From consciousness studies to frames of mind, from alchemical states of being, dreamtime to the spectrum of altered states, through to old/new paradigm issues and transformational aspirations; this spectrum are all part of a field of related subjects covered in our Dreams of Consciousness (DOC) section. While the mind isn’t green in itself, and policy issues on land infill don’t depend on the runaway evolution of the brain, by placing these subjects within the pages of a single review, and one which is also involved in green issues, we’re hoping to encourage cross-fertilisation and a sense that there is shared, common-ground and relatedness between the practical and everyday, be it recycling or energy efficiency to the ways and mysteries of the mind. After the ecstasy, the laundry indeed!
DOC expands on this and integrates an embodied approach, looking at the consequences of rapid cultural and technological change on both mind and body. How, in effect social, cultural and technological change is effecting the senses, beyond the dominant sight-bound ‘eyes’; how the experience of hearing, touch, smell, and taste, with the other organs of the body; the hands, ears, nose, mouth, skin and feet, is, quite possibly, changing.
As complement to the regional architectural themed section on Graubunden and Vorarlberg, Fourth Door 8’s DOC, features two pieces, which relate to the influence of the built environment on our state’s of mind. Jay Merrick’s, the Independent’s architectural critic, caustic critique of the unholy alliance between media and celebrity architecture and the parlous influence it has had on both the profession and the public perception of the architectural world. And the interview with Finnish architectural theorist, Juhani Pallasmaa, deepens this discussion in an interview on the dominance of the eye in the built environment, and his call for an architecture of all the senses.
By way of contrast FDR7 features two pieces, which approach issues consciousness from entirely different perspectives. The first is by writer and homeopath, Marian Partington on possibly one of the most difficult journeys people can take, the path of forgiveness for the murder of a close relative, in this instance Partington’s sister, Lucy, who disappeared in 1973 and was unearthed in 1994 as one of the victims of Fred and Rosemary West. In this extraordinary and moving piece Partington writes about the subsequent odyssey of her journey into compassion and her engagement with a unique prison community. The second pieces explores a personal and individual perspective on Dyslexia, and its relation to the Bureaucratic, and other institutional ways of thinking. John Wood, who discovered he was dyslexic in his fifties, ponders whether ‘evolutionary purpose of dyslexia’ is to replace bureaucracy with systems of quality.
In FDR6 there are again two pieces looking at two further very different aspects of the DOC themes. While the first comes from the social sphere, the other is based on very personal experience. Langdon Winner, the well-known American philosopher of technology, is interviewed, and discusses the whole field of the philosophy of technology; the emergence and social possibilities and limits of new media; and whether technology is in a runaway state, ‘out of control’. The second personal piece outlines something of the experience of blindness for one person, that of John Hull, an Australian Theology lecturing living in Britain, who in his early adulthood lost his sight, and consequently wrote a extraordinary biography of the experience, Touching the Rock. In the book, Hull compellingly describes the change of sensory awareness blindness inaugurated. While such experience is not explicitly ecological, it does bring to mind living the full ecology of the senses.
There’s a paradigm shift theme to FDR5. In a detailed overview of Morris Berman trilogy Re-read considers Berman’s development regarding cultural evolution from his early work, The Reenchantment of the World through to Coming to our Senses, and in 2000, Wandering God. Complementing such paradigm shift discussion, Jerome Ravetz reviews both a biography of the man created the ‘paradigm shift’ catchphrase, Thomas Kuhn, and a new edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the controversial philosophy of science book that originated all the dispute. We also take a critical look at the new age paradigm movement’s economic dimension, within a review of New Age Capitalism, by Kimberley Lau.
There are two further DOC pieces in FDR5; one on the relation of Earth Art to both consciousness issues and the whole terrain of Consciousness Studies by Tracey Warr, the other part two of the Fritjof Capra interview by Sarah Boas.
We launched Dreams of Consciousness (DOC) in FDR4 with an in-depth interview with Fritjof Capra by Sara Boas. Looking back at Capra’s origins, his experience of the sixties and the early success of his first book, The Tao of Physics the interview continues with Capra discussing his more recent and popular The Turning Point and The Web of Life books. FDR4’s inaugoral DOC section features Brighton based performance artists, Red Earth, and their odyssey-like series of works with Javanese art and artists; an overview report on the 1998 'Consciousness Reframed' conference in Caerleon, Wales, convened by telematics maven Roy Ascott. A profile of photographer Susan Derges explores the metaphysical assumptions of seer and seen, the subject and the object, implicit in photography, and Derges removal of this Cartesian dualism in her photogram work. In Re-Read, Malcolm Learmonth reconsiders the I Ching in the guise of a CD version, asking whether the falling of the yarrow stalks can ever be the same yarrow sticks scattered within the virtual space of a CD Rom.
From a different perspective, and related to the explorations of the body and its senses, (eg, blindness, or the centrality of body movement in Morris Berman’s later work) Wordwatch’s primary review piece, Infinite Gesture -Whither the hand? both examines whether the hand is a critical and central part of our evolutionary make-up and if so, whether living lives without their integration may effect this evolution. The piece then moves on to the effect of computers within craft, and for the maker, in the use of their hands and the full body. This is done by weaving together two books; Frank Wilson’s simply titled, The Hand, and Malcolm McCullough’s Abstracting Craft. By exploring the evolutionary future of the hand, we return to the myriad meanings and unanswered questions of consciousness and mind.