‘Elder Circle’ is the first of what I hope, in some form, will be many more of its kind, recorded and non-recorded, locally and online. Perhaps its name will evolve, and I’m sure its praxis will too. But I do think the core of the proposed intention is worth honing to, and I consider that something like the proposed to have been profoundly valuable to all manner of communities and cultures across time.
I’ll start with the essential essence of the session as I see it:
To co-create a valuable context for the sharing of perspective,
where the gathered group seeks at once to understand the lived and living journey of a particular person,
so as to more deeply connect with and relate to, the significance of the content (whether ideas, questions, information, contentions, concerns, hopes, contributions, philosophies, perspectives, learnings, stories etc.,)
that is naturally, daemonically (daimōn), desiring to be offered as expression or gift of soul’s journeys, seekings, and findings.
The praxis of the session as I see it, from the perspective of the participants comprising the group, seeks to voice, inquire, draw forth from the nominated person, the value which wants to be imparted (we might say, transjective, or relational value.)
In a way, a collective interview is not far off the mark. But there is much about interviews that can be quite other than what I’m trying to indicate here.
I am not asking the voices around the circle to eliminate their personhood from participation in search of some intersubjective ‘other’ stance, often thought of as the ‘objective’ position of the traditional media interviewer (which is impossible anyway). Perhaps, for instance, there is something about the exchange which snags on a point of intrigue or difference that is felt to be quite personal (perhaps, not where I’m feeling the group wants to go, but I do). This is a fantastic point of tension to consciously navigate. In some sense, there is a paradox of diversity-in-relation-with-unity, and the particularisation of that tension / contrast between the seeking values of the individual participant, and the seeking values of the group as a whole. This can also manifest as the relation between detail and gestalt of the story being told or the relevance of the ideas being shared.
Put another way, and it goes without saying, all who take part have value and are valued in the space, and yet there are voluntary roles taken on, which hope to afford the becoming of a particular kind of whole, or context for exchange.
From the perspective of the central person, part of the dance from their end is to share in concert with the seekings and contributions of the group as a whole.
On the name: Elder Circle
But here’s a couple other ways I’m thinking about this, and why I’m proposing the name ‘Elder Circle.’
First of all, I see something like the affordance of this session as relevant for and enabling of initiation into, and integration into, a network, or commons context, across stages of life or knowledge different to that of ‘elder.’ I think this would be a valuable activity for any age capable of sustaining the desire to be responsive to the group. Yet, there is something inherently honouring of the person more central in attention, and this I do mean to denote in the term ‘elder’ as I use it.
Second, and more plainly, I do see this type of session as an effective and appropriate way to invite and introduce those who may evoke the archetype of elder more canonically. Straightforwardly, something like this effort seems important in the context of integrating a certain kind of contribution elders can make, while opening up an additional context for participation.
Elder Circle | Welcomes Alex Ebert
Alex is a musician and philosopher many of you will know either from his musical career, including the singer-songwriter role in Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, or more recently his appearances on a number of podcasts and platforms, including the Philosophy of Lack series with myself, Cadell Last, and O.G. Rose.
Across a few different contexts I’ve gotten to know Alex as a deeply creative thinker with contributions to make across multiple domains of philosophical and cultural relevance. I’ve also come to know enough to be confident in my perception and intuition that the journey of his own creative becoming has been lived in a kind of full-blooded, ride or die type way–a life, (with all its many relations to death, as I’m sure Alex would emphasise) at least in part, of an artist.
He’s also lived a story with particular aspects that are deeply uncommon in absolute terms, yet are near canonically common as perennial cultural feature–the fame of an artist, and the asymmetry of relation to so many of those viewing. I don’t mean to pre-empt the content of the session when I say this, though of course I have my own interests and relation to Alex. There are of course more aspects of a person than can be presenced in a session like this, and much story and insight separate to and related to any theme I reference above which may come forward as relevant.
This session will be recorded and may be shared with the network, or publicly. I ask that those who attend, and who do so with video on, and participate by speaking, do so with the openness that this be both recorded and shared. If there are issues with this, of course we can speak about it. But the sharing of this more broadly is primarily something I will be discerning especially with Alex (as I would do similarly with anyone else taking this position in this session type.)
You are welcome to attend and not speak. This is not a session where participation via voice will be called forth in the same way. If you want to turn your video off, it will not be shown in the recording (I have that box ticked on in Zoom at the moment.)
This is also not a Q&A of the kind found elsewhere. Not that we do so regularly anyway, but this is not a session for questions to be written in the chat. If there is something you would like to write, perhaps to myself or someone else, use the private message feature. That might be a way to contribute something via someone else’s voice, if that is preferred.
The reason for this is so attention is concentrated on the present flow of expression. The quality as capacity for the group itself to enable space for the expression that wants to come through is a huge part of the artfulness to be developed here (and involves everyone). It is the shared art of crafting voice together, given the particular intended constraints and values involved.