§3 Commoning in a world of heart-mind & structures of feeling

The affiliative/aesthetic landscape of valuing and recognising - and its radical transforming and mobilising

The possibility of satisfaction and direction in people’s lives arises from the possibility of responding skilfully, moment-to-moment, in-here, in an ocean of emotional forces - a plurality of in-heres, both in here and out there - with a well-founded intention of achieving wellbeing and the end of suffering. Structures of feeling are implicated, giving rise to intentions, affiliations, perceptions, expectations; etcetera. In general, these systems of affect and emotion, movements (lurchings)-toward and movements-away, are wild, and the challenge of curating, stewarding and appropriately enjoying emotional commons is perhaps the deepest of all the commoning challenges: a challenge (paradoxical as it might seem) in both Deep/evolutionary time and eye-blink in-the-moment time - both below and above commonplace thresholds of perception. Time - on a number of levels - is of the essence . . and clocks are ticking fast.
Key pattern §300 - Deep Time

Literacies here concern the skilful husbanding and midwifing of emotional commons, out of which arise all cultural and economic institutions and formations: the desire for and commitment to and affiliation with all institutions and formations. Here is the motor, the orientating, the affiliating, the wanting and choosing . . of actions in the landscape of §1 or §2.

This landscape is highly fluid, labile, a constant flux of tides. The first nine-tenths of it (at least) are in the preconscious. This landscape - and skill, vision and ability to surf and navigate in it - are pivotal for the activist. First, because she needs to be very literate with her own perception and response in this landscape

. . where her attention goes and how it comes out in intention and affiliation; how we are swept along by the tides of Others’ emotions (‘our buttons pushed’); the tribalising and Othering the wanting and disdaining.

And second, because the heart-mind landscape of others (the totality of ‘in-heres’ out there) is where actions pivot. If practices (genres, institutions, formations) are to be durably re-made, activists must facilitate the re-making of, for example

. . the memes that folks get hooked on, the appetites we indulge, the Selfing and Othering we do in the making and sustaining of our formations; the buttons we are prepared to push, when push comes to shove.

The #structures_of_feeling (sankhara) that are constituted in these always-continuing §3 processes - the personal and collective genres, stories, conceptualisations and skillsets that are wired together, because they have repeatedly been fired together - are the basis of our activist formations (and those of our enemies), and need to be very self-consciously the basis of our §2 practices of formacion.

The literacies of this landscape are hard to acquire and communicate, little taught, only occasionally theorised (in the §2 storytelling and conceptualising of sangha) and the wild commons of emotion are not easily domesticated at scale; incompetence is always exploited, often maliciously cultivated. Since the inception of Fordism - consumerist capitalism - the malice has become an entire, foundational cultural and economic sector: Madison Avenue, the media - the button-pushing industry.




Figure 5 : The aesthetic landscape of affiliation & orientation, attention and intention. The landscape of valuing.

Figure 5 deploys the basic system-description format: structures/processes/behaviours. It summarises some of the central constructs that are developed in patterns of landscape §3, regarding:


  • Structure - The forces of production of recognising and intention, affiliating and supremacy, valuing and engaging  (moving impulsively towards, moving impulsively away).

  • Process - The preconscious, and the lifelong cultural and biographical processes, that continuously form Self and Other - including skilful countervailing movements which can be guided and cultivated. The heart-mind process schema is adapted from the dhamma traditions of Buddhism (referred to there typically as the scheme of conditional or dependent origination) in a form taught by Andrew Olendzki (2017), in a Bodhi College seminar.

  • Behaviour - Dominant, emergent and residual relations of aesthetic/affiliative production in the landscape of the heart mind - notably, four ‘limitless landscapes of the heart-mind’ and their near- and far-enemies. The latter enemies include:

. . gut responses, knee jerks, immediate impulses, fight/flight/freeze, dominance of alpha animals, herd-following, addiction to memes, confusing what-I-feel with what-is-true, emotional lurching under the impact of stuff that presses your buttons, blocking out what is painful, yearning for the familiar-but-lost, addiction to disgust or disdain (including self-disgust and disdain). Etcetera, etcetera.

 Any ‘piece’ of FoP is held together - or compromised and vitiated - by the emotional commons of its participants and the emotional RoPs that give them order. Very often these are unregulated commons, ‘wild’ common pool resources, intrinsically challenging to recognise, let-alone regulate, calling for great inner skill. Although some people are highly literate in this landscape, for most people much of the time, this is a field of severe #weather.

This is the deep evolutionary space of humankind - deeper than material culture, deeper than ‘knowledge’; as deep as the mammalian/primate animal body and the tacit, pre-conscious arising of attention and intention and mobilisation out of sensation, (para)sympathetic regulation and ‘mirroring’ of affect. It's remaking is a long haul and a big ask. Nothing less will do. The planet says so. The fact that we can formulate this issue means that perhaps - just perhaps - it is becoming historically possible. Blessed unrest - the enormous and minimally coherent global groundswell of politicised civil society action - says it is becoming desired.

Liberation practice - as a radical, aware, intentional mode of (re)making-of-being -  calls for highly developed literacies in this sphere . .

restorative justice, ‘transversal’ orienting and acting, swimming and thriving in pluriversity, senses of spirituality and deep time and suchness; and other modes of resilience and humanisation

. . as counter-movements to the hegemony of often dominant emotional RoPs

. .  pecking orders and alpha-animals, malicious and denigrating memes, the rape of nature, supremacy of many kinds (over people of colour, territories, people of other genders, other tribes and ethnicities, other capabilities, other tastes); fundamentalisms, and many other forms of brittle and desperate ‘Othering’ and ‘Selfing’ and belonging: of greed, fear or disdain, foolish desire for permanence. Etcetera.