A LIMINAL WEB. Okay. I can support the concept of what Joe Lightfoot named the liminal web -- but liminal entities?
Surely that is too much. Our emerging field cannot be allowed to fill up with wild talk about aliens, angels & elves while we're busy trying to address real social, technological and institutional crises.
Or is that exactly what we need?
Could it be possible that our dismissal of this topic is rooted in the very same deep-set modernist prejudices that cause the problems we're trying to solve? How many reasonable Game A interventions in politics, economics and technology have to fail before we decide that the weird
solutions might be needed?
And how do we keep faith with each other despite our wildly differing opinions on this subject? That's what concerns me the most.
If you have spent time at an international gathering of overlapping transformational communities, then you'll know that when people speak freely (after a couple of drinks, a shot of kratom and a deep group meditation) it can get weird. They start to share their "experiences." It turns out they have interacted with various kinds of beings and, although they are trying to be translational (not pre-rational!) it still sounds pretty bizarre.
Do we ignore this, correct for it -- or try to include it?
Sean Esbjorn-Hargens (legit metatheorist, super-synthesizer & former organizer of the Integral Theory Conferences) has been trying to include it. At the Institute for Exostudies
, Sean tries to bring a rigorous, integrated multi-perspectival approach to studying these phenomena.
Stuart Davis (the integrative artist formerly known as Ken Wilber's protege) co-founded The Experiencer Group
to "provide a gathering place for those who’ve undergone abduction, contact with non-human entities, poltergeists, ghosts, precognition, near-death experience, missing time, UAPs, UFOs, out-of-body events, contact with the dead, and much more. The site was created to put people in contact with others who’ve had similar life events.
These are great resources for people who have had these experiences or who are interesting in speculating about their nature. But how should we all feel about this stuff? It is a cluster of topics that provoke a wide variety of responses within our overlapping networks.
You can almost hear the scoffing and eye-rolling of sociological Germanic metamodernism -- but you also glimpse the ears perking-up on artistic young American integralists. Some of us wonder if fringe science will hold back the movement. Others are concerned that we cannot produce real transformational energy without a deep embrace of all ranges of human experience. In our communities, it is not always clear who is a complex systems social reformer and who is a shaman.
Our kind of flexible, multiperspectival thinkers have got to be careful that we do not slip into treating every kind of irrationality as a valid option. On the other hand, we need wisdom and compassion in dealing with people who have had anomalous encounters. And, at some point, we need to consider whether or not our maps of reality need to include, in some form, those strange territories that seem to violate our basic ontological categories.
Are there real phenomena that ignore the distinctions between subjective and objective, private and public, solid and ephemeral? Is liminality merely epistemological or is it deeply ontological? And if so -- are there creatures living in there?
The basic and most important thing -- while our philosophers keep exploring the twilight edges of reality -- is that we acknowledge and respect (and occasionally challenge) these different moods in our communities. Alien encounters are not going away. Skepticism is not going away. These will continue to be fluid polarities in our networks and we need to grow a good conscience about that.
You can't form a field with people by dismissing their weirdness.