31 December 2013

Happy New Year - 1844

Sitting, enjoying some quiet holiday pause, I am reading my way Kierkegaard's Stages on Life's Way, and he unexpectedly had something to say about the New Year, which I thought worth sharing today.

"In case a man in all seriousness surrenders himself to love, he can say that he has lots of assurance, if only he can get any assurance company to take the risk, for a material so inflammable as woman must always make the insurer suspicious.  What has he done?  He has identified himself with her: if on New Year's Eve she goes off like a rocket, he goes with her, or if that does not occur, he has nevertheless come into pretty close affinity with danger..."
-Constantin Constantius 

Source: thedanishpioneer.com
... And now, a bit of context!  Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher with really excellent hair.  His book, Stages, is a collection of 'found writing' purportedly by a variety of different authors, put together into one volume by an intrepid (and equally fictional) book dealer.  The three works, "In Vino Veritas: The Banquet", "Observations about Marriage" and "Guilty/Not Guilty", presents perspectives from the several speakers on love and life.

I find "In Vino Veritas: The Banquet" something of a tough nut to crack.  The premise is fairly simple: several men go off into the woods and get rip-roaring drunk while opining about women.  The present speaker (good ole Constantin) seems to be of the mindset that any sort of congress with ladies is an inherent risk, offering up the novel concept of 'love insurance'.

The book seems an odd collection of conversation and opinions, some or all (or none) of which may be Kirkegaard's (though the notes imply that he was hung up on some woman named Regine, and his thoughts on love and life were heavily influenced by that failed relationship).  In what would become a tradition of existential writers, the text contains what seems to be a simple narrative, with piles of introspection (and in this case elocution), the content of which seems over simple - the meaning of which is to consider simple existence.

Regardless, on this New Year's Eve day a century and a half later, I wish you a Merry New Year (it seems to me that merriment goes much better with celebrating a new year, whereas happiness should be more to do with Christmas (or whatever gift-giving, family oriented holiday you may celebrate).  Make it a good one, and a safe one, though, of course, there can be no assurances...

02 December 2013

and so it begins...

December 2013 marks the start of the as-of-yet-unnamed endeavor, which has been referred to as The Commune -


The first few bylaws follow, but I wanted to reminisce a bit on the history of The Commune and imagine, a bit, the thinking and the dreams:

I was a guest on Ron Felten's podcast, Strangers in My Life, over the weekend, and we talked a little (only a very little, the rest is interesting, I promise) about The Commune (which I unfortunately initially was re-branding the Clan at the start of the show). 

If you've known me for any length of time (and in particular if you've ever shared a few drinks with me), you have probably heard some version of my theory of commune. It was interesting (though only arguably useful) to try to explain it to the ethereal audience of a podcast. The hope in doing so, I suppose, is to fully articulate a concept, which I haven't fully worked out in my head (even after 15 years of jabbering).

I think the renaissance of my communal thinking may have come while Stephen Colbert was formulating his Super-Duper PAC plans – "I don't know" – the over-arching plan for donating to his mass of untraceable money-speech, but the twinkle has been a constant since at least around 2001.

The concept is essentially this: that we (we being anyone who ascribes to this idea and who those of us already inside {so far that is just me} decide they want to bring in) form an elective community, dedicated to the proposition that we all should dedicate ourselves to enjoying all of our lives, including, but not limited to: work, leisure, travel, consumption (the act, not the disease), ownership, business, and politics.

To achieve this seemingly simple goal, I propose that the collaboration of thought, effort and resources is fundamental. Together we can think better and do better, both work-wise and play-wise.

To that end, I propose the following three bylaws as a place to start:

I. Whereas, in the modern era, an organization needs money in order to function and act in the world;
Whereas members of a specific community should be invested and have a stake in that community;
Therefore each member of the to be named organization (which has previously been known as The Commune) shall contribute a minimum of $10.00 per month to a common account.

I.a On 5 February 2016, a vote was taken at the monthly meeting to increase the monthly minimum contribution to $25.00 per month. Furthermore, individual members may choose to save their contributions in an alternate location from the common account (bank account, cracker box, under mattress), but the location of those funds should be shared knowledge among all members. The sentence immediately preceding this one shall no longer be valid, and will be stricken from these bylaws, once the membership number of the commune reaches 7. 
II. Whereas the organization is in its nature a democratic and communal group;
Therefore all decisions, whether they be monetary, organizational, procedural or enacting change in the world will be voted on by all vested members, requiring a simple majority to make any decision (ties will result in a measure being voted down).
III. Whereas it is good for a community to have members who are fully invested in the organization;
Therefore a member only becomes fully vested with voting privileges after they have contributed a minimum of $100.00 to the community.  Before a member is fully vested, but they are members (a maximum of 10 months), any contributions they have made to the community may not be used in any way, regardless of any voting decisions, except in increasing the amount of money (e.g. interest being paid to accounts, etc.)

So there it is.  It's on.  Let me know if you want in and we'll take a vote to approve your membership (thus far I am the only vested member, but we can only grow from here... unless I quit - note: I'm not going to quit).