From Freefall, written in 1959 by William Golding, he of Lord of the Flies (I do feel that there must be an EDRM joke in that – Lord of the Files?)
‘Time is two modes. The one is an effortless perception native to us as water to the mackerel. The other is a memory, a sense of shuffle fold and coil, of that day nearer than that because more important, of that event mirroring this, or those three set apart, exceptional and out of the straight line altogether.’
Sparknow, the odd little network formerly known as Spark Knowledge is ten today. I find that entirely extraordinary. The shuffle fold and coil of ten years. So many things exceptional and out of the straight line altogether, but so much effortless time, water as to mackerel. I find, as I grow a little older that I want more empty space, in which to grow reflectively, and be present in the world, and have less appetite for the urge and push of constantly pushing things and people a little further together, a little further apart, dextrous manipulations or bludgeoning and hammering to make shapes and knots and spaces which will allow some new possibilities to unfold. And at the same time I’m willing to invite in the unexpected guest of an unlikely and impossible challenge and see where it leads. So my appetite for the unknown and unknowable seems to grow. There’s nothing much I want in the way of challenges, but nothing much I’d turn down. I’m not waiting, but somehow I’m ready. I’ve made a few decisions though. One is to find book time. Time to write in some clearer and more backboned way of the work we’ve done, the thoughts we’ve had, the ways we’ve developed, the philosophical musings we’ve entertained. There must always, in my view, be time to sit existentially at Les Deux Magots on the Left Bank, chain-smoking and speculating argumentatively on what is and could be. All that nose-to-the-grindstone planning and product and delivery has it’s place of course. But without random ranting and guesswork about how the universe works, it means very little. And that’s something else as I get older, everything, including doing nothing, must mean something. An absence of mind, distraction from the essence of things by peripheral anxieties must make way for presence.
Here’s my plan, in a different typeface for reasons that are beyond me.
I’m clearing a space, the biggest possible empty space, a breathing space. And I’m going to breath it in. I’ll only take work that holds meaning for me. Not necessarily passionate meaning, but meaning. I’ll look people in the eye as equals, with respect and honour and warmth and I’ll expect anyone I encounter in the context of work to do the same. I’ll continue, as I strive to, to conduct myself with integrity, never lose my curiosity, and hold onto my instinct (which has never wavered, although has sometimes felt like a radio tuned into a faulty FM signal while pirate stations bounce their waves off Alexandra Palace) that there is a better, more soulful way to conduct work, which is not at the expense of science, or balance or rigour. The language of narrative and metaphor bounces off the language of Facts (I want Facts, nothing but Facts, say so many in the world of work) and the space that is opened up in between in the space in which conversations can thrive and multiply.
The multiplication of conversations so that they weave an organisational fabric of a new and vivid kind is my goal I think.
I want more mackerel time and I want more memory time. And probably that’s all I want in life except the health and wellbeing of my nearest and dearest.
And what of Sparknow? Well probably plenty to be done in new narrative enquiries mostly. And they too should be unembarrassed and straight-backed, standing tall. Humble, but not servile, although always servants to a cause, which is still to change the fabric of society in some way or another. Not the end of the pier show, just because ‘once upon a time’ creeps in, and not some mystical voodoo. Although there can be something profound, perhaps enchanting, about what narrative makes possible in work contexts, there’s nothing special about it really. And I should know:
‘I made that armour myself.
Its not magic.
Its just shiny’
From the The Brothers Grimm, as one brother rides off into the forest to battle a monster, leaving the other behind.
Will the logical Grimm brother to the beautiful maiden while Jake the storyish Grimm brother gallops off into the enchanted forest.