Blog entry

Four-I's

Song Of The Day: China Girl / David Bowie
Word Of The Day: Hara-kiri / In Japan, a ritual form of suicide by disembowelling, formerly prescribed by a feudal superior to disgraced memebers of the samurai class as an alternative to execution. Also suicide practiced voluntarily from a sense of shsame, as a protest, etc.

Today is our last installment in the AQAL safari, below is the last excerpt from the rough draft of an a paper for Integral University's Art Domain...

Quadrants

Interior Individual Exterior Individual

meditation voice-musculature
creativity strength / immunity
intrapersonal diet (esp day of show)
language breath / posture
openness kinesthetic

Interior Collective Exterior Collective

culture infrastructure / transport
audience print media
historical setting venues
values equipment / instruments / pa
interpersonal economics

As Wilber has noted, all of the World's major languages have 1st person pronouns ("I", the person speaking), 2nd person pronouns ("You", the person being spoken to), and 3rd person pronouns ("It" the person or thing being spoken of). This helps illustrate that the four quadrants are not something invented out of imagination, but a useful description of pre-existing perspectives that appear across cultures and epochs in human history. These pronouns correspond to the four quadrants (the fourth pronoun case is simply the plural form of 3rd person, or "Its", which is the collective / exterior quadrant.) The Upper Left quadrant is the inward perspective of an individual (the 'I' pronoun), the Lower Left Quadrant is the interior perspective of the collective (the 'We' pronoun), the Upper Right quadrant is the exterior perspective of an individual ('It"), and the lower right is the exterior perspective of the collective ('It'). Experience and development occur in all four quadrants, these perspectives are pre-given dimensions of your very own being, and if you didn't know that before, you are now four times cooler than you were at the beginning of this sentence.

As you are reading these words, there is a perception from within which registers the writing as subjective experience - that's the Upper Left quadrant, your subjective view point. These inward perceptions correspond to observable experiences in the physical body, including blood pressure, heart rate, brain wave states etc, which can be measured with instruments (low heart rate, relaxed muscle response, theta brain waves)- that's the Upper Right Quadrant, or the objective perspective. The meanings or messages we're exploring are part of a shared cultural context, a 'We' space you and I participate in with all sorts of mutual coordinates (we are human, we understand English)- this part of experience is the Lower Left Quadrant, the inter-subjective perspective. Last but not least, the physical medium of this exchange (computers, paper, digital equipment, etc), the infrastructure which delivers it, the economic systems, corporeal environments, the very air we're breathing- it's all part of our Lower Right quadrant, the inter-objective perspective. These are our four pre-given perspectives which are our inheritance as humans.

The states, stages, levels, and types we've looked at in this paper thus far all rise and fall within a tetra-meshwork of these four quadrants, or four basic perspectives.

Take states, for instance. Let's say you go to see Pink Floyd play in Berlin. They're doing the live version of The Wall in Berlin. The sound and lighting are perfect (Lower Right quadrant), and the energy from the audience of 10,000 is unbelievable, everyone is mesmerized (Lower Left quadrant) soaking up what they know is an historical event in music, Berlin imbues this conceptual piece with additional layers meaning. Anticipating this Floyd moment of a lifetime, you took some X before the show, so you're pretty lit-up (Upper Left). If we were to put an EEG on you, we'd see all sorts of alpha and theta waves (Upper Right), but we don't need to, cuz anyone can tell from your limber, loose body language and droopy eyelids (Upper Right) you're in the "zone". The bad news is, you're not the only one. Some chick next to you has been drinking Jaeger Meister since noon, and she's starting to get nauseous. Between her claustrophobia and the thumping bass in her ear, she pukes all over your leg (Lower Right). Four quadrants in one moment.

So we see it's not so much that an event is located in one of the four quadrants, it's that an artist has at least four perspectives that can be used to look at any event. Whether an artist is aware of it or not, every moment from birth forward they are engaged in perspectives (quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types). An integral approach to art simply recognizes that, and works with it. An artist -whatever their goals or medium may be- will benefit more from being consciously engaged than they will from being unconsciously engaged.

Let's explore another example. With an imaginary songwriter as the case study, here's what one possible integral approach to songwriting might look like. Let's start with the Upper Left quadrant by looking at some of the basic lines of development in subjective perspective that relate to artistry in general and songwriting in particular.

Upper Left

Creativity, Language, Meditation, Openness, Intrapersonal.

The creative line includes the inventive capacity to compose melodies, write chord progressions, produce and arrange parts to songs, and perhaps most importantly to simply imagine new possibilities. Imagination is what artists (and mimes) use to create Worlds. The creative process is never finally actualized because an artist is a nexus of continually changing states, stages, types, lines, and basic perspectives. Part of what keeps the change going in our particular case study of an imaginary performing songwriter is meditation practice (Zen). Meditation is one good way to observe the self, states, and all rising and falling phenomena. In developing this non-locatable awareness, the songwriter witnesses aspects of self as objects. He is aware of his thoughts, but he is not his thoughts, he's aware of feelings, but he is not those feelings. Meditation puts subject / object development into overdrive, and radically expands the sense of what a 'self' is. As a subject of one level becomes the object of the next level, the desire for an understanding of the self and its motivations relies on the intrapersonal line. (That's in-TRA, not in-TER) The songwriter's exploration and expression of that changing self is, to a large extent conducted through linguistics. As famous artist Steve Martin once said:

"Some people have a way with words, some people not... have a way with words."

One of the ways our imaginary songwriter works with signs (UL), signifiers (UR), syntax (LR), and semantics (LL) is by literally constructing a language from scratch, as a hobby. His hobby is language construction, and its expressly intended to develop the linguistics line. Already we begin to see how activities in these lines (creativity, meditation, intrapersonal, linguistics) are interwoven. Finishing off this very brief survey of the upper left, the capacity for openness is absolutely critical for a live performer, it is literally what creates openings or portals during a show, and it has to be continually nurtured. Almost any truly great performer is open, and anyone aspiring to be a good performing songwriter should cultivate this very basic type of presence. An open performer is one that an audience can trust, one that is willing to be sincere, vulnerable, foolish, afraid, killed, reborn- in short, to be truly human. Openness allows an artist to get out of the way so other things can come through, other characters, voices, emotions, and all kinds of surprise guests. One can't simultaneously be open and egotistical, and meditation has a pivotal relationship to openness.

Upper Right

Kinesthetic, Posture, Diet, Immunity, Voice

Of course it would be impossible to even play an instrument, sing a melody- or certainly do both at the same time- without sufficient development in the kinesthetic line. There's more to alternative rock than frowning and staring at your shoes; A performer has to be able to coordinate all sorts of physical motion in order to get anything resembling a song to come out. Even though they look aloof and casual about it, don't be fooled, many professional performers (rock stars, models, actors, politicians) invest lots of time, money, and energy into their ability to hold court with a human body. Performers are interested in their sense of body and motion because it does matter, and training it makes a huge difference whether you're a solo songwriter or a dancer in the Joffrey Ballet. The capacity to become a transmitter of energy is directly entwined with this skill. Closely related is posture / breathing, to a notable degree this is the way the kinesthetic is regulated and determines the available flow of energy to and from myriad systems (and is linked to openness as well). Diet is the fuel, the difference between blanks and bullets, if songwriters don't eat, they turn into engineers. Diet is a nuanced, multi-faceted consideration for any performer. There's a significant correlation between what's eaten, when, how much, how often, etc, and the performer's ability to be present and dynamic at a show, or in a studio, etc. Kieth Richards not withstanding, you can't live on drugs and cigarettes for very long and still shine as an artist. That's the same reason our imaginary songwriter had to quit smoking, he empirically proved that it inhibited and occluded his ability to be open, creative, loving, and fully human. Singers who say smoking makes their voice sound better are full of carbon monoxide, and are rationalizing (UL) a physical addiction (UR). Eating right and at the right times, combined with an awareness of posture / breath, and an active training that deals with kinesthetic turns the amp up, and on top of that it supports strength and immunity. Being on tour means our imaginary songwriter spends half his life in hotels and clubs (have you seen the toilets at CBGB's?). A touring performer encounters an endless succession of viral and bacterial agents, and when you add sleep deprivation and fatigue into the mix, you have the formula for illness. Getting sick means cancelled shows, lost revenue, physical misery, and worst of all missing out on the greatest job in the World. So, a touring songwriter has to pop the vitamins, get some sleep, exercise, and be careful not to over-extend the itinerary. Lastly in the objective realm, one of the major concerns as a performing artist is voice. We can define voice not only as the health and timbre of the vocal cords, but as the over-all instrument that is the physical ability to transmit in performance. This includes everything from hydration of vocal cords to presence (eye contact), state of the tendons, ligaments, muscles in the body, and condition of torso and diaphragm.

Lower Right

Infrastructer-Transport, Media, Venue, Equipment, Economics

Is there enough gas in the van to get to the gig? How are the roads, any rain, snow, ice, tornadoes? Did our touring songwriter remember to bring CDs to sell at the gig, is he getting any airplay, any write ups in the papers, does the venue have a good sound system, will anyone come to the show, and will he be able to afford a hotel with no stains on the bed spread? All of these are part of our lower right quadrant view, the inter-objective perspective. Starting with the infrastructure and transport, if there's not a decent enough vehicle to travel in, and the weather isn't cooperating, our songwriter is not going to make it to the gig. Even with that, he'd better have AAA coverage, cuz at 50,000 miles a year, even the best autos keel over. Plus money for tolls if he's touring New England. All the systems of travel, the city infrastructure of plumbing, lighting, buildings, electricity -the list goes on forever- all of those things are inter-objective factors in the daily life of a performing songwriter, or anyone for that matter. When he gets to town, chances are not that many people have heard of him, cuz he's an indie dude and that means no radio play, not much newspaper coverage, but probably some good postering around town and word of mouth. His media comes mostly from his email list, people visiting his web sites (thank God for the internet), and the occasional windfall from National Public Radio or some such. If it's enough to get 100 people to the show, the venue's happy, but more wouldn't hurt. They need a new sound system, the tweeter on stage right has been shot for a year so even with his own good equipment (new strings and batteries on both guitars, high-end vocal mic he travels with) our songwriter is frustrated by the sound at this club every time he shows up. A small consolation is the lighting is pretty good for a club with a 150 capacity. They used to cram 200 in there until all those people died in club incidents a few years ago. The other side of the place is a restaurant, so they feed the songwriters when they come through. The economy here is crappy, it's a depressed blue collar area, and most of the people have been out of work and focusing on their drinking, so they tend to buy more whisky than CDs. It doesn't help the U.S. has been in a slump for a while as well. Besides this gig, most of the tour is booked with pretty lucrative shows, and it's better to play than have an empty night on the road, so overall the economics of it will work out. The smoke in the club is enough to choke a dragon, but people are dancing, and there's three hot chicks in the audience. Two. No, three. Is that a chick? Doesn't matter, guy or girl, our songwriter's not getting laid, cuz he's married, and genital congress is a lower right quadrant taboo.

Lower Left

Interpersonal, Atmosphere, Historical Setting, Values, Finger Print

It's mutual. Mutuality, shared or exchanged meanings and context, is one of the Lower Left Quadrant originals. When the songwriter gets up on stage at the beginning of the night and yells "What's up, Rockford?!", the audience understands it's a greeting in rhetorical colloquial form, and they respond in kind with the local custom of howling and disrobing. This sort of interpersonal dynamic is one of the many perks of having an English speaking audience if you're an English speaking performer. A little shared semantics goes a long way, as it takes common ground in language, culture, and values for the performer to be able to truly entertain or offend his audience. The capacity to inter-relate with others, facilitate the flow of energy in groups, and captivate people's attention is pivotal for any touring artist or aspiring cult leader. In that sense, sort of like weather systems move through the lower right quadrant (tornadoes, snow storms, etc), the lower left quadrant has an invisible climate, moods and atmospheres that ebb and flow within the interior domain of the intersubjective space. Just like the inner world of any individual human morphs through many different hues on any given day, so do the shared interior spaces of any group, from two up to 7 billion. Developing a sense for this quality in an audience helps a performer either respond appropriately to the existing atmosphere (you don't play dueling banjos at a funeral), or introduce music that might lead things into a new direction. Being aware of the inner landscape can make for a better trip. The quality of the shared interior climate is characterized in part by fluxing group moods (states), such as melancholy (audiences were somber for some time after 911- historical setting was a strongly felt presence), tension, relaxation, happiness, etc, but it's also influenced by factors such as the values and world views of the people the audience (stages), and their completely unique interior 'finger print' as a group (lines, types). Every audience really is different, and this is perhaps the single most compelling, exciting aspect of live performance for the artists and the audience, every night, every group is a totally unpredictable occasion.

That rounds out a very brief tour of the four quadrants and some of the lines that run through them. The quadrants are four of the most basic perspectives available to an artist, and all the states, stages, lines, and types (which are also perspectives available to us) rise and fall within these interior and exterior dimensions of the individual and the collective. It's your standard Kosmic scale tetra-evolutionary slam dance, I spin You, You dip We, We dive into It, It gropes I, and so it goes till they close the club (Big Crunch) and then reopen it (Big Bang).

Artists have been delving this infinite choreography since time immemorial. The integral map of this mystery is in part compelling because it gives us a bigger glimpse than before, it knows it's just a map, but as a map, it means to include everything there is. And what's more, it means for us to drop the map, and actually live into these realities, move beyond the intellectual curiosity and understand that the artist is also part of the art work that unfolds in each moment.

"If the doors of perception are cleansed, the entire Kosmos is your lost and found Beloved,
the Original Face of primordial Beauty, forever, and foerver, and endlessly forever. And in
the face of that stunning Beauty, you will completrely swoon into your own death, never to
be seen or heard from again, except on those tender nights when the wind gently blows
through the hills and the mountains, quietly calling your name."

-Ken Wilber

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A rare genius. The critics are right. Expect great things from this man.

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