Welcome to Emerging Futures - Volume 69! 23 Ways to Practice Innovation and Creativity
Greetings, sustained revelers!
Happy Gregorian New Year to you! We hope your holiday break was filled with joy and love.
We enjoyed some downtime away from work with family, friends, good fires, some travel, experimental cooking, great walks, and reading.
One particularly good book was The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayer. It is a book about the nature of consciousness in the 21st century. A story of alien meetings between humans and other species on a planet radically impacted by the ravages of capitalism. The aliens in question are not some exotic extraterrestrial but octopuses and AI systems. And the setting is not a far-off planet but the South Pacific Ocean. The book does an astonishing job of digging into the relation between embodiment and environment – what differences skeletons and land-based niches make in contrast to the skeletonless bodies with distributed brains in oceans make for the form of being alive.
“There is good evidence that octopuses truly think with their arms. That their central brain is not in control all the time – that in fact it may not be in control much of the time at all. The octopus's arms are constantly exploring its environment… It’s one of the ways in which the octopus is so extraordinarily different from us. It's smart – very smart – and we already established that. But it's about more than that: its intelligence is strongly attached to curiosity and exploration. And one of the most intriguing things about the octopus is that much of that curiosity may, in fact, reside in its arms. It may be an animal with almost no top-down control much of the time – a mind navigating the sea that consists, primarily, of a set of exploring limbs only incidentally and intermittently controlled by a central “core” intelligence. Even the way we think about core and periphery is incorrect, when we apply it to them. We’re just using our own metaphors, but being within that system would be something entirely different. A completely different way of being in the world”
The book is an astonishing story that we cannot do justice to (here is a great review by Steven Shaviro that does a great job of this).
If your dark nights need a companion, it is worth bringing this creaturely book to your chest.
This is a fascinating cultural week of ritualized transition from restful recharge to relaunch propelled by goals, aspirations, and <gulp> resolutions.
Resolutions at the New Year are near mystical acts of individual improvement. A model of a promise of evolution and betterment that is designed for us to fail. And so we are – we're quick to forget and ignore – the average resolution doesn’t last long, just 12-30 days, depending on the area of interest.
Let’s be honest; few people have the “fortitude” to cold-turkey anything, and the model was always more about blame than success. It is an odd and ultimately problematic way to think about humans and ultimately, change.
While change is constant — it has many speeds and patterns happening every day in all directions and at many levels, rituals like the new year are good to help us pause and reflect.
For us, we prefer to see the transition between years as a moment to remind ourselves of our ongoing curiosity to engage with practices over the hard and fast logic of designed-to-fail plus blame of “resolutions”.
Experimenting with practices, for us, are free of false promises, exaggerated expectations, and a logic of blame.
While experimental practices don’t wait for any particular day – You/us/we are always evolving, changing, and being changed by events, environments, and others – the arbitrary transition of the Gregorian calendar can be a moment to simply remind ourselves of practices we do and further ones we can experiment with.
So today, in honor of the daily joy of practicing with the ongoing creativity that is all around, we are offering you 23 ways to continue to explore the creative practices swarming all around and through us.
These are not limited to the beginning of 2023… but to be changed by the practice of creativity - every day - always.
With all of that - we wish you all a successful 2023 filled with practices, growth, and novelty.
Till Volume 70,
Jason and Iain
Emergent Futures Lab
We’re How You Innovate
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