A new word on me, but one I like when I look up what it means: the coming together of diverse elements and/or ideas into an uncanny and unconscious oneness.*
This slightly longer post is about esemplastic communities and tribes, achieving together in uncanny ways for good towards a future always whispering to us.
Brian Hall got me thinking. He does all his creative writing in libraries, bringing together many disparate observations and texts collected in these spaces:
“We – libraries and I – are allies, working together for the creative good.”**
Following Hall’s story of esemplasticity, Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer offer this artistic practice:
‘Wander the shelves and find some fiction or nonfiction and at least one art compendium. Leaf through until you light upon something that strikes you in each book – a quote or an image, for example. Place these ideas in the context of your earlier sketches and conversation gathering. Consider how they all might be part of a single story – how do they fit together to reveal someone’s character or drive the plot forward.’^
Furthermore (a word I like a lot because it’s made up of further and more), esemplasticism promises the deepest expression of unconscious collaboration.
“In art the self becomes self-forgetful.”^^
If we begin to think about what we are doing and how we do it and where it comes from and how it compares with someone else’s contribution, the we’re becoming self-conscious, and we lose the flow of our gift or art or must. This in turn disrupts and compromises the esemplastic quality of the whole. Here’s a longer quote from Lewis Hyde’s description of the gift understood in this way:
‘The moral is this: the gift is lost in self-consciousness. To count, measure, reckon value, or seek the cause of a thing, is to step outside the circle, to cease being ‘all of a piece’ with the flow of gifts and become, instead, one part of the whole reflecting upon another part. We participate in the esemplastic power of a gift by way of a particular kind of unconsciousness, then: unanalytic, undialetical consciousness.*^
We need the creativity esemplastic imagination offers.
Just this morning, listening to a BBC Radio 5 interview with Lord Carlile, I heard the Liberal Democrat peer speak about exterminating and destroying Islamic State, and whilst believing civilian casualties will be limited by precision bombing, also said, in the end, those who begin wars, as Islamic State have, bring casualties upon those around them. Which sounds like more of a solution which has only helped to create the world we find ourselves in. I could only think we need more imaginative possibilities.
Becoming less self-conscious, as Hyde describes, moves us deeper into empathic listening, learning, identifying and collaborating on ‘projects worth working on together.’^* Otto Scharmer terms this as a movement to “I-in-Now,” moving us from ego to eco. We move the other way when we become more self-conscious, towards the surface of things, towards “I-in-Me, and, therefore, from eco to ego.”⁺
‘Among the things that distinguish our species from others is our combination of idealism and artistry – our desire to both improve the world and to provide that world with something it didn’t know it was missing.’⁺⁺
(*I borrow the phrase uncanny encounters from my friend Charlotte Bosseaux’s Dubbing, Film and Performance – elements we we do expect to find together.)
(**Brian Hall, quoted in Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer’s The Artist’s Library.)
(^Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer’s The Artist’s Library.)
(^^Flannery O’Connor, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(*^From Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(^*From Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?)
(⁺From Otto Scharmer’s Theory U; the levels of deeper listening and presencing are: I-in-Me, I-in-It, I-in-You, and, I-in-Now.)
(⁺⁺From Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human.)