Diaphaneity: Unfolding the Wings of Perception

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” — William Blake

“Purify your eyes, and see the pure world. Your life will fill with radiant forms.” — Rumi

“The mystery, or the secret, of the sorcerers’ explanation is that it deals with unfolding the wings of perception. The nagual by itself is of no use, it has to be tempered by the tonal. The sorcerers’ secret in using the nagual is in our perception.” — don Juan to Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power.

In his book The Ever-Present Origin, Jean Gebser describes the new (integral) consciousness as being chiefly characterised by “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world”. The citations above are other attestations to the fundamental reality of the “diaphainon” (as Gebser names it) that is the core of the new consciousness and that which makes transparency or diaphaneity of perception possible and effective. As we have mentioned frequently in the past, in William Blake this diaphainon is named “Albion”, which is the vital centre of his “fourfold vision” and his “four Zoas” of “Albion divided fourfold”. Thus Blake’s conception of the essential human form is that it is an energetic entity structured as a Tetramorph, symbolised in the mandala. This understanding is quite common among those who have attained to insight. In other words, the physical form is only a concretisation or physicalisation or manifestation of the energetic form.

William Blake — the Fourfold Vision or the quadrilateral

In Castaneda’s works, what Gebser calls “diaphaneity” is referred to as seeing. A Seer is someone who sees — who has, in effect, learned to “unfold the wings of perception” and attained clarity. Effectively, this “clarity” is the same as Gebser’s “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world” in which we and our reality is perceived immediately and directly, without mediations, for what it truly is. In Castaneda’s description, seeing in this manner is the immediate and direct perception of “energy as it flows in the universe”. This is an interesting way of describing it since it also recalls physicist David Bohm’s conception of fundamental reality as the “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” or the “holomovement” (Wholeness and the Implicate Order) as well as certain matters that arise in Iain McGilchrist’s neurodynamics described in his seminal book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

Among seers, then, it is understood that we possess fundamentally two modes of attention or perception which, in McGilchrist’s description, are called “the Master” and “the Emissary”. In Castaneda’s works these are referred to respectively as “the nagual” and “the tonal”, and sometimes as the “second attention” and the “first attention” respectively. (This likely is implicated also in Coleridge’s distinction between “primary imagination” and “secondary imagination”, so there is consistency in this). The “tonal” is the attention of ordinary everyday life and is heavily sense dependent. As such it is sometimes called “Sensate Consciousness”. This is called “the first attention” in Castaneda’s works and is associated with the body’s right-side awareness. The “second attention” is called “the nagual” and is associated with awareness of the left-side. This, of course, aligns with McGilchrist’s findings in neurodynamics as well, and with his Master and Emissary modes of perception or attention.

There is, then, one awareness that effectively functions in two distinct, but mutually entangled, modalities. In most cases, what McGilchrist calls “the Emissary” is named “ego-consciousness” or “the ego-nature” or “the Selfhood”, and even as “the false self”. This double-nature of our perception or attention gives rise, then, to dualism in thinking and a kind of either/or logic which is deficient insight. When the Christian mystic states that “God is closer to us than we are to ourselves”. This implicit “presence” which informs or underlies the two modes of attention is also what Gebser calls “the Itself”, which is in itself undifferentiated energy-awareness and is spaceless and timeless (hence infinite and eternal). The diaphainon is the self-manifestation of the Itself and forms the vital centre of the new integral consciousness.

Given the two modes of attention, and their “intensification”, as Gebser perceives this, there arises then paradox. In Buddhism we find these referred to similarly as “Ultimate Truth” and “Relative Truth”, or what we might otherwise call “the truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter” respectively. The tendency today to emphasise a new paradoxical “both/and” logic to supercede the exclusivity of the “either/or” dualistic form of thinking is testimony to the irruption of the paradoxical, and the irruption of the paradoxical (which many people still find uncomfortable) attests to this “intensification” or activation of the two modes of perception, which perform the same function but in much different ways — the tonal and the nagual in Castaneda’s terms. These may also be considered in terms of the mediate and the immediate, respectively.

Much of the new thinking and new logic has accepted the paradox as central to its thinking, as we find, say, in Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy or David Bohm, for example. Much of this has been made necessary by the irruption of the paradoxical in the new physics. The irruption of the paradox as a symptom of the intensification of consciousness (or “quickening” as some might say) also manifests as what Gebser calls “the double-movement” — a disintegration and a re-integration as two aspects of a singular dynamic, which is the self-manifestation of the diaphainon.

Because diaphaneity (or clarity) is the core feature or faculty of the diaphainon, all older forms of speculative philosophy and metaphysics become obsolete, to be replaced by what Gebser calls “eteology” or “being-in-truth” which he calls “verition”. Verition is immediate perception of truth that dispels mental confusion and perplexity. When Castaneda first learned to see (or what we mean when we say “the scales fell from my eyes”), the most surprising thing to him was the realisation that he had always seen reality in this way. He just didn’t know he did. This obstruction to direct and immediate perception is the work of that which Blake calls “Urizen”, the false deity the also calls “Satan”, “Selfhood”, and so on who is clearly the same as the demon Mara in Buddhism, also called “Architect” or “Lord of Illusion” and “Lord of my own ego”, who the Buddha had to overcome on his way to enlightenment in the famous episode under the Bodhi Tree. Figures like Urizen, Satan, Mara, or even Sauron in The Lord of the Rings seem clearly to be what Jung refers to as “The Shadow”.

So, the diaphainon is already latently present within the human psycho-spiritual structure. But owing to what McGilchrist calls the Emissary’s “usurpation” of the psychic household, it has remained obscured or opaque to our consciousness, even as it is the real “power behind the throne”, as it were. “Show me your face before you were born”, as the paradoxical Zen koan puts it. But Gebser is quite confident that the diaphainon is leaving its place of concealment or confinement and is becoming more and more manifest in our times, albeit not without disturbance, turbulence, anxiety and even paranoia on the part of the “emissary”, which seems to be losing its grip.

But that, too, is a paradox.


71 responses to “Diaphaneity: Unfolding the Wings of Perception”

  1. Steve says :


  2. Mary LaForge says :

    “But Gebser is quite confident that the diaphainon is leaving its place of concealment or confinement and is becoming more and more manifest in our times, albeit not without disturbance, turbulence, anxiety and even paranoia on the part of the “emissary”, which seems to be losing its grip.”

    Exactly! Why do you think we accept wearing a mask… the physical evidence we must notice before we can remove our rose-colored glasses. (as I discovered while writing my recent book, ESC).

  3. barryh says :

    Reblogged this on I can't believe it! and commented:

    Another great post by Scott Preston which draws together many different but related threads in the study of our two modes of consciousness.

    The ideas of Jean Gebser, William Blake, Carlos Castaneda, Iain McGilchrist, Buddhism, Christian mysticism are woven together and related. All are clearly describing the same reality with different terminologies. And what a wonderful title word: Diaphaneity.

  4. lyleaolson says :

    A key to developing Gebser’s “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world” lies in the process of meditation. As Pema Chodron says, “One of the first things we learn in meditation is that thoughts are transparent.” Witnessing thoughts consists of shifting into neutral; watching them without reaction, learning how one thought leads to a train of thoughts, concepts, stories, reactions, desires, fears, aversions, denials, perceptions, habits, assumptions, opinions, resentments, judgments, personality, the ego….a whole lot of structure. After thoughts are seen as transparent, then ego and much of what we take for structure is seen through. Gradually ‘we and our reality is perceived immediately and directly, without mediations, for what it truly is.’ The doors of perception are being cleansed.

    A possible point of confusion: ‘in Castaneda’s works … associated with the body’s right-side awareness’ refers to left-brain’s bilateral connection with the right side of the body.

  5. Steve says :

    “When geometric diagrams and digits
    Are no longer the keys to living things,
    When people who go about singing or kissing
    Know deeper things than the great scholars,
    When society is returned once more
    To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
    And when light and darkness mate
    Once more and make something entirely transparent,
    And people see in poems and fairy tales
    The true history of the world,
    Then our entire twisted nature will turn
    And run when a single secret word is spoken.”

    — Novalis

  6. Scott Preston says :

    Interesting to note, that Petrarch’s life (his ascent of Mt Ventoux plays a crucial role in early Renaissance discovery of space for Gebser) coincides with the peak years of the Great Plague in Europe. Also interesting to note that Newton made his most notable discoveries in physics while self-isolating in the countryside from the plague in London.

  7. TheOakofNormal says :

    I was listening to some old David Bohm New Dimensions radio interviews over the weekend. It’s like you can hear between his sentences he wants to say so much more, but didn’t want to risk his scientific reputation. Most of the great scientists seem to also be semi-mystics connected to the visionary/seer side of things, not sure why they can’t just let it all hangout in the name of discovery, that’s pretty much what got us the Renaissance. I remember reading Tao of Physics like ten years back and getting so excited thinking of some kind of Visionary culture emerging where science/religion/art co-mingle and somehow it seems we are getting farther and farther away from something like that, rational mind keeping things sliced up and diced up. Maybe not, who knows.

  8. Steve says :

    Scott, Can you talk a little about Don Juan’s “surrender to the infinite.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      The surrender to the infinite is not different than “letting go” (or non-attachment) in Zen. Pretty much the same meaning. Don Juan uses the term “tonal” for what we would call the ego-nature. It is finite being, being mortal in time. This is in contrast with “the nagual”, which is not. Nonetheless, the tonal is a necessary complement to the nagual. The problem is the tonal thinks its the true self, which it isn’t. This is also what McGilchrist means in saying the Emissary is a “usurper”. The emissary and the tonal are, as far as I can tell, equivalent.

      What Zen refers to as Non-attachment is what don Juan calls “losing personal history”. This is preparatory for the task of surrendering to the infinite, which you could call “mystical death” — that is, the tonal/ego-nature accepts its personal mortality.

  9. TheOakofNormal says :

    A great short little book, Intelligence in Nature by Jeremy Narby. Narby talking to a Japanese entomologist (audiobook so name was hard but Arikawa) who mainly studies butterflies, “Butterflies are transformers, they do not sprout just wings in the pupu, but brand new eyes as well.” Narby wrote, The Cosmic Serpent, another great read. He’s someone to pay attention to. An outsider in his field of anthropology who seemed to be teaching some scientists a thing a two as he went along creating this book, it’s interesting to think how in the not so distant future outsiders could become the new insiders and vice versa.

  10. Steve says :

    “When D.H. Lawrence died at the age of 44 in 1930 he was most widely known as the author of scandalous novels like Women in Love and The Rainbow, which treated sexual relations with an openness which his age wasn’t ready for.

    Originally he’d become famous as a nature writer with marvellously vivid powers of description, and also as a ‘working class writer’ who portrayed the life of the Midlands mining village where he grew up. At that time, early in his career, Lawrence showed all the signs of going on to be a best-selling writer and a member of the literary establishment, but then a visionary and prophetic tone began to enter his writings which his previous readers found hard to stomach. His books began to be filled with savage denunciations of modern life, a sense of horror at the growing materialism and industrialisation he saw around him, and even a sense that the human race was doomed to make itself an extinct species. People had become alienated from the natural world and from their true selves, he said, they’d begun to exist as just egos instead of real beings, and only lived inside their heads instead of actually in the world. He saw the repression of sex as another sign of modern man’s separation from the natural order of things, and in the end he decided not to care about being published and just to write about sex as openly as he wanted. This was in his last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which wasn’t published until 33 years after his death.

    It’s probably this novel which is mainly responsible for the popular image of Lawrence as a writer who deals with sexual themes and celebrates the life of the instincts against the suppressive forces of so-called civilised society. To other people he’s still mainly important as a nature writer or a working class writer, while at various times he’s also been labelled (and misinterpreted) by literary critics as a fascist and a misogynist. It’s been very rare, however, that the most important aspect of Lawrence as a person and as a writer has been paid attention to: namely, the fact that he lived his life in what we could call a ‘mystical’ state of consciousness, and that, even though he rejected his Christian upbringing and had no interest in any other forms of religion, he was a mystic in exactly the same way that religious figures like Meister Eckhart and St. Teresa were.”

  11. Steve says :

    Iris Murdoch’s, ” Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature” Forward by George Steiner.

  12. TheOakofNormal says :

    This video got me thinking a lot about how different people’s pov can relate to synchronicity. Jordan is kind of an exposed nerve right now with everything he has been through recently and it hits him this deep, when someone else in a much lighter mood or more creative mindset might approach it as play. Maybe the overstress by Jung on meaning was a bit of a misstep and too ego centered.

  13. Steve says :

    Last night, as I was sleeping,
    I dreamt — marvelous error!–
    that I had a beehive
    here inside my heart.
    And the golden bees
    were making white combs
    and sweet honey
    from my old failures.

  14. Steve says :

    Finding oneself amidst the infinite,

    The individual would gladly disappear

    That all discomfort may dissolve.

    No more burning wishes, wild wanting;

    No more annoying demands, rigid rules:

    To give oneself up is a joy.

    Soul of the World, come, permeate us!

    Help us wrestle with the World-Spirit,

    Raise our powers to its heights.

    Goad us as kindly spirits,

    Gentle guiding masters,

    To that which creates and created everything.


    • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

      I’ve also been perusing Mark Vernon’s channel. Lots of interesting videos there.

      • TheOakofNormal says :

        You might wanna check out Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema 1 & 2 books if you haven’t come across those yet.

        • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

          Deleuze is on my reading list, haven’t gotten around to it yet.

          • TheOakofNormal says :

            Pretty random comment, but I re-watched Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky a few nights ago thinking about Jung’s Shadow idea throughout and that movie is kind of brilliant. People dismissed it, but it deserves a relook. How it dismantled Cruise was kind of next level for Hollywood.

            • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

              I don’t get the negative reaction to that film, either. I thought it was excellent.

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              I’ve been revisiting a ton of old films all throughout covid, The Lawnmower Man is another one worth a rewatch. The ideas are better than the film, but thinking about Nietzsche’s Ubermensch idea while watching it was a fun thought experiment. Doing my once a year Memorial Day weekend What About Bob viewing this evening, lol. I’ll check out your blog. Love chatting about films, I was on social media for like two seconds mostly just posting about film stuff.

            • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

              I read a synopsis for The Lawnmower man. Sounds like a bizarre variation on the AI gone rogue. I’m definitely curious to watch it now. Thanks for the interest in my blog.

  15. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Haven’t heard from you in a while. Everything okay?

    • Steve says :

      Do-o is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese word Tao, the order of nature. Raku means “enjoyment”. To enjoy Tao (to live with appreciation all the time, wherever we are) is Do-o-Raku. When we are aware of nature’s impartial and absolute justice, we know there is nothing to worry about. In Lin Chi’s words: “At one stroke I forgot all my knowledge! There’s no need for any discipline; for, move as I will, I always manifest the Tao!” When we see this, we can begin to enjoy our lives fully, by distributing infinite joy and thankfulness to everyone we meet.
      Interestingly, Do-o-Raku also means “hobby”. So we can say that Do-o-Raku means to live our life as a hobby – which is what it is! Anything we do is a game. It does not matter if we “fail” or “succeed”. Such an understanding is Nirvana – eternal peace. In the words of Paramahansa Yogananda: “Do not take life’s experiences too seriously . . . for in reality they are nothing but dream experiences. Play your part in life, but never forget that it is only a role.”
      To live in perpetual ecstatic delight is Do-o-Raku. Those who do so are called Do-o-Raku-Mono. If you are Do-o-Raku-Mono, you are Macrobiotic, whatever you eat.

      from Macrobiotics: An Invitation To Health And Happiness, by George Ohsawa

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. Just honky-dory. It’s just that this is the time of the year when my attention turns to yard work, gardening, and just getting outdoors.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Good to hear. Enjoy. ^.^

        • steve says :

          The Horses

          Barely a twelvemonth after
          The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
          Late in the evening the strange horses came.
          By then we had made our covenant with silence,
          But in the first few days it was so still
          We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
          On the second day
          The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
          On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
          Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
          A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
          Nothing. The radios dumb;
          And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
          And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
          All over the world. But now if they should speak,
          If on a sudden they should speak again,
          If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
          We would not listen, we would not let it bring
          That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
          At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
          Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
          Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
          And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
          The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
          They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting.
          We leave them where they are and let them rust:
          “They’ll molder away and be like other loam.”
          We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
          Long laid aside. We have gone back
          Far past our fathers’ land.
          And then, that evening
          Late in the summer the strange horses came.
          We heard a distant tapping on the road,
          A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
          And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
          We saw the heads
          Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
          We had sold our horses in our fathers’ time
          To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
          As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield.
          Or illustrations in a book of knights.
          We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
          Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
          By an old command to find our whereabouts
          And that long-lost archaic companionship.
          In the first moment we had never a thought
          That they were creatures to be owned and used.
          Among them were some half a dozen colts
          Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
          Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
          Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads,
          But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
          Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.

  16. Steve says :

    “There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.”

    Thomas Merton

  17. Steve says :

    “Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true. ”
    ― Thomas Merton

  18. TheOakofNormal says :

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Sorry, but I couldn’t make it past the first fifteen minutes. There may be something enlightening to come, but I sincerely doubted it by that point. Maybe I’ll give it another go later. Maybe not. This guy talks as if our imagination is limited when our imagination is, perhaps, the one quality we can still exercise freely.

      Was Jordan Peterson treated unfairly? Yes. Is Jordan Peterson’s “politics” just as “ideologically-driven” as the “politics” of those to whom the speaker refers? Yes. (More at: overly “psychistic,” as enthusiasts of Gebser’s work might better understand it.) Is that a problem? Yes. But we can’t go back and retrieve the same “golden ball” that sent ripples throughout the known universe a few centuries ago and drop it again, expecting different results, which is what Peterson, et alia, propose. Its force is already spent. Is it not time the present generation dropped its own “pebble” into the pond, preferably without interference? (In fact, I get the impression that pebble has dropped and is making its own ripples as we speak.)

      New media pundits are as much “talking heads” as their mainstream counterparts, imo, rehashing and rehashing the same old, same old, always within the same well-defined boundaries.

      In contrast, I’d say “regenerative thinkers,” for wont of a better (often used and readily understood), contemporary term are actually tapping in to the “Life Force Power of the Universe” (in Bolte-Taylor’s words) as well as the core or “ground” or “heart” we all share in common as human beings. People from all walks of life certainly appear attracted to it, in my experience, even if and when blinders of one kind or another are in the way.

      Readers of The Chrysalis generally appear to be into dumpster- (and pearl-) diving for time-honored nuggets of wisdom that are well-known to humanity as a whole, regardless of walk of life — nuggets of wisdom that may or may not have been forgotten along the way, repackaged and woven anew in contemporary terms. (Must be why I’m still in orbit here, come to think of it. :/) That’s a bit of a different endeavor than attempting to pump new life into dead (and deadening) ideas in desperate need of pruning. If it’s any consolation, learning to spot ideas in need of pruning in ourselves appears to be part of the apocalyptic and transformative process we are undergoing (or enduring, as the case may be) as a whole. Is it any wonder that mindfulness meditation and contemplative prayer practices have taken root and grown afresh in recent years? There’s nothing quite like watching humanity drive itself crazy, chasing its own tail, to see what it needs to do stay sane while that much-needed transformation takes place.

      • TheOakofNormal says :

        I’ve only watched a couple of his videos. I got to that specific video searching YouTube to see where the Trickster archetype is travelling around; One of the incredible things about the Internet, the way it mirrors the collective Mind and we can explore it and where ideas are moving is fascinating to me. Even the way the internet mostly first was exploited by business, porn, then politics with Obama getting into office through it and now interesting things are happening that are elevating it while also things simultaneously devolving it like Qnon and its like, is something I’m really into exploring and talking about and seems to be something evolutionary happening there(hopefully). You referring to the apocalyptic and transformative process we are certainly undergoing is why I’m into that specific archetype and it’s interesting to me. I typed it into The Chrysalis search engine and Scott had interest there as well. Characters and Energy with a foot in creation and a foot in destruction. The flippittifloppitti nature of everything and how he was observing some of the the same. Jung was very into the archetype as well. I’ve never read the Bible front to back, but pretty sure Jacob was a trickster and is both a deciever and redeemer and got Israel. Could be wrong there.

        I’m with you that no, media pundits aren’t exemplifying anything new, same ole shit different spin. Towards the end he makes an interesting point about diversity without unity, which is exactly where this country is at right now.

        This fellow is from Canada and with Scott up there and Peterson too, posted bc of that as well.

        • TheOakofNormal says :

          That “pebble” dropping is really interesting IW, meant to add that. I’m gonna have to ponder that idea.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          One of the incredible things about the Internet, the way it mirrors the collective Mind and we can explore it and where ideas are moving is fascinating to me.

          America’s New Post-Literate Epistemology may hold some clues as to where ideas are moving.

          McLuhan’s work is an indispensable guide when it comes to studying new media, but we have an alarming tendency to place far too much emphasis on only one one aspect of the “double-movement” of our time, imo. At the expense of…?

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          and now interesting things are happening that are elevating it while also things simultaneously devolving it

          Since we’re on the subject of new media, I must say I think the same can be said for new artistic media. I’ve mentioned it before, but I suppose one would have to be intimately familiar with new artistic media to find any relevancy to themes being explored by The Chrysalis.

          Disclaimer: I adore speculative fiction and am intrigued by translations of questions of interest to humanity as a whole across multiple art forms and generations, so this may be of little interest to others by comparison. Viewer discretion is advised.

          I doubt there’s a better case study in the annals of new artistic media than the rise and fall of the Fallout IP. In fact, there is even a prominent split in the Fallout fan community that appears to correlate roughly with the factors driving such a split in the real world.

          A relative old-timer writes:

          In Fallout, the atomic-fueled techno-consumerism of the late 21st Century is both setting and antagonist. The world ‘before’ was both awesome and terrible. Its masters beneficent and cruel. In attempting to solve humanity’s problem through science, they ultimately created new ones, amplified the old ones, and almost exterminated humanity in the process….

          For a decade now, Bethesda has drawn the series farther and farther back into the vault, forgetting or ignoring the subtext of the original series: that the vault itself and everything it represents is what doomed mankind. In the original Fallout games, VaultTech and RobCo were [the] arch villains of techno-capitalism dooming humanity in search of profit, and ultimately failed to save the planet from disaster because they were the disaster themselves….

          In the original Fallout, your success at saving your people from a self-imposed dilemma has [the] unintended side effect of proving humanity’s inherent problem [is] itself….

          In attempting to render the world of Fallout as a playable, purchasable, and collectible thing, Bethesda has merely succeeded in depriving it of its voice. And in the process established that it never understood its message to begin with. — How Bethesda Killed Fallout

          I’m personally of the opinion that Bethesda Game Studios (as opposed to its publishing arm and, of course, Bethesda’s mouthpiece) takes more than its fair share of flak for trends that are actually being driven by other entities — publishers such as EA and entertainment behemoths such as Zenimax, of which Bethesda is a subsidiary, for example — but that’s beside the immediate point. The immediate point is that, while Fallout’s original message has fallen on deaf ears and/or by the wayside, it has been picked up on by a new generation nonetheless.

          This young man’s fresh and fun perspective is among the more coherent I’ve run across. His video on “the genius of FNV” is intended to be fun; is a bit long; and covers everything from software systems to good game design, so I’ll just link the part most pertinent to a prominent Chrysalis theme and hope our host doesn’t mind: ‘Beyond Good and Evil‘.

          • TheOakofNormal says :

            I wrote that as an example of how we can now see the double movement actually moving energetically through internet/media. I’ve never read Mcluhan, but my guess is instead of speculating, he’d now be riding the waves. It’s like all the Ideas are now manifesting electronically. I’m interested if philosophy/poetry/physics can merge into something that isn’t Integral, but beyond. With Spirit though. All the poets and physicists can now agree we are carving our way with Light/Perception with a pulse.Integral isn’t inspiring, at least to the folks I hang with (mostly artists). Sounds too systematic and technical, not Alive. At the end of the day, we all just want a Living culture in our short time here, right?!

            Do you really get inspired by trying to be Integral?

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I wrote that as an example of how we can now see the double movement actually moving energetically through internet/media.


              Integral isn’t inspiring, at least to the folks I hang with (mostly artists). Sounds too systematic and technical, not Alive.

              Given that the word, integral, itself has been compromised to the point that it means something completely different than it did originally (the very same as the term, speculative fiction), for the most part, that’s not surprising. Semantic arguments about them, however, pain my brain.

              Gebser’s concept of integral awareness and consciousness is neither systematic nor technical, nor is it something to be “tried,” which is why I recommend going straight to the source. Like so many others, it’s been ursurped to an alarming degree and, even, mangled to the point that it’s become a straight up turn-off to people who might otherwise be attracted to it. “Integral” just happens to be the English word chosen to indicate an insight/percept/concept which further just so happens to parallel the very same to be found in all the world’s wisdom traditions. It’s a finger pointing at the moon. Modelers and synthesizers generally wind up obscuring Gebser’s work, imo, but there we are. What sets so many of Scott’s posts apart, as I see it, is that he’s weaving seemingly disparate, “universal” insights/percepts/concepts together into a seamless and brand new tapestry for a contemporary audience. (Knit one; purl two.) Synchronizing and harmonizing them in a way most of the rest of us can only dream of appears to be a talent peculiar to him and, perhaps, a very few others.

              As a former English major, fiction is the particular fish bowl I most enjoy swimming in. Speculative fiction places “ordinary” characters in extraordinary circumstances and, in a sense, asks an unasked question, “What would you do (or say) in such circumstances?” Its “genius” is that the lessons it imparts are about none other than ourselves and it does this by provoking us to question ourselves on deeper levels than we ordinarily might as it is ultimately the reader (or viewer or player) who asks the question. FNV is speculative fiction done well in a form of new media wherein it often isn’t, if at all, which is why I chose it as an example. I’ve little doubt that’s why so many consider it the best of the lot in its medium, regardless of generation, ideology or what have you. It taught them something about themselves they might otherwise never have known.

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              Thanks for the great thoughts. I guess what I was getting at with Integral is that it seems like it is falling into that trap of leading to some Omega point, or like all the techies and Kurzweil leading to some singularity or all the other ways its put. Life is too complex to fit in a box like that, or pin down. Maybe that’s what Scott means with a “false synthesis” he’s mentioned. I totally agree that Scott’s approach is much more nuanced and accessible, and he has a unique talent at weaving the ideas together. Sometimes I even think to myself when reading all the ideas dancing together that, “Oh, so this is what a kind of spiritual global culture would look like and talk”. It’s what keeps me coming back. 2020 put me down like a lot of folks and still trying to dig my way out….lost my small business, all my money, etc., and the Chrysalis helped as a catalyst to get me back into all my own writing and thinking.

              Have you ever thought about writing a novel IW? I’m a failed filmmaker (for now) and started looking into turning unmade scripts into literary stories and am self-publishing a poetry collection and it’s all really accessible now through Amazon, for better or worse. At least the gatekeepers are gone I say.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Sorry to hear of your troubles. That particular aspect of the pandemic has hit a lot (if not the majority) of us as hard as a Mack truck. I’m no exception and find myself fortunate to live in a society that still has a modicum of compassion for its most vulnerable members. With a little help from my friends and society at large (whether all its people want to help each other out or not), I managed to pull through the worst of it and think I’ll be okay. Do let us know if there’s anything we can do aside from commiserate.

              Short stories are more my thing. I wrote constantly in my flaming youth with encouragement from a very few teachers and, of course, my mother. I’ve been side-tracked by the demands of sheer survival now and then as well as other interests I’m equally passionate about, but still retain an adoration for it. Now that I’ve been gifted with more free time than I’m accustomed to, I’ll most likely dive right back into that fishbowl, but more pressing things have my attention, at the moment. Thanks for asking.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I guess what I was getting at with Integral is that it seems like it is falling into that trap of leading to some Omega point, or like all the techies and Kurzweil leading to some singularity or all the other ways its put.

              Interesting you should mention that. Jeremy Johnson’s latest post (Complexity, Cooperation and Civilization) refers to Kurzweil’s “Singularity” concept as well.

              Coincidentally enough, Johnson poses a question: “Would our current civilization be eligible to join the Star Trek United Federation of Planets if they evaluated us today?”

              🙂 Right up my alley. Johnson’s answer is an “emphatic ‘No’.” My answer is: Not if Sovereign gets its way.

              Huh? “Not if Sovereign gets its way? What on Earth do you mean by that?”

              A better question might be: Who or what is “Sovereign?” Sovereign is a character — a supposedly immortal, sentient machine — in a different science fiction universe: Mass Effect.

              Reaper indoctrination, a plot point in the Mass Effect trilogy, I see as a sort of “mythical” parallel to our “mental-rational” conditioning. Though Gebser stresses “diapheneity,” not many in the “Integral” community appear prepared to acknowledge parallels among them, considering supposedly “previous” (as opposed to contemporary) stuctures to be inferior in some way — “things” to be eliminated or subjugated as opposed to “seen through.”

              Were I to draw out and mention the parallel I see between Kurweil’s concepts and the concept of Sovereign and the Reapers in an “Integral” community, it would be dismissed as not “serious” enough to acknowledge — mere entertainment or, worse, distraction.

              So, why do I think this parallel matters? Because anyone familiar with the Mass Effect series will recognize Kurzweil’s nihilistic concept of turning our technologies in on ourselves in Mass Effect. They’ll readily think of Saren, a Turian spectre indoctrinated by Sovereign in the first installment of the series. And “anyone,” here, translates to millions — the vast majority among the younger generations — many of whom are being led to embrace the merging of Man and machine as the “next logical step in human evolution.” Saren’s fate could easily serve as a warning in this context…were it taken seriously.

              If the future of our youth and their potential is not serious enough a subject to broach in the “Integral” community, I’m sure I don’t know what would be.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              BTB: Despite the title of the video of “Saren’s fate” linked, the character, Shepard, doesn’t “convince” Saren to commit suicide. That is Saren’s choice whether “Paragon” or “Renegade” dialogue options are chosen.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              And, yes, I know it’s Jeremy Lent’s latest post linked. Unfortunately, WP still hasn’t implemented an ‘edit’ button. Jeremy Johnson’s work is definitely worth following as well, though.

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              Really appreciate the support. It is what it is, I grew up with a single mom (my greatest fan as well:) who cleaned houses to put herself through night school and not a lot of extra $ around, so I know how to push through on very little. It’s given me the excuse I needed to take some big swings at some stuff that I wasn’t, so I just hold to the whole everything happens for a reason maxim.

              You should write those stories. There’s an androgynous nature to your text, and that’s where all great art comes from. My personal nature is that I’ve always excelled at male dominated stuff, but being raised by my mom, grandma, aunt, best friend’s single mom, had a really sensitive female dog, Bailie, for 17 whole years that I’ve got the feeling/intuitive dimension going as well, so that’s where my own creativity springs from. Like knows like I guess:)

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              That is interesting, remember you mentioning him before. Michio Kaku did a book that did this similar track of thought, and Steve mentioned before it’s a joke these are our thinkers of the day and I agree wholeheartedly. Tech is new and convenient, but obviously not leading us anywhere we’d actually want to live. And all these techies sound like robots, which isn’t inviting in the least. That’s what I was saying with Integral as well is that all our thoughts, if they are to lead anywhere, should feel Alive in our gut.

            • TheOakofNormal says :

              And please enlighten me on what is the difference between a techie and a trekkie if you could bc I’m not in that camp and am doing surveillance! 😆

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Well, a trekkie (or trekker, as the case may be) is merely an afficionado of Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry was the quite the visionary in his way and dreamed of a future in which most, if not all, of our “earthly” troubles had been resolved and we’d even been welcomed into an interstellar “Federation of Planets.” Nationalities, as such, no longer existed in the Star Trek universe, though various cultures retained their distinctive flavors and, perhaps most importantly, our technologies were placed in service to us rather than the other way around.

              Not sure what you mean by “techie,” as there are a plethora of definitions of that word, but for our purposes here, I think it behooves us to think upon “Sovereign” (you know, that character from a different science fiction universe) as a metaphor for the “mental-rational consciousness structure” of Gebserian fame. That “consciousness structure” is, at present…well, sovereign…and it would seem our task to consciously subsume that structure to its proper place among all the other consciousness structures rather than allow it to be Lord and Ruler of all our lives.

              We must bear in mind that Gebser wasn’t writing about “individual” consciousness structures, per se, but civilizational “consciousness structures” while emphasizing that they are all part and parcel of who we are as a species — latent, realized or otherwise.

              At least, that’s the sense I get from Gebser. I’m sure our host can point out where (or when) I might be wrong about Gebser better than I can. He’s had way more practice at spotting the “deficient” forms of all these “structures” of consciousness than I have.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              On the subject of “Trekkies,” this article strongly reminded me of our conversation here: Gene Roddenberry at 100: The ‘Star Trek’ Creator Imagined a Glorious Future — and Our Fraught Present

              There’s a running joke among Trekkies that goes like this: “Everything I ever needed to know I learned from Star Trek.” <– lol Well, maybe not everything, but beneath the occasional low budget camp, Star Trek did adhere to a compreshensive philosophy.

              I grew up with Star Trek and can honestly say that I did, indeed, learn a great deal from it. "Techies" are probably only interested in turning the futuristic tech of the Star Trek universe into practical, useful, everyday things. (Mobile phones were inspired by the 'communicators" of Star Trek, for example.)

              I'm not as excited about privatized space exploration as Rod Roddenberry apparently is. The privatization of everything — up to and including our healthcare system — is among the biggest bains of our existence at the moment. If we're ever to explore space, we really need to get past the "adolescent" stage of which Gene Roddenberry spoke. We certainly won't be welcome in a 'Federation of Planets' otherwise, I shouldn't think. 😉

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Hmm. It would seem Star Trek is much on many people’s minds at the moment. This just appeared in Common Dreams: Star Trek: Anti-Imperialist Doctrine.

              Of course, the Enterprise crew was constantly violating the Prime Directive themselves. It’s a wonder they weren’t court-martialed more often. But, of course, the point is that Star Trek always has been engaged in more than just a little colorful, cultural commentary.

              I can never remember which science fiction author suggested that science fiction is an excellent way to relay messages of this kind without too much danger of attracting the attention and “the powers that be.” I think it was Ray Bradbury, but I could be mistaken.

            • Scott Preston says :

              I think it’s the Ferengi who are the neo-liberals of the Star Trek universe — nasty grasping greedy bunch, but also somewhat clownish despite themselves.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              As intended, I think.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              BTB: It’s funny how things like this evolve.

              Originally, the Ferengi were dreamed up as just the next, nasty faction the Federation had to reckon with. Their introduction in ST:TNG is notorious in its way: notorious for trying to make the Ferengi the most menacing “enemy” the Federation had ever faced, including the Borg.

              Naturally, that didn’t work out so well. The Borg rule as the most dangerous, seemingly indomitable “faction” in the Star Trek universe. But — as both the faction of the Ferengi and the series evolved — they did take on this “clownish” aspect of human nature. To this day, the creators insist the Ferengi are intended to represent human greed.

              If neoliberalism doesn’t represent human greed, I’m sure I don’t know what would.

  19. Steve says :

    Doubt Yourself Constantly
    Jan 1, 2015 Uncategorized
    Here’s a suggestion to begin the New Year: Doubt Yourself Constantly. (I’m going to be writing this in English because, though this post relates directly to Greek society in general and Greek martial artists in particular, there are aspects that are pertinent to global society at large in our Internet Age.)

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a pattern of deviation in judgment whereby unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” based on their perception of events and data (input). This bias is attributed to the inability of the unskilled to recognize their lack of relevant aptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

    The phenomenon was first tested in a series of experiments published in 1999 by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the Department of Psychology, Cornell University. As their article concluded, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.” Although the Dunning–Kruger effect was formulated fifteen years ago, Dunning and Kruger noted that similar observations were made by philosophers and scientists throughout history, including Confucius (“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”), Socrates (“I know that I know nothing”), Bertrand Russell (“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision”), and Charles Darwin (“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”).

    It is also an error to assume that such behavior follows the (relaxed) outlines of a normal distribution (a bell curve). In probability theory, the normal (or Gaussian) distribution is a function that tells the probability that any real observation will fall between any two real limits or real numbers, as the curve approaches zero on either side. Normal distributions are extremely important in statistics and are often used in the natural and social sciences for real-valued random variables whose distributions are not known. A bell curve assumes that 95% of the population is found within two standard deviations:


    But with regard to actual skill levels, this is actually not the case. Research conducted in 2011 and 2012 by Ernest O’Boyle Jr and Herman Aguinis (633263 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes in a total of 198 samples) found that performance in 94 percent of these groups did not follow a normal distribution. Rather the groups fall into what is called a “Power Law” distribution.

    A “Power Law” distribution is also known as a “long tail.” It indicates that people are not “normally distributed” within society. In this statistical model, there are a small number of people who are “hyper high performers,” a broad swath of people who are “good performers” and a smaller number of people who are “low performers.” It essentially accounts for a much wider variation in performance among the sample, and it is typical in any activity where talent is required – painters, authors, scientists, and martial artists for example.

    Power Law distribution has very different characteristics from the Bell Curve. In the Power Curve most people fall below the mean (slightly). Roughly 10-15% of the population are above the average (often far above the average), a large population are slightly below average, and a small group are far below average. So the concept of “average” becomes meaningless.

    In fact the implication is that comparing to “average” isn’t very useful at all, because the small number of people who actually influence outcomes accommodate for a very high percentage of the total value.

    In short, people in a society are for the most part followers, not leaders, and are happy being followers. But what is frightening as depicted by the above two graphs, is that the tendency towards Belief, contrary to the Dunning–Kruger effect, does indeed follow a bell curve distribution. People will first follow, purchase, value, cherish, etc, that which does not threaten their own sense of ego, but rather enhances it, regardless of truth, efficacy, or consequences. There is a biological imperative for this that we have retained from our time as monkeys. So while thought leaders are by definition a minority, the majority of the population will reject deviations from the principle trend outright, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. In catastrophic scenarios, this has been termed the lemming effect (unfair to lemmings). No socio-economic class, no human activity, is immune to this effect. A grant-seeking university scientist can be a lemming just as much as a fashion obsessed teen-age girl. The power to fit in with one’s social peers can be irresistible. To a human lemming, the logic behind an opinion doesn’t count as much as the popularity behind an opinion.

    It is important for people to note that exceptional performers are not superhuman. The majority of us are subject to the effects of our limbic system, which reacts emotionally to the lack of understanding among the “pack”, including exceptional performers. A healthy reaction to social rejection among Power Law leaders is seclusionist tendencies, but things can rapidly turn worse (Van Gogh is a clear example). Emotional turmoil is often the result of not being comfortably placed within one standard deviation of the main body of the pack. Financial success, which can be produced by psychopathy if/when it arises, is often out of reach for hyper-high performers because they simply are not capable of understanding what the overwhelming majority of people want in the first place. While tragic in the case of art, in life and death scenarios, close combat for example, only right and wrong matter, not social drivers and mores. Popularity contests and social combat should have little to do with actual battle – and when they do, the effects are tragic.

    In an interview about ten years back for a martial arts website, I was told I was considered “a snob, strange, eccentric”, primarily because I did not engage in social niceties. While I valued the opinions of my peers and superiors, I did not (and do not) consider many people who thought (think) they were (are) my peers to be my peers. Understandably, this brought about a great degree of rejection and anger, which to be honest, I didn’t mind; I knew Van Gogh had never sold a single painting in his life. I was more concerned with whether or not what I was painting was actually any good – whether I was tactically right or wrong. But I was surprised that martial artists, even famous teachers, were more willing to support people guilty of the murder of children or accessories to the murder of children, than simply admit they were wrong in the first place. At fifty-five, I have now matured enough to understand why this is the case – but I still condemn such decisions and will continue to express my contempt for the people who think otherwise.

    As it turns out, over the decades, I have been proven right about many things in many cases where I took a contrary position to popular trends (I have also been wrong, and paid the price, but less frequently – the statistics are in my favor). In the case of survival, which is what martial arts and close combat should be all about, right and wrong should be the deciding factor, not monkey-pack status. When a leopard has pounced on a chimpanzee’s back, the ape is probably little concerned with his status in the pack. We are at that point in our development when our very survival is at stake. As intelligent animals, we should be concerned with the leopards circling around us, ready to dart into our midst and kill, not with Kimmie’s butt. So my advice for the New Year to you is this: forget about your ego; challenge yourself constantly. You are neither that important, nor that bright, nor that talented. What you should involve yourself with are the internal (primarily) and external enemies that threaten the survival of everything you care about. I will continue to be an @$$h0Λ€, but I want you to understand one thing: you can always rely on me to tell you the simple truth. I may not always be right – no man is perfect – but you should know that my own ego is irrelevant to me before what is right and what is wrong, and I always publicly admit it when I screw up.


    Kosta Dervenis

  20. Steve says :

    If you give away your power
    To experts, possessions, or thoughts,
    Your body will weaken.

    If you trade your health for money,
    You’ll want to trade it back one day.

    The alchemist leads his life
    By emptying his mind,
    Filling his belly, decreasing his desires,
    And strengthening his bones.

    In this way, he loses material possessions,
    But he gains his health and peace of mind.
    By giving up clever desires,
    He doesn’t spend energy
    Chasing passing fads.

    Practicing non-doing,
    He achieves that which really matters.

    The Tao doesn’t see
    Right and wrong.
    All things have equal weight
    To heaven and earth

  21. Steve says :

    “Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time.”

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