We’re unaccustomed to interactions without goals. We expect an agenda. We look to judge worth based on expectations met. This strategy appears to work, on the surface, but there are serious problems if this mode of action absorbs all our attention. It turns us into machines when we treat everything as a cog to be tuned to some high, but arbitrary efficiency.
There is, behind all of our predicaments and what I’ve come to call our Enormity, a crisis of thought. Peter Kajtar is writing a book, The Order of Thought. While still a work in progress it is the best introduction into our crisis of thought around. If you wish to understand what this project is about, I urge you to read his work.
“…we … need… a renewed sense of the importance of a moment to moment openness and sensitivity to coherence and incoherence, an awareness that is devoid of, or …actively discarding preconceived ideas, acquired emotional attitudes and other reﬂexes of the past. As long as that past remains, the ‘now’ will not contain ‘the whole of time’…. Instead … our ‘now’ will simply be the point where the past meets the present and continues (with its sorrow, confusion, conﬂict, etc.), a little modiﬁed. And we may continue on that path to our heart’s content, but we will come to nothing new.”
The question of practice can be problematic. In this same piece Peter makes the case against relying too much on practice. Yet, as creatures of habit, we need someplace to go to address habit. Replacing one habit, something we call a “bad habit” with a”good” one, does not take us beyond our present habits of thought. Does nothing to open us to creativity or dialogue. As Krishnamurti stressed, we change when we change, not through the power of our “trying to change.”
The same is true of any transformative realm. Improvisational music or acting, or painting or drawing, do not happen because we try to improvise. We improvise only as we let go of such notions and allow ourselves to be. But this does not mean there is no value in practicing these arts. Practice, in this light, is not practicing scales, doing calisthenics, or running through any sort of programatic solution to the problem of “mastery.” Practice becomes a place and a time dedicated to allowing improvisation to happen.
This is what we’re doing here. These conversations have no other intention than that they be allowed to happen. The envelope provided by this site, live-streaming, loosely held notions of how to go about preparing the ground; are intended to do two things: To nurture and protect, to curate these conversations. And, to provide the opportunity for this practice to be spread by direct engagement and example.
Let’s quickly add that “example” here is not a “how-to.” This is an example in that it is happening here, therefore it could happen elsewhere. In some form, in some manner, how-ever it might come to be.
In this view, we can say these conversations are being held in a virtual studio, rehearsal space, alternative stage. They make no claim to anything more than a few people approaching an encounter as directly as they can. Not because there is no sense of value in this beyond a chance to practice an improvisation, but because we want to illuminate how this opening to a practice brings us something precious we cannot find any other way.
It’s a question of practice….