I hope you have been well in these wild times. A few opening notes: first, I’ve ported over to a different newsletter service called “Substack.” Nothing much should change for you, but there are new features here, like creating discussion boards, and offering subscriptions. Those might come in handy in the future, but for now, expect to still receive the occasional — albeit, longer — missive from me.
By now you may have heard about the sudden passing of my dear friend and collaborator, Michael Brooks (1983-2020). Michael was a brilliant (and hilarious) left journalist and integral thinker, taken from us too soon. I co-hosted a Growing Down podcast as tribute to his legacy. You can watch that here or listen to it here.
Journalist Daniel Bessner had a great tribute on Jacobin, “Michael Brooks was a True Internationalist,” that feels appropriate to share here. Bessner writes,
What Michael did on TMBS, and what he personally wanted, was to expand the American left’s imagination to include every person suffering in the world under the triple horrors of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. Michael knew — he understood — that we’re all connected — politically, yes, but also spiritually and morally.
Michael, in his notes sent to Bessner the night before he passed, wrote about the necessity of a regenerative culture:
We all need to start owning our mistakes in order to achieve actual transformation. Regeneration, not destruction.
Michael and I had recently spoke about co-authoring essays on the intersections of what he called “cosmopolitan socialism” (which he introduced in his first book from earlier this year, Against the Web) and integral theory. It’s personally difficult now, looking back at the timeline. Michael had just sent me his last TMBS stream as a warm-up for our first recording planned the following week (Michael’s preference was to transcribe these audio chats).
Fortunately, the amazing TMBS crew (Dave Griscom and Matt Lech) and Lisha Brooks, Michael’s sister, have expressed their wish to continue Michael’s life work.
I mourn the loss of my friend and the incalculable loss for his community and the international left. Perhaps the only silver lining in this tragedy is seeing thousands of people come forward, wishing to further his life’s work building a more spiritual and “regenerative” left movement required to face a complex and planetary crisis. In the process of the TMBS community coming together, I’m grateful to have gained some new friends and collaborators. The work continues, and so does this project of developing an “integralist cosmopolitan socialism.”
Rest in power, Michael.
Some good things have happened in the interim. Growing Down podcast, an integral show I co-host with Ryan Nakade and Matt Hudkins, had two recent live shows: one with Jared Janes and Jason Snyder of Both/And podcast (who passed the honorary “torch” to us as their show goes on hiatus), and the latest with metamodern philosopher “Hanzi Freinacht” (Daniel Gortz), author of Nordic Ideology and The Listening Society. As Daniel notes during our show, this was our first time “meeting.” We were originally slated to present keynotes at the German Integral conference in the fall. Alas, with the pandemic, this will have to do. I look forward to further correspondence with “Hanzi” and his work.
As a little ritual during quarantine, I’ve been hosting Growing Down livestreams on Saturdays with Matt and Ryan. So tune in on that YouTube channel if you’re interested in catching the next one.
I’ve also been doing Mutations live podcasts. The latest is “Mutations, Temps, Pandemic.” There was some really good Q&A during that one, and I also talk about my forthcoming book, what I’m researching, and more, so do tune in!
More episodes are slow-cooking, but coming soon.
The writing phase of my next, Fragments of an Integral Futurism continues apace. I’m very excited about this one. If Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness was a brief introduction and precursory application of Jean Gebser’s significance for our contemporary world, Fragments is a full leap into unfolding these ideas for the present (meta) crisis. It does so by, I hope, following the method Gilles Deleuze suggests in a letter, adhering to three important functions:
I believe a book, if it deserves to exist, can be presented in three quick aspects: you do not write a “worthy” book unless: 1) you think that the books on the same subject or on a neighboring subject fall into a type of overall error (polemical function of the book); 2) you think that something essential has been forgotten in relation to the subject (inventive function); 3) you believe yourself capable of creating a new concept (creative function).
I won’t get into all the details here, but you can tune into my podcast episode, “Mutations, Temps, Pandemic” to learn more about how I think the book is performing these three functions by:
a) Drawing from recent paradigm shifts in archeology and anthropology and corroborating these with Gebser’s cultural phenomenology, it refreshes our approach to the history of consciousness with a more dynamic, non-linear, and complex approach
b) Orienting the “ontology” of planetary thinking with Gebser’s aperspectival insights. When the descriptive qualities of the integral world are clearly presented and cohered, and actively linked to cultural themes, projects, and initiatives in the present, we have a much better — clearer — sense of how to situate ourselves in the (meta) crisis and therefore, cohere latent pathways to the future.
This section of the book is really a robust extension of the final “Integral Florilegium” chapter of Seeing Through the World.
When we reclaim time through an intensification of presence, a poetics of the present, we are invited to do the difficult, interior work of overcoming the deficiencies of our age and inhabiting the already present integral reality.
I guess this could easily be called, “Reclaiming Time, an Integral Futurist Manifesto.”
In a way, the thesis is very simple: Recode the past, open the future. As William Irwin Thompson wrote in The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light,
“If history is the sentence of our imprisonment, then history, recoded, can become the password of our release.”
More about this soon, and you can join me on Patreon to get a sneak peek at the writing.
New Editorial Position: ILR
Last but certainly not least, I am deeply honored to announce that I am joining the editorial team at Integral Leadership Review.
Check out the July 31st 2020 issue we just released, “Creativity, Consciousness, and Leadership: Coronavirus and Beyond.”
With greatest thanks to Eric Reynolds and Natasha Mantler. Being nearly twenty years old, ILR is a veritable institution in the Integral Theory community. So I’m thrilled to join the team, and appreciate Eric’s expressed interest in having a Gebserian voice in the mix. We’re already talking about the next issue and brainstorming about exciting innovations for ILR in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates on that!
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading all the way through (if you did). Keep me in your inbox for future updates on the book writing, and in the meanwhile, link up with me on Patreon for weekly “Pop-up Integral Studies” Zoom calls.