I accept commissions. I’ll stay on retainer and put as much of this Integral Province to the light as warranted by the time for which you have paid.
I rode in here almost three years ago and still find it a perfectly curious kind of midland. The inhabitants seem to be intelligent though a little bit credulous as if the last straw that drifted close to hand will prove without doubt to be their redemption. And they are earnest, they are nothing if not earnest. Generally they seem to be imbued with a sense of deferential propriety and are dutifully bereft of elegance…kind of like Canadians. Spending time in the midst of Integral Province media is not a lot different than spending time in Calgary. Integral people are perpetually courteous…like Canadians…courteous to the point that if Integral Province had a currency, a medium of exchange, the bills would carry the image of an aged woman who is the queen of another country. I find them quaint in that they put an inordinate amount of their credulous faith in words and even words that are only signifiers of other words. As a result their attention is solidly pegged into their media and they run the risk, blithely it appears, of having their system spiral into insular circularity; something of a congenital vulnerability within the Wholeness Perspective, the viewpoint that is definitely a Provincial given. This habit compounds the peculiarity of their constructed environment.
There have been times when I was willing to dismiss this place and push on, yet I am still poking around in here because Integral Civilians and I share a fascination with this Wholeness Perspective. I first apprehended the possibility at age 16 when, at the simple turning of a phrase by a friend, the world and I spontaneously lost all boundaries and margins and even the 10,000 Things of form and color betrayed their inauthentic natures and composed themselves into The Unity as exceptions proving the rule. From then on I found ways to jump that state at every opportunity and I was thought wise by contemporaries. Several of these events have changed the course of my living. (One such is recounted in a previous post on Integralvisioning entitled Well Log: Integral. which is something of a preface to this one.) And always ecstasy suffused consciousness for hours and at times lingered for weeks. So I continue to linger here, I suppose, to meet the simple challenge of eventually understanding the rules of the game as played by those who are not our kind.
Integral—we need to deal right off with the word. Definitions always have to come up front though when I was a professional writer I never liked to declare them like this but smuggled in my definitions wrapped in a casually passing phrase or two that were, after the fact, in total accord with my conclusions and thus made my seamless case without objections. Customs at the rhetoric frontier never caught me at the dodge and no one was injured by what they didn’t know. It was of negligible consequence either way for I have long believed that 98 per cent of the professional writing that is not show business fiction, i.e. serious journalism and all the academic affluent, is show business nonetheless and reader treated as such for its just desserts. I have recently seen efforts in the Integral media to redefine Integral, so in the spirit of Show me yours/Show you mine I will suspend my values and lay them straight out. I have also recently seen Integral Media articles without any pretensions at all to definitions either as contraband or declared goods. This is a mistake. The illusion that what any given reader in the Province calls “integral” is the same as what any given writer calls “integral” is so flagrant as to invalidate the writer’s claim to good sense from title to appendix. So while I’m in-country, so to speak, I’ll dedicate myself to transparency, seams and all.
Integral—adj: (1)—describing a handmaiden to Wholeness thereby presupposing the existence of the Wholeness that the maiden serves; (2)—a popular description and title for a wide variety of activities, perspectives and theories of a broad range of fervent and affable Change Agents and Care Givers whose commonalities generally consist of a web site within the Integral Mall, plus a desire to make You the better person and Earth the better place, plus a need to sell stuff or wise counsel aptly created to make You…Earth…etc.; (3)—a quasi-monastic religious philosophy under the proprietorship of Ken Wilber apparently structured to tighten up the strata in a corrupted cultural order and thereby further the rational sannyasins of North America into their rightful dominion, to bring about higher education curriculum reform, to evangelize for contemplative practices, and to sell stuff; (4)—a modifier of once viable currency that has been dissipated by change agent over-play into a one-word cliché (a trademarked shibboleth) that can name everything and nothing at all in the same three syllables—one of a type of attractive whore-words that puts out for all theorists and consulting care givers who pitch their line as comprehensive.
The last definition is aimed at highlighting a local cultural difficulty in that different theorists, consultants and adherents are loyal to different predecessors and lineages and this leads to some confusion over which ones to accent and which ones to slight. And almost everyone is too courteous and steeped in the Inclusive Ethic that predominates the Province to start spilling academic blood over the issue. It ends up as an untidy coalition of those writers and their partisans who have just happened to find a good use for a compelling, profitable, highly congruous and thereby ubiquitous, adjective—integral. The Integral Civilians here are experiencing what it must be like to create a unified school of thought based on a word from the same category as “excellent” or “new and improved.” The list of Integral writers are standard issue within the Provincial media: Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser, Wilber, Ervin Lazlow and minor others. I’ll mention lest anyone forget that early Taoist adepts of Spiritual Alchemy were using characters to describe the process of becoming one with Tao that have been translated into the English “integral,” “integrating,” etc. And the late French social critic, Jean Baudrillard, used the phrase “Integral Man” to describe the coming media-minted generation of the less than admirable type of humanity that strongly correlates to F. Nietzsche’s Last Man. Gebser and Wilber posit related Integral modes-of-being categories, Integral Man a la Gebser, a la Wilber; however their integrally structured generations are lofty and evolved. I have no idea if Baudrillard had the Gebser/Wilber theoretical categories in mind when conceptualizing his anti-Mensch. If he relied for context on contemporary probabilities rather than developmental metaphysics then there could be some sense that he did.(Footnote re: Sri Aurobindo—I have never been able to relate well to Sri Aurobindo except that he was profoundly overtaken by The Spirit while in prison and on trial for his life. This is a fairly common syndrome as indicated in this post called “Relating to Aurobindo…”
Production Note: To avoid castigation of writing simple phenomenology I will add as needed vignettes on the influences out of which this report issues…my various contexts and perspectives. (I have noticed this is an imperative for contributors to the forum at Integral Journal, a site that brings to mind fastidious attention and sensible shoes.) I will set these anecdotes off with sub-headings.
Context:My Contemporary, Fred
A teacher in whose classroom I long ago occupied space suggested once that I was born 100 years too late; a miscalculation that if it had been promptly corrected would have made me about four months older than Nietzsche. Having been in my own overdue time one who can see value in the nihilistic glance, I can imagine looking out over the world I would have shared with him and acknowledging the possibilities for the death of God, the end of philosophy, the dissolution of the truth illusion along with the vane fiction of subjective autonomy…all to be replaced with the advent of the Ubermensch. If all of those cultural features were not in their turn either extinguished or made manifest by 1900 they should have been by now. But they are not here…
Indeed, the developments tend toward the contrary. The dream of the Ubermensch has decomposed into a kind of cheesy construction one can find in an American junior college creative writing portfolio. Thus Spake… now reads more or less along those easily imagined lines. I don’t know if the culture is poorer for this expiration, but it appears however that Western Civ. is neither richer nor further impoverished for the continued presence of the Last Man, or more precisely the sequential gradations of grandchildren who are milling in globalized herds toward initiation into Baudrillard’s Integral Manhood.I must recognize that they keep entire sub-economies alive and simultaneously make broad and promiscuous cultural contributions through their consumption of seemingly endless and transfusing media accretions, the pages, electrons, beams and waves of which incubate the zygotes of a teaming lot of prospective gods—for god is far from dead. Among these godletts for the grandkids there must be one specifically bred for the Integrated psyche of the rational sannyasins and their envisaged movement. According to my intel, an almighty for the mediated sensibility within the integral context will be one more likely to salvage the soul of Sri Aurobindo’s superman rather than Nietzsche’s. I have only read once Aurobindo’s 1915 specs for his superman and from that I concluded that his was to the Nietzschean prototype (paralleled to a more compelling literary vernacular) what Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha is to Nikos Kazantzakis’s Odysseus. (If there were one of those exclusionary choices: either Aurobindo and Nietzsche or Hesse and Kazantzakis, I’d opt to be cast-away with the latter two. Of the three literary genres considered here theirs’ run on fewer rules and put out more value per volume.) But, if the paragons of those four litterateurs were to incarnate today they would find the world, as is, not the world they were conceived to rise above. The grandkids and the media would have the better of them. The horizontal lines of words, juiced electrons and impregnated waves convey all one needs to get along and conjure all the maps-not-maps one needs to struggle through from one well-lit structure to the next. The four paragons are not among us; they were already vestigial as soon as they hit the page…but then, so aren’t we all.
Coming Next: Rudy’s Direct Transmission