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Developing a self-referencing system: the matrix.

This article describes how to extend somatic awareness in new directions, through an alternating series of theoretical models and self-reflexive exercises. I use the term somatic awareness to imply a first-person, here/now, sensory perception: how we sense, feel, and know ourselves on a process level rather than on an image or object level, inferentially.

One can summarize this theory using the form of a matrix or grid, consisting of seven modes of intelligence along one axis and five modes of functioning for each mode of intelligence along the other axis. (See figure 1.) Sufficient familiarity with the content of the cells formed by the matrix can serve to remind us of undeveloped aspects, or other factors that might constrain our somatic awareness in the moment.

In a workshop setting, it works best to have a facilitator to provide support and micro-guidance during the exercises. Without such support, we recommend reading through the entire experiment before commencing, and that you suspend your judgments for the duration of the experiment.

The results of the Somatic Awareness[SM] experiments will manifest in the form of bodily sensations and feelings. Your somatic experience can guide you through new dimensions of perception when you relax and give up viewing it through the filter of old beliefs. Then the possibility of experiencing each moment as new and timeless becomes one less experience removed. Play with each experiment until you feel a shift of some sort in your feeling, sensing, or thinking, before resuming reading. Keep a journal of your observations. Look for ways to play with others on these and related exercises as partners and facilitators, in a process of mutualized sensing and learning which I refer to as Organismic Dialogue[SM].

Imagine the matrix as a control panel on a space ship in which you travel through meaning space. You could also imagine it as a scope, like a microscope or telescope, that enables you to see increasingly subtle and complex aspects of the process of attention. The many lenses, compasses, and barometers incorporated in the matrix provide feedback that you can learn to utilize in every aspect of your living.

The horizontal axis of the grid references seven different modes of intelligence. The first five, much like Buddhism's nine levels of consciousness, consist of the five senses. However, each sense corresponds to a type of intelligence. They not only function passively as modes of perception, as connoted by the word "sense," they also function actively as [TABULAR DATA FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] modes of evaluation, of judgment, or of response or action. All of these activities interact in each intelligence. Even animals that have a central nervous system without a brain have the capacity through their senses to perform all of these functions - perception, judgment, action. The seven modes of intelligence I list as smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing, sensing, feeling, and knowing. These distinctions arise as a product of our abstracting for the purpose of differentiating attention to the dynamics of awareness.

The matrix can serve in exercising aspects of intelligence that need development. This will enable you to stop compensating for the undeveloped intelligences by using those further developed in ways where they function less effectively. For instance, often we limit ourselves by relying on visual intelligence, when proprioception or kinesthetic intelligence would prove far more useful.

By distinguishing between the different modes of intelligence, their respective strengths and weaknesses, we can learn to draw upon them with great efficiency. This ability will empower you when you face a challenge by showing you how to cohere meaning in a new way. The matrix represents a self-referencing system for developing the capacity to extend presence on the edge of the unknown. When you can sense the points of maximum leverage in the stream of attention and the possibilities for extending presence there, you've begun to more consciously participate in your learning process.

One could extend this model in several ways, distinguishing between different orders of intelligence, their relative dependence on conscious awareness and symbolic or representational thinking, etc., but I believe it will serve us most effectively to begin with the smallest number of distinctions which nonetheless, provide feedback to a fairly full range of functioning. Therefore, the balance of this article takes us through the vertical elements of the matrix, one by one.

Along the vertical axis lie the modes of functioning relative to each intelligence. These include: directionality, timescape, force, functional integration, and dimensionality. You can read the compass of "dimensionality," for instance, relative to "tasting" or "feeling" or "sensing", etc. Therefore, the individual barometers that relate the vertical to the horizontal axis form a matrix.

It makes sense to see these qualifies or functions of intelligence as part of a continuum. Understanding the range of functioning along any continuum will help you sense your-sell ultimately resourcing a more creative participation. I provide examples along the range of the continuums as descriptions of experiences and suggestions of possibility, rather than to imply "this is so," from a voice of authority. Neither the vertical nor horizontal elements describe an implied or necessary order. Think of the model as a system of "psycho-spiritual biofeedback" broadening the bandwidth of awareness that supports learning no matter what you have an interest in, rather than as a method of self-improvement or self-manipulation.

DIRECTIONALITY

Visualize this as a continuum from a narrow focused awareness through an omni-directionality to a non-directionality. A narrow focus implies a center of attention that focuses in a direction, inwardly or outwardly, and by so doing it objectifies "things." Omni-directionality implies awareness in many directions at once. Non-directional, or non-local awareness has no fixed point of reference from which sensing occurs. It seems as though everything lights up from within. Awareness involves no particular location or identification.

Experiment

You need at least three people to try this. Take your partner's pulse, resting your finger tips on the inward or thumb side of their wrist, just below where the bone narrows. If you work in a group, everyone sitting in a circle can feel the pulse of the person on your right. Then switch. Can you also sense your own pulse through your partners fingers? Now switch again, only this time, sense through your partners fingers the pulse of the person sitting to the right of your partner.

Though not in direct contact with the party, many people find they can still sense something as intimate as a pulse. Whenever we play this experiment, a tangible change in consciousness occurs as the group shifts from focal to states verging on non-local awareness. You can make another stretch by extending your sensing where you have no direct contact, or even close proximity.

Each variation of the experiment represents an extension of your presence. Just as in sports achievements, knowing that another can do it will encourage you to extend a particular capacity. You must at least suspend disbelief to give yourself the opportunity to venture into the world of the seemingly "impossible."

If you play with directionality you will invent/discover many ways to exercise this mode of functioning. Let's try another experiment using rocks. In trying this experiment you'll need two rocks or other objects that have a substantial weight difference - try to find one that weighs approximately a half pound and another weighing two pounds.

Using Awareness to Transfer Sensation

With your right hand make a fist, squeeze and let go. Repeat this several times: squeeze and let go, squeeze and let go. Enliven your hand. Hold the squeeze for a while. Feel the tension and pressure traveling up your arm. Then let go. Squeeze, then let go. Now rest your arm. Feel any difference you might notice between the sensations in your right hand and arm and the sensations on your left side. Perhaps you might feel increased circulation, stronger pulse, more vitality in the tissue. Many different kinds of sensations may have become active.

Now using awareness alone, transfer these sensations to your left

If you're focusing your attention outward, from a center point to both of your hands, it will prove difficult, if not impossible to achieve that transfer. If you sense proprioceptively through your tissue, with no direction to attention, sensing through both arms at the same time without an "adulterous," back and forth, directional focus of attention, you may feel a shift in your state of consciousness.

You can further your inquiry by breaking your reliance upon imagination or memory, where you image an arm or image a location inferentially, from the viewpoint of an external reference. For instance, you might think, "It is over there," which implies directionality. Instead, allow the pulsing, the waves, the movements within movements, to become a universe in themselves, sensed intrinsically. Each time you find yourself dissociating attention, creating an observer and an observed, see if you can come back again into somatic awareness - your first person-singular, at-no-distance, process level experiencing.

Lift your rocks so that you hold one in each hand. You experience weight as your resistance to the natural movement of the rock in the field of gravity. Gravity pulls the rock toward the center of the earth. In essence, you break the rock's fall by resisting the pull of gravity. Instead of thinking of your rock in a static state - sense its motion downward, feel the dynamic inter-penetration that occurs in the resistance you offer up. Feel the rock falling through you, sense the flow of forces as they travel through you. Allow this movement to re-organize you so that the pressure of weight through each hand becomes equalized.

If you have trouble transferring weight, reading your directionality compass again may serve you well. For instance, if you substitute visual perception for proprioception, you will experience a change in the direction of your attention. From the center you observe something out there (i.e. in your hands). Because you focus "there," you may lose some awareness "here." If you extend your awareness here, proprioceptively, you can sense everywhere at once: where the rock meets your hand and how the interpenetration of forces delivers its weight to the ground.

The more omni-directional the awareness, the more you become "super conductive," as you form less of a constraining mediation system to the flow of forces. The more that you sense all at once, the more "you" have moved out of the way. For instance, you will move effortlessly in taking a step when your whole system responds to the pressure from the ground. You feel supported equally throughout your structure. If you have not concretized into rigid patterns of tension, the support moves fight through you, so your head receives as much support from the ground as does everything else. This "super conductive state" arises from sensing the flow of forces omni-directionally - the interpenetration of forces as gravity pulls you toward the center of the earth and the ground breaks your fall. You will no longer form compression in your spine and joints, nor will you have to support yourself by tensing surface skeletal muscles because the ground supports you.

I don't mean to imply that you have to necessarily develop a omni-directional attention from a narrow directional focus to sense non-locally. Usually people go from singular to omni-directional attention before they learn to sustain a non-directional attention, since if you continue to extend omni-directionality enough, center dissolves. A non-local awareness can awaken at any moment. It may occur spontaneously. However, unless you've developed a self-reflexive awareness, you may not find yourself able to sustain the awareness, nor return again at will.

You can shift your visual perception as well, from a narrow focus to a broader periphery. Visual perception has a much greater capacity to focus on more than one thing than most of us utilize. As you extend attention to more than one object, you activate a greater peripheral functioning. In this way one can describe directionality in visual intelligence, from focal to omni-directional. You can only see certain things by using your peripheral vision. For instance, by focusing on a narrow point about twelve inches in front of you, so that you utilize only your peripheral vision for moving through space, you can sensitize yourself to see at night with great subtlety, even the iridescent glow of light-emitting bacteria. You can learn to see all kinds of things that would appear invisible to you through focal vision. In a non-local state, the explicate order becomes transparent like the shimmering surface of the sea, revealing the depths below as well as the vastness of the sky above.

Using the compass of directionality in thinking, you can stretch the functioning of this intelligence from a sequential mode to a non-sequential one involving intuitive apprehensions. You can learn to sense pattern and order, sensing a field of meaning all at once, rather than thinking directionally as in linear thought. When you've entered the mode of non-local awareness, you become more insightful, more prepared to receive whatever displays itself. Thought no longer needs to build up meaning blocks in a pedestrian or mechanical way. Thought may no longer limit itself to deductive nor inductive processing. Meaning may "explode" all at once from no direction and you enter another mode of cohering significance.

The capacity to facilitate a group requires developing this omni-directional attention. If you get caught in focal attention someone may get overlooked who needs help. If you extend your presence omni-directionally, the need calls to you just like a sensation in your structure will call attention. Ordinarily we ignore the signals because we don't know how to take in the feedback. By exercising these functions of intelligence we learn how to listen differently so that we no longer tacitly ignore feedback.

In the older, eastern traditions, most dedicated learning occurred between master and disciple. Love formed the link that bonded them and made the learning possible. I experience this with Vanda Scaravelli, my yoga teacher. I become pliable in her hands out of that love, even when the postures feel excruciating. I don't mean just physically but pliable in every way.

This reminds me of what Carolyn Forche, a poet, said about poets, "Poor poets borrow from other poets, but great poets steal." Stealing, in this sense implies a non-local event. If you steal the way someone writes, you've made it your own and have improved your range of creativity. A movement that has displayed itself through another extends itself through you. You've become so intimate that you can sense through their way of seeing, their sense of rhythm, of silence. Something of their mode of cohering meaning becomes your own and you extend from where the shared sensing has taken you. Copying a style or borrowing an idea changes surface appearances only and confers no deep impact.

In a traditional classroom, teachers require that students pay attention to them only - the one-size-fits-all broadcast from the front of the room. The teacher leads them through material, then they must repeat or report it from memory. Little creativity arises from this kind of directional focus of attention.

The master-disciple relationship, where love serves as the conductive force, roots itself in non-directional attention and appreciation. In this kind of dialogue or intercourse, you extend your presence by mutualizing your sensing with the other. Most significant learning occurs in this way. If you want to learn something well, develop a rapport with a great master - not to follow in their footsteps, but to become impregnated with their awareness and give birth to something new.

Experiment In Directionality And Timescape: Moving Your Hands

Move either hand in some way that feels interesting for you, not absent-mindedly. Focus attention on that movement. Do you sense the center from which you direct your attention? As soon as you have a center, you create time. Can you feel that? Directionality creates time. As soon as fragmentation occurs between the observer and the observed, a link forms between the two. We call that link time. Sense how you create time.

You can create time anticipatorily - you can have an idea of what movement you want to make, choreographing the movement, which you then perform with your hand. In which case, the movement of your hand will seem a little behind the movement of your imagination.

You can reverse this process. Follow the movement of your hand with your attention. Now your awareness is slightly behind the movement. If you rely on visual perception to bring awareness to the movement of your hand, whether you visualize it with your mind's eye (internally) or look at it in space, you require time to "record" what you see, and so you will remain slightly behind it, even if only a fraction of micro-time. Can you sense the delay?

Shift from visual reliance to proprioception and notice what happens. Not only does this free your eyes, but notice how you can now gain awareness of movements within movements. Proprioception involves a here/now awareness. Suddenly you shift out of the field of time. Extend your awareness to sense the particular movement of each finger within the context of the whole movement of your hand.

In its capacity for a "many at once" differentiated awareness, proprioception demonstrates one of its great attributes. Visual perception, because it tends to function directionally, has greater limitations in this realm. However, one can develop visual perception non-directionally, in ways that will influence the timescape differently. We will explore this later.

If you find yourself "spacing out," such as when you find you've tuned out someone talking, your own somatic experience, or when you find yourself reading a book without comprehending, pay attention to what you do sense. Use this as an entry point. Trust it and it will nourish and renew you. Also notice where you "space out." Use this technique to find the point of maximum leverage where a small shift in awareness can have significant implications.

Think of yourself in a period of apprenticeship in learning to extend your presence, to sustain a fuller engagement. You go through a similar process when learning any new skill. Let's say you're driving a stick shift for the first time. Somebody may try to engage you in meaningful conversation, but you need to focus your attention on getting into second gear before you stall out. You really can't hold a conversation at the same time. But a week later you may very well be able to conduct a conversation and shift gears at the same time. It depends on your capacity to stretch and on where along in that stretch you find yourself. When new interests and curiosities emerge, you probably have sufficiently integrated the new functioning. In the micro-time cycle of learning, you have gone over the highest tensional point of the stretch and re-cohered, ready to extend again.

With non-local awareness you sense everything here/now, not from a center of attention. You can sense not just the extent of your own movement but another's breathing. Sense the movement of the attention shifting in the room while playing an experiment with others. You no longer identify with a location or viewpoint anymore. Yet you can still feel passionately, even more so, because what you feel, you feel deeply, intimately, with no distance.

When I work with people in dialogue facilitation, I may sit behind someone to help them extend their attention. I don't support them physically, but conduct them into a mode of sensing in which they feel free-floating. Then I'll move away, to sit across from them and suddenly they can't hold themselves up without getting rigid or tense. When I'm behind them, they're deliciously extended in their attention. Then I leave and there's nothing they give value to there any more, so they fall out of the extended awareness. In this way they lose all of what's suspending them and it takes great energy to sit erect. This then becomes the edge we have to work with: what happens when I move away. Can they continue to extend themselves even without my being there to receive them? Can they learn to receive themselves? Until then there is dependence. This is the danger in suddenly arriving in non-local awareness from a highly directional attention. Since it is not self-sustainable, people often become dependent on what they thought brought them there, drugs, religion or another person. You have to learn your way into being able to sustain a different quality of awareness. Find ways to play with the compasses of the array "on-line" in the course of your everyday activities as well as in these "off-line" experiments to support this awareness.

When you're in a class and interested in learning, you must shift your listening so that there's no directionality to it. You don't want to focus on something "out there" - in public space, in a way that takes you out of yourself. Nor should you inwardly focus - in private space.

I can put a question before somebody and wait for the answer as though frozen. In fact, I often see people holding their breath while focused on me in this way. When you listen non-directionally, everything that's happening is part of the meaning unfolding. In fact your experiencing is the substance through which the meaning unfolds, like ripples undulating out from a stone thrown into the sea. When you close off to or still what's happening in your experience so that you can hear what's happening "out there," you don't learn how to trust yourself. Thinking the substance that will nourish you is coming from "out there," you focus your attention thusly, not listening for the meaning unfolding in your living now as you are touched by what you hear. It doesn't matter who's speaking. It speaks to you.

In a sense, we live in a social and natural order of time and space. We also live in "eternity" - not of time and space. I think Jiddu Krishnamurti phrased it beautifully, when he spoke of learning "to live in the world, but not of it." If you don't mistake one realm of reality for ground, this is possible. The etymological root of the word "reality" implies "things are real." So in our consensus domain, in Western civilization, we've taken this realm of thingness as what's real, as the ground of reality. This floor and this leg and the solidness of this pot. Quantum physics emerged when we studied things that were so small or so large that their properties no longer corresponded to the laws of mechanical physics. This floor would no longer seem solid if you shot neutrinos through it. My flesh is transparent to an X-ray.

We've begun to recognize the limitations of this realm that we took as the ground of reality: the solid, semi-permanent object level. Physicists and mystics alike have referred to this layer of reality as but the surface waves on a huge ocean. The laws of physics helped us understand how things appear and function on the surface. That doesn't constitute a problem as long as we don't take that plane as the ground. Then we can also sense how things occur non-sequentially, how things move, without moving through space. That can be part of the reality in which we live and new dimensions of meaning can display themselves to us. We can learn to play on many different dimensions. We don't have to be stuck on this one.

The general semantics model of abstracting (how we form meaning out of the infinite "what is going on") suggests that problems arise when the abstracting process gets stuck. If the abstracting process continues, eventually we'll abstract ourselves abstracting and become more self-reflexive and self-correcting in the process. It will become a synergistic, self-organizing system rather than an entropic one.

As you become more self-reflexive you notice the areas where you function from an object level awareness of yourself versus sensing yourself as a process unfolding, where all is motion. Here you don't experience yourself as weight, you experience yourself as movement. Movement within movement within movement within movement. These distinctions provide important feedback to the system about thought. You can learn to sense when you do not dissociate your attention, fragmenting it into an object and observer or controller/manipulator of that object. As soon as you think something like, "Oh, my back hurts, I have to adjust it," you've identified with object-level reality. To release the strain you must be present inside the tissue, sensing the tension and allowing it to unravel you.

Cause and effect, in Western Thought, occurs in time. In the "East," where they've talked about it for at least three thousand years, cause and effect was not considered to be of time. It only appears to manifest as such when we look through the lens of time.

TIMESCAPE

The Timescape continuum moves from linear or directional through non-linear to non-sequential. Another way of seeing this is as a movement from horizontal to vertical time. In a horizontal flow, time moves like a train, from the past, into the present, toward the future. Yet we have the possibility of sensing a different kind of order. Buddhism refers to this as the eighth level of consciousness - where consciousness "breaks the chains of Karma." You can penetrate the bounds of Karma when you awaken to past, present, and future all at once. No longer reacting to the past, you have the capacity for self-organizing and self-renewal. No longer confined to unfolding a pattern determined in the past, you can change the pattern at any point, form a new order, now. You have the capacity to change your genes. Living in that possibility is what Gaston Bachelard described as piercing through the confines of identification to live in the asynchronous moment-vertical time.

Quantum physics was built on Newtonian physics by negating certain fundamental principles that Newtonian physics took as the ground of reality. One of these is referred to as non-sequentiality. Quantum physicists recognized an electron could be observed in a certain orbit and then observed in a different orbit. At first they assumed that the electron moved from one place to another through the space in between. But they discovered this not to be the case. The movement occurs non-sequentially.

The theoretical physicist David Bohm addressed this in a way that no one else has. His theory of the implicate order provides a description of how non-sequential movement may occur. Bohm referred to the self-renewing movement of wholeness as the "Holomovement." He proposed that the undifferentiated whole or implicate order unfolds to form an explicate order. What can the whole unfold into? The answer can only be itself. Therefore, the unfolding is also an enfolding. By unfolding into form, the whole reorganizes and renews itself. Equivalently, we could say, that consciousness is constantly creating and reabsorbing the universe, a process in which each of us participates.

Bohm also postulated that the reason we don't question the concept of "I" or the center of attention is that every time we check, we're there. We make the assumption that we're there, that point of reference, the rest of the time. However, what if consciousness functions non-sequentially? Perhaps the way we pay attention determines what we' re seeing, and belief in continuity fills in the gaps. Then we make this summary picture (an image in memory) of all the times we've seen ourselves and we assume ourselves to be continuous. What does the concept of non-sequentiality have to do with time and identity? It questions the assumption of continuity, of existing over time - time being the order through which we give meaning to what we observe.

Gaston Bachelard talked about time a great deal in his Poetics of Reverie. He spoke of three necessities that must be met for someone to enter vertical time - time gushing forth all at once. First, someone would have to break identification with the social order of time, how we know ourselves in relation to each other, inferentially. We must break identification with that way of organizing meaning, taking the consensual agreement as the ground of reality. Then he said you must also break identification with natural time, the time of nature - day, nights, tides, seasons, etc. Then you must break identification with time of life, the self-identification with time, the time between heartbeats, your age. This proves to be the most difficult - breaking through an identification with measurement, sequence, and continuity altogether.

One of the key functions of dialogue is that it serves as a rich context for developing the capacity of nonlinear thought as consciousness becomes self-reflexively aware, proprioceptively, of its own movement. This does not occur in time - thought going over, analyzing itself, always behind itself. When participants in a group sustain a self-reflexive awareness of the movement of meaning together, they function from non-local mind in a mutualized sensing or learning. Anything becomes possible.

I perform an act with my object level body, when I lack differentiation proprioceptively on a process level to sense what changes as I move. For instance, I can move as an object, down into a knee bend. I can also bend my knees or extend them without moving up or down, no longer moving as a body existing over time, moving linearly or even sequentially. The only way I can move from here to there without passing the spaces in between is to dissolve out of one order and unfold into another. When I demonstrate this people do not see my physical structure move in space as my knees bend or extend. They see non-sequential movement. Let's try it.

Experiment in Non-Sequential Movement: Knee Bends

From a relaxed standing position, try doing a slight knee bend your usual way to see how that feels.

Now do another one very slowly; sense the movement of your diaphragms as you breathe, especially the movement of your perineum or pelvic diaphragm as you begin to exhale. Feel the movement of the peritoneum (on the inside of your back), and coming up through your thoracic diaphragm, thoracic inlet, throat, mouth and top of your head. Sense how space occurs as these membranes and intrinsic muscles move. It's almost like you lose solid form. As soon as your diaphragms move, space occurs. Sense yourself dissolving out of form, enfolding into space. Disappear like the Cheshire Cat, until there's only the smiling. Let your attention go subtler and subtler into more implicate sensing. At the same time allow the knees to bend. But you're not going to move as a body in space. You're just going to reorganize yourself. You're going to dissolve from one order and come into another, elongating through your spine and letting your weight flow through your heels.

Stay in the bent knee position; relax, breathe. As you extend your knees again, exhale and extend your sacrum downward. Feel yourself growing roots into the ground. Your object-body can't achieve this, you must dissolve, making way for a new structure. Your breathing enables this. It doesn't matter if you can do what you've seen another do, find where you are and travel the edge of it. Enjoy dancing the edge.

Quantum physics recognizes this through the principle of non-determinacy: according to how you examine nature, nature responds. This principle speaks to the wave and particle problem. It's not that light is a wave or light is a particle. If you set up an experiment in a certain way, you will see light as a particle. If you view it in another way it will appear as a wave. Light has features that will respond to both experiments, but not at the same time. In Yoga, as someone elongates for instance, you can see sequential and non-sequential movement simultaneously. You can see the wave unfolding sequentially up and down the spine and limbs, omni-directionally. You can also see movement explode everywhere - all at once.

To explore elongations from the compass of Timescape, the first challenge is to disenthrall yourself from a linear mode of attention. If the way you are paying attention creates time, you can't actually do an elongation. If you're attending to the movement in one place and then switch your attention to another and another, you will miss the wave. The moment that space opens up you must be riding the wave. Any hesitation and it dissipates. You must be able to sense movement everywhere at once non-sequentially, as well as sequentially sensing the wave unfolding. As you become more differentiated in your awareness, the elongation changes into a nonlocal event - an unfolding, enfolding movement of wholeness that is felt more implicately and most intimately, though you no longer identified yourself as having an object-level body.

You see this in other movement as well, at least on a gross level, like water in a pitcher. When you pour water from a pitcher into a glass, the water sequentially pours out of the spout. Yet all of the water is in motion at once. The water at the bottom of the pitcher doesn't wait for the water on the top to go. Its movement reveals a sequential unfolding as well as a non-sequential unfolding.

Invent an Experiment

Try using this array in developing an experiment. Design the experiment to broaden your range of functioning in regard to directionality or timescape. Pick at least two kinds of intelligence to exercise in, such as feeling and auditory. Then extend your ideas in a learning journal, and test them again in practice. Go far enough in this play to develop an experiment to conduct a group in exercising attention. Use the array as a scope through which you sense and create your own learning contexts for extending presence into new realms.

Risa Kaparo, Ph.D., directs Inquiry, a chapter of the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person, a non-profit organization which offers workshops and trainings in Somalogics[SM]: Dialogue Facilitator Training, and Somatic Awareness[SM]. As a poet and dancer, she deepens her inquiry into consciousness studies and organismic functioning. Dr. Kaparo lives with her daughter, Deanna, and has a private practice in psychological and somatic therapies in Marin County and in Berkeley, California. She also teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the Doctoral Program in Transformative Learning and Change. This essay comes from a book in progress. An interview with Dr. Kaparo by Ellen K. Wolfe appeared in the Summer 1995 ETC.

CORRESPONDENCE

Memories of Russell Joyner

The recent death of former ISGS Executive Director and ETC Editor Russell Joyner evoked several memories for me.

Both of us had served in World War II, but our experiences differed significantly. Russell, a Marine rifle man for 17 years, had more fierce combat firefights in one week than I had in three years. However, I noticed I was creating a hero's role for myself out of my war experiences. I had become a legend unto myself. My exploits, embellished with each telling, had me believing I was the ultimate war hero, waiting for the White House call to come to Washington to accept my Medal of Honor.

My kids, hearing me start another war story would roll their eyes and say, "Jeez, the old man's off again. I think this trip may be the one in which he accepts the battle sword of Emperor Hirohito surrendering the Japanese Empire aboard the battleship Missouri." And on and on and on ... and on. Well, bouncing the stories off patient Russell, I eventually noticed Joyner was responding less and less and looking for some escape route when we might be together in a Powell Street bar and I looked like a war story was about to emerge. So Russ and I became a bit estranged and I saw less and less of Russ for a year or two. Then one evening after his stint at the Powell Street office we did go down the hill for a drink. And after a few belts and my war story about to bubble up, Russell stood up, put his arm left around me and said, "Stanley - my friend - that bloody war bullshit is history. It's gotta go. You're two wars behind. Move it, man." With Russell's reality check blast, I suddenly found myself a bit more tolerable among those in my environment.

I would occasionally present Russell an essay that I had written and thought might be acceptable for ETC. One, I recall, he read and, ever sensitive for the nervous systems of others, said, "I think Neil [that's Neil Postman, then Editor of ETC.] might like and want this for a future issue." Future issue, of course, could mean some distant century. Anyway, on one of my trips to New York, I stopped at NYU to say hello to ETC editor Neil. He was an English prof. at NYU. While waiting for Neil to come out of his office, I heard him say to someone, "If I ever published this thing, I'd lose my tenure and get moved to Buffalo to teach remedial English." I believe he was talking about my paper. Back in San Francisco, when I talked to Russell about my paper again, Russ would say, "I think it might make the next issue. Be patient." Well, another year later, same old drinks with Russell at the Powell Street bar, Russell says, "Remember that paper you wrote and Neil was holding for publication, I think it's about time you saw this. For laughs, of course." Russ hands me the paper. It's from Neil and it reads, "Russ, my suggestion is that you tell Stanley to ask his high school paper to publish his piece. If that doesn't work, try for an op-ed in some weekly farm paper - in South Dakota." "I think," deadpans Russell, "you might consider that a tentative rejection."

Well, there it is. Self effacing, unassuming, unselfish Russ. For me, he internalized what general semantics is about, word not the thing, map-territory, congruence with reality, listening, expect differences, help where one can, harm no one, we're all connected to each other and with the universe. Good bye, Russell, it's a better world because of you. Rest easy, whatever - wherever.

Stanley Diamond San Francisco, California
COPYRIGHT 1996 Institute of General Semantics
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Author:Kaparo, Risa
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Date:Dec 22, 1996
Words:6376
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