Praxis is what happens when we are in a room together. After having made sense of a problem or agreed on a theory of change, what actually needs to be practised to effect change towards actualisation and transformation or desired futures?
Of all the major challenges the world faces, the decay of civil public discourse is among the most consequential and distressing. Without an unpolluted epistemic commons, sustaining a shared commitment to truth, knowledge and understanding that transcends the advancement of particular interests, we will be unable to address collective action challenges of all kinds. The issue at stake is not merely instrumental, however. One of the things that makes us human is the capacity to be with other people and listen, speak and be heard in a context where sentences are not weapons for factional agendas, but beacons of shared meaning. If we cannot talk together well, and try to understand each other better, our humanity as such is under threat. The Antidebate project seeks to remedy this breakdown in civil discourse.
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Metaphor matters because it sits at the root of conceptual perception, and is an omnipresent, yet largely unnoticed phenomena in conscious life. It matters because it influences individual and collective ways of being in such a way that what is regarded as fiction is actually “true”. That which we imagine literally comes to pass.
Understanding the role of metaphor in our awareness is an increasingly important task in today’s narrative clutter. If what we need is a new story, a story of transition and transformation, then perhaps we ought to look at the conditions in which these stories arise, and the same applies to metaphors, which present us the possibility of imagination on a granular scale.
The imagined is what we create. In improvisation, we create what we imagine in the moment, collectively. If we are to access the collective imaginary, improvisation has much to teach us about bringing our individual perspective and adding it to the collective so that we might embody our perspectives and allow something to emerge from that space.
Improvisation asks us to collaborate, to let go of what we personally imagine the end result to be, whilst still bringing our full selves. It is by its essence, post-tragic, as we must see what we thought would be brought into being disappear, whilst continuing to move forward and expand all that we hold within us.
One of the additional attributes of improvisation is it often brings us into humour and allows us to explore deep, dark spaces with levity. Through improvisation we expand and stretch our ideas and can experience the very edges of where we thought we could take ourselves.