The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show, Euvie Ivanova, or Bonnitta Roy. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guests are Bonnie Roy and Euvie Ivanova. Welcome Bonnie and Euvie.
Bonnitta: Hey there, Jim.
Euvie: Hi. Thanks for having us.
Jim: Yeah, it’s great to have you. Both are returning guests. Bonnie was on EP17 way back in the early days of our show where we talked on process thinking and complexity, and Euvie and her husband, Mike Gilliland, were on current 017, where we talked about smart villages. So, it’s great to have you guys back.
Bonnie teaches insight practices for individuals who are developing metacognitive skills and hosts collective insight retreats to help groups break away from limiting patterns of thought. Her teaching highlights the embodied, effective, perceptual aspects of the core self and the non-egoic potentials from which subtle sensing, intuition and insight emerge. Sounds like pretty cool stuff, whatever the hell it is. In 2021, she started the pop-up school to bring her teaching to larger audiences. Through her company C-Labs, Bonnie is developing applications that can visualize changing patterns as teams work through complex problems. That really sounds pretty cool. I should also note Bonnie’s got a Substack that I subscribe to, at Bonnitta, with two Ns and two Ts, Roy.substack.com. Its title is The Pop-Up School.
Euvie Ivanova is a media producer, speaker, educator, and mama. How old’s that baby now?
Euvie: He is almost three.
Jim: Almost three. As I was telling Bonnie, we’re up here in Pittsburgh this week doing grandparenting duty with our lovely two-year-old granddaughter.
Jim: You know about them terrible twos, I imagine.
Jim: Euvie is the co-founder of FutureThinkers.org, which is a podcast. I think I’ve been on that podcast, I believe, and a community dedicated the evolution of society, technology, and consciousness towards regenerative future. She’s currently in the early stage of building a regenerative village in Canada, very exciting project, that one, and you can learn more about Future Thinkers at futurethinkers.org. That’s pretty cool domain name, actually. Euvie just let me know through chat that she has a Substack, which I was not aware of. I have to subscribe to that. I just sent an email to a friend of mine in Australia saying, “I just did the calculations and I’m now spending more per month on Substack than I am on beer.” I’m not sure what that means, but it’s something significant. Euvie, E-U-V-I-E, Ivanova, I-V-A-N-O-V-A at .substack.com. Haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m sure it’s pretty cool.
So, let’s have at it. Today’s podcast is an interesting, curious, and unique one so far at least, in the history of The Jim Rutt Show, in that I happened to be I guess in the right state of mind and happened to stumble across a very short tweet exchange. Basically, three tweets, starting off with Euvie. There was another correspondent in the middle and Bonnie responded to the commenter in the middle. Three short tweets. Somehow, it fascinated me and due to some things I’d been reading at the time and thinking about, and I said, “I want to know more about this, but I don’t want to know more about it until we do the podcast.” So, truthfully, I’m not entirely sure what they’re up to here. And so they’re going to have an opportunity to tell you what they were thinking at the time and when them we’ll take it to wherever it happens to go. Is that good, ladies?
Bonnitta: Yeah. Are you going to remind us of what the tweet storm was?
Jim: I’m going to read the tweet. It’s not even a tweet storm. More like a tweet little-
Jim: Flicker. That’s a perfect word. Euvie starts out, “We face just one problem and just one solution. The problem of intimacy and the solution of intimacy. A group of people with highly-developed skills would fall short of collective wisdom unless they are successful in also cultivating collective intimacy.”
Euvie: And here, I was quoting Bonnie.
Jim: I did not know that but I saw Bonnie’s at sign and I thought maybe you were just calling your attention to it. Okay. That even better. Oh, even better. So, quoting Bonnie, an intermediary comment was, “Intimacy is not a universal good thing. It takes significantly more cognitive and emotional resources to maintain it, and it often leads to attachment, which can be problematic. My take is that intimacy should be handled with care and careful people can appreciate it.” And so then Bonnie replied to the intermediate replier. “Yes, that is why it is both the problem and the solution.”
All right, take it away. Why don’t we start with Euvie since you started the flicker. What were you getting at with that?
Euvie: Well, I was quoting Bonnie. She wrote several articles following her retreat at the Monastic Academy where she was invited to participate with several other teachers to try to figure out what is wisdom and how do we teach it to people. For her paid subscribers, I think most of those posts were where she explored some of these subjects and the stuff is super potent. So, if people listening are interested in this sort of thing, they should definitely go and subscribe.
The thing that really resonated with me about this is, well, especially in Western society, it seems that the loneliness epidemic and the disconnection, the atomization of everybody is getting worse and worse every year. It’s almost like some of the young people that I meet are afraid of having intimacy at all. They’re completely shut down. And older people too, but it’s especially noticeable in the younger people and they would rather get distracted with video games than actually have feelings or talk to each other. And so it just seemed very relevant, that passage from Bonnie’s article. So, that’s why I tweeted it.
Jim: Yeah, very cool. I think that’s why it resonated with me. The day before, I’d had lunch with a just-retired psychotherapist who’s also a professor of cognitive science. One of the things that came up was he said that, “Amongst people under 40, something just short of a majority, like 40%, don’t have a single person that they feel like they can confide in.” What? How could you live that way? That would be very strange. And then he said, here’s an even stranger one. He said, “70% of all Americans today say that in a given week, they don’t have a single authentic conversation with anybody.” Again, from my perspective… But hey, I’m an old boomer. We were kind of different in those days, I guess.
I have noticed things like when we go out to dinner, my wife and I will, my family tradition, my father was famous for this, kind of engage the servers in conversation, actual authentic conversation. I would say half the time, it’s fun, goes well. Half the time, they freak out and shut down, “What the hell? What kind of maniac is this? What lunatic asylum did this guy escape from?” And that was certainly not the case 20 years ago or everybody just went with it.
So, something has changed, something is going on, and at least my perspective, there does seem to be both a loneliness, and I’m going to also put out another concept, a shallowness epidemic. People want to keep shallow and I think that there’s something strange about that.
So, now, over to Bonnie. One, you can give some background on the quote, where it came from, what you meant, and then also your response.
Bonnitta: Yeah. As Euvie said, I was writing dispatches from my experience at the Monastic Academy and I was really writing from first-person felt sense. It was very personal, it wasn’t meant to be an overview of the topics that we talked about and all of that content is being analyzed and organized by the designers of the program.
But what was interesting to me is that it came at the end of a year where I had not participated in many events like the Emerge Gatherings. There was several gatherings in Berlin and Brussels, but I’d been working with people who had participated in gatherings. In many cases, the reports coming from these gatherings had less-than-stellar remarks that there was a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of tension, some downright disputes, people walking out, a lot of drama.
When I was going to this event, I was noticing that I had not been at a peerage event in a long time. I’d basically been teaching students, ever since COVID anyways. And not since the demise of the integral theory conferences had I really been in a group setting, a symposium with peers. I was noticing that I was paying attention to what the experience would be like for me. The people there were all very high-level participants and the project was extremely challenging.
But what was interesting is when we started the first evening, we had a plenary with the community there and we were all asked to give our initial impressions. What was happening for me was I was noticing that I was having trouble arriving because I love my farm and my husband had to take over all the duties. He took the week off. I do all this gardening and I was filled with the details. “Those tomatoes are ready to be picked now and those things and the horses and this horse needs…” It’s just I’m tethered to this place and I’m intimate with this place and I was having trouble arriving. So, that was my first experience.
But as I stood in front of the community and I looked at my colleagues, I realized that I was actually tethered to them too. This was my first, the word tethered, and that was pulling me into the experience there at the Monastic Academy. That’s when I started to think about the possibility of what is it like to be in dialogue with people who you’re actually creating intimacy with?
Now, I have a very precise definition of intimacy and intimacy for me is when the boundaries between self and others start to get porous. This can happen, for example, in a mental kind of conference. If we’re talking complexity theory and pretty soon after we figure out our terms, we’re realizing that we’re saying the same thing and we’re building on the same concepts. Well, pretty soon, I have this fuzzy feeling, “Did you say that first? Or did I say that first? Or whose concept was it?” So, the boundary between my mind and my perspective and yours can get fuzzy. This could happen in a somatic way with great sex, like the boundaries between whose body is doing what to whom. This becomes porous. So, for me, that’s the definition of intimacy. It can show up in these different domains, in these different aspects.
But I started to, what I said in my introduction was I said I had a hunch about how this thing was going to play out and what might separate it from all the conferences we go to and all the times we try to have some emergent group effect. It occurred to me that this experience of being tethered to people had something to do with intimacy. We’ll unpack it.
I’m just giving you the background, but I do want to tag on it’s interesting you said something about this friend of yours who’s a psychotherapist because this notion of intimacy also has to do with, if you know the work of Diana Fosha, in psychotherapy, there are clear somatic markers of when people are getting at the truth sense or the core sense or they may go to psychotherapy because they’re in the time of transition, their old identities don’t make any sense.
Maybe you are a mother your whole life and now you don’t have a career, your kids are gone, and your identity is in transition. So, you go to a coach or psychotherapist and then as you’re working through, there’s a point at which something really lands. There’s somatic markers to that. I would say that I was also thinking of this experience of intimacy, not just as this conceptual thing, but that there’s a real somatic marker when in group dialogue or when a group comes together and you’re working on something and you’re working through some challenges, there’s this experience of things landing and it becomes intimate. You’re not sure. So, these boundaries between self and other. I’ll stop there, but that’s the background of what I was talking about.
Jim: Yeah, I see that. I’ve been kind of hunkered down since COVID. I do 15 Zooms a week probably. Many of them were people I don’t know at all. Just interesting people I get tipped to or approach me and we all have our deflector shields up to some degree. We don’t let our real selves down. On the other hand, there are people who are my good friends, either people I’ve already established in real life relationships with, which is best. But sometimes, if you’ve done enough really good-quality conversation on Zoom, you get to the point where the shields come down and you actually say who you are, you represent how you’re feeling, and you do so honestly, you’re not just, “I feel fine.” You’re saying, “Oh, actually, I dropped that box on my toe and it hurts like hell.” Or whatever. And it’s noticeably different.
The semipermeable membranes that all beings have to separate themselves from the other, that semi-permeability is adjustable. You can certainly feel it when it’s much more open than closed and you can really feel it when as far as you can tell, it’s probably not true. Because our subconscious is always at work. But when we think at least that the filter is completely down and we’re just being with each other, and that thing that really resonated with your introduction is when you’re having the conversation, you really have no idea who said what. The conversation is the thing. And that neither is playing the egoic game of, “I said this, aren’t I cool?” Rather we’re engaged in, as Jordan Hall likes to say, actual thought rather than simulated thinking. The thing itself is emerging from the fact that we’re having this rather intimate conversation than both parties have managed or both or many parties. We’ll get a little bit later to some of your thoughts on how many happens when the visor comes up and we’re no longer trying to filter.
So, Euvie, over to you. What were you pointing at with this quote when you decided that the world needed to see it, They really needed yet another tweet. Why did you think it was worth the life of those poor electrons to put this into circulation again?
Euvie: Yeah. Well, the porous membrane is a really good way to put it, I think. I wrote some articles following my experience at Emerge and one of the experiences that I described was the circle of women where we actually got to collective intimacy. It was really profound for all of us. It seems to be causing ripples still, even though we’re how many months after the event? It was exactly that experience of just everybody letting their guard down and a lot of emotional expression and people talking about real stuff, life, death, birth, pain, grief, transformation, these kinds of just very human. It’s just all very human stuff. But we’re all just being human together. So, I called it collective sapiens because collective intelligence is like you’re playing with ideas really well together, but we were actually fully embodied with all of our emotions and experiences, just being together in that. So, I don’t know if that’s what Bonnie would call collective intimacy, but I think it’s perhaps similar at least. So, that’s why specifically that tweet.
Jim: Gotcha. In thinking about this actual experience, how many people were in the group that you were writing about?
Euvie: It actually grew throughout the experience. It started with maybe 10 or 12 and then grew to, I think, over 25. Because it had gravity, people kept coming to it because there was a charge. There was a field that we were creating together.
Jim: Interesting. 25’s hard to reach coherence of 25 people. That’s really hard.
Euvie: Yeah. The interesting thing that I noticed is that there were sort of concentric circles of people who were different sort of levels of intensity. There was an inner circle who were all sitting on the floor and were most engaged and people were crying and hugging and kissing, very somatic and very intense. And then there was a circle around us, people who were engaged some of the time, and then an outer circle of people who were almost holding the field. They were just present, observing and being there with us, but not really participating.
Jim: That makes sense. From the bit I know about psychodynamics and groups, really hard to keep coherence above 15, shall we say?
Euvie: Yeah, Sub-Dunbar numbers, right?
Jim: The various Dunbar numbers, the one and a half, the five, the 15, and the 50, right? Five, coherence takes work, but can be done. 15, it can be done. That’s sort of the football team size. But above that, really, really difficult. Very interesting. Did you just get a sense that there was sort of 5, 15 and then the rest, something like that?
Euvie: Yes, there were kind of nested coherences within the group. It was very interesting.
Jim: Bonnie, what do you think about the group aspects of this?
Bonnitta: I want to make a distinction and Euvie and I weren’t at the same events. And so a little bit of me is, I’ve got to try to imagine, but I think in my experience, there’s a distinction. Usually in groups you have, what I’m thinking Euvie is describing is you can have this collective somatic embodied intimacy, and then you can have disembodied conceptualization and people usually toggle between the two. It’s usually hard to have an experience of crying and emotional release and to be conceptual at the same time. And yet, many people, when they’re conceptual and they’re working on problems, can’t access what I’m calling intimacy, and I’ll use a terminology from Ria Beck’s work. She says, “There’s two types of collective work. There’s collective presencing, where’s you’re trying to create embodied coherence. And then there’s the circle of creativity, where from that coherence you’re actually exercising very creative imaginal and can be conceptually complex faculties.”
This is the experience that I think we shared at MAPLE, and that is, how do you root in the intimate and then exercise the imaginal? Many people can toggle back and forth and there’s neurological reasons why. There’s only so many resources you have. For most of us, those resources are partitioned and there’s a competition. So, if I’m lost in thought, I walk into a car because my perceptual acuity is offline. So, what I’m talking about is something that I would say is more rare and more integrative and more difficult to accomplish. My hypothesis in the writing was that it’s this level of capacity and only this level of capacity that will solve the problems that we have.
I’m going to go back to Diana Fosha’s psychotherapy, which is an individual framework, but she talks about the power, when you get to the truth sense, it’s embodied and there’s a mentalization and there’s an imaginal conceptualization.
Again, I know that there are a lot of times groups will get into this circle of intimacy and become imaginal, but it’s not conceptually rich and it’s this conceptual richness that we also need in addressing our problems, at least rich enough to make distinctions between the mental models we have, to make metacognitive distinctions. That requires a lot of resources that are in a different domain than some of these kind of group collective embodiment practices.
I just want to say the other thing. Interesting in my situation, there was also circles. There was the community itself that handled all the logistics and made the food and set the rituals. We had a lot of rituals, and continued their daily monastic life, which set a certain context that was very powerful. And then there were the nine teachers, the peer group that came to contribute to the challenge. And then there was six designer developers that were supporting the teachers. So, there was this nested set of support, which I think is not trivial. It made us all think that the design constraints for something like this to emerge are much larger than you think. So, if there’s nine people in the center, then there’s got to be 15 people at the other. And then the design team, the facilities team, has to be 20 or 30 people. We thought that that was probably not trivial and not a coincidence. So, that was some more background into that.
Jim: And so it sounds like the kind of intimacy that the group achieved at this event was more of a cognitive creative kind, with less emphasis on the embodied, or did you do both?
Bonnitta: Okay, that’s a good question. We did do embodied exercises once or twice a day. We started with intimate push hands that turned into real roughhousing where we were throwing each other on the ground. We had two really good leaders. One, it was a teacher, and I led one of them, and I led one where the whole purpose is you do tai chi push hands, but you agree not to let go. And one’s a leader and one’s the follower and you take the person on an imaginal journey and you end up inhabiting this imaginal reality with the other person. But the movement itself is so slow and intimate. I mean, you actually fall in love with people maybe for a short time. But what it wasn’t was a circle where we all sat around and emoted. When we got back to work, we were at work, but the connection that we were experiencing was deepening.
Jim: Euvie, on the other side, your group sounded, first and foremost, about the embodied. Did it ever flip into the cognitive creative?
Euvie: That’s a really good question. Well, the whole conference was actually cognitive creative, and that was the context for how we were gathering. I would say that we actually dipped into the embodied because of the people who were there, which was unique. So, we were doing both. I think that’s why it was so profound for many of us. We recognized that, “Oh, this is actually really rare.”
So, the people that were there, it was a lot of women, a lot of them from the integral space or high-level complexity thinkers and a handful of men as well. All of us, we were definitely at the conference level at least, discussing ideas for the most part. And then when we dipped into this embodied space, and it was both. It’s hard to find words to describe it because it’s like we went into this field and everything just clicked together. We weren’t trying to engineer it. There was something just very emergent about it, which Emerge Conference, and this was the most emergent experience at the whole conference. I think a lot of the people who were there in that circle agree also.
Jim: Very cool. Yeah, that’s kind of interesting. The two together. Always ponder that. Probably the closest experience I’ve ever had to something like this were the five meetings that we had in Virginia that gave birth to the Game B movement, where we brought people together every six to eight weeks, five times. The group gradually grew from, I think the first one was nine and the last one was like 30. We had intentionally, fair bit of socializing dinners, drunken dinners, usually one, sightseeing and activities and stuff. And then the people got to know each other quite well. And then we’d break into virtual work, real work on real stuff, for the six to eight weeks in-between, then we get back together again. You could just see this combination gradually building in power until the level of coherence got to be very, very strong. And then of course, famously, it all fell apart. That’s another story for another day, when we, I think pushed it a little too big, a little too fast. But that’s a story for another day.
But it was very interesting to see this. I would say we were a more cool and cerebral bunch in general, but we did get to be good, real, authentic, intimate friends, most of us with each other. And that, I believe, can’t prove it, levered up our power to be cognitive creative when we got together for our day and a half of high-powered presentations, discussions, debate, and synthesis. So, somehow, the two together reinforce each other and make each other better in some sense.
Bonnitta: I want to keep putting a little more pressure in the cooker here. One of the things about intimacy, or in this way I’m talking about it, is that it is not risk-avoidant. It allows you to take more risk so you find yourself at one point, I remember saying, “Why don’t we just make declarative statements now?” This was two days in. Instead of giving the context and hedging what we’re going to say, what if we just… And it was extremely powerful because they intentionally designed it so there was many different perspectives. We all came from different traditions. Some of us, you might say, intellectually hold the antithesis to someone else’s tradition. Some people have written academic articles heavily criticizing, let’s say, some of the zen doctrines. And then yet, Soryu Forall, the zen monk from the monastery, was one of the teachers.
One of the things that I think is a good feature is that as you develop a deeper intimacy, either you could say you take more risk or the sense of risk in really challenging someone or really disagreeing, it tends to be minimized. And then when you do take that risk, you find that it’s very beneficial so that you’re afforded more creativity in both across the two different dialogues. And then you’re faced with the fact that this person is completely disagreeing with me, and yet from the intimacy, I can see there’s a context in which they are also right. You’re forced to stew that into something new. Whereas without the intimacy, you hedge your bets. You agree too often. You let things slide because you want to be…
I remember on the second day sitting before the actual session started, the work session, talking to one of the other teachers and saying, “The problem is we’re too pro-social. Everybody wants to agree and kind of allow that person’s context. And maybe I try to understand it and yet it’s not radical enough a technology of what we need today.” And that, we talked about it, and it helped us make these declarative sentences. So, I think there’s a rigor that’s involved if you really want to mine, that’s kind of sounds very instrumental, but I think that it’s just a marker of what we’re potentially looking for in some of these productive events.
Jim: I like the fact that you focused on disagreement because we are humans. Every single person is different. To expect agreement on everything is just a fool’s error and it leads to all kinds of false positions, least it’d be my experience. You are right that in certain social contexts, well, actually there’s two errors. One is to be too agreeable, the other is to be too defensive and sort of mechanically disagreeable.
I’m going to riff on what you said a little bit about risk. I’m going to suggest that at total intimacy, there’s no risk. And that is indeed by definition because if the conversation is a joint construct, even if we’re vigorously disagreeing on fundamentals, it’s a co-creation. And so neither of us or all of us involved should feel any possible negative valence about it.
Bonnitta: Right. I was just saying, but from the outside, it would look like you were taking more risks.
Jim: Yeah, the subjective sense of it is, “Hey, we’re in this. We’re co-creating and we’re co-creating by disagreeing, and that’s okay.”
Bonnitta: Yeah. And actually from the outside, sometimes you’ll have the experience of two people and you’re like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe he said that,” or, “She said that.” And then you notice that it’s not destructive of the conversation.
Jim: Yeah, no fists fly, right? It’s like, okay, this is actually what was necessary at that moment. Euvie, what are your thoughts on the gestalt together aspect of this?
Euvie: Mm-hmm. It’s almost like creative tension sometimes is very generative. And also the idea that sort of the notion of dangerous ideas. I don’t know what the generalization is, but yeah, the agreeableness that we, on the one hand, we kind of have to be tolerant to these things that maybe we don’t fundamentally disagree with. But then at the same time, it’s like certain ideas are just not allowed. And when you’re in real intimacy, you can speak dangerous ideas and it’s fine.
Jim: Yeah, that’s huge. That is huge. The whole free speech discussion that’s happening in our society is actually about this. That more and more and more ideas are being flagged. “Can’t say that. Can’t say that. Nope, nope, nope.” I know that strikes me as exceedingly dangerous, as somebody I was talking to, I don’t remember who was saying, he called it the garage band analogy, that most garage bands suck. i.e. most ideas suck, or at least ones that float around the internet. But if we didn’t have garage bands, rock and roll would never progress. And so if we’re afraid to let the thousand flowers bloom and not let dangerous ideas in for discussion, then we’re probably going to kill an awful lot of useful shoots in their early stages. Of course, on the flip side of it, it might say that there are some domains where that may not be appropriate, where there isn’t enough intimacy or honesty to have an honest conversation about dangerous ideas.
Bonnitta: But I think this goes back to what you were saying about people not having confidants and not having what I would call, call them spiritual friends, that you could actually… A lot of people have friends where you go and you go at the bar and you know your role as a friend or-
Jim: Shallow, shallow. So, I’m saying that shallowness epidemic. I try to avoid that, but a lot of that out there.
Bonnitta: But there are people that have no intimate friends, no spiritual confidants, no real familial relationships. I heard Bob Keegan tell a statistic about the most important thing for a child is to have unstructured time with their parents. This doesn’t exist anymore. Parents have quality time, but it’s time-stamped and it’s structured. I have friends where they will say, “I want to play with my child, but I don’t know how to do that with my body anymore.” They get on the floor and they kind of are trying to be playful, but they actually, if they admit it, they’re not having any fun. They’d rather be on their screens. They don’t have the ability to have fun with their bodies anymore.
This was what was great at the event is we were pinning each other down and throwing each other around. If you were paired up with a guy who was stronger than you, they just threw you. I remember this layman, he saw me throw someone because I had a clever trick. I’ve done Qigong. And he was my partner and he laid on me, he practically dislocated my shoulders and I had no maneuverability. I was supposed to get up from underneath him. And then people were just laughing at me. The body came into play in a way that some people don’t know how to do that with their bodies anymore.
Sometimes, these methodologies are created because they instruct us to do stuff with our body that looks like that. But it’s still another role. And so I think that you can’t disagree and the whole wave of canceling is because that’s what you get. If you can’t have intimacy, then you have to have some kind of attachment to your ideology. I mean, you’re boxed into a corner where that’s all you have.
Jim: Yeah, tribal affiliation. If you’ve retreated to nothing but tribal affiliation, you’re not going to learn anything new. By definition. You’re going to look to the tribe for your reference. And that’s what cancel culture of both wings is about, is ranking tribal adherence above actual thinking. You don’t need any intimacy at all to be part of a lynch mob. All you got to do is just go along with the person with the rope. Very sad where we are in some of that.
I want to make the comment. I’ll bet you there was no corporate HR department around at your event. There were no censors on how you guys chose to interact, though presumably there were some emergent culture about what the limits were, like you could throw each other, but nobody pulled guns out, things like that.
Bonnitta: Well, actually, the whole thing, the backdrop was we were guests of the residents there and everything was extremely time-stamped. The design crew had a pretty solid idea of how they wanted the topics to emerge. So, there was a lot of structure involved. The design crew, they did things the first day that really didn’t work. And then they switched really. They had a lot of meetings after-hours and they reinvented things as they went along. So, there was a lot of structure and it kept iterating it. And one of the teachers was also working with the design crew.
So, I would say that a lot of these successful experiments have a lot of design structure, but when they’re successful, they disappear. But yeah, there was no power asymmetry, let’s say. There was role asymmetry, but there was no superordinate faculty.
Jim: Or set of arbitrary rules that were imposed upon you, right? There was structure, but it was dynamic structure that was adaptive to the situation.
Bonnitta: Yeah, the first day, there was some very strong rules. They have some very strong rules around artificial scents. So, some people couldn’t wear their own clothes because they used dryer sheets or something. So, there were some really strong rules. But that was the one that was really… Because I guess, some people have really bad allergies. I’m not sure what it is.
But what they did is they said, “Okay, you’ll notice we eat in ritual and if you want to join the ritual, just watch. And if you don’t do it really right, then you’ll get better the next day. But if you don’t want to join the ritual, if you’re late or whatever, you just wait until people are seated and then you can go over to this table and do things less formally.” So, it was this really nice way of adding options for if you weren’t a practicing resident. Most residents were there for three months to three years, and the residents had quiet after a certain time, but we were allowed to violate that and stuff like that. So, it was an interesting mixture of different levels of rules.
Jim: So, there was a HR department, but they just provide you with some space.
All right, we’re going to go onto another, probably the last topic, which is the person that posted between you two. They put out a post which I’m going to read again and I’m going to ask Euvie to react to it and then Bonnitta and we’ll probably wrap it there. We’ll be coming up, I’m sure, at our hour by then. If we go over a little bit, that’s fine. So, the third poster wrote, “Intimacy is not a universal good thing. It takes significantly more cognitive and emotional resources to maintain it. And it often leads to attachment, which can be problematic. My take is that intimacy should be handled with care and kept for people who can appreciate it.” Euvie?
Euvie: I’m not sure how to respond to that, other than you can’t de-human the human. Humans do what they do, we get attached. It’s a feature, not a bug. I would say that it’s maybe more about doing it skillfully rather than not doing it at all.
The word attachment has several meanings. In sort of Buddhist line of thinking, the word attachment is used in one way and then attachment theory like children to mothers, it’s used another way. So, in the first sense, in the Buddhist sense, it’s often used negatively. We shouldn’t be attached. Bonnie can probably comment more deeply on this.
So, let’s try to figure out which sense he was saying. And I know this person personally, actually, which adds another dimension of complexity. From that context, the attachment in the sense of mother and child, if it’s not developed properly, then the person will have all sorts of problems with intimacy later in life. I think that this sense is actually very important in this context because people who have healthy attachment with their mothers tend to have less problems with this, with becoming too intimate, not intimate enough. They just naturally figure out how to do it appropriately. People who don’t have healthy attachment with their mothers, either like cling so, so much that they suffocate the other person, or they’re not able to have intimacy at all, where they’re too detached. So, I think this is what this person was pointing to.
Bonnitta: I’m going to do a little bit of semantic mapping here. This word attachment, and Euvie used it in all the right ways. There’s the Buddhist notion of attachment, which gets problematized. And then we have Western psychological attachment theory. So, the word attachment is asked to do different things and it’s part of the confusion.
Attachment is problematized by Buddhists because it’s like being attached to something you can’t have or attached to something you want to have. Intimacy is not about having the other person or scoring with the other person or having them agree with you.
And so I would say this third poster, I want to call them the N poster. That’s why intimacy is the problem because people don’t understand what intimacy is. It’s not attachment. Once you become intimate with someone, there’s not this push-pull of attachment. Whose idea was it? Whose reality is it? Whose truth is it? It becomes not a game of having and losing. Like you said, there’s less risk subjectively felt in it. It’s exactly when you start to lose intimacy, let’s say, you lose trust, that then this attachment having kind of dynamic happens again. And so I would say many people have no experience of intimacy in their families, no experience of intimacy with their friends. Many married couples have no experience of intimacy. They go through their whole life playing roles and role attachment and that this is why intimacy is the problem, because people don’t know what you’re trying to point to. But I also hypothesize that it’s the solution.
Jim: All right, Bonnitta Roy, Bonnie Roy, and Euvie Ivanova. Thank you both for a very interesting conversation. As I said right up front, I had no idea if taking 200 characters worth of tweets and trying to turn a podcast out of it was a good idea or not. Turned out it was a damn good idea there, Jim.
Bonnitta: Hooray for Jim.
Jim: Yay. But frankly, I didn’t do any of the work. Thank you. Hooray for Bonnie and Euvie who actually built this conversation, so it was great.
Bonnitta: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for noticing
Euvie: And thanks for inviting us.
Jim: We’ll do it again.