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Imagination and Participation: A Bohm-Barfield Nexus

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Event Series Event Series: Beyond Bohm 2021

August 15, 2021 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm CEST

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Imagination and Participation: A Bohm-Barfield Nexus

with James Peat Barbieri, Hester Reeve, Mark Vernon
Facilitated by Lee Nichol

Sunday August 15, 2021
9:00 PDT | 12:00 EDT | 17:00 BST  |  18:00 CEST

2-hour session

If you are unable to attend the live session, the recording will be available.

For those who have surveyed David Bohm’s version of dialogue and the larger theoretical context from which it emerged, a trove of concepts and definitions will be familiar: participatory thought, literal thought, thought of type “A” and type “B”, representations, collective representations.

What is less familiar is the extent to which Bohm imported these concepts from his long relationship with the philologist Owen Barfield, whose lifework centered around what he called “the evolution of consciousness.” In this view, human consciousness has shifted from a dispersed, widely focused consciousness (original participation) to the pinpoint, individualized consciousness that we experience today. Barfield proposed that this atomistic, individualized consciousness has the potential to now open into a transformed participatory mode, deriving from the “interiority,” or selfhood, that is a correlate of individuated consciousness.

Our roundtable will survey the relationship between the two men, and the mutually informing nature of their respective bodies of work. We aim to develop a kind of “binocular vision,” in which the overlapping insights of Bohm and Barfield yield greater depth and understanding than either one standing alone. This will lead us to a key point of reference the two men shared – the nature of imagination as outlined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We will attempt to indicate what this kind of imagination has to offer contemporary humanity – and the prospect of moving from a theory of imagination to its practical engagement and flowering.

To see the Full Beyond Bohm Series

Lee Nichol, Bohm collaborator, editor, educator

Lee Nichol is the editor of David Bohm’s On Dialogue; On Creativity; and The Essential David Bohm. From 1980-1992 he collaborated with Bohm on various aspects of dialogue, consciousness, and education.

He has been on the faculty of the Arthur Morgan School in Celo, NC; of the Oak Grove School in Ojai, CA; of the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, CA; and of Denver University in Denver, CO.

Lee is currently at work on a new book – Entering Bohm’s Holoflux – to be released in July 2021 by Pari Publishing.

James Peat Barbieri studied at a professional dance school, Ateneo della Danza, Siena, and then moved on to academic studies. He graduated from King’s College, University of London in Physics and Philosophy in 2019.

He is on the Board of Directors of the Pari Center, a member of the Editorial Board of the Pari Perspectives journal, and a member of the Programming Committee. He is also the host of many of the Pari Center’s webcasts. In addition to physics, his interests include film, art, and philosophy. He is interested in analysing cinema and works of art by applying philosophical approaches such as aesthetics and the Continental philosophies.

James has been taking part in conferences and courses at the Pari Center since he was 11. He was David Peat’s Teaching Assistant from the age of 15 and has since then given several presentations at the Pari Center, including two mini-courses on ‘Beauty and Mathematics,’ dealing with the relationship of Nature and the Golden Section; on Hegel’s philosophy and its symmetry with the works of David Bohm; and the historical relationship between Art and Science.

Hester Reeve’s practice encompasses live art, philosophy, drawing, David Bohm’s ‘Dialogue’ and social sculpture.

She is interested in the relationship between critical thinking and human agency in everyday life, particularly when it is risked through the figure of ‘the artist’ (where what constitutes an artist is broadly conceived and not exclusive to art school training).

Recent public works have been staged at Tanzquartier, Vienna, Tate Britain (working under the umbrella of The Emily Davison Lodge with Olivia Plender) and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Hester Reeve is Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University.

Mark Vernon is a writer and psychotherapist. He contributes to and presents programmes on the radio, as well as writing for the national and religious press, and online publications. He also podcasts, in particular The Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues with Rupert Sheldrake, gives talks and leads workshops. He has a PhD in ancient Greek philosophy, and other degrees in physics and in theology, having studied at Durham, Oxford and Warwick universities. He is the author of several books, including his latest, which in part explores the work of Owen Barfield: A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling and the Evolution of Consciousness. He used to be an Anglican priest and lives in London, UK. He is working on the notion of spiritual intelligence with the research group, Perspectiva. For more information see www.markvernon.com.


August 15, 2021
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CEST