Max Ernst - Interrogation (What kind of bird are you?)

Locus of perception in relation to will and intentionality

by Frank Bosboom | Mar 31, 2022 | Uncat­e­go­rized

From where do I per­ceive and act? From my need? My will? My self­less­ness? And self­less then in rela­tion to what? When action is based on the per­cep­tion of one’s own needs and will it is clear what the locus of the per­cep­tion is: from within myself. I’m hun­gry and I’m going to… I want to make a career and I do… I wish my chil­dren all the best and I.…

Another entry point for action is described, for exam­ple, by Scharmer in lead­ing from the future. It is then about hand­ing from a con­nec­tion with a whole, from a “some­thing dif­fer­ent” than what I need or want myself.  In other words, from the here and now (pre­cence), in real­ity I  make a con­nec­tion with the future, I per­ceive it (sens­ing). “With pres­enc­ing, we con­nect with our high­est pos­si­ble poten­tial.. .. We feel the emerg­ing future field and act from its pres­ence. When we con­nect with that field of height­ened con­scious­ness, our atten­tion fol­lows a cer­tain process – from long­ing, open­ing up, refo­cus­ing and let­ting go to let­ting come, crys­tal­lize and embody the new” (p37 ‘Lead­ing from the Emerg­ing Future’, Scharmer and Kaufer).

Perception as a dynamic signal of context and what I can contribute to it

If I link the obser­va­tions I make to my own needs, it takes the form of will: I per­ceive fatigue and then want to go to sleep. I can also broaden this per­cep­tion by ask­ing myself the ques­tion: what pos­si­ble infor­ma­tion does this per­cep­tion of fatigue tells me about the con­text? Is the orga­ni­za­tion in which I work tired for exam­ple. What I have to do in that case is really some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent instead of going to sleep, make for exam­ple a con­tri­bu­tion aimed at bring­ing the orga­ni­za­tion mem­bers into (energy) bal­ance by propos­ing an activity.

I find the con­cept of “con­tri­bu­tions” more neu­tral and pre­cise than the “high­est pos­si­ble poten­tial” used in Scharm­ers defin­tion, because the lat­ter sug­gests that there is some­thing not yet, which you could reach for. Some­thing bet­ter than what there is, a from-to move­ment. It fits very much in the Chris­t­ian and also neolib­eral tra­di­tions, it is just not pre­cise enough, because in my opin­ion it has too lit­tle regard for the dynam­ics of the con­nec­tion in which my actions have an effect on oth­ers with whom the whole field is always in motion, as the actions of oth­ers do. With that, the field is never sta­ble and you can­not rea­son about more or less poten­tial (that is only pos­si­ble if you look sta­t­i­cally in my opin­ion).  There is much more of a con­tin­u­ous recon­nec­tion or in other words “updat­ing” of per­cep­tion and con­nec­tion.  It is there­fore a process of con­tin­u­ous feed­back loops.

Infographic about me and context

The workings of action are available through reality; why big stories distract

Of course we can tell about poverty and inequal­ity, but a con­tri­bu­tion to that is not in telling those sto­ries.  Say­ing that he wants to con­tribute to this opens the way to the field of arche­types, such as the arche­typal hero who wants to save the world, per­haps against all odds. I can­not influ­ence the “mar­ket forces in health­care”, “inequal­ity between rich and poor” abstractly, but in its con­crete pres­ence, and from the place in which I am, I can.  If I am an MP, I can con­tribute other things than as a tramp, bus dri­ver or hairdresser.

Enthusiasm, pressure, conviction as phenomena of will grounded in 1 place: myself

There seems to be an almost insur­mount­able self-dynamic that makes rais­ing aware­ness leads to the will to con­vince oth­ers, want­ing to achieve goals and thus apply­ing pres­sure. That is not nec­es­sar­ily the inten­tion, but often a con­se­quence. It seems that the touch by the other is fixed in a strong willpower. If, as described above, you would con­tinue to jump back and forth between your­self and the Other, by doing so the dynamic stays intact because point of focus is con­stantly changing.

“Negative emotions” as a signal for the need for renewed connection

In work­ing with the future, we may encounter a num­ber of expe­ri­ences that we often see as “neg­a­tive” emo­tions. I inter­pret them as sig­nals of a need to restore con­nec­tion or in other words as sig­nals that the “will” is fixed. Below is a brief overview of which expe­ri­ences it may be:

Confrontation with the uncertain

What should I do? In the most uncer­tain, I am chal­lenged to act to remove the uncer­tainty, or to allow and receive the dis­com­fort. Not doing so then feels uncom­fort­able at first. This awk­ward­ness can be over­come by doing some­thing, either repro­duc­ing what I am always do or by find­ing “ease” with this awk­ward­ness. And then to inves­ti­gate. If I can’t tol­er­ate uncer­tainty, if I don’t “want” it, then I’m going to act in ways that are famil­iar to me and repro­duce what already was. Not a prob­lem in itself, but it is not in con­nec­tion with the whole. The whole gives a clue in the uncer­tain. Being com­fort­able with the uncer­tainty means allow­ing uncer­tainty in my soil and open­ing up to what the other, the future has to offer me.

Confrontation with the ignorant

In igno­rance I am chal­lenged, to ratio­nal­ize and explain or to inves­ti­gate / under­stand. If I can’t bear the igno­rance, I pro­duce images of what is to regain my ease (it’s clear again how it is). Igno­rance can also be seen as a sig­nal from the future that requires a new con­nec­tion and a deeper under­stand­ing of what is going on now. This under­stand­ing is not ratio­nally ana­lyt­i­cal but phenomenological-hermeneutic.

Confrontation with the unexpected

In the unex­pected, I am chal­lenged to open up instead of repro­duc­ing exist­ing rela­tion­ships and order. In case of repro­duc­ing exist­ing rela­tion­ship the desire is directed at the other per­son to receive some­thing that is impor­tant to myself (affec­tion, pro­tec­tion, love). The extreme form of expec­ta­tions are arche­types (such as the hero, the mother), which makes it almost impos­si­ble to behave out­side of the pre­de­fined expec­ta­tions we have of each other. To pre­pare for the unex­pected, we must be will­ing to enter a sit­u­a­tion with­out will, shame, or con­di­tion, and be open to being influ­enced by what­ever the sit­u­a­tion brings us, and act accord­ingly. While it sounds sim­ple, our cul­tural val­ues make it dif­fi­cult to be open to the unex­pected. It requires find­ing ease in the fact that in these sit­u­a­tions vul­ner­a­bil­ity, sen­si­tiv­ity and emo­tion­al­ity are the reality.

Confrontation with the unapproachable

In the unap­proach­able I am chal­lenged to make mean­ing, or to receive mean­ing. There are sit­u­a­tions, events that lit­er­ally give “no sense”. We have learned by faith to face magic and rit­u­als to the world we can­not con­nect with and con­trol over.

To pre­pare for the unap­proach­able, we must hold back and accept the exis­ten­tial fears as real­ity instead of see­ing these fears as a prob­lem to be solved. This atti­tude toward the unap­proach­able opens the way to see the beauty of things and take care of the whole by con­tribut­ing to life, its essence. It requires a pre­pared­ness in which the ten­sion between the most extremes of being (exis­tence and non-exis­tence, indi­vid­u­al­ity and col­lec­tiv­ity) is accepted in its dual­ity. It accepts “what is” in being with­out feel­ing the need to con­trol it, it does not make a choice for any of the extremes.

The workings of silence

I have been asked: what does silence actu­ally do, what is the effect when I am quiet. And what is it that this is felt by oth­ers as pro­mot­ing the work and togeth­er­ness of the group. I see it this way: in this silence, the uncer­tain, igno­rant, unex­pected and unap­proach­able can do their work in the back and forth between me and the other. And thus space to make a con­nec­tion with the future.

In the silence, no judg­ment takes place and space is made by lit­er­ally not occu­py­ing that space with images, pres­sure or direction.

No pres­sure is applied and there­fore ease can occur.  In silence you can feel your own energy bal­ance and take action there if nec­es­sary. Also real­ize the effects of unprocessed per­cep­tion. Process these per­cep­tions and clean up the own sys­tem again.

Leav­ing silence is a ges­ture of trust and offers space for con­tact with being your­self and the other. The other is given space to appear.

Time is lit­er­ally stopped because cause-effect chains, prob­lem-solu­tion, order are dis­con­tin­ued and expe­ri­ence is turned on.

Silence wakes up.

Silence is a form of inten­tion­al­ity that suits me. It focuses the per­cep­tion on the con­text and leaves space and time to the Other to be and to get to know it in it.

Intentionality as willpower without pressure

In inten­tion­al­ity lies atten­tion and focus on the other. To put it crazy: it “wants” to give space, but with­out exert­ing pres­sure. With that, the will is over and in this can then appear what is at issue.  Lev­inas calls this the Other and we call it “the future.”  From this pub­li­ca­tion it can then become clear what I can con­tribute to it. For me, the form of inten­tion­al­ity is often the silence, hon­estly I’m not sure what other forms it might have.