The following excerpt comes from a novel in progress with the working title “Common man”. It’s about a journalist who sets out to come up with an alternative form of world governance. The book is a product of, and features, imagestreaming, a technique of invention and creativity developed in the 80s by Dr. Win Wenger. For more information about imagestreaming, and about other imagestreamed novels and stories, visit this link. If you’d like to be kept up to date as new chapters get published, sign up using the form in the right-hand column. You might be able to follow the book better, especially this chapter, if you read the first chapters that explain imagestreaming. Read from the beginning by scrolling down all chapters here.
Many imagestreaming sessions have had me returning time and time again to a place that has solved a certain problem I was focussing on- learning other angles and aspects of the solutions. I seem to be straying from that pattern, focussing instead on commons and common property solutions to finding ways to live on the Earth and not degrade it. Can resilient communities actually exist at all? I have the idea that if people who lived in a place owned the market, then they would be better able to use it in a way that their purchases would benefit the local community and the local environment. My quest formulated thus: take me to a place where people own the local market and use it. I want to see how it works practically.
I am in the departure hall. This place carries so many memories of earlier imagestream quests. It means I can go back to earlier imagestreams and relive them, by choosing the particular door, train, plane, lift they started from.. Indeed, it carries some 20 years of searching for inventions.
As I admire the shiny finish of the bench I am sitting on, the Facilitator turns up. No suit.
“This place,” I said, “I want to go there, if it exists.”
“They always exist,” he replied.
I looked at the facilitator who was clearly thinking. It was as if he was trying to find somewhere to go that would genuinely help me – something that was practical.
“Come on!” he said.
“Let’s go up the side of the mountain, you’ve been many times before!”
We got into a lift that was open at the sides – working inside a kind of wrought iron scaffolding that makes me think of Victorian technology. The lift went up a huge cliffside.
The lift opens onto a bridge that leads over to a portal in a city wall. I follow the Facilitator over, but he stops me before we enter.
“You have to use the surprise technique.”
In imagestreaming you set it up so that the thing you are looking for is behind a door or over a wall and you jump quickly into it so as to have your mind as open as possible.
After he shuts the door I wait a second or two, grab open the door and jump through, ready to spit descriptions out at machine gun speed.
I hear the Facilitator say, “ I’m just going to step back and you can take a good look.”
A cobble-stoned town square. People bustling about their business. It looks like they are from another era, maybe the 1800s. I see that some have pouches with money in them. However, I get the impression that this money-trading is happening with outsiders. Otherwise there is no money.
I see no motorised vehicles at all. It is all horse and cart.
I go up to a man sitting in a buggy.
“Hello! Can you drive me around a bit so I can see this place?”
“Sure, jump in!”
I jump up into the buggy, the facilitator joins me. and off we drive.
I look around and see that everyone is working in a trade. They seem to take pride in their work, they seem to be happy. Their clothes look to be from the 1800s, neat and tidy, elegant almost.
I get this impression that everyone is doing what they are doing as a trade. The expression trade is intriguing, it means to exchange, but it also means occupation. They are not doing it for the money, but it is the thing they have chosen to do and to develop.
In this respect they are craftsmen, or craftspeople. Part of being a craftsperson is a pride in the quality of the work which includes fulfilling needs elegantly and effectively.
We pass a school and a farm by a large lake. A stately mansion comes into view and I start to wonder if this is where the upper class, the elite, the rulers live. In pre-capitalism times people were forced to servitude in a feudal system. I wondered if I had not gone back in time.
The buggy stops outside the stately manor.
“We’re dropping you off here to have a look round on your own”, the driver said.
I get out and and watch them drive away several men dressed as servants came out and bowed their heads, ceremoniously and with deference.
“Welcome, sir. It’s not what you think,” one said.
A woman comes out dressed in fine clothes of the period.
She carries herself with amazing dignity.
“You are curious, I see,” she says. “Do come in and have a cup of tea with me.”
I follow her up the steps into a tea-room offering a lavish display of cakes and pastries, with fine china and silver, ornate tables and chairs.
She offers me tea, asks if I take milk and gestures towards a table in the corner.
She seems really friendly, and I go straight to the subject:
“I want to understand what a society looks like where everyone owns the market.”
She smiles, “that is what you saw on your way here, and are seeing here”.
I try to understand: “so everyone is working, but not for money…”
“The coins I saw earlier were for trade outside.”
After a moment’s pause I say:
“You don’t need money when you own the market, that is the revelation.”
I go silent after saying this, letting this insight sink in.
“This is nice”, I say.
“She smiles, ” I’m glad you came to visit us.”
I go quiet again.
I turn my attention to the cake sitting on my plate. It looks delicious, and is topped with what looks like fresh blackcurrants.
I take a bite, and taste the blackcurrant filling, too.
It IS delicious.
“I think I understand,” I say to my host, “In a local market, everything is made with materials available locally. That’s what makes the market?”
She smiles, “yes”.
“So that’s it?” I say.
But I start to think about what I’ve seen. The key to this is craftsmanship. Not just craftsmanship but the development of craftsmanship.
My host seems to know what I am thinking,:” You have to get craftsmanship right first.”
I get it, I think: it’s one thing to make things, it’s another to make them from local materials, and it’s another to be a part of a society fulfilling each other’s needs from local materials.
I guess she means that without craftsmanship you cannot produce what people need from local materials. You need to develop the capabilities and then you have a functioning local market. I get the feeling that this is a culture where you are given what you need by craftsmen, although I guess I mean craftspersons.
From where I come from, if you make something long-lasting you get out of a job. Here, if you make something long-lasting you make your life easier.
From where I come from, you take the best materials for the task. Here you take the best of what you have, in cooperation with others around you.
All of this culture seems to be built on solid ideas, even philosophy.
“What about intellectual craftsmanship?” I ask.
“There is still a long way to go with intellectual craftsmanship, and I speak for myself here, too,” she says,
My host again: ““You will get it if you come back” If you can handle it. And Dare.
Making buggies from local materials. Or training horses. It is all extremely complicated. No-one can have a total overview of it at all.
I tell her: “of course I am curious about the social system that would foster such a development of craft. Pride in one’s work, diligence and enjoyment, Resilience.
“It seems to me that there was a turning point, in the past, a long time ago.
Maybe it was obvious people need the basics, somewhere to live, food, etc. And somehow people decided to just work it out from there, learning from each other. That is the essence of the local market.”
“You are a quick learner,” she says, “maybe that’s why we brought you here.”
I get it, I am pretty sure I do, but this fine house I am in still jars. I am expecting hierarchy or elite but not really seeing why anyone would want to act as a servant to welcome people to the big house.
“You should come and see the grounds,” she says.
She walks with me into the garden. I let go of the friction from thinking about elitism and take a moment to enjoy the water features, the exotic plants and the wonderful fragrances from the flowers.
The gardens are here for everyone to enjoy. In fact, creating useful things, creating solutions to basic needs and creating things to enjoy seems to be at the heart of the culture.
It is as if there was a fork in the road, back in the past, and these people made a conscious departure.
I turn to my host: “I suppose you can see the development of horses for transport as a gift from earlier generations”.
“Everything is a gift from earlier generations”, she says.
How shall I describe this culture? It is one of stability, definitely, but other expressions come to mind. Something more than sustainability, continuity. Or the ability to continue, or even the concept of continuity – the continuum.
It feels quite a privilege to be invited to see such a wonderful place and to be given the insights of continuum. Mansions are something I associate with privilege, but there is something about this place. What was once a privilege for the few is now privilege for the many.
There seems to be a feeling of intellectual depth which matches the craftsmanship I see. People have time to think, study, move around the moral ideas of society – a moral education, enlightenment.
Respect. This has something to do with respect, but exactly how escapes me.
It’s a culture of stability, it’s a departure from the history I know.
My host again: “ You wanted to see it”.
But there is an understanding of ….. another word for continuity – not sustainability but continuity. A good word. The ability to continue. Continuum. The idea of the concept of continuum.
That is one of the essences of it.
What a privilege. These places, mansions. This is something that is difficult to understand. I always associate them with privilege. It is a remnant of privilege that has been taken and adapted..
It has to do with respect. Something that is beyond me just now.
“You will get it if you come back, If you can handle it. And Dare”.
There seems to be a feeling of intellectual depth which matches the depth and breath of the craftsmanship I see. People here have time to think, study, take their time to consider the moral ideas of their society – a moral education, enlightenment.
Where I come from most people are too busy “ earning a living” or “recovering after work” where their job consumes most of their life.
Here I get a wonderful feeling of wisdom that has been built on for generations.
The reverence for skill, the skill of the maker is not in the made object. It is not in the making or the object but in life, where skill is life made visible.
So the outcome – life begetting life – the continuum. The continuation of life. This is where the pursuit of knowledge and skill, and applied with a moral understanding that allows the continuum to flourish. And to gift it to future generations.
My host looks at me. She has read my thoughts I believe: “Which is why we dress up in fine clothes”. We have different clothes for different occasions, roles and different places. This place is one of learning and philosophical development, which is why you stopped here”.
I look at her quizzically: “So there are roles but no hierarchy?”
“The reverence shown to me is part of the function of the place?”
“Yes,” she replies, “There is a development of roles, and it is the philosophy which holds together the values and culture of the continuum.
“It makes sense to me that everyone has a role, they are happy to play the roles. They see how their roles are part of the development of the continuum, and everyone takes what they need, so it’s not a culture of consumption but rather one of use.
And the enjoyment – people enjoy what they want to enjoy the now of the physical world – that is part of the human experience.
I tell here: “I am having so many insights here, I can’t express them”
“Take your time, it is part of the process,” she replies gracefully.
So… dress is part of the ritual, where rituals play an important part in weaving the fabric of the continuum?
Yes and we have an oral tradition as well as a book tradition. The oral tradition is one of explaining things simply, to include everyone. This clarity of understanding is so important in our culture
She curtsies gracefully and sees me out.
The facilitator is in the buggy
“Get in we’ll drive you back”.
I appreciate this visit so much
“I thought you’d like it,” says the facilitator.