Yesterday, I immersed myself in a process of creating a master version of the COSMOS Codex. At the end of my 12 hour work day (or ~10.5 hours of work, if you discount eating food & taking breaks), the file contained 13,626 words. There were roughly two dozen chapter headings comprising the codex structural outline, each chapter containing between a quarter-page and three pages of content. I did some original writing (spontaneous synthesis), but much of it was pulled from past meeting minutes, whiteboard photographs, and voice recordings. It is the culmination of the work between Marco and myself over the past four months. And I am proud of it, and happy to share it very soon.
I told Marco that spending 12 hours immersed in the material in a concerted effort to give birth to the Codex is how I wanted to spend my Saturday. It’s what I wanted to do. It was the best way of spending my cognitive energy–piecemeal meetings would no longer work, at this juncture. I called it a “fugue”–throughout the week we referred to it as my fugue day.
My process–like that of many artists–is to allow the informational “ingredients” of a big idea to ferment in my unconscious for a period of days, weeks or longer… And then there is time when it is appropriate to unleash the flow of ideas through the body–or, a time to “cook” the ingredients, letting the culinary alchemy occur, and end up with a finished product.
Fugue states are infamously associated with mental illness, but they are also a feature and tool of the artist. They are a trance-like state common to spiritual traditions, and they involve pushing one’s mind to limits. This can have destabilizing effects, or when undertaken conscientiously, can unlock tremendous potential and thus be an exhilarating, refreshing, empowering experience. The effective difference is whether the fugue state is disintegrative/dissociative or integrative.
I had an expectation that the Codex-birthing process would be delightful. And it absolutely was. Yesterday I was immersed in an elaborate narrative about visionary artists, writers and thinkers leading a cultural revolution on the basis of ethical authority and creative power. It is a beautiful dream to dream, yet it is not only a dream. In the codex and in the general conceptualizing of Cosmos, Marco and I have spent considerable care to attend to issues of how we would “apply” the dream model in our fraught, multiplicitous, often-disheartening reality.
The codex describes a vision and a set of grounding ethics; furthermore, it outlines a thoughtful organizational model in which we would come together to experiment & apply these alternative rules. Unlike other visionary “global operating systems for humanity” that are out there, what we are visualizing and illustrating through Cosmos is distinctly grounded in praxis, in applying our ideas, in experimentally testing and measuring our results, in innovating based on feedback.
We’re designing rules to a collective game–but its a game based on our real lives! Yes, we aspire to provoke outcomes that are more holistically (personally, collectively, fractally) beneficial for the participants than what is available in the status quo reality. But we are also just playing around creatively in a complex obstacle course of our making among a cohort of the world’s most brilliant minds. So–global or consciousness transformation claims aside–it’s gonna be an outrageously gratifying experience regardless!
Like in theatrical improvisation, the purpose of the Codex is to provide the basic “boundaries” or structure of a scene for the improvisers to play atop. Our objective is to make the “prompt” as simple as possible without compromising integrity of the message–(i.e. “You are two fishermen heading out to sea for the day.” versus “You are two men who work together.” There’s a lot more liberty to diverge on the latter, whereas–depending on the purposes–the former might constitute a sweet spot to inspire silly creating.)
Such is the elegance of autonomous bounded play. Such is the spirited power intrinsic to empowerment itself. We must only summon enough faith and confidence to set it into motion. And the results are both challenging and beautiful–an integrative transformation.
Interestingly, spiritually (as a Buddhist) my focus is on a path of synchronizing the mind and body. I even recorded a podcast with Marco giving a detailed retort to the last Buddhist Geeks podcast on Secular Buddhism on this theme (coming soon). For me, the merger of liberation is coming to full comprehension and acceptance of being embodied, and being liberated into total creative capacity to work with what is there. Whereas politically, my aims are isomorphic: to unify the civil and the aspirational, the social and the political, to pursue creative integration between personal and collective interests. I have spent the past nine years building a career in studying best practices and techniques for successful cooperative enterprises… and applying that knowledge through helping to develop a wide variety of co-op businesses. Now, with all my hands-on experience, i get to frolic in a “new field” of theoretical and practical play–in designing Cosmos. And all of this ties in with what I REALLY want to share (that was just context).
Cooperatives as a method and means of empowerment
Yesterday evening, at the end of my Codex fugueing, I logged onto Facebook, which at the top displayed a status update I’d created five years ago on the same day–with the prompt (familiar now to any Facebook user) as to whether I wanted to share it. Here is what I wrote yesterday, beside the original post from 2012.
Today, instead of getting involved with the Women’s March and protests, I spent the entire day (~10 hours and going) building out an organizational codex for a platform co-op called COSMOS that I am in the thick of developing–no longer in the role of co-op consultant, but as a chief executive of the enterprise. It is a platform co-op founded on the simple yet far-reaching premises that our most talented and visionary minds deserve to be supported, foregrounded and empowered to lead an emergent, regenerative, more humane, more systems-thinking culture… and that through processes of collaborating, producing art, and engaging meaningfully in community, we become better and more whole people. That is to say: through refining and revising our creative works, we also do so for ourselves, and we do so for the broader culture.
The symmetry of this post about the promise and power of cooperative enterprises–from five years ago today–is astonishing.
It’s interesting how I emerged from a background of lots of experience with mass protest (anti-war, anti-racist prison system, anti-greed, etc.) into the method/means of cooperative organizations and economies. At the root of both is one’s sense of political power. Mass protest actions, I don’t feel comfortable in any longer–for a wide complex of reasons that few would know just by looking at me. But cooperative development makes me feel the most powerful and constructive, makes me feel like we can remake the world if we join together in solidarity and take visionary action. And here I am today, fulfilling a distinct purpose. As a woman co-op entrepreneur, no less.
I expect to be announcing about COSMOS this week. Stay tuned, dear compatriots. Thanks for journeying with me.
Eating well again has totally stabilized my mood. Spent the last 4 hours reading about co-operatives and subsequently, writing an organizational assessment for Free Ride, emailing compatriots with useful tidbits, and scheming proposals for new co-ops and a Pittsburgh co-op network. If only the inner breath that breathes life into all of these organically, passionately pursued activities paid off in cash money… but by the time MY particular life’s work is done, maybe, one day, and for ALL of us, it WILL. Yay co-operatives! I have a growing respect and hope for them–because they are not some abstract concept, they are THINGS that PEOPLE DO to serve their own direct, diverse interests–called by the umbrella name “cooperatives.” Thus, what I’m really saying is that I have a growing hope in US–in our built-in capacities to co-operate, collaborate, innovate, self-educate, meet our needs, and live out our dreams. So exciting that tried-and-tested methods already exist for systemic, structural liberation. Putting them into practice just takes sense and willpower. When will you be ready, to do what you need to, and what is needed of you? LET’S DO US. LET’S DO THIS.
Today is my day off, also known as “I do whatever the f*** I want day.” (I only get one of these a week–it is a holy day of Sabbath, despite its casual quality.) So I settled in to read an open tab of an essay my friend had turned me onto. I had made a comment on his Facebook post about how it seems so clear that its time to abandon party politics, and that the Left ought to re-organize themselves politically to support decentralized/municipal-style reformations of civic power that would utilize cooperative organizing techniques that we’re all so fond of promoting in the economic realm. He sent me this essay, on the same idea: Libertarian Municipalism by Murray Bookchin.
Here it is–highly recommended reading. Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview | The Anarchist Library
Don’t worry if you wince at the term “libertarianism.” Or various other bold terms in here. There are some really good ideas in here!
Marco is in the process of developing a piece to intersect with the Codex about the apt “scale” of communities/networks within the self-organized platform that Cosmos will become. He writes about the “right size” of a small city, and how it balances intimacy and privacy, supporting a healthy dynamic for a creative democracy to thrive. I couldn’t help but see a number of parallels–not just in how I think, but in what Marco might be thinking, too (from what I’ve read so far.)
When we talk about enhancing the lives of our members–socially, culturally, and economically–we are talking about their empowerment. That they would be empowered to live their lives in closer fidelity to their sacred self-arising purposes. What is sometimes characterized as “living at/from a higher vibration” or “higher resolution” information can also be seen as reduced cognitive dissonance. At this high-stakes turning point in human history, we must free our most brilliant, integrative, creative minds into leadership, we must caretake and exalt them to take up the charge of courageously envisioning and experimenting with better ways of being in reality.
And when I say “we must,” I mean: it certainly feels like we must. It feels like, mystically, on a pattern language level perhaps, this is the appropriate role to play in this historic moment/consciousness movement. Whether you view this from a political, ecological, civilizational, mystical or other angle, it is no less true and felt–it is the zeitgeist. Therefore, to continue to deny the truths sourced from our intuition/instincts is to opt into an artificial/architected reality, sold us by concentrated private interests, that would chew us up and spit us out before it would consider us equal cocreators.
And I do not choose that. And so I choose Cosmos. I choose to make my career of helping people develop into cooperators, themselves, and to develop cooperative organizations. I choose to indulge my potential–to no longer repress it, for the sake of others’ comfort or convenience. I have chosen all the words in this post. And I choose this moment right here.
And I am really looking forward to having a discussion about Bookchin’s essay, at least! Come at me, comrades!