Conspiracy in the Age of Aperspectival Madness

Corey deVos Conversations, Integral Live, Perspectives, Politics, Video, World Affairs 11 Comments

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“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…”Allen Ginsberg, Howl

There is a new kind of madness spreading through our world, one that is eroding the very foundations of Western civilization. It is a madness that naturally arises when our trust in journalistic institutions, in our governing bodies, and in democracy itself is deluged by an endless stream of lies, propaganda, and deliberately partial truths flowing into our social media networks. It is an assault on truthfulness, all in the name of “truth” — a war on reality being waged by corporate interests, political opportunists, and internet trolls.

This madness has a name: aperspectival madness, the complete and total flattening of perspective and deconstruction of truth. This is the postmodern quicksand that our Web 2.0 social media networks are actually built upon, and that our society now finds itself sinking into.

“I summarized this postmodern disaster with the term “aperspectival madness,” because the belief that there is no truth—that no perspective has universal validity (the “aperspectival” part)—when pushed to extremes, as postmodernism was about to do, resulted in massive self-contradictions and ultimate incoherency (the “madness” part). And when aperspectival madness infects the leading-edge of evolution, evolution’s capacity for self-direction and self-organization collapses.”Ken Wilber, Trump and a Post-Truth World

This madness arguably represents the greatest threat to the Western world at this moment of history, because when we allow our shared reality to become so splintered and our culture so tribalized, it becomes nearly impossible for us to muster the political will required for us to begin addressing the most serious existential challenges of our time — from climate change to ecological collapse to terrorism, wealth inequality, and sex trafficking.

As if this madness wasn’t bad enough, it is actually being further weaponized against us by foreign intelligence and sociopathic organizations like Cambridge Analytica who take advantage of our confirmation biases, our anti-intellectualism, and the Dunning-Kruger effect by targeting vulnerable minds and flooding their networks with fake news and phony conspiracy theories, all intended to distract us from the genuine conspiracies that are taking place right before our eyes.

Does that sound like yet another conspiracy theory? That’s because it is. Make no mistake, we are surrounded by conspiracy, both genuine and manufactured. What’s worse, the feverish rise of aperspectival madness makes it more difficult than ever to tell the two apart. Which, we might imagine, may very well be the intended outcome — to insulate genuinely malicious conspiracies from accountability with a cushion of plausible deniability, dislodging a large enough plurality of the population from any semblance of “shared reality” by eroding its trust in the very pillars that support and sustain our civilization.

Watch as Corey deVos and Terry Patten attempt to navigate to the endless web of conspiracy theories with some degree of wisdom and discernment, and to bring a small dose of sanity to the dangerous epidemic of aperspectival madness that is flooding through our world.

Written by Corey deVos

A New Republic for the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries — A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change

A vision to address our environment, economy, politics, culture, and to catalyze the radical whole-system change we need now

Recasting current problems as emergent opportunities, Terry Patten offers creative responses, practices, and conscious conversations for tackling the profound inner and outer work we must do to build an integral future. In practical and personal terms, he discusses how we can all become active agents of a transformation of human civilization and why that is necessary to our continued survival. Patten’s narrative focuses on two aspects of existence — our dynamic but fractured and threatened world, and our underlying wholeness and unity.

Only by honoring both of these realities simultaneously can we make sustainable changes in ourselves, our communities, our body politic, and our planetary life-support system. A New Republic of the Heart provides a comprehensive understanding and inspiring vision for “being the change” in a way that can address the most intractable problems of our time. Patten shows how we can come together in our communities for conversations that matter and describes new communities, enterprises, and forms of dialogue that integrate both inner personal growth work with outer awareness, activism, and service.

Purchase now.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is the proverbial "man behind the curtain". He is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996.

Terry Patten

About Terry Patten

An integral coach, consultant, teacher, and author of four books, Terry's work focuses on serving "the integral heart" by evolving the leading edge of leadership and practice. He was the senior writer and co-author, with Ken Wilber, of Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening.

Comments

  1. Hello Corey, hello Terry,
    Heidi here from Italy. Mark and I just watched your conversation and i feel strongly to comment on it:

    I deeply appreciate that you took on this topic: conspiracy and conspiracy theories (which for me are not the same thing). I agree that some theories are deeply absurd, others more credible.

    You were talking about the position of integralists that they need to come down from their throne of superiority and see things with more humility. I totally agree with that. I would add one thing: observe their biases.

    You both really tried to be “objective”, or better balanced in your view and statements, which I really appreciate very much. I noticed one thing: when it comes to conspiracy theories you name only those from the right, none from the left. Why? Do you really think that this kind of blind beliefs are only at home on the right?

    I mostly appreciate your discussion on 9/11 and I can understand your position, Terry. Realizing that it was a inside job is totally devastating for us, who, somehow, still believe in the overall goodness in humans.

    Living in rural Italy I heard about the “fall” of the twin towers, of course, but I never followed up and didn’t know of any conspiracy theory around that. So I surely wasn’t conditioned in the way you were describing.

    I heard the presentation of Dr. Judy Wood (last December or so), a (ex-) professor of material science who did an extensive study of what has happened – or not happened on 9/11. The towers did NOT FALL, but “dustified” -, I was completely shocked learning this as I had never given it any thought and had bought the official story, like so many of us. Judy Wood delivers scientific evidence for it, no conspiracy theory, and everyone believing in the possibility of finding truth via science just cannot ignore that. On Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ermHx3akejc

    I read her book, it took me 2 weeks of shock, 500 pages and with enormous lists of sources for every piece she presents. It is full of solid evidence which you both ask for being able to discern truth from conspiracy theory and it can, really, catapult you into depression, as it did for me. But it also opened my eyes and I lost my naivitè about “positive thinking”.

    Unfortunately the book came out many years after the fact – the time it took to do an in depth scientific research – and so it is just seen as “another conspiracy story”, which it really is NOT. If you want to talk with your friends who believe in the “inside job”, you can offer them the evidence for what, so far, they only believed – if you are open to read what she found out!

    Great conversation! Please do more of that in this spirit of taking on the things which are often too hot to handle!

    1. Corey deVos Author

      Hello Heidi, thank you for your comments. I wanted to give you a couple short responses.

      You say: “You both really tried to be “objective”, or better balanced in your view and statements, which I really appreciate very much. I noticed one thing: when it comes to conspiracy theories you name only those from the right, none from the left. Why? Do you really think that this kind of blind beliefs are only at home on the right?”

      Two things. a) I think we actually did mention a few conspiracy theories that are pretty prominent among the political left — the first was 9/11, which I personally have not accepted as a conspiracy, but understand that some others do. That is certainly a conspiracy that is at least as prominent on the left as it is on the right. And the second was in my final comments, when I said “vaccines do not cause autism”. This is a widely debunked conspiracy that exists on both sides, but I believe is more prominent on the left. (To the point where my very liberal home town of Boulder CO has some worryingly low vaccination rates, which kind of freaks me out since my 5 year old daughter is immunosuppressed.)

      And b) I think that, to the extent that Terry and I did focus on conspiracy theories coming from the right, I think it’s largely because the political right has spent a ton of resources over the last decade to construct a network of conservative media outlets, and these outlets are often responsible for spreading phony conspiracies that I would argue are the most dangerous at this point in history, from Pizzagate to Sandy Hook deniers to Sean Hannity’s personal war against the FBI. I truly believe that people like Hannity, Alex Jones, and Mike Cernovich are clear and present dangers to American democracy, and don’t really have an analogue on the left. The left has its fair share of wing nuts, for sure, but they typically are not given entire media platforms to spread their lunacy.

      Thanks again for your comments Heidi! Very glad you enjoyed our discussion.

  2. Thank you for a great conversation – I wish it could be accessible on youtube so it could be chared on Facebook and viewed by more people. I have friends who are so much into conspiracy theories, and it is awful how emotional they are and completely closed to more reasonable arguments – it’s a bit of a task being with them sometimes and our friendship suffers.
    I believe a great deal of their interest and revelry in these – often absolutely sick theories, is due to inner conflicts that are almost impossible to realize for them and thus gets projected out into the world – a world made eviler and more suspect that it really is.
    I read the comment above and OH MY GOD – I really don’t want to spend two hours on a movie arguing that 9/11 was an inside job. I am biased – admitted. But of cause, it could be true, but if so, what to do about that? I wonder what the implications would be? Bush seemed like an angel compared to Trump. Could he really be responsible for the death of more than 2000 people in NY? Sounds crazy.

  3. Terry, all credit to you for watching those Architects and Engineers videos, and for the openness of your reaction to them. Your decision not to ‘go down the rabbit-hole’ and to simply acknowledge you don’t have enough information to make an informed judgement is a wise and sane approach. I’ve taken the same approach for some of the other narratives discussed in your conversation. While I did choose to go down the 9/11 rabbit-hole (and it proved to be a valuable eye-opener in many different ways) I fully agree with you that it is no place to dwell.

    It strikes me a concept somewhat parallel to aperspectival madness is the Overton Bubble. We can define the Overton Window as the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people and discussed in polite society. An Overton Bubble develops when the ‘truth’ lies outside the Overton Window. This means politicians, decision makers etc are unaware of the real context (of the global predicament, for example) and are unable to take meaningful action. This is, as you say, one of the biggest hurdles we face as a species. The Overton Bubble is really just another way to objectively view the phenomenon of the consensus trance I guess.

    Its great to see the conversation generating some feedback (other than from me!)

  4. Hi Corey,
    Heidi again speaking.
    Thanks for your answer. I am not at all familiar with American culture and don’t know most of the people you are talking about. It was just my impression as someone who doesn’t know much about American politics that the many things the left seems to do in quite the same way as the right were not given a consideration.

    @Christian This is not a movie, it is a presentation of FACTS, well researched, and I think Integralists should consider facts and not just dismiss them as opinions. Do we value the scientific method or not? Terry spoke about that. And so I think it is a duty to learn what is going on under the surface and which can be demonstrated by facts.

    I notice so strongly that Americans have such a difficulty to wrap their heads around the fact that their country might not be as great as they thought it to be, that there are people/institutions who play with their own people. Mark had a very hard time to digest what he learned and most of our American friends here in Italy refuse to engage at all – like you. We Europeans can see all that with much more calmness and distance as our identity is not directly at stake.

    Why should we know the facts available? To become able to discern better what is fake and false flag and what, instead, needs our attention and action. To wake up from the naive believe that our governments have our best interests in their heart and even if they had: that there are other forces at work which we do not know and which are not controlled by our governments. To come together and figure out what can be done instead of being woken up from deep sleep when it is too late.

  5. I’d like to clarify a comment I made yesterday. I said it’s fine to choose not to ‘go down the 9/11 rabbit-hole’. I’ll refine that by saying it’s ok to ignore what you don’t think is real – we do this all the time when we make judgement calls on where to focus our attention. It’s also fine (to temporarily ignore) if your inner work is not strong enough to withstand the psychic disruption. So if you want to take a calm quiet mind onto the meditation cushion avoid this topic for the required duration. In my case I did not have sufficient stability established in my practice and was knocked off my perch so to speak. Heidi, commenting above, reports a similar reaction.

    If however you have a strong suspicion the conspiracy may be true then I think it is important to investigate. To avoid it seems like denial. It’s a bit like saying “I don’t want to know anything about the holocaust because I might become upset”. It’s about being informed – not about dwelling and festering down there.

    Hi Heidi and Mark, I appreciated your comments and I admire your passion for the truth. I wrote a similar comment on Terrys discussion last month. I note the frustration in your second comment and share it to some degree.. However I do think we need to give both Corey and Terry full marks for bringing the topic onto Integral Life. It is a very difficult and complex subject and absolutely fraught with pitfalls and emotional triggers. Both Corey and Terry are somewhat out of their depth but aren’t we all when we first stumble down this track? Who knows how their views will evolve over time. So its a big thumbs up to the Integral Life team from me.

    Heidi, in your first comment you suggest that 9/11 is different to other conspiracy theories and I agree with that. Briefly here are 3 reasons

    First is the vast amount of scientific evidence that contradicts the official version.

    Second, if it was an inside job, then that changes everything. When what seemed unthinkable is revealed to be true your old worldview is shattered.

    Third, it was a highly symbolic act – a strike at the heart of democracy on 9/11 (911 is the emergency phone number in the US). Of course the emotive and symbolic nature of the event is why it was perpetrated in the first place. A myth / legend has been created.

    It seems to me the official version only really has one thing going for it. It is squarely within the Overton window ie. It is part of the societal consensus so most of the population believe it by default.

  6. Hi David,
    Heidi here again. Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately the system doesn’t send notifications when someone replies and so I noticed it only now.

    I do agree with you and appreciate very much that Integral Life has taken up this topic, and this is already something! And, yes, all these topics are difficult and full of emotional triggers which often blind us a little. This is fine, as long as we remember to not just dismiss something as impossible, but leave the doorway open for the unexpected, the “good” and the “bad” likewise. Otherwise we just repeat the times of Galilei where things cannot be true if they are commonly held to be false. Well, integral cannot exclude anything of being possibly true – or false, and needs to keep the ears and eyes open for whatever comes along. This probably is my frustration with the integral community in the last few years: they are all soooo certain of the truth of what they think is true…

    You write: “When what seemed unthinkable is revealed to be true your old worldview is shattered.” Yes, and it would be good if that could happen in a mild way instead of a blow, whenever the old worldview breaks apart. But it doesn’t seem the case, normally. It really takes long, probably too long, until we severely doubt in the goodness of those who reign over us in one way or the other. The amount of evil in the world is really shocking, and it is not only Nazi Germany or Stalin. Yesterday I watched a documentary “Ishi: The Last of His Kind” on Youtube and it has blown me away to learn how little shadow work America has done, not even begun, seems to me. From the extinction of native tribes to 9/11? Not so far!

    I agree with you: “f your inner work is not strong enough to withstand the psychic disruption”. It is very hard to face the truth, especially for emotional types like me (4). But still, we are co-creating the world, in good and bad, and we need to be aware of which choices we make and carry the responsibility. We who think to be on 2nd tier are the first ones who need to try. We cannot expect the others to start!

    Thanks for the update of the meaning of 9/11 in terms of emergency. There are so many things I don’t know because I am not American and just learn something about American culture since I live with Mark.

    Heidi

  7. Terry and Corey- Much appreciated video. I too wish it was more widely available as it is such a valuable dive into the subject> there is so much of this on Facebook among “Integral” folks. I really appreciate your takes on the effects of this topic on society And on individuals. Because one big question here is what do we DO with this sort of information without it consuming us or… infecting us in the unhealthy ways as it has infected social media, msm,…. And what Action can/should arise out of this. As for 9/11, for example, my conclusion is at the very least these attacks were allowed to happen by those in government. But what do I- what does Anyone- Do with such conclusions? How can it effectively inform thought and action?
    The whole ‘post-truth” trend seems more destabilizing to positive human structures and growth overall than almost anything else occurring. Terry- I am ordering your new book today finally…

  8. I’ve just re-read the comments above and a couple of things occur to me.

    Firstly, yes, it really is important to understand what happened on 9/11. The same people who perpetrated this are still in power. And they’re not hiding away quietly hoping to avoid detection. Far from it. They got away with it once and are operating in plain sight with confidence that they are untouchable.

    9/11 provides a solid scientific way into understanding who’s actually pulling the strings. I found the work of investigative journalist Christopher Bollyn to be helpful too. He has several videos on Youtube and examines the historical roots of the conspiracy as well as
    who actually did it
    why they did it
    how they covered it up

    Heidi, thanks again for contributing to the discussion. Terry is dead right when he advises not to dwell obsessively on the subject. I’m not suggesting you are doing this but you have been upset, as was I. What helped me get back on an even keel was understanding the event more holistically (I’m an engineer and like to know how things work). Anyway the work of Christopher Bollyn put the 9/11 event into a bigger context that helped me make sense of it. I was then able to let it go and get back to normal stability.Perhaps this approach might help you and Mark too.

    The reason I’ve chosen to comment on this topic is that I think Integral is missing some fundamental pieces of the puzzle (in terms of relative truth). As you said Heidi ‘This probably is my frustration with the integral community in the last few years: they are all soooo certain of the truth of what they think is true… Nicely put! Part of the problem is the full spectrum propaganda that Americans are subjected to from birth. The rest of us in the West get a fair dose of it too – but not as bad as the US I think. (To be fair to Integral Life I do find most of the content I access to be excellent)

    The other reason I’ve chosen to comment is in support of a tipping point. It is my little piece of sacred activisim. We have seen a huge culture change as Green meme reached the ~10% population tipping point and green values have flooded through society. When 10%+ of the population see through 9/11 maybe there’s a chance to finally flush out the ‘cancer’.

  9. Thank-you Terry and Corey for discussing this important, but rarely investigated topic. Thank-you also to everyone who has commented – I’ve found everyone’s perspectives helpful for me in navigating this complex terrain.
    For me, what I have continued to come back to as the most useful way to look at, and learn from, all the various conspiracies and conspiracy theories, is the perspective of “don’t know mind.”
    It seems to me that there is significant value in questioning some of the conventional narratives about certain major events, such as 9/11. I have seen some documentaries that have made very persuasive arguments that the prevailing explanation for what happened that day may not actually be the case.
    However, for me, the problem with certain conspiracy theories is when they move from questioning conventional narratives to creating new narratives of their own – narratives that are often at least as problematic as the conventional narratives they are trying to debunk in the first place. This is the case, in my view, with the 9/11 “inside job” narrative. I am able to hold the possibility that something happened on 9/11 that is contrary to what the public has been told – this takes me to the place of “don’t know mind.” But, accepting the narrative that 9/11 was somehow an inside job stretches my credulity past the breaking point. I have never encountered an explanation for the inside job narrative that comes close to accounting for the mind-boggling amount of secrecy, deception and co-vert co-operation that would have needed to have been maintained by practically countless individuals throughout the U.S. and other nations in order to have pulled this off. (This is my humble view, of course, and I respect that others will hold different views).
    It seems to me that this phenomenon of creating new alternative narratives often takes place when conspiracies and conspiracy theories are being discussed. I wonder if this has something to do with us humans having an innate discomfort with uncertainty. That is, once we have discredited (in our own minds at least) one narrative, we have difficulty just sitting with the unknown, so we have to move directly into creating and believing a new narrative, even if it isn’t entirely credible itself.
    So, that is why I think practicing the perspective of “don’t know mind” can be valuable, especially in the realm of conspiracy theories. This world is a complex and mysterious place, and possibly we don’t know as much as we like to think we know. Maybe being okay with not knowing can help us grow as individuals and as a species.
    All the best,
    Graham

  10. Hi David,
    Heidi here again.
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I really like the way we interacted here in the stream.
    Yes, I was very upset when I realised how hidden and awful the facts are, it took me quite a while to come back to “normal” again. But I am back there, thanks God, but a little “wiser”, let’s say, and less trustful in authorities and their ability to do good for the people – as I had been in my bluish upbringing.

    I will check out what you suggested! And let’s hope that the 10% will be reached soon to get more clarity into what is happening below the surfaces! And no doubt that integral life and all people are doing good work! All of us are carrying our biases and conditioning from where we grew up in the world and from how we were taught to see the world – sometimes more than we would like it to be…

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