#litgeeks book club and The International Jean Gebser Society present:
Winter of Origins
A Collaborative Reading of Jean Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin
January 11—March 19, 2016
“Our concern is to render transparent everything latent ‘behind’ and ‘before’ the world—to render transparent our origin, our entire human past, as well as the present, which already contains the future.” —Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin
Join Us in (Re)Discovering One of the Most Profound Philosopher-Poets of the 20th Century
Jean Gebser was a German-born poet, philosopher and linguist most well known in the English-speaking world for The Ever-Present Origin, first published in 1949. A weighty tome, EPO spans the history of human consciousness—describing a series of trials and tribulations, followed by transformations, that have marked the human journey.
Following a “lightning-like” flash of inspiration in the winter of 1932/1933, Gebser sought to understand what he perceived as a radical shift in Western society, exhibited in the poetic expressions of Rilke and other poets of his time. He began a study, starting with Rilke and Spain and culminating—twenty years later—in the first edition of The Ever-Present Origin.
From transformations of language, to new artistic forms, to scientific discoveries, it was Gebser’s central thesis that a potent “leap” in thinking was happening in the 20th century. This new mode of thought would be a holistic-centered, or integral one; an answer to the type of thinking responsible for economic shocks, two World Wars, and what many today consider a dire, global ecological crisis.
In a world wracked by vast inequality, climate change, and political upheaval, Gebser’s work so aptly points out that these problems are a crisis of consciousness. It is a book for our time.
Reimagining Who We Are,
Where We Come From,
and Where We’re Going
There is no lack of “new thought” in contemporary spiritual culture. Yet we tend to expect our ideas neatly packaged, optimized for effectiveness and success. Our thinking about past, present, and future—our relationship to time itself—is ever-more influenced by technology and the exponential pace of change. Our attention flickers from screen to screen, as we read less and scroll more.
We propose to take a pause from the scheduled singularity—and reinterrogate our roots. There is likely no stopping the course our civilization is on, short of catastrophe or transcendence. But perhaps we can yet rethink ourselves. If we’re in a planetary process of dying and being reborn—the question is, as what?
Winter is a time when growth goes underground. In these months (in the Northern Hemisphere) of dark and cold, it may be worth slowing down to absorb a luminous work of obscure yet diaphanous thought that contemplates such questions, in the company of fellow researchers similarly drawn to the subterranean poetry of new beginnings.
An “Unusually Hardcore” Reading Experience
The purpose of #litgeeks is to create a hub for literary conversations that combines the rigorousness of academic research with the joy of “reading for pleasure”—in a socially-and-soulfully engaged, planetary context.
To this end, we are developing our own platform called Infinite Conversations, which integrates a modern discussion forum, live video hangouts, podcasts, blogs, and social media to engage the books we read, and each other, as fully and deeply as possible.
For this reading, we are also lining up a series of special guests—including some of the world’s leading Gebser scholars—to share perspectives and explore the book with us. We’ll be active on the forum, and also host weekly community hangouts to round out the discussion.
Our goal is to dive deep into the texts, discover unexpected connections, and ultimately, transform ourselves and our relationships through a shared intellectual praxis, or literary activism, that explores how art can reimagine the world. It’s a potentially radical experiment—and we’d love for you to join us….
“Man is in the world to sustain it as well as himself ‘in truth,’ not for his or its own sake, but for the sake of the spiritual present. It is this spiritual present which elevates wholeness to transparency and frees us from our transient age, for this age of ours is not the present but partiality and flight, indeed, almost a conclusion. Only someone who knows of origin has present-living and dying in the whole, in integrity.”
—Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin
Going until March 19, 2016
It’s fair to say, The Ever-Present Origin is not a breezy read.
We plan to take it slow and steady, yet keep up a certain level of intensity, reading at a pace of approximately 75 pages/week. This will give us time to thoroughly absorb and discuss the material, without bogging down.
Of course, you are free to read at your own pace! However, we will try to stick to the schedule for the purposes of discussion.
Hangouts are a chance to discuss the book in person using Google Hangouts. They are scheduled every Tuesday at 1 pm EST and Thursday at 9 pm EST through March 17th, 2016.
On March 19th (the final day of the reading), we’ll have a Dionysian Revelry via hangout, in honor of the Spring Solstice and in celebration of having finished reading the book!
Video archives of all hangouts (except the last one) will be posted to the Infinite Conversations forum and the #litgeeks blog.
The Electric Symposium
A new podcast, hosted by Jeremy Johnson, will feature guest scholars of Gebser’s work during the course of our reading.
Guests and exact schedule TBA.
Everything that rises must digitally converge. The Electric Symposium is an inspirited literary podcast for examining the borderlands of philosophy, consciousness, and culture. Here, academics, art, and esoterica converge.
Meet Your Hosts
Jeremy D. Johnson
Jeremy is an editor and writer, formerly with Reality Sandwich magazine. Fascinated by the intersections of electronic media and mysticism, he received his M.A. from Goddard College in Consciousness Studies. He currently serves as president of The International Jean Gebser Society, and resides in some sunny area of Florida’s marshlands, gleaning bits of inspiration from pop culture, science fiction, and personal contemplative practice.
Marco V Morelli
Marco is eschewing formal titles at the moment. He had something to do with putting this whole #litgeeks thing together. Occasionally a thinker, sometimes a poet, otherwise a lowly worm—he is working on a book titled I AM THE SINGULARITY (yes, in all caps like that). If you meet Marco on the street, don’t kill him. A simple hug will do.
As your resident #litgeeks, we aspire to serve a reading experience and conversation that deepens, enlightens, connects, and cultivates radical understanding. We look forward to reading with you!
Image: Fog (with bird), by Paul Chiorean — Flickr (CC BY 2.0)