Strasbourg Frustration Management Bipolar Collective Workshop

( Il Livro dell’ Errori III )


Linguistic poverty is humiliating – steps must be made to bridge ones own helplessness without forcing others into theirs.  Occasionally the protracted pace of non-simultaneous translation can be turned to one’s advantage.  At the Inaugural unMo Party, I had Rita. 
In the Good People of Matera, I also had a hungry audience.  Patience can be a limited commodity, talk of the unMonastery had circulated for weeks, but did we really do anything?  It was certainly time to open our doors.  The population were summonsed: they would hear from us, they would also hear from one another.  We set up an open platform where groups and individuals could explain to the community the dynamics of their activities.  Some of those speaking would be well known; others could be a surprise…

There was a slot to fill.  The aforementioned good people deserved insight into what we thought we were doing.  I chose to go back to one day preceding the invention of the unMonastery idea at the first Living on the Edge gathering in Strasbourg.  I brought along two especially prepared, tall empty boxes with convenient handholds.

That historic day in Strasbourg, brother Rysiek had been concerned that his organisations tended to go down in flames.  Negative energy accumulated and found no constructive outlet.  Groups lost their edge.  He postulated a lightning rod – a negativity grounder – a totem pole that acknowledged the delicate nature of ‘Working on the Edge’ and that would protect us from a bashing when times got intricate. 

I presented my boxes as Exhibit A.  But only after having dragged dear Rita into the world of a man bent upon ‘revealing a scandal and abandoning all sense of diplomacy’.  Even if it was pointed out that since half the audience were more than likely electronic engineers everyone instinctively understood that it was impossible to create a pole of negativity without reaping the benefit of the positive fountain of inspiration, the audience were thus primed for a dangerous voyage…

The scandal bit was predicable: according to me the entire set-up of the non-Monastario was based upon false premises.  The original forty-three challenges extracted from the Materani almost exactly a year ago, were unfortunately never properly recorded.  Instead, the best our historians could produce was a limp fragment from a web artifact allegedly fed in shorthand to an Englishman!  When this document forgery had been discovered, it was already too late.  Able hands attempted a delicate restoration, but the damage had been done; the best they could manage was a good-tempered summary – a renovated, more palatable Greatest Hits now routinely presented as the twelve desirable desires and circulated to the international curious.

As the good citizens absorbed my concern; a strong urge arose that said that this misrepresentation of history shouldn’t go unexamined.  Quick to respond, I announced that I would here and now reveal the missing 31 challenges in all their nakedness.  Zipping by a slide of my intriguing ‘Culture First’ work model, I resurrected the original flimsy fragment of suppressed truths.  In a quick series of slides, I flashed the forbidden 43 Challenges in all their glory, highlighting the fact that each of them was based around a perceivable element of negativity: ( 21 examples of the word “No”, supplemented by 5  “Nots”) . Three slides later, I had deftly extracted the incendiary red words and boiled them down to a moderately poetic litany suitable for chanting with great bravata.  But, I was not there to teach Materani English – aware that my time running out, I broke off the promising howls of the masses in mid-stream.  And switched to the penultimate slide brought to us by my faithful friend Google… 

The Italian version of their litany was even juicier; moderate percussive conducting on my part was all that was necessary for the assembled multitudes to roar out their accumulated despair in convincing unison. 

No, No.
No, No.

No, No, No. 

No, no, no.
Scarso. No.
Sprecato. No.

Retrogrado, scarso. No.
No, difficile, no.
No, No, sporco.

Scarso. No.
La gente si lamenta molto.
No. No.
Lamentarsi interna senza fine. Troppo. non
Spaccatura. non
Pochi / dividere /sottovalutare.
No, niente.
Non- stare non-.

Starting with its crescendo of “No”s, the list peaked with Lamentarsi interna senza fine” ( Endless internal lamenting) before rounding off with a resounding, elongated. “Troppo” (Too much).  The resonance was palpable.

Rita, my loyal translator had used her unilingual quiet time to advantage; quick enough to grasp where I was heading, she was having none of it.  My negativity was not going to win the day.  I however had one more slide up my sleeve…

I quickly brought back the Culture First logo now augmented for the occasion with the desirable straight-forward linguistic adjustments.  Locating the unMonastery at the crux of a cultural environment that was easily clouded by chronic negativity – I mobilised sufficient body language to convey the effort necessary to get into a position to negotiate appreciable leverage.  It was demonstrably formidable.  People got my point.

And so it was back to my Negative and Positive Polarities of Project Management.  Despite my considerable defensive capabilities, Rita was well on her way to give me a good bashing with her Made in Italy positive energy box, when I was saved by the gong…



About bembodavies

Theatre worker who long ago abandoned theatres, I remain adept at fabricating projects out of thin air. All proposals welcome.
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