Curiosity | Imagination

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The Entrepreneur: Organizing His Enterprise

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Source: NoMoreFakeNews.com | JonRappoport.wordpress.com
By: Jon Rappoport
June 12, 2017

“We’re talking about design features and how you put things together in an organization, a business. Does the business look like a rocket or a blob of a government agency?” (Expanded Games, Jon Rappoport)

This piece is based on years of working as a consultant with private clients, and also on the research that led to my three Matrix collections.

People tend to have pre-set ideas about organization.

Some of these ideas stem from understanding what a business needs to do, in order to survive. They’re useful ideas.

But other ideas are “inherited”; they’re automatic; they’re put into action without conscious thought.

The first big principle SHOULD be: organization is an EFFECT of what the entrepreneur is trying to accomplish. Organization isn’t a CAUSE.

There are companies that—if they were airplanes—would find themselves housed in supermarket parking lots. The companies are that weird. They’re organized in ways that really have nothing to do with their aims.

“Well, we must have Department X and Department Y, of course. We’ll figure out later how they contribute to success.”

But later never comes. Those departments turn into significant roadblocks and obstacles.

Often, the entrepreneur doesn’t see himself as a creative organizer.

He doesn’t ask himself this question: “Given what I’m trying to do here, what’s the best way to configure my enterprise so all the energy is moving forward?”

If he did consider that question seriously, he would deploy his imagination and come up with very interesting and vital answers.

The shapes of organizations aren’t written in stone. Except when dull minds put them together.

The entrepreneur is always ready to shift strategies when they aren’t working. He should also be ready to reconfigure his organization when it isn’t working.

Buckle up—here’s a little story most people wouldn’t understand or believe: I once had a client who was ready to start a new business, but he was mired in trying to organize it. I gave him a daily writing exercise: describe all the most absurd and ridiculous ways you could put your business together.

After a few weeks, he suddenly and spontaneously came up with a few highly original and workable ideas—these ideas came out of his imagination, which was stimulated by inventing The Bizarre. “Things that made no sense” led to breakthroughs.

This is an approach people overlook because they are too timid in how they use their imaginations…they try to imagine “standard solutions.” This is a contradiction in terms. Imagination operates by going out on a limb. Then good new ideas arise spontaneously. Most people don’t grasp that. They ignore a whole dimension of their innate power.

You want to know what’s really bizarre? Imagining what already exists.

In the area of organization, people do this every day. And, as a result, they eventually find themselves dealing with all sorts of problems, and they don’t realize where those problems are coming from.

Read More At: JonRappoport.wordpress.com

Speech, Action, and the Human Condition: Hannah Arendt on How We Invent Ourselves and Reinvent the World

“The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation.”

BrainPickings
Source: Brainpickings.org
Maria Popova
May 17, 2017

“An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her piercing 1975 meditation on how relationships refine our truths. But although our words may be the vehicle of our truths, their seedbed is action — we enact the truth of who and what we are as we move through the world. That’s what Anna Deavere Smith spoke to in her advice to young artists: “Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things.”

That indelible relationship between speech and action in an honorable existence is what Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906–December 4, 1975) examines throughout The Human Condition (public library) — the immensely influential 1958 book that gave us Arendt on the crucial difference between how art and science illuminate life.

Hannah Arendt by Fred Stein, 1944 (Photograph courtesy of the Fred Stein Archive)

Arendt examines the dual root of speech and action:

Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction. If men were not equal, they could neither understand each other and those who came before them nor plan for the future and foresee the needs of those who will come after them. If men were not distinct, each human being distinguished from any other who is, was, or will ever be, they would need neither speech nor action to make themselves understood.

It is useful here to remember that Arendt is living, and therefore writing, nearly half a century before Ursula K. Le Guin unsexed “he” as the universal pronoun — Arendt’s “man,” of course, speaks to and for humanity it is entirety. In fact, she examines the vital complementarity of the universal and the unique. With an eye to the difference between human distinctness and otherness, she writes:

Otherness, it is true, is an important aspect of plurality, the reason why all our definitions are distinctions, why we are unable to say what anything is without distinguishing it from something else. Otherness in its most abstract form is found only in the sheer multiplication of inorganic objects, whereas all organic life already shows variations and distinctions, even between specimens of the same species. But only man can express this distinction and distinguish himself, and only he can communicate himself and not merely something—thirst or hunger, affection or hostility or fear. In man, otherness, which he shares with everything that is, and distinctness, which he shares with everything alive, become uniqueness, and human plurality is the paradoxical plurality of unique beings.

Speech and action reveal this unique distinctness. Through them, men distinguish themselves instead of being merely distinct; they are the modes in which human beings appear to each other, not indeed as physical objects, but qua men. This appearance, as distinguished from mere bodily existence, rests on initiative, but it is an initiative from which no human being can refrain and still be human.

Art by E.B. Lewis from Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim — the illustrated story of how civil rights leader John Lewis’s humble childhood shaped his heroic life at the intersection of speech and action

Not only is the interplay of speech and action our supreme mechanism of self-invention and self-reinvention, but, Arendt suggests, in inventing a self we are effectively inventing the world in which we want to live:

With word and deed we insert ourselves into the human world, and this insertion is like a second birth, in which we confirm and take upon ourselves the naked fact of our original physical appearance. This insertion is not forced upon us by necessity, like labor, and it is not prompted by utility, like work. It may be stimulated by the presence of others whose company we may wish to join, but it is never conditioned by them; its impulse springs from the beginning which came into the world when we were born and to which we respond by beginning something new on our own initiative. To act, in its most general sense, means to take an initiative, to begin (as the Greek word archein, “to begin,” “to lead,” and eventually “to rule,” indicates), to set something into motion (which is the original meaning of the Latin agere).

Action is therefore the most optimistic and miraculous of our faculties, for it alone gives rise to what hadn’t existed before — it is the supreme force of creation. Arendt writes:

It is in the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expected from whatever may have happened before. This character of startling unexpectedness is inherent in all beginnings and in all origins… The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle. The fact that man is capable of action means that the unexpected can be expected from him, that he is able to perform what is infinitely improbable.

And yet, contrary to the popular indictment that speech is the cowardly absence of action, action cannot take place without speech. Above all, Arendt argues, it is through the integration of the two that we reveal ourselves to one another, as well as to ourselves:

No other human performance requires speech to the same extent as action. In all other performances speech plays a subordinate role, as a means of communication or a mere accompaniment to something that could also be achieved in silence.

[…]

In acting and speaking, men show who they are, reveal actively their unique personal identities and thus make their appearance in the human world… This disclosure of “who” in contradistinction to “what” somebody is — his qualities, gifts, talents, and shortcomings, which he may display or hide — is implicit in everything somebody says and does. It can be hidden only in complete silence and perfect passivity, but its disclosure can almost never be achieved as a willful purpose, as though one possessed and could dispose of this “who” in the same manner he has and can dispose of his qualities. On the contrary, it is more than likely that the “who,” which appears so clearly and unmistakably to others, remains hidden from the person himself, like the daimōn in Greek religion which accompanies each man throughout his life, always looking over his shoulder from behind and thus visible only to those he encounters.

Down the Rabbit Hole: One of Salvador Dalí’s rare 1969 illustrations for Alice in Wonderland

Echoing the Nobel-winning Indian poet and philosopher Tagore’s assertion that “relationship is the fundamental truth of this world of appearance,” Arendt adds:

This revelatory quality of speech and action comes to the fore where people are with others and neither for nor against them — that is, in sheer human togetherness. Although nobody knows whom he reveals when he discloses himself in deed or word, he must be willing to risk the disclosure.

[…]

Without the disclosure of the agent in the act, action loses its specific character and becomes one form of achievement among others. It is then indeed no less a means to an end than making is a means to produce an object. This happens whenever human togetherness is lost, that is, when people are only for or against other people, as for instance in modern warfare, where men go into action and use means of violence in order to achieve certain objectives for their own side and against the enemy. In these instances, which of course have always existed, speech becomes indeed “mere talk,” simply one more means toward the end, whether it serves to deceive the enemy or to dazzle everybody with propaganda; here words reveal nothing, disclosure comes only from the deed itself, and this achievement, like all other achievements, cannot disclose the “who,” the unique and distinct identity of the agent.

In a passage that calls to mind philosopher Amelie Rorty’s taxonomy of the seven levels of personhood, Arendt suggests that action is what propels us from static selves to dynamic agents of change, and considers the immense potential of that agency:

The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation.

In a sentiment which Rebecca Solnit would come to echo half a century later in her immensely vitalizing Hope in the Dark, where she asserted that “the grounds for hope are in the shadows, in the people who are inventing the world while no one looks, who themselves don’t know yet whether they will have any effect,” Arendt looks back on the history of humanity’s great intellectual and political revolutions, and adds:

It certainly is not without irony that those whom public opinion has persistently held to be the least practical and the least political members of society should have turned out to be the only ones left who still know how to act and how to act in concert. For their early organizations, which they founded in the seventeenth century for the conquest of nature and in which they developed their own moral standards and their own code of honor, have not only survived all vicissitudes of the modern age, but they have become one of the most potent power-generating groups in all history.

The Human Condition remains an indispensable read. Complement this particular portion with Vincent van Gogh on principles and talking vs. doing, then revisit Arendt on the crucial difference between truth and meaning, the power of being an outsider, how tyrants use isolation as a weapon of oppression, and our only effective antidote to the normalization of evil.

Read more At: Brainpickings.org

JFK on Poetry, Power, and the Artist’s Role in Society: His Eulogy for Robert Frost, One of the Greatest Speeches of All Time

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

Source: BrainPickings.com
Maria Popova

In January of 1961, as John F. Kennedy’s inauguration approached, his would-be Secretary of the Interior suggested that the poet Robert Frost participate in the ceremony as the first inaugural poet. Eighty-six-year-old Frost telegrammed Kennedy with his signature elegance of wit: “If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration.” He proceeded to deliver a beautiful ode to the dream of including the arts in government, which touched Kennedy deeply.

Frost died exactly two years later, in January of 1963. That fall, Amherst College invited the President to speak at an event honoring the beloved poet. On October 26, Kennedy took the podium at Amherst and delivered a spectacular speech mirroring back to Frost that deep dedication to the arts and celebrating the role of the artist in society. Perhaps more than any other public address, it affirmed JFK as that rare species of politician who is equally a poet and prophet of the human spirit.

The speech was eventually included in the altogether superb Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time (public library) — a compendium of breathtaking adieus to cultural icons like Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King, Jr., Emily Dickinson, Keith Haring, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Schulz, and Virginia Woolf, delivered by those who knew them best.

This original recording of the speech, while short in length, is endlessly ennobling in substance. Highlights below — please enjoy:

Strength takes many forms, and the most obvious forms are not always the most significant. The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.

[…]

Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state… In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role…

If sometimes our great artist have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth… In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society — in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having “nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.”

Typed draft of the speech, edited in Kennedy’s own hand (Courtesy of John F. Kennedy Library)

But as notable as the speech itself — for reasons both poetical and political — are the parts Kennedy edited out in his own hand, including this heartbreaking-in-hindsight passage from the second page:

We take great comfort in our nuclear stockpiles, our gross national product, our scientific and technological achievement, our industrial might — and, up to a point, we are right to do so. But physical power by itself solves no problems and secures no victories. What counts is the way power is used — whether with swagger and contempt, or with prudence, discipline and magnanimity. What counts is the purpose for which power is used — whether for aggrandizement or for liberation. “It is excellent,” Shakespeare said, “to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.”

Three weeks later, one of history’s ugliest and most arrogant misuses of brute power took place as JFK was assassinated, prompting Leonard Bernstein to pen his timelessly moving address on the only true antidote to violence. But the message at the heart of Kennedy’s speech continued to resonate even as his voice was silenced by brutality. Less than two years later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, creating the National Endowment for the Arts — the very dream that Frost had dreamt up at JFK’s inauguration.

Complement with two more titans of poetry on the role of the artist in culture: E.E. Cummings on the agony and salvation of the artist and James Baldwin on the artist’s responsibility to society.

The JFK speech appears as the opening track on composer Mohammed Fairouz’s spectacular album Follow Poet — titled after a line from W.H. Auden’s beautiful elegy for W.B. Yeats — and can be heard in Fairoz’s wholly fantastic On Being conversation with Krista Tippett:

Read more At: BrainPickings.com