in General

Boomeritis

Yes, I’ve been talking a lot about Integral lately. It’s just such a fucking beautiful movement and way of living that learning about it leaves me endlessly enthused. Ken Wilber is, of course, the nexus of the Integral movement and I find he’s often the best at portraying it in an accessable manner. What has me so excited about Boomeritis, his first and only novel, is that he brings his ideas into fiction, where it can be much easier to accept as subversive entertainment.
Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free is a perfect post-modern novel that undermines the harmful aspects of post-modernism in a beautiful and transcendent way. Boomeritis (the disease) is, put simply, an infection of pluralism with egotism. Integral Naked provides a witty introduction to the term in “What is Boomeritis?” that I think will help clarify just what we’re talking about.

Diagnosis: The postmodern cultural condition whereby highly developed cognitive pluralism becomes infected with poorly developed emotional narcissism.
Symptoms include (but are not limited to): rampant deconstructive tendencies; fits of nihilism and romanticism; self-serving victimhood; aperspectival madness; idiot compassion and reckless egalitarianism; frequent outbreaks of hypocrisy and performative contradiction; earth-shaking delusions of grandeur.
Prognosis: Boomeritis is a parasite which feeds off of the fruits of postmodernity. Those inflicted often lose themselves in a solipsistic playground of self-indulgence where, under the banner of pluralism, they place themselves at the center of the universe, only to awaken one day in a barren wasteland of self-deception and spiritual impotence. This disease ultimately infects the entire Spiral, collapsing it into flatland inanity, widening and reinforcing the gaps between each successive stage of consciousness by viciously denying developmental stages altogether. Under the hypnotic gaze of Boomeritis, multiculturalism becomes rigid identity politics; pluralism becomes fascist political correctness; and ecological sensitivity becomes the Unabomber.
Treatment: Integral Transformative Practice, familiarization with the Always Already, high doses of humility and humor.
– “What is Boomeritis?

Wikipedia has an aritcle that nicely describes the novel.

Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free is a 2002 novel by the philosopher Ken Wilber. The protagonist, who is named Ken Wilber, is a brilliant MIT student studying artificial intelligence. Ken believes that the future of evolution includes the departure of human consciousness from the physical realm, or “meatspace”, and the merging of human intelligence with cyberspace.
Ken attends a series of lectures at an institution called the “Integral Center”, which guide him towards a more expansive understanding of evolution and existence. These lectures are interposed with explicit descriptions of Ken’s sexual fantasies with another character, Chloe.
Wilber (the author) intended the novel to exhibit the traits of extreme post-modernism—irony, self-reference, noetic flatness—and thus act as a literary reductio ad absurdum, assisting people, especially pluralists, in overcoming the post-modern mentality.
Wikipedia: Boomeritis

Ok, you have the background and synopsis, so lets get to what’s so brilliant about this book. The subtitle really does say it all, even if it is meant to characterice the very thing it’s trying to attack. It’s a book that, if understood well (if you get the joke and are self-aware enough to recognize your own misconceptions), really can set you free; that is, it can show you that you’re stuck at one level of development and show you how to get to the next. I’m getting ahead of myself if you’re not familiar with integral, which most of us sadly aren’t (and here’s your chance to wake up, so wake up!). Integral is described well at the Integral Institure’s “The Integral Approach,” so I’ll trust you can read there if you wish to learn more. Let me tell you, though, that it’s an incredibly altering way of approaching life that incorporates all aspects of any situation we happen to find ourselves in and, frankly, makes more sense and works better than anything else I’ve encountered. In Boomeritis Ken has offered an entertaining novel that should expose our misconceptions and flaws in a way that will allow us to want to correct them and at the same time offer us a look at the tools needed to do so. It’s an intervention for those of us who are ready to move beyond mere pluralism (“the green meme”). It’s a fun read as well, so don’t worry about it being some self-help novel from the mind of some boring philosopher (and Ken is far from boring, I swear); it’s funny, engaging and made to intentionally poke at our fallacies.

One of the amusing elements of the story was the inclusion of a character based on and named after one of my favourite singer/songwriters, Stuart Davis. I discovered Stuart’s music thought a duet he did with Ed Kowalczyk of Live, a performance that pointed me toward Intergral and Ken in the first place, and then dove in deep when I joined IN and discovered him to be “the artist laureate of Integral Institute”. Stuart is an incredible artist and a damn funny fellow. His album Bell is an exploration of “the feminine divine, inspired by his wife and unborn daughter” and enchanted me from the beginning with its mix of musical styles and deft songcraft.

The 2003 concept album Bell described the life of an American girl who is also an incarnation of god. The bodhisattva eventually confronts her shadow and afterwards attains Enlightenment. The release of this album coincided with the birth of Davis’ child, Arabelle.
Wikipedia: Stuart Davis

Stuart’s one of those artists you shouldn’t overlook, but most of us have. I can’t say enough about how moving, fun, spiritual and integral his music is.

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  1. Thanks for the info. I read Ken Wilber years ago and loved his work; I just went on Amazon and ordered a copy of Boomeritis based on your review. I also got another Ken Wilber book, “A Brief History of Everything,” while I was there.

  2. I'm glad I could point you toward that. If you're interested in integral in general, I can't recommend Integral Naked . org highly enough.

  3. Thanks for the info. I read Ken Wilber years ago and loved his work; I just went on Amazon and ordered a copy of Boomeritis based on your review. I also got another Ken Wilber book, “A Brief History of Everything,” while I was there.

  4. I'm glad I could point you toward that. If you're interested in integral in general, I can't recommend Integral Naked . org highly enough.