Whether it’s the autocracy of technology, tyrants, cost of living, climate change, gender dysphoria or pestilence, the full potential of humanity can resolve our deepest challenges.
“Each possible human is not a member of some collective ubermensch but a profoundly individual and precious demonstration of life in its infinite variety… She listens to inward music as complex as any symphony. She continues to discover the many cultures of her psyche and has matriculated in the Innversity, studying all manner of knowledge and wisdom that these cultures within provide.
During the Renaissance, the imaginal realms of inner space proliferate and spill over into the external world in a phenomenal growth of new science, art, literature, politics and above all in a new vision of mankind that is the glory of humanism; In painting, more angles are seen, more shadows and more dimensions; In music, a complexity of sound that reflected the tensions and multiple levels of the Renaissance soul.
By the 19th Century, art yielded to technique and more recently to technology, humanity cut off from its own depths in psyche. The success of rationalist-materialist philosophy of power joined the ruthless European policies of colonialisation, subjugating large areas of the planet, human experience and ways of knowing, logical imperialism pervading, culture disintegrating, computers replacing consciousness, the erosion of the planetary ecosystem. At conferences, the managers of the modern world engage in futile visions, negative scenarios, the death of hope, with a few technocrats promising a magic act from some technological panacea.
Underneath the blanket, giants tremble. Some have experienced it with joy and hope; others with a gut-gripping terror, knowing it demands that they live at their edges. Chords of dissonance warn us that our present problems are not primarily political or economic but are rooted in the inadequate use of our humanity. When too little is being tapped, consciousness is caught in tunnel vision, inadequate to deal with the challenges of the time. When thinking and doing is largely linear, analytical and hierarchical, insular, fearful and manipulative, our best intentions become a crazy-quilt patchwork of Band-Aids. Ideological fortresses of truth, sanctify our stupidity. The world is too interdependent to sustain further reductionism.
Among the educated of Athens in the 5th century BC, the possible human would have been expected to express the virtues of physical beauty, mental grace and high skills in speech and rhetoric. For the Romans, a strong mind in a strong body was the sine qua non. Among ancient Chinese, the noble one was seen to exist in perfect harmony with both society and nature. Among the Balinese, a grace in body and mind and the fluidity in states of consciousness, mark the possible human.
In frontier America, a native culture, whose human ideal revolves around attunement with nature, suffers the direst consequences of a culture who’s ideal includes the constant extension of the “empire of man over things”
We arrive at our own time, when we can no longer afford the invidious comparisons and psychological imperialism that some impose on others. We need the full complement of human resources, wherever they are found. A new introduction to the human race. The possible human.”
Jean Houston, The Possible Human, 1997
In 1965, Jean Houston and her husband began to explore the nature and range of human capacity. They considered the types of human experiences that have traditionally been most enriching, those which have been highly valued. Altered and extended states of consciousness, alternative cognitive modes, new styles of learning. They studied the impact of images in thinking, time distortion, the modulation of pleasure and pain, the nature and evocation of the creative process. They were interested in finding ways to unshackle the mind. Probing orthodox and esoteric cultures they found many ways by which sensitivity may be heightened, solutions found, inner journeys taken, visions sought and gained. Through dancing, drumming, chanting, fasting, many psychophysical and psychospiritual exercises, they rediscovered how we have learned to travel to our edges, to fall off the known world and bring back news from the unknown.
They discovered that you cannot achieve successful and permanent enhancement of mental capacity without the enhancement of physiological capacity. They noted that with the deterioration of the body, that occurs before adulthood is reached, we become less able to learn, perceive, relate and create. They posited that the reliance on the rational, objectifying mind is a direct consequence of the loss in awareness of our sensorimotor functions. They learned that this tunnel vision can be unwound, rediscovering Sanskrit wisdom, that the key to transpersonal reality lay in the expansion of physical awareness, of extending our awareness beyond the logical to the broader range of our sensorimotor capacities. They uncovered a range of complex and evocative procedures such as imagery, movement, creative intentionality, and sound that deeply evoke the human condition. Children were taught to think in images as well as words, spell in rhythmic patterns, to think with their whole body. The elderly were able to restore failing capacities and acquire new ones, knowing full well that when the elders are empowered again, wisdom is restored and society can regain its most valuable constituency.
Jean Houston presents the research, material, ideas and exercises to tap into and orchestrate the depth of human possibility. 25 years on her awareness of the logical imperialism, reliance on a narrow set of thinking and power and the potential of a deeper creativity to solve for our greatest challenges, resonate strongly.
Whether it’s the autocracy of technology, tyrants, cost of living, climate change, gender dysphoria or pestilence, Houston offers a lot of hope in bringing the full potential of humanity to resolve our deepest challenges. At its core, it is unleashing this potential by accessing the broader range of our sensorimotor functions to learn, perceive, relate and create.
For so long we have used Ease of Use as a design paradigm coupled with “literacy” to effect change. More recently when we attempt to improve wellness, whether it be planetary, financial or physical wellness, we have attempted the same. Phillip Lowe, the Reserve Bank of Australia governor, suggesting that more people living together would help ease the housing supply demand stress within the cost-of-living challenge. Peter Costello, ex Australian treasurer, suggesting that having fewer experiences should be on the cards for Millennials for them to achieve his vision of home ownership. Seems like out of touch Boomers. The type of linear, hierarchical, reductionist panacea that Houston warns us of.
At Moroku we are a long way off a more complex model. Yet we believe the multi-dimensional model within Odyssey, recognises the profoundly individual nature of life, its infinite variety and need to build empathy and support within the services model, health or finance specifically. The game method recognises this hunger and power for sound and imagery to build empathy and creativity, take journeys and bring back news from the unknown.