Thesis              -              Synthesis             -              Antithesis

To become too much of a singular 'type' is to sink into the ground, into the soil, from where you can no longer see or communicate with other 'types'. By sinking you have curtailed your ability to communicate on a wider level.

In this way society becomes compartmentalized. How do the various elements of society (the various sunken 'types') understand and communicate with each other?

If we decide that it is important for lines of communication to stay open, then we need those who have not sunk, or have not sunk too far down. Those that can skirt the surface, go between types and carry messages from one to the other. These would be the oil between the gears, slipping and sliding and keeping things turning smoothly.

These people embody the psychic hermaphrodite. The opposite notion is when something, or someone, becomes predictable - becomes, in other words, a 'type'.

Empirical sciences, pursued purely for their own sake and without philosophical tendency, are like a face without eyes. They are, however, a suitable occupation for people of good capacity, who nevertheless lack the highest faculties that would even be a hindrance to minute investigations of this kind. Such persons concentrate their whole strength and all their knowledge on a single limited field.

Therefore in that field they can reach the most complete knowledge possible, on condition that they remain in complete ignorance of everything else, whereas the philosopher must survey all fields, and indeed to a certain extent be at home in them all. That perfection which is attained only through detail is necessarily ruled out here.

In this connexion, these persons are to be compared to the Geneva workmen, of whom one makes nothing but wheels, another only springs, and a third merely chains; the philosopher, on the other hand, is to be compared to the watch-maker, who from all these produces a whole that has movement and meaning.

They can also be compared to the musicians in an orchestra, each of whom is master of his own instrument; and the philosopher to the conductor, who must be acquainted with the nature and method of handling every instrument, yet without playing them all, or even only one of them, with great perfection.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.128-9

When you are dependent on the earth under your feet and the community around you for your survival, you experience interdependence as a fact of daily life. Such a deep experiential understanding of interconnectedness - feeling yourself a part of the continuum of life - contrasts starkly with the analytic, fragmented, and theoretical thinking of modern society.

We need to return to a more empathetic relationship with the living world and learn to see broader patterns, process, and change [...] Our static and mechanistic world view has reached its limits, and some scientists - particularly quantum physicists - now speak of a paradigm shift away from the old "building block" view of reality to a more organic one.

In direct opposition to the trend in mainstream culture toward greater specialization, we need to actively promote the generalist - the one who sees connections and makes links across different disciplines. In this regard, one of the most hopeful trends is the increasing respect for more feminine values and ways of thinking.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.189

Thresholds are zones "in-between" two multiplicities, what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as "zones of proximity", where the elements of multiplicities enter into, and pass through and between each other. Thresholds precede the bifurcations and distinctions that mark off one multiplicity from another.

As Deleuze and Guattari observe, "the self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities". While we might think of the self as that which is ours, the site of our uniqueness and that which most distinguishes us from others, in this observation Deleuze and Guattari cast the self as preceding these forms and functions of self-organization.

So the importance of thresholds is that these "in-betweens" are becomings. When we are "in-between", on the threshold, what keeps us distinct from this or that can become indiscernible or indistinct or imperceptible.

[Patty Sotirin]
Gilles Deleuze, Key Concepts, p. 119

I think an artist is someone who gets to do whatever they want.

Other professions or practices don't have this level of freedom, dentists need to do dental work, dog trainers train dogs, etc. Those could be fun or not so fun professions to have, but regardless that is what those people need to do until they decide that they want to do something else.

Artists can do a project about dentistry or dogs or anything else they are interested in at any time and then can do something else right after or even during, and still remain an artist.

[Harrell Fletcher]

That was one thing I didn't know. I was hoping, coming here, that I would be able to do a lot of swimming. When you look around you see all these creeks and they look really appealing. But everyone is saying, not only don't swim there, don't even touch it. It's pretty devastating to realize that in a place that is so beautiful, all the foliage, the mountains, the creeks -- it's all in a very fragile contaminated state. It's a real sad thing.

I don't know exactly what we as artists are going to be able to do about that - getting on to your other question. We asked the Gishes, the people who run the newspaper in Whitesburg, what they thought about how art could contribute, and they said that they didn't think that it could. Maybe thinking traditionally about what art is maybe it wouldn't. Maybe we need to come up with a different way of working.

Of course, on the other hand, I fear dilettantism. I don't want to pretend that I'm some sort of scientist or politician that would be able to make some kind of change or know what the change should be - because I don't really. I don't know if that can be my role. More, what I'm capable of doing is allowing voices that are already here to become more audible. If that's what they want to say then that's what they will say. I'm not going to determine issues and then find the sound bites to fit into that. That's not the way that I work or the thing that I find interesting or enjoyable to do. I have difficulty thinking, "Let's try to tackle this issue and as artists fix this thing". I don't know if that's really the way that I can function.

[Harrell Fletcher]

[...] she wrote as a woman, but as a woman who has forgotten that she is a woman, so that her pages were full of that curious sexual quality which comes only when sex is unconscious of itself.

Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women [...] Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind.

He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent, and undivided.

[...] men, that is to say, are now writing only with the male side of their brains [...] It is the power of suggestion that one most misses, I thought, taking Mr B the critic in my hand and reading, very carefully and very dutifully, his remarks upon the art of poetry.

Very able they were, acute and full of learning; but the trouble was that his feelings no longer communicated; his mind seemed separated into different chambers; not a sound carried from one to the other.

Thus, when one takes a sentence of Mr B into the mind it falls plump to the ground - dead; but when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life.

[Virginia Woolf]
A Room of One's Own, p.108, 114, 117

All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are 'sides', and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot.

As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamental pots.

[Virginia Woolf]
A Room of One's Own, p.122-3

No alliance exists between hackers and specific political organisations. In spite of the fact that each would benefit through interaction and cooperation, the alienating structure of a complex division of labour keeps these two social segments separated more successfully than could the best police force.

Here are two groups motivated to accomplish similar anti-authoritarian ends, but which cannot seem to find a point of intersection [...] The schism between knowledge and technical skill has to be closed, to eliminate the prejudices held by each side - hacker intolerance for the technologically impaired, and activist intolerance for those who are not politically correct).

Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas, p.19-20

Is the artist the point of intersection?

Inasmuch as the State relies on alienated relations to maintain power, the artist, by remaining in-between, works against the State simply through existing.


We find him, with wings on his feet and wings on his helmet, carrying messages from god to god and from gods to humans. When the god Hephaestus fashions Pandora, the first woman, we find Hermes bestowing on her his very special gift – persuasiveness. When Hephaes­tus springs a trap on his wife the goddess Aphrodite and her lover Ares, god of war, netting them in the middle of their love-making, Hermes remarks without embarrassment how glad he would be to take Ares' place.

We find him charming gods and mortals alike. He is the lover of Aphrodite, and even of the virgin goddess Artemis. He takes a decidedly non-heroic stance in life, always avoiding conflict. This slippery, deceiving, seductive, non-heroic character seems to have been the best-loved of the Greek gods, and perceived as the friendliest to mortals.

He has many names and takes many forms: the god of travellers, the god of shepherds, the god of merchants and markets, the god of persuasiveness, the trickster, the god of lies and deceit, the god of gamblers, the god of thieves, the god of illusions, the god of shamanic medicine, the god of the crossroads, the god of connections, of quicksilver, of fast footwork and smooth talking, the god of boundary-crossing.

He is the divine entrepreneur, a con man without ethics and without malice. He has no values of his own, no concern for substance. He enjoys doing deals, being clever, playing the game. He is the herald of the gods, the connector, the carrier of information. Hermes does not craft anything, like Hephaestus. He does not manage anything, like Zeus, or lead us to understanding, like Apollo, or ensure the smooth functioning of society, like Hera, or harvest and hoard, like Kronos. He does not fight, like Ares, or nourish, like Demeter, or protect the weak, like Artemis. He loves paradox and process, trickery and risk. He is ambiguous and many-­faced. He is everybody's mate. He is not associated with a particular place, does not have a temple and priests like the other gods, but is worshipped at every crossroad.

[Bernie Neville]

'Spiral Wizards'

Every epoch, generation, culture and ethnicity has produced its own wizards [...] These 'wise ones' typically arise in times of crisis and rapid change when old patterns and forms are being replaced by the new.

They inhabit the shadows and in-between places - edges, cusps, verges, caves, brinks, rims, fringes, and divides - those misty realms that are no longer one thing but not yet another. Anything can happen in these haunts, the borderline spaces and times.

[...] Most worked quietly offstage, king makers and breakers behind the scenes.

[They] are adept at bridging transition zones between one [thing] and another.

Spiral Wizards wear many different hats and can play a myriad of roles. Just as they can fit in many worlds, they can adjust styles, being sensitive when appropriate and ruthless when necessary, even walking away when their own interests and needs take them elsewhere.

They have very few boundaries, off-limits, or narrow, confining rules to restrict their thinking. Nor are they impeded by the artificial separations imposed by disciplines, fields of knowledge, sacred territories, restrictive traditions, or separate divisional titles in a company. They are resourceful enough to experiment with the novel or make do with the ordinary. Historic differences in terms of church vs. state, public vs. private, one level of government vs. another, or one category or person vs. another have little significance.

'Who is right?' is not as important as 'what does the Spiral need?' Competency is more valued than seniority; knowledge is more useful than status. The mind is free to learn anything from anybody in any manner necessary. Nothing from the past is thrown away, and nothing from the future is rejected out of hand.

Overall, they act on behalf of the entire organism (person, company, or society) for both the greater good and individual gain.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.105, 111

'YELLOW MEME' (Spiral Dynamics)

YELLOW thinkers can stitch together the interests of the often conflicting MEMEs so each continues to run independently together. YELLOW defines situations so as to make possible, though not to guarantee, the healthy coexistence of all of the systems. [...] YELLOW activists are uniquely qualified to remove blockages and smooth out flows between and among MEMEs.

In short, YELLOW is able to move in and out of the various First Tier systems in order to (1) make them healthy and (2) show their connections with other systems in the Spiral.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.283

One of the basic tenets of American Indian religion is the notion that everything in the universe is related. Nevertheless, things that exist are often seen as having a counterpart: sky and earth, plant and animal, water and fire.

In all of these polarities there exist mediators. The role of the mediator is to hold the polarities together, to keep the world from disintegrating.

[...] The mediator between the polarities of woman and man, in the American Indian religious explanation, is a being that combines elements of both genders.

[...] The berdache receives respect partly as a result of being a mediator. Somewhere between the status of women and men, berdaches not only mediate between the sexes but between the psychic and the physical - between the spirit and the flesh.

Since they mix the characteristics of both men and women, they possess the vision of both. They have double-vision, with the ability to see more clearly than a single gender perspective can provide. This is why they are often referred to as "seer," one whose eyes can see beyond the blinders that restrict the average person.

Viewing things from outside the usual perspective, they are able to achieve a creative and objective viewpoint that is seldom available to ordinary people. By the Indian view, someone who is different offeres advantages to society precisely because she or he is freed from the restrictions of the usual. It is a different window from which to view the world.

[Walter L. Williams]
The Spirit and the Flesh, p. 21, 41-2

[The neophyte is] neither living nor dead from one aspect, and both living and dead from another. Their condition is one of ambiguity and paradox, a confusion of all the customary categories.

Jacob Boehme, the German mystic whose obscure writings gave Hegel his celebrated dialectical "triad," liked to say that "In Yea and Nay all things consist."

Liminality may perhaps be regarded as the Nay to all positive structural assertions, but as in some sense the source of them all, and, more than that, as a realm of pure possibility whence novel configurations of ideas and relations may arise.

Dr Mary Douglas [...] has recently advanced the very interesting and illuminating view that the concept of pollution "is a reaction to protect cherished principles and categories from contradiction."

[...] From this standpoint, one would expect to find that transitional beings are particularly polluting, since they are neither one thing nor another, or may be both; or neither here nor there; or may even be nowhere (in terms of any recognized cultural topography), and are at the very least "betwixt and between" all the recognized fixed points in space-time of structural classification.

[...] We are not dealing with structural contradictions when we discuss liminality, but with the essentially unstructured (which is at once de-structured and pre-structured) and often the people themselves see this in terms of bringing neophytes into close connection with deity or with superhuman power, with what is, in fact, often regarded as the unbounded, the infinite, the limitless.

[...] in liminal situations (in kinship-dominated societies) neophytes are sometimes treated or symbolically represented as being neither male nor female. Alternatively, they may be symbolically assigned characteristics of both sexes, irrespective of their biological sex [...] They are symbolically either sexless or bisexual and may be regarded as a kind of human prima materia - as undifferentiated raw material.

[...] The coincidence of opposite processes and notions in a single representation characterizes the peculiar unity of the liminal: that which is neither this not that, and yet is both.

[...] Liminality may be partly described as a stage of reflection.

[Victor Turner]
'Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage', found in Betwixt and Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation, p. 7-9, 14

Every Castalian institute and every Castalian should hold to only two goals and ideals: to attain to the utmost command of his subject, and to keep himself and his subject vital and flexible by forever recognizing its ties with all other disciplines and by maintaining amicable relations with all.

This second ideal, the conception of the inner unity of all man's cultural efforts, the idea of universality, has found perfect expression in our illustrious Game.

It may be that the physicist, the musicologist, or other scholar will at times have to steep himself entirely in his own discipline, that renouncing the idea of universal culture will further some momentary maximum performance in a special field.

But we, at any rate, we Glass Bead Game players, must never allow ourselves such specialisation. 

We must neither approve nor practice it, for our own special mission, as you know, is the idea of Universitas Literrarum. Ours to foster its supreme expression, the noble Game and repeatedly to save the various disciplines from their tendency to self-sufficiency.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p.233-4

The need to be perfect has meant, for me, an avoidance of all positions; because as soon as you take a position, you're compromised. Every position has a blind spot, is flawed. Staying in-between has been a coward's way of trying to stay perfect and un-sullied; an avoidance of battle-scars and wrinkles; mistakes and missteps.

I run endlessly around the pool, observing the people in the water: some are laughing and playing and others are determinedly doing lengths; some have life rafts and float on the surface, whilst others have goggles and explore the depths. Some are drowning.

More and more it seems to me that the challenge of life is to jump headfirst into the pool and to hell with the consequences. Is it too cold? Too deep? Can I swim? Well, there's only one way to find out...

The notion of the superhero as a guardian is quite appropriate. A guardian stands on the wall, on the limit, and protects the city from whatever threatens it. So in this way the hero is […] liminal.

The hero usually is not normal, is not a proper extension of the centre, of identity. Rather, the hero is an exception, an exception that manifests itself in ways that reflect [marginality]: Superman is an alien, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, Aquaman is from Atlantis. Many of the superhero types are born from accidents - they’re freaks, like Dr Manhattan, or the Hulk. They suggest a type of hybridity, the type that happens on the margins - the place where two categories meet. We can see that in the names of superheroes like Batman, Spiderman, etc.

The heroes of antiquity were also hybrids. They were usually demigods, ambiguous beings that stand between worlds: Heracles, Achilles. We also see [examples] in the Bible: the Pre-Diluvian giants -  called ‘men of renown’ and known for their extraordinary feats - were born of the miscegenation between the sons of God and the daughters of men.

They were the last generation before the end of a world, and being at the end of a world before its destruction they appear as a mixture of categories, as a place where the categories begin to fall apart.

The superhero is usually a mirror-reflection of the super-villain, like two sides of a coin, or a wall. Sometimes the difference between one side and the other isn’t that obvious, and that was certainly the case in antiquity.

Because the superhero is an in-between character he can also sometimes defend the world, not from the outside threat, but from the dangers and pathologies of the centre. Sometimes the hero can defend the world from both extremes at the same time.

[Jonathan Pageau]
Symbolism in Guardians of the Galaxy v.2

Preconquest regions were often fringed by intervening zones of mayhem and disorder, including warfare, piracy, extravagant sexuality, and brigandage. Getting through to them was often dangerous.

Where preconquest populations were unrelentingly besieged by harsh conquistadorial demands, intuitive rapport sometimes suddenly give way en masse, precipating a period of acute existential crisis.

Arising from such crises was the ‘savage- savage’ who caused much of the mayhem and disorder seen in those disturbed and dangerous zones that so often barricaded entrance to remnant preconquest areas.

[E. Richard Sorenson]
'Preconquest Consciousness', p. 2

[…] Rosch found borderline members seemed to cause more uncertainty.

[…] she asked subjects to respond true or false to assertions such as “A carrot is a vegetable” and “A pickle is a vegetable.” She found they answered true significantly faster with high-ranking items like carrot than low-ranking ones like pickle.

The marginal examples demanded more thought […] they seemed harder to round off.

[Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger]
Fuzzy Logic, p. 85

[…] imagine an item which is part table and part cup, perhaps a toy table with a broad hollow on top.

This ungainly goblet is not much of a table or a cup, so it is a table and cup to very low extent, say, 0.02. But it is a table-cup to high degree, perhaps 0.95.

The mind forms a prototype of table-cup and compares the item to that, not to tables and cups. 

[Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger]
Fuzzy Logic, p.98


The mind naturally wants to round off to the nearest whole number - the nearest steady-state. If the in-between can become a prototype in itself, rather than being an inferior version of other prototypes, then the mind has an easier time grasping it, or resting upon it.

[…] they do not mean that the author wants to make up his mind in the usual sense and set to work in the external world. 

This is something he simply could not do without realizing his unlimited possibilities in a limited reality, without emerging from his subjectivistic creativity and concerning himself with the mechanism of cause and effect or with normative ties.

He could not make up his mind without relinquishing his superior irony; in other words, without giving up his romantic situation. The romantic wants to do nothing except experience and paraphrase his experience in an emotionally impressive fashion.

[Carl Schmitt]
Political Romanticism, p.100

Liberalism's logic seeks to eliminate not only borders as we normally consider them - through political and economic globalization - but also the "boundaries" that exist in nature.

Today's emphasis upon issues of identity - especially arising from the sexual revolution - arise equally from the liberal abhorrence of “forms."

The human form above all that requires elimination is sexual difference, a goal advanced by increasingly aggressive efforts to secure state-funded birth control, abortion, and artificial forms of fertilization and gestation of children.

The people most committed to protecting and preserving the environment and the technological manipulation of nature are often the most fervent in support of eliminating every evidence of natural differentiation between men and women, through chemical and technological manipulation.

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.xix

Clowns are disturbing because they turn the world upside down and openly challenge the order of nature and society. Wherever harmony and order are present, the clown intervenes. The clown makes boundaries explicit by crossing them; demonstrates the meaning of order through disorder. Most important of all, the clown reminds us that in the flux of the world nothing is certain. In Blackfoot ceremonies the circle is always open so that something new can appear.

A relative of the clown is the "contrary" who does everything in reverse. The contrary will walk backward, face the rear of a horse when riding, and wash in dirt. The contrary's behavior is also linguistic, with No used for assent, and Yes turned into a denial. Thus, through the medium of speech and action, a contrary teaches the limits and conventions of social behavior and social inhibitions.

Clowns and contraries, how much we need them in our own society today. We need the Fool in King Lear who constantly mocked the king, reminding him of human mortality and stupidity. The clown reminds us of the irrational within our universe, the Dionysian forces within human society that must be balanced rather than repressed or denied, and the futility of our quest for certainty, control, and absolute power.


The basic element of this worldview is that balance lies in flux, transformation, and chance. Harmony always requires the presence of the trickster, the one who overturns laws, transcends boundaries, and can win everything when down to the last counter.

By contrast, the Newtonian worldview pictured the cosmos as material bodies moving under fixed laws against the backdrop of space. Newton's universe was perfect order and predictable mechanical motion and held no room for the trickster. As the quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli put it: There is no place for the irrational within the world of classical physics.

Chaos theory (or, more generally, the science of nonlinear systems) explores the different consequences that randomness, chance, and probability can play in our world. It demonstrates that our universe is far from being simplistic clockwork because chance plays a guiding role in a vast number of processes, including weather, fast-flowing rivers, the shock waves from supersonic aircraft, the growth of materials, and the fluctuations of insect populations.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.83-4, 174-5

Androgyny, which some feminists promote as a pacifist blueprint for sexual utopia, belongs to the contemplative rather than active life. It is the ancient prerogative of priests, shamans, and artists.

Feminists have politicized it as a weapon against the masculine principle. Redefined, it now means men must be like women and women can be whatever they like. Androgyny is a cancellation of male concentration and projection.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.21-22

Spiritual enlightenment produces feminization of the male. Mead says, “The more intricate biological pattern of the female has become a model for the artist, the mystic, and the saint.” Intuition or extrasensory perception is a feminine hearkening to the secret voices in and beyond things.

Farnell says, “Many ancient observers noted that women (and effeminate men) were especially prone to orgiastic religious seizure.” Hysteria means womb-madness (from the Greek ustera, “womb”). Women were sibyls and oracles, subject to prophetic visions. Herodotus speaks of Scythian Enarees, male prophets afflicted by a “female disease,” probably sexual impotence.

This phenomenon called shamanism migrated northward to Central Asia and has been reported in North and South America and Polynesia. Frazer describes the shaman’s stages of sexual transformation, which resemble those of our candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. The religious call may come as a dream in which the man is “possessed by a female spirit.” He adopts female speech, hair style, and clothing and finally takes a husband.

The Siberian shaman, who wears a woman’s caftan sewn with large round disks as female breasts, is for Mircea Eliade an example of “ritual androgyny,” symbolizing the coincidentia oppositorum or reconciliation of opposites.

Inspired, the shaman goes into a trance and falls unconscious. He may disappear, either to fly over distant lands or to die and be resurrected. The shaman is an archaic prototype of the artist, who also crosses sexes and commands space and time. How many modern transsexuals are unacknowledged shamans? Perhaps it is to poets they should go for counsel, rather than surgeons.

Teiresias, the androgynous Greek shaman, is depicted as an old man with long beard and pendulous female breasts [...] It is as if Teiresias, in the underworld of racial memory, represents a fullness of emotional knowledge fusing the sexes.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.45

Related posts:-
The Middle Path
Escaping Uncertainty
Shades of gray
Everything and Nothing 
Open Wound
Chinese Whispers
Seeking out a challenge
Playing the Art Game | Art as In-between
The Principle of Polarity
Making Connections
Forever Becoming
Separations and Bridges
The Oak and the Stream
Walk a Straight Line
The Eternal Ideas
Where language ends and art begins