Clothes Don’t Make The Person
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose
of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It
may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the
increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious."
In attempting to clarify my own thinking
in Spiral Dynamics and to try to help others to grasp spiral intelligence.
I’m going to try to list some assumptions/beliefs using a metaphor that I
have about development theory, themes, threads, lines, levels, quadrants
and dilly bars—as Wilber might say. However, if you have no background in
spiral dynamics or Gravesian Theory, then this is likely to be a rather
strange experience. [ http://www.spiraldynamicsgroup.com ]
I’m going to use a
metaphor of clothing to describe spiral intelligence as it forms as an all
quadrant set of constructs independent, yet interdependent on the people
who form it, such as people and clothing.
Clothing (vMEME = value
system) is manufactured by people for various reasons. It is dependent on
an all quadrant approach, although that approach is mostly invisible
(transparent) in the process.
As people go through life,
they choose “clothing solutions” at different times to respond to
differing “occasions” largely again through an invisible, often
unconscious or unaware all-quadrant transparent approach, using the
current level of development in various lines as a “determinant” in their
choice, be it “running” or choosing them, or through awareness and
Clothing develops on its
own as a variety of people are involved in the development of different
levels of clothing, as those people (developers, innovators,
early-adopters) awaken different styles and forms according to an
independently occurring set of occasions dictated by life conditions—each
“level” of person has experienced and used.
Anyone may wear this
clothing as it exists independent of any one person, people may try it on,
or take it out for approval and return it. (permanent, temporary or peak
Most of the time, people
will not wear clothing that is not representative of their level of
development among their lines (symbolic, affective, perceptual and
behavioral-Kolb), but from time to time they will be encouraged,
challenged and cajoled into various levels of clothing…however certain
clothes feel more appropriate at any given time. (center of
In some cases, people
can’t be and are distinguishable from the clothes they wear and this is
apparent to everyone.
A natural design occurs
when the clothing and the person matches, however this is not a static
state but a continual journey of experiment, experience and r/evolution
over a period of one’s life…all the while clothing continues to develop
according to the people who have inspired the development of clothing at
many different levels of development over time in many different waves,
streams, lines, themes and threads—clearly independent of any one’s
Each level of clothing
relies on the previous level to inform it, yet at the same time causes a
new level to be born as a result…in response to and transcendence of the
previous levels of clothing experience in meeting life conditions where
the success of one type of clothing actually creates the need for another
and so on in a infinite dance of
It is the complexification
of life conditions that produces the response of clothing makers to
undergo, transcend and include the previous clothing as they “invent” new
clothing to deal with yet the conditions of success.
Remembering this is only a
metaphor, we realize that the clothing (vMEME) is NOT the person and while
interdependent and certainly interdevelopmental, clothing may be popular
and appropriate one minute and then quickly transcended when “occasions”
occur that are more naturally designed to satisfy the person’s needs,
wants or desires, yet there is some point of gravity in terms of
where we reside in our choices.
You might say there are
men’s and women’s clothing. In some cultures, these are indistinct,
however in most cultures we have chosen to distinguish them. If we look
rather at energy than at the surface conditions representative of the
“interpretation” of that energy, we find essential two distinct forms,
that of masculine and feminine, as labeled by such.
Jung reported two distinct
ways of “deciding” or what I refer to as processing a perception (ladder
of inference), that of thinking and feeling. We know both exist in
people and that all humans—and clothing—for that matter contain each as a
part of its “structure of consciousness.”
There are significant
amounts of research to affirm that these two “ways” are distinct and
counterbalanced by the other, yet each way is preferred over the other and
is not equal in conventional development. At higher levels of reality, I
suspect there is no separation only the amalgam of such, however I really
As development in humans
is representative of development in clothing and vice versa, there is real
separation in the behavior from the behavioral products due to the nature
of combinatorial forces being present to create behavioral products
“almost” completely independent of behavior. (consequence hierarchy =
Therefore, the clothing
someone wears may not be indicative of their center of gravity in terms of
their natural systems, but a response to a particular occasion, or a
surface manifestation. In which case, deeper discovery and
exploration must take place to understand the “nature” of the person.
There will be a
correlation between the person’s clothing and who they are, but it may be
complex and thus cause and effect may be dislocated in present terms,
as surface manifestations of underlying constructs are varied and rich in
terms of their variety of expression .
By using a clothing
metaphor, we realize that people are exposed to many different kinds of
clothing at the same time and that life is made up of constant matching of
clothing to occasion, temporary as well as permanent changes that people
make that are naturally or unnaturally made as a response to the life
conditions surrounding the occasion.
One can’t confuse the
clothing with the person, they are not the same thing even though their
development, through all quadrants, lines and streams, waves and dilly
bars are both related, natural and interdevelopmental.
Clothing can be something
we wear, yet it is not us. It can be something that represents us but in
fact is not us. We may choose it to belong, but it in fact is not us.
Surface manifestations of our choice of clothing is often confused with
who we are, as opposed to recognizing that it is just clothing and that to
draw a conclusion about us from our clothing is often dangerous and at
Some of us will prefer hot
colors (agentic/thinking), others of us cool colors (communal/feeling),
yet the movement from hot to cold for clothing continues as a response to
the previous natural design that falls short of satisfying the occasions
over time. In other words, the pendulum swings from this to that, from
hot to cold, from subtle to distinct, from short to long, from expressing
self to fitting-in.
We may try on the hot or
cool colors and wear them on “occasion” because they are the most
appropriate response to provide us with what completes our wardrobe, yet
we prefer one or the other.
We may experiment and try
on and even wear for a time those clothes that provide us with the
opportunity to walk where we would normally not walk or be where we would
normally not “prefer” to be, yet we do so to gain the experience or the
completion required to move on…to become more, to transcend and to include
those experiences those “occasions” in our repertoire of knowing, having,
doing and being.
As we look back or
forward, we can understand why we went “there” why we needed that
experience, but also clearly relating to who we “prefer” to be, wear,
experience and express or join. Yet we are not our clothes.
Clothing design continues
to expand, to grow in both complexity, in form, in nature as a
combinatorial force of forces in all quadrants, quite invisible to most,
quite responsible for creating yet another level of solutions for each
“occasion” that seems to complexify in nature.
The availability of
clothing to us seems unlimited as “others” seem to create responses we
would never before be able to imagine to things only they see…the “rack”
seems filled constantly with new combinations, new ideas, new and
different approaches to clothing…it never seems to stop. Often, we choose
or abhor choice as this or that, right or wrong…black or white.
Yet, we are not our
clothes. Our development is independent of clothes, while clothes are
developing, we can’t be said to be the developer as they seem to develop
on their own interdependent and independent of us.
In the end…we seek to
choose clothes that are comfortable and appropriate, although we never
know for sure as it seems once we know, then we don’t. We constantly try
on and seek approval. We make a statement, we get feedback, sometimes we
change, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we die for our clothes…or should I
say the right to choose our clothes. Often we are fighting for clothes
that are not ours, yet the potential for those clothes to be worn, to be
chosen to make us feel like we belong, even when we are unsure of whether
those clothes are really right for us.
In the end, we are not our
clothes. They are a metaphor of life--everything else in life and the
moral of this story is…clothes don’t make the person.