The need to see the whole story

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

 

“Farewell” 
Seven years ago, on the Thirtieth day for my father’s death, I read for the first time a section from the memoirs he wrote during the final period of his life: “That day follows me throughout my entire life and never lets go. It was at the train station, a small station, in a Moldavian town, named Buhushi. Mom, Dad and my little brother Naftali Herzl, boarded a freight car with some bags, baskets and a tattered suitcase. We parted quickly. The parents were crying and the train set off on its way, from which they would not return. My brother Moni and I remained alone at the station. I was 16 and Moni was 14 ……. Now I’m already an old man whose whole life is behind him, and I’m supposed to be able to consider it all stoically and with acceptance. And truly, a lot of things have already been forgotten and scattered in the mist, but that day was not forgotten and with it the troubling questions…..”

 

Quarantined experiences 

I was born in this country. My sister, and I were given the names Esther and Zvi, named after our grandparents whom we did not get to know in our lives. Until recently, the facts concerning the Holocaust and the resulting emotional experiences were but an eclectic and dispersed collection. Puzzle pieces that fail to make a complete picture. Our parents and their generation did not talk about what happened. They were immersed in the act of constructing a challenging family-life in a new country and society. Except for a piece of cardboard with Avraham Shlonsky’s poem “Vow” that was attached to the glass door in the library at home, there was no reference in everyday life to this extremely significant subject. Over the years we unraveled more and more information: Dad’s final separation from his parents and his brother, being a prisoner in a labor camp, Mom and her parents were expelled from their city with violence, wore a yellow star of David, and my grandfather, a Rabbi, was  taken several times as a hostage down to the German headquarters  which was located near their home. I was never sure: where, when and what the order of things was in general? My Holocaust experiences were related mainly to the rhetoric of public discourse, Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies at school and in the army, sirens, a newsreel film of Yehiel De-Nur (K. Ctenik) passing-out during the Eichmann trial, Dmaeinioak’s trial , one-time visits to the Ghetto fighters museum and to Yad Vashem. The boycott of the composer Richard Wagner. And occasional mentions in books, movies, theater plays, radio and TV programs. All of these experiences belonged usually to something like “another planet” as it was accepted that anyone who has not “been there” himself could never understand. Quarantined impressions, which were like standing waters in my mind, disconnected from the current flow of life here and now , like swamps radiating “heaviness” around them on every level of existence. Thus evidently, even though I was, as mentioned, born in this country, I strangely carry with me an existential experience of a feeling similar to being on an unbearably-crowded train, going towards an unknown destination, with no water, food and air. Though I’ve visited many countries all over the world I never felt such an uncomfortable sensation as the one I had on that single occasion when I spent a short while on German soil, during a connection landing at Frankfurt.

 

The need to “see the whole story.” 

I believe that this underlying influence created in me a deep need over the years: “to see the whole story”. To see a whole story in order to understand in advance the trends and processes that might bring us back to a Holocaust-type situation. To gaze into the future and to recognize menacing dark clouds in order to find a timely way out. But later I’ve been also lucky to find that the “Whole story approach” has much more to offer than a sense of security. It offers also the blessing of Life.

 

Meeting with Amcha  and connections created 

My work to develop an Internet software application for collecting and organizing dispersed bits of information into an entire story,  met Amcha’s  blessed activity, and with the support  of Anat and Dalia we did and still do conduct group sessions of life-stories documentation with Amcha’s survivors, soldiers and volunteers. 

 

We live today in an era of wealth of information, ease of personal expression and of having personal voices heard. The accepted forms of documentation vary – from collecting and recording facts for research or commemoration purposes, to literary-artistic impressive expression style. The uniqueness of our activity is particularly, the emphasis on the  element of “connections”.” I believe that now is an era for “Synergism.” 

 

Connecting storytellers to story editors, and connecting those to the families and to readers online. Connecting and describing additional participants and objects to the storylines told. Connecting occurrences to a certain time, place and order (“Before-After-Parallel”). Connecting the roots of past generations to future generations. Connecting different bits of information, such as texts, images, videos, documents, artifacts, maps and online hyperlinks – into a complete story. Connecting private events to public and international events which occurred simultaneously. Linking different stories to each other and pinpointing the intersecting moments between them. A connection which breaks though the definitions set by the numbers themselves and by the absorbent, vivid, society surrounding them. A connection which results in deep respect and empathy.

 

The extremely associative and unrestricted documentation system, is like digging drainage canals for all those stagnant waters in the hearts and minds of all the participants, a network of canals that turn into streams, which then merge into rivers and  pour into the ocean of the overall human experience. A flow cycle motion allowing new perspectives and insights, airing out sensations and changing the breath-patterns of our life’s story, perhaps even – finding answers to questions long-repressed and confined to attics and basements. 

What I learned 

I thank the people of Amcha for introducing me to their personal life stories. Heroic stories containing situations of profound spiritual tests, including moments of life hanging by a thin thread due to wondrous coincidences of motion or stagnation, of faking age and identity, of hiding behind slim covers, of certain words which were or weren’t uttered, of facial and bodily expressions under selection, and of chance meetings. Sometimes encountering infinite wrong and evil, sometimes kindness and compassions. I thank them for sharing their lives’ realizations and conclusions, which include an appreciation for the security achieved in the founding of this country, rejections of doubts concerning the righteousness of our path, and a determination for Life, despite all they have been through during the Holocaust and their painful, agonizing journey which followed in later years. The unexpected connections also presented me with secrets which have never been told, a scholarly indulgence in the era’s historical background, and even a meeting with someone who was born and who grew up in the very same village as my father.

 

There is no story which is “more”, or “less” 

In this activity I learnt that every step in life has impact and a message which cannot be underestimated. No personal story can be perceived as “more”  or  “less” important, “more” or “less” impressive, “more” or “less” right. In the human experience, a personal event, even if it occurred long before, or long after, or on the margins of what is considered the “worst of all” in the public mind, whether the teller is a baby only a few days old, or an elderly person, this event may actually turn out to be the most important and central part of his and our life journey, and play a dramatic role in way that its “discovery” would be an experience comprising restoration, comfort, healing and redemption..

 

Once they separated  for good, when Masha, 10 years of age, remained alone in the woods, her father’s command to her was: “You are a  wise child, you should live and you will live!!!”. And Masha, achieves closure and concludes her description recently, in the following words:

 

If dad  is watching me from high above

And sees me – his pride in me is complete. 
I live! 
I remember, I do not forget, There is life! 
And there is continuation for future generations. 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

From Say to Way

July 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We must move!

I intend to join the Shalit family’s march tomorrow or the day after. A group of people marches on without saying exactly what action they expect to be taken. No one demands that “all prisoners should be released under any conditions whatsoever”. “Enough talk – the time for deeds has come” said the noble Noam Shalit. The situation in which Gilad Shalit is held captive for over four years, with no ability for movement, without obvious negotiations, and without anything really “going on” creates a tremendous impulse for some form of motion. To go out marching and reach Jerusalem. Shalit Shalit and no Shalit* (Shalit is also the Hebrew word for “leader”)… No apparent leader exists today who can actually “show the way”.

“for the earth is filled with opinions and information as the waters cover the sea” (a variation on Isaiah 11:9)

The events of the flotilla to Gaza were too a motion to shatter an existing stagnation. This incident on the seas is an example of a great embarrassment-of-way. The tidal wave of information and opinions came crashing on our heads. Throughout the events we relied on information from countless sources, including all parties involved in the action, watching it and reporting it, and every interpretative comment or news headline constantly shook our feelings and views from one extremity to the exact opposite. We’re wrong, right, right, right, wrong, wrong, right, wrong….. It seems like even people with solid views, from all segments of the ideological and political arcs, were filled with doubts and that cracks formed in the fortresses of their mind: Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this story? Who succeeded and who failed? Whose intentions were honorable and who acted out of viciousness? The entanglement of facts concerning peace activists who swore to die in their attempts to kill anyone who stands in their way, paint guns, illegal usage of credit cards and coriander seeds which weren’t allowed into Gaza. Complicated!

Can’t see the wood for the opinions

The magnificent ease of making every personal voice heard – a wondrous human trend supported by advanced technological and communicational environments – giving rise to a flood of opinions, information bits and messages which have shorter validity periods than the time it takes to formulate them. Every position and fact is sensitive to the conditions of a specific context, to the frequent changes in human knowledge of this context and to the perspective of the claim’s maker. Generally, the relative post-modern approach to the absolute truth automatically frees you from the need to be precise and concrete. You simply can’t see the wood for the opinions, and certainly not the road leading out of it. The forest and the road leading out of it are a story. In face of the flooding information we forget to use this vital and precious mean: “to view the whole story”. Evidently, the story is a slow-paced medium, requiring much more patience than exciting and addicting sound bites. But when we’re stuck it’s worth trying to find out: What’s the Story?

“My words were taken out of context, and that’s not the question we should be asking…”

Shmuel had a bad car accident involving a large truck.

Weeks later, in court, the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning Shmuel.

“Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine,’?” asked the lawyer.

Shmuel responded, “Vell, I’ll tell you vat happened. I just put my dog Moishele, into the…”

“I didn’t ask for any details”, the lawyer interrupted. “Just answer the question.” Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine!’?”

Shmuel said, “Vell, I just got Moishele into the car and vas driving down the road….”

“The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Shmuel’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his dog Moishele.”

Shmuel thanked the Judge and proceeded. “Vell, like I vas saying, I just loaded Moishele, my lovely hundteleh (dog), into the car and vas driving him down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I vas thrown into one ditch and Moishele vas thrown into the other. I vas hurting, real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I heard Moishele moaning and groaning. I knew he vas in terrible shape just by his groans.

Den a Highway Patrolman came along. He could hear Moishele moaning and groaning so he vent over to him.

After he looked at him, and saw vat terrible condition Moishele was in, he took out his gun and shoots him between the eyes. Den the Patrolman comes across the road, gun still in hand, looks at me and says, “How you feeling?”

“Nu, Judge, vat vould you say?”

(Many thanks to Nancy for sending me this)

The first step in the effort to be freed of need to consume opinion-based-thrills is to realize the context. Amazing paradoxical things can then be discovered!

In 25/05/10, Michael Handelzalts wrote an article in “Haaretz” under the title: “Off Record: When theater advertisements take the critic’s words out of context?”

“I wrote both short and long criticisms about a play (here in this section). Both were deadly. In the short criticism … I wrote that the play has “stuttering, and bad taste, and some kind of affection for garbage”. The long one had subtler comments, but it was certainly clear that I did not like the act. Very much. Very very much. And I was concerned by the fact that my opinion was outnumbered, and I dwelled on it, indeed writing in the short criticism the following (opening) sentence:

“I hardly know where to begin describing this evet: In the theatre hall … sat an audience and roared with pleased laughter, from watching three acts which I found to be somewhat between embarrassing, to sloppy, to nauseating”.

On the 18th, an ad was published in Haaretz’s “Arts & Leisure”, … stating they’re presenting … a never-ending comedy. Underneath was a box titled “Critical Acclaim” containing two quotes – one of which was: “In the hall … sat an audience and roared with pleased laughter…”, attributed to “Handelzalts, Haaretz”.

I have a vision!… Which may fit morning, noon or evening?

More and more I hear about politicians and members of parliament, who present opinions on the matters of the hour fitting one side of the political map, then change their views not only in face of upcoming elections, but also from one day to the next. The pace of events brings many people again and again to be grateful to the fact that the tongue lacks bones, and is therefore so flexible. Generally, we encounter more and more blurring of the classic separation to different political parties, when groups of politicians and public personalities belonging to opposite sides by their own declarations, cooperate in order to push forward certain agendas. I’ve also noticed the rising popularity of TV programs focusing on the expression of opinions, in which the dramatics of the debate are highly emphasized and the louder you voice your views – the better. The emphasis has changed from the essence and quality of what you’re saying to the way you express it. It was Moshe Sneh, I believe, who in notes to one of his own speeches wrote: “Weak argument. Raise voice here”. Maybe the shouting levels in the various debate arenas can testify for the lack of substance of the messages themselves, which hardly justify arguing over.

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.”

— Denis Waitley

In all aspects of life – the professional and educated opinion is losing its prestige and validity. Patients arrive to see the doctor after conducting organized searches on the internet, and challenge him with information he isn’t aware of yet. Health tips name new wonder foods or medicines on a daily basis, announce the discovery of a new responsible gene and astound us with controversial research conclusions (for example, that smoking can prevent Alzheimer). What happened to the times when people died just like the doctor predicted they would with his informed opinion, without him having to admit that the diagnosis was wrong from the start (one of the worst human crimes, if you ask me)? There’s a multitude of contradicting outlooks of the greatest experts on the economy and the stock markets – simultaneously foretelling both growth and crisis. The statistical truth is that eventually someone’s right (even a stopped watch tells the correct time twice a day), but usually there’s no guarantee to a successful prediction in the next upcoming crisis. Time and time again intelligence and espionage organizations, all-seeing and all-hearing, as well as academic internationally renowned experts, fail to predict political developments and crises around the globe.

And he who lives in a glass house…..

In a world in which everyone’s exposed, the saying about “the pot calling the kettle black” (or “If you spot it – you got it!”) has never been more valid. When you angrily attack who you think should be condemned to oblivion, the darkest and most hidden corners of your own being are too brought out to be examined under the bright media spotlights. No one can claim an absolute truth anymore. And regarding that event on the seas, in 2010, at last, we’ve almost been able to form a position and a public declaration concerning the Holocaust of the Armenian people, which took place in the years 1915-1918.

Eventually, everyone have their own views, right?

I must say I’m convinced, you know, that anyone who, say, claims anything is, like, kind’a like right?

Ok. We’re stuck. Now what?

Stuck. No story. There’re moments in life when you experience a stopping and a lack of motion. The heart continues beating, day follows night, but in the personal story’s sense – everything remains still. We fall off the bike that’s standing motionless, either as a result of being fed up with life’s routine (“just more of the same”), or of standing energy-less after having finally reached a long-desired peak. You understand that it’s time for a change and for hitting the road once more. You experience this sensation during guard-duty in the military, during long and tedious periods in your studies, in your office, in your personal relationships and in key moments in your life such as birth, midlife and death. I remember the last meaningful moment for me, when my father passed away six years ago. The feeling that I’ve seen all that’s to be seen and that life is basically “this” – no more, no less. It is then that I began the way of the “whole story”.

I have a feeling that in this situation of stillness and stuckness – existing in today’s national and worldwide social and public arenas, covered by a cacophony of opinions, info bits and chatters – there’s a big increase in the potential energy aspiring to be transformed into motion. Some of it might fall back to areas of crisis, confrontation and war. But there’s also a chance for new, better, directions. This is a time for skin-shedding. To shed by twisting our old protecting covers we’ve grown to be addicted to: “I tweet or shout therefore I am”, to get out and move in a new insecure space. The space of varying and personal stories’ network.

It’s best to start with the telling of the personal story, then to approach anyone whose affect on our lives is great and demand that he tell us his own. Not his opinions, not empty declarations about a glamorous future, and certainly not scares or threats: What is the story that you wish to tell us? What is the story that you owe us? It’s true that the situation’s complicated, that some information’s kept secret and that there’re many fears and many risks involved. It’s all true. And so – what is the road that you offer us to walk in? And what is your story concerning the important, main, fundamental matters of our lives – also about the case of Gilad Shalit, a strategic matter to the existence of our society here in this country? Because you and we just can’t sleep well at night unless we’ve done what should have been done to keep the power of mutual responsibility from falling apart. When we hear your story there’s a good chance we’ll be able to offer you lots of smart and creative ideas. And it’s important to keep in mind, generally, and even more so in specific cases such as this, that the philosophy of “Meanwhile the dog may die, the land owner may die or messiah may come” belongs to a generally smart culture (a wise person doesn’t enter situations that a smart person knows how to get out of), which might someday find itself, as it has before, being forcibly transported by trains to some unknown final destination, prematurely.

In his book “Story”, Robert McKee writes:

“The final cause for the decline of story runs very deep. Values, the positive/negative charges of life, are at the soul of our art. The writer shapes story around a perception of what’s worth living for, what’s worth dying for, what’s foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth — the essential values. In decades past, writer and society more or less agreed on these questions, but more and more ours has become an age of moral and ethical cynicism, relativism and subjectivism — a great confusion of values. As the family disintegrates and sexual antagonisms arise, who, for example, feels he understands the nature of love? And how, if you do have a conviction, do you express it to an ever-more skeptical audience?”

This erosion of values has brought with it a corresponding erosion of story. Unlike writers in the past, we can assume nothing. First we must dig deeply into life to uncover new insights, new refinements of value and meaning, then create a story vehicle that expresses our interpretation to an increasingly agnostic world. No small Task. (page 17)

I feel it’s worth a shot. Even at home!

Categories: Uncategorized

Wanted – a Synergator! (I think there’s one in Barcelona…)

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Villager: If he’s the best with the gun and the knife, with whom does he compete?
Chris: Himself.”

Last Friday afternoon, overtaken by an entire week’s exhaustion, while randomly switching between different channels on the TV, I found myself watching “The Magnificent Seven” – a film from 1960 which I saw as a teenager, and which I never got to watch since despite having been left with a unique “aftertaste”. If someone would have asked what I knew about the film, I’d probably mention the unusual casting of several outstanding movie “legends” as a single group and recall a few memorable action-packed scenes. The accidental re-watching brought me to surprisingly reflect that the thing which captured my attention back then, in the first viewing, so many years ago, connects perfectly with the subject fueling my interests nowadays: The “Network of Personal Pathways”.

A group of radical individuals, so different in their traits, looks and life-stories. Men of little speech but of professional action, finding themselves cooperating in the face of life-threatening danger, with no obvious commander or leader, but with a deep and meaningful partnership. Their paths cross in a dilemma of morality and fear. Each with his own story and journey. Even the bad guy has a “story” of his own, which makes him a real, whole, human character – not just another cardboard figure.

How does it feel?

In the first post I referred to a growing and progressing disharmony. On one hand the frictions and clashes of modern life, generated by the strengthening expression of personal diversity, by the quickening pace of modern life and by the globalization of the geographical space. On the other – the disintegration and dilution of the life-arranging grand narratives. In my second post, I looked at different modes of human coordination, and especially the novelty of the “flash-mob” phenomenon and other intensive cooperation-junctions which are the result of advanced technological abilities combined with a thirst for authentic and effective human coordination in today’s “each doth that which is right in his own eyes” atmosphere.

Where is this all going? In my attempts at observation, I suddenly felt a desire to be able to leap ahead and get a taste of “the next thing”, just before it becomes apparent and obvious. The “Network of Personal Pathways” – how does it feel?

Multiple-Storyline creations

Admittedly, I have a weakness for films which start out in an incomprehensible confusion and unclarity, then end in a revelation that solves and unravels everything. A certain genre of such is Multiple-Storyline films. Several plots progress simultaneously on independent tracks, entwining and crossing each other on certain occasions – and you leave the movie with either a feeling of catharsis or that of profound understanding of life and its meanings. Unlike simply summing up decades of life experience, the accelerated experience of watching the movie or reading a book connects you to some deep transcendental truth. Examples for such films are: “Pulp Fiction”, “Sin City”, “Magnolia”, “Babel”, “Crash” and “The Hours”.

http://www.listal.com/movies/multiple+story+line

These works of literature and visual arts bare some similarity to how life feels, with many things taking place in the same time, leading us to sometimes question – “What’s the connection?”, “What does all this signify and mean for us?”. There’s nothing like the feeling of revelation and enlightment we experience when many separate things suddenly “click together” and we “realize” how all the pieces of the puzzle come together. This style which simulates real life encourages us to reach a higher and wider perspective, with the deep understandings and excitement that follow it. It is my genuine belief that the techniques for writing, producing and directing multiple-storyline works are something that should be taught and exercised from the youngest ages in all formal and informal educational frameworks.

http://www.filmscriptwriting.com/parallelstorylines.html

The following quotes are taken from www.filmscriptwriting.com – an online guide to script writing:

“The overall story should have a theme, a message to the audience. This is yet another way to bind each story together. It can be a lot easier to show the audience what the theme of the movie is when you use parallel storylines as the theme is seen from a number of different perspectives”

“Pay attention to character development. Using parallel storylines will mean that each main character will generally get less screen time than in a typical screenplay. This doesn’t mean you can get lazy when it comes to character development. Each character still needs motivation, room to grow, a backstory, an attitude, etc”

Yes. We mustn’t be lazy and treat the characters we encounter with a shallow light-headedness, or else – with no “Force Major” to dictate certain modes of action – it would be impossible to reach a meaningful connection with them, and the cooperation (synchronization) we strive for, needed to generate a stronger life-force, simply won’t occur.

Take Pep:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josep_Guardiola

I’ve already mentioned my affection for soccer. Considering the qualities of our local football league, I choose to currently direct my preference (“fandom” would be an over-demanding term for me now) to Barcelona’s football club.

Indeed – these are both tough days (the loss to Inter in the Champion’s Cup) and critical day (competing over Spain’s championship against Real Madrid). I’m not an expert who can pose a professional opinion, so I’ll refer only to my own musings while watching the team play in their successes and losses. Barca’s game has something intoxicating: By himself, each player is a tremendous talent, caring, determined and incredibly fit. Obviously, there are many other able players on the market and on other teams, but when Barca’s players play together, they become something else – a uniquely special unit. All the players “feel” their teammates on an heightened level of gameplay. It feels like they aren’t just following the strict orders of their coach, but are playing in a creative and flexible manner, which is apparent in their joyful conduct on the field and fills the audience with pleasure and youthful delight.

For the past two seasons, the team’s coach is Joseph (Pep) Guardiola. His appearance is mostly reserved and noble, but sometimes allows for emotional bodily expressions. I think of Guardiola as a “Synergator” (like Yul Brynner in “The Magnificent Seven”) – one who makes each player become “more” on a personal level, without it being on the expense of any of the others. Despite his young age, I believe there are certain aspects of his character which seasoned leaders and dominant key-position holders should adopt. Taking one of his sayings in a critical time for the team:

(From: http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2010/05/04/1909011/pep-guardiola-not-concerned-if-barcelona-fail-to-win-the)

And this incident after having the team reach its sixth title in one season (including the Spanish league’s championship and the European Champion’s Cup)…

I don’t want to keep prodding and over-praising the group and its performance, but out of a keen wish to define this unique motion I see, here are a few quotes taken from the blog of another, English, football club.

Arsenal column – http://arsenalcolumn.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/pep-guardiola-has-put-the-dream-back-into-barcelona/

“The players are very good, but Guardiola made them into a magnificent team. That is the point about Barcelona: they may have the world’s most talented individual in Leo Messi, and three or four more of the top 10, but the game they play is the one it was supposed to be when it was invented: not just football; association football.

“The team has the quality of a perfectly co-ordinated living organism, all the parts moving with one purpose, seemingly organised by a single controlling mind. In possession, they fan out in all directions, offering each other clear and varied passing options; lacking possession, they pursue the ball like a swarm of very determined bees.”

” with a manifest respect for his players, whom he treats ….. as adults….. he has created at Barcelona ……..a tremendous solidarity between the players, a team spirit which subordinates individual brilliance to the team cause.”

Many as one in their loneliness, or many different together?

I choose to begin this section from a direction opposing that of the synergy of personal routes: A precise and amazing uniformity of a very large group of people – all performing the exact same movements. We must admit that it’s an exhilarating human experience. Exhilarating to the point of losing almost all personal uniqueness in while completely merging into a collective super-will.

Another such example would be the opening and closing ceremonies for the last Olympic Games in Beijing. I’m extremely curious to see what the character of the next ones in London 2012 will be like.

A classical-music concert demonstrates a combination of groups of people playing identical pieces on the same instruments, and others playing different notes on different instruments. Here, too, there’s an external imposing force at work. In a concert – the coordination is generated by the composer of the played piece and the single conductor. In a jazz jam-session, however, the spontaneous personal expression plays an important role in the performance, which is carried out without the organized and strict preparations of the classical concerto.

The next clip demonstrates a collaboration and incorporation of generally diverse, non-uniform motions into the creation of a single piece.

And lastly, a demonstration where a talented synergator, Ophir Kutiel (aka “Kuti”, “Kutiman”), manages to bring together people who probably don’t know each other and play at different times and places – to create a piece with its own uniqueness and quality: to connect different activities and combine them into something which is more than the sum of its separate parts.

syn·er·gy

n. pl. syn·er·gies

1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

2. Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect.

Connecting Differents in Synergy

We are different individuals who meet at the family table, on the street, at class, at work and in every community and interest group. Each with his own individual course of motion. Our lives are fulfilled via the other, the different and the environment. I encounter more and more expressions of the movement to “integrate stories”, in various areas of living. I feel that the aspiration propelling the new forms of human coordination is to achieve more harmony, not only in temporary “real” time “peaks”, but over prolonged periods and in regular daily life, with less dramatization (the ergonomic and environmental advantages are obvious…). “Synergy” can be an extremely relevant approach, and thus being a “Synergtor” – a fascinating adventure.

What do you think?

Categories: Uncategorized

Storytellers of the world unite! you have nothing to lose but the postmodern world’s turmoil!

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Continuing the journey I began in my last post, in which I search for more harmonious ways of expression and communication in today’s disharmonious environment, I recently encountered the experience of having many human encounters, all interesting and distinctly unique, occur in the crowded time-period of a single weekend. These encounters led me to think about more up-to-date forms of the modern human cooperative conduct and the directions in which we should try and advance it.

“Being Home”

I recently had the opportunity of spending a long weekend in London. The visit took place on occasion of a family-related event and the decision to go was spontaneous, unplanned and was pretty much taken at the last moment. The main reason to go was Joel Shepson’s Bar-Mitzva celebration. The event constituted both a ceremony at the reformist synagogue, and a party at the evening of the following day. The people attending these meets were united by a familial-communal-cultural-national bond. Despite the fact that in their daily lives these people are geographically apart from each other, some within the same country and others in separate ones, from the moment you’re recognized as related a special human intimacy is generated around more-or-less similar cultural codes. In his impressive speech in the synagogue, Joel said the following things:

“……We are not given just a set of instructions about how to live our life. Jewish teaching tells us to do some good in society and make a real difference by making the world a better place. How we behave is perhaps more of an emotional matter. Whereas, changing society, even remotely, requires a more rational approach. ”

In such cultural surroundings you’re “home” without having to actually clarify what you really understand or what you actually mean, and without having to delve, of course, into a practical-operative discussion as to how your intentions may be realized…

“We are nothing, let us be all
This is the final struggle
Let us group together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race”

| June 1871 Eugène Pottier

We didn’t have much time left for touring, and chose to spend whatever time we had wandering the wonderful park of Hampstead Heath on a cold and grayish Sunday, ending the walk at the Highgate cemetery, in the Victorian-Gothic atmosphere of the surrounding woods – in front of Karl Marx’s grave.

“Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains”..

A global all-encompassing theory, which broke through the boundaries of countries, continents, nations and people, and brought radical change to the lives of billions, with an ideology that enjoys a “comeback” attention these days of “free market” crisis. More graves around Marx’s represent the universal human encounter: a leader of South Africa’s communist party, an Iraqi communist, a revolutionary British writer, an anti-racism activist from the Caribbean islands. I ponder the astounding physical-material influence certain thoughts thought by certain person has had over the years, and the dialectic metamorphoses of any profound idea, whichever it may be.

“Is religion the only opium of the people? It appears so is… shopping”

source: http://neftriplecrunch.wordpress.com/2008/11/

London is an extremely eclectic city, summoning intensive experiences of encounters with the different “other”. Walking the part of Oxford street, from Bond Street underground station to Primark and indoors inside it on a Friday afternoon, was like an accelerated journey through all the world’s nationalities and cultures in existence. Everyone were mixed up together. A powerful global gathering. Standing in line to buy stuff, there are no political arguments, no philosophical or inter-religious disagreements and no struggles over power or prestige. All are united by the desire to buy branded products. Pay, pack and leave contented.

From:   http://www.footballnation.info/

After years of watching sports on television, I felt a mixture of desire and duty to be present at a Premier-league football match. The selected event was a match between Totenham and Eston-Villa at White Hart Lane stadium (capable of entertaining around 36,000 viewers). I’m a soccer fan. In recent years, as mentioned, mostly via watching it on TV. My appreciation of this sport is probably the result of my playing it at school with my friends as a boy, and from finding its rhythm to be simulative of the rhythm of life itself. Indeed… I too, as I’ve heard others tell, used to imagine, moments before falling asleep,  scoring a critical goal. 22 Players, crammed up on a field which at times seems endless, with the players losing themselves within it, and a times unbelievably crowded and filled with collisions. Sometimes the game is fascinating and eventful, and sometimes its downright boooooooring. The air was already charged with tremendous energy as the masses started pouring into the stadium, like when preparing for a battle. The policemen, cavalry, police cars and ambulances all contributed to the “eve of the war” feeling. Since no goals were scored (I thought the game was mediocre), the main experience fixed in my mind was the crowd’s roar (not being used to such masses I experienced it as downright terrifying), which at certain moments perfectly and coordinately united a public of such different and diverse backgrounds. And at the moment the final whistle was heard – the masses dispersed with amazing speed, each fan relishing his victory or licking the wounds of defeat, and disappeared in the dark streets, busses and trains.

The experience of mass-watching a show, which is ancient in its essence but new in its form, of a powerful coordinated union at a singular moment of people whose daily paces and rhythms are regularly separated, strikes me as a leading and intensifying human direction, to which the flash-mob phenomenon is but a illustrative example. According to Wikipedia, a flash-mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The people in such a group usually don’t know each other, and don’t even talk.

If we swap the negative connotation of the term “mob” with the phrase “a group of people”, then I recognize and acknowledge the advantage of not having to pay the price of conforming to a certain group or framework limiting individuality, in order to express yourself loudly. Instead, the flashmob offers an alternative: just locate collaborators whose paths intersect with your own and make yourself heard. Another event in our trip was a small-scale example of just such a meeting…

“For every turn I have missed

There will be a next one”

On the evening of our arrival I was moved to watch Chen perform (http://www.myspace.com/chenappel) in a pub called “T-birds”. The pub held an open stage night, hosted by Lester Clayton. Four aspiring young singers performed one after the other, mostly with original material, for an audience composed partly of family, partly of friends and partly of strangers who happened to come to the pub that night. None of the performers knew the other three. They simply came, performed and left. It’s a special thing – to listen to your child sing. To meet yourself in someone else. My excitement was due to the notion that beyond the special music and lyrics – something in the energetic frequency of Chen’s singing and playing struck in me a familiar chord, yet in a different manner and a new, fresh way I hadn’t known.

Storytelling – a passport to the 21st century

In another, remarkably pleasant and tasty family gathering, Annette Zera – a relative of mine – heard about my interest in storytelling and introduced me to “The Moth”, a New-York based non-profit storytelling institute, where people gather and tell each other stories.

The following is a quote from the website:

“The success of The Moth is one example of

the phenomenon of storytelling that is gaining momentum

nationwide. In The Moth’s case, these narrative

sessions are fast becoming an institution.”

– The New York Times

One man’s nectar is another man’s poison

During the visit a certain article from The Guardian (4/2) caught my eye: Tim Hanni’s finds, backed by a collaborative research carried out by the Culinary Institute of America and Yale University, show that the taste of wine is by no means absolute, but is very much dependent on genetics and learnt behavior. And thus – heaven’s forbid: “One man’s nectar is another man’s poison”.

Wine tasting is another area of expertise I admire, mostly for the human ability to define a taste that to me is simply more, or less tasty, as a tasteful richness of ripe plum and blackberry, tannic, tastes of apricot, fruity, mineral and fresh, or buttery-yellow. And lo – it too experiences a revolution. No more, no less. The writer ends the article saying:

Hanni faces an uphill struggle to convince the industry that its most cherished beliefs are wrong. But there is something underniably invigorating in his ideas: he gives consumers the faith and nerve to trust their own senses of taste and smell. If this profoundly modern, compellingly individualist approach becomes mainstream, it could consistue a fundamental change in the way we drink wine. “If we just accept this simple idea,” he says, “we’ll understand each other, and wine, better.” And, perhaps, enjoy it even more.

I feel that we’re becoming more and more different from one another, because we’ve lived to see a time that enables more freedom of choice and personal expression. The rhythm of life in our “flat” world generates many more encounters with the strange and the different, and our natural initial reaction is withdrawal and friction. There’s discomfort, fear and risk in difference, compared to what’s familiar and known. Therefore, we arrive at the existentially-inevitable human encounter encased in an armor of labels and opinions: familial allegiance, cultural, national and organizational belonging, etc. Under this overlay – everything swarms and bustles and new forms of collaborations and spontaneous connections begin to appear, bearing greater intensity for short periods of time. I think that in such reality, which dictates finding a balance between spontaneous connection and carefully organized collaboration, weaving together stories can have a moderating, stabilizing effect on our lives and provide us with a strongly required length-of-breath.

What’s my story? What’s yours? When and where should we share our journeys?

Categories: Uncategorized

A Great Story of Wonderful Disharmony

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment

On my way to the leading information-management convention, I’m standing here, in a foreign city, waiting for the bus to arrive. My info I have says the bus number is 18, but the number isn’t written on the sign. “It’s okay, it’s here”, say the others waiting. I’m guessing they know what they’re talking about.
On the way to the train station we hit a traffic jam caused by a car accident, and luckily arrive at the last moment. The train refuses to leave the station. The loudspeakers announce lets us know that due to a malfunction we must transfer to another train. On the middle of the way the train stops and waits a long time for the track to clear. At the final station the waiting queue for a taxi is drawn way past the designated area. Heavy rain. A huge puddle in the middle of the road blocks the entrance to the convention building’s lobby.

Apparently, the speaker for the opening speech is late. The conference begins with a series of presentations concerning the field’s latest innovations. Computers, Software, Internet. An abundance of enticing and stimulating details, professional terms, buzz words and slogans are presented energetically and vigorously. It’s all within the reach of your fingertips: search, backup, retrieval, reconstruction, reproduction… an incomprehensible deluge of data.

As the hours go by, an overtone of weariness takes hold of both the audience and the speakers. The subjects have changed now, and focus on challenges, hesitations and dilemmas. In the closing session, a heavy atmosphere predominates the conclusive panel. The participants sink deep in their armchairs and muse audibly to the microphone: What is information, really? What’s knowledge? What’s the difference between them? [ In a tone which essentially says: “And what, for heaven’s sake, are we doing here?!”]
It would seem that everything’s going out of sync. Like in the “bumping Cars” arena in a Luna park – we all crash and grind against each other with intensifying force. The age of “The Long Tail” and personal expression is characterized by more experiences of daily misunderstanding. What’s trivial to one is completely incomprehensible or unacceptable to anther. Conflicts arise between individuals, between family members, between social groups, between countries, between organizations and between humanity and its natural surrounding.

“Problems are not going to get solved until we sit down with somebody else and really listen to their stories…”

The above is a quotation of the late Storyteller Nancy Duncan, that guides me in my current life phase – A life phase in which I realize that the confusion’s answer is not a matter of time. Things will never be in order unless I’ll find that order inside myself.

Heidi and Alvin Toffler, in their book “Revolutionary Wealth”, point out the key elements to the radical change in human lifestyle as being Time, Place and the new resource of Knowledge, and describe the de-synchronization phenomenon between the various foundations of society:

“Stability and synchronization provide the degree of predictability we need to function as individuals in social groups and especially in the economy. Without some stability and time coordination, life is reduced to oppression by anarchy and chance. But what happens when instability and de-synchronization take over?” [Page 32]

What is it that actually synchronizes individuals and groups ? Surely there are laws that prevent to some degree, people harming each other, but what drives us to legislate laws?
In a brief unlearned contemplation, I identify the myth, the legendary “sacred narrative”, and the mutual struggle against a common enemy or threat, as the forces driving coordination. While mutual threats enforce coordination only till perils are gone, the Myth seems to influence large groups of people, nations and cultures for very long periods of time.

Nava Talpaz writes on the back cover for Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”:
“A myth is basically a story. Stories people used to tell long before they knew how to read and write. These stories were born of a deep urge found within us from the dawn of our human existence – to understand and describe the world and the purpose of our being. The myths are the stories which tell of our prolonged search throughout the generations for a meaning. They help us arrange and bring order to the chaotic experience, the incomprehensible arbitrariness of new phenomenon in our interaction with the forces of nature and life … Joseph Campbell, dressed in the apparel of a prophet of wrath, says things are the way they are because we have decided to live in a world without mythology.”

In the modern society, the great myths, religions and ideologies are cast aside as a part of the human development process, where individuals refuse to pay the price of obedience to non-actual or non-life-supporting conventions and norms. It seems as though the personal uniqueness will create “personal myths”, grounded in real-time, and that the great art of the upcoming age will involve the interweaving of these personal stories into a single, big network of harmony, welfare and peace.

In the book, journalist Bill Moyers asks Campbell: “Where do the kids growing up in the city – on 125th and Broadway, for example – where do these kids get their myths today?”. Campbell’s answer: “They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city. These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they’re doing the best they can”. (The Power of Myth, p. 8 )

A tremendous need can be identified for new stories that will define future trends and help bring together different motivations, views and interests. Such needs are evident everywhere: In the education system, in health services, in organizations dealing with law and order, and generally – in all the wide range of different professions and persuits with which we, as humans, deal throughout our lives.
First we must develop awareness and focus, and then also skills, which will enable us to discover and describe those life scenarios which can provide us with the energy and motivations suited for longer, richer lifetimes than humanity has ever known.

The first step is to acknowledge the fact that each one of us (and every being in nature, too) has a mythical-story of his/her/its own, whether known or still hidden, and that no story is of a “lesser” or a “higher” value compared to the others. The next step would be to choose to know the other’s story…

“Problems are not going to get solved until we sit down with somebody else and really listen to their stories, so we can get to understand each other rather than blowing each other up. The more we put labels on people, the more we are destined not to know them. When we really know somebody else’s story, you cant hate them anymore. It’s a wonderful tool for peace.”
— Storyteller Nancy Duncan

The third step, which involves common-shared paths, synergism and ideas regarding the education of the next generation, can and should be thoroughly discussed. I’ll be happy for anyone who joins me on this journey.

As the conference ends, moments before I prepare myself for the way back home, I tense up as a sudden SMS appears on my cell phone: “Everything’s OK!”

The sender is unknown. The message was sent to me by mistake, but it was definitely the one I would expect to get.

Categories: Uncategorized