Magic Circles, Generative (En)closures, and Kosmic Foam

I've been asked to give a brief presentation at an Integral event in March, and have been thinking for awhile about what to do.  I finally decided on a topic which will involve an elaboration on several themes in my recent trans-lineage spirituality paper.

Magic Circles, Generative (En)closures, and Kosmic Foam:  A Trans-lineage Vision of Spiritual Enactment

For millennia humans have associated the circle with spiritual power and sanctified space: from medicine wheels to mandalas, and from sorcerers' circles to sacred domes. It has been used to evoke feelings of intimacy, belonging, and protection, as well as boundless space, wholeness, and womb-like generativity. In this brief but information-packed presentation, Bruce will explore how several more recent philosophical perspectives -- from Uexküll's biosemiotic bubbles, to Sloterdijk's spherology, to sociobiological and object-oriented notions of autopoietic closure -- can be linked to ancient circle symbolism to generate an integral trans-lineage model of spiritual enactment and a participatory, pluralist topology of sacred spaces. At this time of cultural and spiritual diversification, we are called now more than ever to find skillful new ways of conceptualizing and navigating this complexity, and of integrally honoring the richness and particularity of the many modes of spiritual enactment we now have available to us. Drawing on his own work in this area as well as several of the core philosophical concepts he will introduce, particularly Sloterdijk's metaphor of foam, Bruce will discuss how Integral post-metaphysics and trans-lineage spirituality can be enriched and supported by the vision of participatory enactment and sacred topology that he will invoke here.

(More information about the event will be posted here soon)

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What event? Where?

I'll post more details when I have them, but it will be through the Bay Area Integral organization, which usually puts on events in Berkeley.  They occasionally put on events where they have several folks give short (20 min) presentations back to back; this will be one of them.  Obviously, I'll only be able to scratch the surface of the above in that time, but basically I'll use it as an introduction to something I'll further develop, either in a longer presentation or in a paper.

Speaking of which, I see you'll be doing a 90-minute presentation at the upcoming ITC conference: "Borromean Rings and Quadruple Objects: Methodological Pluralism for the Integral Kosmopolitan." Related to this shorter version?

Actually, that will be different -- if I give it as planned.  It's a talk on the integrative forms of OOO that Bryant and Harman have proposed (alethetics and Harman's quadruple-object-as-metatheory).  But that was also the original topic of the paper I'm currently writing, and as you know, that has now shifted over to being about grammar in metaphysics.  So, I've asked if I can change the topic of my ITC presentation, if need be, to match the new themes of this paper, and they've agreed to that.

For any members or readers here who may be in my locality (Bay Area of CA), my talk at the next Bay Area Integral event will be taking place this coming Wednesday, 3/20, in Berkeley.

Details are available at the link below.

Magic Circles, Generative (En)closures, and Kosmic Foam


A lot of kennilinguists attend BAI, so I'm guessing you'll receive at least a few kennilingus-inflected questions about the 'green' nature of some terms you use, like 'pluralism' and 'participatory.' I'm looking forward to your report of how those questions were framed, how you answered them, and the responses therefrom. That may give some indication of how kennilingus has opened and evolved in recent years, or not. If anyone can bridge that transition though it is you.

I also posted this on Santa Rosa Integral Salon forum. I realize you don't have time to get up to Santa Rosa much but this is a good group with which to network, as they are open to integral ideas outside the kennilingus bubble.

Yes, it will be interesting to see!  And thank you for posting this on the Santa Rosa group.  I don't believe I personally know anyone there, though I have interacted with Bruce Kunkel once or twice online.

So how did it go? Were they familiar with what you presented? Good questions and discussion after?

I think it went pretty well, overall.  I was not able to finish what I had planned to talk about, as I'd been concerned; 18 minutes goes by quickly.  But we had a breakout group after the talk, so I was able to go into more detail there.  It doesn't seem a lot of what I was talking about was familiar to people there, save for a few who seemed to be nodding with recognition at the mention of different names (like Sloterdijk, Uexkull, Nancy, Latour).  Terry Patten was there, and he joined my breakout group discussion after the talk.  He said he felt in tension with some of my emphasis on the uniqueness of traditions, saying he felt the synthetic work of Integral -- not being rooted deeply and exclusively in one tradition, but being engaged in several enough that we can begin to weave them together into a new synthesis -- was really important for our time.  He stressed that he didn't think we could help generalizing, if we were engaged in such cross-tradition work; it is natural, inescapable, to generalize our experiences.  I believe he was saying this because I had commented on my previous paper, "Opening Space for Translineage Practice," where I had tried to describe an orientation which would allow one to hold multiple traditions concurrently, without reducing them to each other.  I said I supported efforts to create new synthetic traditions and practices, but that my preference would be to see this as a new, creative alliance -- a newly crafted set of relations, a new generative (en)closure -- rather than representing our identifications as revealing what was always already the case, or using terms (such as Emptiness, God, Brahman) as if they were simple synonyms. 

Not at all surprising, coming from kennilingus extraordinaire Patten. He has apparently not had contact with SR/OOO which preserves a machine's autonomy, or a tradition's uniqueness, as well as its relations. As is my prejudice, I see it as the difference in mereological orientations, one subsuming under hegemonic generalities, one being more 'democratic' or henontological, as you might say.

Any other feedback from those perhaps outside the bubble? As I said, BAI seems to attract the bubble-heads, or at least it used to when I gave it up.

I could understand where Terry's point was coming from -- yes, I do compare and generalize my experiences as well, when I practice across multiple traditions; and I may also draw connections between those tradition-specific experiences and some other, outside reference, such as cognitive science or psychology or whatever.  But I am looking at this now from a more Latourian POV, as the forging of new alliances, assemblages, etc.  Which, indeed, seems to be a different mereological orientation.

About other feedback:  I just got an email from one of the coordinators for the event and she said she thought my talk was very well received.  She said she got more comments on it and feedback on it than she did for the other presentations, with a number of people asking whether I gave workshops or did other events, whether they could audit classes at my university, etc. So, that's nice to hear.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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