Blog entry

AQAL Pool Party (no suits, k? let's feel the water pass betwixt the Colossus, so to speak)

Song Of The Day: Gonna Be Some Changes Made / Bruce Hornsby
Word Of The Day: Callidity / Craftiness, cunning.

Why am I even bothering to put a fucking Bruce Hornsby song in the song of the day category after he SOLD his song to Lowe's lumber yard to use in their shitty, cheesy commercials? I guess half a dozen top ten songs just wasn't cutting it, and the skank-ass allure of unabashed consumerism was too much to resist. What the fuck? Thanks for ruining that song for me forever, Bruce. While I'm at it, a huge FUCK YOU to Julia Roberts for doing voice-overs FOR AOL! Yes- AOL! We have to listen to a BAZILLIONAIRE with everything in the world going for her suck the dick of the shittiest corporation in the World? Hey, here's a riddle for you, what do you get when you take the Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost and boil them in a vat of PUSS? Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Julia Roberts! The photographic negative of the Trinity. Those greedy fuckers killed the pope, I just know it. How does the same person who made Closer become a prostitute for that collostamy bag of a company? And while I'm bitching about the repulsive commodification of otherwise cool art and artists, I would really, really LOVE to rape and torture whatever vile satanic cock sucker SOLD THE CLASH'S MUSIC TO PONTIAC!! PONTIAC? THE CLASH? Aughh GAWD I am a writhing, twisting paroxsym of disgust whenever I hear that fetid ad. God. I mean Pontiac? The ugliest, sleaziest CRAP CAR ever made, and the coolest, greatest rock band ever? What has happened? I mean, I do not begrudge artists who NEED to make a living selling their work to ads, I do not have anything against artist who are struggling to make a living with their craft, I have no issue with someone putting their music in a movie, or -truly- even in a COMMERCIAl, if they are working their way up, and trying to get a break (need the money, and so on). But Jesus-throw-over-the-money-changers-tables-Christ, when Bruce$Hornsby and Julia$Roberts and The Cla$h (whoever is overseeing their estate after the death of Joe Strummer) start giving rim-jobs to the Robotic Morphine Drip of trans-national corpocracy AFTER they hit big, AFTER they have huge careers, AFTER they're rich as shit doing it the straight way, I have to really consider updating my list of enemies. WTF???!!!!!


Anyway, I'm going to run an experiment for a few days here. For the next few days I'm going to publish excerpts from a paper on Integral Art I recently worked up for Integral University Art Domain. I am NOT an academic writer (witness this blog). I dropped out of college after two and a half years, hit the road, and it's been about 13 years since I had a job or wrote a paper for a class. OK, I didn't even hand in papers back then when I was supposed to. So, what follows is a brief intro to AQAL, which stands for All Quadrant, All-Level (aka Quadrants, Levels, Lines, States, and Types). I realize I'm a songwriter, and as you'll see, it was very awkward writing a paper that didn't rhyme or have a chorus. You might like it anyway. Of course later we'll insert the naked pictures and scratch and sniff patches, but for now...

Integral Art

A Study In Perspectives

Inspiration is a divine gift, but the giver is unpredictable.

For millennia, artists have lamented the mercurial nature of creativity, in fact all the effort toward summoning the muse could almost be considered an art form itself. Artists will, and have, used anything and everything- drugs, sobriety, dreams, bingeing, starving, quietude, saturnalia, surrender to God, Devil worship- whatever might stir that mysterious force that makes something out of nothing. A Zen teacher once said enlightenment is an accident, meditation just makes people accident-prone. The same could be said of inspiration; innovation is a crap shoot, but integral artists have discovered a way to load the dice.

An integral approach to art is one that strives to include more, and provides tools to do so. If and when the muse strikes, it's great, but when it doesn't there are some proven ways to invite it, and get it to hang around a bit longer. By training five basic elements- states, stages, lines, types, and quadrants- artists can improve their artistry and expand their being. What follows is one example of an Integral Operating System for artists, a map for training the artist. What's different about this map is that it puts the onus on us, suggesting we confirm for ourselves, test and verify its propositions. This map is full of injunctions, asking the artist to take new perspectives, envision other Worlds, and claim an ever expanding Self whose deepest joy is crossing its own boundaries. Let's begin with a look at states, which are the passing conditions or qualities of experience.


States can be any physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual phase an artist may experience, and the attributes that come with it. Access to and facility with states is a capacity an artist can train, in fact creative process is itself one kind of state. The transitory nature of states is one of their defining characteristics, they can last anywhere from a fraction of a second up to years or decades. Most states are available in potentia- they can be called forth or evoked through natural or artificial means, or induced by unusual circumstances. Some of the most common kinds of states are natural, meditative, altered, and peak.

Certain kinds of natural states occur in regular cycles, for example healthy people generally access the three natural states of waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep every twenty four hours. Without regular access to the waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless states, a person becomes ill, or incapacitated.

Natural States: Brain Waves Type Of Corresponding Activity

Waking-Gross Beta waves Analyzing, organizing activity
Waking-Creative Alpha waves Peak performance, creativity, relaxation
Dreaming Theta waves Dreaming, meditative visualization
Deep Dreamless Delta waves Deep dreamless sleep

Natural states are 'freebies' given to a human being. Barring abnormalities, a person will have access to natural states from birth. Other types of states need to be cultivated or brought forth through training. Meditative States, for instance, tend to require a sustained practice or methodology employed over time in order to routinely available. Through millennia of gathering data via direct experience, contemplative traditions (Kabbalah, Sufism, Buddhism, Christianity, Vedanta, Shaminism, etc) have created sophisticated indexes of meditative states, which is now being corroborated by empirical neurological research. These states include, but are not limited to, Psychic, Subtle, Causal, and Nondual.

Meditative States:

Psychic Deep concentration, focus, expansion
Subtle Absorption, union
Causal Formless absorption, cessation, emptiness
Nondual Liberation, differentiated union of form and emptiness

Daily meditation practice is effective in establishing stabilized access to these states. Although people contact gross (waking), psychic, subtle (dreaming), and causal (deep dreamless) states as part of any normal 24 hour cycle, in those instances the experience isn't a result of their directed intention. Access to such states through trained awareness yields special types of benefits to an artist.

Meditation's effects on an artist's body (blood pressure, immunity), emotions (anger, joy), mind (concentration, creativity, imagination), and spiritual depth (subject / object relations, perspectives) are remarkable. Regular submersion in meditative states can change the way a person interprets and experiences reality. Contemplative practice has influenced the work of innumerable musicians (Leonard Cohen, Shania Twain, Madonna, Ottmar Leibert, Tina Turner) film makers (David Lynche, Goldie Hawn, Heather Graham, Richard Gere), painters, poets, dancers, sculptors- the list goes on.

Altered states, on the other hand, are typically induced by organic or synthetic agents (alcohol, mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD, opiates, cocaine, marijuana, etc), although some can be derived by behavior (self-asphyxiation, cutting, deprivation) or illness (high fever with hallucination, panic attacks). Artists have a long and sometimes sordid history with altered states, probably in part because creativity itself can be such a potent state. Many artists have found entheogenic compounds to be very important to their creative work (Alex Grey, Syd Barrett, Carlos Castenada, Pink Floyd, Hunter Thompson).

There seems to be at least a moderately prevailing notion in the integral arts community that some judicious experimentation with altered states (via drugs) can provide openings to awareness that might not otherwise be available. Sometimes such experiences introduce the artist to a whole new kind of inspiration, allowing them to rediscover their craft in a greater context. Potential liabilities include addiction, brain damage, diminished volition, and diminishing returns as the artist becomes dependent upon the artificially delivered inspiration. Framed within a contemplative practice and observing the right set and setting, altered states can be useful. A few researchers have even suggested that the World's earliest art was the result of drug experimentation, as cave dwellers hopped up on trimethoxyphenethylamine attempted to literally trace the images of their hallucinations onto cave walls (Lewis-Williams and Dowson, 1988). If this is the case, the Guggenheim may have its roots in peyote and graffiti.

Altered States:

Visual Imagery
Auditory Forms
Panic Episodes
Erotic Arousal
Beatific, Ecstatic
Confused Thoughts
Mental Clarity
Transcendent Insight
Bliss, Radiance

Last but not least, there are peak states. In creative process or performing live, many artists report experiences of clarity, heightened senses, and flow-states- absorption into the 'timeless' present through experiencing art. Sometimes this union or immersion occurs not only between the artist and the art, but also among a group of artists, such as a band, chamber orchestra, dance troupe, or an audience. These and other non-ordinary experiences are peak states, and they also include rarefied experiences evoked in nature (union with environment, non-locatable illumination, transparency) and sexuality (dissolution of boundaries, divine identity, ecstatic insight).

Peak States

Creative / Flow States
Natural / Environmental

The natural, meditative, altered, and peak states available to an artist comprise a nearly inexhaustible range of physical and non-physical spaces to explore in the support of art. For a creative mind, it's the Kosmic candy store. Although all states are temporary, they can be very powerful, and their effects significant. Although they are not permanent shifts in the center of gravity, they often assist in producing those permanent shifts, or stages. An artist translates the content of experience- the various states- from their level of development. States are interpreted from the stage or level of the artist. With that in mind, we may now move on to make a distinction between what are temporary changes in experience (states) and what are permanent changes in the experiencer (stages or levels).

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-Ken Wilber, Author of over a dozen books on consciousness