We need more comprehensive, ‘joined-up’ ways to feed, cloth, shelter, assemble, and communicate. This amounts to a paradigm change, which requires radical innovation, both at a conceptual and at a pragmatic level. So far, top-down methods have failed to achieve this within a liberal, democratic context. This proposal therefore calls upon world leaders to collaborate with ‘design thinkers’ to help them change social paradigms that sustain our collective habits of behaviour. This approach would require support with the continuing development of a more high-level, self-reflexive, comprehensive, inclusive and integrated mode of design that it refers to as ‘metadesign’. Design thinking is important, because designers are trained to attract behavioural change in direct, imaginative ways, via products, services and images. Working in metadesign teams, they would apply their skills to the search and cultivation of synergies on every level. Ultimately, this would achieve a global synergy-of-synergies.
a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20? What are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?
The cultivation of synergy would be a key principal objective for Rio+20. Synergy is an affirmative, under-explored factor that transcends the current, parsimonious, obsolescent paradigm of ‘sustainability’. The ultimate aim of Rio+20 would be the co-creation of a global synergy-of-synergies. An introductory definition of synergy is that it is the free, unforeseen abundance that emerges from a judicious combination of existing resource entities (e.g. materials, actions, ideas and/or problems). Primary synergies can also be synergized with other entities (including synergies) to create secondary or subsequent orders of synergy. As the origin of synergy is always ‘difference’, Rio+20 would publish a practical framework in which a diversity-of-diversities (e.g. political / cultural / biological / ecological / monetary) could be locally identified, managed or created. These would become the basis for new, more complex and integrated, modes of entrepreneurial (and entredonneurial) prosperity.
Do you know what Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, and Ulysses S. Grant have in common?
They each possessed the talent of turning obstacles into opportunities drawn from the Stoic ideologies of Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius.While living our lives, it’s very likely that you will run into some pretty distressing events, and at other times it’ll seem like everything is running exactly as it should with very few discomforts.
And arguably, the more interesting and worthwhile a life goal is, the more sacrifice and inconvenience will be required from you up front. Yet we often find ourselves complaining about all the little things that happen to us during this path for greatness.
Our cities are once again recapturing the joy of making things. A growing number of people are deciding to manufacture, reuse, tinker with and invent objects that can be adapted to our daily lives. By building, imagining and designing pieces of our material lives – in contrast to a calculable, recognisable logic of object consumption – we take ownership of our social time, of the relationship between the value of things and of the various contexts of their possibilities. Manufacturing these objects recoups the figure of the artisan: making something with our hands in a way that also draws on digital practices, connecting us to the knowhow of other communities, other places and other bodies. A practice that “only works as long as it enables us to (…) continue to learn, continue to breathe, continue to stray from our immediate surroundings, continue to weave an unpredictable map of alliances,” making “producing” a pretext for being, for sharing in common, and underscoring the importance of what we share, of how we do so and the angle from which we view it..
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There are books I read that sing in my heart.
Books I return to again and again; that I carry with me; that carry me. Books that end their lives: beaten up, torn down, weather-worn, frayed, ripped and destroyed; pages flaking out, corners turned up, covers worn away and binding undone; each leaf a mash of near-indecipherable notes, the entire text underlined, underscored, understood, and thoroughly digested.
Sometime around AD65 a Roman nearing the end of his days sat down to write the first of what was to become a continuing series of letters to a younger man. The writer’s name was Seneca – during his life: one of the richest men in Rome, an incredibly successful and critically acclaimed artist, and the power behind the throne during a window of time which has been described by some as ‘the finest period in Roman history’ – and…
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History does only move in one direction, but one can know little about this direction if he fails to understand the nature of titanic undercurrents which move the world on, that facilitate the change over time to an end that is anything but a utopia. On the cyclical view of history, we can map the phenomena of societal downfall onto civilizational downfall.
Choose any empire in the history of the world and examine it. Levels of greatness fluctuate, but always trend towards an eventual dissolution. This is the reason no empire lasts forever. They experience a natural pattern of rise and fall, from heights to destruction, beginning to end. This record of human societies has a downstream relationship to individuals which is rather profound. Consider that we begin our lives in a state of primitivism, where the structures of our lives do not come without being imposed by external actors (our parents). In our child state we do as we please, act as selfishly as possible, and run on a high time-preference. Quickly though, we reach our peak condition: our adult youth and the beginning of what you might call ‘real life’ where we become civilized and independent, with all things working to our advantage from physical fitness to problem-solving and aesthetic appeal. As we get older, these things all fade from us in a gradual decline ending in the grave. Societies too, emerge from a chaotic or primitive milieu, see their apex, and then fall into ruin.
Perhaps we would do best to call it the material unconscious. Freud famously said that there had been three blows to human narcissism: Copernicus and his decentering of the Earth, Darwin and his theory of evolution, and psychoanalysis and its discovery of the unconscious. With the first humanity learns that it is not at the center of the universe. With the second, humanity learns it is not markedly different from animals. With the third, humanity learns that it’s interiority is not in charge. With thingly thought, the thought of the object, we perhaps encounter a fourth blow to our narcissism: the way in which we are mediated by things. We dwell within a milieu of things, objects, or what I have elsewhere called machines. What we take to be our own agency, our own free choice, instead turns out in so many instances to be the agency of these things…
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