John G Bell
Reflective Practicum 1
Spring '04 - Hormann

Weekly – Design a Window.

We are all walled cities shouting at each other over the armament of our perceptions.” - Robert Anton Wilson (1988)

When people communicate with each other, they do so through filters of prejudice. These filters are a kind of fortification which protects each of us from ideas that do not fit our previous experience. Peter Senge speaks of our mental models of the world. (1994) Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson use the idea of reality tunnels for these same structures. (Bauscher, et al. 2003) Thomas Kuhn points out that a great deal of effort is expended to maintain current paradigms. (1996) Communication that reaches another person must take resistance to and rejection of ideas into account. Each person filters out phenomena contrary to experience from perception.

Familiarity with another person's armaments and defenses against new information is therefore an important element to effective communication. This familiarity can be used against those protections. These defenses are a kind of castle wall or armor built up over time. Wilhelm Reich spoke of the way in which these mental defenses become physically manifested as character armor, in a model of psycho-physical defense mechanisms. (1988).

One way this is done is to purposely illicit a reactive response by initiating communication that will push another's buttons. This intentional attack will likely increase defensive behaviour and encourage a build-up of further defenses over time.

Another way is to tailor one's communications, to develop a trajectory, which reaches the other over those defenses. One can develop communication skills, so as to launch ideas over the other person's defenses.

Symbolically, there is a repeating fractal in these confrontations. The confrontations between mobile fortifications, people, is the point where these fortifications are tested against each other. Each person must come in contact with the prejudices and defenses of others during personal interactions. Another example of this fractal is in the conflict between ourselves and our armored defenses. The conscious mind must conquer the prejudices and defenses of the self. The symbolic representation of this fractal is the hero that meets the leviathan at the edge of the water. This is Beowulf meeting Grendel, or Siegmund meeting the dragon. (Whyte, 1994) (Campbell, 1973) At the water's edge, the hero must either defeat the monster and then assimilate part of the monster's essential nature, or the hero is defeated by that monster and must be resurrected to become new again.

In each case, the fortifications people create around themselves is built, challenged and rebuilt after each confrontation interdependently with other fortifications, or one's own.


Bauscher, L., Dofflemyer, R., McClintock, C. (2003). Maybe Logic: The Life and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson. Deep Leaf Productions.

Campbell, J. (1973). The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen.

Kuhn, T. (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

Luft, J. (1984). “The Johari Window: A Graphic Model of Awareness in Interpersonal Relations.” Group Process: An Introduction to Group Dynamics. McGraw-Hill.

Reich, W. (1988). Character Analysis. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Senge, P. (1994). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization. New York, NY: Currency Doubleday.

Whyte, D. (1994). The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America. New York, NY: Currency Doubleday.

Wilson, R. A. (1988). The Earth Will Shake. New York, NY: Lynx Books.