aesthetics (5)

Beauty and Order: Ugly and Distress (Fear)


"The Uses of Beauty and Order" (a 13 pp booklet) by the founder of Re-evaluation Counseling (Harvey Jackins) came out in 1972 and talks of the "environmental crisis" facing human beings and that we are responsible to "clean up" [1] our messes... meaning, not only the physical 'garbage' we 'dump' but on the inside 'distress' ('garbage') we also hold inside our body/mind and social systems and institutions that function upon philosophical premises of oppression is 'normal' and that's the way it is. That's human nature for us to be violence, and dumping on each other, etc. Jackin's, peer-to-peer theory and praxis is a marvelous tool that I have used since the early 1980s, and am still using it as a way to not let my distress accumulate (as 'fear' patterning) in any ways, and mostly in ways that stop me from being a fully alive, creative being who is interested in beauty and order in the environment (inside and outside). That's why in this publication Jackin's argues: 

"With discharge [via peer counseling sessions] we can begin not only to realize but to act on the truth that every human being is gifted artistically, in the visual arts and in all others. In the meantime, it is perfectly possible to take a length of wire and bend it into an interesting shape, then mount this piece of wire sculpture in a prominent position. It's possible to take some torn pieces of tinted or colored paper and move them about on a sheet of cardboard until the arrangement pleases the arranger, glue them in place and, with such an 'abstract collage' mounted on the wall, be continually reminded of one's own ability to create beauty. A poem or verse which one has composed belongs in plain sight to be read and looked at. This will be another signal that one is a creative human being in charge of the environment [as a steward, and co-maker, co-participant in evolution itself]." (p. 12)

I recently am working on an art project with stones (a 1/2 dump truck load of them) which most people use only to "decorate" their landscapes and keep down weeds and grass from growing (as a suppressant). I am working with the stones in an artist residency right now to make them interesting, beautiful and even sacred... I just am learning how to do that with children at the daycare center and kindergarten school where I am artist in residence, and of course, then there is the difficult challenge to get the staff and parents and other adults around the children to 'attune' and 'resonate' with the words and direction of Jackin's (above)--and to playfull engage as part of their day in making art, and connecting with the art of the stones I am working on their premise. Mostly, the adults are quite in a "rut" from what I can see, and they can hardly gaze to the environment around them. Often they are on cell phones when they leave their car and walk to work, and often they have a preoccupied (if not worrying) mind about what they are doing and what is happening and how this or that is going to coordinate. They are managing their lives. This management paradigm is quite working in the opposite direction of a creative-artistic-aethetic paradigm.

As a fearologist and artist, what I am interested in is the role of fear/anxiety and how it shapes one's creativity, aliveness, and everything else in the environments we make, the relationship we engage in any moment in time. Too often, most all people are living lives feeling a "victim" (prisoner) of some kind, and often they are not aware they feel this but are just on 'autopilot' doing things that are functional and help to manage their day. Jackins' experience is that human beings who have been hurt and not fully allowed to heal their hurts from birth onward, are carrying distress-based (fear-based) patterning in their nervous system and memory systems, and when that accumulates there is a sense after awhile of feeling like the environment is "hostile" (more or less) and one has to try to survive within it--but for Jackins, like myself, the hostile perception (as a fear projection and defense mechanism) can become quite distorted and totalizing of one's inherent being and destroys the best part of our human nature. This is, says Jackins, due to "past fears of isolated groups of human beings in danger from weather, disease or other hostile forces" but his point is, that within a healing culture (practices) such dangers/fears can be healed through adequately so that humans do not carry around trauma (unhealed painful memories) for any length of time beyond what is necessary. The past thus, when unhealed, turns to dominate our nervous systems and thinking patterns, we 'become our distress' (i.e., our fear patterning). We feel victimized. We then justify our behaviors that come from fear-based (distress-based) sourcing. We even justify that it is okay we oppress others and accept our social oppression because that's the way it is--the world is hostile, etc. 

Fearlessness as a paradigm is quite in the opposite direction of this fear-based paradigm of victimization and oppressive patterning. Thus uses of beauty and order making (healthy creativity to enhance one's world individually and collectively) is a way to stay in "present time" reality (says Jackins), and that leads to a greater humanity and care for everything to follow from that. Arts and aesthetics, are critical to good fear management/education. 

Your thoughts? 


1. To be clear, I use "clean up" in this context within a sophisticated therapeutic philosophia (or therapia) based on many traditions but in particular I most recommend the theorizing of integral philosopher Ken Wilber on "Cleaning Up" as one of four calls to come to full consciousness and attention in the best way humans are potentially able--and, such a mode of "cleaning up" is not just some psychological clinical, homogenizing, white-washing, or purification schema of a germophobia, xenophobia, paranoia about Nature--no, I and Wilber are talking about something very different and you may wish to read his writing on "Cleaning Up" in this larger transpersonal and evolutionary perspective; see Wilber (2017), pp. 11, 75, 264-66, for e.g. (also see his writing on the analogous process of "shadow work"). Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow: A vision for the future of the Great Traditions--more inclusive, more comprehensive, more complete. Shambhala. 


Read more…

The above logo (I created) is Barbara and my new collaboration as artists-researchers-teachers, as we have just moved back to Canada and settled in Calgary, Alberta. Studio M* is a place and space for us to co-create with the Calgary Community (in particular the Beltline Neighborhoods downtown), and beyond that with anyone in the world who wishes to be in collaboration with us and wants to utilize Studio M*. Barbara has posted an initial blog ("Barbara Bickel tumblr") on this project, and the location of McHugh House (120 yrs. old) where our studio 6 space is--which I encourage you to have a look at some of the earliest stages of our creating and imagining. We're very excited about the possibilities... 

As for why this is important to the Fearlessness Movement per se, I would encourage you to read the Studio M* Manifesto (version/exhibit #1.0), I have reprinted the Manifesto below (notice the particular reference to "without fear")... So, if you are interested to be a signatory of this Manifesto contact us r.michaelfisher52 [at] and if you are traveling and want to drop by the studio to see what is going on, and if wish to join our Studio M* envisioning processes, then WE INVITE YOU to participate and help build a synergy that can make a positive difference. We look forward to hearing from you. If you are interested in doing some kind of creative/artistic Residency with us, give us an email: r.michaelfisher52 [at] and we can talk about potentials for you using Studio M* ... that is, if you find our Manifesto in some way resonates with you and your work in the world... 

Studio M* : Manifesto    Exhibit #1.0 (Aug.-Sept., 2017)

         WE are a research creation lab intersecting Arts, Culture & Healing

  • WE are committed to an inclusive & expansive curatorial practice that stems from the Latin root curare- “to take care”
  • EVERYTHING is encountering others, human & more-than-human, a tableau of unique creative collaborations
  • WE commit to a Matrixial co-poetic paradigm of Artworkings in radical trust
  • WE practice a co-relational Aesthetic as foundational and preceding the Ethical, while both ought to inform the shape of the Political
  • WE live with the premise that EVERYTHING began without fear... imagine that!
  • SPONTANEITY is the life-blood-water of play, humour, sociality, sustainability, health & ecological sanity





*M stands for “Matrixial” theory based on Bracha L. Ettinger’s art & philosophy. See, for e.g., her book The Matrixial Borderspaces published in 2005 by University of Minnesota Press. Or a good video of Ettinger with art historian Griselda Pollock, go to "Istanbul in/+ Leeds Event 3: Making with Bracha Ettinger":

Studio M* is a restorative and transformational learning, teaching, and creative inquiry space for all. Co-conceived by artists-researchers-teachers Drs. Barbara Bickel and R. Michael Fisher. 

Read more…

Still image of myself in the video: "Fusion Coloring" (2017). Video by Greg Wendt

I have always been interested in various lines of development in the human potential. The cognitive line, the moral line, the self line, fearlessness line, and particularly the aesthetic line. For how our development takes place along these various lines, as developmental psychologists call them, one can relate how one perceives fear and fearlessness, and thus, how one is capable to manage and/or transform fear and enhance fearlessness. That's a hypothesis of interest that requires research.

For myself, I have utilized aesthetic practices of various kinds, often related to the arts in some way, and I still practice this. The following 16 min. video is one of my first teaching videos that just begins to explore this relationship and how you can develop your aesthetic line... and assist the movement toward fearlessness... hope you enjoy this video, and feel free to pass it on, and send me comments.

Read more…

As much as it is so important to acknowledge the nature and role of "fear" (complex as it is do define) in human affairs (e.g., philosophy of fearism) there is an equally important inquiry and education to be had in regard to how "fear" is not the only motivating, or even most powerful motivating force in human affairs. The basic philosophical and theoretical arguments are rich and complex, beyond the scope of this blog. However, I want to point out that if you wish to understand my own thinking on this topic then you really have to engage the feminine (feminist) matrixial gaze theory (i.e., matrixial theory) of Bracha L. Ettinger. She is a post-Lacanian psychoanalyst, theorist, artist, activist, and most importantly, as I have written about her and her work (often with Barbara Bickel), she is the next most powerful psychoanalytic thinker since Lacan, and before that, since Freud. And, the good news... she is working on an entirely new basis for the theories of human motivation, subjectivity (or what she prefers to call transubjectivity).

Barbara and I and a small group of artists Barbara knows have studied Ettinger's difficult texts some years ago. After that year long study online, it has been awhile and so Barbara and I took up recently to study her videos online for 40 days, attempting this as a practice. We'll be sharing and writing more on that later. But just to introduce you, if you haven't already been introduced to Ettinger and matrixial theory (a non-phallocentric theory) then I will give a link to an excellent lecture on YouTube below. To close off this short blog I want to say that I am ever-ongoing impressed by the depth and "truth" from her work in understanding human beings, and her aesthetical-ethical foundation for guiding a new way of being beyond a fear-based orientation to the world. Her linking of early-mother and child bonding (mostly, in the womb) is brilliant psychoanalysis in my view, and she is slowly being recognized in the field and beyond as an important theorist. At one point in the video (below) she says, that it is our nature in connection in the matrixial borderspace of the I and non-I (self and Other) that from the beginning we were unknowingly embraced in "fascination and awe and compassion" which is our natural state of recognition of the Other and which is the protoethical ground for any ethics, and she adds to this claim that such an awe and compassion in the earliest stages of subjectivity (largely unconscious) is a connection/recognition/co-emergence "before fear, guilt, shame, action, cognition, abjection and disgust." This is the primordial matrixial ground for a theory of fearlessness, in my words.

Go to YouTube video on Ettinger's lecture in 2010 at the European Graduate University, where she often teaches: "Aesthetics, Protoethics and Matrixial Subjectivity."

Read more…

String Theory and Theoretical Fearology 1

Just watched the "Elegant Universe" PBS series on a DVD with Barbara. We get DVDs from the SIU library for free, and often pick up science documentaries like this one on the new physics of "string theory" as a potential "theory of everything" to explain the entire universe, with nothing excluded from such an explanation in one unified theory... well, when I was watching it, much of the aesthetics of the string theory representations in a way reminded me of the more "solid" universe in the drawing I did spontaneously a week ago and then the less "solid" with the black lines on top -- looking a lot like "strings" as the new physicists were describing. Is this just an "accident"? Well not that I care that much if I was attuning to strings in the sense of physics, I was exploring in these spontaneous colorings aesthetics more than anything... and it is not surprising to me that "elegance" (a notion of beauty) is a term physicists use when in this aesthetic modulation/register... so, I wrote some notes on this "art" piece to complete it based on my experience of the documentary. Yes, point being, I am so much dedicated like these physicists to "discovering" something not before discovered... I can't seem to help it... 

Read more…