Reflections 21st March

image: Kintsugi close up. Forge Creative

Connection has been a continuing theme for me this week, and it’s genesis which is what we choose to see. We see the world, we’re told, not as it is, but as we are and it is from there that we communicate.

I think that is important right now. We can either see what is happening as a problem, and something broken, or as something in transition to something new and better that contains what was within it.

The Japanese term is Kintsugi (Golden Joinery) or Kintsukuroi (golden repair). Taking something broken and creating something beautiful from it. It’s the attitude of the artisan. To take constraints and work with them, rather than overcome them.

We could do that with far more than pottery. The last two hundred and fifty years have brought us much that is good, as well as the collateral damage of much that is not. We have a choice – on the one hand, we can try to overcome, and to erase the bits we don’t like, from statues to statutes, and replace them with something we think better (for now), or we can embrace them as part of our history, learn from them and reassemble them to make something more beautiful.

Capitalism, for all its evident social flaws, is not somebody else’s fault. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and we all went along with it. It’s easy to look back and say we were victims, but we weren’t there then, our ancestors were. We see the world as we are, not as it is and we would do well to consider that.

We have to take urgent action to address what we now know to be the impact of what we have been doing, and the likely consequences for us if we do not. That does not mean we have to somehow erase it – we can’t, it’s happened – but we can work with it to develop something better. To retain as much of the benefits as we can, without compromising what we need to develop it. To adopt a Kintsukoroi approach to repair, as against a consumerist throw out the old and replace it.

We have learned painful but valuable lessons during this pandemic as to what we can do without, from expensive coffee and holidays to cheap fast fashion, and what we can’t; from health provision to the strong relationships that help us make sense of what is happening.

We don’t need other people to tell us what to do, we can start now, as individuals. Take responsibility.

We are what we consume, and how we respect it. Less throwaway, more Kintsukoroi. Less corporate, more artisan.

Books I’ve liked this week.

Creative Facilitation. Johnnie Moore and Viv McWaters. This is an update, and for me an accompaniment to “Unhurried at work” which I mentioned last week. Short and clear with great insights. A valuable pleasure to read.

Talk. The Science of Conversation. Elizabeth Stokor. If we want to repair what we’ve broken rather than pretend we can replace it, we need to talk. This is a scientific look at how we communicate through talk. Much to reflect on that we can learn from.

Critical Path. Buckminster Fuller. One of those people, like Rachel Carson, who we should have listened to at the time, but whose message was just too inconvenient. As powerful now as it was then.


How to laugh more. by Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky. Seems like a good idea right now.

The Myth of the Given. Nate Shelf on the work of Wilfrid Sellars. If we see the world as we are, then this is about the reality of what we see. A serious read, but then again, this is a serious time.

Avoiding bad decisions. FS blog. This is a time when it’s really easy to make bad decisions. the unfortunate evidence is all around us. Great short article on how to reduce our chances of doing so. Short, easy, important read.

An interview

Alan Moore and Sir Tim Smit (one of my favourite iconoclasts) on Alan’s new book “Do Build”. Hosted by Hawkwood, one of my favourite places. Not your normal interview. Wonderful.

A quote

“There is an Iroquois myth that describes a choice the nation was once forced to make. The myth has various forms. This is the simplest version. A council of the tribes was called to decide where to move on for the next hunting season. What the council had not known, however, was that the place they eventually chose was a place inhabited by wolves. Accordingly, the Iroquois became subject to repeated attacks, during which the wolves gradually whittled down their numbers. They were faced with a choice: to move somewhere else or to kill the wolves. The latter option, they realized, would diminish them. It would make them the sort of people they did not want to be. And so they moved on. To avoid repetition of their earlier mistake, they decided that in all future council meetings someone should be appointed to represent the wolf. Their contribution would be invited with the question, ‘Who speaks for wolf?’

from The Philosopher and the Wolf. Mark Rowlands.

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