Category Archives: my research

Sitting On a Porch, but not any porch

david kolb

Dave Kolb and I enjoyed the longest conversation we ever managed to conduct over the fifteen years we’ve been friends and something like, but not really exactly like, colleagues. Our shared interest is the experiential learning theory* he helped conceptualize in the late seventies. He is its principal conceptualizer over the past thirty-three years, a span that began with the publication of the cornerstone presentation of this theory, Experiential Learning, Experience As the Source of Learning and Development(revised 2015).

When Dave signed the copy of the revised edition he gave me, he named us fellow travelers. I like it. Our paths have crossed in conferences and symposia, in workshops and, especially on the softball field on Sundays in Cleveland Heights, at 10am. I encountered Dave and Alice Kolb, his wife and most essential collaborator, back in 2002 when I ventured out to thie softball field for the first time, believing at the time that I was going to assist a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a short about the Free Play Softball League the Kolbs started as an experiment in open system and experiential learning on the old Adelbert quad.

Yet, the three hour dialog we built together this week was the longest sustained chewing session we ever attempted or accomplished. This moment was favored by dave and Alice being between book writing projects, or, otherwise freed from the usual bearing down of their research agenda. I know this from their presentation at the June conference, a presentation offloaded into a nicely organic collaborative discussion about several of their current interests.

In our dialog, after we covered sundry subjects of interest to aging men and softball teammates, we latched onto one of several subjects that interest me as an independent scholar an fellow traveler. As it turned out, this subject, where is the ongoing theory-making in experiential learning theory happening right now, had come up between Dave and Alice on their morning walk the day Dave and I settled into our chairs on his spacious front porch. After we noted that there aren’t many scholars besides the Kolbs that you can point to, we started to ideate together on shaping (just the beginning) of what the extension and further elaboration of experiential learning theory might grapple with.

This is a big subject. We touched on examples from our different interests that bend the theory-in-use a bit differently than the most secure current conception of the theory supposes is phenomenally the case. This is not a disruptive tangent to the theory because one of the enhancements of the theory would, were it to begin to be formulated, configure the theory to flex more to particular contexts. For example, my creative process does not align with the cyclical or spiral process of the current theory, rather it oscillates between concrete experience and (what I would term,) spontaneous revision, a quality of active experimentation.

We made our beginning in any case. It would be really fascinating to continue and especially to put the handful of inspired (by theory!) persons in our community or out there in the wild together, to do some chewing.

Nowadays, almost all the action in ELT is rooted to its use in consulting, pedagogical, and coaching practices. This usefulness has put evaluative and assessment tools close to the center of those activities. The biggest impact extensive new theory-making could have on current day practice would result from theorizing context-dependent, and therefor distinct differentiations according to context pressures, of the theory-in-practice. This could be given by, for example, idiographic or qualitative difference-making that is focused on particular situations and their particularities. Certainly, from the several ways I may contextualize my own practice as an experiential learning endeavor, I’m able to lightly suggest that enactive, or social cybernetic, or, negative-capable, or, neurophenomenological, or ecological, perspectives, each create different and cogent and positive pressures when these outlooks are used to describe particularities given in specific situations.

Dave and I have noted that the enactive perspective is very sharply appropriate to elaborating a bit more about the instantaneous presence involved in reacting in an embodied and learning ‘full’ way in response to being thrown a pitched ball while acting as a batter.

The triangle at the bottom of the ELT schema reflects a kind of liminal or boundary condition for holding theorization away from its being made practical. Theorizing is begun as an impractical matter.

*Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory is a theory of learning, not a theory of learning-by-doing. It would pose itself as a meta-theory of learning-by-doing were learning-by-doing ever to be rigorously theorized.

(h/t to Mai P. Trinh for first entertaining my sense that ‘where are the theorists?’ was an interesting question.)

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Visual Thinking Strategy

A VTS Discussion with First Grade Students from Visual Thinking Strategies on Vimeo.

(source) In his 1997 article Thoughts on Visual Literacy, Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as:

“…the ability to find meaning in imagery. It involves a set of skills ranging from simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels. Many aspects of cognition are called upon, such as personal association, questioning, speculating, analyzing, fact-finding, and categorizing. Objective understanding is the premise of much of this literacy, but subjective and affective aspects of knowing are equally important.”

The three fundamental questions of Visual Thinking Strategy:


Abigail Housen and, later partnered with Yenawine, structure a theory of development around the experience of art. It has become popular as a basis for pedagogy in some schools, in many museums, and, as a foundational practice for art teachers and docents. (See: VTS Basic Manual: Learning To Think And Communicate Through Art; Housen, and Theory into Practice: The Visual Thinking Strategies, Yenawine. The latter article is available at VTShome.

VTS is very close to being in alignment with my own artmaking ethos, except it is missing the body. The body in this case is the viewing subject.

Here are four questions that could restore the body in the process of aesthetic inquiry:

(1) What do your findings feel like as emotions?

(2) What do your findings feel like in your body?

(3) Characterize your sense of your own experience?

(4) What are you doing to understand your experience?

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The foolish person tries to ignore the phenomenal facts of life simply because he cannot learn the logical theory which explains them. With all the logic at our command, we may reason out of the domain of possibilities everything that may be called a theoretical explanation of the cosmic rhythm which produces the various cycles of life, but we cannot with the same logic and reasonableness negate the facts which have been observed. H. Spencer Lewis Self-Mastery and Fate
With the Cycles of Life

(With a few changes this passage from 1929 may be transformed into a cybernetic proposition. In turn, this proposition proves essential to understanding the problem of noise and signal and cycles.)

Hope Pro 4: Adam Brayton RAW from hopetech on Vimeo.

Humberto Mariotti: Complexity, pragmatism, cybernetics and other issues

via Chris Breen, Complexity and the Enterprise (from Edgar Morin: On Complexity)

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A Myth of Isolation and a Fairy Tale of Causation

The notion of the individual entity having agency is confused by a paradox. The confusion lies with the idea of individuation. The entity (organism, person, or organization) is bound to its unique perspective or epistemology, and in that sense is identifiable as a separate source of responsibility. But, there is no aspect of that entity that is uninfluenced, uninformed, or unbound to the larger contextual interactions. On closer examination we begin to see that agency is diffused into the larger contextual processes that are shared by the entire community. Agency is a paradoxical product of mutual learning within and between people, nature, and culture.

Leadership does not reside in a person but in an arena that can be occupied by offerings of specific wisdom to the needs of the community. So leadership is produced collectively in the community, not the individual. The individual’s responsibility is to be ready and willing to show up, serve, and then, most importantly, stand back. Leadership for this era is not a role or a set of traits; it’s a zone of interrelational process. Step in, step out.






Context transcends causality.
Causality transmits content.
‘A Content’ turns over to reveal ‘an’ other side.
This other side reveals a hidden context.
Do this over and over.

example of inferring causality from content:


Context is hard. Contexts are much harder.

(Semi) Final test:

Ford Clitaurus from MP Cunningham on Vimeo.

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Stirring Together, In the Midst of the Unending Stream

I traced a circle on the ground,
It was a mystic figure strange
Wherein I thought there would abound
Mute symbols adequate of change,
And complex formulas of Law,
Which is the jaws of Change’s maw.
My simpler thoughts in vain had stemmed
The current of this madness free,
But that my thinking is condemned
To symbol and analogy:
I deemed a circle might condense
With calm all mystery’s violence.
And so in cabalistic mood
A circle traced I curious there;
Imperfect the made circle stood
Thought formed with minutest care.
From magic’s failure deeply I
A lesson took to make me sigh.

Alexander Search (Fernando Pessoa)
July 30th. 1907. [1]

artist Stephen Calhoun b1954 USA

Twin Study I. (2016) Stephen Calhoun

“I have always been particularly interested to see how people, if left to their own devices and not informed about the history of the [Mandala] symbol, would interpret it to themselves. I was careful, therefore, not to disturb them with my own opinions and as a rule I discovered that people took it to symbolize themselves or rather some- thing in themselves. They left it as belonging intimately to themselves as a sort of Creative background, a life-producing sun in the depths of the unconscious mind. Though it was easy to see that it was often almost a replica of Ezekiel’s vision, it was very rare that people recognized the analogy, even when they knew the vision -which knowledge, by the way, is pretty rare nowadays.” C.G. Jung, The Terry Lectures

Gemini with respect to psyche, broadly conceived, brings into ‘co-motion’ the regressive chthonic and the transgressive totality. At a higher, finer grain, the twin–as image–represents the prospect of the alchemical marriage. As Gemini, its transformative operations take up scattered elements and brings these back into order.

The Twin is the archetype of recursion. With this repetition, the twin holds the potential for any reassembly, be it playful or serious or trial-and-error. The gesture bends back. Its sound is the yielding reassembly of harmony, via sonic palintropos.

Overnight contents separate, and come to be stirred back together. Gemini.

Cleveland artist Stephen Calhoun

Twin Study II. (2016) Stephen Calhoun

What gets hatched at night, in the lunar phase?

Sometimes the organic pair is subject to fierce moralizing. For example, what of the facile distinction oft made between thinking and feeling, or, head and heart? Their deep structure is blanketed. Heavy associations weigh one of the poles down, like a cinder block tied to a victim’s ankles.

This is like mashing two things together, pulling them back apart, and, finally deciding one has to go! The shadow of the twin is found in the demonization and suppression of the organic opposite, in the making of, and, next, sanctioning against this fallen angel, and finally turning it out (or away.)

(Gemini forensics! Where is the antimony buried?)

A theory of recurrence, such as that of Yeats, in exemplifying the cycling between lunar Antithetical and solar Primary tinctures is a twin study. Fusion with the ideal, and disavowal of the organic opposite provides for the violent dismissal and covering over of this other side.

Where feeling reigns ‘apart,’ this may move vast numbers of voters toward the light cast by the idealized father, concretized to be, well. . .


Leaving, returning. Turning back. . .


Uncovering bends back the cover.

They do not understand how, though at variance with itself, it agrees with itself. It is a backwards-turning attunement like that of the bow and lyre. -Heraclitus

It lifts up the buried: part, aspect, inferior. The twin is at once separate and a unifier.

Gemini’s hidden holistic relationship to all the houses, tracks the pairings which are the relations discoverable in all projections. Cast from to you.

The phenomena of the twin anchors the resurrection and recovery of the opposites.

The Rhizome and the Flower: The Perennial Philosophy, Yeats and Jung, By James Olney

The Harmonia of Bow and Lyre in Heraclitus Fr. 51 (DK)
Jane McIntosh Snyder, Phronesis Vol. 29, No. 1 (1984) JSTOR

[1] Sacred Geometry of Being: Pessoa’s Esoteric Imagery and the Geometry of Modernism
Patrícia Silva McNeill, Pessoa Plural 6, 2014 (pdf)

[2] Beyond Fascism: W.B. Yeats’s A Vision and the Complexities of His Authoritarian Politics
Justin Abel, Eastern Washington University (pdf)

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Tying It All Together?

I am sometimes asked why I pay attention to astrology. Actually, I don’t pay much attention to it, but, for some, any attention paid to astrology begs the question of why a so-called pseudoscience could attract someone’s, or my own, attention.

If I sense that this question is hiding the questioner’s desire to hold me to some rational account, I have a tried-and-true response.

You do understand that as matter of a priori development with respect to Baconian science and its successors that astrology is demonstrably necessary to the later development of astronomy and cosmology?

The history of the development of stuff presents a chain of primitive precedents, and, over the span of a future, our current knwoledge might well be someday viewed as being itself primitive. This goes along with what I call my favorite bias, you know the one that captures the brute fact that as one figuratively steps backward in time, all precedents of any sort disappear.

(The epistemic value or utility of astrology in any of its useful forms is determined as a matter of a psychology of practical heuristics. As I have previously written, the astrological chart captures a projection of psyche inasmuch as dealing with its information invokes learning about the Self.)

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Spontaneous Dialectics In ‘Problem Depth’

Familiar Matrix series-blank

Problem-solving oriented version of a four-square matrix.

Familiar Matrix series 2

I’ve added (and overlaid,) two valence drivers–these are the typical pairing used to deploy evaluation of antipathy and sympathy, a basic starting point.

Familiar Matrix series 3

An intention for learning is articulated.

Two dichotomies are randomly drawn from the master set of 96 dichotomies, a part of the tool, Playing With the Opposites. These are next plotted, with Plot #1 placed first.


The obvious location of a dialectical tension first jumped out from the upper left quadrant.

Bring creative work to the world pushes away the mysterious element in the actual problem, yet, this antipathy is conjoined with a sympathetic mystery located in the setting.

The question for further wandering or exploration is to, I propose, locate the nature of the sympathetic mystery in the setting of the problem, in the art world. This mystery’s nature would be something deeply obscured yet attractive as a matter of what little is known about it.

The other drivers, familiarity/unfamiliarity might serve as kernals for winding up/down the dialectical reflection.

In each quadrant of the matrix there are two dialectical loops given by each pair of valences. For example, in the lower right quadrant are:

Problem / toward / inner masculine // (2) Setting / away from / inner masculine

Problem / familiar / inner masculine // (2) Setting / unfamiliar / inner masculine


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Homo Non Intelligit

Aquinas Triumphant

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Triumphant


I forget when the following happen, yet it happened sometime during the time I was an elementary school student. This event occurred at some point during third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Although both my twin brother also went to the same school, we rarely walked together. He much enjoyed taking shortcuts and running to school. Whereas I preferred to take the sidewalk to the light, turn left, and make my way the third of a mile to the school itself. As it turns out one day I could have used his protection.

Everyday, coming in the opposite direction and headed toward the large Catholic school located three quarters of a mile in the opposite direction, were its denizens. One day, walking alone to school, I was jumped by two boys, tackled to the ground, and roughed up a bit. I ended up with one of the boys sitting on my chest, with my upper arms pinned to the ground. He looked into my face, spat in my eyes, and told me,

You know you’re going to hell!?

It was shouted in a combination of mockery, exhortation, and, at the same time, it retained its questioning facet. I have no idea if I answered, and tend to think almost fifty years after the fact that I likely did not answer affirmatively. I didn’t understood what my brusque antagonist was even speaking about.

Although my family wasn’t the least bit religious, I do recall asking my parents about what the question meant. Most of the time, questions like that caused both my dad and mom to send me back to the 1960 World Book Encyclopedia, (whose many volumes served as my closest early confidant, in a autodidactiv sense–ever since I had skimmed/read my way through each volume.) I read about the Catholic Religion, the Holy Roman Church, The Bible; who knows–maybe this is why religion came to interest me so much.

Scroll ahead thirty years or so and its the nineties and I’m in my forties. By this time I have a fairly modest, and nevertheless, informed, grasp of the situation of Christianity as a world religion. My principal fascination was with religious experience and, what I came to term, artifactual religion. My curiosity was fulfilled by my learning a bit about how the different religions came to be constituted into their multi-various forms from, as-it-were, scratch.


As a matter of my own arm chair interests, this anthropological frame is for me the central primary feature of religion in historical context. Religions arise from their historical-sociological antecedents. So, for example, if one scrolls backward in time from the arrival of the Summa Theologica (1274 CE) of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the overall scheme of worldly time, one scrolls back before the time of the eventuation of the Old Testament, and, soon enough one scrolls back through those antecedents. Up to a point such antecedents would be specific to the historical development of the Abrahamic religions in a particular location and at a specific time, and then past this point, older antecedents would seem to a knowledgeable traveler (gone back in time, or, simply competent with the evidence,) to become more primitive and increasingly unhinged from what are the recognizable domains of (what strike we contemporaries,) to civilized religions and sophisticated religiosity.

Then, around (very roughly) 500,000 years ago BC, the evidence, so far, for anything resembling symbolic behavior disappears. However, 4.5 billion years of planetary history, prior to this disappearance, remain unscathed by symbolic or religious behavior.

Stephen Calhoun artist


Related to the anthropological perspective is religion’s manifestation as a consequence of human behavior, cognition and experience, for which the frame expands to encompass psychology and sociology. Although I became interested in the work of the psychologists William James and Carl Jung for reasons unrelated to my interest in religion, each in their distinctive ways came to deeply influence my working through to a modest extent the constitution of religion as an intentional individual and social phenomena.

Then, moving to the next viewpoint, the historical, the careful investigator inspects the timeline for religiosity as it unfolds locally over thousands of years in manifestations so brilliantly diverse that it would be ridiculous to then groan that the constituent religions are ‘at odds with one another.’

The fact of the usefulness of first and second order religious behavior is apparent, and at the same time, the investigator’s  second order framing and third order analysis is off the side, removed from the local social phenomena. However, to note that a social behavior with a religious motive or objective constitues a “ritual,” “tradition,” or, going farther, reflects the structuring of human purpose in accordance with a priori “propositions, “principles,” or “laws,” is to choose from some menu given by a third order framework.

This is crucial to teasing out the differentiation between the local phenomena of pragmatic mythologizing, and, the properties of “Mythology” as a category of human culture and its intentional artifactual life.

The blunt ramification is simply derived from the basic understanding: as one goes back in time, very soon, the idea and representation of God, or of Gods, of of the sacred, or of the divine, goes “poof!”



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Thick Over Thin, Beyond the Need to Know, Deep Digging

Stephen Calhoun artist

twitter meme series via @sq1learning aiming to cause thinking/feeling

If one wants to get to the absolute bottom of something, presumably for many kinds of human somethings, the journey to reach the bottom will:

(1) take time
(Rule of thumb: if it seems like it will take too much time, you’re at the start of the right path)

[paradoxical dialectic #1]
(2) demand suspension of reactions
(3) cause encounters which elicit antipathy and sympathy

(4) require configuration of viable abductions at ‘ripe’ waystations (during the journey)

[paradoxical dialectic #2]
(5) be advantaged by one feeling through one’s self feeling through the subject
(6) be advantaged by enacted agency removed from the subject’s ideology/personal culture

(7) be advantaged by researcher’s understanding of the imposition provided by their own ideology

(8) be completed by the invocation and instantiation of negative capability

These dispositional elements support deliberate knowing (learning) and stand against the varieties of thin approaches, each of which is anchored in a singular routine to obtain, ‘not really needing to know much more than I can easily know without spending more time, and certainly not challenging myself to learn more–beyond where I habitually like to stop learning.’

(Substitute satisfyingly for habitually to capture the reflexive certainty, “know enough already, thank you!” Enough is equivalent to knowing all one needs to know.

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Pareto Trap


Years ago I offered to a musician I was working with (what struck me at the time) to be a commonsense insight: spend your time leveraging your fans who get it and much less time trying to convince every last person to like your music. We then discussed the powerful draw the unconverted have on the creative person’s aspiration to have their creations liked.

At the time, my sense of marketing music was attached to three ideas, (1) think globally, act locally, (2) thoroughly understand what any middleman does, and what is in it for them (3) Who gets it? Always be mindful of the 80/20 Rule.

The 80/20 Rule, the Pareto Efficiency, suggests that in any deployment of resources, such as personal time and energy, there are optimal, and, sub-optimal matchings. If one spends time on converting hard cases, that time is lost forever. But, it could be spent converting both easy cases and strong ‘leaners.’

(Although I don’t work in the music business anymore, I would add a fourth principle to my simple foundational set: (4) Any minute spent on “A” cannot be recovered to spend on [B]. Time is lost forever.)

A friend described the proliferation of dating dead ends and asked me how much a hard dating case should be indulged. She described a stereotypical kind of prospective romantic partner: afraid to diligently pursue deeper connection.

(her) When does one give up?

(me) As soon as you realize the person is combining fear and lack of self-awareness.

(her) This often pops up on the first date.

(me) Better you find out sooner, rather than later.

(her) Harsh suggestion!

(me) 80/20 Rule. After all, the optimal efficiency is realized when you are having a first date with a self-aware man who is fearless about partnering.

PARETO TRAP >my term :-)

The Pareto Trap, a construct of critical cognition, states that systemic feedback in some occasions of Pareto inefficiency will reinforce that the negative subject is all there is.

We only have customers with problems.

There are only scared man-child single men.

This follows from the inefficient deployment of cognitive resources that experientially accrue and come to bias the operative system self-awareness.

To break the Pareto Trap, in the dating example, means to spend less time with unlikely candidates; and, assuming such candidates represent a substantial majority, it may be most efficient to knock each out of contention for the sake of maximizing an encounter with a rarer, likely candidate.

(As several of my close friends know, at least this is an experiment one can do.)

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System Attractions – Seek simplicity, and distrust it. (A.N. Whitehead)

Complex Matrix

What follows is brief foray into a schematic phenomenology about what comes easy and what comes hard. Ha! Don’t bother googling schematic phenomenology!

Complex Matrix 2

This schema is a picture of my general meaning-making relationship to two joined aspects of any system. This schema summarizes this relationship, so, it represents a Hard Simplicity itself. The schema is simple because it summarizes complexity and leaves out a lot of detail, it is hard because it isn’t in the least bit self-evident. If it needs explanation, it is to a degree, hard,

Imagine there is an axle at the intersection of the axis, and, so the matrix itself can revolve. The schema captures the usual starting configuration for me in the ecology of a human system. By way of explanation, more information is needed. So: I’m a very forceful intuitive and I tend throw myself right into such a human system. That this system is by definition complicated, and that the full grain of its complexity is not revocable, means, in summary, that, often, this complexity is hard for me to see. The negative habit is: I do not, literally, at the beginning, naturally care enough,  to see the fine grain of complexity. Bull, meet china shop.

At the same time, I have natural access to proven tools which allow me to discover and integrate systems elements, operations and data. This personal process operates on the continuum marked between Simple-Hard and Simple-Easy. Simple-Easy is the most accessible, is easiest for me. But, it isn’t satisfying, so I knock at the door of Complex-Easy.

What could be easier than that, right? And yet, maintaining simplicity is not only difficult, it is often ill-advised. In virtually any context—business planning, software development, pizza making—the immature simplicity associated with first drafts, early prototypes, and initial versions tends to be unsatisfyingly empty. Such partial solutions are necessary starting points but inadequate as final products because they lack the essential qualities found in more mature versions. Keeping things simple impedes progress, which is why we add things to our designs. We make them more complicated in order to make them better. It is only when we go too far that an epic level of complexity makes the final product unusable.

And this is where things can get a little tricky. Just because there is such a thing as too simple and such a thing as too complex does not mean the best solution sits in a mythical sweet spot between simplistic and complicated, as if the territory in question could be represented by a single straight line. Reality is more complicated than that, and straight lines seldom make for interesting journeys. There are bends in the road we need to be aware of. If we overlook them we’ll either end up following the road to a bad part of town or jumping off the tracks entirely. Dan Ward, The Simplicity Cycle: Soda, Swordsmen, and Road Maps | Simplicity Manifesto pdf

Attention and practice allow me to rotate the Hard-Complex into the realm where my proven tools are effective. Still, I’m not able to effectively drive my meaning-making and understanding of the Hard-Complex into the brightest light where, and at which point, my most positive and practiced tools for systems awareness are always a snap to access.

Rotation is not metaphoric in this respect: the polarities of the schema reflect that attention is largely deployed, and its focal point guided toward, the direction of the single poles of these basic classes. Where one side comes into greater resolution, the other side recedes.

There is a reflexive third order cybernetic aspect too: self-observation verifies that this blind spot exists when I turn my attention toward the deep grain of my own self-system.

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Yet, We Converse With Each Other

Hexagram 44
Your name or your person,
Which is dearer?
Your person or your goods,
Which is worth more?
Gain or loss,
Which is a greater bane?
That is why excessive meanness
Is sure to lead to great expense;
Too much store
Is sure to end in immense loss.
Know contentment
And you will suffer no disgrace;
Know when to stop
And you will meet with no danger.
You can then endure.


What is your personal ideology, and, how does it track back to its source in your personal culture?

Do we not construct somewhat congruent collections of best explanations?

Everybody lives in their own subjective world, or, not?


Every individual is dedicated in explicable and inexplicable ways to their favorite: dispositions, habits of thinking and feeling, heuristic tools, automatic responses, etc..

Individual comprehension of what are apparently objective features of the world are: variable, often warrantless, and, these comprehensions are, finally, usually subjective..

The common ground is not itself beyond the intersubjective field.

Each person over time develops, tests, refines, and deploys, their unique folk psychological ideology and toolset.

Often this bundle of suppositions and provisional abductions about, for example, how one’s own mind and other mind’s work, is utilized as the first->second order means to understand another person. It is deployed as if it is comprehensive and commensurate to the task of understanding this other person.

This normal attitude and approach is used by many people who are innocent of its origins (from within their personal culture, subjectivity.)

As a practical matter, eventually meeting the challenge posed by hoping to develop accurate interpersonal and intrapersonal construal requires the negotiation of each other’s self conception, self conception in contexts, language, concepts, suppositions, and, linkages and intrinsic networks, and, all the other potential features of subjective deep beingness. Hey, these considerations are truly, mine alone!

Hexagram 44. Don’t negate me bro for the sake of flattening me so that I may tumble along in your own 2D world. If I wanted to be in your world, I’d have to have been you.

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Eno On Cybernetics and Music Making

This video is new to me and it provided a big wallop.

In my framing of fortuity, contingency and fragility, I have only roughed out some of the implications for music making. B.E. helps move this forward during a really essential 15 minutes.

He mentions Stafford Beer. (He, along with Ralph Stacey, Gordon Pask, and Gregory Bateson, probably did the most to extend cybernetics to human domains in the first wave of cybernetic thinking. Largely from Beer and Stacey we gain the concept of soft systems, and from Beer we gain the Viable Systems Model (Trevor Hilder’s presentation – pdf).)

What Is Cybernetics?

Leonod Ototsky’s fond archive and research on Mr. Beer is a terrific old style web site.

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Holly’s Helping Hand

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist, Cleveland Heights, Oh

Holly’s Helping Hand, from a photograph – proof of concept too, in that its the first piece with a human participant embedded in it.


“Hey, Holly remember when I put you and Judith in a trance for a couple of days?”

(Indeed I did so, by mistake, via a soundtrack I created for a workshop presented by Judith Buerkel in March 1994.)

Holly has been my friend longer than anyone else among the group of people I became acquainted with when I returned to Cleveland in 1992. She and I met at a holiday party in late 1993, although the party itself is most notable for my encounter and subsequent mind meld with eventual squareONE co-founder Judith Buerkel.

Because I am oriented so strongly to doing the experiment of deep relationship, and because it is true for this that some are called, but fewer actually take the dive, Holly’s eager sustenance of our relationship over more than two decades simply is a gift that keeps on giving.

There is much I might say about my friend, yet, after a brief visit this week, the significant elements of her zesty and daring approach to being who she is were exemplified in her willingness to participate in my creative process, then, reshape this process into her own process, and go on to to experiment without guidance in my backyard studio.

I call this: going for it.

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Two New Learning Cycles


Recently I’ve been musing about how the learning cycle of David A. Kolb could be partially re-theorized in my novel social cybernetic terms.

Social Cybernetics: the system supposed by the engagement of enactive self-aware persons in relationship with one another, and, the system enabled for the purpose of making sense of the how and the what and the why–in this order–of intersubjective and intrasubjective knowledge creation, knowledge creation in turn in service to mutual construal and co-construal.

There are four sub-schemas depicted in the pretty pictures.


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Post-conventional predicates


A hallmark of sincere and authentic and audacious post-conventionality could be: daring.

This would go along with understanding that the call beyond conventions promotes radical, storming kinds of engagements with one’s own self, with the world, and with other people.

But, the “could be” is my hedging as against the conventions of the theorization of the post-conventional. Affirmative Post-Conventional themes are, in the main, elementally meta-cognitive predicates, and these themes also reflect a kind of instrumental positivism. Some lip service is paid to the varieties of deconstruction, although, there is no deconstructive literature to be found in the field’s small, (and revealingly tidy,) body of work.

The post-conventional move into epiphanic knowledge–which is somewhat covered under the fuzzy rubric given by Ken Wilber’s causal level, the so-called path of sages–is also the move into post Post-Conventional being. The other move is not found in Post-Conventional theory , (or Wilberian theory.) There are no lively treatments of anything functionally equivalent to ecstatic intuition, or equivalent to its applications.

Ecstatic Intuition is: spontaneous development due to spontaneous insight. Its most well-known application is given by the conception of synchronicity in the Analytic Psychology. squareONE’s applications similarly provide concrete enactive engagements with procedures which elevate novel data into the learner’s field for the purpose, instrumentally viewed, of spontaneous decodification and “instant self-discovery”

What I termed twenty years ago, ecstatic organization, shadows and inflects the problem of daring. Another feature of this problem (of daring,) is recovered by extracting the direct polarity: competency <—> ecstatic intuition from the array.

My sense is that the scientism implicit in the meta-cognitive bracket helps secure the means, and the developmental applications, which all aim to build practical post-conventional capabilities.  Whereas, what I term the meta-enactive bracket, (or what might be viewed as the interface, dissolves scientism, is spontaneous and oft spontaneously messy,  and is altogether forcefully disposed toward post developmental, or non developmental, modes of being and being-in-response. Ecstatic organization and ecstatic intuition is impractical, (and may even be anti-fragile per Nassim.)

If you, reader, are able to sense this bracket’s dynamic quotients of: the irrational, of eros, of soulmaking, of Bateson’s conception of mindedness, and, sense also its more direct route away from the neocortex and intentionality, you’ll also recognize I really meant it when I first spoke of daring.

Lastly, the scope of unlearning, of learning to unlearn, is discoverable in the daring foray to be made through the Coincidentia Oppositorum, into the Oppositorum. This means going in the direction away from what you know, how you know it, and, as dear Desse put it many years ago, also means going in the direction away from how you know it is that you know.

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Cubes Upon Cubes


Values for Archetypal Cubes – set #3 (2 cubes)


Values for Archetypal Cubes – set #4 (2 cubes)

The cubes of the Cube-O-Probe are color coded to make it easy to constitute different aggregates from the several sets.

The following is one cube set of dichotomies taken from what I term the Covert Pairs of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb.

set of dichotomies taken from what I term the Covert Pairs of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb

Tomorrow I’ll use the set to address a situation for learning.

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Cutting to Pairs

One needs the correct tool for the job of cutting into the fabric of conceptualization.

One needs the correct tool for the job of cutting into the fabric of conceptualization.

Toward the end of Formal, Transcendental, & Dialectical Thinking Errol E. Harris, writes:

(2) The ultimate character of the universal whole

Development of the last topic would naturally lead into reflection upon the second question raised for discussion. Is the universal totality merely a logical schema? Is it a spatiotemporal or a taxonomic structure? Or is it at once all these things and more besides – a living, self-conscious, special being? Of course the first two descriptions must be readily admitted, but they cannot be exhaustive. No dialectical system such as I’ve posited can be limited to a mere logical schema, or even to an evolutionary series extended in space and time. The dialectical relations require that the prior phases be retained sublated in their successors, even though they are superseded by them. Equally, the only complete, the only full reality which the prior phases enjoy is the realized actuality of their potentialities in the higher forms. (Harris, 1987)

Harris identifies at least two pairs in this paragraph. His intention is not to pair the aspects, rather he is working toward the inherent self-specification of the universal reality. Yet, the pairs are specified once the cutter operates on the conception.

squareONE learning

There are two ‘matrical’ operations that enable two four-fold relationships.

squareone learning

squareone learning

How would you characterize the crucial differences, or otherwise differentiate the effects, of the two forms?

Also see: The Quadralectic Archtecture, The Theory of Quadralectic Architecture Marten Kuilman, 2013


The “squaring of the circle” is one of the many archetypal motifs which form the basic patterns of our dreams and fantasies. But it is distinguished by the fact that it is one of the most important of them from the functional point of view. Indeed, it could even be called the archetype of wholeness. (C. G. Jung. Mandalas, 1955)

Hevajra deity

Hevajra deity

squareone learning

Kufic Azif – The meeting of the Old Ones and the Hidden  Ones


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Generating Paradox – Glimpsing Some Pre-work


Experiential Learning Cycle (David. A. Kolb et al)


Once again my generous colleagues in the Experiential Learning Community of Practice
(LinkedIn news and discussion feed) have invited me to present to members and anybody else who can find their way to quarterly virtual meeting. It takes place on March 12, 2015 at 4:00pm EST, but I don’t yet know the link that will provide access.

Here is the précis.

Generating Paradox. Overt and Covert Polarities in Kolb’s Learning Cycle

Given the theoretical-conceptual architecture of Kolb’s Learning Cycle, fascinating yet obscured conceptual relations subsist within the dynamic move from the organic systematic theory and its application as a theory-in-use and as an applied model. This presentation teases some of those relations out by leveraging both the explicit dialectical relations in the model-proper, and co-existing, yet tacit, polar relations.

In this peeling away of layer’s of the conceptual ‘onion,’ two gains are anticipated: one, the learner will experience reasons for de-reifying aspects of learning style, and, two, the learner may be inspired to expand the model’s practical reach.

This presentation is programmed to be experiential and interactive. Participants may maximize the experience by having at hand five pieces of blank paper, scissors, and a fine marker or bold pen.



My presentations to this particular group, and this will be my second one, are designed to be experiential, and in turn are by-design, applications for experiential learning both in the moment of the presentation and afterward.

Although I suppose I could just layout a bunch of philosophizing about the matters this program will be focused on, I prefer to do the philosophizing before the program. What I will layout is a process that results in an application participants can then use/re-use to explore the fascinating dichotomies hidden within the dynamics of the learning theory and model of David A. Kolb et al.

Concealed within the above summary is the promise of the application: the learner will have the means to de-reify aspects of learning style, and, have the means to expand the model’s practical reach. However, my goal is to point the participants in the direction of doing so, and, then giving them a tool to help them do so.

I like to lead people to where he or she might drink the water.

social-cybernetic stack

[Background] This schema depicts one of the versions of a human systems stack. This is a heuristic tool I use to get a handle of the dependencies in an environmental situation of learning. Its classes are general and presumed to be global, discoverable as layers in all situations of learning.

(Socio-psyche is my shorthand for the particularized social psychological and cultural context.)

From this I next contemplate the critical aspects which may require a two-fold differential description, or what I term a critical pair. The schema itself marks and makes explicit many such pairs: learner/environment, leaner/context, learner/opportunity, and, in this set also fall more subtle pairs, such as: environment/opportunity.

The stack reflects that the dependencies are inclusive from above and below.

The gist of my interest in these discoverable pairs, is inflected with a very ironic aspect. I use Kolb’s model procedurally, whereas almost all the practitioners I know use the model instrumentally–as the anchor to assessment (of learning style) and development of management of style. So, going into my exploration, I already know, for example, where there is assessment, there are paradoxes of assessment!

Plus: there is much more of great interest to me. After all, I’m using my procedural model, drawn directly from the Kolbian Cycle, to enactively–by virtue of my first person contemplation–interrogate the normative developmental model as a matter of how it the model is used!

Of great interest to me is the processing of the individual assessment between the practitioner and their assessed subject. My interest here is in how experience is shaped in the encounter with the practitioner and her theory/model-in-use with the assessed subject and his own folk psychological theories/models-in-use.

In this, for example, I’ve long wondered about the practical mediation of attribution at the point at which an assessment in a direct sense delivers a description and warrants (for its attribution,) to an assessed subject. Even if the delivery is naive, nevertheless, behind the mediation are the practitioner’s choices, and, in front of the mediation, are lots of embodied features of the assessed subject, including the aforementioned personally-grasped theories and models.

The encounter between practitioner and subject is complicated. Our of this typical flux spill out all kinds of pairs, dichotomies, polarities, dialectics, and paradoxes.

In my musing about the practical use of Kolb’s model, for the sake of smoking out compelling pairs, I made four circumambulations; first was about the above problem of assessment.

(1) Problem of the Theory-In-Use – the paradox of the difference between the infinite theory and the truncated applied theory. (By infinite theory I mean the unending theory applicable to all future situations of experiential learning; following here the suggestion of C.S. Peirce, or Von Foerster, that this prospect is illimitable and so the organismic theory is itself subject to, in effect, unlearning and relearning its own theoretical ‘self.’ )

(2) Problem of Assessment – the assessed subject, and the operation and mediation between the practicing system and the learner-system.

qnd #2 is coupled to:

(3) Problem of Reification – reflexive determinations linked to the subject’s sense of identity, self-attribution, and aspiration given the developmental context of the KLSI (Kolb Experiential Learning Style Inventory)

and #3 is coupled to:

(4) Problem of Actual Dynamics – how are explicit conflicts, synergistic transactions, adaptations, knowledge creation, implicit knowledge destruction, actual dialectical operations, given to the the learner’s phenomenological knowing and self-sensemaking?

I left alone a fifth move, that of the particular context-for-learning. In contemplating the above fields, my goal was to first deepen my understanding of their instance in the system of (Kolbian) experiential learning, and, second to figure out what were the pairs right ‘at hand.’

The program does not get into any of this in any significant way at all! The program is designed to reveal some of the pairs, pairs which are the distillate of my wandering around these five fields of interest.

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Coincidentally Fragile


via Tom Woolley, Samson University


Confusions about probability cause probable errors. A possible conjunction supposes a chance of eventuation and has a chance of happening, yet after it has happened its chances of happening collapse to unity by virtue of the happening having occurred.

When Jesus is Lord of your life, there are no coincidences. Dick Luchtenberg, Journey to Freedom

“There are no coincidences in life.” Glenn Beck

“It is my purpose to show that it is logically impossible to ascribe any power to chance whatever… If chance exists in its frailest possible form, God is finished… If chance exists in any size, shape or form, God cannot exist.” R.C. Sproul. 1994. Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology

“If one likes one could ascribe this randomness to God, but it would be a very strange kind of intervention: there is no evidence that it was directed toward any purpose. Indeed if it were, it would, by definition not be random.” Stephen Hawking

Time to consult the Cube-O-Probe. Probe, in what direction might fruitful territory be discovered for further investigation of the aspects of coincidence and a priori requisite in the quiddity of eventuation?


Comment: The Probe suggests an obvious investigatory dialectical vector between the practical consideration of the marriage of the apparently opposite chance and foreordained, with the completely knotty problem of seeking essential morality within this same interplay. Here also is the ping-ponging between theological and Newtonian determinism, and maybe this could give into finding dual forms for morality. Once again the Cube-O-Probe charts the way!




Doxastic commitment, or “soul in the game”: You can only believe predictions and opinions by those who committed themselves to a certain belief, and had something to lose, in a way to pay a cost in being wrong. Nassim Taleb (from the Anti-Fragile Glossary)

“The general principle of antifragility, it is much better to do things you cannot explain than explain things you cannot do.” – Nassim Taleb

coincidence (OED)

[a. F. coïncidence, L. type *coincidentia: see coincident and -ence.]

1. a.1.a The fact or condition of being coincident; the occupation of the same place or part of space.

1626 Bacon Sylva (1677) §224 There can be no Coincidence in the eye, or Visual Point.    1715 Cheyne Philos. Prin. Relig. (J.), The coincidence of the planes of this rotation with one another, and with the plane of the ecliptick.    1831 Brewster Newton I. x. 222 The singleness of the picture arises from the coincidence of the two pictures.    1870 R. M. Ferguson Electr. 33 This want of coincidence of the points of vertical dip and of maximum intensity.

fig. or transf.    1650 Fuller Pisgah v ii. §5 By a casuall coincidence some straggling words of the Athenians may meet in the mouths of the veriest Barbarians.    1847 Emerson Repr. Men, Plato Wks. I. 304 The rare coincidence, in one ugly body, of the droll and the martyr.

b.1.b (with pl.) A case of coincidence.

1837 Whewell Hist. Induc. Sci. (1857) I. 153 The method of making visual coincidences.    1880 Adams in Times 28 Dec. 10/2 The new line-spectra, the real basic lines of those substances which show coincidences.

2.2 Occurrence or existence at the same time; simultaneous occurrence or existence.

1650 Fuller Pisgah iii. iii. §8 There might be a casuall coincidence of this feast and his presence at Jerusalem.    1681 More Expos. Daniel 257 There is a Coincidence, at least of time.    1722 Susanna Wesley in Eliza Clarke Life (1886) 130 There hardly ever was a greater coincidence of unprosperous events in one family.    1837 H. Martineau Soc. Amer. III. 297 A happy coincidence of outward plenty with liberal institutions.    1878 Huxley Physiogr. xx. 342 The coincidence of twelve by the clock with noon by the sun-dial?is exact only four times in the year.

3. a.3.a Exact agreement or correspondence in substance, nature, character, etc.

1605 Bacon Adv. Learn. ii. v. §3 Is there not a true coincidence between commutative and distributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion?    a?1716 South Serm. VII. v. (R.), Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth?affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness.    1831 Brewster Newton (1855) II. xxiv. 352 The coincidence of the religious views of Sir Isaac Newton with those of John Locke.    1876 Grote Eth. Fragm. iii. 58 These two ends of action are sometimes found in conflict, but more frequently in coincidence.

b.3.b (with pl.) An instance of such agreement or correspondence.

a?1661 Fuller Worthies (1840) I. 201 A local coincidence, which?cannot be paralleled.    1736 Butler Anal. ii. vii. 356 Evidence arising from various coincidences.    1790 Paley Horæ Paul. Rom. ii. 13 Such coincidences may fairly be stated as undesigned.    1867 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) I. App. 724 A remarkable series of undesigned coincidences in favour of the belief.

4.4 A notable concurrence of events or circumstances having no apparent causal connexion.

a?1682 Sir T. Browne Let. to Friend (Camelot ed.) 185 That he should also take King Francis prisoner upon that day [of his nativity], was an unexpected coincidence.    1821 De Quincey Confess. Wks. 1863 I. 96, I felt it at the time?as a singular coincidence, that twice, etc.    1823 Byron Juan vi. lxxviii, A ‘strange coincidence,’ to use a phrase By which such things are settled now-a-days.    1829 Scott Guy M. Introd., The fact, if truly reported, is one of those singular coincidences which occasionally appear.    1865 Livingstone Zambesi xix. 378 It might be only a coincidence.

5.5 Of persons: Agreement or concurrence (in opinion or sentiment).

1795 Hull Advertiser 28 Nov. 3/1 Mr. Sturt?expressed his co-incidence with the sentiments of [the Petition].    1800 Wellington in Owen Disp. 647 You are already apprized of my entire coincidence in your opinion.    1800 Syd. Smith Six Serm. 60 A modest coincidence with received opinions above our faculties.

†6.6 Falling together, conjunction blending. Obs.

c?1645 Howell Lett. (1650) II. 88 The Latine tongue, with the coincidence of the Goths language and other northern peeple.

7. a.7.a Physics. The indication of the occurrence of ionizing particles in two or more detectors simultaneously (see quot. 1958). Also attrib. Cf. anti-coincidence.

1930 Physical Rev. XXXV. 651/2 Enormously increased resolving power can be obtained by the requirement of multiple instead of paired coincidences. The attainment of very great freedom from accidental coincidences is of greatest importance [etc.].    Ibid. 652/1 Automatic recording of the amount of the penetrating radiation coming from particular areas of the sky, using two tube-counters and a special ‘coincidence circuit’.    1938 R. W. Lawson tr. Hevesy & Paneth’s Man. Radioactivity (ed. 2) xxv. 280 Insertion of sheets of lead between the counters only slightly diminishes the number of simultaneous discharges (coincidences), and this proves that we are here confronted?with cosmic rays.    1940, etc. [see anti-coincidence].    1958 Van Nostrand’s Sci. Encycl. (ed. 3) 369/1 A true coincidence is one that is due to the detection of a single particle or of several genetically related particles. An accidental, chance, or random coincidence is one that is due to the fortuitous occurrence of unrelated counts in the separate detectors.

b.7.b Computers. Equivalent signals received simultaneously in an electronic circuit; the reception of such signals. Also attrib.

1947 Rev. Sci. Instruments XVIII. 907/1 In order to reduce chance coincidences to a minimum, it is necessary to use a coincidence circuit.    1948 Ibid. XIX. 565/2 Methods can be found for modulating one of the E.M.T.’s?so that the E.M.T.’s themselves form a coincidence or anticoincidence system.    1950 C. B. Tompkins et al. High-Speed Computing Devices iv. 37 An electronic gate is a circuit with a single output and two (or more) inputs so designed that an output signal is produced when, and only when, input signals are received on both (or on a particular set of) input leads. Such circuits are variously known as gates, coincidence circuits, Rossi circuits, or logical and circuits.    1953 A. D. & K. H. V. Booth Automatic Digital Calculators xi. 111 Coincidence sensers. In computing machine design it is frequently necessary to have available means for ascertaining the identity of two quantities.    1964 M. J. Pedelty in Tou & Wilcox Computer Sci. x. 248 The essence of the system?is that signals are ‘broadcast’ on a ‘to-whom-it-may-concern’ basis. Coincidence gates and delays can then be used to detect certain pulse patterns from the ‘broadcast alphabet’.

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