Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mythic Adventuring

In April, the NY Times Magazine asked former merry prankster acid tester Stewart Brand about his drug of choice these days...

"I’m stoned right now on two cups of coffee," he said. "I’m 70, and the easiest way to young-up your mind is to drink caffeine."

Every time I've had coffee since, which has been twice, maybe three times (the high is more than I can handle comfortably, usually), I've wondered about miracle drugs, wondered about Brand, and wondered why he's still considered (by the NY Times Magazine at least) an important character in the sustainability movement.

So, last night, I watched the first of his two TED Talks.

And, while it didn't really answer my question (How the heck is The Long Now Foundation going to help us treat our natural capital better?), it did feel relevant, somehow, accidentally, to everything.

Danny Hillis is one of Brand's Long Now co-conspirators, and he, Hillis, according to Brand, is interested in mythic adventures. And mythic adventures, according to Hillis (according to Brand), have seven stages...

Stage One is the manifestation or formulation of the image, the picture of the goal at the end of the journey.

Stage Two is the point of embarkation, the moment at which the image pushes a person to transition from ordinary existence to life as a pilgrim on a quest.

Stage Three is the labyrinth, the substance of the journeying, the series of challenges, many unexpected, many seemingly insurmountable. It's a rough place, the labyrinth, full of darkness and despair, but in there with the pilgrim is the draw, the beacon, the often distant but ever powerful motivating force.

Stage Four is the payoff, the accomplishment, the moment the dream becomes reality.

Stage Five is the secret payoff, that other thing that happens that no one could have predicted but everyone totally digs.

Stage Six is the return, the pilgrim's gradual reacclimation to the ordinary world.

And Stage Seven is identifying the memento, the humble little something that the pilgrim takes away.

Worth noting I think. And worth considering alongside Freedom's Plow.

blog comments powered by Disqus