This letter has been floating around for a week awaiting peaceful time in between to finish the grand finale bit. In the meantime much has happened_ including the worst wrestling match anywhere as the stuff thrown towards the TestLab manual framework overwhelmed all channels. Now, as noted above, we may be once again approaching elegance. So you can ignore the stuff about not accepting an unrealistic deadline... it passed uncommented upon
Hello my Lovelies;
It was moving to meet up as the four of us in the cave of the g-hangouts. My sound quality was so disturbing that I had to withdraw even though I suspected that the defining of the testLab strategy is vital. The resulting notes reflect some good thinking. I'll get back to this in a bit
continuing from the great discussion initiated by the perhaps still smoking Katalin... I present the products of two early awakenings.... that augment my already circulated direct impulse response.
Her challenge provoked me to flag a desire for overcomable working conditions...(elsewhere) Following this thread, I have looked at what most required me to do my best work while in Matera ( or during the few seconds I have been allotted for my crowd-pleasing activities during our subsequent gatherings). They perhaps resemble Cristiano's 'Wows.' -- My highlights seem to be moments of inspired madness where I actually got to do 'my work': the morning practice with 25 kids, the visit by my family of pensioners which became the warmest we ever got in the Casale, the first open circle, my second public speech w Rita, the jury visit and the announcement parade. Oddly, almost all of this largely excludes my fellow unMoaners.
I have asked myself whether you are unworkable with. Of course, being a master of lost causes and chronic marginality -- the answer is no. But I am deeply frustrated by not being forced by a chorus of voices eager for me to do so. (You are such promising raw material.)
Concretely (it says here scrawled on the back of a handy bedside envelope) I do my best work w a team of young 'actors'. Contrary to popular misconception, acting is not about pretense but honesty; reaching into one's core for the Glory of the Gods. In our circle work however, we scarcely ever get up off our arses. Indeed in our current discussions prepping the unSum we keep assuming that we are to sit talking and listening to each others thinkings--( and equally indeed, we may do this too, but don't most people do their best thinking while lying in bed?? ) What else might provoke the GG?
On the other side of this same envelope is my breakdown of the culture of circles: which I, under the illusion that this time I have been given carte blanche to design the entire run of the unSum, wish to make into the core mirror of how we live together. "The unMonastery travels on its circles." -- Marie Curie (or someone ) These notes have to remain secret in order to retain the pedagogical spark of their first being vocalised. Watch out.
Meanwhile back to the TestLab proposal. The decisions/notes as to how to angle it as an invitation/recipe book reflect some good thinking. As usual Katalin and I have found a form that should support this. However since the product needs to be beyond brilliant -- CunC being our best yet (well worth a read) - the timeframe for giving it content is highly unrealistic. I will keep churning out the bons mots as much as all of you, but I am reluctant to produce yet another unfinished BIOS document: BoM, SH, PM... The requirement of accessible to the uninitiated leads us to a streamlined text where every word evokes contemplation and every excess thought is a thorn in the eye...
The problem is, is as usual in the unMon, the productive core get absorbed by whatever is before us and vital other stuff gets dropped. I need to work on the content of unSummit and the uMM. If testLab is our strategic salvation, it can still only take 20% of our efforts - it is one prong of our recruitment strategy.
Kata's hard questions are pressing and welcomingly obnoxious : the TL strikes me as in a way her own response that justifies the Athens experiment. This is not a bad, immoral choice, but it is a choice. The working document reveals this: at two junctures (penned I think by both KH and KK) it takes a perhaps therapeutic perhaps defensive position that reveals the true nature of the beast: it is a strategy to help clean up the unpleasant scruffy stuff.
Why is this unMonastery different from all other unMonasteries?
Since this time we've turned the corner on the text balance and are now going to pull the collective arse out of the fire once again, but the core issue remains in response to Katalin's interrogation -- what is living the unMon life?
My perspective is, of course, not that of the collective we -- on one level I am looking for a place to die with dignity surrounded by you my loved ones. None of your are allowed to share this vision -- the nihilist, role play ethos that welcomes everything as a lark and could embrace this darkness, mustn't permeate the vision of the work. Rather the somewhat different question of creating a place where it could be safe to procreate may focus the challenge. (This is quite different from a place to party indiscriminately.)
This brings us back to the question explored, I think, convincingly in the CunC: It is not difficult to write code / it is difficult to live code. However just before this explodes into another diatribe as to the weak nature of those who allow the great imperialists to govern their bloodstreams, let's examine the metaphor of the testLab to see where we are heading...
As the CunC pointed out, monastic renewal has always been towards orthodoxy. Breakaway, rogue orders were not in the name of increased liberalism, but against depravity and worldly corruption. They increased rigor and grew wiser.
Examining our literature the other day in response to Mat's call for unpacking the OOs and HAs, it struck me that not only are we abandoning first principles, but that we never really established them. If I have been politely ignored every time I have brought this up, it can only be because I have failed to articulate the infinite wisdom of the central theme of what I have suggested since prototype week 5 ( and earlier in my Matera project proposal) as our specialisms.
--- so much of our good works vanish in the ether that I suspect that it should be a tenet of our world to renew the oral tradition and that none of our writings be abandoned online without our reading them outloud to at least two dedicated ears.---
I am once again asking that the unSummit be held under the umbrella of conscious temperance. (ask me about the Nottingham Davies'.) To make this difficult adjustment work, we turn to the paradox therapy of homeopathy -- cure poison with poison; the unMonastery's deep dedication to community service is best built around a cycle of feasts. Every half-moon we become primarily a place to party.* The question is merely what and how do we celebrate ? (By coincidence the appointed weekend in Nov. falls upon a feast night.) * yes, this sounds much like Academy of Infectious Diseases theory, but I did say it first.
It is written in the BoYKW that the moment that so crushed the Matera Prototype was the establishment of the non-circle, derived by a new order of heretic impulses and marked by among other things by Ben bringing in the first laptop to an unMon morning meeting (Shame, shame.) This nefarious moment just after open house 1 should have been of considered jubilation, but was rather a tepid affair clouded by the collective hangover. It has been examined before (tres diplomatically); however, that which hasn't been given any truck is the BD formula of relative temperate unMon cycle of bi-weekly parties.
It is also written that: The unMon shall travel on its festivities. -- Margrethe Mead (I think); that this is our source of renewal and our media. With the advent of the TL concept, every conscious thing we do must be considered a testLab. I wish to 'dictate' the TL research project of the unSummit: what is the form of sober, hard work of establishing 'service parties' where the guests are in focus?
So once again; I ask those organising the Notts gathering to find the appropriate cluster of mud huts far from the prevailing UK culture of chronic alcoholism and work with me. It didn't quite happen in Berlin, there was no response to the civilization detox program in Athens. If you find me embarrassing with this theme, please tell me and I will go away.
I am off to Sweden on Tuesday - back obscenely soon on Friday. I'm not packing my laptop. Phone number for messages is +47 9924 0877.