Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
A recent FB IPS discussion reiterated something that has long been happening which I'll call quacademics. You know, if it quacks like an aqal... The phenomenon arises because Wilber is often perceived by typical academia as a religious zealot and/or cult leader and thereby dismissed. The main goal then is to legitimize his work academically. Hence we have all kinds of folks pursuing and getting degrees from typical academic institutions while trying to insert their integral agenda into such programs through MA and/or PhD theses/dissertations. The hope is obviously to legitimize integral studies so that it is something more than just an isolated, sub-cultural phenomenon applicable only in its own bubble. Another hope is when so legitimized that it can change the world for the better, as adherents truly believe it is a breakthrough paradigm in the next stage of evolution that can indeed improve life conditions for all. I applaud and support such hopes.
But is this truly the most effective place to focus our energies? Is academia really the cultural leader when it comes to enacting a new and better paradigm? Take for example Rifkin's work. Yes, he's an academic but implementing his plan has moved from the ivory tower to the political towers of power in EU governments. Government is the key player to enacting such an agenda via laws that govern individual, social and most of all corporate behavior. Without such law our academic towers only grow ivy, moss and mold.
But most importantly, even governments must ultimately answer to the people on the street. That is, if such government is a democracy. Granted in the US we've become more of a fascist oligarchy due to the capitalist system, but that is changing. As more of us get politically involved and elect more progressives like Senators Sanders and Warren, and representatives like Grayson, the latter realize they represent the people. That is, government is not to pass laws from the top down from enlightened leaders to the masses, but do so from the bottom up, from the will of the people. They represent us.
I'll also grant that if the people are uneducated and ill-informed they cannot wisely tell our representatives what is best for the public. Hence the oligarchs try to destroy education by making schools into the sort of top-down programming factories, to make ignorant workers kept in their place. But what is happening since the advent of the internet is that many more of us are getting educated in a P2P fashion, sharing information and knowledge, getting politically informed, and taking action by contacting our representatives to express our educated and wise wishes for a better polity.
It is we who create the next paradigm. Rifkin didn't invent most of what he discusses in his books; he reports on the phenomena that have arisen organically from culture, like the new commons paradigm. It is arising from ordinary people connecting via tech like the internet to form new forms of communication, news, publication, music, knowledge generation, product production, economic exchange etc. We have educated ourselves. We not only know what we want but are not waiting for leaders to create it, doing it ourselves instead. We are creating the next wave and it is here right now.
Pursuing academia in the hopes of changing the world assumes the old-school (capitalist) premise that education begins with the best and brightest teachers and thought leaders who have been certified in that old school. The already emergent new-school of the Commons doesn't see education in this sort of top-down approach. (E.g. see this post from Rifkin's new book.) The culture created by the Commons is transforming traditional educational institutions, so at least the latter are getting with the program in reflecting the culture rather than creating it. It seems quacademics are still adhering to the old paradigm in trying to create a new one, thereby missing the already manifest Commons culture all around them. Part of that is that kennilingus doesn't recognize the new culture because of its inherent and unconscious biases, still stuck in this old school hierarchical way of thinking. And hence it misses the facts on the ground. Or dismisses them because it doesn't fit the kennilingus map. Or is a lower level that just doesn't get it. To the contrary, it is kennilingus that doesn't get it. And those quacademics who want to be leaders in an old school way of being.
The Name of the Father can never do its job too well. Why not?
Partly because "too well" is its job. The optimization of excess is implicit in its function.
Partly because the effect of the Name must always be changing in order to accommodate changing realities. The Name is always a Trying-to-Re-Name. In a dynamic reality the fit of data-to-model is never a fact but always a process, a dance. Temporary "perfect fit" represents an edifying peak experience (of variable rationality) upon we could feed profitably but which will, inevitably, pass away. The insistence of the psychically inflated character that he is perpetually locked into a world of over-adequate signification must be taken as incomplete self-reporting. Rigidity is not strength. The natural operation of over-signification (suchness) is dependent upon a repeated creative effort -- whether we imagine it is a glimpse into the underlying condition or not.
Partly because the anti-anxiety functions of the Name are putative, projective, anticipated only by the over-anxious. When the Name closes off anxiety its function is premature. It is dysfunction. To truly function it Names "some anxiety" as a perfectly acceptable aspect of itself. "No God" is a fine Name of God. All variants converge in the Name and therefore it can only function truly by accommodating its simultaneously success and failure. To overcome psychosis it is necessary to establish the missing stamp of Order but overstamping is not success. One breaks the stamp by smashing it against the page. The perfect paranoid is no one's idea of a solution to the psychotic's universe of instability.
Yes, the continuous process of re-naming. The castrating realization that we can never become the phallus. The philosopher's stone will always remain beyond our reach. It is only the neurotic who refuses to accept this. What's in a name: Aldonza or Dulcinea?
The language of "castrating realization" is perhaps too laden with the peculiar pessimism of post-war Europeans. A younger and more optimistic rendering might phrase it thusly:
The philosopher's stone appears already within our grasp in the form of its beyond-our-reach-ness. The true phallus is constituted by the structural totality of the space which relates the apparent phallus to its own absence.
When Lacan defined the phallus as "the penis plus the idea of lack" he meant, I would posit, not only that the phallus is the obsession of the person who cannot assimilate their own psycho-emotional (and constituitive!) castration but also that the double image of potency and the absence of potency must cooperate in order to reestablish our spiritual tumescence.
The Name, revisioned as Naming, admits to an endless series of gaps and missteps upon which its functional operation may proceed as surely as real physical continuity is established mysteriously upon the non-linear and discrete reality of quantum flux-packets.
But to move deeper into the real potency is a move that must risk the full possibility of perpetual 'castration'. In that sense my religious ear delights in the psychoanalystic-existential terminology of ponderous early 20th century euro-theory.
Perhaps this slight differential in phraseology may be reflected in a back-to-back viewing of "La Mancha" and "They Might Be Giants" -- in which a subtly different vindication of the dislocated psyche is presented at the end. And as for the Gilliam's version (a recapitulation of his failure to film a version of Quixote starring Johnny Depp) I leave that to the metatheorists...
I hesitate before terms like "meta-paradigmatic" and "meta-theory". The obviousness of their distinction is not always so obvious. However in a very simple way we know that cognition and articulation are different at every level. What we see, know, recognize, sense and intuit as the enabling patterns of our world are always in excess of our ability to adequately articulate them. Something like theory (which is equally something like poetry) is always following up the rear and pushing us forward in the process.
Every level invents or receives categories that approximate its perceptions well enough to use as a temporary articulation of the universe. Under slightly abnormal conditions the articulation may parasitically overwhelm the host cognition but the proper path is for stabilization to enable new discoveries. New hints arise at the edges. We dimly glimpse the glimmers of our next set of gluing conditions which will requires our next set of receptivity to categories which will have to be glued together in order to stabilize themselves.
Passing from level to level, repeating this, we slowly draw conclusions related to the whole process. At first our conclusions may gravitate around the articulations. Then perhaps around the articulations AND the gluing process. Then these are joined by an increasing sensitivity to the relationship between foreground and background activity -- the open-endedness of our process is not lost but it is challenged by the perception of half-visible structural dynamics which appear to have permitted emergence, categories and gluing at all of the previous levels.
Articulating this who whole mess is vastly fascinating. And articulation is as much poetry as theory, as much justice as spirituality. The lingering traces of quasi-predictable structure which enable theories and paradigms to pass into each other starts to suggest a seductive future in which we can quasi-predict (which is no differently that sanely and creatively responding) an increasingly diverse, self-unfolding and organic-ish panoply of categories rather than reacting with or merely doubting the received and invented categorizations of each paradigm. So I think there is a link to preventative justice here.
The "superficial" quality of meta-data is expanding and increases by unknown increments its fidelity to the complex world that it still only provides the skin for...
See this recent Montuori IW article on his perception of academia today. One aspect highlighted therein we discussed above in how collegiate scholars are out to make a name, to discern themselves as creating a unique contribution. Hence it reinforces the notion of a self-made person based solely on their own merits while deemphasizing or ignoring the societal and cultural shoulders on which one stands. It's an imbalance of autonomy and knowledge ownership in distinction with open, peer to peer knowledge generation. Sure, there can be a balance of autonomous individuals within the P2P paradigm, but that seems the exception rather than the rule in current academia. There are signs of change though as noted in Rifkin's chapter 7, for example.
Another of Montuori's examples I appreciated is a learning environment of peers that are not afraid to put out tentative ideas and work together to develop them. It sounded a lot like what we do here.