MEA Conference: Media Ecology as Remediation

Next Thursday, June 18th, I have the honor of presenting a paper at the Media Ecology Association’s annual conference. This year the theme is “Communication Choices and Challenges,” and my paper is entitled: “Media Ecology as Remediation: Marshall McLuhan and Jean Gebser in Dialogue”.

My abstract is shared below:

In this essay, I draw from the work of Swiss phenomenologist of consciousness Jean Gebser, and his magnum opus of cultural phenomenology, The Ever-Present Origin (1949) to reflect on some of the more enigmatic insights that Marshall McLuhan provided us with on the characteristics of electronic culture. Although there is little historical evidence that Gebser and McLuhan corresponded directly with one another, Gebser’s publication of Ever-Present Origin anticipates McLuhan’s emphasis on considering the media as environment. It also highlights potential comparisons between McLuhan’s electronic culture and Gebser’s integral-aperspectivity (see Ever-Present Origin, by Jean Gebser, xxix). Like McLuhan, Gebser posited a series of cultural transformations across human history. Gebser’s structures of consciousness, William Irwin Thompson writes, are “isomorphic to McLuhan’s,” and that, “like McLuhan, Gebser holds out a visionary possibility for a transformation of consciousness” (see Coming into Being by William Irwin Thompson, 14). In addressing the question of “Communication Choices and Challenges,” our era of hyper-mediated communication technologies presents us with the Herculean task of overcoming the fragmented culture wars, the so-called “post-truth” world, and ecological devastation. I will explore how our media ecologies might work to engender a form of remedial electronic culture that McLuhan suggests is “the means of living simultaneously in all cultural modes while quite conscious” (see The Gutenberg Galaxy, by Marshall McLuhan, 75), or as Gebser describes as: “a consciousness of man’s distant past and his approaching future as a living present” (Ever-Present Origin by Jean Gebser, 6).

If you’d like an early look at the paper, I’m publishing it to Patreon next week as we kick off the Teilhard book club (incidentally, McLuhan was deeply influenced by Teilhard’s cosmological vision). Become a patron here, and thank you.

Entangled Myths for Planetary Flourishing, ft. Gordon White

In this episode, I was joined by Gordon White, host of Rune Soup podcast, a show about magic, culture and the paranormal. Gordon is the author of The Chaos Protocols, Star.Ships, and Pieces of Eight: Chaos Magic Essays and Enchantment.

Note: This episode was recorded before the new year, in December 2019. A “pre-COVID-19 tape” if you will. If you listen until the end, however, you’ll notice some oddly prescient comments about health and wellbeing in 2020.

I begin my discussion with Gordon exploring the historical rise of communities of magical practice during a time of planetary crisis, and naturally, we roll into a discussion on imagination and storytelling.

What are the kinds of stories – the planetary myths –  we need to be tuning into right now, in the epoch of the Anthropocene/Chthulucene?

Gordon talks about how to be “a pacifist in a living universe,” and living artistically through a “non-tyrannical way of being in the world.” Authors like Ursula K. Le Guin and her Taoist-anarchic heroes (Georg Orr as depicted in The Lathe of Heaven, or Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea), or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sam and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, can teach us something about living this way.

Gordon was an absolute delight to speak to – and there’s much more in the conversation. Thanks for tuning in.

More show notes:

#11. The Meta-Crisis and Transitioning to a “Steady State” Civilization – Q&A [Friday Solo Show]

Mutations truly go on! As we wade further into the murky complexities of the meta-crisis, I bring you an update from COVID-19 quarantine. This is a recording from 4/2/20. Part riff, part Q&A discussion with viewers as we explore how to navigate the “meta-crisis,” including helpful ways of looking the current world state and navigating to (latent), more beautiful futures. Themes of liminality, metaxis (“betweenness”), and integral ontology come into the picture right now, as we collectively attempt to find our way to a new mode of sensemaking and culture building that is more akin to Teilhard de Chardin’s planetization, or Jean Gebser’s integral aperspectivity. Do tune in. This one definitely felt like climbing on a pulpit. 

PS: There’s now a backlog of interviews, some recorded before the COVID-19 epidemic–from another era! But they are coming. Thanks, listener, for your gracious patience.

10. Talking Owen Barfield and the Evolution of Christianity with Mark Vernon

An episode for the Epiphany.

I spoke with author, philosopher, and psychotherapist Mark Vernon about his 2019 book: A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling, and the Evolution of Consciousness.

You may have already listened on Mark’s YouTube channel. Great, but also be sure to tune in below for a new introduction.

Mark has a PhD in ancient philosophy, with two other degrees in physics and theology. What brought us together was a mutual interest in the evolution of consciousness; Mark, by way of the Oxford Inkling Owen Barfield, and myself by way of the Swiss cultural philosopher and poet Jean Gebser. Mark read my book and I read his. We agreed that we simply needed to have a chat.

To my knowledge, Gebser and Barfield never actually talked with one another in life, even though their ideas find many significant convergences; the theme of participation, for instance, plays a prominent role in both of their works.

Mark’s A Secret History of Christianity is also a history of religion, which is to say the history of consciousness. His documentation of pivotal transformations in the evolution of religion were highly illustrative.

Take Pneuma, for example:

“Consider the words “wind” and “spirit.” It turns out that in ancient Greek, as in many other old languages, there is a single word that means both “wind” and “spirit.” It’s pneuma in Greek and it’s a relic from previous times. It’s a linguistic fossil from the undifferentiated consciousness of original participation because back then, the material world mingled with the immaterial; outer with the inner; mortal with the immortal; wind with spirit. One word captured what we now think of as two distinct things. It’s why, today, verses like John 3:8, “the pneuma blows where it wishes,” are almost impossible to translate.”

Passages like this one highlight an important recognition that some of the most fundamental assumptions about how human beings encounter, inhabit, and experience the world can undergo creative transformation. This realization, alone, underscores a view of history where the ground itself shifts from time to time. These insights also dovetail quite a bit with what I generally describe as an “integral etymology” equally present in Gebser’s work.

Barfield, by way of Mark’s compelling writing, provides us not only with a history of our consciousness but some important words about its future. Anyone seriously interested in the meaning crisis (via John Vervaeke), or the evolution of religion (like Ken Wilber’s The Religion of Tomorrow) is strongly encouraged to pick this book up.

(For a direct reading of Barfield I recommend starting with Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry).

I mentioned earlier this year in the episode with Dr Becca Tarnas that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth cosmology also has interesting synergy some of Gebser’s ideas, particularly how the consciousness structures unfold (a series of gains and losses as we move further “away” from spiritual origin in time and becoming).

We need a general “The Inklings and the Evolution of Consciousness ft. J. Gebser Remix” episode. Roundtable scholarly nerd-out imminent. Mark, Becca, and I are talking about making it happen. Stay tuned.

Show notes

Mark’s homepage

Featured artwork: The Adoration of the Magi by Edward Burne-Jones

Talking Temporics, Gebser on Integral Life

A little synchronicity happened to me the other day. Corey W. Devos, of Integral Life, posted about a livestream happening at the top of the hour.

The subject matter was concerning time, featuring Dr. Keith Witt, and so being something of a Gebserian (wink-nod), of course my interest was peaked. I joined the Zoom call.

It was after 5 p.m. here on the gulf, so I thought sure, why not, my wife and I have time before dinner.

Continue reading “Talking Temporics, Gebser on Integral Life”

New Course: Integral Consciousness and The Ever-Present Origin

Dear friends,

I’m pleased to (finally) announce the launch of my 2020 integral course on Nura: Seeing Through the World: Integral Consciousness and The Ever-Present Origin.

Enrollment is open. We begin on Sunday, February 22, 2020.

There are 10 pre-recorded modules, and 9 live, interactive sessions featuring guest lectures.

Our first announced guest lecturer is philosopher Gary Lachman.

Unlike last year, we won’t be going straight through Ever-Present Origin. No more cover-to-cover. Instead, I’ve selected a few choice chapters to deep dive with you.

Each module covers the major themes of Jean Gebser’s magnum opus, emphasizing their import to the “meaning crisis” of our present day.

In tandem with guest lecturers, I will be introducing practice modalities to explore concretizing, and embodying integral consciousness in our daily lives. This is what I get asked for most of all. I’m especially excited to learn from how it comes together for us in the cohort.

I also have the added benefit of my first book, STTW, as a reader’s companion.

How it works: We’ll meet on Zoom bi-weekly through Winter and Spring, log on to a Class Portal page (where all the pre-recorded modules and Zoom recordings are) and a Class Forum page (where all the discussions live).

I send you a reminder email shortly before and after each live session, with the next module assigned.

I will also offer “Office Hours” to the schedule, for those who want an extra Zoom session exploring the reading and practices.

Gebser’s principle of “diaphany,” as an experience of spiritual “epiphany” of integral consciousness, will be emphasized this year.

It is both a delight and an honor to drink deeply from the waters of Gebser’s wisdom, and to take time at the outset of this decade considering an integral reality together.

It is the highlight of my year to be able to offer this as an annual event.

Registration Questions: If you’d like to take the course, but need a hardship or student rate, don’t hesitate to reach out (my email is jeremy (at) nuralearning (dot) com).

There’s also Patreon, where you can send me a message after signing up. I find that Patreon’s subscription model offers a good “pay-what-you-can” structure, and don’t want to turn anyone away from the course. Plus, you also get access to the Mutations Discord channel, another way to chat.

Anticipating our explorations and insight. 

The Mutations Project

Welcome to the Mutations podcast. Why a blog? you ask.

I’m admittedly nostalgic for having a dedicated blog page to write from. These, I think, were a much bigger deal about a decade ago. There’s something to be said for finding eddies in the stream; a complement to the transient flux of social media.

Plus, often enough, so many of the notes I take for podcast episodes don’t make it into the actual audio. They’d go on too long. It’s a good excuse to write; thinking, talking, walking, writing through ideas is what I do.

So, yes, a blog.

With this year winding down, and the Mutations anthology coming out in 2020, I’m aiming to ramp up podcast production and get more authors and writers into the mix.

Continue reading “The Mutations Project”

8. Building a Case for an “Integral Futurism” [Solo Show]

The difficulty with talking about time is knowing when to begin. So, I might as well start with this, here.

I’m working on a new book for Integral Imprint called Fragments of an Integral Futurism (202o), and have begun curating a humble bookshelf exploring, first of all, the origins of futurism itself.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s After the Future (2011) and Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility (2017) have both been illuminating.

For the curious, Berardi was recently interviewed on Conner Habib’s podcast (AEWCH) talking about “breathing in the end of the world.”

In my book, “Bifo” Berardi’s work, alongside Mark Fisher’s (Capitalist Realism), is brought into conversation with Jean Gebser’s cultural phenomenology (kulturphilosophie)—and integral philosophy in general—to help us understand the crisis of sensemaking and civilization. I know. Tall order. But, this is where my writing and reading takes me.

Continue reading “8. Building a Case for an “Integral Futurism” [Solo Show]”