M A R T H A S E N G E R
Martha Senger, poet, social clairvoyant, action artist, nonprofit housing developer, alchemical new science philosopher and scholar, is also a revolutionary activist, engaged in promoting a new paradigm called Aesthetic Phase Shift.
As a founder of the G2 Institute for Integral Aesthetics, development team coordinator of the Goodman2 community art/live/work complex, radical facilitator and trouble-shooter for the defense and evolution of the original Goodman Building in San Francisco, California, Martha is an insightful futurist. She says: “We need a rebirth of passion — not as charisma but as wisdom and shared desire.”
Her ability to name precise distinctions and see and illuminate inherent connections and relationships in social phenomena has informed and challenged my life and those of some of my closest friends for decades. Martha, together with numbers of others, including lawyers, city planners, architects, artists and community activists — a constellation of individuals — formed a nexus to succeed in the task of rebirthing a famous community of artists
Martha says: “The artist has abdicated his responsibility. The artist has got to remake the world. The artist has got to take another role besides that of being solely an image-maker.”
A profound researcher into possible less restrictive and more equal worlds, Martha talks about evolution and radical economics as being “...a mystical concept. It’sparticipatory, but not in the way you can predict. Experiments are very important. The Greens have made immense steps towards the elements of a new existence. Ecology, new physics, appropriate technology, anarchism. But these are still too simplified. You cannot talk about something in a dogmatic way. Poetic dialogue is necessary.
In the late autumn of 1990 I was invited to do a series of dialogues with Martha and write them up for Vox Magazine. We held our conversations in a number of different cafes, over lunch and after work. At the time, the non-profit ArtSpace Development Corporation occupied an office near the corner of Valencia and 16th Street in San Francisco. The article for Vox was duly completed, but much of the interview material went unused. At the time the Goodman2 project was still in blue prints and getting final approvals from The City. Martha had been working full-time on this, it seemed to me, forever. From time to time she and I had collaborated on a number of projects: a film, a group of performance pieces, participatory art/poetry events, fundraisers and committee work. In 1990, the following conversation seemed well ahead of the times. I did transcribe the tape. Then I put everything into a box.
The following years saw the miracle accomplishments of the construction of the Goodman2 community art/live/work complex which took advantage of economical funding strategies, fifth dimensional architecture and considerable community organizing. A group of artists was chosen by lottery and 3 The original Goodman Building, circa. 1978. Photo: Ted Milikin Front step of Goodman Building, 1117 Geary St. San Francisco. Goodman2 opened 1995 on Potrero Hil, San Francisco. Photo: David Baker Associates moved in, including five artists from the original Goodman Building. At the time of this writing, Goodman2 can consider itself an embryonic community — it hasn't yet reached the level of engagement hoped for in this interview. Many of us see the building and the entire Goodman2 project as the development and launch of a new kind of vehicle that Martha calls an urban space probe. A powerful resource for a long time into the future. This interview, partly edited from the tapes we recorded in September, 1990, and partly expanded to include new material, some as fresh as to incorporate a bit of her thinking during the present time, winter, 2007, shows the apt, resonant, wildly beautiful way Martha puts forth a body of ideas, scholarship and poetry, uniquely her own, but also representative of a universal, revolutionary movement.
Martha Senger doodle contrasting the integral dynamics of the vortex sphere with the fixed Cartesian Grid
Tony: Why is it so hard to create meaningful dialogue in our society today?
Martha: Because our whole mode of existence is so split. So deeply pathological. That's the basic fact. How to depathologize our lives, this is the real ecological task. To do it, and this is Murray Bookchin writing in his bookToward An Ecological Society — to do it is to say, 4 for God's sake, let us look at the processes of nature! But in these times there has been a radical displacement of the process of living, of the purpose of living — which is to live experimentally, and to fully actualize the potential, the real potential that everybody has. Everybody is uniquely creative. We have to deconstruct the partition between the artist and the non-artist.
Tony: What's causing the pathology?
Martha: The walls themselves — the dominant, hierarchical structures — are the barrier to any kind of authentic existence. The authentic life that only comes from small, self-determining groups. Complex groups. Complex because they're interconnected at many levels and have control of their own environments. But we've now got to the incredibly dangerous thinning and simplification of life — of human relationships. There's a phrase I think Lewis Mumford used. He said we are “down-building our complexity.” The entire culture is down-building. And as this happens, complexity is downgraded because it is factored out. Then entropy and disorder set in, and if this trend isn’t consciously reversed, we’re headed for what Gregory Bateson called an evolutionary cul-de-sac. New ideas come out of people not being falsely separated from one another and from their work. There are two major areas of separation. Of course, the issue of a person being divorced from the process and product of his or her own labor goes back to the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism ... to the beginning of a labor force that is alienated from its own work. That's why I feel that live/work is such a — and I've used this term really thoughtfully — a revolutionary idea.
Tony: Today’s world is primarily centered on immersion in the world of corporate fashion, corporate design, getting a good job, being obedient to authority. Not social evolution. Martha: But
Martha: But culture could be sharing meaning, not just trendy information. Sharing the wealth that we, as human beings, offer each other. That's a free-flowing kind of process where subject and object no longer are opposed to one another. Then we move into a synchronous stream of knowing and being. Ecologists and other systems thinkers have also ferreted out over the last couple of decades the whole notion of an organism as being — the whole universe — as being recursive — self-organizing. All these findings in ecology and new physics simply corroborate the intuitive understanding of people, especially artists, of all time. But power structures everywhere disallow the bottom line conditions for true freedom or culture to arise with their ‘iron cage.’ That's what the sociologist Max Weber called it. Tony: Culture defines our values and our labor. Sometimes it can work the other way around. Martha: We're still in the grips of that Puritanical notion that you work — you labor — (this is Lutheran) — you labor to achieve your salvation. Any departure from that — the whole guilt around it in the obsessive notion of work as labor — is what we're still in. It's such a subtle thing. Because of it we don't have any comfortable notion in our culture of what work is. We need a redefinition of work. And the artist's work is... you know I’ve just been going back and reading Marx again. Early on in his writings — the whole nut where he was coming from was the exploitation of labor. Because he understood work as being the identity of a person. And that capital ripped that off. And sucked a person dry of their very identity and essence when it stole their labor for a wage and turned it into a dead thing. Which mysteriously transformed the thing produced — the commodity —into a fetish! A substitute object of desire whose spell we still haven’t broken.
Tony: What about the will to prestige, power and wealth in our culture? The superstar musician, painters, novelists etc?
Martha: If you and I devoted our efforts to making money and not making art, we’d be rich. But that’s not our goal. It’s not hard to make money. If you're into making money, that’s what you make. You make dead matter. But it takes leisure to live a life — to pick up the rhythms. It takes time, you have to live it before you can do art about it. Too often artists look at what they are producing as being a product to put out there rather than being radically aware — in almost a Zen sense — only more formal — that their life is a protohuman life. It’s these lives the world needs to see — not the products. Forget the products. What is life? What is existence? Joseph Beuys talked about art as social sculpture — about democratic connectivity and process being the sine qua non of creativity.
This almost leaps ahead of the radical truth of what is a philosophical question. Before we can solve any problems we have to find out — what is the problem of being human? And what is human? Is there a design in nature? What is the place of history? Of mind? And work? If we're to go beyond postmodern irony and pastiche we must re-ask ourselves these questions — questions about the possible form of a new way of life — or we're heading for a new dark age.
I remember Marcia Kimmell talked about the Goodman Building being ‘all stars.’ Everybody who lived there was a star. I think one of the things that frightens people 7 Berkeley Barb photo by Janet Fries away from the notion of community is that it's going to average everything down. But the experience of the Goodman Building was just the opposite. In fact Sartre said “The group-in-fusion is the resurrection of free dom.” So the notion of community is for the sake of community — but it comes about through empowering each individual’s own expressive needs. The eros of the interchange is so alive — so wild...
Martha: Truly. I just remember a thing I wrote about in my storefront installation — Goodman Engage. Living and working at the building was an epiphany experience of becoming aware of our historical existence. And the awareness that it was — I don't want to use the word “ordained” — it gives the wrong sense to it — but it was a radical participation in a world-wide movement — an historical drama actually. The decisions we made at the building were so literally cutting-edge. We were doing the most impossible kinds of actions together. And it would be dangerous at times — especially had we not been aware that we were functioning from an ideal, archetypal base. Our revolution was about doing and preserving a beautiful way of living. And not just to preserve it but to let it flower. Life becoming truly manifest — in a kind of awe. It was like being caught up in a superconductive state — again reading in physics this really fascinating idea — where particles come into phase with one another — it’s described as a ‘change of state.’ That was the feeling I had at the original Goodman Building. There was that sense of dramatic, phased coordination that was totally spontaneous — a feeling of being choreographed by the archetypes we'd evoke at our gatherings. Of being drawn together by a shared idea that’'s circling around itself — like a torus. 8 Always speaking from the deepest place. Whether one was being pissed off at somebody — or at some situation. But working through all that we phased our thinking.
Tony: One of the important points you make is that the power found in collective participation can also deepen the individual person. We cannot have a profoundly individual, democratic person unless the overall situation, the group, the community, neighborhoods, personal relationships are deepened.
Martha: A good example of such a person would be Niccolo Caldararo, who lived in the building during the time we were beginning to organize ourselves. Nick was, without question, the charismatic visionary who was responsible for inspiring a loose assortment of artists to rise up as a group and resist Redevelopment’s takeover of the building so it might become a vehicle for our liberation, and the liberation of others. It was Nick who led the group to incorporate itself as the Goodman Group, Inc., secure legal defense, and then work with our attorneys to build a case against eviction and relocation as individuals and our right to be relocated as a group based on the collective nature of our work and our first amendment right to assemble! Then it was he who first moved to ‘liberate’ the storefronts — the first event was a free film festival — and turn them into the neighborhood art center they became. Nick had been a student of Paul Goodman at San Francisco State. He wrote the following in an early in-house communication: “We've saved The Goodman for the present and plan to use it as our base to turn the tide of creation versus destruction in our community. It is a classroom without walls. Our tools are culture, and humanity is gasping.” Another quote I have here is from a manifesto he wrote: “We see ourselves as politically or socially aware artists. 9 Niccolo Caldararo and other Goodman artists at the old Foster’s coffeehouse on Van Ness and Geary near the original Goodman Building. photographer unknown As art is both an expression of culture and of intellect, of origins, environment and individual experience — we cannot ignore our place in society, nor evade our responsibility to effect the march of events in our time. As artists are students and fabricators of culture, so we must protect the positive value of the creations of the past and forge the vision and the arrival of the future.”
Tony: You gave me a list of quotations to look at. One I found very interesting is what the experimental/experiential architect Paolo Soleri says: “The return to nature is about the opposite of what it is pictured to be. It is the rediscovery of congruence between the part and the whole.”
Martha: Yes. And without it the structure of things — the evolutionary vector in fact — falls apart. Which is what our explosive materialism is causing to happen. According to Soleri — and in this he's in agreement with Teilhard de Chardin — evolution is a complexifying process that synthesizes parts into wholes — a spiraling movement that compresses, complexity emerging as entropy gets cut away. This process continues until we get the message of how it happens — how it's structured and our role in the process. At this moment, of seeing and synchronizing with it — and with the image of unity or wholeness that keeps it turning — the evolutionary curve will double back on itself and shift to a higher state— to the harmonic convergence Chardin predicted.
Fusing Art, Life & the Cosmos
Through research, dialogue with the advisory board of the G2 Institute (of which I’m the founding director) and a paradigm shifting experience, I’ve developed a theory and praxis of integral aesthetics. Understood as a trans-modern synthesis of the spheres of value that became separated at the time of the Enlightenment when truth (as science) was separated from beauty (as art) and goodness (as morality under the law); integral aesthetics reunites the spheres and art is superceded as an autonomous domain to become the matrix of a higher dimensional reality principle. In this ‘aesthetic phase shift’ which coincides with the evolutionary “chaos point” predicted to occur in or around 2012, there’s a mutation of time, consciousness, matter, and global institutions; a transcendental reduction and ‘re-writing’ of history in which entropy is reduced as wholeness emerges in a reappropriation of what Marxist critic Frederic Jameson has called “mythic symbolism” and “utopian temporality.”
An Aesthetic Theory & Praxis of Everything
A cultural parallel to the ‘Theory of Everything’ in postmodern physics that’s uniting relativity with quantum mechanics through the five-fold rotational geometry of ‘loop’ quantum gravity, in the following essay I relate this recursive form to other disciplines and explore their shared implications for a co-evolution of art and the socius, including an integral architecture, reconstructed economy, restoration of the environment, and recovery of the Other.
. Especially relevant to this emerging synthesis is quantum gravity’s revelation that potential wholeness, meaning and beauty unfold between the worlds of matter and mind not through deterministic means but through analogue, aesthetic judgement. Recently associated with ‘dark matter’ as the cosmos’ quintessential fifth element that comprises over 90 percent of the mass of a rapidly expanding cosmos - its fractal rotation and golden mean symmetry reduces mass and entropy as it/we unfold higher information in an anamnetic recovery of the proto-aesthetic configuration of our ever-present Origin.
Within this geometry of the collective unconscious imagination, the goal of the modernist avant-garde to unify form and life - which proved impossible within the constraints of the four-dimensional spacetime geometries of the cube, cylinder, sphere and autonomous art - can finally be realized in a five-dimensional abstraction in quintessential phase space.
The Iconic Torus
The self-organizing geometry of this new abstraction is the vortex sphere or torus, the double-spiral helix that’s been seen by cultures since the Neolithic to symbolize the flow they experienced between nature and psyche, male and female, chaos and order. A vortical flow form, the torus is constellated by wratcheting icosahedra and dodecahedra spinning and nesting in fractal golden mean proportions. In Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter described this analogue patterning as ‘an eternally rising canon’ and an ’eternal golden braid.’
A Quantum Holomovement of Dark Matter
In Science, Order, and Creativity, physicist David Bohm described such a flow as a patterned, subquantum ‘holomovement’ between an underlying ‘implicate’ order of dark matter and the ‘explicate’ order we ordinarily perceive. “A dense gas of electrons” the holomovement “exhibits radically different behavior from other, normal states of matter, a highly organized system which behaves as a whole...almost like a living being.” He added “I was fascinated with the question of how such organized collective behavior could go along with the almost complete freedom of movement of the individual electrons. I saw in this an analogy to what society could be, and perhaps as to how living beings are organized.”
Metamorphosis & the Primary Imagination
Unfolding in a radically de-reconstructive process Bohm compared to the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, the holomovement unfolds creatively and improvisationally through the primary imagination, making it critical that we know our role in its shaping because we can and do block it with the fragmented, hierarchical thought patterns and technologies we impose
Superceding the Form/Life Dichotomy
The evolutionary implications of this aesthetic ordering are enormous. Validating the formative cosmic process that underlies art finally makes it possible to rescue form from the purist position it held in modern art and reappropriate it as a dynamical co-ordering pattern between the utopian ideals of the collective unconscious and the repressive conditions of our objectified, reified world. This in turn makes it possible to supercede the form/life dichotomy that’s plagued western philosophy since the 17th century. And with the aid of an ancient icon newly revealed as the archetypal form of the cosmic evolutionary process, replace the empty images that assault us with a subversive sign that resists commodification - a symbol laden map of a harmoniously mediated totality.
Frederic Jameson: Reappropriating Mythic Symbolism
This formative process and the synthesis it represents foregrounds the abstracting, deconstructive role of the negative, the aesthetic imagination, in reducing mass and entropy as it creates increasingly complex and coherent configurations. It thus fulfills the classic longing for abstraction from the concrete object Marxist critic Frederic Jameson described in The Cultural Turn, ‘changing the object’ and leading to a ‘utopian temporality.’ What this implies is not the dissolution of the figural dynamics of aesthetics but their conscious activation within what Jameson called “the broad daylight and transparency of praxis itself.” In this aesthetic sublation, consciousness reappropriates the mythic symbolism of an earlier art epoch but with a grasp of form as the ‘form of content,’ as the structure of a ceaseless, and sublime, self-production.
Spiraling Fractals, the Golden Ratio & A Shared Sense of Beauty
The ratio governing this reduction is the golden mean which in its fractal incarnation turns out to derive from a shared sense of beauty, as Kant proposed, a ratio that’s provided the measure of nature’s harmonic proportions since Pythagoras. Within the context of an integral aesthetics, it reappears as the ratio of an aestheticized reason and a reconceived reality principle and praxis.
An ‘Edge of Chaos’ Trajectory in Phase Space
In this aesthetic sublation, an ongoing sublimation-cum-distillation of ‘objective conditions’ takes place in synch with the subjective desires of an evolving community (Kant’s ‘sensus communis’) through analogue discourse – a collective iteration of shared aesthetic judgment that proceeds by a golden mean ratio. In this ‘edge-of-chaos’ process coherence increases as complexity unfolds along a spiraling fractal trajectory in five- dimensional phase (or hyper) space.
In A Beginner’s Guide to the Universe Michael Schneider explains that spirals, like the pentagram star, express the geometry of self-similarity, writing “At first, the spiral doesn’t appear to be pentagonal but whenever you see a star you will find a spiral rolled within it. This self-similar accord” he adds, “repeating the same shape on different scales, is the basis of fractal mathematics, which is at the heart of chaos theory...each small part of a turbulent system turns out to be a model of the whole and can be described mathematically by self-replicating formulas;” adding “each is composed solely of unity interacting with itself...”
Chaos Architecture/A Collective Aesthetic Form
This was the experience I had in an artists’ live/work enclave in San Francisco. the Goodman Building; A decade-long contest of values to save a collaborative, economical, and deeply integral form of life from redevelopment bulldozers it led me to abandon painting in the mid-seventies and devote full time to its interpretation. This experience, which was a radical realization and embodiment of Bohm’s quantum holomovement, also bore out Jameson’s idea about ‘theory’ becoming the site of the sublime when modern art declined. However, the way I came to experience beauty as the rhythmical and fractally proportioned unfolding of wholeness also describes my experience of the sublime. That is, in lifting the beautiful beyond the sensory, decorative, and contemplative to the very praxis whereby we repeatedly and proportionately gauge and deconstruct the sedimentation of history, we mime nature’s process of aesthetic sublimation while reactivating the ideal geometrical structuring hidden beneath.
When we lost the Goodman Building, I led the effort to create another such ecology and wrote guidelines based on my research of toroidal dynamics to give our architect an idea of what we wanted. Thirteen years later, with financial help from the City, we opened Goodman2, the only affordable live/work building for artists ever constructed in San Francisco. The California Journal of the AIA published a paper I’d written on its design, “Goodman2: Chaos Architecture: A Metapattern That Connects.” Also the first building to be functionally based on a higher dimensional geometry of internal collaborative relations, its architect, David Baker, said “Goodman2 is the first visionary architecture that’s ever actually been constructed.”
Husserl’s Transcendental Reduction: “A New Sort of Praxis”
Edmund Husserl, the ‘father’ of phenomenology, called this process the transcendental reduction and considered it the ‘absolute method’ of phenomenology: As formations developed out of praxis and thought of in terms of gradual perfection, he saw them serving as the basis for “a new sort of praxis out of which similarly named new constructions grow” where “In the unity of communication among several persons the repeatedly produced structure becomes an object of consciousness, not as a likeness, but as the one structure common to all.”
It was precisely the loss of this ideal sense, the forgetfulness of origins, that led Husserl to write The Crisis of European Sciences. In a growing awareness that humanity’s sense of ideality and unity had been buried under layers of sedimentation, he proposed it must constantly be reactivated by the iteration, or repetition, of origin; a process in which history’s sedimentation is reduced, it enables us to return to the generating axis of our intentional experiences before they were overlaid by objectifying constructs. A back and forth “zig-zag” spiraling procedure, Husserl described it as “a sort of necessary circle,” and considered it not only to be phenomenology’s “principle of all principles” but the pure form of every historical experience.
Derrida’s “Economimesis”: A Metaphysics of Repetition
Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida since made it clear that if it’s to be historically redemptive, this analogical structure of repetition must be intrasubjective and repeated (as we did at the Goodman Building) “over and over again” in an “infinite approximation” of the ideality that’s intended. In The Truth in Painting he wrote, “The whole system which has its sight on that beauty supplies the course, determines vagueness as lack and gives sense and direction...its destiny and its destination. Analogism recapitulates or re-heads it.” A re-framing within an ideal unity that’s always differentiating itself, Derrida proposed it mimes the “the acts of nature naturans – the operations of physics” and thus reconstitutes “the economy of mimesis” “This latter” he continues, “is the same, the law of the same and the proper which always re-forms itself...anew – economimesis”...a new ‘metaphysics of repetition,’ a nonfoundational mode of being-in-the-world Heidegger called Dasein, that would inaugurate “a new beginning of history and art.”
Which also recalls Hegel’s ‘Thing-in-Itself’– the ultimate union of form and content when shared work and the knowledge thereof become Objective Spirit. I stress however that aesthetic knowing and the pleasure it gives arises not from conscious reason but from what psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva describes as the primary, subcognitive processes of the desiring body.
Bateson’s “The Pattern That Conncts is Beauty”
Anthropologist Gregory Bateson hoped to reconnect what he considered to be ‘primary’ nonconscious cognition with ‘secondary’ conscious cognition in a ‘circuit structure,’ a conjunction of the body and the world in which we ‘permeate’ the world; recognizing that we’re continuous with it rather than ’confront’ it as existing independently from ourselves. Arguing that ‘pattern precedes particle’ and declaring “the pattern that connects is beauty” he viewed the modernist separation of the spheres of knowing as a disastrous, schismogenic break in what he saw as ‘the cosmic ecology of mind’. As he wrote in Mind and Nature “I hold to the pre-supposition that our loss of the sense of aesthetic unity was, quite simply, an epistemological mistake.”
Batesonian epistemology also coincides with other nonlinear sciences that deny a separation of domain and recognize a complementarity between order and chaos. Thus postmodern recognition of nonlinear, holarchic patterning is beginning to spread throughout the disciplines in a historic integration of modernism’s separately categorized parts. But as Bateson and others have stressed, this integration is blocked at the cultural level by fragmented conscious thinking that continues to split subject from object, thought from feeling, and form from life – the dualistic epistemology Bateson feared would lead, if not corrected to “an evolutionary cul-de-sac.”
Godel, Escher, Bach: “An Endlessly Rising Canon”
In Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter revealed recursion to be the self-referencing “Strange Loopiness” pattern that’s shared by Godel’s incompleteness theory, Escher’s drawings, and Bach’s fugues, a logic that turns in upon itself, infinitely.
“All in all,” Hofstadter writes, “the Musical Offering represents one of Bach’s supreme accomplishments in counterpoint. It is itself one large intellectual fugue, in which many ideas and forms have been woven together, and in which playful double meanings and subtle allusions are commonplace...Bach indubitably also relished the implication that this process could go on ad infinitum, which is perhaps why he wrote in the margin “As the modulation rises, so may the King’s Glory.” To emphasize its potentially infinite aspect, I like to call this the
“Endlessly Rising Canon”.
It was in the graphic works of artist M.C. Escher that Hofstadter found “the most beautiful and powerful visual realizations” of Strange Loops such as the one shown here. Entitled “Print Gallery” Hofstadter writes “The important idea is that this “vortex” of self is responsible for the Godelian-nes, of the mental processes.”
We also see that physicist Roger Penrose uses Escher’s art to illustrate the ‘forbidden’ five-fold rotational symmetry of the tiling pattern associated with his ‘twistor’ geometry although unlike Hofstadter Penrose denies that this feeling related aesthetic patterning is computable.
Escher’s mathematical counterpart appears in Godel’s discovery of an introspective Stange Loop of self-reference in mathematical systems; that is in the discovery that mathematical reason is used in exploring mathematical reasoning itself! As Hofstadter writes “This notion of making mathematics “introspective” proved to be enormously powerful, and perhaps its richest implication was the Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem which Hofstadter paraphrases as “All consistent axiomatic formulations of
number theory include undecidable propositions.” Coming on the heels of Bertrand Russell’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica which proposed a fixed system of number-theoretical reasoning whose goal, according to Hofstadter, was to derive all of mathematics from logic...without contradictions,” Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem instead demonstrated “That the system of Principia Mathematica is “incomplete” – that there are true statements of number theory which its methods of proof are too weak to demonstrate. “In short,” writes Hofstadter, “Godel showed that provability is a weaker notion than truth, no matter which axiomatic system is involved.”
In Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies Hofstadter stressed the role of “esthetics-driven perception” in solving complex problems, explaining that analogy- making lies at the heart of intelligence. “Yet,” he notes, “these extremely simple ideas have seldom been stated in cognitive science.”
Salvatore Santoli: The Roots of Aesthetic Perception
Salvatore Santoli, nanobiologist and senior scientist with the International Nanobiology Testbed in Rome proposes that artistic and scientific creativity share the same root – an aesthetic, non-computable perception of the chaotic processes that underly a Bohmian universe.
In ‘The Roots of Perception,’ a lecture he presented in the G2 Institute’s Aesthetic Phase Shift series in November 2000, Dr. Santoli said: “Recent nanobiological research about brain and mind is showing that, just according to Einstein’s words, our capabilities of finding the laws and structure of Nature stem from our “intuition relying on a sympathetic understanding of the state of affairs in the Universe.” Thus we ourselves, being cognitive systems, would be subsystems of the whole Universe and so we would contain a kind of functional model of our own interaction with the rest of the Universe: a sort of homology between ourselves and some definite patterns of the external world. Indeed, creativity in science and art look like sharing the same root according to that model of cognition.
“The language arising from aesthetic perception is an integral part of all other human cognitive activities, and even an inspiring agency for them. Indeed, aesthetic perception is just what has inspired many a scientist in their intuitions about the Universe. For instance, the prominent physicist, P.A.M. Dirac, just to mention one of them, who remarked “It is more important to have beauty in one’s equation than to have them fit experiment...because the discrepancy may be due to minor feature that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further developments of the theory...It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one’s equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress.”
In a second lecture, “Deep Logic: Nanoscale Merging Of Logic, Physics and Information Processing,” Dr. Santoli discussed his theory of a dynamic and physics- integrated concept of logic that goes beyond static “information.” Occuring through the mathematics of nanoscale chaotic dynamics and quantum holography, Dr. Santoli argued
this newly discovered synthesis points to an information level deeper than the nanoscale that’s ultimately related to the underlying physics of the universe.” A synthesis we suggest has profound implications for shifting to a radically new, participatory mode of thinking that’s capable of delivering us from the logics of domination and/or empty information bits that threaten to destroy the world.
Penrose’s Twistor Structure: A Platonic World of Ideal Form
Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose suggests in The Emperor’s New Mind (similarly to David Bohm) that the worlds of matter and mind are actually “shadows” of an underlying Platonic world of ideal mathematical forms; a dodecahedral structure of higher information that unfolds through spacetime and mind by means of ‘loop’ quantum gravity and a previously forbidden five-fold symmetry..”
As he explains, ‘twistor’ geometry is curved not by space but by the quantum gravitational rotation of consciousness he relates to aesthetic judgement – our ability to feel necessary truths like truth and beauty. He further stresses that this sensing of patterns can not be computed. As he wrote “One might argue that something inside our brains is acting more like an ‘analogue computer’ where the modeling of the external world is achieved not in terms of digital computation... but in terms of some internal physical structure whose physical behavior can be translated so as to mirror the behavior of the external system that is being modeled.”
Penrose also suggests that quantum reality is described by two state vectors, “one of which propagates forwards in time...in the normal way, and the other propagates backwards in time...This second state vector behaves ‘teleologically’ in the sense that it is governed by what is going to happen in the future, rather than what happened to it in the past.”
Charles Muses Chronotopology: “Surfing on Time”
This was also the view of Dr. Charles Muses who wrote the following in Destiny and Control in Human Systems: “experience or consciousness – both in inner or felt nega- space, and in outwardly perceived posi-space – moves along the arc of the wave form, dipping both into the future and the past as time.”
A mathematician and systems theorist, Dr. Muses developed a new science of timing and qualitative time he called chronotopology. A structure of resonant causation, he described it as an ‘umbilicoid’ – a torus with an infinitely small hole that couples cosmic and psychic rhythms where through symbolic insight one can align with “the waves of time breaking on the beach of occurrence.” As he said in an interview, “The object is to surf on time – a nonspatial dance in which we come around a little differently, as on a spiral.”
Through this chronotopology, poetic meaning radiates from a higher dimensional source through symbolic insight.
David Peat: “Making the Vortex”/ Living in the Truth
In Seven Life Lessons of Chaos, physicist and author David Peat writes “For the human animal, creativity is about getting beyond what we know, getting to the “truth” of things. That’s where chaos comes in.” Acknowledging we’re all conditioned by our society to accept a deceptive picture of what reality is and how we’re supposed to act in it, this
supposedly certain knowledge “may end up obscuring a deeper authenticity and “truth” about our individual experience of being in the world.”
Asking what we mean by “truth” in a culture of postmodern relativism, he suggests
it’s neither relative nor absolute but, instead, is “something lived in the moment and expressive of an individual connection to the whole.” He quotes the Indian philosopher J. Krismamurti as saying “Truth is not a fixed point; it is not static; it cannot be measured by words; it is not a concept, an idea to be achieved.” Rather, Peat observes “Truth is what holds us all together, yet each must find it individually out of the terms and conditions of her and his own unique life.”
“Making the Vortex”
“Truth and chaos are linked” he concludes. “To live with creative doubt means to enter into chaos so as to discover there the truth that “cannot be measured by words...By letting go of consensual structures, a creative self-reorganization becomes possible and when we’re being creative in our work and daily life, immersing ourselves in chaos, bifurcation sometimes happens. Then a germ-seed concatenates into the flower of an open, flowing creation.” That “flow” which Peat describes as “making the vortex” is “the period in the creative process when self conciousness disappears, time vanishes or becomes full, and there is total absorption in the activity.”
In a paradox of chaos, writes Peat, “A vortex is a distinct and individual entity and yet it is indivisible from the river that created it...In a vortex, a constantly flowing cell wall separates inside from outside. However, the wall itself is both inside and outside.”
“The vortex suggests the paradox that the individual is also the universal: Our creative moments...are moments when we are in touch with our own authentic truth, when we experience our unique presence in the world. But, paradoxically, the experience of a unique presence is also often coupled with a sensation of ourselves as indivisible from the whole.”
“Living in the Truth”
Peat relates this self-similar flow to a revolutionary political-cultural movement that sprang from “living in the truth”. Taking this phrase from Vaclav Havel, the playwright who became President of the Czech Republic, Havel referred to 'living in the truth' as 'the power of the powerless;’ demonstrating through the Velvet Revolution (as Gandhi had done before him) that truth was a force strong enough to overthrow communist rule in Czechoslovakia and reestablish democracy - albeit to encounter a new form of oppression from market forces. “In terms of our chaos metaphor” writes Peat, “living in the truth” is the simple (though not always easily achieved) course of opening ourselves up to uncertainty, discovering the edge between our individuality and the universal, and acting from that discovery. This is the power of the powerless. In our authentic realization of the truth of the moment lies our ability to deeply, if humbly, influence even the rigid systems built on automation and empty phrases.”
Peat also cited the Blackfoot people as an example of living in the truth, where a community lives and works by concensus in intimate ongoing contact with nature and the truth force that emerges moment by moment in history when a community aligns with it. “The importance of creative openness as reflected in the talking circle...It is the organizational center of their community, the circle where they make their decisions, but they are always careful to leave a gap for the new to enter. This gap represents the open flow always present within their self-organization.”
The lecture series will examine the fractal metadynamics of the Blackfoot and other indigenous cultures as well as contemporary grassroots movements - often organized and empowered through the internet - that are seeking to replace the dominant corporate- controlled paradigm of money and violence with a global movement based on life values, nonviolence, and sustainable ‘green’ economies.
Arthur M. Young’s Reflexive Universe
In The Reflexive Universe mathematician and philosopher Arthur M. Young proposed a geometry of meaning based, like Penrose’ twistor structure and Muses chronotopology, on the topology of the torus. Contrasted with the simply-connected surface of the plane or sphere, the torus is a multiply-connected topology that expands and contracts, “the contracting accumulating the proceeds of the explosion.”
Proposing an evolutionary process in which life and free choice emerge in cumulative states from original enmeshment in molar matter, humans are given the evolutionary opportunity to consciously learn the laws of cause and effect and, through self-control, escape the fixed wheel of determinateness into freedom.
Modern man, however, as Young observes, “is at best still immersed in the problem of defining his own boundaries, of meeting the consequences of his own acts, of learning the law of cause and effect.” This recognition is the mark of stage five which is just beginning; the critical turn on the evolutionary process arc that would transform the compulsion to control and be controlled by the environment into a control of the self.
Reversing Entropy/Escaping the Wheel/Becoming Cause
“Having learned the law” Young continues, “it (the monad) can then act deliberately; it can become cause. This is the turn, and it is followed by the self’s growth.” The fifth
stage person throws off the self-centered expansiveness attained earlier and grows via building order against the general trend toward disorder, reversing entropy.
“There is only one true escape from the wheel” he concludes, “this is to reverse our direction upon it.” Instead of moving in the normal cycle of action which would precipitate it into a new involvement, “the self makes use of what it has learned to extricate itself by mastering the laws of matter. It turns around and goes the other way.”
Acting in phase with the quantum of action, moving away from manifestation directly toward goals and unity, we thus, in his words, ‘become cause.’
Phase Space as the Fifth Dimension
Following Eddington, who equated the curvature of space in the hypersphere of relativity with the uncertainty of direction in quantum theory, Young recognized that “despite the impression we may have received from popular accounts of time as the fourth dimension...it is what Eddington calls phase” explaining “with the ordinary physical universe represented as a sphere, when we include phase we widen the universe in another dimension perpendicular to space-time,” adding “it is also a cycle, the cycle of action and stands in place of time” and further explaining, “This extra phase dimension is the observer’s uncertainty as to which direction a thing will move.”
In an appendix Young states “the phase coordinate is represented as a fifth dimension normal to space-time.”
Aesthetic Bootstrapping/Performing the Real
Like Roger Penrose and David Bohm, I attribute this ‘turn around’ of the quantum of action, the collapse of the wave function, to the rotation of aesthetic judgment as it vortically unfolds the forms of wholeness, complexity, and beauty through the material world while reducing entropy and reversing time; a trans-art praxis I’ve variously called ‘aesthetic bootstrapping,’ ‘performing the real’ and most recently an evolutionary art movement I call “Neo-Vorticism.”
A symbolic act of phenomenological/transcendental reduction, of mimesis and poetic interpretation, its recursive dynamics – vortically unfolding aesthetic order from chaos in golden mean proportions - have been articulated throughout this essay with varying emphases by Frederic Jameson, Edmund Husserl, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Gregory Bateson, Julia Kristeva, F. David Peat, Roger Penrose, Charles Muses, and Arthur M. Young.
Jung’s Synchronicity: A Pre-Existing Correspondence
And though it’s been inferred throughout, I haven’t mentioned synchronicity which is probably the best known principle and example of self-similar patterning. As Jung’s acausal connecting principle, synchronicity acknowledges from a depth-psychological perspective the ancient alchemical and Taoist understanding of a pre-existing correspondence between the psyche and the physical world whose a-causal causation is to be found in their shared archetypal patterning. In Jung’s definition in On The Nature
of the Psyche “The archetype is the introspectively recognizable form of an a priori psychic orderedness.” – an activating symbol of wholeness and beauty that’s held intersubjectively in the collective unconscious.”
Marie Von Franz: Number and Time/A Becoming Continuum
Jung’s work in his later years suggested that the seemingly divergent sciences of psychology and modern physics might in fact be approaching a unified world model in which the dualism of matter and psyche would be resolved. Jung believed that the natural integers are the archetypal patterns that regulate the unitary realm of psyche and matter and that number serves as a special instrument for man’s becoming conscious of this unity. However, in his later years he didn’t feel up to the extensive research it would require so he asked his student, Marie-Louise von Franz, to undertake the task.
The result is her remarkable book Number and Time. I quote several passages: “Whereas numbers above the threshold of consciousness appear to be quantitative discontinuities and qualitative individual numbers in the unconscious, they interpenetrate and overlap, participating in the one-continuum which runs through them All...moreover, the continuum concept underlying this definition is that of a “becoming” continuum...whose subdivisions exist only in terms of possibility, not actuality.”
“Numbers are psychophysical patterns of motion abut which we can make the following statements: One comprises wholeness, two divides, three centers the symmetries and initiates succession, four acts as a stabilizer by turning back to the one as well as bringing forth observables by creating boundaries and so forth.”
Like Jung, von Franz stresses the great difficulty in making the step from three to four, pointing out that it was the dilemma that perplexed both Plato and the alchemists and is found in psychology as “the opposition between the functions of consciousness, three of which are fairly well differentiated. while the fourth, undifferentiated “inferior” function is undomesticated, unadapted, uncontrolled, and primitive.” She continued, “The psychological and spiritual attitude corresponding to the problem qf three and four is dep icted by Jung in terms of the progressive development of consciousness from a purely imaginary standpoint on the world to one in which the observer experiences himself as a participant on the level of a thinking and experiencing being. From intellectual and theoretical generalizations, thinking proceeds in this manner to mental ‘realization’.”
“In a curiously retrograde manner the number four brings us, once again, back to the unus mundus. As a consequence of the step to four, our mental processes no longer revolve about intellectual theorizations, but partake of the creative adventure of ‘realizations in the act of ‘becoming’.”
The step to number five is seen, as in the medieval philosophy, as the “quinta essentia” – not merely a fifth element added on to the four known ones, but representing their realized unity of existence.”
Just as the quantitative aspect of the number series is isomorphic with a causal linear time sequence, so too the qualitative aspect of number, because of its retrograde connection to the one-continuum, produces an isomorphism with the timeless primal unity of existence and its synchronistic manifestations.”
“To sum up: numbers appear to represent both an attribute of matter and the unconscious foundation of our mental processes. For this reason, number forms, according to Jung, that particular element that unites the realm of matter and psyche. It is “real’ in a double sense, as an archetypal image and as a qualitative manifestation in the realm of outer-world experience. Number thereby throw a bridge across the gap between the physically knowable and the imaginary. In this manner it operates as a still largely unexplored mid-point between myth (the psychic) and reality (the physical), at the same time both quantitative and qualitative, representational and irrepresentational.”
That “bridge across the gap is now coming into clearer focus as the five-fold rotational symmetry of fractals as they unfold between ‘imaginary’ and ‘real’ numbers.
Katya Walter’s Tao of Chaos
Katya Walter, a philosopher, Jungian analyst, author of Tao of Chaos and the recently published Double Bubble Universe, connects the fractal patterning of chaos with the co- patterning of the I Ching and the DNA double helix within an experiential framework that links analogue feeling with conscious, digital thought.
At a time when digital processes are increasingly used to model cognitive processes and threaten to make the body and feeling obsolete in a new version of the Cartesian split, Dr. Walter makes it clear that left brain “linear blindered” thought – “continually differentiating, competing, jousting for small fiefdoms of increasingly individualistic clout” is just the conscious aspect of a deeper and all-encompassing whole patterning that includes nonconscious, feeling-based processes of intuition and imagination.”
“Duality in the ancient Chinese system,” she explains, “means two complementary conditions which transform into a higher level of unity by transcending the old polarity” further describing it as “a logic that swings between Yang and Yin, linear thought and analogue feeling in a aynchronistic coupling that works through the dynamics of chaos theory.” Like the I Ching. Walter points out that the double helix’s twisting ladder also models the co-patterning of nature, with both exhibiting fractal, golden mean progressions whose arrangements grow in complexity at each turn of the spiral.
“The analogue domain,” Walter continues, “seeks completion in a fourth term that is hidden in the mysterious other. As this happens everywhere, all triplets reach across the void into that chasm toward the punch line that suddenly opens up a whole new perspective of what must be. Finding that right fourth term is always the tough task. Calling it “the ‘mysterious Other that beckons,’ Walter identifies it with “that fourth physical force called gravity which remains intractable after the other three have been united,” with the ‘fourth dimension’ called time, and, critically for the evolution of
consciousness, with the “fourth function” in the psyche Jung called the inferior function because it lies farthest from ordinary consciousness.
Beyond the fourth term of double cycling, Walter discovered a group of 5 White Earth dots at the center of the ancient Ho Tu map of nature’s processes, its “cycles of construction and destruction and of the atomic patterning of the four-molecule system of DNA.” After puzzling about this coincidence, she concluded that they served both systems as “the essential fifth condition” that joined the four directions of the Ho Tu and bonded the four molecules.
“This is qualitative math. Proportional, relational, It exists in all things, but it is particularly showcased in art...You are the fourth term connected to it, filling out the ratio of progression into matter with your own real life...Here the vast panorama of co-chaos unites known with other. Here is the Divine Conjunctio.”
Mandelbrot, Fractals & A New Liberal Art
Benoit Mandelbrot, the founder of fractal geometry who discovered its self-similar dynamics, has remarked on the resonance of fractals with Jungian archetypes, and with helping us “heal that break-up of knowing and feeling.” And in a remarkable example of fractal-archetypal pre-cognition, first ‘iterated’ the trans-art patterning I’ve since developed when he predicted the following at a 1996 conference in Prague on “New Ideas in Science and Art”: “Fractal geometry may usher a new liberal art that transcends the boundary that usually separates the arts and diverse narrow academic disciplines from one another.”
Bergson, Time Freedom & Creative Evolution
Its time-free nature was expressed most eloquently perhaps by Henri Bergson in Creative Evolution: “Our eye perceives the features of the living being, merely as assembled, not as mutually organized. The intention of life, the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance, escapes it. This intention is just what the artist tries to regain, in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy, in breaking down, by an effort of intuition, the barrier that space puts up between him and his model. It is true that this aesthetic intuition, like external perception, only attains the individual. But we can conceive an inquiry turned in the same direction as art, which would take life in general for its object, just as physical science, in following to the end the direction pointed out by external perception, prolongs the individual facts into general laws.”
In its continuing autonomy, however, art today is far from harboring such a revolutionary potential. I believe it was this understanding of art’s self-limitation that led Hegel to reject art as the highest means whereby the self-movement of the Absolute would reveal itself, predicting it would arise instead from art’s sublation into philosophy.
Hegel, Sublating Art & the Self-Unfolding Idea of Beauty
But while the institution of art is negated in this sublation, I don’t think it’s understood that Hegel expected art’s underlying principles would be preserved. As he wrote, prophetically, in Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics: “The science of art is a much more pressing need than in times in which art, simply as art...was enough to furnish a full satisfaction. What we have to study is how the principles (of artistic beauty) pass into actual existence...the universal types which constitute the self-unfolding Idea of Beauty.”
Earlier he’d written, “Until we make the Ideas aesthetic, that is mythological, they have no interest for the people, and conversely until mythology is rational, the philosopher must be ashamed of it...A higher spirit sent from Heaven must found this religion, it will be the last, greatest work of mankind.”
Whitehead’s Aesthetic Order
Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of organism, or process, described in his 1929 magnum opus Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, which is widely considered to be one of the major philosophical works of the modern world, “aspires to construct a critique of pure feeling, in the philosophical position in which Kant put his Critique of Pure Reason, but with a major revision which he explains as follows: “...in the organic philosophy Kant’s ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’ becomes a distorted fragment of what should have b his main topic. The datum (i.e., in Whitehead’s vector process ) includes its own interconnections, and the first stage of the process of feeling is the reception into the responsive conformity of feeling whereby the datum, which is mere potentiality, becomes the individualized basis for a complex unity of realization.”
In Religion in the Making, Whitehead made it even clearer: “Kant...saw the necessity for God in the moral order. But with his metaphysics he rejected the argument from the cosmos. The meta-physical doctrine, here expounded, finds the foundations of the world in the aesthetic experience rather than – as with Kant – in the cognitive and conceptive experience. All order is therefore aesthetic order, and the moral order is merely certain aspects of aesthetic order. The actual world is the outcome of the aesthetic order, and the aesthetic order is derived from the immanence of God.”
And these sweeping conclusions: “The teleology of the universe is directed to the production of beauty”...”God is the measure of the aesthetic consistency of the Universe.”
Suzanne Langer: Feeling and Form
Langer’s intention, first articulated in Philosophy in a New Key, was, following Whitehead, her ‘great mentor,’ to rescue the emotive from being dismissed as meaningless by describing how it exhibits an alternative form of meaning best illustrated by art. Arguing that human beings are essentially symbolic animals, in her later works Langer undertook to describe the ‘great shift’ from the rhythmic patterns of organism, to
symbolic meaning and mind, with feeling – as it mediates between the biological and the symbolic – lying at the very basis of rationality.
In Mind, An Essay on Feeling, she wrote “Acts and ambients grow and diversify, reintegrate and shift to higher levels, together. That’s the course of evolution. The power to negotiate a larger and more “difficult” ambient is often taken as the measure of evolutionary advance.” But growth, she added, “in nature as in art – is not always expansive. Acts may grow in intensity, where more and more diversification in a limited compass implements their progress, while they gather impetus by containment of other incipient acts, pooling of impulses. Such acts finally break over into the purely intraorganic phase of being felt.”
An act of transition from one level of feeling to another carries with it an effect of “strangeness,” the development of a ‘life image’ – in which there is “the impression of a real shift from one order of existence to another. Herein lies its intense emotional power: the transition occurs, the higher phase emerges.” Such a transition must, as she quotes Owen Barfield, “be felt as arising from a different plane or mode of consciousness, and not merely an eccentricity of expression. It must be a strangeness of meaning.” This further step, she writes, “I can only call “transcendence,” because it seems to transcend the sensory vehicle altogether and make an almost pure presentation of the “Idea.” Such a rarified projection cannot stand alone, it rises from a constellation of devices, making a manifold abstraction.”
Guided by a new image, one receives an impression of “sublimation” carrying with it a sense of quite sudden and unaccountable simplification “When life reaches a limit of complexity and intensity it breaks over into a larger pattern that swallows its former elements and exhibits greater ones of its own. The sense of simplification attends that change.”
Aesthetic Phase Shift: A New Type of Symbolic Transformation
And in a statement that could be emblematic for the Aesthetic Phase Shift series, Langer wrote: “It is a peculiar fact that every major advance in thinking, every epoch-making new insight, springs from a new type of symbolic transformation.”
The G2 Institute studies and explores these principles as they emerge culturally and throughout the disciplines, moving beyond postmodern irony, pastiche, and relativism towards an integral aesthetic ‘attractor.’
The ‘Strange’Attractor: Catastrophe or Transition?
Chaos theorists describe this ‘strange’ attractor as a singularity that’s exponentially dissolving the fixed structures of the past several thousand years and compressing culture into a coherent hyperdimensional object – a catastrophic ‘bifurcation’ that threatens the survival of humanity and all life on the planet unless we evolve a unifying myth and structure.
A Shift in Orders
In Chaos, Gaia, Eros, chaos theorist Ralph Abraham wrote “the order of history emerges from the history of order;” telling us we’re now in the midst of a historic shift from a ‘periodic’ order (called ‘attractor’ in complex dynamical systems) of patriarchal domination characterized mathematically by regular, closed cycles – an order that began some six thousand years ago with the invention of the wheel – to an open, irregular order of ‘chaos’ that’s now underway. Both follow on the heels of the Neolithic ‘static’ order that was characterized, as the term implies, by the absence of change, and the earlier Paleolithic era when chaotic processes prevailed until the revolution in agriculture around twelve thousand years ago after which, Abraham writes, “chaotic recognition was demoted to the unconscious system.”
Chaos: Prehistoric & Postmodern
Archaic ‘chaos’ culture was marked by participating consciousness, a shared figurative sense that everything in the universe is alive and interrelated and that we know the world through direct identification with or immersion in its phenomena – miming the patterns of nature to the degree its level of understanding allowed. There was no sense of subjectivity and thus no separation of subject from object. Everything was felt to be connected through meaningful correspondences and all participated in the sacred drama of the unfolding of nature’s cycles. Space did not exist. Time was a sacred and rhythmical continuum that held and configured all. Consciousness as we know it didn’t exist.
The Present Dark Age
Chaos theory suggests we’re currently in a transition period between orders – an interim dark age of struggle between the old and emerging orders that won’t definitively shift until and unless a higher dimensional structure of meaning or ‘attractor’ is articulated. Such a higher vibration ordering pattern would then trigger a self-similar feedback from the higher dimension order that’s hidden within chaos, resulting in a complexifying ‘edge of chaos’ praxis in synch with nature’s fractal trajectory in phase space.
The Need for a New Myth
Abraham interprets this as a connective mathematical metapattern, as “patterns of patterns in space and in time, rhythms and undulations and symmetries,” patterns that were, as he explained in Chaos, Gaia, Eros, “fundamental to the early co-evolution of mathematics and culture (though) their social and metaphysical connections were gradually lost after the Renaissance.” So if we’re to move beyond the present disordered chaos to a higher order, we must iterate its pattern in the form of a new myth. As he explained, “The myth complex of a society is its cultural cognitive map, its collective self-representation, its view of itself. If we reflect on our myth – seeing it as it is, grokking it, giving impetus to its evolution – we can participate consciously in the creation of our future” Thus he stressed “the mandate is to create a new mythology ...on the path of convergent evolution.”
In Dynamics: The Geometry of Behavior, Abraham used the chaotic attractor discovered by Edward Lorenz shown here – the magical image that resembles an owl’s mask or a butterfly’s wings – as a model of this metapattern and its open, nondeterministic behavior. Thicker than a normal one-dimensional curve its ‘thickness’ relates to its fine structure – its fractal dimension.
The Hermeneutic Circle & Cultural Evolution
Using Wilhelm Dilthey’s hermeneutic circle (which Abraham calls a “grok circle” after Heinlein) to illustrate how the vibratory space-time patterns of chaos math translate into thought and action, he explains, “We continually interpret and reinterpret the past...We do the same with the future, projecting forward our fantasies and eventually receiving feedback in the form of certainties or uncertainties in the present.”
Thus, according to Abraham, “Cultural evolution may... be envisioned in the spirit of general evolution theory, as an autopoetic (self-organizing, pattern-formation) process in a vibratory field. This evolution-theoretic view of the advance of consciousness makes space for everyone in the pattern-formation process of history, or morphogenesis. It’s not a question of a few intellectual leaders inventing new thoughts, musical styles, scientific theories, and technological gadgets. All who wish to participate may do so, just by paying attention and interacting.”
The Limitations of Language
However, in a conversation in The Evolutionary Mind Abraham and Terence McKenna both expressed their concern with the limitations of language for generating new meaning. As McKenna remarked “I regard language as some kind of project that‘s uncompleted... Communication, or the lack of it, is what’s shoving us toward the brink of possible planetary catastrophe.” Calling himself ‘a compressionist,’ he looked to a time “when all of this will be boiled down into a kind of alchemical distillation of the historical experience that will be a doorway into the life of the imagination...life lived in the imagination is the great archetype that rears itself up at the end of history.”
Paul Ricoeur’s Ontological Hermeneutics: Poetic Interpretation
Paul Ricoeur expressed a similar concern: “My criticism of ordinary language philosophy is that it does not take into account the fact that language itself is a place of
prejudice and bias. Therefore, we need a third dimension of language, a critical and creative dimension, which is directed towards neither scientific verification nor ordinary communication but towards the disclosure of possible worlds. This third dimension of language I call the poetic. The adequate self-understanding of man is dependent on this third dimension of language as a disclosure of possibility.”
Elevating the symbol to the rank of an existential concept, he stresses that the symbol selects its causes and constitutes a project and further that this symbolizing is not in control of its own ground. In making this symbolic leap Ricoeur displaced the hermeneutic circle from a subjective to an ontological level.
Speaking of Ricoeur in What is Neostructuralism?, Manfred Frank wrote “It is as if he had “appropriated” the idealist project of a reflectively self-producing supersubject, but adapted it to the new conditions of a world and a subjectivity decentered, dispersed, and constituted by symbolic forces beyond reflexive control, but no longer constituted by a self-conscious supersubject. If those constraints bar the idealist project, they do allow
us to redefine reflexivity and self-shaping in the symbolic medium.”
Kristeva’s Revolution in Poetic Language, the Imaginary & the Feminine Body
Like Bateson, French psychoanalyst and semiotician Julia Kristeva locates primary process signification in the precursory signs, traces, and figurations of the body, borrowing the term chora from Plato’s Timaeus to denote “an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases. Differentiating this uncertain and indeterminate articulation from a disposition that depends on representation lends itself to phenomenological, spatial intuition, and gives rise to geometry.” “Neither model nor copy” she continues, “the chora precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization, and is analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm.”
Semiotics, in Kristeva’s interpretation, thus goes beyond the sterility of linguistics and what she calls “the language object;” proposing instead that signifying practices, as expressed in the metalanguages of art, poetry and myth, originating as they do in the body, are solely able to act to disrupt the patriarchal, symbolic order in a dialectics of rupture and articulation.” In Revolution in Poetic Language she put it this way: “logic and ontology have inscribed the question of truth within judgement (or sentence structure) and being, dismissing as madness, mysticism or poetry any attempt to articulate that impossible element which henceforth can only be designated by the Lacanian category of the real.” Then pulling out all the stops she adds “I would suggest that the wise interpreter give way to delirium so that, out of his desire, the imaginary may join interpretive closure, thus producing a perpetual interpretive creative force.”
Vera Rubin’s Dark Rotating Universe
Vera Rubin, Astronomer at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, first to suggest that the universe of galaxies appeared to be rotating, subsequently discovered with her colleague Kent Ford the existence of massive halos of invisible “dark matter” surrounding these gigantic systems of stars.
Widely believed by the astronomical community that the galaxies were uniformly distributed in an expanding space, when Rubin presented her findings at a meeting of the Astronomical Society in Philadelphia in l950, as Ernest J. Sternglass reported in Before the Big Bang, she was strongly attacked and only accepted in the early 1970’s when her work with Ford on the rotation of galaxies was finally accepted
Dark Matter, Quintessence & the Dodecahedron
Since found to comprise 96% of the mass in the universe and described by David Bohm as ‘highly interactive’, dark matter/energy has since been associated with Bohm’s ‘holomovement,’ with Aristotle’s ‘quintessence,’ and the complex dodecahedral space underlying Roger Penrose’s ‘twistor structure’ he playfully calls “Quintessential Trinkets,” this new form of matter has a previously forbidden five-fold ‘quasicrystalline’ structure.
The fifth of the five Platonic volumes, Plato used a dodecahedron to describe the cosmos, writing “...the god used (the dodecahedron) for arranging the constellations on the whole heaven.
In his Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe. Michael Schneider described the dodecahedron as “encompassing and infusing the four elements – solids, liquids, gases, and electronic fire – with the life they cannot create by themselves alone.” As he explained, “the Pentad carries the flag of life” linking the material elements with “the mystery of the mathematical infinite, which is the mystery of life itself: the ability to regenerate.”
Quintessence: The Mystery of Missing Mass in the Universe
In Quintessence: The Mystery of Missing Mass in the Universe, Lawrence Krauss also compares dark matter to Aristotle’s fifth essence, a “unique element, scarcely material in form, within which the operation of geometric law proceeds unclogged by any mechanical aid or impediment.” Suggesting “perhaps there is another phase transition yet to complete, and the vacuum energy we observe is merely that stored in the false vacuum state....in such a case, when the phase transition completes, it is quite likely that the properties of matter would dramatically alter, and with them the properties of the observable universe. It is unlikely we should survive such a transition.”
Michio Kaku’s Phase Transition: From Quantity to Quality
In Hyperspace, physicist Michio Kaku also sees such a potential phase transition, but while observing that the four-dimensional world may be starting to collapse, he suggests higher dimensions are beginning to unfurl that can draw us into their compacted curvilinear configurations. Describing this as a phase transition from a quantitative to a qualitative, more stable state, Kaku relates it to the dialectical resolution of a conflict when there's a sudden shift to a higher synthesis; that is, at the moment when tensions have reached a breaking point "the object goes to a higher stage."
Kaku also speculates that beauty is a physical (italics mine) principle in the universe related to the compactification process; one that we associate with the aesthetic imagination and the abstracting, sublimating process that will be required if we’re to make this transition.
Teilhard de Chardin’s Harmonic Convergence
This abstracting and compactifying process also relates to Teilhard de Chardin’s theory of a harmonic convergence that’s destined to occur when, in his words, “our collective thought becomes co-extensive with the universe”. As he wrote in The Phenomenon of Man, “In every domain, when anything exceeds a certain measurement, it suddenly changes its aspect, condition, or nature....The curve doubles back, the surface contracts to a point, the solid disintegrates, the liquid boils, the germ cell divides, intuition suddenly bursts on the piled-up facts...critical points have been reached, rungs on the ladder, involving a change of state...”
But for that to happen, he stressed we must first come into synch with nature’s complexifying vector and begin to move consciously against the flow of entropy, reversing the physical explosion of the universe into an implosive process, as Arthur M. Young has more recently proposed. The alternative? “We must see or perish.”
Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti: “Aesthetogenesis”
To this end, following Chardin, architect Paolo Soleri designed an experiment in complexification in the Arizona desert called Arcosanti, which means “against matter.” Like Chardin, Soleri recognized the duration of complexity as key to the alchemy whereby matter is dialectically transformed into mind, a process he calls “aestheto-
genesis,” explaining it in Matter Becoming Spirit, as “a move from the granular and scattered to the synthetic and clustered; from the unrelated and incoherent to the interconnected and coherent.”
This happens through an intensifying of the human experience Soleri calls “miniaturization” – an “implosive situating” that creates consciousness through bringing together in a shared environment a rich, self-directing diversity of things and events. “The implosive character of complexification, more information-interaction linkage in lesser time-space quantum” he explained, “makes miniaturization the physical parameter of the ecology.”
Soleri, like Chardin, blamed materialism for bringing this vector to rest. In materializing the center, positivist culture has instead created an “explosive situating” that separates, de-coheres, and flattens the vector into equilibrium and disorder. Thus Chardin qualified his evolutionary prediction, declaring “we must see or perish.” But if we do come to see this process and create complexifying environments that synchronize with nature’s compactifying, edge-of-chaos trajectory we can generate a state that resembles the cyclical concept of archaic cultures where “events are no longer connected in a sequential mode, but in an associative mode...”
As Chardin described this possibility: “We are faced with a harmonized collectivity of consciousnesses equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection.”
G. Spencer-Brown’s Law of Form: Cancellation & Condensation
In The Laws of Form, G. Spencer Brown extended Boolean algebra to include a fourth class of statement; that is, beyond the true, false and meaningless he demonstrated that a valid argument can also contain the imaginary. As he observed “the implications of this in the fields of logic, philosophy, and even physics, are profound.” In another statement Brown corroborates Husserl’s method of eidetic reduction that reactivates hidden meanings, writing, “What is encompassed (in mathematics) is a transcendence from a given state of vision to a new, and hitherto unapparent, vision beyond it. When the present existence has ceased to make sense, it can still come to sense again through the realization of its form.” This calculus involves the interplay of cancellation and condensation – “a degenerative condensation of the existential with the universal” which results in “a release from the bond of the particular.” As Brown explains, it’s the condensation of the universal symbol that gives it its power.
In Brown’s radical new calculus we have a mathematical explanation and justification not only for the cognitive and transformative power of the aesthetic imagination but for the abstracting process – condensation and cancellation - as it appears throughout nature and art – a de-reconstructive process that an integral aesthetic sensibility would apply to the whole of life.
Slavoj Zizek: Need for the Form of Mythical Narrative
In The Abyss of Freedom/Ages of the World, an essay by cultural critic Slavoj Zizek with the text of idealist philosopher W.J.Von Schelling, the noted philosopher of post-Hegelian thought observes: “Narrativization as such is an elementary ideological gesture from the primitive myths that explain “the origins of...” to the capitalist narrative of primitive accumulation, Frederic Jameson’s well known assertion that “the production of aesthetic or narrative form is to be seen as an ideological act in its own right, with the function of inventing imaginary or formal solutions to unresolvable social contradictions.” ...applies perfectly to Schelling’s Weltalter: in order to resolve the contradiction of Absolute Idealism and its procedure of logical deduction...he resorts to the form of a philosophico- mythological narrative.. “
Barrett Watten: The Constructivist Moment & The Lacanian Real
Referring to Zizek in The Constructivist Moment, poet-theorist Barrett Watten writes, ‘Precisely in the gap between noumena and phenomena, Zizzek interprets the imagination as the opening to fantasy and negativity, an antagonistic process that challenges the categories of reason and brings about subjectivity. The dark matter of the universe, which remains unconfirmed, thus excites our interest in two ways: as immortal, ever-during substance, it is as close to noumena as we will get; as fantasy of that which exceeds our comprehension, it introduces a gap into our “engaged immersion in the world.” This, Watten concludes, “is the night of the world as birth of imagination...”
‘It’s here that Zizek locates the constructivist moment – in the encounter with the Real. In Watten’s description “The encounter with the Real might begin right here, with the imperative to construct.” With “the thrill of the poem (the excessive jouissance of the Real) affirming “the unpresentable substrate of nature.”
The Sublime Object of Ideology as Das Ding
“The poem, then,” Watten notes, “triangulates the Lacanian concepts which are of concern to us here: the Real is the hole or gap in the Symbolic Order on which the poem is predicated; commerce itself, as massively energetic and indifferent, becomes the sublime object or Thing that cannot be approached; and the poem’s concretization of “nothing” rescripts the object cause of desire to the incompletion of the scene, as an object known only in effects. It is the relation between these metaconcepts, finally, that constitute the sublime object of ideology....The sublime object thus (wrote Zizek) “is an object elevated to the level of Das Ding (that) occupies the sacred/forbidden space of jouissance...”
The Lacanian Twist
To break with the age-old Western conception of the world as a series of concentric circles or spheres, Lacan employed a new topology he called a “cross-cap.” As Bruce Fink points out in The Lacanian Subject, the cross-cap “is a fertile surface for revolutionizing the way we think.” “In essence,” Fink explains, “the cross-cap is a sphere with a twist: the Lacanian twist, so to speak. That little twist changes all of the topological properties of the sphere, nothing returning upon itself as in the old, familiar conception of things...The Lacanian twist is, perhaps, the ability to see something beyond the symbolic where philosophy and structuralism see nothing but the same old thing.”
“To imagine it,” he continues, “you can picture to yourself a sphere that is slashed at a certain spot, each point on either side of the cut being reconnected, not to the point directly across from it, as in suturing a wound, but to the symmetrical point on the opposite side.”
Incompleteness: A Feminine Structure?
Noting that where Lacan seemed to suggest the sphere as applying to masculine structure, “bounded as it is by the paternal function,” Freud had suggested, and Lacan seemed to agree, that women have a different relation to the law. “Were I to qualify this symptomatic way of seeing,” Fink writes, “I might be tempted to call it “Godelian structuralism,” insofar as it maintains the importance of structure, while continually pointing to the necessary incompleteness thereof and the fundamental undecidability of certain statements made within it.”
Lacanian psychoanalyst Jacques Siboni uses the figure shown here to illustrate the topology of the cross-cap on his website: http://jacsib.lutecium.org.
Although Siboni hasn’t identified it with Roger Penrose’s twistor geometry, Buckminster Fuller’s “rubber-donut” geometry; Arthur Young’s torus, Charles Muses chronotopology, or the similarly appearing fractal structure known as the Rossler Funnel – their similarities or differences will be explored over the course of the lecture series.
Fink also makes note of the work being done by “certain feminists” who’re “attempting to present, represent, symbolize, and thereby subjectify a certain real in their experience which has never before been represented, symbolized, or subjectified.” He adds “Perhaps that previously unspoken,unwritten real is related to what Lacan calls the Other jouissance and the Other sex...The latter are Other (foreign or alien to someone) only insofar as they have not been spoken, written, represented, or subjectified.”
Helene Cixous & Julia Kristeva: The Other Real/No Feminine Lack
Where Lacan, as Fink pointed out, psychoanalytically opposed jouissance to lack, French feminist Helene Cixous, Professor of English at Vincennes, University of Paris VIII, produces texts which “write her body,” a position that destroys the structuralist closure of binary opposites and says in effect there is no feminine lack.
As Cixous explains in “The Laugh of the Medusa,” ecriture feminine embodies jouissance because like the female erotic it is multiple instead of single, diffuse instead of focused, and oriented towrrd process instead of goal. Cixous also considers it revolutionary in that it acknowledges the other’s difference and in its “free play of the signifier” doesn’t try to construct the self in the masculine position of dominance. Celebrating multiplicity and openness, ecriture feminine breaks apart the binary oppositions that organize (masculine) writing: head/heart, active/passive, culture/nature, father/mother
For Julia Kristeva, like Cixous, the inscription of the rhythms and articulations of the mother’s body – as described earlier in this paper - remain present in the adult in what Kristeva refers to as the semiotic chora, with both Kristeva and Cixous attaching special value to Lacan’s Imaginary in the pre-symbolic union between the self and the m/other which becomes inscribed in poetic language.
The subject in language as a structuring and de-structuring practice
In Revolution in Poetic Language, Kristeva explains: “Our positing of the semiotic is obviously inseparable from a theory of the subject that takes into account the Freudian positing of the unconscious. We view the subject in language as decentering the transcendental ego, cutting through it, and opening it up to a dialectic in which its syntactic and categorical understanding is merely the liminary moment of the process...”
“What we call significance” she continues, “is precisely this unlimited and unbounded generating process, this unceasing operation of the drives toward, in, and through language; toward, in, and through the exchange system and its protagonists – the subject and his institutions. This heterogeneus process, neither anarchic, fragmented foundation nor schizophrenic blockage, is a structuring and and de-structuring practice, a passage to the outer boundaries of the subject and society. Then – and only then – can it be jouissance and revolution.”
Borrowing the term chora from Plato’s Timaeus, Kristeva uses it “to denote an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases...Neither model nor copy, the chora precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization, and is analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm...”
As she explains, “The theory of the subject proposed by the theory of the unconscious will allow us to read in this rhythmic space, which has no thesis and no position, the process by which significance is constituted. Plato himself leads us to such a process when he calls this receptacle or chora nourishing and maternal, not yet unified in an ordered whole because deity is absent from it. Though deprived of unity, identity, or deity, the chora is nevertheless subject to a regulation process, which is different from that of symbolic law but nevertheless effectuates discontinuities by temporarily articulating them and then starting over, again and again.”
Timev & Delin: Beyond Either/Or: Reconciling Truth, Beauty, and the Good
In a joint presentation in the G2’s Aesthetic Phase Shift series (2003), Timen Timev, psychiatrist philosopher, musician, and best selling author in Bulgaria and Erina Delin, philosopher, writer and artist, demonstrated the General Movement of Form – the same pure structure that appears everywhere, hidden under different semantics – as chords in music, metaphor in poetry, contradiction in logic, and super-position in quantum physics.
In their recent book, Libido Signifandi, they wrote: ”Our life is a unity of two opposite impulses, one of which permanently performs the materialization of the body by means of transforming objective knowledge of information Universum, by means of reducing the Wave Function in the subjective matter of the body or in somatic cells. Conversely, the other impulse is permanently performing a dematerialization by means of restoring the Wave Function and by retransforming back the Perception Function into Wave Function.”
The responsible organ, which performs the opposite dematerialization of our body is the symmetric gravitational impulse, which acts through the mind. The mind acts as a Black hole that permanently drains matter, dematerializes our body and retransforms it into objective knowledge.”
The impulse that permanently performs the materialization through the reduction of the Wave Function, is an Asymmetric, anti-gravity, non-self-identical Impulse, which materializes the genetic knowledge of the DNA in perceptory cells. The ontological Subject of this Asymmetric anti-gravity Impulse is global “Objective Chance –Fantasy.”
Precisely because we transform Future into Present all the time, we never have the possibility to touch the Future. Precisely because our Chance-Fantasy, constantly performing reduction of the Wave Function, continuously and without any delay transforms the Quantum Future into Macroscopic Present, we never touch the Future.”
The shift from old ethical civilization to the new aesthetical civilization, type Schiller, is a shift from the old classical logic of Either/Or to the new quantum logic of “the two are True”, which is the shift from Logical Contradiction to Logical Counterpoint.”
In summary they predicted “We will build a new aesthetic civilization exactly according to the Law of New Quantum Logic because both – Aesthetics and Quantum Logic – follow the requirements for going beyond Either/Or and substitute the Law of Logical Contradictions with the Law of Logical Counterpoint. Namely, within the excursion of Logical Counterpoint coincide the Being of music, poetry and the quantum realm. They receive their Being and Existence by obeying the Law of Logical Counterpoint, or the Logic of Logical Polyvoices.”
Stanislav Grof: “2012 and Human Destiny”
Psychiatrist Stanislof Grof, researcher in non-ordinary states of consciousness he describes as ‘holotropic’ or ‘oriented toward wholeness,’ recently wrote a lecture-paper with the above title suggesting that the Mayan prophecy concerning the galactic alignment predicted to occur in 2012 is not limited to astronomical observations and astrological predictions but is “intimately connected with mythology, with what C.G. Jung called the archetypal domain of the collective unconscious.”
Noting that the Mayan seers referred to the December solstice sun as “Cosmic Father” and to the Milky Way as “Cosmic Mother;” they envisioned the center of the galaxy where modern astronomy places a giant black hole as her creative and destructive womb in an uncanny anticipation of this singular phenomenon expected to occur on December 12, 2012; a singularity we’ve noted also coincides with the discovery of dark matter and its role in the expansion of the cosmos.
“The time of the galactic alignment was thus,” Grof notes, “the time of a cosmic hieros gamos, sacred marriage between the Feminine and the Masculine” - a prophesy he notes is deeply similar to other myths of transformation found by Joseph Campbell including Hopi, Navajo, Cherokee, Apache, Iroquois confederacy, ancient Egyptians, the Kabbalists, Essenes, Quero elders of Peru, the Subsaharan Dogon tribe, and the Australian Aborigines.”
Enantiodromia: The Feminine Principle...Taking Back the Light
In Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology, Marie-Louise von Franz described Enantiodromia as “a typical archetypal event; a mode of consciousness tires (the masculine) and then the feminine, or the unconscious and nature, the chaotic, have to take back the light...the unconscious says that what you in your masculine, political, thinking mind see is only a small aspect of what is really happening. We are now confronted with the deluge...a hopeless situation.
“The saving principle is the feminine principle and this time it will not be Noah in the ark but a woman, that is, a goddess...you cannot evaluate this woman as a women...at the end of Egyptian civilization there was a similar enantiodromia. Suddenly Isis got everything into her hands and the male Gods faded ---- this was at the end of the Aries
age and now we are at the end of Pisces, the astrological fish age, and again a woman is gathering the harvest and the men are a bit tired.”
“...we should also not forget that these mother goddesses are also connected with the concept of matter, for not only is the word itself connected with the word “mother,” but the whole projection of matter, and the model archetypal idea at the back of the minds of natural scientists, is drawn from the mother archetype. Plato, for instance, says that space is like a nurse to the whole cosmic order, this space is regarded as a feminine container, a nourishing function of the mother.”
Chaos, Gaia, Chora: The Divine Feminine in Geometric Consciousness
In The Divine Feminine in Geometric Consciousness, Walden University anthropologist Bethe Hagens notes that Plato regarded geometry as the ultimate mnemonic (memory- aiding) device that organized primeval chaos, describing in Timaeus “how the Demiurge (whom he calls “the god”) “remembered” itself within Chora (the oldest Greek word for “place”) – thereby initiating order in creation. Chora (which is also related linguistically to Greek words for “chorus,” “dance ground,” and “the beating of a heart”) is, then, almost certainly the vibrating, intelligent divine feminine Receptacle. Before there was matter, Chora (whom he also calls the “Nurse of Becoming”) held the disorganized and undifferentiated aspects of shape (morphai) – the perfect geometric forms, power (dynameis – fire, earth, air, water, and aether), and feeling (pathe). The Demiurge infuses Chora to materialize all that physically exists, at every scale...in a near-but-never-perfect replication of the Mother.”
Further, she argues, “Though the history of women in ancient mystery traditions is largely lost to us, Greek mythology holds that our human capacity for geometric vision is a gift of the divine feminine – energetic sources of wisdom conceptualized as a lineage of goddesses. Born from primal Chaos is Gaia, from whose name comes “geometry” – geo (earth) + metr (measure, mother)...”
Then in a definition that emphasizes the frequently dismissed analogical, embodied aspect of fractal geometry, Hagens declares “Geometry is a formulaic method for the cultivation of a liminal consciousness that can bridge the mind/body gap. Common body postures in both meditation and certain forms of dance are actually multi- layered geometric mnemonics.”
Kristeva Revisited: A Vortex-Sphere Geometry for Semotics?
Similarly we saw in Julia Kristeva’s semiotics that the signifying practices of art, poetry, and myth, originate in the body and only thus are they able to disrupt the patriarchal, symbolic order “in a dialectics of rupture and articulation;” a dialectics that allows the imaginary to join interpretive closure, “thus producing a perpetual interpretive creative force.”
What Hagens, and the dodecahedral ‘twistor’ or vortex-sphere geometry we introduce in this paper permit, is a fractal topological structuring for semiotics; a recursive meta-structuring for its post-structural ‘meta-languages’ of art, poetry, and myth that’s emerging even as I write; i.e., the higher dimensional dark matter of the collective imagination that’s now expanding, as Penrose explains, a previously forbidden five-fold quasicrystalline order of quantum potential wholeness throughout the cosmos while deconstructing both molecular, crystalline matter and deterministic clock-time.
Thus the fractal topology of the torus or vortex sphere, in its self-similar play between difference and sameness. supercedes the semiotic rectangle because, as Frederic James points out in The Political Unconscious, “The operational validity of semiotic analysis, and in particular of the Greimian semiotic rectangle, derives...not from its adequacy to nature, or being, nor even from its capacity to map all forms of thinking or language, but rather from its vocation specifically to model ideological closure and to articulate the workings of binary oppositions...”.
Shelling’s “Ages of the World” & The Vortex of Primordial Drives
In The Abyss of Freedom/Ages of the World, an essay by cultural critic Slavoj Zizek with an English translation of idealist philosopher W.J.Von Schelling’s second draft of the “ages of the world/Weltalter,” the stages of the self-development of the Absolute, the noted philosopher of post-Hegelian thought focuses on the notion that Lacanian psychoanalytic theory – which claims the symbolic universe emerged from presymbolic drives – is prefigured in Schelling’s idea of logos as given birth to from the vortex of primordial drives, or from what “in God is not yet God”; that is, in order to become actual, to exist effectively, the Absolute (God) has to accomplish a radically contingent move of acquiring material bodily existence.”
“This,” Zizek continues, ”also throws new light on the ontological status of sexual difference: Schelling explicitly sexualizes the relationship between Existence and its Ground, conceiving Ground as the impenetrable “feminine” foundation of the male Word...It is easy to recognize here the standard patriarchal fear of the destructive force of fully asserted femininity. There is, however, another, perhaps unexpected conclusion to be drawn from this: is this radical negativity bent on destroying every determinate Existence not the very kernel of subjectivity? Does this not mean that subjectivity is, in its most basic dimension, in an unheard of way, “feminine”? Insofar as ‘subject’ is the Ground that asserts itself “as such,” in the very medium of Existence, against every determinate form of actual existence, subject is a potentiality, never fully actualized, and the feminine Ground asserted against the “masculine” existence-logos.”
As Professor Norman observes in her Translation, “For Zizek, this connection is monumental, showing that Schelling’s ideas forcefully presage the post-modern “deconstruction” of logocentrism,” and that Zizek is “a radical voice who believes that philosophy is nothing if it is not embodied.”
In The Future of Art, independent scholar Marcella Goldsmith writes, “Far from prophesying the end of art Schelling invokes the beginning of a new mythology
characterized by new gods of nature and a return to epic poetry.. boldly declaring ‘the philosophy of art is the construction of the world in the form of art.”
Jose Arguelles: The Mystery of the Maya
Jose Arguelles, the late artist-philosopher and founder of the Planet Art Network and Foundation for the Law of Time, first achieved recognition by mass consciousness with his ‘Harmonic Convergence’ event in 1987, the same year his book The Mayan Factor, Path Beyond Techology appeared.
In The Mayan Factor Arguelles writes: “I concluded that the primary intention of the Mayan calendar system was not to measure time but to record the harmonic calibrations of a galactic synchronization beam, 5, 125-years or 5200-tun (360-day cycles) in duration. According to the time science of the ancient Maya, a great moment of transformation awaits us at 2012, when we pass out of that beam.”
“This interval, B.C. 3113 – A.D. 2012, comprises the totality of history as we know it – from the First Dynasty of Egypt to the Twin Towers, hence a wave harmonic of history. During this cycle humanity has gone from a tribal creature just learning how to live in cities, to being a full-blown planetary organism.”
“In this process,” he continues, “humanity has learned how to mechanize time...a sphere of artificial time cast over the biosphere. Since 1618, the human species has been living in its own artificial time, apart from the rest of the biosphere that continues to operate in the natural cycles. The dissonance between artificial and natural time has brought about the present crisis – and pushed mankind toward a new condition of being. “The conclusion of the cycle in A.D. 2012,” he continues, “bodes a return to natural time, and an evolutionary upgrading of planetary life. A resonant frequency shift will usher us into the brilliance of galactic-solar-planetary evolution. We shall pass not only into a post-historic, but a post-human, or super human phase of our evolution.
”Like the world-order of the I Ching,” Arguelles writes, “the system of Mayan science is one of holonomic resonance, as much of the future as it is of the past. Indeed, from the perspective of Mayan science the terms future and past are of little value as gauges of superiority or progress. For the Maya, if time exists at all, it is as a circuit from whose common source...the current by which everything issues from and returns, simultaneously forwards and backwards, to the source.”
“...the Mayan number system,” he continues, “is completely based on fractal harmonics which are based on like proportions,” comparing it to analogical thinking that “randomly floats and leads to a conclusion by like association linking seemingly dissimilar things. “Analogical thinking is also that which creates form on the basis of like proportions.”
Further on he notes that the fractal numbers of the Mayan pure progression also underlie the permutational mathematics of DNA as well as the I Ching.
In his most recent book, Time & The Technosphere The Law of Time in Human Affairs, Arguelles explored the significance of the world shattering 9-ll event, describing
in a lecture in the Aesthetic Phase Shift series (May, 2002) how the event created a fissure in the artificial technosphere, opening to the noosphere,
Investigating the dialectic of consciousness with co-author Miriam Tarcov in an earlier book, The Feminine, Spacious as the Sky, they emphasize its feminine aspect which “represents a deepening reflection of the psychic, intuitive side of human nature” declaring it’s “been smothered by the historical process, resulting in the technosphere.”
In Earth Ascending, An Illustrated Treatise on the Law Governing Whole Systems, Arguelles refers to the feminine psychic side of consciousness as the AC, Aboriginal Continuity, while the male, rational techne side is defined as the CA, Civilizational Advance, with the historical process representing “the increasing dominance of the CA to the final exclusion of the AC – the triumph of industrial man over the indigenous peoples.”
In Time & The Technosphere, he declares, “The world will be saved by beauty and the proponents of peace through culture will be in the vanguard. The Law of Time formalizes the perception of the intrinsic beauty of nature – T (E) = Art – and thereby provides a scientifically solid critique of the ugliness and social disharmony fomented by the irregular and artificial timing standards that control humanity today.”
Ervin Laszlo: Chaos Point 2012
In an essay in The Mystery of 2012, entitled The Birthing of a New World, Ervin Laszlo, founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory and author of over fifty books, writes that we’re nearing what he calls a “chaos point,” which will be the end of the world as we now know it.
Drawing on chaos theory, Laszlo writes we’re now living “in the opening phases of social and ecological instability – at a crucial decision window. When we reach the point of chaos, the stable “point” and “periodic” attractors of our systems will be joined by “chaotic” or “strange” attractors. These will appear suddenly” and since “our world is supersensitive...even small fluctuations produce large-sale effects. These are the legendary “butterfly effects,” meaning that “if a monarch butterfly flaps its wings in California, it creates a tiny air fluctuation that amplifies and amplifies and ends by creating a storm over Mongolia.”
Thus, “Ours is an era of decision – a window of unprecedented freedom to decide our destiny...we can create the kinds of fluctuations – the actions and initiatives – that will tip the coming chaos point toward peace and sustainability. If we are aware of this power in our hands, and if we have the will and the wisdom to make use of it, we become masters of our destiny.”
Noting that the date is “In remarkable – and perhaps not entirely fortuitous agreement with the date predicted by the Mayan civilization – the chaos point is likely to be reached on or around the year 2012.”
Lazlo quotes Vaclav Havel, then the president of Czechoslovakia, addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress in February of 1991, as saying, “Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better....and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed – the ecological, social, demographic, or general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.”
He concludes, “Havel’s point is well taken, but it is not a reason for pessimism. The breakdown of civilization can be avoided Human consciousness can evolve. It is already evolving, and you can help it evolve further.”
Gregory Bateson: The Next Level of Abstraction/Enacting the Totality
In Mind and Nature, Gregory Bateson argued that to get beyond the prevailing dualistic epistemology, ‘Creatura’ would need to break its ‘internal consistency’ and shift to the next level of abstraction, the next ‘logical type’; a ‘healing’ that “may be ruthless” and
“a process in which whole species may be exterminated.” Noting that ‘consciousness and aesthetics are the great untouched questions” he then asks “Onto what sort of surface shall “aesthetics” and “consciousness” be mapped?” adding “And don’t forget the sacred.” Finally concluding “it’s not possible to map beauty-and-ugliness onto a flat piece of paper...The question is onto what surface shall a theory of aesthetics be mapped?”
Asked by his daughter, anthropologist and author Mary Catherine, if it might be a multi-dimensional sphere, Bateson, noting “There has to be a reason why these questions have never been answered” and refusing to “rush in” with a “vulgar answer to an oversimplified question” ended Mind and Nature with the resolution that his next book, which he didn’t live long enough to write, “Will start from a map of the region where angels fear to tread.”
As Mary Catherine Bateson recalled in About Bateson, “...a keystone of Gregory’s use of cybernetics is that among the translations and analogical mappings it makes possible is a restatement of the lucid computations of the heart.” This agrees with ‘second-generation cybernetics’ that’s coming to understand the evolutionary importance of pattern recognition in giving rise to emergent domains – an aesthetic mode of cognition that rises from the body. As Bateson had said earlier, “Pattern precedes particles”. For as cognitive scientist Francisco Varela remarked in Gaia 2: Emergence – The New Science of Becoming, “we think with our entire body, not just our minds.” Varela also stressed the epistemological necessity for “networks with metadynamics – when they come together give rise to something that pops up in the middle, in a distributive way,” adding, “it is only in the enactment of the totality working together that you have mind.”
In the same book, cultural historian William Irwin Thompson said he didn’t think we could appreciate this ‘metadynamics’ without a new geometrical imagination. As he explained, “Imagination is the phase-space of perception. Each of the senses provides one dimension of meaning, but the dynamic that integrates the meanings and brings forth a coherent world is the faculty of the imagination.”
Christine Page: 2012, the Galactic Center, and Return of the Great MotherDr. Christine Page, physician, homeopathic practitioner, and author of 2012, the Galactic Center, and Return of the Great Mother, brings a mystically visionary reading of the galactic synchronization expected to occur when our sun, and by implication our earth will be aligned with the dark rift of our galaxy, the Milky Way at sunrise on December, 2012, for the first time in 26,000 years.
Interpreting it as a return of the feminine, portrayed in the symbols of the virgin, the mother, and the crone, an emergence that inherently implies a death or diminishing of masculine energy, Page proposes it be seen as “the completion of the hero’s journey” and a “unique opportunity to co-create’.
Galactic Center = Heart of the Great Mother = Toroidal Black/White Hole
Noting that the heart “is a complex electromagnetic system that with every beat produces enough energy to power a small electric bulb,” Page, an M.D., tells us it’s now been shown that “the electromagnetic energy of the heart takes the shape of a torus. “Geometrically,” she explains, “a torus is formed by rotating many circles around a tangential line, the center of which touches all the rotated circles exactly, noting, (as we have throughout this paper) “this sacred geometrical design is currently receiving considerable attention” she further tells us “The Galactic Center to which we are now aligned is in fact a black hole shaped like a torus. Just as our heart is a torus, so, apparently, is the heart of the Great Mother!”
She then tells us “As our research deepens into the nature of the torus, we find that it has one unique function: it is a transformer that is imprinted with creation’s blueprint and as such, allows for the formation of matter from spirit and the dissolution of matter back to spirit...In other words, it is the heart – of a human or of the Great Mother as found at the Galactic Center...”
As examples of tori within our world that share the ability to communicate with each other, she includes the atom, DNA, a chakra, the electromagnetic field of the body, the Tree of Life, the earth, sacred sites and crop formations, a rainbow (the symbol of the Virgin), the sun, the Galactic Center, and “similar hypothetically to the Galactic Center, The Center of the universe...every human heart,” adding, “Our hearts connect, even when our minds fail to listen.”
Then “After a period of time that some will perceive as chaos and others as a blissful opportunity” Page predicts “we will leave the Great Mother via a white whole and give birth to dreams and visions, which will become the reality for the many generations that follow.”
John Major Jenkins: Venus, Moon, the Tzolkin Calendar & The Golden Proportion
In a 1995 essay entitled “Venus, Moon and the Tzolkin Calendar,” a summary of his book Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies, John Major Jenkins, one of the best-known independent researchers of the Mayan calendar, writes:
“Venus has a profound relationship with the core principle of the tzolkin. In my books on the tzolkin I have put forward the notion that the principle at the core of the 260- day cycle is none other than the Golden Proportion. I argue this by looking at the mathematics and the philosophy of the Golden proportion and compare it to what we know, and the Maya themselves offer, about the tzolkin. The Golden Proportion is a unique principle in nature. It determines the spirals in pine-cones, seashells, the geometry of the human body and appears in many other organic processes. In the words of Jose Arguelles, it is the principle of “self-same similarity..” So, it’s not strictly about spirals.
The Golden proportion is best understood in terms of “repeating patterns at successive scales,” nested chinese dolls, and musical harmonies. In human terms, reproduction itself is a process ruled by the Golden Proportion. Like cumulative spirals on a sea shell, each successive human generation is based about what came before, yet is one step further on in the process. What I’m getting at here is simple: The Golden Proportion is a much under-rated principle in nature, and it is responsible for most of the tzolkin’s properties.”
In his booklet 7 Wind, he draws additional ideas “which suggest even more incredible properties” to “the deeper implications of Mayan time philosophy (that) have already been addressed” including a “graphic illustration (which) involves Venus.”
The Venus Round Calendar & the Pentagram: Fractal HarmonicCosmos
“The entire Venus Round Calendar is based upon the fact that 8 Years = 5 Venus cycles. This means that Venus traces a five-pointed star around the zodiac over a period of 8 years. The ancient Sumerians also recognized this, and the infamous pentagram probably has its roots in this profound truth. The 8.5 ratio relates to music theory and is the doorway through to the greater mystery of the Sacred Calendar. Fractal harmonics is removed from the realm of abstract theory and is recognized as an inherent ordering principle of the cosmos...As the mathematical center of the Sacred Calendar, it informs all levels of the Calendar’s meanings – from human gestation up to planetary cycles.”
“Imagine a comprehensive cosmology of numbers which unites the workings of both the material and spiritual realms. Imagine it to be based up on the ancient systems of the I Ching and the Golden Proportion. Furthermore, imagine this brilliant philosophy as a revival and completion of Kepler’s obsession with “harmony of the heaven” based on the five Platonic Solids. You have just imagined the Mesoamerican Sacred Calendar.”
In summary Jenkins writes “Mayan time conception is more sophisticated than the one presently in vogue among the ‘western’ cultures. It involves an approach or attitude of mutual involvement, overlapping inclusion, and adaptable pro-active problem solving, rather than “taking a stand”, “sticking to our guns,” or “peace through strength.” The Maya enjoy a world-view free from the entrapments of dualistic thinking.”
Hal Foster: Resurrecting the Referent, The Lost Body of the Real
In Recodings, Hal Foster, art critic and professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, wrote of the “crisis of the sign” – that the once potent visual image of the artist has been emptied of its former transformative power by being turned into a commodity in our media-oriented “economy of the sign.” He suggested this crisis can be countered only by resurrecting the referent which was progressively abstracted in modern art and released altogether by postmodernism: “the lost body of the real”.
This calls, Foster wrote, for a postmodern praxis of resistance that can inscribe new subversive signs that cannot be encoded, asking, “Is there no “primitive” form that is not mediated, no raw that is not cooked”?
This is the praxis of resistance and aesthetic reconstruction we’ve described throughout this paper. A deeply integral praxis, its primitive form, as social anthropologist Levi-Strauss suggested in The Raw and the Cooked, has “the form of which it speaks,” which we’ve shown to be the double-spiraled form of the poetic-hermeneutic circle and the ‘owl’s mask/butterfly-wing’ strange attractor that is its chaos mathematical metapattern. Both find full topological expression in Arthur Young’s torus and Roger Penrose’s ‘twistor geometry’ - a psychically evocative ‘strange hologram’ that not only recalls the archaic cosmology of a ‘cosmic mill’ and ‘spiral whirlpool’ but mathematically unites the worlds of ideal form, matter, and mind in their fractal golden mean metapatterning. Such a mythomorphic form – an iconic image that embodies the form it refers to – can only invoke a like resonance and thus resist the emptying of its transformative power.
One sees these images emerging both inside and outside art and though they’ve appeared only recently on mathematicans’ computer screens, they’re now all over the World Wide Web acting as potent attractors wherever they show up as people sense, if they’re not yet able to specify, their relevance to a holistically rounded, rhythmical form of life.
In this moment of potential return to an era of rhythmically ordered chaos, held back by a lack of mythic imagery, it seems teleologically significant that these double- spiraled geometries have appeared with their unique power to reestablish humanity’s archaic, analogue relationship with the cosmos and also ‘resolve the cosmic riddle’ - the long-sought ‘theory of everything.’
Quintessence: The Star Pentagram/Magical Symbol of Transformation A neon and silk screen sculpture I created recently of the star pentagram, this ancient symbol of the divine feminine widely thought to keep a harmonic balance in nature between male and female is reappearing now in the previously forbidden five-fold symmetry of the fractal ‘strange’ attractor, unfolding dark matter through the collective imagination in synch with an expanding dodecahedral cosmos.
In this higher dimensional abstraction, form and content are once more unified and entropy reduced as artists create symbolic forms of culture in a new mythic narrative such as we experienced at the Goodman Building. An aesthetic praxis I experienced as ‘performing the Real’ it enacts a transcendental reduction and return to the symbiotic quintessence – the symbolic reality humanity knew and performed in the Golden Age before the fall into history and consciousness – recuperated through the collective re- cognition and repetition of the lost harmonic rhythm of the Golden Ratio – humanity’s true Lost Symbol!
“The Glittering Central Mechanism of the World”
Increasing recognition of the golden ratio as nature’s secret code bears out the prophetic dream of the late great physicist John Archibald Wheeler who conceived the wormhole theory of ‘geometrodynamics’: “Someday a door will surely open and expose the glittering central mechanism of the world in its simplicity and beauty.”
Terence McKenna’s Transcendental Object & Aesthetic Order
I believe it also symbolizes the ‘transcendental object’ or ‘attractor’ Terence McKenna described in The Evolutionary Mind: “...the transcendental attractor is a kind of black hole, and we’ve fallen into its basin of attraction. Now we’re circling ever faster, ever deeper, as we approach the singularity..” a concrescence he predicted would occur “at the winder solstice of 2012 AD “at a helical rising of the galaxy.”
In Trialogues at the Edge of the West – a conversation between Ralph Abraham, biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and McKenna, he remarked “When we reverse our preconceptions about the flow of cause and effect we get a great attractor that pulls all organization and structure toward itself over several billion years. As the object of its attraction grows closer to it in proximity, the two somehow interpenetrate, setting up standing wave patterns of interference in which new properties become emergent, and the thing complexifies. To my mind, this is the Divine Imagination, as Blake called it...I think of the Divine Imagination as the class of all things both possible and beautiful in a kind of reverse Platonism”
“We’re always looking for the betraying presence of an order that is more than an order of economy and pure function. We look for an aesthetic order, and when we find that, then we have this reciprocal sense of recognition and transcendence.”
William Irwin Thompson: Hieroglyphic Consciousness/Performing Myth
In The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light, cultural historian William Irwin Thompson sees the present age of chaos eventually overlapping with what he calls “the new age of gods,” which he describes as “the unitive state of the great mystics; it is a state of being, analogous to music, in which myth is not simply a description, but a performance of the very reality it seeks to desire. Here history becomes the performance of myth...In these parables and koans of spiritual enlightenment,” he continues, “there are certain root structures or archetypes of order that derive from principles of cosmic order. These principals are not so much symbols of being as they are crystalline seeds, or programs, for the unfolding of being. At this level, we have moved beyond the symbolic or figurative level of consciousness to the hieroglyphic.”
In Gaia2, Emergence, The New Science of Becoming, published in 1991, he wrote “Imagination is the phase-space of perception. Each of the senses provides one dimension of meaning, but the dynamic that integrates the meanings and brings forth a coherent world is the faculty of the imagination. The mystics are probably right when they claim that there are more dimensions than meet the eye, but what brings forth a world is the human body as a field of metaphoric extension of the known into the unknown.”
Then in a symposium with Francisco Varela, James Lovelock, and Lynn Margules on the cultural implications of the idea of emergence in the fields of biology, cognitive science, and philosophy with its shift in emphasis from dynamics to metadynamics, Varela spoke of the need for “a connectionist architecture for emergence...networks with metadynamics – when they come together give rise to something that pops up in the middle in a distributive way” adding “it is only in the enactment of the totality working together that you have mind.” “Recursiveness;” agrees Thompson, “is crucial to emergent patterns...It is this pattern of circularity that is, I think, really at the heart of the idea of emergence..” he added “I don’t think we can appreciate this metadynamic without a new geometrical imagination...”
Thus Thompson affirms physicist David Bohm’s contention that it’s through humanity’s collectivev/creative imagination that the subquantum potential order of the holomovement, which is now blocked by our fragmented thinking, unfolds the dark matter that’s now known to make up over 90% of the matter/energy in the cosmos, expanding knowledge in fractal golden mean, self-similar proportions as it dissipates or ‘eats’ entropy. in a transcendental reduction to the quintessence; the 5-dimensional quintessential phase-space structuring of the primordial poetic act.
Felix Guattari’s Chaosmosis: The Aesthetic Ordering of Chaos
In his last book, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, the late psychoanalyst Felix Guattari similarly called for “a search for enunciative nuclei ...the creation of new Universes of reference that would require the crystallization of an immense collective desire... different ways of seeing and of making the world, different ways of being that would extract full meaning from all the empty signal systems that invest us from every side.” Only such an “ontological intensity,” he stressed, is capable of bringing about a collective existential mutation, declaring it was the task of the poetic function, in an enlarged sense, to recompose the artificially rarefied Universe into “resingularised Universes of subjectivation.”
Lamenting the “social abandon of postmodernism,” Guatteri looked to the aesthetic ordering of chaos – a matter-form relation that extracts complex forms from chaotic material he calls “aesthetic machines” to restore to existence what he calls its auto-essentialization. As he explained, “Art is not just the activity of established artists but of a whole subjective creativity which traverses the generations and oppressed peoples, ghettos, minorities...I simply want to stress that the aesthetic paradigm – the creation or composition of mutant percepts and affects – has become the paradigm for every possible form of liberation, expropriating the old scientific paradigms...It might be better here to speak of a proto-aesthetic paradigm, to emphasize that we are not referring to institutionalised art, to its works manifested in the social field, but to a dimension of creation in a nascent state, perpetually in advance of itself, its power of emergence subsuming the contingency and hazards of activities that bring immaterial Universes into being.”
This object-subject of desire” he explains, “like strange attractors in chaos theory, serve as an anchorage point within a phase space (here, a universe of reference) without ever being identical to itself, in permanent flight on a fractal line. In this respect it is not only a fractal geometry that must be evoked, but fractal ontology. It is the being itself which transforms, buds, and transfigures itself.”
In summary he concludes, “Our survival on this planet is not only threatened by environmental damage but by a degeneration in the fabric of social solidarity and in the modes of psychical life, which must literally be re-invented. The refoundation of politics will have to pass through the aesthetic and analytic dimensions implied in the three ecologies – the environment, the socius and the psyche. We cannot conceive of solutions to the poisoning of the atmosphere and to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, or to the problem of population control, without a mutation of mentality, without promoting a new art of living in society...”
For this to happen “We must create local centers for collective subjectivation, for what matters is the mutant rhythmic impetus of a temporalisation able to hold together the
heterogeneous components of a new existential edifice” concluding. “It has become imperative,” he concluded “to recast the axes of values, the fundamental finalities of human relations and productive activity.”
Neo-Vorticism: Fusing Form & Life
In the deeply integral praxis of the Goodman Group I mentioned earlier, the artist residents of San Francisco’s original Goodman Building did just this. fractally carve out wholeness and unfold the higher golden mean reason of our collective poetic imagination together. a whole form of life we envisioned as we went along, deconstructing whatever prevented it or didn’t feel right.
Swirling as it did around the vortex of our evolving shared vision, I’ve since called this movement ‘Neo-Vorticism’ because unlike the Vorticist movement in England in the 20’s that celebrated the explosive dynamics of the machine (their journal was called BLAST!) neo-vortical movement is a cumulative cycling that deconstructs mass and entropy as it constructs higher meaning.
As Arthur Young described the torus in The Geometry of Meaning, “this is a sphere that expands and contracts, the contraction accumulating the proceeds of the explosion.”
It was this vortically shaped movement of meaning in time I detected in our dialogues that drew me away from painting to the praxis I now call “Neo-Vorticism’.
I first dreamed of it in the sixties and scratched its fountain-like movement on a scrap of paper by my bed, half asleep, with the words “gather..sift...see” – a double spiraled form I’d first seen in a dream in the sixties then read about in the book by Arthur Young I found on Polk street and was now seeing dramatized in our collective action!
As the fundamental form in my art work before the Goodman experience, I was astonished to discover that the torus - the vortex sphere - was in fact the geometry of a higher dimensional life, requiring only the expanded co-creative conditions of an open ‘chaotic’ system to manifest in actual praxis.
We lost the Goodman because the developer-serving bureaucracy didn’t want to acknowledge the truth of our more-with-less plan, but the vector of our struggle held as we carried our vision and the grants we’d accrued to recreate its whole functioning at another site – Goodman2. Conceptually based on my toroidal architecture theory, G2 was designed to link the ecologies of mind and mass, form and chaos, in an integral,
open-ended equation. A higher dimensional turn of the design spiral I described in an article published in Architecture California. – ‘G2: Chaos Architecture, a Metapattern That Connects’ – its architect, David Baker, was quoted as saying “G2 is the first visionary architecture that’s ever actually been constructed.”
Later I formed the Goodman2 Institute and ‘Aesthetic Phase Shift’ lecture series to explore this synthesis between new science, art and life so it might deconstruct the partitions that separate the realm of form from the ‘facts’ of life – the explosive, monolithic structures of waste and domination that are rapidly destroying humanity’s psyche and the planet.
I thus see Neo-Vorticism emerging as a cohering abstraction, a global de/reconstructive movement in synch with the expansion/contraction of dark/molecular matter that’s rapidly compressing 4-d spacetime into an aesthetically reconfigured 5th dimension. Showing itself now in global warming, mounting social crises and the present meltdown of the global economy, both have the potential – if seen and seized - for a deep reintegration of liberatory work and authentic unalienated culture.
“A New Beginning of History and Art”
In this aesthetic sublation of an objectified reality, form and life can be finally fused in the quintessential phase space of an expanded art – if we synch with its fractal vortex & rhythmical golden mean form.
This new abstraction, superceding as it does the modernist geometries of the sphere, the cone and the cube with the fractal geometry of the vortex sphere, can thus inaugurate - as Heidegger predicted - “a new beginning of history and art”
Leonard Shlain: The Iconic Revolution’
In The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, its brilliant, recently deceased author Leonard Shlain described a coming shift he called the iconic revolution. A shift from what he described as five millennia of domination by the written word and patriarchal left- hemispheric values that “conquered right brain values, and, with them, the Goddess” -- a “triumphant march of literacy” of which “patriarchy and misogyny have been the inevitable result;” Shlain told us the iconic image is now returning and together with an increasing reliance on holistic image information will, he predicted, move culture toward a new equilibrium between left and right hemispheres, masculine and feminine, word and image.
“Surfing along on electronic waves,” Shlain expected this iconic revolution “will ultimately crest any man-made obstacle” and introduce “a new Golden Age.” He didn’t, however, identify a particular image he believed had the potency to trigger this shift.
Athough in an earlier book, Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light, Shlain described Minkowsky’s figure of opposing light cones as a “pregnant image” he wasn’t aware that Roger Penrose had conceived his twistor theory which maps
geometric objects in Minkowsky space into a complexified space that unites relativity with quantum gravity. .A dodecahedral geometry that’s now a prime candidate for achieving physics long sought ‘Theory of Everything,’ its five-fold rotation permits the unification of relativity and quantum physics and of the collective unconscious with material reality in a fractally cohering flow – all mediated by the iconic pentagram, the ‘divine proportion’ by which it unfolds.
In his Epilogue to The Alphabet and the Goddess, Shlain admitted to “having an uneasy feeling that I was turning on one of my best friends” in bringing a negative charge against the left hemisphere, acknowledging “My left hemisphere’s gift of abstraction has permitted me to discern the connections among seemingly disparate historical events” then adding “But it is no less true that relying on right-hemispheric attributes as purely positive...without the ordering balance which is the forte of the left hemisphere leads to a different kind of disarray and can result in mindless anarchy and sensuous excess. Emphasis on one hemispheric mode at the expense of the other is noxious. The human community should strive for a state of complementarity and harmony.”
Regarding his own left brain scientific achievement, Penrose insists like David Bohm that the subquantum mechanism by which the twistor and ‘holomovement’ unfold cannot be computed but only takes place through aesthetic judgment and imagination; a right brain analog process that reduces mass and entropy as it constructs a higher dimensional reality. Thus we’re finally brought by physicist’s left brain abstractions to a fractal union with right brain collective imagination that itself is expanding in the form of dark matter as molecular matter and an economy based on entropy expanding commodity production are collapsing as the cosmos is abstracting/sublating its geometric form and content – including the social and material conditions of life – into the fractally etherealized proportions of the quintessence and its aesthetic code, the golden mean.
Art & Physics
In an earlier book, Art & Physics, noting that Leonardo had the “unusual ability to see time all-at-once,” Shlain proposed “it was the equality of Leonardo’s hemisphere’s that enabled this dual man to perceive space and time differently from any artist before him”; adding “If Leonardo could integrate the two halves of his divided psyche, then how might the rest of us learn to do so? Perhaps the answer lies with the synthesis of art and physics.”
In this paper I’ve proposed this synthesis can be actualized in a dimensional shift from Einstein’s 4-d physical spacetime that was anticipated, as Shlain described, in modern art’s cubical, conical and spherical abstractions to the now theoretically validated but still largely unrecognized vortex-sphere of the 5-dimensional sub-quantum phase space of light that turns upon itself pentagonally in fractal golden mean proportions.
A quote from Teilhard de Chardin that heads the final chapter of Art & Physics both intuits and literally describes the emerging aesthetic reality: “More primordial than any idea, beauty will be manifest as the herald and generator of ideas”
Heading the book’s Epilogue with Dostoevsky’s famous prediction “Beauty will save the world” Dr. Shlain also stressed the necessity of an “ordering balance which is the forte of the left hemisphere” although he didn’t identify a synthesizing idea or icon that has this ability. Instead he wrote, in conclusion, “My hope is that this book will initiate a conversation about the issues I have raised and inspire others to examine the thesis further .”
Hegel’s Aufhebung of Art: The Self-Unfolding Idea of Beauty
In Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel wrote: “The science of art is a much more pressing need...than in times in which art, simply as art...was enough to furnish a full satisfaction. What we have to study is how these principles (of artistic beauty) pass into actual existence...the universal types which constitute the self-unfolding Idea of beauty.” And though he famously (though prematurely) predicted the end of art because it was could no longer fulfill its essential function of ‘designating the absolute’, of beginning history or starting it again, Hegel also proposed its Aufhebung, or supersession, suggest- ing that the abstract conceptions of particular arts be “transferred into our ideas...” Later, however, he added: “Until we make the Ideas aesthetic, that is mythological, they have no interest for the people, and conversely until mythology is rational, the philosopher must be ashamed of it...A higher spirit sent from Heaven must found this religion, it will be the last, greatest work of mankind.”
The Thing Itself as Common Work/A Synthesis of Content & Form
In Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Jean Hyppolite paraphrased Hegel: “The double contradiction of content (thing in general and my thing in particular) and form (being-for-itself and being-for-others) must be resolved in a higher synthesis, in which the thing itself rises from being an abstract predicate to being a concrete subject. It then becomes the thing which, by being my thing, is everyone’s as well: the thing which is for-me by being for-others and which in its being-for-others is being-for-me. This thing belongs to everyone and to each one – a common work, qua common, in which individualities and the interplay of their mutual deceits are transcended but in which each rediscovers itself as universal self...This is indeed the category, “the I which is being and being which is I.”
The Circle That Returns Into Itself
Hegel described Geist – spirit - as “the circle that returns into itself, that presupposes its beginnings and reaches this beginning only in the end.” Thus has history’s spiral, having evolved from an archaic and participatory preconscious through succeeding modes of awareness, finally begun to open onto a renewed aesthetic mimesis, a metadetermined epoch that like its archaic predecessor is also in synch with the aesthetic ordering of chaos
but within a collectively aware praxis and understanding that Spirit unfolds recursively. dialectically, through matter in ever-complexifying forms of wholeness, beauty, and freedom.
So we’ve arrived at the moment for a determinate negation when we must cancel externalizations and take objectified reality back into ourselves - a phase shift to the Quintessence we’ve seen to be Lacan’s True-Real and Hegel’s “thing in itself” – a 5th aesthetic dimension that’s been expressed throughout this paper in different languages but with a shared space-time patterning: the double-spiraled metapattern that Bateson identified with beauty whose topology, when it was identified, he hoped would provide “a map where angels fear to tread.”
This essay, the G2 Institute and ‘Aesthetic Phase Shift’ lecture series are dedicated to unfolding that map.
Further information about the Institute and lecture series can be found at www.g2instituteforintegralaesthetics.org or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Martha Senger September 2012
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Page 1. Diagram of vortex sphere from Consciousness and Reality: The Human Pivot Point, page 159, edited by Charles Muses and Arthur M. Young, published by Avon Books, New York. 1972.
Page 3. Drawings of pentagram star and multiple pentagrams by Michael Schneider from his book A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science, pages 111 and 145. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York. 1994
Page 4. Steve Pickering sketch superimposing vortical motion over section of Goodman2 architectural design by David Baker Associates, San Francisco, CA, from Architecture California, Volume 18, Number 2, Page 69. Winter 1996-97.
Page 6. ‘Three worlds’ from Shadows of the Mind, page 414, by Roger Penrose. Penguin Books, New York. 1991.
Page 7. Roger Penrose’s Twistor Geometry from Stephen Hawking’s Universe, page 214, by David Filkin. Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., New York.
Page 7. Diagram of Basic Nonlinear Wave Form Showing Future Feedback into Present from Destiny and Control in Human Systems, Page 60, by Charles Muses. Kluwer- Nijhoff ublishing, Boston-Dordrecht-Lancaster, 1985.
Page 8. Diagram of Radial or Radiant Language from Destiny and Control in Human Systems, page 20, by Charles Muses. .Kluwer-Nijhoff Publishing, Boston-Dordrecht- Lancaster. 1985
Page 8. Previously unpublished ‘umbilicoid’ or primordial torus courtesy of Charles Muses, author of Destiny and Control in Human Systems. Kluwer-Nijhoff Publishing, Boston-Dordrecht-Lancaster. 1985
Page 16. Chaotic attractor (Lorenz’s mask) from Dynamics: The Geometry of Behavior, page 88, by Abraham and Shaw. Addison-Wesley., 1992.
Page 17. ‘Magic Dodecahedron’ from Shadows of the Mind, page 241, by Roger Penrose. Penguin Books, New York. 1991
Page 25. ‘Cross-cap’ from Jacques Siboni’s home page: Psychoanalyse, Psychoanalysis, Topology, Topologie, Lacan, Lacanian, Freud, Moebius, Cross-Cap, Projective, Projetif, Intelligence Artificial, Artificial Intelligence. http:://jasib.lutecium.org/ 25. Illustration of Lacanian cross-cap topology. http://jacsib.lutecium.org/topology/Topology.html
Page 35. Graphic illustration of Venus Round Calendar from 7 Wind booklet, page 1, by John Major Jenkins. http://alignment2012.com/seven.htm,
Page 37. “Quintessence” Neon on silk screen sculpture.by Martha Senger, 2009. Photograph by Onyx Williams, San Francisco. .