Tag Archives: Integral Theory

Love it or Hate it: Cloud Atlas is Worth Seeing

Cloud AtlasA little while ago, I mentioned that I’d seen a bunch of movies recently. One of those movies: Cloud Atlas. I rather liked the movie and think that you should most definitely consider seeing it. I tend to like the kinds of movies that Tom Hanks is in and I thoroughly enjoyed The Matrix trilogy. Yes, Tom Hanks was not in the The Matrix, but two of the directors (there were three) and producers  (there were five), also directed/produced The Matrix.

I really like movies that make you think and The Matrix certainly did that. In fact, from Wikipedia:

The Matrix makes numerous references to recent films and literature, and to historical myths and philosophy including BuddhismVedantaAdvaita Hinduism, Christianity, Messianism, Judaism, GnosticismExistentialismNihilism. The film’s premise resembles Plato’s Allegory of the caveRené Descartes‘s evil demonKant‘s reflections on the Phenomenon versus theDing an sichZhuangzi‘s “Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly“, Marx’s social theory and thebrain in a vat thought experiment. Many references to Jean Baudrillard‘s Simulacra and Simulation appear in the film, although Baudrillard himself considered this a misrepresentation.

A movie that invokes that much has to make you think. In fact, if you get the chance, I’d read the interview between one of the directors of the Matrix (Larry Wachowski) and Ken Wilber, who has done a great deal to forwarding the integral movement.

Anyway, back to Cloud Atlas. The movie weaves together a bunch of different stories and some of the actors overlap between the stories (paying homage to the idea of reincarnation). Some of the stories are quite powerful and address issues that society has struggled with or is still struggling with. There are two quotes that I came across from one of the directors (Lana Wachowski) that I think are worth keeping in mind when reading reviews of this film (or The Matrix, for that matter). Here’s the first:

As soon as they encounter a piece of art they don’t fully understand the first time going through it, they think it’s the fault of the movie or the work of art. They think, [dramatic voice] “It’s a mess.”

“This doesn’t make any sense.” And they reject it, just out of an almost knee-jerk response to some ambiguity or some gulf between what they expect they should be able to understand, and what they understand.

And the second:

There’s really complex ideas in the [Matrix] trilogy. [Laughs.] We think in some ways, it’s the most experimental, complicated trilogy ever made. And it’s frustrating to see people try to will that to not be true. But we know it’s true. And in the same way, people will try to will Cloud Atlas to be rejected. They will call it messy, or complicated, or undecided whether it’s trying to say something New Agey-profound or not. And we’re wrestling with the same things that Dickens and Hugo and David Mitchell and Herman Melville were wrestling with. We’re wrestling with those same ideas, and we’re just trying to do it in a more exciting context than conventionally you are allowed to.

“Take Back the Country” — From Whom?

Yesterday during class, I saw a tweet from Mitt Romney:

This made me a bit upset and not in a partisan way. From what I understand, Democrats used this same ‘slogan‘ in 2004 when trying to oust President Bush and send Senator Kerry to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. [If you’ll notice, the image that I’ve embedded below appears to be a sign from Occupy Wall Street, which is much more often associated with the Democratic Party.] There’s something inherently disturbing about using a slogan like this. It creates an artificial (and unnecessary) division between the people in power and the people who want to be in power.

It’s perfectly alright to disagree with the direction that the current administration is taking the country, but to use this slogan — to me — is demeaning and somewhat immature.

Disagreements are had on a daily basis, but it’s the moments following that disagreement that a person’s character shines through. If I disagree with someone, I’m not going to start a campaign and say it’s, “us vs. them,” — no — that’s not productive. That’s not mature. Instead, it would be more appropriate for me to try to find further evidence that strengthens my argument.

This slogan that is used in political campaigns remind me of Integral Theory. If I think about spiral dynamics, this particular slogan seems like it’s targeted at the “lower” end of the spiral (beige, purple, and red). Given that there are certainly folks at this level of development in the US electorate, this could be considered a “smart” strategy of political campaigns that employ it.

That being said, I almost want to say, “you should know better,” in that using these kinds of tactics are what continues to keep a country divided and hyper-partisan!



The World — as we know it — is in its Infancy

After watching this week’s Crash Course: World History on decolonization and nationalism, I have a newfound understanding (respect?) for the current state of the world. I used to think, ‘my goodness, humans have existed for so long, why are we still fighting?’ This presupposes that the makeup of the world had stayed relatively the same. And this, of course, is wrong.

According to modern scientific thought, humans have been around for 200,000 years. I always thought that with our being around for so long, we would have ‘figured it out’ by now and would be “nice” to each other. After reading Wilber and delving into Integral Theory, it adds a unique lens on why some groups of people are different from other groups of people, with regard to their development. Still, that wasn’t enough for me to “get it.” I still thought that development should have “happened” such that we treat each other better.

It wasn’t until I watched “Decolonization and Nationalism Triumphant” yesterday afternoon that I realized how young the world is in its current form. At most, we’ve existed in this way for about 70 years. Crazy, huh? When it’s put in those terms, that’s less than a lifetime! It starts to make more sense that certain conflicts haven’t yet settled and that there is still a desire for guns.