Tag Archives: integral

Planet of the Snake-Oil Loving Apes

Lowland-Wilber.jpg

David Lane takes Ken Wilber to task, Frisky Dirt, Why Ken Wilber’s New Creationism
is Pseudo-Science
, for reprising his odd views on evolution. Those views can be encapsulated in quotes from The Guru and the Pandit. Eros, Buddha, and the Spectrum of Love, from the new issue of Andrew Cohen’s magazine EnlightenmentNext.

It’s evidence of a force that is pushing against randomness in the universe.

The fact that such a thing can happen is a miracle. It’s just unbelievable.

All of this, without exception, is driven by love.

Lane’s takedown of Wilber’s ‘esotericistic’ intelligent design is okay, but let’s face it, all the varieties of intelligent design and creationism present low hanging fruit. The abstract for the article is telling:

Love is a hot topic in the world of progressive spirituality, but you haven’t heard anyone discuss it like the Guru and the Pandit. Distinguishing between love’s personal, cultural, and cosmic dimensions, they explore how this primordial force gives rise to every new emergence in the evolutionary process.

Wilber has spelled out what he means by speaking of love’s primordial force. This can be put differently without error, and on offer then is the context, a context many times more interesting than Wilber’s new age creationism.

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in “Ken Wilber.”

Or, ending up in the Centauric Integral, another term for “Ken Wilber.”

This developmental outcome is very ironic if you’re aware of Wilber’s antipathy toward baby boomer solipsism.

As a thinker and quasi-philosopher, Wilber’s development peaked fifteen years ago. At the time he had sketched out an interesting, even compelling, albeit rudimentary, transdisciplinary methodology. It required proponents to get down to the brass tacks of formulating a sharp critical culture.

In 2001, he told Jordan Gruber,

>E.com: In the meantime, though, the grants that people could write to I-I for, none of that’s happening?

KW: No, what’s happening right now is that one of the main things we wanted to do with the original one hundred million dollars was to get it to as many people as possible doing work in this field, the general field of integral studies and integral endeavors. That’s one of the reasons that I started Integral Institute, to act as a funding source for people doing this kind of work because the marketplace doesn’t reward truly integral studies as all. It rewards New Age approaches to it, it rewards the experiential workshop approach, as it were, it rewards the green meme and the purple meme and everything in between, but it does not reward truly integral studies.

So, the only way we’re going to get real work done in this field is, frankly, if we have funding agencies that will do it. And once the real work is done, and the research is done, and we start producing really solid texts, and presentations, and articles, and research, then we can create a market off of that. That’s going to be probably three years from now.

So, what we’ve done at Integral Institute … the biggest change in our orientation happened not because of the market, but quite independent of that, a change we would have made whether the market went up or down. And that is, we went from being a kind of community of some four hundred founding members to focusing more on producing what we call “integral product,” actual books, texts, academic material in each of the ten branches. So we’re working on books in, for example, What is Integral Politics? What is Integral Business? Integral Medicine? Integral Law? Because what we found was that there were no really strong statements about an integral approach to any of these fields.

E.com: Which is one of the reasons academia can ignore it completely.

KW: It can ignore it completely, and the other things we found is that most people with very very good intentions would simply take what they’re doing and call it integral when it really wasn’t. They were leaving out certain aspects of the human condition that ought not to be left out. We could demonstrate that to them, and they would say, “OK, I guess what I’m doing is not integral.”

So before we can build community, or create a market, or have a web presence, or have conferences, we have to produce specific texts in each of these ten branches, put together by one of our core teams of recognized scholars and researchers, saying “This is our best shot as an opening statement about what integral business is, integral politics, integral education, integral medicine, integral law, integral psychology, integral spirituality, and so on.”

Actually, what happened was this was inverted. Wilber created a community, a web presence, conferences, and, crucially, a market. Wilber’s Integral has been regressing ever since. Only The Integral Leadership Review, (itself mostly off the Wilberian reservation,) regularly publishes something like scholarship. Elsewhere there isn’t a body of Integral scholarship in those other nine branches, where the scholarship works to, as the Wilberian principle goes, keep the good and throw out the bad. So, without having enabled a keen critical culture to negotiate disciplinary fields using a robust and sophisticated Integral criteria, the Integral methodology was sunk.

Wilber’s creationism is interesting because its context is not Integral biology, but rather its context (and purpose) is the yoking of Wilber’s product lines to the biggest, most fantastic, view of that which can be the reward for buying Wilber’s spiritual technologies. This value-added idea is simple:

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in your ability to realize your cosmic integral love-vitalized high consciousness nature.

One has to buy a ticket, or otherwise pony up.

As for biology and science, Wilber has time and time again, in interviews with Larry Dossy, and other new age thought leaders, proposed that what is bad about science, methodological materialism, needs to be reformed and revolutionized, and, he’s implied, transformed into something altogether more ‘integral-mystical.’ (Magical!) Needless to say there aren’t any cogent Integral philosophers of science. Nor is there–as far as I know–any scholarly Integral biology, Integral physics, Integral anthropology, etc.. Also, the varieties of integral-like interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship found in some fields is not under review by Integral scholars.

No, there is only the facile spiritualizing of the Wilberian spiritual technology put up for sale. ‘Adeptitude’ has taken over; sadly. The strange, anti-intellectual case is that as much as this high-minded technology harps on getting right with The Shadow, science itself is smack dab in the middle of Wilber’s own shadow. I suspect love is stuck there too because the self-agrandizing, primordial move is too easy, compared, say, to the necessarily unsparing, perspective of Rilke.

To reconfigure Carl Jung’s famous insight,

…where power marketing predominates, love is lacking.

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Why not open source the integral movement?

Visit Integral Life, the main outpost for the Ken Wilberian revolution, and see how new age it’s become. (Integral Life is the leader of the deep lifestyle movement, helping people live more free and whole lives using integral philosophy, the first genuine world philosophy for the 21st century. from the site) Having tracked Wilber for 30+ years, I find the uncritical panoply of new ageism to signify Wilberian integralism to have come full circle and returned to its transpersonal, counter-culture, origins.

Wilber and his marketers have been building this brand and its product line for some time. The more developed the brand has become, the more his framework has atrophied. Its almost as if the Wilberian integralists can’t do two things at once. So, I suppose the decision was made. And then the cash registers were installed, and so it has gone.

What it looks like is this: kitschy self-realization resources and pay-to-play products dominating critical culture to the point one can’t find the critical culture anywhere. (How is this not egocentric?)

For example, wrap your discriminating intellect and eros around this:

2012, the Aquarian Age, and the Nature of Evolution (November 19th, 2009 by Darrell Moneyhon)

Regarding Ken’s very valid point addressed in his upcoming book, that indiscriminate democracy could be disastrous, given 70% of the population is at amber or lower, I think I have a solution – a broad strategy that could avert that catastrophe. I call it 3 S, for Sustainable Social Selection. It hinges on the idea that optimal human collective adaptation is based on effective utilization of human resources – no longer on selection via organisms dying off, the old “survival of the fittest” thing.

3 S adapts by finding the right person for the right “assignment”, or “engagement”. “Survival of the fittest is replaced with “survival of the fitting-est” – not meaning that whole groups of individuals (or even organizations or ideologies) will adapt or die from not fitting in with the requirements of the times (although such a selection may occur), but meaning that collectives which are able to get the right persons in the right job will adapt best. The ability to harness the various natural aptitudes and personality orientations, or roughly speaking, “gifts”, is what helps social groups survive and prosper. When the right gifts are placed in the right niches, a kind of workable egalitarianism is formed.

Why? Because gifts will sort out the best thinkers for thinking tasks, the best dreamers/intuiters for creative tasks and early stage innovation, the best relaters for healing and facilitation of social well-being, and the best do-ers for getting projects done in an efficient and effective manner. Those “gift” catagories are mainly types, but line competencies could also be used. Gift-in-niche assignments could be made based on performance (or observed proficiency) on certain lines of development, based on some form of multiple intelligence assessment, etc.. “Gifts” in general could include, then, a blend of type and line “intelligence” – a type-by-line “fit” factor.

Because all major types and all kinds (lines) of intelligences would be utilized, productively engaged, and cherished, no gift would be considered higher than other gifts. No gifts would be given better living standards than other gifts. To favor certain gift-sets would violate the very core of the Sustainable Social Selection strategy. All gifts, all people, would be needed in such a strategy. Every one would, therefore be “equal”.

But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things. “Each according to her gift” is a 3 S motto. The foot of the collective body does not have the same (equal) access to forks as do the fingers. Nor do the fingers have equal access to shoes. Those would be poor “fits” in a survival-by-the-fitting-est scheme. The understanding and practice of intrinsic power would replace the lust for extensic power. A finger would not want access to shoes (except to help tie shoe laces!), nor would feet want to hold forks. Those “powers” would be extrinsic to the nature of the respective gifts.

Because of the respect given to all the gifts, and because of equal provisions, there would be no press for every person to have equal say in social problem-solving or social planning projects. There would be no advantage or incentive for a do-er to pretend to be a social mapper, etc. If the standard of living is equal, then do-ers would have no incentive to do what they don’t do best! They would naturally prefer practical projects over big-picture pattern analysis, etc.

While I read this, I was thinking to myself, ‘Here’s an old Greek idea!’ Then I get to the point where ‘no gift would be considered higher than other gifts’ is contradicted by this: ‘But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things.’ This is garden-variety incoherence. Later, in an addendum, the writer suggests:

The key is get a modified democratic system which gives weighted voting privileges according to gifts, according to the person’s line strengths and/or type. This way, the “fingers” of the collective “body” aren’t voting about shoes. And the”feet” aren’t voting about eating utensiles. A thinker would have, say, one and a half vote, for big picture social policy votes. A relater would have, say, one and a half votes on specific issues related to health care.

The author contributes, by way of contextualizing this suggestion, some thoughts about an assessment regime which would sort out the overt typology of his scheme. Then at the end of his comment he sort of peels away to his core moralism.

But there is no guarantee that the behavior is following an optimal course which is in line with a person’s potential. Accordingly, both individual and collective behavior must be looked at in a dynamic, unfolding, genetic, sort of way, if we are to “behave” ourselves, and to live up to our potential.

Is the author really suggesting that by using typological assessments based in ‘moralized’ categories having to do with capturing in some definitive way a strict monological estimation of individual potential, there could then be a evolutionary progressive integral politics anchored to these behaviorally dispositive moralistic, performative, and structural identities?

The problem of the poverty of critical culture in Wilberian integralism comes to the front in Wilber’s musings.

Here is the idea that the integral world view will be, (or could be,) imposed as a matter of the natural superiority of the second tier moral consciousness. But I have a question, if the integral system hasn’t engendered a critical culture, in what way could I be convinced that second tier moral prescription isn’t, in actuality, massively egocentric, or otherwise darkened?

 

Don Beck on the 2nd Tier:

3. Do I accept that individuals, organizations, and societies must acquire these All Quadrant capacities in a step-by-step or developmental process?

6. Have I, personally, learned “when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em, and when to walk away?” Can I resist the need to control or engineer people?

9. Can I think systemically by addressing complex issues from a multi-case [multi-cause?] perspective rather than isolate a single culprit.

(2nd Tier, to me, is rigorously self-critical. Obviously this means I’m a charlatan or innovator or heretic.)

So, rather than develop a critical culture able to contest and refine and configure a future integral politics, what has come about is a product line wed to an inchoate “system,” itself born in top down elitism, and wildly over-generalized and simplistic estimations about political behavior. And, these products are tasked with pulling people into this uncritical socio-political sphere; all the while the cash registers ring.

This calls into question the Wilberian Project, almost in-total. One repetitive bit is a pisser in all this: when the second tier maestro, goes about reminding that he or she ‘is not judging,’ or refers to transcend-and-include as a work-around. This may fool people. But, I’m hearing an indelicate mash-up of Plato, Hegel and Mao!

Should one take the blinders off, now, many decades into the Wilberian Project, it is fairly obvious what pseudo-second tier seeks to showcase: an ability to do some educative banking, where you get to buy some old ‘vertical’ thought forms and climb up a little closer. (The idea that a spiritual elite possess the most able political consciousness is especially appealing when one can buy their way in, master the vocabulary, and learn how not to get passionately angry about anything.)

I state this obvious implication of enterprising integral politics with a sense of delighted irony. After all, there isn’t any substantive integral political philosophy–how could there be given what’s being recycled, heck, time shifted! here. And, it is deliciously ironic that Mr. Moneyhon has made an attempt to figure out the ‘assessment’ requirement, since, after all, there isn’t also a substantive integral psychology, let alone an applied integral psychology, upon which to build his mash-up of typology and assessment of aspirational potentials. Of course, with good reason, Centauric political leadership is yoked to integral spirituality, but this sure looks different when there comes the top-down proposal to assess somebody else’s spiritual stage using the potted categories given by integral spirituality.

(Might as well mention, there’s no methodology for doing these assessments; nor is there even a basis for a methodology. It’s a different kind of pipe dream.)

With respect to this latter field, it’s important to point out Wilberian integralism has wed its centralized entrepreneurial focus with (mostly) digital evangelism for its technology of enlightenment. Well, there’s nothing integral about the Wilberian style of commerce.

Full circle we go: how to account for the re-introduction of new age hucksters and thought leaders into the integral mix? What you get with this is a lot of free floating folk metaphysics and magical doctrines, and, above all, you get the utopian ethos built upon a future “Self-developmental” payoff. Cha Ching.

There’s little harm that can come from any of this. When Wilber shifted direction–years ago–and worked to create a marketable new age self-help technology, it became clear the ‘early alpha’ integral analytic framework would either be advanced by others, or, not.

***

Daniel Gustav Anderson has contributed an excellent piece at Integral World, Integral Theory After Wilber. His blog is thought provoking and a favorite.

From his excellent essay, one I take as a beginning:

Integral theory should be critical. By this I mean it should be dialectical; it should be scientific and examined as such, rather than transmitted as a belief-structure or a cult object. Universal and essentializing claims should be eschewed in favor of properly warranted, demonstrated, and delineated ones. If one is inclined to speculate and explore ideas with a freer hand as I myself often do, or when one sees that evidence is lacking for an idea that may reward further investigation, such speculations and ideas should be marked for what they are: explorations, thought experiments, provisional claims, possibilities for future inquiry, or (to borrow from David Lane) an instance of unknowingness. In short, integral theory should be critically self-aware of how it makes knowledge, and how that knowledge functions politically and socially. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School has much to offer in this regard, as does the pedagogy of Paulo Freire.

(There’s a lot of integral thinking and writing by persons who knew nothing, may have predated, the Wilberian ‘integral.’ I’ve come to respect greatly the variety of superb descriptive and analytic work which wanders in disciplined ways through various subjective and objective perspectives. On the web, Integral World, provides a portal for post-Wilberian thought–although quality varies a great deal. IW authors )

The spell that binds us today consists not least in the fact that it ceaselessly urges people to take action that they believe will break the spell; and that it prevents the reflection on themselves and the circumstances that might really break it. (Theodore Adorno)

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Dooz Age, Unstoppable

Another flare from Integral Life.

The Integral movement is based upon principles of compassion, clarity, and inclusiveness. A willingness to step beyond our personal and cultural points of view while remaining true to our own unique perspective; to sanctify the common ground between different sciences and different spiritual traditions while fully honoring and celebrating the differences between them; to hold all the contradictions and paradoxes of knowledge gently in one hand while cutting through the confusion and fragmentation with the other—these are precisely the sorts of qualities that define the Integral movement as a whole.

The Integral movement is already beginning to sweep across the world. Though it is no longer just a revolution of the mind (ours is a revolution of the “body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature”) and though it is still in its very early stages of emergence, its influence is rapidly beginning to gain traction, right now at this very second. The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

The Integral Revolution: the result of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable subject.

When do you think the Integral movement will reach its “tipping point”?

Forced choice poll. I selected: Centuries, if at all.

This kind of marketing pitch doesn’t move me at all. I’m not much of a joiner, and, feverish and grand appeals never inspire me. But, that’s just due to my own disposition. On the other hand, appeals which thread incoherent stuff together fascinate me!

The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

is a doozy. No, it’s a double doozy. Talk about a personal and cultural point of view… But, what stopped the flow? Why is it flowing again?

As it turns out, over the past weeks I’ve been reflecting upon the cultural history that was the context for Ken Wilber’s first appearance as a thinker, writer, and cultural critic. This refers to the late seventies and eighties. If I ponder just the thin slice of my closest cohort, and briefly unpack where this small sample was, say, in 1982, ten years after graduating from high school, my conclusion would be: revolution over, making a life—toggled on.

In this personal respect, I really have no idea what current of growth and development in days of yore this pitch is referring to. It would make more sense if names were named. “The very same currents of growth and development” implies precision (via the word ‘same,’) about precedents. Which same currents?

(Let me leap to an idea: in other schools of self-realization, might one discover that their properly applied experiential applications strip away sentimentality–completely?)

By the time the Reagan era rolled into the village, cocaine-fueled hedonic nihilism was the cosmopolitan rage, and the self-realization movement struggled to restore itself after lots of revolutionary bad psychedelic mojo had gone down. Oddly enough, politically, the southern strategy had yet to morph into the southern baptist strategy, yet, a religious call-to-arms emerged at the time to—the dour religionists hoped—beat back the coming ‘new age.’ Think of this as the reaction to Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) and John Naisbett’s Megatrends (1982), both books were more lucrative and widely distributed annunciations of revolutionary hope and transformation than anything published in the sixties.

But, I get why, as a marketing position, it’s better to channel nostalgia back to the sixties, rather than back to the more contradictory eighties. Still, the actually “same” currents are to be found circa 1980, not circa 1968.

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Urban Integralism

(moved from -pages-)

excerpted from Integral Urbanism by Nan Ellin. Originally posted on February 6, 2009.

(from the Introduction)

In Western society, generally, we are witnessing a gradual reorientation
toward valuing slowness, simplicity, sincerity, spirituality, and sustainability in
an attempt to restore connections that have been severed over the last century
between body and soul, people and nature, and among people. For architects
and planners, this has been apparent in the shift from the machine as model
(Modernism), to cities of the past as model (Postmodernism), to seeking models
simultaneously in ecology and new information technologies (e.g., thresholds,
ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks, the World Wide Web, the
Internet). Along with these new metaphors, there has been a fascination with
the border, edge, and in-between, as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to the earlier models that bespoke aspirations for control and
perfection, these current models suggest the importance of connectedness and
dynamism as well as the principle of complementarity. On the ecological
threshold, where two ecosystems meet, for instance, there is competition and
conflict but also synergy and harmony. There is fear but also adventure and
excitement. It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain,
winners or losers. All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

Hybridity
As ecological success is measured
by the capacity of our planet to support all life forms,
urban design success should be measured
by its capacity to support humanity.
Learning from best practices,
an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path
toward a more sustainable human habitat.

In contrast to escapist, cynical, or purely mercenary tendencies,
Integral Urbanism aims to heal wounds
inflicted upon the landscape
by the modern and postmodern eras
as manifest in:
Visually unappealing places
Impoverishment of public space and heightened perception of fear
Diminished sense of place and sense of community &
Environmental degradation.

To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism demonstrates five qualities:
Hybridity
Connectivity
Porosity
Authenticity
Vulnerability

(more…)

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Practice of a Lifetime, Or, Useful tool?

Allow me to briefly sing the praises of the Integral model. Not in its pseudo-formalization given by Mr. Wilber (et.al.) but in its idiosyncratic and the decidedly ‘informalization,’ given by me.

First, it is necessary to locate my move here via admission about my prejudices. De-capitalize the ‘I.’ The integral model, and Spiral Dynamics as well, is, in this guise, an informal sociology tending to employ folk psychologizing for the purpose of supporting intuitive navigation of the entangled systems from the scale of personal reflection all the way to the scale of group relations. This latter scale is limited to identifiable groups further described by their centering array of interests. Hmmm, this could include groups whose centering interest is decentering; but I digress in noting this.

From this position, certain qualities of my idiosyncratic re-deployment of the integral model are resolved. This model is: informal, not formal; subjective, not objective; reflexive-intersubjective, neither scientific or scientistic. No metaphysical or post-metaphysical warrants are implied in any of this. This wild version of the integral/SD model is aimed to merely be a pragmatic tool for the self-organization of an intuitive and phenomenological inquiry–conducted by daring investigators. The hallmark of the result of this application is–necessarily–extreme provisionality.

My hypothesis is the model is a good candidate for generating autopoietic data enabled to support transformational learning. This will not in any way require the learner to know the model very well. Thank you Pandit KW.

***

A book co-authored by Ken Wilber sits before me. Integral Life Practice. I guess I couldn’t help myself (in taking it out of the library,) but also I won’t be dealing with it. So: caveat emptor. This I will say: Wilber’s integral philosophy sometime ago fed a movement with adherents, and this book showcases the industrialization of the integral self-development technology aimed to extract smolians from true believers.
(more…)

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AUTHENT-I-CITY

I’m reading a new book Integral Urbanism by Nan Ellin. I’ve copied out the text laid over graphics here because it crystalizes something of my own perspective. Also, although her conception of ‘integral’ owes something to Ken Wilber, in the main her writing obtains a very fine phenomenological reckoning with a quasi-transdisciplinary cast of mind. (My comments follow the clipping.)

Hybridity
As ecological success is measured
by the capacity of our planet to support all life forms,
urban design success should be measured
by its capacity to support humanity.
Learning from best practices,
an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path
toward a more sustainable human habitat.

In contrast to escapist, cynical, or purely mercenary tendencies,
Integral Urbanism aims to heal wounds
inflicted upon the landscape
by the modern and postmodern eras
as manifest in:
Visually unappealing places
Impoverishment of public space and heightened perception of fear
Diminished sense of place and sense of community &
Environmental degradation.

To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism demonstrates five qualities:
Hybridity
Connectivity
Porosity
Authenticity
Vulnerability
Hybridity and Connectivity bring activities and people together, rather than
isolate objects and separate functions. These qualities also treat people and nature
as symbiotic—as well as buildings and landscape—rather than oppositional.
Porosity preserves the integrity of that which is brought together while allowing
mutual access through permeable membranes, rather than the modernist
attempt to dismantle boundaries or postmodernist fortification.
Authenticity involves actively engaging and drawing inspiration from actual social
and physical conditions with an ethic of care, respect, and honesty. Like all healthy
organisms, the authenti-City is always growing and evolving according to new
needs that arise thanks to a self-adjust ing feedback loop that measures and monitors
success and failure.
And Vulnerability calls upon us to relinquish control, listen deeply, value process
as well as product , and re-integrate space with time.
connectivity
In contrast to the master-planned functionally-zoned city
which separates, isolates, alienates, and retreats,
Integral Urbanism emphasizes
connection, communication, and celebration.

As we are a part of nature,
so are our habitats including our cities.
Over the last century, however,
urban development has treated the city as a machine
for efficiently sheltering and protecting
and for moving people, money, and goods.

The city-as-machine approach has privileged building upon
a tabula rasa, or clean slate.
This is manifest in leaving older cities behind
to build further out on pristine or agricultural land.
It is also manifest in razing large swaths of older cities to build anew.
Another by-product of the quest for efficiency is zoning.
Introduced one century ago as indust rial product ion and the car
were transforming the urban experience,
zoning segregated funct ions
that had been integrated
from t ime immemorial.
As people are mutually interdependent, however,
so are our activities as expressed in city form.
Cities and communities only thrive (are only sustainable)
when these interdependencies are allowed to lourish.
patterns
We are now belatedly recognizing the problems
wrought by the clean-slate tendency and land-use zoning.
However well-intended, these efforts to “renew” our cities
and render them more efficient have gone too far,
ult imately draining the life from them and cont ribut ing
to threaten our sense of community, security,
and physical and emotional health.
Rather than neglect, abandon, or erase our urban heritage, Integral Urbanism
preserves buildings, neighborhoods, and natural landscapes that we value;
rehabilitates, reclaims, restores, or renovates what is underperforming;
and adds what we do not have yet but would like,
as informed by effective community involvement.

Whether applied to exist ing urban fabrics or new development ,
I ntegral Urbanism activates places
by creating thresholds—places of intensity—
where a range of people and activities may converge.
Providing places to congregate along with synergies and eficiencies,
I ntegral Urbanism offers settings—while also liberat ing t ime and energy—
for collaborat ively envisioning and implement ing desired change.
The result is:
more conservation & less waste,
more quality public space & less distrust and fear,
more quality time & less “ screen time” and commuting time,
more proaction & less reaction.
Whereas the modern paradigm discouraged convergences
through its emphasis on separation and control,
this new paradigm encourages them.
Convergences in space and time
of people, activities, businesses, and so forth
generate new hybrids.
These hybrids allow new convergences and the process continues.
This is, in fact, the definition of development.

From the machine as model (modernism) ,
to cities of the past as model (postmodernism) ,
Integral Urbanism finds models simultaneously in
ecology and new information technologies such as
thresholds, ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks,
the World Wide Web, and the Internet .
I t also reveals a fascination with the border, edge, and in-between,
as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to earlier models, these suggest
the importance of connectedness and dynamism
as well as the principle of complementarity.
On the ecological threshold where two ecosystems meet, for instance,
there is competition and conlict along with synergy and harmony.
There is fear along with adventure and excitement .
It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain, winners or losers.
All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

Integral Urbanism veers away from master planning which,
in its focus on cont rolling everything,
ironically tends to generate fragmented cities without soul or character.
Instead, Integral Urbanism proposes more punctual intervent ions
that have a tentacular or domino effect,
catalyzing other interventions in an ongoing dynamic process.
If master planning were a form of surgery on an anaesthetized city,
Integral Urbanism might be a form of acupuncture on a fully alert and engaged city.
By opening up blockages along “urban meridians,”
just as acupuncture and other forms of bioenergetic healing
open blockages along the energy meridians of our bodies,
this approach can liberate the life force of a city and its vibrant communities.
porosity
While integrat ing the functions that the modern city separated,
Integral Urbanism also seeks to integrate:
ln conventional notions of urban, suburban, and rural to
produce a new model for the contemporary city
ln design with nature
ln local character with global forces
ln the design professions and
ln people of different ethnicities, incomes, ages, and abilit ies.
Integral Urbanism is about :
Networks not boundaries
Relationships and connections not isolated objects
Interdependence not independence or dependence
Natural and social communit ies not just individuals
Transparency or translucency not opacity
Permeability not walls
Flux or low not stasis
Connections with nature and relinquishing control,
not continuous.
While integrating the functions that the modern city separated,
Integral Urbanism also seeks to integrate:
ln conventional notions of urban, suburban, and rural to
produce a new model for the contemporary city
ln design with nature
ln local character with global forces
ln the design professions and
ln people of different ethnicit ies, incomes, ages, and abilit ies.
Integral Urbanism is about :
Networks not boundaries
Relationships and connections not isolated objects
Interdependence not independence or dependence
Natural and social communities not just individuals
Transparency or translucency not opacity
Permeability not walls
Flux or low not stasis
Connections with nature and relinquishing control,
not controlling nature
Catalysts, armatures, frameworks, punctuat ion marks,
notional products, master plans, or utopias.

authenticity
The urban and environmental challenges of the last century
have prompted a reconsiderat ion of values, goals, and means of achieving them,
particularly over the last decade.
In contrast to the fast-paced more-is-more mentality,
the appeals of simplicity, slowness, spirituality, sincerity, and sustainability
are clearly on the rise.

Side by side with the still prevalent reactive tendencies of
form to follow fiction, finesse, finance, and fear,
myriad proactive initiatives from a wide range of contributors
to shaping the environment are shifting the paradigm toward integrat ion.

Although there remain numerous
obstacles along this path, we are
nonetheless passing through a rare
historic moment when what is good
for urban growth and development
is aligning with polit ical, economic,
and social trends.
We have been coming full circle or,
more accurately, full spiral.
Learning from the inherent wisdom
of nature and cities of the past ,
we are infusing it with contemporary
sensibilities.

Rather than choosing to cont inue or abandon the modern project ,
our hyper-rational reliance upon information technologies along with
a simultaneous revalorization of process, relat ionships, and complementarity
is conspiring to eradicate the either/ or proposit ion.
We are doing both simultaneously,
each providing feedback for and adjusting the other accordingly,
holding potential for achieving integration at another level.

The modern era divided the world and our thinking about it into fragments
and our landscape followed. We are suffering the results.
Integrating disciplines and professions,
Integral Urbanism seeks to mend seams and darn holes
in the urban and social fabrics.
Resolutely refusing to idealize the past or escape the present ,
Integral Urbanism envisions and realizes
a new integration for an enriched future.
integration
Crises and stress incite growth and change in all life forms.
The kind of change that occurs may support or detract from
the health and well-being of the system depending
upon its level of resilience and intelligence.
Applying the five qualities of Integral Urbanism
can offer the soul food necessary
for our cities and communities
to blossom and truly thrive.
Not merely


(from the Introduction)

In Western society, generally, we are witnessing a gradual reorientation
toward valuing slowness, simplicity, sincerity, spirituality, and sustainability in
an attempt to restore connections that have been severed over the last century
between body and soul, people and nature, and among people. For architects
and planners, this has been apparent in the shift from the machine as model
(Modernism), to cities of the past as model (Postmodernism), to seeking models
simultaneously in ecology and new information technologies (e.g., thresholds,
ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks, the World Wide Web, the
Internet). Along with these new metaphors, there has been a fascination with
the border, edge, and in-between, as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to the earlier models that bespoke aspirations for control and
perfection, these current models suggest the importance of connectedness and
dynamism as well as the principle of complementarity. On the ecological
threshold, where two ecosystems meet, for instance, there is competition and
conflict but also synergy and harmony. There is fear but also adventure and
excitement. It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain,
winners or losers. All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

For me, the smart community possesses the cognitive and poetic and expressive and creative capacities, thus the chops, to both contest the normal paths of low developmental resistance and instigate visions of future community that require the community to be smart. Another way of putting this is: the people in the community are more cognitively advanced than the ‘conventional’ people who want to develop the community. I add to this the potential for the people in a community to also be more advanced artists, entrepreneurs, care-givers, and ethicists. However, the challenge is, as I see it, that the smart community is necessarily reflective, much less egocentric, and, (as Melanie Klein would have it,) depressive; depressive meaning open and constructively related to reality-as-it-presents-itself.

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BANG BEFORE

The Integral Spiritual Center lands a come-on in my email box every week. Yesterday’s gave me a whack on the side of the head.

Modern science has given us a compelling picture of the evolution of our universe, from its first moments: quantum fluctuations—i.e. the “Big Bang”—led to a massive inflation, followed by “the dark ages,” then the formation of the first stars, at about t+400 million years. But science has been largely unable to explain what happened before—indeed, what brought about—the Big Bang. Scientific explanations have tended to end up sounding somewhat like traditional Eastern cosmology: the Earth stands upon the back of an elephant, which stands upon the back of a turtle, and from there, it’s turtles all the way down…. The world’s great spiritual traditions have long sought answers to this question, and have theorized a process reciprocal to the one that science has investigated so thoroughly: prior to evolution, there was involution.

Truth be told, I’m not aware of any spiritual tradition that has pondered what happened before the Big Bang. (This is the case if one discounts secular science enough to make of it not a spiritual tradition.) But the main thing is: the traditions didn’t know of the Big Bang.

Not so curiously, creation myths tend to be very relational and story-like! These stories have a beginning but don’t usually pose a beginning prior to their starting point. But the Big Bang doesn’t begin with the Big Bang. It’s a just-so story in the sense of ‘as far as we know’ and ‘to the degree that we know.’

The turtles all the way down trope certainly aligns with one of Ken Wilber’s oldest (surviving!) propositions, The Great Chain of Being. I’m not sure which scientific explanation was to the ISC’s blurb writer, “sounding somewhat like traditional Eastern cosmology.” (And this was stated after the same writer wrote: “science has been largely unable to explain what happened before.”)

The blurb seems to change the subject and goes on after raising Involution:

Essentially, says Ken, we begin every moment in a state of nondual Suchness. But if we have yet to stabilize that state into a state-stage, that state will be pre-conscious to us, and we will undergo the first contraction, into the causal realm of the Witness and all that is witnessed. If we have yet to stabilize that state, we will contract into the subtle realm of the soul. And if we have yet to stabilize that state, we will contract into the gross realm of the ego and our conventional self. So with every moment, we “fall down the stairs,” cascading down from suchness until the point of our state realization. Here, we recognize ourselves, in a dynamic similar to what the Tibetan Book of the Dead teaches about the Bardo and our experience after death. And this world (and with it, all “lower” worlds) arises in our experience.

Reminds me of Ibn al-Arabi, ra, and an encapsulation I wrote in 1991.

Henri Corbin commenting on the fact of ascension
(as described by Ibn’ Arabi, r.a.)

Look upon our own existance. Is it continuous ?

Or is it incessantly renewing on every breath ?

Does not being cease then come into being
with every breath, and upon His sigh of compassion?

Hexities, themselves pure possibles do not demand concrete existence.
recurrent creation manifests infinitely, essentially, divinely.

Divine being descends, is epiphanized in our individuality
such being thus ascends to return to the source.

Every being ascends with the instant
to see this is to see the multiple existing in the one.

And so the man who knows that is his “soul”,
such a man knows his Lord.

Richard Grossinger, from his superb new book, The Bardo of Waking Life:

The 9.5 years that it will take a spacecraft to bust out of Earth’s gravity well and be slingshot by gas giants to Pluto, out at the edge of the Kuiper Belt, must be measured against an event barely the size of a ball-bearing out of which the entire universe detonated once into a state so protracted and sticky it continues to fulminate and distend.

Involution? This reminds me of quaint and romantic notions from the hydraulic 19th century. Of course we’ve moved through the hyper-hydraulic 20th century. And past the cusp of the 21st century it seems contemporaneously quaint to suppose involution tended to reveal (Wilber’s) suchness is another turtle. We’re all enslaved for hundred thousand story-making years to this mechanical conceit.

“Before,” then, is only a mechanical necessity. What happens before you and your dear one decide to go out and dance? What is caused to morph?

Grossinger:

Our basis is completely mysterious. . .

Completely. It’s not that involution makes clear the origin, it’s that “pure possibles do not demand concrete existence” may require any origin to be essentially not knowable and, perhaps, origin exists beyond mere mechanics, beyond mechanical concretization of (even) original possibility.

Granted, Wilber is moved to try to explain everything. What a romantic!

Alternately:

What we call music in our everyday language is only a miniature, which our intelligence has grasped from that music or harmony of the whole universe which is working behind everything, and which is the source and origin of nature. It is because of this that the wise of all ages have considered music to be a sacred art. For in music the seer can see the picture of the whole universe; and the wise can interpret the secret and the nature of the working of the whole universe in the realm of music. Inayat Khan

Grossinger:

We are only possibility, and God is no one but the background agaisnt which possibility rests.

For me, ‘completely’ and ‘only’ tear involution and sunder suchness. Mystery cannot be the ground of mechanics and also itself mechanical. Before involution and evolution? Only God knows.

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THE AQAL HAMMER

The following could serve as the subject of an assignment: What’s wrong at the level of assumptions found in the following argument?

I’ve provided some helpful italicizing.

At the second gathering of the teachers of Integral Spiritual Center, Patrick Sweeney famously asked Ken Wilber, “what can we do to stay out of Appendix III of Integral Spirituality?” In “The Myth of the Given,” Ken surveys some major modern approaches to spirituality, and demonstrates via AQAL their partiality—and how that partiality might be remedied.

It’s sobering to consider that so many of today’s most eminent teachers are partial! But as Ken points out, Appendix III (and the Integral approach in general) is meant not so much to point out that partiality as to highlight expertise in a highly specialized area. AQAL is an incredible tool for both situating various approaches and for understanding how they are related to each other. To the extent that the conclusions of these approaches fall within their area of expertise, they are most assuredly true. But to the extent that their conclusions overstep their area of expertise, a broader context such as AQAL can be enormously helpful.

The potency of AQAL to situate various approaches derives from its own formulation. Take, for example, the field of psychology. Ken points out that there are six major schools of psychology, each advanced by brilliant researchers who pioneered a particular approach to the field. Ken’s approach was to ask “what must be the characteristics of the human mind, such that the major conclusions of each of these schools could hold true?” His goal, rather than to work within one of the major schools to further its particular conclusions, was to reverse-engineer the human psyche—indeed, the entire Kosmos—altogether. source: ISC Editor’s Weekly Blog

Sometime in the near future I will highlight a very fine paper that does employ AQAL to accurately situate various perspectives in the field of organizational behavior. It is one of the few such integral overviews–rooted to a discipline–that is expert enough in a ‘meta-disciplinary’ sense to provide a lot of value.

(more…)

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