Opening the conversation
We begin with a question hanging between the poetic and reason What to do with the mind in the 21st century?
Mind, before anything else is a concept, a term we use to point. Looking at the history of its unfoldment across cultures is like extracting an ice core from the oldest glacier we have, layered by the attempts at ‘being humans’. The attempts at describing the affective, cognitive, willful, causative, insightful, conscious and aware aspects of a long line preceding us.
Emerging through the interiorization and representation of different aspects of power, silence, immensity, affection, interiority and all encompassing, the cells building up the span of the concept are thousands of years old and weaved back and forth among different cultures. Scholars extract their trajectories from ancient texts and their translations along the centuries. Mostly epic poems (homer), revelation texts (the Hebrew bible, the veda and upanishad Sanskrit texts) and Greek philosophy texts. For example:
The English word ‘mind’ derive from the latin word ‘mens’, which is an evolved form of the greek word menos (from the verb to desire, to crave) which described a raw vital power. Greek society at the times of Homer was oriented towards action – warriors being its heroes – insuppressible vital power was considered a superior ability to challenge the gods and thus to hold a relevant internal reflective discourse.
On a completely different line, the Sanskrit term veda (knowledge, wisdom) is derived from the root vid- to know. This is derived from an even prior root (indo-european, people migrating into unknown lands and water) ueidos- meaning both to know and to see. The same root is found in Latin video (I see, first sight, insight) and English wit (sharp intelligence).
The term spirit derives from Latin spiritus – breath (still visible in terms like re-spiration, a-spiration), which was a translation of the greek word pneuma – the in and out of breath. Which in turn was used to translate the Hebrew word ruach – breath of force. Ruach in Hebrew means wind, but it could also be used for the organ of breathing, later also to indicate the one who breath, and eventually as self-referential my spirit – me.
An interesting pattern can be discerned in the carving of a new space of reflection via the transformation of these terms.
The term usually begins by naming an external power (concrete external aspect of life i.e. wind) >> it moves to a concrete internal aspect (i.e. breathing organs/locus/act) >> it evolve into an internal abstract aspect (i.e. breath of life) >> it becomes self-referential/ a significant element of self-description (i.e. my spirit).
The passage from external force to internal locus (usually also used to acquire/control the natural force/aspect) is usually mediated by a mystical bridge, a connection forged through divinity, mystical, magical that allows union into a whole.
What we wish to take from the few lines above is the general understanding that mind is not a static idea. It has evolved from multiple sources, at different times and through different cultures. It contains the evolution and convergence of multiple lines of enfoldment, different forces and aspects of reality and their transformations.
A concept of this magnitude is an evolutive sleeve for us, it allows ‘acts of self-description’ (distinction of agency) and it points toward unifications procedures (inside and between man to cosmos). We need to reconsider how this profoundly potent sleeve opens and can accompany us in our space and time.
Thus we ask What to do with the mind in the 21st century?
Two corresponding Narratives emerge with the ongoing exploration of the question, proposed as:
>>Turn Upon continuity
>>Open-Call for Updated narratives
Turn upon Continuity means to escape the tendency of both the past (history) and the future (emerging trends) to take over the gap in the moment, the fractal line between the known and unknown. We do not need to reject the past nor to fervently believe in the future – we must though create a turn from the current trajectory upon the little wisdom we may have and the more which we must produce.
Open-call for Updated Narratives comes to signifies the Now as a radical junction of histories, calling for a process of updating the closed set of narratives (Macro and Micro) that we are using to guide our minding. An updating process based upon interpenetration between wisdom of the past, the transformative agency of the future and fresh understandings. These last emerge from the primal, raw contact with life stripped from rigid forms of knowledge and belief.
With these corresponding lines we initiate the laboratory of intelligence *culture and its first project **occupy the mind and the challenge of articulation of a ***literacy of mind. --------------------------------------------------- Culture as - emergent environment of making sense and culture like in a Petri Dish where new life is being grown and cultured. ** Occupy as - be engaged and to put the mind into use, Literacy of mind at the moment as - a set of tools, capabilities, perspectives, notions and attitudes through which minding rises as insuppressible force.
Occupy The Mind: Occupy as process - Reclaim → Occupy →Transform
To reclaim – we suggest as a fundamental working assumption that mind is occupied by coalitions of forces, imperatives, tendencies, corporate and habits, but rarely by us. To reclaim is an emerging stance of criticality in front of the state of affair in which mind is already occupied.
To occupy - means to take by infiltration and de-occupation. While de-occupation points at an alternative circumstances and state of mind, which allow to neutralize the binding effects of the forces at play, infiltration suggest a non linear and local approach to occupation based on moment by moment emerging connections.
To transform – reclaiming and occupying a space, must originate an innovative move by which new rules of the game are set, a proactive participation in the process of reality-making is activated and on the overall a process promoting the extended exploration and adventure of articulating a ‘Literacy of Mind’ is launched, as the means for transformation.
Signatures of the project
Project - first Signature: With this project we wish to extend a substantial, confined event of R&D (research, exploration and articulation), into an interactive participatory event, in which *inter-subjectivity becomes the platform for progressive insight. Inter-subjectivity – extended reflective event taking place in between individuals.
Project second Signature: We wish to bring the foundational old tenet * “know thyself” together with **“to take care of the self” into a laboratory mode. “know thyself” - ancient Greece tenet made famous by Socrates teachings on how “the unexamined life is not worth living” *"to take care of yourself" - That is, with "wisdom, truth and the perfection of the soul.” (Technologies of the Self by Michel Foucault)
Project third Signature: To produce visible signs to call for attention to the necessity for a literacy of mind, through multiple contexts/media - booklets, video, exhibition, website, podcast, articles, and whatever else we may come to.
Visual Meditation (images below)
first image: Giovanni Anselmo Italian, born 1934 ‘Entrare Nell Opera’ 1971 ‘Stepping into the making’
Visual meditation via immersion and enacting the image what is there? where to? how do you choose where to direct your next step? Explore the ‘sense of mind’ emerging with the image.. second image: Visual meditation via immersion and enacting the image Where do you go? From where do you begin? Is there a point of entry?
A meditation and collective exploration that leads us to introduce the second big question of this meeting:
What is the fundamental situation in Existence? Or What are the *primitives of existence? *Primitive stands here as fundamental,
We propose a ‘code’ for the Existential Primitive: Navigation in Uncertainty And a timeless wisdom: ‘To know is not to know, not to know is to know’ (from the Kena Upanishad)
Project Challenge: Literacy of mind should provide an Autonomous capacity of Navigation in Uncertainty