In gold we trust: How would Gebser trust? From monetary bodies to integrality
In gold we trust: How would Gebser trust? From monetary bodies to integrality Michael Purdy Emeritus Professor, College of Arts and Sciences Governors State University Jean Gebser Conference , University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles, California, October 4-6, 2013 1
In gold we trust: How would Gebser trust? From monetary bodies to integrality
Text of In gold we trust: How would Gebser trust? From monetary bodies to integrality
In gold we trust: How would Gebser trust?From monetary bodies to integrality
Michael PurdyEmeritus Professor, College of Arts and SciencesGovernors State University
Jean Gebser Conference, University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles, California, October 4-6, 2013
How would Gebser trust?
Security is mostly superstition, it does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Helen Keller
It is here and nowhere else that one must make a start tocomprehend what Zarathustra wants: this type of man that he conceives,conceives reality as it is, being strong enough to do so; this type isnot estranged or removed from reality but is reality itself andexemplifies all that is terrible and questionable in it—only in thatway can man attain greatness. Nietzsche, Ecce Homo.
PrologueThe modern world trusts in gold, or other “shiny” things, as a stand-in for money or material wealth in general. However, things, shiny or otherwise, are ultimately not able to provide trust. This is not to say that gold is not stable as a material substance (metal), but rather that gold, or material wealth, doesn’t live up to its promise as the source of real comfort. Gold is always a promise, and promises are future oriented, something that will endure without fail into the future, but a promise is not consolation or security. So although we introduce gold as a trusted metal for our age, gold is not the main focus of this paper, we will have to look otherwise for the solace we seek. And perhaps this is a “tell” or signifier of the ways of the mental-rational desire, seeking to control the very chaos of life itself.Gold here represents the beliefs and constructs of many (in the financial markets they are called gold bugs) in some solid material basis for a secure life, something to hold onto that is stable and enduring. Actually, gold, or any material holding, is in some manner enduring, but also cyclical; over longer (and often shorter) periods of time all materials tarnish and fail the test of stability. The essential point is limitation of the modern belief in a concrete, material foundation that gives one’s life a sense of security. And theinitial thrust of this paper is that gold, and generally the material of life, is not very trustworthy.
Overview: The body currency?Starting with the currency of gold, money, or some sense of value, as the body of choice in the late modern world, we know that measure and its correlate, exchange value, are predominant characteristics of the
How would Gebser trust?modern, mental-rational awareness. Gebserians, however, also know there is much more to the richness of consciousness than the body comporting itself so as to make money or accrue value. We have to consider the issue of value vs. worth: the monetary body has value, creates value, by its comportment, but the integral body, as Gebser’s emergent possibility for awareness, is more than material. Even a practical, efficient body cannot be adequately measured but must be considered in terms of its worth, ultimately self worth. Self worth isan invariant across cultures. Mickunas (2009) has written regarding Gandhi as an example:
It is to be noted that he did not claim human self worth as a value of a specific culture, but as an unconditional and absoluteground that raises the question of legitimation of any life worldand demands the fulfillment of transcendental awareness that correlates to self worth.
Gandhi challenged the British Empire in particular and demonstrated the lack of legitimation of its colonial power by the concrete action of human beings putting their bodies on the line. Mickunas (2009) alsocites Socrates as one who “accepted the Athenian verdict of death in order to show that his and other’s self worth demands a life world in which the search for truth cannot be forbidden.” So what does it say that there has been an invariant of human worth in not only Western culture, but across other cultures as well? Considering embodiment in terms of worth leads to a lived life that is worth considering. However, does living a life that is worthwhile, that is, a life that is beyond or more than value or measurement—the “crassness” of currency—provide us with a trusting life? The issue of the body of value vs. the body of worth brings us to ask how worth is related to trust. An emphasis on embodiment in terms of worth dispels the notion that materiality is stability, that the value of something is what is to be trusted. Value steers us toward the wrong things, the wrong places, when looking for security, trust, or confidence. That something is dearer or more worthy doesn't necessarily make it more trustworthy, but it does refocus the field to consider, pursue and live more enduring paths to trust. This paper seeks to directly address ways to live with “trust,” hence the conference theme: how can we transform the sphere of daily life bybeing in the world in an authentically integral way? How we live the world trustingly is the theme I will be exploring in this paper.
How would Gebser trust?What is “solid,” of lasting worth? What would Gebser consider as trust? Better, how would Gebser trust? What would Gebser do? (to be clichéd ). Some trust in gold, some in “gods”—and now some trust in new currencies such as Bitcoin; but these currencies too are volatile and only of value as long as people trust in them—and ultimately in the government that minted them.Gebser might say that the phrase “in gold we trust,” is a sign of the deficient consciousness of the mental-rational, but he would also say that all must trust in experience, regardless. (See Kant, Critique of Pure Reason: what we cannot experience, we cannot know). Trust is part of a varied word field that includes: belief, faith, certainty, conviction,reliability, confidence, reliance, comfort, and consolation (various online dictionaries). So trust typically implies something about what we can rely on, what we have confidence in, and where our convictions lie. Thinking of trust as a how is not so typical. All of these terms are open and descriptive of the possibility of integrality, of presencing with what is rather than what we might wish to be; with the how of experience. Getting more to the essence (not an absolute) of trust is to explore its word field relationship. Trust is related to true, in its earliest variants: perhaps ultimately from PIE *dru- "tree," on the notion of "steadfast as an oak." (Cf., from same root, Lithuanian drutas"firm," Welsh drud, Old Irish dron "strong," Welsh derw "true," Old Irish derb "sure." Dictionary of Online Etymology). An oak is steadfastexcept in the worst hurricane winds or perhaps a tornado. All things are relatively relative, not absolutely relative. And yet in day to day life an oak tree is about as solid as it gets. It is a hard wood and withstands the worst weather, bending without breaking. The oak tree gives us some sense of security in our fast changing world. A sense of strength helps us feel supported, that we will be treated fairly by the world. What is it that supports us and that makes us feel the strength of the mighty oak? What gives us a strong trunk and tough, flexible limbs? And again how are we supported? Do we have deeproots to weather a storm? Of course, we are not trees, so how do we live this steadfastness?Aaron Cheak (2008) has developed a theme of primordial trust in Gebser’s life and work. He traces Gebser’s leap to origin as primordial consciousness through EPO. However, equally as important are his autobiographical works. Gebser learns of the leap that is ultimate trust in the deepest uncertainty of life. “Trust in uncertainty gives rise to the deepest certainty; gives rise to participation in the spiritual, in the invisible, and opens into the presence of origin” (2008, 20). For Gebser (EPO 158, n25) anxiety and
How would Gebser trust?trust are primordially related as negative and positive. As so often happens with Gebser the dualism is expanded by a polarity, but polarity as an integral complementarity. There is a sense of primordial as quasi-temporal, meaning from the beginning, the first. But it has deeper Indo-European roots in the sense of primus—first, ordiri—to begin (to weave) (Dictionary of Etymology). For me this later senseis adaptable to the integrating awareness where trust is how one transparently weaves the self into the warp and woof of the world.
Monetary bodies, markets, value and exchangeWe must start with the present era, with the modern world where value rules, and which on the surface seems to be utilitarian, practical anduseful, but with a little digging turns out to be about materialism and measures of accumulation. Our bodies are part of the valuation; they are useful for their exchange value. Erich Fromm wrote in the 1950’s of the market place of bodies, the exchange value of who we areas we look for love (see for example Fromm, 1956). Not much has changed. How we look, our abilities, our bank account, all value us inthe quantitative market place of life. We are constantly being measured in terms of the almighty dollar, what price we can command. New trends of “big data” and profiles that supposedly define us only sharpen the issue. The market itself is given god like presence—the market says this, themarket is making a statement about the economy, the market wants…. Themarket is in most every sense a human creation, humans set the standards for what is of value and human society is the context withinwhich markets operate. Economists will say that the human origin and nature of the markets always outruns any mathematical model, any attempt to predict the economy, because humans are not predictable.What does the world run on, what are the critical currencies of our day, or for that matter, of other lifeworlds and civilizations? Some civilizations had wampum, beads, shells, feathers and other forms of exchange. The give-and-take in these earlier cultures were for sacred purposes, in many ways different from coin of the realm—something valued or treated like money in a particular sphere. How do these mediums of exchange compare with the world of fiat money?Fiat money is just value created out of human need and desire and is not any different from other forms of currency. What other kind is there, and in what should we trust? How do we trust? How do recognize or ware trust? There are many questions to consider, including the rich possibility of living integral awareness in a trusting way. What is worthy of trust? How is it we somehow marginalize—or try to—the
How would Gebser trust?chaotic when we discuss trust? How do we hold a trusting position in atransparent field, a world field that can be overwhelming, a cosmos that is awe-inspiring, dancing with Shiva? Why so much identification with unreal “things,” ideas, concepts that transcend this world—i.e., metaphysics? Money, currency, is a thing, and generally very concrete, but what it represents, how it is conceptualized can be quite metaphysical—it is thought to be the key to happiness and other transcendent goals for which we strive. Many people see money as the ultimate trust for a successful life. Metaphysics warps what we trust and how we trust: we put our trust in what is not present or of true worth. Cash is king? Or as many say: the rule of “the almighty dollar.” What do we “know” as phenomenal, as directly experienced? And how is it many people live the meta-physical which is not experienced? Kant told us we could only know what we experience, and that what we don't experience we have no way of knowing (Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd ed). And yet people live with cash bodies, with metaphysical currencies of life. If we bracket (perform a phenomenology reduction—the method that Gebser used) what is not present to experience, then we find that the metaphysical is not in play, it is not directly experienced. What doesthat mean? Perhaps, No Exit, a play by Sartre—we cannot escape the concreteness of living regardless of metaphysics. But life is not a play, though that is one phenomenological description—world as play, but a play that is actually experienced (Fink, 1968). So, there is no exit, we are left with reality, but even “reality” as a representationof the world is bracketed; so is ontology as the being of the world. What are we left with? The reality of the mental-rational must be bracketed, so we may becomeaware of that which is more than the dominant consciousness. So we areleft with an integral openness, an integrating field as Zen presence. We are left with embodiment that is not utilitarian, but is the beginning of the how of trusting.Ultimately, the modern world is, at least on the surface, about power and power is “purchasing” power, power is control, leverage. What about power? To control is to be controlled. Power is useless in securing stability. The movie, Take this waltz, (directed by the Canadian, Sarah Polley) about what is important in life, what is of value and stable, claims at one point that nothing lasts, all shiny things tarnish, and yet Michele Williams’ character goes for the shiny, a newrelationship, but a shiny creative relationship that is definitely not
How would Gebser trust?about power or accumulation, but incredible renewal for her, a sense of worth. And yet, materiality cannot be totally dismissed (we discuss integrated awareness as primordial, magical below),S we are material beings at base, and one can argue convincingly that having material wealth, money, can make some aspects of life easier, and more important, can provide a less stressful life with better diet and healthcare. These can extend our life span by 5-10 years (of course raising issues of fairness and equality). Still as Helen Keller says, security is a superstition. Life is dangerous and apt to be upset at any time by those things beyond our control, beyond the control of thegreatest wealth, the cleanest diet and the most advanced medical care.Life is so much more than material wealth, and a society that could provide the basics of life without the need for money would be very worthy indeed. Life would not be fully in our control but the emphasiswould be less on material wealth.Control and what provides control is an issue as old as the notion that we have control, whether through propitiating the gods to win their favor, preying to a god for his/her good graces, through techne/technology, or human will. I think the notion of control comes with the modern notion, since the Greeks, that we can exercise controlthrough our will (to power). Nietzsche recognized the shift introducing will to power, but for Nietzsche this was ultimately will to power over self.
Where this study roamsThe “trajectory” of this paper will certainly expand the trust issue, how it seems to arise in a certain form with mental consciousness, different from its mythic worldliness. Tribal cultures are connected and the sense of trust and materiality is totally natural and not irrelevant in a modern sense. For example, the tribes of the southwesttraded in shells, feathers and other sacred “necessities” with Central America, but the world that was tribal was not about exchange value asdetermined with mental consciousness. There was no sense of material accumulation, or trust in the accumulation of this trade currency.So I will continue with the arguments presented above summing up currency, exchange value, gold and their predominance in modern civilization. This has consisted of considering trust and the different formulation of trust in pre-modern and modern civilizations.Ultimately I will consider an integrality of trust that includes our living participation in the field of life’s experience, and awareness of the welcoming of the cosmos. Ultimately the money/gold "trust" is
How would Gebser trust?more of a teaser, a way into the issue of trust, with the real question being: How do we have trust in a transparent world? But we need to lead up to that with issues of the completeness of integral consciousness.What else can we say about economics/finance, trust and the ways of what is now a global material world? We can quickly come to appreciatethe limits of economics and finance in the late modern world. This is a world of information, numbers and control that can only “speak” or listen in a limited way. The essay “Trust: A Concept Too Many,” Guinnane argues that to the extent that scholars have a clear idea of what trust actually means, the concept is, at least for economic questions, superfluous:
the useful parts of the idea of trust are implicit in older notions of information and the ability to impose sanctions. I trust you in a transaction because of what I know about you, and because of what I can have done to you should you cheat me (2005).
From my classes in economics I came to the conclusion that the earliest transactions were always entangled with human relationships and were communication exchanges as well as exchanges of some tangiblecommodity. With the development of capital and with more "advanced" systems money became the stand-in for currencies of exchange which were no longer integrally related to human relationships. Today, humanrelationship is often far removed from exchange transactions and communication is very thin, of ultra-short duration (with high speed trading), and totally informational (information being a systematic ordering of data). As Guinnane says, human issues like trust are superfluous in modern economics. Of course this awareness is rational,mostly limited to information and a sense of agency/control.
Trust as agencyGebser presentiates trust as co-constituted with origin, as a reconnecting with origin. For Gebser trust is also about agency. Like Marx, who thought history was partly a human project but mostly a force that shaped humans, Gebser senses we are participants in the emergence/irruption of the new awareness and that we can help to bringit about: “we must know where we are to effect events, or to let them take their course; where we are merely to ‘be aware’ of truth, and where we may ‘impart the truth’ (EPO 273).” We create trust through our agency, at least in contemporary society. What we do, and do consistently, faithfully creates trust. At least that is true for
How would Gebser trust?those who are part and parcel of our social groups. Trust can be created through our actions which indicate patterns others can count on. However, modern, rational discourse implies that every action can be “realized”; that it is within our power to reveal and control everything relevant in a situation. And hence, everything is open to management and control, but predicated on projections with a future orientation.In a similar vein, in modern society we have a version of trust that depends on future actions, what we promise to do and how we do it. A promise by someone may be predicated on trust and can build trust if kept. We make a promise, we keep a promise, and then we find that there is trust. But a promise is future oriented and awaits fulfillment; trust is present as a mood of the field, something that supports us in the here and now, not something yet to come. Imperatives, oughts, are equally future oriented attempts to determine the outcome of social, natural, conditions. “And this is where imperatives, premised on arbitrary will of what the human ‘ought to be’ undergird rationality.” (Algis Mickunas, Post to the Gebser list on The Living Present, Values and Eventfulness, #5 12/09/02). Rather than imperatives, which are never fulfillable, we move to possibilities and effectualities which are a wholeness, an open field that constantly exceeds the imperatives, the attempts to control. In an integral transparent world, however, although much is known still we are aware of the possibility of the unknown, the uncontrollable—that which we don’t know that we don’t know. We know that we don’t know every condition, and that our control of any situation is limited and dependenton the circumstances. In certain circumstances, where we have some control over situations and people, there might be more of sanctions, butthese are limited situations. Some have suggested that fear and flight are built into our psycho-biological makeup (Gebser speaks of this as hormonal, EPO, 158 n25) that there are psycho-biological conditions that limit our human capacity for trust. For Gebser this is fear with the opposite being hope; his sense of trust “as the positive form of anxiety”is different because it can be latent and inceptual, and anxiety can turnto trust and innermost security (EPO, 158-9 n25). Hope and fear revert back to oughts and imperatives as suggested above, and leave no room for human freedom. Nietzsche saw this as “a revalution of all values, in a liberation from all moral values, in saying Yes to and having confidence in all that has hitherto been forbidden, despised and damned”(Ecce Homo, 290). One found confidence in what most thought of as not appropriate forsociety to think, do, or mandate.
How would Gebser trust?Trust: Resonances of origin, magic and mythic awareness We can ask again, then, how do we trust? What anchors our lives? Can we trust in the senses? What are the feelings which ground us in the world? Different modes of awareness “ground” us in the world differently, and yet they are incorporated as part of late modern, integral consciousness. There is the originary trust as archaic, and magical immersion, mythical imagination, rational separation, and the integrating field that is supportive (and transparent). Since all of these modes are both latent and active in some mix with the integrating consciousness, the sense predominant in each mode must be active now. We should be (and if aware, are) grounded through the senses in their fullness; the senses should engender con-fidence in our engagement in and with our world. Grounding through the senses should allow us to 'feel' comfortable. The most “primitive” senses (and the first to develop in the fetus) of touch, hearing, taste and smell should be comforting. And yet in the late modern world, these senses are overridden by sight, by the rational clarity of sense data,what can be observed visually. If we acknowledge the presence of our senses, fully appreciate them—become aware of the rootedness they reveal—we might be more secure, at least in our immersion and connectedness. The archaic mode of awareness should allow us to sense/experience origin, primordial identity with the world. This is an experience where trust is of no significance since significance would be a break in primal identity. Magical awareness of people as hunter gatherers, tribal by nature, is in unity with the natural worldand essentially one of immersion where trust is also a meaningless experience. As the naturalness of magic consciousness mutates there isseparation from nature, and need for magic that works to reconnect in unity. This is the origin and role of the shaman who rebalances what has now become a broken trust with nature; and s/he reconnects the clan with spirit. Prior to this the shaman was the poet, celebrating the cosmic dance, but with separation from natural world, the role becomes one of creating harmony, the comfort, and consolation of trusting.Does it matter if one cultivates and enriches awareness with mythic, magical or archaic awareness? These receptivities 'bring' relationship, connection and enmeshment which as integrated, become dimensions of trusting. There is a sense of trust in our “swimming”/floating in an atmosphere of sound, sound as encompassing, but also “emotional.” We can lose ourselves in music, get taken away by the melody or the trancelike beat, be comforted and immersed.
How would Gebser trust?To know the stability of the pre-mental world, we can “look” to the traditional world of American Indian, their vital connectedness. Modern Indian scholars speak of the logic of their tribal, natural world, the relationship with a world of nature and others, though modern Western life has severely disrupted the magic-mythic ways.In the late magic to mythic realm one stabilizes, harmonizes or rebalances situations and gains “confidence” from the favor of the gods and their attention—assuming they are swayed by our offerings, our imploring. Many modern sects still practice this way through prayer and supplication, integrating the old ways—for some the old ways shut out the modern world. So the archaic, magic, and mythic are latent dimensions of trust. They offer the stability of a material world that is rooted and sensible, the shaman later indicates the beginnings of agency—at first as poet/maker in harmony with the way ofthe world, later as mystic and as the beginning of orientation, directionality, and yet still afloat in the aural/oral world of myth, of storied expression/action, all dyed with storied imagery, and as Gebser says, wishing (EPO 297). The mental reality of monetary systemstransforms the world from imagination to a world of material-objectivereality.
Mental undoing of trustSo trust has different modes including: archaic enmeshment, magical connection, mythic relations, and always there are, as Aaron Cheak (2008) has noted, “the fundamental resonance which Gebser demonstratedto exist between the originary, mythic and integral structures….” (Resonance is used metaphorically with features of a magical ear hearing and the mythic voice/instrument making music. Its origin is re-sonare, to sound again, or echo, but also includes feeling and emotionally connecting experiences, a reinvigoration, and awarenesses,as when sound is felt in the body or an echo resounds eerily.) There is also the mental-rational mode which essentially undoes (or “disconnects”) all that the archaic, magical, mythic worlds have created as immersion, connectedness, harmony. Certainly there existed chaos in the pre-modern world, but it was a chaos that was the encompassing supportive oceans before the mutation of the mental worldview. “Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all” (Hesoid, ll. 116-138). Chaos was the environment out of which emerged the mythic world, but this world too was overwhelmed by the mental shift, a shift that created a world of science which expanded horizons in every way observable and predictable. The mental mostly deteriorated into the deficient mental-
How would Gebser trust?rational, an instrumental rationality supposedly lucid, directed and pragmatic leading to knowable outcomes.However, mental-rational (modernism) also finds a different natural order today. Nature is no longer arising out of chaos. Nature is the foundation of rational argument from natural rule and the trust of nature has been shattered. If nature is no longer mystical, enchanted,then natural rule no longer holds. And natural rule is no longer operable; nature has been stripped of any magic or metaphysical patina itmight have enjoyed—two consciousness structures that are still active but no longer dominant or appreciated. Even aspects of Native Americanlife have become unbalanced and tend toward pragmatism.However, perhaps there is something to be salvaged, something that is “co-active” as the efficient mental about under-standing or com-prehending a constantly shifting world with so much more than a limited rational perspective. Perspectivity by its very view is off-putting and distancing, bringing in spatial temporality and separation. The efficient mental is a constructive skepticism1, positive, multi-perspectival judgment, rather than doubt or meaning which is always in the future, and as in postmodernism, ultimately deferred. A more intense awareness might stress the efficient mental as very resilient, allowing for a proliferation of perspectives, with the awareness that multi-perspectivity requires a “background” or field that integrates the various perspectives. So the limits of perspectivity already open the field for integral awareness.
Postmodernism and integral openness So, what of trust in a Gebserian integral transparency? Gebser’s integrality has a sense that differentiates it from the nihilism of the postmodern worldview. The postmodern is not really a world, but a cultural context with no meaning or deferred meaning—same thing. It leaves us with absolutely no sense of trust. No-thing is certain, nor is meaning stable, all is uncertain, all is changing, and any certainty is put off or overwritten. There are of course different versions of postmodernism, but all point to either deficient mental-rational specificity taken to the extreme, or deficient integral. On the one hand, limits are a structural feature of the mental. But either extreme—of meaning in people (psychological, subjective) or of meaning in the world (objective science)—is not tenable. With either extreme communication is not possible; both poles deny relationship or
1 See Peter Sloterdijk on a constructive skepticism, as well as discussion of the deficient action orientation of modernism.
How would Gebser trust?a common lived world. On the other hand, postmodernism might be striving to comprehend the late modern consciousness as total openness, not specificity or concreteness. This would not be the efficient integral, but rather a deficient consciousness as radical relativity. In this scenario one would think that integral awareness was “allowing” everything to be revealed, absolute clarity, permittingus “theoretically” to know all realities and possibilities. However, actual (as opposed to theoretical) possibilities are endless and complex, leading to a real lack of trust as relationships and connections are constantly changing—that would not be supportive, thatwould not give us any sense of confidence. In reality we might know some possibilities; but in the chaos of the cosmos, the crazy uncertainty of the various possible worlds, there would be no basis for a trusting world. So postmodernism is a dead end, and its inability to deal with concrete presence only points more forcefully to the need to explore integrality.We can begin with Mickunas who submits that integral consciousness “isnot anything to be defined by "characteristics." “It could be suggested that the WHAT and WHY questions are not appropriate for the integral” (posted by Algis Mickunas to Gebser List, 12/11/02—post #6, www.gebser.org). Rather one should ask how questions. In Gebser’s terms: How something is, how it is experienced, how it is happening presently, how is it presentiating?For Gebser integral awareness is transparent or diaphanous, but I don't believe transparency means absolute certainty or lack of ambiguity. Integral awareness knows cosmic spirit as wholeness which “leads to” transparency as we participate with the field of experience(and vice-versa). How do we understand transparency or diaphaneity? Wecan begin with diaphanous, from the Greek, diaphanes "transparent," dia—through + phanous, to show. The term is implicated as visual, but not sostrongly; we can show in non-visual ways. Gebser says the method of the integral is four dimensional diaphany: “what is merely conceivableand comprehensible becomes transparent” (EPO 334). This would suggest that imagination, intelligence and perhaps something like prudence arein play—that diaphanous perception opens our awareness to the spiritual—the concretion of spirit.Taking transparency next we note its connection to sight, to see through, like glass, and later (late 19th century) to see through a photographic slide. Transparency comes trans – through, + parere, to come into sight, appear—is also visually focused. And, there is also the sense of transparent as meaning: to make open, obvious and public,as in “open government.” So, although the terms diaphanous and
How would Gebser trust?transparent are similar, they both point to the fullness of perceptionthat Gebser tries to suggest as surpassing the merely visual, and intensifying perception to the awaring of wholeness—though not wholeness in the sense of completeness or unity. We have to work with transparency and understand it to mean the showing that brings forth openness of perception, or more broadly verition.Transparency, Gebser says, is “Not merely mental awakeness” but also reinvigoration of origin (EPO 308). This transparency of origin is ever-present, happening in the wholeness of the present/presence (space-time free it goes without saying). This transparency is an integral “perception” which is “seeing” more than the material-spatialwhich tends to void transparency (EPO 312). The principle of integrating awareness is not a simple duality of transparent-opaque, or a polar relationship of more or less transparency. Rather integral awareness is a field phenomenon (discussed below) which is difficult to fully comprehend from Gebser’s EPO. At times Gebser seems to borderon the metaphysical; as for example in quotes like this about integrality as transparency:
The profound Christian truth with regard to transparency, the diaphaneity of the world, becomes perceptible. The genuine irruption of the other side into this side, the presence of the beyond in the here and now, of death in life, of the transcendentin the immanent, of the divine in the human, becomes transparent.-- Jean Gebser [EPO 529]
Although one can emphasize the metaphysical in examples like these, I think we can also perceive intentionality toward something more radical. That radical position is that transparency is not clear sightor a way of showing how experience is present but rather the field of perceptual relations. So transparency correlates with awareness but not certainty. In the article Cosmos and atemporality (1993), Mickunasexpresses it this way:
Simply stated, transparency is not an ability to be a Lynx who can see through things, but the emergence of the signitive awareness. The latter permits the poly-critical differentiae or continuous differential of integrating and opening.
If we go with Mickunas here we sense that Gebser intended that allaspects of the world are interconnected and there are irruptions wherethe interstices of connections are obvious to the perception of thosewho are invigorated by origin. And these perceptions, as transparency,happen without the delusions of deficient myth, or rational-causalrelations—though as Gebser says the mental-rational is not discarded,it just “loses it exclusivity” (EPO 388). What is required for this
How would Gebser trust?integrating awareness is the qualitative context of lived experience,as well as the intermixing of our various lived worlds with otherlived worlds, cosmically. Transparency through intensity of awarenessleads to wholeness and manifestation of spirit (EPO, 6). To quoteGebser:
Our previous and strictly categorical mode of thinking must becomplemented by and integrated with the addition of theacategorical mode of realization. Wherever we are able toperceive acategorical effectualities as such and not ascategorical fixities, the world will become transparent” (EPO286).
The acategorical would indicate that the mental-rational meaning of category—prediction or classification of experience by characteristics—no longer holds exclusively; the categories of our consciousness are surpassed, but that does not mean that there are no classifications, that all is totally open and relative. That would be to fall into the essential problems of postmodernism again. There is openness, there isa requirement that the old modes of categorization are open and transparent and obvious to origin, but we must still attend to the howof the happenings of the present, the happening of categorization—and hence, acategorization.Reviewing Gebser’s work one more time I want to lay out the intention of his “method,” which of course is method free in a “larger” more encompassing sense. For me this means decisively clearing away or re-positioning dualities, as well as dualities transformed to polarities and complementarities: e.g., known/unknown, certainty/uncertainty, trust vs. anxiety, fear vs. hope. I am striving for a more intensely creative awaring of integrating awareness. You may say: What (how) is the issue? However, I think the issue is that Gebser is not very cleareven in examples like the perception of acategorical effectualities. Therefore our discussion must continue beginning with Mickunas’ extensions of Gebser’s “methodological” intentions. Even here there issome confusion which I hope to explore.Mickunas pushes the ever-present origin to its limit with his use of polarity; he puts polar in quotes to indicate what I would interpret as integral “polarity” as complementarity:
We know that Gebser dealt with the Origin in its creative presence; what we add to the creative side is its “polar” aspect as a mythological condition—disruption/destruction. Both, the mentioned integral and the mythical will provide a backdrop for the deficient rationality in chaos theory.
How would Gebser trust?It would seem like the polar Mickunas is talking about is only a “side” of the integral. However, the origin is present and therefore includes of a polar relationship, which seems to be a complementary relationship where the poles merge (see example of Zen, below). We know, however, that the integral consciousness is equally an integrating awareness, mixing all of the other modes, as part and parcel of the wholeness of integrality.Gebser goes this dual/polar complementarity path as expressed in EPO, and as quoted above: “the presence of the beyond in the here and now, of death in life, of the transcendent in the immanent,” but he also hsa preference I think for an integrating field, a field that is: multi-contextual/cultural, qualitative, not just number or numeral, interconnected, always open possibility, and what’s more, acategoricalin the sense that the how is not described in simple dualities, or even polarities, but must be a field phenomenon.Mickunas, despite his tendency toward complementarity in some of his work (his book on Zen uses complementarity) expresses integrality as dialogical field phenomenon in much more of his work, especially his work commenting upon and extending Gebser. Complementarity as the originary is more in relation to his book on Zen (I do not know when this work was originally created). All of Mickunas’ other work about Gebser is discussed as polycentric dialogue, a self-founding field awareness. Mickunas continues to push this dialogical field understanding of Gebser in his article The integral (1994):
One side of the object means other sides and thus is both different from them and yet transparent with them as they are transparent through it. In this sense, meanings point to other meanings, that are different from [them], and yet related to one another. They integrate in their mutual call for each other and in their mutual differentiation (p. 7).
Mickunas is exploring a fuller, more complete integral sense of transparency (echoing Merleau-Ponty in this quote). This is a polycentric, or multi-element field perception, indicated by the term mutual which is not merely a relation of two elements, but “experiencedor done by each of two or more” (Merriam Webster, online). Every element or object is a relational aspect of a field in which each is mutually understood in terms of other elements of the field.This applies to the ever-present integrating of consciousness structures as well: the efficient mental implicates the mental rational, which calls the mythic, magic, archaic, and of course the integral in the sense of what is missing from the field. In a narrower
How would Gebser trust?sense the integral awareness is perceived as more than the categorical, but invigorates origin while there is integrating of the modes of awareness, as well. Mickunas (1994) also speaks of the integration as “a field of correlated differentials” so that a shift in any region of the field disrupts or reorients the differentials (and awareness) across the field—that is, what Mickunas describes as a dialogical field, with multiple, open possibilities (logics) of expression: Every shift of signitive events of a field is also a non–predictable shift of the field (Mickunas 1993/2011).So transparency operates as a shifting field––an intense, creative play of significations that is dialogical or mutually, multi-relational. There is transparency in the interplay of the cosmic fielddifferentiations, a field that is polycentric––that is, multi-positional, multi–logical—a play that leads to wholeness of perception. The phenomena of differentiations “arise” with transparency, but what “arises” is not always transparent in the senseof clarity/lucidity or certainty, the differentiations of the field are a mixed blessing—and a non–predictable constellation. Hence, any sense of something to trust in is remiss, what we should be asking, assuggested above, is the how of trusting.Transparency and trustSome suggest we are more trusting when there isn't transparency. Not necessarily. When there is no transparency we are more apt to trust what we know, and what has been “true” in the past—what we had confidence in or still have confidence in for various reasons. With transparency we may have more trust because we seem to know more fullywhat is happening. However, despite what clearly seems to be the case in perceiving the extent and depth of the field, we may not know concretely about a situation for many reasons. Take the situation of information, knowledge and the media. Today mediated communication makes our society more transparent that ever before, if we seek information or knowledge we can find more, and more points of view—rational perspectives—than ever before. Yet as in politics, for example, many people don't seek out information and often take what comes to them predigested. Not being knowledgeable or critical, they take for truth what may be warped and biased through news outlets and commercials. Information from issue-based commercials, paid for by special interests, are often at odds with the facts and can confuse rather than educate. Also, some news networks are known to have a political bias and have their own dedicated audience. I would say in this realm we are worse off than ever with regards transparency,
How would Gebser trust?sorting through what information we receive through the various media takes a lot of work and education. And in the end transparency is quite useless if no one takes the time and work to take advantage of what is available and to use it. Information made transparent and not accessed and put to work is quiteuseless. If no one takes advantage of the transparency of information trust is broken because no one seems to care enough to reveal what is made obvious. What’s more, the extremes of transparency and information everywhere, and information ever-present, have a demystifying effect on a world nolonger conceived as natural (as discussed above) or sacred—the universality of transparency through media leaves everything stripped of unique meaning. Tribal radio in the Southwest gave the example of sacred Kachina knowledge being shared on social networks. Once this knowledge was out there, there was no way to retrieve it. Media adds more complexity in a transparent world of communication, and works to desacralize the world.Trust as field affect (or effectuality), as integral with the phenomenal field of happenings, is concrete, not abstract, conceptual,categorical or detached. Integral awareness is already open, already participating, engaged; actively living/being lived in the thick present. Trust is not vicarious or at a distance from what is happening, but part and parcel of the happening of the world, even worlds, and hence cosmic (that is not in time or space, but free from time and space). Integral awareness is trust as sure as each of us is engaged and intensely, creatively alive and rooted with the world thatis happening, present with the how of happening. We have no choice but to be happening with the cosmic play, we cannot be otherwise but rooted, oak tree like, present with the living world.I think lack of trust comes from not being present and engaged; that is from being detached, dis-engaged, sheltered from or separate from living. There are many rationales for disconnecting and for a variety of reasons. Finally, what is hinted at in the discussion above is the role of the creative individual. Integral action, action that is transparent, is openly receptive, listening, accepting, grateful, presently engaged, and participating. This requires an individual who acts when and as appropriate. The action must favor receptivity, active listening. Receptivity helps make the “invisible” visible, helps one to become aware of the field, receptive and fully present, here and now for those who have ears to hear, eyes to see. Present for those who can bealert to the thick present of past and future, “all at once,” though
How would Gebser trust?this doesn’t mean in the moment (moments are points of time, not integrated).So to be substantive: what is the takeaway? How is integral trust, or the integrating awareness that calms the soul? I don't buy into simpledualistic or complementary schemes such as certainty/uncertainty, danger-fear/safety, etc. Certainly they are part of the integrating field, and like mythic illusion must be held out of play, as with dualities and the attempt to ameliorate dualities by transforming theminto complementarities. Better is to realize that these are integral aspects of life and we cannot fully vacate or ignore them. We cannot put them out of play or deny them; we must receive and integrate them.We must hold them in play; but not allow them to be the sole focus of our life.Trust is a field phenomenon or nothing, pervasive with life, the milieu we receive and participate with. We must acknowledge and be aware of our participation in the field experience, our sense of beingpart of the web of the cosmos; at home, but not necessarily safe, secure or confident. Somehow we must feel supported as if a sailor on the stormy sea—a sailor with rudder at hand and sails trimmed, and yetnot fully secure, or assured of anything, aside from the fact of floating, sailing with more or less control.
Personal EpilogueThis paper is about surpassing and integrating all that is primordial-magic, praeligio, religio, in favor of what Gebser traces as "spirit":How to trust in a crass age of gold bugs and market worshipers. I leftthe Catholic Church after communion and confirmation; eventually leaving organized religion behind before I went to college. Later I picked up yoga and then meditation, and eventually leaving my spiritual guru of 25 years or more. Now I am just connected. Connectedto what, how?—beats me, just connected and floating through life, withmy awareness on the rudder as well as the cosmic present (redundant, Iknow). Certainly Gebser’s work and the expansion of Gebser by Algis Mickunas have been important guides in a new world, a world with no maps to living.Personally, I have for years sensed and thought of spirit as not metaphysical, but concrete. I read Gebser as saying not that the humanstrives for something transcendent, divine, but that we realize that the metaphysical is indeed actually experienced. I long since stopped reading spiritual literature and attending lectures and such, as more reading was of little use if I wasn’t practicing what all those tomes were suggesting.
How would Gebser trust?I think the guru, Sant Kirpal Singh, and his son, Darshan Singh, gave me a sense of trust, trust in faith, until I could leave faith and exist without faith. Trust as integrality is not about faith, not justabout primordial enmeshment and magical connection, it was all of these and more—reason plus. I think living during this period was not yet about how, it was still about what.For me it is about a sense of belonging—until I was in my mid 40’s I felt like a stranger in a strange land, to credit Robert Heinlein, theSci-fi author. How did that happen? I think it was my earliest feelings of not being part of the crowd, not feeling comfortable with the way of the popular. Not that I was a recluse, or an outsider. In some ways, obviously, I was an outsider from early on. I was a teenagedelinquent and rebelled at catholic school. Maybe that was from growing up in an alcoholic family. However, as a junior in High SchoolI was elected Student Council President. In college I was on the student senate. I served as Division chair for nine years and then program coordinator for 16 more years. That was service. Still I felt a stranger even though I was in many ways the consummate insider.What shifted in my mid 40’s? Certainly from my early 20’s when I took up yoga and began to seek a guru, or some different truth, I was an outsider. I grew a beard and became as several of my faculty evaluations for tenure suggested, one who marched to a different drummer. I didn’t just march differently. I gradually began to do my own thing regardless of what was expected. I did get tenure, but both times only after appeals. My field of study, my teaching was about communication, and certainly that was instructive. In practice trust is about human interaction. We say we build trust, and trust is built through relationships which are ultimately about human dialogue, conversation and engagement. Judith Glaser, author of the forthcoming book Conversational Intelligence states that despite communication technology: “we still face the same old challenge: to dissolve boundaries among colleagues, to build trust, and to engage our people”(http://juditheglaser.com/news-blogs/articles-blogs/644-conversational-intelligence-connected). When people feel disconnected, they become reactive, project their anxiety onto others, create more fear, blame others for what is missing in their lives, reject first to avoid being rejected, and disengage. When leaders engage with others, value their suggestions, and inspire new thinking, they create a community that looks forward to creating the future. (www.coffeepartyusa.com).What was that inner rudder the directed me, which I steered with as I learned to float with the field of the world, even the cosmos? Gebser
How would Gebser trust?called it a leap, but that is a label after already recognizing the process—maybe it is a leap when you first trust in the process. Ever-present is better, and quite common as process goes, if one gets the hang of this life style—in the sense that Merleau-Ponty spoke of styles of comportment (though I don’t get this sense of freedom in hiswork). For me this is synchronicity as everyday life, not as anything special but ever-presently connected, integral to the cosmos, living in magical harmony, mythic attunement, and efficiently rational as well.Buddhists would say wanting gets in the way of the detached life. I don't have much passion about anything anymore and I function quite well. I do not see the issue being about detachment; how can one be apart from life? How can one be not attached, engaged in the field of live action. To be alive is to act, to be engaged in some fashion withsome valence, some presence in the field. Passion, a charge added to desire, to wanting, to willing, is not necessary. Again I function quite well without passion, although this is not a path or style of living I chose. Maybe I did desire it, but mostly, and mysteriously, it came of its own accord, later in life, and maybe that was the catalyst, something that comes with age.One way of the how of trust might be to learn to work with the passions, desires, to manage the field of action charged with passions, desires, wants. But what if those passions are not there? Would life be dead, without significance? Hardly, at least from one lived life. I still feel, am quite aware, and maybe sense and trust integrally. Maybe that is the integral mutation, though that shift or perturbation of the field is not necessarily required—I cannot claim that—only that the mutation for me was a relatively gradual process. Without the passions one finds the self—not the ego—already adrift in a field in process, actively engaged. There is a trust that comes not from any stability, or trust in regularity, but from immersion. This is not surrender, however (to draw on a Hindu trope). I drift with thecurrents of life, but find this journey works best with a hand on a rudder, and with a paddle handyfor when one must go against the current. So, from where does the trust “arise.” It doesn't, one becomes aware that trust as already and always active and the integrality is ever new.
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