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I Don't Know * Silence * Positive Deviance * Premonitions & The Extraordinary * The Transcendentalists Club

Premonitions & The Extraordinary

Collective wisdom as a worldview is similarly a break with classical ideas of group behavior that are defined by singular determinants such as motivation, leadership, or interpersonal communication. It is instead an expression of the belief that there exists a field of collective consciousness—often seen and expressed through metaphor—that is real and influential, yet invisible.

Collective wisdom is an orientation embedded in nature, the nature of the physical world and our own human nature. It is therefore dependent on a keen sensitivity to the natural world and our powers of observation,
mediated through our senses: touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. Yet it is also a commitment to an open-ended inquiry and understanding found beyond the established modes of conventional perception, beyond ordinary sensory experience.

There is a wonderful story reported by Laurens van der Post, an Afrikaner and colleague of Jung’s. He was one of the first whites of that nation to decry the tragic consequences of inequality between whites and blacks in South Africa that led to apartheid. And he also decried the inequality within our own psyche that elevated human traits of rationality and abstraction over the instinctual and collective. As a child, he was fascinated by stories of the Kalahari Bushmen, a vanishing group of extraordinary hunters who descended from the most ancient of our human ancestry.

In 1955, the BBBBC commissioned van der Post to make a documentary
of the Bushmen, which led to his most well-known nonfiction work, The Lost World of the Kalahari. In it, he describes his time with Dabe, a Bushman, and their hunting of a giant eland, the largest of the world’s antelopes. Returning to camp, van der Post asked Dabe what his people would say when they saw the success of the hunt. Dabe, who had had contact with the outside world, told him with assurance, “They already know.” “What on earth do you mean?” asked van der Post.

Dabe told him they knew by “wire,” using the English word for the telegraph he had once seen when accompanying a white man into the city. “We Bushman have a wire here,” he said, tapping his chest, “that brings us news.” Much later, as they approached the camps, van der Post could hear the women singing. “Do you hear?” Dabe asked van der Post. “They’re singing The Eland Song.”

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