A Review of William Harryman’s Integral Options Cafe Blog

Back in June 2005, William Harryman started an eclectic blog on an “integral worldview” with attention given to Ken Wilber’s work, Spiral Dynamics, psychology, Buddhism, and other topics. Since then, the Integral Options Cafe has remained remarkably consistent and prolific save for a welcome deepening of its investigation and critiques of neuroscience-related articles.

The author isn’t shy about revealing glimpses of his personal life, sharing his progressive political opinions, and inveighing against gurus who he sees as abusive. Whether or not his mindset reflects a truly integral consciousness is something readers can decide for themselves. Personally I have found his heart-wide-open poetry more consonant with his deeply held and lived spiritual principles than his diatribes.

Many posts appear to virtually reprint entire articles wholesale, which can raise alarms for readers concerned with the erosion of intellectual property in online media. No prolific blogger I know is entirely pure when it comes to strict obedience to copyright law, but Bill does take this practice farther than many.

In my view, Bill occasionally veers into off-base asides or wanders onto a caustic and uncharitable tone that is downright mean (as when he has speculated wildly on the health issues of Wilber), but these shortcomings do not make his blog mainly unreadable. If nothing else, the enormity of links and news items is a collection difficult to find anywhere else.

More curious, I feel, is that in its structure and content the blog seem to ape the all-too-familiar design, appearance, and conventions of the mainstream blogosphere, whereas this reader would prefer to see its author take more risks. Considering that the integral philosophy claims to offer a revolutionary worldview that breaks the chains of “first-tier” thinking, Bill’s format and content here seem disconcertingly conventional. And the consistency of the blog over five years also raises the question of the author’s own development over this span of time and whether the blog has kept pace or if it reflects a static state.

There are many integral options, and Bill’s vision is certainly a valuable one that will be especially resonant with Buddhists and some critics of Ken Wilber. His path is continually evolving and the reader willing to cross some barbwire fences can find interesting views and links here on a lively mosaic of topics.

Note: This review originally appeared on IntegralLife.com, Aug. 24, 2010