DEEP CRITIQUE of STORIES

DEEP CRITIQUE
of
Findhorn film/project
(A New Story for Humanity)
&
Tom Atlee’s   [2007]     StoryFields
Bateson -[1968]- Koestler
Macy [1946-1953] Conferences

INTRODUCTION

This essay has grown and diversified, as it began to reveal a meta-theme or “strange-attractor-for-discourse”. This meta-theme involves the negative contribution to our worsening Crisis-of-Crises by the inability of positive change movements and agents to sufficiently self-evaluate their assumptions, strategies, & tactics. It points towards a nu perspective where we cease ascribing blame (good-vs-evil characterizations) and recognize that every person acts, with justification, within their inner-woven reality/wrld.

The topic uniting this essay are “stories”, an essential component of human thinking and shared communication. The conceptual scheme of BIG STORIES (big sibling of Big Pictures) will be introduced.

The New Story Hub  takes you to a recent website where you will encounter The Findhorn Community of Scotland hosting a film production and a summit gathering introducing their new film: an inquiry into A NEW STORY FOR HUMANITY: Change-the-Story, Change-the-World.

I viewed the film premiere (Intro, Film, Discussion) online on April 16-17, 2017, in two sessions.  I was so moved after viewing half the film that I had to stop, and return the next day. Although I have much on my plate at this time, I am compelled to compose on some of my thoughts and feelings.     {This continued for a week before posting here.}

Given that my comments may effect your own viewing, I highly recommend you view, at least the film, before reading further.

PROLOGUE TO CRITIQUE

AUTHOR’S BACKGROUND: I was aware of, and approved of the early founding of Findhorn. A couple, we knew well, spent a summer at Findhorn, and we visited for a few days in 1976.  At that time I had an interest in “intentional communities”, and visited a few others. I had lived in an urban commune in New Haven while attending graduate school at Yale, 1958-60 and 1962-64.  In 1960-62 I wintered over at Byrd Station in the Antarctic (a closed community of 20 men). My life at Rochdale Urban Commune (New Haven) was a very positive experience.  I have been disappointed that successful intentional communities, such as Findhorn, were not successful in spreading to a viable network of related communities (although all have tried – a church in Tucson is a “branch” of Findhorn). I had “dreamed” of living again in an “intentional community” organized around my conceptual schemes of UPLIFT to Cultural/Societal Metamorphosis. Even at age 82, my dream continues. Damanhur, underground in Italy fascinates me, but their “culture” would attract a similar critique as has Findhorn.

NEGATIVITY: Some may criticize my critique as “negative”, when the whole Findhorn enterprise has “positive” intentionality; and as an emotional downer, in direct conflict with their objectives and goals.  It is not my intention to generate “negative feelings”, and feelings are always at the choice of the person to experience or not (although many haven’t yet gained that competency). What I offer are POSITIVE ANALYSES of the film and its message, with my intent to move us to create a better film, message/story, and movement. Critiques are criticism only in the eyes of the reader. What moved me to stop viewing the film half way was my extreme disappointment about the extreme naivete of the well intended participants. Past ambitious gatherings, with similar intent, were far more successful – even those 50 years ago

AUDIENCE: I am also aware (as part of my critique) that many human persons are not cognitively/emotionally prepared to comprehend this critique. This essay is not intended for everyone.  There are many levels of Magnitude/Scope/Complexity {MSC} for ideas (conceptual schemes) within emergent humanity in this 21st century. We hope our future will include an bootstrap uplifting of all human persons & populations in their distributed knowledge, competencies, and organization. Some can be self-moved by reading, viewing, and study. Others (all, for some levels) will require quality seafing (supporting, enabling, augmenting, facilitating) their uplift (crudely, their “education”).

VISION: Unfortunately, no positive movement today includes such an uplift as part of (or even essential to) the success of their program. All change agents expect humans will acquire new practical knowledge and competencies (mostly those currently lacking), and will learn to live in peace (with many other positive attributes). The humans whom change agents envision being the citizens of a nu humankind are fundamentally as we are today – without the negative traits – and their “worldview” being basically a quality integration of the best contemporary worldviews (of change agents). If a major uplift is envisioned, it will come after The Great Transition, or will come as collateral advantage to transiting. That a substantial uplift may be necessary for the success of the transition, is not explicit in any contemporary program/vision (that I am aware of). I have named the uplifting process needed, OLLO (Organizing-for-Learning=&=Learning-for-Organizing).

LIMITATIONS: We human persons are limited to processing small bits of information, sequentially or linearly. Further, each moment is experienced as a gestalt:  the conscious/explicit-figure in relationship with an unconscious context (or ground). The so-called “whole” can never be the figure of conscious attention. Shifting attention to what was prior ground, makes it a new figure in relationship to a new context.  The “Big Picture” is always the conscious figure; it is the context that gives it meaning. If this regression has an end (as claimed by some meditators), and they can “experience pure context”, they cannot communicate any details because we are limited to communicating details of attended figures. There are many other limitations for humans, a discussion or which will be part of the critique.

POTENTIALS: Once we recognize and accept our limitations (we aren’t Gods), we will discover our awesome potentials, whose actualization was blocked by our delusion of near perfection. What I call for is a return to our perspective as a young child: confident about who we are at the time; accepting that we will change (fundamentally, but not being bothered by the prospect; and finding security and guidance among others (parents, siblings, family and friends, a trusting community, society, humankind). When this security and support fails, as it has for the vast majority of humans today, they believe they must (to survive) become omnipotent and superior to all (but deep down knowing their fragility).

FUTURE ACTION: What can a person (or group, team, community) do with this critique? First, no matter how much I write, what you will read will be quite incomplete – and not appropriately tuned for your optimum comprehension. I hope that this may motivate you to re-engage in deep learning and development – for a continuously improving process and not towards a stable finished state-of-being.

CRITIQUE

MY VIEWING EXPERIENCES

I viewed the Intro and half the main film late in the evening of 4/16/17 and the last half of the main film and post-film sharing later morning the next day, 4/17/17.

The film was well made.  My impression of the Findhorn “auditorium” was “old fashioned” and “formal”, as was the format of the Intro and Discussion.

The participants in the film-making process “contributed” by “gift economy” and Findhorn didn’t advertise. I immediately recognized that the population both making and now premiering the film was highly self selective.  There were a few “well-known” promoters of their “views”, and many (names I didn’t know) from movements in different countries. There were no “high conceptual thinkers” and no geeks from the new technology. Many were persons with a personal cause, who were not yet renowned.

 

This is in high contrast to another conference with BIG SCENARIO concerns, organized by Gregory Bateson in 1968 in Austria, on the topic: The Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation. This conference was superbly recorded and analyzed by Gregory’s daughter Mary Catherine in Our Own Metaphor. The very top, expert thinkers Gregory invited simply pontificated from their siloed expertise, avoiding the issue.

Arthur Koestler, reacting to this debacle, and because the Batesons were unable to attend his concurrent conference on Beyond Reductionism , wrote a short story – The Call Girls, a spoof of Bateson’s conference. See: CONSCIOUS PURPOSE IN 2010: BATESON’S PRESCIENT WARNING.

Later (below), I also contrast the Findhorn effort with Tom Atlee’s StoryField gathering of 2007.

The MACY CONFERENCES is an earlier example of BIG STORY Conferences  (1946-1953)

Had I been connected to those devices that indicate emotional response, it would have bounced up and down in response to each short scene in the film. Most of the time there was a negative emotional response, as the statement was either not scientifically confirmed, grossly naive, or represented a deeply personal bias. There we a few, less than 10, short sequences when the speaker appeared to explore beyond the limitations of the group consensus. This, of course, is not an objective assessment of the film and the presenters; but my conceptual/emotional reaction to what I viewed and heard.

 

IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT that I condition the above. Each short sequence was given with deep and full sincerity by its author, fully in concert with their POSITIVE worldview (wrld, context). They all spoke with sincerity about  how human person-to-person and person-to-community and person/community-to-Gaia relationships should be conducted – and how civilization has all but destroyed such positive relationships. I deeply agree that future humanity must include the best of these relationships (with the exception of the necessity of belief in a helpful God).

How to achieve and maintain these positive relationship patterns (when we now have 7+ billion persons living in highly complex societies that warp all communities, families, and persons) appears to be beyond the imagination of Findhorn participants. Their belief in Bottom-Up-Determinism is unfounded and potentially dangerous. With this perspective, they totally abandon the need for us to explore STORIES BEYOND BIG.

For example: what might you imagine will happen, as you succeed in building community, that will ensure our survival re climate change? How do your foresee the bottom up movement of Eco-communities succeeding in overthrowing the big corporations and governments – counter the trends towards populism, oligarchy, dictatorships, and The Trump Phenomenon?

 

My mind was diverted to thinking and analysis many times/minute during viewing. It would take me weeks to compose/attach comments to each sequence. This might be useful and I am willing to be assisted in such a project.

THESE ARE NOT NEW STORIES,
NOR BIG STORIES.

 

The film starts with an attempted “definition” of old stories – very superficial. This is the story of oppressive civilization: corporations/governments over people, the technological over the “natural”, the suppression of “freedom”, etc. The “new” stories are (actually) all old stories – many from before the dominance of the so-called “new” story. Many are deep cultural stories of indigenous peoples (who dominated the Findhorn storytelling population). The horrible oppression of “the indigenous peoples” by “civilization” doesn’t give them special authority of “being right” in their perspective of reality. No one has such “being right” authority.

There is a confusion about the meaning of “stories”. While the call was for a new BIG story (to replace that of our sick civilization), the gathering tasked with creating the film was unable to even conceive of what a BIG story might entail. For days the writing conference was in turmoil as each person tried to elevate their own story to be the core of the BIG story (my inference). Eventually, they abandoned all effort to imagine a BIG story. They settled on a montage of old, little stories – with the vague hope that the sacred potentials of humans, with God’s guidance, will eventually (without explicit human intention as to form) weave the little stories into one BIG story. The film, and the summit premiering the film championed this – in my evaluation – cop-out. Yet, all self-deluded that they had accomplished something BIG.

 

BIG STORIES
vs
PICTURES PICTURES

A few days before encountering this new Findhorn enterprise, I had begun to re-examine conceptual schemes labeled stories and pictures.

For decades I have opposed the idea of BIG PICTURES, as they are certainly not pictures and are not cable of visualization. Yet, the metaphor of “viewing” is oppressively dominant in contemporary humankind. [The author is of the small population lacking visual mental imagery – both sensory remembrances and imagination; a condition unknown to most humans.]

Although well aware of the importance of narrative and stories for decades, I recently upgraded an insight to re-examine the relevance of “stories” and “storytelling” for humankind. Both are essential, but far from sufficient – as components and fundamental processes in the creation of viable human systems.

In August 2007 I attended a 5-day conference/gathering – The First Annual StoryField Conference  organized by Tom Atlee  and team at the Shambhala Mountain Center, Colorado. Subtitle: “Invoking a New World through Story; a pioneering interdisciplinary gathering of storyteller, artists and experts.”

This was, by far,  the most enjoyable and rewarding F2F conference I have ever experienced.  There were a few similarities with the Findhorn conference, and many striking differences. We didn’t have the objective of formulating a coherent BIG story. We ended with celebrating our dedication to continuing process. Strangely, after considerable effort by a dedicated sub-committee to design and schedule (at Asilomar) a return of “us” a year later – it was canceled (reportedly because too few were able to attend.) Now, looking at the materials online about the vision and concept, The StoryField Conference was light years ahead of the recent Findhorn Conference & film. The StoryField Conference needs reconvening. I identified only one person who attended both StoryField and Findhorn: David Korten.

This confirmed my conclusion that the euphoria of powerful gatherings have great difficulty translating to continuing action strategy. This happened even though “continuation” was an explicit part of the design of the conference, with experts in social media creating online systems.  I have witnessed this too many times.

The “spiritual” power/energy of human gathering/celebrations is probably deep in our DNA. It’s negative sides are the MOB, and the ability of large human groups to submit, in total subjugation, to dictatorial rule (e.g, Nazi Germany and contemporary North Korea). It is also one reason for the sustainability of religion. It also accounts for sports mania, fan groups, armies, and political parties. Humans have a drive to “belong”.

Although the StoryField gathering was much superior to the Findhorn gatherings, neither appears to have had a effect for changing the trends of our “globalizing societal” systems. I predict that a careful study of all efforts towards positive change are inadequate and insufficient – yet this conclusion is denied (by most).  I have many ideas as to how humankind can transcend this blockage to our actualizing our potentials to transit to humanity – which for reasons to be discussed elsewhere, I have difficulty sharing.

VERY FEW PERSONS
CAN IMAGINE
BEYOND COMMUNITY

This is because our brains/behaviors evolved for life in small tribes, and a much longer evolutionary history living in communities (back to the days, living like prairie dogs under the feet of thunder lizards). 50,000 years is not enough time for humankind to have evolved new brains for living in complex global societal systems approaching 8 billion persons. It is a wonder that we have made it this far, and our looming Crisis-of-Crises is an accumulation of natural mistakes we have made – inadequate to manage the settings that our creative imaginations generated. We are not to blame – but it is now time to awaken to our deep natures/realities and act appropriately – which we must learn-to-learn-to-learn to do.

This crisis is not only for the majorities not yet privileged with access-to/ability-to-comprehend the exponentially exploding knowledge of humankind, poorly distributed. Every person (no matter how genetically gifted, highly educated; and financially, technologically, & personally supported) encounters similar limitations. We (miraculous) humans have created, unwittingly, a situation/setting/environment well beyond our competencies to manage without very significant uplifting and societal re-organization. This will not occur, requisite to our needs, without creative/intelligent design – by ourselves. Neither Gods nor Aliens will do this for us.

Contrary to our overblown human Exceptionalism, our historical path has not been by design. Today, the pinnacle of human design is for commercial devices and processes, where art and engineering are merging – fueled by social media seafed knowledge exchanges. Higher level creativity is blocked by cultural/social/societal constraints. We do have creative visions, but we are yet very poor at designing human futures.  And, that DESIGN, must not be traditional planning and plan execution – it must be much more organic and dynamic.

We now have all the components for the organic/dynamic design/creation of HUMANITY.

But, it cannot be by naive “democratic” agreement by everyone. THIS IS AN UNFORTUNATE FACT: the distribution of human knowledge/competencies/organization has vast inequalities. Relative to our real needs, humankind is grossly DUMB, STUPID, BIASED, FEARFUL, HATEFUL. Yet, our POTENTIAL remains immense.

Those most knowledgeable/competent/organized ARE ALSO inadequate (but with a few current abilities) to perform what is needed. They are further handicapped by their arrogance of superiority and exceptionalism.  Again, this is nothing to blame them for – it is the consequence of of our slow adaptation/evolution/emergence to an exponentially changing world, resulting from our great successes.

STORIES:
OLD vs NEW
&
small vs BIG

Narrative is but one of our human means of organizing information. It is not useful for persons to elevate stories and storytelling to the most important function of humankind. Indeed, the perspective that one, or but a few, fundamentals determine humankind is a great fallacy and danger for our future survival/thrival.

Early humans, on trek, talked to themselves describing what they saw. Back with their tribe, at fire dialog, they replayed their recording, storytelling, giving story-maps to others for their future journeys.  Recently, an Australian aborigine, when riding in car had to request the driver to slow down because he couldn’t story create at the high speed of the car.

Stories were our primary organization mode before we had visual media, our semfields and visual language. Today, we face the danger of fake stories. Stories are not the only format human use to organize experience. Stories can have negative analogs when applied to phenomena beyond direct perception.

Quantum physics was successful only AFTER the physicists abandoned any attempt to use metaphors from our perceptual reality. The Bohr Atom, an analog “solar system” with “orbiting/spinning planets” was blocking advancement for many years. We may need to abandon some perceptual-world analogs we apply to societal, governance, and economic systems.

There are different levels/types of stories: personal, inter-personal, group, community, social, societal. Can we apply narratives to processes not involving humans?

We continually invent new stories, and also continue to use variation of old, even ancient, stories.

We also make stories-of-stories-of stories. Our novels are a nesting/networking of stories.

TV today reports on the Story of Humankind – in both reality, deception, and fantasy.

EACH PERSON PROPOSES
FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE
FOR OTHERS;
BUT NOT FOR THEMSELVES.

What appears universal for all participants in the Findhorn vidao and dialogs, and for almost all expressions of contemporary humans, is that THEY PROPOSE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE FOR OTHERS, BUT NOT FOR THEMSELVES.

The OLD, BIG story is both: (1) the story of oppressive civilization cited by all Findhorn participants, and (2) all their own stories.  Those who believe/accept the civilization stories come from the same mind/brain processes as the Findhorn participants. ALL humans believe in their reality, their “wrld“. Supporters of Trump and the North Korean leader deeply believe their experienced wrld is the objective world. Their wrlds may not be going as they would prefer, but they are “real”.

One might evaluate a BIG story in terms of the effectiveness of the opposition to the dominant/sub story. Might we find the continuation of war and inequality be “equally” due to the inadequacy of “resistance” (because of their lack of essential stories and false stories that block appropriate actions) as to the perceived “arrogance of the power elites”.

BIG STORIES can contain complex competing stories.

The BIG STORY for the future of humankind2Humanity transition, in relationship with Gaia must, in my analysis, be explicitly explored. We cannot depend on bottom-up emergence, only. There will be many occasions in our future when we could act IF we were prepared to act. But, to be prepared to act (sometime in the future), we must have acted (by design and planning) at a prior time. Corporations, businesses, militaries, farmers do FUTURING.

HUMANKIND, AS A WHOLE, MUST BEGIN FUTURING.

Who is to do this?

ALL HUMAN PERSONS ARE SMALL WRLDS

This critically important conceptual scheme will be more fully explicated elsewhere.

Humans are not the systems we think we are. We are much more and much less – and quite different. Much of this we have yet to discover, in useful detail.

This is not a new idea, but one that is very difficult to maintain and almost impossible to live.

Everything a human person experiences is only themselves, patterns of activity in their brains/bodies. As they live, their brains/bodies organize the inputted information into inner “wrlds” – which is the context of all experience and behavior. In terms of Maturana & Varela’s Autopoietic Hypothesis, each human person is an autopoietic system in “structural coupling” with other autopoietic systems. Roughly: autopoietic = self organizing. Autopoietic Social Systems by Luhmann.

The details ARE effected by OTHERS, realities beyond their bodies/brains – but NEVER directly experienced.

Contrary to traditional psychology, perception is not a movement of information from sense organs through the brain to experience and behavior, being filtered and sometimes morphed in the process. This flow-through-with-modification is not accurate (for most perception). Rather, after some filtering and morphing, the information from the senses is “absorbed” by the brain and is used by the brain to change its patterns.  These pattern changes in the brain are not directly caused by the input; rather the input is used by the brain to change itself.  This changed brain then outputs to experience and behavior.

Perception may be comprehended as the link/overlap of subjective & objective.

Patterns in our experience definitively imply patterns-of-reality beyond our own making. We cannot be inventing all that we experience.

We experience only our “processes interpretations” of our “structural coupling” with OTHERS (imagined persons, things & environments). We experience only ourselves, but ourselves “interacting” with others and our hypothesized environments.

The “things” we name in our percepts don’t “exist out there” in any “sense that we experience”. However, there “is” something “beyond us” that correlates with our experienced patterns.

CLOSING REMARKS

There can be no closure on this, or any other issue or conceptual scheme. We are only pausing for a moment, far from “completing” our “task”.

Were I to make such a call for a “conference”, as I often contemplate, it would be to gather those ready to challenge ALL current beliefs, accept the emergent, yet embryonic nature of humankind, and begin to uplift (via OLLO) our knowledge, competencies, and organizations to nu, cycling emergent “levels” – so as to reach the requisite actualization of our potentials to insure survival and multi-millennial thrival.

I have personally recommended paths to explore, but I can’t say there is only ONE thing most important.  Indeed, I am coming to believe that the patterns of interactivity between knowledge nodes is more significant than the nodes themselves. This also may apply to persons and their patterns of interaction & organization. “Actually”, they are in “complementarity” (generalization of the field/particle “duality” of Quantum Physics).

Also, unfortunately, our tribal brains limit EVERYONE to a working mind with but a few nodes in loose patterns.  “Reality”, as our increasing awareness implies, may have thousands of independent knowledge nodes and types of patterns we can’t imagine. I am coming to believe that seafed emergent teams/crews/small-communities of persons seafed by advanced technologies can become viable “unit/cell” agents/deciders (for activity beyond the very local – in both time and space) for a future humanity. I believe such a perspective can become a “spiritual” motivation.

I strongly regret leaving this without a concrete PROPOSAL FOR ACTION. Many, today, are quite active – yet not, necessarily, relevantly active. Not that we don’t want to be more relevant, we don’t know how. In context with the above, I now insight:

It is not another action we need,
it is an emerging pattern of related actions.
In time,
early actions will complete or fade,
and new actions will emerge and engage
.

Integrated Patterns of Action
are what is needed.

? HOW ?

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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