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With some delay, posting below a message with Eric’s last written words grace a Alex Kuskis’, PhD listserv

NOTE To restore Eric McLuhan’s online guestbook with a donation, go to:
Date: Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 12:30 AM
Subject: Andrew Mcluhan 2 June 2018 On Eric McLuhan’s ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century

[Eric McLuhan’s last speech, ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century,’ was delivered at El Nogal in Bogotá, Colombia, on May 17th 2018. He died, suddenly, the following afternoon. The following remarks were written to introduce that speech when it’s published along with the speeches which Lance Strate and Sergio Roncallo-Dow gave that evening.]

ME21 — Introduction

Asked to travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to give an opening address at the Universidad de la Sabana’s launch of their doctorate program in communication, Eric McLuhan used the opportunity to make some comments regarding what he felt needed immediate (and overdue) attention in the area of media ecology, and to offer some advice to people wading into that field of study. He felt that those just starting out, especially as they are in Colombia, removed from what now constitutes a tradition in North America, have a great opportunity to make a fresh start; to avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes; to begin again.

Eric McLuhan was there when the idea of media ecology was born. Indeed, he maintained that he came up with the term while in New York City in 1967–68 helping his father Marshall McLuhan as he taught at Fordham, and that Neil Postman “ran with it.”

In the McLuhan school of media ecology, it is not simply an area of study, but an area of action, and this is what Eric wanted to get across in his speech. We have to be more than observers, we have to be agents of change. It’s been more than 50 years. Enough talk, time to act.

This activist stance, taken seriously — as it is meant to be taken — is not popular. It’s radical. It requires great changes in various cultures’ attitudes and habits, and it means significant reduction of profits for technology companies and their shareholders. That is some of what we’re up against.

In a letter dated May 6, 1969, Marshall McLuhan wrote to Jacques Maritain:

“There is a deep-seated repugnance in the human breast against understanding the processes in which we are involved. Such understanding involves far too much responsibility for our actions. … Since we are doing these things to ourselves, there is no earthly reason for submitting to them unconsciously or irrationally.”[1]
My father was becoming bold in his statements. A devout and life-long Catholic, he was more willing to speak in public about his faith, especially as it related to his work. He had, in the last year or two since the publication of The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul (BPS Books, 2015) spoken publicly a few times about his ideas for a ‘Catholic theory of communication,’ particularly when we traveled to Saskatoon where he gave the Keenan lecture at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatoon, in November 2017.[2]
I had been traveling with my father for the last ten years or so. Because of his at-times fragile health, he needed someone with him who could assist in an emergency. It was during these trips that I began to get interested in ‘the family business,’ as it were. Hearing him talk, and in our own conversations during travel, I began to get an understanding of what it was all about. Understanding is addictive. My interest was cemented when I spent almost two years documenting and inventorying Marshall McLuhan’s personal library prior to its relocation to the Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.[3]

Because of Eric’s advancing age and increasing difficulty with travel — he was 76 years old, and I had started to wheel him through airports in a wheelchair because he couldn’t walk very long distances — we had decided he would retire from traveling to speak in 2018. We had already committed to two engagements this year, Colombia and Germany[4], and decided to keep them.

In the tragedy and shock of my father’s death On Friday, May 18th while we were in Colombia, there was a surprising amount of beauty.

As Marshall tended to teach at Catholic institutions, so my father seemed to get invited to speak at Catholic institutions. Our last three trips were to St. Mary’s College in California (Keynote address to the Media Ecology Association’s annual conference), St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon (The 29th Michael Keenan Memorial Lecture), and La Universidad de la Sabana in Chia just outside of Bogotá, Colombia.

Eric took the opportunity to pray in the university’s two chapels, and had been remarking on an abundance of roses, a sign he related to St. Theresa de Lisieux, who he had a particular fondness for.
It is a comfort to his family that Eric died while in the bosom of his faith; practising it with his characteristic devotion, feeling its real presence around him.

It is fitting that his last public address would be about looking forward to media ecology in the 21st century, entreating us to be bold, have courage, blaze new trails.

He went out with style, and grace.

I will miss his presence, his wit, his obsession with all forms of puns, his humour. I will miss his instruction, his patience in answering my every question with their often-obvious answers. The world is poorer for the loss of his knowledge and skill. I will wish I paid closer attention. I will have to be content with what I was able to learn, and trust that it prepared me to go forward. I will treasure it all as well, and I am glad he left behind much on the record, for us all.

‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century’ is more than a wonderful speech; it is a map, a way forward.

The short and emotionally charged conclusion to the speech was written by hand while Eric waited to go on stage. He urges us to be bold, dares us to be radical, fortifies us with courage.

Let’s go — there’s little time to waste.

Andrew McLuhan
June 2, 2018.
[1] The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion, edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (Stoddart, 1999)
[2] Eric McLuhan’s lecture ‘Catholicism and Communication: The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul’ was recorded and is available on The McLuhan Institute’s YouTube channel.
[3] Marshall McLuhan’s library has recently been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World registry.
[4] Our last trip together was to be in Germany this November (2018) at the Munster School of Design. A conference loosely organized around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Laws of Media: The New Science.

Presented on Nov 3, 2016, at the 10th “Decolonizing the Spirit Conference”, UToronto

PHOTO GALLERY & KEYNOTES (Joyce King, Walter Mignolo…)

I’ll start by saying that i will not be doing a standard academic PPt presentation. I’ll only use 2 slides, without explaining each and every item – they will be a parallel discourse, setting the background, with which i’d expect the audience is well acquainted. The first one is a collage [shows onscreen, for most of the presentation], composed from images from TRC’s Report Summary (TRC, 2015) and Alanis Obomsawin’s partly autobiographical (one might say) cinematographic gravure When All the Leaves Are Gone (2011). The second slide will play a role in the conclusion.

Slide 1. Collage: Discursive Explorations. Credits: TRC Report Summary 2015; A. Obomsawin’s “When All the Leaves Are Gone” (2011)

Until we get to the conclusion, i invite you to consider a metaphor from a couple of lines by a 13th century Sufi[1] poet & sage – Rumi, with which i would like to gesture to the historical/cultural heritage that can be related to some of the other presentations:

A pearl goes up for auction. No one has enough, so the pearl buys itself.

On the eve of the 150th anniversary since Confederation (1867) – and thinking specifically about the PEOPLE who have been populating and today inhabit the territory of the 2nd largest country in the world, i keep asking the same overarching question — How DO WE restore and update for the present, and for the future, the mutual sustainability/enrichment aspect of the earliest Indigenous/non-Indigenous interactions, of which there would have been enough for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996)[2] to select “contact and co-operation” as the name for the initial period after the first encounters? If it happened then, why not bring it back again – not that the accumulated histories in between would make the task anywhere near easy or straightforward! Challenges notwithstanding, “reconciliation” must not serve as the final destination any more than “recognition” could, even in its best applicaitons.

Canada was born out of Indigenous/non-Indigenous unambiguously genetic and dynamic cultural/economic integration and hybridization (see John Ralston Saul’s A Fair Country). Influential studies in political science (e.g., Harold Innis) and history (e.g., James Ray I Was Here since the World Began), and the oral histories of Indigenous peoples (Tehanetorens) have presented plentiful evidence that the latter are rightful co-founders of the country, and “the nation”, if not the state, on a par with the French and the British, and indeed, over and above them, given Indigenous custodianship of the land. First peoples[3] were co-participants, and at critical points indispensable as far as basic survival, military action, or the fur trade.

I therefore submit that the Indigenous/non-Indigenous dyad is chronologically primary and ontologically foundational. It was reformulated as a dichotomy when the early power (im)balance started shifting in favour of Europeans and their colonization project. Confederation as per the so-called British North America Act of 1867, a.k.a. Constitution Act, was an agreement between the British and the French sides alone, with clear predominance of the former, and no legal/political agency was granted to Indigenous peoples. I would refer you to law professor Kathleen Mahoney’s (2015) keynote “Canada’s Origin Story”, which stakes precisely the claim that Indigenous peoples are co-founders as much as the British and the French, with the Spanish and the Dutch,[4] sufficiently early on, dropping out of the race for North America.

Solutions to the research question posed above that are considered in the public domain and in the academy tend to be top-down. The discourses feature “the Government”, “policy”, and blame for continuing – and largely unacknowledged – colonialism “the system” and “the state”. What i propose to zoom in on, much more (borrowing Dewey’s turn of phrase) “consciously and purposefully” than we currently do is the mundane little things that are easily overlooked but, when taken together, amount to ubiquitous colonialities that are as persistent as they are elusive. Conversely, it may well be that a critical mass of grassroots intent and action will be (most of) what it takes to decolonize a country in actuality.

In this micro-approach i side with historian Howard Zinn, who has repeatedly argued that the little people have a power not to be ignored by governments – recall his 2007 book A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. In a similar vein, Italian literary scholar and communication theorist Elena Lamberti, just a couple of weeks ago in a keynote talk at the University of Toronto, put it succinctly “Do not blame the system — we are the system!”. Therefore, i’d continue, “we” would be the real, enduring change, and a guarantee that there will be no comeback for the oppressions and exclusions that, once diagnosed, have been cleared away. After all, no printed document or Law can streamline the behaviour of the billions on the planet to the desired extent, unless governments/leaders and, to no lesser degree, the people are sufficiently invested in a social change/equilibrium project. The (non)observance of treaties is a case in point.

Clearly, reforms of the envisioned nature and scope hinge on consistent, attentive adjustments to innumerable occurrences of mundane micro-aggressions/oppressions: racism can be curbed at the point where a grade school student avoids/resents/bullies Indigenous others (cf. Obomsawin 2010). Consider a couple of correlations: had our society reached a level of consciousness that can keep our streets litter-free, we would also have had the capacity to protect the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat from losing its school to diesel spills (CBCradio 2012; Shannen’s Dream 2011); if children were raised with, e.g., drumming ceremonies, Indigenous legal traditions could have become integral to the Constitution from the very start, and any treaties, to begin with, pre-Confederation or afterwards, would have been, and would be drafted more along the lines of the Great Peace of Montreal, co-signed in 1701 by the leadership of New France and over forty Indigenous nations (see Saul, 2014), and was attended by thirteen hundred delegates. The Indian Act of 1876 would not have happened, and its torturous corrections would not need to be happening now – a waste of human social energy, don’t you think?!

On the conceptual side, i have been imagining and advocating a relational pedagogy, both institutional AND broadly public, which is aligned with, for example, scholarship represented in Bingham & Sidorkin’s (2004) edited volume of the same title, Relational Pedagogy. Furthermore, because experience teaches that curricula and explicit instructions may by far be superseded by modes of human mental life that have been conceptualized as “collective unconscious” (Karl Jung) or “social imaginaries” (Cornelius Castoriadis, ????), i look at both the conscious level of learning and habit forming and below it, to where we seem to really be programmed for action.

To achieve the requisite deep-level social-reflex coding, i look for a passage between the rational/conscious and the subliminal/unconscious, and propose to recruit affect, which manifests as the interface of the two. For the purpose, i draw on theorizations of affect in the Spinoza – Deleuze & Guattari – Massumi lineage. The proposal is to recruit what i term “intersocial affects” for and through a thoroughgoing, life-long and all-round (self-)education. It needs to happen in the proposed directions, and at the proposed layers of humanity, in order to take actual, enduring effect.

All in all, a grassroots consciousness shift and action toward actual equity may well surpass the state’s top-down attempts – think of the power of the Idle No More movement, and the 4Rs, a comparable coalitional approach for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth (see TRC, 2015: ???). My observations to date call for a commitment to the health of the foundational relationship by the day-to-day-&-grassroots “small” to finally turn around Canada’s – and, by analogy perhaps, the Earth’s – “whole” (cf. people power – Zinn 2007). This is because, by the laws of intersectionality no dichotomy rises or falls alone, so colonialism’s successful fall can be expected to take down with it (or, put alternatively, to require the combined transformation of) a good part of all … of the rest of our and the world’s outstanding dichotomies.

So, here’s my hermeneutic Pearl:

Mutual moral support, true caring, and so forth – subsumed under the umbrella of sustainable relationality – constitute a resource that is not only renewable, but it can be inexhaustible, limitless, if the requisite affect is constantly regenerated by interpersonal circulation and habituated effort. Somebody said, love your neighbour as yourself, another said LOVE IS ALL WE NEED – and, if i may, those who agree, WIN. From where i’ve been and searched, and what i’ve seen proven again and again, at this point i’d submit without hesitation that, not only has the potential of the humanity that’s encoded in us not been anywhere near sufficiently tapped into, but it hasn’t even begun to be recognized for what it is and can unfold into.

[1] Sufis constitute a mystical stream within Islam, among whom the Whirling Dervishes, with a strong belief in peace, kindness. Thomas A. Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues, World Religions – A Guide to the Essentials (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, Baker Publishing Group, second ed., 2014): pp. 116-138, passim; 227-313, passim.

[2] The impressively extensive RCAP Report (1996), and at the time a radical rewrite of history since contact, comprises five volumes with some 4,000 pages.

[3] The umbrella term for First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

[4] To the extent that the Spanish, and even more so the Dutch, were ever even sufficiently conspicuous north of the 45th parallel.

Slide 2. The heuristic pearl of Humanity. Image credits: “The People of the Kattawapiskak[1] River”, documentary by Alanis Obomsawin (2012)

The pearl of Humanity, then, which no single “buyer” could afford, saves itself. No other saviour need be on call for our sake, even if back-up options need to be appreciated.

IF — in Rumi’s voice, again, and the way i read him, on behalf of any and all of us – “What was said to the rose to make it open was said to me.” trans Coleman Barks???.


Bingham, Charles & Alexander M. Sidorkin, eds. (2004) No Education without Relation. Foreword by Nel Noddings. New York, NY: Peter Lang Verlag.

CBC Radio (2012) Feature on Attawapiskat. In CBC News in Review, February 2012, DVD. Toronto, ON: CBC Learning, c2012.

Government of Canada (1996) Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Volume I: Looking Forward, Looking Back.

Heartspeak (2011) Shannen’s Dream, DVD. Toronto: Heartspeak, 2011.

Mahoney, Kathleen (2015) “Canada’s Origin Story”. Keynote talk, Royal Society of Canada, November 27, 2015, University of Victoria.

Obomsawin, Alanis (2010) When All the Leaves Are Gone. NFB.

——— (2014) Trick or Treaty. NFB.

Zinn, Howard (2007) A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. San Francisco: City Lights Books.

Wilson, Janet (2011) Shannen and the Dream for a School. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.


[1] Also known as Attawapiskat. Alanis Obomsawin approximates the Cree pronunciation.

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A random discovery today — worth noting 🙂


Jeremy Gilley


From: Peace One Day’s YouTube ABOUT page

In 1999, Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day, a non-profit organization, and in 2001 Peace One Day’s efforts were rewarded when the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the first ever day of global ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September annually – Peace Day. To find out more visit: Stay up-to-date here:

movie in full (1h 20min):

just missed this one, but there will be more

From the UnifyToronto email Call for Participants – for a Monthly Event Series scarily but appropriately titled “Indigenize or Die”:

I.O.D #7


 Last month we had the pleasure and honour of being welcomed by Naadmaagit Ki Group (NKG), Helpers of the Earth, as our co-hosts, to A Celebration of Seeds Planted. Together we honoured and celebrated the efforts of NKG and many others at Emmett Avenue Communal Garden* who are doing the very important re-indigenizing work of reclaiming our food sovereignty.

For those who weren’t there, we had a marvelous tour of some of the re-indigenized orphan lands, with the plant medicines and food plants arranged according to the teachings of the elders. We learned how families from the Indigenous community are adopting lands and working in relationship to maintain their adopted area for the generations to come. We also learned about the sophisticated technology traditional of the mounds for the three sisters companion planting that predate permaculture by thousands of years.

We also shared some delicious food provided by the participants, and we danced, sang and told stories around the fire. Special thanks to Kevin and Doug who organized, to the Indigenous community members who tended the lands, and to Moyo and his son for the beautiful African music.

This month, we will continue the experiential path we have embarked upon. On July 27th we will have the opportunity to work alongside the NKG group to experience and learn together in our evolving connection with all creation. We’ll have a chance to get to know each other and the place, tell a few jokes, listen to the land, make ourselves useful.

There’s lots to see and learn together.

Come out and help when you can get there (we’ll start about 4, but even if you come at 6 that will help) until 7 or 7:30, then we’ll share a meal.

Wear long pants and shoes with socks, as there’s some poison ivy and worse…  

  • Wednesday July 27, 101 Emmet Ave (directions below)
  • 4-7 pm: digging, conversing, planting, joking, listening, getting to know each other.
  • 7:30-9:30 pm: Potluck Picnic and Circle
  • $15 suggested donation to cover travel and other expenses of our guest hosts.
  • Students/unwaged PWYC. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Please bring:

  • your own plate, cup and utensils
  • a potluck picnic dish to share
  • lawn chair and/or blanket if possible

How to get there:
The event will take place at 101 Emmett Avenue (near Jane and Eglinton), accessible by TTC via buses from Jane Station or York University (35 or 195 express) to Jane and Eglinton + 8 min walk, or Eglinton West Station (32 D takes you right to the site). Check the TTC Trip Planner for bus times and routes and Google Maps for more directions.

By car: Emmett Avenue runs North off of Eglinton, West of Jane. There’s a big sign at Eglinton and Emmett saying West Park Health Centre. Turn N on Emmett and go down the hill. Stop at the first parking lot on your left, There is a children’s playground across the street on the right. The communal garden is behind a fence just South of the playground, and North of the public washrooms. We are gathered in front of it by some picnic tables.
Note that the parking lot closes at 9 pm.

*The Emmett Avenue Communal Garden is a cooperative venture involving NKG, the Black Farmers Collective, the Afrocentric School collective, Social Planning Toronto, City of Toronto Parks and Recreation, and communal garden volunteers. Grown communally rather than in individual plots, the garden is used for sustainable food production and distributed to low income families as a contribution to food justice. NKG have been reclaiming the area in an around the Humber (Tanaouate) River, including in this Garden, restoring indigenous responsibilities to the land and water, and supporting indigenous cultural learning on the land in the city. They are growing Three Sisters mounds (corn, beans and squash), a sophisticated and sustainable system that will provide long-term fertility and a healthy diet, in a generational project that will see families taking up responsibility for the mounds for Seven Generations.

“Indigenize or Die” is honoured and excited to be building a collaborative relationship with these front-line warriors who are on the ground, doing the re-indigenizing work about which we have been dialoging.
For information on previous sessions in the series, see

If you know what you want, and that is not a life chalked out for you by society or the dozen and so storybooks you read as a child live life the way you want! If you believe from your heart and have known your own heat truly then don’t let anything step in-between. If […]

via From the quill of femme sole 25.3.16 — Thoughts

edit mode

This snapshot of epistemic-existential-ecosocial [EEE] interrelatedness with nonhuman others is conceptualized through a tandem of (allow me to underscore) cross-cultural translations of notions from 1) Buddhist and 2) Turtle Island philosophies. Importantly to the equity dimension of my project, the quotation marks that habitually guard “philosophy” are emphatically set aside, on the analogy of Pam Colorado’s “Native science” as proper science, which view has also been popularized by other Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, e.g., Gregory Gajete (2000) and David Peat (2005), respectively, a.o.

The particular trigger for the present theorization was Laura’s idea to revitalize the plants in our faculty building. I am convinced of the importance of the project because the tiniest spurts of acquired habit (in our case, related to having an environment of thriving plants) would be symptomatic of and, on the positive side, indicative of, a much larger-scale overall condition of (what I label) “ecosociality”. Currently a grassroots initiative, the idea would much more effectively take off with the purposeful cooperation of levels of faculty governance and larger-scale commitment by conscientized (to borrow a Freirean staple) human actors – students, staff, faculty – who would bring it all to actual fruition, and enjoy the triumph of making a faculty-wide joint project a lived reality.

Before we move on to Laura’s demonstration of what flower re-potting looks like, let us ponder, for a panel presentation’s while, a handful of dyads, within whose network the human/plant dyad is structurally-systemically (in Harawayan terms) situated. The contrasts between (as well as within) these dyads of humans and nonhuman others, as experience has just made us all too well aware, tend to escape our mundane attention. This invisibility resurfaces as a veritable axiom, which, despite scholarly efforts over the years (Rachel Carson, Donna Haraway, a.o.), in all evidence, continues to saturate current imaginaries. Put differently, the educational views advanced in classrooms are not unambiguously upheld by at least one category of living co-participants in the immediate physical environment we are creating. On the upside, maintaining the felicity of plants can become a powerful symbol for an embodied social change, while it would require neither time nor financial investment worth mentioning. As I will argue, the doability of the project and the scale of crucial neurophysiological retuning it (as encoded habit) appears to command make it much, much more than symbolic.

My analysis pivots on the understanding that humans are an integral living part of a reciprocally sustainable (or not!) living system, e.g., along the lines of Capra and Luizi’s Web of Life (), in agreement with the earlier Gaia hypothesis and Ervin Laszlo’s (1996) systems view, among a number of likeminded, though far from coextensive or interchangeable, theorizations. I submit that a necessary condition for upholding our longstanding claim to rationality would be to fully consciously conceptualize and bring into felicitous actuality an alternative to the above noted Invisibility Axiom. This is the theoretical-practical (praxical) axiom of fully sensitized awareness of belonging to a (to reiterate) reciprocally sustainable (or not!) living system, which defines what I term the “Ecosocial Paradigm”, and extending the signification of the originally intended Kuhnian use of the term, treat it as encompassing and also as far exceeding the academic theory/framework domain.

Let us take a closer comparative look at the relations between our human selves and human others, contrasted with 1) animals, 2) plants, and various modes of so-called 3) “non-living” matter – 3a) e.g., minerals and 3b) artifactual objects, from 3bi) print books to 3bii) computers to 3biii) a piece of art. All of these have their place in the ecosocial system of a university building (cf. Jim Lang’s description of the school ecosystem in his 20?? PES talk). In it classrooms, offices and common areas are the often indifferent beneficiaries of decorative plants. How does a recontextualization of Buddhist and Native teachings play into conceptualizing the alternative Re-Visibility Axiom, and with it the whole Ecosocial Paradigm? And why should office plants matter?

To the first question, from the side of Buddhism, I invite the notion of “mindfulness”, which, through its many historical and cross-cultural permutations has distilled the core disposition of cultivating sensorial-mental-emotional awareness of the here-and-now, particularly in a non-judgemental, appreciative mode, in which one moves toward what variously verbalized and instituted worldviews have named “enlightenment”, “peace of mind”, “mental health”. The Theravada Buddhist tradition, in particular, contributes the teaching about the four brahmavihāras “divine abodes” (Pali: karunā, upekkhā, mettā, muditā), commonly rendered as “compassion”, “equanimity”, “lovingkindness”, and “sympathetic joy”, respectively. These constitute a rule-of-thumb tetrad of sorts, spelling out concrete steps in a person’s progression toward enlightenment/its hetero-cultural counterparts. From the Indigenous tradition(s), I invite what has been termed “ontological respect” for the other (e.g. Armbrüster 1999 citing Bunge, 1996), which, to my mind significantly, extends to nonhuman others, from animals, to plants, to rocks, all of which are seen as “relatives”, “teachers”.

To the second question, thinking of plants as links in an existential continuum of multiple and vital interdependencies is consistent with the multidirectionally non-dichotomous disposition of Buddhist and Turtle Island philosophies and traditional practices alike. Given that, it seems logical that plants’ mistreatment would likely go hand-in-hand with mistreatment at other points, from other humans to rocks. Conversely, achieving equitable treatment at one point in the vitally connected chain would have to varying degrees tangible benefits for some and/or all other links.

The line of reasoning based on my cross-cultural translation and epistemic-epistemological cross-pollination, then, goes as follows: although, at first blush, the cross-culturally and cross-paradigmatically transposed divine abodes tetrad can most readily be seen as guiding specifically human relations, hence ameliorating processes of longstanding harmful human othering, on the Turtle Island understanding of thoroughgoing ontological respect (what crucially correlates with my conception of “profound relatedness”), we humans owe “compassion”, “equanimity”, “lovingkindness”, and “sympathetic joy” to our relationship with any entity in and part of the world of which we are interrelated co-constituents.

The co-constitution view goes back at least to Dewey (1916) and – encouragingly for the theoretical and the corresponding grassroots re-potting projects at hand – finds its full-grown conceptual spell-out in numerous variations of ecological thinking, ecosophy, ecotheology, etc. The sluggish progress of climate change conscientization on a global scale, for example, and of the policy making and implementation that go with it, has received a recent, if yet to be ratified (not to mention, implemented), boost with the Paris agreement in December 2015. Interestingly enough, in some sense, the way the re-potting project is taking off, more or less matches the average for these larger epistemic-existential-ecosocial [EEE] climate change interrelatednesses.

The principles of continuity and interdependence adopted here have found their way much earlier into Charles Sanders Peirce’s cosmology, and they are consistent with the findings about and the understanding of the subatomic realm in contemporary physics and its philosophy, notably exemplified, for example, by Werner Heisenberg. By the logic of continuity/interdependence, classrooms that teach how to overcome a number of invidious social-economic-political asymmetries like racism/colonialism, heterosexism, ablism, classism, not forgetting industrial pollution, would provide consistent – including very important subliminal – mediation of the educative message if they are graced by flowers and plants that are not merely aesthetically pleasing to look at (and otherwise promptly disposed of), but also well tended, thus healthy to be around and with. Along with Dewey, yet again, they would be part of the educative environment that primes for developing the intended directions of thinking, understanding, and knowing/learning.

In considering whether it is worth while to be rejuvenating the OISE plants, and maintaining them that way, would the minuteness of their projected beneficial effect on other links in the EEE relational network serve as a good reason to stall? Likewise, were we to wait for the requisite consciousness change to happen first to then find ourselves painlessly succeeding in caring for the plants as well, what would be the immediate returns of inaction? I would like to think that, if given the choice, the OISE community would opt for ecologizing our immediate environment. Once because this would be enacting a principle taught and written about. A second time, because of the likelihood of a neuro-physio-psychologically coded habit to transpose to action far beyond tending plants. A third time, because unlike racism, colonialism, ablism, heterosexism, and so forth, it does appear to be within the easiest imaginable actionable reach – of any smaller or larger group of human actors.

In light of the above, the bottom line is that the benefits of plant rejuvenation multiply outweigh the investment of time, funds, and effort – it seems practically infinitesimal. Tiny as the wilting plants are on the radar of “much larger problems”, the investment into rejuvenating them is even tinier. This works exponentially in favour of the benefits.


Since it is said that the devil is in the details,

I say, so can be the divine.

What say you?



Armbrüster, Thomas Friedrich (1999) The German Corporation: An Open or Closed Society? An Application of Popperian Ideas to Organisational Analysis. PhD Thesis, June 1999, University of London.

Bunge, Mario (1996) The Seven Pillars of Popper’s Social Philosophy. Philosophy of the Social Social Sciences, 26 (4): 528-556.

Cajete, Gregory (1994) Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education. Skyland, NC: Kivaki Press.

———- (2000) Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence. With a foreword by Leroy Little Bear, JD. Don Diego – Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.

Dewey, John (1916/2009) Democracy and Education: Toward a Philosophy of Education. Merchant Books.

Eppert, Claudia (2010) “Heartmind Literacy: Compassionate Imaging and the Four Brahmavihāras”, Paideusis 19 (2010), no 1, pp. 17-28.

Eppert, Claudia and Hongyu Wang, eds. (2008) Cross-cultural Studies in Curriculum: Eastern Thought, Educational Insights. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum/Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Hadot, Pierre (1995) Philosophy as a Way of Life. Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Edited and with an Introduction by Arnold I. Davidson. Blackwell Publishing.

Hinsdale, Mary Jo (2012) “Choosing to Love”, Paideusis 20 (2012), no 2, pp. 36-45.

Laszlo, Ervin (1996) The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences). Hampton Press, 2nd edition.

Nelson, Donald (2012) “Implementing Mindfulness: Practice as the Home of Understanding”. Paideusis 20 (2012), no 2, pp. 4-14.

Nhat Hanh, Titch (1998) Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism. Berkeley: Parallax Press.

Oliver, Kelly (2001) Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Peat, F. David (2005) Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe. Boston, MA: Weiser Books. First published in 1994 by Fourth Estate, London, UK, reprinted in 1996.

Vokey, Daniel (2001) Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Update: June 17, 2015
Post-Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences May 29-Junwe 5, 2015, where part of the work below was presented.
Well, on the tongue in cheek side, my session as well as a number of others were held in classrooms in the basement. As these were sessions of CCA/ACC (Canadian Communication Association), it crossed my mind how symbolic that was, re the status of communication(s) in academia.

1) Is/are communication(s) so indispensably foundational,


2) Is/are it/they so irrevocably

2a) under the radar


2b) underground?

The accepted refereed abstract itself — which was prepared for posting sometime in February 2015

When physics probes deeper and deeper into what used to be thought of as the “smallest building blocks of the universe” and discovers surprising gradience and impermanence, sooner or later, the philosophical question of how that knowledge might affect the human-scale universe needs to be tackled. Conventional epistemology has as a rule tended to deny the feasibility of expectations that science might straightforwardly resolve moral-ethical issues, only admitting technological implications (see e.g. Richard Rorty, 1979, who is in principle critical of mainstream analytic philosophy but on this point sides with it). To put to the ethical (non)neutrality test the current state of science as symbolized by the “elegance” of string theory (unificational power per Greene, 1999, and more) the current paper explores “communication(s)” along a broad semantic continuum, from technological mediation to (expression of) human relationality. It thus evaluates conceptualizations of quantum theory and relativity theory, and the transcending string theory, concerning the primacy of probability over certainty, unification-interconnectedness over separation, as well as the deconstruction of the presumed dichotomy between the reflexivity of philosophy and the rigour of experimental science. The above evaluation is related to the human realm in a literal-physical and metaphorical-hypothetical sense.

The argument is advanced that, in principle, setting aside how a medium might influence what gets transmitted, and interpreted and in what way, and how (un)predictably the effects of a technology might veer off their original designation and in what direction, there is an irreducible “ethical interval” within which the human/communication (technology) dyad is within conscious human control, or at least awareness. Treating this as defining a prerogative and a responsibility of our species, the analysis pursued here interprets the message for humanity, including any imaginable future developments in communication(s) (cf. quantum computing), that comes from twentieth-century knowledge of “physical reality”. For starters, the whole universe is amenable to unification, on the one hand through Einstein’s conception of space-time as a four-dimensional, single category, and on the other hand by viewing all four known forces – gravity, electro-magnetic, weak and strong nuclear – as ultimately operating by the same medium as per versoins of string theory (see Capra 2014 & elsewhere; Greene, 1999), Further, subatomic (quasi)particles are irreducibly interdependent, i.e., incapable of sustaining their individual identity when separated from their environment, i.e., other particles/forces (Capra, 1976 & elsewhere; Peat, 2002). Finally, disconcertingly, yet instructively, just like particles may become indistinguishable from applicable forces, so can conventional exact science morph into more of a philosophy.

All of the above send out a message of thoroughgoing interrelatedness among himans and between us and everyone and everything else in the cosmos, and an equitable reading of such unavoidable interdependence can be the value [of] mutual respect. There is also the realization that what is out of deadline-regulated black-and-white quantification’s reach may be within enduring intuitive wisdom’s purview. In other words, today’s progress may be the recognition of certain aspects of belief systems of millennial traditions on this continent and elsewhere. Physics as the epitome of truthfulness can awaken us to the rhythms of Shiva;s dance (Fritjof Capra’s The Tao pf Physics) and to the voices of Turtle Island[1] (David Peat’s Blackfoot Physics; Gregory Cajete’s Native Science)  in a joint triangulation of the possibility of concordant glocality[2] of citizenship as envisioned by James Tully (2004).


Keywords: communication(s), ethics, epistemology; string theory, quantum mechanics, relativity theory; glocal citizenship, relationality, interdependence; Fritjof Capra, Brian Greene, David Peat, Gregory Cajete, James Tully


Cajete, Gregory (2000) Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence. Foreword by Leroy Little Bear, Jr. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.

Capra, Fritjof (1976) The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Boulder, CO: Shambala Publications, Inc.

———- (1996) The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Capra, Fritjof and Pierre Luigi Luisi (2014) The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Greene, Brian (1999) The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Peat, F. David (2002) Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe. Boston, MA: Weiser Books.

Rorty, Richard (1979) Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Tully, James (2014) On Global Citizenship: Jams Tully in Dialogue. Critical Powers Series. London, UK and New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

[1] Indigenous people’s name for this continent.

[2] He speaks about “global citizenship” but brings up the term “glocal” (global + local) in passing.

post title corrected June 12, 2015

vimeo credit: from Radek Wamblisha 3 years ago

real Czech people with… real Indigenous Manitobans

  • The 120min doc is copyrighted to Blue Sky Pictures 1995, apparently a collaboration with Canada
    • produced by Zemma Pictures in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada…
      in association with:
    • Vision TV and TVOntario
    • TV stations in Montreal, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Calgary
    • Department of heritage, Culture and Employment, NWT


January 2021


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