Having witnessed decades of talk around the "problem" of community at Arcosanti, I found recent social media postings repeating tired (IMO also trite) criticism, prejudiced cliches full of learned helplessness bordering on self-pity and replete with misconceptions. I was bemused as well as fretful, having been major preoccupied with getting my application to grad school submitted by mid-January. Deadline environments produce Murphy's Law environments in which near everything that could possibly complicate or go wrong, does just that. Retaining a sense of humour is of grave practical advantage when it comes to organizing matters of an administrative hue, since bureaucracies challenge, no matter what their form. Confucius trumps Lao Tzu; Gruen, Doxiadis. and a militarily purposed US interstate national highway system trump Soleri, arcology and high-speed mass transit.
Those are matters of historical record but I am optimist enough to want to work towards rectification as well as perfection of talent. No way, Jose, do I want to bother to take out a contract on all the people who willy-nilly insist on spending every waking minute getting in the way of my helplessly laughing at how absurd the world has become - even if I personally would rather the world get to experience how much better off it would be without the mania of that particular form of greed..
We're three minutes to midnight on the Atomic Clock yet plastic jettisoned into ocean waters isn't a capital offence? What kind of whack jobs allow that? Glutting the lifeblood of the planet - 3/4 of earth's surface is ocean, remember? - with poison is: Ho-hum, What the hey, Who cares, nothing new? Business as usual?
I ain't buyin' - why should I? Why should anyone? Genocide ain't my cuppa. Ain't even my preferred form of poison. Dunno what is optimum, but I can say right off the bat I'm not into battering, either. Was never fine at it, so why start now now?
I do 'get' sword fighting - did some fencing, back in the day. Dunno whether I could get serious about charging out, epee in hand, enough to coax my combat stances to work now, even for stage play. Coz if Life as Stage Play takes sophistication, let me be clear about one thing: if I've acquired any, it was got the hard way.
'Style of Class' (John Coltrane's phrase) was coined to relate race as an issue; but in my class, that style dictates that it isn't the severity of the beating that matters. Beating is wrong. Period, It's Wrong, and beaters get arrested.
That's how white kids in our town were taught, at least in the neighborhoods around the RR tracks, where I grew up. 'Style of class' in my immediate surrounds also meant fathers did not incite aggressive contact with their daughters, nor did it account for the surprise discovery that some of the girls I grew up with, went to school with, hung out with after school, had fathers or brothers or other family members who were inappropriate with them despite maternal attention, maternal devotion, intelligent maternal thinking; despite also paternal diligence, paternal concern, paternal hopes and dreams.
Live in hope, you never outgrow your need to live in hope. Life is pleasantly more simple if your Rx for it includes applying bits of hope to all wounds. Thanks again for that box, Pandora,
I'm rambling on about this because I'm trying to catch my bearings, I didn't find myself in the middle of vertigo, so it's not that kind of - oops this is a really big change - shift in outlook or focus that causes dizziness. But it's serious enough to warrant a pause to consider, to look for clues as to why I'm doing what I'm doing. I know where I am and I'm grateful for that because I can identify and appreciate the space around me. But I'll bet that is just a starting point.
Where I was going with this is: Debate about Arcosanti's "community" put me in mind of Mr. Rogers. Mr. R did not live in my local world but I like to think he might have wanted to visit, that he'd have liked to taste the neighborliness I myself experience now in the geographically isolated region I've been lodging in while old dog I focuses on learning some new tricks. Easier to do, perhaps, in an ecosystem relatively distant from the globally rampant chronic ugliness on continuous broadcast via predigested telly news.
No assassins, no baby-snatchers. Minimal vandalism. If bad news strikes, it's usually along the lines of garbage-marauding bear, rabbit-attacking bobcat, excessive pileup of snow. Occasional highway accident. A recent one ended the life of an elderly friend. But for the most part, live and learn - is my impression of how people here progress.
Winter is also progressing. An email said come meditate Wednesday@7, Ani Pema Chodron will talk (on tape), remind us how presently to be more present. I put this on my agenda, Yes I did. Good way to bring a calming end to a busy day, stimulate the tranquillity/insight trade route my brain needs on a regular basis for my mind to behave more mindfully. Put order in my chaos, help me process procedurally. Makes me feel quite rich...
Like Dragon Boat paddlers synchronize the strokes to maintain water-motion rhythm like a string ensemble's perfect intonation and precise bowing, my brain gets to observe my zany monkey-mind that's somehow coordinating a gazillion transit routes all going at the same time.
Following one thought-train, I recently contacted Peter Block, author of Community: The Structure of Belonging, via his website (link above. just under the photo of Colly), but doing that was due to an instance of simultaneous thinking that I noticed was happening, that got me to think about thinking.
That experience of having more than one thought at once, thinking in more than one direction at a time, reminded me of how it feels to perform, how creating a character on stage for an audience can shift the dynamic of your everyday relationship with yourself, reminding you that "life-is-performance." Good thing to learn, is my take on that. Because having been born into and raised by a performance-oriented family, the stunning theatricality of Paolo's architectural design sense blew me away when I first encountered Cosanti. Those structures made "All the world's a stage" profoundly more real, more true. Paolo, whose background was quite different from mine, was mystified by my repeated insistence that theatre was all-important, fundamentally important, but I like to think my ranting helped him say Yes when Charles Loloma and Lloyd Kiva New asked him to accept a commission to design and construct an amphitheater for the IAIA in Santa Fe, NM. But we're still not even close to seeing the program it was intended to house, deeply entrenched in Native consciousness. Why is that? Could it possibly have something to do with - a disconnect between what we say or believe arcology is supposed to accomplish, as the embodiment of how to promote common good ideas like universal accessibility, and what we actually DO to make sure they get their full 'day in the sun'??