What is our organization about? How does it work? What is it called?

Another thing that occurred to me, after talking to Usha and on the way to seeing Ross yesterday, is that the organization we’re creating is actually something distinct from what I’ve been calling the “platform.”

The platform—A Theory of Everybody—is essentially a publishing and community space: a place for art, literature, thinking, activism, and alchemical discourse.

The organization that sustains the platform, however, is a distinct (yet deeply and intimately related) entity. It may do other things besides publish writing and facilitate “infinite conversations.”

The organization—which touches the community around it AND the other organizations and individuals outside it with whom it shares an “ecosystem”—is a thing unto itself, which will develop its own intelligence, capacities, and resources that contribute to the wider space.

This could be in the form of consulting, education, training, etc. (—which can also become sources of income and sustenance). As we learn how to build a high-level, nourishing, and generative platform that supports a unique diversity of expressions, we will be able to share this learning with others.

As its own thing, it’s up to us to really define it, bring it forth, and open to what it wants to be. And, while I have a number of specific ideas about A Theory of Everybody as a platform, I’m in a much more inchoate state when it comes to the identity of the organization itself.

What I also realized is that it’s important that our vision and understanding of what the organization is emerge out of our dialogue with each other.

One very simple and concrete example of this has to do with the name. When I invited Jeremy to the Infinite Conversations site, I noticed how much I liked his email address (@evolver.net), and how, while I really like all the names of the various aspects of A Theory of Everybody, none of them really makes a good email address. (This is why I continue to use marco@zoosphere.com—Zoosphere being the name of my LLC.)

So, Criteria #1 for our organizational name: it needs to make a good email address. :wink:

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, we need to enter into the inquiry of what we’re really doing together, and how we’re doing it, and how this wants to enter into the world.

Stuff like legal structure, non-profit status, roles and functions, etc.—will also follow from this. (That was the upshot of my meeting with Ross.)

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Playing with the idea of social poetics

Are we an institute, a collective, a cooperative, a center, an association…something else, none of the above?

I have thoughts on all these, but here’s what I’m contemplating most currently:

There could be something grounding about establishing ourselves as an institute. We could imagine ourselves as a kind of think tank—yet simultaneously something more: social, poetic, experimental. (Not a mental-rational think tank primarily, but integral in Gebserian terms). We could be an entity in the spirit of William Irwin Thompson’s Lindisfarne Association, yet more open and digitally-based, in accord with our contemporary technological milieu.

Yet, do want to convey that we are doing something with transformative intent, even though our methods may not necessarily involve direct activism or obvious advocacy. Rather, they’ll most likely unfold similar to the way Ursula Le Guin describes the approach of the interplanetary human order called the “Ekumen” in The Left Hand of Darkness:

It proceeds, therefore, by subtle ways, and slow ones, and queer, risky ones; rather as evolution does, which is in certain senses its model….

Maybe this is reflected in the idea of “social poetics” or “a theory of everybody” already?

I’ve tried INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL POETICS on its own, but something feels lacking…

We’re doing something which is not only about literature and building community, but also about thinking in and of itself, as real, living inquiry, not merely philosophy, but actually attempting to understand and relate to what’s going on in the world and reality and ourselves, and to see clearly, or see through, the structures that would contain us.

There are literary and artistic organization that are not necessarily philosophical. The inverse is also true. We are literary, philosophical, spiritual, activist or transformational—all these aspects can be reflected in the name, which can function like a prism, revealing varying arrays of color via shifting angles of light.

I’ve been thinking about a name with this structure:

INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL POETICS AND X? THOUGHT

Where X could be a word such as:

EXPERIMENTAL
ETHICAL
AESTHETIC
ESOTERIC
ALCHEMICAL
ENTHEODELIC
PLANETARY
ORIGINARY
PSYCHEDELIC

[though not INTEGRAL or EVOLUTIONARY, etc.]

But I haven’t quite hit on the right word yet, or don’t feel I have yet.

I want to be able to say this name for a long time. I want it to be respectable and at the same time intriguing. I don’t want it to date quickly; yet stuffy and pretentious is no good either.

I’ve also thought of names like “Social Poetics Collective” or “…Cooperative.”

But perhaps I’m heading down a dead end at this point. Which is why I’m posting this now: to share my thought process and see if it sparks anything for any of you (even if it goes in a different direction).

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One other thought is that we could repurpose the name ZOOSPHERE (which Mark Binet came up with many years ago and I’ve always liked, with its animalistic noospheric synthesis). So the underlying organization name could be something like:

ZOOSPHERE: Institute for Social Poetics and Experimental Thought

One benefit of this is that I already have a lot of the infrastructure set up in terms of bank account, online services, etc. I would just need to update the organizational legal structure in whatever ways we determine. Also, after all these years, I still like the name and think it sounds cool.

One downside is that the name might not make sense to people; the Teilhardian allusion might escape them. Thus they won’t be as willing donate and support the organization.

Still thinking…

Update: having slept on it, I don’t think Zoosphere is the right name for this. I feel there’s still something new, something simple and memorable and easy to say, that wants to come forth.

I do like “Institute for Social Poetics and Experimental Thought,” though. That part is growing on me. But it would be nice to have a simple unique word that invokes what our organization is all about, and which is expanded upon by the “social poetics” and “experimental thought” descriptors.