(as part of the resurrection of long forgotten documents, this gets placed here…)
Designed to mobilse the ‘Collective Wisdom of the Group’ , the unMonastery is an unusual workhouse where nomadic freelancers take up community subsidised residencies in exchange for their often highly specialised skills.
Parables of the unMon
If the last man finished turns out the lights, I get to write the last word. On my secret last day in Matera in the wake of the LOTE#3 gathering, I finally crossed the road. Not to the inviting Murgia, but to the neighbouring monastery that will so dominate our view. In the unverifably old sub-church that forms as an invisible appendix to the XVIII Century edifice that we see daily, my path finally crossed those of our predecessors… How does our unWorship witness theirs? The XVI Century social organs that erected these monuments reflected a spiritual currency. At the top, the ecclesiastical aristocrats who dispersed it commissioned frescos left, right and centre; beneath them slaved the waves of worker nuns and monks who kept the operation churning. Responsible for maintaining an atmosphere of religious fever and aided by generous amounts of sleep deprivation and chronic sonorous head vibration induced by all that chanting, they staggered about in sufficient perpetual euphoric rapture to keep the entire community convinced of their do-gooding.
Our version of the unHolier than thou, while it must seek this rapture, cannot afford to take shortcuts. The Rigours of the unMonastery Life in the unMonastery offers a cross between an artistic residency and a spiritual retreat. Our progression towards one-size-fits-all praecepta vitalia (vital precepts) has not yet reached its conclusion; the collective journey towards this wisdom shall in itself become a source of valuable knowledge.
While the constraints of establishing our Matera prototype require that these precepts evolve at an inorganic pace, drawing copiously upon both historical monastic practice and the traditions of squatters, can initially inform our life rhythms and decision making processes. In choice of diet, interactive patterns and work load, we shall perhaps approach the model of self-development disciplines. Only, our development is of the collective self. Aspects of our individual programming shall inevitably be dropped at the door. Work is to be done.
Beyond designing a re-fit for urban geeks who haven’t yet succumbed to their gluten intolerance, the unMonastery is a service organ. We shall survive by creating inviting rhythms and rituals that allow us to embrace a life of devotion in the face of a crumbling game. Our medium must be internal human warmth. We seek to build a regime of personal acceptance and confrontation with a generous proportion of collective triumph augmented by sensual feedback. Through communion with our deepest nature – the dance, and most excellent food shall be our currency of conversion. Our vow of silence may become a periodic vow of non-verbalism.
Alternative Cycles – Periodic Regulation
Women who share the same roof often co-ordinate their ovation cycles. It remains to be seen whether the creative powers of fellow unMonasterians will similarily coordinate to one another and to that of the moon. While we shall observe the passing of each lunar cycle, our work week shall absorb the administrative rhythm of our host societies. Life will be organised in cycles two weeks culminating in our legendary thematic open door rites of celebration.
While we recognise that certain orders evolved the form of the solitary cell, we know that in many traditional societies operate with collective sleeping rooms. Many of us have grown up sleeping alone in a single room for long periods of time. To some this is beyond a luxury. A community of Indian social workers once expressed dismay at the Northern practice of giving children their individual room: What have they done wrong? what form of punishment can this be? Traditionally monasteries achieve a purity of purpose via some form of sleep deprivation.
Restricted as we are to a diet of ultra healthy regional produce, malnutrition cannot be seen as an immediate problem. However, many novices and supplicants have reported to not own their own bloodstream. A transitional, rigorous cleansing period of up to two weeks is proposed. This seems a particular adjustment for those from colder climes who may need to adjust both their sleeping patterns and digestive tracts.