Sunday Open Thread – January 7, 2007

our pond in fog

What I’m planning on writing about soon:

  • The Role of Art and Artists in Social Change: Was Eminem’s failure to get Kerry elected the beginning of the end?
  • Experience-Based Decision Making: It seems an obvious choice, until you understand why the alternatives hold sway.
  • Making Blog Comments and Forums and Wikis Work: Do we need groundrules to enable real conversations, and would anyone follow the groundrules if we did?
  • Ways of Thinking, Imagining and Communicating Without Words: Other species manage just fine without language. Maybe it’s time we (re-)learned.
  • Love: Can we be in it, and be activists at the same time?
  • Survey Results: The winner of the contest I ran a year ago to predict what would happen during 2006.

What I’m thinking about:

Too Many Chiefs: More and more people, Stephan Harding tells us in Animate Earth, a book praised by James Lovelock, Fritjof Capra, David Abram, Jon Porritt and Lynn Margulis, are recognizing the urgency of dealing with the imminent crises precipitated by our political, economic and social systems, and recognizing Gaia theory as a means to do so. But the bookstores and the blogosphere and the works of philosophers and knowledge managers and social network theorists and economists and political scientists and ecologists (not to mention my e-mail inbox) are now full of a dizzying array of diverse models, standards and principles for diagnosing, understanding, coping with and surviving our fragile civilization. There is no cohesion to these models, and, it seems, a thousand sellers of ideas and analysis for every buyer.

But we don’t need more leaders, more gurus, more one-size-fits-all prescriptions. They’re for simple and complicated problems. For complex problems we need something better, more emergent, more democratic. We need ways to enable billions to sync with us, on their own terms, in their own context, developing their own plan of action, and then we need ways to let those billions connect and collaborate in powerful ways, in experiments and in creating and refining working models in their own self-selected communities, so that they no longer need the systems that are destroying our world, so that we can all walk away from them and build new sustainable ones. But how do we do this? Certainly not the way we’ve ever tried to solve a problem of this type and scale before.

One of these conflicting models is laid out in U of Toronto professor Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Upside of Down, which I’ll write about a bit next week. What’s interesting about it is that (like me) he’s resigned to the inevitability of the collapse of civilization in this century, and therefore preoccupied not with preventing it but with contingency plans to enable a “healthy renewal”after the collapse. More soon.

What’s on your mind this unseasonably warm January?

This entry was posted in Collapse Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sunday Open Thread – January 7, 2007

  1. I thought of you when I came across the story of the Tall Grass Bakery in Winnipeg:’m reading Metzinger’s _Being No One_. What happens to philosophy and cognitive science if you get rid of the concept of ‘self’? Rigorous, smart, and thought provoking. Skip from the Introduction to Chapter 8 to miss the hard slog.

  2. Jon Husband says:

    Finding a way to survive the inevitable collapse of civilization if it happens before 2030 or so (note to self: product and service cycles in every other human activity have been considerably speeded up over the last 20 or 30 years, with noticeable acceleration over the past decade .. why shouldn’t civilizational collapse perhaps leading to a new cycle happen faster too ?)I tend to follow the general thinking of the recommendations in The Fourth Turning, a book I know you don’t like. It’s basically about reengineering how one lives to do with (much) less and making sure that precious and practical relationships with other people are carried out with intelligence, grace andmindfulness.One opitmistic sign for a “healthy renewal” is that I suspect there will be a great deal of learning for a lot of people in a short time frame if there is collapse .. but then thinkers like Ronald Wright (A Short History Of Progress) or the socio-biologist referred to in the note I sent you who says we primates can’t adapt as necessary … are pessimistic that we can learn enough to make the difference

  3. Larry Grob says:

    First off, thanks for a dependable stream of thoughtful and thought provoking ‘sustainoblog’. I can relate to much of it, and especially so your notion of the need for an emergent, more democratic approach. Billions, for me at least, may be a stretch, but I do believe it’s possible to reach and motivate people individually–en masse. I know this sounds contradictory, however the means and the methods exist today. If the ‘experts’ can be as successful as they are in selling products, then we can be even more so selling survival.Larry

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    Evelyn:Wow. What a remarkable story of a Natural Enterprise, and from my hometown yet! Thank you for this. I read Metzinger’s own precis of BNO online. It was fun reading for awhile, as most books on consciousness are, until you finally get worn out from the mental gymnastics and ask “what does it all matter?” From a phenomenological perspective, unless I’m missing something, whether or not there is a self, here, now, experiencing what we experience, ultimately becomes unimportant, semantic. I confess I’m still smitten with Figments of Reality as the last word on cognition.Jon: I didn’t like the message of Fourth Turning but I respect the insight in it, and continue to refer to it from time to time. I agree with Wright that we can’t adapt fast enough, but I also agree with you that we can and will learn an astonishing amount in a short time…when we must.Larry: Thank you. (Nice blog BTW. I too missed Dr. S when he passed through town recently.)

Comments are closed.