I had the honor of being interviewed by Daniel Thorson, of Emerge Podcast, about Gebser, my book, and “mutation consciousness in the Anthropocene.” We had a great conversation, which finds itself threaded amidst a number of great thinkers who have been featured on Emerge. Each of these thinkers explore how we might respond to the planetary crisis and collapse (Jeremy Lent, to Nora Bateson, John Vervaeke, Jem Bendell, and Ria Baeck to name a few).
I was grateful for Daniel’s appreciative comments on my book, as well as Gebser’s thinking as an alternative other writing in the integral movement, when he says at the outset,
“What I think I enjoyed most reading your book is that even though these ideas are framed as integral, they kind of deny us the easy answers that contemporary integral theory often seems inclined to offer. It’s more of an approach that opens, fertilizes, and evokes new ways of seeing the world.
“[Gebser] Being ‘ahead of his time’ is almost an understatement… it’s striking to me how clearly he saw what, even now, seems to be at the very edge of our collective consciousness.”
Thanks again, Daniel.
We covered a lot of ground in the podcast, but the above quote from Daniel represents the theme of the chat nicely.
I’m glad to be in the mix, after Jem Bendell and Vinay Gupta exploring the very real possibility (in Dr Bendell’s work, the very likelihood) of ecological and social collapse—because of the Emerge listenership’s reactions to those conversations. Dr. Bendell’s response has been a constructive, rather than nihilistic one: “deep adaptation.” A truly discontinuous leap enacting a new relationship with the planet by sizing down civilization radically or even discarding it altogether, as the Dark Mountain Project contemplates (Emerson wrote: “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation”)— this is tantamount to deflating what Gebser described as the over-emphasized, and deficient, mental-rational consciousness. More than ever a leap is needed. The intensity of a crisis can become equally, intensely, clarifying.
We’ve also seen a larger cultural response to ecological catastrophe in mainstream media, with everything from Extinction Rebellion to Greta Thunberg making the headlines.
The intensity anxiety and consciousness (that is, awareness of) our role and agency in the Anthropocene is reaching a new pitch.
This is precisely the moment where the question of crisis and mutation, and Gebser’s lifelong study, becomes critical: what is collapsing? What part of us have we enacted and employed in the world and now must retract—must suffer a loss? “Deep adaptation,” like Gebser’s integral aperspectivity, is a call to clarify our own relationship to the world through a kind of radical presence. Through that presence, we work to realize a new way of being in the world—existential, phenomenological, spiritual.
How do we respond to the crisis with mutation? As Gebser says, it’s the “dissolution solution.” What kind of consciousness and culture can thrive—or yes, emerge— in the Anthropocene? How do we listen to tomorrow’s culture, planetary culture? Because yesterday’s culture has already outlived itself.