30 April 2003 | Draft
Embodying a Timeship vs. Empowering a Spaceship
- / -
Part 4 of Renaissance
Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community
Grounding paradoxes for spaceships and timeships
Missing dimensions and dangers?
"Renaissance Zones" vs "Technopoles"?
| Free zones
The metaphor of "space" vs "time" is used in this context
in order to raise the question as to whether mainstream, and especially western,
thinking is not locked into a form of "space-based" thinking. This
might be understood as distorting recognition of any "time-based"
thinking that could be vital to meaningful development of society. The question
posed in this way follows from previous explorations of the way in which thinking
might be locked into a "static" approach, when a "dynamic"
approach might be more fruitful (From
Statics to Dynamics in Sustainable Community, 1998). A specific criticism
has been made of Project Logic, notably in relation to the challenge for African
Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management
as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000).
Grounding paradoxes for spaceships and timeships
Given the significant failure of many development decades and other programmes
in enabling billions to get out of the poverty trap, the challenge is here framed
in terms of whether mainstream institutional intiatives could be usefully understood
as "spaceships". For whatever reason, it would then appear that such
spaceships are effectively "grounded" and unable to perform as originally
intended and promised.
Is it the case that people around the world need to recognize the degree to
which they have been lured -- effectively programmed -- into a cargo
cult mentality? The "spaceships" are not coming to help. Indeed
the "institutional space ships" typical of the international system
(UN agencies, multinational corporations, etc) have demonstrated over the years
the ephemeral nature of the assistance they may choose to offer or withhold
-- "Health for All by the Year 2000" ! It is only their own crews
and passengers that tend really to benefit sustainably from the projects in
which they engage (as exemplified by the array of privileges accorded to them
as the new nomenklatura). Those responsible for the "space programme"
have no insights into how to put things together -- except for destructive or
exploitative purposes -- or for the benefit of the few. Those at Damanhur might
indeed be accused of the form of cargo cult science identified by Richard Feynman
Cult Science, 1974) -- except that instead of waiting for institutional
promises to be unfulfilled, they have found unusually innovative ways to nourish
their collective quality of life. It is the illusion of the "institutional
spaceships" that they are capable of delivering innovation sustainably
to the peoples of the world that has proven to be the most insidious form of
The reasons repeatedly put forward for why these "institutional spaceships"
do not work is that they lack fuel -- and are therefore inadequately empowered.
The possibility that they may be completely inappropriately designed and conceived
is not considered. Efforts to "reform" them amount to little more
than tinkering. Is it possible that from a design perspective, empowering such
spaceships designed with current understanding is like trying to improve the
design of aircraft using steam engines?
Efforts to operate many institutional spaceships can be usefully compared to
a group of kids in a discarded airplane, pretending to crew it, and imagining
they can travel in it. For example, during his time as head of a major UK government
ministry, Tony Benn was very articulate in indicating that he had "all
the levers of power arrayed before him" but finally recognized that, although
"he could pull on them at any time", but "they were not in fact
connected to anything".
The table below is a very tentative effort to summarize the possible challenges
to reflection about how time-based thinking functions in contrast to space-based
thinking. Of particular interest is the sense of identity or invariance in each
case -- and of what can be tranformed without losing the ability to recover
|spaceships dont go anywhere in time
||timeships dont go anywhere in space
|organized time ("organizer")
||organize space (interior decoration; landscapes)
|identification with arrow of time (time has line-like properties)
||identification with groundedness in place (as configuration
|music as trace of time in space
||configuration as trace of space in time (tracing out with
eye); cyclic time
|sustainable development in time (to survive)
||coherent embodiment in space (to thrive)
|development as a space concept of time (with rapture as its
||embodiment as a time concept of space (with present moment
as its singularity)
|possession of space
||possession of identity
||control of space
|acquire space / territory
||acquire time / chairos
|grid orientation / unfocused
||focus on the moment / happening
|time is money
||space is focus of value (spirit of the land)
| mutual confidence / exchange -- communities / villages
|| mutual confidence / exchange / sharing
|construct with "space" focus; construction is how
the static perceives the dynamic
||"development" focus (being, movement, doing); development
is how ....?
|planning mindset; long-term planning
||time body of community; instantaneous spontaneity being (combustion)
|cultures: Anglo-Teutonic / Cartesian / space-travel
||cultures: Celtic / Latin / Medit. / Arab (Taoism,
Tibet, etc) time travel (tombs, pharohs)
|extensive: space vehicles
||intensive: time vehicles
|sense of what is
||sense of being
|illusion of universality of truth/meaning
||illusion of intensive/relative truth and meaning
- illiteracy / innumeracy / map-ignorance
- time-based sight-senses
- sensing the hills / halls
|project logic / injecting
||enabling logic / eliciting
|space into time -- business
||deluded projection of development in time into spatial development
|spaceship to universe -- sphere external
timeship to now -- sphere of moment
|external journeying: travel
||internal journeying: individuation
|observation (tourist bus of monitoring scientists)
||involvement (involvement and participation)
|journey motivation: more meaningful "elsewhere"
||journey motivation: more meaningful "elsewhen"
|space vessel: container for invariant form
||time vessel: transformer
|compensation: substance abuse
||compensation: self-help fads
To help clarify the challenge of time-based thinking, it has been presented
here within a polarity with space-based thinking. The challenge is of course
a larger one in that there is a paradoxical inter-twining of space and time.
To explore the richer possibilities beyond such polarization, it is worth using
the coding system basic to the I Ching . For example, the overarching
continuity of space can be represented by an unbroken yang line (arrow
/ penis), whereas the emptiness and discontinuity of time can be represented
by a broken arrow (vagina / emptiness of moments).
By combining or hybridizing such polarized thinking in various ways, "yang
ships" and "yin ships" can become a variety of forms of "yang-yin
ships" or "yin-yang ships". Such an exercise was previously attempted
with the right hand column of examples focusing on time and how processes are
experienced and navigated and the left on space, territory and how objects are
defined, possessed and used (see Discovering
Richer Patterns of Comprehension to Reframe Polarization, 1998). An
exercise of this kind can be used to review the complete range of possibilities
for "sustainable development" (Interrelationships
between 64 Complementary Approaches to Sustainable Development. 2002)
The full set of these possibilities suggests that space-time travel involves
a degree of flexibility in modes of understanding for which space-based thinking
is inadequate. Such an exercise points to the possibility that current institutional
spaceships are effectively grounded and unable to fly because of an inadequate
relationship to time and an inadequate understanding of appropriate resources.
A time ship is not a machine in any conventional sense. It functions otherwise.
It needs to be embodied rather than constructed in order to operate.
Who gets to travel in a spaceship? The smallest possible minority of the population.
What of the fantasies of space colonies? What proportion of the population will
have that opportunity -- and at what cost in non-renewable resources? It is
true that such travels will be hyped as the glory of humanity "going boldly
where none have gone before". But as food for the imagination it is possible
that people may be far better nourished by timeships in which many can travel.
Essentially there is more meaning in a good popular song than in the product
of "space programme" thinking (declarations, treaties, etc). It has
been too easily forgotten that it is from music that the theory of "harmony"
has been developed -- not from any efforts to engender socio-political harmony.
Missing dimensions and dangers?
In seeking to inquire into the apparent success of Damanhur, it is important
to recognize the possible nature of its limitations. These are likely to conform
to the adage of policy scientist Geoffrey Vickers: A trap is a function of the
nature of the trapped (Freedom in a Rocking Boat, 1972).
Possibly as a ploy of the Damanhur Super
Risk game, one critique from within Damanhur argues publicly in their
newsletter (Peta Amber-Lynne. An Open Inquiry to Damanhur, QDm International,
March 2003) that: The game represents a planet as something to fight over and
queries its appropriateness as a model for the priorities of others, especially
given that the energy and attention given to it belie the notion that it is
"just a game". Given that "Damanhur is a Mystery School where
all things are known as creative on many levels", she challenges the underlying
premises of Super Risk:
- a worldview that sees territory and resources as something to be controlled
- an enactment of the premiss that there is a basic scarcity of resources
calling for competition
- that there is such a thing as "A People in contrast to People or Life"
She argues that this kind of territorial thinking is anchored in a worldview
associated with the reptilian brain that is inaccurate and limited with respect
to research associated with the Gaia Hypothesis or Quantum reality -- however
useful the game may be in training people "to think of many options and
outcomes at once". In the light of the possibility acknowledged at Damanhur
that "the activities of the Super
Risk game were being reflected in the world" (through some resonant
effect on the collective consciousness of humanity), the competitive territorial
focus seems inappropriate. She cites other views that the scarcity mindset is
sustained by repression of the Great Mother archetype, especially when the complementary
archetypes of warrior, sovereign and magician are given full expression. She
further questions the apparent elitism cultivated by the Super
The instigator of Super Risk
responded in the same issue (Falco's reply to Peta) indicating that:
- the questions being explored in the game were:
- whether it was possible to arrive at the formulation of ethics, or moral
behaviour, when guided by various existing streams of social conditioning
and starting from a widespread utilitarian condition that is totally based
on defensiveness and fear of enemies -- rather than assuming that world
dyanmics was based on wealth and cooperation
- whether, in the light of experience of many generations of the game
(over thousands of years), it is possible to engender more appriopriate
feelings and behaviour, based on agreement rather than conflict. "Only
through these mechanisms can new conditions of complexity be born that
in turn lead to others that we would call chivalrous"
- understanding of the game depends on a high degree of participation to ensure
exposure to its many-layered complexity (integrating humn psychology, behaviour,
political choices, etc), only some of which can be explained (or represented
in quantitative simulations), whereas other aspects can only be understood
- the game was being developed in order to provide a way of exploring and
understanding, "from a strategic and philosophical point of view what
the function of Damanhur is and what might happen in political, economical
and social contexts from now on in future decades and centuries"
- the "use of the Risk game is a way of training future politicians,
those who will have to understand the human, philosophical, psychological
mechanisms based on observation of the environment, etc"
With respect to Damanhur, questions might be asked about:
- the apparent failure to recognize the merits of approaches distinct from
those at Damanhur, despite its emphasis on syncretism (Evaluating
Synthesis Initiatives and their Sustaining Dialogues, 2000)
- the apparent failure to recognize that Damanhur might only "work"
for a particular range of personality types from a particular range of cultural
backgrounds (cf Systems
of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993)
- the unresolved issues of the status and role of aesthetic styles distinct
from the dominant style favoured at Damanhur, including the aesthetic preferences
for "filling" space rater than appreciating "empty" space
Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue as Exemplified by Meditation, 1997)
- the apparently missing dimension represented by taoist and sufi perspectives,
namely a degree of existential paradox reframing the moment
- the apparent implication that truth can be captured in one place, effectively
denying and demeaning the role of other places and modalities
- the manner in which, from a depth psychology perspective, the Damanhur community
handles its collective "shadow"
- the extent to which mystification is a factor
The Wright brothers experiments were fraught with disaster -- as are many experiments
involving new and poorly understood technologies. Curiously the disasters associated
with "scientific research and development" are considered an acceptable
risk of the experimental process -- even though they may involve fatal accidents
(eg the space shuttles) or generate uncontrollable black holes [more
Considerable resources are allocated to such highly experimental undertakings
-- even if their inadequacies subsequently give rise to industrial disasters
(eg Chernobyl, Three Mile Island) or prove to be a target of sabotage. In such
cases it is entirely acceptable to engage in hazardous experiments with hazardous
materials, provided apparently adequate safeguards are in place (sealed environments,
insulation, gloveboxes, etc) -- or the subjects are expendable (eg prisoners,
military, or disabled). No such possibilities are considered credible in the
case of psycho-social experiments. Despites numerous fatalities (cf exposure
to radioactivity, biochemical products, etc), the risk justifies the potential
payoff in the first case, but it does not in the second.
Any disasters associated with experiments having a psycho-social dimension
are considered completely unacceptable and justify the outlawing of any social
experiment whatsoever -- especially if they have been subject to sabotage. No
public resources are allocated to "experiments" other than of the
most trivial kind. There is no concept of "fundamental research" involving
radical and unusual experiments -- that are so typical of physics. The fact
that learnings may be obtained from a disaster permitting parameters to be modified
in further experiments -- as is done in many laboratories -- is totally obscured
by the perceived threat of any such experiments to the social fabric. And yet
it is from understandings of the natural sciences that insights into the challenges
of governing an increasing complex society are expected to be derived -- with
little outcome of benefit to the disadvantaged billions to demonstrate the validity
of this assumption, other than improved surveillance and security systems, and
other procedures common to management of factory farms.
Whereas religious considerations weigh heavily in ethical discussion on certain
biological researches (stem cells, contraceptives, embryo research, etc), they
are considered even more relevant in the case of "magic" -- even though
this has long been framed by science as mere superstition.
Examples of disastrous incidents ("social Chernobyls") that should
not therefore be used to justify prohibition of all psycho-social experimenation:
- Heavens' Gate: group which committed collective suicide in March 1997 on
the occasion of the passage of the Halley-Bop comet [more]:
Shinrikyo, used sarin gas in a terrorist attack in a Tokyo subway in March
Temple (Jonestown), 900 followers were murdered on their leader's instructions
in November 1978 [more]
- Rajneesh Foundation International
- Ordre du Temple Solaire
One might ask whether the degree of "group think" associated with
the justification of the attack of the USA on Iraq -- at the cost of some $100
billion and perhaps 10,000 lives -- was more or less dangerously irresponsible
than all the above combined (cf. Groupthink:
the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale, 2002).
Is it possible that, in successfully opening up the exploration of the time
dimension according to their understanding, Damanhur might have trapped itself
in an instrumental relationship to the realms opened up in this way? Tp what
extent may they have projected the mainstream mindset they have successfully
rejected as "space thinking" onto the "time" dimension?
Put another way, is there a sense in which reality has been harassed [more]
by the glorification of the urge to know and intervene and, in abandoning that
attitude with respect to space they have replicated it with respect to time?
Or, expressed differently, are there other pathways with respect to time that
follow from aspects of the approach they have taken?
Great emphasis is placed at Damanhur on the need to respond to the conditions
of the planet. The concern is of course shared by many worldwide. Particular
challenges in this process are:
- how to articulate a collective vision which is not simply a "lowest
possible denominator" but is rather than the "highest common multiple"?
- how to ensure the appropriateness of the action of those who claim the skills
to act appropriately (Qui custodiet custodies?)
- how to ensure that the benefits of innovation are actually of benefit to
the many rather than to the few?
"Renaissance Zones" vs "Technopoles"?
Science parks: The world of science and technology
has engendered a strong rationale for "science and technology parks",
"technopoles" and "business
incubators" in which government and industry have extensively invested
because of the recognized competititve economic advantage. They may be otherwise
known as: research
parks, science centers, business innovation centers, or centers for advanced
technology. They have multiplied rapidly since their first appearance in the
mid-1960s. During the latter half of the 1980s their number increased by 500
per cent in North America and 800 per cent in the Asia Pacific region [Europe].
Many are grouped within the Association of University
Research Parks. The International Association
of Science Parks has 251 members. It defines such entities as:
a property-based initiative which has formal and operational links with one
or more universities, research centres, or other institutes of higher education;
which is designed to encourage the formation and growth of knowledge-based
industries and other organisations normally resident on site; which has a
management function actively engaged in the transfer of technology and business
skills to tenant organisations.
Examples of such nodes might include:
- Akademgorodok (Russia)
- Cambridge Science Park (UK)
- Plassey Technological Park (Ireland)
- Silicon Valley (USA)
- Sophia Antipolis (France)
They are envisioned as a space where creativity and innovation are nourished
and cherished -- under the "incubator" metaphor. They are key nodes
in "networks of excellence" as conceived, for example, by the European
Commission. But, as noted above, they are "property-based initiatives"
-- where the focus is on generating intellectual property for the sponsors who
expect to benefit preferentially, if not exclusively, from them. Whilst such
environments may include what are otherwise known as "think tanks",
such bodies do not constitute science parks in their own right. The constraints
of "think tank conceptualization" are explored elsewhere (paper Constraints
of "Think-tank" Conceptualization on Global Governance: unexplored implications
of the "tank" metaphor, 2003)
Free zones: In recent decades "free zones"
have been the tools by which many countries overcame their economic crises.
Many have free trade zones, free industrial zones, free industrial parks, customs
free zones (bonded areas), free transhipment zones and other types of free economic
zones. Using such free zones for trade and industry, they were able to create
new employment and to reduce poverty, without waiting many years for the whole
economy to be reformed.
The concept of the free zone goes back more than two thousand years, when the
Phoenicians in the cities of Carthage and Tyre, gave fiscal benefits to the
goods that had not been sold in the market, or were returned to their points
of origin. In the Middle Ages, Livorno and Marseilles, were declared free ports.
As a free port, Hamburg was a key influence in the Hanseatic League, and Trieste
performed a vital function in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Such tax-privileged
and regulation-lite zones are currently grouped within the World
Federation of Free Zones.
"Agricultural zones": Special agricultural
initiatives have been associated with the major social experiments, namely the
communes of the USSR and of China, as well as the kibbutzim of Israel. China
has more recently taken a strong initiative in sustainable experimental
These initiatives were of course also experiments in social organization. As
such they are now considered problematic and there is little call to replicate
Eco-villages and ecosteries: In recent decades there
has been a focus on eco-villages [more].
Of particular interest is the effort to crea te and cluster ecosteries as "loved
places where ecological values, knowledge and wisdom are learned, practiced
and shared" as sacred, respected and honored dwelling places. "Ecostery"
is from "ecos," the ancient Greek word for household extended here to include
home, neighborhood and ecological community. "Stery" comes from "monastery,"
a place where people live by rules of devotion and respect. Its members share
the same values, and work together to live a complete, sacred life here and
now. Ecostery principles and values are oriented toward harmony with nature
[more]. A much older tradtion
ensured the construction of sacred gardens in association with temples (notably
in India and Japan), with an estimated 25,000 sacred groves and other sanctified
ecosystems in Rajasthan alone [more;
In landscapes ravaged by humans, such zones are proving to be vital the preservation
and renaissance of biodiversity.
"Renaissance zones": There is much concern
about the social fabric and enhancement of local community -- faced with the
many obvious indications that all is not well. But there are no analogous efforts
to create "community parks" or "sociopoles" -- or any equivalent
"free zones" to act as "incubators" for social innovation.
Indeed there is not even a term to describe such a zone where the cross-fertilization
of ideas might engender concrete new possibilities in the psycho-social sphere.
Hence the proposed term "Renaissance Zones". This holds the complementary
notions of social and cultural innovation, spiritual and ethical dimensions,
as well as aesthetic dimensions -- combining a sense of historical coherence
with an emergent future resonant with conceptual innovation and "paradigm
Bodies such as the Fellowship
for Intentional Community constitute an association of such intentional
communities, but this does not recognize the physical juxtaposition of disparate
(but complementary) activities that is the characteristic of "science parks".
The same might be said of the Global Eco-village
The same might also be said of communities of artists. The Alliance
of Artists Communities (in the US) -- a nation-wide consortium and professional
organization for the field, advances the role artists' communities play in the
evolution of new ideas and art [more].
They have a long hisotry throughout Europe as an an art-historical and historico-cultural
phenomenon. On the model of the rural hamlet of Barbizon, southeast of the art
capital of Paris, artists' communities emerged in country districts throughout
Europe during the second half of the 19th century, which went on to become the
birthplaces of important artistic movements.
These artists' colonies, far removed from metropolitan centers yet closely
bound to them, were "settled" by painters, writers, composers and utopians.
Intensely preoccupied with the land-scape of their surroundings and with the
rural society they encountered there, these artists devoted themselves to
pictorial themes which produced similar artistic results in various artistic
communities all over Europe. The approximately 300 works and numerous documents
some being shown in Germany for the first time are presented in the exhibition
in twelve thematic segments. They reveal remarkable artistic accomplishments
and equally remarkable international parallelisms [more]
It might prove helpful to distinguish different kinds of Renaissance Zones
- "Court": Over past centuries there exist a number of examples
of cities where considerable effort was successfully applied, under the patronage
of a monarch or aristocrat, to cultivate what might be termed a renaissance
quality with a diverse mix of musicians, scientists, georgraphers, philosophers,
and the like. In such cities, whether or legendary and not so legendary, the
dynamic supported "high learning" and creativity -- fruitfully blending the
arts and the sciences. Of special significance are the examples of "enlightened
courts", whether primarily legendary (e.g. Arthur's Camelot) or reasonably
well documented (e.g. Jacobean Heidelberg, Sagres of Henry the Navigator,
Prague of Emperor Rudolf II, Fatehpur Sikri of Akbar the Great, Florence of
Lorenzo the Magnificant, Samarkand of Ulus Beg). The UTNE Reader has
recently engaged in a project to identity the most "enlightened
towns" in North America. This suggests the need for a distinction
between "enlightened" as a finished process and "renaissance"
as a continuing process.
- Assemblage: As with the zone created at Crestone (Colorado) by the
Manitou Foundation through
land grants to a great variety of unrelated spirtually-oriented groups. Here
the hope was that physical juxtaposition would ensure fruitful patterns of
interrrelationship. The degree of diversity at Crestone, and the manner of
its development by the Manitou Foundation through land grants, suggests that
it is better characterized as an "assemblage" than as a functioning
ecosystem of disparate communities.
- Seeding: As with the case of the Findhorn Foundation, which was encouraged
by circumstances to participate in a network of associated activities in the
same area, some of which were spin offs from the Foundation community and
others deliberated sited in relation to it. It is this cluster which constitutes
a "Renaissance zone" of which Findhorn might be understood as the
- Integrated: Perhaps to a higher degree than Crestone, Damanhur is
unique in that it could be considered a "Renaissance Zone" in its
own right as a residential "Federation of Communities and Regions",
numbering 44. Like other such intentional communities, Damanhur consciously
cultivates its own development as a realm of possibility and potential. The
community process goes far beyond the passive juxtaposition of projects and
activities -- like unrelated plants arrayed unthinkingly in a garden -- rather
it works to enhance the creative potential of the garden as a whole.
The prevailing dynamics inhibiting the emergence of any such "sociopoles"
are unfortunately caricatured by "anti-sect hysterics" vs "cult
apologists". For those opposing such intiatives -- the psycho-social equivalent
to luddites -- the social system they have is totally satisfactory and only
worldwide acceptance their own models of development is really appropriate.
Despite widespread concerns about susbstance abuse and alienation, and appeals
for "new thinking" and "paradigm shifts", there is no widespread
sense that alternative models may be appropriate for some, under some conditions,
at some stage of their lives. And there is no interest in determining what those
conditions are and for whom they might be appropriate. (see also Sustainable
Occupation beyond the Economic Rationale: Reframing employment, non-profit-making
and voluntary, 1998; Sustaining
a pattern of alternative community initiatives: based on their differences from
the conventional economic rationale, 1998; Being
Employed by the Future: reframing the immediate challenge of sustainable community,
lifestyles and the future of work, 1996)