Adriana Forte Naili


C-Lab's Experimental Research into a Cyclically-Infused Metamodernity

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WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?  I can’t remember how many times I have been asked this question.  Yet I have always stumbled in response.  Mostly because the question itself stands in the way of any meaningful answer.

C - Lab is my response.

C - Lab’s primary focus (see our substack) is waking us up from our individual and collective slumber in regards to what we call “the feminine,” and what we believe is “missing from the conversation.”  We do this by highlighting our underdeveloped capacity to notice, bring forth, AND work with the intelligence generated from the female body/mind (even when this is unconscious to women themselves). 

What I have come to realize over the years is that most people don’t see that these intrinsic attributes of the feminine, the very qualities that they are asking for, are directly linked to the cyclical nature epitomized as the female psyche.

This “feminine” (that we speak of integrating more deeply into metamodernity) is located in the realm of phases, rhythms, and modal transformations.  It is present very starkly in the menstrual cycle -- more specifically in the luteal and menstrual phases.

As I see it, the world of abstract thinking divorced from the body and the relationships it fosters, is not conducive for female genius to thrive.

Into the Forest

Some, of course, do thrive.  But they are comparatively few -- just like specific types of plants that can grow in the arid cracks between two rocks.  That is not where you would go to find a larger and more diverse sample of the species.  You would go into a forest. Or to the jungle. Or the bush.

Man-made culture does not resemble the complexity of the ecosystems in nature. It resembles an organized garden in the suburbs.  Rose bushes perfectly pruned.  Grass freshly mowed.  Spider webs carefully removed.  We keep what we want and leave out what we believe we don’t need.  Functional, aesthetically pleasing, and... boring. 

Women, by nature, are forest dwellers.  Even if we have made ourselves comfortable in the bland suburban garden that is modernity, we long for the richness of something wild.

This is not only about women.  At the heart of C - Lab is the desire for an inclusive collaboration that fully acknowledges and harnesses the capacities innate in us all.  Many of us, in this corner of the internet, aspire towards a just and dynamic society where greed does not equate to wealth and where attributes such as kindness, generosity, and relationality are valued.

We also see the importance of “integrating the feminine” to tackle some of our most complex problems.  Yet we speak of “the feminine” as if it were a concept, an abstraction, or only an archetypal force. It is that too, but it is also more basic, more visceral, and to some, less appealing than that.

The Garden of Metamodernity is undeniably more lush, diverse, and interesting than civilization's previous gardens.   But it is still a garden, not a forest.  No wonder there are so few forest creatures around.  So what do we do about this?

I am not suggesting that we just let our “suburban garden” go unattended in some idealistic attempt to bring back the wilderness.  We are too domesticated for that. What I am saying is that through wondering, “Where are the women” we have been overly focused on the fact that “they are not here” and we have failed to notice where they already are -- and why.

In the garden we pick and choose.  Not so in the forest. The forest includes it all.  Even the “unwanted bits”. They are, in fact, a necessary part of our rewilding.  It is our affective and structural failure to integrate the whole cycle, all the phases, and the natural mode shifts present at all layers of the cosmos, that blinds us to the presence of the feminine.

So in a very pragmatic sense, we cannot just keep engaging with women as if they only had half a cycle.  As if they were only present in the more civilized, socially functional, linear, and sensible phases.  The feminine will continue to puzzle us by its absence (under-representation) as long as we only acknowledge the part of it that suits modernity.

The calming hormone progesterone, the queen of the luteal phase, is often unrecognized or undervalued as part of a normal cyclic existence.  It has been so bypassed by modernity that we have lost connection to its true teachings.  Its latent gifts for humanity remain, well, latent. The only thing modern Western culture knows of this phase is a caricature of its suppressed power -- nicknamed PMS.

Putting it more bluntly, embracing “the feminine” requires us to grow up and mature in the way that we relate to the concept of this hormonal phase and our rampant projections on it.

The female body/mind, cycling montly for about 40 years, is at odds with the way that we hold modernity, post-modernity, and, for that matter, meta-modernity as well.

The Adjacent Possible

I’ll make a bold claim.  If all women honoured the rhythm of their cycles, our collective delusional and destructive focus on “unlimited progress” would not be a possibility. It just wouldn’t. 

To rebalance, recover, and transform, we need to reintegrate cycles.  The evolutionary histories we tell ourselves about nature and society need to recover their phase-like qualities.  And the culture we are growing together must search for itself in the imaginal possibilities of alternate modes of civilization.  Modes in which the complexity of the feminine is symbolically and structurally present.  This is, of course, easier said than done.

The malware of modernity runs deep as Bonnie Roy would say.  C - Lab addresses this particular set of malware as an attempt to help recalibrate us towards what matters.

From the beginning of the journey of a young woman, at around 12 years old,  to the end of the fertile phase, at around 50, most women will be (consciously or unconsciously) either fighting with, or being subdued by, our linear, mechanistic, left-brained and emotionally fragile culture.

The female body/mind moves through the world as an expression of her cyclical awareness. She learns to be with (or is had by) the contrasting energies manifested in estrogen and progesterone during her cycling years and embodies (or not) the paradox after she stops cycling.

Much of modern-day culture, as we already touched on,  has lost its “receptors" for the type of intelligence generated by female physiology.  Typically, the only spaces that seem conducive to that expression are in the arts or healing modalities.  But her expression is everywhere. She is an artist of life and her creativity has also been designed to contribute to science, medicine, politics, philosophy, meta-theories, and (did I already mention this?) meta-modernity.

Whilst we grow tremendously fast in technological developments, we still relate to one another without realising that the lack of shared awareness about the basic difference between male and female physiology and psychology has a tremendous impact in the real world. This the the malware we are mostly working with at the C - Lab.

C - Lab envisions a world in which girls become women who value and harness their cyclical intelligence, and boys become men who learn to drive their tremendous impulse for creation in a way that supports all living beings.  C - Lab is, by design, provocative and playful, simply because of what we are assigning value to. Initiating conversations in which the menstrual cycle, and the cyclical nature of women, is at the centre of the discussion makes it a unique environment in the Liminal.

By playing with modernity’s worldview, we’ll hopefully “shift our gaze” and open ourselves up to a different type of creativity and intelligence that doesn’t naturally come forth in dryer/headier spaces.

C - Lab is not designed to be a female-only space.  We have been playing with the fishbowl format, among other methods, in an attempt to unveil what happens “behind closed doors.”  We are working to make intimate conversations visible to others.  We are expanding our circles of trust to recalibrate our views on reality. 

It is a container that creates the necessity for conversations to unfold including what's been marginalised by the wider culture so it can add to our collective dreaming.

The menstrual cycle is a feature, not a bug, of the female physiology and psyche.  “Embracing the feminine” requires us to take in what that actually means for culture and us as individuals.  C - Lab is an experiment that grapples with and models the double bind present in questions such as these:

Words by Adriana Forte Naili