Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More on Marc Gafni

Being first to respond to something always has its risks. Having been away from my computer all day (more on why in another post -- oy . . .), it turns out most people think Wilber's ego and need to keep the image of II clean have gotten in the way of doing the right thing. Matthew Dallman was especially hard on Wilber, and as much as it pains me to say so, I think MD is right to a certain extent.

I also agree with Tuff Ghost -- Wilber has a history of associating with questionable teachers. Many point to Andrew Cohen as the example with the most support. Cohen is horrible, and many use that to condemn What is Enlightenment? as well. If the magazine were merely a tool of Cohen's enormous ego, I might agree. But there are a diversity of teachers and traditions presented there. I guess I side with ~C4Chaos on that score.

Back to Wilber. I still think that Wilber is doing the best he can to help his friend and appear to be offering some kind of stern but compassionate response. That said, I think he is failing in many ways.

MD is right that a ten-point-plan is rather egotisitical. And he may have been overboard in accusing the associated Jewish groups of firing up the Mean Green Meme, but I suspect there is probably a whole lot of hating going on. Moreover, I think Wilber should be extending himself to the victims more than to Gafni. After all, part of Gafni's prestige (that put him a position of power necessary to become an abuser) comes from being associated with Wilber and II, especialy after the previous allegations.

Having just now read Gafni's statement, I think any anger being expressed is justified. It's all about him, much as Wilber's statement was all about Wilber and Gafni. Neither response paid necessary respect to the women who were damaged by Gafni's actions. They'll get their day in court, but who is going to get them the best therapsits available to guide their recovery? Who is going to set up a committee of the finest psychologists available to make sure their treatment is effective?

Wilber has more explaining to do.

Thanks to everyone who has explored this issue in their blogs, including Jay (here and here) and ebuddha (here and here), who I neglected to mention above.

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Anonymous said...

I think this is a tough situation for Wilber and one that asks that he make a powerful, cogent reply using a capacity that I've alway observed as his weakest: Wilber is an utterly brilliant theorist, and he himself has admitted that he's spent months--even longer--in solitude reading and writing; but he has never impressed me, often disappointed me, in his attempts to practically apply his theories and address "real life" directly. Others do that much better than he. On the roiling seas of practical applicability and messy real life, Wilber is just another drowner, not a surfer. He's only human.

But this brings to mind another issue I've been mulling, too. In a vague, mentally gestating way, I've been realizing there's a subtle line of development which one might call "identity empathy" that no one to my knowledge has talked much about, or even acknowledged. What is "identity empathy"? It's that capacity which allows a man to mentally/emotionally get inside a woman's experience, and utilize the insight for positive behavior change, and whites' black experience, and straights' gay experience, etc, etc. What makes (to my mind) identity empathy particularly difficult to develop is that it's purely a quality of the more empowereds' ability to see, inhabit, and accept as relevant the reality of the less empowered. In other words, there is extremely little, or nothing, of immediate benefit in developing this capacity. And the more empowered one is vis-a-vis social/racial/sexual position the less incentive there is to develop the capacity. Wilber doesn't have a whole hell of a lot of this capacity, and frankly very few white men of his generation do. He's only human.

Kai in NYC

william harryman said...


I agree with your assessment of Wilber. A while back, when I was totally immersed in Wilber (maybe two or three years ago), Kira was a bit put off by how uber rational I was getting (worse than usual).

I think that Wilber suffers from that disorder and it prevents him from really being very compassionate or empathic a lot of the time.

The closest developmental line that I know of to what you are describing is simply empathy. But I think there is merit in what you are saying. I think that having been in a position that is disempowered might be crucial to developing that capacity.

Care to write a piece on this to post here? I think a lot of readers would be interested in what you have to say.


Anonymous said...

Let me try wrestling with an essay and see what I come up with. It's been in my head for a while; let's see what comes out.

Kai in NYC

Anonymous said...

What else do you expect from Wilber? He's way too immersed in his own narcissistic world to be able to process the tragedy of pseudorabbi Gafni.