Category Archives: Raving from the Integral Province

Out on the Road Like a Snake

I think it was four years ago, or more like five and I crawled out of bed at 4:30 a.m. in an interstate motel just outside of Laramie WY, USA and drove over to my favorite greasy spoon truck stop in all of the world and worked out on their breakfast buffet with a pot of uncommonly good and strong cafe coffee and watched truckers shoveling down gravy ladened hash browns and scrambled eggs and rashers of bacon so thick they could barely hold them in their greasy fists, like ocean going mooring ropes, and slabs of ham and there were two men in a booth and they were middle-aged obese identical twin truck drivers in faded identical bib overalls and that was when I realized I was not in the Iron Skillet Cafe any more, but in a Neo-Felini movie set and so I dropped money on the counter and hurried out into the early morning rain.

I pulled out wet onto Interstate 80 west bound and I could feel the energy I had sweated out along this route about 40 years before when we were putting it all together and I recalled as I drove over the scene the late morning when I almost crawled on my hands and knees to the foreman’s pickup because tick fever had just come down of a sudden upon me and I could barely stand let alone work and how I once got fired down this long stretch a ways because I had overslept with my lover one too many times.

As I once wrote somewhere sometime before, I will never tire of turning a machine in the direction of my goal for the day and settling down in the determination to get there a lot sooner than the law would like me to behave. This was a fine rental and I was headed for the center of the state and so I set cruise one mph short of 90 and wistfully recalled once when on I-80 in a borrowed Thunderbird I set cruise on 98 and kicked back to watch that fine high plains scenery whiz past, but those liberties too have passed with the cost of the fuel.

And once out of port and sliding through the rain like a snake, I toggled the satellite feed radio and the previous renter had the dial set on The 80s At 8 which was appropriate for the location I thought and this was what first fell out of heaven early that morning and like the long late dear friend Richard Collier once confided in me, “If it doesn’t fall from heaven, fuck it.”

 

 


Some Do, Some Don’t: a book review in four brian-doyle-esque sentences

The iron law of sociology says there are always two kinds of people…some who do and some who don’t. There are some who like to subordinate their minds to the words of someone else who is doing the writing that they read for they wish their minds to be pegged down to the field of a conceptual ground by silken threads clove-hitched to Lilliputian toothpick, tent peg, words and thus be secured and thereby safely nourished and the more tiny-word tent pegs and silken hawsers the snugglier the wrap of this ecstatic surrender to the generous and comfortable firmament of literature led to that abdication by being seeming necessitous for–I believe, though I have no proof–a vicarious experience even if it is second or third hand; they come to the text to acquire a little filament of contingency beyond themselves, while over there on the far other end of the spectrum there are those (probably visual thinkers, if they ever take the trouble to think at all) who will not be instructed as what to think or see or feel or taste or smell or suspect (intuit) and there might even be some who refuse to believe anything they read or hear because maybe they have been around the block six or seven decades and know that within the space between these polarities there hangs some words, in this case the words of two novels about the sea and some people who putter around on its surface.

I just finished reading this sea story, a novel called The Plover by Brian Doyle who from Portland University sends incalculable bundles of Lilliput tent word pegs out to his waiting, apparently appreciative fan base, while coincidentally from the opposite hemisphere I recently reread a sea story from the other end of the spectrum called Far Tortuga by one of Doyle’s brethren nature writers, the late Peter Mathhiesson, and I want to take a look at that work because there is this thing called economy that in sculpture  is called negative space or all the stuff that Henry Moore took out of the  rocks or in painting all of the stuff that Andrew Wyeth left out of his scenes into which the peg-shy mind could pour creativity and imagery and memories of sensation and relationship, thus the visualization is that The Plover is to Bosh’s Christ in Limbo to what Far Tortuga is to Wyeth’s On Her Knees 1973, illustrations that Doyle does and Mathiesson doesn’t because Mathhiesson opens for his readers a sea-wide door into a Barthian “Death of the Author” experience while it appears that Doyle resists and insists on taking control and hewing dense experiences for his readers like a Victorian modernist although he also continues to lard his texts with mind-withering lists like any formidable postmodernist.

It is no doubt unfair and unwise for one who appreciates a Don’t novel to do a critique of a Do novel because there is probably a genetic and fundamentally unbridgeable predisposition by readers toward one or the other, like predispositions toward closure or open ends, so in all fairness I write that while I have a void of empathic accordance with any element in The Plover, correlativeley I found nothing there that was offensive or questionable or irritating and one has to assume that every word was crafted for a gracious muse and was consciously laid down and read aloud to a kind but critical ear to make sure it did not sound to another out of place, discordant, irrelevant, repetitive, pretentious, or silly or stupid when it entered the world as a sound, a palpable flow of entropic force, rather than just a tent peg particle of a concept because all (I believe) works of words should be written to be read aloud, but therein lies the fault of Far Tortuga because it is shaped around too many long silent negative spaces, still I cannot fault Far Tortuga for the fact that it also does not have any winsome crippled kid tropes and winsome crippled kid guardian angels who are actually magically real talking bird tropes left over from the last effort, or any pages of irrelevant to the plot asides that are essentially fragments of essays made sadly superficial by their own fragmentation and it did not have a Hollywood ending but on the positive aspects Far Tortuga has a well focused artistic purpose which I believe was to miniaturize Moby Dick in size, style, theme, characterization, metaphor, global span and a few other non-reducible elements–it could well have started out with ‘Call me Speedy, mon’–for which I will give it five stars for effort and ingenuity and classic artistic discipline and for being one of the most evocative novels I ever read for all the words that Mathhiesson left out.

 


The Diary of the Aimless Drifter

Rivers and Roads

Falling Rocks Part II

TOGWOTEE

 Thunder off this pass. The Drifter’s going either way, it’s all the same

the same falling off  to the Yellowstone, falling to Saltry Bay.

west to Saletry Bay

Or east to the Big Wind River.

Two Lovers ride the Aimless Drifter

Thunder up the Sunshine Sea     always flee to Denver.

West

Out of dark in a cowboy diner, the flying ice,

Race that ice down two-name river,

Out to the sweet rich, fat and lazy plain,

Left after lunch in Lovel, left then again at Laural,

Spin out there into the Eye

Race that ice down a road that’s called Eye 90

Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson

Missouri’s river’s history

It’s all way back behind that hill

Its way back there and wrapped in ice

Ice race

it is lost          it is finally lost

There’s a town with a hole in its heart

that up-side-down town

That place that they call Butte

An interstate bed, rib joint, bitter fine India ale,

A snowball fight and a tangled loving interstate bed.

The Drifter’s dug out in the morning.

Lovers always have lunch in Missoula.

The Spokane, that sweet home there      Spokane

And snow on snow on snow rut streets,

Drifter clearance.

Lovers thunder west in The Drifter.

Moses Lake for heaven’s sake.

The Yakima at Ellensburg

there ducklings learn to swim.

Snoqualmie Pass in a blizzard.

Countless rivers, short wide low down Cascade rivers,

Imagine the list from that Pass to three-fork Fraser

The Capilino

A tangled, candy bar Capilino bed

transCanada bed there beside the Capilino.

Horseshoe Bay, a diesel bridge, the road to Roberts Creek.

And eight months loving on Davis Bay

just past Roberts Creek.

Twelve minutes out from Earl’s Cove the world is all reborn

Twelve Minutes up from Saltery Bay the world is the world again.

The Drifter goes north no more.

TOGWOTEE

 Thunder off this pass. The Drifter’s going either way, it’s all the same

the same falling off  to the Yellowstone, falling to Saletry Bay.

west to Saltery Bay

Or east to the Big Wind River.

Two Lovers ride the Aimless Drifter

Thunder up the Sunshine Sea     always flee to Denver.

East

 A flight through old homes down past the Popo Aggie,

Middle and Little and then the Big flow down from the Winds

the incomparable Winds

And the sweet Sweetwater in its ruinous winds, tear apart winds,

split rock winds,

the up-end rocks in the up-end winds

and the dead dry Separations.

The North Platt, the Medicine Bow

that blood line whiskey from the Medicine Bow,

The Laramie and the Poudre, the Cashe La Poudre,

and above the Big Thompson…

A cousin camp, tangled loving above Loveland

always fleeing to Denver

And an airport bed, a rib joint, bitter fine India ale.

An airport bed, tangled bed, terror and solace, lovers fleeing

toward home.

And there it is to your lover’s left,

The grand blue mustang

raging mustang

the over-run mustang

The horse who killed Jimenez.

The Illuminati white cap space port big top

Shades of Larsson jingle ghost change,

Tin cups sound over breakfast burritos.

Its red or green and all of it is under the Illuminati

great fine splendor

The Illuminati great fine big top white-capped over-run blue big

red-eye killer Mustang.

(Atlanta)

Then Home.


This is the Nocturne

I have written few poems of late. 
Falling Rocks was the latest and this came awhile before. 
Both are for my Lady.

This is the nocturne, the kiss good night, 
the snuggle, the sigh, 
the whisper, Gracias mi diosa, 
this is the nuzzle against the still damp neck, 
the caress along the flank 
caress of hip, 
this is the wiggle off the wet spot. 
the whisper, Gracias mi diosa 
this is the endless inhalation, 
a woman's scent, this is a waning moon, 
the breast within the palm, 
a hand held hand 
This is the whisper, 
Tighter. 
This is the nocturne, the kiss good night, 
the sigh, the scent of hair 
the tangled hair. 
This is the tangle and 
the tangle of the legs and 
the hand that slips behind the back, 
below the hips, 
the gentle squeeze 
this is the inhalation, 
this is the giggle, 
this is the I love you 
said twice at once and said again. 
this is the whispered thank you 
this is the sheet pulled shoulder high 
the almost unheard murmur 
this is a whispered kiss along the spine, 
a kiss, a bite to the hand held hand 
and the breast again against the palm 
the sigh, the inhalation. 
This is the nocturne, the kiss good night. 

Falling Rocks

(Picaro for Picara)
The land drops off from dullard hills
to fall beside that well-walled hole to
make breaths short  next drops again
to flaming gorge across the green where
no one hears us when we speak for all those
drops so no one cares nor can
they see that point of road where we have
crossed and made no sound that we’re
about with our no cares save only
that of  knowing

we are on the road   Picara    we
are on the road.

This boat from Mitilini hits
Chios far too late at night but still
disgorges all those trucks flying
back past Agamemnon who
dances through brash MS dance while
Lesvos lady  Macedonian lass  dreams
forward of Agamemnon’s flinch   his
shrugs    the pirouette    his wish to
die truck-crushed upon a Chios wharf
but Lesvos lady  and I too  care
not for dying in sight of Chios

Macedonian lass   you Picara   we
stay out to sea.

That snow flying low across the road so the
kid she says its like Kuwait save trading
snow for sand where desolation’s all
the same with pump jacks sucking
oil above to barren wind blown
grounds where both of us have once called
home as much as any other place we’ve
known so this road hides beneath the
snow

but you know Lady    Picara    we
are on the road.

Halikas of the falling rocks and lookout for
those pirates   and Halikas Papa where’s the
house that binds the Lesvos lady here on
rocks that watch the strait   beyond the
strait to spy those bones of Hector but down
in Malyvos from falling rocks   in Malyvos at
night where girls descend to sailers below
the rooms of Yannis and the Niki we fall

like falling rocks she knows   this Picara    we
always ride on falling rocks.
Sechelt  12/2010


Flow: Upright in the Vessel

There is a phase of consciousness that is called Flow and every real mystic probably knows it well. It is the basis for my own idiosyncratic sense of mysticism, the sense of wholeness, integrity and integration and a corresponding sense of liberty. The last two paragraphs of the previous post are significant in the matter. Circumstances today reminded me of a short essay I wrote for a forum four years ago that needed a little update and a slightly different application. So I am posting it to Integral Liberties sort of as a node of awareness from which I can circle around. The following is the essentials of that essay.

I first encountered the Flow when I was 15 or 16 in a non-sexual spontaneous coming of age situation. I believe it was Loren Eiseley who once wrote that in a rite of passage, whether ritualized or not, “the boy becomes a man and the man sees god,” which would have been true if I had been habituated to myth. I was not, but nonetheless, the world changed in every way that could be perceived, and it has continued to do so with every subsequent experience. The texture of the air changes, as does the color of it all as well as the weight and dimensions of my body, the nature of sound and the velocity of time. And everything moves together with such precision that if I could distinguish any seams in the environment they were totally without significance. Those are just a fraction of the effects. Energy rises from just below the hips, firing up through the guts in surprisingly cool but dense flames that stretch the body, explode in the chest and free the lungs of all constriction so the next breath has infinite capacity. And those are just a fraction…

This is the place from where a shaman finds the shaman’s song. All of the current writers observing the shaman like to quote c interviews with Aua, the Eskimo Shaman. All of these shamanic overview authors pay Aua homage and weigh in with his story of how he learned his song. He seemed to have been in some sort of extremis one day when he saw a little shore bird called an aua, whereupon the man fell into an ecstatic rapture and spontaneously composed his power song. I could, as they say, relate to that.

Years ago as a teenage hobo I was hitchhiking west after visiting a friend on the Rosebud Rez in South Dakota. The scene was a backwater crossroads in the middle of northern Nebraska, in the middle of October, in the middle of the afternoon when the heat was unseasonable but had no sharp summer edges and it eased the time by as if it were wide and deep. It was a recently harvested landscape with stubbled ocher horizon hills and yellow cottonwoods mid-distance. There I pulled myself up into the cab of an 18–wheeler and settled in. I had just scored a ride almost all the way home. The driver waited for some traffic to pass, dropped in both boxes and bore down on the fuel. The trailer was overloaded so the tractor fell back hard on the rear axles, roared and quaked, hammered against inertia and surged out onto the blacktop. All that power trying to propel all that steel vibrated up from the ground through me and out into the entropic universe and I went into an ecstatic trance. It was not the first time, mystic that I was even then. But it had one memorable feature, for rising with that power came a song that was being composed down around my root chakra. It had no coherent words, but it was full of words that I had never heard before. They sounded through my heart and I let them go just short of my tongue. I had just enough presence of mind to keep them to myself lest I raise some alarm in the driver. That song rolled along with me for 30 or 40 miles and then faded late into the afternoon.

I am a sensualist and I relish living deep in the world because to it I trust my life. When a nondual experience of this kind arises out of an intense earthly situation I trust it is giving me the consciousness of the most profound truth of my body and capacity and the ability to translate it simultaneously into the harmonization of time, place, action and identity. I know I have forgotten any number of these events but I can list a few: working 30 hours straight on a sculpture, losing myself in composing poetry, walking into a badly storm-torn sunset, stalking elk, running D.C. streets at dawn, realizing a guiding life-long truth—age 17–-hitchhiking west out of Flagstaff, sinking in meditation into an state of unconsciousness to everything except all-encompassing bliss, realizing the liberating value of my total insignificance while driving down a highway in southeast Wyoming, waiting for a gunfight, doing shamanic style energy healing that worked, the first time I heard Emmylou Harris sing Racing in the Streets, racing horses, racing cars, driving a much too tiny boat in profoundly bad water when one second finds me in abject terror of a standing wave I can’t see around, I can’t see over because I can see nothing but all that thick brown water and dirty white foam curling back down upon me. But the next second I am assured that I am immortal, that mistakes are impossible. I can read every molecule of water in that wave, time stands still and allows me to do everything I need to do with no effort at all…the world changes and all that happened three paragraphs above happens again.

The other things I trust explicitly are dreams. I have awakened with dream images perfect before my eyes and in full, ecstatic, non-dual awareness. In fact two such dreams and the awareness that arose from them prompted me to spend about five years (part time) trying to create a universal unified field theory not unlike Ken Wilber’s attempts to do so with his AQAL theory. I quit that fool’s errand when I realized with almost absolute certainty that the image I thought I was drawing of the universe was actually the image of my psyche.

I am a sensualist and not a thinker, nor a spiritualistic thinker. I do not hold with anything that has to do with any aspect of what could be called Spirit or The Divine or any of the other 10,000 names. I have no superstitions about these nondual suppositions. But I do have a theory. I am sure it is not unique and doubt if any of these conclusions are new and original and I have no authority on which to base them. But they have everything to do with integral, not the academic metaphysical/spiritual integral theories, but that which is material.

Until my participation on that particular internet forum compelled me to research Wilberismo and correlated tangents I had not read much except poetry for years. When I first heard there was a need for an integral philosophy and Mr. Wilber was slaving away, multi-media, to prove there was such a thing, I had to wonder why. Why develop a theory as to everything being integrated when anyone with half a set of senses and a shred of instinct left on how to use them could know for certain that integral reality is plainly, manifestly, there to be known and navigated? It exists on the leading edge of now when all that is within one’s sphere manifests into perception; when everything including the perceiver cascades into a spherical, dimensionless veil of the senses as a perfectly integrated pattern; an instantaneous, seamless legacy of 13.7 billion years (give or take) of uninterrupted cause/effect-cause. That this pattern is tumultuously dynamic does not change the fact that it has total formational integrity. I will call it manifest non-duality in the sense that the non-dual is not a static state but an emergent event. Like Whitehead said, everything is an event. And even though all the events are seamlessly bound and at once both cause and effect, this does not mean there is anything predetermined or intelligently designed in what I have perceived. (Both of those superstitions, I believe, are artifacts from dualistic thought and the desperate safety seeking of anthropomorphic projection.) There is an accidental and random quality to the patterns like the accidental and random quality of colored shards of glass tumbling past the mirrors and prisms of a kaleidoscope.

When an event cuts one loose from habituated conditioning that lead into a disorienting state, if the instincts for life outweigh the fear of living, the senses and instincts haul the consciousness into a much more complete alignment along the dimensionless front edge of now, manifestation and life. This is the only place I have found that is actual and whole, where integration is so complete that it is no longer of conscious consideration. Then the universe changes because one is no longer drawing back to observe it, but is pegged balanced and upright in one’s tiny, and totally insignificant vessel. That’s integrity.


No Reason to Believe

She obviously was not Fox Mulder, but she did have two posters that read, “I Want to Believe.” The two were scrolled, tubed in cling wrap and tucked side-by-side into her large linen shopping tote. I could not see if they pictured hovering alien spacecraft but I doubt if they did. The background to the declaration of her desire was done in soft, sylvan, ethereal colors. There was nothing glaring, nothing to flaunt membership in a fringy sub-culture or devotion to a passe TV potboiler. There was another line in a language I did not recognize printed in soft gold ink above the English “I Want to Believe.” I figured is was a repetition of the phrase and assumed there were others in a list. Somewhere within the scroll would be the statement in Spanish “Yo Quiero Creer.” That would be the one that best expressed this woman’s wish that, if I had to guess, had nothing to do with chasing UFOs and aliens from far afar. She hardly looked the type—middle-aged, well-off, traveling with her husband in first-class. She joined us in the holding paddock that fronts Gate D40, Miami International, we were bound for Caracas Simon Bolivar. With carry-on items as she possessed, she might have just shown up from the Integral Mall.

I Want to Believe and I Want to Believe. One expression of need for her wall, the other for a friend’s or perhaps the wall of a daughter, or maybe both were gifts. Where the posters would eventually hang was incidental…the point was the woman identified with the desire and I wondered why. Is Belief the place Jeremiah called Gilead? Does its possession promise to heal or soothe? Is it the source of peace or the mint that coins the mantras that out-wear the mind? Or is it the admonition from the slightly mean spirited elder to remind us that in the end there has to be an end to the fun—believe for the sake of your doomed soul, or at least for the comfort of those who worry about it…take your place in the community of believers who are responsible for those who might not. Join the team, believe. “I want to Believe”…does it mean “I haven’t gotten there yet”? Are such posters unconscious (conscious?) pleas for some help in believing? Surely there are coaches in the Mall here who can help; spiritual coaches and therapists and philosophers who can advise one on how to devise a structural template, a conceptual kaleidescope of sorts, through which they can view the world and rest easier knowing they’ve bought tools from stores of their superiors.

Across the frontier from Integral Province, I understand that Daniel Dennet would have said the phrase should read, “I want to attribute agency.” I think that’s a little narrow, there are more needs out there than just that one, and it says more about the structure of his faith and his own necessity to tell the more fascinating story than it does about a sylvan colored, multi-lingual poster, listing phrases for…

The need to believe…

Marianthi posted this comment on one of the blog posts below.

“Steven,
Quoting here one of your ´contexts:

‘I have found in a few rather rare instances people whose autonomy of mind is as well developed as their level of self-awareness. They seem not to have any need for belief. They seem whole in both heart and mind.’

Would you tell me more about this WHOLENESS of heart and mind? Is that the instance when one is not divided against oneself but knows, feels, un hesitantly- but something else as well? Is it total conviction or fullness of instinct or all of the above?”

She has been urging me, with more insistence of late, toward an answer. She deserves the best…

No, it isn’t the instance when one is “not divided against oneself” or not divided against The Other for that matter if we want to take Wholeness into the illusive dominion of Nondualism. Unless one is seriously schizophrenic some internal division is advisable to provide the effective dynamism of consciousness that distinguishes the human psyche from that of a slug. By this I am not suggesting that the behavior of nondual practice should be equated with the behavior of a slug unless in a given situation such an equation is unavoidable. I suspect that possessing a nondual consciousness is not necessarily apart from a psyche possessed of a little internal division—how would one know if they were possessed of nondual awareness unless aware of another kind. I suspect that much because I suspect that nondual consciousness is a psyche-op and if one has the ability, for example, to visualize all sides of a Henry Moore sculpture or one of their own in the making without closing their eyes, one should be able to phase in and out of the nondual op at will whenever it suits the purpose at hand. Nondual is just one aspect of true, multi-faceted Wholeness and one that could illegitimately rub-out all other, often more mutually supportive facets, if it is promoted as a superior therapeutic or spiritualizing operation. Unfortunately nondualism is too often coupled with spirituality, which like the sciences, is reductionistic and ultimately anti-wholeness; thus it contains no reason to believe.

“Is it total conviction…?”

No. Conviction is belief. Somewhere I read a piece by Allan Watts in which he wrote that the original and still reigning significance of “belief” is more like a “fervent preference or hope” and less a profession of faith. I once spent almost an hour trying to follow-up on Watts’s entomology and got as far as learning that he might have been right given enough room for substantial equivocation. However if one pursues the history of “conviction” they will find a word that is actually stronger and more direct in its meaning…so a paraphrase: “They seem not to have any need for conviction.” (I considered at this point making a bad pun with the word “acquittal” but thought slightly better of it.)

“…or the fullness of instinct…”

I like that phrase and the fact that it is present in the question tells me that Marianthi knows a lot more about this Wholeness apprehension than she might be letting on and it makes me wonder if I am not a student in her class. Instincts are not high on the praise list for most folks from a culture with a background in the desert religions. Alternative journalists often make good use of the word if they are not the kind to take themselves too seriously. Human Behavioral Ecologists like it too and they seem to be such delightful subversives that I will gladly give them a plug whether or not they know of what they speak. More respectable civilians, those with spiritual inclinations or at least transcendental leanings prefer however a marginally near miss in the word “intuitive.” Butter would not melt in their mouths…but it appears that I digress.

Fullness of Instinct.

Instinct is informed by experience. This seems fairly obvious on watching the hunting strategy of an old cat…it appears to have what it needs to achieve its ends wu wei; seasoned but unconscious calculations of odds against exertion and factors of distance, terrain and cover, when to stalk, when to pounce, when to just sit back bemused and wash the face. Old cats have no need for beliefs for they have all it takes to live well without them. There is an age when they pass being needy. Marianthi and I have talked of the informing of instinct to make it full.

So how does one know there is no need to believe. “How do you know when,” she asked me last week and hinted she already knew.

It is without doubt when one catches themselves preening a little like an old cat, looking that way at the world, catching the taste of a sense that no matter how long the delicious free falls through the abyss that come the bottom, if it comes, one will land on their feet. Will it hurt? Who knows. But its safe until then.