One of the ideas we have been deepening in our Three amigos manifesto is that of the recovery of authenticity and friendship. I align these two ideas with playfulness, with a sense of sensual enjoyment. It is a countercultural approach to working systems, remarking the loving side of human experience even inside institutional settings.
As a way of showing what the place of playfulness can be in our lifes I will refer to Caillois' taxonomy of playful experiences. According to him, there are four main orders of playful activity:
This is my last post before summer holidays. I would like to finish the season with one of my favorite songs. It is the eternal The girl from Ipanema sung by Astrud Gilberto. The song was written by Vinicius de Moraes and was dedicated to
The exemplar of the raw Carioca: a golden-tanned girl, a mixture of
flower and mermaid, full of brightness and grace, but with a touch of
sadness, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the
feeling of that which passes by, of the beauty that is not ours alone —
it is a gift of life in its constant, beautiful and sad ebb and flow.
Can there be something more wonderful for the summer? Enjoy watching Astrud Gilberto sing The girl... here.
I've been quite alone these last weeks and it has been a good moment to reflect on the direction I want my life to address in the close future. I have reached to some very simple conclusions, but very powerful nevertheless:
1. Give priority to the care of my body.
I started going to the gym regularly last summer and have kept going all through the year. But in the last months my interest in my body has extended to the pleasureful experience of life. I read Joseph Lichtenberg's account of the importance of sensual pleasure for the self and I have started to get some massage and spa sessions. I cannot remember being so concerned with well being in my life. I will probably start doing Yoga in September. I think this reframes my life in quite a big fashion.
2. Be more open to enjoying differences in my relationship with the people I know.
3. Be more hopeful about the future.
It is a consequence of enjoying more every moment, of working on the sensual experience.
69 years ago the nazi air forces bombed the town of Gernika. Gernika has always been the symbol of Basque traditional democracy and liberties. That is why the dictator Franco could not stand it and fostered the bombing.
Picasso symbolized the cruelty of the moment in his eternal painting.
No, I won´t talk about Aristotelic virtue and its psychogeographical location in the middle of human complexities. I´d rather like to talk about another dynamism present in our experience. This dimension has more to with the soul than with any other reality. Nieztsche considered man as a funambulist, walking on a rope, keeping balance in the risky thin line between two safe realms. Heinz Kohut saw man´s psychological safety oscilating between the realization of future plans and the ideal contained in them, the inspiring form sleeping in their heart. Even John Mc Laughlin found an spiritual source in this itinerant movement of the soul in his Between nothingness and eternity.
The fragility of the human condition can be easily seen in these symbolic models of the soul. That who stands between two poles risks falling in the road, tearing his soul or simply isolating one pole from the other.
Riskyness is also present in another pair of poles in which our soul rests in its longing dynamics. The first pole I have talked about in my manifesto is the elusive character of the human world. A simple look at our life makes us aware of the passing condition of many many events. We just fail to appropriate all we´d wish to. Our will to power has to recoil when faced with the infinite richness we are aware of.
The other pole is closer to the eternal side of the human soul. I think it was Schelling, the romantic philosopher, who understood this possibility. For Schelling "the ability a man (or woman) has to experience his ignorance and identify a specific lack within himself provides the context and the means to overcome those limits. For instance, if he were endowed with no mathematical potentials at all, he could not even recognize his own incompleteness". It is the infinitude in the finite.
It was Alfred Adler who developed the idea that basic lacks in a person´s life become the source of energy for improved abilities and strengths. Adler noticed the fact that many children who have some kind of defficiency, be it physical or psychological, fight to overcome it with increased will.
It is well known that Demostenes, the famous speaker, had talking defficiencies and by training restlessly became the most famous speaker of his time. Cicero tells about Demostenes, that in order to improve his breathing powers, he used to climb hills while declaiming a speech.
When Friedrich Nietzsche introduced the term nihilism he pursued the revolutionary aim of breaking up the traditional sense of life as the fulfillment of pre-stablished goals. For Nietzsche, ideals were nothing but a human speculatory perversion. Instead, for him facts taught us that
1) A certain aim in life is not necessary in all cases. 2) It is not possible to pre-view the final aim.
F.Nietzsche, The will to power
From then on, nihilism was interpreted in very different ways, but most of them shared a negative or pessimistic way of seing things. Camus, identified nihilism with absurd. As I have shown in my manifesto, absurd can be present in the work life of many people. It can be actualized in the repetitive meaningless condition at work. It is the Sysiphus complex re-lived.
But a different view of nihilism is also possible. We can see nihilism as the absence of absolute aims, as the recognition of the errant condition of our life. It can be equated to a relativization of absolute hard truths and the embrace of the soft relational experiences. Irony is another very good representative of a "sweeter" nihilism.
Un douce nihilisme (a sweet nihilism) can provide the necessary frame to a plenty life. On one side it is aware that there´s no absolute solution to the vital problem. It is you who has to find your own meaning and truth. Other´s plentiness is not a guarantee for your happiness. On the other side, "la douceur du nihilisme" (the sweetness of certain nihilism) is recovered. If northern thinkers felt life as taking place in a cold and atmosphere-less world, we call for a recovery of intersubjective warmness and intellectual irony.
I am not very keen on predictions. I feel rather like Leonardo Da Vinci, who felt time was an slippery substance and wrote that
The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming. Thus it is with time present.
I know this can sound a bit strange for I usually write about business and it seems like most things in business should be planned or have a clear purpose. Yesterday, I had a business lunch with some colleagues and I felt surprised for their trust in dominating the future events. I´d like to offer a bit different vision of things. In my vision one of the things you should do to make your business better is to increase chaos.
Certainly, predictions should be the product of a technique or to be more poetic, of an art. This art has always been called divination. Divination was a common practice in the most developed civilizations. For the romans, it had a divine consideration. It was the grasping of the divine will that gave divination its name.
Among the greeks it was more related to madness. With states of disharmonies in the soul. In our modern lifes we still feel unbalanced and a bit possesed by events and things.
But if predictions keep a similarity with something, it is with dream interpretations. In ancient times it was commonly held that dreams communicated a message about future events and dream interpretation was similar to future decoding.
As we are living in the economy of dreams, our souls are frequently unbalanced and we would like some kind of divine pressence in our souls, prediction and divination apparently still keep some common points.
Every predictive action should follow its own methodology. How am I going to predict if I don´t know where to start from. Searching for help in classic texts I have found a powerful reference on Aristotle´s Rhetoric. This is what the philosopher tells us:
Necessarily, people do everything they do for seven causes: Through chance, through nature, through compulsion, through habit, through reason, through anger, through longing.
So this is the method I´m going to use to make my predictions. I´d like you to follow me in this and write your own expectations. I also recommend you to use it in your business. We usually try to plan through reason and sometimes don´t integrate the other elements in our models and plans. Just try it.
Chance........... I expect to meet new friends and find a wonderful new book.
Nature............ I predict the avian flu will awaken our fears (It´s in Turkey, close to Europe)
Compulsion....... I predict some distressic states I will live from the huge amount of things to do this year. I am afraid they can collide occassionally.
Habit.............. I imagine I will visit France again.
Reason............ I will publish two more books in 2006.
Anger.............. I expect I could feel angry with some comments coming from bureaucrats.
Longing............ If I meet a girl with shining eyes I could feel fever for her.