My Word for 2020


Rogue
King
Prime
Pirate
Gentleman
Jester
Wizard
Fool

‘Bard’

Fox-bard

An adventuring poet.
Akin to Kvothe or Julian Alfred Pankratz, Viscount de Lettenhove—but more Jason Fox-like.


This is my ‘/word page’. A place to herald and enshrine my intent for the next chapter in this wondrous/ridiculous unfurling story of life.

It’s part of the Choose One Word ‘Ritual of Becoming’ —one of the most powerful spells I know.

The Ritual of Becoming


Backstory

My last two Words saw me withdraw from society.

The Year of The Wizard (~2018) had me retreat to my Tower to contemplate the Higher Orders of Magic. This year saw me traverse The Labyrinths of Reason, wherein I found myself investing perhaps too much time in The Abyss. This brought a kind of bitterness and a darker quality to my work that is perhaps alienating for those who are yet to sully/improve their minds with a dally into nihilism. This is also a year after reading The Listening Society—a book that simultaneously broke and reforged me (hoho I’m being dramatic). After reading this book (in my Year of Jester), it was incredibly difficult to relate to the previous self-concepts I had cultivated. This was also a year in which someone very closed to me passed away via cancer. Death became a catalyst for a heap of deep exploration into ‘meaning’ itself.1 Somehow I got through the year—and through the turmoil, grief and gloom found myself diving deeper into post-rational, para-rational and meta-rational2 ways of navigating the oceans of complexity and meaningness we swim in.

Aware that my curiosity was taking me well beyond convention and deeper into relative esoterica, The Year of The Fool (~2019) then had me embracing philosophies that may have me be laughed at. Like a Fool, I sought to walk away from that which served me well in the past, so that I might bring about new beginnings. I was guided by the principle that ‘real thought leadership is suspect’, and so found myself synthesising the kinds of fringe-notions that don’t fit the conventional narrative. I found myself in a tricky situation. This was the year that the climate crisis really stuck home (thanks largely to a shift in the global meta-narratives and the increasingly regressive politics in Australia).3 Previously—in The Year of The Gentleman-Pirate—I had made over $1m in a single year (trading on my ‘thought leadership’ as an author and speaker).4 Now I couldn’t even relate to that person. Was I just a puppet in a grander theatre of capitalism, wherein all talk of innovation and change is just pretence to keep those with power in control? And who am I now? The Year of The Fool had me ‘dismantle’ my professional self-concept, which opened me up to the fox-like trickster-wit that’s always been there. Somehow, amidst this dark transition, I found myself returning to a more semi-stable (yet fluid) form. Now, I return to the infinite game.

And so, here we are. The Year of The Bard (~2020) will see me return to society.

Principles

1. Performative.

To LARP reality and play the infinite game.

It is difficult to express this principle succinctly other than to say that (to me) this is the distillation of at least two key books: Finite and Infinite Games and Impro. I feel as though the past couple of years has brought a darkness and bitterness in how I show up in the world. In The Year of The Bard I seek instead bring more curiosity, wonder and enchantment instead.

“The issue is whether we are ever willing to drop the veil and openly acknowledge, if only to ourselves, that we have freely chosen to face the world through a mask.”—James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

2. Prominent.

To show up more more visibly; more vividly.

You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of me these days (with a bias towards community-building events). I intend to share more—though not necessarily via social media. Those who receive my museletter will know, though.

3. Poetic.

To dance betwixt fact and fiction, wielding myth and meaning like an artist.

If we are to survive the multidimensional crisis we now face, we need to work together at higher levels of complexity. In our hyperconnected-yet-atomised world, this calls for new deftness in how we make meaning and myth, together.

“True poets lead no one unawares. It is nothing other than awareness that poets—that is, creators of all sorts—seek. They do not display their art so as to make it appear real; they display the real in a way that reveals it to be art.”—James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

Patterns

In terms of behaviour, there will be much more sharing from me. In the past three years I have sent out an average of only five or six museletters a year. In The Year of The Wizard I started a podcast—but this has been a haphazard oscillation between whim-rants, solipsistic-overindulgence, and the occasional wondrous interview. In The Year of The Fool I unveiled The Mythical Coterie of The Fox (offering an added layer of intimacy/insight to supporters, via my museletter) and ran my first public masterclass in quite a while. In The Year of The Bard you can expect a bit more rhythm and cadence in the museletters I share. With more video and more public events.

I am also spending capital ever-more intentionally. I feel as though I have somehow subsumed post-capitalist and post-materialist tendencies. Spending less (whilst still ethically investing in quality) means I need to ‘work’ less, which means I then have ‘more time’ to invest in less conventionally profitable endeavours (like writing that next bloody book, and hosting esoteric workshops and gatherings).

In The Year of The Wizard I focused on ‘deep work’—but somehow forgot the ‘shut down ritual’ at the end of each day. It was thus all deep, and all work. In The Year of The Fool I had a loose goal of ‘at least 300 nights at home’ (in previous years my work had seen me away from home ~50–60% of the year). This was achieved (huzzah—home is the holiday) and now—as one of the few reasonable responses to the global meta-crisis we face—I am motivated to invest more into local communities. To ‘resist in place’. So, in The Year of The Bard I shall continue to travel less (-ish), and to revel in more ‘free time’. This will be achieved—in part—by embracing the ‘shut down ritual’ that is otherwise so elusive. This is the thing you do at the end of the day to ‘stop’ work, so that we might otherwise rest and play. (It’s all entwined but you get the idea).

So: more sharing, less spending (boring), more play, more community. More music, too. In fact, I may even return to the infinite world of jazz drumming—hopefully ready enough to hold my own in casual jam sessions by the end of the year. We’ll see.

Projects

Probably the biggest project I care to mention is the rekindling of Clever Happenings. Back in the Year of The Pirate the dangerlam and I (with the help of Bianka who worked with us) hosted regular gatherings in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Workplace Leadership. These gatherings explored topics pertaining to the mythical ‘Future of Leadership’.

Kim and I both miss this, and we have in mind to do something similar. What we seek now is to have a rhythm and regularity to these events along with a sense of sequence—like a lecture + Q&A series?—so that we might build some depth around more metamodern domains of thought, together. Right now it’s a ‘watch this space’ (via my museletter).

How You Can Help

Hoho, my biggest weakness is sharing my own work (‘marketing’)—though I am sure this is the same for many. I get super awkward about it and so will often write things only to never trumpet it to the world. Instead I just wait and hope folks might stumble across it. And to be fair, this has worked well enough for me thus far. But as I tiptoe away from a dependence on corporate clients and deeper into the realms of philosophy, I need all the help I can get. Considering the Choose One Word Ritual of Becoming, signing up the The Museletter, and/or generally sharing things I make that resonate with you are all immensely appreciated (and helpful). Thank you.


Create Your Own ‘/word’ Page

Maybe we can make this a thing? You can find guidelines here (and in the online programme itself). Ping me if you make yourself one and I will figure out a way to feature it as inspiration for others).

  1. Death, disaster, divorce and displacement are some of the many catalysts for new contemplation and wisdom. 

  2. David Chapman’s meaningness was particularly helpful during this time. Later I would also discover John Vervaeke’s ‘Awakening from the Meaning Crisis’—also incredibly timely and apt. 

  3. Over a decade ago, in another life, I lectured at three universities in environmental (system) sciences, eco-philosophy and sustainable development. This was all back in a time when The Internet didn’t loom quite so large in the noösphere—but now we are awash amidst many conflicting narratives and distortions. This presents new challenges—and yet there is a way to be found through this mess. It just (in part) requires that we get better at going ‘meta’. 

  4. That’s revenue, btw—not profit.