Dec 23, 2023·edited Dec 23, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

I'm appreciative that you allow the God of good questions to possess your pen and allow them to be shared publicly. "Who are you, spirit of Twitter?" is penetratingly powerful question, and of course what your whole essay is about. I spent quite a bit of time in a spiritual community led by a living teacher whose influence was palpably mysterious and forceful, not in an aggressive sense, but in the sense of deeply grounded authority. He was the kind of person who came off like an ancient tree. You couldn't "see" his root system, but we could all feel its stability, so you'd naturally gravitate toward him when you wanted or needed anchoring for your very being. The quality of that rootedness also allowed one to climb high on the stability of that spiritual tree. There was enough spiritual "lift" in his presence that some individuals in the community achieved levels of clarity and insight that were notable and put them in the spotlight of the community, inevitably arousing dynamics of jealousy, power, and politics. I observed our teacher, on numerous occasions, throw cresting individuals under the bus. Publicly criticizing, mocking or deriding their spiritual accomplishments, which always seemed odd to me and felt "off". It was only many years later that his actions registered as an act of care and love. I believe he was protecting the work of individual students by dismantling their public momentum so they could continue their practice without the distraction and contamination of the ordinary group mind we all presumably had come to transcend. He'd ruin personal popularity to let a progressing student practice in peace. I see your instinct to get off of Twitter as a healthy form of protection on your own path. There is so much more in this essay that I appreciate. It's mood is resonant with the practice of inquiry as taught by Ramana Maharshi, or the use of Koan. Your continuous exploration of what it means to be a conscious human and to manage one's attention in a useful way is always appreciated. In my view you're letting the right God's help you dance on the right strings.

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This is an enjoyable and challenging read. Something we all have to wrestle with is to use technology rather than be used by it.

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Apr 6Liked by James Taylor Foreman

This is a fascinating essay. There's also research about the behaviour of crowds, how crowds behave in ways that the individuals who make up the crowd say they would not. Maybe it's more than just conformity. As an educator, I relate to the idea that different audiences have different characters; that has always been my experience with classes of students.

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Jan 30Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Excellent piece Taylor. Will be chewing on this one for a while.

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Better than the time I went viral. Mine was just an emoji conglomeration of a biblically accurate angel.

I hated the idea of people thinking I sat around coming up with the best way to present angels haha

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

The thing about these egrogoric systems is that they’re almost, without fail, evil and corrupting in one way or another. The good ones align themselves to a certain “The Good” but even out of balance a good can become corrupt and thus why we should cleave to “The Good” exclusively.

Jonathan Pageux had a good speech on this at ARC.

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

I love the idea of these egregores having “immune systems” and “antibodies” that socially react to put us back in our place. Well, actually, back in THEIR place. :) Great read, thanks Taylor!

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Sounds like a version of the Matrix!

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You deleted twitter? Tell me about it

I cast away Facebook's binding chain,

Then Twitter's allure became my bane.

Believing knowledge was my gain,

Yet in that belief, I was vain.

Twitter passed, YouTube took the stage,

Offering wisdom on its digital page.

"Knowledge in depth," I'd proudly gauge,

Yet deep inside, it was just a cage.

YouTube gone, to writing I turned,

Convinced my thoughts would be discerned.

In the clarity of words, I yearned

For truths that I had spurned.

But here I am, on Substack's tide,

Repeating habits I once denied.

In search of knowledge, have I lied

To myself, despite the ride?

The curse of knowledge, a siren's call,

From platform to platform, I fall.

In seeking wisdom, I lose it all,

A cycle that holds me in thrall.

For every medium I forsake,

Another rises, keeps me awake.

In this quest for understanding's sake,

Do I gain, or just partake

In a loop, a mistake,

That wisdom alone cannot break?


And so I say


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For example, Greek conceptualized anger as a god, Ares.

Emm. Lyssa was the Greek god of anger, mad rage, frenzy, and rabies in animals. She was closely tied to the Maniae, the spirits of madness and insanity.

Ares was the god of war. By the way, you don't have to be angry to fight or do war.

I think the gods of twitter are Khaos and eris. the goddesses of confusion and discord.

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Very nice development. You should come discuss with us on the HWFO slack. We've been working on identifying, tracking, and classifying egregores.

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I’m glad I made the effort to read your essay this week, Taylor. I recall one of our left brain-right brain conversations, and knew there was something about the perspectives your share that is deeply nourishing in its own right, even if I can’t yet feel the grounding that embodied knowledge brings.

I haven’t quite made the leap of understanding to embody what you’ve shared here (I haven’t yet followed up on Erik Hoel’s article) but I’m hoping that by distilling my emergent thoughts, some deeper, more embodied thinking might emerge.

You question about “What can I do to resist?” Made my neurons fire up about the racism I’ve experienced wherever I’ve lived. When I’m in the UK, some people think I’m an immigrant who should “go home” or that I’ve spread “Kung-flu”. When I’ve lived in China, I don’t LOOK different, but I’m “not Chinese enough”. In resisting, I could have been like a virus that’s smart enough to escape detection by the antibodies that peer pressure me into dancing at a concert. Or I could choose to be detected, and survive, and become part of a new consciousness. At some point, might I find an emerging consciousness that dances more like me?

Why do we assume consciousness only exists one skull at a time? What a delicious question! My neurons fire up with the experience of the groups I coach having different “personalities”, just like Rick Lewis’s audiences. They also fire up memories of watching the Borg as a collective consciousness (?) that is the biggest threat so far to Star Trek Federation.

The memes that are “deep enough to be biological/genetic” make me think about intergenerational trauma where traumatic effects are passed down from one generation to the next even without exposure to the original event.

And finally, if archetypes, like gods, are conscious in the same way we are, does it mean that for them to even exist, we must exist, too? In other words, without humans firing neurons together, our gods, would archetypes and deepest memes exist (Schroödinger’s theory aside)?

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phenomenal writing and a very powerful concept. i am terrified of the implications.

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Spirituality is an important part of life. Pure atheism doesn't meaningfully address this deep human concern. Learning about the "pagan" philosophy of Greece, Rome, or other non-Abrahamic traditions can be useful, for sure.

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I stopped posting on Instagram and Twitter and experienced peace. Demons left my body.

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