. Ibrahim is arguably among the the deepest musicians that the continent of Africa has so far produced. (The continent of Africa has been producing sonically creative persons for tens of thousands of years. Music was likely born in the Kalahari.) His ongoing international career began in 1964. Happy fiftieth birthday too!

As he told me, in the olden times, in the African village, children of exceptional musical talent became healers.

Ah! Death! Life! Our communication is on a completely different level. See, if we talk about music (Ibrahim plays a few notes on the piano), we are dealing with the unseen. We are fortunate that in Africa we have old people who understand the dynamic of the unseen. We study with them. Music is dealing in the realm of the unseen. It is much deeper as people think when they “see us play some notes”. It is a deeply spiritual practice. But look at jazz musicians now, everything in modern society is misplaced. I mean you are interviewing me with a tape recorder. Now, that is misplaced – not that I want to put you down – but you are supposed to use other means of communication. In some ways this is stupid. It is the same with musicians, we are supposed to be entertainers, but in traditional societies we were priests. In any traditional societiy, anybody that shows musical implanation was immediately drafted into medicine. My great grandfather was a healer. He tought us everything about herbs, plants and flowers and what you are supposed to do wit them. We as musicians living in this modern urban society … All my family were religious practioners. They came from traditional practice and when the white people came they went into the church. I was the first one that became a musician and became muslim. It has all to do with healing and spiritual practices. (interview with Abdullah Ibrahim)

800px-Abdullah_Ibrahim

(2001) Abdullah Ibrahim, born in South Africa in 1934, remembering hearing traditional African songs, religious music and jazz as a child – all of which are reflected in his music. He received his first piano lessons in 1941 and became a professional musician in 1949 (Tuxedo Slickers, Willie Max Big Band). In 1959 he met alto saxophone player Kippi Moeketsi who convinced him to devote his life to music. He meets and soon marries South African jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin in 1965.

In 1962 the Dollar Brand Trio (with Johnny Gertze on bass, Makaya Ntshoko on drums) tours Europe. Duke Ellington listens in at Zurich’s Africana Club and sets a recording session for Reprise Records: Duke Ellington presents the Dollar Brand Trio. 1963/64 sees the trio at major European festivals, including TV shows and radio performances.

In 1965 Dollar Brand plays the Newport Jazz Festival followed by a first tour through the United States. In 1966 he leads the Duke Ellington Orchestra: ›I did five dates substituting for him. It was exciting, but very scary, I could hardly play.‹ Other than six months playing with the Elvin Jones Quartet Abdullah Ibrahim (who changed his name after his conversion to Islam in the late 1960s) has been a band leader ever since. 1968 sees a solo piano tour. From then on he has continuously playing concerts and clubs throughout the US, Europe and Japan with appearances at the major music festivals of the world (e.g. Montreux, North Sea, Berlin, Paris, Montreal etc.). A world traveller since 1962, Ibrahim went back to South Africa in the mid- 1970s but found conditions so oppressive that he went back to New York in 1976.

In 1988 Ibrahim wrote the award-winning sound track for the film ›Chocolat‹ (released on ENJ-50732 ›Mindif‹) which was followed by further endeavors in film music the latest being the sound track to ›No Fear, No Die‹ (TIP-888815 2).

An eloquent spokesman and deeply religious, Abdullah Ibrahim’s beliefs and experiences are reflected in his music. ›The recent changes in South Africa are of course very welcome, it has been so long in coming. We would like a total dismantling of apartheid and the adoption of a democratic non-racist society: it seems to be on the way.‹ In 1990, Ibrahim returned to South Africa to live there but keeps up his New York residence as well. Several tours took him around the globe featuring his groups and also doing much acclaimed solo piano recitals. 1997 saw the beginning of a duet cooperation with the dean of jazz drums, Max Roach.

Later projects (1997 and 1998) are of a large scale nature. Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder arranged Abdullah Ibrahim’s compositions for a 22 piece string orchestra (members of the Youth Orchestra of the European Community) for a CD recording and a Swiss Television SF-DRS production and also for the full size Munich Radio Philharmonic Orchestra again for CD production and for concert performances featuring the Abdullah Ibrahim Trio.

The world premiere of the symphonic piece was at the renowned Herkules Saal in Munich, Germany on January 18th 1998, under the direction of Barbara Yahr and the Zuricher Kammerorchester premiered the string orchestra version at Zurich’s Tonhalle in February 1998. The string orchestra version was released in September 1998 (›African Suite‹, TIP-8888322) and met widest critical acclaim from the worlds of both jazz and classical music. The symphonic version (›African Symphony‹) has been released in 2001 in a double CD set which also features Abdullah Ibrahim with the NDR Big Band giving the full scope of his large format music.

Another highlight was the premiere of ›Cape Town Traveller‹, a multimedia produc- tion at the Leipzig music festival in 1999. A one hour performance featured A.I. and the Ekaya Sextet, a vocal group, filmmaterial from the early days in South Africa and the European years, electronic sounds ranging from impressionism to drum and bass – a great experience. One of the newest albums is ›Revesited‹ (TIP-88888362), recorded live in Cape Town. The piano of A.I. is featured with Marcus McLaurine (b) and Georg Gray (dr) and added is the fiery trumpet of South African Feya Faku on several tracks.

A great honor has been bestowed on Abdullah Ibrahim when the renowned Greham College in London invited him to give several lectures and concerts (beginning in October 2000 at Canary Wharf). Among his predecessors at the famed institution which looks back at a history of 500 years are John Cage, Luciano Berio, Xenakis. (from the press kit for Abdullah Ibrahim, A Struggle for Love, A film by Ciro Cappellari)

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Relishing the Friend

The-Exo-God-sm

The Exo God, S.Calhoun 2014

Rumi: “ The cup wants to be lifted and used, not broken but carried carefully to the next. The cup knows there is a state for you beyond this one that comes with more vast awareness. The cup looks still but acts in secret to help. Sometimes you pour cup to cup, nothing happens. Pour instead into your deep ocean self, without calculation. If eyesight blurs, use a railing to follow.”

So another way that we limit ourselves or contain ourselves, is through being useful. It’s another way that we keep our rim dry, to take a utilitarian view of the spiritual life, when what we’re really trying to do is way beyond any kind of usefulness in the ordinary sense of the word. So Bhante talks about this in ‘Wisdom Beyond Words’ as the greater mandala. And it’s really, I means it’s just pure genius this chapter on the greater mandala which some people don’t know about, I think. So if you’re interested do look that up.

So he talks about this greater mandala, and he says that the Bodhisattva operates within this greater mandala. It’s a mandala of relishing, of enjoying, of taking delight, it’s a mandala of aesthetic appreciation.

Vajradarshini: “Kavyasiddhi what are you doing today?”

Kavyasiddhi: “Well Vajradarshini I’m mainly just relishing people, taking delight, and enjoying what arises, within that I will be, you know, earning money, washing my clothes, having a run, but that’s by the by really.”

excerpted from the excellent essay, We Have A Huge Barrel of Wine But No Cups  by Vajradarshini Audio Available at: http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=OM779

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Loosing My Cool in the Cool

FreePlay-Oct-5-2014

As Free Play Softball winds its season down, our ability to extend the season is based in individual players being motivated enough to come out in the cooler weather. On Sunday it was right around 50 degrees at game time. We’ve played in much colder weather. Otherwise the conditions were crisp: sunny with scattered clouds, lots of Canadian geese poop, and a mild breeze blowing straight out to center field. This Sunday wasn’t a test of motivation. That will come soon enough.

As I’ve mentioned before, with turnouts of 11-14 players, we cut the outfield in half and outfit teams defensively with one less outfielder and one less infielder. The biggest individual impact is on the few players like me who tend to hit between left and right center. The biggest impact of the reduced numbers for making out the line-ups, chosen by me the so-called handicapper, is that deviations from mean–typical–performance are more likely to be amplified rather than smoothed. There’s a big difference between full teams of ten each and smaller line-ups of six each.

Sunday’s game did achieve the holy grail of handicapping: a one run game in favor of the visiting team. On the other hand, for me, it showcased my brief melt down when my team’s pitcher threw a pitch before his outfield was set. I was walking toward my spot when the balled arced ten feet from my path. This frustrated me greatly because I am so slow that I need the advantage of starting out in left field in the proper position, given the batter.  I yelled profanely at my team mate.

Maybe it was just in a minor way that this same pitcher obtained two outs with the winning run at second base in the last frame of the game. It was a splendid performance in that he retired the two most bruising hitters in the line-up.

 

 

 

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The Pen

The Pen

The Pen – 12×12″ – from a photograph – S.Calhoun

Although it is evidently visible yet there is no one there who sees it. Amazing!

Even though it exists in everyone everywhere yet it has gone unrecognized. Amazing!

Nevertheless, you hope to obtain some other fruit than this elsewhere. Amazing!

Even though it exists within yourself and nowhere else yet you seek for it elsewhere. Amazing!

–Rumi

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Situations

Taraka timiram dipo
Maya-avasyaya budbudam
Supinam vidyud abhram ca
Evam drastavyam samskrtam.

As stars, a fault of vision, as a lamp,
A mock show, dew drops, or a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, or cloud,
So should one view what is conditioned.
(from The Diamond Sutra)

. . .which reminds me of one of my most favorite, top ten, movies, Werner Herzog’s The White Diamond. “The White Diamond tells the life English engineer Graham Dorrington, who built a small helium powered zeppelin to fly over the jungle of British Guyana and fulfill his desire to soar through the air.”

It’s about the “situations humans get themselves into.”

Taste and get the DVD from your library.

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Titanic Ambitions

Titanic-Ambitions

“Children who are respected learn respect. Children who are cared for learn to care for those weaker than themselves. Children who are loved for what they are cannot learn intolerance. In an environment such as this, they will develop their own ideals, which can be nothing other than humane, since they grew out of the experience of love.” – Alice Miller

Spruce Goose

The Spruce Goose.The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That’s more than a city block.  On 2 November 1947, a series of taxi tests was begun with Hughes at the controls. His crew included Dave Grant as co-pilot, and a crew of two flight engineers, 16 mechanics and two other flight crew. In addition, the H-4 carried seven invited guests from the press corps plus an additional seven industry representatives, for a total of 32 on board.

After the first two uneventful taxi runs, four reporters left to file stories but the remaining press stayed for the final test run of the day. After picking up speed on the channel facing Cabrillo Beach near Long Beach, the Hercules lifted off, remaining airborne 70 feet (21 m) off the water at a speed of 135 mph (217 km/h or 117 knots) for around a mile (1.6 km). At this altitude, the aircraft was still experiencing ground effect.

Hughes had answered his critics and the hearings ended. The aircraft never flew again. It was carefully maintained in flying condition until Hughes’ death in 1976.

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Generative Alchemy

Brueghel - The Alchemist

Brueghel: The Alchemist

Calhoun Generative Art
The Alchemy of Symmetry – Excerpt from Brueghel’s The Alchemist
S.Calhoun (2014) 10×10″

This piece is part of a large series that will likely be presented in a short film. The film is intended to show the interplay of manipulations and recursions involved in generating different pieces.

I dedicate this new series to Ms. Uidhi. (I may be one of a handful of artists, or pseudo-artists, focusing on creative luckiness in the context of a post-academic post-scholarly focus on the situation of serendipity in adult development. This could include meandering into philosophical swamps.

IP LAF Forum: Christy Mag Uidhi on Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck, 25 Sept

Tuesday 23 September 2014

INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY

Thurs 25 September 2014, 4.00pm
IP London Aesthetics Forum: Room G34, Senate House, WC1
Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck
Christy Mag Uidhi (Houston)
Supported by the British Society of Aesthetics

It is standardly thought that artworks may gain and lose art-relevant properties over time (and thereby may also admit of similar gains and losses in artistic value). From this it follows that insofar as such gains and losses may be well outside the control of the artist, we ought to expect any minimally adequate theory of art and its value as such to come with (or at least be amenable to) some minimal notion of artistic luck and artistic achievement (such that ascriptions of the one undermine ascriptions of the other). In this talk, I’ll sketch what I take to be uncontroversial minimal accounts of both artistic luck and artistic achievement. From these I show it to follow that if artworks must be products of intentional action, then there can be no such thing as artistic luck (either descriptively or evaluatively). I claim the only formative role luck might play in our understanding of art and its value as such is to provide the means by which we may productively carve out an informative sub-class of artistic achievement: specifically that of artistic serendipity.

Ends.

[My bold.] Intention, serendipity. Intentional serendipity is pseudo-serendipity. It is a kind of search routine. I don’t subscribe to the idea that intentionality is properly monolithic or exclusionary. But, I concede that psychologizing the artist’s creative process may take my own considerations and sensemaking out of and away from a proper philosophy of aesthetics.

Nor do I know what Ms. Mag Uidhi has in mind to flesh out the intriguing precis.

For my own part, there is so much in my creative process that permits creative intention-up-to-the-point of pulling the curtains away, and, thus includes less discrete combinations of intention and, fundamentally, hope about the unknown!

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Nice Guys Finish

Andree

Focus.


Legs of sixteen year old, yet, I think this was his 10,000th at-bat!

Legs of a sixteen year old, yet, I think this was his 10,000th career at-bat!

Free Play Softball League

The Hotheads beat the Coolheads by two runs. The surprisingly small turnouts have been a challenge for the handicapper. The pleasure this fine Sunday morning was a pair of unassisted homeruns from Katz.

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Around and Round, and Never Off the Surface

Toles

Ask yourself: what kinds of “whats” express your own depth? Your depth is, what?

Uroboros

To which problem do you go to first, the problem of ‘what is the what,’ or, the problem of, what is depth in terms of my depth? 

cosurobos

from: www.counterbalance.org/

Alternately, can you read the meta-problem backward? In which case, one would identify the ends which are the ramifications of the varieties of the result of: what depth is a deep what? Then you argue your answers from these end results.

(Apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

Escher uroboros

M.C.EScher

Short cut: make a list of all your accomplishments on any given day. Circle the deep accomplishments. Justify your choices. Elaborate the terms of justification. Deepen the terms of justification.

Klein Bottle

Model makers around the end of the nineteenth century realised that their models’ translucent and airy forms could make real what till then might have seemed invisible abstractions: their faith rested in the possibility of turning geometry into artefacts. So, at Goettingen and other major research centres in mathematics, students were encouraged to contemplate, handle and design ever more exotic forms as part of their training in the realities of higher geometry. In 1882 their master, the mathematician and entrepreneur Felix Klein, designed a three dimensional form which seemed to have but one surface – it came to be known as the Klein bottle. At least as interesting as its formation is its dependence on the malleable materials of which it is made. The plasticity of glass and related substances was decisive for many of the great scientific advances of a century ago, for by manipulating and twisting such substances into elegant and manageable form, technicians were able to design objects which not only helped make abstractions real, but also aided the scientists of microphysics and the subatomic world perform trials which first showed the existence of rays which could penetrate matter and particles smaller than atoms: radiation tubes, radiometers, cathode ray instruments. The magnificent glass works of the labs and workshops of the Belle Epoque showed the world how it was made. Anish Kapoor, Unconformity & Entropy

See: Imperatives for unbiased holistic education: the Klein bottle, a universal structure: an archetypal image Melanie Purcell, Department of Philosophy, University of Newcastle, PDF

What is Radical Recursion?
Steven M. Rosen, Departments of Psychology and Philosophy (Emeritus) College of Staten Island/City University of New York

META-LOGUE

Paul Ryan: Gregory, the insistence that you have that the map is not the
territory. Okay. Axiomatic in terms of a way of approaching things.
Gregory Bateson: That’s old Korzybski, right.
P: Yes. As I understand it, this axiom is an insurance that logical
typing not be confused.
G: The territory not to be confused with the map. Right. Don’t eat the
menu card.
P: Now, in the Kleinform that I’m working with, there are times in
which the map becomes the territory and the territory becomes the
map. One part would be explained by being contained by two other
parts.
G: Right.
P: And in that instance we could call that the territory to be explained.
G: Wait a minute. So you draw the pictures. But these are not pictures
of something. These are pictures about something.
P: There’s no something as far as I can tell.
G: Oh, then, I don’t know what you’re at. I’m stuck again. Well, I can
say what I understood you to be at. At wanting to describe,
what shall we say, a process of embryology. And within the embryology,
there would be relations such that there would be whatever it is,
these sort of descriptive statements you’d need to make about the
embryology. And they would be related, as these three parts of the
kleinbottle are related to each other. It would then be suitable to
map them onto a Klein bottle. That’s not what you’re at.
P: No, no…it’s not.
G: Then I got you wrong. And I was so proud of myself. I thought I
was getting…( Laughter)
P: I feel it’s close, somehow, but…Let me try it this way. This is not
propositional. The intelligence here is not propositional.
G: The intelligence of no tautology in the end is propositional.
P: I didn’t realize that about logical types. There’s more flexibility
there than I’d thought.
  
(excerpt: Metalogue: Gregory Bateson, Paul Ryan PDF

I’ve been pondering this subject:  how a person abdicates depth by instrumentalizing their activities to such a great degree that all their means no longer connect to depth. (Yes, what is depth?) In a sense, what happens is those means merely are the set-up for the consumption of the next means. Uroboros.

The test for this is the enfolded question: what is my deep what?

May depth only be supported by content and identity? (This is a meta-question. Does any justification obtain this tautology: ‘The best of what I do reflects what I do best.’)

Is there nothing deeper than me at my best, doing my best?

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Between Heaven and Hell

Hell
Hell, S.Calhoun (2014) symmetry experiment

Heaven&theGarden-of-Eden
Heaven and the Garden of Eden, (2014) S.Calhoun, symmetry experiment

Without contraries is no progres-
sion. Attraction and repulsion, rea-
son and energy, love and hate, are
necessary to human existence.

From these contraries spring what
the religious call Good and Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys reason;
Evil is the active springing from
Energy.

Good is heaven. Evil is hell.

Energy is Eternal Delight.

Those who restrain desire, do so
because theirs is weak enough to be
restrained; and the restrainer or
reason usurps its place and governs
the unwilling.

And being restrained, it by degrees
becomes passive, till it is only the
shadow of desire.

The history of this is written in
Paradise Lost, and the Governor or
Reason is called Messiah.

And the original Archangel or pos-
sessor of the command of the heavenly
host is called the Devil, or Satan, and
his children are called Sin and Death.

But in the book of Job, Milton’s
Messiah is called Satan.

For this history has been adopted by
both parties.

It indeed appeared to Reason as if
desire was cast out, but the Devil’s
account is, that the Messiah fell, and
formed a heaven of what he stole from
the abyss.

This is shown in the Gospel, where
he prays to the Father to send the
Comforter or desire that Reason may
have ideas to build on, the Jehovah
of the Bible being no other than he
who dwells in flaming fire. Know
that after Christ’s death he became
Jehovah.

But in Milton, the Father is Destiny,
the Son a ratio of the five senses, and
the Holy Ghost vacuum !

Note. — The reason Milton wrote
in fetters when he wrote of Angels
and God, and at Uberty when of
Devils and Hell, is because he was
a true poet, and of the Devil’s party
without knowing it.

excerpts from William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (fulltext)

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Imaginal Cybernetics, the Demonic Daemon, Deep Play

Hermes

Part One of Two

First you pour the water in the pool. Then you dive.

I’ve dived into the recent hours of intense creative dialog with Ken Warren. We’re preparing our presentation cum performance at The Society for Analytical Psychology of Western New York on December 12.

Peras-Swine

I’ll get to its description in a moment. First, let’s wander.

Systemics and cybernetics can be viewed as a metalanguage of concepts and models for transdisciplinarian use, still now evolving and far from being stabilized. This is the result of a slow process of accretion through inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines. Systemics and Cybernetics in a Historical Perspective, Charles Francois, Systems Research Sciences and Behavioral Systems Research Sciences, #16

In short, directed at the above from 1999, Blow that shit up. Ken and I discuss our stuff, and we very seriously marry our paired, then dancing, intuitions. I could identify and then name and then post the essential contexts that inform our brotherly shamanism–and this would interest me more than him–yet most of those contexts are deliberately unstable.

Why? “inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines,” souls.

We’ve been playing very hard in the overlap of our entangled sensibilities. We also play in the medial space described by the overlap, but, this medial space is outside our ‘pure’ overlap. Near where it’s bounded by the overlap we understand each other, but as our intuitions drift farther away from the overlap, or as our individual impulse reconnoiters closed to the unsharable territory in the other person’s homeland, he or I become tourists.

venn

Yes, the medial aspects cross too. (Ken might attend to this using astropsychology, where I might propose a matrix of classification.) Still, the more one of us leaves behind both our home experience and the means that implicate our individual understanding of our, by definition, non-mutual experience, the more we traverse the medial boundary away from our core and toward the other person’s core.

Why do I mention this sort of map? For one thing, it’s a good example of third order social cybernetics, a framework I am in the process of hatching.

The two of us know something about what goes on betwixt us in our co-creative conversations. And we know that much just comes up from out of some nowhere, from the, as Ken would say, foamy depths.

What we know on our own obviously is a differential knowing, it regards my knowing being different than his knowing. That is not a trivial point. At the same time, we all the time drag one another into the medial territory for the purpose of revealing the so-called second-to-third orders ‘secreted’ there in the borderlands. The borderlands are where the action is!

Here’s the call for our program.

Repairing the Opposites, Doubling Stars, Turning Swine Into Pears
An experiential and imaginal exploration of relationship as individuation and daring-do

What is any human system of relationship in relationship to, and contextualized by?

Is there deep value available in transforming important partnerships, friendships, and, pairings into sites for adventure?
How does activation of the Trickster archetype revitalize the approach of the single, yearning person?

Using experiential learning, archetypal inquiry, and deep astrology, the principles of IN4tuity present an evening’s worth of games centered on the participatory psyche and sparking self-knowledge. Ken Warren and Stephen Calhoun use analytical psychology to bridge esoteric and cybernetic expertise. Their wild blend on this special evening aims to animate a circus of interactive exploration and discovery. Come prepared to play. Come ready to capture an epiphany or two about you and one other, even if the one other has not yet been met.

Pear. In Greek and Roman mythology, pears are sacred to three goddesses: Hera (Juno to the Romans), Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), and Pomona, an Italian goddess of gardens and harvests.

The ancient Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality. (Pear trees live for a long time.) In Chinese the word li means both “pear” and “separation,” and for this reason, tradition says that to avoid a separation, friends and lovers should not divide pears between themselves.

In Christianity, the pear, rarely used except in paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, symbolizes the fruit of Mary’s womb. St. Augustine remembered his first sin to be when he stole a pear. His original sin was mimetic with regard to the original sin in The Garden of Eden.

Stephen Calhoun is the principal of squareONE: experiential toolmakers. He recently became one of four worldwide learning partners of Experience-based Learning Systems, and, he is a founding member of the Experiential Learning Community of Practice.

Kenneth Warren is the founder and editor of House Organ, a letter of poetry and prose. BlazeVox recently published his selective history of American poetry: Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch: A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980-2012.

I created the program in this way: 100% intuition, spontaneously, on a hunch. By 100% intuition I mean, following loosely from psychologist John Beebe: 50% extroverted intuition, and 50% introverted intuition; and by the latter I additionally mean, unconscious/occulted/demonic and of unknown origins.

Next step, to discuss with Ken what it is that is interesting to us both, and so find our hook in this 100% mutual intuitive build, a co-creation now consisting of half conscious and half unconscious interests brought together from our two different sides.

I am just about ready to adjust the program’s call to reflect what it is we will actually try to pull up, and pull off. Up to this point, Ken and I haven’t discussed my original program intuition at all.

What we have been discussing is the birth of romantic relationship, the initial soulful foray toward another soul, and, the paradoxical status of self-knowledge in both the light and dark zones of initial (and initiatory,) relating.

131. But if thou shut up thy Soul in the Body, and abuse it, and say, I understand nothing, I can do nothing, I am afraid of the Sea, I cannot climb up to Heaven, I know not who I am, I cannot tell what I shall be: What hast thou to do with god? for thou canst understand none of those Fair and Good things, and be a lover of the body and Evil.

132. For it is the greatest Evil, not to know God.

133. But to be able to know, and to will, and to hope, is the straight way, and Divine way, proper to the Good, and it will everywhere meet thee, and everywhere be seen of thee, plain and easy, when thou dost not expect or look for it; it will meet thee waking, sleeping, sailing, travelling, by night, by day, when thou speakest, and when thou keepest silence.

THE TENTH BOOK, THE MIND TO HERMES The Divine Pymander, by Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, tr. by John Everard, [1650]

Hermes symmetry

horizonal mirror symmetry, Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus

Part One of Two

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Creative Workflow – Cat Trying to Swallow Its Own Tail

In the Tariqa note

In zoom mode in Photoshop, while preparing a large new piece to be reduced to a PNG for publishing on the gallery blog, an interesting overall configuration of small details in the edge style of the digital image file.

Edge style

Because I’m nowadays very sensitive to the level of complexity a possibly worthwhile mirror transformation requires to hopefully capture an intriguing symmetry, I moved around the small scale details looking for a candidate. The first image shows the workflow and the second image above is the detail I discovered.

The result is a symmetry I like. (more I like)

Symmetry

The actual details of the 300dpi original are too small to really see in the 16×10″ proof.

The two hallmarks of my creative ethos and artistic experimentation are: generativity and recursion. I work toward a surprising conclusion by implicating those two procedural factors. In the visual realm the manifestation of both is very clearly exemplified in the above example: the discovery of a small scale within the large scale provides a recursive capture and the mirroring manipulation generates the symmetry. I act as a spotter.

Interestingly, the small scale details result from generative manipulations of the original piece, and the original piece itself is the result of blending two layers both captured in different generative procedures that are keyed by programmed search routines. Those generative instrumentalities, then, represent a recursive routine in their own right.

The final recursion is: this all evokes Gregory Bateson. (see: Peter Harries-Jones: Gregory Bateson, Heterarchies, and the Topology of Recursion. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 12(1-2): 168-174 (2005))

Among Bateson scholars, Peter Harries-Jones (1995) is notable for looking at Gregory’s “ecology of mind” in the context of his mature work, using terms for it associated with that period, “recursive epistemology” or “ecological epistemology.” The processes with which Gregory was concerned were essentially processes of knowing: perception, communication, coding and translation. Ergo epistemology. But basic to this epistemology was the differentiation of logical levels, including the relationship between the knower and the known, ergo a recursive epistemology. Ideally, the relationship between the patterns of the biological world and our understanding of it would be one of congruence, of fit, a broader and more pervasive similarity than the ability to predict in experimental contexts that depend upon simplification and selective attention. It seems useful to refer to Gregory’s ecology of mind as an epistemological ecology to contrast it with the largely materialistic ecology of academic departments. It seems essential to underline that recursiveness is a necessary feature of such an epistemology (and perhaps of every epistemology, since every effort to know about knowing involves the cat trying to swallow its own tail).

Bateson was haunted in his last years by a sense of urgency, a sense that the narrow definition of human purposes, reinforced by technology, would lead to irreversible disasters, and that only a better epistemology could save us. Certainly irreversibilities lie all around us, many, like global warming, the decay of the ozone layer, and the movement of poisons through global food chains, set on courses it is too late to change although we have yet to suffer their full effect. Still, the situation has not worsened as rapidly as he predicted and perhaps he sometimes succumbed to the lure of dramatizing a message in order to get it across in ways that later undermine that message. But the habits of mind that he described can be seen in every newspaper or newscast: the search for short term solutions that worsen the problem over time (often by mirroring it, such as violence used to oppose violence); the focus on individual persons or organisms or even species, seen in isolation; the tendency to let technological possibility or economic indicators replace reflection; the effort to maximize single variables (like profit) rather than optimizing the relationship among a complex set of variables.

Mary Catherine Bateson – new Introduction to Step to An Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson, 2000)

One last recursive piece – that can be thought of as recursive in a second order, thus by way of duplication and “re-relation.”

The Pir x Eight
The Pir x Eight – (2014) S. Calhoun – 17×11 proof for giclee

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Esoteric Intra-Image Dialectic

Jesus & SatanCat's EyeHands and

Not all of “it” is here in this trio of cross-commenting images, yet, some of “it” is here.

On the other hand. . .

Words

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu’s dictum:
“Those who know do not say; Those who say do not know.”
When the Master entered, they asked him exactly what the words meant.
Said the Master, “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?”
All of them knew.
Then he said, “Put it into words.”
All of them were silent.

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Two Teaching Cartoons

Sufi-Story-The-Cat

Sufi-The-Eye

h/t 202 Jokes of Nasreddin Hodja, Minyatur Yayinlari Press, Istanbul, Turkey

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Sixty

Tim Calhoun Cleveland poet

Timothy Carl Calhoun – Cleveland Poet, philosopher, father – September 2, 1954 – February 24, 1993

Sixty_edit

Stephen Crespi Calhoun – still unpeeling the layers

Stephen&Timothy-1958

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,–John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

(Robert Creeley)

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By Nothingness to Nirvana, Beyond Contrivance

Road to Nirvana

I have finally found myself compelled to give up the logic, fairly, squarely, and irrevocably. It has an imperishable use in human life, but that use is not to make us theoretically acquainted with the essential nature of reality. Reality, life, expedience, concreteness, immediacy, use what words you will, exceeds our logic, overflows and surrounds it. -William James

Kagyu Refuge Tree

The central teaching of the Karma Kagyu is the doctrine of Mahamudra, also known as the “Great Seal”. This doctrine focuses on four principal stages of meditative practice (the Four Yogas of Mahamudra):

The development of single-pointedness of mind,
The transcendence of all conceptual elaboration,
The cultivation of the perspective that all phenomena are of a “single taste”,
The fruition of the path, which is beyond any contrived acts of meditation.
[Wikipedia]

The “ambiguity” in the sense of the indeterminacy or vagueness that permeates our existence in the world derives from the “ambiguity” of our embodied being in the sense of its irreducibility either to the transparency of self-consciousness or the inertia of matter. – Nabuo Kazashi

Highly recommended: The Social Self in Zen and American Pragmatism. By Steve Odin. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.)

by the same author: Whitehead & Ethics in the Contemporary World (pdf)

Philosophy of Nothingness and Process Theology – Yutaka Tanaka (pdf)


quotes from secondary source:
The Varieties of Pure Experience: William James and Kitaro Nishida on Consciousness and Embodiment
Joel W. Krueger

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Andy Thomas Closes His Eyes

Nightingale and Canary from Andy Thomas on Vimeo.

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