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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(I could watch that thing for an hour...)

That was pretty much what the author of the referenced article said in another article. Any model or system (mathematical or otherwise) posits non-provable axioms and goes from there. And whatever the axioms one can find logical and consistent conclusions arising therefrom, even if such axioms contradict another system's axioms. So one problem is in assuming that the system's axioms are the objective in itself universal givens instead of creations of the system. Another is that the insatiable desire to have that one theory of everything that subsumes all the others under its 'more correct' auspices. I'm granting that indeed we can make progress, evolve if you will, but that our current 'highest' understanding is that there are multiple models of equal 'altitude' that 'work' as viable and productive tools. And that no one of them can fulfill the ultimate meta function of stepping outside The Real to see the Really Real. The name for that phenomenon is assholon.

So, in response to changing equations within a given set of system axioms, that plays into Bryant's ontology in that a given suobject can indeed change its combinations or interactions within itself and/or in relation to other suobjects, thus changing those space-time equations. But I was also pointing to how for example this might also violate the axioms of another system that says space-time is itself an unchanging given. And yes! The former might indeed be a progressive development over the latter! There just might be, and are, several variations on the latter's thematic axioms.

Another thing occurred to me. What if indeed within a given axiomatic model there comes a point where to maintain its coherence the axioms themselves must change or evolve? And thereby replace those former axioms instead of include them in a nest? I'm again thinking of the difference between basic and transitional structures. Kind of like for Bryant endo-relations can and do indeed change depending on its environmental exo-relations. Sure, it's withdrawn core is never exhausted. But that withdrawn core, being itself constructed, does change and evolve, perhaps quite drastically.

Layman's most recent reply to me:

 

LAYMAN PASCAL

A nice little sampler-pack of ideas. Thank you. And our home-viewers thanks you as well...

The image of a planetary fractal of self-similar sacred enclosures helping to create a human wisdom-civilization is enchanting and compulsive. Moreso one we add in the vision of a xylaphone-like submarine cage sending its evocative ripples to the denizens of the deep ocean.

Like Teihard de Chardin's vision of the divine sphere presencing through all the self-reflective openings in the noosphere, we must be quite saliently alert to the possible of an emerging over-all pattern which appears here, there, there & there on its way to being everywhere. The somewhat imperial drives of L. Ron Hubbard and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi start to look oddly similar at certain points. Perhas we see in the historical multiplicity of "theocratic empires" an already fractal proliferation of the same basic pattern of worldcentric enclosure-attempts. But inadequately intelligence, inadequately healthy. Premature.

But what would be adequate to such a task? Can a more fluid and participatory web of self-reflecting sacred cultural enclosures arise more or less spontaneously or only in tandem with a great (or the Greatest yet seen) kind of enforcement? A chilling thought. One wonders what the role of the "thought of an acceptable worldcentric enclosure" is in all this? That classic photo of the Earth from space already sort of ripples through the noosphere creating a sense of its reflection in many lesser bubbles in the great froth. 

To what degree do we need the evocative impression of the "great enclosure" in order to facilliate the fractal proliferation?

You take a little effort to clarify the distinction between "being a meaningful unit" and "the capacity of the enclosure to generate meaning or difference". Now -- lots of folks (or is it just me?) would assume that the basic unit of anything can only be thought of as also always being an active production of that quality. Yet you are moved, again and again, to finesse a distinction at precisely this threshold. Why? What makes you so careful just here? What is it that makes you feel it is important to deploy such a specification?

I think these questions offer people a chance to connect with "enclosure" and your thinking in a fuller way.

Also: the notion of the anti-sacred enclosure, the one which "sucks the life right out of us" is fascinating. Does the "light" sink instead of rising? What name is appropriate to the enclosure which drains us? Is that an alternative style or a failure? An evil or a broken enclosure? And what factors contribute to an enclosure functioning the one way or the other?

Layman, it seems you have inspired a bit-too-lengthy of a response from me this time.  I'll try to keep it briefer in my next post ... :-)

LP:  The image of a planetary fractal of self-similar sacred enclosures helping to create a human wisdom-civilization is enchanting and compulsive. Moreso once we add in the vision of a xylaphone- like submarine cage sending its evocative ripples to the denizens of the deep ocean.

You may have noted this on the IPS copy of this discussion, but theurj reminded me that, among the denizens of the deep invoked with such enclosures, we should not forget the great Cthulhu.  :-)

LP:  But what would be adequate to such a task? Can a more fluid and participatory web of self-reflecting sacred cultural enclosures arise more or less spontaneously or only in tandem with a great (or the Greatest yet seen) kind of enforcement? A chilling thought. One wonders what the role of the "thought of an acceptable worldcentric enclosure" is in all this? That classic photo of the Earth from space already sort of ripples through the noosphere creating a sense of its reflection in many lesser bubbles in the great froth. To what degree do we need the evocative impression of the "great enclosure" in order to facilliate the fractal proliferation?

Yes - I like that: I think that image of the earth is decisive for our time.  It reveals our world as a whole, as a generative (en)closure, as a fragile immunological zone, as a hyperobject which exhibits non-local gravitational influence on all in its vicinity.  In the fractal diffusion of sacred enclosures, in all their diversity and richness, I think we also need the ubiquitous reflection of that earth image.  The envelope of air and energy which enfolds the hyper-generative (en)closure of the earth both creates a proctive immunological zone, a separator or sealant, which has allowed for the intensification of the cosmic "stuff" that has collected here, allowing star dust to evolve eyes to look back at itself, and provides a clear window for admitting light and connecting us to the larger cosmos.  And that larger cosmic history must, too, find its reflection in the spreading bubbles of new sacred cultural enclosures.  (Vision of such scope, Joel Primack and Andy Fischer argue, is necessary to begin to "take in" and adequately respond to the crises presently unfolding across the earth-sphere).

But this whole earth, as an (en)closure, is not a singular whole; it is singular plural, meaning it is a composite (which is as much less than as more than its parts).  Are you familiar with Latour's Compositionist Manifesto?  In his discussion of composure and composites, of emergent unities and enacted universalities, that generate new wholes while also retaining the heterogeneity of the parts brought so closely together, I think he gives voice to an MOA sensibility:

Even though the word “composition” is a bit too long and windy, what is nice is that it underlines that things have to be put together (Latin componere) while retaining their heterogeneity. Also, it is connected with composure; it has clear roots in art, painting, music, theater, dance, and thus is associated with choreography and scenography; it is not too far from “compromise” and “compromising,” retaining a certain diplomatic and prudential flavor. Speaking of flavor, it carries with it the pungent but ecologically correct smell of “compost,” itself due to the active “de-composition” of many invisible agents. . . . Above all, a composition can fail and thus retains what is most important in the notion of constructivism (a label which I could have used as well, had it not been already taken by art history). It thus draws attention away from the irrelevant difference between what is constructed and what is not constructed, toward the crucial difference between what is well or badly constructed, well or badly composed. What is to be composed may, at any point, be decomposed.

In other words, compositionism takes up the task of searching for universality but without believing that this universality is already there, waiting to be unveiled and discovered. It is thus as far from relativism (in the papal sense of the word) as it is from universalism (in the modernist meaning of the world—more on this later). From universalism it takes up the task of building a common world; from relativism, the certainty that this common world has to be built from utterly heterogeneous parts that will never make a whole, but at best a fragile, revisable, and diverse composite material.

I mention him because I think that the image you invoke, not only of the earth, but of the imperial cultural/spiritual movements of the past, is one that also can inform bubble formation: not as a template so much as a kind of historical attractor, an image of longed for composure and adjacency that was immaturely conceived and realized, but which nevertheless can still speak to us as we come to face the demands of our age to think and act with greater care for the nested and imbricated cultures and systems of our globe.

Regarding the possibility of a foamy, fractal diffusion of wisdom cultures, this alongsided emergence, one (unexpected?) image that comes to mind is that of the parasite.  Integral Theory, for instance, is a sort of superbug that (at this point) thrives mostly by attaching itself to all sorts of entities: religion, business, medicine, leadership, etc. 

Serres:  "The position of a parasite is to be between. That is why it must be said to be a being or a relation. But the attribute of the parasite... is its specificity. It is not just anything that troubles a passing message. It is not just anyone who is invited to someone's table. A given larva develops only in a certain organism and is carried only by a certain vector."

I am not indicting Integral with this image; I think this is actually quite a creative, generative role it plays.  In Serres' notion of the parasite, it doesn't just drain from host; it actually can inspire it to complexify, develop, diversify, etc. 

So ... what (parasitic) role can Integral play in relation to the development of various generative (en)closures, fostering an alongsided bubbling up of new forms here, there, and there?

LP:  You take a little effort to clarify the distinction between "being a meaningful unit" and "the capacity of the enclosure to generate meaning or difference". Now -- lots of folks (or is it just me?) would assume that the basic unit of anything can only be thought of as also always being an active production of that quality. Yet you are moved, again and again, to finesse a distinction at precisely this threshold. Why? What makes you so careful just here? What is it that makes you feel it is important to deploy such a specification?

I'm not sure everyone would think of a basic unit as being an active production of itself (though that is the meaning of autopoietic).  I felt a need to emphasize the generativity of (en)closures, I think, because I wanted to make it clear I wasn't just using a fancy synonym for "thing" -- specifically, for that myth-of-the-given-thing-there that folks often mean when they speak of "things" or "units."  Or, maybe even more to the point (because generative (en)closure can and does mean "thing" or "object" in the proper context), I wanted to highlight the reason why I am using this particular word, instead of just saying "body" or "tradition" or "institution" or "system" or whatever.  After all, those are all good words, so why replace them with a neologism?  As I mentioned, I wanted to find a word that allowed me to draw close, and draw on, multiple different models of these things (bubbles, objects, bodies, autopoietic systems), by emphasizing one feature which I think is common across all of them: the enactive interplay of "closure" and "generatvity."  In the case of traditions and wisdom cultures, I mean to say that, by enacting a certain membrane, which has the capacity to sensitively resonate and respond in distinctive ways (whether spiritual, therapeutic, relational, political), we are building submarine instruments of invocation; we are birthing new avatars for new modes of galactic interface and intercourse. 

LP:  Also: the notion of the anti-sacred enclosure, the one which "sucks the life right out of us" is fascinating. Does the "light" sink instead of rising? What name is appropriate to the enclosure which drains us? Is that an alternative style or a failure? An evil or a broken enclosure? And what factors contribute to an enclosure functioning the one way or the other?

I haven't given much thought to this yet, but I agree it is fascinating and worth exploring.  Earlier, you had asked me for the opposite of generative (en)closure and I had mentioned Jean Luc Nancy's dis/enclosure.  But in this case, we could also say that the negative image of a generative (en)closure is a degenerative (en)closure.  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.  I think we can find examples of dull or dulling (en)closures which are just different styles (feeling draining or degenerative to some folks, maybe who have outgrown them or who have different needs, but not to all), and some which are really failing, in the sense of no longer living up to their own codes or aims or ideals (as when a body begins to break down, failing to hold entropy creatively at bay, and beginning to slide steadily towards dis/enclosure or death).  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.

Yes, I think those terms can work; they seem to be primarily left-quadrant examples of degenerative or "anti-sacred" enclosures or systems.

"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."

Which is how I, and many others including some conservatives, see today's GOP. It has become so dysfunctional that it is creating its own demise. It seems the majority of today's Democrats are what moderate Republicans used to be. Hence I'm thinking the GOP will die in the not too distant future and it will be the Progressives and the Democrats. At least that's my hope, and that I live to see it.

Hi, Joe,

Fantastic animation.  Thank you.  My wife, looking at it with some wonder on her face, said, "That is Brahmanda (the universe)."

And, yes, I do see generative (en)closures as possessing the four quadrants.

Joe: The missing piece of the puzzle (for the Wilber-5 AQAL map) is in connecting these two viewpoints together.  My hypothesis is that the 4 edges of the cube (in the amimation above) may indicate something important on how to bridge this gap between subjectivity and objectivity and thus be able to access additional perspectives.

In this regard, you might be interested in something Bonnitta Roy wrote on this topic.  She tried to "drop below" the AQAL viewpoints to find the prior wholes from which they were unfolded, resulting in some new perspectives (and imagined enactive disciplines): AQAL 2210.

Joe: First off, the interior aspects of the Cube (center and the three axes) are not available to us unless we are in those states of consciousness symbolized by the center and the three axes.  (Center=Cosmic Consciousness, Above-Below axis = SuperConsciousness, East-West axis= Samadhi, North-South axis = Perpetual consciousness) So for the vast majority of folks these are going to be synonymous with the withdrawn core of an object which either doesn't interact with anything else or which we can't say anything about.  

Are these correlations between the axes and these states of consciousness from the B.O.T.A. teachings?  Is the suggestion that the withdrawn center of objects is directly accessible to us once we attain to certain modes of awareness?  I do not question the reality of these states of consciousness, having experienced at least some of them in my own contemplative exploration, but one traditional belief which we have been questioning here is whether these states give us "privileged access" to reality or to the center of being(s).  Such is the teaching of many mystical schools, including some in which I have practiced, but the concept of direct access to the entirety of reality itself is what has been criticized more recently as the "philosophy of consciousness" or the "metaphysics of presence."

About the insides view enactment(s), can you say more specifically what you're thinking about? Are you referencing Zone 5 enactment?  (I understand Zone 5 to be different from Zone 1, for instance, in that the former is an empirically supported exercise of projection and imaginal reconstruction, rather than an instance of attaining "direct access" to the frog's Zone 1 experience).

Best wishes,

B.

From the BOTA introductory propaganda pamphlet, The Open Door:

"That you may understand what is meant by 'a higher state of consciousness,' consider the various kingdoms of nature. Each has a progressively wider range of awareness. These different ranges of awareness are clearly defined, from the apparent unconsciousness of minerals through the subconscious life processes of plants to the first glimmerings of self-consciousness in higher animals. Self-consciousness reaches its fullness in man, and he is able to reason, to formulate speech, to use tools, and to modify his environment deliberately. HIGHER consciousness goes even beyond self-consciousness. It has been called the consciousness beyond thought — the level of intuition. It is through this level of consciousness that direct knowledge of the answers to Life's questions are realized and one's path — past, present and future — is clearly seen."

It is much akin to kennilingus descriptions and incorporations of 'the perennial philosophy,' replete with direct access to Reality through mystical states of consciousness. Which, by the way, Kennilingam still promotes as we've seen in his most recent statements on critical realism. E.g., from this post, quoting the Lingam:

“Only ultimate knowledge—given by prajna or nondual awareness, and not vijnana or dualistic awareness—can disclose ultimate reality (Spirit or Emptiness). That reality is real; it is ultimate; it is unqualifiable (including that claim); but it can be 'known' in a certain sense via Enlightenment or Awakening, i.e., satori, sahaja, metanoia, gnosis, wu, moksha—which Integral Theory puts at the center of its framework.”

As an aside on the last post, Case,* as is typical of many if not all GD members, is convinced that the Secret Chiefs ruling over mankind (the Illuminati, not doubt, and in a 'higher' plane) are providing this knowledge of Illumination to their chosen inner circle. And that said inner circle (jerks) are privy (i.e., have privileged access) to, and are in direct communication with, said Secret Chiefs. (See this GD claim, as but one example of the constant and continual wars on who talks to the Chiefs.) I don't have to tell you the political implications of such self-proclaimed power stemming from claims of direct, privileged access to Reality.

* From The Open Door:

"BUILDERS OF THE ADYTUM (B.O.T.A.) is a true Mystery School; an international, non-profit, teaching and training Order and an outer vehicle of the Inner Spiritual Hierarchy, sometimes called the Inner School, which guides the evolution of Man."

Case, of course, was also in "close contact with the Inner School."

Ok, maybe not the Illuminati but certainly the Rosicrucians. Case's The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order was a staple in any wesoteric diet. P. 15 highlights as but one of many examples that this wisdom "was first taught by God himself to a select company of angels. After the fall, the angels communicated the heavenly doctrine to the disobedient child of earth, to furnish the protoplasts with the means of returning to the pristine nobility and felicity."

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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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