This post is inordinately focused on Gravesian thought and it very likely falls in the Spiral Dynamics [SD]-nerd category. Read beyond this point at the risk of being deemed a wizard in training [WIT]. It’s likely good to keep in mind, though, I’m probably only about half way on the wizard trail myself [HALFWIT].
Last week: barber polemic
My “Know thyself” piece last week sparked some conversation that stimulated me to go back to the source material. I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I thought was going to be a controversial, contrarian, possibly polemic assertion is actually classic Gravesian orthodoxy. I’ll come back to quote/cite Graves in a bit.
Process and Reality
In the early-nineties I read A.N. Whitehead’s books. His work lead me to a fresh way of understanding G-d — and so indirectly back to Jesus as by then I’d become a lapsed Christian. So, I have always had a soft spot for Process thought. Is that why I have a strong sense that Clare Graves’ thinking was seriously influenced by Whitehead? I had no way to know, so I asked the SDi facebook community if any Graves scholars could affirm or deny. No one knew for sure, although it was observed that it could easily be so because Whitehead was so huge. Very true. Philosophically/theologically, the twentieth century in the West was essentially a rather lofty conversation between Tillich (Being) and Whitehead (Becoming). Whitehead’s process thinking overcomes many dualities and was indeed huge in much of academia in the late 50s, 1960s, and early 70s. Graves’ theory elegantly integrates becoming and being in both/and developmental union.
The elegance of Graves’ theory is that, as Whitehead’s Process, it fully integrates both transcendence and immanence. It deserves to be visualized well. However, a linear double helix mistakenly over-emphasizes transcendence. A barber pole seems a non-starter as an image for human existence/development on two counts. Arguably, the barber pole might be seen as the quintessential visualization of a closed system. And, isn’t a barber pole just a snippet of an extended, linear process, an illusionist’s way of bringing brevity, and novelty to sameness?
A closed system is categorically unacceptable from a Process standpoint. The barber pole gives the initial appearance of violating the central principle put forward by Whitehead, namely the creative advance into novelty. A barber pole seems to comport better with Qohelet’s early assertion, “…there is nothing new under the sun,” than with Isaiah’s insistence that G-d declares, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
What did Graves say?
So, my quarrel with Graves’ model turns out to be the selection of one word in the article I’m quoting, and strictly a matter of what I feel is an errant visualization. Drawn from his 1974 paper for The Futurist, “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap,” Graves writes:
At this point in history, the societal effective leading edge of man in the technologically advanced nations is currently finishing the initial statement of the sixth theme of existence and is beginning again with the first theme in an entirely new and more sophisticated variation.
Makes it seem as if Graves was thinking of a barber pole himself. For reasons we’ve only learned the hard way, to avoid spiritual narcissism it may be more helpful to visualize the “momentous leap” as a möbius leap. Graves’ “…the initial statement…” of a values system is precise. Rather than privilege the visualization of ascension on a never-ending, linear double helix, we imagine a symbol of endless movement, the möbius-like movement of a barber pole.
I have no qualms in seeing a möbius leap into re-alignment and tuning as a vital creative advance into novelty. At such time as individuals and societies have all six themes fully aligned and tuned to Spirit (Love) we can talk some more about what image might best depict that.
New site cover
Trying out a new page cover [same image, new page/blog title and tag line]. If the new blog title feels like it may stick for a bit, then I’ll declare.
Next week: Red [CP] and narcissism
I confess, I’m a life-long, recovering narcissist. If the top two characteristics society is imprinting on its population right now are narcissism and nihilism, then many ‘wounded healers’ will be required for the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Next week: “material/spiritual narcissism.”
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?