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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And this from p. 19 of TTIRO:

"There is, indeed, abundant evidence that no small number of the best minds of Europe did read the Rosicrucians riddles aright, and did establish contact with the Inner School which announced its existence to the world is such curious terms. The way they found is still open, and the School to which it leads the earnest inquirer is still in active operation. To do somewhat to clear the path to it is one of the objects of this book."

That being said, to go back to generative (en)closures. Yes, accepting the axioms above will certainly bring about changes in consciousness. But what do those changes mean in a postmetaphysical context? And which of those axioms must go? It seems to me that certainly a prime axiom to be discarded is this belief in metaphyhsical planes of existence ruled over by secret chiefs and hierarchies of angels, etc. Yes, we still have the virtual, but it can be, and is being, formulated postmetaphysically in this forum, for one. This axiom, and its resultant equations, have evolved.

It sounds like you're distinguishing between theory and practice. And that one must verify their theory with practice. And with practice one will have experiences that either confirm or refute the theory. But one can do the practices and have the experiences, but if one doesn't interpret them in the same way as their tradition then the tradition will say they didn't really have the true experience then. They will not confirm the experience and say the practice was incorrect, or some other such rationalization.

And then there's the questionable premise that theory and practice can be so neatly separated like that. We went into this in several threads and posts in the last years, but this thread is a good place to start.

But one can do the practices and have the experiences, but if one doesn't interpret them in the same way as their tradition then the tradition will say they didn't really have the true experience then. They will not confirm the experience and say the practice was incorrect, or some other such rationalization.

And if those who come to alternative interpretations break away and begin to more formally articulate these differences, developing practices and models around them, this is how a new generative (en)closure is born.

"A post-metaphysical recontextualized Theurgy perhaps..."

I'm with you here Joe. I agree about the hyper-rational and have noted the same in my criticisms of kennilingus and the model of hierarchical complexity.* I've long hoped for such a theurjic recontextualization using tarot imagery as method for 'communion' with if not gods then at least transrational aspects of psyche. It was in that hope that I re-entered the GD a few years back but realized it was too locked in a metaphysical view to get anywhere so left again, this time for good. So I'm actually interested in your generative (en)closure along those lines, despite my healthy skepticism and doubt.

So you cover the axes, faces and edges. What about the 8 corners?

I'm also reminded of another practice and its theory-philosophy, tai chi, though based on the trigrams and hexagrams. In the movements one must always keep aware of the 3 axes with the 6 dimensions, which just happen to translate as how trigrams can be doubled in a hexagram. All of course based on the originary bi-valent yin and yang in mutual entailment. It is not of course a perfect fit to your cube but another system that can be postmetaphysically recontextualized, and one akin to my predilection for meditation as movement art.

Hmmm, maybe taichiurgy?

* See Gidley's quote in this post as but one example, where I also address how we must re-connect with our prior state-stages via different methods in order to go trans-rational.

Layman's latest response:

LAYMAN PASCAL

Ftaghn!

I am not well-versed in Latour's Compositionist Manifesto.  However, from the snippet you present, it certainly has the hallmarks of the Metaphysics of Adjacency. And you single out a nice passage.

It touches on both the interdependence-of-created-unities-and-heterogenous-parts AND the matter of "composure". You will recall that in my comments about your essay on Grammatical Lenses I suggested that the higher eschelon of these lenses invovles both "prepositional" and "adverbial" strutures. The latter concerns modalities. Universal human religious -- adjacency-enabled faith -- has a strongly postural element. This is somewhere between (1) the generalized nature of yogic asanas (2) the theory that smiling makes you happy (3) Heidegger's use of comportment to describe the enacted relationship of the Being to his world.

And the "compost" aspect touches on the enfolding of the scruff, the dissociated, the organic-implicit reality into the highest spirituality. This is a tantric characteristic which intuits, I think, something necessary about the emergoing planetary aesthetic.  Comparing the evolutionary clarity of "inbetween" to a parasite (Serres) does something comparable. As too does the use of Cthulhu to signify the rising cosmic glory of divinely non-dual multiplicity in a trans-ironic age. There is a qualitative aspect to the parasite and a transitional aspect. Integal, as parasite, in this sense is much like integral as gardener. 

The "use" of membranes is certainly what enactive (en)closures bring to our terminology -- above and beyond the notion of basic units... even units where substance is understand to be equally a verb and noun.

Degenerative (en)closure is an apt phrase. 

A degenerative (en)closure is one, perhaps, which has become closed or conservative to the point of dysfunction, where it is no longer responsive to the demands of the time or those that remain within it....Even a degenerative (en)closure is "enactive" -- it is still a difference engine, still affecting itself and others around it, still enacting a "worldspace" -- but it may do so in ways which dampen thriving, which amplify toxic and destructive energies, etc.

You put me in mind of Deleuze's attempt (in "Nietzsche & Philosophy") to tease out N.'s distinction between Active & Reactive AND Positive & Negative forces. We divide the affirming, initiating impulse from whatever opposes it. But both can appear to be either qualitatively constructive or destructive.

Delueve specifies "reactive" as the power which separates active forces from their capacity to "do". This is like my recent thread THIS WHOLE HITLER THING. The archetypes in Nazi Germany actually cut Germans off from their archetypes. Their activity is both an activity and an anti-activity. Culturopathic zones (degenerative enclosure) are distinguished, in part, by the revelation that their production has the specific flavor of self-destruction. 

This is critial because we need to affirm the natural function of ROT while specifying the conditions under which it represents a danger, a disease, a dysfunction in living organisms. To die correctly and intentionally must be separated from suicide. Constructive unmaking and antagonistic making require careful distinguishing. And much depends on our wording.

Since it is so easy to form partial and inflated conceptions of the Good that we may do better, in forming our advanced moral compass, by critiquing what is spiritually, biologically, intellectually and evolutionarily regressive. I mean that degenerative (en)closure teaches us immediately about both itself and the "good" alternatives. It is perhaps even the more fruitful area of study in terms of establishing practical deployments.

My response to Layman:

 

ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn...

LP: I am not well-versed in Latour's Compositionist Manifesto.  However, from the snippet you present, it certainly has the hallmarks of the Metaphysics of Adjacency. And you single out a nice passage. It touches on both the interdependence-of-created-unities-and-heterogenous-parts AND the matter of "composure". You will recall that in my comments about your essay on Grammatical Lenses I suggested that the higher eschelon of these lenses involves both "prepositional" and "adverbial" strutures. The latter concerns modalities. Universal human religious -- adjacency-enabled faith -- has a strongly postural element. This is somewhere between (1) the generalized nature of yogic asanas (2) the theory that smiling makes you happy (3) Heidegger's use of comportment to describe the enacted relationship of the Being to his world.

Yes, in my forthcoming paper, I associated adverbs with modes (following a number of different philosophical trends), but I could also have mentioned that Latour associates prepositions with modes as well.  There are subtle differences between adverbial and prepositional modes, but they touch into similar spaces and sensibilities, so I agree with your suggestion that they are, or can be, related in certain sophisticated, enactive orientations*. 

In any event, I like your appeal to asanas, "enactive" facial expressions, and comportment.  When I was a late teen, working in a hospital in Texas, I used to notice the intense and sometimes dramatic expressions I would encounter on the faces of doctors.  I could not imagine what they must be feeling, for their faces to have taken such a shape.  So, after I would pass them in the hallway, and when no one was looking, I would "compose" my face in the form I had seen, and then wait for what messages it brought me, what resonances or soundings it evoked in my body and mind.  This was my way of entering into their interiors, of beginning to feel what their world must be like, at least at those moments I had encountered them.   

In the video I posted here awhile back (which prompted this discussion), I mentioned Sloterdijk's discussion of the evolutionary enactment of the human face: that the special shape of the human face has "grown" in the generative sphere of the intimate or interfacial gaze.  And one suggestion I made in the talk was that, as this generative sphere of interfaciality has grown both the exterior face and the interior soul, our sacred lineages and spiritual communities have served as vehicles for intensifying this sort of soul-shaping "interfacial" encounter (even when we are facing walls in zazen). 

LP:  And the "compost" aspect touches on the enfolding of the scruff, the dissociated, the organic-implicit reality into the highest spirituality. This is a tantric characteristic which intuits, I think, something necessary about the emergoing planetary aesthetic. 

Agreed.  And I like Latour's discussion of compost being enriched by decomposition, which is reminiscent of the generative play of (en)closure and disenclosure.

LP:  Comparing the evolutionary clarity of "inbetween" to a parasite (Serres) does something comparable. As too does the use of Cthulhu to signify the rising cosmic glory of divinely non-dual multiplicity in a trans-ironic age. There is a qualitative aspect to the parasite and a transitional aspect. Integal, as parasite, in this sense is much like integral as gardener.

Ken and Integral Theorists sometimes refer to Integral as an Operating System (IOS)...a system which can inform and upgrade our modes of interaction and interface.  Integral as "parasite" can be understood in a similar ways -- since we now know that parasites have the capacity to change our emotions, moods, and behaviors.  When "IT" attaches to a system or culture, this "composition" (parasite-plus-host) calls forth new modes of comportment, inside and out, unique to the "assemblage" (to use a Deleuzian term).  Latour sometimes uses the obsolete word, instauration, which can mean renovation and institution at once.  In that sense, Integral-as-parasite has the capacity to both renew and institute generative (en)closures.

LP:  You put me in mind of Deleuze's attempt (in "Nietzsche & Philosophy") to tease out N.'s distinction between Active & Reactive AND Positive & Negative forces. We divide the affirming, initiating impulse from whatever opposes it. But both can appear to be either qualitatively constructive or destructive. Deleuze specifies "reactive" as the power which separates active forces from their capacity to "do". This is like my recent thread THIS WHOLE HITLER THING. The archetypes in Nazi Germany actually cut Germans off from their archetypes. Their activity is both an activity and an anti-activity. Culturopathic zones (degenerative enclosure) are distinguished, in part, by the revelation that their production has the specific flavor of self-destruction. This is critial because we need to affirm the natural function of ROT while specifying the conditions under which it represents a danger, a disease, a dysfunction in living organisms. To die correctly and intentionally must be separated from suicide. Constructive unmaking and antagonistic making require careful distinguishing. And much depends on our wording. Since it is so easy to form partial and inflated conceptions of the Good that we may do better, in forming our advanced moral compass, by critiquing what is spiritually, biologically, intellectually and evolutionarily regressive. I mean that degenerative (en)closure teaches us immediately about both itself and the "good" alternatives. It is perhaps even the more fruitful area of study in terms of establishing practical deployments.

Yes, great distinctions; I agree this seems like quite a fruitful area for inquiry.  And I think it hits close to home for the Integral community, since to my knowledge, we haven't seen Integral Institute (yet) emerge as its own thriving generative (en)closure.  It is languishing, stuck in an always-yet-to-really-emerge mode.  So, what "forces" are at play that are preventing this emergence?  (Is it because IT is a parasite and needs a host to thrive?  Is it because the (en)closures thus far have been undermined by degenerative forces?  Is it because of a failure to tetra-mesh?)  But of course these questions are quite relevant to religious and cultural movements of all types.  I am aware, for instance, that a number of Christian leaders are reporting that their churches are dying; some are even looking to Integral Theory as a means of renewal. An inquiry into the dynamics of degenerative (en)closures would be very helpful here (and could be instructive by negative example). However, as I think you are suggesting, we should be careful not to assume decomposition or de-generation is necessarily always bad, just as not all generativity is "good."  Jean-Luc Nancy, for instance, first introduced the notion of dis/enclosure in the context of a reflection on the auto-deconstruction of Christianity.  Christianity, in building itself on the doctrine of kenosis and the killing of God, sets up or foretells for itself its own dis/enclosure, its own "secularization."  In a sense, the fulfillment of Christianity is in its self-emptying, its bleeding out into the world, till the tomb is empty and the world is changed.
 

* One of the next phases of my writing will be to begin to bring together the two lines of inquiry I've recently been following, one around generative (en)closures and the other around grammatical lenses.  I may be discussing some of this at the upcoming Integral Theory conference.

Hi, Joe, I had seen the first two of those already, but the third is a nice addition.  I like how it illustrates both a kind of interpenetration or inner reflection of holons, as well as an ongoing differentiation.  There are three additional elements I would like to see in it (not necessarily actually illustrated by you, because it would be quite difficult, but just imaginally):  the central enclosure also in motion, the transformation or reconfiguration of other holons when they interface with and are reflected on the interior of any holon or enclosure (representing translation and enactment), and a kind of fractal depth to each holon or enclosure.

This dovetails with some of my previous postings here.  For what you're calling a "generative enclosure,"  I use the term "complex."  Although this term may have UL connotations for some, I see it in a much more general fashion - individual complexes, collective or cultural complexes, which have manifestations in the right hand quadrants as well.   Basically a holon.

Yes, I've typically associated the word, complex, with the UL.  My understanding of "complex" is a "feeling-toned constellation of associated ideas or images."  I'd like to hear your thoughts on a more expanded, full-quadrant understanding of the term.  (I can imagine, of course, that there are neural correlates to complexes, and that certain complexes are not likely to form outside of certain sociocultural contexts, etc, but I think you might be pointing to something more.)

You may recall that, awhile back (on another thread), I mentioned that Sloterdijk has described at least nine different types of spheres:  Chirotop; Phonotop; Uterotop; Thermotop; Erotop; Ergotop; Alethotop; Thanatotop; and Nomotop. Each is a kind of enacted spherological space, with its modes of communion and interface:  the chirotop, or the topos enacted by performances-in-the-world of the human hand; the phonotop, or the topos enacted by vocal performances; the uterotop, empathic spheres that start with and progressively expand from maternal care; the alethotop, or lineages as guardians and enactors of particular knowledge forms; etc.  Each of these topoi are generative (en)closures of sorts.  Would you feel comfortable calling them complexes as well?

As I've written previously, in actually employing the term, generative (en)closure, I've primarily focused on certain spiritual spaces: whether the ritual or intentional space enacted by an individual practitioner, or the communal spaces of lineage, tradition, church, etc.  In Sloterdijk's terms, this would be generative (en)closure as alethotop (though rich traditions usually enfold and overlap several of these topoi).

So what does it take for individual holons to give up some part of their autonomy and join into becoming a larger holon?   What comes to mind are two possibilities:
■Either the individual holon is brought under the influence of a higher (or more attractive) level of awareness or agency "field" which takes or draws it in to communion, or
■The individual holon lowers its level of awareness (or agency) to be brought under the communal influence of a field.
The first is an example of phylogenesis (a positive complex or generative enclosure) while the second is an example of an autonomous complex or non-generative enclosure.

This seems related also to Wilber's notion of actualizing and dominator hierarchies or holarchies.

 

 

Balder: "This seems related also to Wilber's notion of actualizing and dominator hierarchies or holarchies."

Recall this post on the topic, quoting SES, and with which I am in whole-hearted agreement about assholons. Even the way he describes groundless emptiness. Granted he will often turn around in the next breath and describe emptiness as the Causal, but still I appreciate this passage.

Speaking of dominator holoarchies, recall this part of Bonnie’s IT/CR report:

“Perhaps Ken himself was limited by his cultural conditioning of the white-western-male dominant metaphor of development (think of economic development, ecological development, and the strongly transcend-and-include hierarchy they manifest) –  I suggested that the system was so insidious, that here we are today, as proponents of a liberation theory (liberation theorology) but still inside the oppressive container that is contingent with the dominating socio-cultural narrative….this process of indoctrination was sooooo insidious, that here we are, as integral thinkers, outlining a developmental theory that is based on the same embedded notions of ego-development.”

Interesting thoughts, Joe.  I like the fractal graphic of holons and cubes.

 

I'm primarily interested in understanding how a heap becomes a holon, and how an image becomes a complex.  I'm interested in how a holon is born, how it feeds, how it dies, and how it can be killed when necessary (as in the Nigredo stage of alchemy).

 

Yes, it seems that my discussion with Layman about degenerative (en)closures has begun to enter into some of this territory.  As I have discussed with theurj in the past, one weak spot in OOO is its failure to adequately account for the formation of objects, so I think this is worth exploring.


Where can I read more about these?  Recommendations?


The primary sources are Sloterdijk's as yet untranslated volumes (2 and 3) from his Spheres trilogy, so thus far I have been relying on descriptions and reviews of those works.  Here are two:


http://www.scribd.com/doc/84820166/The-Trilogy-Spheres-of-Peter-Slo...


http://futurecase.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/proximity-as-a-prerequis...


Yes, I still see your "generative enclosure" as essentially the same kind of "thing" as a complex or holon.  The only difference is that I see your "generative enclosure" as a designer complex involving individuals coming together under a common spirit and forming a communal space for some purpose.


Agreed.  I'm not claiming generative (en)closure is a radically new concept.  I think it is pretty similar to holon or (your 4Q) complex or OOO-ian object, with just a slightly different emphasis in focus.  In particular, I'm focusing mostly on generative (en)closures as vehicles of enactment and participatory interface (with the understanding, following Roland Faber and Bruno Latour, that many spiritual "universals" are instaurated [discovered/instituted] universals in and through practices of re-enactment.)


I need to do some more research on holon theory.  Can you recommend any books or references on this?


I think Edward's link above is a good place to start (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality).  Stuart Kauffman also has an essay on holonics that might be work checking out (I'll have to look for a link).


Best wishes,


B.

And as always, when it comes to next gen IT there is no one better than Mark Edwards. See his 7-part essay at Integral World, "Through AQAL Eyes." This is part 1, with links to the others. Each part is lengthy, all 7 parts constituting a good sized book. But well worth the hours invested. He has since advanced these ideas in his Ph.D. and post-graduate work. Also see his IPS thread here for more links and references.

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