Tag Archives: anthroposophy

The history, benefits, and dangers of the paranormal, with Terje G. Simonsen

1 Jun

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I’m so excited to share this episode with Terje G. Simonsen, paranormal/occult scholar and author of the multiple award-winning book A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal: Our Secret Powers Telepathy, Clairvoyance & Precognition.


  • “All models are wrong, but some are useful” – George P. Box
  • What is the akashic field and what are our limits in describing it?
  • What does it take to be able to walk through walls?
  • Materiality as an agreement
  • The uses (and misuses) of clairvoyance
  • The military’s limits on understanding psi
  • Revelation after revelation after revelation
  • Using parapsychology to create a better world
  • Anthroposophy in Norway
  • Christian esotericism at odds with magic?
  • That time I did remote viewing
  • The paranormal as a proximity to death


• For more on Terje, here’s his excellent appearance on Skeptiko (PS remember when Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris was on my show? Waaaay back on AEWCH). Here’s Terje summing the book up well in a short video. And here’s an interview with Terje where he discusses David Bohm and the nature of reality.

• My friend who had brain damage is Mira Bartok, author of the bestselling memoir The Memory Palace in which she details the damage a bit.

• If you’d like to learn more about G.I. Gurdjieff, this is a good place to start. And here’s a site on Padre Pio.

• I talk a lot about Daskalos on AEWCH 67 with one of his students, Daniel Joseph. And AEWCH 116 with occultist acupuncturist/veterinarian Are Thoresen remains one of the best episodes of the show.

• I didn’t know much about the healer Matthew Manning before, but I’ll be definitely be investigating!

• Want to learn more about the Servants of the Light and one of their central teachers, Dolores Ashcoft-Nowicki?

• The psychologist who posited the “trance of the everyday” was Erik Erikson.

• Here’s a little on Ulla von Bernus, but you’ll have to translate the page if you don’t speak German. And here’s an article on Milarepa, who, like von Bernus, had a change of heart about practicing black magic.

• The image below is taken from (AEWCH 128 guest) Dan Gretton’s excellent book, I You We Them, Volume 1: Walking Into the World of the Desk Killer, in the show notes of that episode, I refer to these points as “a list of factors is an inverse of spiritual development, a sort of path of black magic.”

• Norwegian psychic and healer, Marcello Haugen has a site (which you’ll have to translate if you don’t read Norwegian) and I’m now looking into his work. I love Terje’s lovely story about him and the hare.

• “Fairy bush survives the motorway planners.” I love Ireland.

• Here’s a brief correspondence between Rudolf Steiner and the anarchist writer John Henry Mackay.

Until next time, friends,

Why being able to think about a cat means we can change the world: consciousness, psychoanalysis, and spirituality on AEWCH 139 with Michael Lipson!

26 Jan

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Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Michael’s books you should order directly from Steiner Books, for the other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 139 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

I sometimes think about the concept of world change, of political and economic change is getting ahead of ourselves. Why? Because we haven’t even begun to consider ourselves, consider what it means to be human, what thought is, what thinking is, and what consciousness is.
If we can’t hold a single thought, how can we create new structures for us to live in and dissolve the old?And it’s not helpful that everyone, from capitalists to communists to anarchists, generally think that questions of consciousness are fine to leap past and into creating theoretical abstractions to change the world.
Everything – everything – is tethered to the experience of thought and thinking.Don’t think so? Well, where did that thought come from? Have a theory about how thinking and thought is not the groundswell of existence? Well, where did that come from? Even the thought that consciousness is an illusion comes from thinking, of course. So there’s no way to get outside of thinking.
My idea has been: let’s start building from that, let’s get into the experience of consciousness and let our political, economic, and cultural work come from there.
I wanted to talk about this, and I wanted to talk about it early in this new year of incredible opportunity and trouble. So I asked therapist and author Michael Lipson on the show. Michael is the author of Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life and Group Meditation. For nearly a decade, he worked with children with HIV and AIDS in New York City. Now he has his own practice and runs group meditation meetings each week via michaellipson.org.
We discuss so much on this episode, and I’m so excited to share it with you.


  • The way belief in materialism destroys freedom
  • Why solipsism is correct, but unrefined
  • Our everyday knowledge as an obstacle to seeing things as they are
  • Dissolving materialism is a spiritual path
  • That time I saw the pizza-being (Um, what?) – but don’t take my word for it!
  • The difference between spiritual substance and spiritual state
  • How to redeem the spiritual over Zoom
  • Why absorption matters
  • How psychoanalysis without spirituality necessitates law, and how its focus on childhood is a description of karma
  • The importance of contained nothingness
  • Certainties, bad and good
  • Creativity as the antidote to angry certainty
  • Psychotherapy in motion (literally)
  • Despair as a sign for hopefulness


• Most of Michael’s work can be found on his website, including his short series of essays/meditation prompts on Simone Weil. And here’s Michael in conversation with author Allison Burnett is here.• The Nature Institute in New York state is where I managed to finally, permanently, alter my thinking from object-thinking to metamorphic-thinking.

The Work of Byron Katie changed my life, too.

• Emily Dickinson wrote, “A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. Indebted in our talk to attitude and accent, there seems a spectral power in thought that walks alone.” Here’s more on her letters.

• One of my first conversations at the top of the global crisis – and consequently, one of the first I did remotely – was with writer and theorist Mark O’Connell on AEWCH 105 about apocalypse, of course.

• A bit on Śūnyatā, or emptiness, in Buddhism.

• You can learn more about David Spangler’s work of incarnational spirituality and work with elemental beings via his organization, The Lorian Association.

• I talk about the problem of certainty in 2021 on AEWCH 136 and about nothingness on AEWCH 116 with Are Thoressen.

• “Who pours out like a spring, knowing knows him: and leads him delighted through the bright creation, that often ends with the start, and begins with the end.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

• Here’s Rudolf Steiner’s quote on faithfulness:“Let your loyalty to another human being come about in this way:  there will be moments — quickly passing by — when he will seem to you filled and illumined by the true, primal image of his spirit.
Then can come, yes, will come, long stretches of time when your fellow-being seems clouded, even darkened.  But learn at these times to say to yourself:  The spirit will strengthen me; I will remember the true, unchanging image that I once saw.  Nothing at all — neither deception nor disguise — can take it away from me.Struggle again and again for the true picture that you saw.  The struggle itself is your faithfulness.
And in those efforts to be faithful and to trust, a human being will come close to another as if with an angel’s power of protection.” (by the way, I had Duncan Trussell read this waaaay back on AEWCH 16!)

• Want another podcast to listen to? I love the The Fundamentalist Podcast, featuring Peter Rollins and Elliot Morgan from AEWCH 135!

Until next time, friends,

Postmodern philosophy as a spiritual path? I talk with occultist, philosopher, and writer Scott Elliot Hicks on how to transform thinking.

1 Sep

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Is it enough to just think new thoughts to change the world? Is it a matter of having the right knowledge, the right perspective, the right information? The answer may seem unfortunate given the urgency of our times: Absolutely not.
What we need instead is to actually change our thinking. That’s a completely different task, and one that’s much more difficult. But it’s also much more gratifying and powerful and transformative. I knew that I’d have to talk to someone about this on the show, and I knew that one of the most capable and thinking-filled people to talk about this with was Scott Eliiot Hicks.
Scott is one of a small group of teachers worldwide who have used Rudolf Steiner’s book The Philosophy of Freedom (also known as Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path) as it was intended – that is, as a living guide through occult development.What happens on this path is that you start to get in touch with not just your thoughts, but the actual direction, flow, and livingness of thinking.
Scott’s books are dense and dizzying and totally worth the journey. They include The Resurrection of Thinking: Steiner’s Anthroposophy & the Postmodernism of Badiou, Deleuze, Derrida & Levinas (available through bookshop.org – you can see how this title would appeal to me!), and two books only available via Amazon, Earthly, Transcendental, & Spiritual Logic: From Husserl’s Phenomenology to Steiner’s Anthroposophy and his novel The Shattering Light of Stars.
We go deep on this episode, and I’m so excited to share it with you.


  • Why thought is not enough and we must change thinking
  • Being stuck in a “spiritual eggshell” or “shell hell” after death
  • The unappealing-ness of doing spiritual work and why we can/should overcome it
  • Why do some spiritual events and encounters show up for some people out of nowhere?
  • The darker spirits we’re all full of
  • Why clairvoyance is often just a disguise for materialism
  • How to see what objects really are if they’re not material
  • Why you should forgive yourself when you move out of your spiritual developments
  • Why spiritual experiences are difficult to hold in memory
  • Language as boom tube – and how a new language arises when you are spoken by the spiritual world
  • Sex as an occult encounter and why sex is so “dark”
  • Why love cannot exist without the antichrist
  • The need for forming constellations of spiritual seekers
  • The coming struggles with AI

• For more on Scott, visit his excellent website, which features many blog entires to alternately wade through and dive into the deep end of the spiritual development of thinking. His site also links to his excellent series of short videos on YouTube.

• I talked a bit about the difference between thinking and thought way back on AEWCH 20 with rogue anthropologist David Shorter. And I discuss anthroposophy directly on AEWCH 116 with Are Thoresen and AEWCH 68 with Lisa Romero.• For more on the spiritual double, check out the booklist for this episode.

• I love Scott’s expression of language creating “positive voids” like boom tubes in DC Comics.

• In spite of giving him a hard time on this ep, I like Jacques Lacan quite a bit, and discuss his work and psychoanalysis in general with Todd McGowan on AEWCH 47.

Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon‘s work comes up a lot on this episode. I suggest you look into his work, which centers around what he calls “cognitive yoga.”

Until next time, my friends,

Demonology & Nothingness – A deep occult discussion with Are Thoresen on AEWCH 116!

7 Jul


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Thank you so, so much.
Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? Go to my booklist for AEWCH 116 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

AEWCH116TitleCardFriends, How does evil – created by culture and our own deeds – affect us?

You’ve heard me discuss spiritual topics on the show before, but I don’t think I’ve ever pulled you all into the deep end with me like this, nor steered the conversation towards the topic of, well, demons. And not the metaphorical kind. Demons as actual entities – as well as why we need to talk about spiritual beings as beings – and how they affect our health and our lives.

My guest, Are Thoresen is a a Christian occultist, author, veterinarian, and acupuncturist who lives in Norway. His writing details (sometimes in the same book) his decades-long career in healing as well as his own spiritual experiences, encounters, and events.

He’s the author of many books, including Spiritual Translocation: The Behaviour of Pathological Entities in Illness and Healing and the Relationship Between Human Beings and Animals, and Demons and Healing: The Reality of the Demonic Threat and the Doppelgänger in the Light of Anthroposophy, both which we talk about at great length here.

Unlike other episodes, I let myself get lost a bit in this one, because Are and I have some overlapping spiritual experiences, and I don’t want to halt the conversational pathwork to explain everything. To that end, I give some guidance with the terms we use (elementals, Lucifer/Ahriman, etc) at the top of the show.
We start off with evil and we end with the Nothingness of the Christ. In between, there are dinosaurs, translocating demons, sick pets, a planet made of bad deeds, and more. This is a wide-ranging episode that has its own life. If it knocks you over, that’s okay. Hit those fifteen-seconds-back buttons and listen through again.


  • The lure of evil when we talk about it, and the protection of the heart healing
  • Why Are considers the fact that he had coronavirus a blessing
  • How negative feelings and thoughts echo up into the cosmos
  • The 8th Sphere
  • The Northern Way, Southern Way, and Middle Way of initiation
  • The time I heard the devil in my backyard
  • Why pets get sick when their owners are sick
  • Why podcasting is just a little bit evil
  • When Are time traveled and saw dinosaurs
  • The problems with magical activism


• For more on Are, here’s his website, as well as a great skeptical (and far less skeptical by the end) interview with him on the Adventures Through The Mind podcast. I’m also linking here to his Temple Lodge Publishing page and to two of his books via amazon, because some of his books are not available or are on backorder on bookshop.org.

• The essay about my ex-boyfriend beating me up is, “If you ever did write anything about me, I’d want it to be about love.”

• If you’d like to know more about Daskalos and his conception of elementals, I talk about them on AEWCH 67 with Daniel Joseph.

• The story of Parzival (or Parsifal) is known as a depiction of occult initiation. Here’s the most exoteric version of it: Wikipedia!

• The friend who said, “you’re not evil, you’re racist!” was Gordon White, of course.

• Here’s an interview with Judith Von Halle in The Southern Cross Review (whose editor once called me an “anthro-degenerate” but it’s a good interview, nevertheless!). The profound insights on the Pool Of Bethesda I mention appears in Illness and Healing: And the Mystery Language of the Gospels.

The Fifth Gospel lecture cycle by Steiner is one of the most complicated and intense, and one that Steiner himself said others would have great difficulty understanding.

• Mentioned briefly: For more on occultist Peter Duenov, (pictured here) click for a PDcomprehensive review.

• My essay about the lymphoma diagnosis, as well as my thoughts on treatment, and my mother’s death from bone cancer, is entitled, “When You’re Sick You’ll Wait For The Answer But None Will Come“.

• A great psychoanalysis book on the emanation of everything from nothing (in this case, sex) is What is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič.

• “Everything that violates free will is black magic.” – Are

Thank you for listening, friends.

Note: No episode next week. But I imagine it will take everyone some time to digest this one!

Sex & The Occult: Conner Habib talks with Christian occultist and sexuality research Lisa Romero on AEWCH 68!

30 Apr

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AEWCH68 Title CardFriends,

So excited to finally be talking directly about sex and the occult on my show, and there’s no one I’d rather do that with than author and teacher, and Christian occultist Lisa Romero!

Lisa has written multiple (excellent) books on meditation and spiritual development, but the one that drew me to have her on for this episode was her excellent book, Sex Education and the Spirit: Understanding Our Communal Responsibility for the Healthy Development of Gender and Sexuality within Society. It’s a book that looks at sex and sexuality from a developmental perspective, but in a spiritual way, rather than from a materialistic perspective.This episode goes really deep and presupposes your ability to go on the magical mystery tour with us. But there are lots of insights to be had by the secular as well. I hope whatever your belief system is, you’ll stick with it.

We discuss:

  • what sex is, anyway, from a non-materialistic view, especially in the light of the evolution of consciousness.
  • how we all have individuated relationships to sex (and what that has to do with freedom).
  • the scientific definition of sex and why that matters now.
  • how sex and attraction get confusing when different aspects of our being get into conflict with each other.
  • why a Christian occultist approach to sex never takes the form of “don’t do this.”
  • how sexuality gives us the ability to transform our lives and bring our spiritual development forward.
  • the Catholic Church developing its response to sex in response to the Reformation.
  • the problems with the sex positive movement.
  • the four levels of attraction and how they relate to the subtle bodies.
  • displaced sex as a creative process.
  • what anthroposophists can learn from Freud and Lacan.
  • why masturbating men should hook themselves up to the power grid.
  • why Conner doesn’t do or care about “sex magic.”

Show notes are available here.



Conner Habib’s NEW WEB SERIES and PATREON!

23 May

Sex IslandDear everyone,

After years of writing essays, comic books, and stories; making adult scenes; doing activism for sex workers; and talking about the occult and sex around the world; I’m unveiling my very own Patreon and accompanying web series: AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB!

My life project is to make the world a better place for being fully human, so that we don’t have to constantly hide parts of ourselves and our interests away. We should be able to be sexual and spiritual, into the sciences and the humanities, into the occult and philosophy. And we should be able to be our full, integrated selves without compartmentalizing everything.
That’s where you, my Patreon, and my new web series, Against Everyone with Conner Habib, come in. Together, we can co-create a culture that’s easier to be a rebel, a punk, a slut, a witch, and an interdisciplinary weirdo in.
Against Everyone with Conner Habib is a web series starting in June that features me giving talks on a wide range of profound, weird, and fringe topics, ranging from the history of the adult industry to the occult secrets of technology; from the mystical, political nature of time and space to the bacterial origins of sex.
It also features me in conversation with some of the leading thinkers and creators of our time. For a list of upcoming topics and guests, visit my Patreon page.
My Patreon supports all my projects, including the series. Sign up now at any level (access starts at just one dollar per month!) and you get all sorts of amazing stuff:
  • Downloadable audio of the series
  • Membership in the Conner Habib Book Club
  • Skype sessions (one-on-one) with me
  • Extra episodes
  • Personalized video postcards sent to your inbox each month
  • Exclusive peaks at projects I’m working on
and lots more!
This is a HUGE step forward for me, and your participation is literally life-changing, and our community will be culture-changing.
Watch the intro video by clicking my face up there, by clicking here, or by watching below. And if you sign up by June 1, you’ll get a personalized thank you photo from me!
Let’s create a new culture. Let’s hang out. Let’s talk about things we care about. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s do everything we’ve ever cared about, all at once.Thanks for all your support and love, my friends,
Conner Habib

Antroposophy 101 AKA All That Weird Shit I’m Always Talking About

29 Sep

asabovesobelowEvery once in awhile, amongst the dick pics and sociopolitcal rants on twitter, or between the lines of an essay, I’ll mention some bizarre occult stuff.  Sometimes it raises eyebrows, but more often, I’ll get some ernest, thoughtful questions in my inbox about it.  Here’s an incomplete introduction to some of the spiritual principles I think about – headquartered in an approaching to being called anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.  The below Q&A first appeared in a slight different form on the online spirituality, science and culture magazine, Reality Sandwich.  


Who was Rudolf Steiner and who’s working with Steiner’s ideas today?

Rudolf Steiner was a scientist, philosopher, and spiritual thinker who lived in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  He produced a huge body of work, including thousands of lectures, a whole shelf-full of books, and a building in Switzerland called the Goetheanum.  His work, and the work and perspective of those who are influenced by his ideas, is referred to as anthroposophy.

One of the most impressive things about Rudolf Steiner are the practical fruits of his spiritual worldview.  His influence is felt most strongly around the world in the system of agriculture he created, called biodynamic farming; in Waldorf schools; and in CSAs (community-shared agriculture), which he laid the foundations for.  But Steiner also created a new form of medicine, bee keeping, a way to create stained glass, jewelry making, and more.  His spiritual perspective was even poised to inform the structure of European government near the end of World War I.


Wassily Kandinsky

Steiner’s work has also deeply influenced scientists and ecologists; Rachel Carson was inspired by the work of anthroposophists, for example.

So there are hundreds of thousands of people interacting with anthroposophical ideas, whether they know it or not.  Some people directly influenced by Steiner’s work include novelist Saul Bellow, writer CS Lewis, scientist James Lovelock, artists Joseph Beuys, Wassily Kandinsky, and more.

How did I get interested in Steiner?

When I was in grad school, Rudolf Steiner’s name kept popping up in reading I was doing, but I never really looked into it.  When I went to an environmental conference with my teacher and mentor, world-renowned biologist/geoscientist Lynn Margulis, I came across a brochure for a place called the Nature Institute, which had a three month-long program on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s method of science. 

Even though I was in school already, Lynn said, “If you can get into that program, you’re going.”  You didn’t argue with Lynn Margulis about stuff like that.  So I got in and went, having no idea that Goethe was one of Steiner’s main influences.  Suddenly, I was soaking in anthroposophy. I got an apartment that was literally next to a biodynamic farm and across the street from a Waldorf school.  It was the perfect fit for me: I was in grad school for creative writing and biology, and anthroposophy bridges the gaps between the arts and the sciences.  Eventually I was reading Steiner’s lectures, and even though I didn’t understand any of it at first I felt a feeling of growth as I worked to comprehend what he’d said.


The Goetheanum

What are the basics of anthroposophy?

There aren’t really any basics explicitly laid out, partially because anthroposophy is so far-reaching and complex, partially because it evaded dogma, and most importantly because anthroposophy is so deeply individualized.  Everyone’s ideas of what the fundamentals are will be different. 

That said, there are certain threads that I see again and again in Steiner’s work, so I think of those as my fundamentals.

They are:

The principle that thoughts are as real as objects.  In other words, we need to understand that the thought-world is as important as the material world.  In the current mainstream worldview we tend to dismiss thoughts as illusory, but Steiner would say they are just as foundational to reality as material is.


Owen Barfield

The evolution of consciousness.  Steiner taught that consciousness evolves over time.  He didn’t just mean that the content of our thinking evolved, but that the structure of thought, feeling, and perception evolved.  The difference between what a person six hundred years ago thought and what we think today isn’t just a difference of what but how.  Many anthroposophical thinkers, like writer Owen Barfield, developed this work – pointing to the forms of language we use and art we make as evidence for this.

There is a spiritual landscape populated by spiritual beings, and these beings are constantly interacting with us.  For anthroposophists, these beings are not merely conceptual metaphors, but actual entities.  There’s a vast hierarchy of creation that can be understood only by studying, contemplating, and considering these beings.  This is the hardest principle for people unfamiliar with anthroposophy to deal with, so Steiner goes into great detail about what he means and helps to assist people to discover this on their own (or to reject it!), rather than just taking his word for it.

The highest principles of being are freedom and compassion.  By freedom, Steiner means thinking, feeling, and acting with real intention, rather than being led by compulsion.  Like many spiritual thinkers, Steiner understood that even when we believe were acting out of freedom, we are very often not.  His best solution for this was to work on having compassion for others as a way to develop freedom for yourself and to cultivate an atmosphere of freedom for others to develop in.  If you didn’t buy any of the other stuff about anthroposophy, but got this part down, you’d have a good handle on it.  As usual, Steiner doesn’t just assert this, but gives practical guidance on how to work on this faculty.

How did Steiner use his spiritual insight to create practices and change in the world?

Steiner’s work was about spiritualizing the material and materializing the spiritual, so that we could heal the rift we perceive between the two.  To that end, his efforts were always holistically inspired. 

For example, biodynamic farming isn’t just about making better tasting blueberries.  It’s about healing the soil the blueberries grow on, creating a healthy environment for the farmers, and creating a farm for those blueberries in which each component — the cows, the other plants, the farmers — act as organs in the body of the farm organism.  (By the way, the blueberries taste delicious.)

Another example is the Camphill movement, which works with people who have learning and mental disabilities, who become residents in Camphill communities.  Rather than just shuffling them away or trying to fix these people, Camphill considers them as whole human beings, with their own lessons to teach and lives to live.  They’re no more deficient or in need of fixing than you or I, and our destiny is intertwined with theirs.

A third example is Steiner’s work with money, currently pioneered by organizations like RSF Social Finance.  Steiner wanted us to reconsider our relationship to money, and rather than demonize it, elevate it into its proper place.  Money, he taught, was actually an impulse of brotherhood.  It revealed to us our relationships when we interacted with strangers and people we know in exchange.  So to help improve money, we need to restore it to it its principle of caring relationship.

Those are just three examples in the huge web of Steiner’s efforts to bring the principle of love and spirituality to a world that was becoming heavier and heavier with materialist and consumerist impulses.  They all stem from the principles discussed above, which Steiner wrote and spoke about and enacted his entire adult life.


Rudolf Steiner

New everything.

1 Aug

I’m not sure if I’m manic or whatever, but as I set out to write this update, I realized, wow, I’ve been doing a whole lot of stuff.  That means next time you see me, I welcome butt rubs and loving kisses on the top of my head and also hugs.  Below is a sampling of all the stuff I’ve been doing since my last blog update.  On top of all this, you can always hire me for lectures or writing coaching.  Check back here soon for a complete bibliography and curriculum vitae for my lectures.



Introduction to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy

On August 22nd (the day before my birthday!), I’m teaching a one-shot course, introducing people to the ideas and work of the late 19th-early 20th century mystic, scientist, philosopher, and artist, Rudolf Steiner.  Steiner’s worldview, anthroposophy, is connected to the Western esoteric tradition, and deeply informs everything I do.  When you sign up, you’ll get to hang out with me for awhile, do some exercises, learn, and then interact with me – it’s really the next best thing to being in the room.  Click here for more info and to sign up!

I just completed my last online course, “How To Start A Sexual Revolution” and it was a huge success – Along with Samuel Delany, Duncan Trussell, Buck Angel, and Tristan Taromino, we discussed sex, culture, spirituality and art, and answered participant questions.



“What’s in a (Porn) Name?” on buzzfeed.com

(on my birth name, my porn name, and discrimination against porn performers)

“Because sex is so compartmentalized — it’s often considered separate from the rest of life and hidden away — porn performers, who have sex publicly, are in a unique position to consider and talk about integrating private and public aspects of life. Of course, compartmentalizing different aspects of our lives has become more and more of a problem for everyone, not just porn performers. Potential employers investigate drunken Facebook photos, and there’s a pervading anxiety of making a public and YouTube-able misstep or off-colored comment.”  Read more

“You’ve Got To Make Them Feel It” on buzzfeed.com

(on what’s “real” and what’s “fantasy” in porn, what it’s like to be on the set)

“The lights are always on, above you and below you, held underneath your balls and on your face. You’re supposed to be aware of the cameras, without looking into them. People shout instructions: Slow down. Stop. Start. Speed up. Move your hand, it’s casting a shadow, and keep going, keep going, even if it’s uncomfortable. There are times when you’re bottoming while balancing on a parked motorcycle or standing between two guys on a ladder or giving a blow job while doing a handstand (really!). You fuck, you get fucked, you take a minute while the crew re-rigs the lights, and you eat a banana to keep your blood sugar leveled. Sometimes you’ll go for two hours, sometimes you’ll go for twelve.  So it’s work, and it’s staged. But it’s also fun and sexual.”  Read more


“Facing the Torsos” on TheStranger.com

(on phone hookup apps, the future of pornography)

“With apps, we create living pornography on the spot; they embody exhibitionism and voyeurism par excellence. They’reportable, they’re accessible when we want them to be (in your office! In the Starbucks bathroom!), they’re not one-way like much live cam porn, they’re not expensive, and everyone who signs up is agreeing to the same basic premises.” Read more




I’ve been on a few podcasts and have made some other appearances recently – perhaps most noticeably on Sex at Dawn author Christopher Ryan’s podcast, Tangetially Speaking.  We talked about science, sex, evolution, revolution, and more.  We went really really deep – perhaps deeper than I ever have on a podcast before.

I’ve also appeared on mystic and media and technology analyst Erik Davis’s podcast, Expanding Mind, and thoughtful, poltical-themed podcast The David Seaman Hour.



Did you know that when I was a kid, I started and ran my own record label (sport.records, and Sell-Out records)?  I also set up punk shows for years in my little PA town.  One of the bands I put out music by, Speedwell, is having all their stuff re-released by Coolidge records, and you can download it at bandcamp.  It’s very good late 1990s post-punk stuff, and the singer, Meredith Bragg, went on to become a bit of an emo sensation.  To the left is the cover of the Speedwell single I released.


I got two fun shout-outs from New York Magazine‘s website, The Cut – Once when they asked me about the rise of “daddies” as a gay identifier, and another time when they wrote about Anthony Weiner and sexting.

I was also recently interviewed by German-language newspaper, Taz.die Tageszeuitung. It’s in German, but you can also do google translate for a more hilarious version.


I’ve had a few porn scenes come out from Titan (NSFW), and I’ve filmed a few scenes as well.  Most notably, I shot for legendary director, Joe Gage (NSFW).  I have two scenes and lots of dialogue in the movie.  Dialogue in most porn films is sort of a throwaway.  But in a Joe Gage film, much of the eroticism lies in the set up, so it’s always good.  While shooting, I took tons of behind-the-scenes photos and mini-videos via the Vine app.  Most of them are  collected here on Queer Me Now (NSFW).

I also just finished filming my section in a documentary called Straight Guys, which is about gay for pay performers.  Perish the thought that I’m gay for pay, but I have worked with a lot of straight-identified men in gay porn, and have written about it here and here.  There’s a quick write up on my appearance here. Below is me and the filmmaker.



My little vine (which can be found on vine under Conner Habib or here (NSFW)) was just named “The Best of Vine Porn” by Salon.com! Huge honor.  Sometimes I vine porn, sometimes I just goof off.  So if you like alternating pornography with sheer silliness, there you go.

My NewNowNext.com show, Ask the Sexpert, is off for the Summer!  I’ll be back in the Fall to answer your questions.  The last episode on the season – about how to stay hard while you’re topping – is right here for your viewing pleasure.

I’m looking for an intern and a web designer, hopefully both can be the same person – but welcome inquiries in either one as well.  Someone who’s into what I’m up to is the biggest requirement.  Preferably you’d be located in San Francisco or Los Angeles.  I won’t be paying initially, but am happy to provide college credit for independent studies, and to ask you what your goals are and help you along.  I’m also willing to trade writing coaching.  There are lots of details to go over – If you’re interested, send me a quick note via connerhabibsocial at g mail dot com.

The Virtues of Being an Object

11 Nov

Below are excerpts from my essay in the book Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness (Evolver Editions/North Atlantic Books), “The Virtues of Being an Object”.  The essay is about all sorts of things; but all relate to the charge that porn “objectifies” people.  We’ve all heard that argument, but I wasn’t so sure it made any sense.  When I tried to figure out what porn critics were getting at, I figured out that they were even more confused than I thought.
Because the topics of the essay are so interwoven with each other, it wouldn’t have made sense to present a big long excerpt from it.  Instead, I cut out little parts here and there and modified them into mini-essays for this blog.  For the whole essay, please buy the book by clicking the cover.  

or, “…science may be the most objectifying force in the world.”

While you read this essay, your hair will grow and spit will form in your mouth.  Your bones and tendons will be shaping themselves and decaying, and masticated food will be dissolving in your stomach acid.  Mites will crawl through your eyelashes, your cells will touch each other.  You will be and are a wave of motion and movement, of blood and piss and bile.  This is science’s description of your body.

The problem with it is simple:  you thought you were sitting still, reading.

When you say hello to or kiss or have sex with someone, are you aware of their liver producing bile?  Of the shit forming in their bowels?  People say they want x-ray vision, but they don’t really want to see what’s going on – not just under the skin, but even underneath clothing, where they wouldn’t see perfect bodies, naked and sexual – they’d see nipples squished up against bras, dicks and testicles all mangled up in underwear, and flesh pushed into weird mis-directions.

So we notice our experience of science’s description of the body: there’s a feeling of distance from it.  The descriptions of fluids and processes may seem repulsive or alien, or simply funny or strange.  But they’re not what we normally encounter as our bodies.

This is the deal that science strikes with us.  It will tell us, unblinkingly, what is there and what is “real”, but in exchange, we must accept this as the truth, whether we experience it as true or not.  We shouldn’t dismiss what science has to tell us, but what if we didn’t have to trade experience for information?

(Nevermind pornography)… science may be the most objectifying force in the world.  And of course, it is constantlyconfusing the body for the entire self.  Science/scientific progress’s worst crimes are ones that misunderstand a whole organism or system: they’re crimes like genetic manipulation of seeds, dumping poisonous mercury into rivers, testing weapons out on humans for experimental purposes.  While defenders of science may claim it to be objective, science does not exist in a vacuum.  It demands that the world be material, then blends with its objectifying counterpart, consumerism, and commits materialist crimes.  After all, what’s to stop anyone from doing anything heinous if all that matters is that we’re just stuff and nothing else, not even experience?

On the other end of the spectrum, religion and spirituality often deny the reality of the body.  The most recognized problems with this are suicide-bombing and the historical and present-day religious wars, in which the body is seen merely as a vessel for spirit.  Adherents of fundamentalism don’t have to worry about their bodies, which are a sort of problem for them to cope with before the afterlife.  Similarly, many children raised in monotheistic traditions are told that their bodies are filthy and sinful.  Not surprisingly, many of these children grow up to be atheists – emphasizing only materiality where they were once instructed to hate it.

But it’s not only the Abrahamic religions that are guilty of abandoning or mistreating the body.  In some Buddhist traditions, the body is perceived as a block – a weight of the ego to be overcome.  Or in kundalini practice, the body can become merely a slave to spirit.  Like high school boys the night before a football game, practitioners are told not to go all the way.  You can orgasm, men are told, but do not ejaculate or you’ll discharge the vital energy you need to enliven your spirit.  While there may be genuine esoteric value in orgasm without ejaculating, it is often turned into a moral prescription.  This condemns the body to a lower caste than the spirit, rather than viewing it as a dynamic and loving body in and of itself.

No real transformation can happen without true engagement.  To understand how we (not just culturally or spiritually, but as individuals) relate to our bodies, we must be able to simultaneously immerse in and detach from them.  By stymying true engagement with the body, powerful structures of religion, science, and consumerism create deeper attachmentto the body rather than detachment.  In cases of religious abandonment of the body, no real transformation is possible because exploration through immersion is denied.

or, “What if we were as loving and forgiving in our lives as we were while we were sexually aroused?”

The first time I masturbated thinking of a man, I was barely a teenager. I’d masturbated before, but I never really understood why – it was just a feeling contained in myself. I’d push myself into my mattress and consider the strange, warm feeling. Waves up my chest and in my spine, a peaceful feeling afterward. It was unrelated to anything but me.

But then my body began to teach me something.

I went to the beach with my family and saw my older stepbrother’s friend in the shower. Through the clouded glass of the shower door, I saw his form, the color of his skin, his legs, what must have been his arms, his ass. There were no clear lines, there were shapes and color. I looked at him, and saw what was there. I felt inside of me something entirely new, the coalition of light and sound and this…feeling. My body was going crazy, and I had no idea why…I didn’t yet know what “gay” was, not really.

My body, the object part of my body, was wiser than the rest of me, it knew things I didn’t, and it was responding to someone else’s body.

The body, it is often said, has a mind of its own, and its actions intersect with experience.  Anyone who has ever had an erection in public will know immediately what I’m talking about.  When it happens, the will of the body is glaringly obvious.  Then again, it’s not only the penis that reacts to sexual stimulation.  We also sweat, out hearts race, we may get a little jump in our stomachs.  In fact, the body’s sexual response is often how we knowwe’re attracted to someone.  We may be surprised to find ourselves aroused, but there it is: a draw to another.

This draw can be sustained and often is.  When we see someone we’re attracted to for a second or third time, when we first start dating or after we have sex, the draw stays there.  Scientists have widely agreed that there is a combination of factors – including hormones, dopamine, adrenaline, etc – that work in conjunction with this draw.  The attraction becomes very powerful, allowing us to forgive faults we might not normally.  Anything that is annoying to us normally becomes endearing while this draw is sustained.  The body’s will makes us extremely kind.

But our attitude to this kindness is often flippant.  Cognitive scientists and neuroscientists may refer to the above chemical changes as the cause of it all; nothing special about that love stuff, really, just chemicals.  Evolutionary psychologists might refer it back to advantageous mating behaviors, leaving out present-day context.  In popular culture, we might say, “That’s just infatuation.” We might say that being attracted to someone because of his/her appearance is “shallow.”  If someone acts on this initial attraction, we might refer to her or him as a “slut”.

A contradiction, then: We love the feeling that the will of the body brings, but we don’t hold it in high regard.  We think of it as somehow fake.

What if we took it seriously?  What if, instead of measuring it up to other experiences, we reversed our ethic and held this infatuation stage up as the standard?  We would see then that it’s not that these initial feelings are false or fake, it’s that we don’t feel them enough.  In other words, we aren’t normally as forgiving and adoring to other people as we are in the initial stages of attraction. What if we were?  What if we were as loving and forgiving in our lives as we were while we were sexually aroused?

or, “… about six inches”

No cultural phenomenon expresses our confusion about the reality of the body better than pornography.  Indeed, pornography exposes hypocrisy and power struggles over what the body is, how it should be used, and who decides both.

There are parts of the object-body that we regard as having a different quality than others.  If this weren’t true, what would the difference be between a sex scene in a mainstream movie and pornography?  In a mainstream film, the actors really kiss, sometimes explicitly so, showing their tongues touching. They might be naked, baring breasts, asses, and sometimes even genitals.  But as the camera pans down past their entwined bodies, one thing is never (or at least very rarely) shown: penetration.  In other words, the difference between a movie and a porn is about six inches.

We live in a world that is saturated in sexual suggestion, but not sex itself.

or, “Objectification isn’t something that is done to us; we are already and always part object.”

The popular argument goes something like this: pornography isn’t film or art because it is really just exploitation based on “objectification” of people (usually this means women).

The argument has changed to hide behind technology.  Now added to the argument is that porn is destroying relationships.  But this argument rose to prominence with the rise of the internet, and these arguments against pornography are really just borrowed critiques of technology: that it creates separation and erodes real human relationships.  What’s really underneath arguments against porn, once you pull away all the borrowed supplements and find whatever original argument is there, still lies with objectification.

For many, these arguments are meant to be self-evident: objectification is bad.  Porn is bad.  This is easily seen in the many attacks against porn that simply state what is depicted.  For example, in the hysteria around Robert Maplethorpe’s photography, which depicted sexual acts (often featuring naked gay men), attackers would merely describe the act in the photograph.  Or in Chris Hedges’s anti-pornography essay “The Illusion of Love,” he names what he sees and hears as if it presents some sort self-evident truth:  “…oral sex, vaginal sex, double penetration, and double anal.”  He quotes a performer who says during a shoot, “Shove it up my fucking ass…: and “Fuck, motherfucker…” and “Fucking love it…”  For some reason, Hedges thinks no explanation as to why this should be problematic is required.

Of course this all misses an important aspect of our lives:

Objectification isn’t something that is done to us; we are already and always part object.

For those few critics of pornography that don’t believe arguments of objectification are self-evident truths, the rest of the argument goes something like, “It’s a problem because the viewer of porn sees someone only as an object.” These arguments leave out so many questions of context as to leave them impotent.  Questions forgotten in this line of reasoning include:

Will we react to people in life the way we do to people we watch in porn?  Should we?  Does all porn have the same affect, even across cultural boundaries (i.e. does straight porn exist in the heterosexual world the same way gay porn does in the gay world?)?  Does porn show up in the same way across cultures?  Does it change through time?

Because these questions are rarely considered in anti-porn arguments, most anti-porn arguments are not very useful or complex.

…As a porn performer, I can say from experience and with confidence that I’ve never been objectified by other performers.  Nor have I been objectified by viewers.  At least not in a way that seemed to confuse them into thinking I was an object.  What happens instead is that I shift in and out of object-hood.  Athletes do this too – they engage with their bodies for a specific task.  At the end of the game or the shoot, the context changes.  When I meet someone who recognizes me for my work with pornography, it usually begins as a recognition of that draw that they’ve felt and then turns quickly into an everyday conversation.  No danger of being objectified there.

On the flipside, when anti-porn critics examine pornography, they often turn their subjects into functions.  Again, Chris Hedges’s essay serves well as an example of this often-used tactic.  In the essay, the style and fullness of the writing jumps back and forth so that anyone in porn is a mere caricature of a person.  Anyone on his side of the argument is fully human.

Furthermore, good and detailed research has been done noting that men who watch porn don’t engage in dehumanization.  Some of the best of this work (best because it is so detailed) is in Watching Sex: How Men Really Respond to Pornography by David Loftus (De Capo, 2002.), which presents in-depth interviews with nearly 150 men who watch porn.  Almost none express anything like a split in thinking or the sentiment of objectification.  The sample may seem small, but the interviews are detail-rich and as such stand as a glaring contradiction to critics’ reasonings.  Unless we want to agree with some of the more hardcore porn critics who state that all men are stupid, unaware, or lying about their motivations for watching porn, we have to dismiss this argument based on evidence.

As for complaints about studios and studio people exploiting workers, I certainly have observed that. But is this a problem with porn itself?  This is a systemic problem of capitalism and socialism and communism.  It’s a problem that arises when a society confuses economic values for values about human rights or values about culture.  It unfortunately happens in every workplace, and is not porn-specific.  Which again raises the questions: who objectifies?  Who destroys and exploits multiplicity?  And why?

or, “…when’s the last time you saw a billboard advertising beer that had a photo of a penis entering a vagina proclaiming BUY BEER next to it?”

People love to say that “sex sells.”  But this really isn’t honest except in the case of pornography.  When you’re driving and you see a billboard of a man in swim trunks drinking beer and a woman in a bikini sitting down on the sand next to him, it’s an ad for the brand of beer in the man’s hand.  He might have perfect abs and she might have large breasts.  But is this sex?

Well, when’s the last time you saw a billboard advertising beer that had a photo of a penis entering a vagina proclaiming BUY BEER next to it?

It’s not sex but the suggestion of it that is meant to sell.  It’s not even just arousal, but a sort of coitus interruptus arousal.  Advertising gets you turned on, and how does it consummate the relationship? Instead of showing you sex – which is two people touching, expressing actual intimacy – it shows you a product.  The end of the sexual encounter is beer or a computer or whatever other product.  So you’re elated and then re-routed.

This is dehumanization – not because there are photos of scantily-clad people;  that’s not a problem.  This is dehumanization because it takes real human emotion – the emotion of the person who sees the ad, an emotion which is aimed at human interaction – and reroutes it into something not human: the computer or the beer.  Here and there, this probably wouldn’t cause a problem.  But in our culture, arousing and then hiding sex is a calculated, repeated, and basically institutionalized pattern. In a Pavlovian rut, we’re aroused a hundred times, but consummation is never delivered, even in image.

The constant bombardment of this sexual rerouting trains us that sex is something separate from life.  Indeed this can be seen in the attitude we have toward our genitals and breasts – that they are parts of our bodies that are seen as separate from us.  We even name them sometimes, as if they’re in different worlds entirely.

So the easy flow of multiplicity is exploited through a rerouting of sex to product.  Add to this the fact that those in charge tell us – not just implicitly through the absence of sexual imagery, but explicitly – that sex is bad.  Showing penetration is immoral; it would be indecent, exploitative, and objectification.  This has been going on for so long that we take it for granted.

Perhaps one of the best antidotes to this would be the mainstreaming of true sexual imagery.  If we took a cue from the Romans who had sexual images displayed prominently and openly, we’d be much less susceptible to manipulation through arousal.

Killing Time

19 Apr

Late last year, I published an essay on time at RealitySandwich.com, a professionally edited spiritual and countercultural website. I was greeted with lots of comments (many of them praise) but most were from people in the non-porn world. After hemming and hawing, I decided to repost the essay here while working on other blog entries. I hemmed and hawed partially because of the length, partially because it was already published., but mostly because of my own notions of what people come to this blog for. Then I realized that I’m so blessed and fortunate: people come to read what I’ve written. So thank you and here it is. If you’d like to link to the original and explore the site, which contains articles by Daniel Pinchbeck, Doug Rushkoff, DJ Spooky, and others, here it is: http://www.realitysandwich.com/emit_time
The essay follows my thoughts and the thoughts of great thinkers through the riddle of time – what is it? Is it anything at all? Thanks for taking the time to read it.


In the dream, I’m sitting on a long couch next to three people: William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary, and Oprah Winfrey. The room is smoky, and I’m allowed a question.

“How do I take all this knowledge I have and make the world a better place?” I ask. A child’s question, How does this work?

Leary, with whom I am the least acquainted, answers. “You have to find a way to step outside of time.”

I’m about to ask what he means, and in the waking world, a sharp and harsh call pulls me out of sleep. The red-numbered digital alarm I’ve set insists itself. Wake. Up.

I hit the snooze button and when I lie back again, the dream is still there and still complete.

Leary leans toward me. “You see?” He asks. Oprah nods her head knowingly while Burroughs takes a long drag from his cigarette, eyes forward, catatonic.

* * * * *

In the beginning there was stone, or nothing, or God, or the loud unspeakable banging of things. There was an origin. And inside of us, somewhere, is that origin. We couldn’t be here without containing it. Every moment of time and all the interactions of nature have led themselves to us, to the person reading these words in the space they’re being read in. And so the very history of the universe stands in our bones, like a ghost standing inside of a wall.

This is philosopher Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin” from his book of the same name. The point from which all lines and planes and cubes emerge, the one that still pours forth our being, but which, at some moment, we became unaware of, and which, if we want to speak spatially about such things, we have “grown distant” from.

Somewhere in this great divorce, we developed our current concept of and feeling for time, which so intensely typifies our current way of life, on the peninsular stretch away from origin we live on. Gebser’s focus on time impelled him to write the book.

There’s too much history to go over, too many potshots to take at the thing, and too many expressions of time from culture to culture to get into the nitty gritty of the history of time (for a great and exhausting study of just that, I recommend A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths). I don’t have time (or space) to do it. But we can look at what time is to us. – how it feels, how it “ticks away”, how it becomes something beyond claiming as it falls into the past. We can, perhaps, even learn to interact with time in a new way. “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time,” David Bowie sang. Oh no?

Gebser claimed that we were entering into a new understanding of time and that it would change our consciousness utterly. He claimed, like the theosophists, anthroposophists, Hindus, and others, that human consciousness has changed throughout our long history. Our new perspective on time would herald a “mutation” – the “integral” – through which we could see the ways we used to think – the past mutations of consciousness. “Mutations” not because they follow the reductive concepts of genetic mutation, nor because they have the same feel as physical evolution; they are, instead, changes in the inner landscape of the psyche and spirit. They are shifts in the pattern of thinking and being that change those patterns utterly. Our selves change in accordance to these mutations; our structures of perception, our personalities, our relationships, all uproot and become undone. That is, they no longer feel finished, and they become again. As goes our structure of consciousness, so goes the world.

Gebser’s arguments – intensely detailed examinations of art history and language – are compelling and powerful, and in themselves contribute to changes in the consciousness of any reader strong-willed enough to make it through the wordy book (for gentler but just as profound renderings of the evidence, see Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances, History in English Words, or Poetic Diction). His main point with the integral is that when we change our vision of time, we change our world, and that this perspective is changing whether we like it or not.

Physicist Stephen Hawking speculates that the “‘psychological arrow of time’ is pointed in the same direction as the cosmological and thermodynamic arrow of time…from the past to the future.” Gebser and others ask – what happens when the psychological arrow changes direction? Or we aim the bow upward? Or more than that – what happens when we put down our weapons all together?

* * * * *

I am sitting at the Urban Plaza near 50th Street and 10th Avenue in New York City. There’s a Starbucks and a restaurant nearby and the ground beneath the metal chair I’m sitting on is cobblestone. It is October 20th.

Pigeons fly around the fountain. Everyone is reading and talking to one another or on the phone. Some are eating. A few are doing nothing at all, except listening maybe, or watching the sky.

None of it feels like time.

I can write the word, but it’s distant or even empty, like a bit of nonsense…until I think time is happening.

Or sometimes I’ll get the notion of it when a person leaves. The seat is empty; it didn’t used to be empty. There was somewhere to go! That exclamation point feels like time as I look at it. Moreso, definitely, than the absolute blackness of the period. The exclamation point is an event! It’s an instant! The register rises at the end of the sentence!

I think about when I need this essay done by and there it is. A future. When I double myself -me and me soon – there is time. And here’s a waiter, approaching a table. A man has paid with a hundred dollar bill and accidentally left the change in the folder with the check. Time: What he did then unfolding now.

The pigeons are moving from ground to awning to tree top, and there’s no time until I think about where they were or where they are going.

Time is the animal moving out of sight and into inner vision. It’s an engagement with the invisible.

* * * * *

In 1759, and a pillar of wisdom, mystical and otherwise, Emmanuel Swedenborg reveals that he’d been communing with angels. He was a respected man who wore a wig. He tended to stutter but besides that was the calm figure of a scientist. He’d engineered bridges, he’d calculated longitudinal axis based on the movements of the moon, and discovered that the two hemispheres of the brain react differently. He was one of the most famous and well-respected engineers and scientists of his time, and he had a habit of entering into the world of the angels and sometimes even into Hell.

It was there that he began to understand time. In the spiritual world, he found that our ideas and concepts had the curious state property of realness – that is, they weren’t simply thought about, but they were factual expressions. Austrian mystic, natural philosopher, educator, architect and seer Rudolf Steiner would confirm this in later years, stating that in the spiritual world, our concepts are “objects”. Time is as real as a chair in the spiritual world, but because in the spiritual world we do not only use the same senses as we do in the material world, “as real” evinces itself as an intense fact of feeling in the spiritual senses.

“A pleasant state,” Swedenborg wrote in one of his many voluminous descriptions of the spiritual world, “makes time seem brief, and an unpleasant one makes it seem long. We can therefore see that time in the spiritual world is simply an attribute of state.”

Even Einstein could not deny this – an attribute of state. Like solidity, density, color, tone. Time is a feeling. Wilson van Dusen, Swedenborg scholar and psychologist would later elaborate by examining dimensionality from a Swedenborgian point of view. Though Swedenborg never schematized the dimensions, van Dusen deduced the implicit dimensionality from combing relentlessly over Swedenborg’s work along with the work of other mystics.

The dimensions start off as mathematical dimensions – they are simple: Point, line, plane, cube. The point is a zero-dimension. It has a distinguished nothingness to it. It’s not even the period at the end of this sentence, though we draw it that way. It’s not a thing, it’s not a spot, it’s not a moment. Instead, the point is a gesture of separation – an instance of being pulled from the whole. This bears a striking resemblance to Gebser’s archaic mutation of consciousness or what Steiner refers to as the Saturnian period of consciousness. The Saturnian being had a consciousness “duller than dreamless sleep” – and occult historian Gary Lachman states that the archaic being was “little more than the first slight ripple of difference between origin and its latent unfolding.”

Van Dusen, in ascending through the dimensions, treats the problem algorhtymically. The line is all the points. For Steiner and the theosophists, the line is instead the point turned or bent. Either way, when one lives on the line-state of consciousness (like in Edwin Abbot’s Flatland), all one can see is points. This corresponds well with – though he did not characterize it this way – Gebser’s theory of magical consciousness, the next mutation in the sequence. The magical mutation is typified by synchronicites. They’re discreet instances of consciousness which do not only relate, but overlay one another. For an example of magical consciousness, Gebser presents an indigenous people who draw an antelope and plunge a spear into the drawing, then spear an antelope later in perfect reciprocity. This may be difficult at first to understand – but understand it as the moment when you are thinking of someone and then they call out of nowhere, only more intense. The thought process and the events are so intertwined that they cannot possibly be seen to be independent. In fact, they are interdependent. (This is why in magical rituals, we still see much iconography – sigils or voodoo dolls are symbolic art created to affect life.)

The second dimension is the plane. All of the lines together cannot help but form a sort of vaster line – thicker and full of itself. For Steiner, we can say that the plane is the line turned. If a line continues on and on, Steiner explains, it “curves” until it meets itself again. In this way, it forms a circle. “…a straight line can be interpreted as a circle whose diameter is infinitely large…we can imagine that if we move ever farther along a straight line, we will eventually pass through infinity and come back from the other side.” Steiner’s way of examining lines, in other words, brings in our experience as a higher dimension which defines the lower.

These dimensions are not separate but in fact beautifully complex in that they all determine each other – they are neither “top down” nor “bottom up”, particularly since in their totality they defy the spatial laws of structure and hierarchy.

On the plane, we find Gebser’s mythic consciousness. The plane pulls the mythic human around and around. A square, not a circle, is the best image for mythic time, because it is a shape punctuated by familiar instances: seasons, directions, colors. Rhythm is felt by the rounding of a corner. In a sense, these corners are the gods. While in the magical mutation of first-dimensional thinking synchronicities “popped up”, in the mythic, synchronicities acquired a new intensity – rhythm. If in magical consciousness synchronicity was punctuated percussing noise, then in mythcial consciousness, at the corners, the noises found a beat.

Infintize the plane, a la van Dusen, or curve it a la Steiner, and we have a cube: the plane that boldly faces itself. And here Gebser’s perspective meets Duhrer’s little squares across the maiden, breaking her form into bits of light and shadow. We became “heavy” with matter as the plane beheld its own eminence. As Gebser deftly points out, (he lays the blame and credit first on Petrarch) we began at this point in history to ascend mountains. No more were the impossible Mt. Olynpuses, where we’d be struck down, even for daring to scale. We started to see a vast panorama of space. We were no longer countrymen, united, but individuals, separated by harsh outlines. And what a view! For proof, look at the dramatic shifts in western art around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: suddenly, everything jumped out of the frame or slinked backward into it. Light and shadow took the place of color. Instead of color against color: distance and curvature. A perspective of irrevocable spatiality. This is Gebser’s mental mutation, which we’re now in – albeit its “deficient” mode. Deficient because we’ve lost ourselves in it, forgotten the wonder of it.

What’s next on the agenda of dimensions? Time. This was illustrated profoundly to me by a teacher who explained van Dusen’s expressions of dimensions. She held a book.

“This book’s the cube; it’s space,” she said. “What happens when you add all the space and all the space?” Of course I had no idea.

Then she dropped the book.

“When space passes through itself, you have time.”

* * * *

I’m at the Esalen Institiute with about a hundred others. We’re here to spend time with a woman who – how can I put this? – is like a glowing white light.

Her name is Byron Katie, and she has a beautiful comforting smile. She undoes things.

“Good evening,” she says from the stage. We all say good evening back.

“Is it true?” she asks, and those of us who know what’s happening laugh.

What’s happening is this: Katie, as she prefers to be called, describes the world as Epictetus did. “It is not events that upset us, it is our thoughts about events which upset us.” Katie has a system for parsing the two. When people ask her if she’s enlightened, she says, “I don’t know what that means; I’m just a person who knows the difference between what hurts and what doesn’t.” She often wears shawls. If you saw a picture of her, you might think she was a flake or a saint.

The system is The Work. It’s just four questions, and they shine an intense light on the mind of the mental mutation because they use the mental mutation’s own clarity and sharp outlines against itself. The master’s tools dismantling the master’s house (well they’re lying around, anyway, why not?). The questions are applied to a stressful concept – and it’s easier, she tells us, to apply it to someone else before we apply it to ourselves. My husband shouldn’t cheat on me. My children should listen to me. That woman shouldn’t talk so much. My mailman should say hello when he sees me.

Out of context, the questions aren’t so impressive. They are 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3. How do you feel when you think that thought? 4. Who or how would you be without that thought? And they are followed by a “turnaround”, where the original statement is brought back to the self.

For example, “My wife shouldn’t have left me” turns into “I shouldn’t have left me” or “I shouldn’t have left my wife” or even “My wife should have left me.”

What occurs through The Work is obvious around me. We listen to Katie, facilitate with her and then with each other. We cry and light up. There’s nothing phony about it, nothing new age, it’s simply an intense engagement with the mental world. Everything in the world is. There’s no sense arguing with it. A woman, while doing the work with me sees her husband isn’t selfish, but profoundly giving. She also sees that she needs to give herself everything she expected him to give and to set her boundaries with him. I forgive myself for the first time for being crazy around an old boyfriend. I think, I’d like to be a different way around the people I love.

This is postmodernism used to its most profound effect. It’s the deconstruction of thought – but not to the point of meaninglessness – rather to its true essence. We are not our thoughts, but we do interact with them. The thoughts rise and fall within us, like weather. But they do not come from us. It’s as if thoughts are curtains billowing inward – the curtains are blowing in the apartment, but the impetus for their movement comes from somewhere else. When we attach to a thought, that’s when the trouble begins. We stop moving, and we’re caught in Lucifer’s perversion (literally translated as a turning away). Lucifer, instead of turning all the way around to face God once again, stopped and became stuck. And so, evil was born. When we attach to our thoughts, we get stuck and create a fundamentalist belief, and belief can bring pain.

“Anything is true if you believe it,” Katie says. “Nothing is true whether you believe it or not.”

And she’s funny.

It’s much easier to understand The Work by doing, so I won’t record the dialogues here. Go to her website, listen to her audiobooks. But something occurs to me at the conference – Katie is not anxious or depressed about anything. Somehow, she doesn’t seem to feel stress. Doesn’t she engage with time? Looking backward to regret, forward to worry?

“Do you know about time?” she asks us.

“Look,” she begins, each utterance a complete sentence. “I. I am. I am a woman. I am a woman who wants a glass of water. I am a woman who is going to reach for a glass of water. Do you see how I’m creating time?”

Time is the attachment to a thought. The moment we say, “I am,” we position ourselves temporally. And it expands from there into, “I am a man. I am a man who wants.” We begin to create a past – the collection of inherited concepts, such as “man”. We create a future by thinking of what we’d like to have, by becoming, “a man who wants.” And so forth until we’re in the very practical world of someone who is going to reach for a glass of water. This is the world of materialisms – everything happens outside of inner being – “sticking” to itself. All the space and all the space. Katie would say this happens when, “we believe what we think.”

Of course, we’re paralyzed without concept – and there is a rightness to concept. Katie tells us that our feelings are alarms. A stressful feeling is the sign of attaching to a stressful thought. “Keep the dreams,” she says, “and investigate the nightmares.”

* * * * *

Back to the fourth dimension: all the cubes at once. For Steiner, the fourth dimension is the astral world. This presents the first disagreement in dimensionality for van Dusen and Steiner – while for van Dusen time is the fourth dimension, for Steiner, time appears differently in the fourth dimension.

And here’s my leap: human time in the mental mutation of consciousness seems to me to be a combination of the anthroposophical fourth dimension or astral plane and the etheric.

The etheric, as described by Steiner, is tricky business. Not because it’s theoretical but because it’s so apparent to our being, but not our senses. We perceive the etheric with our senses only through the distinction in forms and movements in a developing living being. Plants are perhaps the best example, and it is felt that they reside in the etheric “realm” (that is, their consciousness is an etheric consciousness) most squarely.

With high speed recording, we can “see” plant development – the life of the etheric. But while the etheric evinces itself in the material world as temporal, it stands outside of time. That is, it streams with purpose within a completed whole. In fact, it is not so much “streaming towards” as it is “swirling within”. This is close to what Goethe referred to as the “archetypal plant” – a plant that “contains” all other plants – a living pool of possibility.

Gebser’s origin bears many similarities to the etheric – it is the unmanifest, formless being from which all forms manifest. Imagine a skyscraper building itself into an invisible blueprint, which is pressed onto the ground, the sky, and the workers that carry out the labor, making them part of the whole. Or, if you like, Marvel Comics has a character named Eternity – he has a human form, but is vast, infinite, and in the outline of this form are all the planets and stars and all that has ever happened and will happen. The idea here is that things form themselves within a finality. In this sense, the etheric and origin are the ground-level “proofs” of a teleological point of view. They are fractally experienced versions of physicist and philosopher David Bohm’s “implicate order”

A good way to observe this sensually is to notice the differences between a plant and a rock. Rocks do change, but we do not sense within them an inner growth. Even developing crystals form from the outside. The plants, on the other hand, draw from something within themselves to develop as well as from the outside world. Biologist Wolfgang Schad writes, that the etheric has and is, “…an autonomous capacity to behave within matter, physical energy, space and time in a way different from that of lifeless objects.” Because of this, we must observe that time exists in a different way for the plant – just as time exists in a different way for the animal and human.

This is because the rock and the animal and the human live in different realms of being than the plant. The animal and the human both have an astral body, and the human alone has a mental body (or “ego-organization”) on which I will present more on later (and through which the distinction is made, as opposed to standard evolutionary thinking that humans are animals). The astral body is the body through which we experience feeling and dreaming.

The fourth/astral dimension is a strange place, and when entered into wholly, it is not unlike cartoons where Bugs Bunny goes to a distant planet. Bugs Bunny sees a hammer chasing a nail, a bizarre animal, and people with entirely different rules of living.

Steiner explains, “You must become used to reading each number symmetrically, as its mirror image. This is the basic prerequisite…relationships in time…must also be interpreted symmetrically – that is, later events come first and earlier events appear later…There, the old emerges from the new…It is said of Kronos that he devoured his children. In the astral realm, offspring are not born but devoured.”

Events of great emotional weight also appear backwards. “Imagine, for example, that we see a wild animal approaching us in the astral realm, and it strangles us. That is how it appears to someone who is used to interpreting external events…In reality, the wild animal is an internal quality, an aspect of our own astral body is strangling us. The attacking strangler is a quality that is rooted in our own desires. If we have a vengeful thought, for example, the thought may appear in an external form, tormenting us as the Angel of Death.” The astral world is full of these reverse animals, which feels exact when you remember that the animal is a being of astrality that does not pulse strongly with a mental body.

Time apparently flows backwards in the fourth dimension or the astral realm because of that dimensional “bend” or “curve”. To ascend in dimensionality, the dominant form (point, line, plane, cube) must be algorhytmically added to itself. Easy enough to imagine when we bend a point to make it a line or bend a plane to make it a cube. Bending the cube is not so easy to imagine, but we can understand it through mirrors. When we bend spatiality, we create a mirror image – like a right-handed glove appearing as a left-handed glove in the mirror. Time flows in the reverse to the lower dimensions.

So even as the animal runs towards us to tear at our throat, Steiner reminds us that our being is primary and that our freedom determines the animal. “In reality, everything in the astral world radiates from us…It comes back to us on all sides as if from the periphery, from infinite space. In truth, however, we are confronting only what our own astral body has given off.”

The invention of anxiety – Our astral body is the imagined future. We imagine it, yet it appears to be rushing towards us.

This is what Byron Katie means when she says, “We keep thinking, why is this happening to me? What we begin to understand through The Work is that it is happening for us.”

* * * * *

Just as it’s important to not confuse the fourth dimension with time itself, it’s important to not conceive of the etheric as space, simply because growth flows “into” it.

“Strictly speaking,” Hermann Popplebaum, botanist, writes, “the joining of the forms is the task of the perceiver and concerns him only; nature on the other hand, evolves the individual forms out of the totality, because for her the totality is primary.” That is, the perceiver understands relationships and forms through separateness – a bud and a flower, say – even though they are not separate. Nature works out of totality. Poppelbaum continues, “The temporal succession of forms is the result of an unfolding into the spatial dimension – a true ‘ex-plane-ation.’”

Anthroposophists also assert the appearance of the etheric after death – when “the soul experiences its whole past life spread out before it in a vast ‘panorama’ or ‘tableau.’ The etheric body of man is present as a continuous whole before him…” (Popplebaum) How like Gebser’s observations of Picasso’s work, in which smashed-together faces were painted to present all aspects of time. That is, what we perceive in the circling of a three-dimensional form (a face) presented all at once.

The astral moves backwards, the etheric moves forward. These two movements give us our curious sense of time. The astral: the anticipation of the future brought on by what radiates from us but feels like it is coming at us. The etheric: the notion of the past rushing to meet us when we compare distinctions in form which are present within a whole. Here’s what happens when we put those two together – We get a feeling that the future is coming to us and that the past is always behind us. At curious moments, we feel the collision of the two and a sort of “canceling out.” The collision of the etheric and the astral gives us the present – a sort of no-time, a spot of negation and canceling out of memory and anticipation and inner and outer.

What’s more, with humans, there is the addition of the mental body, which perceives the astral and etheric.  Our sense of time is therefore different than that of the plant or the animal. But it includes those senses of time as well, and we have passed through Gebser’s mutations, so that the effects of time are curious.

* * * * *

How can you be here, reading this essay when you’ve got to get it all done? Shouldn’t you be making a list? And what about yesterday? You didn’t quite get it all in yesterday did you – if only you would have managed it all a little more wisely. Look at all the time you wasted doing things that weren’t really beneficial to you!

There, feel it. It’s in your body, in your heart, in your lungs. Perhaps your hands were a little shaky or you looked away from the words of this essay to contemplate how to better manage the rest of the day. Maybe you were even sweating.

Remember, the experience of time is only “here” when we’re aware of it. We consider time as something that pulses through but time does not really “exist” wholly apart from our experience. For example, for the all-present zen master, there can exist a “space” in which there is only one moment which encompasses everything. Like the room outside the one you’re sitting in, reading this, time’s existence is questionable. When we forget about it (or can’t “see” it in our awareness), it seems to disappear. When we remember it, it appears: The room next to this one exists now internally and springs to being when we enter it again. Furthermore, it feels familiar because we compare it to our memory. When the past seems to match the present, this is looping – the recursion of the imagined, visualized past into the immediate present.

Different societies have different ways of looping. For example, The Australian aborigines, a society for whom the mythic and magical are more diaphanous than our own, sing the landscape into being. The world is interacted with if it is to exist at all. This process only seems foreign to us because our songs are hummed internally. We also sing, but with our memories, hidden and silent.

Just as we “see” familiarity with memory, we sense time with bodies. Think again of everything you need to get done today and feel the changing pace in your chest. Rudolf Steiner describes the heart and the lungs as our “rhythmic system.” The rhythmic system, a system of regularity, is sensitive to our ideas about time. Try to contain the future or the past, and it alerts us to the action by speeding up.

If you’re running and stop suddenly, you will feel the same thing – the forward flow of the past and backward flow of the future have an inertia to them. Hold them in your heart and you’ll begin to shake, shiver, sweat. You’ll feel the heat of the energy you’ve contained. Time only feels good when it passes through us effortlessly. Like food, if time gets caught in you, you will begin to choke.

* * * * *

Popplebaum writes, “The bark of the tree…though it is leaving the etheric realm, is still on the way back to the physical; it has not yet arrived there. Only when it decomposes in the soil has it fully arrived in the physical realm.” In other words, without the astral, the etheric leads back to the physical. When the functioning astral is combined with the functional etheric, the astral is always on the way back to the etheric – that is, the feeling astral is what contributes to growth. When the mental body is added, the mental flows back toward the astral. Thought lapses back into feeling.

So it is for the human being that feeling (the astral) should be dominant – that even though we have a thinking capacity, feeling is so powerful in comparison to thinking without proper training. Thinking is our highest capacity, but thinking flows into feeling just as bark flows into ground.

This is why if we look behind a stressful feeling, we will find a stressful thought. The feeling is the alarm that the thinking is unhealthy – just as the decomposition in soil is the alarm that the bark of a tree is unhealthy.

* * * * *

“Wherever the astral body sets limits to growth, the etheric forces are set free from their original task and are able to become a kind of matrix for the formation of thoughts. The capabilities of thinking (e.g. repetition, variation, logical opposition) reveal the formative activities which were previously working in the physical body.” – Popplebaum

When the astral and etheric become transparent to the mental, that is, when we begin to emit or divest time from our being, we can set ourselves free through intention. We’re not always up to this task: For example, we feel awful because we keep dwelling on a past incident – when we lied to a loved one, perhaps. When we do this rather than confront the wrong and move on, we halt time. A loop, in a sense is created – but a smaller, more constricted one. When, in the human, the astral encounters the etheric without the assistance of the mental, it’s like a skipping record. The astral tries to overwhelm the etheric and becomes stuck in a dark, contracted version of it: Hell. It’s a burning that never goes out. It is how we react when we think that thought and attach to it. It is the feeling of trapped time.

But when we approach time with intention, we become heroic: the mental body (and mutation) engage with astral and etheric bodies or magical and mythical time. The hero enters the cave with an iron sword and slays the dragon. This act as a whole is the entering into the mental body – a place of freedom. There, we become capable of a new way of being.

What is this way of being? Something, God or the angels or I don’t know what, begins to flow into the mental body, just as before the mental flowed naturally into the astral. In other words, the astral is no longer the overwhelming default. Instead of feeling, thinking comes naturally. We may engage with desire (as we know it now) however we please. We do not want out of fear, but rather out of curiosity and interest. Where once there was terror and intensity of mood, there will be loving engagement. Where once there was necessity driven by impulsive feeling, soon there will be freedom.

“…in a space-and-time-free aperspectival world,” Gebser writes, “…the free (or freed) consciousness has at its disposal all latent as well as actual forms of space and time without having either to deny them or to be fully subject to them.”

* * * * *

I am sitting at a Tibetan restaurant. The ting mo – steamed white bread – has just arrived. It’s not supposed to come with the hot pepper oil, but I’ve asked for it. An experiment. What happens when I apply The Work to physical pain? I add as much pepper as possible to the ting mo. A flaring alert shows up on my tongue.

I’m in pain, is it true? Can I absolutely know that I’m in pain? How do I feel when I think that thought – I’m in pain? Who or how would I be without the thought, I’m in pain? Can I turn that thought around?

And the pain is gone. I didn’t compare the moment to the past or the future, I didn’t think, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” or “I felt better a moment ago.” I’m seeing all time states at once and choosing the one that feels the most free to me. And with that, even the physical sharpness of the pepper oil coating the back of my throat and my tongue becomes warming.

To love time, to put down the psychological arrow, is to marry the physical world and the inner world. It’s to see the mineral body’s clearest spiritual face; from afar, from geological time.

“Go inside a stone/That would be my way” poet Charles Simic writes. We must see such a broad field of space and time that it begins to not seem like time at all. In fact, we must, in a way, conceptualize it all at once. When we refer to “geological time” what we mean is the near-absence of the astral and the etheric, the near-abandonment of our notions of time all together.

* * * * *

As a possible doorway to a new time-consciousness, consider money.

“Time is money,” Benjamin Franklin famously said. It’s an often-despised quote, but Franklin was not only a politician but an esotericist. His statement is a mystical truth: money is a time-container.  We focus time thinking onto money because it is meant to hold future promise and past labor. We misinterpret in it the etheric and astral bodies. Money does have its own being, but this being – one of brotherliness – is opaque to us. And so real money is actually invisible. We perceive, instead money as the container of past debt.  The things we desire, when linked with “I don’t have enough money” create a future anxiety.

When we have money, we are still burdened. Again with the constant burning – the money is “burning a hole in your pocket.” Notice this burning in our misinterpretations of time. When we try to contain time, we sweat, we get chills.  The future cannot be held in the present – because it is meant to radiate – when we hold it, we feel its heat.  Dwelling on the past brings a coldness flowing at us, the loneliness and solitude of depression and guilt and regret.

Our misconstrued perception of money is so embedded into the deficient mental mutation that to lose it would be to lose a spiritual arm. If we can learn to shed our perception of money through intention, we can feel a lighter, more integral vision of time. If not, our experience of the integral it will be more like William Irwin Thompson’s metaphor of the speeding car. We’ll slam on the breaks and everything in the back will fly forward and into the front. But even this could be fun. When we’re teenagers (the time when we’re most present in our astral dimension), we drive our cars through empty parking lots and slam on the brakes and laugh.

* * * * *

Time is not a minute or an hour. It is not the past or the future. It is not even the rising of the sun or the blooming of the apple blossoms. All of these, yes, are gestures of time – but they all seem so not us somehow.
Time is the feeling and thoughts we have as the book falls to the floor.

This is good news for us when we realize that those thoughts and feelings are up to us to radiate and attach to or let go of.

“You have to find a way to step outside of time,” Timothy Leary said to me in the dream-world; a world which is woven in its being into the astral world.

Then the alarm, then the snooze button, then the dream again.

“You see?” he asked.

I see. The waking and the dreaming world, combined. The astral and the etheric and the mineral all diaphanous in the illuminating mental at the moment of intention: that snooze button. Not a button to sleep or to wake, but to hover in the all worlds at once, answering our own questions with a slight and effortless gesture.


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