Six Lessons Learned from Starting GCAS

imagesIt’s been one year since I cashed in my early retirement in order to start a new school that by August became known as, The Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS).  Here are six basic lessons I’ve learned.

Lesson 1:  For the most part, “multiculturalism” as presented in privileged spaces in universities in the States is a farce and toxic.  Actually engaging with otherness, diversity, poverty, and struggles outside these elite posh spaces of universities not only does not exist but the sterilized presentation of other cultures, ethnicities, histories and so forth is a mockery and just insulting.  Universities have taken on a zoo like effect in which the student is able to engage with otherness but from a safe distance that, by definition, neutralizes issues like poverty, women’s struggles, and political resistance, turning them into pleasantries.  What this means is that otherness is really just a projection of one’s own privilege–the other is violently turned into the same.

Lesson 2:  Just because a theorist or professor writes about global inequality, poverty or is a self-proclaimed “feminist” or some other “ist” doesn’t make them an advocate for justice and equality.

Lesson 3:  There is a need to create a space in which education can no longer hide behind the Ivory-Tower walls of privilege and protection.  We live in a world in which we are all part of each other, but to truly be part of a global community we need to be able to share in each other’s struggles and joys.  We need to hear voices from different parts of the world in which struggles are happening.  In this way, one’s own presuppositions are challenged and a new form of a wider consciousness opens up so that actions and ideas are not disjointed from each other but work together to better our world as we draw strength from each other.

Lesson 4: By creating educational classrooms in different parts of the world in which struggles are taken place a real from of knowledge and action comes to the fore creating a solidarity among each other.  Strength is found, joy is discovered.

Lesson 5:  Diversity and inclusion is necessary for education to thrive.  By diversity, I mean most especially, economic diversity–class representation in ratio to how the world is divided with the majority of the world’s population steeped in poverty struggling each day for basic needs: food, clean water, shelter.  A school should be devoted to health above all:  health for our planet, health for each person, health for communities working together to make our planet a safe place to dwell.

Lesson 6:  Starting a non-profit school is very difficult and for it to survive there must be a community that supports it from it’s missional and materialist point of view.

Let’s unite to really believe in education and action not just continue paying $50,000/year to protect students (and faculty) from really confronting the world’s lack of health.  Learning the truth of the real issues will only bring us joy as we organize ways of living well in community otherwise known as Planet Earth.




4 thoughts on “Six Lessons Learned from Starting GCAS

  1. Excellent!
    “A school should be devoted to health above all: health for our planet, health for each person, health for communities working together to make our planet a safe place to dwell.” Clear, unassailable political theology .

    • Thanks, Lyle! Such a pleasure to know you and work with you as you struggle to protect our water. Cheers, friend!

  2. Health is a worthy aim! To heal means to become whole—healing is “wholing”—and this is none other than the individuation process at work, integrating and recollecting the scattered pieces and putting them back together, like how Isis put Osiris back together again. To “heal” is to actualize the Self, not the ego, but the greater organizing principle of psychic totality.

    There is no enemy to individuation save an overly 1-sided perspective, which can even ironically be adopted about individuation itself, when it is misunderstood and reified into a normative Myth of Progress. The great danger, then, is internal—remaining true to individuation without identifying with a Promethean “progressive” nature, a narrative of a (typically masculine) quest to “boldly go where no man has gone before,'” that sort of thing. This is the same danger with accelerationism or any progressive movement: there is real manna there, but we shouldn’t identify with it lest we become “manna personalities.” Jung lists struggling with the manna personality as the 3rd step of individuation after shadow integration (ceasing to blame others or project/scapegoat) and integration of the contrasexual impulse (anima/animus integration). Once these operations are performed, that is, once one has ceased to blame others for problems and has reconciled the contrasexual impulses within oneself, the main challenge becomes struggling with the manna personality. Only after this challenge is met can the final archetype of the Self, the ultimate symbol of wholeness and healing, be wrestled with. If one tries to wrestle with the Self too soon, one suffers a tremendous inflation, or falls into all sorts of trouble. Struggling with the manna personality is very much dealing with celebrity, how others see you and what you are to them, and also realizing that at a certain point you have ceased to live in the world that others created and you have have begun creating new worlds for others to live in. At this point, there is a tremendous urge to identify with such a feat, which leads to naught. Staying the course means resisting the urge to identify, to remain a vessel for the unconscious and transpersonal forces to express itself through (“God” if you prefer) without laying claim to any of it.

    Each student at GCAS enters at their own phase of individuation—some are struggling with scapegoating others, some are struggling with their own inner contrasexual impulses, some are struggling with celebrity—but all have the ultimate implicit goal of realization of the Self in all its paradox. There is no greater work, no wiser aim. We are all healing, becoming whole, and we are helping each other, mostly through conversation.

    In some ways, the researchers at GCAS are the designers of a new world. Design is social; design is conversational. We don’t realize it, but we are all service designers (or even ‘experience designers’), envisioning and putting into action designs for a world we would rather live in. To do so means to wrestle with conflicting viewpoints, to resist the urge to evacuate frustrations into simple either/or statements, to remain in a productive state of confusion or aporia instead of dipping our feet in and jumping back to the safety of certainty. It means following life into the unknown, into all the paradoxes, giving up all our overly 1-sided perspectives which we have harnessed ourselves to… it means throwing ourselves into the paradox completely.

    “To affirm is not to bear, carry, or harness oneself to that which exists, but on the contrary to unburden, unharness, and set free that which lives.”
    ― Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy

    “Only that which is paradoxical is alive.”
    — Andy Sack

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