[First working title was The Language of Earth-Walking: A Source Book for Future Sense]
Preface (draft) • Table of Contents (draft)
Behind my work is a totality. That puts me in an odd position, always and forever challenging me to justify myself as its arbiter. For one, the role of expert does not fit. True, modern systems depend on experts to guard every intersection. That the human tendency to rely on expertise demotes totality is almost too obvious to point out. But while expertise in place of totality is easy to justify, especially in defense of the rational systems we rely on, the set of disbeliefs it has spurred is not easy to rationally defend. Ironic, but also easily missed, as few people make the effort.
The way it “works” is something like this. An expert’s work is to elevate some portion above the rest, to sublimate the totality into the part represented to others. Specialized language is often a necessary and obvious point of differentiation, and can be a source of endless frustration. But experts also employ ample social and egoistic finesse to appeal to listeners (the term I use for any act of receiving, as a bow to the spirit of what receiving fully makes possible), and establish their relevance through culturally-edgy flourishes, name-dropping, and the like.
Broadly speaking, in my representations of totality, including this book, I avoid all of that. Which takes some getting use to. In a sense, I accept The Obscurity Bind referred to in the title, rather than working endlessly to render it unacceptable.
Another wrinkle is the apparent self-defeating logic of it: totality indicates everything that goes into human expertise plus everyone and everything else. Since we are not yet a collective of everything experts (human, robot, or otherwise), no one of us can be a totality expert.
But wait. How then can you tell us about it or show it to us? How could it possibly be expressed in natural language given the endless complications and obfuscations that vex it? The answer is a bit more complicated than than I care to represent in an introductory book. We can start with the premise that it be expressible as an inexpert language, one I refer to as the Language of Earth-Walking. But that begs the further question? Can it be inexpert and also totally true?
Here’s how the problems, which are also paradoxes, resolve. It is a transition already under way. The Language of Earth-Walking unlocks creative possibility right where we are. Put another way, the forms, words, and concepts allow us to move from reliance on expertise to connection through “future sense.”
This is possible because there is a window to totality that is the collective. Consider global information, travel, and various other types of exchange and interplay, through which humanity’s emergent collective social experiment continually integrates novelty and progress. We understand and appreciate it metaphorically as an innovation engine.
Regardless of this positive understanding, the state of our collective, despite our individual best efforts, puts us face to face with a few hard facts as well. Competitive markets, consumer savvy, and influencer-stoked creativity are taking us in the opposite direction from totality solutions. The problem is a definition of collective based on individuals as separate and thus seemingly naturally un-collective.
Part of any resulting analysis is simple: individuals are easily lured out of unpleasant realities by pleasant distractions. The complex part is the unconscious or subtle role of pervasive disbeliefs and cynicism. For instance, connecting with totality today might get you lost in illusoriness such as through quantum field theory or sidelined awaiting an afterlife through many religions. The opportunity in totality remains: explore personal humility such that we are able to make hard choices to serve any definition of collective other than a bunch of well-meaning individuals. That could be collective as in the human species, all of nature, all or just future generations. In my view, as unbelievable as it may sound, and true to the Language of Earth-Walking, this is possible while also staying aware of, expressing, and even at times serving our personal preferences. This is why I personally am able to accept that The Obscurity Bind exists – and need not be ignored.
The collective form of creativity we have come to brandish is creativity for the sake of “productivity.” Canceling money with data and metrics with participation, all we are left with is productivity towards expertise. As we become a collective of expert Earth-Walkers, productive creativity unites with what is favored by natural systems, complexity with patterns and redundancy that generate a system that is resilient and thriving.
Separation from totality is experienced by some as a crisis. Others take it as an opportunity to perpetually question or reflect more deeply. Either way, we have the separateness to thank when it comes to exploring and creating from the sense of our own direct observership and uniqueness of experience. It keeps us curious, and it keeps us faithful. It is what has kept me nourished.
The opportunity has combined well for me with the methods of modern science, which I have always been fascinated by. Unfortunately, anyone seeing lack of totality as a reasonable grounds to question science is standing in the sizable blind spot of the science-minded. We have to approach another way.
So I have found myself toiling in the delights of a life journey rich in inquiry and observation, where fighting for expertise, resigning to illusion, or dutifully waiting in the audience for the afterparty are paths I have not had to take. I received clarity and inspiration 25 years ago that has provided a different path for me.
Many years ago I added to my oft-changing creative identity the label of savant. I noticed that, similar to an expert, as in, highly specialized or focused in a particular skill or field, a savant functions by making sense differently. A savant orients primarily toward goals. Win a game, always get the right answer, enhance positive outcomes, play a flawless music composition. There is a disregard of the politicizing and “sense-making” intrinsic to the process of referencing (“using” lite) each other for social position (and thus gaining a more favorable position in the collective). This is one reason “hierarchy” is such a dirty word these days. People are confusing their will to function within a collective with their ability to effectively claim expertise
My inner savant’s goal, as evidenced by the book you are reading now, is this: positive collective psychosocial reorientation.
Another pivot in the reorienting dance of paradoxes you see before you now is that savants are not sought out for their social skills. How can a savant help with psychosocial anything? When viewed from the “goal” approach, it is easier to be objective about such things. I did not know going in that this was the purpose of my work, that goal has emerged — after ample psychosocial reorientation of my own!
Please do not get confused however. I do not see myself on a pedestal that way, especially because I myself admire others who are making positive collective movements possible. Which brings us back to totality, because that is the more unusual claim I am making.
There remains a strong tendency in modern times to believe that no human can directly know the totality. Today, the disbelief is being questioned most strongly in relation to technology. Will the AI robots we create know what we do not believe we can?
My work is a challenge to the totality disbelief (cynicism) that handicaps our opportunity to improve our collective lot. In totality, the collective is a mirror to totality. I suggest we can connect to ourselves and each other with collective creation rather than as unwitting (purely individualistic) tools or pawns, obliged to each other and to all of nature and creation regardless of whether we like others or not. This is a paradox of course. What makes us unwitting is accepting hyper-individuation over creative collectivity. That is how we keep getting trapped in the experience of being cogs in systems that are not serving our collective best interests.
Without the Language of Earth-Walking, in the face of globalization of information and travel, it has proven difficult to catalyze anything other than spurring creative innovations and getting our personal shit together. So we get ourselves together, but the rest of the system keeps on churning out hyper-individuating innovations. That process stands to totally self-correct when a critical amount of humanity reorients itself away from collective disbelief and cynicism, and we awaken future sense in ourselves.
My orientation seems antithetical given I am but one. But the results are real. To be sure, to benefit from a savant’s gift you have to be so curious about the topic or its potential to make a positive change that you are willing to forgive their odd way of getting it across or the odd way you feel when appreciating their guileless ways. If you have leafed through the book you have probably already noted: “This is a bit odd.”
You have to adjust (reorient). You will not be adjusted to.
With evil in the world, it is easy to dismiss evil as chaos and chaos as a symptom of lack of totality. Another explanation however is that by aligning our emotions, thoughts, and actions to the story that separation from totality is true, evidenced by its effects on us through chaos, [evil is its negative hold on future sense]. So it is not chaos that separates but rather the interpretation that chaos necessarily affects the future negatively. This justifies self-important, expert-wielding behaviors whereby humanity’s capacity for negative anticipatory management seems to be the only thing holding the world together. [Management hubris.] When we relax that, we experience that chaos is simply the absence of awe.
Humans caught up in the negative anticipatory management scheme conclude it takes individuality through scientific rigor, or humbleness through religious conviction, to approach integrity, wholeness, and goodness (absence of evil). This further sucks us in to behaving as if the universe’s natural integrity — such as discrete orderliness, beauty, resilience — cannot possibly translate across to collective human behavior. This is a moment of reckoning for you, dear reader, because were collectivity not possible in ways that is also creative, generative, even healing, the claim I make before you now — that this work reflects totality and thus serves our capacity for future sense — would be meaningless. To which I have only two words:
There is nothing that can justify a different stance, so I hand the debate to you. Keep it, and close the book. Toss separation from totality, and read on.
With the help of modern science, humanity finds itself doubling down on the inglorious parts, the negative anticipatory bias. It seems increasingly that no amount of scientific, philosophical or, for that matter, spiritual conviction will make it otherwise. The “elephant in the corner” reason is that totality implies we are inseparable from others, yet individuals seem to be able to thrive, even when (or perhaps moreso when) experiencing themselves as separate from the totality of creation. The solution I present here is to connect to creative collectivity, that is, to experience totality indirectly rather than directly. The Language of Earth-Walking gives us deep resonance within our portion of the collective, and most importantly giving us a clear window into what is actually happening before and around us.
I hope that strikes you as a compelling if not realizable goal. If you have your doubts, good for you for noticing. Doubt is intimately related to the tricky part of the very goal itself. I acknowledge it as the biggest risk for “losing you” too. If you can embrace the idea that humanity is due for psychosocial reorientation, can you also embrace that you and others will necessarily have to experience disorientation in the process? That ball of wax includes experiences like feeling lost, wrong, or confused. Can that be a change for good rather than only for ill? I aim to say not just yes but easy!
Without the disorienting part, psychosocial reorientation sounds great though, right? Socio-cultural crosscurrents are absolutely mind-boggling. The globalization of media and information only seems to be aggravating the situation.
A reassurance I hope to communicate through this book is that, paradoxically, there’s nothing to get lost from. We only experience disorientation when losing sight of that. Really, we are always just re-orienting. Admittedly though, that often has us moving toward the unseen, the mysterious, and a sense of future unknown.
This relates to another common confusion that comes about from the social impulse known as “collective action.” The totality includes the lack of understanding about how it all relates, including how people can hold mutually exclusive preferences. Collective creativity has no requirement for input from everyone. Pausing until everyone can “get on the same page” is to reject totality. We already are.
The Language of Earth-Walking is a service to humanity. This language does not separate but activates. But it’s in English!? Yes, and no. Leaf through the pages and you will see, it is not structured as any other language. Words with similar meanings or connotations from any language can be used to replace what you see here and, with the structure in place, meanings consistent with the deeper themes of Earth-Walking will emerge from it. The natural language words here are like anchors to collective creative connection – through language and all other forms of relational structuring as well.
The Language of Earth-Walking is a mirror to the holistic though dynamic structure under-girding existence at all times. Creating continuity between past, present and future, assuring that systems and individuals that animated within our shared reality have internal and external controls that tie them to everything else.
My aim here is to inspire creative potential in people from all walks of life in a dynamic, creative way. If you still believe in and crave life’s vivid artistry, despite the strife and doubt, you won’t be disappointed. It’s really very simple, if you keep the goal in mind.
We will take a walk using a different approach to language. I will be your guide for making exploration of natural law your right leg and experiential truth your left. That way you can successfully process, integrate, and grow within the unusual contents of this book.
I tend to be minimalistic and do not give examples. It is actually exhausting for me personally to explore the multitudinous ways the enclosed work “maps” to popular culture, punk and indie, academia, business world, sports, media and film, social structures like countries, ethnic groups and historical and modern tribal groupings. So I will leave at that to you — do not make me do it alone! None of us should have to.
That said, have vision. With the potential for collective energy to go in to mapping (aligning the information of existing cultures) in all its forms to the Language of Earth-Walking, humanity will tap into and unleash globalizable meaning-making. Simple, because we do it together.