Jean Gebser Society 2014 Archive

Forty-Fourth Annual
International Jean Gebser Society Conference


Crisis and Mutation: Conference Recordings


Day One (FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014) 


Dujols’ Secret Fairy: An Inquiry into Alchemical Putrefaction
Mirco A. Mannucci, PhD

JEAN GEBSER OBSERVED that all transitional ages bear a dangerous, Janus-faced character. Light and darkness, violence and catharsis, crisis and opportunity all mix and intermingle. In our own era of increasing political upheaval and ecological devastation, Gebser’s words are as prescient now as they were half a century ago. As our external future becomes increasingly denatured and decultured, the equilibrium we seek may lie less in material solutions, and more in the fundamental question of consciousness. When the extremes of cynicism and optimism fail us, a more discerning investigation of our Janus-faced times is called for. Critical challenges must be navigated as clandestine opportunities for the manifestation of a new consciousness. Only by engaging crisis as a creative death are we able to embrace the potential irruptions of the integral reality hidden in our fragmented world. 

This conference invited its participants to examine the liminal space of “Crisis and Mutation” in order to concretize the ever-latent (yet ever-present) origin. In doing this we seek to unveil the integral presence underpinning the complex and conflicting undulations of human evolution.

Some of the questions this conference seeks to address include:

  • How can the symptoms of disintegration that fragment our world be understood as negative indicators of the integral (i.e. what is the solution hidden in the dissolution)?
  • How can tension be used to liberate ourselves from the extremes that create this very tension?
  • What is the “alchemy” of consciousness by which we can engage and transmute deficient manifestations into integral concretions?

Abstracts and Biographies



Arlyn T Anderson, PhD

This submission is a free verse poem about the influence of time and space upon our efforts to “see” the Andromeda galaxy. This understanding is then used as metaphor to help us “see” the nature of others and the space between us. Taken together, it is hoped that this material will assist in our explorations of the Integral—that sense of connection we feel for each other and all things—as we experience all forms of time and space.

Dr. Arlyn T. Anderson earned his BA (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1993), MA (University of Wyoming, 1997), and Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2004) in the field of Communication Studies. Areas of emphasis included Organizational Communication & Culture, Media Ecology, and International Communication. Dr. Anderson has taught at Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Eau Claire, WI, and the Air Force Culture & Language Center in Montgomery, AL. Dr. Anderson is currently the Director of Quality Assurance and Training at High Performance Engineering in Colorado Springs, CO.


Arlyn T Anderson, PhD 

This paper examines recent long-term military operations in the Middle East for manifestations of Mythical and Rational consciousness structures. Through global capacities and infrastructure, in conjunction with the emerging political/military doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Western governments and their armed forces which manifest Rational consciousness structures are increasingly engaging deeply and interacting with local populations which exist primarily within Mythical consciousness structures. Often these engagements have been marked by high levels of confusion and equivocality punctuated with periodic tragic consequences. 

This paper also explores some recently emerging concepts in Organizational Communication studies and Quality Management practices as possible manifestations of Integral consciousness which could reduce the confusion often surrounding typical Mythical and Rational consciousness engagements.

Dr. Arlyn T. Anderson earned his BA (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1993), MA (University of Wyoming, 1997), and Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, 2004) in the field of Communication Studies. Areas of emphasis included Organizational Communication & Culture, Media Ecology, and International Communication. Dr. Anderson has taught at Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Eau Claire, WI, and the Air Force Culture & Language Center in Montgomery, AL. Dr. Anderson is currently the Director of Quality Assurance and Training at High Performance Engineering in Colorado Springs, CO.


Aaron Cheak, PhD

In this presentation I would like to explore some significant overlaps between the work of German poet and integral philosopher, Jean Gebser (1905 – 1973), and French Egyptologist and Hermetic philosopher, René Schwaller de Lubicz (1887–1961). Schwaller puts forth an essentially Pythagorean alchemical cosmology that bears some important resonances with Gebser’s work on the foundations and manifestations of integral consciousness. In this presentation I would like to focus on the theme of the “intensification” or “qualitative exaltation” of consciousness, and how scission, rupture, excess, disequilibrium, and fragmentation—in both nature and in culture—may be seen as vital indicators of the mutational process. 

To do this I will explore the motif of dissolution in an alchemical and integral sense. Gebser himself has pointed out that the dissolution of our culture under the excesses of mental-rational fragmentation hides a hidden solution. In a similar vein, alchemical theory holds that for anything to “evolve” towards its innate integrality, it must first be reduced to a condition of formlessness, and this was done through the process of dissolution. “All organic bodies, as well as certain mineral compositions, are susceptible at the moment of their decomposition, to an orientation towards a new form” (Schwaller de Lubicz, Sacred Science, p. 80).

To explicate the dynamics of this restructuration, I will develop the alchemical principle of enantiodromia—the idea that the excess of any phenomenon evokes its opposite. Just as solid crystalline salts emerge “miraculously” from a saturated liquid solution, radical transformation ensues from a state of superabundance and excess. Similarly, Schwaller held that instances of excess in nature were means by which consciousness could transcend phenomenal form. On a natural and cultural level, crisis, dissolution, and fragmentation become transitional vehicles for the liberation of spirit from limiting ontological structures.

Aaron Cheak, PhD, is a scholar of comparative religion, philosophy, and esotericism. He teaches the history of Eastern and Western alchemies at the University of Philosophical Research, and is the current president of the International Jean Gebser Society. He received his doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Queensland in 2011 for his work on French Hermetic philosopher, René Schwaller de Lubicz. Outside the academy, Aaron has been trained in the preparation of spagyric elixirs at the Paracelsus College, and is a practitioner within the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism. He presently lives on the eastern coast of Australia, where he maintains an active interest in tea, wine, poetry, typography and alchemy. Dr Cheak is the author and editor of Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde(2013). 


Allan Cooper, PhD 

Recent human history has been divided into three major epochs – Antiquity, the Medieval age, and the Modern era. Jean Gebser theorized similar stages of human development, referring to them as Magical, Mythical, and Mental. Each possessed its own paradigm regarding nature, health, and beauty (the latter being the subject of my presentation to the Jean Gebser Society last year). Another philosophical characteristic of epochs is that they perceive time and space in a unique manner that sets a foundation for how people imagine their place in the universe as well as their orientation towards the temporal moment in which they live. Gebser refers to this phenomenon as “being present.” 

The transition from one epoch to another is marked by contradictions or deficiencies in those philosophical characteristics that manifest themselves as symptoms of disintegration on the one hand, and liberatory indicators of a new positive existence on the other. In my presentation I will summarize how each epoch in human history has conceived of time and space, and how these conceptions played an integral role in developing political societies during their time. I will identify how each paradigm regarding time and space was undermined by signal events that eventually led to the disintegration of the states of consciousness governing that epoch. I will provide evidence to support my thesis that the prevailing conception of time and space that has served as the foundation of modern society is being challenged by scientific discoveries that suggest that we currently live in a liminal moment between modernity and the integral consciousness professed by Jean Gebser.

Dr. Allan D. Cooper has recently been appointed as chair of the political science department at North Carolina Central University. He has published five books related to international law and human rights, and is currently working on a manuscript analyzing the development of patriarchy as a governing structure of political societies throughout recorded history.


Gilles Herrada, PhD 

No domain of the human experience epitomizes our collective thirst for a new paradigm better than gender; and no domain exemplifies more clearly our culture’s difficulties to break through layers upon layers of obsolete beliefs. Yet no revolution more than the gender revolution seems more ready to blossom and become the herald of a new era. The works of Gebser, Graves, and Foucault invite us to recognize that what we call “gender” is, like everything else, an evolutionary unfolding, a phylogeny rather than a static concept. Today gender is channelled—experienced, learned, expressed, discussed, and enforced—through at least four major psychocultural stages: pre-Axial, Axial/Medieval, Modern, and Postmodern. These four predominant worldviews coexist thereby engendering a kaleidoscope of subcultures, which all believe that they hold the truth while remaining blind to the historical logic that underpins their particular understanding of gender and sex. 

What’s most needed today is twofold. First it appears essential to put together a developmental analysis of gender, gender being now understood as a memetic phylogeny instead of a concrete reality whose exact nature “must” be revealed. In addition gender is a multifaceted phenomenon whose subjective, biological, and cultural dimensions can (and should) be teased apart yet cannot be severed from each other nor understood in isolation. Second if our goal is to heal our confused world and nurture the emergence of a deeper and more inclusive paradigm, it seems equally crucial that poets, writers, film makers, and other story tellers complete the work of scholars and generate the new stories of the “time to come”. To be sustainable this new vision of gender must embrace all the dimensions of human existence; it must be true, good, and beautiful; it must be sacred; and it must be loving.

Gilles Herrada, Ph.D., is the author of The Missing Myth, A New Vision of Same-Sex Love (SelectBooks, 2013), which presents the first coherent vision of the role of homosexuality in human evolution, and is a contributor in the anthology Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Inquiries (SUNY Series in Integral Theory). Gilles began is career as a research molecular biologist. His work in the fields of reproductive biology and neuroscience has been published in top scientific journals. While at Harvard University he discovered a family of more than 100 genes dedicated to the detection of pheromones, a little known class of molecules present in bodily fluids that play a key role in triggering sexual and dominance behaviors in animals. Today Gilles is a personal development coach and an independent scholar with a specific interest in the evolution of sex and gender in connection with myths and science in human cultures. Herrada is also a regular contributor at the Huffington PostOutElephant Journal, and the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. He lives in New York City.


Jeremy D. Johnson, MA

The intention for this essay is to provide a sufficient basis for believing the opening lines of Ever-Present Origin in the 21st century: “the reaction of a mentality headed for a fall, is only too typical of man in transition” (Gebser 1). Printed in the wake of World War II, on the brink of a Cold War, these lines in 1949 may have seemed even less appropriate then as they do now. And believingthem is not enough. 

Following the initial wave of consciousness culture surrounding, but not limiting Gebser’s legacy in the 1960s and 70s, the backlash, complexities, and shortcomings of somewhat eschatological projections — the Age of Aquarius, the coming shift or mutation in consciousness, etc., — have all proven to be more difficult than their glorious days of inception, intoxicated by the living presence of latent futures. 

This essay intends to merely emphasize certain elements of Gebser’s phenomenology of consciousness, so as to encourage and empower contemporary consciousness scholars with the right methodologies and constructive apprehension of the mixed elements of light and dark, crisis and mutation, present in modern, global society. To borrow from William Irwin Thompson, a new kind of “complex-dynamical” thinking is necessary in order to avoid the pitfalls of intellectual dead ends — in our context both conservative cynicism and technological utopianism. Gebser himself seems to be clear that the structures of consciousness do not emerge neatly, or linearly, as contemporary integral philosopher Ken Wilber has dubbed the “conveyor belt.” Rather, the gestalt pattern of nascent structures appear to be backwards-and-forwards, or “Janus Faced.” Gebser states that this creates a “further complicating circumstance… inherent in the natural condition of our epoch” (Gebser 279). To affirm colleague and Gebser Society president Aaron Cheak, Gebser playfully — as he often tends to be — writes: “‘dissolution’ also contains a ‘solution.’”(Gebser 280)

Building upon this Janus-Faced methodology, this essay will attempt to address some major concerns of the current technologically obsessed age: looking for twinklings of light in the alchemical prima materia. An alternative approach to our age is present. We may look at the manifestations of culture and consciousness critically — discerning the deficient manifestations of the mental structure without losing the golden integral thread. It is that thread we must be careful not to lose as we sift through what has passed, to make room constructively for what is yet to come (and lest we needless bury that hope with blunted cynicism).

In a recent conversation between consciousness culture writer Erik Davis with tech culture writer Gareth Branwyn, Davis noted that “digital culture” was no longer sufficient to describe what comprised our digitally-mediated lives. Rather, he suggests, we are living inside of a digital world . The implications of this idea urges us, like Gebser’s own trans-disciplinary approach, to look to the digital world, in all its facts, its production of art, to work again at the dissolution solution and discern what elements of it are merely the death fog of a hyper-fragmented mental-rational mind, and what clues lie present, perhaps even dormant and nearly invisible of the latent integral awareness — the concretion of the spiritual. There are promising signs of both, what we are sensitive enough to of the latter holds revolutionary potency.

In a civilization about to come undone, it makes little sense to promote utopian or dystopian visions. Rather, the more integral task is to perform something akin to a spiritual surgery — to see the whole of the ailment as best we can and promote the transformation of the patient. 

References — Gebser, Jean. The Ever-present Origin. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 1985; Davies, Erik, and Branwyn, Gareth. Expanding Mind Podcast

Jeremy Johnson is an independent scholar researching myth, media, and religious experience. He received his MA from Goddard College in Consciousness Studies, and is currently applying for the PhD track at Rice University’s Religious Studies program with a GEM concentration (Gnosticism, Esotericism, Mysticism). Jeremy is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich, Community Manager for Evolver, and writes for Disinformation

Birth Consciousness, Formative Consciousness,


Barbara Karlsen

Just as there has been a time when life and mind were not embodied on earth, the higher planes of consciousness may also be waiting their time to become a part of ordinary embodied reality. The human body in symbiosis with nature and cosmos provides a coherent ontology for establishing a higher order of consciousness; a state of creative potentiality marked by a common primal power that inhabits and informs the prima materia of all living organisms. Situating the body in an active site of primal consciousness (Nature) and externalizing our formative consciousness (Origin), we influence everything germinal to becoming human. Participation in this context could be said to characterize the fullness of integral consciousness. Through such participation, one could discover a source of wholeness ordering one’s existence and expression that knows no human, theoretical, temporal or spatial differentiation. Like Gebser’s view of evolution and that of Sri Aurobindo, the notion that the ultimate potentials of human consciousness are enfolded in the origin make it possible for us to conceive of reorganizing new developmental lines by tuning in to our human origins. With a renewed interest in the divine feminine, along with her originary forms and powers, an opening of the entire planet to receive the birth of a new mutation is now possible. These originary powers provide the emerging mutation with an associated way to come into our awareness, and it is pulled towards us. This may be the key to new ontology. Ontology that provides pedagogy for seeding the emergence of a new human being.

Barbara Karlsen is a transformational movement teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. She has been teaching movement-based work for the past twenty years and has led wilderness quest journeys to Antarctica, Peru, Greenland, and Svalbard. In 1991 Barbara met Emilie Conrad the founder of Continuum movement. In her work with Emile she started to familiarize herself with primordial anatomy and movement. With this support and mentoring she engaged more confidently in the nonverbal wisdom expressing through her movement and her body. She became drawn to Somatic Psychology and later to Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology to understand how early developmental and psychological imprints organize our body, our emotions and our behavior. Working with her own pre-conscious memories has given Barbara a personal stake in understanding the transformative and regenerative capacity of the body, and in particular movement. She has developed a movement-based methodology for awakening the 4 key, nonverbal developmental stages of human development: conception, prenatal, birth and attachment. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Transformative Studies Program at California Institute of Integral Studies where her area of inquiry is Eco philosophy and the Feminine Divine: Biogenesis, Psychogenesis and Cosmo-genesis in an Integral Futurology.


Eric Kramer, PhD

We all know what it means to try to change from within, to kick a habit, and we are all addicted to the current techno-economic structures and institutions that promise unending progress toward a utopia of effortless and limitless wealth in energy, things, services, and most of all life. We dedicate ourselves to achieving what this world offers as rewards. And goal of all goals, the ultimate reward of progress is life everlasting. Technology promises to defeat death itself. That is why, for modernists, to question technology is to question their religion, their death-denying delusion, to be a negativist rather than a happy positivist. But as Ernst Becker observed, we are willing to do horrible things in our campaigns to defeat evil — death. Since we, especially we narcissistic moderns, see our own mortality as pure evil, then any activity to enhance life, fun, and leisure, and to prolong life, is justified as self-evidently good. And anyone who challenges that right to pursue happiness is more than a mere naysayer; such a person is on the “other side,” a minion of evil, an enemy of reason and of personal liberty and progress. 

In recent centuries we have been changing from a tribal species to a super-tribal species. A major consequence is that relations are increasingly anonymous, impersonal, and disinterestedly objective. The universe is emptying out and dying. The vacuum that has replaced the thick association of spirit-beings, the space between things is clearly creating dissociation, a lack of empathy. When nothing is watching, we do not take care.

As humanity has moved from animism to pantheism to monotheism and finally the void, as “the people” have fragmented and shrunk to one tribe among many, down to the clan, down to the extended family, down to the nuclear family, down to the hyper-defensive individual who has to find him or herself, identity has become a major concern—at the same time cultures and species are vanishing. Difference is dwindling and monoculture is ascendant. Today Shanghai looks more like New York City in 1930 than Shanghai in 1930. More people in China speak English than people in the United States.

This process of homogenizing convergence, of modernization/westernization liberates us from associations and obligations (car-ing) and enhances material efficiency enabling us to perceive everything as essentially the same, as assemblages of proverbial “building blocks of nature” available to us for manipulation at will. The age of transcendentalism means that history, the plan, subsumes us all. We either conform or are seen as insane. This trend is now on the verge of reducing subjectivity out of existence, of “liberating” us from our uniqueness, our parochial selves. We have become an aggregate of competing individualists. The irony is that that is the grand modern ideology that encourages us all to pursue the same end — hypertrophic individualism.

This situation is absurd. As difference is eliminated so too is meaning. Our condition constitutes a hypertrophic humanism wiping out humans in order to advance humanity. Hypertrophy is the current obsession. On the one hand we have extreme positivism that, in its profound immodesty demands that only one interpretation of reality be allowed and on the other an equally dogmatic insistence that all interpretations are equally valid, that validity itself is not real.

Standardization and technology have exploded. One scale rules the world, mechanical clock time. Other scales such as currencies are slowly converging. Humanity has achieved great power especially in organizational regimentation. But it also makes for a very lonely existence verging on nihilism. For those who are able, consuming can offer some satisfaction. But nothing can replace meaningful human relationships. They are different from having a fetish for electronics, a house, car, or boat.

Standing alone with all else at our feet, humans have no equals, no companions within the ecosphere. Cultures too are hierarchized as first, second, third, and fourth worlds. Philosophies, where they are still recognized at all, are hierarchized with positivism reigning in this era of unchecked power. As Gabriel Marcel (1950-1951 Ger./2001 Eng.) argued, and we agree, everyone has a philosophy, a perspective but only critical self-reflection can make that apparent to us. On the one hand, when reduced to material bits governed by the inviolable laws of physics, human free will and dignity are eliminated. On the other hand, the drive to transcend ourselves also threatens human dignity and unfettered freedom demands that we become more responsible for ourselves. Independence is taking a profound toll.

Increasingly we even regard ourselves as nothing more than objects in space available for arbitrary self-manipulation at the levels of overt social engineering and genetics. Eugenics is one example.

Such dissociation (objective disinterest) involves all relationships, including those between people, and between humans and the rest of nature. Relationships become increasingly engineered and litigious. Because we are strangers to one another we have difficulty forming bonds. And time-pressure is all pervasive leading to phenomena such as speed dating—by the regulating stopwatch. Normative regulation of behavior has given way to institutional and script-based conflict resolution administered by professionals—the legal sphere. And the power-distance between people and between people and other animals has expanded enormously. We share less and less with the Other. In the magic tribal world for instance, shame and glory, joy and sadness, used to be shared among all of the clan, but today the sins of the father are not of the son and my money is mine, not my brother’s. Decisions and consequences become increasingly egocentric. Significant portions of a society can be depressed while other sectors blissfully ignore the situation because they are dissociated and distantiated from one another. Walls and distance or tele-surveillance proliferate. Incarceration is a growth industry. Personal security has become a fashion. Since we can no longer assume that we will come to each other’s aid, carrying hand-guns is not only thinkable but also increasingly commonplace. Welfare, the wellbeing of each one of us is increasingly privatized.

Spatial thinking dominates the modern mind. Alienation is the modern plague. It is rooted in geographic, economic, social and psychological mobility, and isolation—individualism premised on the modern sense of spatial thinking.  Ernst Becker warns that ideologies that give us meaning against the night of nihilism are often defended with fanatical violence so that we do more evil in the preservation of the sacred than the evil we fear. Technology promises to deliver us from the ultimate evil, death and modern hypertrophic perspectivism (narcissism) sees no limits in pursuit of techno-utopia. The paradox is that this pursuit is actually killing not only us but our environment.

Eric Kramer, PhD. For the past 19 years I have been at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Communication. I am also an affiliate faculty of the SIAS Institute and Department of International and Areas Studies and I am also on the faculty of Film and Video Studies. I am the coordinator for the University of Oklahoma’s Advanced Programs graduate studies in International Relations which offers seminars toward a Masters Degree in International Relations in Europe and Asia, and I am liaison between the Department of Communication and the Health Sciences Center of the University of Oklahoma school of medicine in Oklahoma City. I am editor of a book series, Comparative Civilizations and Communication, for Hampton Press. I am a Fellow in The Communicology Institute, and I am a founding director of the European Union Institute of Comparative Cultures.  I serve on the review and editorial boards and have reviewed for several journals including; The Harvard International Journal of Press/PoliticsThe Journal of CommunicationCommunication StudiesThe Journal of Applied CommunicationThe Journal of Intercultural CommunicationThe Howard Journal of Communications, and so forth.  I have directed over 30 doctoral dissertations and my former doctoral students now teach at many places around the world.  Much of my research centers on what is broadly called medium theory and also civilizational studies/intercultural communication. 


Mirco A. Mannucci, PhD

French Hermetic philosopher Pierre Dujols’ famous essay Hypotipose ends up on a seemingly transgressive note: a praise of Putrefaction. A repeated perusal of the great alchemical classics points to a persistent theme: nihil novi sine putrefaction (nothing new without putrefaction). It is this seemingly disgusting loathsome witch that sets the entire Œuvre in motion, enabling the miracle of Ontogenesis, the creation of new forms from old decrepit ones. That much is known. But what really is the hidden face of putrefaction, which Pierre Dujols does not hesitate to call a Fairy? Her very name conjures up a sense of revulsion and gloomy, gothic scenarios. Which magic lies hidden in her unpleasant bosom? What is her liason with that secretum secretorum, the Secret Fire, which adepts have openly declared to be the real agent of the Work? This essay will dare to shed some lights on its mystery, as it manifests itself in the alchemist miniature world, in the vicissitudes of human consciousness, as well as in the greater alchemical laboratory which we call universe. Practical hints will be given to let the Fairy run her course.

Dr. Mirco A. Mannucci, is, in his own neologism, a holomath, i.e. that special breed of polymath who ceaselessly strives to link the tangled threads of his multifarious interests into an compact whole. A mathematician, a writer, an inveterate traveler, a practitioner of the internal arts, a Waldgänger, an ascetic hedonist, he has rejected the artificial borders of so-called education to reach that twilight zone where the Great Work begins.


Nicola Masciandaro, PhD 

Keynote Presentation

Jean Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin, in keeping with the seeming paradox of its titular concept, may be said to be saturated with the problem/question of birth to the point of erasure. On the one hand, its understanding of the mutative evolution of consciousness is thoroughly general and collective, sited within the universality of mankind and the scientistic episteme of the human ‘we’. It address our crisis, the crisis of the mutable world we happen to inhabit. From this perspective, the work leaves scant room for the radical asymmetry of individuated coming-to-be and expresses almost nothing of its hypersubjective existential terror. It is difficult to imagine Gebser, in communion with Cioran, either “long[ing] to be free . . . as the stillborn are free” or claiming that lack of “mourning and lamentations” over birth is the best “proof of how far humanity has regressed.” On the other hand, by bringing the mutations of consciousness wholly to bear upon the imperative of the present, Gebser’s work is integrally ordered precisely towards the solution of individual birth, the evaporation of the all-too-specific enigma of one’s being here, now. Its weight places itself squarely upon the singular ‘anyone’ or ‘someone’ who “supersedes ‘beginning’ and ‘end’,” who alone “knows of origin [and] has present, living and dying in the whole.” Like the fact of one’s own being born, the impossible and inevitable event of oneself which makes suicide always-already too late, the question of birth is not elided but rather made absently present in Gebser’s thought. Beginning, then, with the assumption that Ever-Present Origin’s non-treatment of the question of birth represents in these terms a significant form of spiritual refusal or silent negation of birth, my paper investigates the aperspectival structure of the phenomenon of birth by bringing Gebser’s thought into dialogue with more traditional concepts of mystical becoming, in particular those found in the writings of Meister Eckhart and Meher Baba,  according to which spiritual evolution follows the pattern of more radically singular self/world-negation and individualized salvation or God-realization. As birth is a ‘ready-made’ aperspectival and four-dimensional truth par excellence—subjective, objective, both, and neither—so is it precisely the (w)hole one’s leap into which is the next mutation of human consciousness.    

Nicola Masciandaro is Professor of English at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a specialist in medieval literature. His work falls between philosophy, mysticism, and criticism, with special attention to the topics of sorrow, decapitation, and commentary. Recent publications include “Paradisical Pessimism: On the Crucifixion Darkness and the Cosmic Materiality of Sorrow” (Qui Parle, 2014), Sufficient Unto the Day: Sermones Contra Solicitudinem (Schism, 2014), and Dark Nights of the Universe, co-authored with Daniel Colucciello Barber, Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker (NAME, 2013). Current/forthcoming projects include: Floating Tomb: Black Metal, Theory, and Mysticism, co-authored with Edia Connole (Mimesis); Sorrow Of Being; and Dark Wounds of Light, co-authored with Alina Popa. He is founding editor of the journal Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary.


David Masten 

Jean Gebser’s attitude to Novalis is understandably mixed in such a way that requires our careful attention. His famous articulation of the aperspectival in The Ever-Present Origin begins with a high appraisal of Novalis’ “unequivocal message”. Gebser cites several fragments of Novalis’ Philosophical Writings owing to their “true clarity” of expression. Furthermore, he singles out Novalis and Hufeland as the “two great figures” following the French Revolution to provide a new form of statement. He esteems the poet’s ability to transmit what is most important, going so far as to say that this message is “…nothing less than a description of what we have called the aperspectival world”. Whereas, Gebser’s occasional critique of Novalis concerns itself with upsetting any lingering “mythical” sentiments. In particular, he faults Novalis for “coupling origin and telos” and generally charges him with “failing to distinguish mentally” between them. The result of this apparent mistake is a pre-modern “androgyny” reminiscent of “Egyptian scarab symbolism”, a procedure which “traces development back to beginnings”. An important nuance obtains in Gebser’s account of Novalis, for on the one hand in his appraisal he esteems Novalis’ transparency through which “the world can return to (the) free life [of origin]” while on the other his thought sometimes remains muddled through the coupling of origin and telos, persisting nevertheless as an “error of countless others”. For an aperspectival message so unequivocal, there is surprisingly a lot of miscommunication! What, ultimately, is the secret message of “sophia” (for Novalis) and “satori” (for Gebser)?

David Masten is a student in English at the University of Florida. He began his undergraduate career studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering before independently realizing his true academic interests in philosophical theology. His autodidacticism originally led him to alternatively pursue courses in Mathematics, owing to a growing interest in abstract and formal conceptual frameworks. However, beneath the rigorous conceptuality of pure mathematics, the non-conceptual creative activity of English ultimately captured his attention. David locates beneath the social image of Novalis as the charming poster-child poet of German Romanticism a deeper philosophical logic of creativity called a “Mathematics of mathematics”. His recent research considers Novalis’ operative “matrix” of peace as a non-theological supplement to enrich Francois Laruelle’s non-philosophical stance. David takes care to appreciate and remain open to the many cosmic ironies which pervade his life and work to date. He is a preacher’s kid who has recently (finally!) embraced this stereotype as a cultural symptom by accepting his “calling” to attend seminary. 


Rick Muller, PhD

Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity. That is why responses to fear, the unexpected and the unknown, are so overwhelming. Research suggests the residual effect of fear lasts longer than that of pleasure among humans. Is this a fundamental biologically encoded reaction? If so it initiates modern humans to move experiences and objects from the mental category of the unknown/feared into the mental category of the known. Doing so creates familiarity, safety, protection and the illusion of control. The historical artifacts of this process include rituals, taboos, social and familial structures, belief, dogmas, religion, law and science. All are reactions; all are protections from the ever-present inherent sense of fear, the unknown, the invisible and the ineffable.

To understand modernity or what Gebser refers to as the mental rational requires one to have a greater sense of how the archaic/magic contributes to humanity’s response to fear. This paper suggests that fear is an initiating factor and an underlying foundation for human choice; one that affects the structuring of community, society, religion, values and ethics. One modern effort to covertly undermine the residual certainty of Gebser’s mental rational, of the Enlightenment, of Romanticism, of the Industrial and Scientific revolutions comes from within the mental rational itself. The uncanny, while predominantly mental and psychological in nature, continues to bore out of the core of modernity creating a space for the archaic, magic and mythic attributes to flourish within a fading western mental rational construction of the human world.

The ongoing disintegration of certainty frees the inherent fears from their protective structures to irrupt into individual human consciousness and everyday life. Fear, the unknown, the fear of the unknown and in modernity the fear of the perceived known continues to rattle the foundations of belief, creation, personal and collective behavior. Western anxiety is born of the social and cultural byproducts that were meant to protect humanity from fear. But do these protections and structures actually protect; if so, from what? What occurs when the protective membrane disintegrates, dissipates, becomes transparent? Death?

Rick Muller, Ph.D., is affiliate professor at Regis University’s (Denver, CO) Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Professions where he teaches accounting, finance and economics for the master’s degree in nursing program. His most recent publications include using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Ignatian Pedagogy Model for Improved Learning in Jesuit Higher Education, May 2014]; Hitting the Financial Knowledge Target in Nursing Management, October 2013 and he provided editorial assistance for an article about the current issues confronting Venezuela (April 2014) in Winds and Waves, the magazine for the Institute of Cultural Affairs International.


Lisa Neville , PhD

Heidegger claims in “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” that philosophy as it has been carried out in the West, that is, Metaphysics, has completed itself in technological scientific rationalism and that the “operational character of representational-calculative thinking” is now the dominant mode of inquiry. Those who know the work of Jean Gebser will recognize in Heidegger’s characterizations the deficient mode of the mental structure and the form of deliberation Gebser defines as “the spatializing superimposition of thought onto phenomena and objects” (152).  The over-emphasis on spatiality is one of two poles – the other is an anxiety about and flight from, time – that constitute for Gebser the tension “of an epoch which has outlived itself.” This is the epoch to which we belong, one that rather than ceding its inability to emerge from a state of perpetual crisis bloats and swells like a corpse filling with gas in a frenzied striving to beat every earthly purpose into one final destination; a never-ending and endlessly destructive expansion of power and profit.  When Heidegger asks what task is reserved for thinking at this time in history, he is speaking to a reserve that was always-already unfolding as origin. It is a questioning of thinking as a prelude to ushering the integral. What is the way of our thinking if we are to develop our capacities to aware, integrate and make transparent that which is in us which calls us to know it as ourselves?   

I suggest here that such a way – a thinking appropriate to the current threshold – may look very much like what is called poetry.  I do not mean that the resemblance is in any way a formal one; I mean that as, J. H. Prynne puts it “the active process of thinking … is poetic work.”  The focus of my own effort of thought has been to explore the conjunctions of soteriology and active poetic praxis.  Elsewhere, I develop an understanding of language as a dynamic of self-emptying and reconstructive engagements that codetermine and co-express a continually arising and extinguishing reality.  The thinking which pertains to this dynamic of perpetual and consistent interchange of kenosis/poesis – emanates from and remains intimate with what Gebser terms the “itself,” the identity of origin that suffuses and pervades everything and ourselves. A task of that thinking is to persist in contact with that intensity “which pervades or ‘shines through’ everything in which the diaphanous spirituality…is able to become transparent.”  As poetic thought renders visible and thus forms an expression of  “new mutation” (135),  thinking  at the end of philosophy is revalorized as enargeia.  

Lisa Neville, PhD: I am a writer of both creative and critical texts.  I attained an MFA in fiction and am currently ABD in English Literature from Cornell University.  My field of specialization is Twentieth Century American literature, poetics and East-West studies. My research interests, aside from the above are consciousness studies, Buddhist philosophy and praxis, language theory, film, narrative, and ontology. For the past eight years I have been employed as a full-time Senior Lecturer at the State University of New York, Cortland.  There I teach film, poetry, theory and writing.  


Dave Sohigian 

The concept that societal values and individual attitudes change on a cyclical basis underlies generational theory as proposed by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book “The Fourth Turning”. The authors posit that a cycle repeats approximately every 100 years, culminating in a massive crisis such as WWII, the Civil War, the American Revolution. They contend we are moving into a crisis period. The cyclical nature of the generation theory suggests that a deficient expression of the mythical structure of consciousness influences our actions. 

By understanding the impact of generational cycles, individuals can discern between short-term crises and renewal from larger transitions in consciousness. Much like the difference between climate (long-term trends) and weather (short-term effects), people might misinterpret short-term effects of generations as indicators of long-term changes in society. The phases of the generational cycle are like the seasons of the year: Each season possesses characteristic conditions. Just as a particularly harsh winter isn’t the sole indicator of climate change, a generational crisis may not herald the direction of a consciousness shift.

In this session, I shall explore the basic concepts of generational theory to give the listener a foundation on which to build. We shall discuss how these theories apply to our current societal shifts. We shall also discuss how this may or may not influence the shift into the Integral Consciousness.

Dave Sohigian: I have been asking questions about the meaning of existence since I was a teen. A course in shamanism with Michael Harner in the 1980’s opened a door into a non-mainstream spiritual exploration. In my professional life, I began as a juggler, paying my way through U.C., Davis by performing. When I graduated from the enology program, I became a brewer who also taught. After a decade, I moved into the technology industry, concentrating on technical training, programming and sales engineering. During all of my work, including the brewing and juggling, I have focused on delivering engaging and compelling presentations that make complex subjects accessible, entertaining and thought provoking to both laymen and professionals. Over the past seven years, my desire to explore the undercurrents that drive behavior in individuals and society has fueled my research into generational cycles. Neil Howe, one of the originators of modern generational theory, and I have become friends who have a rich exchange of ideas. 


Jonathan D. (Jack) Suss, PhD 

First I survey the crisis: Whatever constitutional republic that was first established has been disestablished by stealth.  Law and jurisprudence have been perverted into a corrupt exposition of the laws; a mere national myth, a pretense and a façade.  American government is now USA, Inc., a shadow system in which birth certificates and all government-related identity documents designate the citizen “strawman” by spelling the name in all capital letters; in this way, jurisdictional control is exercised over We the People (via equity and admiralty law and its statutes, regulations, rules, and judge-made case law). This false system of law and jurisprudence enslaves citizens to a neo-serfdom under a corpocracy. [1]  Deficient mental human systems are thus preserved. [2]  The cognitive dissonance caused by apprehending this legal culture has precipitated an identity crisis, or disorienting dilemma, among those who have some sense of how consensual reality has allowed this sham legal culture trance to triumph.  

Secondly I examine the mutational catalyst: An intensifying integral consciousness is emerging as people learn the truth about deficient mental legal culture: a false system meant to confuse, oppress, and prevent people from realizing their true identities in order to aspire to their optimal human potential. Simultaneously they are discovering the true nature and innate power of their authentic, sovereign selves.  This has the effect of assailing status quo legal culture while reshaping law and jurisprudence within the container and mirror of the Western Legal Tradition (“WLT”).  [3] Integral values of justice, truth and righteousness, guided by love and Spirit, are dismantling the old and reconstructing the new by way of integral jurisprudence (akin to Gebser’s aperspectival  jurisprudence).

Refs — [1] Corpocracy can be defined as rule by mega-corporations (e.g, international banking, big media, the energy, legal and medical cartels) in conjunction with the enabling collusion of government (viz., a network of governments) that includes intelligence and military support. (Perkins, J., 2004; Rappoport, J., 2003. This has been engineered by a plutocratic global network of elites who use corporate surrogates to enforce their New World Order agenda. [2] E.g., the unlawful and unconstitutional income tax, and money and banking systems. The proof is persuasive, having been slowly pieced together by diligent citizen-researchers, including a handful of lawyers. [3] For example, consider the new practice models of restorative justice, collaborative law, holistic law, therapeutic jurisprudence, truth and reconciliation, and The Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law, and Politics (that grew out of Critical Legal Studies Movement), et al.; also, according to research conducted by Ray and Anderson (2000), there is an increasing segment of the population, coming to be known as “cultural creatives,” who reject the values of the status quo and instead embrace what can be construed as integral values. [4]  Viz., the “irruption of time” in law, a supersession of dualism, and a tendency toward arationality.

Jack Suss, PhD: Writer, poet and musician, this researcher of law, integral values and cryptocracy examines and questions the world’s artificial constructs. He seeks out those people and organizations who are non-aligned with the status quo (i.e., not compromised or co-opted into false consciousness). Jonathan D. (Jack) Suss is a cultural mutant multi-career virtuoso (aspiring film producer, one-time military JAGC officer, lawyer, English professor, Ph.D. in Humanities) – and a tireless poet-fighter against the “glare” of consensual reality and culture trance who often believes that he is doomed to live the scruffy life of a bluesman (viz., Stubby Knuckles, Blues Piano Player and Singer). A hard-working creative loafer, Suss is now in semi-retirement from his string of seemingly unconnected endeavors (as chronicled below). Bereft of ambition to “be” anything further in this phony baloney world, he bemoans the decline of the authentic and agitates for the demise of corpocracy’s TV bumperoo/techno-soul-snatching and a return to more primal simplicities. Member of Board of Directors & Vice President: Chesapeake Film Festival, Easton, MD. 


Sabrina Dalla Valle, MFA

“Dazzling and tremendous / how quick the sunrise would kill me, / if I could not now and always / send sunrise out of me” (Walt Whitman). I am working on a book-length poetic sequence of experimental writing titled Brides of Space (phrase taken from Maeterlinck’s The Life of the Bee). This is a modern-day eclogue about the relationship between language and honeybees where I test what I can know outside of the life of my own language, and if I can translate this back into language. I observe bees from all angles–from entomology to etymology– and hope-fully I explore this in a new way that doesn’t idealize, symbolize, objectify, or anthropomorphize the honeybee. I ask the following questions. Can we apprehend the bee without looking at ourselves? Can we explore the basic crisis of consciousness that arises out of this separation between subject and object? Can poetic insight lead us to an experience of the bee in its full context of life beyond what the senses reveal or what language speaks? 

Bj-t is a word from the ancient Egyptian language that means both ‘bee’ and ‘word’. The honeybee primarily relies on the sun for orientation and communication. However, the bee lives in constant physical tension with the light and must dampen its corporal affects with her own poison to survive. In this, a medium of self-created twilight, she becomes the text of the visible world that surrounds her. This work is a phenomenological poetic experiment intended to bring the basic dynamic of light and darkness alive within the listener. A short abbreviated excerpt will be read by a concert of voices from University of Philo-sophical Research in Los Angeles, CA.

Sabrina Dalla Valle, MFA, is an experimental and academic writer. She received her BA in Anthropology from Reed College and her MFA in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California. Her greatest interest is in the poetic imagination as an aspect of both phenomenological perception and authentic integral expression. She is the author of 7 Days and Nights in the Desert (Tracing the Origin) (2013, Kelsey Street Press, winner of best first book); 7 Days and Nights in the Desert, chapbook (2012, Mindmade Books); “Resignify” in Best Poems of 2012 (2013, Kore Press); and “The Alchemical Khiasmos: Counter-Stretched Harmony and Divine Self-Perception” co-authored with Aaron Cheak in Alchemical Traditions (2013, Numen Books). Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous journals – notably Shadowbox MagazineCaketrainNew York QuarterlyJMWWCezanne’s Carrot, and Gently Read Literature, amongst others. Sabrina lives in Los Angeles, CA where she teaches writing and consciousness studies as an adjunct professor for the University of Philosophical Research.  


David Worth, PhD

The self is increasingly triangulated through various mental-rational instruments. I am represented and fragmented throughout the internet. In person occurrences must be documented.  Kids light themselves on fire to be seen on YouTube. To be seen. A visiocentric self emerges. If we have been focused on seeing for a while now, we are now focused on being seen. As Martin (2014) writes, “Andy Warhol got it almost right: In the future, everyone will try to be famous for 15 minutes.” As the saying goes, if it isn’t worth posting, it isn’t worth doing. As the other saying goes, may your life be as interesting as it is on Facebook. The self wants to be seen but only through controlled channels. Many people seem live only on fragmented internet time. They want the panopticon, Bentham’s, but in reverse. All the cells look at ME on the center. Sure, I’m watching you, but more importantly, you all are watching me. Never has atomization, as Gebser (1991) described it, been more prevalent. 

As Mickunas argues, when I realize that a lifeworld does not allow me to self-create autonomously, I have suspended my participation in that lifeworld and become aware of it from another perspective. He calls this this perspectivity the “price of freedom” to choose lifeworlds. Thus, self-worth is the grounding for all values. Mickunas applies this principle to the public sphere, concluding that the maintenance of a healthy public sphere is no longer possible because modern conceptions of the self are temporalized, focused on permanence enhancement. This focus leads to the dominance of rhetoric hat emphasizes security over all else. We are left with a polis that wants to avoid death more than it wants to elaborate on the possibilities of life.  

People were most likely much more interesting a hundred years ago, when, for example, the US regional accents varied in as little a distance as 50 miles. Radio and television changed that, as did highways and airplanes. We might ask just as well whether people were more interesting 20 years ago, when most people had no internet access or mobile telephones. I have had undergraduates tell me they wished they lived then, “when it wasn’t so easy to be distracted,” when there weren’t a thousand internet rabbit holes to fall into at an moment. They were sincere. We now have applications to free us from the hell of dealing with the endless logins and passwords that increasingly rule everything that we do. If most of what I need to do is access-controlled, by others, and much of what I do constitutes who I am, this is a problem. The self is increasingly pulled apart. This work will ask, from a Gebserian attitude, whether the self as we have known it is any longer possible and if so, what counts as self-worth in a world in transition. 

Refs — Gebser, J. (1991). The Ever-Present Origin. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. Martin, C. (2014). “Selfie-Love.”  Mickunas, A. (2008). Transcendental Ground of All Values. Filosofija, sociologija. T. 19. Nr. 3, p. 38–48. 

Dr. Worth is the Director of the George R. Brown Forensics Society and Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities. He has been at Rice since 2002. He has been coaching intercollegiate speech and debate since 1993. He has taught a wide variety of students, from high school to traditional and “nontraditional” community college and university students, to military personnel both at home and abroad. His research interests are in pedagogy of forensics, critical-cultural studies of communication, communication and space, philosophy of communication, and rhetorical theory.

Conference Conveners:

Jeremy Johnson
Conference convenor


Aaron Cheak 
Society President, conference coordinator