Reflecting on the current state of the industry, it seems to me that the Techno-Economic Base (T-E) of the industry is shifting from level 6 (Green/Pluralistic/Informational) to level 7 (Teal/Integral Systems/Trans-Informational or Virtual). This shift appears to be driven/co-created by a transition from separate/pluralistic media technologies and platforms (i.e.: Movies, TV, Gaming, Web, etc.) to more integrated, cross-media, and virtual technologies and platforms (i.e.: Material delivered/integrated across multiple convergent, immersive, and embedded mediums), represented by a shift from level 6 to level 7 in the Communication/Media (C/M) developmental line. As the nature of the medium is shifting, cinematic media artists are embracing these advances as a means to expand their artistic expression across these multiple platform environments. This in turn is shifting the Artistic/Aesthetic (A/A) line from level 6 to level 7 as well. While these three lines appear to be shifting in tandem, it also appears that the Business/Markets (B/M) line is stuck at level 5 (Orange/Rational), as the industry’s business community frantically tries to apply their old models of finance, distribution, and marketing to the emerging new techno-creative-communication environment (see chart below).
There are indicators of some potential shifts in the Business/Markets (B/M) line, including a major restructuring of Disney’s studio model to meet the changing media environment and the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, which appears to be attempting to cross the integral media threshold by offering content immersion (IMAX 3D), platform convergence (Theatrical/Game simultaneous release), and a foray into virtual aperspectivalism (Character-to-Avatar perspective shifts). It should be interesting to see if these forays will be part of a vertical rather than horizontal change. Either way, I believe the industry is poised at the edge of a tipping point between the relativistic/information age and the approaching integral/virtual age. Only time will tell if the American film industry will cross this threshold through a single major shift, or several smaller transitions, or a combination of both major and minor shifts, or if it will be a turbulent or peaceful transition. Since several members of the industry have already begun downloading the Integral Operating System (IOS) into their consciousness, I think we are in for a wondrous and wild ride.
Wilber, K., Pattern, T., Leonard, A., & Morelli, M. (2008). Integral life practice: A 21st century blueprint for physical health, emotional balance, mental clarity, and spiritual awakening. Boston: Shambhala.
American Motion Picture Industry Social Holon Sociograph
C/M = Communication/Media
A/A = Artistic/Aesthetic
B/M = Business/Markets
Types are the variety of consistent styles that arise in various domains and occur irrespective of developmental levels. Types can overlap or be incongruous. As with the other elements, types have expressions in all four quadrants.
In the UL quadrant there are personality types. There are numerous systems that map the number of different personalities, including Keirsey (4 types), Enneagram (9 types), and Myers-Briggs (16 types). In this quadrant there are also the gender types of masculine and feminine. In general, individuals have access to both masculine and feminine qualities and thus tend to have a unique combination of traits associated with each type. In the UR quadrant there are blood types (A, B, AB, O) and William Sheldon’s well-known body types (ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph). In the LR quadrant there are ecological biome types (e.g., steppe, tundra, islands) and governmental regime types (e.g., communist, democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, republic). In the LL quadrant there are types of religious systems (e.g., monotheism, polytheism, pantheism) and different types of kinship systems (e.g., Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Omaha, Sudanese).
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.15.
In addition to levels and lines there are also various kinds of states associated with each quadrant. States are temporary occurrences of aspects of reality (lasting anywhere from a few seconds to days, and in some cases even months or years). They also tend to be incompatible with each other. For example, you cannot be drunk and sober at the same time, a town cannot experience a blizzard and a heat wave on the same day. Above are a few examples of the kinds of states associated with each quadrant.
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.13.
Within each of the four quadrants there are levels of development. Within the interior, Left-Hand quadrants there are levels of depth and within the exterior, Right-Hand quadrants there are levels of complexity. The levels within each quadrant are best understood as probability waves that represent the dynamic nature of reality and the ways different realities show up under certain conditions.
Additionally, each quadrant’s levels are correlated with levels in the other quadrants. For example, a goal-driven executive (UL) who has high blood pressure (UR) will most likely be found in a scientific-rational culture or subculture (LL), which usually occurs in industrial corporate organizations (LR). In this example, all of these aspects of the situation are occurring at the same level of complexity and depth within their respective quadrant and are therefore correlated at level five in figure above. The inclusion of levels is important because they allow us to appreciate and better interface with the realities associated with each quadrant. Each quadrant serves as a map of different terrains of reality. The levels within each quadrant represent the topographical contour-lines of that terrain. This helps us to identify the unique features of that particular landscape, which enables us to travel through it more successfully and enjoy the amazing vistas along the way.
Lines of development are another way to describe the distinct capacities that develop through levels in each aspect of reality as represented by the quadrants. So if levels are contour-lines on a hiking map for reality, then lines of development represent the various trails you can take to transverse the vast wilderness of human potential. For example, in the individual-interior quadrant of experience, the lines that develop include, but are not limited to, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and moral capacities. These capacities are often thought of as the multiple intelligences that each person has. The idea being that each of us is more developed in some areas than others. Integral theory uses a psychograph (below) to depict an individual’s unique assortment of development in various individual lines.
Similarly, a sociograph is used to represent the various lines of development within a family, group, culture, or society (Below).
The kinds of lines found in cultures include things like kinesthetic capacities, interpersonal maturity (e.g., absence of slaves, women’s rights, civil liberties), artistic expression (e.g., forms of music, government funding for the arts), cognitive or technological capacities, physical longevity (e.g., healthcare systems, diet), and polyphasic maturity. Polyphasic refers to a culture’s general access to different states of consciousness. For example, many indigenous cultures embrace access to and cultivation of different kinds of states of awareness while rational Western societies tend to emphasize rational waking consciousness at the exclusion of other modes of experiencing reality.
Here are some of the lines present in the four quadrants:
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.7-11.
The four quadrants are: Self (subjective being); Culture (intersubjective being); world (objective being); and systems (interobjective being). Or I-WE-IT-ITS. Or Intentional, cultural, behavioral, social.
So individual and collective subjective and objective being co-evolves or tetra-evolves. No aspect of being is isolated and alone, all four aspects of being tetra-mesh, co-influences and co-evolving the other.
(Adapted From Integral Wiki)
During my studies into the application of Integral Theory to cinematic media, I attempted to look at an evolutionary or unfolding display moment in Hollywood filmmaking history through the lens of the three Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP) principles of Nonexclusion, Unfoldment, and Enactment. The evolutionary moment in Hollywood filmmaking history I chose was the making of the first Star Wars (1977). A film that, according to most members of the various Hollywood knowledge communities, revolutionized the creative, technical, business, and critical evaluation aspects of the industry.
These areas of advancement represents the four general knowledge communities within the world of Hollywood movie making, each with their own, often conflicting, paradigms/practices/injunctions and constructs of what makes a “good” movie. There is the Cinematic Artists Community, which tends to view the goodness or success of the cinematic work by how much of the artist’s subjective vision (UL) is translated onto the screen. There is the Cinematic Technicians Community, which evaluates the degree of technical/material/objective (UR) quality of the cinematic work. There is the Cinematic Business Community, which appraises the success of the cinematic work by its market reach and profitability within the economic system (LR). Finally, there is the Cinematic Analytical Community (Critics, Historians, Theorists), which evaluates the quality of the cinematic work by the contextual effectiveness of its cinematic language (LL).
Conflicts often arise between these communities, and their seemingly contrary social practices/injunctions and the constructs generated by them. In the case of the first Star Wars (1977), the Cinematic Business Community (every studio) turned down the script at least once, even though many of the executives personally loved it (UL). The reasoning behind their choice was that their marketing models (LR) clearly showed that a science fiction film could not be profitable. What they failed to see was that George Lucas had crafted a cinematic vision that would ultimately transform the paradigms and constructs of all four knowledge communities (see below).
Finally, one of the executives at 20th Century Fox, Alan Ladd, Jr., was able to join Lucas in ENACTING a different world by seeing the other dimensions of Lucas’ work (taking a leap of NONEXCLUSION), and by heroically putting his job on the line for the script (George Lucas, personal communication, 1978). In the end, the film shattered box office records, transformed Hollywood’s marketing models; saved Fox from bankruptcy, and gave Ladd and Lucas their own companies (LR). It created a new genre (trans-genre) within the cinematic lexicon (LL) by including many different genres (Science Fiction, Westerns, War Movies, Mythical Adventures, etc.) into a cohesive blend that transcended all of them (UNFOLDMENT). Stars Wars also helped usher in the return of mythology to American cinema and American culture (LL) by blending mythological archetypes with modern and postmodern story and thematic elements. Lucas and his technical team also managed to advance cinematic technology (UR), making it easier to translate the creative visions of cinematic artists (UL). The effect of Star Wars’ genre hybridization, techno-creative advancements, and rebirthing of mythic cinema on the cinematic audience was something the traditional business and marketing models could not prehend (LR).
For additional reflections on the elements and conditions which made Star Wars such a unique and profound phenomenon, see my previous post and comments: My Cinematic Structuralism Emancipation at Integral Life.
*Previously published at Integral Life
It was my third year at USC School of Cinematic Arts, and my very first class in cinematic expression. The teacher, famed animator, special effects artist, and IMAX pioneer Lester Novros, came into the crowded classroom and walked up to the blackboard. A hush fell over the room as Lester drew a rectangle on the board and then turned to look at the class. He paused for a moment and then dramatically told us that the rectangle on the board represented the motion picture frame, and that every element within that frame had the power to affect the viewer’s body, heart, mind, and spirit. With a twinkle in his eyes, he promised that he would teach us the rules/structures governing these elements of expression. My perception of myself, the cinema, and the world profoundly shifted as I sat in the back of that classroom and listened to Lester explain how the expressive elements of space, line, shape, tone, color, movement, rhythm, and contrast and affinity, influence the physiological (UR), psychological (UL), cultural (LL), and social/environmental (LR) experience of the cinematic audience.
For example, in the opening of the first Star Wars (1977) we see a relatively large spaceship fly across the screen. Suddenly, another spaceship appears in hot pursuit of the first ship. As the hull of this pursuit spaceship progressively enters the frame for an extended period of time, the viewer is surrounded by a deep rumbling sound that moves from the back of the theater to the front. This amalgamation of the visually expressive elements of open space (the ship extending beyond the edges of the frame), spatial contrast (difference in size between the two ships), and movement (the relative movement of the two ships), combines with the spatially-moving depth-representational sounds to produce a powerful synchronization of the senses that replicates the experience of actually sitting under this massive ship. In an instant filmmaker George Lucas stylistically and viscerally communicates a deep archetypal message to the viewer, the message that we are about to see an epic struggle against a great and mighty force.
When that first class was over, I walked out onto the quad (yes, quadrants are everywhere!) and everything within and around me seemed different. I noticed the bright sunlight streaming through the trees, the patchwork patterns of bright green lawns between winding pathways, and the feelings I was having in the midst of this spatial reality.
*Originally published on
THE EVENT: A few months after graduating from film school, I was house-sitting for a movie star and had a life transforming experience sitting by the pool of his estate. My graduate film was winning awards around the world, I had a high-powered Hollywood agent, and studio executives were courting me.
THE IT OF THE EVENT: I was reclining naked on a lounge chair by the pool, talking to my agent on the portable phone. The afternoon L.A. sun was hot and bright. I had mirrored sunglasses on and had an ice-cold margarita in my hand. The pool was a beautifully manufactured grotto of exotic plants, palm trees, rocks, waterfalls, and a series of crystal blue swimming pools and hot tubs. A beautiful young woman I had just met and slept with the night before was swimming naked in one of the pools.
THE WE OF THE EVENT: The conversation I was having with my agent on the phone was the same as all the rest; he was telling me what he thought I wanted to hear and I pretended that what he was saying was true. At the same time, I was watching the naked woman sensuously swimming in the pool. She smiled sweetly and looked back at me with “starry” eyes.
THE I OF THE EVENT: I suddenly felt an emptiness deep inside me as I listened to the voice of my agent and looked into the eyes of my new found lover. I felt as though I did not exist and that everything around me wasn’t real. Soon after this experience, I put all my possessions in storage, left Hollywood, and began my quest for meaning.
My current insight around this event came when I pondered my conversation with my agent from the perspective of the Hollywood client-agent cultural and social system. I realized that “I” as the client was actually a product (an IT) in the agents’ world. Then I realized that we were both seeing each other as objects to be manipulated, and not as subjects that could be understood (Wilber, 2000). Suddenly I saw all my similar Hollywood experiences in this new light and realized that all of us were objectifying each other and our own selves because we were caught in our own fears, which were being fueled by a larger system. In an instant, I felt as though a deep unconscious reservoir of regret, resentment, self-blame, and blaming of others that I was holding washed right out of me. A sense of gratitude swept through me as I perceived this experience as a moment of grace that was my wake up call to get out of the Hollywood Flatland before my I was totally reduced to an IT and lost forever!
Wilber, K. (2000). A brief history of everything (revised edition). Boston: Shambhala Publications.
*Originally published at Integral Life
- “What a Joke” – Their truth is not my truth – Mythic/Blue
- “It is Premature” – He has not done anything “concrete” yet – Rational/Orange
- “What an affirmation” – He has brought hope and ushered in a climate more conducive to peace – Relativistic/Green
- The Integral Response = AH SO…
In Integral Theory, Flatland is "...the attempt to reduce interiors to their exterior correlates (i.e., collapsing subjective and intersubjective realities into their objective aspects). This is often seen in systems approaches to the natural world, which represent consciousness through diagrams of feedback loops and in the process leave out the texture and felt-sense of first- and second-person experience."
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp. 4.
As both of the Right-Hand quadrants (UR and LR) are characterized by objectivity, the four quadrants are also referred to as the three value spheres of subjectivity (UL), intersubjectivity (LL), and objectivity (UR and LR). These three domains of reality are discernable in all major languages through pronouns that represent first-, second-, and third-person perspectives and are referred to by Wilber as “the Big Three:” I, We, and It/s. These three spheres can also be characterized as aesthetics, morals, and science or consciousness, culture, and nature.
Integral theory insists that you cannot understand one of these realities (any of the quadrants or the Big Three) through the lens of any of the others. For example, viewing subjective psychological realities primarily through an objective empirical lens distorts much of what is valuable about those psychological dynamics. In fact, the irreducibility of these three spheres has been recognized throughout the history of Western philosophy, from Plato’s True, Good, and Beautiful to Immanuel Kant’s famous three critiques of pure reason, judgment, and practical reason to Jürgen Habermas’ validity claims of truth, rightness, and truthfulness.
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.3-4.
According to integral theory, there are at least four irreducible perspectives (subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective) that must be consulted when attempting to fully understand any issue or aspect of reality. Thus, the quadrants express the simple recognition that everything can be viewed from two fundamental distinctions: 1) an inside and an outside perspective and 2) from a singular and plural perspective. A quick example can help illustrate this: imagine trying to understand the components of a successful meeting at work. You would want draw on psychological insights and cultural beliefs (the insides of individuals and groups) as well as behavioral observations and organizational dynamics (the outsides of individuals and groups) to fully appreciate what is involved in conducting worthwhile meetings.
These four quadrants also represent dimensions of reality. These dimensions are actual aspects of the world that are always present in each moment. For instance, all individuals (including animals) have some form of subjective experience and intentionality, or interiors, as well as various observable behaviors and physiological components, or exteriors. In addition, individuals are never just alone but are members of groups or collectives. The interiors of collectives are known generally as intersubjective cultural realities whereas their exteriors are known as ecological and social systems, which are characterized by interobjective dynamics. These four dimensions are represented by four basic pronouns: “I”, “we”, “it”, and “its.” Each pronoun represents one of the domains in the quadrant model: “I” represents the Upper Left (UL), “We” represents the Lower Left (LL), “It” represents the Upper Right (UR), and “Its” represents the Lower Right (LR).
- Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Ph.D. (2009). AN OVERVIEW OF INTEGRAL THEORY: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century. Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, March 2009, pp.2-3.
The Integral Cinema Project is currently in the theory building stage, exploring the application of Integral Theory to cinematic media development, production, and distribution, under the auspices of Integral Institute's and Fielding Graduate University's Certificate Program in Integral Studies.
While all of these shows are excellent transpersonal television journeys, I believe Eli Stone must be singled out as one of televisions transpersonal masterpieces. The reason I believe Eli Stone deserves this mantle, is that it not only explores a transpersonal topic with great depth, grace, wit, and integrity, it also has the capacity to give the viewing audience a powerful experience of higher and illusive states of being. How often does a TV show induce a deep sense of grace, hope and faith in the face of life’s haunting mysteries? This is very rare…so I say, BRAVO to the creators of Eli Stone! But I also have to give a big BOO to the network (ABC) who never gave the show the chance it deserved and canceled this gem of television enlightentainment.