can’t remember when i was first intro’d to Dougald.
i do remember him starting/dabbling with lots of things.
he co-founded school of everything (is this the one that started and stopped and…? or was it another title?), connecting people so they can learn/teach whatever they want:
and is director at large of the dark mountain project – …a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself. :
Dougald Hine (born 1977 in Cambridge, England) is a British author, editor and social entrepreneur. He co-founded School of Everything and the The Dark Mountain Project, of which he is Director at Large. In 2011, he was named one of Britain’s 50 top radicals by NESTA.
Hine went to school in Darlington, and read English Literature at Oxford University. Following his first degree, he studied broadcast journalism at Sheffield Hallam and then spent four years as a BBC journalist (2002-2006). He has been involved a number of projects and initiatives.
As from 2012, he has been living in Stockholm.
new site 2014:
“Of everything I hear during these two days [at a Stockholm conference on “Commoning in the City”], the answer that most impresses me comes from Stavros Stavrides: ‘
commons’ has become useful, he argues, because of a change in attitude to the state, a disillusionment with the ‘public’ and a need for another term to takes its place. The public sphere, public values, the public sector: all of these things might once have promised some counterweight to the destructive force of the market, but this no longer seems to be the case.
We are not witnessing a turn towards anarchism, exactly, but something more pragmatic: a shift in the general mood, reflecting the reality of people’s experience after five years of this unending crisis, itself coming after decades of neoliberalism. It is the attitude that underlies the Squares Movement, from Tahrir to Syntagma, the Puerta del Sol and Zuccotti Park. If those camping out in cities across three continents were reluctant to distill their discontent into a set of demands on government, this was not simply a utopian refusal to engage with the compromises of political reality; it was also a conviction that to put hope in government is now the most utopian position of all. This is also the attitude that has driven the rise of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, and it has all the uncomfortable ambiguities such an example suggests.
.. our understanding of the commons should not be as “a pool of resources to be managed, but an alternative to seeing the world as made of resources”
city as school/uni ness
same subject – 2013 at dalarna uni:
A Storm is Blowing from Paradise
improv\e – as a life skill – Keith Johnstone
try to avoid being a successful middle aged man – when things don’t go as planned – they are worst hit..
Paul Mason – best thing written about movements that started in 2011 –
how we make a living.. how we make sense of our lives…
how to zoom out further and achieve a broader perspective on the situation we’re in.
the end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. – from dark mountain manifesto
we’ve become accustomed to highly monetized ways of living,… we use money for more things..
thresholds of counterproductivity – Illich – something which is good and useful and contributes positively to society, as you increase the amount of it and the frequency with which you have recourse to it can begin to produce the opposite results. beyond a certain point school systems becomes things which make us collectively stupider.
rather than saying – better off w/o money all together, could we find that tipping point.. a middle ground
what we use money for:
1. subsistence – people have sustained before w/o it
2. security – perhaps substitute social relationships
3. luxury – by defn if something is a luxury – you’re not dependent on it
4. status – games to establish status
5. accumulation – the idea that more is better, not a universal principle, but a dominate one
8:40 – when you do a job for money – it takes away from any intrinsic satisfaction that might be in that task (and alters that culture of trust)
reduced dependence of money – a necessity – and an opportunity
ie: hans thinking et al
human language as precise as computing language (made up of numbers) – that would be a loss…
the ambiguity of the human language – is a feature of human language.. computers are precise..
– Christopher Brewster
6 min – to the extent we spend a lot of our time dealing with these machines we have to spend that time agreeing to pretend that the world is more logical and more capable of being reduced to things that can be measured than the full range of our background experience might suggest.. – Dougald
8:25 – a brilliant success – because people figured out how to control the tree.. CB
10 min – perfect language to allow scientists to communicate w/o ambiguity .. CB
by having a box for everything.. DH
12 min – the something that comes up time and again is a particular type of assumption – that no one will own… the hidden/disowned assumption… ie: the world can be categorized and therefore measured… DH
13 min … smart cities, the internet of things.. are all versions of that.. what it means is we are trying to construct things that will model every aspect of society… CB
15:45 – this toilet story is an example of smart cities.. CB
17 min – it’s very important that we don’t have such a set of categories.. CB
18:35 – this concept of legibility.. james c scott – seeing like a state.. the modern state.. has a great desire/demand for the ability to see/read activity from above.. therefore the need to standardize things .. so you can reduce.. DH
21 min – what you couldn’t modernize – is what made the forrest alive.. CB
12:35 – that reducing of things.. bringing out what’s important.. from above.. a way of knowing the past.. reducing it to a managability .. from above.. DH
25:45 – why this title is the limits of measurement rather than the problems of measurement.. under what circumstances is measurement helpful.. Illich – counterproductivity.. the threshhold of which something does the opposite of what it set out to do, ie: school system, .. a good way of getting out of an either or.. ie: money and happiness.. 15000 globally..; eating.. DH
29 min – there is a real lack of this (threshhold) thinking with tech.. CB
31 min – spaces/pockets of (permission) aliveness.. hiding it.. holding up an umbrella.. to keep people off people’s backs… DH
33 min – w/in business there’s an understanding that there needs to be these spaces where people are off people’s backs… spaces where people come alive.. less pressure for reality to be reduced to things that can be measured… DH
34 – the things that go on in those spaces.. (anthony mccann) – the heart of the commons.. the thing that goes missing from the archives.. which is the thing that matters most to people – what it feels like to be there. anthony – the need to develop language for this.. in order to defend it.. make it legible.. is it possible to describe the thing that matters w/o destroying it.. DH
36 min – what could function in the formal world… obsession with top managers.. there is language there that says – we know something is there.. but we can’t measure it.. word it.. need for these protected spaces… CB
38 min – you’re spotting places where there is language for talking about this.. i’ve been experiencing it as well – in talking about commons in terms about resources.. we are so used to thinking of things in terms of resources. a resource is something to be exploited. one place we do have the language: when someone you think is a friend treats you as a resource.. you feel used. .. shared vocab for talking about the bit that can’t be measured… DH
41 min – because it’s not measured/worded, it’s difficult to defend. that’s creating a space for illegible conversations.. that can solve problems.. but that needs to be defended. where i work – creating social spaces for the students.. which encourages them to say nice things about uni? .. CB
45 min – the year of stall – he did a match dot com – via a space of permission – no strings attached.. DH
48 min – how to create spaces where we can bring more of ourselves …to work. if we try and make legible the stuff that matters.. how do we do it w/o allowing that to be harness/exploited.. DH
i don’t know.. i think that’s a real danger. i think even in developing that language.. we are in danger of a formalizing effect. even if we are vague – someone else will use it.. (like starbuck’s example.. creating a model of friendship rather than simply selling coffee). we create the models and then we believe the models and don’t believe reality. if models were perfect representations of reality – they’d be a cloned copy. the trouble is .. we create a model (typically on a computer screen) and then we believe the model on the screen. this is systematic and very dangerous. you get a warped few.. because human nature changes. if your model doesn’t change.. we need to develop a language for making people aware of these limitations.. ie: have a look outside the window occasionally.. CB
so a model that changes.. and is simply about that space.. with permission to be…
54 min – the deliberate multiplication of language.. to keep something alive.. ie: 100 names for god. DH
the challenge there is making that acceptable socially. it is ok to struggle with things.. in our modern world.. we want to reduce efforts.. CB
57 min – friendship – is one thing we can’t reduce as resource to be used..
59:41 – the constant problem of the inside and the outside.. deep human motivation to describe the world in a more accurate way..
1:02 – the difficulty is ok – as long as we don’t lose our sense of humor.. DH
1:03 – rather than say – representation of language is a bad thing.. say.. too much is a bad thing.. and too much – is taking it too seriously DH
1:04 – we’ve not been able to keep science in a reasonable space.. carries more weight.. because it can be measured.. CB
1:05 – the good scientists i have met have a good sense of humor about science.. and actually are quite troubled by a lack of that. is there a link between sense of humor and sense of humility.. if there isn’t .. there should be.. DH
1:06 – the set of things we could know directly widened.. blew the minds of everyone that could get that.. and it seemed to promise an escape from 200 yrs bloody religious war. the possibility you could follow this all the way back to god. mechanical model of universe.. therefore wouldn’t have to have theological disagreements.. wouldn’t have to go to war.. DH
1:08 – can’t now.. can’t ever.. CB
1:08:32 – we lost the ability to cohabit with the unknown. the unknown became split into: 1) the unreal 2) the territory to be conquered by knowing.. DH
1:10 – measurement by illiterate mothers.. via the weight of things… like the territory of the unknown.. things we can’t do anymore – because we are so reliant what’s on the scale
1:11 – mistrust of sensory experience.. DH
1:11 – fits with my pre occupation with foods.. you should be able to look at a food and know if it’s good or not.. not be dependent on labels.. that are usually wrong… we throw so much away (25=30% of food in west) .. trusting model more than the reality. we used to be able to tell without the label… CB
1:13 – expands even further with food..food scares.. regulations and standardizations destroy small companies/producers.. lots of political pressure for better standards/hygiene.. a way of increasing market share.. using model as a tool to increase your power.. CB
@ladyniasanHow can we mitigate the negative consequences of unemployment on psychological & social health of the individual?buff.ly/24Wh3n5
In one of his darkly observant essays on the fall of the Soviet Union and its lessons for present-day America, Dmitri Orlov advises against being a successful middle-aged man :
When their career is suddenly over, their savings gone and their property worthless, much of their sense of self-worth goes as well. They tend to drink themselves to death and commit suicide in disproportionate numbers. Since they tend to be the most experienced and capable people, this is a staggering loss to society. (Reinventing Collapse, p.122-3)
The figure of the ‘graduate with no future’, identified by Paul Mason, has the advantage of youth, yet in other ways she resembles Orlov’s successful middle-aged man. People are capable of enduring great hardship, so long as they can find meaning in their situation, but it is hard to find meaning in the hundredth rejection letter. The feeling of having done everything right and still got nowhere leads to a particular desperation. Against this background, the actions of those who might identify with Mason’s description – whether as indignados in the squares of Spain, or as Edgeryders entering the corridors of Strasbourg and Brussels – are not least a search for meaning, for new frameworks in which to make sense of our lives when the promises that framed the labour market for our parents no longer ring true.
Four years ago, in ‘The Future of Unemployment’, I suggested that it might be helpful to distinguish three types of need which, broadly speaking, we have looked to employment to provide. I want to return to this model as a way of structuring a search for examples of effective action on the level of meaning. Departing slightly from the original terms, I would summarise these types of need as follows:
- Economic/Practical: How do I pay the rent?
- Social/Psychological: Who am I in the eyes of others?
- Directional: What do I get out of bed for in the morning? And where do I see myself in the future?
Those who find it difficult to access the labour market are also likely to find answering these questions more difficult. The stories shared on the Edgeryders platform during 2011-12 illustrate the variety of ways in which young people find their access the labour market limited: not only through unemployment, but underemployment, casualisation and the prevalence of short-term contracts, the increasing cost of education in certain countries, the role of unpaid internships as a path to accessing certain industries. Where skills and qualifications have been acquired through formal education, many find themselves unable to secure work that makes use of these; where skills are acquired informally, the challenge is to represent these effectively to potential employers.
begs we disengage from proof/validation ness.. ie: if someone wants to join.. (in a free world.. where pay has is non existent.. et al.. their wanting to join is enough/better proof than any validation ness we’ve used to date.. no?)
From my own observation, another key aspect of the Access Space model is the power of its insistence on self-referral: this means that participants are drawn from a range of social and economic backgrounds, rather than exclusively from a target group identified by its deprivation. This means that participation at the centre provides an alternative to – rather than a reinforcement of – a negative social identification.
This experience reaffirmed my sense of the power of what people can do when they come together to work on something that matters to them.
that’s it.. that’s enough..
graeber min max law et al
In particular, talking to those involved, I was struck by how positively many of them experienced using their skills as part of the Feast, when compared to their experience in regular employment. Might it be that work that takes place outside of employment is more likely to be experienced as meaningful? And, if so, why? Several possible answers exist. The psychologist Edward Deci famously demonstrated that being paid for a task tends to decrease our intrinsic motivation, a phenomenon he explains in terms of the shift of the ‘locus of motivation’. Meanwhile, as I argued in ‘The Future We Deserve’, the logic of maximising productivity has made industrial-era employment an unprecedentedly anti-social form of work. More practically, though, are there ways we can build a better relationship between meaningful work and our ability to pay the rent.
by disengaging from paying the rent..
we’ve played that game long enough… no?
The Unmonastery: One of the projects to emerge from the first phase of Edgeryders was a proposal for something called an Unmonastery: ‘a creative refuge bound to host problem solvers and change makers, who together work to solve (g)local problems, in exchange for board and lodging.’ At present, this proposal is being developed by a group that met through the Living on the Edge events in 2012. The initial response suggests that young people are willing to take a step down in their material expectations, if this is balanced by sufficient security and autonomy to pursue work which they believe matters. The challenge will be to develop a vehicle for this willingness which is capable of ‘interfacing’ with existing institutions and accessing resources, which can achieve a reasonable degree of stability, and which does not devolve into a mechanism for exploitation.
Daunting as this sounds, it is likely that we will see more experiments along these lines in Europe in the years ahead. (Edventure: Frome, which launched in October 2012, has parallels to the Unmonastery model, although framed in educational terms.)
The scale and harshness of those realities makes me hesitate: I do not want to overstate the case for the examples I have discussed here. Yet I would suggest that they may offer clues, at least, towards another kind of regeneration: what might be called a ‘regeneration of meaning’. There is no guarantee that this will happen, nor that, if it does, it will take the kind of form we would wish to see. However, for those who consider the possibility worth exploring, I have a few questions:
- What would it take for this to coalesce into something serious?
- How far along is it already? (Is it further than we/others assume, due to its illegibility?)
- Where are the other examples that would build the case?
- What are the dangers? (For example, could the Unmonastery inadvertently become the workhouse of the 21st century?)
can’t wait to share more of crossed lines #11 here..
just wow. so much. such insight..
put a few of his (Anne) quotes on suicide page..
and this quote from Dougald – an earlier/shareable:
Another thought, from that post which I started by quoting, written four years ago, on a journey I made in search of cultural resilience: (from this post http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-07-10/dark-shapes-ahead )If someone were to ask me what kind of cause is sufficient to live for in dark times, the best answer I could give would be: to take responsibility for the survival of something that matters deeply. Whatever that is, your best action might then be to get it out of harm’s way, or to put yourself in harm’s way on its behalf, or anything else your sense of responsibility tells you.
That’s when I got it: for all the other things it does, the major social function of higher education today is to put a meritocratic rubberstamp on the perpetuation of privilege.[..]Last September, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a study that showed that the death rate for middle-aged white Americans had started rising back in 1999. For every other group in the population, the death rate continues to fall. Among middle-aged white Americans, it is those who left education earliest who are doing most of the dying. They are dying of suicides and overdoses, alcohol poisoning and liver disease.[..]In eight out of nine states, they found a correlation: the counties where death rates for middle-aged whites were the highest were the counties where the vote for Trump was the strongest.[..]John Michael Greer: Politics is about how a society deals with the collision between the interests of different groups. The great contribution of the liberal tradition was to show that politics can also be about values — but the corruption of that comes at the point when values are used as a cover for interests.[..]it gives you a sense of how the election can have looked in the Rust Belt towns, to the low income white Obama voters who swung to Trump, in the places where all that dying is going on.[..]The blogger who goes by Anne Tagonist (or sometimes Anne Amnesia) is less sanguine. ‘What Trump’s boys have for me is a noose,’ she wrote, back in May, ‘but that’s the choice I’m facing, a lifetime of gruelling poverty, or apocalypse.’
Yeah I know, not fun and games — the shouts, the smashing glass, the headlights on the lawn, but what am I supposed to do, raise my kid to stay one step ahead of the inspectors and don’t, for the love of god, don’t ever miss a payment on your speeding ticket?
A noose is something I know how to fight. A hole in the frame of my car is not. A lifetime of feeling that sense, that “ohhhh, shiiiiiit…” of recognition that another year will go by without any major change in the way of things, little misfortunes upon misfortunes… a lifetime of paying a grand a month to the same financial industry busily padding the 401k plans of cyclists in spandex, who declare a new era of prosperity in America? Who can find clarity, a sense of self, any kind of redemption in that world?’
When I interviewed Anne for the last Dark Mountain book, I learned a little more about her background in zine writing and travelling and roads protests, working as a street medic, then on ambulances, and from there to medical school and research. She doesn’t write so often, but when she does, what I appreciate is her willingness to puzzle through a question, to include her uncertainties, rather than making a neatly rounded argument.
And that post in May was scorching. It starts with the Case-Deaton death rate study, but seen through the eyes of someone living in one of those counties, someone who has been sitting in with the Medical Examiner:
A typical day would include three overdoses, one infant suffocated by an intoxicated parent sleeping on top of them, one suicide, and one other autopsy that could be anything from a tree-felling accident to a car wreck (this distribution reflects that not all bodies are autopsied, obviously.) You start to long for the car wrecks…Unlike the AIDS crisis, there’s no sense of oppressive doom over everyone. There is no overdose-death art. There are no musicals. There’s no community, rising up in anger, demanding someone bear witness to their grief. There’s no sympathy at all. The term of art in my part of the world is “dirtybutts.” Who cares? Let the dirtybutts die.You know, I could just repost every other paragraph of that piece here, but really you should go read the whole thing[..]
reminds me of the conversations that sometimes happen in the last days of a life, or on the evening of a funeral. In the underworld of loss, we don’t get to bring our achieved identities with us, so there’s a chance of getting real.[..]But it’s worth lingering over that ‘if’… Words like ‘fascist’ are mostly used these days as a stop to thinking, a shorthand that saves us the work of knowing our enemy[..]Trump is a fascist, Barnett writes, but unlike Hitler, he does not have financiers, storm-troopers or an organised movement. What he now has is the office of President of the United States and a seemingly compliant legislature.[..]Another thought, from that post I quoted at the start, written four years ago, on a journey I made in search of cultural resilience:
If someone were to ask me
what kind of cause is sufficient to live for in dark times, the best answer I could give would be: to take responsibility for the survival of something that matters deeply.Whatever that is, your best action might then be to get it out of harm’s way, or to put yourself in harm’s way on its behalf, or anything else your sense of responsibility tells yo[..]As I read them, these are the words of a person who is running out of map, though one who gets closer than many to seeing how deeply the future is broken, how far the sense of collective progress is gone.[..]In the places where it happens, economic crisis feeds a crisis of meaning, spiralling down into one another, and if we can only see the parts that can be measured, we will miss the depth of what is happening until it shows up as suicide and overdose figures.
[..]This is where I intend to put a good part of my energy in the next while, to the question of what it means if the future is not coming back. How do we disentangle our thinking and our hopes from the cultural logic of progress?
[..]Everyone who said they knew what they were doing has failed. How badly things turn out now, we can’t say for sure. But there is work to be done.
So here’s a thing I wrote in honour of Alan Garner and the wonders for which he is responsible. It’s also about why an Oxford education is like a half-finished shamanic initiation, how the oak tree survived the Ice Age in northern Europe, and what shape hope might take in a cold time.
I’m lucky these days, I get asked to contribute to all sorts of different books, but no invitation has felt like such an honour as this one – and when you see the cover, you’ll understand that I felt totally overawed by the company I was being invited to keep.
Much thanks to Erica Wagner and the Unbound gang for letting me be part of this. And to Alan for lifelong inspiration.
I was unable to explain to my tutors or my peers why Alan’s work mattered so much. My explanations would have been too personal, unintelligible within the language we were being taught to use. When I suggested to Craig Raine that I write on Garner for the 20th century paper in Mods, he said it was a touching thought, but I should really focus on authors of the first rank, which revealed his ignorance and saved us both a deal of pain.[..]A first-rate academic education often resembles a half-complete shamanic initiation. The initiate’s body of beliefs is cut to pieces, the head severed from the heart. She is taught to analyse or deconstruct anyone’s way of making sense of the world, including her own. Yet the institution overseeing this operation scarcely recognises the reconstruction that must follow, if the young person passing through its care is to emerge whole……their author had proven himself in the tutorial room and then chosen to walk away from this world was part of their power.[..]he issues a warning against the rise of a materialism which can see the world only through the lens of accountancy, which turns all to commodity, which appropriates competence in all fields of human affairs, from the classroom to the publishing house, and which, if unresisted, will usher in “a spiritual Ice Age”.
[..]If there is hope left, in this Ice Age, it is in the hidden pockets, the refugia too small to seem significant.
[..]In the darkest hour, that which is meant to be obsolete may yet make all the difference. The Trickster spirit will always get aback of those who only see the things that can be measured, counted and priced.And in the meantime, there are always the pockets, the hidden corners of conviviality, the cryptic northern refugia, the places that matter.
This is probably of more practical use than most things I write! Even if it does start off being about a magic wand that someone gave me one Saturday in Peterborough…
It’s also about the three different languages you need in order to bring a project on the journey from dreams to reality – and the ways in which mistakes with the words we use to talk about our projects can cause them to run aground.
march 2018 – a school called home
HOME is a school where we study the mess the world is in, not as a set of discrete problems to be solved, but as a tangled and humbling predicament.
This is not a school of everything. We’re not promising to create a new kind of university. This is the kind of project you embark on when the brashness of youthful vision has been tempered a little, when life has taught you enough of its lessons that you might just have something to teach. We’re in this for as long as it takes, as long as it feels needed.
It starts in June 2018 with a five-day course, Finding Our Way Home. As we set out on making this school a reality, we plan to run a few of these one-off courses, bringing some of our favourite collaborators to Sweden to teach together, and learning more about how to build a community around a school.