02: History cont’d

with 11 comments

Given that Wilber bases most of his understanding of masculine and feminine types on Gilligan, and that he is not too accurate (read truthful) about what Gilligan actually says, you might want to adopt that “hermeneutic of suspicion” to everything Wilber says about men and women stretching back through history. You might want to give some serious consideration to the idea that Wilber is part of the conspiracy. Thinking back to the previous chapter and Barkun’s three conspiracy principles, it appears that nothing happens by accident (how could such a clear misreading be anything other than deliberate?) and that nothing is as it seems (the reality of the masculine and feminine types). What’s left of Barkun’s conspiratorial triplet is everything is connected. Here we see that the conspiracy/Wilber’s presentation of gender connects itself even to evidence that counters the conspiracy: hijacking, appropriating, making itself plausible. Wiber’s position is also connected in a web of writers who mutually confirm each other’s position. This again gives the impression of plausibility and “evidence,” but is simply a closed ecology of ideas which exclude those which do not offer confirmation. Ironically, while I am suggesting that the masculinity presented here is part of the conspiracy, this kind of closed-ecology thinking is emblematic of what Barkun would identify as the paranoid thinking that identifies conspiracy in the first place.

So please, whenever you read someone citing a prominent expert’s work to confirm their own argument, be mindful that not everything is always as it seems. Plenty of writers are careful to represent the truth in this regard, but others are not. When this happens it is probably down to one of two reasons. First, it might be a conscious act of manipulation on behalf of the author: this is deception. Second, it might be that the writer hasn’t sufficiently engaged the work s/he is citing to accurately represent it: this is laziness (or incompetence). Sometimes there is a third explanation of genuinely differing interpretations of a text or data: this is valid enough, but complex to navigate.

Whichever way, there is no easy way to avoid being misled in situations like this. The only way to guarantee that such citations of prominent experts are indeed valid is to go and read them for yourself. This runs counter to the way information is packaged these days, with its emphasis on sound bites, summaries and bullet points. Not many people have the time or the inclination to consult the original text to see what is actually being said by the so-called “experts.” Unfortunately, those responsible for the Masculinity Conspiracy rely on the fact that not many people have the time or the inclination to perpetuate their campaign of misinformation.

If you go down this finding-out-for-yourself road it might result in the curious situation where you have fewer certain opinions. Basically, the more you genuinely investigate stuff, the more you realize how little you know, and the less inclined you might be to make confident pronouncements on any- and everything. My awareness of how little I know expands with startling speed on a daily basis. I’m not proud to say that I managed to get to about 30 years of age before realizing I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about half the time. Only then did I start to see the true magnitude of the misinformation being spun in all directions.

In the end, once this method of misinformation has been revealed, it is the choice of the individual whether or not to be misinformed. Either be spoon-fed the lies, or not. It has become a cliché of conspiracy culture, but the “red pill, blue pill” scenario of The Matrix movie holds true here: “You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

In the Masculinity Conspiracy, the blue pill results in masculinity being a fixed biologically-determined aggressive condition that has been acting out across history. Believe whatever you want to believe. The red pill results in masculinity being any number of different things, and requires our exploration of Wonderland.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

June 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

11 Responses

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  1. And ‘hard’ science is also not what it appears. As we get more delicate and accurate instruments we find that many equations and constants are mere approximations or that they work only in certain conditions.


    November 2, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    • Don’t get me started on science… or at least those who see science as dealing in truths, when it is more accurately dealing in questions.


      November 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

  2. Hi Joseph….I have recently signed up to, which is how I found my way to your work. You may be interested in this article.
    It’s not about Wilber per se but does relate to the Integral Alignment movement. I am also currently completing a free-to-read online e-book on masculinity, which you may also be interested in.

    gaia charis

    September 21, 2010 at 4:51 am

    • Thanks for dropping by, Gaia. I might try and find a way to cite your phrase “an overwhelming, cosmic quantity of hyper-inflated, aggrandised blah”.

      The Asshole Guru phenomenon is definitely interesting. I think there’s something simply about being *listened to* that pushes lots of folks in this direction (it happens to varying degrees from teachers, through to politicians, to celebs). There should be some kind of mandatory therapy made available to anyone beginning to succeed in the public domain.

      I’ll go look at your other stuff. J.


      September 21, 2010 at 6:09 am

      • Yes, but that does rather miss the point of the article….ie. that it is e very masculine phenomenon !

        gaia charis

        September 22, 2010 at 5:41 am

        • Yeah, I got that: I just liked the phrase.

          That said, while it is certainly a masculine phenomenon, the kind of spiritualities that build up around these guys also perpetuates a problematic feminine element: all that “nurturing”, “receptivity”, and so on that the women provide that is somehow normatively “feminine”. A queer theory approach troubles both sides of the equation.


          September 22, 2010 at 5:50 am

  3. “If you go down this finding-out-for-yourself road it might result in the curious situation where you have fewer certain opinions. Basically, the more you genuinely investigate stuff, the more you realize how little you know, and the less inclined you might be to make confident pronouncements on any- and everything.”

    Isn’t this simply the problem with the whole of the academic domain of ‘The Arts’? It’s all self-referential, snake-eating-its-tail waffle, in essence?

    Give me the hard facts of science any day.


    June 15, 2010 at 7:34 am

    • Yes, scientific “facts” are so much easier to deal with. Life would be simpler if that was all there was: Damn people and their unverifiable feelings!


      June 15, 2010 at 9:07 am

      • They can be singularly inconvenient, certainly.


        June 15, 2010 at 9:36 am

        • Ricos, you seem to have have either missed Joseph’s sarcasm, or are being yourself very tongue-in-cheek. If the latter is the case, I don’t really understand what your point of view actually is. As for me, I agree with what I take Joseph’s point to be, which is that science – when you really dig into it – offers no more “hard facts” than the humanities. It has just been much more successful at appearing to do so. So sadly, we have nowhere to run from all that “self-referential, snake-eating-its-tail waffle”. To make an unfortunate pun, “it’s waffles all the way down”. I’ve felt this way for a while that this is the inevitable state of the world, and I’d like to think that on my better days I’m able to accept this and just go with it. The loss of certainty can be painful, but I have found that it can also bring a lovely sense of relief (“finally, I can stop obsessing about all that Truth” silliness). Not to mention the beauty of being surprised – when you admit that you don’t have any final knowledge, you’re free to learn something new every day! And not just additions to your knowledge, I mean fundamental shifts in what you believe the world to be – if you release your grasp on (which is usually just a grasping ~for~) certainty, then you can receive whole new paradigms whenever they are offered. And in my case, I have found there have been many strange and wonderful paradigms that have floated my.way.


          October 17, 2011 at 5:18 am

          • I’ve known Ricos for 15 years, and still can’t figure out what his point of view actually is 😉


            October 17, 2011 at 6:21 am

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