Jeremy Johnson is the author of Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness (2019) and the forthcoming Fragments of an Integral Future (2022), a publisher (Revelore Press/Integral Imprint), editor (Integral Leadership Review) and integral philosopher. He is a co-founder of Liminal News and Metapsy: Journal of Consciousness, Literature and Art.
Jeremy was a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich magazine, and has written for OMNI, Disinformation, Evolve Magazine, What is Emerging? and Kosmos Journal.
His academic research, writing, and publishing advocates new forays into integrative thinking and praxis—aligning the scholastic, poetic, and spiritual—as existentially crucial work for pathfinding in a time of planetary crisis.
Jeremy currently serves as president for the International Jean Gebser Society, and is a doctoral student in Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Mutations: Culture, Consciousness and Planetary Futures
We inhabit a time between times, between worlds—what are the emergent potentials, imaginative visions, or, in a word, ‘mutations’ that can help us to find our way into habitable futures?
What forms of integrative thinking and being are required for this leap?
Podcast Theoria (Mutations Theory Reading)
Culture, or Cultural Philosophy
“Cultural philosophy” is a term used by Swiss poet, cultural phenomenologist, and integral thinker Jean Gebser (1905-1973) to describe his work as a “methodology and art.”
Succinctly put, Gebser understood his methodology to be an exploration of how worldviews transform.
In order to approach (and unpack) an understandably daunting endeavor like understanding worldviews, we need a form of transdisciplinarity—making meaningful connections across art, science and specialized disciplines—at the foundation of our theory and practice.
Thinking needs to become transversal, to exist across borders, thresholds and lines.
"lying across," early 15c. (earlier transversary, c. 1400), from Latin transversus "turned or directed across," past participle of transvertere "turn across," from trans "across" (see trans-) + vertere "to turn" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend"). The verb transvert is recorded from late 14c.
We start here: that art and science, thinking and poetry, are entangled at their roots.1
Reality is fundamentally, as Paola Antonelli coined, ‘knotty.’2
Kulturphilosophie finds similarity with other meta-theoretical approaches such as Edgar Morin’s complexity,3 the field of media ecology,4 integral ecology, or even the more recent memes of “antidisciplinarity,”5and the power of networked thinking and combinatorial creativity.6
So kulturphilosophie is not only a methodology, but, in recognizing our reality as irreducibly complex and interrelated, like a rhizome, kulturphilosophie is also an art and an exploration of the art of thinking.
This integrative approach also recognizes that we don’t just stand apart and watch cultural transformations unfold from beyond, or above it all. Distance is the great and dangerous illusion, because we’re in the “thick” of it, like Donna Haraway’s “thick present.”
In the “mutational” theory of change, we recognize that we are all living these contradictions and transformations of culture and consciousness, and in some sense they are living us.
Understanding how we are all living these changes helps us to navigate this time between worlds.
We seek shared, habitable futures on a living Earth.
Material histories are always entangled relations between meaning and matter.
We human beings are always meaning-and-mattering, a veritable Möbius strip of becoming, that is always in the process of shaping and re-shaping our inner and outer worlds.
Holding that mutual process, Mutations draws from many of the aforementioned meta theorists and practitioners, inquiring into how we can understand the relationship between our material histories and the transformations of consciousness (the history of consciousness, or the various transformations of self and world, time and space) so we can better imagine and realize new material futures.
Reclaiming (Planetary) Futures
Reclaiming the future from Silicon Valley’s techno-utopianism and the uninhabitable Capitolocene8 means reclaiming time.
Time is a most complex reality. Like the rhizome. In order to find new, habitable futures, we must explore and create different relationships with time.
Much of what is going on today, according to this view, is in part due our consciousness of time being so “out of joint” with planetary realities.
The cultural mythology of time that modernity has employed has been so one-sidedly directional, forward, progressive in the sense of advancing that we have created a kind of run-away temporal crisis.
In order to overcome this “meta-crisis,”9 we must seek relationship. Slow down into the urgency of the present. Engage in forms of time that “do not divide the day,” explore how we might undergo a process of “Western self-decolonization,”10 counterbalance “yangtopia” with “yintopia,”11 democratize time,12 realize integral mutations and finally—if prefiguratively—make the regenerative turn.13
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Oxman, N. (2016). Age of Entanglement. Journal of Design and Science. https://doi.org/10.21428/7e0583ad
Ibid. Oxman defines Paola Antonelli’s term: “Knotty objects are bigger than the sum of their parts. Viewing them fuses multiple perspectives, thereby generating an expanded, more profound, vision of the world. Knotty objects are so knotty that one can no longer disentangle the disciplines or the disciplinary knowledge that contributed to their creation.”
Edgar Morin: “The paradigm of complexity thus stands as a bold challenge to the fragmentary and reductionistic spirit that continues to dominate the scientific enterprise.”
Christine Nystrom: “a movement away from the rigidly compartmentalized, uncoordinated specialization… characterized the Newtonian world… movement toward increasing integration of both the physical and the social sciences.”
Joi Ito: “But what it [antidisciplinary] means to me is someone or something that doesn't fit within traditional academic discipline-a field of study with its own particular words, frameworks, and methods.”
Maria Popova writes on this notion of combinatorial creativity for the Smithsonian: “To create is to combine existing bits of insight, knowledge, ideas, and memories into new material and new interpretations of the world, to connect the seemingly dissociated, to see patterns where others see chaos.”
See Kelly, S. Becoming Gaia: On the Threshold of Planetary Initiation. Seattle: Integral Imprint, 2020.
Jason W. Moore (2017) The Capitalocene, Part I: on the nature and origins of our ecological crisis, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 44:3, 594-630, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2016.1235036
Rowson, Jonathan, and Layman Pascal. Dispatches from a Time between Worlds: Crisis and Emergence in Metamodernity. Dispatches, V.1. La Vergne: Perspectiva, 2021. “Tasting the Pickle: Ten flavours of meta-crisis and the appetite for a new civilisation.”
See Weber, A. Sharing Life, The Ecopolitics of Recopricity. India: Heinrich Boll Stiftung, 2020. Weber describes this as a healing process, asking “animistic cultures for guidance… a dialogue in which western thinking is willing to undergo radical — and sometimes painful — change.”
More, Thomas, Ursula K Le Guin, and Miéville China. 2016. Utopia. London: Verso. “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be.”
Han, Byung-Chul. The Scent of Time : A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering. Translated by Daniel Steuer. Englished. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2017.
Jonas Egmose, Stefan Gaarsmand Jacobsen, Henrik Hauggaard-Nielsen & Lars Hulgård (2021) The regenerative turn: on the re-emergence of reciprocity embedded in living ecologies, Globalizations, 18:7, 1271-1276, DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2021.1911508