I tried to positive thinking the shit out of this thing. That’s not normally my style – I’m East Coast pessimism (realism) and cynicism to the bone, but just once, because this was straight up my dream job, and potential salvation from my current vocational doldrums, I figured I’d give The Secret a shot. Every day, for months (months!!) I refined answers to difficult interview questions, envisioned myself doing the job–including but not limited to meetings, phone calls, and filling out time sheets, and repeated mantras affirming that I already had the job–the time-space continuum just needed to catch up. I was committed, and I worked hard, and in the end…fuck all. Didn’t get the gig. Not sure who I lost to, but down to the final five contestants, after waiting and waiting, I finally got the dreaded too-short email, and that was all she wrote. What did I learn from this?
1) Positive thinking is garbage. Maybe not garbage in that it’s worse than telling yourself crap messages about how you’re a failure and have no chance of succeeding (it’s not), but garbage in that thinking positively does not bend the universe to suit your desires. For six months, I mixed Stuart Smalley-style self-affirmation, intense visualization, and legitimate boots on the ground job hunt hustle as hard as I could, but I didn’t get the outcome I wanted.
2) That’s it, really. I can’t think of anything else I learned. After that email, I went for a run, cranked off a bunch of angry push ups, and moped for a couple weeks. Then I got back to the grind, hunting down job openings, writing cover letters, and trying to find a good-enough-thing on the way to the perfect thing. I’m refocused on my writing, because ultimately, writing itself is the goal. Sure, I’m trying to find someone to pay me to do it, and it could be a major improvement in my life once that happens, but until then, I just need to make work steadily. So here this is, and here I am.
Sat November 5
Guy Fawkes Day 2011
For this version of Civil disobedience in the 21st Century, the focus will be on addressing an actual strategic challenge facing Occupy Wall Street. While prior workshops have dealt with hypothetical campaigns in the near and long term future, with the continuing success of Occupy Wall Street, we have the opportunity to use this process for strategic planning of an real campaign. Less time will be spent on the initial lecture and more emphasis will be on working in small groups and iterating the simulation.
The workshop will consist of small and large group discussion to establish and understanding of the terrain (architectural, economic, social, etc.) within which the Occupy movement exists. After creating a common description of the terrain, we’ll discus goals, strategies, and tactics and then break into small groups again based on goals and strategic preferences. In small groups we’ll develop strategic plans and then workshop them as a whole class with one group playing the role of the State. Time permitting, we’ll then be able to discuss the strategies, iterate them, and repeat the role-playing to see how the revised strategies play out.
As with prior workshops, I am not claiming to be an expert on civil disobedience in general, nor, in this case, the specific history and tactics of Occupy Wall Street. I do, however, have experience designing and facilitating games and simulations, and given how well our past workshops have gone, I’m confident that this one could be of real value to Occupy participants considering future directions for the action. The diverse perspectives and goals within the Occupy movement will fit well with the workshop structure as we’ll be able to simulate how the State will respond to different groups using diverging strategies simultaneously.
Public School CD21 Listing and Sign Up
…and now for something totally different…
Hello, yes, the site has been pretty quiet for a while now. Between prepping for the last workshop, traveling, decompressing from traveling, and getting my life back in order I haven’t had much time to work on civil resistance stuff. But that’s changing! Lots more to come soon, and for now enjoy then new reading list page where I’ve uploaded lots of great articles that have informed my thinking. Good reading while you’re trapped indoors during a hurricane.
Good news! I’ve spoken with Ty, one of the organizers at the Public School, and we’re going to hold another Civil Resistance in the 21st Century class. Invisible Resistance will be held on August 3 from 6-9 pm at the Eyebeam gallery in conjunction with Ty’s exhibition Invisible ____.
This class will be more focused on the near future (10 years out) and we’ll be able to discuss how emerging technology will influence civil resistance tactics and strategies. The format will be similar to the last class with discussion leading to development of a hypothetical campaign and war gaming to test the planned strategy. But with robots and lasers. Seriously.
Photo: Steve Lambert http://visitsteve.com/
Thanks to everyone who came out Sunday to the class. Lots of great ideas, good participation, and a willingness to consider the adversary’s perspective. There’s a chance we’ll run the class on a regular basis, maybe semi-annually or so. The blog will live on and if people are interested we can figure out some other informal way to meet and think about these ideas.
Finally, I must now shamelessly plug my radio show. It is called Thunk Tank and is good and weird.
It’s official. Sunday, May 15 at 4pm I’ll be facilitating a workshop on Civil Disobedience in the 21st Century. When I first offered to run this class last spring I thought it’d be some quick afternoon gig that I’d prep for a few hours beforehand and present to a small group of lefty activists. Instead, it took a year just to find a space to run the class, and in the meantime the Middle East exploded with a series of non-violent revolutions (and one violent one) that took virtually everyone by surprise and put the questions of protest methods and strategies to the front of global consciousness. At least until Japan happened, and the US started bombing Libya, and the pink toenail fiasco. But, this class will raise those questions again, I’ll be presenting information about the artist/activist and near-future tech stuff I originally intended and more recent developments from Egypt et al, and hopefully in the end we’ll have some ideas about how these strategies could be applied to produce meaningful change in the US.
For the next month I’ll be using this blog primarily as a place to store and organize resources I find and gather my thoughts. This is a work in progress. Nothing I write will be too well thought out, some of it I may later disagree with completely, disclaimer, caveat, etc. Periodically this topic will be interrupted by totally unrelated surreal short stories for the WFMU blog. So it goes.
And, if you’re interested, you can join in the discussion:
Civil Disobedience in the 21st Century
Organized by The Public School NYC
May 15, 2011 @ 4pm
The Common Room, 465 Grand Street NYC
So I’ve been away for a while. Doing what, I’m not really sure. It wasn’t terribly important, but it wasn’t a total waste of time either. I imagine. Anyway, it’s unclear how often I’ll be updating this site because there are other matters to attend to most of the time, and posting to my personal blog is usually rather low on the to do list. If you’re feeling bored or lonely, though, there are still a couple other places to look for solace.
The Red Team Tumblr is more than So Much This could ever hope to be, because it’s group genius instead of just my ideas.
Also, I’m co-hosting a radio show now with my friend and colleague Bronwyn. It’s called Thunk Tank and you can listen live on 91.1 WFMU every Tuesday from 6-7 pm, or get the podcast here.
There, feel better?