A is for

Alcahuete is an interesting term. In Spanish it originally had the meaning of pimp, or procurer, by extension it has come to be slang for a snitch, gossip, butt-kisser, ass-licker, brown-nose, kiss-up, and so on.

However, Negro tended to use the term to refer to those whose empty erudition made them perfect pundits, public intellectuals, and others who trafficked in ideas, pimped for fashionable ideologies, or those high-level gossips expert in selling whatever idea the market favoured.

This term is also an example of Silo’s unusually rich ideolect. Some of this sort of private language consisted of vocabulary others were turns of phrase that gained particular significance. Often they were almost a code he shared with a few, or even one other person. Sometimes they filtered down to a more general usage among his friends. Alcahuete could be a good example of the latter.

His wonderfully colourful forms of expression led me to think about my own private or semi-private language and even more so about my private mythology. What, for example, were the metaphysical beliefs that I held unexamined about the nature of reality. It’s like asking not about the presuppositions or mental-form behind my beliefs, but about the early translations of that into allegory and images.

As an example of my own personal (or semi-personal) vocabulary consider this short phrase: monkey business. It’s a very rich and nuanced word that captures a constellation of ideas that are key to my vision of the world.

A is for


In a discussion of the Morphology of the Impulses his Psychology Notes Vol 1 Silo writes: “Allegories are plastically-transformed narrations, in which what is diverse is fixed or there is multiplication by allusion; but also where the abstract is made concrete. The multiplicative nature of allegories has to do with the associative process of the consciousness.”

In lesson 27 of Luis Ammann’s Self Liberation we read “An allegory is a concentration of many associations into a single represented object. This is quite distinct from objects which arise through simple association where the next object derives from the previous one without either object losing its original identity.”

I first heard Silo explain the morphology of impulses where he distinguished symbol, sign and allegory and their function in 1974 in a lengthy conversation with a small group gathered in a Mexico City cafe. A transcription of my personal notes can be found here.

A is for

Any practical and/or theoretical position that tends to support a structure of power based on the anti-values of discrimination and violence.
This is not a doctrinal position and it does not refer to particular situations, or to the commission of specific acts that may well be reprehensible from the perspective of humanist ethics. Rather it is a behavior that in practice appears like an inverted image of the humanist attitude. In concrete terms, the a.-h.a. is a personal emplacement or stance in the world, an “objectifying” mode of relationship characterized by the negation of the intentionality and liberty of other human beings.

Based on the definition found in The Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

A is for

Can be:
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do just about everything we do. It is present in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of every cell, and essentially all the physiological mechanisms that require energy for operation obtain it directly from the stored ATP. (Guyton) As food in the cells is gradually oxidized, the released energy is used to re-form the ATP so that the cell always maintains a supply of this

In this case it refers to an old material titled ATP “Actitud de Trabajo Permanente ” i.e. “Permanent Attitude of the Work” which I once saw.
For me this always referred to the vision daily life as a transferential process daily life, which Silo would later explain in many ways and in many places, e.g. i, , in the Canary Islands, various talks on valid action, and of course in The Internal Landscape among others.

C is for…

Camada is a spanish word meaning: brood, litter, current crop. Also course (of bricks) or geological levels. Hence: group, or cohort.

C is for…


This is a key concept in Silo’s writings and a great deal of descriptive and practical information can be found in many of his works including the various volumes of Psychology NotesA reasonable place to start is with this quote from the first volume of those works.
Climates are moods that because of their variability appear intermittently and can envelop the consciousness for a certain period of time, tinting all of the coordinator’s activities. Sometimes climates match the operations that are carried out and concomitantly accompany the coordinator without perturbing it, in which case they facilitate its work. But things do not happen like this, and instead, they create noise. These climates can become fixed in the psychism and perturb the entire structure, impeding mobility and easy displacement of the opportune climates. Fixed climates circulate through the different levels, and in this way they can pass from vigil to sleep, continue there, then return to vigil for a long period of time, reducing the coordinator’s operative freedom,. Another type of climate is the situational climate, which arises and obstructs appropriate responses to specific situations.
Collected Works Vol. 2, Silo Psychology Notes p.15 (online version, www.silo.net)

Turning for a moment from the explicitly psychological to the torturously philosophical it is worth checking out Heidegger’s ideas about mood (Stimmung). This from wikipedia:
At the most basic level of being-in-the-world, Heidegger notes that there is always a mood, a mood that “assails us” in our unreflecting devotion to the world. A mood comes neither from the “outside” nor from the “inside,” but arises from being-in-the-world. One may turn away from a mood, but that is only to another mood; it is part of our facticity. Only with a mood are we permitted to encounter things in the world. Dasein (a co-term for being-in-the-world) has an openness to the world that is constituted by the attunement of a mood or state of mind. As such, Dasein is a “thrown” “projection” (geworfen Entwurf), projecting itself onto the possibilities that lie before it or may be hidden, and interpreting and understanding the world in terms of possibilities. Such projecting has nothing to do with comporting oneself toward a plan that has been thought out. It is not a plan, since Dasein has, as Dasein, already projected itself. Dasein always understands itself in terms of possibilities. As projecting, the understanding of Dasein is its possibilities as possibilities

C is for


Look it up in a dictionary and if you find anything at all you are likely find it defined something like this:
Coetanean — a synonym for contemporary. Along with contemporary, the word coeval might appear as English translations of the Spanish term coetaneo. But in the work of the extraordinary Spanish thinker Ortega y Gasset contemporary and coetanean have very different meanings. These notions appear with a similar sense in the in the Siloist version of the generational dialectic.

Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found a definition in the materials of the time something like this:

COETANEAN: Of the same age. Within the generational dialectic, coetaneans are those individuals that belong to the same generation although their particular ages differ. Ortega y Gasset differentiates between coetaneans and contemporaries, explaining that the latter are members of different generations but live in a same historical moment.
Siloism H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

D is for


In his Meditations Renee Descartes famously sets out to find a trustworthy ground for knowledge. That is he is looking for the certain, the indubitable and (of course) sets out to find it by trying to doubt everything and begin anew, counting only on what cannot be doubted. In 1637 he formulated that in French: je pense, donc je suis, a few years later he’d say it in latin with his famous Cogito ergo sum (usually translated: “I think therefore I am”). Just shy of 300 years later Husserl would provide a more intentional version saying: Ego cogito cogitatum (I think thoughts).

D is for


Fragmentation or disintegration of a structure, in which the tendency of the process that gave it origin is discontinued. In a closed system, the disarticulation of both a structure and its environment is correlated so as not to allow for the new surpassing the old
Based on the definition found in The Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

D is for


(L. discriminare, to separate, differentiate). d. designates a form of treating persons, organizations and states as inferior due to factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, culture, ideology, etc. A premeditated depriving or curtailing of rights and privileges. One form of political d. is the restriction of a person’s or group’s right to vote or to be elected to public office.
Any overt or covert act of differentiation or segregation, of an individual or human group, that entails the negation of their intentionality and freedom is d. Such d. is always accompanied by affirming a difference with this person or group based on special attributes, virtues, or values that the parties exercising d. claim for themselves. Such a procedure is correlated with an objectifying “look” (a sensibility or an ideology) vis à vis human reality.
N.H. condemns d. in all its manifestations and in every case calls for its exposure.
Based on the definition found in The Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

G is for


 wasn’t alone in understanding the dynamic of the generations as decisive in the historical dynamic. Later sociologists like Mannehiem and Feur also explored the importance of temporal dialectics under whatever name and of course, from a wide variety of ideological positions.

Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found a definition in the materials of the time something like this: 1) Plotinus explained that the g is based on alteration. The alteration of a system is the result of an evolutionary process. When the entropy of a system increases (synthesis) its structure is altered and new relations arise, and therefore, so do new entities (differentiation). These are the progressive elements that will replace the whole previous structure, forming a new one. 2) The g determines the articulation of the historical change and the fundamentals of the historical process. The coexistence of several generations is what permits us to speak of an historical moment. The g is characterized by the situation of a group of individuals of the same age (see: temporal class). 3) At a given historical moment, the following generations exist: the g being born, the one in apprenticeship, the one in struggle against the generation in power, the oppressive g (the one in power), the displaced one, and that of the ‘survivors’. Of all of these, only three are considered in a dynamic situation: the one in apprenticeship, the one that fights against oppression, and the oppressive g (the in power). Those of the children, the old, and the ‘survivors’ appear as marginal generations, until the children enter apprenticeship and the others die. To Ortega, the g “is one and the same as the structure of human life at each moment”. 4) However, that which allows a coetaneous group to be considered within the same g is their situation not only in relation to power in general, but also the similarity of their vital processes which is psychologically reflected in the similarity of the stage of the reverie nucleus. Indeed, a fundamental modification of the reverie nucleus corresponds to each vital stage: childhood, adolescence, youth, maturity, decline, and old age.
Siloism by H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

Here’s the definition that Silo left us with:
As social production develops, the human horizon expands, but the mere existence of social objects does not guarantee the continuity of this process. For New Humanism, continuity is a function of the interaction among human g which transforms them in the process of production. These g which promote continuity and development, are dynamic structures – they are social time in motion – without which a society would fall back into a state of nature and lose its condition of historical society, as occurred in the destructuring of the ancient empires.
Wars have been decisive factors in the “naturalization” of societies by destroying continuity through the violent decimation of the younger generation. Within a single temporal horizon, in a single historical moment, those who are contemporaries coincide, coexist, but do so from landscapes of formation that are specific to each generation by virtue of its difference in age from other g. This fact marks the enormous distance in perspective separating the g, which, though they occupy the same historical stage, do so from different situational and experiential “levels.” It also happens that in every historical time there coexist g of different temporal levels, with different retentions (memories) and protensions (or future plans), and which, therefore, form different situations. The bodies and behavior of children and the elderly reveal, for the active g the presence of something they come from and toward which they are headed, and, in turn, for the young and old extremes of that triple relation, temporal circumstances that are also extreme. But this never remains fixed, because as the active g grow old and the oldest g die, children are gradually transformed and begin to occupy active, central positions. And new births continually reconstitute society. When, as an abstraction, one “detains” this incessant flow, it is possible to speak of a “historical moment” in which all the members occupying the same social stage can be considered contemporaries, living in a single time (in the sense of datability). But these members observe a non-homogeneous coetaneousness (with respect to their internal temporality and experience). The g. most contiguous to the active g. strive to occupy the central activity (the social present), in accordance with their particular interests, establishing a dialectic relationship with the g in power in which we can observe the new surpassing the old.
The topic of the g has been treated by a number of authors, among whom Dromel, Lorenz, Petersen, Wechssler, Pinder, Drerup, Mannheim and, of course, Ortega y Gasset stand out.

A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

G is for


Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found a definition in the materials of the time something like this:

1) The struggle of the generations, the foundation of every historical process. 2) A scientific method used for the comprehension of the historical process based on the fact that generations, as they develop, and in their relation to the power system, find themselves in an antagonistic position to each other. Nevertheless, from a broader point of view, this antagonism is resolved in relations of complementation when every coercive apparatus of man over man disappears, and man exercises power only over Nature. The gd is possible within the realm of irrationality and only in the evolutionary step of prehistory that leads to an authentically human history. 3) The gd is a case of the universal law of the new surpassing the old, reflected in the process of man’s social evolution.

Siloism by H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

G is for

see self-reference (nah, just kidding)

G is for


Stay tuned for a little something on Guides, models, etc. for now here’s Silo, with chapters 15 and 16 from his book, The Internal Landscape (2nd book in the Humanize the Earth trilogy)

XVI. Models
1. In your internal landscape there is an ideal man or woman that you search for in the external landscape. Through so many relationships your ideal remains always just out of reach—like two fragments of flint that do not quite strike except for that brief moment when perfect love dazzles us with its spark.
2. All human beings, in their own ways, launch their lives toward the external landscape, seeking to complete their hidden models.
3. But the external landscape continues imposing its own laws, and as time goes by, your once most cherished dream becomes only an image before which you now experience shame or even less, as this dream is reduced to a faded memory. Nevertheless, within the human species profound models exist, sleeping, biding their time. These models are the translation of impulses that your body sends to the space of representation.
4. We are not discussing the origin or consistency of these models, or the complexity of the world in which they are found. We are simply noting that they exist and pointing out that their function is to compensate needs and aspirations which, in turn, motivate human activities toward the external landscape.
5. Entire peoples and cultures also have their own particular ways of responding to the external landscape, responses always colored by internal models, which history and their own bodies continue to define.
6. Wise are those who know their profound models, and wiser still are those who can place them at the service of the best of causes.

XVII. The Internal Guide
1. Who do you so admire that you would like to have been that person?
2. Let me ask you in a more gentle fashion: Whom do you consider so exemplary that you wish you could find some of that person’s virtues in yourself?
3. Perhaps there have been moments when in sorrow or confusion you have appealed to the memory of someone who, whether existing or not, came to your aid as a comforting image?
4. I am speaking of those particular models that we could call internal “guides,” which at times coincide with real people.
5. Those models, which you have wanted to follow from the time you were very young, have changed only in the most external layers of your daily awareness.
6. I have seen how children talk and play with their imaginary companions and guides. I have seen people of all ages connect with these guides in prayers offered in sincere devotion.
7. The more strongly these guides were called, the further away they responded from and the better the signal they sent. Because of this I knew that the most profound guides are the most powerful. But only a great need can awaken them from their millennia of lethargy.
8. Such a model “possesses” three important attributes: strength, wisdom, and kindness.
9. If you want to know yourself better, observe the characteristics of the men and women you admire. Notice how the qualities you most value in them are also at work in the configuration of your own internal guides. Consider that even though your initial references may have disappeared with the passage of time, they have left “traces” within you that continue to motivate you toward the external landscape.
10. And if you want to understand how diverse cultures interact with each other, in addition to studying their modes of producing objects, study as well the methods by which they transmit their models.
11. It is important, then, to direct your attention to the best qualities in others, because you will project into the world those qualities you have managed to configure in yourself.

H is for…


In the glossary forming one section of the book Siloism originally published in 1972 or 3 we find the following definition of the word:
A form of allocution used by Silo. His principal harangues were: H of the Sea, The Healing of Suffering, The Forbidden H, the Seocnd Forbidden H. and the Third Forbidden H. The harangues were given in Chile and Argentina during 1969.

In any case the Spanish term arenga can mean a discourse, a pep talk, or something close to the English word harangue with its meanings of a long, scolding, and/or pompous address. In the early English translations of Silo’s talks the word was simply translated as harangue maybe walking into the problem that linguists refer to as “false friends”. Wikipedia describes them this way: False friends are pairs of words or phrases in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets)[1] that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is the English embarrassed and the Spanish embarazada, which does not in fact mean ’embarrassed’ but rather ‘pregnant’.

Not realizing any of that, and even today having no idea whether it would have been better to translate arenga as discourse, or something similar, personally I always thought that calling your most important, and seminal talks by this normally derogatory term was both charming and clever.

H is for…

Healing of Suffering

This is the seminal and arguably most important of Silo’s haranguesRefused permission by the totalitarian government of the time to speak publicly he was finally told that if he returned to his hermitage in the Andes he would be given permits to speak to the rocks and snow. And so he delivered the talk that has come to be known as The Healing of Suffering in the inhospitable environs of the small settlement of Punta de Vacas.

The text of the talk (published in Silo Speaks which can be found in volume one of Silo’s Collected Works. Audio and text can be found here. Interesting audio interpretations of this talk and other of Silo’s talks, by The Good Science (Mark Lesseraux and Jeremiah Hosea), can be found here.

The Plaza of Steles at Parque Punta de Vacas where the Healing of Suffering can be found inscribed on copper plates in various languages.

Here’s the text of that short talk
The Healing of Suffering

Punta de Vacas, Mendoza, Argentina, May 4, 1969

If you have come to listen to a man who it is thought transmits wisdom, you have mistaken your way, for true wisdom is not communicated through books or speeches—true wisdom is found in the depths of your consciousness, just as true love is found in the depths of your heart. If you have come at the urging of slanderers and hypocrites to listen to this man so that what you hear today may later be used against him, you have mistaken your way, because this man has not come here to ask anything of you or to use you, because he does not need you.

You are listening to a man who does not know the laws that rule the Universe, who is not privy to the laws of History, who is ignorant of the relationships that govern the peoples of the world. High in these mountains, far from the cities and their sick ambitions, this man addresses himself to your conscience. Over the cities, where each day is a struggle—a hope cut short by death—where love is followed by hate, where forgiveness is followed by revenge; over the cities of the people rich and poor; over the immense fields of humanity, a mantle of suffering and sorrow has fallen. You suffer when pain bites your body. You suffer when hunger seizes your body. But you suffer not only from your body’s immediate pain and hunger, you also suffer from the consequences of the diseases that afflict it.

We must distinguish between two types of suffering. There is the suffering that occurs during illness, which recedes with the advance of science, just as hunger can recede if the empire of justice advances. There is also the suffering that does not depend on the sickness of your body but yet derives from that sickness: If you are disabled, if you cannot see, if you cannot hear, you suffer. But though such suffering derives from your body, or from the diseases of your body, that suffering is of your mind.

There is yet another kind of suffering that does not recede even with the advance of science or with the advance of justice. This type of suffering, which belongs strictly to your mind, retreats before faith, before joy in life, before love. You must understand that this suffering is always rooted in the violence that exists in your own consciousness. You suffer because you fear losing what you have, or because of what you have already lost, or because of what you desperately long to reach. You suffer because of what you lack, or because you fear in general.

These, then, are the great enemies of humanity: fear of sickness, fear of poverty, fear of death, fear of loneliness. All these forms of suffering pertain to your mind, and all of them reveal your inner violence, the violence that is in your mind. Notice how that violence always stems from desire. The more violent a person is, the more gross are that person’s desires.

I would like to tell you a story that took place long ago.

There was once a traveler who had to undertake a long journey. He yoked his animal to a cart and began the journey to his faraway destination, a journey he had to complete within a certain length of time. He called the animal Necessity and the cart Desire; one wheel of the cart he called Pleasure, and the other he called Pain. Our traveler turned his cart sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, yet he never ceased moving toward his destiny. The faster the cart traveled, the faster turned the wheels of Pleasure and Pain, carrying as they did the cart of Desire and connected as they were by the same axle.

But the journey was very long, and after a time our traveler grew bored. So he decided to decorate his cart, and he began to adorn it with all manner of beautiful things. But the more he embellished the cart of Desire with these ornaments, the heavier became the load for Necessity to pull. On the curves and steep hills of the road, the poor animal grew too exhausted to pull the cart of Desire. And where the road was soft, the wheels of Pleasure and Suffering became mired in the earth.

One day, because the road was long and he was still very far from his destination, our traveler grew desperate. That night he decided to meditate on the problem, and in the midst of his meditation he heard the neighing of his old friend, Necessity. Comprehending the message, he arose very early the next morning and began to lighten the cart of its burden, stripping it of all its fine adornments. Then he set off once more toward his destination, with the animal Necessity pulling the cart at a brisk trot. Still, our traveler had already lost much time—time that was now irrecoverable. The next night he sat down again to meditate, and he realized, thanks to another message from his old friend, that now he had to undertake a task that was doubly difficult because it involved his letting go. At daybreak he sacrificed the cart of Desire. It is true that when he did so he lost the wheel of Pleasure, but then he also lost the wheel of Suffering. And so, abandoning the cart of Desire, he mounted the animal called Necessity and galloped on its back across the green fields until he reached his destiny.

See how desire can trap you. But notice that there are desires of different qualities. There are cruder desires, and there are more elevated desires. Elevate desire, purify desire, surpass desire! In doing so, surely you will have to sacrifice the wheel of Pleasure—but you will also become free of the wheel of Suffering.

Spurred by desire, the violence in a person does not simply remain like a sickness in the consciousness of that person—it acts in the world of other people and is exercised upon them. And do not think that when I talk of violence I am speaking only about the armed act of war, where some men destroy others. That is only one form of physical violence.

There is also economic violence. Economic violence is the violence through which you exploit other people; economic violence occurs when you steal from another, when you are no longer a brother or sister to others but a bird of prey feeding upon them.

There is also racial violence. Or do you think that you are not being violent when you persecute someone because that person is not of your own race? Do you think that you are not engaging in violence when you malign that person for being of a race different from your own?

And there is religious violence: Do you think that you are not engaging in violence when you refuse work to, close your doors to, or dismiss a person, because that person does not share your religious beliefs? Do you believe that it is not violence when you use words of hate to build walls around other people, excluding them from your society, because they do not share your religious beliefs—isolating them within their families, segregating them and their loved ones, because they do not share your religion?

There are other forms of violence that are imposed by the Philistine morality. You wish to impose your way of life upon another; you wish to impose your vocation upon another. But who has told you that you are an example that must be followed? Who has told you that you can impose a way of life because it pleases you? What makes your way of life a model, a pattern that you have the right to impose on others? This, then, is another form of violence.

Only inner faith and inner meditation can end the violence in you, in others, and in the world around you. All the other doors are false and do not lead away from this violence. This world is on the verge of exploding with no way to end the violence! Do not choose false doors. There are no politics that can solve this mad urge for violence. There is no political party or movement on the planet that can end the violence. Do not choose false doors that promise to lead away from the violence in the world… I have heard that all over the world young people are turning to false doors to try to escape the violence and inner suffering. They turn to drugs as a solution. Do not choose false doors to try to end the violence.

My brother, my sister, keep these simple commandments, as simple as these rocks, this snow, and this sun that bless us. Carry peace within you, and carry it to others. My brother, my sister—if you look back in history, you will see the human being bearing the face of suffering. Remember, even as you gaze at that suffering face, that it is necessary to move forward, and it is necessary to learn to laugh, and it is necessary to learn to love.

To you, my brother and sister, I cast this hope—this hope of joy, this hope of love—so that you elevate your heart and elevate your spirit, and so that you do not forget to elevate your body.

H is for…

Historical Moment

Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found in materials of the time something like this:
An historical ambit in which several contemporary generations coexist. The hm is modified when the system of power is transferred from one generation to another. This transference can be done progressively (in which case, the determination of the change of the moment is not very obvious), or in a revolutionary manner.
Siloism, H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

Here’s the definition Silo left us with:
Every social situation finds itself in a determined hm wherein diverse generations coexist. An hm is differentiated from another when a “rupturist” generation disputes the power of the generation that holds it. Given a rupture, the conditions are present in the new hm for processing a new stage of greater breadth, or for the simple mechanics of the generational dialectic to continue. The hm appears as the minimal system (*) of a structure configured by the generations that coexist, in relationship with the structure of their corresponding sociocultural (*landscape) environment (*). Grasping this minimal system is necessary for the comprehension of a historical process. In other words: the coexisting generations and their surrounding landscape are the dynamic structures of the minimal system called hm

A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

H is for


The h.a. existed long before words such as “humanism,” “humanist,” and others like them had been coined. The following positions are common to humanists of all cultures: 1) placement of the human being as the central value and concern; 2) affirmation of the equality of all human beings; 3) recognition of personal and cultural diversity; 4) a tendency to develop knowledge beyond conventional wisdom or that imposed as absolute truth; 5) affirmation of the freedom of ideas and beliefs; and 6) repudiation of violence.
Beyond any theoretical definition, the h.a. can be understood as a “sensibility,” a way of approaching the human world in which the intentionality and freedom of others are acknowledged and in which one assumes a commitment to non-violent struggle against discrimination and violence (humanist moment).
A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

L is for…

Landscape of Formation

Silo defines this concept in the following way:

The individual’s emplacement at any moment in their life is effected through representations of past events and more-or-less possible future occurrences, such that, upon comparing them to phenomena in the present, they enable the individual to structure what is referred to as their “present situation.” However, it is impossible for this inevitable process of representation that is done before the unfolding events to make such events have, in and of themselves, the structure that the individual attributes to them.

The term l of f, refers to the events that each human being has lived through since birth, and in relation to an environment. However, the influence of a person’s l of f is not given merely by a biographically-formed temporal – intellectual perspective, and from which the individual observes the present; rather, it is a matter of a continual adjustment of situations based on one’s own experiences. In this sense, the l of f. acts as a “backdrop” for one’s interpretations and actions, and as a constellation of beliefs and valuations that an individual or a generation lives by.

A Dictionary of New Humanism in Silo’s Collected Works, Volume 2

M is for…

“Monkey Business”

this is a phrase meaning mischief, or impropernaughty, or annoying activity related to the earlier phrase monkey shines. Interestingly the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) — the arbiter of such things in the English language — apparently says it derives from the Bengali bā̃drāmi i.e. mischievousness, literally, a monkey-trick (What linguists or translators might call a claque, i.e. a literal translation from one language to another).
It’s also the name of at least 4 different movies, the most significant one for me is the Marx brother’s film with none other than our friend Groucho.

Too Much Monkey Business is also the title of a song written by Chuck Berry and covered by Elvis, The Beatles and the Yardbirds, among others.

However, for me the phrase points to something else. It refers to and recalls all the “mechanical” behaviours that are our biological inheritance from our pre-human ancestors, almost everything given by our biology and our culture.

Some people are deeply offended by the idea that there are few aspects of our personalities, behaviour or cultures that is not an elaborated version of some very primitive, literally and figuratively, evolutionarily mandated reality. The examples are as endless as human behaviour but let’s see an example or two or three…

It’s easy to see that social status is important for people. A type of car, a certain address, a particular label, a beautiful spouse, children or the absence there of, In every culture the indicators of status are obvious to insiders, though of course they vary from generation to generation, group to group, sub-culture to sub-culture, culture to culture, etc. I have heard it said (and I will for the moment assume that it is true) that as in many places, the rigidly hierarchal traditional Chinese culture used differences in clothing as a key signifier of rank or caste. So it is not surprising that when the Communists came to power they used fashion to send signals regarding the elimination of differences, for example getting rid of rank insignia in the ranks of the People’s Liberation Army .

When the cadres (i.e. the ruling class, or higher echelon party members) and the wore for the most part the same style clothing they made slight modifications in the stitching etc to indicate their fashionable status. Certainly, officially an officer and regular soldier in the People’s Army could be distinguished by whether their tunic had four pockets or two. People it seems will always find a way. You can dismiss that as superficial or vanity but there’s clearly much more to it than that. And whatever else it may be shallow it’s not it has deep, deep roots.

The desire to “tart” ourselves up is only superficial from a very superficial (ideologically over-determined) point of view. Consider that the oldest examples we have found so far of the use of coloured pigments indicate these may not have been used primarily for cave painting or for decorating manufactured objects but as “makeup” for that most peculiar object the human body. And even that example relies on relatively recent innovations.

Taking a somewhat longer term perspective we can point to so called biological ornamentation first noted by Darwin in his Descent of Man.
and overstated and naively utilized as has been pointed out more than once.

The deep, primordial importance of status, and the showing off of status is made evident, not only in human history, preoccupations, literature, discussion and behaviour but also in other primates, mammals, and just about wherever else you want to look.

As is illustrated for example by any number of recent studies (big caveat here), where it has been demonstrated that if peoples’ status is diminished, their social standing lowered, or their social networks diminished, their health problems will increase. This is true even where there is socialized medicine and the standard of living is such that even the poorest have decent nutrition, clean water, etc.

What’s more – wait for it – the degree of increased death is related to a lack of social relationships is similar to that for the highly publicized health impacts of smoking. That’s a huge thing. Want to improve public health, the most important health measure you can take is too improve social status (including reducing the gap/chasm/abyss) between rich and poor). Poverty correlates with low social status and both seem strong determinates of physical/mental well being.

Some pretty robust studies seem to show that the less you have, the greater the tax you pay on nervous system. That is, just the social reality of being poor (independent of diet or biological stress stress) hurts your brain.

Of course there are all kinds of monkey business, but in no way does pointing to the importance or ubiquity of those realities in any way imply that human existence is circumscribed within the so-called nature, nurture debate.

However, fortunately, or unfortunately, sustained and careful observation makes it abundantly clear that we deeply determined both by biological and historical (i.e. cultural) forces – much more deeply than is easily comprehended.

As Silo tells us on the second day of the journey outlined in the Inner Look, not only do my thoughts, feelings and actions not depend on me, but even “I” and my desire to change are all dependant on external forces.

Continued Next Time

M is for…


If you look it up the etymology seems pretty straight forward. It is thought that the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root is “med” which also gives us words like measure (e.g. measured thought). Hence words like the ancient Greek medesthai “to think about”, the Latin modus “measure” but also mederi “to heal’ and medicus “physician”.

Not only do most religions have related practices of their own but the scholars tell us that so did philosophical schools (like the Stoics).

Sticking with mindfulness you will find that most people familiar with the definitions or related practices are in fact talking about a particular variant of Vipassanā meditation with an emphasis on “bare attention” directed towards breathing, thoughts, feelings or actions”. This approach (rooted in ancient practices but developed in the 1950s) is very different from the understanding of Vipassanā-meditation (insight meditation, mindfulness) in, for example, the Tibetan tradition. Each of those traditions also teaches other exercises (meditations) very different from what’s known as mindfulness.

N is for Negro

That’s Spanish i.e. not “knee grow” as in English but “neh grow” as in Spanish for black.
One of the many nicknames given to the person, perhaps more properly, known as Silo. A common endearment in parts of Latin America, I have often heard it said that in Silo’s case it was for his dark colouring.

N is for…


General tendency of the development of living structures, society and of human consciousness. If life is taken, not as an isolated and singular occurrence, but as a step of greater complexity in the structure of nature, then the universe itself can be considered as developing in an irreversible direction (following the arrow of time), in which simple structures tend to surpass their initial condition, interacting, grouping together, and finally achieving a greater complexity than that of the previous moment. On the other hand, if life is viewed as an isolated case and likewise the universe, as another singular phenomenon, then one cannot speak of the tendency of the surpassing of the old by the new. But, at the same time, such a view will render general science impossible ―there is no science of the singular and non-repeatable. Cosmologies as well as the biology of earlier eras opted for the tendency to imagine a universe that tends to lose energy and order. In this way, the organizations of increasing complexity were seen as singular cases, as phenomena of hazard.
For N.H., the n.s.o. is a general tendency of the development of the universe. In the case of society, this tendency is expressed in generational dialectics, in which the new generations finally prevail. In the consciousness it is expressed in the temporal dialectic in which future time has primacy; and history, as the surpassing of present moments by other, more complex ones that advance toward an irreversible future. It is in the destructuring of any system where the rupture brought about by the new surpassing the old is verified. Nevertheless, the most progressive elements of the previous stage are incorporated into the new evolutionary step, and the elements that do not adapt to the changed conditions are discarded.
The Dictionary of New Humanism, Silo, Collected Works vol 2

N is for


Name adopted by the old German Workers’ Party in Munich in 1920. The Nazi ideology (an apocope of National-sozialistische) is similar to that of right wing romantic authoritarianism, characteristic of Fascism (*). When Adolf Hitler became the leader of N.S., he imposed its ideology and anti-Semitic practice. N.S. is the clearest example of anti-humanist thought in modern times.
The Dictionary of New Humanism, Silo, Collected Works vol 2

P is for Peaking

Peaking was (and apparently still is) the term for the most intense part of an “acid trip” usually occurring 3-4 hours after the onset of the drug. https://tripsafe.org/how-long-does-it-take-for-acid-to-kick-in/
All this talk of drugs compels me to add that I started using them when I was during my early teens and stopped taking all drugs except the social use of alcohol by the time I was 17. There were a few exceptions, including but not only, the occasional use of cannabis. However all that ended around the time I encountered Silo’s

P is for Punchline

Punchline or (punch line) is an interesting word (or two). A long delayed punchline is characteristic of the shaggy dog story. More on the word’s meaning, and etymology, can be found here. Sometimes you’ve got to love Wiki technology.

R is for Roach

More drug terminology. The end of a joint (cannabis cigarette) too short to smoke.

R is for Role

From Self-Liberation by Luis Amman

ROLES: Fixed or codified habits of behavior formed by the experiences in the different environments a person happens to live in. A certain role will be expressed when a stimulus provokes a particular range of human behavior as a response to that stimulus (see Behavior, Factors That Intervene In; see Response). Roles are directly related to the internal level and manner in which one’s self-image and the image of the given situation are represented. These representations are organized in layers of different depths within the system of representation of the internal space.

ROLES, Error in: a) One may select an incorrect role for a given situation, or b) one may incorrectly apply an old role in a new environment, and thus generate behavior that is poorly adapted to the stimulus.

ROLES, Function: The roles save energy and reduce the resistance one encounters in the environment. They are codified after being learned through trial and error.
Roles give place to either typical or atypical responses; a response is typical if it is well adapted to the situation or agrees with what is normally accepted, and atypical if it is not. Either one may produce either increasing or decreasing adaptation.
The compensating image of the reverie nucleus, as well as giving a general response to the requirements of the environment, also compensates the basic deficiencies and shortcomings of the system of roles.

From Silo’s Psychology Notes 1 (in his Collected Works Vol. 1).
*bolded text and underlining added by me

The individual’s systems of response (there are no isolated responses) organize a personality, a mediator with the environment which, to improve its dynamic, articulates different roles as codified systems of response.

The personality fulfills a precise function: it searches for the least resistance in the environment. This organization of roles that allows the fewest difficulties in relationship with the environment is codified on the basis of learning by trial and error. The accumulation of behavior organizes a system of roles linked to different situations, in which certain roles appear while others are hidden. This is a clear illustration of a system of adaptation. Over time what might be called “circles of personality” become organized in strata at different depths. These circles are articulated in accordance with signals from the reveries and the habitual environments.

S is for


Look elsewhere for biographical details or lists of his accomplishments, literary oeuvre etc. This is a personal, if eccentric glossary. So here’s my version of who he is:
the great spiritual guide of our times, the master of masters, the most brilliant, nicest, funniest guy I’ve ever met, and my friend.

Throughout this website and my writings you’ll sometimes find him referred to as Silo and sometimes as Negro, one of the affectionate nicknames he was called by his friends. He had other nicknames. An old friend of his, I think it was, Gato Lemos (Gato, i.e. Cat also a nickname) once told me that as kids they called him Spider. I knew a number of people who called him El Negro, the article changing Black, into The Black, or the The Black One, or The Black Man.

S is for…


This term can be defined in both a broad and a narrow sense. A series of random numbers is still a “series” or, more broadly defined, a s. Only something definitively amorphous would not be a s., which is equivalent to saying: “that which has no s. is not a s.” However, such a formulation is vacuous. In the sense explained by Husserl, the elements of a whole are not comprised as parts of the whole but as members, and therefore the totality or group is a whole and not simply a “sum.” The members of a given body are correlated, and so they are not independent with respect to the others, and are in fact reciprocally interrelated. This marks an important distinction from the atomistic conception and its method of analysis applied to the study of a s. When Husserl establishes that in the s. of perception or representation, “color” is not independent of “extension,” he is indicating that an atomistic separation of the two terms ruptures precisely the real essence of the perception or representation. Thus, consciousness in general must be viewed as a s. that changes in its position-in-the-world, and in which each of its members is related with the others in an inseparable way in that change of position. This description is valid for an understanding of structures as diverse as historicity and human society.
As for the relationship between a s. and its environment (which in turn should be considered as a s.; for example, the biotic environment), it is usually designated as a “system” (for example, an ecological system). In general, in a system the structures interrelate as members of the same system. When we speak of the-human-being-in-the-world, we refer to a system of non-independent structures, and, in this case, the human being (*) cannot be considered, in and of itself, but rather as an “opening up” toward the world; in turn, the “world” can only be meaningfully apprehended in relation to the human being.

A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

T is for…

Temporal Class

Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found in materials of the time something like this:

TEMPORAL CLASS: Just as the social class is characterized by social constituents (especially the means of production), the tc as a psychological concept is characterized by the situation of a group of individuals of the same age in relation to others of different ages. One tc is different to another by its situation, not only in relation to the means of production, but also to the mechanism of power. Thus, a tc. is able to deforce the means of power only in adulthood. The tc of children and of the old are marginal to these mechanisms. The struggling tc. is the one that fights to liberate itself from the conditioning to which it is subject by the tc which has the power.
Siloism by H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

T is for…


In lesson 26 of Luis Ammann’s Self Liberation we read:

The objective of the transferential works is to integrate mental contents. Transferential practices do not work the same as cathartic practices by discharging tensions towards the outside world; rather, they work by transferring charges from one content to another in the consciousness in order to balance one’s system of thinking, one’s mental “scene.” In reality, the consciousness is continuously transferring charges from one content to another. But for various reasons, at times certain contents remain isolated and produce dissociations.

From the psychological point of view, human life should naturally consist of a progressive integration of contents. In this sense, the transference as a technique is intended to assist this normal process that takes place in the consciousness but is sometimes affected by accidental dissociations.
Just as there are natural cathartic expressions, there are also natural tranferential operations that occur in dreams, reveries, artistic activities, making love, and in religious experiences. Here we are not defining these activities by their transferential nature, rather we are explaining that transferences do occur in them. In paradoxical sleep (sleep with dreams or images), transferences occur which integrate and order contents, the events of the day are reorganized in the memory, tensions are relieved, and the body rests. Thus, sleep serves many functions, one of which is transferential.

Many cathartic phenomena allow transferences to occur by relieving overcharges that were blocking the transference. Conversely, transferential phenomena may free remaining overcharges which are then expressed cathartically. Although they fulfill different functions, catharsis and transference often act concomitantly. Later we will see that in cases of excessive tension, it is necessary to produce cathartic discharges before beginning the transferential work. We will also see that there are circumstances in which a cathartic reaction is not opportune because it would take away the necessary charge from the contents we wish to integrate.

T is for…

Transferential potential is a phrase I used (idiolect) in thinking about the relative quantities (and qualities) of energy bound up in psychological knots and situational difficulties. The greater the resistance the greater possibility of change. The more difficult the more (or finer) energy its resolution makes available. This was part of the framing that served me very well when dealing with the discovery, as a young parent, that I had advanced lymphatic cancer.

Not that the difficulty is good or suffering useful rather, while one would prefer to turn lead into gold sometimes instead of lead you have to transform shit. It is not desirable or pleasant but it can be useful and when successful delivers gold of the highest quality.

Or as I told my friend Nicole when she discovered herself in a similar situation — “you’ve got to make the circumstances pay”.

see Transference

T is for

Transferential Probe

According to Self Liberation both the transferential probe of resistances and the transferential probe of movement both begin with the telling of a joke…
Self Liberation, L. A. Amman, Samuel Weiser NY (1981)

T is for

Three Pathways

Our experience of life is mediated by the three pathways of experience which can also be the three pathways of suffering. These are the paths by which data arrives to the consciousness, the senses (internal and external), the memory and the imagination. Normally, the three are not only confused but full of errors (illusions). So, just as we can speak (if only for convenience) of these 3 pathways and can highlight their nature as the sources of all experience or as the sources of suffering we can also note their dubious nature, i.e. the 3 illusory pathways. I can have sensory information that is more or less accurate — or totally illusory. The same is true for memory and imagination (i.e. I can fear a future event that will never take place).

V is for


(from L. violentiam, excessive use of force). The simplest, most frequently employed and most effective mode for maintaining power and supremacy, for imposing one’s will over others, for usurping the power, property and even the lives of others. According to Marx, v. is “the midwife of history.” That is, all of human history ― even progress ― is the result of v.: wars, appropriation of territory, conspiracies, murders, revolutions, etc. Marx claimed that all important problems of history have generally been resolved by force. Intelligence, reasoned discussion, or reforms have played a secondary role. In this sense, Marx is right; he is wrong, however, to the extent that he confers absolute priority to the role of v., denying the advantages of evolution without v. Neither is he correct when he justifies v. with some noble end (although he himself on many occasions expressed reservations about v., saying that no good end can excuse the use of evil means for its attainment). Advocates of v. of every persuasion justify it as a means to achieve “good” or “useful” ends and results. This focus is dangerous and mistaken, however, since it leads to the defense of v. and the rejection of non-violent means.
It is customary to categorize v. as direct, individualized (authority of father over child), or as indirect (permutational), usually “codified” by social institutions and official policies (wars, a dictator’s power, single-party power, religious monopoly). There are also other ways of categorizing v.: as physical or psychological; as open or concealed. In society, other more precise gradations of v. can be observed ― at the level of the family, of the nation, of world politics, as well as in the relation of the human being with nature, with other animal species, etc. All around us we can observe one or more of these elements, manifestations, or states of v., carried out to resolve problems or to achieve desired results at the cost of harming or inflicting suffering on another individual or group. V. is not necessarily oriented toward any specific enemy (though such cases do occur); rather, it is exercised to obtain certain concrete results, and it is therefore regarded as necessary and useful. Often, the one exercising violence believes they are acting in a just manner. This is the origin of the concept of distinguishing between “black” (unjustified) v. and “white” (justified).
V. is multifaceted. In the majority of cases it is viewed as an ethical category, as an evil, or as a “lesser evil.” Today, v. has become pervasive in all aspects of life: it appears continually and on a daily basis in the economy (exploitation of some human beings by others, coercion by the State, material dependency, discrimination against women in the workplace, child labor, unjust taxes, etc.); in politics (domination by a single or small number of parties, the power of certain leaders, totalitarianism, the exclusion of citizens from real participation in decision-making, war, revolution, armed struggle for power, etc.); in ideology (the imposition of official viewpoints, the prohibition of free thought, subordination of the communications media to private interests, the manipulation of public opinion, propaganda of ideas that are inherently violent and discriminatory but convenient to the ruling elite, etc.); in religion (subjection of the interests of the individual to clerical edicts, stringent thought-control, prohibition of divergent beliefs, persecution of heretics); in the family (exploitation of women, dictatorial control over children, etc.); in education (authoritarianism of teachers, corporal punishment, prohibition of diversity in curricula and teaching methods, etc.); in the armed forces (arbitrariness of officers, unthinking obedience of soldiers, punishment, etc.); in culture (censorship, prohibition of innovative currents and movements, prohibitions against publishing certain works, edicts by the bureaucracy, etc.).
If we analyze the sphere of contemporary societal life, we continually come up against the v. that curtails our liberty; for this reason it is practically impossible to determine what sorts of prohibitions and suppressing of our will are truly rational and useful, and which ones are contrived and anti-human in character. A special task of authentically humanist forces consists of overcoming the aggressive features of contemporary social life: to promote harmony, non-violence, tolerance and solidarity.
When people speak of v., they generally mean physical v., this being the most overt expression of corporal aggression. Other forms of v., such as economic, racial, religious, sexual v., and so on, can at times act while concealing their true character, and lead to the final subjugation of human intention and freedom. When these forms of v. become manifest, they are also exercised through physical coercion. Every form of v. has discrimination as its correlate.
A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.