Day 1 Ordinary Gentlemen

It’s the first full day of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.  We’ve got some nice shout outs from various bloggers (particularly homeys over at Culture11) and the place is hopping over there.  We’ve hit the ground running pretty well full steam, which I dig.  Check it out.

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: The League of Ordinary Gentlemen Launched (Link Fixed)


I have some excellent news.  As of today, The League of Ordinary Gentlemen drops.  With a vengeance sucka.  Hats off to Scott Payne for coming up with the idea and ED Kain for doing the yeoman’s work on setting up the site.  The Bowler logo is Freddie’s doing.

Link Here
Website (for Bookmarking)

From our About Page:

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is a group blog that hopes to bring a new style and sensibility to blogging. The contributing writers hail from various points along the political spectrum, but all hold a deep and abiding commitment to the exploration of ideas outside the foray of rhetorical and ideological cul de sacs. The entries are less posts than they are dialogues with an aim towards sustained discussion on topics and issues that lay at the foundations of our lives. This approach, we hope, will provide readers with a thoughtful and searching alternative analysis.

On my side, I’m very excited and intrigued by this possibility of seeking a new praxis/way of group blogging.  When I started out this blog it was originally subtitled Integral Philosophy, Politics, and Christianity.  My Christianity blogging has migrated over to Credo @ Culture11.  My politics blogging will as of today be heading over to The League.  And this site will remain for Integral philosophy.

Our theme song (since there are Seven of us):

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Comments (2)  

Joseph Lowery

Mind blowing preacher.  Warren was trying; Lowery was just doing.

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Obama’s Speech

Read the full text here.

My immediate thoughts on the twitter feed (check the right hand column).

As much as I dig the guy, and I do, the “mush-headed” (as Will Wilkinson calls them) Obamaphiles are both creepy and annoying.  More than ever.  He gave a very good speech I thought.  Not that surprising he’s got a talent for it.  I thought he struck a decent balance, mostly focusing on the seriousness of the challenges and the difficulties ahead.  Not going all-soaring.  No matter, too many will just be entranced by the image and the giddiness and the collective vibes, etc.  The words are what matter.  What matters more actually are the actions the words he says point to.

But the key to me is the emphasis on hard work, responsibility, old fashioned values like honesty, thrift, parsimony, etc.  Not the Obama will come to save us, now I love America kinda junk.  He’s a man and will be undoubtedly a very imperfect President.

Obama will the president of another major turning point in American history.  He is while not literally/chronologically, in actual mindset, the first president of the 21st century.  Bush was on a 20th century bender in the 21st.  The country now awakes to the morning after (a new kind of morning in America, this one mostly hung over and dazed).  Obama is a liberal and a new 21st century liberalism (for better and undoubtedly for worse) is now upon us.  [Well assuming he can rangle the Democratic fools in Congress to grow up—paging House and Senate Majority Leader.  Not to mention the resident idiot hacks like Boehner and McConnell].  I wish it didn’t involve (as it will) growth of the state, but since the Republicans had control for 8 years and couldn’t meet the growing challenges via a non-state, organic, civil society process, than they have no one to blame but themselves when it is inevitable that the state fills the void.  I won’t shed a crocodile tear for them truth be told, no matter how much I’m not some reflexively pro-left sorta dude (which I’m not).  The problems of infrastructure–financial, energetic, material–have to be met.  Something has to be done with health care, energy policy, a new rule set for global capitalism, a foreign policy reboot (which I’m not sure he’s going to go as far as I wish he would).  I wish those had been in the last eight years when they could have been done without as much mass state intervention, and I would have prefered less liberal forms of solutions than the ones Obama will pass, but Bush’s AWOL presidency on that front really hurt.  And again, the conservatives had their chance to meet the days challenges and they failed them.  It is then inevitable that the state will grow as a result. They have no one to blame but themselves.

And The New New Majority as it were, when the Republicans eventually do come back to (some/partial) power, as they undoubtedly will, they will only be able to modulate what this liberal wave has set.  As has been the case in American history.   The other form of conservatism, the conservatism of skeptical mindset (but not “believed skepticism”), the conservatism that is best understood as a personal philosophy, will remain and be of enduring value.

Clean Space Writing

In my search to find a way of writing-practicing that would take me more into a introspective-phenomenological space equivalent of the integral calculus blogging process, I came across work on clean space. (H/t to my buddy Ian Johnson for the links).

I’m still just skimming the surface of a whole mess of these related ideas (see here for more).   This is a psychotherapeudic practice that works with the mental landscape, the metaphoric realm of inner space.  David Grove, the original thinker behind all this, described (in part) this work on clean space as “psychoactive” which is exactly the same term Ken Wilber uses for his integral map.  [I think they mean slightly different but closely related imo things by the terms].

When I started reading some of these posts, I get the sense more and more that this is something I need to look at and is very close to (if not perhaps exactly) what I’ve been looking for in terms of a more first person walk through the perspectives.  I’m still thinking of a way to connect this with this style of writing I’m exploring.

Clean Space basically works with the mental landscape (metaphoric) that we create and then walks individuals through that landscape, speaking from the position of that space.  So there’s first a general first person mode (entering one’s subjectivity) which is metaphorized in locational vectors (3rd person of the 1st) which one can then enter and speak from (1st person of the 3rd person within 1st person) as well as dialoging between the various spaces (2nd person of the 3rd person space within the 1st person domain).

I want to see if I can walk myself through such a practice and then transcribe in a sense (or maybe write simultaneously??) the spaces and the experience, the locations/metaphoric landscape, as well as the points of view taken up.

I want to make clear yet again (on a broader point) that this form of integral thought that I’m working with (Ken Wilber, Steve McIntosh, Mark Edwards,  is only one form of integral.  Any openings, as Heidegger would say, are also closings.  They uncover and yet conceal.  Revelation is both an opening and a concealing.  Same with this trajectory.  It reveals a great deal (imo) but also conceals other pieces.  It deals mostly with metaphors of space in the interior and exterior world: e.g. Kosmic Addresses, world-views, worldspaces, etc.  It helps explain, gives voice to an amazing amount of various dimensions of existence.  And others it leaves out.  The nature of that process needs always to be kept in mind.  To move first to perspectives is already to occlude other potential ways of writing-thinking-experiencing-feeling.  As I’ve said on multiple occasions, I think the best (supplementary/complementary/alternative) view of integral is this one.  Basically that tradition states that integral is an already formed living tradition of fullness which needs to be revived/re-lived in any day and age.  Either of the artistic canon side (as the link previous) or say in a spiritual perennial sense.  I think eventually one has to deal with society, values (implicit and explicit), worldviews/ethics, and all the rest at which point the more integral as new stage of development (integral crew #1) I think comes into play.

But the fact that I focus in one direction (predominantly the first tradition) does not mean I think the other one is not without a great deal of truth. I’m only doing that–focusing in a specific line.  In one that I feel I have something to offer that is more unique.  But again it doesn’t mean I don’t keep in mind the other tradition.

My lived insights into that first strain of integral philosophy (the theory-praxis strain) is very fluid and has been deeply expanding of my attention, care, understanding of the world without and within.  But it is only one way.  I have for a long time wished I could do more to combine both streams of integral, but at this point I feel more the need to enter into the one I feel most at home and where I can be most creative, contribute the most.  And in the interim, just periodically remininding folks that it is only one strain within a larger series of strains.

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Death-Rebirth Dream

I don’t normally do this–share details about personal experience, particularly of a spiritual nature–but last night I had a very powerful experience through the medium of my dream.  I have been struggling for a few weeks now sleeping regularly.  Bouts of insomnia, stress, disturbing sometimes graphic and horrifying nightmares.  This is very odd for me–normally I hit the pillow lights out and I sleep like a baby.

Over the weeks I have been increasingly praying the prayer from The Book of Common Prayer’s Compline service (the final prayers of the evening) which petition the Lord to send the angels to guard this house from the “terrors of the night.”

Last night I had a dream that I was killed.  I watched myself die.  Technically I was murdered (shot) but the imagery was not particularly violent or bloody.  More cartoon-y almost in a sense.  I was shot and then fell back into a cavernous swimming pool.  It was almost more like a lake within a cave (double womb/death imagery).  I watched myself fall endlessly through the crystal blue water.  At this point in the dream, my proximate self-sense was the Witness, the observer of my-self, (my distal self) which in this case was my idealized-emotional-subtle-dream self.  I watched that self plummet gracefully through the water and simply relaxed into the process of watching myself die.

At some point in this process, I became lucid (aware of being one was dreaming).  I then re-entered the perspective of my now dead subtle-dream self and immediately re-awoke and was jolted up through the water (rebirth-resurrection theme).  I maintained both the awareness of being in a dream while simultaneously taking up the position of the subtle-self.  i.e. I made choices, felt the expression of my emotional-subtle self.

Upon waking from that dream, I could feel a definite release of bodily and emotional contractions, especially in my chest.  I really have no idea what was going on through this process–nor now with some (partial?) resolution.

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm  Comments (3)  

Skyepcast: Israel-Gaza (Audio Content)


Scott and I discuss the Israeli-Hamas war.  Click the link above to open a new player with the audio.  To download for Mac Users (Ctrl + Mouse), Windows users right-click Save As.

Chris’ Article Hamas: Method to the Madness
Scott’s article

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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This is the S–t: Mark Gormley Edition

(Hat tip to Stuart Davis for turning me on to this one–I will be doing my best to evangelize to make this the next great internet sensation)….

As a commenter godslittle soldier says in the Youtube thread“Mark Gormley you are a rock god with my father’s fashion sense.” Well said sir.  That should go in for comment of the year.

To quote Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda:  “There is no charge for awesomeness.”

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Comments (2)  

Follow up on Proportionality in Asymmetrical War

Nagarjuna excerpts a nice line from a piece in The Economist and then comments on it (quoting a piece from my earlier post on the subject).

The Economist graf that he quotes is the following:

A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. The attack should be proportionate to the objective. And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. On all three of these tests Israel is on shakier ground than it cares to admit.

N’juna then quotes my passage relative to #2 (proportionality).  He asks this question:

I’m inclined to agree with Dierkes that we cannot reasonably apply the concept of proportionality to the situation at hand and to other instances of asymmetric warfare. So, what do we do instead? Use only tests 1 and 2. or add a new test to the mix?

I think he means should we use only tests 1 and 3 (since I’ve argued against relevance to #2).  I feel I have even badder news on this front ‘cuz I’m not sure 1 and 3 are totally relevant either.

Number 1: Country must have first exhausted all other means.

–If that principle holds, then certainly the Israelis are open to criticism given that they never accepted the Hamas election in 2006 and immediately set about trying to wrest them from power (I argued against that policy at the time, but too late for that).

–The principle (#1) assumes that a country can not live with a certain degree of violence intruding upon it.  While this is a crazy proposition, I’ll put it out there.  Maybe the best form of defense is too admit there is no ability to end all such violence and ask what the best amounts of violence are?  i.e. To create resiliency. . I realize this is insane and suicidal politically speaking.  What I mean is even having exhausted all means other means, one might still not go to war on the presumption that the violence is inevitable and will only cause more blowback than the current low-grade level of violence already intruding.  Easy to say in the abstract for Israel to be sure.  But I still think it might be right.

#2 I already covered.  I’ll only add that the proportionality is relative to the objective.  But the objective itself has to be open to some kind of normative critique.  Which are proper and which improper objectives?  This question I think directly leads to….

#3, reasonable chance of success

This one again comes up against the same question of 4th Generation War.  Asymmetry.  Irregular forces.  Proxy or Low-Intensity conflict.  Whatever term you prefer.  A reasonable chance of success typically assumes armies fighting armies.  What does a reasonable chance of success look like relative to Israel-Gaza.  Depends on what success is defined as–which even the Israelis have realized they can’t make public since they themselves have basically no clue.

The Israelis on the military side (“the war” side if you like, or first round of war anyway) have more than a reasonable chance of successs.  They have a guaranteed one.  The whole point is to bait them into a ground invasion anyway.  On the political (“peace”) side–which is the real endgame–I see no way they have any reasonable or even unreasonable (i.e. highly unlikely but still small percentage) of achieving success.  Hamas is embedded in civil society.  Either you may support the hardline factions of Hamas, end up with something worse than Hamas, or worse both simultaneously.  When the strong fight the weak, the strong are weakened.  Winning battles loses wars in this fight.

It’s a Chinese finger trap.  For the Israelis to win the peace, they have to reconnect Gaza to the outside world.  Exactly the opposite of what they have been trying to do with the blockade, shutting out bandwith (so no nasty photos of the civilians they’ve killed get out onto YouTube), cutting off escape routes into Egypt, etc.  So doing however would also empower those on the black weapons market (which is undoubtedly getting through anyway).  The Egyptians can’t stop it.  The Israelis can’t.  Nobody can.  Also, any attempt to rebuild Gaza (“win the peace”) would require the Israelis to have a political mediator on the Gaza side.  But any group the Israelis try to “putsch” through (i.e. Fatah returned to power in Gaza) will inherently be de-legitimized.  So the Israelis can’t rebuild civil society, hence they are only seen as targeting it, targeting civilians (in the eyes of Gaza and much of the Arab Street).  So they can’t (re)build the place, hence they see everything as a military problem with an attending military solution, which only furthers this downward cycle.  The more they struggle to resist, the more become entrapped in the device.

In that scenario, I’m simply don’t know if any of the classic just war principles are particularly relevant anymore.  I don’t look on that point btw as a good thing; frankly it scares the bejesus out of me.  I also struggle with Nagarjuna’s question:  If not this, then what?  Short answer: I’m not really sure.

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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