Tired of the same old left /right arguments? Want to throw your shoe at the shouting heads on cable news? Then join Jeff for a look at current events and culture from an integral perspective. Each week he explores emerging trends in politics, economics, science and spirituality, all with an eye toward spotting the evolution and up-flow of human consciousness and culture.
Why I Hated the Movie “Pig” - Give me ugliness or give me nihilism, but not both at once
This week I review the new Nicholas Cage movie, Pig, about a truffle hunter in the wilds of Oregon who goes on a quest to find his kidnapped pig. It is the work of first-time filmmaker, Michael Sarnoski.
I am very much an outlier on this movie, which has received rave reviews and a 97% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The rapturous response — The Guardian called a “masterpiece” — gave me pause and made me reconsider a movie that I would have otherwise written off as being shockingly bad.
Upon reflection I realize that Pig is not a bad movie, it may even be a great movie if you like your nihilism served up as ugly as possible.
There is a strain of postmodern (green altitude) identity that sees modern culture as hopelessly corrupt and exhausted, facing an existential meta-crisis. A significant sliver of them, self-described “doomers,” see a world so degenerated that withdrawal is the only moral choice.
This view is defensible, of course, but inadequate. What’s missing is what integral thinking brings to the party: an evolutionary understanding that its meta-crises all the way down.
Most of human history has been a rolling catastrophe. Welcome to evolution! The modern (orange altitude) stage of development, for all its soulless avarice, has been a boon to humans in terms of security and wealth, giving rise to life conditions that can generate a social critique like Pig, which is postmodern deconstruction at its platonic perfection, establishing once and for all that there is nothing good, true, or beautiful to be found.
In the podcast, I draw a distinction between the aesthetics of ugliness and nihilism, both of which can deeply move me. But you have to give me something more than the told-not-shown love of a pig. These days I require my social critiques to have faith in life, movies like Minari, or even Nomadland. I’ll do a review of these soon! Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS. I love listening to podcasts at fast speed. Last week I learned you can also speed up YouTube videos. It’s great, try it! Just click the gear icon while playing a video and select the “speed” option.
Progress Denialism: Getting us Nowhere
Bill Maher kicked off a cultural meme a few weeks ago with a segment on his popular show Real Time where he skewered the cultural left for progressophobia, which he defined as “situational blindness, except what you can’t see is that your dorm room in 2021 is better than the South before the Civil War.”
In this episode, I map the idea of progress in our culture. Maher’s comments were widely praised in the mainstream media, from Morning Joe Scarborough on MSNBC (center left) to Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal (center right). Together these represent the modern worldview (orange altitude). Traditionalists (blue/amber altitude) see no progress in this wicked world, only the opportunity for redemption or transcendence. Progressives (green altitude), who also have a fallen-world narrative, see the idea of progress as an insult to all who continue to suffer.
The arising integral stage has a chance to revalorize the message of progress. Not as a march to a triumphal future, but as the ever-widening circle of moral consideration we have, individually and collectively, for each other and all aspects of our world. Onward to upward!
On a personal note, many of you may know that our Brother Terry Patten, who I have worked with and hosted on the Daily Evolver many times, is fighting a battle with cancer. I invite you to join me and many of his friends and fans in supporting him at his GoFundMe site.
~ Jeff Salzman
Announcing The Post-Progressive Post! - A new web publication for the politically homeless
The Post-Progressive project proceeds! In this episode, Steve McIntosh, president of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, joins me to introduce a major new web publication created to transcend and integrate our polarized politics: The Post-Progressive Post.
Subtitled, “A Home for the Politically Homeless” the Post-Progressive Post seeks to be a meeting place for integral thinkers, folks who see value in many sectors of the political spectrum and want to join the effort to form an “omni-inclusive” worldview.
In this podcast, Steve guides us on a tour through the site, including:
* Post-progressivism defined: the 100-word version, the 700-word version and the multi-page version
* An ever-growing array of news analysis, opinion columns, blogs and podcasts by leading integral thinkers
* Win-win-win positions on the issues of the day which honor traditional values, modern values and postmodern values
* Quizzes and exercises to help you explore your own integral consciousness
* Portals to the post-progressive Facebook and Twitter feeds, and more ways to get involved
The Post-Progressive Project as a whole is an initiative of the Institute for Cultural Evolution. Steve McIntosh is the president of the Institute and I am on its board of directors. I hope you enjoy the podcast, and The Post-Progressive Post!
Triggered by Deep Disagreement - … and how “integral pluralism” breaks the deadlock
In this episode, I point out a heartening trend among cultural commentators: an increasing recognition that people, particularly people fighting a culture war, not only think different things, they think differently.
A key teaching of integral theory is that human consciousness and culture evolve through stages of development. Each stage has its own receptors, processors and algorithms, and each reveals a different “worldspace” which their subjects occupy.
When conflicts arise among people of different worldspaces, there is limited common ground and deep divisions remain that are immune to influence. Philosopher Robert Fogelin refers to this divide as “deep disagreement” where successful argument is not an option. What is called for is integral consciousness, a worldspace occupied by someone who is capable of holding multiple perspectives, a person that Peter Limberg and Conor Barnes describe as a “pan-tribalist participant, who has the ability to communicate across tribes in a way that seems fair and reasonable to each tribe. They would have the mental agility, empathy, and wisdom needed to shift between a multitude of perspectives.”
In this podcast, I place the notion of “integral pluralism” in a developmental context, which I think helps us understand it not just as a psychological capacity but as a movement of human history. I also highlight how it helped me consider the high-profile public apologies offered this week by two of my least-favorite people: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Chrissy Teigen. Enjoy!
For more on the application of integral pluralism in the current culture war, see Greg Thomas’s excellent new essay “Why I Am a Radical Moderate.”
June 26th: Grace and Grit: From Book to Movie to Integral Life Practice
On another note, my friends and colleagues, Nomali Perera and writer/director Grace and Grit (the movie), Sebastian Siegel, would like to invite you to a zoom call where they’ll discuss the movie, as well as engage in community practice. It is free and open to all. You can find more details here.
Mapping the Emerging “Integrative Meta-Perspective” - with psychiatrist and futurist Charles M. Johnston M.D.
Today on Post-Progressive Inquiries I explore the contours of the next stage of human development with psychiatrist and futurist Charles M. Johnston. Charles has just released two new books exploring an emerging way of thinking that he calls the “integrative meta-perspective”.
As Charles explains, “Our work today is to bring big-picture, long-term perspectives to the human condition. While these kinds of insights can initially stretch people’s understanding, with time, most people find them seeming like common sense. What is new is that this is a degree of common sense that before now we could not have fully grasped — or tolerated. It would have overwhelmed us. Today, it has become essential.”
I hope you enjoy our conversation and check out his latest books:
* Creative Systems Theory—A Comprehensive Theory of Purpose,Change, and Interrelationship In Human Systems (With Particular Pertinence to Understanding the Times We Live In and the Tasks Ahead for the Species)
* Perspective and Guidance for a Time of Deep Discord: Why We See Such Extreme Social and Political Polarization—And What We Can Do About It.
Post-Progressive Inquiries is a co-production of the Institute for Cultural Evolution and the Daily Evolver Podcast. Steve McIntosh will join the series in the next episode.
The Meaning of It All - An integral look at grief and loss
In this episode, I take a look at the “ultimate questions” of religion and philosophy: Who are we? Where are we going? How does one live a meaningful life in a world that is marked by loss and death, but also goodness and beauty?
Throughout history, humanity has come up with many different and often conflicting answers to these questions. Early humans perceived a spirit world where the ancestors were present and available. Traditional cultures posited a transcendent reality – Godhead or Nirvana – with death as an opportunity for liberation from evil and suffering. Modernity deconstructed religion and spirit but produced the insights of psychology, as well as countless therapies for personal growth.
The integral approach is to embrace them all and to be illuminated by multiple truths. In that spirit I created this episode by talking to four of my smartest integral colleagues about their views of the ultimate questions:
* Dr. Keith Witt, integral psychotherapist for over 50 years, talks about the psychotherapeutic approach to trauma and grief.
* Integral teacher and coach Nomali Perera shares the story of the death of her father and the metamorphosis of meaning it sparked in her.
* Buddhist priest and integral teacher Diane Musho Hamilton offers guidance on the meditative approach of compassion and soothing presence.
* And integral philosopher Steve McIntosh brings a theistic perspective, seeing death as a passage in one’s infinite cosmic journey of divine perfection.
I feel better – and a little bigger – having had these conversations. I hope they help you expand a bit as well!
– Jeff Salzman
If you are thinking about learning integral, Jeff will help you grok it! If you are going insane as you watch first tier wars degrade everything you hold dear, Jeff will talk you down from the ledge and help you remember that evolution is beautiful even if it’s not always pretty. Excellent work, I’m always happy to have this podcast pop up!!!! Thanks a bunch to Jeff and Corey.
I love the Evolver
Jeff, you do such a great job of weaving together complex topics in the news, media and culture. I learn something new everytime. Thank you for a truly enlightening show.