The unDo

It is an elemental truth in community service that to do anything at all is to risk censure. Everything one launches promotes a reaction; filling empty space implies that the space shouldn’t have been empty in the first place. To do is a critique of passivity. To unilaterally break the negotiated stalemate between hope and possibility in the face of the valid lessons of surrender, apathy, fatalism and stagnation that so easily adhere to a society, is often read as an insult to someone somewhere.

The unMonastery functions as an injection of enthusiasm. We may or may not be naive, but we routinely assume a classic naive posture: we are here to give. If we are alert, we may recognise that we have little we can effectively give. The classic progression as formulated by René Dumal states “Recognising we have little we desire to give of ourselves, in desiring to give of ourselves we may realise that we are nothing. Finding that we are nothing we desire to become, in desiring to become, we begin to live.” But the modern doer is not trained to begin at the beginning. Postulating that we arrive empty handed may amount to yet another insult. It is no wonder that humility is an illusive virtue.

The solution to this conundrum is to avoid first generation doing; ones presence is best applied as a response to the established…

An articulated dent…

The mountain is massive, our efforts would always remain puny. Persistence, endurance, applied tunnel vision are often considered vital virtues should we ‘accomplish’ anything at all. However it is legitimate to question the very concept of accomplishment. To leave clear directions for the pursuit of as yet unaccomplished accomplishments is often a much better strategy. Efforts that are anchored locally are worth more than anything that can be applied by the nomadic unMonasterians. No matter how visionary our initiatives – it is through the resonance and reverberation in our collaborators that we can measure our impact. Stepping aside at the right moment can be more valuable than stubbornly insisting upon shaping a grand finale.

Backlash of middle class imperialism, presumption of our infinite value with such an entire foreign concept of Mapping the Commons that it defied translation. It was only with the name change that clarified the essence of our visit. Strangers would spend a day in a marginalised corner of the city to share and absorb. Our ‘day’ could be either a surprise or utterly normal. Fortunately the PR bit lagged behind, we could promise the moon. To extract the keys for one weeks work, took two weeks work.

Forcing a satisfactory conclusion seldom gives a satisfactory conclusion. It would require considerable grace.


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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