Blog entry

Sex Sex Sex (Stages) Sex Sex Sex (Levels) Sex Sex Sex

Song Of The Day: Radiohead / Uptight
Word Of The Day: Choanoid / Funnel-shaped

Below is day two in a five-day survey (a three hour tour, a three hour tour) of an Integral approach to Art...

Stages / Levels

A stage is a framework or foundation (also known as a fulcrum) used to support an artist's sense of identity or world view.

The sense of identity, or subject, is the mechanism of awareness that locates itself through an "I am" (I am sixteen, I am a girl, I'm an American). An artist's sense of 'I am-ness' is what moves through fulcrums as development of self occurs. It's important to note that this subject or sense of identity can be trained and cultivated by any artist with the interest.

A subject first identifies with a certain level, and spends a period of time learning that level sufficiently. Having sufficiently mastered a stage, the identity becomes capable of growing beyond it. When growth beyond that stage occurs, the subject (I am) will disidentify with the previous stage (I am 21, I'm a woman, I'm a citizen of the World) because that stage is no longer adequate to house the new sense of self. The earlier stage then becomes an object, which simply means it can be seen by the new subject, it is now externalized as an object in the awareness, and is no longer what determines sense of self, or identity. This evolution of identity is known as subject / object relations, and is one way of describing movement through fulcrums, or stage transformations.

Stage transformations are lasting, stable shifts to a higher, deeper, or more expansive modes of being. Whereas most states are available to anyone willing to 'conduct the experiment', new stages can only be accessed through development. An artist does not have to have a certain level of development in order to dream -babies dream, as do adults- but the dreams are interpreted through the whatever sense of identity a particular person has at that time, in other words their stage of development. Anyone can experience a creative state while sculpting -again, even babies have fun shaping clay- but not just anyone can sculpt David. Michelangelo had to attain a highly developed stage of artistry before it was possible for him to sculpt David. Stages unfold in succession and each level depends upon the success of the previous ones. Stages cannot be skipped (they can be passed through quickly, but not bypassed).

When there are problems navigating a fulcrum, those problems exert an influence at later stages of development. Sometimes this becomes the artists demons or shadows, an invisible hand that won't stop grabbing at the steering wheel. All sorts of mechanisms can operate unconsciously as a result of issues from various stages; Addictions, social disorders, neurosies, etc.

The level of development an artist is at is perhaps the greatest factor in determining how they perceive the World around them, each stage literally forms the parameters of what can be envisioned and expressed. Different stages of self actually experience different realities (or have a different experiences of reality, whichever you prefer). Every stage comes with a host of assets (new tools, new potentials) and liabilities (built-in assumptions, blind spots). There are many models of stage-development from various fields, including Jane Loevinger's Stages Of Self, Abraham Maslow's Levels Of Needs, Clare Graves Spiral Of Values, and Ken Wilber's Scheme Of Stages:

Spiral Of Values (Clare Graves):

1, Beige Archaic, Instinctive, Survivalistic (First appeared100,000 years ago)
2, Purple Magical, Animistic (50,000 years ago) Artwork: Magic Symbology, tribal rituals
3, Red Egocentric, Impulsive (10,000 years ago) Art: written language
4, Blue Conformist, Purpose, Order (5,000 years ago)
5, Orange Acheivment-Strategic (300 years ago, enlightenment)
6, Green Pluralistic, Postmodern, Egalitarian (30 years ago)
7, Yellow Holistic, Systemic (3 years ago)
8, Turquoise Holarchical, Integral (3 months ago)
9, Coral Super, Duper Integral (3 minutes ago)

Scheme Of Stages (Ken Wilber)

1, Prehension
2, Sensation
3, Perception
4, Emotion
5, Symbolic
6, Concrete Operational
7, Formal Operational
8, Vision-Logic
9, Psychic
10, Subtle
11, Causal
12, Nondual

It's sometimes convenient to simplify these models into a shorter version with more general, universal stages. If we take such a short cut, development of the self can be observed as moving through four basic stages or World Views, which are Ego Centric, Ethnocentric, World Centric, and Kosmocentric. Each of these stages is a station, a stable sense of self that largely determines what an artist sees and how they interpret it. One way to think of artwork from any given world view is as a kind of beautiful 'spin' factor. Just as in politics where each party or lobby tries their best to spin a story or issue in a way that corresponds to their platform, artists are also (often unknowingly) spinning reality with a bias that is part and parcel of their World view perspective. All artistry is a function of stage development, so its influence is unavoidable. Take for instance a hand full of examples from the song writing World. Below is a small graph listing each of the four World Views and a corresponding song written from that perspective.

1, Ego Centric (Corresponding to) Archaic (or) Beige (or) Kiss, I Just Wanna Rock 'N Roll All Night
Magic Purple / Red

2, Ethnocentric Mythic Blue Lee Greenwood, God Bless The USA
Rational Orange

3, Worldcentric Pluralistic Green Bruce Cockburn, If A Tree Falls
Wholistic Yellow

4, Kosmocentric Over-mental Turquoise The Beatles, Across The Universe
Super-mental Coral
Non-dual Holy Shit

The perspectives from these each of these stages bring forth distinct kinds of artwork. Just a quick look at the lyrics of these songs shows how differently the artists who composed them saw the the 'World'.

Ego Centric Perspective
I Just Wanna Rock 'N Roll All Night

I wanna rock and roll all nite
And party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite
And party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite
And party every day

Ethnocentric Perspective
Lee Greenwood
God Bless The USA

And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I gladly stand up next to you
And defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the USA

Worldcentric Perspective
Bruce Cockburn
If A Tree Falls

Rain forest
Mist and mystery
Teeming green
Green brain facing labotomy
Climate control centre for the world
Ancient cord of coexistence
Hacked by parasitic greedhead scam -
From Sarawak to Amazonas
Costa Rica to mangy B.C. hills -
Cortege rhythm of falling timber.

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?

Through thinning ozone,
Waves fall on wrinkled earth -
Gravity, light, ancient refuse of stars,
Speak of a drowning -
But this, this is something other.
Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world
Where wild things have to go
To disappear

The Beatles
Across The Universe

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love
which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe
Jai Guru Deva OM

With each successive stage, the perspective (sense of self) quite literally expands and includes more. As it does, the World becomes deeper, higher, wider, starting with the radius of one person's needs and desires and growing to include other's (ethnocentric, a group-identity), eventually including not just people, but all species and life on the planet (Worldcentric), and finally to the "limitless, undying Love" of the entire Universe, a Self which includes and embraces all the other selves as parts of its own whole.

Egocentric stages are pre-conventional and within these levels of being the sense of self is housed in the body and the radius of identity includes one person. Ethnocentric moves on to establish conventional or group membership identities of religion, race, creed, vocation, etc. Here the circle has expanded to a multiplicity of people who share a common belief system or sense of purpose. At the next stage- Worldcentric- there is the emergence of post-convential perspectives with values of egalitarianism, planetary social systems, etc. Kosmocentric marks the stabilization of trans-personal awareness, identity based in universal or spiritual realization, and this sense of identity is wide enough to include all sentient beings, all forms of life from the tiniest to the greatest, as aspects of ones own self. Most developmental schemes correspond with this basic movement from pre-conventional to conventional to post-conventional.

These deeper, wider perspectives require progressive unfolding, development through stages. An artist couldn't just wake up one day and decide they are a concert cellist, sit down and play Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites. The World's greatest cellists -Rostropovich, Ma, Casals- had to undergo many stages of development to grow into their artistry, because new perspectives, new skills, open up with each successive expanse in being. Years of training are required to become fluent with a musical instrument, language (poetry, prose), painting, dancing, and sculpting. Whatever talent we may be born with a knack for, every baby starts at the very beginning. Even where our ancient human ancestors paved the way for us, and went through the long and arduous process of innovation, every person born still has to unfold through those same stages of development. For instance, with the acquisition of music skills, each person born will gradually go through stages of relationship to music such as:

Stage 1: Organization of Noise and Pattern into Rhythm
Stage 2: Differentiation of Pitch From Noise (octave, fifth, fourth)
Stage 3: Demarcation of Consonant and Dissonant Pitches
Stage 4: Melody, Addition of leading tones (the 3rd and 7th notes of the diatonic scale)
Stage 5: Scales / Modes (which develop out of sense of melody, not vice versa)
Stage 6: Harmony

Billions of people have learned to make music, but each person born starts at the beginning, every time. There's strong evidence that Neanderthal man created and played the flute 43,000 years ago, but even today everyone starts with the basics when they take lessons. The good news for us is that in a general sense, things speed up with recapitulation. While it may have taken our ancestors thousands of years to organize rhythm, differentiate pitch from noise, demarcate consonant and dissonant, and so on, it only took Singapore's musical prodigy Abigail Sin a few months to do all that and a lot more. Abigail was already a World-class pianist at the age of nine (of course she practiced five hours a day). Abigail may have moved through stages quicker than most, but she didn't skip any. While there's no diminishing the extraordinary nature of her evolution, her musical aptitude is just one kind of intelligence. We are each born with many kinds of intelligence, at least dozens of distinct capacities.

So far we've seen how working with states and stages can help open the apertures, and unveil greater perspectives for an artist. There are also dozens of lines -specific capacities which exist at birth and may be developed- in an artist.

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