LINDISFARNE CAFE – MEMOIR
Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
My work as founder and director of the Lindisfarne Association continued for twenty-five years from 1972 to 1997. After I resigned from the presidency in 1997, Lindisfarne Fellows, Arthur Zajonc, Mary Catherine Bateson, and Vivienne Hull came forwad to organize Fellows conferences in Crestone, Colorado and Whidbey Island in Washington until 2001, but slowly the energy and kairos of the meetings began to drain away with the aging of our group.
At the request of Dr. Joan Halifax-roshi, I organized Lindisfarne Fellows Conferences at her Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 2007 to 2010, but at the last moment I could not attend the 2010 meeting, because I had to have a second open heart surgery for a decayed bovine mitral valve and a blood clot. I recovered and was able to organize two more Lindisfarne Fellows meetings for the years 2011 and 2012. At the request of our Lindisfarne Fellow Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, these meetings took place at his Seven Pillars Academy in New Lebanon, New York.
The 2012 meeting ended on a very high and celebrative note with a dinner for my 74thbirthday, but when I returned home and began to think about the theme and organization for another Lindisfarne Conference for 2013, I realized that the years from 1972 to 2012 expressed its own Zeitgeist, and that two full generations of work on my perspective of “the study and realization of a new planetary culture” had expressed itself. Forty years was enough. The kairos was no longer with us. The times had changed and it was now time for the Lindisfarne Association to conclude its mission, regroup, or metamorphose into some new form of cultural institution under the creative direction of others—or not, if that was no longer desired.
These conferences and gatherings of creative people in what Margaret Mead called “sapiental circles” are performances in and of time. In his time, C. G. Jung organized the Eranos Conferences. For me, when I read the papers presented at these illustrious gatherings–when they were published by the Bollingen Foundation and Princeton University Press at the time I was an undergraduate at Pomona College at the beginning of the Sixties–this prestigious group of, for the most part, male scholars, was awe inspiring. For a college kid in Southern California, the ethos of this high culture gathering of the European mind was precisely what I was looking for in my effort to get away from the shallow media culture of the Hollywood, Disneyland, and the movie and television studios that had dominated the Los Angeles in which I had grown up and come of age.
But when it came time to organize the first Lindisfarne Conference in the summer of 1974 in the Hamptons of New York, the Eranos Conferences became the model of precisely what I did not want. I did not want to be the great man sucking on his pipe at the father’s head of a table set outside in the sunlit Ticino of Switzerland. I did not want to play the intellectual alpha male to whom all the conversation was directed and flowed out again through the reducing valve of his singular world-view. I wanted to play a different role, to bring people together who had never met but needed to, to be something more like the first chair violinist-director of an intellectual chamber music ensemble than a grand Von Karajan directing the Berlin Philharmonic.
Both the Eranos and the Macy Conferences that had embodied the Zeitgeist of their times had been small, so in order to achieve diversity and complexity, I wanted my first Lindisfarne Conference to be larger, so I had closer to twenty presenters and an audience of around eighty. To avoid panel discussions in which celebrities simply performed their celebrityhood, I wanted to give the presenter a whole lecture hour for a talk—and not an academic reading of a paper—in which the speakers could sing out an aria and display why they had become celebrities in the first place. But in spite of my design, celebrities like Jonas Salk and Carl Sagan carried on in the manner to which they had become accustomed to be admired. Jonas Salk gave his single stump speech that I had explicitly asked him not to give again, and Carl Sagan acted as if he were on a late night TV talk show—more Johnny Carson than Dick Cavett—to name the stars of that time.
What was required of me was not the role of Master of Ceremonies or Ring Master of the Circus, but the more challenging one of choosing the people to invite, reading their books, and weaving all the disparate ideas into a momentary tapestry of rapidly flowing words that gave voice to the Zeitgeist as I introduced each speaker, explained why he or she was there and how his or her ideas related to the talk of the previous speaker. And to insure that the conference with such diversity did not spin apart like wet clay upon a potter’s wheel, I gave an introductory lecture to energize the gathering with a sense of excitement of what was to come, and then a wrap-up lecture to show how what we had heard during the week had moved the new planetary culture forward.
The talk I am presenting below is not necessarily the best one I ever gave in my forty years of doing that sort of thing, but it does show how I tried to weave all the ideas of the Fellows and Guest Speakers into an oral presentation that tried to be not just Wissenschaft but Wissenskunst
Our twenty-fifth anniversary conference takes its theme from Stuart Kauffman’s new book, At Home in the Universe.1 In the conclusion to this work, Stuart speaks of re-inventing the sacred for an emerging global civilization, and this has certainly been the mission of Lindisfarne since I founded the Association in New York a quarter-century ago to serve as a vehicle for the exploration and realization of what I then called “a new planetary culture.” Since Lindisfarne’s founding as a very seventies communally-run institute in Southampton, Long Island, there have been many changes in our contemporary culture and in our global means of communication, from personal computers to telefax to Internet to World Wide Web, so part of my agenda for these next few days will be to engage in a healthy self-examination to ask ourselves if or how Lindisfarne should continue.
The intellectual architecture for this particular gathering of the Fellows, as I saw it in organizing the talks—and, of course, it will unfold according to its own self-organizing dynamic in the next three days—is as follows. I will talk tonight about being “At Home in the Universe,” about the process of participating in culture by extending the sensitivity of one’s perceptions beyond the conventional institution’s way of defining of who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going. This extension of sensitivity can be felt as a shift to a larger field of awareness than was provided by one’s education or one’s home institution’s definition of reality. Now, of course, this shift in sensitivity, or change of horizons, can be a way of being at home in the larger universe that does not necessarily make us feel comfortable in our domestic institution, be it university or church. But this extension of horizon can be one in which all the various levels we will be exploring in the next few days do take part. Think of it as a system of nested ontologies: from Light with Arthur Zajonc, to Patterns and Particles with David Finkelstein, to Molecules with Stuart Kauffman, to Micelles with Luigi Luisi, to Genes with Susan Oyama, to Neuronal Ecologies with Tim Kennedy, to Living Machines with John Todd, to Dwellings with Sim Van der Ryn, and to Poems with Jane Hirshfield, for poems are a way of pronouncing one’s sense of dwelling in place and making that kind of extended sensitivity more intimate with one’s own being, because it is being grounded in language and the mother tongue. We humans do seem to carry our sense of being at home in the universe, our local address, in language. And then, finally, in a structure of aria da capo, we will end with David Spangler and the metaphysics of Light in spirits of Time and Place—which is another expression of this extension of sensitivity—to return where we started with Arthur Zajonc and the physics of Light. It is also appropriate to end with David, because David is the one who talked me into overcoming my fears and sense of spiritual inadequacy in founding Lindisfarne in a talk we had in 1972 as we walked along the beach near Findhorn in Scotland. Since then David has participated in Lindisfarne through all its permutations from Southampton to Manhattan to Crestone.
The missing middle, to use a phrase of our Lindisfarne Fellow Fritz Schumacher, is, of course, the shift from molecules to bacteria and living cells. So although Lynn Margulis could not be here for this gathering, and had to be in Mexico, you should insert in your imaginations the talks given by Lynn and Tim Kennedy at the Lindisfarne Fellows meeting at the Cathedral in New York in 1994. My purpose in that gathering was to show the isomorphisms in Lynn’s theories about spirochete attachment and Tim’s work with the discovery of Netrin, the growth cones of neurons and axon guidance.
My role will be to start us off with culture, and then move to Light with Arthur, but also with the cultural aspects of how all these patterns unfold and contribute to our sense of identity, because Arthur Zajonc and the Fetzer Institute have been part of a conversation we have been having for the past two years about inviting a new generation into the Fellowship and Association of Lindisfarne.
So, rather than jumping from micelles to neurons, from Luigi to Tim, I have suggested a countertheme that can enrich the complexity by involving Susan’s work. If we simply moved from micelles to neuronal ecologies, we could slip into packing genes and proteins in lipid bubbles in ways the large pharmceutical companies would love to do for their own gain. Now there is no question but that Luigi and Tim’s work, in Zurich and Montreal, is at the leading edge of medicine, and in his work in discovering and naming this family of proteins he calls netrins, Tim and his colleagues may have come upon ways to bind up severed neurons, cure Parkinson’s disease, or understand the origins of schizophrenia in the ecologies of the interneurons; and Luigi’s work may show us just how to deliver medicines exactly to the place they are needed; but unless we have a healthy sense of the distinctness of place, we shall fall into the old errors of thinking and make another mess to add streams of internal pollution to the match the external ones. That will hardly be a way of being “At Home in the Universe.”
Tim Kennedy’s work in exploring how axons develop along a growth cone also helps us to understand how cells can cluster through the chemistry of their membranes to become multicellular, or how neurons can associate to become neuronal ecologies. How these patterns of association move from chemically linked to membrane-bound organisms is also something Lynn Margulis has been studying in her models of symbiosis and acquired genomes. How these patterns of association become emergent domains is also something that Evan has been working on at the philosophical level. But my purpose tonight in asking Tim here from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Luigi Luisi here from ETH in Zurich is to offer a sketch of a possible future medicine. It doesn’t exist yet, but it is on the horizon and I as an outsider to science can see patterns of emergence as I scan the pages of Nature.
Part of what my work with Lindisfarne over the past twenty-five years has been all about is to try, through these conferences, to open windows to allow horizons into institutions that are made out of bricks and cement blocks and have no windows. Within these institutions, conversations are always between specialists, so it hard to see the basin and range in which Lynn Margulis, Francisco Varela, Stuart Kauffman, Tim Kennedy, and Luigi Luisi are all situated in an ecology of mind.
Now what flows nicely from Tim’s work with neuronal ecologies is John Todd’s work with Living Machines. As axons, synapses, interneurons, and chaperones can constellate a chemical ecosystem, so do John’s cascade of organisms in a directional stream—from anaerobic bacteria to snails to plants—constellate an ecosystem of pollution-eaters. John puts the yogurt back into the guts of our body-politic so that our settlements can digest all the nasty stuff we surround ourselves with. Because John works in pattern perception and recognition, he has worked intuitively, more like a good cook than a chemist, and this has got him into big trouble with Big Science. I remember 30 years ago—before his standing fibre glass tanks and Living Machines– when John was filling up mason jars and setting them out in the sun on the front lawn of his home in Falmouth. He looked like he was canning green jellies, and he was. When you work through the mode of participation with nature rather than domination of nature as an “it,” you have to work with a Taoist’s sensitivity. Big Science, Baconian Science, works through separation, analysis, and control, but this other kind of science, Pythagorean Science, works through pattern recognition, imaginative articulation, and participation. Here one has to become alive and alert to recognize patterns and relationships. This is a case of being more like Barbara McClintock than Crick and Watson. These sorts of scientists tend to work more in the complexity of the field than in the reductionist controls of the lab. They see the unique in the universal context in which it derives its meaningful relationships. In an intuitive form of selection, John takes various ingredients from all around the world and brings them together—cyanobacteria and snails and sludge—and then he watches and waits. (Kibitzing from the side lines, I have been telling John for years that he should take acidothermophilic bacteria from sulphur springs and deep ocean thermal vents, for these critters that can survive in what for humans are extreme environments probably would love eating and digesting the most toxic radioactive sludges we can give them.) As the chemical exchanges of all the participants begin to loop and interact, a new emergent domain forms—a kind of loose form of immanental mind, one in which the membrane is not simply bounded by fibreglass but by the mind and the sensitivity of the Taoist scientist bringing the partners into participation. Many here will recognize that this kind of Mind extending into “pathways outside the body” was part of Gregory Bateson’s explication in his great essay, “Form, Substance, and Difference.” So what John has been doing is not your typical form of American civil engineering. Working as both scientist and intuitive artist in the new profession of biological designer, John is more like an architect than a laboratory chemist. But what he has designed as architecture in Living Machines is a new kind of ecological immune system for healing highly polluted environments. So the medicine for the ecology of the interneurons in the brain afflicted with schizophrenia and the medicine for the rivers and water tables of our local communities afflicted with carcinogens become occasions for new understandings of science, and this intellectual play of the Imagination has been what the Lindisfarne Fellowship has been all about in the work of three generations—from Gregory to Cisco, Susan, and Stuart, and on to the younger generation of Tim and Evan, as we saw in our twentieth anniversary conference in Crestone in 1994.
With John’s ecological applications of Gregory’s epistemology—an association that came directly out of the Lindisfarne conference of 1975—we can begin to appreciate that Mind is more extensive and immanental in ecologies of being, that it is not merely epiphenomenal to the brain or simply emergent from the cross-wiring of digital neural nets. If, as Stuart suggests, that order is for free in the universe, and that order comes early on and more easily present than we were led to believe, then these immanental patternings of self-organization from noise have much to teach us: they are part of an ontological culture that bridges matter and information. This culture of pattern over substance, of process over matter, takes us back to Gregory Bateson, and even further back to Whitehead and his philosophy of organism that I studied in the fifties.
Now John’s work in developing immune systems for environments segues quite nicely into Sim Van der Ryn’s green architecture and theories of ecological design. Sim has worked to create true dwellings, modes of being in place, where the architectural instrument is not simply a box or people container to keep nature out of the way of business, but a more musical instrument tuned to pulse with the natural rhythms of sun and wind. This architectural “edge of chaos” is another form of extended sensitivity, from the box to the ecology. A year or so ago, I went to a lecture Stuart gave for the Department of Physics and Engineering at Columbia University. This building is precisely one of those cinder-block boxes without windows. The classroom we were in was another cinderblock box within a box, and my wife Beatrice turned to me and said: “No wonder we have got environmental problems, this environment is just horrible.” So scientists who are trained not to see, not surprisingly, grow up blind. To train these people in these environments, and then set them out into the world and expect them to design appropriate dwellings for a healthy culture is not very smart. It was precisely for these architectural reasons that I quit the environment of MIT in 1968 and went on a quest for the Holy Grail of a new planetary culture.
From Sim’s work we will move to Jane Hirshfield to shift from the extended sensitivity of seeing to listening. We’ll move from the reconsacration of matter in the construction of dwellings to another kind of sense of place to return to the mother tongue. If we can imaginatively appreciate how we took in language with our mother’s milk—in precisely the way Wordsworth describes in The Prelude—to listen to poetry, then we can also begin to appreciate how poetry pronounces a connectivity to language, place, and culture–to a sense not just of dwelling, but a tradition of dwelling and traveling through space and time. Then, after an evening of poetry, we will have our board of directors meeting the following morning and consider the future of our own place and time together that we call Lindisfarne. We will close with David Spangler in a consideration of spirits of time and place as a way of imaginatively thinking about the kairos of where we are now and where we go from here as we leave this place and return to our personal forms of dwelling.
So this is how I saw the architecture of this Lindisfarne gathering as I worked out the program in Zurich. Of course, now that we are all here, how it will go is entirely up to us as a group.
Now I would like to return to our theme of “At Home in the Universe” to consider Stuart’s conclusion about reinventing the sacred for a new global civilization by reflecting on the project of Lindisfarne as an effort to work toward this end within the constraints of the kairos of the last quarter-century. “Kairos” is one of my favorite terms; it is Greek and means appropriate season of action, and just proportion. So it is both a temporal and a spatial metaphor.
Part of the original kairos of Lindisfarne was to shift ideas of both time and space by moving out of the linear sense of technological progress to retrieve a more mythopoeic sense of time. This project was expressed in my 1971 book, At the Edge of History. I was also concerned with moving out of the spatial containment embodied in the architecture of the modern technological university like MIT or York. So rather than spending a sabbatical at Oxford or Cambridge, I decided to visit places like Arcosanti in Arizona, Auroville in India, and Findhorn in Scotland.
Out of this Lehr und Wanderjahr came the founding of Lindisfarne and my third book,Passages about Earth. This cultural shift in the envaluation of time and space called for abandoning the technological giantism of powerful institutions like MIT, as well as the whole spirit of technological internationalism and modernization that MIT embodied during the period of the Viet Nam War. At that time, MIT felt that it was called upon to technologize the world, modernize traditional cultures abroad, and, at home, technologize the humanities by transforming the study of literature, history, and philosophy into linguistics and cognitive science. To induce artists to join the movement, the Center for Visual Studies was created, and various new electronic gnostic gadgets were offered by the Archons of the MIT Corporation to capture the enthusiasms of artist, writer, and composer. At this critical moment of historical transition, I was situated in the middle of that Vatican of the One True Catholic and Apostolic Church of Technology by serving as a professor of humanities at MIT.
The Institute at that time was being torn apart by the political conflict between the liberal technocrats who were Viet Nam hawks and the Marxist radicals who were doves. But both hawks and doves shared a faith in the power of technology and only argued over who should own the means of production. The spiritual quests of the sixties had no place there, and the crossing of Aurobindian yoga and Maslovian psychology that Michael Murphy put together at Esalen Institute seemed ludicrous to the leading liberal and radical lights of MIT. So I quit MIT in 1968, and sought to distance myself from its modernization project, and, as well, distance myself from the American Empire by going to Canada. And there at a conference at Lake Couchiching in Ontario in 1969, I heard the charismatic Ivan Illich for the first time and heard him articulate the need to create “counterfoil institutions.” Illich’s talk was exactly what I wanted to hear, because I had tried to set up a dialogue between mysticism and science at MIT, but I was not able to do it in their managerial culture. I was hearing a kind of silent music that had no place within the Institute, so I was searching for other spaces and times. In listening to Illich, I realized how this silent music could only come forth into sound in a counterfoil institution. One had to separate oneself from the dominant institutions of the university, the church, and the corporation.
A year or so after encountering Illich, at Professor Alastair Taylor’s home near Queens University, I came upon a transmission from David Spangler that had been published in pamphlet form by the Findhorn Foundation. This little pamphlet gave voice to a disembodied presence that felt to me as if it were coming from the same source as the “unheard melodies” that I was picking up on. It spoke of the need for separation—a bifurcation—a radical move into a new world of higher consciousness. As I prepared to embark upon my sabbatical journey, I knew I would have to track this little pamphlet to its source in Findhorn. So my project became not one of a liberal’s piecemeal tinkering with the dominant institutions, but a more radical project of cultural bifurcation in time and space. We did not yet speak of Strange Attractors in those days, but, in Ralph Abrahams terms of Chaos Dynamics, a new basin of attraction had appeared like a bolt out of the blue.
After returning from my trip around the world, I knew that I could not simply go back to the university and carry on with business as usual. I would have to risk it to quit the university and set up Lindisfarne as an alternative institution, as a counterfoil institution, for what the counterfoil institution could do that the university could not was to create a moiré pattern of the overlapping domains of art, science, and religion. Instead of bringing bureaucrats from the world religions together with academics, I would work to have a triple circularity of artists, mystics, and visionary scientists. This triple circularity would be the opposite of MIT’s approach, because at MIT art was technological art, religion was the managerial response of ethicists to the challenges posed by technology to traditions, and science was technological invention. At MIT, the faculty was always constrained by public relations managers to find ways in which whatever we were doing in the humanities could be made to fit into the MIT technological style and image. These public relations executives were basically telling the faculty how to think, if we wanted to stay on the team. So literature became Chomsky’s linguistics and cognitive science, and art became the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, which has since morphed into Negroponte’s Media Lab.
But what I was looking for was not a leveling into the plane of uniformity—the sort of monocrop approach of agribusiness—but an ecological circularity in which difference was energized and accepted. My image for this was the biosphere with its triple circularity of ocean, continent, and atmosphere in which difference drives the thermodyanmic engine of Gaia. In the consilience of E.O. Wilson, he calls for the unification of all knowledge into one dominant science, but this is the fundamentalist’s error that would turn the biosphere into a uniform slime of wet, gaseous sludge. This is the Titanic Archaean era out of which we have evolved, and, in the directionality of time, we should not return. My Irish icon for this triple circularity of the biosphere is the Celtic trifoil knot that is inscribed on the gate to the abbey on Iona. I felt that the importance of the circularity of the independent descriptions of art, science, and religion was to create these recursive loops of self-organization so that a new emergent domain could come forth that was not a university with a bureaucracy or an ashram with a single guru.
Religion left to itself becomes fundamentalism. Science left to itself becomes reductionism or Eliminativism—in the sense of the term used by Paul and Patricia Churchland in cognitive science. In their cognitive science, one can “eliminate” the folk psychology in which one speaks of soul or self. So science left to itself tends to implode and becomes that kind of total explanation that all too easily becomes totalitarian as it is extended over non-scientific subjects by the thought police of the technological state. The toxicity of that kind of scientific management had become all too evident to me at MIT during the Viet Nam war. But art too can become toxic. Art left to itself becomes narcissism—after the fashion of Andy Warhol, who, in an exhibition in Bern of works he did on cars for Mercedes Benz, said that the art of America is business. In the Middle Ages we had iconography, and now we have advertizing.
So any single cognitive domain—art, science, or religion—left to itself can collapse into itself and become toxic. In the nihilism of the postmodernist humanities in academe, we ended up with a sludgey and opaque subculture of anaerobic intellectuals. In eliminiativist science, uniformity replaces complexity. This is what William Blake referred to as “Single Vision and Newton’s Sleep.” And in religion, mythic and symbolic complexity is eliminated in fundamentalism that becomes a license to kill. Whether it is the case of an Israeli settler machine-gunning Moslems at prayer in a mosque, or a Muslim terrorist blowing up a passenger jet, or a Christian shooting a doctor or bombing an abortion clinic, we have stars that have collapsed into black holes.
Now from Stuart’s discussions of criticality and the edge of chaos, we can begin to appreciate how complexity is a resource for the evolution of life, and how life emerges from conditions that are neither excessively fixed or excessively fluid. What the triple circularity allows is a topology with edges where opposites can influence or engage one another. The computer chip is not as advanced a topology as the cell, because the complex folding of proteins in a cell empowers more surfaces to come into play than is the case of a simple digital gate in a neural net. Now as Luigi Luisi has suggested to me, this triple circularity is not really between Art, Science, and Religion, but between artists, scientists, and spiritual practioners. And this, of course, is what the Lindisfarne Fellowship is all about. A technician in a lab can be a nerd without a life or a body, but a creative scientist more often tends to be alive in more domains than one. Einstein played the violin, Heisenberg was a pianist, and Luigi writes children’s stories and practices Zen. In a technical grouping, one is constrained to have only one side and to always have it engaged in the cogs of the productive machine. But in the Fellowship, one delights in more facets of reflection and listening with respect to other world-views, other ways of being “at home in the universe.”
In the evolution of this triple circularity of artists, scientists, and spiritual practioners, there is a process of cultural selection at work. Institutions tend to be dominated by alpha males who seek to reproduce themselves through graduate students. This pattern of culture generates followership and not fellowship. It is a scientific version of the High Priest in which the director of the lab has his signature on the published papers, even though his post docs have done all the work, and this growing list of publications enables the director to gain more credit and raise more funds so that he can hire more post docs to do his research for him. A high priest is a figure chosen by a bureaucracy in a dominant imperial city, but a shaman is chosen by spirits in the wilderness. A shaman comes to his power through a process of transcendental selection rather than societal selection. A village can notice that a certain child seems marked out, and this process of differentiation from the norm can initiate a process of esoteric training. What makes the Lindisfarne Fellowship different from a fraternity or club is a recognition that someone has been marked out, someone doesn’t quite fit into the norm, someone has an inner complexity that doesn’t live comfortably within the routines of the institutions of the high priest and his temple. In our quarter-century of activities, I would say that Gregory Bateson, Jim Lovelock, and Lynn Margulis are archetypal examples of this sort of risk-taking scientist who lives the kind of creative life we more often associate with the solitary artist or composer.
In industrial society, the artist like Blake or Beethoven took over much of the old charismatic life of the shaman, but since he or she could not heal society, the modern shaman often fell into the old role of the sacrificial victim. So you get the pattern of self-destruction and the deaths of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Dylan Thomas, and Sylvia Plath. This is the case of the artist imploding on herself and becoming toxicly sick from the stagnation that comes from the lack of the healthier ecology of the triple circularity: the artist as cosmic narcissist. But if there is a self-organization at the edge of chaos in which shamanic artists, shamanic scientists, and yogic practioners of different religious traditions come together, then a fellowship of elective affinities appears as an emergent domain, and then there is more air to breathe. Exactly opposite to the high priest in his temple or the cult leader in his sect—who consumes all the available oxygen—this emergent domain is not the realm of the alpha male surrounded by his subdominant males. This emergent domain is leaderless; it is a domain of fellowship and not followership and requires the initiator of the process to be more of a midwife than a parent.
Now we all recognize what a shamanic artist looks like, or what a shamanic practioner of Yoga, Suf’ism, Tibetan or Zen Buddhism, or Cabbala looks like. The picture of Sri Aurobindo in his chair will suffice. But what does a shamanic scientist look like? I suppose Einstein would immediately spring to mind, and that is why I see Einstein as the Luther-like archetypal figure for the new Reformation of the post-religious era of scientific spirituality. The shamanic physicist has been chosen by the angel of physics, by what the Neoplatonists called “the Celestial Intelligences.” From Pythagoras to Einstein, there is a noetic polity that extends over time and space and includes the noble dead as well as the living, the celestial as well as the terrestrial, and the shamanic scientist has a particular calling to this larger domain. He or she has an extended sensitivity that is not confined by the walls of the containing institution. Touched as they are, these people are often looked upon by their colleagues as touched in the head, so they have to learn how to hide their inner nature, because in our society they really are heretics and are in danger of being expelled from the world of science. This is not to say that some of them do not combine genius with craziness in socially impossible ways. The case of Nikola Tessla comes to mind.
When these figures are isolated and alone, they can become subject to manic inflation, seizures of paranoid cosmic synthesis, as well as depressive states. To separate genius from lunacy in solitary figures like Nikola Tessla becomes supremely difficult, and if the figure begins to attract messianic followers, it becomes harder still. But if there is a healthy fellowship, then very often the lunacy of raving to oneself can be replaced with lively conversation.
This fellowship can work for artists as well as scientists. I remember vividly the case of our Fellow Haydn Stubbing. His work now is in the collection of the Tate Museum in London, but when I first met Haydn out in the Hamptons in the early seventies, his work was being ignored and he was not treated as one of the fellas by the more famous artists in the Hamptons who were his neighbors. But when Haydn became a Lindisfarne Fellow and began to live in and through the meetings with the other Fellows, especially with the scientists, his depression left him and he entered into a highly creative period that is summed up by the two giant canvases, Iona and Lindisfarne, that are now in the Universal Hall at Findhorn. Whether he was in the pub of the Pelican Inn with Lovelock, Margulis, Maturana, and Varela, or taking Gary Snyder trout fishing in Scotland, Haydn came to life through the fellowship, and he told me so as he gave me the large painting that now hangs in St. James Chapel at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
So the cultural project of Lindisfarne concerned with science and spirituality in the seventies called for moving out of the institutional space of the university to establish a counterfoil institution that could bridge the gulf between the anti-spiritual university and the anti-intellectual ashram or mindless commune of the sixties. MIT was anti-spiritual and Findhorn was anti-intellectual, so the project of Lindfisfarne was to be Madhyamika, to follow the middle path between these polarities, to supply what our Fellow Fritz Schumacher called “the missing middle.”
By bringing shamanic practioners of religion, science, and art together, a moiré pattern that wasn’t singly religion, science, or art emerged. This was a culture that didn’t yet exist, so I called it “planetary culture.” I didn’t mean international, and I didn’t mean what today is called postmodernist or multicultural. My view of planetary culture was more of a feeling for an epiphany of a possible future. At the edge of history, we had come to a fork in the road: one path led to a dark age brought about by industrial pollution, and national and religious wars; the other led to a transformation of national and industrial culture. Religion with its violent fundamentalisms would be replaced by a personal mysticism in which no church or temple was needed to experience the universe as a cosmic mind. Industrial technology and capitalist economics would be replaced by ecology as the new governing science for meta-industrial settlements and symbiotic, green cities. And Baconian science would be replaced by a new Pythagorean science in which separation, reductive analysis, and control were replaced by pattern recognition, imaginative articulation, and participation.
So Lindisfarne, especially Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan—became more of a concert than a college. Like a crocus in March followed by a blizzard, Lindisfarne was too early. There simply was not the cultural or political support to create a college for a planetary culture. The gatherings of the Lindisfarne Fellows, just like this one, became a concert of intellectual chamber music or mind jazz, and not a meeting of the faculty. For brief moments, say in the Green Gulch conference of 1981, we could see out of time and glimpse what it would be like to be alive in a very different culture in a very different world. We became in Mary Catherine Bateson’s words, “Our Own Metaphor,” our own “Ecology of Mind.” And in the literal sense of mind jazz, Paul Winter would take inspiration from his meetings with Jim Lovelock at Jim’s home in Coombe Mill, create his Missa Gaia, and then perform it in Moscow before the Soviet Union melted and the Berlin Wall came down.
What has been delightful to discover with Lindisfarne is that there is an unconscious and unplanned “Association” that extends not just over disciplines but generations as well. For example, in the 1977 Lindisfarne conference on “Mind and Nature” in Southampton, I was talking to Gregory Bateson about Whitehead, and I mentioned Whitehead famous remark at a meeting in Cambridge in which he commented on Bertrand Russell’s illuminating talk on Einstein by complimenting him “for not obscuring the inherent darkness of the subject.” Gregory smiled down at me from his towering height and said: “Oh, yes, I remember that evening.” I was astonished, as if myth had just become history, since Whitehead was part of my own high school mythic horizon, as I looked back at the intellectual culture of Europe from the world of gas stations and taco stands in L.A.
Another moment in which myth became history for me through Lindisfarne came when Kathleen Raine and I were discussing Virginia Woolf and Kathleen commented rather casually that she remembered the lecture at Cambridge when Virginia Woolf came and gave her famous talk, “A Room of One’s Own.” Through the older generation of Gregory Bateson, Kathleen Raine, and Nancy Wilson Ross—who had been a student of Kandinsky and Klee at Bauhaus—our efforts at creating an alternative movement reached back into the work of the grandparents. Emily Sellon was on our founding board of directors in 1972, and Emily, along with Fritz Kunz and their Foundation for Integrative Education and its journal, Main Currents in Modern Thought, were responsible for publishing works of a more holistic approach to science of scientists like Adolf Portman in biology and Werner Heisenberg in physics. Main Currentsalso published my very first essays as well as those of Fritjof Capra. So what we see here is a normal generational pattern that sometimes in seeking alternatives to the dominant culture of the generation of the parents, the child goes back to find inspiration in the works of the grandparents. When Owen Barfield came to our Lindisfarne conference in Crestone on the Evolution of Consciousness, I knew that I was linking our work with the work of the “Inklings,” Barfield, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. Tolkien. You see this same generational pattern of inspiration at Esalen in the founding efforts of Michael Murphy, who reached back to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the esoteric philosophy of Gerald Heard and his Trabuco College in Ojai.
What these examples express is a generational dynamic in which ideas get picked up, elaborated, and then played out in a new generational form. Esalen is not the yogic ashram, Lindisfarne is not Esalen, or Bauhaus, or Black Mountain. There isn’t always a strict linear continuity of cultural creativity—as there was between Bauhuas and Black Mountain–and sometimes there is a caesura—a pause or silence in which a new approach comes from a different direction. Jean Gebser died in 1973, and he, along with Adolf Portman used to attend the famous Eranos conferences of C. G. Jung in Ascona in the Ticino. In 1973 I set up Lindisfarne in the Hamptons and had our first conference in the summer of 1974. These alternative forms of cultural expression are not institutional investitures; they are shamanic epiphanies of spirits of time and place. When you go to MIT or ETH, the graduate student works with his or her professor, and then the professor anoints the student and the institution enrobes them, and they go out into society to find places in other MITs and ETHs. This is the cultural process of the production of priests for temples. The shamanic epiphany, however, is much more of a “mind to mind transmission,” not just the mind of a person in an institution, but the immanental Mind of this extended noetic domain.
Examples of this kind of commitment to the tradition of “the pattern that connects” mind to the ecology and one generation to another would be the 1977 Lindisfarne conference “Mind in Nature” in Southampton with the Batesons, David Finkelstein, Francisco Varela, Arthur Young, and the fifteen year old philosopher Evan Thompson. Evan started out as an invisible listener at the end of the table in the dining room at Fishcove as Gregory and Cisco went at it, from one generation to another, with a third generation getting ready to make its move. Evan began as a kid at Fishcove, moved to becoming a student in Varela’s class at Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, then became a research assistant in Paris, and finally a co-author in Toronto.
Another performance of Cisco and Evan’s work together came with the Lindisfarne Fellows conference in Perugia, Italy in the spring of 1988, and was followed by my daughter Hilary’s first talk at the Fellows conference at Esalen in the summer of that year.
Thanks to the efforts of Cisco and Mauro Ceruti, we received an invitation from the very Left wing government of the province of Perugia to bring the Fellows together for a public meeting on a biological basis for design. Now “the missing middle’—Lovelock, Margulis, and Varela– that is not present here for this gathering was very much in attendance at that gathering. Nevertheless, I still think that all their ideas are still present and part of the intellectual history of this gathering. Susan was there, and Arthur as well, and this was the occasion of Evan’s debut and his crossing over from Lindisfarne kid to Lindisfarne colleague as he gave his first public lecture in that beautiful Renaissance Sala di Notari.
Hilary’s crossing over from Lindisfarne kid to colleague came at Esalen in ’88. Hilary spoke on self-organization in Lacan’s famous “Stade du mirroir” lecture in Zurich and related these ideas to those of Varela’s on autonomy and self-organization. Hilary, like Katherine Hayles at UCLA, was trying to create a bridge between literary theory and complex dynamical systems, and Cisco was delighted. The talk was bright and humorous, and to complete the generational process, she read her poem about fathers and daughters, “Thesis, Antithesis, Parenthesis.” The talk and the poem were a display of metaphysical wit, and Cisco, Lovelock, Bob Thurman, Susan Oyama, and Mary Catherine, and I all cracked up. So if I am retiring from the presidency of Lindisfarne with this meeting, it is because I have already passed the torch from one generation to another and can now step back and let all of you carry on in whatever way you deem appropriate.
Part of the cultural phenomenology in which the three independent descriptions of nature through art, science, and religion create a moiré pattern or emergent domain comes from the participation of historical time itself in this performance. This participation is an expression of the kairos, the appropriate season of action. But this word “appropriate” indicates that this kairos is time-bound and time-limited. So there is a larger circularity in which the kairos is situated in a greater cycle, and the ancient Taoists recognized this when they said: “Reversal is the movement of Tao.” So if an artist or prophet has a daimonic sensitivity, one that shifts from the ego in its institutional location to the daimon and the Zeitgeist, then one can feel that the kairos that exalts you in a lifting wave can also leave you stranded as the wave recedes. The difference that makes a difference is time. The interpretation of historical time can exalt you in your twenties but leave you dry in your sixties, especially if you persist in holding on to the same interpretation of history. To be always defined by the Berkeley or Paris of 1968 in 1998 can be sad or tragic, depending upon whether history repeats itself as tragedy or farce. In the enantiodromias of history, the angelic can become demonic. Recall that Faust is warned by Mephistopheles that when he says: Verweile doch, du bist so schőn,” the devil can take his soul. We call this inability to move from one era to another aging, and many prophets have chosen sacrificial death as the only way for their time-bound vision to survive.
So let us consider the historical reversals of all my Lindisfarne examples. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York has now, upon Dean’s Morton’s retirement, become once again a routine-operational Episcopal church. You won’t find any of the books of the Lindisfarne Fellows in the Cathedral bookstore any longer. Bishop Greine has taken a firehose and cleaned out all the traces of our Gaia Politique. And as for Crestone: instead of becoming a meta-industrial village in which nature is scaled up and technology is miniaturized, Crestone has become a community shaped by cars, pickup trucks, roads and parking lots for all the New Age religious centers. You can have a meta-industrial village in Europe, and indeed some do exist in Denmark and Sweden, because in Europe you have trains and streetcars and a commitment to community. But in the rugged individualist culture of the American West, it is extremely difficult to create a meta-industrial village because people would rather have personal cars than public transport; they would rather have rifles instead of police, and isolated ranches instead of “big government.” Nevertheless, Crestone works well for monasteries and lay retreat centers, but the cost of bringing people there makes it costly to run as a conference center.
As for the environmentalism of the seventies and eighties, even Maurice Strong has admitted publicly “The spirit of the Rio Summit has died.”
Even that spirit was much more corporate liberal and technocratic than the Gaia Politique articulated at the Lindisfarne Fellows meeting in Crestone in 1982. And as for the Lindisfarne Fellows meeting in Perugia in 1988, Italy has not gone Green, but has swung to the Right in the hope of meeting the German Bundesbank’s demands for the three percent deficit limit for the adoption of the new currency of the Euro. And if we look around academe today, we will not see in the humanities any trace of the alternative movement of the last twenty-five years. Our Fellow David Orr’s Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College is the shining example of an exception to the general trend. Because many of us, like John Todd, myself, and David Orr left academe in the seventies, academe returned the favor and got on with its life after divorce. It went directly from the Foucault of the sixties to the Derrida, De Man, and Gayatri Spivak of the seventies, to Hoomi Bhabha and Stephen Greenblat of the nineties. Rather than exploring contemplative spirituality, academe immersed itself in a postmodern nihilism and a new kind of Marxist materialism in subaltern studies, the New Historicism, and Queer Studies. Unfortunately, the Gay and Lesbian caucuses on most campuses were not culturally innovative, but quite conservative in wishing to gain rights and acceptance in the military, organized religion, and traditional marriage. So they simply affirmed the role and idea of the military officer, the priest, and traditional marriage and parenting. It was, ironically, Hollywood that picked up on New Age spirituality and a chic form of movie star Buddhism led by Richard Greer. In many popular films, reincarnation and life in bardo became acceptable subjects for pop culture presentations. So now we have a very American configuration in which a tight, close-minded and anaerobic academe is at one pole, and a very loose andkitschig new age subculture is at the other.
To appreciate the reality of this new kairos, consider the triple circularity of religion, science, and art as the Zeitgeist rearticulates itself into fundamentalism in religion, commodity gimmickry in art, and eliminativism in science. In the sixties, Michael Murphy and I were both committed to the vision of a post-religious spirituality as prophetically announced by Sri Aurobindo.
But now with the withdrawal of the Liberal-Welfare state in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, and Germany, the social safety net set in place during the Depression is being removed. We now live in a Bill Gates “Winners Only!” society in which the stock market goes off the charts, and our prisons begin to swell with the highest proportion of our population behind bars that we have ever had in our history. As the state withdraws, government turns to religions and says: “You take care of them.” So the exercise of compassion and caring for the losers in a Winners Only society will have to come from religions, just as the decline of good public schools will also energize a return to parochial schools and fundamentalist homeschooling.
So the experimental communities of the seventies, in all their variety–Auroville, Findhorn, Lindisfarne in Southampton, The Farm, Arcosanti, Lama Foundation, Green Gulch—will become reservations for failures and dropouts from the dominant society. In a culture of dot.com wealth, they will become reservations for individual consciousness and not electronic Artificial Intelligence. What this means is that religious orders will return to succor the suckers, to care for the losers, and the postreligious spirituality of Einstein and Aurobindo will have to wait for a later era.
If we turn our attention from religion to art, we can see that rather than art becoming shamanic, after the mode of Jerzy Grotowski or Andy Goldsworthy, shamanism itself has become a consumer product in the work of people like Lynne Andrews. Depak Chopra has become a millionaire from the sale of his videos, and spiritual ashrams have become wellness spas, and Crestone itself runs the risk of becoming a theme park of the world religions.
When we turn our gaze to science and technology, we can see that the Internet has become an externalization and simulacrum of the Astral Plane. Everything in there is now out there. In shifting his allegiance from anarchic Apple to corporate IBM, Bill Gates in the eighties paved the way for this new baroque era of wealth. The counterculture has shifted from being avant garde to becoming apologists for MIT’s Media Lab. Think of Wired Magazine with its erotization of technology through drugs. The new counterfoil institutions are not really counter as much as charismatic embodiments of the new kairos. They are not the Farm or Lama Foundation with their cultural quotations of bib and tucker rural poverty, but grand baronial estates produced by the new culture of wealth—institutes like the Santa Fe Institute, this Fetzer Institute, or the new Ross Institute.
Now it is very important to realize that each formation has its own structure of light and shadow. The counterfoil institutes as outlined by Ivan Illich in the sixties may have had an ethos of “voluntary simplicity” but they suffered from—in the immortal words of our own Joan Halifax—volunteerany. The unpaid or underpaid volunteer demanded psychic investments in the form of the role of the passive aggressive who needed contributions to their feelings of victimization. Often the move to the postindustrial community was really a cultural retrieval of the neolithic community in which matristic culture needed to assert itself through a psychodrama in which the male leader had to die to fructify the fields. So if our cultural experiments had their shadow-formation, these new and more dazzlingly brilliant institutes will also have theirs.
To appreciate this shift from the seventies to the nineties, it is worthwhile recalling the shift from the Renaissance to the Baroque. The Italian Renaissance was an expansion created by a new merchant class at a time when individual labor was valued because so many people had died in the plague of the fourteenth century. The Medici were merchants and not landed aristocrats, but as the new global economy of Europe expanded, and as the charisma of culture shifted from religion to art and science, there was a subsequent reaction in the form of the Catholic Counter Reformation and the Inquisition. The new mercantile economy was reappropriated by the aristocratic class, and the new global economy was reconstructed upon African slavery.2 The accumulation of wealth became theatrically extravagant and architecturally exuberant. The artist shifted from being a visionary pioneer of a new culture to becoming a court painter and psychophant. This too was a culture of “Winners Only!” so it is not surprising now that Bill Gates, possessed by this archetype, is building his own enormous Ducal estate. Appropriately, Microsoft as a company is famous for its sweatshop corporate culture and its suppression of the anarchic and individual creativity that had been characteristic of Silicon Valley in its early start-up era.
If these new global systems continue to develop in a Pacific Shift that weds American corporations to repressive Chinese authoritarian cultural forms, then this new Baroque Era may last as long as the last one, and it will be a while before another 1688 leads to another 1776 and 1789. George Santyana said that “Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.” So whether the media rich will carry on until they are guillotined by the poor will depend upon just how much history the ruling elite has studied.
A consciousness of history, by contrast, can become the occasioning agent for novelty and surprise. The Xerox machine and the Samidzat literature helped melt down the Soviet Union, so perhaps the Internet and the World Wide Web can help meltdown communist China so that Tibet can become as free as Lithuania. Or, perhaps, even our own Hawaii—which was taken over in an American imperial move—may find its own independent Polynesian life.
“May you live in interesting times!” is an ancient Chinese curse. And we do indeed live in interesting times. But rather than becoming bitter to curse the times and lament the passing of the idealism of the sixties and seventies, I think one should let go, bless the new kairos and give its ruling generation space to play out its own contradictions and shadow-formation. Lao Tzu did not try to become a Confucian; he left the empire, and his trace in passing was the Tao Te Ching he brushed on paper at the request of the border guard who would not let him pass beyond the limits of empire without leaving something behind. The gentleman-scholar withdraws from the imperial court in China, and in India, the sanyasin turns over the family business to the next generation and retires to become a yogi. We need these Asian models today in our American Empire.
I opened this talk by referring to Stuart Kauffman’s call to reinvent the sacred in a new global scientific civilization, so let me close these remarks by returning to his sense of looking out on a new horizon. If I am right about this new kairos, and not simply getting captured by a metaphor, which is the shadow side of being a writer, then how can one engage with the triple circularity of art, science, and religion under the influence of this new Zeitgeist?
First of all, I think one should not become bitter to curse the young and say that we did it better in our day. We should not lament the age to say: “Where is the movement?”, as if it always had to be the summers of ’67 and ’68. And I think to hold on to power like an aging Yeltsin or Kohl is to become a ghost haunting a body without being able to live in it healthfully. To avoid this sad fate, one needs to let go, give oneself completely away, and to grant to the young the power of their time. This is not a passing of the torch, which is a linear form of investiture that the professor has with his graduate students, but more of a Taoist form of active/inactivity: Wei-Wu-Wei. After all, we know of Lao Tzu not through his actions in the imperial court, but in the brush work of his poems in the Tao Te Ching, and these are the traces of his exit at the periphery and not of his presence at the center. As one lets go of the exterior kairos in historical time, I think there is an interior kairos that appears to take us on a more personal journey that can lead to an enlightened and more spiritual form of conscious yogic death.
As for the culture that remains in external historical time, this new global civilization, I think one should implement an ultraviolet shift in the cognitive domains of science, religion, and art. Here I am thinking of the bee whose vision of color is shifted into the ultraviolet end of the spectrum and can see stripes on flowers that normal humans cannot see. Since fundamentalist religion won’t go away easily, and since Science is the real Church of our Technological Society, I think it might serve if scientists became more religious, in the sense of connecting the part to the whole—re-ligare. Just as new religious orders arose in the middle ages, new religious orders of compassionate practice within the global polity might arise to address themselves to hideous wrongs. We already have examples of this in the Fetzer Institute’s commitment to holistic medicine, or in John Todd’s strategies for remediation of environmental pollution, or in Sim Van der Ryn’s ecological designs for healthy environments. If the scientists can shift into the ultraviolet spectrum to become more religious, I think it might serve if the religionists became more artistic. The true religion of the West is not the Church and its clergy, but art: literature, music, architecture, and painting. Where dogma can constrain or persecute, art can celebrate and liberate. As an ex-Catholic, I would rather listen to Bach’s B Minor Mass than go to mass.
If in Stuart’s new global civilization, scientists become more religious, and religionists become more artistic, then I think it only fitting that artists become more scientific. Art can seek to integrate what we know from science with new states of cognitive bliss in affirmations of being. My own effort in this direction over the years has been to explore this area in the form of Wissenskunst.
If there is a shifting toward the ultraviolet of the cognitive domains of art, science, and religion—instead of toward the infrared of religious fundamentalism, scientific eliminativism, and the corporate hypercapitalism of Time Warner and Microsoft—then I hope that no new elite will come forth to capture the reinvention of the sacred for the new global civilization. I hope the domains remain biomes in a global ecology and do not become ruling institutions in a new global ideology for a global elite managing world civilization in a Darwinian “Survival of the Wisest.” In keeping with Stuart’s appreciation of life carrying on at the edge of chaos, and not becoming captured either by excessive crystalization or excessive dissipation, I hope that we never completely settle down into a homey and suburban universe.
1Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
2 Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800(London: Verso Books, 1997).
William Irwin Thompson (born July, 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. He describes his writing and speaking style as “mind-jazz on ancient texts”. He is an astute reader of science, social science, history, and literature. He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
His book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems was published in 2009 by Wild River Books. Order a copy from Amazon.
Works by William Irwin Thompson
Memoir – Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
Memoir – Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne: 1972
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part I
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island
Memoir – Building a Dream – Part One: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – My Dinner with Andre Gregory: Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, 1977-1979
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Shadow Side Part Two: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Cathedral Part Three: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Conclusion: The Economic Relevance of Lindisfarne
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary: Reflections of a Homeschooling Parent
Memoir – Sex and the Commune
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary
Memoir – With Gregory Bateson’s Mind in Nature
After Heart Surgery: Hokusai’s Great Wave
A Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
On Reading “The Penguin Book of English Verse”: on my iPad and Exercise Bike
Wild River Books/Poetry – Nightwatch and Dayshift: Cezanne
Anatolian Days and Nights and the Cultural Evolution of Spirituality
And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
Avatar – When Technology Displaces Culture
Bedtime Story for a Civilization
The Big Picture: Reflections on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The Big Picture, II
Child Abuse and the Catholic Church
The Digital Economy of W. Brian Arthur
From Shamanism to Religion, Part Two
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality, Part Three
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality: Conclusion
January 1, 2011: Reflections on the Philosophical Notions of Republicans
January 6, 2011 – Part Two: The Etherealization of Capitalism
Nature and Invisible Environments
Of Culture and the Nature of Extinction
On Nuclear Power
On Religion – Part One
On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel, and Palestine
On Transnational Military Interventions
A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Part 1 – The Shift from Industrial to a Planetary Civilization
Part 2 – The Shift from an Industrial to Planetary Civilization
Part 3 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The Recovery of a Cosmic Orientation
Part 4 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – The Global War for Drugs
Part 5 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The New Jerusalem
Part 6 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Catastrophes as the Spur to Institute Tricameral Legislature
Part 7 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Complex Dynamical Systems and Tricameral Legislatures
Part 8 – The Shift from a Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Israel and Palestine: Sic transit gloria mundi
Part 9 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – On Sarah Palin and the Technocratic Society
Part 10 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – On Conspiracy Narratives as Expressive of the Transition from the Nation: State to the Noetic Polity
Part 11 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Global Awareness and Personal Identity
Part 12 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Conclusion: The United Nations
Political Meditation for the Fourth of July, 2011: Can We Shift from Empire Back to Republic?
St. David’s Day, 2011, Technology and Social Change
Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010: Us and Them: Identity and the State
Some Reflections on Hurricane Sandy and an Outline for a New Civilization
Technical Hubris: and the Sinkhole of Obama’s Centrism
Television and Social Class
Thanksgiving Day, 2010: The Uses and Abuses of History
The Elections of 2010
Thoughts on My new Kindle App: on My Mac iPad