Wednesday, September 24, 2008

from better mousetraps to lemonade seas (Blog recycling, part 2)

In my post "Time to free ALL the political prisoners" I announced my intention to transform The Very Idea into a group blog for counter-institutional speculation and invention. I've got some redesigning to do to finish the "recycling," but the new incarnation, retitled "from better mousetraps to lemonade seas" (the very idea, indeed!) is open for collaborative business, and I have established a discussion list as well. I'm hoping for practical results, but more than anything I am hoping to open a space for those, like me, who have more ideas than they can practically pursue, to document those things, for the use of anyone who may have the time and inclination to pursue them. I have some general guidelines that I have established for myself, based on my political commitments and the current urgencies (as I understand them), but the main guideline I have set up for the project is this:
At the moment, we probably need both better mousetraps and grander visions of the future, and a lot of practical-visionary work that hovers somewhere in the middle distance between those. What I would like to explore on the list and present on the blog, is projects, germs of projects and calls for projects, that seem to address present needs, but I would like, for a change, to unfetter the discussion a bit from a priori judgments about practicality. I expect participants and respondents to make their own judgments about which schemes are the best idea since sliced bread and which are pipe dreams. What I would like to suggest as an ethic for discussion is that we refrain from purely negative responses, that, if at all possible we try to expand, contract, remake, remodel, develop, simplify, amend one another's proposals, but always with an eye to moving forward. And those things which seem to have no forward-moving potential will be pretty quickly identified by their failure to "get a pulse." I'm suggesting more of a general ethic than hard and fast rules. I certainly don't want to discourage constructive criticism, or to encourage anyone to waste time. But radicals are pretty good at talking ourselves out of things. I would like to try to open up a different kind of discussion.
And now we see whether this proposal draws any sort of response. . .

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