Thursday, June 21, 2012

The projective arc

Following is the IPS discussion to date of the Lanes' Integral World article by the above name.

Layman Pascal: The issue that leaps out at me is who exactly is doing the "letting pioneers be pioneers" and how is that "letting" accomplished?  Assuming we are not merely indulging in the passive intellectual game of having-at-look-at-a-subtle-process then we are proposing what kind of intervention?

It seems that the history of bio-energetic & altered consciousness experiences is filled with people who subscribe to the anticipated patterns of their group's discourse and those who don't -- as well as people who migrate from one to the other.  The ability to separate our interpretations from the phenomenology of our experiences is an ongoing process determined by all kinds of factors -- many of which undoubtedly reside in the early life of family and elementary schooling, others of which are determined by whether or not the individual has sufficient "surplus psychological energy" to grow new levels of self-understanding by challenging the local social orthodoxy in which their assumptions are embedded.

All kinds of factors enable pioneering to occur but very few of these stem from encouragement or discouragement on the part of those who have analyzed part of the process by which personal interpretations dovetail with group expectations.

We might even assume that the establishment of the expected forms of subtle and mystical experience provides an adequate test or discriminatory threshold by which to separate those who are prepared for pioneering from those who are not.

I am reminded of the tale of Hassan i Sabbah (told by Robert Anton Wilson) who purported drugged Islamic visitors and mocked up a scenario identical the Koran's vision of heavenly pleasures.  Afterwards those who believed they'd visited heaven were asked to perform favors for the Cult in exchange for a chance to repeat the experience.  Those who felt they had been tricked, or that the situation was more complex, were asked to join the inner circle of the Cult.

So perhaps we should not underestimate the efficacy of interpretive expectancy.

When we look back upon the great pioneers and transformative agents of history it is not the case that they were the people who believed in paradigm shifts, or who had been enculturated to try to act as pioneers.  It is at least as true that those who seek change preserve the status quo and those who cause change are trying to be steadiness agents clustered around the line of the norm.

Quite possibly the idea of "letting pioneers be pioneers" is a limiting assumption.

theurj: I'd agree it is not as simple as merely allowing on to be free of programming. The Lanes admit that it's likely all experience is shaped by some sort of "biographical or cultural flavoring." That's a recurrent theme in the forum, that experience itself, including transformation, is inextricably tied to one's translation. So I'd agree that "we should not underestimate the efficacy of interpretive expectancy." Where I'd disagree (as would apparently the Lanes) is with this:

"We might even assume that the establishment of the expected forms of subtle and mystical experience provides an adequate test or discriminatory threshold by which to separate those who are prepared for pioneering from those who are not."

It's been my experience, as well as that of many others, that such traditions are dogma-laden and not likely to encourage a pioneering translation of their sacred cows. Granted spiritual pioneers typically have experience within traditions but when they enact something new they tend to get labeled heretics. And often then 'pioneer' a new solo path, which might or not then gather adherents and begin the process anew.

Also one might presume that the meditative experience itself is a universal mystical state that would be the same regardless of the translation. Balder has done a lot of work in the forum and in JITP articles on the plural and enacted nature of mystical experience, that is not the same experience for all to discover. This is also a key observation in the OOO thread.

Layman Pascal: I think we can assume that "cultural flavoring" is an inextricable dimension of every form of experience -- just as are subjectivity & objectivity.  And, speaking personally, I assume that most every idea, state and stage both conceals a multiplicity of facets and also a potential for new emergent forms.  My slogan for this is "On a spherical Earth, going UP can occur in even diametrically opposed directions".

And, certainly, we can probably also assume that most traditions are dogma-laden and discouraging to pioneering translations of their sacred cows.  But that's not necessarily problematic.

Why shouldn't pioneers be heretics?  Obviously we have to keep them safe but that is a general protection afforded to all citizens.  There seems to be no fundamental problem with establishing an eccentric relationship to a consistent set of limited interpretations.  Every new translation is a bifurcation moment that may be able to fit within an existing social field or may require a new cultural space in order to function.  This is quite normal, no?

The "traditions" seem to have always functioned as a pragmatic way to cluster organic, idiosyncratic evolutionary experiences among those whose interpretive complexity allows them to tolerate such conditions.

The social dimension of spiritual experience is a limitation only in the degree to which we ourselves conflate the spiritual and social side of religion.  Many so-called religious people are only adherents of a particular social hobby.  A few are actual adherents of religiousness.  There seems to be plenty of room for both and for all kinds of mixtures when we are looking to religion to fulfill both personal and cultural goals. 

Balder: I have discussed elsewhere the notion of "generative (en)closure" -- which is one way that I describe the generative potential of particulars, of autopoietic systems.  From an enactive point of view, I see the "coupling" of one's mystical or psychological (or other) experience with a particular interpretive system, theological or humanist or otherwise, as a pairing generative of a Sloterdijkian bubble of intimacy (or communal sphere), a sphere which holds certain enactive (and immunological and transformational) potentials and not others.  It is a pairing which will bring forth certain latent potentials within the experience -- perhaps along the lines of Bryant's discussion of object-encounters, where particular object-relations will call forth certain potentials while leaving others dormant.  The "issue," where there is one, arises in my opinion when a given system is closed to alternative interpretations to the degree that it severely stifles creativity and perhaps also engenders trauma in its rigidity.  I don't see this as a problem on the big scale, since folks have always been able to escape from such restrictive hermeneutic circles, and it may even be that the intensity of the closure can and does sometimes lead to some powerful eruptions of creativity and novelty (both within the circle, as people find creative ways to bring novelty into an officially "closed" sphere, and when people finally make a decisive break).  But if we are interested in developing an integral spiritual practice culture, then I think the Lanes' cautioning message is useful -- reminding us not to foreclose prematurely on interpretations of our experiences and the fruits of our inquiry, and to recognize that the cultural-theological enaction in which we are engaged, while yielding particular and maybe particularly beautiful fruits, does not represent an "exhaustion" of the potential in our spiritual explorations and experiences.  This is in part what I was getting at elsewhere when I was discussing the principle of irreduction: no reduction of a spiritual event or "object" exhausts the generative potential of that event or object, and in that the event or object is therefore simultaneously endlessly reducible and irreducible.

theurj: Hmm, I like implications of the prefix ir and am now contemplating adding it to my theurjianism rhetaphor to make it irrhetaphor. (For newcomers see the posts from 6/2 forward on p. 2 of this thread for its inception.) Irrhetaphor cannot be reduced to the simple definitions of both rhetoric (as persuasive human language) or metaphor (as something that stands for something else), but rather is the communicative 'language' between suobjects (and is itself a suobject) at any level. Or something like that...

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