Thursday, February 18, 2016

Forum Participation

My first foray on the Internet was to place the two books that I had written "Transforming Voyage" and "The Number Paradigms" on a hastily constructed personal site. To the best of my recollection this took place in 1995.

For some time there was no reaction. Then one day I received a very thoughtful response from a UN official based in Australia who had discovered the site. This in turn led to a very fruitful correspondence - mainly on mathematical relationships of mutual interest - that lasted several years.

Around this time, there was a significant growth in web forums of various kinds where people with the same interests could post their contributions.

In this regard various sites devoted to "Integral Studies" caught my attention as they related very much to my own interests. However through my development of "Holistic Mathematics", I felt that I could offer a distinctive approach.

I hesitated for some time fearing that my ideas were too novel to gain traction. Eventually however, I decided to jump in head first, as it were with a very lengthy initial contribution, that sought to outline my overall position.

For over a week there was complete silence. And then, quite unexpectedly I received a highly intelligent detailed response from a woman (again living in Australia), which addressed point by point what I had written while posing further questions for answer.

I found it immensely gratifying that a stranger would give such consideration to my ideas and became immediately "hooked" as it were on this new form of communication.

So for the next 4 years or so - up to about 2000 - I became a regular contributor to a number of these forums.

In fact I became strongly conscious of the fact that I had become intensely involved in a new "virtual" community.

It seemed of deep symbolic significance that the first two major responses came from Australia. Now, geographically Australia is about as far as one get from Ireland (where I live). However that was the very point! This new virtual community of like-minded individuals had no geographical boundaries. So in this regard one could intimately share one's deepest intellectual thoughts far more readily with people in far distant lands than in one's own locality And through the magic of the Internet, one could immediately hope to communicate ideas to those of similar interests.

In may ways I look back at this time with great fondness. After a lengthy period of total intellectual isolation, I now found myself regularly expressing ideas to a  highly intelligent and creative group of individuals who were ready to show appreciation for my efforts.

So ideas that had been locked up in a deeply compressed fashion inside for so long were now free to find expression through this new expansive medium, as contributions on so many topics seemed to effortlessly flow from my mind through the various lengthy posts that I was now submitting on a near daily basis to these forums.

Of course it was not all sweetness and light. I often experienced difficulty in "converting" participants to what I considered were my most important ideas. Also though I soon discovered that I had an "admiring" fan base among some members of the forum, equally - as perhaps was inevitable - there was growing opposition and resistance from other quarters.

Indeed ironically just as the first two favourable communications had come from Australia, equally my most vocal critic likewise happened to be an "outspoken" Aussie.

However in a strange way, I didn't really mind criticism. In fact I always welcomed the opportunity to answer it through detailed replies. Initially I felt that by showing a willingness to directly face criticism, that I could win over the "detractors"and thereby further promote my ideas. However I soon discovered that this was a vain expectation. The way I would see it now is that we all have different personalities and background experience that heavily influence the manner we approach issues. So it is often simply the case that one's ideas will resonate readily with one intelligent contributor while equally being found off-putting by an another equally intelligent contributor. So in the market of ideas, one is always likely to win some and lose some!

When I look back, I am amazed at how much writing I got through during these years.

During the day I was working in the local "real" world, lecturing to business students in the Dublin Institute of Technology. Then in the evenings - and small hours of the morning - I would be intensely engaged in this global "virtual" world, elaborating on those notions about which I felt most passionate.

And there was no intersection between the two worlds, for I never spoke about my integral interests at work (regarding which no one displayed the slightest interest).

And soon it was not just lengthy postings to the Forums that engaged my attention but a growing e-mail correspondence that both directly and indirectly flowed from the Forum contributions. And one of these in particular with one highly impressive female contributor then led to a very special shared relationship in both emotional and spiritual terms.

As I remember it now, there was a heady excitement regarding those days with my fellow participants on the Forums.  I suppose we believed in our naivete that we were somehow changing the world for the better through our dedication to the "integral approach".

However as I was to discover once again soon afterwards, life is never so simple!

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