Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
Trevor continues his discussion about community and individuals but ties it directly into The World of Ends and Small Pieces Loosely Joined, which, honestly, disappointed me. However, it’s not a surprise considering that the circle in which Trevor exists, as he would acknowledge, tends to form about the concepts rooted in Cluetrain and its offspring.
However, this did serve to highlight what I’ve felt to be a growing disconnect between myself and many in my neighborhood, a disconnect that’s reflected in one line Trevor wrote:
The web give voice to individuals but individuals are listened to in context of there relationship to other individuals. We exist in groups.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I disagree with this. I can’t even start to list the reasons why I find this to be so wrong; but then it’s not wrong for Trevor and it isn’t wrong for many of the others who float within the circle that encompasses Cluetrain, Small Pieces, and World of Ends, and more power to them. But it is wrong, very wrong, for me. Trevor speaks from the spirit when he says “we exist in groups”, and I respond from my heart when I say, “No. I don’t.”
Happy Tutor wrote the following about community and the individual:
The self is a prison house. The only escape from the self is mastery of a tradition, to become through years of subordination, accepted into a succession of masters under masters going back generations within a living community of practice. Through that mastery we achieve not our own voice, but the voice of something greater that may once or twice in a lifetime speak through us. Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof, but say but the word and my soul shall be healed.
Jonathon expanded on this by looking at his own efforts and inspirations, first in photography, then in writing. He concludes with:
Allow me to finish by acknowledging the truth of The Tutor’s quote from Frost: ‘Freedom is riding easy in harness.’ That’s because a shared cultural tradition turns out to be a considerate as well as a firm master so that the harness eventually becomes light, and soft, and comfortably worn.
All of this goes back to Trevor’s assertions that …There is no individuality from nothing.
No, none of us are* an island, and all of us are impacted to a greater or lesser degree by the communities in which we find ourselves, and those who we admire living and dead. But this is far cry from the denial of self and an associated individuality implicit in Trevor’s words when he writes:
If I am an anarchist I am because my committments to community outweight my commitments to myself or to insitutions.
In an odd, perverse way, my reaction to this statement links directly back to my strong reservations about the Creative Commons: what value is that which is given away so easily and with so little concern for its use?
I am impressed with the discipline and goodwill inherent with spiritual selflessness, but it is a concept that will never be anything but foreign to me. Instead of focusing on the ends, as Doc and Dave do in World of Ends, Trevor focuses, instead, on the lines – the relationships between the ends.
I’ve always considered my individuality to stem from my ability to choose which shoulders to stand on and which community to associate with at any given time.
Individuality, self, and the commons. And Venn Denn diagrams.
I’m a writer, nothing more, nothing less. That puts me in as part of the dark matter.