March 13, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Society, Unconscious, Web

We humans experience consciousness as a two-way split.  This offers us an ability to toy with time, space and storytelling while often suffering from a misinterpretation of what we perceive.  We can also commit deceit.

Our experience of the split gets interpreted in a number of different ways.  There is right and wrong, evil and good, left and right, yes and no, me and not me, and us vs. them.  There is also what we are aware of and what we are not aware of, which can be framed as what is conscious and what is unconscious.

In psychotherapeutic intervention, there is what is called the “reframe.”  Faced with a client or patient with a conscious mind deeply polarized from an unconscious, the therapist will seek common ground in the form of an unconscious intent that the conscious can agree with.  The conscious may feel powerless to influence unconscious processes that seem to generate behaviors or experiences contrary to conscious goals.  Still, the conscious can learn to trust that the reasons behind the frustrating behaviors or experiences make deep sense.  From this new perspective, the therapist’s third position outside the polarized personality acts as a model for how two seemingly combating sides can explore the benefits of having an agreed-upon common ground.

It is peculiarly human that the world is framed in splits.  As divided selves, we feel it is natural that division characterizes experience.  Perhaps if we were like five-fingered starfish with five brain lobes and five different conscious/unconscious selves, then the world would be characterized by a different mathematics, politics and family structure.  As it happens, such a transformation may be happening right now.  It’s not so much the starfish that is our model, but the spider and the web.

Our survival as a species requires intimacy with the concept of reframing in our personal lives, social lives, politics and science.  We need to encourage an ability to trust that the processes we observe at any scale are unfolding according to reasonable and important needs and intentions.  How those needs manifest often require intervention.  There may be damaging repercussions of poorly integrated attempts to satisfy needs, but the needs themselves can be respected.  The “terrorists” aren’t out to “steal our liberty.”  Suffering individuals seek attention.

Third-position perspective–reframing, marriage counseling, corporate and political arbitration, theory formation–seek a way to uncover common ground.  Still, the human split is what is inevitably being addressed.  Nonhuman experience is characterized by no division, whether that be cut into two, three, five or more.  How do we achieve an understanding that features no division?  This question is useful.  Facing the economic, societal and environmental repercussions of living life split, it is useful we explore the alternative.

My answer is art.  It is what we humans do that makes us human.  Our economy is transforming.  One of the sectors being propelled into higher numbers is craft stores.  We are finding our way back to reverence for craft, respect for art.  Consider what our economy would look like if art and craft formed the foundation for commerce.  Observe and listen to how music is transforming the web and how the web and new technologies are transforming how music is being made.  We are being provided a model of how to live in the world.

That model has to do with identification with that which exists beyond the split.  Massive, multi-person online art, craft and play integrated with off-line reverence for aesthetic creations hold deep promise of a personality and society able to integrate not just two adjusting polarities, but the infinite aspects that make up our existence.

Reframing is not just a psychotherapeutic intervention.  It is the first step on the pathway toward integration.


Name (required)

Email (required)


Share your wisdom