cat-fawn connection (3)

I have been re-reading Paulo Freire on "critical pedagogy" lately, as I was into it in my early 30s. I never leave this radical liberation model of education, of teaching and learning, with the "oppressed" in mind. And the oppressed, for Paulo Freire included the 'oppressors' as well because they are the worst case in being oppressed themselves by say "patriarchy" or any other name you want to give to the 'big bad problem' of domination-subordination (master-slave) relationality. I mean "worst case" because they are "blinded" by their power/privilege and thus enabled to "deny" they are oppressors and oppressed. They cause the worst damage to the whole system, not the typically identifiable "oppressed" and marginalized with very limited power/privilege in a society.

Finding A Fearlessness Center Again

I have an article about to come out soon in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (Spring, 2017) on some of my challenges to the critical pedagogy schools of thought and discourse in regard to how they have not really gone after the big bad problem of oppression in the way I think they need to. That is, the schools of critical philosophy, critical theory and critical pedagogy have largely ignored (or only very partially) addressed the Fear Problem (which, I am also calling many other things, but an interesting term of late is "paranoiaic paradigm" that has to be addressed). Or, as I wish to put it on this blogpost, these schools of thought and education, of which Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) is also very critical of and yet also applauds, have ignored the 'loss of a center' in the sense of loss of 'sanity' and an ethical reference point for it --by which he and I  mean a "Fearlessness Center." Yes, there has always been a Fearlessness center or core foundation of all living systems, Natural, Cultural and Spiritual--at least, so the theory goes. He uses the Indigenous worldview as his basis for re-finding that 'Center' and I use many traditions of thought, basically under the rubric of the Fearlessness Movement. We are going to produce a lot more systematic work on this in the years to come.

I am going to post one of Four Arrows' fascinating early diagrams (1998), CAT-FAWN Connection, attempting a holistic model to show the need for a "Center(edness)" in all curriculum, that can call itself ethical and/or liberational (see below). Lot's more to be discussed of course, as this model isn't totally self explainable nor is the "Fearlessness Center" he and I are now writing about in various ways and it will show up in our new book in 2018 Fearless Engagement (Peter Lang Publishers). Anyways, something to think about.

Reference: Jacobs, D. T. (1998). Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

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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.

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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Transformation of Fear (new tech. paper)

Find attached here the newest technical paper No. 63, "TRANSFORMATION OF FEAR: A Critical Look in Educational Philosophy & Contexts"... hot off the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (press)... "Tech%20paper%2063.pdf by yours truly... it takes a close examination at some of the leading-edge work on "transformation of fear" and reviews a lot of literature, and includes my critiques and recommendations for improvements toward a future pedagogy of fearlessness. Note: It specifically focuses on Four Arrows' CAT-FAWN connection theory and Elisebeth VanderWeil's Trickster Fear theory, comparing and contrasting them. -enjoy, RMF

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