“Sometimes those that know us best don’t necessarily support our wildest dreams and deepest core beliefs when it is beyond their own experiences, and spirit-friends are necessary to keep the flame alive.” - M.B., Filmmaker, Tennessee
In the Vietnamese new year which began yesterday, it's the Year of the Cat. (Year of the Rabbit in China.)
"The Cat Year is about following your clear inner truth through subtle currents, psychic waves, underlying thought forms that require extra sensitivity to navigate." - Mark Borax
Chúc mừng năm mới!
"Tradition also dictates that you should clean your entire home before the new year so you start off with a clean slate," says writer Thien-Kim Lam. I often wonder why people lust for a clean slate. Nothing to lose? The perception of freedom and peace? I'm still confounded by people that are envious of my position--"you're so unconstrained" as one person put it, as I've "lost" and/or given away whatever it is they might fear losing (from partner/relationship/marriage, job/career, house, car, all savings, etc. etc.)
Maybe this is an enviable position, but.... but, I still have my reputation and self-image to uphold! So, as minimalist as you might go, there appears to be always ONE more thing we can cling to that is holding us "back" from giving it all we've got, I suppose.
In his essay, The Missing Near-Future, Kevin Kelly (founding editor of Wired) writes about science fiction and speculative fiction story-telling as a platform for hashing out and fleshing visionary options--ours, yours, mine:
"The near future – let’s peg it 2020 and beyond -- is a blank because there is almost no vision of a near-future that seems both desirable and plausible. Most stories, “worlds,” and scenarios of say the year 2050 are dystopian. Take your pick of nuclear self-annihilation, mortal pandemics, planetary floods, robotic overthrow, alien invasion, or fascist apocalypse. They are all very plausible, but not desirable.
The advantage of the far future is we don’t have to be told the story of how we arrived there, of how we passed through the near future. It’s far away enough that the creators can punt past it. But the near future is such a conundrum that is it has disappeared from our culture."
Pretty cool, Kelly used the word "blank" beause he doesn't know what's next. The unknown. That fuzzy near-future where anything beyond the very next most obvious step is fuzzy at best. Another kind of clean slate is stepping into the unknown, and then then the next unknown, one foot after the other.
I don't feel the near future is as much as a conundrum as Kelly asserts. I don't think he's looked under all the nooks and crannies. Many idealists tame their findings and share something "plausible" enough to blend in and maybe this fails the "desirability" test (mediocre is usually not that desirable); many form their own groups in seclusion, or they cast themselves off in (frustrated?) isolation from the "plausible" constraints of community. Honestly, I yielded to the third option these past two years. Perhaps, this tyranny of plausibility is changing. Perhaps it is not.
All I know is I agree with my friend D.K. in "our right to be our idiosyncratic selves and still belong to the group of our choice."
"Man plans, God laughs. In that case I'd rather be God." - me
Last night, I watched a Bruce Lipton video where he asserted that although he was successfully publishing his stem cell research in the medical journals, "I found myself to be in a very small crowd of one in my community because I had violated the central dogma." Later, Lipton says that small children, due to primarily to theta brain wave orientation until they are six years of age, are easily imprinted with other's "plausible" expectations, opinions, and belief systems: "What we acquire in our development is that we're just average people."
Back in December, I started writing the narrative in the last post (there's more, although not online yet) for io9's Environmental Writing Contest: "Your story should deal meaningfully and plausibly with some aspect of environmental disaster. There are no limits on the kind of disaster you explore."
"The tyranny of the norm is that part of modern existence that seduces a person out of their truth in favor of conforming to the pressure of collective thought forms." - Mark Borax
Didn't take me even 1000 words into writing out my near-future scenario before I realized, "Nope, this isn't going to meet their "plausibility" standards."
And what did they mean there were "no limits" on imagining the disaster itself, yet I am limited to a plausibility constraint when I consider the solution? Huh? I kept hearing the refrain echoing: "Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foodle all the dreamers in the world are dizzy in the noodle..."
"Science classes are unscientific; students just sit there." - skateboarding physicist Dr. Tae
I've a fondness for dizzy in the noodle dreamers... a.k.a. disruptive innovators, like Dr. Tae. He quit teaching university-level physics because he's looking for better ways than the status quo to teach science. He's not afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes, and offers his two cents on a new vision for teaching and learning.
So I'm going to start singing this new refrain, "For the world is full of zanies and fools who don't believe in sensible rules and won't believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewey eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening every day."
Bonus: Cinderella: Who are you?
Fairy Godmother:I'm your fairy godmother.
Cinderella: How beautiful you are.
Fairy Godmother: I'm made of all of your most beautiful hopes and dreams and wishes.
Cinderella: Oh, Fairy godmother, I have only one wish just now.... to go to the ball.... and I know it is impossible.
Fairy Godmother:Impossible? Bah, what's a fairy godmother for?
Cinderella: To make my wish come true?
Fairy Godmother: If you wish it hard enough. Now let me see you'll need a coach, and four horses, and a coachman, and a groom.
Cinderella: Is it possible to get those things by wishing for them?
Fairy Godmother: Well, the sensible people of this world will say
(sung) Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foddle all the wishes in the world are poppy cock and twoddle.
Cinderella: (spoken) Aren't they?
Fairy Godmother:Not always. The sensible people will also say (sung) Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foodle all the dreamers in the world are dizzy in the noodle.
Cinderella: (spoken) And aren't they?
Fairy Godmother: Not always, especially when there is someone who loves you to help you. Now, to work. For a coach I believe I see a pumpkin over there-- that'll do very nicely.
Cinderella: A pumpkin?
Fairy Godmother: I see you have four pet mice in a cage.. they'll do very nicely for the horses
Cinderella: Mice? For horses?
Fairy Godmother: Mm hmm.. Now let me see, something's peering at us from under that shrub, oh yes, it's a fine fat rat with whiskers, and his brother they'll do very nicely for the coachman and the groom.
Cinderella: Oh, dear Fairy Godmother it all seems so impossible!!
. . . . .
Cinderella: (song) For the world is full of zanies and fools
who don't believe in sensible rules
and won't believe what sensible people say
Both: And because these daft and dewey eyed dopes
keep building up impossible hopes
Impossible things are happening every day.
-- from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella musical
p.s. The dream is to have a center to do implausible, impossible and desirous things with other dewey eyed dreamers; and plus also we can jointly host impossible things Salons in your city. Ping me, email or comment...
Art Credits: "Spring Festival" photo shoot by Steve Meisel via Honestly WTF blog; stained glass cat via The Paintshop Pro Users Group; rabbit detail from the Disney Cinderella castle mosaics done by controversial mosaic artisan via The Disney Blog; photo of Dr. Tae by Clayton Hauck for Chicago Reader; detail of Eric Nyquist's Ramsar Rights (I found Eric's works through the curated Gawker Artists gallery); more Steve Meisel.