This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. This is a retrospective of what has happened during the week. The purpose is to reflect on the work itself. Here is my previous retrospective.
What has happened? What needs to be done?
This is a retrospective, not of the last week, but of the last month.
Here’s a summary of the books I’ve read during the month:
- The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning by Anthony Blake.
The structures of meaning in the sub-title refers to the flows that arise in the making of meaning1 David Bohm argued that society can be deeply affected by people are thinking in phase, and that this can be achieved through dialogue. The unity attainable in dialogue is different from agreement. Disagreement is combined with a willingness to listen to others. The unity that emerges in dialogue actually makes it possible to enhance the differences. Agreement and disagreement are too crude descriptions. Dialogue stems from a deeper, and as yet ill-defined, kind of unification.2 People think together in dialogue, rather than in competition. People also come to know each other in a very deep way.3 We are accustomed to using methods to achieve results, just as we might use a tool, but it’s more appropriate to say that dialogue uses us.4 The complex and ever-chaning process of dialogue produces new meanings. In dialogue there’s utter trust in this underlying capacity in people.5 Meanings come together to create other meanings in dialogue. Dialogue, furthermore, allows and trusts the emergence of roles through the process itself.6 The greatest lesson of dialogue is that we can learn from each other—not through instruction, but through meaning. The whole point of dialogue is having a group to tap into a type of collective intelligence and awareness that is not possible in isolation.7
If what is on the surface is merely an ‘echo’ of reality, then what is below the surface—within or in silence—’creates’ reality.8
People in dialogue are like people wandering through a garden, discovering the structure of the landscape in which they move.9 All structures emerge out of the dialogue itself.10 What is unconscious can become conscious, or, in David Bohm’s terminology, what is implicit can become explicit. People in dialouge discover the meaning as they speak together. An implicate information field becomes present as soon as people decide to dialogue.11 The role of listening is not simply to register what is said, but to become aware of what might be said. Listening contributes to the making of the dialogue, and is not merely a reflection of what is happening.12 People must be present to each other or there is no dialogue.13 Dialogue works with whatever arises in the moment. It can never be reduced to a formula.14 Dialogue is genuine only if people are invited to it. People can only volunteer. It is not possible to have a dialogue if people are told to do so.15 This is an excellent and very interesting book!
- The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk.
The body continues to keep the score even if we try to ignore the alarm signals from the emotional brain.16 The rational brain is basically importent to talk the emotional brain out of its own reality.17 If you are frightened and unwanted, your brain becomes specialized in managing feelings off fear and abandonment, but if you feel safe and loved, it specializes in exploration, play, and cooperation.18 Emotions assign value to experiences and are thus the foundatin for reason.19 Emotions (from the Latin emovere—to move out) give shape and direction to whatever we do. If an organism is stuck in survival mode, its energies are focused on fighting off unseen enemies, which leaves no room for nurture, care, and love.20 Many mental health problems start as attempts to cope with the unbearable physical pain of our emotions.21
Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.22
Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart.23
Not being seen, not being known, and having nowhere to turn to feel safe is devastating at any age, but it is particularly destructive for young children, who are still trying to find their place in the world. If no one has ever looked at you with loving eyes or has rushed to help you, then you need to discover other ways of taking care of yourself. You are likely to experiment with anything—drugs, alcohol, binge eating, or cutting—that offers some kind of relief.24 If you cannot tolerate what you know or feel what you feel, the only option is denial and dissociation.25 Being in sync with oneself and others requires integration of our body-based senses.26 Our mind cannot help but make meaning out of what it knows.27 The only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves.28 Having a good support network is the single most powerful protection we have against becoming traumatized. Much of our brain is devoted to stay in tune with others.29 Many mental health problems start off as attempts to cope with emotions that become unbearable because of lack of adequate human contact and support.30 This is an excellent book too! Dialogue requires being in sync with oneself and others. The critical issue is reciprocity or there is no dialogue.
- The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View by Grant Maxwell.
We participate in the unfolding meaning of the world. This participatory insight leads to the integrative method, which seeks to reconcile opposed assertions. The integrative method recognizes that opposed assertions both contain partial trues within their appropriate contexts, and seeks to synthesize them into a reconciling third perspective. Our relation to experience can suddenly change.31
Like water boiling or ice melting, world views are susceptible to comparatively abrupt transformations precisely because they are not given, but are elicited by our participation in the creation of the world’s meaning.32
Different assumptions lead to different ways of relating to experience.33 In order to reconciliate opposing beliefs, one must move beyond what makes the beliefs seem irreconcilable.34 One point to notice is that life seems to go through relatively distinc periods. These are expressed in subtle and constantly shifting meanings.35 Entropic disorder should perhaps be complemented with a syntropic teleological impulse toward novelty, consciousness, and order.36
… if we change our beliefs, whether intentionally or impelled by the witnessing of new evidence, the world can appear suddenly and radically different to us …37
All that is required to make the transition from one world view to another—from late modern disenchantment and alienation, to reenchantment and participation—is a decision. The integrative method is indispensable for this transition.38 We do not decide to adopt a new world view primarily for rational reasons, but because of changes in our bodily experience.39 We are not passive observers of the emerging world view, but active and integral participants.40
[The] … participatory perspective acknowledges that if human consciousness is evolved from and embedded in the world it seeks to know, then the mind can be understood as the world coming to know itself.41
Fundamental transformation can happen suddenly when all factors align.42 The book describes a world where the activities and interactions of billions of people are set against the background of the multivalent quality of each moment reflected in a radically new archetypal cosmology.43 This cosmology is an example of the integrative method.44 This is a thought-provoking book. I liked it.
Finally, here is a video where Anthony Blake describes the art of dialogue.
What was good? What can be improved?
It’s good that I finally got this retrospective written. However, I need to get back to writing weekly retrospectives.
1 Anthony Blake, The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning, p.5.
2 Ibid., p.10.
3 Ibid., p.16.
4 Ibid., p.17.
5 Ibid., p.24.
6 Ibid., p.25.
7 Ibid., p.27.
8 Ibid., p.67.
9 Ibid., p.75.
10 Ibid., p.83.
11 Ibid., p.102.
12 Ibid., p.111.
13 Ibid., p.174.
14 Ibid., p.186.
15 Ibid., p.259.
16 Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, p.46.
17 Ibid., p.47.
18 Ibid., p.56.
19 Ibid., p.64.
20 Ibid., p.75.
21 Ibid., p.76.
22 Ibid., p.79.
24 Ibid., p.88.
25 Ibid., p.121.
26 Ibid., p.122.
27 Ibid., p.191.
28 Ibid., p.206.
29 Ibid., p.210.
30 Ibid., p.349.
31 Grant Maxwell, The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View, p.30.
33 Ibid., p.32.
34 Ibid., p.41.
35 Ibid., p.45.
36 Ibid., p.54.
37 Ibid., p.57.
38 Ibid., p.78.
39 Ibid., p.103.
40 Ibid., p.121.
41 Ibid., p.136.
42 Ibid., p.149.
43 Ibid., p.151.
44 Ibid., p.142.
Organizing in between and beyond posts