Motivate the Mind
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Motivate the Mind

The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Built in 1913. A surprisingly large part of our story is rooted here.

A Peaceful Place Beside the Ratti Race

Rugged opulence, moneyed occupants, and funny, ironic, Soil inoculants

(I just posted this at our website under blogs. This Arts and Crafts movement is what a few Brits started in the mid-1800’s then it made its way over to The States.)

Until I’m better supervised I’ll probably keep throwing in weird words at the wrong time and blaming it on my friend, Bug Stu. I have tried paying people to supervise me, but the tension between Bug Stu’s vision and my desire to be liked (or something?) has still made it difficult to walk the fine line between appeal and philosophical coherence, financial interest and introspection, and progressivism and conservatism, in all meanings of every word. I blame Stu.

This weekend the two of us are headed back to Asheville for the 35th National Arts and Crafts Conference, which centers around a period and aesthetics, maybe even a set of ethics, that are pleasantly similar in both origins and anticipated resolution to our own. By resolution I don’t mean a complete resolving of the growing din of competing choruses, political/philosophical, economic/ergonomic, hedonic/eudaimonic, etc.

That is, I don’t mean that I, or Stu, see some panacea or Utopian model as a way to resolve the din into a pan-pleasurable alternative of enlightened reformations, not even along the lines of the historic Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century — the focus of this conference. What we see, and I also have to credit Stu’s friend Allie Space-Owl in this, is an emerging 7th Pie Peace, or Piece, which the two of them started talking about around one hundred years ago.

So back to the title. If we assume that the economy, and therefore society sort of, has been made up of six different pies for the last hundred years or more, then the seventh pie could exist right beside the conventional six as a respectable and regenerative respite for any ratti racer. It could even provide a long, self-sustained, and alternatively productive sabbatical — or longer term lifestyle shift. That is, the seventh pie could provide a getaway or a gotaway. It could be a short stay, a Plan B, or even Plan A.

Physical contexts and mental contexts have mutual effects. And to assume our dins of prognoses and prescriptions, amplified by political ambitions and self-serving pseudo-sincere cheerleading, are not conducted mostly by those contexts, make me assume we’re not trying as hard as we could to understand things.

Sure, last weekend we had our reasons to prefer the Bengals over the Rams, or vice versa, or to eschew the whole sportsing machine; but to settle for similarly shallow or shallow-ing side-taking, or willful/unwitting ignorance of the effects of contexts on personalities, personal goals, personal pains, political games, political pawns, and so on, is generational negligence. That’s because we’ll leave a legacy for the next generation to struggle with, just as we six have (GI Generation through Gen Z — about one hundred years).

That’s getting a little too serious, so let me close by returning to the beginning and attempting a resolution of my own post here. Rugged Opulence…Soil Inoculants refers to both the origins of Grove Park Inn and the historic Arts and Crafts movement, throwing in a little metaphorical agronomy at the end, which relates to human flourishing and emergent understandings of enjoyment and satisfaction, not that science understands all.

But both literal and figurative understandings of soil, from which seeds grow or don’t, and in which plants or ideas and feelings emerge or don’t, or thrive or don’t, seem to have a lot more to do with how things are than our inherited twentieth-century mechanistic mental models prepared us for. Ultimately the soil contributes to whatever fruit we produce and can put in a pie for the next generations, so we cannot ignore soil’s anatomical and wholistic contributions.

Much progress has been made in understanding all kinds of soil in the last twenty years, thanks largely to complexity science, not just functional MRI machines. Yet our politics and economic prescriptions are built from 50- to 100-year-old mental models, with antiquated paradigms of what progress is, the same ideas they wrestled with at the end of World War I in the contexts of their times, and this is one reason I love going to the conference.

I believe this is all pointing to the importance of a 7th Pie, just like Stu and Allie thought one hundred years ago. It wouldn’t be for everyone, everywhere, all-the-time, but its 14% contribution to the economic culture might be part of the resolution we need. “14% is huge,” Stu often says, but I’ll let him explain that another time. (It’s not something someone needs to do for us.)

So much for my attempt at a resolution of this post. If that didn’t feel like a resolving of the din and dissonances I might have introduced above, maybe this song will. It’s one of my favorite examples of a semi-resolved cacophony, from the Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, with multiple-level eerily fitting lyrics for all this and an especially fitting title for this weekend, relating to why I’ll probably post each day, at least, during the conference.

Memories Can’t Wait. (Lyrics on screen, some fitting imagery, some clashing, so it goes.)

Thanks for reading : ).

Tim

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