Hal on Bill's tenth order of perception control

LISTSERV "Hal on Bill's tenth order of perception control"

                          NEW WORLD ORDER DIARY
                              Hal Pepinsky
                             August 20, 1993


I didn't have to appear as a witness for Debbie Williams; I did write out
a statement with her for the prosecutor indicating that her children's
paternal grandfather bumped Debbie rather than the other way around. For
NWOD readers who have read about Debbie's three-year-long struggle to see
her children, Debbie now gets to see her children two hours a week, under
supervision of a woman state trooper. Family Protective Services is to
interview the children and parents and prepare a report on
visitation/custody issues for hearing in October. Debbie's new lawyer,
Bill Dailey, who it turns out issued the opinion I sought in 1981 that IU
financial records are public, is a breath of very fresh air. I met
several women I hadn't known in sitting in court to support Debbie, and
some of them are apparently going to join the feminist justice seminar.

Earlier today, I sang for a couple of hours among friends I have made at
the local municipal adult daycare center and convalescent center. We had
some beautiful harmonies going. So I'm in a pretty good mood, back
earlier than I thought with some time on my hands, and thought I'd say
just a few words about how Perception Control Theory is unfolding (and is
it ever unfolding!) before me. Many thanks to people on CSG-L for being
so patient and responsive with me.


I don't mean to minimize how thoroughly you have thought this model
through or its applicability, nor the community of excitement PCT-ists
share over how well their model explains much of our behavior. It occurs
to me that I come across a little ungracious about how much y'all have
accomplished in modeling human control systems up to the ninth order.
(Over lunch Les Wilkins used to tell me we had to reach third order models
before they became useful, and I used to kid him saying why not eight,
nine or ten.) As Bill Powers reviews "higher levels" of control in his
BEHAVIOR book, he comes finally to "still higher levels" at p. 173 where
he begins:

      I must now account for choice of particular system concepts [what we
      for instance refer to as what "society wants," or God demands] as
      ninth-order reference levels, and I can't....[274] If I seem
      reluctant to postulate a tenth level of organization, it is because
      I AM reluctant. At the risk of exposing a lack of spiritual
      development, I have to admit that I have no notion whatsoever of the
      possible nature of perceptions of that level. Maybe--and I say this
      quite sincerely--maybe our brothers from the East have something to
      tell us in this regard...

Goal attainment, hitting a target, are indeed part of the human drive.
It's ironic you mention Eastern thinking, Bill. My first mystical
experience of putting peace into words was the Taoist/Daoist classic by
Laodze. I've since discovered a similar awareness even among white men.
Some of us grow up in a culture in which peace is constantly attended,
described and given language and meaning in daily discourse. Others like
me find that it resonates with our hearts, just as creating impromptu
harmony with other singers does for me, and struggle to find a language in
which it becomes real for us and for those we have grown up among. Global
interdependence is now manifestly such that the struggle belongs to all of
us; if we cannot make peace real in others' language and action, we are--
as we all recognize--trapped in violence we cannot unilaterally negate or
wish away.

I too model behavior as attempted goal attainment in the geometry book,
and I'm thinking I can translate it into PCT terms. Tell me how I do. I
propose that a state of peace is perceived not by anything one does
oneself alone, as by reaching a target, but has twin referents--to my
motives (which goals I am seeking) and the motives of any other whose
behavior is affecting me (individually or as a group). In each case I
infer greater security (you would call it contentment Bill) when both
change at once, and each is chosen from an array newly suggested by the
goals each perceives from the other at the preceding moment. (It doesn't
matter whether I really know what you want; only that you and I see me
changing what I'm after because of what I think you now want.) I often
use harmonizing musically as a representation of this form of interaction,
because when I at least get the biggest rush from it, I can't see my next
note until I know the other singer's sequence leading into it, and when we
improvise, we balance one another's notes in surprising, unforeseen,
serendipitous new directions. This applies equally to all forms of
relationship, between me and a rock just as between me and a human being.
Any satisfaction I derive from attaining a low-order goal depends on what
comes next--on whether my goals and yours shift in relation to one another
in a "synergetic" form I call tetrahedronal, inspired by Buckminster

When I speak of surrendering to the moment, I don't mean giving up what
one wants. I mean (and you actually say this yourself repeatedly Bill,
whether or not you consider it basic to your theory) letting oneself
discover what one wants in the next moment after one gets there, instead
of, as Bill indicates we often do instead, tuning out information that
might make me change my goals because I'm too focused on getting what I
wanted in the first place. So when the Nazis come to pick up my
neighboring Jews, my first inclination is to check out the Nazis and Jews
personally to discover what I want to do, rather than operating on
presumptions of what kind of people I am dealing with and what state I
want them to be in from the outset. Nonviolence is anything but passive,
and in fact demands confrontation of conflict rather than trying to
channel it toward some target (victory in war, the criminal in prison).

Goal directedness becomes more violent, more productive of revolt as you
put it, Bill, as it becomes more highly organized, as into one group of
250 million people operating on one multi-trillion dollar tax base. One
of the reasons that George Bush recently was my leading candidate for mass
murder is that so much national energy was invested in allowing him cold-
bloodedly to murder people by the hundreds of thousands because he had so
many weapons and so much money to put to use. As an individual he
reflects the same perceptual referent which leads a disgruntled or laid-
off employee to take the biggest gun he can find and shoot up his

Meanwhile, a life of striving to maintain or restore balance or harmony
with others' shifting goals implies a very active life indeed. It
presupposes the capacity to feel whether human motives are interacting as
the helices in a DNA molecule. It presupposes our capacity to be governed
by feelings (the heart) as against where the goal-directed logic of our
mind takes us. It is like choosing to travel by staying mid-channel in an
undredged river and stopping as the spirit moves oneself rather than
setting one's cruise control on the interstate and getting to one's
destination as fast as one safely can. I'm suggesting your model explains
what happens to us in a goal-directed, violent mode in which often live,
but that another model works alongside it, and accounts in my experience
more for the contentment I find in myself and in those around me. In a
sense, Bill, in what you refer to more as personal predilection than as
derivative from your theory, you are advocating letting go of the very
goal attainment you are modeling, and I am suggesting that rich as your
model is, there is another equally rich model to learn within beside it.

I'm not proposing we discard PCT at all; I just think we have a lot of
material to work with exploring what is happening at the tenth order.