goin' upstairs (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Sun Jan 11 15:50:16 EST 1998


Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 13:55:04 -0500
From: Jack Rowe <jackrowe at compuserve.com>
Reply-To: permaculture at listserv.oit.unc.edu
To: UNC Perm List <permaculture at listserv.unc.edu>,
    Envirolink Perm List <permaculture at envirolink.org>
Subject: Re: goin' upstairs

The universal creative cycle for which stairstepping, gestation,
paradigm shifting, etc., are metaphorical labels for a particular phase
is, to my mind, the most important of all patterns pertaining to life. As
applied to humans, it is the pattern which governs growth in consciousness
and social evolution (or the avoidance of such). As applied to biosystems,
it describes speciation or increases in behavioral complexity (or, collapse
or stagnation of an ecosystem or population).

A biological plateau (or night of the soul in poetic/psychological
terms) is indeed reached when the potentials contained in the previous
cycle have been exhausted. In biological terms, these potentials are
material or behavioral and are represented by resources available to some
organism(s) which can use them. Biological plateaus are seen in
overpopulation and a build-up of not-yet-usable wastes. In psychological
terms, the potentials are represented by new ideas or paradigms, the
plateau by stagnation due to the useful logical extension of these ideas or
paradigms having been reached. 

However -- and extremely importantly -- in the plateau phase, there is much
more going on than mere exhaustion. This is the critical place in the cycle
-- after painful dissolution of the old paradigm (or deathly exhaustion of
a resource base), and before the arisal of the new, more universal,
higher-level paradigm (or, biologically, arisal of the new organism or
behavior which transforms built-up pollution into a resource). THE
GESTATIONAL/DARK NIGHT/PLATEAU STAGE IS CHARACTERIZED BY WIDESPREAD
NUCLEATION OF NEW POTENTIAL IDEAS/SPECIES/BEHAVIORS WHICH -- THOUGH BADLY
NEEDED -- ARE TYPICALLY INVISIBLE ON THE SCALE OF THE PREVIOUS CYCLE (hence
the poetic moniker dark night and a tendency to feel panic or despair).
The central importance of this stage to further progression is well-put by
the Taoist saying of long ago, When a Master appears to be least active,
s/he is doing the most. 

In the straight-line, either/or world view of Western Civilization, to
even ENTER the gestational phase is considered failure (psychologically, it
is characterized as a form of insanity or mental breakdown). Despite
continual creative reworking of our world views throughout ourstory
[history?... herstory?... ourstory!], Western myth holds that our current
ideas are always and finally right. The old people were ignorant, we are
enlightened.

Refusal to pass through the typically-uncomfortable dark
night/gestational phase of the creative cycle, while remaining receptive
to the deep changes invariably called for, is the functional basis for
stagnation and addiction in their many biological, psychological and
behavioral forms. When a paradigm or myth has reached its useful logical
extension engage in global addictive behaviors -- threatening our very
existence -- rather than accepting the ourstorical fact that all physical
and psychological existence is composed of cycles and pulsations, and that
all paradigms must eventually and always give way to their progeny. 

So what's my point, you ungraciously ask? Hmph. Well, we can take heart in
the fact that though apparent change is threateningly-slow, fundamental
paradigmatic (was that a word?) changes are nucleating which will enable
the collective critical mass of consciousness to congeal which may in fact
save our butts. We can brace ourselves for the panic and lashing-out which
typically accompany final stages of involuntary withdrawal from addiction.
We can operate to sow as many seed nuclei on as many levels as we can,
trusting them to grow if they are viable and placed in fertile ground (if
all the seeds grow like magic beans, great -- but remember to sow even the
little ones because the growing medium and conditions are changing, and
there is strength in diversity). We can work to empower each other,
ourselves and those we meet, trusting each to act in their own good faith.
We can keep working with ever-increasing focus, while simultaneously
attempting to remain clear and open to the new paradigms which are even now
arising (and which, for all our visionary sight, will likely quite amaze us
in their final form). 

And so on...

Jack



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