Sunday Open Thread — September 9, 2007

What I’m thinking about, and planning on writing (and podcasting) about soon:

Joyless Responsibility: I’ve written recently about the importance of each of us accepting personal responsibility for our actions, for our inactions, and for knowing their consequences. It is natural to accept responsibility, because in nature it is almost always joyful. It entails raising offspring, together, as community, and looking out for each other. It entails taking only what we need and knowing that by living simply we are preserving and sustaining a rich diversity of life that reciprocates our taking responsibility, and provides for us, so that our lives can continue to be joyful, astonishing, easy. But sometimes we have to take responsibility that is joyless, a burden, a thankless chore. For a few weeks each year when the fledglings are young, the adult birds in our yard look disheveled, exhausted. They know, I suppose, that it will pass, so they labour on, but they look tragic, unnatural. For many humans, too, responsibility is thrust on us unasked, even unfairly, and in our modern fractured nuclear society it is rarely shared. How do we cope when this happens to us? And what is our responsibility before that time, when we know billions of others are living lives of endless, lonely, joyless responsibility?

Need Less: The essence of radical simplicity, of the gift/generosity economy, of natural community, and of natural entrepreneurship, I think, is needing less. Needing less makes us, as individuals, members of enterprises, communities and societies, more self-sufficient, and more resilient, and allows us to give more with the ‘excess’ time, energy and money that we have by virtue of needing less. Meanwhile, the industrial economy is utterly dependent on consumers needing (or thinking they need) more and more. Without ever-increasing need there can be no growth, and without continuous growth, the industrial economy collapses. By contrast, the natural economy is sustainable indefinitely requiring only generosity, resilience and innovation.

Vignettes: Coming up soon, vignette #5.

Blog-Hosted Conversations: Delayed a couple of weeks due to technical problems with Skype and with Pamela, the software I was using to record the conversations. So starting next week, this blog will feature 30-minute conversations, initially on the subject of “What is your model of a better way to live, and what capacities do we need to develop or re-learn to live that way?”

Open Thread Question:

What’s your single favourite work of art, and why?

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6 Responses to Sunday Open Thread — September 9, 2007

  1. Paul says:

    Favorite piece of art:Ishmael- easily. It showed me what a good book could do and turned me from a reader of only the occasional magazine or newspaper article to someone who began devouring literature. I can’t think of any other single work that has impacted my life in such a profound way, although a close second for me would be the music of Jimi Hendrix, particularly his later, posthumously released, recordings, which when I first heard them felt like “the music I’d been waiting to hear all my life.”A point of interest there might be that people have had a similar reaction to Ishmael– that Quinn was articulating things they had ‘known’ their entire life. hmmm

  2. My favorite piece of art, to this day, is the Edward Munch’s Sream, although I tend to really like many of Salvador Dali’s paintings as well. The tormented anguish on the guy’s face in the Scream picture says it all about our society. We need to break free. And you seem to be getting closer and closer every day, Dave. I’ve adopted voluntary simplicity as well and find it overwhelmingly joyful and I can only see it getting better. Thank you for your inspiration

  3. Jon Husband says:

    Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the base of a Crucifixion (1944)”, just because. Whatever it was that lived inside Bacon speaks to me most through this triptych.Picasso’s Guernica and Goya’s The Shootings of May Third 1808 are close seconds.

  4. lugon says:

    Dave, this is about epilepsy wikis and the wisdom of crowds.

  5. Dawn says:

    My favorite work of art is the dance improv we create every Sunday Morning in Santa Cruz, CA at “Dance Church”. It feeds my soul, and creates a community. It brings new members into the center of our self created haven, it sends our group out in the world to work towards peace, and other worthy goals. It gives me strength to work through every day in the best way I can.

  6. If I can include the sheer beauty of a specific aspect of nature as my favorite work of art, then hear it goes… Waking up at dawn, in a brisk mist, and seeing the Shenandoah Mountains and all her glory, especially in the Fall

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