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Shadowplay: Path of the Wounded Healer w/ James Hollis. February 10th @ 2:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Exit the Void: Meme Daddy w/ Don Caldwell. February 14th @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Stealing the Culture with Dialogos: Awakening w/ Daniel M. Ingram, Michael Taft, Frank Yang, and Evan McMullen. February 22nd @ 8:00 PM ET. Patreon event.
Shadowplay: Personality Types in Shadow w/ John Beebe. February 24th @ 2:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Shadowplay: Motherhood and Shadow w/ Lisa Marchiano. March 3rd @ 2:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Dialogical Meditations w/ Andrew Taggart. March 6th, 13th, 20th @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
January 27th, 2021
A reader sent me a quote from Ai Weiwei after reading my emoing yesterday …
How can you, at the same time, be yourself and refuse the easy categories that come to you with popularity?
Easy categories. I like that, sounds like a good title for this entry. The quote continues ...
Most artists struggle to be recognized but fame misrecognizes. The moment you touch success, your sense of being somebody disappears.
This sounds true, but walking into a room with a bunch of normies misrecognizes you as well. It is rare to encounter people who can hold complexity, and who update their models when they encounter you, and see you as transcontextual. I was introduced to this term when Nora Bateson did her sensemaking series at The Stoa.
Transcontextual is the term to describe when multiple contexts overlap in a complex system. It is a good term, but one cannot turn to the normies and say: listen, you are committing a category error and not seeing me as a transcontextual being.
Maybe you can though. Maybe I should become an “Ontological Justice Warrior,” and call out the prejudice of all the mono-contextualists and the ontological violence they commit, then shame them into recognizing my non-identity. Nah. That does not seem wise. Being a Stoic trickster hanging out in the Kegan 5 stage while meta-trolling everyone, seemingly being a hypocrite by using terms such as “normies,” seems wiser.
I do think it is important to have categories, to navigate the social wild, in the right way. I have a multitude of social taxonomies, some borrowed, others self-created, which people I meet are filtered through. I hold on to all of these lightly though, they are updated regularly, and I do not view them as “truth.” When somebody arrives who I cannot pattern-match, I am compelled to stand up and slow clap, then I want to get into communitas with them.
When it comes to somebody I am attempting to be in communitas with, it is important to see the transcontextual mystery that they are. This is hard to do though, as people often get captured by categories. The “looping effect” is the phenomenon that happens when categorizing a person changes the person, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, or maybe a category-unfulfilling prophecy, because the person starts to identify with the category they are placed in and they start mutating their personality to fit into it.
To circle back to Ai Weiwei’s comments on fame, I can see famous people experiencing the “looping effect” to a hard degree: it is like a categorization spell is being cast on them by millions of people. I sense this can be an opportunity though, and a reverse spell can be cast by those who gain fame. This is if they have the Stoic resolve not to collapse into the category they are being cast into, and do not cast back in a reactionary way that is coming from resentment.
The pygmalion effect is coming to mind. The pygmalion effect apparently happens when a teacher’s expectations influence their students. High expectations result in positive results, and low expectations result in negative results. It’s like casting a spell on them unconsciously. Instead of thinking about expectations, think about categorization, as there are always expectations baked into categories. If the category you adopt for yourself and for others is akin to the transcontextual one, then the spell you are casting is an offering for them to have an existential opening. It is an offering to escape the trap.
This is how I see people during my coaching practice, which has been fucking awesome by the way. The consistent thing my interlocutors have been saying is that they feel seen by me, and I sense this is because I am not engaging in ontological violence by categorizing them in a crude way. We go to the edge of knowingness together, and stop at the edge, and say together: we do not know what the fuck is up, but this is fucking delicious.
We are way too complex to be abused by categories, and we are doing ourselves and everyone else a disservice by casting the spell of an easy category.
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