Recent reading, Summer 2019

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Some reading on systems at the start of 2019:
1. Nora Bateson on the current situation vis-a-vis systems change. Bateson makes explicit aspects of systems change practice not often voiced: the experience of not fitting in, on the one hand, and of realising how much do you fit in day-by-day, caught in the double bind of this era …
“that continuance of our species requires discontinuance of current means of survival. Business as usual is a swift endgame. Yet the rent must be paid, and breakfast must be possible. To live through next week is to take part in systems that are destructive to the future.”
With the suffering of feeling how one is entrained with dominant systems comes the possibility of mutual learning. “Non feeling is a non option”, says Bateson. “If the interaction is not funny, angry, curious, confused, indignant, and at least a little bit destructive… it is not worth ten minutes now.”
In the midst of hurt and suffering, Bateson says the place to go is the place of mutual learning: “In the warm data of our interactions is where entirely unanticipated possibilities are to be found.”
2. Richard D Bartlett’s architecture for sustaining change ( Bartlett came out of the Occupy movement looking for better ways to make change. In ‘Courage before Hope’, he offers a nested set of social structures intended to support reflexivity and meaning making. His starting point is late capitalism as a relational field. He presents his architecture in the interests of mutual learning, and I like that he speaks out of a different sub-culture, concisely and personally, a hard combination to pull off.
3. ‘Thought in the Act’, Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, philosopher/artists, Montreal. I’m reading Part II, which chronicles their intentions, practices and learning from the Senselab, where they investigate the nexus between research and practice. They enjoy giving content and output the slip and setting up events for provoking creative process. they articulate practices as propositions, such as: ‘Give play to affective affinities’; or ‘Practice care and generosity impersonally, as event-based political virtues.’
They like inventing their own language, and write complexity into every sentence, but I read their stuff in small doses, and let it assimilate.

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