Richard Tarnas

“Tarnas was born on February 21, 1950 in Geneva, Switzerland, of American parents. His father, also named Richard Tarnas, worked as a government contract attorney, former president of the Michigan Federal Bar Association, and professor of law. His mother, Mary Louise, was a teacher and homemaker. The eldest of eight children, he grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he studied Greek, Latin, and the Classics at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy.

In 1968 Tarnas entered Harvard, graduating with an A.B. cum laude in 1972. He received his Ph.D. from Saybrook Institute in 1976 with a thesis on psychedelic therapy.[1][2] In 1974 Tarnas went to Esalen in California to study psychotherapy with Stanislav Grof.[3] From 1974 to 1984 he lived and worked at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, teaching and studying with Grof, Joseph Campbell, Gregory Bateson, Huston Smith, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, and James Hillman. He also served as Esalen’s director of programs and education.[4] Jeffrey Kripal characterizes Tarnas as both the literal and figurative gate-keeper of Esalen.[5]

From 1980 to 1990, Tarnas wrote The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View, a narrative history of Western thought which became a bestseller and remained in use in universities as of 2000.[6][7] Passion was highly acclaimed by Joseph Campbell, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, John E. Mack, Stanley Krippner, Georg Feuerstein, David Steindl-Rast, John Sculley, Robert A. McDermott, Jeffrey Hart, Gary Lachman, and others.

Tarnas is the founding director of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where he remains a core faculty member as of 2014.[8]

Tarnas’ second book, Prometheus the Awakener, published in 1995, focuses on the astrological properties of the planet Uranus, describing “the uncanny way astrological patterns appear to coincide with events or destiny patterns in the lives of both individuals and societies”.[9] Tarnas suggests that the characteristics associated with the mythological figure Uranus do not match the astrological properties of the planet Uranus, and that a more appropriate identification would involve the mythological figure Prometheus.

In 2006, Tarnas published his third book, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. It claims that the major events of Western cultural history correlate consistently and meaningfully with the observed angular positions of the planets.[10] The book received favorable reviews in Tikkun magazine,[11] in an anthroposophical journal,[12] and in the web magazine Reality Sandwich,[13] but was panned in the Wall Street Journal.[14]

Tarnas featured in the 2006 film Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within, a documentary about rediscovering an enchanted cosmos in the modern world.[15]

In 2007 a group of fifty scholars and researchers in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Archetypal Research Collective for pursuing research in archetypal cosmology. An online journal, Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, edited by Keiron LeGrice and Rod O’Neal, began a year later, based on the research orientation and methodology established in Cosmos and Psyche.[16] Advisory-board members include Christopher Bache, Jorge Ferrer, Stanislav Grof, Robert A. McDermott, Ralph Metzner, and Brian Swimme. Contributors have included Keiron Le Grice, Richard Tarnas, Stanislav Grof, and Rod O’Neal.

In 2008 Tarnas was invited to address members of the Dutch Parliament about creating a sustainable society.[17]

In 2007 John Cleese and Tarnas gave some public lectures together at Esalen and in Santa Barbara. The lectures discussed regaining a connection to the sacred in the modern world.[18] Cleese and Tarnas then taught a seminar at CIIS called “The Comic Genius: A Multidisciplinary Approach”” (Wikipedia)

Camille Paglia

“In the autumn of 1972, Paglia began teaching at Bennington College, which hired her in part thanks to a recommendation from Harold Bloom.[25] At Bennington, she befriended the philosopher James Fessenden, who first taught there in the same semester.[26]

Through her study of the classics and the scholarly work of Jane Ellen Harrison, James George Frazer, Erich Neumann and others, Paglia developed a theory of sexual history that contradicted a number of ideas in vogue at the time, hence her criticism of Marija Gimbutas, Carolyn Heilbrun, Kate Millett and others. She laid out her ideas on matriarchy, androgyny, homosexuality, sadomasochism and other topics in her Yale PhD thesis Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, which she defended in December 1974. In September 1976, she gave a public lecture drawing on that dissertation,[27] in which she discussed Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, followed by remarks on Diana Ross, Gracie Allen, Yul Brynner, and Stéphane Audran.[28]

Paglia wrote that she “nearly came to blows with the founding members of the women’s studies program at the State University of New York at Albany, when they categorically denied that hormones influence human experience or behavior”.[29] Similar fights with feminists and academics culminated in a 1978 incident which led her to resign from Bennington, after a lengthy standoff with the administration, Paglia accepted a settlement from the college and resigned in 1979.[25]

Paglia finished Sexual Personae in the early 1980s, but could not get it published. She supported herself with visiting and part-time teaching jobs at Yale, Wesleyan, and other Connecticut colleges. Her paper, “The Apollonian Androgyne and the Faerie Queene”, was published in English Literary Renaissance, Winter 1979, and her dissertation was cited by J. Hillis Miller in his April 1980 article “Wuthering Heights and the Ellipses of Interpretation”, in Journal of Religion in Literature, but her academic career was otherwise stalled. In a 1995 letter to Boyd Holmes, she recalled: “I earned a little extra money by doing some local features reporting for a New Haven alternative newspaper (The Advocate) in the early 1980s”. She wrote articles on New Haven’s historic pizzerias and on an old house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.[30]

In 1984, she joined the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, which merged in 1987 with the Philadelphia College of Art to become the University of the Arts.

Paglia is on the editorial board of the classics and humanities journal Arion.[31] She wrote a regular column for Salon.com from 1995 to 2001, and again from 2007 to 2009. Paglia resumed writing a Salon.com column in 2016.[32]

Paglia cooperated with Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock in their writing of Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon, sending them detailed letters from which they quoted with her permission. Rollyson and Paddock note that Sontag “had her lawyer put our publisher on notice” when she realized that they were investigating her life and career.[24]

Paglia participates in the decennial poll of film professionals conducted by Sight & Sound which asks participants to submit a list of what they believe to be the ten greatest films of all time. According to her responses to the poll in 2002 and 2012, the films Paglia holds in highest regard include Ben-Hur, Citizen Kane, La Dolce Vita, The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, North by Northwest, Orphée, Persona, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Ten Commandments, and Vertigo.[33][34]

In 2005, Paglia was named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals by the journals Foreign Policy and Prospect.[16] In 2012, an article in The New York Times remarked that “[a]nyone who has been following the body count of the culture wars over the past decades knows Paglia”.[35] Paglia has said that she is willing to have her entire career judged on the basis of her composition of what she considers to be “probably the most important sentence that she has ever written”: “God is man’s greatest idea.”” (Wikipedia)

Jean Gebser

“Jean Gebser was born August 20, 1905 in the Prussian town of Poznan (which is now a part of Poland). His lineage dates back through an old Franconian family that had been domiciled in Thuringa since 1236. His uncle was the German Chancellor von Bethmann- Hollweg and on his mother’s side he was a descendent of Luther’s friend Melanchthon. He came into this world at an auspicious time to be sure. Five years earlier, Freud had published his groundbreaking work, The Interpretation of Dreams, that was to form the foundations of psychoanalysis and change the course of the study of psychology. In the very year of his birth, Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity that was to have a significant impact on Gebser’s thinking as well as on the world of science as a whole. Max Planck, the great German physicist was promulgating his quantum theory; and Edmund Husserl, a then unknown Austrian philosopher, published his Logical Investigations which were to become the foundation of one of the most influential schools of philosophic thought in the 20th century, namely phenomenology. This was also a time of a great occult revival as well, for the primary rosicrucian organizations that are still operating in the United States, for example, were incorporated around this time as well.

Gebser’s father was a lawyer of some renown; his mother a whimsical, self-seeking beauty many years younger than her husband. He grew up, then, in an educated and cultured environment. Difficulties between his parents drove him inward and he instinctively turned toward literature as his medium of discovery; this was especially true after his father’s death in 1922. Being forced to interrupt his studies upon his father’s death, he spent two years in an apprenticeship in a bank, a task that he disliked severely. A year after beginning this training, however, he and a friend started at literary magazine called the Fischzug, where his first poems were published. In Berlin at the time, and at least a part-time student, he listened to many of the renowned faculty teaching at the university there. Among these was the Catholic philosopher Romano Guardini whose depth of knowledge and spirituality left an indelible impression upon Gebser. During this time he also discovered the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke which had a tremendous impact on his thinking. It was during his Berlin years, however, that he first confronted suicidal despair and the realization that he must venture out into the world in order to find himself. The appearance of the first Brown Shirts in Munich provided him with the reason he needed to leave Germany.

The first stop on his journey was Florence, where he worked for a while in a second-hand bookstore. It was here that he came to the realization that all the books he read had never taught him how to live, hence he began a more active quest toward fulfillment. He tried Germany again, but bade it a final farewell in the Spring of 1931, first going to Paris and then on to Southern France. It was here that he changed his German first name “Hans” to the French “Jean.” Following the footsteps of Rilke, Gebser moved to Spain. He managed to learn the language and obtain a position in the Ministry of Education, in fact, and made friends with many prominent Spaniards, among them Federico Garcia Lorca. Gebser also published a volume of translations of some of these newer Spanish poets. It was in Spain that Gebser first conceived of the ideas that would later take form in his works, Decline and Participation and, of course, The Ever-Present Origin. Shortly before his home in Madrid was bombed in 1936, he managed to flee from Spain. Gebser settled in Paris and made the acquaintances of many of the notable French artists and intelligentsia of the day, including Pablo Picasso. He was involved in writing and literature for the most part, translating Hölderlin’s poetry into Spanish and some of his Spanish friends’ political essays into German; he also produced some of his more minor works. Two hours before the Germans sealed off the borders to France, Gebser again managed to flee, this time to Switzerland, where he would reside from then on. These years were the most productive for Gebser, although life still was not easy for him. He supported himself by freelance writing for the most part, but it was in Basel that he befriended Carl Gustav Jung, at whose institute he also taught for many years. In 1949/1950, his efforts culminated in the publishing of The Ever-Present Origin, his most profound statement regarding the unfoldment of consciousness in man. Throughout all of Gebser’s writings we find him wrestling with this subject, trying to find real answers to the important questions in life, such as “Who am I?,” “Where do I come from?” and “Where am I going?” This work is an answer to all these questions on behalf of us all. During the remainder of his life, Gebser taught, traveled, wrote and lectured. Each subsequent publication elucidated and illuminated various aspects of his most fundamental theme, the evolution of consciousness. He had come into his own and enjoyed a certain, yet modest, renown for his work. On May 14, 1973, Jean Gebser passed through transition, as Feuerstein describes it, “as his death mask bears witness, with a soft and knowing smile.” (Gaiamind)

William Irwin Thompson

“Thompson was born in Chicago and grew up in Los Angeles. Thompson received his B.A. at Pomona College and his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He was a professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then at York University in Toronto. He has held visiting appointments at Syracuse University, the University of Hawaii, University of Toronto, and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

In 1973, he left academia to found the Lindisfarne Association, a group of scientists, poets, and religious scholars who met in order to discuss and to participate in the emerging planetary culture that he led from 1972 to 2012.[1] Thompson lived in Switzerland for 17 years. He describes a recent work, Canticum Turicum in his 2009 book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems, as “a long poem on Western Civilization that begins with folktales and traces of Charlemagne in Zurich and ends with the completion of Western Civilization as expressed in Finnegans Wake and the traces of James Joyce in Zurich.”

Thompson is a Founding Mentor to the private K-12 Ross School in East Hampton, New York. In 1995, with mathematician Ralph Abraham, he designed a new type of cultural history curriculum based on their theories about the evolution of consciousness.[2] Thompson currently resides in Maine.” (Wikipedia)

Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson

"Wilson was born on 26 June 1931 in Leicester, England, the first child of Arthur and Annetta Wilson. His father worked in a shoe factory.[6] At the age of eleven he attended Gateway Secondary Technical School, where his interest in science began to blossom. By the age of 14 he had compiled a multi-volume work of essays covering many aspects of science entitled A Manual of General Science. But by the time he left school at sixteen, his interests were already switching to literature. His discovery of George Bernard Shaw's work, particularly Man and Superman, was an important landmark. He started to write stories, plays, and essays in earnest – a long "sequel" to Man and Superman made him consider himself to be "Shaw's natural successor."[citation needed] After two unfulfilling jobs – one as a laboratory assistant at his old school – he drifted into the Civil Service, but found little to occupy his time. In the Autumn of 1949, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force but soon found himself clashing with authority, eventually feigning homosexuality in order to be dismissed. Upon leaving he took up a succession of menial jobs, spent some time wandering around Europe, and finally returned to Leicester in 1951. There he married his first wife, (Dorothy) Betty Troop, and moved to London, where a son was born. But the marriage rapidly disintegrated as he drifted in and out of several jobs. During this traumatic period, Wilson was continually working and reworking the novel that was eventually published as Ritual in the Dark (1960).[7] He also met three young writers who became close friends – Bill Hopkins, Stuart Holroyd and Laura Del Rivo.[8] Another trip to Europe followed, and he spent some time in Paris attempting to sell magazine subscriptions. Returning to Leicester again, he met Joy Stewart – later to become his second wife and mother of their three children – who accompanied him to London. There he continued to work on Ritual in the Dark, receiving some advice from Angus Wilson (no relation) – then Deputy Superintendent of the British Museum's Reading Room – and slept rough (in a sleeping bag) on Hampstead Heath to save money.[9]

On Christmas Day, 1954, alone in his room, he sat down on his bed and began to write in his journal. He described his feelings as follows:

"It struck me that I was in the position of so many of my favourite characters in fiction: Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge, the young writer in Hamsun's Hunger: alone in my room, feeling totally cut off from the rest of society. It was not a position I relished . . . Yet an inner compulsion had forced me into this position of isolation. I began writing about it in my journal, trying to pin it down. And then, quite suddenly, I saw that I had the makings of a book. I turned to the back of my journal and wrote at the head of the page: 'Notes for a book The Outsider in Literature' . . ."" (Wikipedia)