Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Essays on Education (collected series, sans pictures)

Essays On Education
By Richard Michelle-Pentelbury


She-ite! Quite the word. I sit with a mouthful of food and the person opposite me says it again. Carefully, I swallow. It is out of reverence for the symbolic that I usually am so considerate of the literal, but all around there are catch-phrases spat out or tongued over without much thought for their taste. We see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and feel words, I tell my students. It’s like the Cohen song: There’s a blaze of light in every word. Yet still, we’re going to kill this puppy, another will say, talking of something else entirely.

The impeccability of thought, language, choice, drives the sensibilities ~ yet we are inured to the casually idiomatic, as little fired up by common phrases as perhaps shooting that proverbial fish in the barrel. And culturally we give words a certain coolness, a certain wickedness, a certain radical-ness, and drop them from our mouths to be picked up by borrowed ears without much regard for whether or not they get back to us.

Come see the monkey in the barrel, the sign read. It was circa 1983. I followed the signs down a side-street in Chemainus, British Columbia, Canada. Rage chattered at my insides. My English grandmother started the Ndola Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, back in Northern Rhodesia in the 1950’s, and as a fellow from Africa I was not about to let that monkey be abused. So I strode angrily upon sign after beckoning sign until there, at the end of the alley, was indeed a large rain barrel with a lid on it, and not so much as a window or air hole to show. A little wood-box on a post near the barrel sported a card that read: “Monkey in the Barrel, 25c, See yourself!” So I fished in my pocket, snared a coin, slid it through the slot, and advanced angrily upon the barrel. With a careful motion, so as not to scare the monkey, I peeled back the dustbin-like lid, and peeked inside. Nothing. No sound. Nothing. So I let more light enter the barrel, but still, nothing. Had it escaped? And then I leaned over and looked inside, and saw my face in the mirror, staring stupefied back at me. Ha! Who’s the monkey now?

Words lead. Words clarify. Words mislead. So, let’s kill this puppy. Well, that is what another person said, just today. And I go back to a time when I was definitely four, or maybe even three years old, and I hear my other grandmother, my Ouma tell me that I’m the one to blame for the dog having puppies since I was supposed to keep her on a leash and not let her run out of the yard, and now we’re going to have to kill the puppies. So I have this dark memory of myself with the bread knife approaching the puppies in the bag, and I’m under the giant pomegranate tree with the blood-red seeds spilled and squashed from the rotten fruit lying about, and I look down at the squirming bag. And in the instant I know I cannot, will not do it. Then someone (I think my mother or my aunt) comes out and yells and plucks at my ear and wallops me and then… the memory fades. But red pomegranate seeds in a salad still bring on meteorological memories. Holonic, isn’t it?

Words are immediate. They evoke recollection. They provoke. Words tripped out of the mouth without thought for their symbolism are words to which we become desensitized; the list of the in-appropriate appears ugly, rude, crude, lewd; yet any one of them can be marvellously useful too! Crikey! Come to think of it, I hope you weren’t eating when I began with 'that' word, and therewithal took up your time. Then again, as the ugly saying goes, who gives a ...! Sorry! Made you feel, say, think, taste, see, smell it?
On Teaching Humanity

Still interested in them? The crucible of the classroom is the test of teaching. How to keep at it, interested, day after day? Four distinct teaching periods per day comprise some 120+- distinct individuals. Students range from the casually indifferent to the subjectively impassioned. Most expect the teacher to be the Prime-Invigorator; very few are truly independent. The teacher is expected to be Friendly, Fair, Firm; interested in them; their primary source of “liking the subject.” Thirty odd years teaching serves this summation.
Amber is always alert. Billy is a bully. Carissa chatters. Damon deliberates too much. Elsie is often elsewhere. Frank is frequently rude. Graham struggles with health. Heather is shy. Ian is intense. Jack has attention deficit disorder. Karla is very recently pregnant. Liam is, well, actually lazy. Melanie is forever muttering. Noah is nearly first in class, if only he’d…. Opal is always late. Penelope hardly ever appears. Quin is too quiet; what’s he really thinking? Rachel is too raunch…. er, far too provocative. Sam is a loner. Tom is temperamental. Ursula is exacting. Virginia wants more frequent evaluations. Wesley wants every period to go to the washroom. Xavier always arrives, looks about, and then skips out. Yvette easily prevaricates. Zoe wants to be first at everything.
How many more times? Must I repeat it? Listen up! Understand? And we persevere, day after day, class after class, semester after semester. An alphabet of students annually changes common names, a cornucopia of souls co-mingle in class-time, ready or not to evolve. And the real subject to be delivered, for me at least, is not the curriculum; it is the advancement of the human condition. Not to be, or to be… a better Common Citizen!
Mediocrity is not necessarily a dirty word. It is, after all, a delineation of what on average is the average energy of the average attempt to fulfill the average challenge. We do what we do at every task on an average basis that which it is of what it is that we do. Huh? And to raise the bar, to strive for excellence above and beyond that of the average of others, is to elevate one of us into First Place, and thereby to set the standard of excellence for the other, in second. So it is in every endeavour, sport, achievement, talent, competition. The bell curve shifts. It shifts perhaps as lugubriously as the Little Prince’s python all chock full of the proverbial elephant, and it takes a seeming endless time to digest the lump of that bell toward more equanimity of the curriculum’s continuum, but the bar slowly but surely, we trust, gets raised. Still, that ubiquitous bell curve, like feeding the hunger in the process of the constrictor, re-emerges in the learning body of the class. The best quickly get better. The slow too soon get slower. The new median re-establishes a new level of… mediocrity. This is what we do, how we usually do it, and how we are going to keep doing it, climbing over raised bar after bar, reaching higher measure for measure.
Pigeonholing is problematic for everybody; well… for those who don’t like labels. It creates a sense of being limited to a ‘group’ that limits the… individual. And that individual’s Potential, as the end-product of a lifetime, is at the root of our contribution to the self, to the other, to the group, to humanity. It matters not that our Common Names be ranked in respect of each other; it matters more that a person make fullest use of One’s individual potential to participate that representation of ourselves for All. And as each student continues past graduation, it matters that life continue to be interesting! Or is that: that life has been named interesting by an Interested Teacher!
If I Were King of The Forest:

Free! Not dependent on a group, but free to progress as an Individual; that’s what the King is. Not so for the rest of us? Why should we be sheep, or mice, or myna birds? Why should we be flocked, herded, given roosts, rooks, caves, clans, classes, phylum, and labels? So what if the elephant does better at football, the giraffe plays the musical instruments, the mice control the computers? After all, the mice on the football field are jeered at, the elephants in the music room are too cumbersome, and the giraffes do not always make the best basketball players. Yet in the education system that makes up this jungle of ours, we take giraffe, elephant, mouse, and the orang-utan for that matter, and put them all on particularized playing fields for the same amount of time, blowing referee bell for blasted bell, with only the respondent’s relative age as the real qualifier for being in the grouping, grade by grade.

But Penelope the possum really lives in a rarefied existence, except when in the jungle of the curriculum. She conceptually can get quadratic equations within minutes; Billy the goat simply couldn’t care for them. Billy the goat, however, gobbles up art supplies, Penelope possum doesn’t enjoy those. But both babies were placed in an age-relative grade, under the same canopy of the cellular curriculum, dictated to by the Curriculum King’s time-worn expectations. Time is the real problem. Possum or Goat, both must stay in the same field until the King passes them by Exit upon Examination. And not only is there a possum or a goat in their field, there are roughly 30-plus other types of creatures too. All must graze on the same “essential” fodder, for the same amount of time periods, fed-up or not.

If I were King of the forest I’d change things. I’d have me a gathering of all stakeholders and I’d lay down the following proposal. “From this day forth,” I’d say, “we attend to the individual. We differentiate. We devise units whereby we can accelerate, telescope, harbour, or invigorate, but we ensure that each one of us is provided for as is proven by our productivity.”

“Sounds like animal farm,” I can hear someone cackle. “The Devil’s in the details,” I hear another demur. “Wake up! Who’s paying?” I hear the rooster crow.

“Well, you’re right,” I purr. And I leave it to them to sort out how the committees and subcommittees will see to it that we no longer have cells of time in which cells of learners are constricted to cells of the curriculum toward sitting in cells of exams for cells of marks leading toward cells of graduation. I trust that a unit of productivity, or of achievement if you will, will determine that any given one of us may progress to the next level irrespective of our age, type, group, or sub-group. In fact, I trust that each of us, given truly individual attention, may truly become better citizens of and for the whole.

Then again, given the resultant responsibility, thank goodness I’m not the King!
An Apple for The Teacher
SAGE (Society for Advancing Gifted Education) Conference, 2008
University of Calgary
Adjectives for Meta-cognition within the Dynamics and Disintegration inherent to Metaphorical Minds
By Richard Michelle-Pentelbury B.A., B.Ed., M.A. Gifted Ed.

1) Exordium:
(the winning of attention)

If one’s aim is to be integrative, enlightened, wise, then a specific body of knowledge of itself may not necessarily suffice. Knowledge does not necessarily engender practice. Understanding may not become a habit. The variety of thinking styles or habituations as suggested by Dabrowski, Dillinger, Graves, or Kohlberg, among many others, provide for the instinctually meta-cognitive some tools by which one may more effectively evaluate one’s thinking, nurture the potential in us all, and more perspicuously assist to accept, integrate, absorb, assimilate and have compassion for the many paradigms of mankind’s proclivities. It is the realization and use of such thinking tools that may well provide keys toward paradigm shifts within the aspirant, whereas a lack of such tools may well inhibit, handicap, or suffocate a given individual, gifted or not. History has given us honorable as well as horrific leaders, tremendous as well as tremulous intellects, and a chronological populace that has worked itself up from the survivalist needs of its origins to the threshold of what now becomes a necessary integration of the sheer volume of humanity, or not. Differentially seeing the constructs of man’s divining, being habitually dynamic, often experiencing disintegration, or inadvertently exercising from a psycho-geometric pattern is the issue; the value lies not only in one’s choice of an adjective (or moderator) for the subject of ourselves as we view and practice our being in this world, but in the very use of the choice itself.
2) Narratio:
(the survey)
Children and adults are naturally affected by the past and present in a series of adaptations to the status quo, despite perhaps innately knowing better, or feeling that somehow there is something greater. The degree to which the individual succumbs to peer, political, or authoritative pressure can greatly affect one’s potentiality. That potentiality is expressed by Graves, Kohlberg, or Dabrowski, in particular, in terms of a hierarchy of values. More relevantly, it is the individual’s actual ability to surmount the lower hierarchical levels of a given predominance of thinking, rather than the innate ability to surmount the paradigm in which one finds oneself, that is at stake. To rise above, or not. We all, in this presenter’s view, have glimpses of the universal; at issue is the degree to which we actualize the universal within us.
3) Propositio:
(resolving discourse, with definition)
A typical (?) individual is introduced in Harry Chapin’s song, Flowers Are Red. A little boy, affected by a teacher who curtails his creativity by forcing him to accept that “flowers are red, green leaves are green,” eventually moves to another school where he in turn countenances the creative teacher by saying “and that’s the way they’re always seen!” Perhaps we all know of such a person? Affected by the paradigm of someone else, or of the group, we think in a certain way. We adopt the political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or overt stance of the status quo. We in fact become a habituate of the habits inculcated in us by our society, nationality, schooling, group, congregation, or club. To be an individual, or even with more difficulty, to accept another for being an individual becomes a series of life-making choices. And is there indeed both in the progress, as well as in the summation of one’s life a hierarchical evincing of growth, or merely an accretion of incumbent, inherent, and conditioned substantiation of time-worn habituations? The gifted child, or not, is given to growth. The adult that results continues to grow, one trusts, but in which direction? Horizontally, or hierarchically?
4) Partitio:
(the dividing up and revelation of arguments for the case)
While not the purpose of this paper to explicate the given theories, knowing something about the ideas of Dabrowski, Graves, Kohlberg, or Dillinger, among many others, provides us with some of the tools by which we may evaluate meta-cognitively ; that essential ability to think about our own thinking. Without such tools we might less readily be aware of the habits of processing or indeed the habits of living that imbue our lives as well as the lives of others, gifted or not.
Dabrowski’s hierarchical levels of differentiated beings in the potential journey toward one’s “unique and autonomous personality” are quite clear in their distinction through first or second factor First Phase unilevel living, through disintegrative and psychoneurotic Second Phase overexciteabilities, or through Third Phase multilevel and integrative experimentation. The dynamics of one’s personality, potentiality, and paradigmatic proclivities perpetually propel a person, or not. It is one’s given proclivity for a paradigm that may inhibit the route through the “ever higher levels of universal development” of the Theory of Positive Disintegration. It is through our intentional awareness and integration of Dabrowski’s Levels One through Four, as students, as teachers, and indeed as humans in the very evolution of mankind that we each may more readily find our “autonomous and unique personality”.
Grave’s Spiral Dynamics Theory similarly apportions mankind into a hierarchy of nine essentially substantive values. In the six levels of First Tier thinking are Judgmental Attitudes, in the Second Tier is Evaluative Integration. Since the first six levels (Memes) are essentially judgmental and disassociative, it is interesting that each First Tier level would dovetail with Dabrowski’s Level One, which is about the simple perpetuation of left-right choices. At Grave’s1st level is BEIGE, which predominantly needs primarily to satisfy/gratify its own needs. At the 2nd level is PURPLE, which predominantly needs to belong to a clan/clave/closed family/club that is esoteric/closed membership/ and is fundamentally “exclusive.” At the 3rd level is RED, which predominantly needs to have The Self exercised/extolled and promoted despite or over or above others. At the 4th level is BLUE, which needs predominantly to associate itself with an “ism”: Communism, Capitalism, and any Religion-ism. It can discount/devalue/judge/disparage, even hate those disagreeing with its fundamental beliefs. At the 5th level is ORANGE, which may strive to provide service and opportunity for many kinds or creeds, but has high exclusion factors if others don't meet with its expectations. At the 6th level is GREEN, which attempts Egalitarianism and Equity for all, everywhere, yet “does not suffer fools lightly.” In Second Tier is YELLOW, the 7th level (akin to Dabrowski’s ‘overexcite-abilities’). Yellow is fragmented between integration of concepts/precepts/constructs/proclivities and its frequent adherence to/inculcations by, or the usage of/familiarity with the First Six Levels. The 8th level is TURQUIOSE, which is fundamentally integrative, experiencing degrees of individual preferences and wants. At the 9th level is CORAL, where "integration" means a completeinclusion and absorption and compassion and acceptance for every and anything. At each level one becomes more integrative, or accepting, but in the First Tier one still deems differentially (and deferentially) integrative beings to be “lesser”. Ouch!
In Kohlberg one comes across a ready framework of thinking by which one may evaluate the awareness of one’s responsibility to include others. Level One is where the consequence isn’t sufficient enough for a person; and so he does what he wants again. Our jails are full of such people. Level Two is where we’ll stop doing something only because we don’t want the consequence. Level Three is where a person’s predominating concern is about one’s affect upon one’s immediate others, best friends, and the family. Level Four is where a person thinks about the larger community he or she represents, and realizes that all behavior reflects on that community; affects it. In Level Five we’re aware of being a concerned citizen whose primary focus is about contributing to the welfare of one’s city. And such thinking is the beginning of Levels Six and Seven and even Eight. For we go, one and all, from caring about how we affect the City to how we affect the Country, the World, and indeed, the Universe. But where is one’s thinking really at? Where does one predominantly come from?
Psycho-geometrics is Dillinger’s metaphorical way of partitioning people into essential shapes that have strengths and weakness. While there are very many such personality-type models, it is interesting to note that the predominance of being any one shape, a circle, a triangle, a squiggly line, a square, or a rectangle does not determine any given hierarchical level, although implicit in one’s choice of such a shape is the degree to which one is inclusive or integrative of others. As such, being a circle is to be all encompassing, but perhaps not to have sufficient enough boundaries. Being a squiggly line is to be entirely flexible, but perhaps to be fickle. Being a triangle is to have strength and purpose, but perhaps to be prickly about it. Being a square is to have structure and sense, but perhaps to be obstinate, and being a rectangle is perhaps to be indecisive. (In this writer’s pedagogical experience only a very occasional hand will go up to acknowledge having picked a rectangle.)
5) Confirmatio:
(proving the case)
Gifted, or not, people do find themselves identifying with Dabrowski, Dillinger, Graves, or Kohlberg, among many others, and gifted, or not, there is great variance amongst people’s evaluation of themselves and evaluation (or judgment) of others. The thinking person is given to horizontal accretion of knowledge and, one hopes, a hierarchical apprehension of the journey of responsibility to the whole. It is in acquiring some of the tools by which we may more readily monitor our thinking that recurring disintegrations of habit-forming paradigms may more readily take place. As such, flowers are given a plethora of adjectives, disintegration may itself be seen as ‘positive’, and dynamics may be understood as a spiral of integration, rather than a linear progression beyond “lesser beings left behind.” At every level there is still the personality itself to deal with, which is in essence the ego’s manifestation of an individual, or might that be an individual’s manifestation of an ego? To be, or not, is indeed up to you.
6) Reprehensio:
History has given us honest and well-intentioned leaders, teachers, and missionaries. It has inspired us with visionaries and mystics. It has also given us brilliant and gifted psychopaths. And in each of these passages of people, as well as in all others not made so public to us, we may find those who are gifted, or not. The level of one’s thinking is not dependent on one’s intelligence; it is dependent on one’s ability to be integrative. The tools of other’s thinking, their insights, observations, and discoveries, may well help homo sapiens to be more aware of our individual and collective thinking, or not.
7) Peroratio: (summation)
If every Individual is EVERYTHING the degree of Predominant Realization/Identification with any given portion of Everything becomes the issue. The degrees of dissatisfaction/disassociation/and even confrontation will naturally depend on a given inherent want to protect/establish/align the self, the ego/comfort-zone as separate from Complete Integration. The more matured the soul (no matter its chronological age) the greater the realization and aspiration toward complete integration; the less mature the soul the greater the realization to stay entrenched in the familiarity of the level/tier/rung/step with which one most predominantly identifies, despite being ‘everything.’ In the awareness of how and why and what one thinks lies at least a route toward positive disintegration, inclusive, or spiral ascension, universal awareness, and effective consideration of where oneself or another is coming from. In the comprehension and use of an adjective, like colorful flowers, spiral dynamics, positive disintegration, or the metaphorical mind, lies all the difference. Always.

Mona Lisa’s Star!
(Pentelbury’s Pentacle Perception Theory of Enduring Art Forms)

Mona Lisa smiles. She embodies the sensual/sexual, action/adventure, romance/sentiment, intellectual/esoteric, and spiritual/wisdom of all ages. And then there's her humor. Ha! We often wonder just what the heck it is that she finds so amusing!

So we diagram a star. It has five fingers, five points.

At each of its respective points we pause to jot down labels.

“You’ll want some action,” Penelope says, with a little smile at the intended double entendre.

So at an arbitrary point we write: Sensual/Sexual.

“That’d be an adventure,” I respond, thinking of knights of the quest, and beating down demons.

And so at another point we write: Action/Adventure.

“But without romance, it wouldn’t appeal to me,” Penelope affirms.

“I can share that sentiment,” I smile.

Given the third point we write: Romance/Sentiment.

“Are you referring to past, or future?” she asks, esoterically. We both know what she means.

So at a fourth point we write: Intellectual/Esoteric.

“Depends,” I say. “It’d need to have significance to a larger whole.”

And at the fifth we write: Spiritual/Wisdom.

She looks at me. “A larger whole. Do you mean the whole to reach for, or the hole to disappear into?” and she winks.

We both burst out laughing!

So we place a little smile in the star's centre.

As such we perceive our stars, our evaluation of things artistic and long-lived. To each of the five points we ascribe the values that keep great art alive. We have our five basic interests, and we yoke these predominant proclivities of ours with an intrinsic humour, like drawing in the star's center a stuck out little tongue. And as with all stars, we lick and stick and keep and signify and value such art forms, wherever we receive or encounter one as worthy of being called star-worthy. And as atavistic in our realization as we are, our innate perception of its pentacle-like form applies to the longevity of things, classically, it seems to me.

Now, try doing it (drawing that star that is) with your own fingers! Mona Lisa, indeed, smiles. Ha!

SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Esemplastic Apperceptions of Meta-cognition amongst the Multiple-Gifted
Or: How Jack and Jill All-Trades thinks!

That long string of unfamiliar words, interesting, or off-putting?
Jack and Jill All-Trades generally would be enlivened by the challenge. And if Jack is predominantly right-brained, and Jill is predominantly left-brained, then each may reflect their interest in the notion of ‘esemplastic apperceptions of metacognition amongst the multiple-gifted’ in an interestingly dissimilar manner.

Jill would most likely take to her dictionary and soon have ‘esemplastic apperceptions of metacognition amongst the multiple-gifted’ translated into some such precise phraseology as, ‘accommodating variables and reflecting on one’s own thoughts as a person with many gifts.’ Then, asked to explore the possibilities inherent in the statement, and given that she herself is defined as ‘All-Trades’, Jill might undertake an itemization and database study of herself (and others) on a multiple of levels that correlates and substantiates her initial suppositions. As such, Jill’s study may well be as comprehensive and teleological as is comprehensible, yet she will probably experience dissatisfaction with her inability (of course) to have included every possible variable.

Jack (even after an excursion into the dictionary) would most likely arrive at a self-satisfactory understanding of ‘esemplastic apperceptions of metacognition amongst the multiple-gifted’ and, asked to explore the possibilities inherent in the statement, may randomly play with the concept at will. Jack may adopt the title for his band, calling it The Apperceptions. Or he may devise a game-board called Metacognition. Or he may... but that’s Jack, for you. Although quite capable, he’s not innately given to line by line delineation. And, after as discursive an exploration as probable, he’ll most likely arrive at a universal yet esoteric perception of the significance of his undertakings. Yet he too will feel that he could have done better were he not so interested ‘in just about everything.’

At issue are the inherent difficulties that the multiple-gifted experience with the specifics of task-oriented as well as day to day expectations of life. The multi-capabilities inherent in their natures creates a perpetual series of cognitive dissonances that, although perhaps not entirely debilitating, are impeding to their potentialities. Multiple-potentiality, that is, is of itself a hindrance to sustained excellence in any one endeavor. To be (a famous) artist, writer, singer, actor, athlete, academic, or not? Which? And, over time, as the multiple-gifted child grows into adult, the choice (and inherent frustration) of exercising the generality of one’s multiple-gifts, as opposed to concentrating on the specificity of any one gift, might better be understood by the individual who is more practiced at apperceptions of metacognition. That is, more practiced at an understanding of his or her thinking.

The implications for educators (and for all those wishing to understand themselves a little better) is that the multiple-gifted (indeed, as well as for all of us) are both innately and endemically habituated. More clearly understood, such behavioral patterns might better be addressed, deployed, and facilitated toward furthering the contribution of the self toward the self, and toward others, thereby augmenting our contribution in general toward the health of the whole.

Dictionary Definitions:

Esemplastic: Molding, shaping, or fashioning into one; accommodating many variables

Apperception: Mind’s perception of itself. ~ is the essential mental act in the great stages of mental generalization, perception, conception, and judgement. - Baldwin, James (1861-1934)

Metacognition: Awareness of thinking about what one is thinking.

Teleological:  View that developments are due to the purpose or design that is served by them.

So may we smile at obfuscations, ha!
FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2010

Spiral Dynamics; A Quick Explication of Clare Graves’ research.

Essential premise:
Every Individual is EVERYTHING; the degree of Predominant Realization/Identification with Everything becomes the issue.

Second premise:
Degrees of dissatisfaction/disassociation/and even confrontation will naturally depend on a given inherent want to protect/establish/align the self/ego/comfort-zone as separate from Complete Integration.

Third premise:
The more matured the soul, at whatever chronological age, the greater the realization and aspiration toward complete integration; the less mature the soul, at any chronological age, the greater the realization to stay entrenched in the familiarity of the level/tier/rung/step with which one MOST PREDOMINANTLY identifies, DESPITE being EVERYTHING.

Therefore, going “top-down”:

9th level: CORAL
"Integration" means a COMPLETE inclusion and absorption and compassion and acceptance for EVERY and ANYTHING.

8th level: TURQUIOSE
Fundamentally integrative, but experiencing DEGREES of individual preferences and wants, and thereby acting upon those self-gratifying needs. Evaluative as opposed to Judgmental.

7th level: YELLOW
Fundamentally fragmented between becoming integrative and that of retaining the concepts/precepts/constructs/proclivities of its adherence to/inculcations by/usage of/familiarity with the identification of the self within the First Six Levels (which are essentially JUDGEMENTAL and
DISSASOCIATIVE.(i.e., A very emotional and distraught state of being to stay in; the “sin” is in awareness of attitudinal stances ).

6th level: GREEN
Attempting Egalitarianism and Equity for all; thinks those who do not see things from that point of view to be in essence, idiots.

5th level: ORANGE
Wants to provide service and jobs and welfare for many, being top dog at best, and is highly motivated to lead, guide, and direct others toward success, but has high exclusion factors if others don't meet with
expectations. (Donald Trump)

4th level: BLUE
Needs to associate itself with a larger group of like-mindedness, such as all ~isms: Communism, Capitalism, and any Religion-ism, and discounts/devalues/judges/disparages/and can even hate those who disagree with its fundamental beliefs. “Truth is truth.”

3rd level: RED
Needs to have The Self exercised/extolled and promoted despite/over/above others; evident in gang leadership, degrees of competition, and most disparagement of others.

2nd level: PURPLE
Needs thru insecurity of self to belong to a clan/clave/closed family/club that is esoteric/closed membership/ and fundamentally “exclusive”.

1st level: BEIGE
Needs primarily to satisfy/gratify its own needs and has little need to include or overcome others for the sake of influence or power (as in level 3)

Applications?: "Gnothi seauton" ~ know thyself, the better to integrate and include and have compassion for others.

What fire imbues each of us? Why is it that in moments we are so mediocre, so average, so complacent? What is it that makes us glow, makes us impassioned, makes us reach for a Heaven even though it be beyond our grasp? How do we accept the intensity in others and yet be satisfied with its relative lack in ourselves? When do we make that essential shift that allows for what once was now to become yet something more? Wherein lies the furnace, the light, the ember that invigorates growth, potential, paradigm shifts, and the attempts at perpetuity itself? Rage, the poet says. Rage against the dying of the light. 
Perpetuity. Incoherent as is the concept, it is not the stuff of stasis. For an organism to stay alive it must move, indubitably,though indistinctly, and some things even indefinitely. It is the definite end that defines life. To be alive a thing, a being, any one of us must resonate in response to the very atoms around us, or desiccate, dissolve, immolate, and die. Yet denser things do live longer, paradoxically; the fragile and specialized die from non-adaptability. The average persists longer than the rarefied. Is that why we more readily take on the relief of not having to think about our thinking, of not having to question our right to be?

Kohlberg (1927-1987) held that we are fundamentally imbued by one of eight moral precepts. Such alternate stages of thinking may well invigorate us in a given moment, but we tend predominantly to confine, define, habituate, and template ourselves in only one of the eight stages as a general continuum. As such, given Kohlberg’s levels (and par-phrasing liberally) we tend chiefly to be self-centric, ego-centric, family-group centric, socio-centric, city-centric, nation-centric, globe-centric, and universal. After all, said another 1950’s poet, weep not for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for…

And being at large in Stage Two thinking for the vast majority of us (according to Kohlberg) is where we predominantly are at. We do or do not do according to our ego-ic need of others to affirm our behaviour, existence, feelings, thoughts, intentions, habits, perceptions of life itself. So yes, I am concerned that you’ll think badly of me for forgetting your birthday. So yes, I am hoping that you’ll like me for sending you a get well card. And yes, I do drive in fear of the police.

But of the internal fire that provokes me or you to want to be yet more ~ how do I get past the need for your approbation, your approval, affirmation or commendation? How do I just do what I do because that which I do is done out of a sense of becoming a tree and not staying an acorn, being a butterfly in the making, a tadpole, a frog, a prince? And yet even more significantly, whether a lion or a lamb, how does the one allow the other just to be?

Not all of us like invigorated embers, like metamorphosis, like growth. So let us just be. Not all of us want to be different individuals. We’re individual enough. And not all of us wish to be other than we are. After all, as the good book says: Go to the ant thou sluggard, consider her ways and be… well, yes, elephant or mouse, we each have our place.

Still, how then do I improve my thinking in this essay? What fire drives me to be yet more? To be, or…
 We all disintegrate. And we rise again. We leave one birth-year for another. We leave one grade for another. We move from one place to another. And for the most part we’re lucky if we see these shifts in place, time, and experience as positive. We grow. But we also experience the loss of a pet, the sudden accident, the brutal betrayal, the death of what was in exchange for what is now. And we disintegrate. How to make the experience, whatever experience, positive?

Shipwrecked, we examine and unpack the flotsam around us. Awash with memories, we may feel the fragmentation of the present but as an unwanted gift. The relative stasis of what was had a comfort, a familiarity, an expected quality that allowed our habits more readily to adjust to the slight rhythms of the seasons, of daylight-savings time, of stopping at alternate times at the usual garage for gas, or the usual store for groceries. But when that rhythm is really distressed, broken, disengaged, and afloat around us, we have little but the inner resources of experience and trust and hope that this too shall pass. And then? We arrange our new life, assume a new route, visit different stores, keep different hours, make different friends, and we grow in more knowledge, grow in having yet more, grow in exploring some other area, enter numbers into some larger phone-book, make an advantage of having once been so dislocated, or sadly acknowledge the disadvantage of no longer having that which made us once before more at ease. But do we really grow?

Our primary habituation is with ourselves. What if it is our predominant habituation? We do need the factor of ‘the self’ met, our want for sustenance and the immediate and our need for self-gratification. At its most elementary level of operations our jails are full of such persons. Next comes the factoring in of our need to satisfy the ego, best satisfied in the eyes of others, so we make left-right choices ad infinitum, perpetually choosing one thing over another in order not only to satisfy the self, but to be accountable to our continuing perception of some other’s approval. And then, now only at a Secondary Level of Positive Disintegration, if we’re brave enough predominantly to take on the vicissitudes and verisimilitudes of a vociferous populace, we vacillate vicariously between the exigencies of being our own person and wondering whether everyone else, or at least someone else, if not a group, club, clan, or ideology is actually perhaps not ‘more right’ than we ourselves dare to be.

To be or not be? That is the third level of Positive Disintegration. The theory, posited by Kazimir Dabrowski (1905-1981), holds that in the Third Level one is predominantly conscious of holding onto one’s very own paradigm, yet still is integrative of others, being not distressed by the disavowal and disassociation and fragmentation and divisiveness of the ‘vox populi’. To be or not to be? And in ‘The Fourth’ level? There one serves entirely the needs of others, has sublimated the self to an extent that the ego needs no gratification, to the extent that the self has no desires, to the extent that the flotsam and jetsam of life has become but the boxes of mankind afloat in a universe of mankind’s own making.

And me? And you? As I look at the stuff that surrounds me, and at my attachment to it, I realize how very far I am from letting go of the things that still define me, the photos, the books, the music, the paintings, and the curriculum-vitae of a lifetime. And as I unpack yet another box, I wonder: at which point, beyond it all being consumed by some accidental fire, can I truly just… let go? To do, or not to do? The art, in either case is… letting go.

Ineptitude and Inequality, Eh?

Comparisons tend to separate the wheat from the chaff. Eh? Even so, it hardly seems worthwhile to go on about the differences between ant and elephant, bunny rabbit and frog, child and adult, boy and girl, or... Yet we persist. We put up competitions as a means by which we inspire ourselves or others to get better, to try harder, to prove our worth, our value, our very existence. "Wha'dja mean you're afraid of the water?" said one fish to another. Ha! There are basic expectations endemic to a species that will brook no countenance. And within a species, especially a thinking species, we love to set up gamesmanship, competition, awards, and hierarchies. It is in being inept and unequal that those of us who feel different, are different, appear different, and even desire differently are the ones who become marginalized to the role of spectator, if not 'the also ran'. And how such an one is to feel fulfilled, to feel worthy, is... up to the self.

Auditions for a theatre show, tryouts for a team, singing competitions, heats before an event, time allotments for distances run, awards for academic distinction, awards for participation, certificates to prove accomplishment, these are all measures by which we may discern significance, may determine worthiness. But what of the inept and the unequal, eh? What of you and me? After all, there is only one gold medal per advent.

Ever changed a car tire? Ever baked a cake? Ever run a sewing machine? I knew someone who'd never cut bread. Ever ridden a horse? Been on a motorbike? I know an adult who still fears to try a bicycle. Ever not won any award at all? Ever not come first? Ever not won a single thing, such as at bingo, or at least a free coffee on a Tim Horton's 'roll up the rim'? Ever felt completely 'less than'? After all, in races, someone comes last.

Comparisons separate us out. Even a race in one's own age-category will segregate. We take in differentiations of height and weight and strength and looks and wealth and dress and energy and voice tones and... Well, there are a lot of things by which we determine differences. A cup of coffee is not the same wherever you buy it. Wine has distinctions among others that is almost entirely wasted on my palette. Trifle is better than pumpkin pie, for me, any day! Comparisons signify! The trick is to accept what is.

Being worthy all by and for oneself becomes the great quest for the individual. To like, love, appreciate, value, find significance, simply be sufficient unto oneself is no mean task. How else to give others such honor? After all, there is so very much to gainsay one's fundamental right just to be. Look at the homeless, the wastrel, the couch-potato, and try not to wish them otherwise. Look at the immature, the indolent, the inept, the indifferent, the apathetic, and try to accept them, love them, like them even, just as they are. Integration is a real challenge. At its fullest it is about absolute acceptance for what IS. And since all that IS does exist moment by moment, and changes however slightly by reason of its being in the flow of what now IS, each and everything has its place; all is exiting within its potential. Yet it is that very potential that so invigorates man to want to make the most of everything, to alter what is given, to drive faster, climb higher, and harness the probability. Horses are ridden. Dogs are trained. Circuses get made. And, if lucky, the inept and the unequal get, if nothing else, to be good for a laugh. Or not, eh?
Being Bound In Being

All the world's a stage and a person has seven ages, or some such goes. For mankind too. In the long history of mankind evolving from sheer survival, to family groups, to the sway of warlords, to adherence to socio-political constructivism, to commercial lordship, to paradigmatic inclusions, to integration, man indeed performs through seven ages.

First there is the mewling infant. Our dependence on the immediate takes precedence, and we have little empathy or instinct to sustain anything or anyone beyond ourselves. Even at the sinking of the Titanic, men barged ahead of children. But most of us are no longer predominantly affected by survival (until we think of all without, so far from here).

Then the whining schoolboy. We belong to a family, a group, a club, and we abide by its wants and dictates and demands. We will fight the stranger's ways. We will avenge our brother even though he got shot robbing the bank while holding your sister hostage. We will sublimate our individuality and take an oath of fealty; stave off a foreign incursion.

Next is the soldier, he who buys into a greater glory than his family. His ego he crows up against the masses. Unproven, he declares himself victor. He puts down the vanities in his enemies, judges the inferior, the lesser, the weaker, the bankrupt. He is at his most dangerous, invincible; at his most foolish, intractable; at most glorious, unconquerable.

Then the lover comes along, tempers his own vaingloriousness, yields to a greater self, and sacrifices his selfish wants to his self-serving desires. He gives up his personal freedom to a larger group, a larger ideology, a larger socio-political entity, and draws a moral line of affirmation, or of negation, in the sand. He will invest in the culture of his belief system. He fears not being in. He fears being left out. He responds well to fear.

The lawyer is more circumspect. He bends the rules and breaks the bonds and looks for loopholes in the constructs of circumstance and chance. He takes advantage. He yokes the multiplicities of mankind and warps and weaves them to his secular advantage, and hires and fires and judges and condemns those who do not see things, who do not do things, his way. His wit is sharp. His knowledge profuse. His empathy... judicial.

The pantaloon disavows ambition, disavows hierarchy, disavows divisive commentary and fragmentary inequality. Those who are deemed not to agree are fools anyway. The desire is for harmony of outlook, singularity of purpose, honor of action, and integrity of apprehension. For everybody! Fools, idiots are the rest; he'll hoist them on his petard.

But the seventh age of Shakespeare, sans teeth, sans taste, sans ears, sans eyes, sans everything? It is no dolt, no sad Alzheimer's patient alluded to here, but rather the realization of a lack of absolute need, a lack of uttering utter preferences, a lack of myopia, a lack of proving certainty, a lack of being irrefutable. There is certainly nothing that such an one, sans everything, can profess that is totally right, for the world is too full of possibilities. Even heaven, in all its waiting, waits until he's leavened, ready, free.

Perhaps there's then an eighth age, a mercurial infinity, never beginning, never ending? And yes, it's the twist in the middle, the transition through life, 'twould seem, that binds.
SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2012
A) Gods' Grades

God does not give out grades. We give those to ourselves. As Gods we quantify and classify and establish hierarchies and laud, applaud, judge and condemn. One might get past the flatland sense of an evidently unfair equality and integrate everything into an existential soup of different tastes and different ingredients, allowing room and roam within some conceived whole of the universe, but, like it or not, we have rank and order, phylum and data. And we love to wrangle over who belongs where.

In any given model of the stratification of mankind I search for one integral concept that is that 'a person is everything'. However apportioned. At issue is the predominate degree to which a given habituation is practiced, subconsciously, consciously, unconsciously, or intentionally. Habit defines us. We are culturally, linguistically, nationally, and habitually driven. It's our set. And we generally contest within it. We can intend to and then acquire a new habit; repetition makes it not new. Good or bad. And depending on what an observer states, or perhaps from what we feel, some behavior of ours is labelled on a continuum of labels. Thing is, to say I'm a cook can mean a whole lot of different things to very many people; or is that 'kook'? Levels of attainment imbue our lives. The gradations are defined by others, mostly, and very much so by ourselves.

So I advance The Theory of Gods Grades. No need for an apostrophe. We all are One.

Like grade school to graduate school, we appear apportioned into classes in the curriculum of life. Both a natural order as well as a man-made order predicates as much. We are startled by anomalies. The prodigy. The crazed. The outlier. Generally we are most comfortable within the class of our peers, our colleagues, our friends, our culture, our beliefs, our field of knowledge. Esemplasticity is not a natural proclivity. So we prefer to keep things, usually, simple. And though recognizing ourselves as being contained within a grade level, as in, "I'm in Grade Six; next lifetime I shall be in Grade Seven!" it is rather limiting of us to judge anyone, let alone ourselves by so simple a categorization. Some of my understanding is decidedly still in grade six, and even some more remains at pre-school level, yet other understandings are at a post graduate level. Like you, I am everything. My life's curriculum is as individualized and as differentiated by the comprehensions and lessons and passage of my lifetime, as is yours, and though I certainly can say I passed standard one, or even grade two, I for sure can tell you that I did not do so with 100%. Ever watched 'Who is smarter than a fifth grader?'

No body of knowledge will of itself give qualification to be acclaimed into a given grade; character may. No personality will of itself give acclamation to a given grade; character may. And even then no one person is so complete in character and personality as not to ever feel angry, hurt, mis-aligned. If personality be described as psycho-geometric (that is as a square, circle, triangle, squiggly line, rectangle or even a trapezoid) then one's character is hereby defined as that which we do. Personality is the manner by which we do things; character is the means. And if we generally bring our sparkling personality to a given party and persuade others to vote for a certain character we but perform the marriage ceremony of that which imbues us all; we hardly can separate yin and yang, male and female, positive and negative, enlightenment and obscurity, though we try. Some of us even refuse to accept shades of grey! But we do, evidently, dish out grades!

TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2012

Prior to school has essential merit. Essential. Yet we may dismiss those who appear to stay in it predominantly. "I don't suffer fools" is the phrase. You moron. Retard. Ignoramus.

First lessons are crucial. In most models of mankind they appear as the survival level, equating historically with man at his most primitive, most likely to be mostly self-serving, entirely dependent on getting his immediate needs met. At any age we may observe in ourselves such continuity. I would needs disturb a whole Opera audience were there a sudden alarm in my bowels. But sophistication has me thinking ahead about how long the flight from Denver to Vancouver will take; how long the lecture; how long the drive; how long the opera. And my developed inhibitors will help me when my utter selfishness desires the biggest slice of the cheesecake. The sheer randomness of life provides test upon test for the mastery of pre-school. Beyond potty training there is the awareness of others to take into account. And consideration of others, ideally, is the lesson we may learn that stops us from fiddling with ourselves in public, not shame. Inhibitors are not necessarily about shame; they become variously exercised implicitly or explicitly in consciousness or consideration of our effect. But while we are in the initial stages of life we by birthright are naturally uninhibited, unashamed, unaware that we make demands on others or are primarily dependent on our survival needs. We just want what we want.

Before school provides the foundation of attachment. We learn what we like, whom we feel good about, to whom we are primarily affiliated, and we learn the essential concept of ourselves as a recognizable name. My label is Richard, son, kid, or worse, Back-Seat-Brat. The one I might perceive as delivered with love, the others with shame. And were I now still mostly to remain in those moments of utter selfishness as to NEED my food at a certain temperature, my voice heard, my contentions un-argued, or my garbage-bin foraging, my stealing from another with no real consideration as to how it may affect others, I'd be given some grade for my pre-schooling by the Gods. Week one; month two; adaptation three; almost ready for Kindergarten; ahead of his time! And so we see our comparisons to others. We begin to take ownership in becoming ourselves. We may feel a sense of inadequacy that dearest Penelope always appears better, or take on a sense of pride that we are faster, stronger, brighter, louder. Or worse, if we alone are to survive amongst the thousands of tests ahead of us, we might just decide not to give a damn. Does it matter if I leave my family, betray my loved ones, don't bother with my education, don't try for financial independence (let alone a contribution to society), don't care about my addiction, don't think of my effect upon others, poo in my pants? In those first stages of preschool my ego is not yet developed to handle the sophistication of the consequences of being in Kindergarten. And that's why, generally, I must wait until I am four or five years old, chronologically speaking, before I may be given 'accountable' grades by a teacher, who will (until I one day am truly able to comprehend where she too may be coming from) affect my sense of me for the rest of my life. "He is not as clever as he thinks he is," she actually wrote. In Kindergarten we receive our stars by comparisons, or not. We find that we're favored, or over-looked, or even not liked. We get more often to think about the consequences of our actions. Easier to stay in preschool?

If only one did not have to read so much! To work so hard. To be tested. To care. Can't we just stop the lessons already? Huh?


Conditioning is natural. Crows caw at instructing their young; leopards and lions and elephants and crocodiles have ways too. We see cuddly and cute and oh snap and petite all being raised to become in our image. And we get taken by surprise when the lion lays down with the lamb. Birds of a feather flock together. If a fish and a bird marry, where will they live? But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Teach your children well.

Naturally, we are societal, somewhat if not very much gregarious, and each and every one of us conditioned. Pavlovian, even before Kindergarten, neural pathways were established by which we are identifying ourselves. Even as babies we can be observed to display those archetypes of being sanguine, colic, phlegmatic, or just downright belligerent. Already, even before most of us begin talking we entrench our preference for psycho-geometric shapes of personality. Character is not yet defined; it being an accretion of the things we do. But personality comes very early on, and as a tool by which we engage our world we squarely face it, squiggle our way through it, embrace our circle, or poke and prod and prick in a triangularity of needing wants met. To be entirely indecisive is not natural to us. We innately exercise likes and dislikes, and our personality shapes our world for us. Kindergarten creates a social pathway. It is the first stage at which we are generally no longer under the protection of family and are lumped in with others more or less of our own chronology to find our own way.

But already some of us have been abused. Great fear and deep shame can scar the psyche. Others may know great love and deep attachment. Nice. In either instance being in Kindergarten among like-aged Gods is an experiment in homogeneity. Simple dichotomies confound; personal complexity is developing, let alone universality. But like a sixth grader in the Graves' Spiral Dynamics model (a later curriculum; I peeked!), we are expected to display an equality of ability, intelligence, and outlook. Yet already the differentiation is multilayered. I was never going to reveal what my crippled uncle did to me. Penelope was disbelieving that her wonderful parents could actually leave her at the school gate. Tony was already feeling displaced. Mike was already conscious of being impoverished. Justin was already conscious of being bored by simplistic expectations. Rob found it unfair that the others were already older than he. Simon....

The differentiation is inescapable. And the layering upon layering has begun. Nowadays we are racially and culturally more mixed than our histories. Thanks to 'before-school' kids being bombarded with imagery in T.V. raised countries, we no longer need stare at strangers. Racial, or handicapped. That segment of our integration has begun. But we have the universal hyperbole of a kazillion prepositions yet to interlace; our relationship to and with and in and of and above and under and near and far is on its way. Ontology recapitulates phylogeny. Education is dependent on culture, conditioning, circumstance, innate interest, and the authority of the system. We are vulnerable, like comprachicos, to the makings of man; long before the fountainhead. Our unique authenticity is a plasticity to be moulded by the conditioning of that which our parents modeled, our immediate familial society reflected, and is about to become graduated by degrees within the first congregated classroom of conceptions inculcated in us by Kindergarten.

Would then that its teachers be the wisest of beings!

Wisdom conceived by Grade One is interesting. Wise old Solomon's division of the baby can intrigue even a five year old. Yet now we may see ourselves at the bottom of the rung with a long uncertain ladder to finish school, let alone the certainty of attending a universe(ity). Elementary school, with Gradations to Six, makes for the separation of wheat from the chaff (an ugly term) full of the push and shove of potentialities colliding and fickleness of friendships being retested as we yet may make our way groundless as weights on lilly pads of expectations. But some are butterflies already emerged from the pupae, flitting from flower to flower in the gardens of potentiality. We call such, even as adults, angels. For others enduring foci may emerge; decisions not to like marmite, broccoli, or Penelope. I hate her comes trippingly off the tongue. Pathological lying can find foundation here too; it is easier to avoid truth when truth gets one beaten. Fear or Favor (an oversimplified dichotomy) reacts more and more steadily within us. Fight or flight. Left or right choices dictate our suffering or enjoying the consequences. Or not.

Consequentiality drives us. Even unto right now. In a Kohlberg stratification we can stay like babies, so unaffected by consequence as again to damage, steal and rape and lie and betray all over again once the jail of the crib, the leash, the lash, the imprisonment is removed. Self-centricity would equate this very first stage of undeveloped potentiality in adults with habitual models of mankind across the chalk boards of classrooms every where. Such a self-centric first stage is a very different behavior, Meme, or modality than the self-efficacy of civil disobedience. Plato would have it that many only see shadows for reality. Thoreau would rather that we sit face to face with authenticity. And awareness of our effect on others becomes our ego-centricity, that necessary trait in order for us to be commensurate, to commiserate, and to dance with society. But some of us (teachers like Kohlberg, Dabrowski, or Clare Graves will say) never may get past these layerings of the Elementary grades. We endemically predominantly practice left or right choices. Even our very morality is predicated on such. We do what we do because we believe in those who've taught us that this is the way to think, to do, to believe, to see, to feel, to marry, to judge, to condemn, to love, to listen, to entrench, to war. And we can hardly believe that Grade One through Six has so very many computations and permutations (a most academic sounding phrase to convince an apprehensive clarity).

"In Grade One we were arranged in rows, according to how 'bright' we were. There were the Turtles, the Sparrows, the Squirrels and the Bluebirds! Oh, to be a Bluebird, but I think I was a Squirrel. Only later did it dawn on me how sad it was for those poor kids in the Turtle row. There was no moving up for them. How long did that label stick to them?" writes Jessie.

Our very beings, predicated on the body-culture of our perceptions of ourselves as gleaned from the reactions we habituate ourselves toward in the perpetual classroom of life, can set us up into adulthood with a conceptual belief that who we are and what we acquire in Elementary school is sufficient for our needs. Who needs more? And thereby psychically, spiritually, and potentially, we no longer evolve much past the fundamental premises inculcated in us by the elementary lessons we perceive always to be around us. Who needs more? Being meta-cognitive requires too much comfort with perpetual uncertainty. And anyway, your thoughts are too dense! Can you not just say it simply?


Intelligence is not predicated on knowledge; at least, not necessarily. Literacy is not a measure of insightfulness. Linguistic fluency is not a measure of mindfulness. Math is not a prerequisite for spirituality. (Many a potential English teacher did not become one for lack of qualifying Math grades.) Dictates can hobble. Autonomous Synthesis is not easily achieved. Even within the strands of any given curriculum, in any given grade, a natural separation ensues. Our timetables are the order and divisions of attention. We put on or doff off the required roles of science, biology, art, drama, English, French, Spanish, home economics or even Math students at other (older) Gods' demands. Fragmentation is endemic, even in the classroom. Recall grades being posted? Recall names for detention on the board? One teacher creatively called it, 'The Banner of Shame'; were the motives perhaps misunderstood? Junior High can have the dubious or salubrious effect of further dividing and stratifying ego-bound potential. Paradoxically, being 'bound' denotes plus or minus. A grade! Stasis, wont, or want of mobility is implicit or explicit; one is made aware that there is more, and the fear is that one may never be good enough, or arrogance becomes such that one intends to better everyone else, or the fun is that there are lots of friends to party and go places with. We herein are happy to drop some prepositions in relations. Decidedly. Others we adhere to with captive identity. In, or out? Recall the phrase, non-u? We may even adopt a political stance. Or?

Grade Seven through Nine captures children of uncertain maturation and segments them into streams and field-days and collusions and competition. At Elementary, sports day may be fun. At Junior High it may be much more serious. You represent the school.

"Why, why are we archaically still subjecting students to an age equals grade school orientation?" writes Angela. Indeed, depending on being identified, we are so defined.

Even as adults we may retain the habits of Junior High as invigorating or enervating as is our wont. Grades! Sophisticated judgement abounds. Cliques and badges and clubs and groups and causes and try-outs make or break us. We find succor in the eyes of others, or we may be crushed by a glance. And some of us, individual, undeveloped in caring, lead with our ego. Strength of energy and of being and of dominance is not the same as strength of character. We experiment with who we are; some adjust unwittingly to the expected. Or we entrench who we think we are; damn the consequences. The angry young man draws his own portrait. Penelope further develops her faithfulness. A star is born. The bully is 'always' a jerk. Change is like a congealing soup; we become more certain that we fit, or not, and we gravitate toward like-minded ingredients. Or not.

Indeed, we might inculcate ongoing judgements. Rather than be evaluative (a single pie  is unpalatable, not the entire cook) we are naturally bound to competition, grades, our chronology, and fairness. A moment in the past is more better than right Now; or if it's a good 'now' then an even better time is in the future. We find it most difficult to accept the given moment, completely. Always there is a was and a next. And that Penelope might be accelerated or should be ousted or even more decidedly, failed, is by comparisons.

Junior High searches for who we are. We vacillate mostly in being defined by others. Senior High establishes or confounds us. Intelligence is controlled by knowledge; or not.

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012

To be 'senior' in High School may be understood as false. Focus on what one is going to be takes precedence over who one actually is. At any age. A future, how to develop one's potential, to best the interview, to get ahead, and how to prove one's worth predominates. Yet while in Grades Ten, Eleven and Twelve (that freeing grade that declares the end of the dependence plateau from which we, in a formal ceremony, leap into the insecurities of self-reliance) there is a generalized gelling of the fundamentals of being one's 'self' that gets firmed by comparisons, judgements, and one's habituations.

Some Senior Highs have Grade Nine through Thirteen. We are apportioned according to the culture. We are grouped according to age. We are ranked according to ability. We are graded accorded to product. We are befriended according to circumstance or the chance of similarities observed, stated, or implied. And we are supported most unfairly based on the opinions and grades given by parents, family, teachers, friends. Penelope hates Miss X and Mr. Y, but Percy likes both of them. Penelope loves Percy, she thinks, but Percy is sure he doesn't like her. And as such, adults or still youngsters, we Gods in Senior High, at any age, keep extending and retracting and advancing and withholding the many gradations of our concepts, our intentions, our values and morals and ethics. Accretion of our accomplishments or of awards or of wealth or even of focus and purpose and direction entrenches our growing resume of character, serves to augment our personality, and sets us up to be autonomously accountable, though we may continue to reach perpetually for our support systems. It is judgement and grades that easily continues to divide us. How else can Penelope vie for Medical School? How else does Percy hope to get into Oxford? And commercialism, that necessary commodity of the commune between all sentient creatures, becomes the altar to which most of us are drawn, albeit ineluctably or not, since we deem those with 'more' to have more value as a human being, more power, more prestige, more worth; despicable of character or royal by pronouncement. Attitudes predominate. We are clearly conscious of variables, and rather than integration and compassion and acceptance and tolerance and inclusion, generally and collectively, we are concerned with ensuring that we ourselves get ahead. Even as a Group, whether with grades or on the sports field, we hope to kick butt. Or the individual does not care, and the apathetic, the iconoclast, the rebel, the underachiever, the non-complaint, the selfish, the arrogant, the... The differentiation becomes more marked. One develops or experiments with fields of sameness; the school has clubs for the gays (nowadays), the smokers, the Mormons, the Jews. And we even may accept or rejoice or grumble that no longer do we say the Lords' Prayer. Groups will parade and promulgate and litter the walls with posters of their contentions. Many individuals will sublimate and hide and work alone and think what they think, but being in the school's Collective Memes, albeit unwittingly, is hardly one's own fault. The grades of our apportionment prior to graduating toward true autonomy (into a yet more complex society,) is due to our enculturation and others' legal and societal and familial expectations. Even our friends and teachers are there to urge at us: Stay with us now!

Recognizing ourselves in life's perpetual curriculum, as adults, is not lightly seen. Our consciousness of the grades given to each other, if not to ourselves perpetuates the stress of comparisons, the business of checking out the Jones, and of attachment to values. Gods' grades may be suspect, but they can become stepping stones to more.


Damn! Idiots and fools and crooks and bastards and angels are everywhere. Perception in the moment, or worse, reputation, will define them. We are given to calling behaviors by name, and we can tend to paint the canvas, the entire person, with one color. We are not readily persuaded that a person can change, that only one square inch of the many square yards of a person's life does not color, contaminate, make or mark the person for life. Because he once thieved he will do it again. Because he once betrayed, she learns not to trust anyone. Because I once killed, i fear I could kill again. Because I once loved, I have learnt never to give my heart away again. Never! And so on. Very many of us like the idea of going somewhere and starting all over again, where no one knows us; others of us do not entertain the notion at all. I am who I am, Popeye the sailor man! Morons!

Sameness is our quotidian nemesis. Generally (research would have it) we are Daily Beings rather than Conscious Becomings. Tradition predominates. Champagne needs this glass, beer that. Red wine goblets are distinct from white. Fish knives and steak knives and butter knives have a purpose; don't mix them. And God forbid that the extra place setting be different from the rest, unless made extra special for the extra special guest. Emotions dictate. Not that preferences be construed as innately wrong, but strict adherence to and discomfort with any tradition, on the one hand, or on the other hand, can create great discomfort. As Tevye put it, "If I bend too far, I will break!" Fish need...

Disintegration requires, in order for us to be at ease with it, a willingness to adapt. We are given to discomfort with the process when we climb a peak to get a better view; we know that the outcome may be worth it, if only the weather will be clear. But should the change expected or foisted upon us be perceived as negative, as in fired from a job, or the victim of an accident, or being forced to relocate, the disintegration from what was is difficult to accept as positive. Dabrowski's Positive Disintegration Theory is an actuality.

Kohlberg has it that we are differentiated according to a moral or ethical sensibility to the habits we engender from sensibilities around us. Eight stages enliven his challenge.

Erikson has it that eight chronological and psychosocial developments need 'mastery', as contained by the habituations within each. Undeveloped virtues remain challenges.

Clare Graves envisions Nine Memes of progression, enlivened by non-integrative and integrative predominances, the first six Memes of First Tier, the next three Second Tier.

Maslow and Bloom and Gregoric and JoHari and Delinger and de Bono and Anagram Theory too will add to the meanings of mankind, provide tools to check into our thinking, our habits, our wonts and wants. Or not. The vast majority of us are too preoccupied with the misfortunes of surviving, or involved in the struggles of succeeding (however we may see those terms) for us to be engaged in being consistently aware of degrees of integration. Easier to react and to predicate immediate behavior on precedence afore thought. The paradox of letting go in order more entirely to accept all of everything just As IS is not readily managed. We are creatures affected by the effects of mankind, of nature, of The Gods, and of ourselves. Then again, my dear, as the saying goes when it gets inordinately tough, who gives a damn? Really? Well, who do you think you are?


Indecision can be very unsettling. Yet it can save us from being precipitous, from being harmfully spontaneous, from being reactionary rather than responsive. But indecision, as a prolonged habit, can be debilitating. We generally tend to be making up our minds.

In the plethora of choices (especially once we free ourselves, at any age, from a predicated set of Expected Memes to that of searching for our own fields of autonomy) we are called upon to practice self-reliance, which becomes new habits of non-reliance upon the provision of others, financial, familial, obliged, or even wanted, or not. Yet most of us, the research would have it, retrench into the known rather than voyage overlong in the seas of chance and exploration. We want our perceptions verified. We want our knowledge substantiated. We want our contentions affirmed. We make our decision to adhere to a given set of paradigms the which our parentage has prepared us for. And so we may become affiliated with a political, religious, philosophical, economic, educated, national, or contentious group, or not. Who do we think we are so to feel different from the norm, the average, the regular, the expected? How dare we declare our individuality so strongly as to leave behind the familiar, the avowed, the regulated, the conditioned?

Before we adopt the next predominate meme, at any habituation, we feel disintegration, yet we can become successively comfortable as we acquire the now new paradigm, individually or collectively, or else discomfort retrenches us to the old Meme and we do not evolve, change, advance potential. Historically it is easily observed. We carry within the atavistic impulses of Cro-Magnon man, yet are simultaneously as sophisticated as the current year, or not. Clare Graves would have it that we collectively or individually move from Survival through Family, through Ego-Centric, through Socio-centric, through  National-centricity, then Global-centricity, toward Universality (to hereby bastardized his correct concept, ha!) Getting things right is our fundamental problem. We innately feel that unless others think as we do they are getting it wrong. And hence our perpetual strife with each other, if not with ourselves. We like to feel secure. Yes? Get it right!

Correctness is essential for a whole lot of rational reasons. To cross a bridge with one's heavy payload takes great trust in the precision of the makers. Some just do it, specially if having been that way before; others want every detail verified before commencing the traverse. Paradigm shifts do not necessarily crack open the shell of potentiality; we may peck away at the enclosure of our metaphorical birthing a long-long time, and even try retreats back into the metaphorical womb, depending upon the innate potentiality as well as circumstances of nature, nurture and entelechy (our innate-drive). Trouble is, the bridges of our neuronal activity, repeatedly habituated, are scarcely checked for ongoing veracity once we've established them as our preferred pathways. The research would have it that we are generally very slow to change our routes of thinking, and that those of us caught overlong in the uncertainty of new roadways, new signals, new maps of contentions, can be suicidal with insecurity about who we think we are, especially if we feel alone, vulnerable, unprotected, unsubstantiated, and crazy. Who do you think...?

Many a career was as facetiously chosen as by the flip of a coin. Many a destination too. To be or not to be, to think or not to think for oneself, herein lies the rub. How can I  possibly deny God and include all the others, or vice versa? Who are you to play God?


Independence may not be selfish or selfless. A predominance of absorbing, including, accreting, and gathering yet more information, however independently of large groups, of family obligations, or of another's expectations is a passage by which the product of knowing more, seeing more, and comprehending more, however, is not necessarily to 'be' more. Oh my! That sense of not being, understanding, or achieving more, with self-reflection, evolves one autonomously. Knowledge is not wisdom. Instinctually, one is meta-cognitive. (In my own vernacular) Dabrowski has it that we limit potential when not autonomously habituating ourselves in dynamic aspirations toward greater integration. Non-autonomously, we grow wider, not higher. Independently, we may gain knowledge, not more wisdom. We may be concerned with a sense of 'my growth', independently, spiritually, and not necessarily as a predominant contribution to the health of the whole.

Autonomy may not yet quite see others as Full-God-Potential; others may be seen as unrealized bits of God, developing. Compassion is felt for the messed up, confused, clownish, idiotic, mad, crazed, angelic, and bemused. Autonomy is unlikely to scoff at a Universal God concept; it is too integrative for arbitrary dismissal. Yet like other Memes, respective in degrees and grades of wisdom, Autonomy may wish that others would hurry up and 'get it'. Different from the First Six Memes (contained by the arrogance-judgements of negative attitudes) however, is the growing evaluative-choice of greater degrees of sustained inclusion, acceptance, and perceptual integrations of the stratified layers amongst the impoverished, uneducated, misled, the righteous, the fanatical, and the oh-so disparate. Autonomy seeks to include; instinctually wanting itself as yet more.

Independence of God (a Religion's God) is an autonomous thing. In the spectrums, bell curves, hierarchies, contentions, perceptions, and the human ontology of mankind we are evidently not comfortable with No-God at all. Atheism is a rank. Yet Total Integration would have it that if All is Everything and Everything is All; which part of Everything is not? Humans naturally are given to being aligned with a given body of thought, belief, moral-exemplar, and habitual paradigm. Not all. To conceive of oneself as a part of 'God' (a ubiquitous term) is 'acceptable' when we see absolutely ALL and everything else as part of that Infinite Totality. Hitler too? If not pantheistic Autonomy may even be given toward apportioning degrees and grades of 'god consciousness'. A rock is not the frequency of the cat, though the cat may be painted on the rock. Autonomy may believe 'things are meant to be'; individuals are blessed, cared for, by a named Overlord. My god! Others don't believe in prayer. Some see God as conjecture. But Autonomy allows.

To be lumped into a group, given a grade, judged, pigeon-holed, relegated, stamped, addressed and posted by another to some address, known or not, is tantamount to being abrogated from everything else, and subliminally if not overtly Autonomy does not enjoy the sense of so being culled into a club or defined. Non-autonomy, at the other extreme, likes labels. Of course, there are gradations in-between. Absolutes (nowadays) are unlikely. The chief, the apostle, the priest, the doctor, the minister are as conditioned and preferential as are the angels, the barkeeps, or even the whores. Existentially. We neither deserve nor do not deserve. We are neither by accident nor by design. And happenstance, that great collusion of time and location, is the purveyor of our ongoing successes or failures, or not. Such may be some thoughts of an Autonomous. Not all.


Enlightenment is not a product, it's a process. There is no absolute other than the absoluteness of utter inclusion. Which part of Everything is not? The apportionments of each Meme preference within such freedom from arrogant-judgements predominantly grows toward the inclusion of every thought, perception, feeling, action, thing, being, everything and all to exist in a flow of energy beyond one's conception; and so some name it Universal Awareness. Within such an Integral Holon is apportioned the sacred and the profound and the real and the imagined and the blessed include the damned.  Some create great Chains of Being, and others find The Way, others conjoin Heaven and Hell, and yet others Sin and Nobility. Yet instincts will pluck from a Time Past in the voices of forefathers not to forget the ways of ancestors, not to dismiss the collective teachings, not to betray a past that brought each of us to this very present, even as you now read this period. You are a God? Blasphemy! We spiral or dance or vacillate or gyrate or breathe or think or feel or act from the entire basis of all that which we were, are, and hope to be. Past and present and future simultaneously imbues each of us, aware or not. It is the degree to which we accept Utterly Everything that we realize our potentiality, as a process, not a product. Everything is as was, is, and may by choice be.

Evaluative-Choice is preferential. Arrogant-Judgement is attitudinal. Choice-Evaluation is compassionate toward the murderer, proactive. Arrogant-Judgement, if not vengeful, is pejoratively attitudinal, condemning. Evaluation may concur that the proven murderer be given consequence that serves us all, judgement may declare that such murderer, if not to be hanged, be incarcerated without reprieve and punished and penalized and despised. Yet neither evaluative-choice nor arrogant-judgement may condone, let pass, promote, or excuse the actions of evil, of intentional harm. Evaluative-Choice will seek to understand. Arrogant-Judgement will, at best, seek to be pragmatic. And choices in evaluation may be deemed to be soft; judgement's choice be seen to be strong. Clearly!

Integrationists may seemingly be weak. Their instincts for preservation and of nurturing and protecting and accepting everything can appear wishy-washy. They apparently lack the passion and verve of the protestor, the righteously outraged, the angered, the lusty, the needy and even the drive for necessities. They can seem bland. And in moments of their displaying hurt or want or intensity of interest, they may be seen as quite evidently suspect of being so integrative in the first place.  Who do you think you are? You are not as clever or spiritual as you think! I see you ogling that second piece of cheesecake!

We are everything. The smallest child. The oldest adult. The beggar, the liar, the thief. The magistrate, the courtier, the king the pawn, the rook. Which of us is exempt? By variable realization (and more especially in the habituations to which we are given since we are not autonomous and absolutely independent of all others) we are able to have our enlightenment realized such that we are relatively free from reaction, and more readily responsive. It is our attachment to grades, to grades of thinking, of arrogance in judgement, even so of evaluation, that layers in our pathways of perception become our habit, even as I write. Fish and birds may marry; but... Who do you think you are?

We are ourselves. Individual. Progressing individually, albeit collectively. We naturally compare. We naturally judge. We naturally prefer. We do things by habit. Absolutely!

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