Getting Ready for Revolution

meteorby Paul NagleThis Fall, CSI is rolling out a new program called Facilitating Strategic Disruption.  We’ve had 2 events so far.  There are 3 more events to come and I am on fire with excitement.

Two weeks ago, CSI held a drunken pot-luck supper salon where 22 very smart people came to help us think through the rules of a participatory art challenge that will be thrown down on Monday, November 11th at the Bowery Poetry Club and concluded with a show at the same venue on Monday December 9th.

Last night, October 8th was the second event in the 5 part series – a group discussion and exercise with Arlene Goldbard, author of The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & the Future and The Wave.  So with the rules of the game established and a resource kit created, and the date set for the arts challenge, our task tonight was to consider theoretical frameworks to maximize art as a crucible in which to forge the emergent reality of cooperation and sustainability.

We began by listening to the amazing  “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.

We “analyzed” the song in terms of our own responses: physical, emotional, intellectual – giving full validation to the range of ways in which we experience music as creative beings.  It was a simple, direct exercise, but kind of mind-blowing.

Goldbard put forth that spiritual alignment occurs when we encounter certain music.  In the world of consensus reality, that perception is not acknowledged or encouraged.  We are required to narrow what we receive.  We collude in this construction of reality where our bodies are not related to our being in the world.  Goldbard then spoke of her theories.  She describes two spheres of modern life:  Datastan and The Republic of Stories.

Datastan – the dominant reality in which we are currently trapped, demands that we view all social relations through a lens of machine-like linearity. We practice self-suppression, because only some parts of our human capacity are welcomed at work or in the “adult world.”   We are only supposed to respond to events according to the characteristics of the dataset category of social actor to which we have been consigned.  Tremendous resources are expended by the power elite to distract us from our own values and agency.  We are made to feel that all exits from this system are sealed, making the narrative inevitable.  Through the “availability cascade” of mass media, false narratives of our own limitations are repeated until they become our reality.

Goldbard believes that Datastan is starting to give way because of the brokenness of its stewards and their corruption.

She encouraged us to be founders of The Republic of Stories – where we convey our responses and the construction of ourselves as social animals through sound, image and movement – the vocabulary of art.  By practicing, we open up a space for more of this to happen.  The way we shape our stories shapes our lives; the way we name them creates them.  We begin to take control by flexing our creative muscles and cultivating 6 capacities:  Social imagination; empathy; improvisation; cultural citizenship; connectivity and creativity.

Goldbard provided guidelines with 3 questions and 3 charges:

Who are we? /What do we stand for? /How do we want to be remembered?

  1. Practice receiving and responding to the world with all of our capacities
  2. Change the rules to maximize creativity in our lives
  3. Take a break from mass media – engage in art

We have our marching orders.  On to November 11th and the art challenge throw down.  You up for it?


  1. Haym Gross

    Yes. Replace Consumer Collusion with Cultural Citizenship. Explode the mold of Marketplace as Virtual Community and restore the Commonwealth. Bring it !

  2. Self-actualization and personal spiritual attainment are lovely, but they alone do not constitute a full life. Our happiness is important, but it is not everything. If we are only for ourselves, if we do not bother to engage the world, to do whatever we can to stop the degradation of the global environment and to mitigate the obscene gap between the rich and the poor, then we fail as humans. Our life, as Edmund Burke described it, is “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” Each day, we should ask ourselves, what action have I taken today that will ensure that my generation leaves the world healthy and intact for those not yet born?

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