Integral Relationships: A Book Review

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Editor's Introduction (Chris): Based on the positive recommendations of some colleagues of mine, I contacted Martin and asked him if he would like me to review a copy of his book for Beams & Struts. He very graciously agreed.


Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men by Martin Ucik is a very intriguing text. Ken Wilber describes something he calls The Kosmic Address. The Kosmic Address is the location of any reference in existence, be they thoughts, emotions, systems, or places, and so on. We might even say each person has a distinct Kosmic Address (or perspective) within existence. The metaphor of a Kosmic Address takes something from the physical world and applies it to our inner worlds. This locational metaphor allows Wilber to describe integral theory as a kind of navigational or guidance system. So while integral theory can get quite complex at times--with its states, stages, lines, types, etc.--deep down its purpose is always about finding or locating the reality of beings and tuning into their worlds.

integral relationshipsIn Integral Relationships, Martin Ucik has taken the navigational dimension of integral theory--this desire to locate the experience and inner world of another--and sets its parameters to the experience of a man seeking to find a beloved woman. Ucik is very upfront that this book is for straight men and that his work is not geared towards gay men nor does he feel that he is in a position to speak to their experience. (For those interested in the subject of same sex relationships from an integral perspective, see The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada).

The book follows a deeply logical and consistent pattern. It is also very heavy on the theory, a combination not uncommon in German writers, I suppose. It's a very deep study of the topic of heterosexual relationships from the vantage point of men. Ucik makes what I think is a persuasive case for the need to have a text on relationships focused for men. He gives what I found to be wise advice that men are better advised to simply read the book, absorb its perspective (as they find it helpful) and then go about being more compassionate, present, centered beings with women. They should follow that pattern rather than necessarily sharing the book and trying to talk about quadrants and levels and lines and how this is helping them understand love. To put it mildly, that latter approach might not work so well.

There's great value in a book written especially for (straight) men that takes seriously their inner lives. Issues like pain and shame and vulnerability are not ones men typically address in our society.  

Full disclosure: As a reviewer I'm not in a position to make any determinations relative to Ucik's dating advice (Chapter 13 in particular). All of the men I've talked to who have read this book are, like me, in long term relationships. As someone in a long term committed relationship, I did find the book to be very helpful in coming to terms with both the past and the present of my marriage.


Primary Fantasy

Likely, the most controversial piece of the text is its emphasis, right from the beginning, on the evolutionary and biological conditioning of heterosexual men and women. Ucik calls this the Primary Fantasy: for men attractiveness and fertility signals in a woman's body; for women signs of a man as a successful provider and protector. Now immediately all kinds of alarm bells are going off, I'm sure. Ucik does not say that the Primary Fantasy is the only driving factor in what makes relationships work, but The Primary Fantasy is what draws such relationships into being in the first place. This position immediately cuts against the grain of perspectives which emphasize the ways in which gender is constructed (which is true) and deemphasize the ways in which biological sex is not.

black coupleUcik's strong stance on this topic brought me to look into my own relationship with my wife Chloe, especially around our initial romance. From that introspection I found that I had disowned this part of myself. What I discovered is that yes, I deeply love my wife, and also the reason I first became interested in her was for strong physical attractiveness. Both were true. The attractiveness was not the only reason by any means that we became attached, nor certainly is it what has kept us together for 7+ years, but it is a fact that needs to be acknowledged.

Ucik points out that relationships grow, develop, and last because the lovers form common interests, values, ways of being, goals, and so on. This has certainly been the case in the Dierkes household. Chloe and I spent our engagement seriously studying and putting into practice the advice of John Gottman's Seven Principles for a Healthy Marriage which is all about the formation of healthy interaction, deep values, mutual affection, and so on. But in so doing, I think I had bought into the image of myself as a good man and the notion that what drew us together in the beginning was heavily physical somehow didn't fit with that self-image as the good guy. Ucik's book allowed me to bring up this topic with Chloe and allowed her to own her own Primary Fantasy and how it played a major role in the forming of our relationship.

I realize this position will not be popular with some, but I found Ucik's overall description of the Primary Fantasy to bring more humility to my own life and my sense around my marriage. I say overall because undoubtedly one could, I'm sure, critique this or that individual point within the larger narrative, but the overall inclusion of this topic I found quite deepening in a way I hadn't expected.


Following integral theory's insights around discrete levels and lines of human development, Ucik articulates two sets of levels around sexual development: development of sexuality and anima/animus complex.

When it comes to levels we need to remember they are like waves--there's ebb and flow. They are not steps on a ladder. The earlier waves are enfolded into the later waves. Later developments (in a healthy situation) build on the lasting achievements of the earlier waves. None of us is ever 100% at any one stage. They are snapshots in time and seek to articulate certain general patterns.*

loving coupleSo with that proviso, the levels of development of sexuality that Ucik articulates are:

repressed sexuality
having sex
transcendent sex

--Integral Relationships, pp. 56-58

Numbers one and five there seem self-explanatory. The second stage represents a physical only form of sex. In the third stage, the care for the other enters but there is a tendency towards loss of passion and what Ucik calls "lowest common denominator sex" (p.57). In lovemaking, deep emotionality enters into the life of the couple, including but not limited to their sex.

This pattern resonates deeply with my own sexual history. Since I found this articulation of the stages in this context so resonant with my own development, it again brought healing. I felt more normal--more people go through this kind of thing than just me. It also helped me to let go of residual frustrations or anger particularly around the third stage (both towards myself and towards my wife).

A question I'm left with though, is whether being raised in a more sex-positive household would change the dynamics of those stages. e.g. Would such a person have to go through a repressed stage necessarily?

animaThe second set of stages revolves around the anima/animus line. This line of development refers to the inclusion and development of characteristics normally associated with the opposite sex: anima for men, animus for women. The concept of the animus and anima comes from Carl Jung and while I think there are some legitimate questions around Jung's theorization, again I find the basic pattern a helpful one to consider (without necessarily having to buy into all of the Jungian framework). Ucik articulates the stages of anima development in men as:

Women as mother ("He needs a mommy to take care of him")
Women as sex object ("He wants her to make him feel good")
Women as wife ("He wants her loyalty and support")
Women as guide to creativity and awakening ("He struggles with her need for independence")
Women as equal partner ("He meets her as an opposite and equal partner").

--Integral Relationships, pp. 60-61

In reflecting on my own life, I found these stages again largely to connect. I would say however that my wife and I never particularly struggled in our relationship around stage 4 moving into stage 5. Ucik comes back to the complications of the 4th stage a number of times in the book, but like I said that was not really our experience. I have however seen the challenges he outlines in the lives of other couples.

Ucik's stages of animus complex development in women are:

Men as alien outsiders ("She fears, hates, and loves him")
Men as father, God, or king ("She wants his approval")
Men as hero ("She wants him to take care of her")
Men as independent beings ("She wants her independence")
Men as equal partners ("She wants him as an equal and opposite partner").

--Integral Relationships, pp. 62-64

I asked Chloe her take on this formulation and she certainly connected in her own experience with stage 2 and 3 in particular. She saw this pattern in female friends and colleagues of hers. There were some questions around stage 1. For example, if a girl grows up in a home with a loving father figure and/or loving brothers do they really experience men as alien outsiders?

Also the description of women in stage 4 seemed a tad harsh to me. But the basic point I understood around stage 4 in both men and women is that both are developing into postmodern waves of being. They are really learning deep down that their lives are constructed and they could in fact choose to go in different directions. This individual path for self-meaning can often create difficulties in relationships, including a lot of breakups.

Passion, Intimacy, and Dependence

love graphChapter Nine of the book covers the idea of a relationship triangle consisting of passion, intimacy, and dependence. Passion covers the Primary Fantasy. Intimacy deals with things like common values, matching interests, connecting in terms of our developmental levels, values, mutual respect and care. Dependence is interesting--it refers to the rather mysterious potential of various couples to bond with each other and before really knowing much about each other's pasts, they have somehow hit up on a person whose unconscious ("shadow" in Jungian terms) and theirs line up in certain ways.

While I never had the language of dependence in my vocabulary prior to reading this book, I certainly have experienced what Ucik is talking about here. Chloe and I do have ways in which we align around our shadows. Sometimes one of us is clear in an area where the other has struggles and this allows the clear one to hold space for the other to grow and heal. There are other areas where we both can easily get triggered and our shadows are poorly aligned. These domains become the areas of ongoing difficulties. But even in those I would say the benefit is that the shadows want to be integrated and owned. They want to come out and they have in a sense helped us become attracted to someone who calls them out of each other.

Creating this triangle of passion, intimacy, and dependence allows Ucik to create a list of various possible types based on combinations of the three sides of the triangle. For example, dependence and intimacy but lacking passion would be companionate love. Passion and dependence lacking intimacy is crazy love. What he calls integral love lies at the intersection of all three. I found this framework also very enlightening and would I think be a very helpful one for couples to find where they have certain strengths and where they might need some work.


The last strength I wanted to point out was the inclusion of The Five Love Languages as a typing with the integral theory. This was another framework Chloe and I studied and found helpful in our marriage preparation. I was glad to see its inclusion in Ucik's text.

Strengths Summation

So there's a great deal of this book that resonated with my experience and helped me to articulate my own experience. Because of those connections, I'm supportive of the text. I suppose the response might be that because I'm a very heteronormative North American guy, it's no wonder the text speaks to me, as that's the social context of the writing rather than some insight into men and women more generally. Undoubtedly there are all kinds of variations and folks could point to any number of individual differences from the general patterns expressed above (I myself did just that), but overall I found the text pretty self-conscious about its social location in the middle to upper classes of the Western world for straight men.

That said, I do have some disagreements with the text.



Ucik's text is a fairly orthodox AQAL Integral text--i.e. it follows Wilber's understanding of integral theory very closely. I'm personally a bit of a heterodox integral thinker so I have some important disagreements in understanding with the book.

integral graphFirst off, the book (following AQAL integral) describes masculine and feminine as polarities of being. Masculine means autonomously-oriented, ascending in nature, and formless in spirituality, while feminine means communal, descending, and movement/form oriented in spirituality. I've written my critique of that framework elsewhere on the site, so I'm not going to rehash all that. All I say here is that I think the masculine-feminine understanding negatively colors and misinterprets actual forms of human relationship. I do think it's pointing to something real (or real enough), I think the use of gender language to what are considered polarities of being just confuses the issue in a lot of unhelpful ways.


This critique is similar to the masculine/feminine one. It is a disagreement I have with standard AQAL integral theory, not with Ucik personally. Altitude is the notion that an individual has what is called a center of gravity. While it's understood that we have many lines of development and all of us develop unevenly there is a conception that there is some basic center of our being. As in AQAL theory these centers of gravity are labeled with a color system. This text uses Wilber's, not Spiral Dynamic's, color-coding system.

How does this theoretical construct of altitude shows up in Integral Relationships?

Ucik writes:

"Out of all the elements that comprise the Kosmic Address, the level of consciousness--or altitude--is the most crucial factor to predict the quality and sustainability of your partnership. Altitude defines how individuals view and express every other aspect of their existence (Primary Fantasy, lines, levels, states, and types)...No matter how much you may be attracted to a partner and share other intelligences, interests, lifestyle choices, dreams, mutually compatible unconscious pathologies, and similar levels of vertical spiritual, sexual, and anima/animus development (which all are important), the quality and outcome of your partnership will be primarily determined by your and her altitude." --Integral Relationships, p. 153

levels and linesAgain, if one accepts the standard interpretation of altitude, I think this is a potentially valid statement. But I personally question the existence--to that degree anyway--of a person having an altitude. For a highly intellectual and in-depth argument questioning the notion of altitude, check out this piece by Zak Stein. The best argument for something like a very loosely held notion of altitude, there's this piece by Br. Juma.

A simpler version of the critique of altitude goes like something this: a person never is at any level and we are always all over the place (up and down the levels). The other issue is, even if there is such a thing as altitude, how easily is it assessed in a person? The tendency to "colorize" (or "altitudinizing") other people, claiming you know what level they are coming from after having read some integral theory books is really rampant. There's a potential here for blaming another person for a failure in a relationship because they weren't "as developed as I am."

Ucik takes the levels of altitude and then relates them. If a man is altitude X and a woman Y and they form a relationship, what is the likelihood of its course based on what we know about these altitude levels? As very very very general potential patterns, I think this can be helpful. But given the quotation above I read Ucik to be putting a much more strongly causative nature to the altitudes than I would be willing to accept.

I find the notion of altitude in relation to individual people quite context-less. This is why I prefer something like the lines of sexual and animus/anima development. They have a clear focus and this gives a clearer sense to how one is developed within this domain of existence.

Now in relation to specific books, I think it makes sense to talk about how a specific book primarily advocates one value structure over another. At Beams we do not use the color system, preferring instead to use traditional, modern, postmodern, post-postmodern. In that sense, while I disagree with the application of an altitude notion to individuals, I do appreciate Ucik's summaries and codification of a number of relationship books--this is found in Appendix I of the book or here on his website.

This is a helpful framework as long as people remember that vertical stages does not necessarily mean a better book. Vertical height is balanced by horizontal health and aesthetic beauty---the three together need to brought into account when evaluating a text. By creating this framework, Ucik is taking advantage of one of the benefits of the deeply inclusionary nature of integral theory. It opens up the possibility of starting to see the embodiment of all the waves of our existence (i.e. their healthy manifestations) within our relationships. What we call here at Beams "deep integral."

galaxiesI would argue however that people are not books and they are not read or interpreted the same way. The integral framework is a powerful one and its application to the realm of female-male love relationships by Ucik is also very powerful. He provides a number of really great questions to interact with a woman and start to get a sense of where her heart is, where her desires are, and so forth. And as Br. TJ has pointed out, asking women questions is always a good thing.

Returning back to our notion at the beginning of locating the Kosmic Address. We need to recall it's a metaphor--I find it a very fruitful metaphor, but it's a metaphor. It shouldn't be taken too literally and my only real concern with this book is that it takes altitude a little too literally and will encourage readers to do so. The point is to connect more deeply not to become armchair therapists.

Tone Towards Postmodern Women

The book also has a fairly acerbic tone towards postmodern women (stage 4 animus complex). The kind of women Ucik describes are ones I've met, but the idea that all women at this stage of development act in the way the book describes them seems out of control.

Here are two representative quotations of what I'm talking about:

"You will notice if your partner enters into stage four of her animus development when she starts to challenge you, cares less about your needs, seeks her financial independence, and refuses to take responsibility for holding your relationship together. (p.63)."


"A healthy, natural 'feel good' appearance with no makeup and an emasculating, negative, or condescending behavior towards men point to [postmodern consciousness]." (p.140)

angry feminist jokeIt's not my experience that all women at that stage of their development are ball busters. Certainly I have met plenty who are but this seems like a caricature to me. I do agree with Ucik's larger point that with the social and gender revolution brought up by women's liberation there is a great deal of complexity in the postmodern world. There are legitimate questions about the ways in which men are treated and talked about in postmodernity and it's certainly an age of a great deal of self-centered behavior (from both men and women). Nevertheless, I was definitely tweaked by what I perceived as this negative attitude towards postmodern women in the book. The integral world generally has had a condescending attitude towards postmodernsim and I think a bit of that attitude has crept into the text. In other words, unhealthy postmodernism is often being taken for normative postmodernism. The distinction made between unhealthy and healthy versions of postmodernity is not sufficiently respected.


One question I'm left with is whether a man who is unfamiliar with integral theory would be better served by first familiarizing himself with integral theory before diving into Ucik's book? The book is after all (by Ucik's own admission), heavy on the theory. He does a very good job of explaining integral concepts and how they express themselves in the realm of heterosexual relationships, but I still wonder. All of the folks I've talked to about the book are folks who are already knew integral theory before reading it (same with me). So I'm not really in a position to make a call on that one. I simply put it out there.


"Intimate love relationships between compatible individuals are seen by many therapists and modern Westenr spiritual teachers as the best opportunity for unearthing and healing the emotional wounds that caused unconscious attachments and dissociations in the first place, and to test the depth and embodiment of each partner's psychological health and spiritual realization. (Integral Relationships, p. 128)."

holding handsI began this review with a reference to Ken Wilber's notion of the Kosmic Address and how Martin Ucik has developed this teaching in relation to man-woman love relationships. The elements of integral theory are used to help locate and come to know a woman. In connecting with another, however, we come to know ourselves as well. We come to know ourselves in and through relationship. And if both individuals in a couple seek to know the other as well as themselves, then there is great opportunity for healing, growth, and for deepening spiritual awakening. 

Martin has a real passion for facilitating such healing, growth, and awakening in couples. His care really comes through in this book. The Epilogue of the book briefly opens up a further context for healing through integrated relationships: that of human society and the earth itself. He doesn't develop this idea in great detail, but it is an intriguing one. The basic point, as I understood him, is that our human sexual selection process has served our species well to reach where we are today but that it also now is threatening our species, other living beings, and our planet as a whole. Undertaking the practice of an integral relationship is therefore not simply a matter of personal or relational fulfillment (though it includes those) but also a necessary act for life itself. I hope Martin develops those ideas in more detail--maybe his next book could be on this subject? I feel like that could be a potentially very transformative line of inquiry. 



Martin Ucik's Integral Relationships: A Manual For Men is one of two books I'm aware of that consciously apply the integral model to relationships. The other is Transformation Through Intimacy: The Journey Toward Mature Monogamy by Robert Masters. Masters' book focuses more the development of the relationship itself through stages towards mature monogamy. Here is a video of Masters and his wife Diana Bardwell Masters speaking on the subject. Ucik's book focuses more I would say on two individuals and their development and how those two align (or don't) when they form a relationship. In that way I think the two books complement each other well.


* For the hardcore integral theorites, Ucik interprets the development of sexuality as state-stages and the anima/animus complex as structural-stages. This means that as a state, sexuality can be experienced either as a temporary state or more in a general developmental pattern. i.e. Someone could be generally speaking more at the fucking stage and still have a transcendent sex experience. Whereas when it comes to the animus/anima complex, Ucik believes that a person really has to go through each stage of development.

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  • Comment Link Awake Alive Aware Tuesday, 13 March 2012 15:25 posted by Awake Alive Aware


    Thanks for your well considered review of Martin Ucik's book. I'm not in his target demographic and haven'read the book, so it's unlikely I'll be offering a review any time soon.

    I followed the link to your earlier B&S article on why you want everyone to junk the masculine/feminine language. At one point, you say that you don't think the gays and lesbians you know would ever go for it.

    Since you seem to have missed the central theological point of my book Soulfully Gay (which I know you've reviewed), let me re-state it for the benefit of my readers because it's relevant.

    Just as it is possible to take masculine and feminine as subtle qualities of the person and extract them from the concrete male and female forms, so too is it possible to take other-directed (hetero-) and same-directed (homo-) as subtle qualities of the person and extract them from the concrete forms of heterosexual and homosexual.

    Indeed, these four subtle qualities form a sort of Cross at the Center of Everything: agency and communion as the horizontal axis of transformation, self-transcendence and self-immanence as the vertical axis. In order to model the relationship between human nature and one's gender and sexuality, one can refer to this map and start to fill out the territory from there; therefrom, iterate more adequate maps and more fulfilling territories.

    A key point of Soulfully Gay was that it is not only possible to refer to masculne and feminine, homophilic and heterophilic, in a gay and lesbian context, it was absolutely essential for my spiritual development. Only by seeing my gender and sexuality both in their fullness as part of the Image of God was I able to heal from my spiritual wounds.

    Your theology of androgyny, in a well intended effort not to offend certain (postmodern) gays and lesbians, would actually wind up depriving them of the fullness of healing possible with a holistic integral embrace of all their humanity as a deep mirror of the Divine. Similrly, your refusal to allow terms like masculine and feminine to be a mirror of the Divine strike me as a form of bypassing.

    The aside on homophilia/heterophilia might strike some folks as being on a tangent, but my point gets to what I take to be your biggest beef with integral writing on gender. You don't like talk of the masculine and the feminine, and think other people should stop using it.

    If I understand you correctly, you don't think it adds anything, and when people tell you what they think it adds you just sorta want them to change so that they don't think that way. But we find God through the language that we have, through the bodies that we have, not in a Gnostic wonderland of abstract principles.

    Let circles be circles, yes, but let them suggest to our poetic imagination the feminine; let lines be lines, yes, but let them suggest the masculine. From some postmodern perspectives, this is awful and oppressive. But from a wider view, it is beautiful and liberative. As a gay man, I want to be free to be as masculine and as feminine as I find myself to be and as I create myself to be; I do not want to be told that I must abstract away from my gender in order to find myself. No word exhausts my uniqueness, but through words such as masculine and gay I may sail into a freedom beyond words.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:14 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the comment. I'm just getting back from a few days retreat, so that's why I wasn't able to respond sooner.

    For those who might not know to which piece Joe was referring in his comment, it's this one:

    You’re right Joe I had neglected to think of your book when writing that piece, so thanks for bringing it forward and my apologies for neglecting it.

    One thing that's come out of that piece and criticism around it since is that my focus was really on public spiritual teachings. If individuals want to come up with their own readings in this way, I'm not the spiritual metaphor police. So I don't agree that I'm interested in junking the whole thing. I was talking about the monolithic dominance of the way in which masculine and feminine is used among integral spiritual teachers. I named names in that piece. And I stick by that. There would be ways I might nuance it--given some feedback--but yeah I think it's still a valid articulation.

    My question was whether the use of the sexual metaphor is a clarifying/fruitful one in our context, given what I perceive to be Western society's neuroses around sex. I wasn't focused on private interpretations. I still might have questions with those but I wasn't focused on that realm in that piece. And I had to stake a position--and of course someone can always come up with exceptions to any rule. What was often missed in that piece is how often I made qualifying statements, how gentle overall I think it was. Admittedly, the title is more shocking and is meant to be more controversial so maybe that is what people are reacting to.

    Particularly given how little context there seems to be given to the topic by those teachers (to my mind), I think it was important to open some space for differentiation (I use that word purposefully rather your frame of deconstruction). The topic is treated too metaphysically from my vantage point. The by far pervasive framework consists of A) a reading of the relative world as consisting of two poles (one assertive, one passive/reception) and/or B) the relation between The Absolute and the relative. With masculine being the Assertive and Formless/Absolute and Feminine being the radiant and passive.

    This framework creates pressure on women to be physically beautiful as a sign of spiritual awakening. I’ve seen that social pressure clearly exerted in the integral world.

    It becomes reified. Given that there is one tradition of talking about the formless as feminine and the world of form as masculine, why does that never show up in integral? Why is enlightened form equated with radiance and then from there radiance equated with physical beauty? Why not, for example, enlightened form be considered social action--a point Marco and Terry raised in their recent important Occupy Integral piece.

    I never said that the polarities of formless and form, receptive and active are invalid. Quite the opposite. I’m strongly in favor of them. It just has always seemed odd to me that people who promote such a view go to great lengths to say that masculine doesn’t necessarily mean men and feminine doesn’t mean women but that they are these archetypal energies--and then you go ahead and use words that if they tend to evoke anything in the minds of listeners they evoke biological sexual difference and gender distinctions. The very things that it is supposed not to do.

    It would be like if I said we have a polarity of presence and absence and let’s call those poles white and black (since white is the presence of all colors and black the absence). But then I said there were no racial implications meant by those terms--even though by the terms I’ve set up, black could be considered absent. Seems under those circumstances, where I think those resonances are going to be there, the better course would be to say the polarity is presence and absence. Then men, women, gay, straight, black, white, brown, old and young, could find ways to incorporate that polarity in a way that made sense in their being. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say I’m disowning blackness either by not putting those terms in. I’m simply dealing with a different vector. Just as I don’t see myself as however well intentioned but still excluding gayness or straightness or masculinity or femininity by not preferring the use of those terms with the types.

    I think it leaves those terms to be articulated in emergent ways.

    Which is why I found your argument that my view is postmodern (and therefore in your mind derivative) rather weak. If you read in the comments to that piece you’ll see a comment by Sarah Olson talking about how she was genuinely surprised when she attended the Integral Spiritual Experience by how many people there were raising questions around masculine-feminine like my own. I don’t think you’d want to label all those folks postmodern. I’m not opposed to postmodern but I don’t think that’s altogether what is going on either. I understand us needing to be post-postmodern nor pre-postmodern (which is what too much of the masculine/feminine teaching in the integral world is as I see it). What I’m saying I think is at least, an other point of view that is not getting a hearing.

    I would also say that your presupposition that my view is androgynous is really off base. Androgyny is still within the realm of the sexual. I think it might be (relatively) good for us, in more introductory public teaching and certainly in our discourse to cease with the sexual references for a time. So it’s not androgynous; it’s simply working orthogonally to the sexual.

    The sexual metaphor is obviously a very traditional one--you see it in the Tantric traditions, in the Christian mystical readings of the Song of Songs, (Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross), in the Sufis (Rumi, Hafiz). But it is a metaphor--not a metaphysical truth it seems to me. And they lived in a very different social context than we do and none of that seems to be in the consciousness of teachers in the integral world.

    Calling my view androgynous is still seeing my view through your lens and metaphor--the very one I’m questioning. I’m suggesting that types are types. Or that they are energies. I would see my view less as androgynous and more as post-metaphysical.

    The discussion of androgyny reminds me of Plato’s view that we were all originally hermaphrodites who then were separated and have spent our time & energy looking for our missing half.

    My concern with such a view is twofold:

    It lacks history and development.
    It tends over emphasize Unity over Manyness.

    To the first, I think we lose the evolutionary sense inherent in integral. To the second, nonduality is beyond both Unity and Manyness while yet including both.

    Like in the Gospel of Thomas there is the line about how you when you make the two one and inner like the outer and the outer like the inner and the male and like the female and the female like the male into a single one, then you will enter the kingdom.

    In other words, I think the classical view is more the one that tends towards androgyny. I bring that up since you called my view Gnostic, which I radically disagree with. I don’t think we want to make the male like the female (or vice versa). I think diversity is a good thing. I think the diversity need not lead into fragmented multiplicity however. One way I think to create unity amidst diversity is to have commonality among say something like types/polarities embodied by everyone but distinction around how those are expressed.

    As a practical matter, I find that straight men in particular are more willing to work into realms of emotion, reception, and embracing chaos if they are not labeled feminine. Because they interpret feminine to mean that they have to become like women in order to develop in these ways.

    I resonate more with Vanessa’s articulation where she talks about how women need to embrace Eros and that the sexual is the first manifestation of Eros. A poor foundation (via repressed sexuality) can prevent development into other forms of Eros but the sexual is there considered the foundation not the highest expression (as in the more classic sexual metaphors).

    I think in our context, with its sexual obsessiveness, using metaphors for the sexual as an expression of the highest too easily conflates to sex is enlightenment.

    Though again Vanessa has just written an interesting piece on the Dark Feminine.

    I think a lot more could be achieved by sticking with the polarities. But I would say if someone wanted to work with these teachings in a more appropriate form for our day then they should work (at minimum) with the four archetypes of Dark Feminine (Black Madonna, Kali), Light Feminine (Mary, Goddess, Kwan Yin), Dark Masculine (Shiva the Destroyer in the Graveyards), and Light Masculine (Christ, Buddha, even Apollo). And then maybe say that four energies or themes are represented here--chaos and creativity, compassion, death through life, and order/wisdom/strength. Or something like that. And then work with everyone--male, female, gay or straight--to come to embrace those four energies within themselves. That could work I think. But it would be clear that the representations are means of us coming to connect with the energies. And all the energies are of The Absolute so it’s not a higher/lower thing.

  • Comment Link AwakeAwareAlive Thursday, 15 March 2012 05:25 posted by AwakeAwareAlive


    There is so much to this conversation that we would really need to sit down and hash it out for about two or three hours, with ample back and forth. And I am lacking the temperament these days to write at length in blogs and comments, except to highlight the essentials and leave matters I regard as peripheral for another day.

    I think in your final paragraph you pretty much took back the substance of what I was criticizing about your review and/or I just goofed and misread you completely, so I don't want to hold onto my criticisms tightly. If you had written the final paragraph of your comment in the body of either your essay or your review, I might not have commented at all. As it stands, I don't see much daylight between your last paragraph and my own work in Soulfully Gay (with four types: Yang-Yang, Yang-Yin, Yin-Yin, and Yin-Yang each with their own shadow dimensions), which I think is basically what you call "orthodox Wilber" since it runs in parallel to Wilber's map of the four prime holonic tenets (agency, communion, self-transcendence, self-immannce). Wilber's map of gender has always been more nuanced than Deida's. And as I've made even more clear since penning Soulfully Gay to anyone whose been paying close attention (and I don't blame anyone in the least if they haven't), these maps such as mine are constructs which could easily be swapped for simpler maps (a triad, for example) or more complex maps as would be beneficial for various purposes.

    They are expressions of what is arising within us, and are precious in their own rights for the gifts they give us, not merely the way they fall short. Masculine and feminine aren't just words. "Just words," I remember Obama saying in the last campaign. They are pointers to what is ineffable and yet no less valuable or interesting or useful for being just as they are. Perfect in their limits as in their benefits.

    You say you intend by bashing masculine/feminine distinctions only to "open space for differentiation" and not deconstruction, and I accept that is your intention. But the energetics of your essay and today's review suggest to my reckoning a different subtle quality, independent of your intention, one of rejection that diminishes the discourse without adding to a more complete synthesis. Postmodern, not trans-postmodern, in other words.

    You would have us, if I understand correctly, shy away from touchy subjects because it's "controversial" and "unhelpful" and could potentially make people uncomfortable. That sounds pretty straightforward postmodern to my ears (arguing based on sensitivity to the egoic concerns of the differentiated individual) though I admit in your essay and review you don't take the postmodern move quite as extreme and cringe-inducingly ideological as, say, a Joseph Gelfer.

    I'm honestly not sure what space you think you're "opening for differentiation" since much of what you say consists in pointing to examples of spiritual teachers using masculine/feminine language and saying "is that really necessary?" to which I would say the answer must be that no, nothing is necessary, but it's a useful but limited framework which can be used constructively at times. I would never go into an LGBT workshop and use David Deida's typology because as I've written it's just not sophisticated enough. I don't think it's inherently misogynist as the postmodernists would have it, but it's not just appropriate or skillful means in some contexts. What separates my more refined typology in S.G. from your essay is that I actually offered an alternative typology (i.e., constructive integral) that overcomes a limitation in a specific context for a specific purpose; your essay offers no alternative (until, in your final paragraph of the comment, you do), and is weakly deconstructive, sorta a shoulder shrugging, "meh, bah!" move not an outright demolition. Other integral theorists have done similar things to what I've done, and none have really improved upon the foundations of Wilber's theory -- rooted in the four prime holonic tenets -- argued in SES in my view.

    So yeah I don't think your view is not fully integral, a point I make not at all to stigmatize you, as your essay basically implies is the usual motivation for integralists to criticize postmodernism, but to encourage a more constructive moment in the evolution of your thought, one in which you fully embrace the specific contexts in which masculine/feminine is useful and when it isn't before bypassing those contexts to a deconstructive phase.

    I do like especially your point that there are traditions in which the feminine is associated with formlessness rather than form. But it "the feminine" which has multivalent meanings, not "the ___ (don't say it because it's not helpful)" which has multivalence. Let's just use the words for pete's sake when they're useful and avoid them when they're not.

    To get all God-talky on you, God gave us the words for a reason. Let's use them wisely.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 15 March 2012 16:39 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the response. Your'e right there are a lot of layers to this and it would take much more time to work through it all.

    The only thing I wanted to clarify in response to your last comment was that it's not a matter of simply it being any and all controversial or possibly uncomfortable matters. I'm talking here about a very specific topic. It's not right to generalize from that perspective into saying that I'm opposed to approaching any and all topics due to their being supposedly controversial. My piece caused a lot of controversy --I assumed it would when I wrote it--so that would be seem to undermine that point.

    Furthermore, it's not simply a controversial or uncomfortable matter. As the article in question argues I think the framework creates a great deal of sloppy thinking. At least it can and in my experience has pretty strongly. Namely what are contingent historical factors are equated with eternal energies or principles--by calling those energies masculine and feminine. There's subtle and not so subtle conflations of what are relative factors with the Absolute.

    e.g. In the integral learning cycle of Mark Edwards, we have practice, leading to experience, followed by interpretation, and then confirmation (or disconfirmation). In Wilber's I think he misses the value of the interpretive moment. How this shows up in relation to the masculine/feminine piece is that the masculine/feminine which are interpretive (not metaphysical) embodiments of real experiences are not fully addressed as interpretive. There is simply practice, experience, and then the unquestioned embedded interpretive stance of various teachers which the students are then fairly clearly meant to confirm.

    I think the uncomfortability expressed around this issue isn't only (as you're suggesting) postmodern and therefore merely deconstructive in relation to an integral context (this seems to be the crux of our disagreement--from my end anyway). I think some of that uncomfortability (in this case--and not necessarily in others which I wasn't speaking to in that piece) is something that deserves some listening to. I think part of it is sincerely a question around the value of that interpretive model in our contemporary time.

  • Comment Link AliveAwareAwake Thursday, 15 March 2012 18:50 posted by AliveAwareAwake

    Agreed that there's too much here to go into on these comment boxes at this time.

    But I feel this is important to say. I didn't say and don't believe you avoid controversy; deconstructionist tactics, however "meh, bah!," seldom play nice. What you've said is that using masculine/feminine language is "not helpful"; "loaded"; "immediately triggers all kinds of reactions"; triggers mis-understandings "in what people hear"; evoke inaccurate things; are unneccessary in "just about the last context in which people speak, think, and act rationally"; add a "controversial brew of gender" to a discussion of spiritual topics. You claim you want to preserve a role for masculine and feminine, but in fact you only make the case for keeping male and female as types and advocate abandoning masculine/feminine in favor of terms such as Consciousness and Light.

    Clearly if your interest were mainly about conceptual rigor, you would have just as many problems with terms such as Consciousness and Light, Freedom and Love, Fullness and Emptiness, Circle and Line, and so forth, because all polarities have similar built in imprecision and potential for confusion. It's telling that you're not attacking the Yin/Yang symbol because the presence of a black dot in a white area creates a "controversial brew" of color mixture or "sloppy thinking." I'm not buying that it's conceptual clarity you're really driven by with this (politely expressed) polemic; that's just not real.

    (I'm not going to comment on Mark Edwards's learning cycles because your objection to m/f language seems attitudinal, and it's not Edwards then it would be Wilber or Ucik or ___.)

    You're singling out gender terms as especially problematic, and therefore to be avoided (yes, that's what you say multiple times), for spiritual discourse in a way that more abstract, quasi-metaphysical terms are not. Heck why not get rid of all generalizations, all words even, and we mime to each other and tell ourselves we're being "nondual."

    It's right to be sensitive to gender contexts and to use gendered language carefully, appropriately, and skillfully, as with all the words we use, but to focus on its potential to hurt people's egoic feelings (which is the heart of your essay & review as I see it) who might feel their experience is left out is (merely) postmodern. It's a moment in the discourse, with its uses, but attitudinally it's not going to get people very far for whom Individualist-type issues aren't at their cutting edge. (And I thought Beams & Struts was striving to be beyond that, so I bring it up with you whereas I just give it a pass when I see it floating out there as a prominent mode of thinking elsewhere.)

    You say that uncomfortability with masculine/feminine discourse "deserves some listening to," but if it's just about being sensitive to ways in which it pushes buttons in "just about the last context in which people speak, think, and act rationally," then I'll pass. How exchanging the term "the masculine" with "the ___ (which we all know is like masculine but we're not going to use the word because some people will get upset so we'll just use vague euphemisms with a quasi-metaphysical tone" will aid in getting us sound interpretive models is beyond me.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 15 March 2012 23:05 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Joe,

    I think you're missing a major part of the piece. Which was is to connect to the experiences that the pointers are pointing to. It's not just--as you seem to make it out to be--some PC thing. It's not all about languaging--though that's obviously a key component.

    The articulation is first to ground ourselves in the experience. And then look into the way to embody/interpret/frame those experiences. We have an inherited set of ways to interpret those experiences. We need to look at them--are they still valid? Are they not? Do they need modification? If so, how?

    You never mention the experiential grounding. I think your confusion stems from missing that foundational point.

    It's a piece from Wilber in a dialog with Cohen where they talk about how interpretation of spiritual experience is as important--perhaps even more important--than the experience itself.

    I'll mention once again as you seem to keep missing it that it's not simply "about being sensitive to ways in which it pushes button". I think there's some value in that perspective. But more than that, the teaching actually causes people to mistake what are relative contingent forms for Absolute Eternal truths. That's a problem (conceptually, spiritually) regardless of the feelings issues.

    I think some of the uncomfortability (some, not all) is not simply postmodern tut-tutting but actually a legitimate insight into something not being altogether right with the teaching--or at the very least the uncritical way in which the teaching is constantly repeated, without offering up possible alternative perspectives.

    So your point around how if I was being more conceptually rigorous I would equally criticize Light and Consciousness and so on I find really misses the point. And from there going off to how we should get rid of all language frankly quite disrespectful.

    The reason I don't criticize the black dot within the white of the Yin/Yang symbol is that that interpretation I believe is valid. Experientially so. If you enter a place of receptivity, you do by a small part of action. Every time we breath in our chests expand while our throats constrict. We breath out, the breath expands out, the chest contracts and yet releases.

    That for example is how a person can still experientially ground in those polarities. There's nothing in that view that says to me I automatically must now think that Emptiness is Masculine and Form is Feminine.

    The two aren't necessarily bound together in my view.

    in other words, I'm singling out gender language because it's being widely used and it has had and continues to have serious actual personal, historical, and social consequences in a way the other terms do not. A person might say they take my point around all that but they still think that masculine/feminine is right and all that be damned we should teach it anyway. I would disagree with that assessment but at least it strikes me as honest.

    But to reduce what I've said to the idea of miming is absurd.

    My piece argued as a matter of skillful means that I thought when you added up the various points--namely that it was still possible to experientially ground in the underlying truths of these teachings, that our contemporary society is really messed up around sex and can't get over most of its conditioning, and therefore it's probably not best to lead right out the gates with this stuff, that it would be possible to use alternate metaphors (which is what language is after all), then I thought the balance of that weighted overall against the teaching. Others weigh the evidence differently. Or weigh different evidence.

    But this whole meme your pushing that somehow it's deconstructive and overly worried about sensitivities and not reconstructive in some fashion is from my angle pure nonsense. Obviously you disagree. That's who it goes.

  • Comment Link Joe_Perez Friday, 16 March 2012 01:32 posted by Joe_Perez

    Hi Chris,

    Each time you qualify what you actually said in the essay & review, you sound more and more like you're taking a perspective that I'm comfortable with as more authentically post-postmodern as I understand that sensibility. Nevertheless, as you might guess, I still find your conclusion problematic even as even you say now it's a matter of "skillful means" and "weighted evidence" which leads you to categorical judgments which cut across all boundaries of context, which I don't think is the case. Skillful means and weighted evidence lead to provisional, context-bound judgments, which you eschew in favor of universalizing admonitions.

    Without going into huge detail -- this is really a sit-down, coffee shop kind of discussion -- there is a reason I didn't put much stock in your point about "grounding ourselves in the experience." It's because you didn't ask who or what is doing the grounding? Given your essay and comment above, it seems clear to me that it is the autonomous, differentiated egoic self that you are speaking about that is using introspection to reflect on experience.

    It is saying, "I take a breath, I encounter receptivity." This is still a methodology within the Individualist paradigm (to use Susanne Cook-Greuter's levels), in my view. It is by taking a systematic view of reality as a whole that one comes to a view like Wilber did in SES or I did in SG which is "The best story I can tell about reality, however circumscribed by my own perspective as it necessarily must be, is that there are four (or X) overarching general principles underlying all evolutionary processes, so logically these principles must inhere in me as well -- two are well-described by the concepts of agency and communion, or transcendence and receptivity, or Yang and Yin, and these are like masculine and feminine. Looking within, I find all of these within me, however psychologically, culturally, and sociologically influenced they are." It's a night and day leap. I think of it as the best indicator of the move from first-tier to second-tier, on the rare occasions I use that tier model at all. Once one's cognition is working within a systematic frame of reference, then the observation about breath and receptivity can be located relative to terms such as "receptivity" and "femininity" without threat to the ego, because it's a more trans-personal or impersonal observation to begin with. The self becomes closer to the Self.

    So that is just background context for why your expressed views on this particular topic are, in my judgment, not fully integral. Partly integral, part not. We all have a mix of different influences within us, and different views and ways of being that are complexly defined. To say "your views aren't fully integral" to someone like Joseph Gelfer (a very left-wing, ideological, deconstructive, postmodern gender/queer theorist who thinks integral is basically misogynist and patriarchal oppression), would be a waste of breath. It would be like a badge of honor to someone like that. You're different. I know you care.

    This is not a trivial matter as you're a highly respected blogger in this thought space. If your framework for talking about gender and sexuality is limited to highly autonomous egoic introspection coupled with a high degree of sensivity to PC concerns (see the quotes I pulled directly from your essay regarding your desire to avoid terms that are (emotionally) "loaded" and which "immediately triggers all kinds of reactions" as "controversial,") then it's capped developmentally in a basically postmodern frame. Which is what it is; nothing wrong with that per se; it's just not your expressed intent and is therefore incongruous with the overarching thrust of your essay and review and the B&S mission.

    Personally I think there are few better ways for Integral perspectives to enter the mainstream discourse than through a discussion of the spiritual practice of deep intimate relationships. Relationships are the dominant spiritual practice of most people today, not Vipassana or centering prayer or even yoga. I've already said my piece about Deida's model being overly simple for the contexts that most interest me. I even think my model in SG is too simple for some of the contexts which now interest me. But there are other models and possibilities to innovate more models, and teachers sophisticated enough to use them skillfully with a full acknowledgment of their limits, and with many many caveats.

    People are hungry for this sort of insight or teaching. People are tired of the postmodern reticence to own masculinity and femininity as positive, affirmative things worth talking about and exploring in a mutual adventure of love (or -- as I argue in SG -- homophilia and heterophilia as positive, affirmative things worth talking about and living).

    If one cuts off Integral at the knees by poo-pooing all talk of the masculine and the feminine, however carefully and skillfully done, and disseminate this view as authentically Integral, then I think this could do harm. It isn't occupying integral, it's occupying a space criticizing integral from a postmodern frame. All to avoid entering "controversy," and under what I think is arguably a fig leaf of avoiding "sloppy thinking."

    So you would have it that Integral avoids critiquing postmodernism at one of its most insidious poisons: breaking the link between our gender and sexuality and a vision of How Things Really Are in the universe -- a systematic vision of human nature in which language such as masculine and feminine are reclaimed in a less egoic way, leading to ever more wonderful ways of being human and loving together.

    Are you cutting off Integral at the knees in your writings on B&S? I know that is not your intention. But I really thought you definitely were, at least until what you wrote in paragraph 11 of your comment above, which I take as a hopeful sign that at the very least if many integralists ignore your advice and teach masculine and feminine anyway you won't besmirch them. (Not sure how that fits in with your "meh, bah!" review of Ucik's book though as it seemed clear to me that you were straining to find praise wherever possible that did not undo the revulsion you felt towards his overall methodology.)

    Finally, I hear your sincerity when you say, "Our contemporary society is really messed up around sex and can't get over most of its conditioning, and therefore it's probably not best to lead right out the gates with this stuff..." which of course flies in the face with my plea borrowed from Harvey Milk to "come out, come out, wherever you are." There is so much fear about revealing integral perspectives in everyday matters in the people I talk to that it's palpable. Instead of closeting our integral views, I say lead with them as often as we can muster the courage to do so. Integralists need encouragement to broach difficult topics like gender and sexuality, not fear that if they do so they'll be charged with "sloppy thinking" or not being "grounded in experience" by a leading Integral blogger.

    If conflict or disagreement happens, if egos are bruised (e.g., people think you're being disrespectful if you state yourself honestly and directly), if it is painful, deal with it. There will be peace after conflict, fuller and more complete Egos, old friendships brought to new levels of authenticity and new friendships as well.

    Occupy language. Occupy masculine and feminine. Occupy love, even when it means speaking uncomfortable things to people you care deeply for.

    All the best,


  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 16 March 2012 05:30 posted by Chris Dierkes


    Obviously I disagree with the postmodern/integral analysis and I'm not sure we can take this much further at this point.

    The only thing I do want to is that I haven't qualified my piece in the comments. You will find the skillful means argument and relative weighing of evidence to be in the post itself.

    Here's the conclusion of the piece:

    1. Adding Masculine and Feminine to the Polarities of Consciousness and Embodiment adds nothing essential to the teaching that Consciousness and Embodiment doesn’t already convey.

    2. Using Masculine and Feminine for Consciousness and Embodiment (or whatever the preferred polar terms are) creates much more confusion and resistance and also can end up incorrectly equating cultural historical patterns with universal traits.

    3. Given the relative weight of #1 and #2, I think it’s worth dropping the terms Masculine and Feminine while retaining the teaching of the Polarities in non-gendered language.

    I think that step—which again in the span of things is actually quite minimal--would make a huge difference in terms of what is often called “skillful means.”

    I still don't feel you like you really read my piece on its own terms.

  • Comment Link Mr-Joe-Perez Friday, 16 March 2012 15:02 posted by Mr-Joe-Perez

    Respectfully, Chris, I think you're still missing that at the end of the day your whole program for affirmative change amounts to nothing more than silencing. Classic green with a hint of red. You can put lipstick on that pig, but...

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Friday, 16 March 2012 16:45 posted by Juma Wood

    Seriously Joe? After that whole nuanced discussion, you finalize it with 'classic green with a hint of red'? Have you not read this site? You speak of our mission. What know you of mission using such language?

    There are a number of assumptions you make that are interfering with mutuality in this discussion, most of which are already of a bygone era, but this is the most egregious.

    Take it back. It's embarrassing to see this in print on this site. I'm embarrassed for you.

  • Comment Link Gary Monday, 19 March 2012 13:33 posted by Gary

    Hi Chris,

    I think it's a mistake to minimize the importance of masculine and feminine polarities, which are, after all, both interior dimensions and typologies, with the typologies being part of the five aspects of the Integral model. We ignore these crucial aspects at the risk of being partial.

    In your last message in the conclusion summary, you suggest that "adding Masculine and Feminine to the Polarities of Consciousness and Embodiment adds nothing essential to the teaching that Consciousness and Embodiment doesn’t already convey." I'm going to seriously disagree with you on this, and I believe this shows a lack of understanding of how these archetypal qualities play out in our lives---with both men and women regardless of sexual essence or orientation---and in our shadows. Yes, you could go past them, but I believe this is what Joe talks about when he mentions bypassing. Why would you? If we don't heal these aspects of our very being, and they do need healing in the vast majority of us, then we tend to project them all over others. At the very least, we need to heal our own inner feminine and masculine in Sacred Union, what I call "oppositional integration."

    You also suggest that using masculine and feminine polarities are "confusing" and creates resistance and suggest using other "polarities" to do the same thing, also suggesting that these are cultural historical patterns and not universal traits. I would suggest that you think about how masculine and feminine in all their varied and complex forms (hence the confusion) are universal traits that are distorted by cultural aspects, particularly eastern vs. western thinking about them. Your approach to them feels decidedly western.

    Last (from me for now), you suggest "dropping the terms Masculine and Feminine while retaining the teaching of the Polarities in non-gendered language." What polarities are you talking about? Hot and cold? Black and white? Good and bad? What would that look like and how would you do that? I suggest you can't and still succeed, because it appears your perspective rejects masculine and feminine qualities and the polarities contained therein. Am I wrong about that? You do, after all, suggest dropping the terms altogether.

    I think you're going to hate my book. "Awakening the New Masculine," because one of the basic premises is that before we can reach the places you want to go to immediately, we still have a whole lot of healing to do, especially around our masculine and feminine archetypal aspects.

    One of the problems I see in a lot of the integral community is the desire to just "drop" all of this messy stuff and go the celestial realm and just get to enlightenment (a masculine approach, BTW), forgetting about the gross world of duality---which we exist in even if we deny it---and the underworld which is where the healing takes place. The process of denying the other two realms is "light polarization." Perhaps we could start there when we talk about polarization.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Monday, 19 March 2012 20:17 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for your comment. Again there's a lot going on in this area so I'll try to respond to each point as best as I can.

    You wrote:

    "I think it's a mistake to minimize the importance of masculine and feminine polarities, which are, after all, both interior dimensions and typologies, with the typologies being part of the five aspects of the Integral model. We ignore these crucial aspects at the risk of being partial."

    The perspective I laid out in that original piece questions the premise of whether masculine and feminine are interior dimensions and typologies. That's how Wilber frames seems to frame them. Other integral folk parse that differently, so I don't think it's right to refer to that view as the integral model (as opposed to an integral model). But I didn't question the overall value or place of working with masculine and feminine elements. I think that was a point that got lost in a number of the criticisms of my article. Admittedly that section is nearer the end and was not arguably the central core of the piece but I did include partial reflections on that element. It might be worth me writing a separate piece to follow up and fill that portion out.

    You wrote:

    "In your last message in the conclusion summary, you suggest that 'adding Masculine and Feminine to the Polarities of Consciousness and Embodiment adds nothing essential to the teaching that Consciousness and Embodiment doesn’t already convey.' I'm going to seriously disagree with you on this, and I believe this shows a lack of understanding of how these archetypal qualities play out in our lives---with both men and women regardless of sexual essence or orientation---and in our shadows. Yes, you could go past them, but I believe this is what Joe talks about when he mentions bypassing. Why would you? If we don't heal these aspects of our very being, and they do need healing in the vast majority of us, then we tend to project them all over others. At the very least, we need to heal our own inner feminine and masculine in Sacred Union, what I call "oppositional integration."

    I agree with you that much healing work needs to be done around these areas. My argument is on the specific point of equating masculine with a typological system of ascending, autonomous, and Consciousness and feminine with descending, communal, and Form.

    So again I'm not bypassing anything or suggesting some non-bodily teaching. I think the better framework to approach those issues is under the rubric of gender. Rather than typologies and notions of sexual essences and so on.

    When I talk about the non-gendered polarities I'm talking about the polarities. And that is only one part of the whole story (again I think gender exploration is the better frame to deal with these issues than the typologies). I do think gender and polarity explorations are helpful. I want to emphasize that in contrast to Joe's assertion that I was "only" postmodern.

    I think combining polarity work (in the way I'm about to describe) plus gender work incorporates the best of the postmodern elements (esp. around gender) and yet goes beyond it as well. That's my argument for a post-postmodern approach. It's a position/perspective. I don't expect it to be for everybody. What was a driving force behind that article was the dominance of the masculine/feminine polarity language in integral which to me often lacks the critical postmodern insights. But clearly others disagree and that's cool. But it also should be said that the dominant narrative in integral puts off a bunch of people as well--a fact not taken seriously enough it seems to me.

    So to your question as to how it would look. It could look like this. And for the record, of course, anything I share is an idealized and simplified perspective. In actual work of course it won't be so neat and simple. But I think as a general frame, it's still helpful.

    So let's imagine using a Voice Dialog process around typologies (I find that process works reasonably well for polarities). Everybody in the room--male, female, transgendered, gay, straight, bi, whoever--could work with say these polarities:

    Penetrating Presence
    Creative Destruction

    Now the normal route I suppose would be to say the first is Masculine and the second Feminine. My view is that you can still embody those voices as polarities without the masculine and feminine labels. Also I think it's arguable that you could say Creative Destruction is Masculine (think Schumpeter's views on Capitalism, mostly run by men) and Penetrating Presence is Feminine. Again that's partly what I think the labels are confusing in this regard because they seem arbitrarily fixated on certain readings when the traditions themselves have reverse ways of reading them. If the same energy/pole could be described as Masculine or Feminine, then how helpful are those labels?

    Other possible polarities:


    And so on.

    You see this for example with Clare Zammit's work on Feminine Power.

    Feminine power is about the entrance of chaos and masculine power is about categorization and control. I think it's very interesting to raise this energy/voice of Power that Creates that which is beyond our Control. As well as Power which Creates that which can be Controlled. But as soon as we label the one feminine then you get this sense that it's women's power. I know we always say that feminine does not women (or masculine means men) but read the rest of the site. It's clear that feminine does equal women and masculine does equal men.

    And then we get into this story that women are going to be the future salvation or the Feminine is going to save us. When actually what we need is to learn this other sets of poles that have been neglected.

    And maybe that frame is necessary at a point for certain women that wouldn't otherwise come to those perspectives. And maybe for some men they won't come into this work unless it's labeled Masculine. So I want to hold open that there are different ways at different times for different people.

    Still it seems to me to by that masculine/feminine frame we immediately bring us into gender war stuff around polarities and create a division and exclusion that is otherwise unnecessary (I believe--I could be wrong on that point).

    I think then when people have had chances to work with polarities, then it will lead into the questions around gender. And just to clarify I do think there are biological as well as social reasons why various spheres were created.

    So I wouldn't say I would hate your book. It wouldn't speak to me. But it might speak to others and I respect that. I think you might consider ways to respond to the critique that by labelling these polarities as masculine and feminine you might be embedding a worldview and making eternal and ahistorical that which is very historical and contingent.

    And historical and contingent does not mean arbitrarily so or easily overcome. The effects are real and deep. I agree with you absolutely on that point. The influence of the past still lives within us--this is a point Martin makes in his book I think quite well, particularly around biology and sexual attraction.

    But they also can be changed. The model of the Masculine and Feminine as seen as these types only offers (I think) a view of oppositional integration. I think that's part of it but I also think there's a place to talk about something new which is not simply the reunion or integration. Without again saying the new is so new that it simply obliterates the past. I think there's a sweet spot there that no one in the integral world has yet really explored well.

  • Comment Link David T Wednesday, 21 March 2012 20:38 posted by David T

    "… on the rare occasions I use that tier model at all."

    Anyone who's read Perez at length will laugh at the dishonesty of that.

    "It's embarrassing to see this in print on this site. I'm embarrassed for you."

    Juma objects to Perez's simplistic greenbashing (as established, vetted and promoted definitively by Wilber). Yes, it's embarrassing. But then again, Juma invented his own vertical-ladder "developmental" scheme of Wilber-worship in which criticism of the master is merely an adolescent stage of rebellion before a return to the uncritical appreciation "at a higher level." So what of critics who find Wilber intellectually or morally deficient enough to reject him and move linearly past him to new formulations? They're merely "stuck" at a primitive stage of development. They're positioned as inferior in discernment to those who return to the Wilberite fold having "transcended and included" the particular critiques of his shoddy scholarship—emerging with a mysterious, transrational authority that is now immune to refutation. We admit the master's failings….but his authority is all the more secured!

    It's the same move of claiming by fiat an unearned superiority which the inferiors cannot understand because of their lower altitude. The transcendents don't have to provide any justification or argument beyond claiming their superior linear development and "multiperspectival" openness. Critique, which was managed at first through insulation, is now managed by inoculation and dismissed as having been always-already accomplished; tone becomes the new-age discriminator of altitude ("gratitude," "second sweetness").

    "Staging" is always a substitute for thinking, and a substitute for encounter. And integralists, "second wave" or no, are never going to outgrow that particular ideological dodge.

    The fundamental integral way of being in the world is this: "I am fully and lovingly open to all perspectives of the universe, but I will only take the risk of dialogue with a critic if I am theoretically guaranteed beforehand to be on a higher level than him. I believe I could learn something from anyone I meet! (But it's only cosmetic, whereas I could elevate him to a whole new level if only he would listen to me)."

    Certainly Perez is a poster boy for the most immature and regressive aspects of Wilberism. But in the end the writers at this site aren't particularly different from him in ideological or institutional terms, and they can't transcend what makes him "embarrassing" without ceasing to be Integral.

  • Comment Link Paul Hess Wednesday, 21 March 2012 20:46 posted by Paul Hess

    I think the debate over masculine and feminine categories is useful and I can see both sides. My main concern is that those who criticize the masculine and feminine distinction are almost always the worst offenders. Their actual logic, no matter how much they would deny it, is this:

    1. Masculine and feminine ideas are stereotypes that construct limiting social roles. (I agree in many cases.)
    2. These roles construct a patriarchal society of male privilege.
    3. Men create patriarchy because they are inherently more evil and women are inherently morally superior.
    4. For many feminists this means that the alternative is matriarchy or gynocracy. (Female superiority is now openly discussed in places like Atlantic Magazine and Harvard Business Review.)

    So there we have it, men and women are basically the same except that men are evil and women are innocent victims. This essentialist assumption necessarily occurs by default because there is no coherent social constructionist theory.

    To deconstruct this twisted logic we need to understand two things: that the theory of patriarchy has been refuted, and that this particular form of social constructionism is a hyper-feminine concept, not gender neutral.

    The theory of patriarchy has been meticulously refuted through many books, a genre that began in 1993 with The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell’s who is highly lauded by Ken Wilber. Farrell compares quality of life indicators for males and females and finds that men are worse off by most things we can measure: suicide rates, life expectancy, as victims of violence, workplace injuries, homelessness, incarceration, and the list goes on. This refutes the idea that men have more power and privilege than women. Instead, Farrell presents an evolutionary theory in which both sexes had limiting gender roles based on survival. The current stage of development offers the opportunity for both sexes to expand their roles for the benefit of all, rather than blaming men. Farrell uncovers the many subtle / blatant details of our now anti-male society that most people do not see. Most feminists are violently opposed to hearing this.

    The resistance is due to a moral framework that must believe in the theory of patriarchy. Frames rather than facts determine beliefs, as George Lakoff has explained.

    The framework of social constructionism denies difference and is hyper-feminine because it takes the feminine principle of connectedness to the extreme of merging identities (as in an overbearing mother). In contrast, a healthy feminine can be thought of as connectedness with independent identities. The masculine is defined in terms of independence with connectedness, while the hyper-masculine is an unhealthy extreme of separation and macho, the strict father, according to George Lakoff. There is also room for neutrality in the middle. The polarity of connected and independent is fluid and a matter of degree, it is a fluid dualism like the tai chi of yin and yang. The extremes are rigid dichotomies of good and evil that follow a logic of separation—even in merging, as explained below.

    Another layer of duality is biology and culture, as masculine and feminine can be both. Masculine and feminine can be internal and interpersonal. Thus there are many contexts types and degrees of duality.

    The psychology of the hyper-feminine is explained by Howard S. Schwartz in The Revolt of the Primitive and the Roots of Political Correctness. Building on Farrell’s research, Schwartz explains how in the post war period the feminization of society occurred and the anti-Oedipal psychology beyond it.

    The hyper feminine concept of merging identities is based on the idea of the child staying united with the mother in a state of bliss in which the “primordial mother” represents omnipotent love without striving. The problem is when the father is seen as the reason that love is interrupted and then represents the opposite of love. This bond is a kind of primary narcissism, accompanied by projection of darkness onto men. So merging (with the mother) attempts to separate the masculine as the source of wrongness.

    In healthy child development the father facilitates breaking the bond to help the child individuate and grow up. The father represents another exciting possibility to explore the world, and the reality principle that we are independent and must learn to take care of ourselves. The problem begins when fathers are absent physically, since work has been outsource from the home to large organization, or are absent emotionally and exert less influence on child rearing to balance maternal and paternal socialization.

    The result of feminized socialization is the undervaluing of the father and glorification of the mother based on the fantasy of the primordial mother. This is much of what is actually driving the worship of the divine feminine as part of an attempt to overthrow the father, patriarchy, and men. (This problem of green politics is not discussed sufficiently in Gravesian theory.)

    Anti-male attitudes are so taken for granted and become much clearer when a contrast to the alternative is made. These images are often anti-female at the same time. American corporate media routinely represent women as cock teases, condescending, competitive, and bitches. In contrast, media in Thailand more often show women who are warm and inviting to men and an inspiration to women as well--music videos on You Tube of Palmy and Nicole Theriault are good examples. Notice the emotional freedom and relational qualities of kindness that come through in their faces instead of common American images of the game faces and T&A to manipulate a sexual response.

    These videos are used in a therapy for men created by Rion Williams that changes a man's energy with women in ways that are astonishing. But you have to be open to it and take the time receive it in a meditative state in which you allow yourself to get emotional. These videos can be understood to work based on breaking gender stereotypes and/or clarifying the real feminine goodness in every women. More important than theoretical debate is experiences like this that encourage better roles models for women and men that help overcome misandry.

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Wednesday, 21 March 2012 20:53 posted by Juma Wood

    Hi David,

    That's how you read that, huh? Curious.

    I suppose I somewhat get that, though I'm not sure it squares with all that's been written since, including today's article.

    Really, the impetus, and it was explicitly stated, came from observing how a number of people seemed to travel through different phases (is that better than stages?) in their relationship to that one thinker/writer, Wilber. My own contribution was something of a catharsis and I came to where I came to with it, without ever, not once (not once!) insisting others have to come to the same place.

    And to add, there are no final statements. Things are changing. I've changed since I wrote that, refined my thinking and relationship around things.

    You're smart enough, but I don't think you're saying much different than has been said in numerous places here.

    Of course you're also saying it in a superior, dismissive way. Because you have everything figured out already? You're certainly free to not hang around if this group of people doesn't do it for you. On the other hand, you might channel that intellect into something that can be a solid contribution.

    Your call.



  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Wednesday, 21 March 2012 23:11 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree that it's possible that someone criticizing masculine and feminine could do so in the way you lay out. Though since you mention no one specifically so I'm not sure I know who you mean.

    I don't think those criticisms apply to my perspective. I didn't say anything about women being superior to men (or vice versa).

  • Comment Link David T. Thursday, 22 March 2012 00:43 posted by David T.


    Critique is a contribution, except to those in a cult.

    It's amusing to hear the self-proclaimed "second tier" disparage critics for being "dismissive" and "having it all figured out" before they're shown the door ("solid contributions" being by definition pro-Wilber and pro-Integral).

    There were maybe fifty ways to open that challenge into a dialogic exchange, its polemical edge notwithstanding. Plenty of skillful means to be had.

    You closed it down in one move: deliver acceptable opinions or leave. "Your call."

    That's Integral.

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Thursday, 22 March 2012 01:16 posted by Juma Wood

    Nice try David. Whatever axe you have to grind, it's not with me, and I'll not be your proxy.

    I should have been more clear, as, well, I write this shit in small spaces during a busy day. By contribution, I meant an article, to the site, something that expanded on your ideas. I'll take the hit on that one, lack of clarity (our own little in-language! Beams is a cult! Whoo Hoo!) though the leap of logic you make is frightening.

    So I'll take your invite, assuming good faith: actually, I already accepted your invite. You accused me of setting up a similar stage model. I responded to that.

    So ok, grumpy pants (I do hate you anonymous types with snarl. Makes me suspect you don't actually have a sack without your identity veiled), let's move on. Hm, actually it's hard, because I can't relate the charges you level to myself. Again, I can't be a proxy for your anger at this 'community' because...have you read the things I've fucking written of late?

    Ok, I'll try again, because I'm sure something you said relates to me, and not some vague notion of 'integral' people (the charges at Joe make more sense because Joe is living and breathing and can respond in kind).

    You said:

    '"Staging" is always a substitute for thinking, and a substitute for encounter.'

    I agree. In principal. However, am I to toss all the Piaget I studied in my Education degree, toss out all relevant developmental research, theories and the like? Certainly simplistic stage conceptions are a substitute for thinking. But then, you're not talking to me when you say that, and if you are, you're not making any sense, so I don't know how to respond.


    You wrote:

    'So what of critics who find Wilber intellectually or morally deficient enough to reject him and move linearly past him to new formulations?'

    Totally valid. Although you'd have a tough time convincing me that Wilber in the full of his work from 1973 onward had nothing of value to add to the Great Conversation. I've never met even the most violent of critics who doesn't believe the basic articulation of the four quadrants have value. Nevermind that you can find them in much richer terrain in literature and philosophy throughout history, but as a basic framework, it's hard to argue.

    You are in no way obligated to include Ken Wilber in your intellectual and existential journey through life. Makes me wonder why you spend so much time with it though. Do you think he is doing significant damage to the world somehow? I don't. That would be giving far to much credit to any traction this work has actually gotten. And those who have traction, real traction, use the work as one of many underlying frameworks of insight, often just bits and parts of it at that.

    Ok. Not sure where to go next. Maybe you can coach me on the 48 other ways I missed your genius. Or chill the fuck out and have a conversation with the person your having a conversation with. Or piss off. Your choice. Clearly I'm willing to engage, but not with some angry dude in his underwear posting anonymously about something he hates but can't let go of.

    So, again, your call. Let's have a real discourse about things without you treating me as a proxy for everything you hate in life.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 22 March 2012 01:50 posted by TJ Dawe

    David - to second Juma's invitation - if you know of a thinker whose ideas improve on, or eclipse Wilber's, I'd really like to know about her. Or him. So would all of us. Our allegiance isn't to Wilber, but to furthering knowledge. Articulate, insightful critiques of developmental psychology, Wilber or anything else we discuss on this site are absolutely welcome.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Thursday, 22 March 2012 01:53 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    I'd like to add a couple philosophical perspectives to the conversation here.

    Hard to say where to begin, but maybe first by taking exception to David's final claim:

    "and they can't transcend what makes him "embarrassing" without ceasing to be Integral".

    I would disagree with this statement. There's a very worthwhile recent paper by scholars Roland Benedikter and Markus Molz called 'The Rise of Neo-Integrative Worldviews', where they trace the history of this kind of thinking over the past 100 or so years, and provide some context as to why it's on the rise in our increasingly planetary context. In it they mention Wilber's work at one point, but they also offer an interesting critique given the discussion here. Here's the lead up passage, the critique is in footnote 35, which I'll cite after. (I should add that when they use the word integral in the following passage, they don't mean Wilberian AQAL theory, but a movement in thought in general):

    "Sure enough, ideological blueprints are also often idealistic in their aspirations,
    and they may even be (proto-)spiritual in nature at times (although
    in most cases they constitute ‘secular religions’34). To a certain extent, some
    of them even present holistic features, if we subsume ‘totality-oriented’
    under this term. Nevertheless, in many ways, integral – at least in its contemporary
    sense – is not synonymous with ideological. This is because, by
    contrast with ideologies, the paradigmatic integral approaches of our time
    claim to be about the whole without totalizing, i.e. to be worldviews in the
    full modern sense, but without pushing for uniformity or imposing exclusion
    or oppression. Integral blueprints thus aspire to be worldviews, not
    paradigms in the sense described above. Nevertheless, it should be noted
    that sometimes (and this seems to be valid particularly for less sophisticated
    and evolved approaches) ‘integral’ unconsciously implies ‘meta-integral’,
    i.e. ‘more integral than other integral approaches’; such interpretations
    of integral are sometimes dangerously close to ideology. It is also a fact
    that many integral approaches do not practise what they preach; and thus
    some seem to be – contrary to their own self-interpretation – not ‘neo’-, but
    ‘retro’-integral, if not in their theory, then in their practice.(35)"

    Then in footnote 35- "To mention just one recent example, the (in)famous ‘Wyatt Earp affair’ involving
    integral thinker Ken Wilber (1949–) has clearly presented features of this
    ambiguity, positioning the practice of ‘integral thinking and action’ of Wilber
    in the interplay between progressive and regressive enactments".

    So is Wilber's contribution to this global movement of thought, and the ways in which Wilber followers have unethically utilized his work, in question? Absolutely. Does this mean that the integrative project in general is invalid or unworthy in of itself. I don't think so, in fact I think it's necessary and important.

    I think Wilber's dealings with his critics over the years has been disappointing to say the least. I was trained in the philosophical tradition where philosophers have public debates, sometimes for years at a time (Habermas and Luhmann had a beauty that lasted a decade. it's been published together in a single volume). The Continental philosophers are in constant discussion/debate with each other, one that has been quite generative over the past decades. Wilber's almost completely fallen down on that score. But really, who cares about Wilber in the end anyway. I'm interested in ideas, so I say let's find what's alive or dead in his thinking and add it to the larger body of work that Molz and Benedikter point to. That's the main project I'm interested in anyway.

    Secondly, David, I'd be curious to know where you stand on the notion of development in particular, as it pertains to human consciousness. You mention "staging", but I can't tell if that's just a criticism of how stage-thinking is (unethically) used in debate, or if it's a wholesale rejection of the notion that human consciousness develops and that to some to degree we can understand the patterns or structuring that this process has so far taken. If it's the former, I'm in deep agreement, but if you are making the latter claim, I think that's an unearned premise on your part. And I'd be happy to engage in a public debate with you here at Beams on this point if you would like. I would agree to assume no premises on my end, but to earn my support for developmental structuralism via argument and evidence. And you'd have to earn your refutation of this position in the same manner. But as it stands you're putting forth claims and judgments here based upon a suppressed premise ('developmental theory is bunk') that has not been substantiated by you, only assumed.

    Here's only one example of why I think this developmental viewpoint is helpful and important. I would argue that the reductionistic-analytic method of so much of the modern mindset/approach to the world, is inferior to the understanding of reality put forth by the postmodern sciences of complexity and the systems sciences. The former was and is a powerful epistemological method (not to be rejected in toto), but as an understanding of the world around us it has shown itself to be simplistic and harmful on many fronts. I would consider the emergence of complexity thinking to be a maturation of our human consciousness, a *better* way of understanding and interacting with reality. And this view of human development stretches back to Hegel, he's really the father of this line of thought. For Hegel different philosophies represent different stages of maturity, and each one builds off the last in an unbroken "organic unity". I think there's a lot of merit in this view, and I like I said, I'd be willing to defend that in a formal debate.

    Anyway, I'll leave it at those two major philosophical axes on which at this point I'm in disagreement with David. A lot follows from the conclusion we would get to in that debate, and much conversation would have to be put on hold until we did, because it's so fundamental to so much of what may or may not be thought afterwards. Let me know if you're interested David, cheers.

  • Comment Link david t Thursday, 22 March 2012 07:47 posted by david t

    I've seen the good cop/bad cop team chase off critics here before, but that was kinda awesome. They were both bad cops!

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:40 posted by Chris Dierkes


    How are exactly are you being chased off? Trevor, TJ, and Juma all invited you to further dialogue. Also, I have no idea how you're fairly reading TJ or Trev's responses as bad cop in nature.

    You made some serious charges against us, (reasonably) you got asked to back those charges up and fill out your meaning, and be willing to enter into dialogue. You haven't (yet) done any of that. Now you want to act like you are being ganged up on. You're trying to have it both ways and you can't. You come in and sling some mud and then when you get called out for it, you act like you are being shut down.

    Nobody's shutting you down but if you come in slinging mud without much, if anything, in the way of evidence, don't be surprised if someone actually calls you on it.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:48 posted by Chris Dierkes

    And just to be absolutely clear, and to second a point Juma made, neither he nor I think our 123 of Ken Wilber pieces constitute some kind of architecture to the universe or truth for any and all beings. It was simply a reflection on our own experience--which we had seen reflected in others. If you read the comments to those to pieces, you will see that there were a number of other folk for whom that was a helpful framework, including interestingly Frank Visser, who asked us if he could repost the pieces on his site, which we agreed to. Frank then wrote his own piece in response, reading his own experience through that lens.

    So clearly it resonated with some, but was never meant to be taken as some kind of final word or system that everybody has to conform to. I have no sense of how it's a fair reading of our pieces to derive from them the idea that we were pronouncing a final end all/be all truth on the matter.

  • Comment Link David T Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:57 posted by David T

    Nah, I was just kidding, actually. I have a longer response almost finished.

    The good cop/bad cop was Juma being an abusive ass saying I had no ball sack etc. (commenting policy anyone?) and Trevor challenging me to a full scale debate on developmental history since Hegel or nothing. Well.

    I'm disappointed with this post, though, Chris. Unlike Juma, you have the
    training to understand what a rhetorical reading is. That you characterize it as merely 'slinging mud' is dishonest, and I think you fully know it is.

    Trevor did write a long and generous reply, and TJ was very nice. I'll post what I have and be done.

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Thursday, 22 March 2012 18:30 posted by Juma Wood

    Sorry David. There is nothing resembling good faith in you. And you're not nearly as bright as you'd like to believe.

    Taking a victim pose is gross considering the edge you bring.

    Bring it on big boy, but this site doesn't suffer trolls. Call that censorship, identify it with whatever type of 'integral' characteristics you'd like, but it's a line we hold. Otherwise things degenerate into a place that maybe you like to hang out it, with your hate. But good people don't.

    And i'd much rather them leaning in than you.

  • Comment Link David's Mother Thursday, 22 March 2012 20:22 posted by David's Mother

    David, you really should stop hiding out behind my skirt and post your last name.

  • Comment Link David T Thursday, 22 March 2012 20:32 posted by David T

    I'm sorry that I've triggered you so much, Juma.

    That's gone both ways, I think.

    I respect the open-heartedness that you show in your most recent post, and I know the hate and contraction you express above isn't really you. You have a lot of hate and anger to work out. So do I. You're very intense about guarding group boundaries, with more than a little excess and projection, and you create some of the demons that you see jeering back at you. I have my own issues with breaking into closed groups that exclude. So, there's that.

    But I don't think you would finally exclude me from the utopia you paint in your post, and I wouldn't exclude you from mine if I actually had access to one.

    I really mean this: a critic is not the same thing as a troll. What I have to say about your staging essay isn't about your intentions but the rhetorical structures you express them in, and the blindnesses and pain which those can cause both for you and for others. Please try to hear it in that spirit. Even if it sounds harsh it's not personal.

    If you don't see it or don't agree, fine. But I want to de-escalate this thing with you. I've tried to contribute something constructive (though critical) in the long piece I'm posting and I'd like it to be heard, at least a little.

  • Comment Link David T Thursday, 22 March 2012 20:58 posted by David T


    I appreciate the length and generosity of your response, and I'd like to return it. But-- a grandiose debate about the entire history of developmental theory back to Hegel staged by a philosophy PhD? That seems a little much.

    I think it would be fair to simply focus on Spiral Dynamics and the Integral habit of "linear staging," which often seems like an OCD tic. When I said you can't escape what Perez represents, I meant primarily that Integral has invested so deeply in SD that it appears unable to subject it to critique without a collapse of identity. After reading the Occupy thread I stand by that.

    Spiral Dynamics is a core element of your belief system. Although there is a general feeling in some quarters that it has been vulgarly misused, it still seems even less available to serious critique or 'overcoming' than Wilber's writings themselves. Yet it has little academic credibility or purchase, and is mainly promulgated through corporate-style trainings from private institutes.

    So start here. Why is SD affirmed as central to the Integral project? In particular, why do you promote Beck's version rather than Cowan's, such that the chasm between "first tier" and "second tier" is crucial? The ego game which that creates is very obvious by now. The Occupy thread demonstrated that most integral activists who approached Occupy "read the color" of the groups they worked with, wrung their hands about how to rehabilitate this or that color's status within Integral, or how to influence and direct the color-stage of their group, or claimed their own superior status and how they might take charge ("Only turquoise can solve the world crisis," etc.) There was relatively little ability to simply take up a role of service, seeing the other Occupy denizens as peers. This was quite striking to me.

    Most of what I would say about SD and Wilber's "holons" as ideology has been said well by DG Anderson (I actually had embedded hyperlinks to him in my post, but they didn't appear). I'm sure you know him. And his apparent marginality tempers your notion that there is much of a non-Wilberian integral movement. Especially after all the preliminary hostility, I'm not going to extend this exchange, but Anderson would likely welcome an exchange which would go in the same directions I would, with more expertise:

    I agree with pretty much all of this. Anderson is good at pointing out that the "senior holon organizing the junior holon" is a picture of class relations under capitalism, and that Wilber's implied political system is incompatible with a "bottom up" movement like Occupy-- or with a rhizomatic philosophy like Deleuze and Guattari's. This also seems quite right to me (especially the part about D&G; I find it deeply offensive to use them as an appendage to Wilber and SD as if they're compatible—what could possibly be more arborescent than Spiral Dynamics?). Similarly, the ladder of Spiral Dynamics seems suspiciously like the class ladder, with the modal "psychological profiles" of the requisite class/race fractions pasted on each one. We know who's who, and can provide stereotypes for each quite easily. Integralists are mainly located in the professional-managerial class, just as SD is essentially a managerial-class fantasy of ordering the world—cheerfully marching in with their clipboards to direct flows which they did not set in motion but which they believe they own. "Second tier" is management, "first tier" is labor; that's why there must be such a wide chasm between them. As Anderson suggests, these are just orienting possibilities to be investigated (some of those are mine, not his), but they are more persuasive to me than believing some genuine empirically-derived cognitive anthropology just happens to map so well onto social-class stereotypes and their "proper" organization.

    The question for you: is there really hardcore empirical evidence that could convince me that this is a neutral sociological theory and not a crass projection of the class map onto the ontological sky? (The cries of "green" may of course begin here, one of the functions of SD for Wilber being to forestall contact with genuine political sociology and cultural criticism. But that helps to demonstrate the point.)


  • Comment Link David T Thursday, 22 March 2012 21:02 posted by David T


    The likely ideological motive for developing SD's ladder connects to my objection about Juma's and Chris's ladders. It's a deep habit of mind among Integralists, staging things. The stages of faith. The stages of masculine self-development. The stages of enlightenment. Vertical, simple, linear, each stage higher than those before, as in SD. The security of knowing where you are, what you've accomplished, where you're going, what's your prize at the end. I think the linear-ladder thinking is a very bad mental habit, and never entirely innocent. Juma wants to say that his "staging" was merely personal, idiographic. Of course, this is not true; it was extended and corroborated with other Wilberians; it had a collective interest; in Integral, such mapping is always social and metaphysical, and borrows its authority from the core ladder. That being said, it's obvious what ideological function is played by labeling criticism of Wilber as a phase of "adolescent rebellion" and the return to Wilber as "maturity." I'm not going to bother to spell that out. What should be noted is the totalizing quality of the return: he feels *nothing but gratitude.* Although his portrayal of this staging claims to have absorbed the hard critique of Wilber into his aufhebung, there is actually no complexity to the result, only a gauzy and wholesale approval—a retreat to "romance," really. Consider: Wilber not only supported the Iraq War but spent years trashing the peace protesters. Does Juma's "nothing but gratitude" include gratitude for Robert Bale's slaughter of children last week? For the thousands of lives lost for no clear gain, a result which was predicted by the people Wilber was sneering at during the opening years of the war? I'm sure Juma doesn't mean to absolve all of that, of course. This is not about intention or goodwill. But the word choices are revealing that something has taken a deviation of some kind. If the quality of the final synthetic evaluation is only and uniformly positive, certainly it has not acquired more "depth and span."

    I don't buy that there is no claim to authority in these "merely personal" stagings. This makes no sense, not least because "every man his own stager" would be the relativistic green nightmare that leaves Integrals in such horror. The stagings are collective; as they're vetted and acquire a group clinical density they make a claim of authority. And they become disciplinary. (What if you're the only one who hasn't come back around to "second sweetness"?) Particularly by analogy to the central rhetoric of SD—which constantly generates and relieves so much ego anxiety in integral—they surely carry more rhetorical authority than the merely personal. It's just that they do it under plausible deniability. Reverse the situation. Imagine a Wilberite among a group of atheists who all confirmed the discrete stages of passing from Christianity through New Age to atheism, each stage being a clear broadening of maturity; the Wilberite says, "Well, those aren't developmental stages for everyone"; the atheists say, "Oh, these are just personal observations, we're not claiming any developmental authority"; the Wilberite says, "Oh yes you are; you're just denying it after the fact." Who's right? This is not simple.

    Juma and Chris have repeatedly linked to these 1-2-3 "staging" essays as proof that they are capable of critical distance from Wilber. But the fact that their "critique" is offered, rhetorically, in an analogue form with Spiral Dynamics--which itself so problematically protects Integralists from facing critique--raises plenty of suspicion. Certainly it is reassuring to the flock that the absorption of critique terminates in pure romantic approval again (a few minor differences excepted). It's not so reassuring to those outside who would like better evidence of critical capacity. But then, the "hermeneutic of suspicion," like "green," is a sign of adolescence and not the second sweetness of maturity. See? This is all a very familiar rhetoric of circularity and altitude-trumping, albeit more subtle and probably unconscious. But it's doing the same work as the color-coding.

    So, Trevor, can you explain to me why SD appears to be beyond challenge? Or if it can be challenged, please explain why you haven't challenged it in any serious way here but have let it remain inertially in place. (Changing the name to post-postmodern is not a serious address to the problem, and neither is a laissez-faire policy which lets the old school color stuff go on until it becomes grossly objectionable.)

    Finally, Trevor, you seem to have a dissertation or something about developmental psychology you want bring into this issue. I'm agnostic on the question of adult developmental theory; I haven't been much impressed with what little I've read of Robert Kegan; in general I would be suspicious that external life structures are being internalized and misread as generative (e.g.,Gail Sheehey's *Passages,* an old, obvious case); I'm too Deleuzian to trust and love simple linear segmentarity like Integrals do. Maybe if a developmental theory were branchy and wasp-orchidy I might be persuaded to listen. I don't know. But SD is not any of that, and so I feel pretty certain that linear-stage "developmental psychology" in integral is patently ideological and offers no vital sociological or psychological insights which are not available through other means. I don't mind learning something about the subject, but Kohlberg or Piaget, or Kegan are not at issue and you can't displace the obvious problems with SD onto the more general question of developmental theory in the abstract. The question is : why Beck? (The others are essentially gateway drugs for SD anyway, so far as I can see.)

  • Comment Link Joe--Perez Thursday, 22 March 2012 22:58 posted by Joe--Perez


    As you know from our off-line conversation, I stand by the integrity of my comments here and respect our differences.

    David T:

    I would be happy to reply to your concerns if you relinquish your anonymity. Anonymity fosters just the sort of ad hominem and baseless, evidence-free assertions as you've made regarding me and others. I won't abet trolls and flame throwers.

    All B&S folks:

    As a meta-comment, notice what happens when Chris reviews a book from a perspective that he calls "orthodox Integral" and ends up dancing around its central claims with the observation that he's "heterodox" and has little or no use for terms such as "masculine," "feminine," or "altitude." The conversation that could have been very rich about Ucik's book never happens. Instead, the conversation winds up going meta fast about the premises of Integral discourse.

    So long as Chris or B&S persist in certain styles of writing with certain presuppositions that frame the current state of discussion as "orthodox Integral" v. "heterodox Integral" this sort of thing is bound to happen endlessly if it doesn't just get wearying on all sides and leave people to wander off. I am suggesting that there is something about the way that this orthodox / heterodox (or Ken Wilber followers v. Second Wave Integral as B&S writers once suggested) that will create this dynamic in a repeating loop. Inviting you to look at it and learn what you can. (You don't have to guess what I think is probably a big cause of the issue; I've already said my piece when I criticized the way Chris framed this book review.)

    ~ Joe

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 22 March 2012 23:28 posted by Chris Dierkes


    Arguably the primary reason this thread went meta is because you brought another post into the comments on this one. I don't think it has much to do with my stance--other than I place myself in a distinct position. I got criticized by you and Gary for not adhering to Wilber's point of view on this subject matter. I got criticized David for adhering to other points of view in agreement with Wilber. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

    And since you keep " " me, please actually do me the courtesy of actually quoting me correctly. I said AQAL orthodox. The whole point of Juma and my pieces around Ken was to say that we appreciate his work deeply, we disagree at points, and we think we should go forward.

    iow, Integral can't be reduced to AQAL--though it's one important brach to be sure. Your repeated incorrect quotations of me on this point--which I've pointed out to you repeatedly now--are subtly shifting the terrain to your position. If you actually read what I wrote, I think you would find your criticism is quite laughable.

    Furthermore please stop saying I have little or no use for terms like masculine and feminine--the actual piece you are supposed to be critiquing, which at this point you have so mangled I'm not even sure you read the damn thing, refers to ways in which I think the terms could best be used. My criticism was around the use of masculine and feminine in relation to polarities like Consciousness and Embodiment. I didn't throw out the use of the terms altogether--only in that specific context.

    How many times do I have explain that point to you?

  • Comment Link Joe---Perez Friday, 23 March 2012 00:15 posted by Joe---Perez

    Hi Chris,

    I'm puzzled by a few things you say.

    1. You say I quote you incorrectly, saying you wrote "AQAL orthodox." Actually, a search of terms on this page shows that you used the term "orthodox AQAL Integral" and that you also said, "I'm personally a bit of a heterodox integral thinker..." I fail to use how I significantly distorted your points, if I did so at all. You also say you've "pointed out to [me] repeatedly" this supposed distortion, but my search of the text on this page shows no such pointing out. If you said it in a private email, I honestly missed that part or don't remember. I'm not TRYING to misread you, Chris. Give me some credit. From where I'm standing, you seem to be going out of your way to find evidence that I'm distorting your actual views.

    2. I'm not sure why I should stop saying that you "have little or no use for terms like masculine and feminine," because I think all of this discussion is about the context of spirituality and this is not a discussion of, say, Gender Theory or a Women's Studies course, where you don't have an issue. Yes, you have stated that your objection is to the use of the terms to describe polarities. You also wrote above: "All I say here is that I think the masculine-feminine understanding negatively colors and misinterprets actual forms of human relationship." And remember the title of your article: "Against The Use of the Terms Masculine and Feminine in the Spiritual Path." Spiritual path is pretty broad. But, out of deference to your request, in the future, I'll add "in Polarities" or "in the Spiritual Path" to the end of the sentence when I talk about your desire to avoid (i.e., silence) the use of these terms in polarity or spiritual discourse, in case people have suddenly forgotten this whole conversation is about polarities. Is this such a big deal that you get so testy over it?

    Finally, of course I felt it necessary to bring the source post of yours against the use of masculine/feminine in the spiritual path ... because it was the elephant in the room IMO.

    You have repeatedly characterized your critique as some small, trivial detail. You wrote: "I think it’s worth dropping the terms Masculine and Feminine while retaining the teaching of the Polarities in non-gendered language. I think that step—which again in the span of things is actually quite minimal..."

    I just profoundly disagree that this is a minimal tweaking. Let me use poetic language. Words have spirits. Words are gods. You disgrace those gods, you banish their spirit, and you reap wrath. "The masculine" and "the feminine" need to be honored EVEN in spiritual discourse and EVEN in discussion of polarities, not bypassed, pushed aside, disowned, trivialized, minimized, repressed, or forsaken. The same is also true, by the way, of "the androgynous" and the "the Heterophile" or "the homophile." That will only breed shadow and a warped spiritual path.

    You disagree, no matter how much you finesse it... so let us agree to disagree, no?

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 23 March 2012 01:03 posted by Chris Dierkes


    I agreed to disagree a long time ago. What got me fired up was ways in which I think you were and still are distorting what I'm saying. But I'm very happy to let this back and forth go as it's clearly not going anywhere.

    One point that I won't agree to disagree on though is that I'm silencing people by saying that i think this is the wrong use of terminology. Whose being silenced? I made an argument that I think a certain interpretive structure is an unhelpful one. You disagree, Gary disagreed, others disagreed in the original post. Nobody was silenced. You all still hold your views.

    We didn't delete those comments--they are are still visible on the site. People can read your view, they can read mine and then make up their own minds.

    I'm not going around shaming people or starting a campaign to silence them. So stop accusing me of rather dastardly things like silencing people when I'm not. That's a serious charge that you need to withdraw.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 23 March 2012 01:16 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Wow, what a thread.

    I wasn't going to chime in, but I thought I might be able to offer a few things as someone who has been very heavily involved in the gender discourses, both through academia, the gay communities, and in the integral world over the last 10 years. I also have a forthcoming co-edited book that dives into many of these issues that will be published hopefully in the coming year.

    I think that debates about this stuff are really hard on threads like this, so I'm not sure how generative my offering will be, and I also feel a bit "done" with the debates themselves, so I probably won't return to say or respond to much more, but I thought I'd offer some points nonetheless for what it's worth.

    First, Joe, I don't know you well, and we've only been in contact once before, so I'm admittedly coming into this not fully knowing or grasping your stance on all these issues, so I just offer what I can from my own experience and perspective.

    I think there are points on both sides that can be considered and honored.

    Having been so at the center of these kinds of debates over the last 5 years especially, I've noticed how these conversations so quickly turn into arguments about semantics that become polemical and endless, which is why I largely don't engage them anymore.

    I think there are many valid arguments around why the use of the masculine/feminine terminology can be hindering and problematic (and I think those arguments, including Chris', are much more nuanced than simply green/red aggression). As someone in the gay community, Joe, it somewhat surprises me that you aren't as sensitive to the problems with these kinds of terms and how they can become stereotypes on gender and sexual relationships.

    As a bisexual and someone who carries both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities, I've found the use of the terms to often be quite simplistic and unnuanced in the integral world. So I think it is fair for Chris to critique them.

    That said, I think the terms can be retained in certain ways and contexts, and that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. I often don't use the terms myself, especially in the integral world because of how shaped and ideological I feel they have often become, but I do make reference to them at times when I feel it is skillful as a framework or an artistic expression. For example, in my recent blog:

    But why do we have to hold to them so tightly and dearly? As if by merely critiquing them and questioning their use we are going to inherently create shadow and bypassing? That seems extreme. I think we can equally create shadow by not critiquing them.

    In regards to Paul's critiques. I don't agree with everything, but I think he actually has some interesting things to say, and the critiques of SD are worthwhile ones. My long concern with Integral is that I don't think it includes enough of the conflict/critical perspectives, and that because of that it causes Integral to lean to a more functionalist developmental discourse.

    Paul, a useful reference for you might be the work of Raul Rosado's work:

    Also, I always suggest Jean Gebser as useful resource for a less linear approach to integral consciousness.

    My two cents...

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 23 March 2012 01:18 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    And sorry, I meant to say David T (not Paul)... for the last point.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Friday, 23 March 2012 01:49 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    David, thanks, that's the kind of thing I was hoping for, and you've given me lots of meat to work with.

    I have a full next couple of days or so, but will come back here as soon as I get my first opening and put some initial thoughts down. If you think the discussion is a worthy one, I would invite to reconsider continuing the discussion, either here or in another form, like an article to be published here on the site (or we can do it here, but it might be nice to extract it from this space).

    I think the questions and critiques you raise are all important and I'd appreciate working through them somewhat systematically with you (and where we'd end us, is anybody's guess). I think Joe points to something important above when he talks about the theoretical tensions that'll arise when orthodox Wilberian Integral is contrasted with a heterodox or more general integrative project (as outlined in the Molz, Benedikter paper), but I draw a different conclusion. I see that as important work that'll need to be done, carefully and seriously, and David I'm glad you've showed up to put critical pressure on the 'integral' endeavor in general. Good timing. As I said, I hope we continue the discussion, but yes DG Anderson would be a good candidate also.

    I also think you'd find that we have lots more in common than you might think. For instance, I would in many ways consider myself more of a Deleuzian than a Wilberian. I studied Deleuze in grad school and came to love the man and his work (particularly that with Guattari, but certainly not only). Here's a piece I wrote for this site that draws off their work:

    However, there's things in Wilber I feel are worth retaining, and I think pressure can be put on D&G too. Anyway, I'll leave it there for now, but I'm already getting pumped about possibly diggin into some of these things with you, hope it goes there, there's some pretty rich topics. peace David, talk soon.

    PS- In terms of this sentence of yours- "Maybe if a developmental theory were branchy and wasp-orchidy I might be persuaded to listen. I don't know"- you might want to try this essay by Bonnitta Roy, might fit that bill.

  • Comment Link Joe----Perez Friday, 23 March 2012 04:16 posted by Joe----Perez


    "Silence" means, generally, "to prevent from speaking."

    You are urging people to avoid the use of the words masculine or feminine in discussions of polarities or the spiritual path.

    You are urging their silence with specific regard to these words.

    That's all.

    You are in a position as a public intellectual writing in a prominent blog, advocating that people stop using specific words in certain kinds of discussions. You have influence.

    Do you really think anyone thinks you were putting a gun to people's heads? That's absurd.

    You're urging a shift in discourse, a silencing of certain terms, in much the same way that the "PC police" on college campuses urge people to avoid certain outmoded terms for ethnic groups. No, they don't actually put duct tape to anyone's mouths. They don't shout people down (usually). But they tut-tut and go on about what is "skillful means" and so forth and the effect is to chill discourse.

    Avoid = Silence

    Look beyond the usual meanings of "silence" in left-wing discourse. The overarching thrust of your piece -- it's affirmative program, if you will -- is to attempt to problematize certain terms in discussions of the spiritual path/polarities. I'm gonna call that silencing. You can call it whatever you want.


    I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I am holding certain terms tightly. I can see how it comes across that way. I believe that a wide range of terms ought to be used in spiritual discourse for gener and sexuality, and ought not to be avoided. Just please don't oversimplify my argument to be saying that the terms masculine and feminine aren't problematic in any way; that's nowhere near anything I've said. I just think they are useful in certain contexts including discussions of olarities and the spiritual path, and do not want to see them banished.

  • Comment Link Juma Wood Friday, 23 March 2012 06:11 posted by Juma Wood


    That's big. Seriously. I'm taken by surprise. I'm humbled.

    You'll find less anger and hate than you imagine here, but I'll certainly own a man's share of these passions. I joked recently with Br. Tj that Integral Redneck wasn't properly represented and that would be my online character.

    While my responses appeared harsh and were - and certainly there is a fierceness in me that everyone on this thread can attest to, save Martin who I haven't met or corresponded with- it's also by design. I've just decided that a certain caustic commenting approach can't and won't be tolerated on this site and still have us moving forward. It will be met in kind.

    I've seen it happen on other sites. Total degeneration, swallowed in the grotesque. And especially since we do straddle some communities that come under fire and have a history of carnage. Integral Life for example is a train wreck of shitty discourse and mean spirits.

    I trust my colleagues to slap my wrist when a line gets crossed, and they do. But I just believe we're capable of much more. I like polemic, we need polemic, and please bring it, don't back down, challenge, unpeel this onion, even deconstruct any and all of us with razor insight, but, as you have, implicate yourself as well, when appropriate. I'm attached to nothing man, but what might become a moment of intimacy, real-time fire, aha's!

    Joe can attest. I've hammered at him hard behind the scenes. He's weathered it well. Not because I hate him, but because something truly needs to change in the way we engage these topics. I've been pissed and remain pissed at the way Joe distorts meanings and applies this work in what I consider the worst way, similar to many of critiques you've levelled, particularly unearned, implicit, even explicit!, elevated assumption of superiority. And Joe and I are slowly coming to a better place, though these recent posts Joe still make me want to throw my computer out my hotel room window.

    We've also dealt with characters in the past with a very similar edge and very similar line as you brought David. Also angry with us for perceived full buy-in to the Worst of Wilber's World. With no desire for mutuality, but just to spew venom, ruin threads, take a dump on the site and fuck off. I'm tired of that garbage. (and by the way, if you want to talk commenting policy, we could have deleted any one of your comments because of anonymity. Don't be so righteous punk). What we ask is that you read a bit more, get the full scope of the site, not just as it is today, but mostly importantly how it's evolving.

    While Joe might have us abandoning all principles and crumbling in the face of demon pressure (as i'm sure he's explaining away this entire discourse as the meanderings of little people), I am confident this is far from the case. There is plenty of space to hold valid perspectives, critique and sound philosophical stances. 'Integral Consciousness' as Joe understands it and as it is understood by a whole generation of New Age lightweights is a sham. That much is now clear to me and many of us who write for this site. But I do not dismiss so easily people like Marco Morelli, Gail Hochachka, and others, bright lights holding profound spaces of maturity, reflecting this work in a much deeper way, a way sadly Ken Wilber, today, himself, does not, although I believe there are still many reasons to love the man, for those that do.

    I don't have time this moment to respond to the whole of your critique and you've mainly responded to Trevor, though I've taken a fair amount on the chin. There are a few things that are brazenly wrong that I want to correct quickly: most damningly, that we have 'a laissez-faire policy which lets the old school color stuff go on until it becomes grossly objectionable'. First, it's not true, second, what would you have us do? Ban it? That would seem be the same silencing you so abhorred earlier, or is it ok to censor just shit you don't like? As well, you interjected into a thread where colour-coded language was cut off at its knees!! (how many exclamation marks can I put at the end of that sentence to portray how pissed off I am by this? For every time I'm thinking, hey I might learn something from this dude, a pebble of shit like this comes out and I marvel at how blind hate can actually compel blindness. You have so much hate for this work it blinds you, sometimes makes you stupid, and that's too bad).

    As for the staging in mine and Chris' articles, I actually hear this and it's always been in the back of my mind somewhere, and you've somewhat drawn it to the foreground. For me that piece was a catharsis. And the third stage, if it reflected reality, would be ever changing. But that's kinda hard to do, or maybe not, might be a new form. I find the third section sloppy in my own piece, not well articulated, lacking the same fire and urgency of the first two sections. It's somewhat flat. However, the gratitude I have for Ken Wilber remains, and it is entirely personal and selfish. Only I know what Ken Wilber meant to the transformative turn of my own life. Would you have me renounce that? It would be a lie. And why would I?

    As to the implications of the work politically, I personally adhere to the critique that it is most closely aligned to a neo-conservative philosophy. To say the very least, problematic. The reasons I think are fairly obvious, but I can spell them out another time for those who request it (I swear I'm going to end this comment and get to the two hours of work ahead of me tonight).

    As to the staging of the essays. Well, they were kind of conceived in fun without quite the gravity you're putting on them, but since they got much more attention than we'd really expected, we have to take some ownership. But again, I was referring to MY journey with the man specifically and the work by extension. I won't absolve myself entirely from your critique, but honestly it began more as a play on the 3-2-1 shadow process which is not a stage theory and was designed more as a hero's journey rather than an elevation. I don't believe that it insists that this cycle is normative, and our different phase names reflect this, even if they are similar as, has been said, we discussed these as similar PHASES that many people seemed to travel through. I think you're putting a bit too much on this, but I must say, um, thank you for caring so much and putting such emphasis on what are sometimes somewhat flippant decisions. We've learned a lot in the past two years, a lot. These things matter as more people read the site, and so, yes, better, more precise care will be taken when applicable.

    Ok, this will end abruptly, must go, maybe more later, but enjoy the tussle with Trevor and feel free to respond to whatever.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 23 March 2012 08:31 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for receiving my comment. I'm glad you hold all the terms with a critical eye and attempt at embrace. I certainly see no problem with engaging all dimensions of the conversation.

    I suppose where I would reflect something back to you (if you are open to it) is that despite your stated desire to embrace different kinds of discourses, I haven't really felt that in how you've engaged on this thread.

    Admittedly, perhaps Chris chose an unfortunate title for his piece by calling it "Against the Use of Masculine/Feminine". And I don't necessarily agree with all of his arguments. But his actual article, and all his responses to critiques, hardly represent a black and white picture on gender or any kind of aggressive silencing that you seem to be accusing him of.

    My sense is that people who critique the masculine/feminine terms are trying to integrate the insights of postmodernism and not just throw the baby out with the bathwater, which is what has often happened in the integral world.

    My concern with the integral community in general on this issue is that I have never felt it really integrated the insights of postmodern gender critique and conflict theory enough to articulate a truly nuanced understanding of the masculine and feminine. I think this has led to a lot of confusion and conflation of masculine and feminine with male and female and very little critical discernment. Integral doesn't have to exclude critique, in fact I see critique as necessary in order to create a more nuanced and serving embrace.

    One of the reasons I see for the confusion and conflation around all this in the integral world is because David Deida became the prominent voice on gender and the masculine and feminine in the integral world at the beginning (partly because he was Ken's friend), with pretty much no critical voices from either the queer or feminist communities. Then Ken made the masculine and feminine into an a priori category of the UL quadrant (again without much critique of the discourse itself).

    I think Deida has stuff to offer, no doubt, but Deida is fundamentally a sexual yogic practitioner, not a gender theorist with a strong grasp of postmodern critique.

    Deida's assistant, who is a good friend of mine, even said this directly to me. She said that Deida is not trying to articulate gender or be a gender theorist, he is trying to help people have better sex lives and undo sexual kinks that can allow them to inhabit themselves more freely energetically. That is all fine. His unfortunate move was in moving into the territory of gender theory when he really didn't have a strong ground to stand on there (in my view).

    So sure, you can point to the PC police of mean green meme on college campuses and how violent and silencing that has become, and I agree that can be the case in many circumstances. But I don't think that really applies here. I also think you have to watch for the "mean Yellow meme", and it's silencing of anything that sounds like "green" discourse. That is just another form of elitism and bypassing that causes silencing and unnuanced discussions of the topic at hand.

    Can we move beyond those kind of polemics and actually start to carve out a more nuanced and respectful debate and discussion? That is the kind of conversation I would be interested in. Although, I must admit, in the 5 years I've been intensely in these debates, I haven't seen much progress at all, so I'm not particularly hopeful about these issues being worked out in the integral world, nor honestly am I that much interested in the conversation anymore because of how little progress I've seen made.

    Ok, I'll leave it at that. Hope this offers something.

    Peace to all,

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 23 March 2012 15:16 posted by Chris Dierkes


    Your explanation of silence is absurd. It's not some PC left wing thing--it's how people actually talk. If somebody says Person X is silencing Person Y, people who hear that are not thinking, "Oh Person X disagrees with Person Y about how to interpret something and therefore Person X is now suggesting to Y that Y be silent on the matter by X." WTF? If somebody says X is silencing Y, people are legitimately going to hear that X has done something to shut down Y: e.g. censoring, shaming, etc.

    I've done none of that. You've admitted as much in your comments.

    Humans develop idea by interacting with other's work and yes criticizing them. Somebody criticizes a point of view, says 'you know what I think differently about that.' Then they have a discussion, even a fierce disagreement. By your understanding of silencing, pretty much every disagreement in human history might be read as someone silencing someone else. Hegel criticized Kant--was he silencing Kant? Derrida both admired in certain ways and was critical in others of Hegel--was he silencing Hegel?

    Why not just say we had a disagreement and leave silencing to specific cases in which someone is actually being shut down?

    You can easily see the difference between your charges and people who simply disagree with me. There are a number of folk who have commented here who disagree with me, in part or pretty much in whole.

    For example:

    Read Vanessa's comments. She's made clear she doesn't fully agree with me. We've had friendly discussions on the matter. It's all good. But she's right that accusations that I'm silencing people or avoiding/bypassing are extreme. I'd use the word baseless.

    Read Gary's comment. He even more radically disagrees with me and yet we had a regular conversation. He respectfully shared his concerns and critiques of my view, I responded in a respectful way.

    I've not silenced anyone. I've offered another point of view and have interacted with folks who disagree. I've not avoided or bypassed the issue of masculine and feminine. I've simply argued that I think there is a different and better way to go about it. Again that view is open to debate. I'm happy to have such debates so long as it's done in a respectful way. This sadly has not been the case with you.

    You've chosen to follow, unnecessarily, a scorched earth policy.

    For all your talk of words being gods, I think you ought to remember the divine command:

    Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    I feel I've sufficiently responded to the charges of silencing and avoiding. I think readers of this thread, whether they agree or disagree with my perspective on masculine/feminine, will see that I have not done those things. Those are serious charges. So I wanted to respond in such a way that the record shows (to my satisfaction anyway) that I'm innocent of such charges.

    But given your latest reply, I can't believe you are responding to me in good faith in this thread. I'm not the kind of person who will continue to interact with someone who I believe is acting in bad faith. I feel like I've given a number of chances to you to withdraw those charges and you aren't going to, so I'm done.

    Have a good one,


  • Comment Link Joe-----Perez Friday, 23 March 2012 16:09 posted by Joe-----Perez


    My last word on this. Of course you've never "silenced" anyone in the forceful way that you think everybody uses the term. Of course not. Nobody thinks you did, not even me. I didn't "charge" you of this, so there's nothing to retract.

    I've used a word -- "silence" -- that is a bit clever in the context because I knew would push your buttons. It shines a spotlight on what I think your shadow is in this discussion: by putting on the hat of Pundit, telling people to "avoid" words that you think are intellectually "sloppy" (your word) or "controversial," you are effectually chilling discourse within talk of the spiritual life or polarities.

    Skillful means is not urging people NOT to use masculine and feminine; it is urging them to use the terms well in appropriate contexts. You missed this.

    Our discussion on polarities ended a few comments ago, and now we are merely going through your reactivity to my use of the word "silence."

    Postmodernists accuse all the meanies of silencing the voiceless; meanwhile, they unconsciously create silence by any other means while insisting that they don't. That's their M.O.

    Apparently you are very highly reactive to the word "silencing" and turned my little clever play on words into an episode which turned you into a victim. Draw your own conclusions.

    ~ Joe


    "Those kind of polemics and actually start to carve out a more nuanced and respectful debate and discussion..."

    I never accused Chris of silencing in the way that you and he think I did. It's in good part you-guyzes' projection.

    My use of "silencing" was mischievous, not polemical (as it always is with postmodernists). Mischievous, highlighting the irony of postmodernism as I saw it playing out unconsciously in Chris's writing. If a reader of this page can't tell the difference between mischief and polemic, that's not my fault. And obviously I'm willing to assume the risk of being misunderstood.

    Bottom line for me: Chris's argument, if adopted within the Integral community, would send us 180 degrees in the opposite direction from where I think it needs to go. The last thing we need is to have Integral Sex and Gender language deconstructed before it has the chance to evolve, or teachers silenced by fear of criticism before they develop the skill necessary to navigate the next stage in the evolution of sex/gender discourse in spirituality.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 23 March 2012 17:06 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Joe, perhaps you and I can have a phone call at some point. I don't really understand where you are going on these threads, and you haven't really responded to any of the concerns I raised aside from singling out one minor point that you feel I've projected on you and then dismissed me as postmodern without actually addressing my critiques.

    Perhaps on forums like this, clear direct communication is better served than mischievous ones that are easy to mis-read because I'm personally confused by your motives and your arguments.

    I'm open to hear your views in future, as I have no ideological agenda here. That said, the unnuanced extremism I feel in many of your comments is admittedly not that attractive to me.

    Just as an offer (and then I really am getting off this thread :), perhaps it is worth considering that the response you've raised from others may not just be so simply dismissed as just their projection or simply because we are all green. There is always room to consider that, but it may also be worth considering how your choices of communication and your own aggressive energy (whether intended to be a genius mischeviousness or not) have contributed to the dynamic you've created here.


  • Comment Link Juma Wood Saturday, 24 March 2012 16:32 posted by Juma Wood


    After digesting this most recent exchange and reflecting on our private exchange (which will remain private) I have to say, very simply, and very directly, that you don't have the maturity to hold a good faith conversation with this group and this is in no small part due to the way you relate to the work in question.

    This lack of maturity shows up in all sorts of subtle ways that would just take too long to parse out and we'd get tangled in the very things that make you unable to hold this conversation with this group.

    But a couple things, because they are patterns. You consistently, retroactively, respond to critiques about very damning things you have said with some variation on 'I was doing this on purpose for xxxx reason, to demonstrate xxxx'.

    Instead of conceding that the word 'silence' was very inappropriate which I brought up with you early on, you slowly twist the story to make it sound like from the very beginning you've been anticipating where this will go and so you've been carefully planting the exact pivots the conversation needs so as to potentially enlighten the field. This is poppycock and you know it. You are immersed in the Cook-Grueter work, the sentence completion testing and the like, and you are giddy at the prospect of being a Magician or an Ironist or whathaveyou, and this is how you believe they would operate. This is precisely, precisely!, the critique David is levelling, these rhetorical linear stage conceptions that underpin so many assumption in the Integral world. And why there is a line of maturity and relevance this work (well, the people) can't move beyond. You have pointed us to Katie and Zach's work but clearly have not deeply metabolized it. You would do well to read Bonnitta's article that Trevor linked above in his brief response to David.

    Another thing, and David too was guilty of this briefly with me, word of advice: don't tell other people what their projections and shadows are. It's a useless game, goes nowhere, this is not a therapy session, and nothing in your history indicates you have the dexterity to do this. Following Vanessa's lead when you get to know her a bit better is better: talk about your own projections and shadows, not about another's. Better, how about nobody talk about shadows and projections. The whole thing sounds like black magic and really is best done offline in very different environments and reflected upon, not used as a hammer or an escape hatch.

    You keep thinking we care about 'where Integral is going' in the way you understand 'Integral'. We don't, such an interpretive framing is a relic. The project is integration, deep connectivity. Not the planet coming under the tractor beam of a new empire where the line of what is or isn't integral is determined by Joe Perez. That might make you giddy when you stay up at night thinking about it, but that's not what's happening here, so drop the dream.

    With your lens welded to your face, I don't think you're actually understanding the conversation, so can only dismiss it as 'green' or 'postmodern'. This is representative of a painfully inadequate culture that has emerged around this work. The lecture that you delivered to the B&S team was hilarious, indicative of someone who honestly believes he is the bar (think about this) for the next stage in the evolution of consciousness itself.

    You've been slipping and sliding all through this conversation and I'm sure sane people will be able to pick up on that and this may actually do some good for those still unclear about whose who in the zoo and what this site is actually trying to do. In that way you are a living dialectic for us. We are interested in whomever is doing good work and we are not interested in your categories in the least.

    The violence of how this work has been applied over the last decade is coming to an end. You are upholding some of the worst examples of this violence Joe. If you don't want to own it, fine. I've told you in private, I don't think you can do much damage moving forward. I just think time has already past you by, and that you are largely irrelevant. The way you interpret the work, largely irrelevant. The community you want to lead, in shambles.

    This tension shows up in all the ways you've been (seemingly on purpose) misinterpreting words, phrases, stances, on the site and behind the scenes. Please, you need to stop thinking you are smarter than everyone, that you are leading the minions. This is gross. It's obvious. Sophisticated people see through this shit. You need a good cry. You need to be held. Anything but keeping the charade alive that you are on the single leading edge of consciousness playing trickster games to compel those beneath you to see. It's delusional. It's destructive. It's going nowhere. It's already failed. It's over Joe.

    So, using the relationships that we have tried to model as a model, how can we build this thing back up, once the assumptions are eradicated? I'm not sure how things will unfold with David, but there are some promising first signs that a smart guy with relevant critiques that have been totally shunned by this community over the years will be able to contribute the best of these critiques into a wider and better discourse. That seems promising to me. Today I'm much more interested in the ways David has been articulating his critique on rhetorical structures and linear interpretations of development than I am by the offensive ways you have been actualizing these rhetorical structures and linear interpretations of development. So let's stop and listen for a moment. Something good might come out of this that isn't at all what you think it is. I strongly suggest you take my criticism about maturity seriously and find a way to come back to this discussion with a humility that will - as David did with me - shock the hell out of all of us. Anything less will be inadequate.


  • Comment Link David T Saturday, 24 March 2012 17:08 posted by David T

    Juma, Trevor, Vanessa:

    Thanks--I do appreciate your replies and the attempt to find some common ground. I’ll try to contribute further as time permits.


    We cross-posted up above, which may have exaggerated the sense of conflict and gotten my point lost. Forget what I said for the time being.


    I have no desire to engage you in any way.

  • Comment Link David T Saturday, 24 March 2012 17:33 posted by David T

    I cross posted with your response to Joe above, which I hadn’t seen.

    I just wanted to thank you for taking that firm stand against some of the rhetorical practices that I’ve found so objectionable in Integral.

  • Comment Link -JoePerez Sunday, 25 March 2012 00:40 posted by -JoePerez


    Let's just let this conversation speak for itself; let each reader bring her or his best discernment to bear. I don't regret anything, have anything more to say to you except what I've said to you privately. I find much likeable about you, and there is a fine, beautiful man underneath the ugly comments, which don't reflect the best of you.

    Beams & Struts Readers:

    I believe Juma is correct about at least one thing: the "Integral" movement is in a state of critical transition. Beams & Struts -- this group blog with its chorus of self-reassuring thinkers -- is charting one path.

    Warning: if you proceed on this path, it will do you no good to bring up types or stages in any kind of substantive way, it will do you no good to attempt to actually embody Construct-Aware consciousness or beyond or you will be accused of "sloppy thinking" or much worse (just listen to the dozens of foul things that have been written about me above).

    Go down their road, participate in the Beams & Struts conversation on their terms -- its nicey nicey discourse which is smugly condescending and silencing in its own subtle way, bathed in false humility -- and YOU'RE NEXT.

    Beams & Struts bloggers want you to think I'm irrelevant (Jesus Christ, that was probably one of the least harsh things they had to say about me). Time will tell about that. Funny that this particular attack would come on the day after which I accepted a full-time position as Director of Communications for a major organization connected to this thought space. An official statement will be forthcoming on my blog in the days ahead.

    Not everyone likes what I have to say. Sometimes I speak incorrectly, make misstatements, or let my shadows show. Sometimes I get a bit arrogant when I'm attacked at a personal level (I hurt); sometimes what looks like arrogance to others is just self-esteem and knowing what I believe in and stand for. That's how I live and learn. I'm also right some of the time, right? As often as I can be, if I'm trying to be (and not playing with irony or sincerity or scribe or prophet or wearing some other hat).

    My blogs over eight years have been nothing if not continually experimental ... and there are some people like Ken Wilber who have gone on public record as saying that it is a great example of "Integral in Real Life." (That was the title of a BeliefNet column Ken wrote about me and my integral spirituality memoir.)

    This means nothing to the Beams & Struts crew, so far as I can tell, so that they go on this sort of public personal attack over strident criticism. Honestly, I've had an ambivalent relationship with Beams & Struts. I think it's an important and quality publication for what it's trying to do, one of the best group blogs on the integral community ... but this is like damning with faint praise. There are good writers out there with occasional blogs, but there are slim pickings for the discerning reader.

    Beams & Struts tells us they're not an Integral blog anyway, so don't compare them to that. I'm sorry to hear that; they have shown real potential for growth, and some improvement over the years. I don't know what they are calling themselve today (post-postmodern?) but clearly they think that Integral is the old wave and they are the higher, superior wave. I just wish they hadn't bypassed a few steps (maybe not all of them, but since Juma is speaking for the "We" then it is that "We" that I am addressing).

    Beams & Struts, from what I can tell from private communications, does not believe there is anything world transformational going on in the Integral scene. They don't really want to have much to do with people who think that there is and who bring genuine enthusiasm and passion and belief into the game. You bring such energy and they will try to suck the soul out of it. They are thin skinned. They step into a victim mentality when challenged with a little rhetorical mischief. If you model authentically post-Strategist consciousness, they will tell you publicly that it's a fraud and privately that they are basically too evolved to even take the Cook-Greuter assessment test (or something like that, they were pretty evasive).

    Now you know what to expect by reading Beams & Struts, if it wasn't 100% clear to you before. I will repeat what I said to Chris above: in my opinion, they are somewhat integral, somewhat not integral. That's fine; nothing wrong with that at all. I just wish they were more self-aware about it, because their writing suffers as a result.

    The Beams & Struts crew also have many wonderful gifts to bring to the world, as I've said to them privately, and if I've criticized them it is because I want very much for them to succeed in giving the world their unique gifts.

  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Sunday, 25 March 2012 04:52 posted by Bergen Vermette

    When you say "its nicey nicey discourse which is smugly condescending and silencing in its own subtle way, bathed in false humility" I think that's somewhat true, at least for my own commenting on the site. Although it's also somewhat plainly false for others on the site, given the heated and sharp commenting dealt above.

    I'm sure to distinguish myself here from others, as while Beams is hosted by a group of people (we), by no means are we of the same temperament, style, or character. And we are part of a larger family of frequent contributors and commenters who are also all very different. So it's tough to talk in "we's" here, although "we're" all guilty of doing so, and a "we" definitely exists.

    Anyhow, the truth of your critique comes from, I think, an attempt to have a more constructive commenting section here on the site. We don't always succeed at this. Sometimes it fails. We're all learning to communicate in better ways and the site is a bit of a (messy?) training ground for that.

    We all know many comment sections are a sloppy mess of anonymous comments, they say little, or just trash what has been said. I think (speaking for myself) I can go too far in the other direction and be overly nice or polite - which is sloppy in it's own right. As you point out, often times this is actually quite a false position, as I may in fact be pissed at the commenter I'm responding to, but am attempting to salvage a conversation. In that sense, it's inauthentic, as well meaning as it may feel at the time. I can definitely improve here and you're good to point it out.

    That said, you connecting this weakness to some sort of "smug condescendence" is a poor reading in my estimation, and a little ironic given the tone of many of your own comments ;-) As for the silencing bit, well, I don't agree with you there either. But you've had this conversation once already on this thread and I won't start it again.

    Last thought: I think this being too nicey nice is an over-corrective. It's an over-corrective for the kind of stuff that, frankly, I see in many of your comments online Joe. The tone in many (not all) of your responses is heavy with subtle digs and slags, competition for who's smartest, and a hyper self-importance that feels gross to read. It may be a matter of style, but it's not one I'm fond of. I think we both have some work to do in this regard and I hope you'll consider our offer to join-in on a post discussing 6 Perspectives on Commenting.

  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Sunday, 25 March 2012 05:14 posted by Bergen Vermette

    Hi David, if you're willing, would you send us an email address or other contact for you at the "contact us" below? We have an idea for an upcoming post that we'd like to invite you (and joe + others) to join in on. Hope you're interested, thanks.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Sunday, 25 March 2012 06:16 posted by Chris Dierkes

    I left the following as a string of comments on Joe's FB page (where he reposted the above comment). I feel it's important to try to (I believe) set the record straight.

    Good God there's so much falsity in this. For whatever it's worth, here's an attempt to respond to the many incorrect elements here.

    1. We have nothing against types or stages in any substantive way. I (not everyone on the site) had a critique about masculine and feminine was being used. That's not an attack on types altogether--the actual post talks positively about one form of types (again Joe you might have actually wanted to read what I wrote). Hell TJ has done a multitude of pieces in multiple formats on The Enneagram. Last time I checked that I was a type system.

    Nor do we have anything against stages as such. What we do not want occurring in the comments to our pieces is to have people dismiss someone for being "green" or "postmodern" or "modern", blue, orange, green, red, chartreuse, lavender, whatever. And/or then deciding (as Joe does) that your point of view is the real integral one and everybody's else is deficient based on whatever system you want to cite. If you're really hungering for a site where people do that, there plenty of them out there. Have fun there.

    2. We don't think integral is an old wave and we're a new one. We think the way integral has been communicated, packaged, sold, and the way in which it's interacted in the public sphere to date has failed. We see our project as a reclamation, something like hitting a reset button. Is it always perfect? Of course not. Upfront we say it's an experiment. Sometimes experiments succeed, sometimes they don't. We live, we learn. We move on.

    If someone doesn't agree with that presupposition, then no I wouldn't expect them to be totally on board with us.

    Nevertheless, it's not right to say Beams overall doesn't care about whether the site is integral without qualification. I would say we care very deeply about whether we are holding a multitude of perspectives, looking for ways to find coherence and complexity in the midst of such multiple perspectives. I feel my own contribution to the site is very concerned with opening up a space where we examine our worldviews, the way they shape our beliefs and behaviors, what they open up, what they occlude, how they might interact with other such views.

    I care about that. I don't care whether it gets official label as integral or construct aware or whatever from people who I think are putting way too much emphasis on such notions.

    3. There's no way to assess a comment like Beams "does not believe there is anything world transformational going on in the integral scene." Obviously that would require a discussion of who exactly constitutes the integral scene (and who not I guess) and what world transformation would like (a potentially fascinating conversation from my perspective).

    But there was The Occupy Integral piece which called for precisely more political and social work in the integral world.

    Or Juma's recent piece that ends with a huge number of links to those doing integral work--including even some who use the 'i' word (contra the charge we are somehow anti-integral).

    And then I wrote this followup:

    I should clarify in my point #2 I meant the way in which integral has been described, interacted overall--in a kind of dominant, big picture sense. Of course there are all kinds of great people doing great work, and I don't want my words to be taken as a criticism of them. A number of them have in fact written pieces on Beams and greatly enriched the conversation.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Sunday, 25 March 2012 06:37 posted by Chris Dierkes


    Thanks for the comment. I don't want to steal Trev's thunder, but I definitely think that the use of Spiral Dynamics in the popularization of integral has been a mistake.

    I would just say that I appreciate Zak Stein and Katie Heikkenin on this one.,%20models%20metrics%20measuremt%20vol.%205%20no.%201.pdf

    I certainly do think there is development in a person in terms of complexity, holding more perspectives, bringing more subtlety to bare. But I think it more has to do with tasks, capacities, talents, and so on. I'm less comfortable with labelling as people. e.g. I'm pretty agnostic (maybe even unconvinced) on the notion of a center of gravity to a person or altitude--at least as taken very "real"-ly.

    I like Wilber's notion in his post-metaphysics that levels are post-hoc constructions that are probability waves--they have a greater or lesser probability of helping to locate certain attitudes, actions, beliefs, capacities, etc.

    The other big thing--and that would require may more to flesh out and I'm really more interested to hear what Trev has to say on all that I think there's been a problematic conflation of individual developmental models with socio-cultural development. I mean I think individual models are being used to describe collective development. I think those are two different things (of course I'm sure there's some overlap and perhaps certain recurring patterns), but I think it's a big mistake to so heavily rely on individual models to explain cultural development.

    When it comes to cultural development, Gebser is where it's at. But as noted earlier in this thread, he's not linear.

  • Comment Link Gregor Bingham Sunday, 25 March 2012 15:20 posted by Gregor Bingham

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for doing the review, it’s an interesting book, and it added to my understanding by eeking out some new distinctions. I thought your review was fair, I would add balanced but I think Fox News has that one tied up!
    I am also very impressed with the quality of knowledge on this thread, and depressed at the reactivity.
    Is it too much to ask of a community and online citizenry to take matters reactive offline, and come back for a report? I assume we all have a clue about shadow, our mammalian brain and our reptilian brain and we all get unifocused from time to time?
    Context is hard online, and even harder to unpack online. Humor and mischief only work if you say so upfront, otherwise it’s a manipulation and the fuel for disrespect.
    As for Masculine and Feminine, I love that it has been opened up, but I missed it if anyone pointed out the context simply: it’s hetero sexual western understanding version of them. Context. For another book to consider engaging along the lines of models of the masculine and feminine, there is the great book by a Jungian, Gareth Hill. In this he discusses the static and dynamic masculine and feminine, and their shadows. Its very Jungian, but accessible, it offers more nuance, and some classic tension of the opposites: order vs chaos, and interdependence vs. independence. I think those two make the symbols less opaque.
    My context on spiral dynamics: It’s a tool. It’s more a crayon to tint a picture than a hammer. It’s not a hammer. As is any personality typing system. Jung’s personality types was never meant to be used in any hard fashion, it was to be held lightly.
    To paraphrase Alan Watts: hold it lightly, or it will hold you.
    Thanks so much for your passion and energy in this Chris, I have learned so much from every transaction, such a rich garden of thoughts and ideas.

  • Comment Link ``JoePerez Sunday, 25 March 2012 16:31 posted by ``JoePerez


    Reposting my reply to you on Facebook ~ God willing, may this be my last need to post on this topic ever again.

    ‎(reposting with a few minor changes...) Chris, I have no problem with you attempting to "set the record straight" as you say it, even as you (groan) accuse me of being dishonest and distorting your views.

    Basically what happened here was far less pernicious. I write, as a practice, in simple speech, simplified constructions, with a "greatest depth for the great span" philosophy. I rarely even use integral jargon in most of what I've written in recent months. You have more of a theorist's mindset, which is fine. To me, such perspectives can lose the big picture by getting caught up in nuance bordering on sophistry and ornamental speech and jargon.

    I try to look behind the complexity to the kernel of truth, highlight the one or two truths that are most important and most contrastive, and emphasize it. If I don't think this is enough to have an effect, I may use a bit of colorful language or an attention-grabbing headline to skillfully raise the exposure of this piece. I've seen you do the same, and probably 90% of other bloggers as well, but somehow it's only my character that gets derided as a "sensationalist." We walk through the blogging worlds in different ways. I think there's room for what you do, and room for what I do. I honor B&S's approach, but sometimes it really irks me, as it did in your review of Ucik's book.

    For example, you claim I am dishonest by suggesting that you are "anti-Integral." In fact I didn't say that; I twice summarized my views as saying that B&S is somewhat integral, somewhat not integral. What I said that you respond to was a short sentence that characterized an exact quote from a private conversation with one of your writers. I did not have the time to explain all the nuances of this point, which I didn't think would really be all that controversial (again, I never used the term "anti-Integral.") The basic fact that you have stopped using Integral to describe your blog's mission statement is a fact, isn't it? (Except in the name of your Facebook Page, which I understand Facebook doesn't allow you to change.) I think my statement got at that essential truth, even if it was simple, but then you take what I said and twist it into a statement of dishonesty, calling me a liar without using the term, impugning my integrity repeatedly and with meanness (I think).

    The same things are the case with the other distortions you say that I get wrong about B&S. So go ahead and correct the record with your nuanced take that it's okay for people to talk about stages on B&S. But you are ingoring the fact that my one small reference, half-serious and half-joking, calling your argument against using masculine and feminine to talk about polarities as "classic green with a hint of red" (which I think it is) got such a vicious attack laden with nasty, hateful private and public messages that it was shocking. Warning to all B&S readers: yes you can talk about stages or altitudes on B&S but if you don't do so exactly the way that they think is the only right way it ought to be done, you may find yourself subject to truly malicious character attacks. What B&S has done Chris in trying to transcend Integral is fail to include AQAL in a genuine way. Use AQAL and you are tut-tutted (as you did with Ucik), told you're not interesting (Stamper), or ridiculed and slimed (me).

    As I've said to you privately, I have no issue with you correcting the record as you see fit. But nor do I think I misrepresented B&S in a significant way, just simplified a few points to make them sharper. You clearly think the distinctions you make are of crucial importance, and maybe some of your colleagues and readers agree with you. You don't like it when someone picks up an implicit consquence of your writing to urge people to avoid words you don't like -- like masculine and feminine -- in certain contexts as "silencing" in the specific sense of chilling discourse. I happen to think integrally friendly zones ought to encourage experimental use of masculine and feminine work so as to encourage skillful means; you would rather people drop the terms altogether in discussions of "the spiritual life" or "polarities." Am I not entitled to express my disagreements here, and even to identify the unconscious shadow I think is at work here -- "silencing" -- in order to advance the discussion along? Maybe not. Maybe you don't want this sort of challenging on B&S. I'm okay with staying away if that's what you want.

    Meanwhile, there is one remaining issue that I won't talk about here except to say that I've received unbelievably hateful private messages from one member of your crew during this entire exchange, and I can't ignore the severe impact of this had on (a) the tone in which I responded to you in the comments, and (b) how it now reflects on my view of the B&S enterprise. I have shared one of the hateful messages with you and Trevor personally and privately and my assessment of the integrity of the B&S enterprise hinges to an extent on what I learn. I'm open for a phone conversation, mediated perhaps, to come to a peaceful resolution, if at all possible.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Sunday, 25 March 2012 16:47 posted by Chris Dierkes

    Hi Gregor,

    Thanks for your comment. I too am saddened that things have taken the turn they have. But I am interested in moving forward. I think your points around context and tone and difficulties in reading them in online discourse is a really valid point.

    I've never read the Gareth Hill book. Would you be interested maybe in writing a piece for the site around it?

  • Comment Link Gregor Bingham Sunday, 25 March 2012 17:36 posted by Gregor Bingham

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks. Yes, I would be happy to try my hand at that and give it a good bash. There is nothing like being public with one's thoughts to remind me of the need for focus in them. Eek. Time to snort the cocaine of clarity! Let me know what B&S needs from me for this.

  • Comment Link Chela Davison Thursday, 29 March 2012 04:08 posted by Chela Davison

    Hello everyone in and reading this thread.

    I’m jumping in here to address the breach in commenting policy. I’d like to first acknowledge that this has been hanging in the space here for a few days now unaddressed by those of us who are creating and holding such a policy and container. And while it’s been being addressed behind the scenes, none of us have brought objection to this thread, so that’s what I’m doing now.

    Your manner of engaging here violates our commenting policy. While your voice is appreciated, it absolutely needs to remain within the container we`ve explicitly stated we`re holding for the kind of dialogue we’re committed to. Given that you are a founder and core contributor of the site, there is an even greater demand on you to hold the line here for the integrity of Beams and Struts.
    I respectfully ask you to please honour the commenting policy and do not engage in personal attacks in discussions moving forward.

  • Comment Link paul hess Monday, 02 April 2012 07:08 posted by paul hess

    Chris and Everyone, I didn't direct my toward you or anyone in particular because its not about you or me or anyone here. I'm concerned with the common good and i selected some issues to address that i believe are important for creating a common good and serving individuals. Your review was decent but then things got more personal around theory points rather than the big picture of what it would take to improve relations between men and women as a society. I gave my opinion about key issues involving theory with the most practical implications. In case anyone is interested, and they might not be because i am not attacking anyone, the key issues i explained above are:
    1. The theory of patriarchy has been refuted.(see Warren Farrell)
    1, Social constructionism and the theory of patriarchy are absolutely incompatible.
    3. Howard Schwartz's critique provides much new insight into feminism and green politics.
    4. America has a serious problem with man-hating.
    5. Some other cultures have videos of better role models for women that present much better relations with men. This has been used as a therapy with astonishing results.

  • Comment Link James Barrow Monday, 02 April 2012 21:37 posted by James Barrow

    Hi Paul

    I am intrigued by your 5th point:
    "Some other cultures have videos of better role models for women that present much better relations with men. This has been used as a therapy with astonishing results."

    This sounds promising - can you provide any helpful links please?

  • Comment Link David T Sunday, 08 April 2012 13:17 posted by David T


    Thank you for the invitation but I don't want to contribute to a post on the front page.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Wednesday, 11 April 2012 21:46 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Hi David, apologies for the delay in the response I promised, I've been trying to think through what would be the best form for such a reply. (I've also been buried under other projects too, but mostly I've been sitting with what might be the most fruitful form for this exchange).

    I was at first hoping that you and I might have a private exchange (sending back and forth a Word document via email) where we debate/discuss the criticisms you have raised, and I could flesh out a defense of structures of consciousness, and so on, to be published on Beams. However, I gathered by your response to me and then to Berg above that you're not that interested in that particular form (which is cool of course). So then I thought I might do a short piece outlining my arguments in the Bits & Pieces section, and then we could hash some things out in the comment section, but I really have too much to say in defense of structures (from a variety of disciplines), and that might make for a semi absurd mega comment thread fleshing all that stuff out.

    So, I've decided the best move might be for me to write a long form essay where I lay down my case in defense of structures of consciousness. It won't be definitive, and my thinking around this is currently shifting due to Bonnitta Roy's work, but I'd like to make that broad case and then work from there. I've been meaning to write this essay since the beginning of the site, and have been working on the material since a few years before that, so I'd really appreciate an opportunity to put that down at the site. It's really overdue, and I'd like to create something substantial that can be referred back to in the future. And who knows what will come out of it all in the end. I'll definitely reference our disagreement, and speak directly to the points you've raised. So if that seems reasonable, I'm going to go ahead with that. I have a decent opening of time in the next two weeks, so I think I could have it on the site in three weeks max, probably shorter. Does that work? If I don't hear from you here, I hope to see you on that thread when the essay is published. cheers David, Trevor.

    (ps. feel free to send me an email via the Contact Us at the bottom the site if you want to set something different up privately).

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