Friday, October 22, 2010

TNS#74: Exploring the Enneagram

TheNextStep show #74 was taped 9/13/10 and featured a discussion of the Enneagram with local authors/workshop leaders David Fauvre and Katherine Chernick Fauvre ( The Enneagram is a psychospiritual typology or model of personality types, a nine-fold system of types where each is seen as expressing a distinctive and habitual pattern of thinking and feeling. Its development can be traced from the Sufis thru G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo, and a host of current authors.

David and Katherine seem to have made their own contributions to the field with their incorporation of 'tri-types' wherein the nine types are grouped with respect to one's 'motivational' factors, into the three groups of head/blue, heart/red, and gut/green. As I understood it they seem to be saying one could correlate the qualities of a type with each of these 3 aspects of psyche (head, heart, gut), but I could be wrong about that! Just before the show they had me take their online personality test, which I found surprisingly difficult and left my head spinning someewhat during the show... difficult because I was being asked repeatedly to choose between qualities that I was pretty darn ambivalent about. Perhaps if there was a personality type for ambivalence I'd be there and the whole process would've been easier. But I do definitely see the value in this kind of work, following directly from the Delphic Oracle's invocation to "Know Thyself". Another way they expressed the goal of this work is "to transform self-defeating behaviour into empowerment".

They eventually settled on a determination that I'm a social nine, in company with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, which I found flattering enough. Not that I'm the type to care much about flattery! Try their test yourself, at!

Here from my notes is a summary of the nine types:
1. perfectionist, reformer, judge, crusader, critic
2. giver, helper, nurturer, caretaker, advisor, manipulator
3. performer, motivator, achiever, producer, status-seeker; corp America!
4. tragic romantic,individualist, mystic, artist; authentic, sensitive, moody
5. observer, thinker, investigator, sage; self-suff; can be arrogant
6. devil's advocate, loyalist, skeptic, guardian, rebel; safe, secure
7. epicure, entertainer, optimist, adventurer;
8. leader, solution-master, maverick, protector; can be intimidating
9. peacemaker, mediator, naturalist, accomodater; conflict-avoidant
Types 8,9,1 relate to gut, instinct (green); types 2,3,4 relate to heart (red);
types 5,6,7 relate to head, ideas (in their work that is).

TNS#73: Open Source Learning

TheNextStep show #73 was taped 8/11/10, a show on the topic of open-source learning with Scott MacLeod and Barbara Breuchert. Scott's the founder of World University & School ( - "the Global, Virtual/Digital, Open, Free, {potentially Degree- and Credit-Granting}, Multilingual University & School where anyone can teach or take a class or course." Barbara's a local Media Center producer and former educator.
From the WU&S site: "World University & School's mission, in reaching out to the entire world, is to provide a free, wiki-based education platform and, through facilitating the development of broadband worldwide, to make our service accessible
to under-served parts of the world. The WUaS mission is thus to facilitate all levels of teaching and learning opportunities (and future degrees) through an open, editable wiki in all languages, nation-states and subjects with great universities, and for One Laptop per Child countries and everyone." Very commendable vision, Scott!

My main comment was that if there are to be course credits granted, somewhere there have to be human beings reviewing the work of students, and those human beings need to be compensated for their time somehow... and I'm dubious that some form of barter is going to be workable in this situation, and hence dubious that 'free' will be compatible with 'degree-granting'... but optimistic that some form of workable economic model can be found. Now I've joined Scott's advisory board so there will likely be more TNS shows on the topic!

We also discussed John Taylor Gatto's books Weapons of Mass Instruction and Dumbing Us Down, which I'm a big fan of, since he came to P.A. to speak at a futuresalon in 2008. Also discussed was Scott McNealy's new project his vision for a "free and open source digital compendium of just about everything teachers use to teach -- textbooks, worksheets, tests, video presentations, podcasts, you name it." The project, run by McNealy and former Sun executive Kim Jones, started inside Sun six years ago and spun out as a nonprofit in 2006. Curriki now has 38,000 educational pieces on the site, and about 135,000 registered users.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TNS#72: Kumbh Mela travelogue

TheNextStep show #72 was taped 5/12/10 and featured Maurizio Benazzo and Gopi Kallayil. Maurizio was co-director of the documentary film Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela (2004) and the show featured a number of short clips from the film. Gopi is a local Media Center producer, Google engineer and world traveler who brought his slide show of photos from his trip to this year's Kumbh Mela. Maurizio had colorful stories about making their documentary on a shoe-string budget in the massive chaotic festival in 2004. His film company is Maurizio is also producer of the upcoming conference (Oct 2010 in Marin, CA).
From the entry for Short Cut to Nirvana:
"Every 12 years over 70 million pilgrims gather at the meeting of India's holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, for a spectacular spiritual festival: the Kumbh Mela. This documentary takes a voyage of discovery through this colorful event through the eyes of several Westerners and an ebullient young Hindu monk, Swami Krishnanand. Featuring encounters with some of India's most respected holy men and exclusive footage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TNS#71: Terence McKenna Retrospective

TheNextStep show #71 was taped 4/14/10, close to the tenth anniversary of the passing of Terence McKenna. The show was supposed to feature guests David Jay Brown and Robert Forte, however due to the upcoming Psychedelic Science Conference that weekend, both had to cancel on short notice. Very short notice... the producer's nightmare! Fortunately Marty Wasserman who was slated to direct the show filled in as an ad hoc interviewer, and fortunately I'd done my homework and had made film clips from The Alchemist's Dream (featuring Terence) and had pages of notes from his various books. So, Marty interviewed ME about Terence's life and work, and the show went on - not what I had in mind but I'd like to think we pulled it off reasonably well. I really enjoyed reading through his books Food of the Gods, Archaic Revival and Invisible Landscape in preparing for the show... all classics! I'd read through Invisible Landscape in the early 80's but had forgotten the great diagrams he included depicting the chemical make-up of various neuro-transmitters,. and showing how close they are to various entheogens... like serotonin and psilocybin for instance.
From Wikipedia:
Terence Kemp McKenna (11/16/46 – 4/3/2000) was an American author, public speaker, metaphysician, psychonaut, philosopher, ethnobotanist, art historian, and self-described anarchist, anti-materialist, environmentalist, feminist, Platonist and skeptic. During his lifetime he was noted for his knowledge of psychedelics, metaphysics, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, mysticism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, biology, geology, physics, phenomenology, and his concept of novelty theory.

Friday, May 14, 2010

TNS#70: Legal Topics: Fair Use, Fair Enforcement

The Next Step show #70 was taped 3/10/10 and featured a discussion of various legal topics of current interest with local attorneys Mark Malachowski ( and James Barrett ( in a return appearance on the show.

We opened with a discussion of Fair Use w/r copyrighted content and the need for copyright reform as espoused by Larry Lessig (,; and of the recent Citizens United Sup.Ct. case giving free speech rights to corporate speech. The discussion of Fair Enforcement was w/r local red light cams, and a recent local case where police broke down the front door and seized all electronics devices at a group house where a rape case suspect apparently tried to compromise an email account of the victim. (The landlord/manager was never even contacted).
The big issue w/r red light cams was: whether in fact you will be held liable unless you identify the true driver, as the Notice of Violation asserts. Our legal panelists seemed to support the view that the registered owner of a vehicle could be held liable for the violation, even if the photo didn't implicate the owner personally. In this case it turned out that, in fact, if the photo indicated someone else was driving, once in court the owner was not even asked to ID the actual driver, and the citation was dismissed. (Yay!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

TNS#69: The Eight-Circuit Brain

TheNextStep show #69 was taped 2/10/10 with local author/filmmaker Antero Alli, whose most recent book is The Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body. Antero's also the author of Angel Tech, Towards an Archeology of the Soul, Astrologik, A Modern Shaman's Guide to a Pregnant Universe, and The Vertical Oracle. Gotta love those book titles!
Tim Leary set forth his eight-circuit model of consciousness first in his book Exo-Psychology, based somewhat on someone's earlier schema (as Antero relates... can't remember the name).
Then Robt. Anton Wilson expanded on it in Prometheus Rising and Cosmic Trigger. Angel Tech in 1986 was Antero's take on the model, and the current book expands further the ideas, including an excellent overview, and adding alot of material from the workshops that Antero leads on this subject area. Dang, just remembered I never got a chance to read the last section, How I Got This Way... looking forward to that, for sure.
Lots of interesting material... the 8-circuit model, in brief:
1. Bio-Survival 2. Emotional-Territorial 3. Time-Binding Semantic 4. ‘Moral’ Socio-Sexual 5. Holistic Neurosomatic 6. Collective Neurogenetic 7. Metaprogramming
8. Non-Local Quantum Circuit.
(As Antero says on pg.42, the word 'circuit' should be taken loosely, in the sense of a medium or conduit for energy... "if you like, choose another word that suits your sensibilities"... I take it as more of a predominant mode of operation of one's neural equipment.)
Very interesting show I thought, and it was really a pleasure talking with Antero. Vertical Pool is his publishing company,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TNS#68: It's Not You, It's Biology

TheNextStep#68 was taped 1/13/2010 with Joe Quirk, author of It's Not You, It's Biology... the paperback edition of his previous hardcover book Sperm Are From Men, Eggs Are From Women. From Joe's website, Here's what you should've learned in high school biology! It's Not You, It's Biology provides insight, ammunition, snappy comebacks, and interesting cocktail party banter for everyone who ever wondered why we behave the way we do. It's Freakonomics for the Relationship-Challenged. "Joe takes a look at the whole issue of relationships through the lens of sociology, biology, anthropology, and some pretty awful dates."
From the book jacket: "Ultimately, Quirk concludes that all living things are conservative, efficient, safe, and drab until it's time to breed, at which point they become extravagant, wasteful, risky, and beautiful." Well put!

I especially like Joe's analysis of how both men and women have powerful but antithetical reproductive strategies: attracted both to risky, challenging partners and to safe, dependable relationships. Homo sapiens is just one out of 235 species of primates, and Joe does a great job illuminating the biological factors behind our choices in looking for a partner or mate.