“All of these things in many ways undermine what I call the ‘social imagination’. That is an imagination capable of understanding why the public good matters. Why the question of a commons matters. Why we need to think in terms of eliminating a culture of cruelty and hardness that’s been put into place by a market driven culture. What it means to save the planet, and to have some sense of how important that is. And what it means to revive the language of democracy and community”.
As we detach from the conversations that since forever formed the bedrock of our culture, we imagine that the ability to be always connected will make us less lonely. And yet loneliness is a national epidemic.
Whatever happens as a result of the Presidential elections, something fascinating is building in France. Something based on celebrating a new story, something that speaks to care, to human values, to solidarity. Something that seems to be popping up all over the place, and particularly speaking to young people, but bringing a creativity and imagination to a culture where those in charge seem to have run out of both. Watch this space…
“In this house, Vincent Van Gogh, for six intense, passionate months of his life, painted as though his life depended on it. He imagined this house as a catalyst for a shift of global significance, a reimagining of art and its possibilities. And although the personal cost to him was enormous, he achieved his dream, albeit posthumously. The painting he made of this house still speaks to the power of the human mind to will the seemingly impossible into reality. And to do so with love, colour, passion and beauty. And we need it now more than we ever have”.
Jonathan Schooler is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. According to Wikipedia, he “researches various topics that intersect aspects of both cognitive psychology and philosophy such as: Belief in free will, Meta-awareness, Mindfulness, Mind-Wandering, Memory, Creativity, and Emotion”. We chatted by Skype.
Philippe Van Parijs is a philosopher, social scientist, and co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network. He is co-author of the just-published book ‘Basic Income’, and is one of the leading proponents of the idea. We met in a noisy pizza restaurant in Exeter to discuss Basic Income, and in particular, I was interested to know whether he felt a Basic Income would free people up to be more imaginative.
I’m not sure if there is a World Record for the most talks given in one day, but if there is, I gave it a pretty good shot last week. I travelled (by train, as is my wont) to Switzerland to support several initiatives there, in and around Geneva. I love trips like this, where hopefully I leave behind some ideas and inspiration, but I also take a good share of that back with me too.
Richard Olivier is the Artistic Director and founder of a small leadership consultancy called Olivier Mythodrama. They use great stories, often by Shakespeare, but not always, as mythic case studies of great leadership themes and challenges, particularly the kind of behavioural and imaginative challenges that leaders have to try and create a better future.
One of the areas of 21st century life where the imagination thrives is in the craft beer movement. One of the leading, and most imaginative, craft breweries is Mikkeller. Mikkeller was founded in 2006 by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. He creates the recipes, and oversees the development of new beers and recipes, as well as the growing number of new bars and restaurants that we have in the Mikkeller group now. We caught up via Skype.
Josh Golin is the Executive Director of the Campaign for Commerical Free Childhood, an advocacy organisation that works to protect children from the harmful effects of commercialism and promote creative play. He lives in Boston. We chatted via Skype.