Tracking patterns as they emerge on several levels, across multiple disciplines, floats my boat. In this case, a boat filled with the reproducing parents of all the animals and plants that have existed. This boat would be a Noah’s ark filled with all the passengers of time.

Species evolution, societal transformation, individual ontogeny and personal lives unfold in waves. One current lifts that which is newest and most creative and carries that new item into the later lives of species and individuals. We call this wave neoteny. The other wave embraces what we’ve learned and draws the new experiences backward, informing descendants of the changes that have occurred. We might name it new experience, environmental influences or the effects of time.

We’re talking two kinds of new. There is the New Year’s baby. There is the passing year’s old man before the old year disappears at midnight. Infant and ancient trading the briefest of embraces. One brings the newness of creation, with no experience. The other offers vast new and unique experiences as it prepares to fade.

Manifesting as waves, these two kinds of new rock the dance of evolution, cultural change and individual growth. When storms come and the …

Exploring the evolution of the unconscious is perhaps the same as asking how consciousness emerged. Fossil excavations don’t offer much in the way of information. We are left with perhaps three windows into this journey: individual ontogeny (observing children); exploring the consciousness manifestations of disorders characterized by developmental or maturational delay; recalling personal experience.

In many ways, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. The unfolding of an individual from conception to adult reproduces the physical manifestations, genetic triggering mechanisms, and hormonal processes characteristic of ancient precursor species. We might assume that ontogeny also recapitulates consciousness. Hence, the three pathways noted, all ontogenetically related.

A fourth path is available, but this path offers mysteries and is little understood. Hypnosis is a tool hypnotherapists use to form alliances with a person’s alternative decision-making center, the unconscious. A hypnotherapist can suggest to a person’s alternative mind that the subject feels hot on one side of the body and cold on the other. Measurements confirm the changes. A hypnotherapist can suggest welts appear at particular places, and so they do. Suggestions can be made to modify the physical form in specific noninvasive ways, and form modifies.

What are the limits to how an unconscious, subconscious or alternative …

Paleontologists are able to map out branchlike trails of evolution from fossil remains of individuals embedded in the earth. Flesh, organs and behavior are not so easily disinterred. There is one feature of being human that is hardly ever considered in these excavations, perhaps because it’s so little understood. There are very few researchers exploring the evolution of the unconscious.

How has the unconscious evolved over the last 5 million years? How has the unconscious/conscious relationship transformed?

I’ve lived a life characterized by a succession of passions and professions. It is far easier for me to track how my conscious experience has evolved than changes occurring at the unconscious or subconscious level. I note profound differences in my dreams and changes in feelings but successfully tracking what is out of conscious awareness offers paradoxical results because becoming aware of what I’m not aware of brings the hidden to the light of day.

Decades of study and meditation have shifted my awareness to trust and identify with what formerly I would refer to as my unconscious. Identifying with my unconscious, consciousness changes. What was hidden is experienced as present. At this experiential level, I’ve noted a transformation of the unconscious/conscious split. …

Biological Politics

April 30, 2008 | 2 Comments

Category: Biology, Society

Biologist Maynard Smith has noted what many academics have observed, that politics seems closely tied to science.  Neo-Darwinists, sociobiologists, evolutionary psychologists and reductionists in general seem inclined to identify with the conservative or the right wing of the political spectrum.

Scientists don’t often experience themselves within a larger arc of societal transformation or social evolution.  Scientists are warriors battling for space on journal pages and struggling for the respect of their peers.  Their perspective can be surprisingly limited by the time and effort it takes to carve out a sphere of influence in sub or sub sub-disciplines visited only by others that speak their arcane lingo.  These intellectual athletes are often testosterone obsessed, wearing metaphoric jockstraps on their heads to protect vulnerable ideas.  The environment itself selects for the competitors, not cooperators.  It is no mistake that there are, for example, so many women doctors but so few women academics in the biological sciences, though that ratio is changing.

I’m wondering if the conservative proclivities of the Neo-Darwinists and the reductionists are evidence of biological evolutionary principles in societal evolution.

When Darwin first proposed his theory of natural selection, the theory was considered audacious and maybe even useful.  (Theories can’t …

Play II

April 29, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Neoteny, Play

Paradoxically, perhaps the most serious thing we do is play.  The Left is filled with activists that aren’t that serious.

A hallmark of the American Left is inflated self importance.  I observe a near compulsion to express no joy while embracing outrage.  Frequent faction fights are encouraged by a Left/Progressive culture frightened of flexibility.

Anathema to creativity is an atmosphere of gloom and anger.  Yet, there have been some playful pioneers.  Billionaires for Bush performs satire.  Codepink has offered an antidote: the warrior woman with a big, light heart.  Still, there are not near enough jesters on the Left.  Codepink and the work of Medea Benjamin have been integral to a Left identity by offering buoyancy, audaciousness and spunk.

Choosing to exhibit playfulness is to perhaps choose that which is most unique about being a human being.  It is characteristic of those features we identify with our uniqueness:  language use, tool fabrication, idea manipulation, art and science.  Only when we are deeply into playful, accessing our creativity, does our humanity robustly emerge.  Neoteny is central to being human.

One Codepinker, Marcia, ran a toy store for 22 years.  This unique establishment inspired the Dustin Hoffman film “Mr McGorium’s Fantastic Emporium,” …

Play I

April 28, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Neoteny, Society

Just as there are fundamentalists in religion, there are fundamentalists in science.  Neo-Darwinians usually are about as talented at listening as evangelical creationists.

Whereas neoteny displays evidence of infant playfulness in adults, fundamentalism reveals an inability or unwillingness to change.

In politics as in science, there are compulsions to explore the unexplored and play with principles in ways that will provide deeper insight, make life better or allow us to exercise compassion.

Patterns can be common to several disciplines.  Neoteny manifests in evolutionary biology, medicine, societal transformations and personal growth.  Fundamentalists are often threatened by ideas that slop over from one area into another.  Playing with ideas often results in change.  Idea play is not a fundamentalist hallmark.

Still, a person may be playful, but his beliefs may be staid.  A person may be creative but his ideas firm.  I would have to conclude that I can form no firm conclusion.

Paradoxically, that would suggest that a belief that fundamentalists are defective would be wrong.  That belief would make the believer a fundamentalist, because it is firm.  Only by not believing anything can we have play genuinely emerge.

Play has no enemies.…

Radical shifts in environment produce a proliferation of new species. Darwin noted vast gaps in the fossil record. (Evangelicals jump on this observation as proof that theories of evolution are fatally flawed.) Gould & Eldredge provided a name and explanation for this phenomenon: punctuated equilibrium. Theorists now conclude evolution often unfolds in sprints and spurts. Another way to understand it is that evolution rolls in and out, in waves.

Survival-of-the-fittest theorists would have us believe that some of the randomly produced progeny created during cataclysmic times, progeny exhibiting random features that are appropriate for the new environment, would survive to procreation, creating progeny like themselves. This view is fading.

Individually, ontogenetically, we as individuals reproduce a cellular march of a half billion years, improvising unique and interesting endings with every lifetime.

Two strong tides inform how this history unfolds. In one direction, individual modifications are embraced and stored–ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny–as innovations are transformed into history, becoming part of the ontological unfolding of descendants.

In the other direction, we have neoteny. With humans as an example, biological currents draw features of fetuses into adulthood, characteristics of infants into grown-ups, the creativity of creation into minds that invent, create and are inspired.…

We’re seeing the fading of Social Darwinism and Sociobiology as the belief that might makes right disappears.  What society suggests is acceptable behavior and the origin myths of scientific theory are inextricably entwined.  As one goes, so does the other.  Peace is not supportive of Neo-Darwinist perspectives.  A sociobiologist is a blood brother to a war-enthralled neo-conservative.  We are watching both retire.

The Nature vs. Nurture battle looks like it’s also coming to an end, though it’s a little slow to manifest in culture.  This arbitrary dichotomy has made its contribution to our Reagan/9/11 return to Victorian times by suggesting that genetics and the environment don’t traffic with one another.  This is sociobiological dogma.  As “red in tooth and claw” withdraws and integrated insights into our origins emerge, specific changes in our society are inevitable.

Proponents of Nature say genetics are the primary determinant of behavior.  Supporters of Nurture emphasize the influence of the environment on how we unfold.  We associate the former with a politics of protecting those with something to protect.  The owners in an ownership society will always be in combat with the dark forces of those forced to behave the way their genetics tell them to.…

Modern Miracles

April 25, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

I have lived through miracles in my lifetime.  Perhaps the most transforming miracle was the USSR’s sudden transformation into Russia and other states.  My lifelong nightmares of nuclear war disappeared when the Berlin Wall crumbled.  I have a piece of that wall.  A friend harvested it from the rubble.

My personal ontogeny or ongoing unfolding has always felt connected to the state of international politics.  My son once woke from a dream with tanks chasing people.  He hadn’t known it, but tanks rolled into Lebanon while he slept.  My personal metaphors or stories have also been entwined with stories from the news.

I notice that I closely experience the dynamic of my own personal evolution as a reflection of the transformation that our culture is engaged in.  There is a mirroring going on.  Specifically, I note the influence of the abyss.  In my dreams, there would be the threat of atomic bombs.  My job in my dreams was to get my group to safety.  Dream after dream, I’d be marshalling people to safety.  The bombs would often go off.  Terror.  Death.

Over the course of decades, the dreams evolved.  Less terror.  The journeys to safety acquired more detail.  In the …

You’d think we’d notice horizontal, egalitarian communication emerging spontaneously in the West.  Such progress takes visible effort.  Education, legislation and political conflict are necessary to flatten stratified habits.  Still, there is evidence to suggest that powerful hidden forces are at work.

Something as subtle as changing perspective can have powerful effects.  What does it take for such a shift to happen?

I was raised a capitalist.  My immediate family was middle class (old house, camping vacations, furniture from relatives), but my grandparents were wealthy.  Though I was fascinated by science and attracted to art, the family matriarch made sure I kept my eyes on the bra.  Myrla wanted to make certain I took over the factory that my father ran, the one that she and her husband owned.  It was a girdle and bra factory.  As far back as I can remember, there was no question about what I would do when I grew up.  I would run the factory and grow the family business.  I remember wanting to make the family business multinational.

My budding capitalist tendencies faded during my mother’s second extended hospital visit for manic depression.  I was in high school.  Several years of protests against the …

Short Story

April 23, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

When I was tiny, kindergarten and before, I was fascinated by dinosaurs.  My infatuation lasted many years, at least until I was 12.  I would look at my little “guys” and wonder at how one species evolved into the next, estimating which ones were the closest relatives.  My love of these replicas of ancient reptiles led me to an adoration of science in general.  The “how” of things had captured by imagination.  My bedroom was filled with science toys:  a mechanical solar system with a crank, invisible man and women, chemistry set, geology display, water rockets, crystal radio….

When I was in sixth grade, my mother was diagnosed with manic depression and was institutionalized.  This first time was for two years.  “How” things worked suddenly became not relevant.  I wanted to know “why” things were the way they were.  The scientist stepped back and the artist stepped forward.  In junior high, I began exploring religion, spirituality and psychic phenomena, which bridged over to high school explorations of Sartre, Camus, Jung, Freud and, of course, Darwin.

Tiny, I wanted to know the mechanics of the world.  Older, I wanted to know why people broke and how to make them whole again.  …

Story

April 22, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Myth/Story, Society

I don’t believe that our origin myths or beliefs about how evolution unfolds causes our societal structures.  It is not how we structure our culture that decides the stories we create.  Story and reality are inextricably all mixed up.  One doesn’t cause the other.  They are both the same.

Scientific theory, societal scripts that suggest the most important thing a government does is wage war and nurture an environment safe for corporations and what we tell ourselves inside our heads, are all emerging from the same mind.  That mind is changing.  The story is changing.

The stream of consciousness can’t easily be grasped.  Go ahead, dip a bucket in it and take a drink.  Oops, already the current you just visited has drifted on downstream.  It’s hard to understand the story you might be telling yourself while telling yourself a story about the story you might find.

Still, a landscape filled with water, land and sky inextricably related are still divisible or describable by words, at least, we can tell ourselves a story that this is so.  Regardless, 1) a story that says evolution unfolds according to the results of aggressive animals eating less aggressive competitors, 2) theories of human …

The origin myth of Western culture begins with the big bang and unfolds in varying narratives, depending on how the works of Darwin are interpreted. The story we know best is “survival of the fittest.”

How we experience our place in the world as social animals has an enormous amount to do with the origin myths we tell each other and ourselves. Sociobiology or evolutionary psychology–orthodox Darwinism extolling random variation as the central dogma of evolution–interprets species origins and evolution according to a strict or fundamentalist interpretation of only one part of Darwin’s life work. This story of life is the one told in our textbooks, on TV and in popular culture. It is often a story characterized by an experience of fear, life according to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

It is no mistake that as conservative forces in American politics expanded their influence, controlling government, media and economics, their story line conformed to the prevailing origin myth that it is the strongest that survive. It’s called social Darwinism. It is the elite world view that it is the rich people’s skill at accumulating or retaining wealth that should be encouraged because it is that specific skill that is …

Dance

April 20, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society

Religion and spirituality are not about words, stories, myths, beliefs or spiritual experience.  Religion and spirituality are about behavior.  And it’s about music.

That being our definition, the world spiritual renaissance has begun.  Still, it’s important we not notice.

You’d have to turn off the TV to get a hint of this reality.  Statistics supporting our more respectful treatment of each other are rarely shared; and there’s little effort to mention the decline in rape, murder and other violent crime.  There are more than twice as many people in this country than there were when I was little.  Yet there’s less death by violence.

Yoga and martial arts are everywhere.  Oprah is revered by gazillions.  Politically active, I’ve never seen a fist fight or even a pushing match between opponents.

A shared experience that we are part of something larger than ourselves–the environmental movement–is tidal-waving itself into contemporary consciousness.

Believing religion or spirituality is about something other than behavior, we think that religion and spirituality is a small part of our lives, of our culture.  Not the case.

Believing what we see on TV, we think that the way we treat each other is characterized by fear and drama.  Statistics …

Sit in a room with Left/Progressive activists and note that left handed people are often about 20-25% of the people present.  Lefthanders in the U.S. comprise about 12% of the population.  What’s with all the lefties on the Left?

Note that when defining conservative and liberal, those most conservative are most comfortable going furthest back in time.  Get rid of the New Deal, and you’re pretty damn conservative.  Get rid of women’s suffrage, and you’ve crossed some line.  (The media won’t print your editorials).  Bring back slavery, and you’re nuts.

Demand universal health care, and you’re progressive.  Demand unions and environmental rights for third-world workers, and you’re pretty radical.  Cry out to end world hunger and initiate universal health care for all humans everywhere, and you’re crazy.

As you become more conservative, you move further back in time.  As your progressive tendencies increase, you stretch more and more into the future.  The center of this teeter-totter, where we sit now, is the present.

In our culture, time proceeds from left to right.  We read from left to right.  We turn pages from left to right.  In our diagrams of time and evolution, progress proceeds from left to right.  So what’s …

Drama drives action.  Too much drama can destroy motivation; some drama stokes it.  Without motivation, you have no action.  Drama motivates an activist.

I’m observing the ebb and flow of what it takes for things to get cruising to action speed on the Left.  (I’m defining the “Left” as that which unfolds mostly beyond the boundaries of where the Democrats roam.)  It often takes an opponent that you can grapple with to get things moving.

It’s often not enough that you have opponents in the news, opponents in the papers, opponents all across the mainstream media and on the web.  It’s useful if you have an opponent that can hear your distress, dismay and disgust, and talk back. Dis someone that can dis you back and …. bingo, motivation follows. I’ve observed talented activists lose their urge to act when there was no local peace opponent to butt up against.

On a regional scale, I’ve observed the far Left and the mid Left blast each other while at the same time motivate each other to accomplish their differing goals.  Clearly, some folks seek to prove themselves right, or maybe prove the other person or side wrong or simply seek to …

Moveon specializes in software that enhances the ability of a small group of people to match issue with action within a short-term current event news cycle in order to compel a powerful response from membership in a way that both draws in new members and raises funds.  Moveon specializes in creating an experience of empowerment among a population not frequently involved in political action.  They do so by designing actions to bring in media (while guiding activists on how to do so) and by seeking actions that bring in enough participants that participants feel empowered by the experience.  In addition, when seeking funds through an email campaign, Moveon is very specific about where funds are being targeted while often tying fundraising to a specific current event or compelling issue.

Social networking software also offers an empowering experience of a totally different nature.  Users of social networking software are able both to accumulate and store digital resources (interest markers) in a customized digital space that they themselves can decorate while establishing a wider and wider circle of friends and acquaintances to share those resources with.  Users of social networking software create a space that reflects their unique tastes and circle of …

Both sides of the debate have been accused of behaving in ways that disrupt the unity that exists against the war.  Both sides have said, if I understand them correctly, that there is no unity to have been broken.

As I understand them, one group of advocates, the mid Left, see their actions as making it possible to bring in new groups and individuals, although many members of the first group are uncomfortable participating with what they perceive as the “far Left”.

A primary feature of the “far Left” is a focus on U.S. behavior internationally.  Viewed from an international perspective, many of the far Left have concluded that the differences in behavior between Democrats and Republicans are relatively small.

Many of the groups and individuals that this one group of advocates, the mid Left, is seeking to bring into this war debate do not focus on U.S. behavior internationally.  The following is a generalization, not applying in many cases, but African-American, union and other groups not associating with the far Left do not share the far Left view that Democrats and Republicans are little different.

Their focus is local, not international.

There is a major split in the Left …

There is a term in hypnosis that describes the process whereby profound systemic change occurs in a patient with a debilitating condition while the transformation is masked to the patient’s self awareness.  Their attention has been diverted to an unrelated event.  Therapy often ends when the patient loses the desire to see the therapist, the presenting problem having disappeared.  Change without awareness.

Observing society around me, I am struck by how much is changing.  Debilitating conditions begin to lift, but how little we seem to be aware of the transformation.  Our attention is focused on what media chooses to present in news and entertainment.  We are told to fear.  What we are told to fear changes from year to year.  We are guided to experience intimidation by circumstances outside our control.

There are layers in this world we live in.  There is a belief on the Left that those with money control the information that those of us without money receive.  In this way, the wealthy compel us to behave in ways that keep the wealthy rich.  That may be true, but additional forces are at work.  Like a Russian doll, forces within forces are in play.  As we are …

The strength of the Left is partly about the numbers it achieves, partly about the insight/compassion derived from an understanding of human/planet needs and the direction we can go.  The deep strength is about interconnections between people, a vast webbing of horizontal relationships that provides an environment of trust, connection with the near and far away and an understanding that it’s about the connection, not the content coursing through the connection.

This principle is an evolutionary principle.  Ecosystems rich in interconnections among species display strength and beauty.…

Society Neotenizing

April 13, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Neoteny, Social, Society, Web

There is a deep, underlying connection between processes that guide the unfolding of biological evolution and social/cultural evolution. Stephen J. Gould has described in detail how neoteny, or the unfolding of infant features or characteristics into the adult of a species over the scale of evolutionary time, influences the evolution of a species. The same dynamic is now engaged as technology encourages the empowering of individuals by providing them access to information and access to other humans. The process is transcending barriers of knowledge, distance and national boundaries.

In evolutionary biology, humans displayed increased neotenous characteristics as maturation rates delayed the emergence of features later and later in an individual’s ontogeny. Similarly, new technology provides increased transparency, breaking down the barriers between human beings. The increase in transparency evidences itself in several ways.

There is less information hidden from participants at lower levels of hierarchy. The effect can flatten hierarchy because information control informs the decision-making process. When information is widely dispersed, the decision-making processes can be widely shared. New tech voting options can streamline consensus when information is widely held.

Transparency emerges when national boundaries and geographic barriers fall. Instantaneous global communication is creating a transparency surge.

Just as …

Geography Activism

April 12, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: 10-Activism, Activism

I ran a sales firm for 19 years. I went from art school to working for my dad in a girdle and bra factory for a year and three months. Then I tried to establish a commercial art business, ending up as a salesman. I observed that there were two polarities of salesman.

There were those salesmen that concentrated on converting whomever they were with to an opinion that would result in the purchase of that salesman’s product. These were the hard sales guys; though their pitch might be gentle or respectful, they still wanted to convert a potential customer into a customer. This technique involved many, often unproductive, conversations.

The second kind of salesman sought first to establish whether the potential customer was interested in what the salesman had to say; and then, he evaluated whether what he had to sell would result in a potential long-term relationship with multiple purchases. This second kind of salesman wanted to form this conclusion quickly and not waste time, because if the answer was no, then the salesman would continue to search for a potential long-term customer. This technique demanded that unproductive conversations were to be avoided.

When there is a limited …

Salesman

April 11, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography

My father was a salesman with his own firm.  His father was a salesman with his own firm.  So was my Mom’s dad.  That’s what guys did in my family.

The Beatles, the 60s zeitgeist and the Vietnam anti-war movement planted an alternative value system into my psycho-bio operating system.  From 1969 on, I struggled to function both with a businessman’s and a radical’s points of view.  The synthesis could be called something like Business With Integrity.

I started by selling my illustrations as greeting cards.  Other small greeting card firms asked me to sell their lines.  After a year, I was selling perhaps 8-10 lines.  My sister joined me.  After a couple years, my sister and I were joined by three more young people.  I wasn’t selling my own paintings as greeting cards anymore but serving chains like Sears, Montgomery Wards, OSCO and Walgreens, selling the products of other illustrators.

Standing in my booth during trade shows, I’d have ample time to watch thousands of buyers wander by several hundred vendors of American gift stuff.  In the 80s and 90s, I spent untold boring hours in these giant temples of consumer glee.  I’d imagine I was watching the unfolding …

Business

April 10, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography

Several aspects of my life inform my work as activist.  Almost thirty years of running small businesses have had a powerful effect upon how I organize.  I’ve tried nine related and unrelated professions.  Two thrived.

Living and working through rejection and trusting your impulses regardless of the number of times you feel rebuffed carries over from starting and running your own business to gathering and organizing people around an action or event.  I don’t take it personally when calls don’t get returned or an email goes without response.  I keep focused on the goal.

But there is a balance.  In business, I constantly adjust my product and my presentation to the people that I’m selling to.  I let myself be directed to success by my audience.  Someone who is organizing often must listen until someone comes up with an idea that feels right, and then the organizer supports it.  Selling is often listening, listening to what potential clients want and consulting with them on whether what I offer fits their needs.

My position as an organizer is to know where the resources are located, to be in contact with people with goals and to match up the resources with the …

Listserves

April 9, 2008 | 3 Comments

Category: Activism, Web

Love them.  Hate them.  The bane of my existence and a way to get things done.  Listserves can both create consensus and seed a sense of powerlessness.

Sometimes I dread sitting down at my computer and facing a string of a conversation where no one is showing evidence of listening but just putting themselves on record with an opinion.  You can tell a good listener in a room full of people.  Those folks seem to draw out thoughtful responses, modulate the bombast, get the quiet folks to talk.  Listeners in a listserve often disappear.  In a listserve there is no voice tone, timbre, intonation patterns or quiet words to quell those who are thumping chests.

Yet, strangers can gather on a listserve and in a matter of days start to coalesce into a group.  Personalities emerge.  Leaders begin to show themselves.  The articulate have a chance to practice their craft.

Some folks, in a real room, won’t let the scathing, inner voice be overheard, but on a listserve, they have little hesitation to unchain the beast.  Digital mayhem.  Words with no smile you can see, no lowering of voice, no deferential nod, no shrug at the end.

I know an …