Cohering the Radical Present

New course offering. Next appearances.

I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new online course, “Cohering the Radical Present: Integral Consciousness in Daily Life.” It starts October 4, and we go until December 6. What you get: five pre-recorded modules, seven live Zoom calls, and a discussion forum with extra course materials such as a same-titled guidebook/syllabus hybrid.

Before we go on, please note that I also encourage registration on a sliding scale via Patreon. Send me a note after signing up there that you’d like to attend the course. No one will be turned away.

Becoming Present to Inhabit the Future - Towards a Praxis

I anticipate this fall will be a rich season of mutual learning. The whole aim of the course might be summed up in a few page of Ever-Present Origin. Towards the back of the book there’s a section called “Daily Life,” which reads like a philosophical-contemplative manifesto for becoming present in a time of techno-capitalism.

“Everyone today can become aware of the various temporal forms which all point to origin,” Jean Gebser writes, “this is a beginning if only because the individual learns to see himself as a whole as the interrelationship and interplay,” of the structures of consciousness.

Lately I’ve been appreciating the integrally-illuminated writings of German philosopher Byung-Chul Han in his book The Scent of Time. “If all contemplative elements are drawn out of life,” he writes, “it ends in a deadly hyper-activity. The human being suffocates among its own doings.” His proposed solution is not unlike what I sense behind Gebser’s implicit injunction to become present:

What is necessary is a revitalization of the vita contemplativa, because it opens up spaces for breathing. Perhaps the mind itself owes its emergence to an excess of time, an otium [contemplative leisure], even to a slowness of breath. A reinterpretation of pneuma, which means breath as well as spirit, is conceivable. Whoever runs out of breath is without spirit."

But as Gebser reminds us on this leisurely nature of time:

“What is called ‘free time’ must not be squandered leisurely but employed to acquire ‘time-freedom.’

Time-freedom is a learning to become present, and to be creatively present to the openness of time is to gain the capacity to enact new futures.

(Note: Creativity and play aren’t precluded from this activity of becoming present. Quite the opposite, as Peter Limberg notes in his letter: “Netplay Your Way to Game B”).

To be open with such intensity and transparency that one cannot help but co-shape the world in collaboration with our kin, human or otherwise — let alone the spiritual (“origin”, Ursprung). As my friend Mark Vernon recently wrote concerning William Blake’s fourfold vision: “It happens as imagination is trusted as a living power of creativity with which we can cooperate.”

Gebser continues,

“The surrounding world will be altered in all its aspects as we alter them to correspond to the requirements of our respective consciousness structure.”

Unique, perhaps, to Gebser’s writing in integral philosophy is this emphasis on varying temporics and the aesthetic, poetic and phenomenological dimensions that underlie the history of consciousness, a history that continues to live in us. One “aim,” if there is an indirect aim at an integral praxis, is to gradually cohere our own creative pliability of consciousness. The history of our species reveals to us latent capacities, sensemaking orientations — emphasis on their plurality — that constitute us, still to this day. What happens when we engage in via contemplativa and learn to become present again? Present to the past, present to the future? What if we really learn to become open in this way? That’s really what this course is about.

There will be readings, but they are intended to be poetic, inspirational. Like a “Book of Hours” or medieval Florilegium. Gathering leaves for the proper set and setting of becoming present. These fragments of an integral future, if you will, constellate zones of clarity; they reveal to us the post-human futures where, if we reclaim time as a poetics of presence, if we learn a “slower urgency” as Bayo Akomolafe recently and so wonderfully has written about (see here), we can begin to inhabit tomorrow.

I hope to see some of you there.

So how is that for a pitch? I’m in the writing process for my book, and so a practice cohort rather than a theory heavy course is just what I need right now. But the book still spills into everything that I write and teach—as you can see.

Some concluding notes for you, then.

  • The next Pop-Up Integral Salon is on Wednesday, September 16 through Patreon. Join me if you can.

  • I’m giving a virtual talk with the St. Petersburg Theosophical Society, “Inhabiting the Present: Planetary Crisis and Regenerative Futures,” but their Zoom room is limited, so I’ll be sure to post the video afterward.

  • From Growing Down podcast, I just co-hosted an interview with Robb Smith of Integral Life, check it out here, and thanks Robb for the kind words.

  • I re-shared my keynote talk from the 2019 Gebser conference, “Gebser and Jung in a Time Between Times” earlier today, revisiting it as a kind of strange looking glass into the “Before Times,” pre-pandemic. I sure do miss traveling. Heck, I miss wearing scarves. Give this one a listen if you’re interested.

That’s it for now. Until next week.

In gratitude,