Inside the Evolver Academy: A Chat with Lance Bauscher
Since the launch of Reality Sandwich, the RS community has been calling for additional opportunities to dive deeper into the subject matter explored on the site. So we're proud to announce the new Evolver Academy, an online school born from the laboratory that is RS.
Evolver Academy is modeled on the successful online course system developed for Robert Anton Wilson by the Maybe Logic Academy. Lance Bauscher started MLA after writing and directing a film about Wilson titled Maybe Logic. Now the RS crew has teamed up with MLA to present online classes from RS contributors. In this interview Lance discusses the inspiration behind this education effort, and the vision for Evolver Academy going forward.
Evolver Academy kicks off its summer courses with the counterculture iconoclast RU Sirius, editor of the legendary magazine Mondo 2000. Titled "Transhumanism, Singularities, and Other Far Out Futures," it starts June 29. Upcoming courses this summer and fall will be taught by Reality Sandwich contributors Antonio Lopez, Charles Eisenstein, Anya Kamenetz, and Daniel Pinchbeck.
Prop: Where did the idea for the Maybe Logic Academy come from?
Lance: As I gathered footage for Maybe Logic, the documentary film about Robert Anton Wilson, I attended and shot most of Bob's last talks. So I saw first-hand how important his public speaking was for him personally and professionally. But his post-polio symptoms made it increasingly difficult to travel and perform at such conferences and speaking engagements. We had been tossing around the idea of an online learning institution for a while, so Maybe Logic Academy developed organically as a vehicle for Bob to continue to teach and commune with his avid readers. Bob had been a hearty proponent of internet and its potential for communication and feedback, so MLA was born out of that optimism.
How much of an impact has Robert Anton Wilson had on your philosophical outlook?
For me, Robert Anton Wilson functioned as a trickster teacher disposing winks of encouragement and joy when I'd stretch into the fringes and expanses of my consciousness. Bob Wilson, the human and my friend, deeply stimulated my experience and commitment to compassion, humility and joy. And RAW the philosopher and psychologist, profoundly influenced my outlook of reality -- 'maybe' is still the most important word in my vocabulary.
What great things have you seen manifest from MLA?
Ultimately the most gratifying aspect of MLA is the energy and alchemical mix of creative individuals as they advance their discussions and art. Some of the courses from the likes of Peter Carroll, Starhawk, RAW, etc., were important events where ideas and technologies were discussed and developed in shamanic, magical circles that felt sacred and exponential. Online dialogues and collaborations with a like-minded, expansive group can be a powerful vehicle for understanding and transformation.
What are the chances of some of those great classes RAW taught being turned into self-taught classes like the Tale of the Tribe course?
There are a lot of ideas about how to expand and make available the rich material the MLA has generated. Hopefully one day we'll find the perfect outlet for all the MLA bounty.
Why should more people be getting involved in online learning networks?
Well, anytime folks commune in something as basic as a list-serve or forum/blog, there's potential for a rich bundle of feedback loops that quickly become more than its parts. The trick is to gather the right concentration and style of productive, collaborative people in one place. Evolver and Reality Sandwich are good examples of communities that bring together engaged and committed artists and activists, with tremendous transformative potential.
Where did the idea for The Growing Edge Network come from, and what differentiates it from MLA?
Growing Edge Network is a hub for online learning institutions that include MLA and Evolver Academy. There are five schools currently in the network, with another half-dozen waiting and maturing in the wings. All the schools share 'facilities' and network capabilities, but each is independent and its own community of users and courses. All the schools are dedicated to personal growth and evolution that aim to transform and expand the perspective and consciousness of the students and community to reach beyond themselves and into the world.
What is the focus for the Evolver Academy?
Evolver Academy simply provides a meeting ground for Reality Sandwich readers and Evolver users to gather and delve deeply and expansively into the richest topics and environments of these communities. The instructors are all core collaborators and writers of Reality Sandwich, so Evolver Academy offers them a venue to explore and engage at length with RS and Evolver users and the public at large. The courses also include goodies like A/V chat and collaborative writing tools to further advance ideas and projects generated in the Evolver Social Network's laboratories.
How can MLA, Growing Edge, and Evolver help save the world, or at least get people turned on to some cool stuff?
We've always been proud of the territory MLA and Growing Edge courses explore and transgress -- there's virtually no other learning institutions, online or otherwise, that offer such in-depth courses in magic, fringe philosophy, counterculture sociology, etc. All the courses are based on the writings of the instructors, so they function in part as a symposium of their work, which ventures asymmetrically into topics on the vanguard of human consciousness and society.
Where do you see the future of web-based learning systems going?
More meaningful and production collaboration. Virtual Reality has tantalizingly offered the spacious potential for meaningful contact and creativity for decades, and I still am hopeful of its manifestation. But ultimately online communities and learning labs offer new and expansive tools to collaborate, create, and engage meaningfully in the world as each of us are inspired to continue to grown and evolve.
Do you have any other plans for more web based learning networks?
Surely. We're always concocting ideas for new schools and online projects that offer a opportunity for folks to gather and expand their personal growing edges -- those parts of ourselves that we hesitantly but hopefully continually grow into at the edges of our consciousness and identities. All of us are the Tale of the Tribe, and it's our job to step into the narrative and make our evolutionary mark.
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