Fearless Intimacy: An Aesthetic Assessment Tool

Figure 1  A-ness/D-ness Assessment Tool (by R. M. Fisher, (c) 1984)

[This diagram of four models of creating, was initiated as a thought experiment. Being a visual artist all my life, and having read lots of philosophy and other things that were attempting to figure out how humans form values and act upon them, etc., I asked one day in 1984, "If I were a Creator, what are all the different ways I could draw and color a shape?" I just picked up some basic materials for drawing and coloring, and set forth using the "rectangular shape" as an arbitrary shape. I could only come up with these four very different ways to create and thus answer the question I posed. Any sub-variations were not distinct enough to classify as a type. I settled with these four, and there is a more complex theory behind this which I have written about but it would take up more than I want to cover here. I then came up with questions to ask people about these four models/paradigms and that's a whole other study for analysis, but not here.]

In my writing on Four Arrows' life and work for a new book entitled Fearless Engagement, I have discovered an interesting concept of "fearless intimacy" (not that I coined the term, but it did arise in my own writing independently). I like this when things like that happen and I have another way to come at notions that I have been theorizing for a long time, like the notion of "fearless"--which, in the new book I'm writing (with Four Arrows) the plan is to label it Fearless (with a capital letter) as to distinguish it from the more common language that people use for "fearless" (with no capital). That's a long technical explanation for the capitalization and how Fearless is being articulated, and you'll have to wait for the book before I can share all that detail. It will come out in early 2018 I hope.

Now, to Figure 1 which is the reason for this blog post. I made the linkage while writing recently on fearless intimacy, seeing it connected to Four Arrows' Indigenous worldview writings and his CAT-FAWN Connection theory ('F' in FAWN stands for Fear), and then his use of the Lakota Indigenous conception of wolokolkiciapi- peace within oneself and all of creation (recently, from a chapter he has going to press). Anyways, all three of these aspects, plus knowing so much about Four Arrows' experiential journey at the extremes of experiences for many decades (he's now 70 yrs. old), it occurred to me he was describing D-ness (Figure 1) as an aesthetic visual expression (representation) of "Fearless." Now, when I first designed Figure 1 as a visual metaphoric test to assess people's aesthetic value biases, and worldview biases that go with that, it never fully came to me that the qualities of D-ness are as close visually as I could imagine it, and create it on paper with drawing and coloring materials to Fearless (and the three aspects of Four Arrows' work I mentioned above). And, yes, D-ness represents best what I (and perhaps others below) have called "fearless intimacy".

Three references to uses of "fearless intimacy" that showed up in a quick Google search are:

1. regarding the writing done by John Muir, the great American naturalist, Ehrenfeld (2008) described it as "his [Muir's] fearless intimacy with nature" (p. 284). This would certainly be similar to what I have learned from a lot of Four Arrows' writing, as Nature (with a capital) is so critically important in his life and theories, and the 'N' in FAWN of his theory stands for Nature. Ehrenfeld, D. (2008). Becoming good ancestors: How we balance nature, community, and technology. NY: Oxford University Press.

2. "When we refuse to listen, we must ask ourselves if we can hear our own inner voice over the fear that is running so much of life. Learning the art of listening is a powerful tool toward fearless intimacy and self-empowerment" (p. 158). In Britten, R. (2005). Change your life in 30 days: A journey to finding your true self. NY: Penguin.

3. "When there are no resistances, we then merge contract, close our eyes and in the darkness of our primal world, we rediscover the peace and pleasure of dark and fearless intimacy" (p. 105). Salzman, W. (2007). Ortho Para V. Lulu.com.

So, my take on "fearless intimacy" from all the writers above, including Four Arrows (who hasn't yet used this term per se), is that D-ness, especially in contrast to A-ness at the opposite extreme of the spectrum of ways of creating and organizing and solving a problem, shows us in this spectrum of possibilities, the "right way" to go. I use this strong ethical language in the same sense that Four Arrows does in most all his writing and teaching. He, like myself, are not timid in calling out for current humanity to awaken to the binary road we can take--the first road leads in the direction of D-ness, of which the Lakota term (as Four Arrows' interprets) is traditionally called the "Red Road" and therein is the manifestation of wolokolkiciapi- peace within oneself and all of creation. The other road, is in the direction of A-ness (beginning with any compromised reductionism of D-ness, to C-ness, to B-ness and eventually, horrifically, to A-ness as a way of being). So, there's some theory and a visual mnemonic device to complement the CAT-FAWN mnemonic [1] that Four Arrows offers in his work. Great dialogue to come on all this, as Four Arrows and I are still in the early stages of bringing these two models/theories/praxes together. I am excited for its powerful potential as a new 'fear' vaccine like this planet has not seen before combined this way.

End Note

1. See Four Arrows book (Jacobs, D. T.) (1998). Primal awareness. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions ... it will give you the full explication of CAT-FAWN Connection.

The 'C' stands for Concentration, 'A' for Activated, 'T' for Transformation, 'F' for Fear, 'A' for Authority, 'W' for Word(s), 'N' for Nature.

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