Jennifer Van Bergen Is a Nature-dependent, Consensus-based, Democratic Society the Only Way to Ensure Social Harmony & Environmental Sustainability? ~Applying the ArkhelogySM Approach~IntroductionThis thesis attempts to answer the question whether only a nature-dependent,1 consensus-based,2democratic3 society can genuinely enable its members to live sustainably4 and in harmony with theenvironment and each other.5 This is the conclusion I arrived at via a disciplinary approach calledArkhelogySM.6It would take too long to describe my entire “arkhelogists journey” in this essay. Among other things, itinvolved reading a beat-up copy of Jerry Manders book “In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure ofTechnology and the Survival of the Indian Nations,” which I found on the safari truck and traded aguidebook for7; a thirty-year study of the Early Republic, particularly focusing on our mostcontradictory and severely split Founder, Thomas Jefferson, and his relationship with alleged traitorAaron Burr8; going to law school and becoming something of a constitutional law expert, both in the1 Nature-dependent means dependent on nature for ones needs. It means no reliance on technology or man-made conveniences, food, water, tools, climate control, power (electricity, gas, etc.), transportation, education, media, etc. It means living within nature so that ones cycles, production, work, play are all regulated by nature itself. Being “in nature” means different things in different bio-regions. That it may not be possible for us to revert to this condition is irrelevant to its necessity (or perhaps relevant only in showing how far removed we are from a sustainable culture). “Being in nature” also means knowing intimately the local laws of nature, being able to read or sense natural changes and signs.2 Consensus-based means all participating members of society must agree before decisions are effected.3 Democratic means that every adult participant has a say in decisions. (Ideally, in my opinion, children, too, should be consulted in all decisions that affect them, as well as any others of interest to them.) (This also raises the question of participation by other forms of life. Can animals vote or be consulted on what concerns them? Can plants? Rocks? Earth? Water?)4 Environmentally sustainable here means something different than “green.” It does not mean that anything can be done as long as it doesnt pollute or emit greenhouse gases. Instead, we mean that which retains the original, natural environment substantially intact and allows it to continue intact. Clearly any human or animal use makes changes to the environment. It is obvious, however, that an animal trail differs substantially from a paved highway and a burrow from a skyscraper or even a typical house. Perhaps human use should be modeled on animal use.5 In harmony with the environment and each other means the community does not depredate or damage the environment and there are adequate, agreed-on means of dispute resolution, the community is stable – no rapid changes or growth, birth rate is equal to death rate, land does not become scarce but remains the same quantity and quality, social relations are clearly established, understood, and accepted, and human rights, such as those in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, are protected.6 ArkhelogySM is service-marked because it is an original, specific educational approach that I developed over the course of 30 years. The word arkhelogy (lower-cased and without the service mark), however, also applies to the skill and concept. What an arkhelogist does is summed up in my article “The Way of Arkhelogy.” See also my article “Archetypes for Writers” for an over-simplified explanation of the ArkhelogySM exercise steps and component skills for writers.7 Interestingly, this copy of Manders book, which I still have, contains the hand-written addresses and phone numbers of two persons from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.8 See The Burr Project.
legal field and as a legal commentator and reporter9; hands-on work with both established organizationsrun by Roberts Rules of Order and ad hoc consensus-based activist and media groups; and before anyof this,15 years of training and performing in the theater.10The ArkhelogySM ApproachArkhelogySM is an approach that discovers and applies the archetypal.11 It is an inquiry into whatnaturally comes into play and needs to be considered in order to grasp the underlying principle orphenomenon. It is to the discovery of the underlying archetypes that ones attention is directed.12As we will see below, there are three preliminary steps and three formative steps to archetypeformation. The preliminary steps are: (1) the question, (2) the example, and (3) the action-statement.The formative steps are: (1) the ectype sentence, (2) isotype work, and (3) the archetype. These sixsteps are discrete but eventually coalesce into a single effort or global skill: arkhelogy (also called“doing arkhelogy” or “working at the archetypal level”).Arkhelogy is like a wheel. The archetype is the hub and all the component skills and/or work are thespokes going into it. Thus, one approaches each object-question with different skills and from differentavenues. Isotype work may, therefore, be carried out from several starting-points, which eventuallymerge into the archetype formation.Applying ArkhelogySM to Our Question9 See my JVB website and my Red Room website for some of my articles and books.10 Theater may seem to have nothing to do with the question posed in this essay. It was, however, the basis for the establishment of ArkhelogySM.11 Robert Lawlor writes: “The archetypal is concerned with universal processes or dynamic patterns which can be considered independently of any structure or material form. Modern thought has difficult access to the concept of the archetypal because European languages require that verbs or action words be associated with nouns. We therefore have no linguistic forms with which to image a process or activity that has no material carrier. Ancient cultures symbolized these pure, eternal processes as gods, that is, powers or lines of action through which Spirit is concretized into energy and matter.” Robert Lawlor, Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice (Crossroad Pub. Co., 1982), p. 9. Lawlor provides an example: “To see how these operate, let us take an example of a tangible thing, such as the bridle of a horse. This bridle can have a number of forms, materials, sizes, colours, uses, all of which are bridles. The bridle considered in this way, is typal; it is existing, diverse and variable. But on another level there is the idea or form of the bridle, the guiding model of all bridles. This is an unmanifest, pure, formal idea and its level is ectypal. But yet above this there is the archetypal level which is that of the principle or power-activity that is a process which the ectypal form and typal example of the bridle only represent. *** The bridle, then, relates to archetypal activity through the function of leverage; the principle that energies are controlled, specified and modified through the effects of angulation.” Id., pp. 7- 9.12 ArkhelogySM does something similar to what famed animal tracker Tom Brown, Jr., writes in The Science and Art of Tracking (Berkely Trade, 1999): "When we track, we pick up a string. At the far end of that string a being is moving, existing, still connected to the track that we gaze upon. The animals movement is still contained in that track, along with the smallest of external and internal details. As we follow these tracks, we begin to become the very animal we track. Our awareness expands from the animal we have become to the landscape it reacted to and is played by. We feel the influence of all things that surround us and our awareness expands from our consciousness to the mind of the animal and finally to the very cosmos. In tracking and awareness, then, there can never be a separation. One without the other is but half a story, and incomplete picture, thus an incomplete understanding. It is the track that connects us to that grand consciousness and expands us to limitless horizons."
How does one find the archetypal and how does it apply to constitutions, governments, orenvironmental sustainability? Simply, the archetypal can be accessed by turning a specific action orresult into a statement of definition. This requires as significant amount of deconstruction. Thus, ratherthan saying “We have a socialist government,” we say “Our government holds all property in trust forthe people, there is no private ownership of land, it focuses on community obligations rather thanindividual rights,” etc. Since there are obviously many ways to explain what a socialist governmentdoes, it is important to articulate only what is factually observable, not what we think or feel about it,and to include all elements relevant to the inquiry.We start with a question. The question is what form of government is environmentally sustainable,promotes human rights and social harmony, and allows consensus-based, democratic decision-making.Then we form the action-statement, as above: this government holds all property, etc. It is importantto define the object by what it DOES, not what it IS. Out of this initial statement will come the ectype,isotype, and archetype. Note that as you move forward through each phase, your initial action-statement will evolve. Ultimately, the action-statement evolves into the archetype, but an originatingaction-statement should not be mistaken for an archetype. The action-statement merely creates theconditions for its own evolution.Once you define a thing by what it does, you frame it as follows: “This is the government that ….[holds all property, has no private ownership, etc.]” This stage is called the ectype sentence.13 With thisyou have the structure to use for isotype work.In isotype work, you keep in mind the ectype while returning to the question. Or you could say youkeep the question in mind while considering the ectype. Will this type of government beenvironmentally sustainable, etc.?Environmental SustainabilityModern methods of environmental assessment and management, which seek to do something to orabout the environment (even in preservation), do not and cannot arrive at an understanding of what isthe original, natural environment. As in quantum physics, where observation of an event changes theevent, in nature one must take oneself out of the picture to observe it, which paradoxically one cannotdo (because one must be in nature to learn about it).Put another, more workable way: we must not interfere. Essentially, one must allow oneself to beabsorbed into the natural world, to become part of it, part of whatever ecosystem one has access to,before one can perceive what is an original, natural environment or how it works.Even so, no human being, whether living in nature or not, can know all ends.14 Only nature knows.Therefore, only rules, laws, or constitutions that support nature as “the final arbiter,” the rule-maker,the judge, and executioner can be valid.13 The ectype sentence is always in the form: “this is the one that/who DOES xyz.”14 I would quote Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings” in response to Frodo saying he wished hed never gotten the ring: “...so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring.
operational principle. One asks oneself “What else works like my ectype?” – which causes one to seekthe operational principle (OP).21At some point, we begin to ask: “What else goes with this?” Are all nature-dependent systems alsoconsensus-based? (Which then requires us to delve further into what nature-dependent and consensus-based mean.) What else do nature-dependent systems contain? In what systems does one findconsensus-basesd systems? Etc.22One often has to turn elsewhere to find answers to such questions. For me, this work came full circle(that is, the archetype completed itself) when I travelled to Africa in 1998. I should precede this bysaying that I had already formed another question in my mind that I was seeking to answer not visiblyrelated to the question discussed above.The question in my mind started from teaching ArkhelogySM to writers. I had observed in my studentswhat I came to identify as trigger points where the student would become extremely irate aboutsomething that was completely trivial. The work I do when I teach ArkhelogySM as a writing tool canbecome very rapidly deeply personal for the student, because we use each individuals personal history,but these trigger points always appeared to be random and, as I say, trivial. The emotional responses atthe trigger point are invariably out-of-proportion to the content of it.Since I witnessed this phenomenon in every student, albeit on different points, I knew it was not anindividual oddity. But it was only when I was able to juxtapose my entire culture with another one thatwas poorer, more primitive, and closer to nature that I realized that when I witnessed these triggerpoints in my students, I was witnessing a western cultural phenomenon; I realized what was missingfrom an ectype that had formed in my mind about the trigger-point people. Put another way, because Iwas looking for it, because I was doing isotype work based on a long-held ectype (which resided in mymind as a question: “What do the trigger-point people have in common?” or “What is the cause of thistrigger point phenomenon?”), I was open to being alerted to the discovery of an operational principle.The juxtaposition of American culture and East African culture made me look for explanations of thedifferences. It prompted me to contemplate a large range of factors and circumstances, and to juxtaposethose with other information. I was looking for the answer to the question “Why do Americans havethese trigger points and Africans apparently do not?”Eventually, I realized that these trigger points in Americans arise from a cultural contradiction. Theyoccur when an individual is confronted with a discrepancy between two contradictory culturaldemands: “Be good/kind/generous/forgiving (etc.)” and “Take care of yourself first, do well/get ahead,make money, buy things, dress well (etc.).” While this split manifests in each individual at differenttrigger points, it is culturally imbued. Traditional (tribal) Africans (who live in their historically tribalway) do not have the trigger point(s) that Westerners have because they do not have this culturalsplit.2321 We dont need to name the OP, but we do need to seek examples that fit it. Once one is engaged in isotype work, one learns to instruct ones “eyes and his ears to retain for ever what seemed to others puerile trivialities … simply because [they contained] something renewable, lasting.” Marcel Proust, The Past Recaptured, Andreas Mayor, transl. (Vintage, 1971) p. 155.22 This is straight comparative analysis, but note that it is within the context of archetype work.23 They may very well have other trigger points but thats not relevant here.
Importantly, the juxtaposition of trigger-point people and their culture with non-trigger-point peopleand their culture enabled me to include, as isotype information, their contextual information into theevolving ectype about environmental sustainability, democracy, and forms of government.Why? Because of the Africans nature-dependent, environmentally sustainable, consensus-basedlifestyle.Isotypes work is like looking for pieces of a puzzle or going on a treasure hunt. You may go far andwide to find all the pieces or to follow the clues. But always you keep in mind the evolving ectype,which tunes your mind and enables you to find the most hidden, and often the most critical andrelevant, bits of information: the missing links, as it were, that will fill out the archetype.The archetype here is the principle of government articulated in this thesis.