The lights dim on the stage as the show ends, the audience becomes self-conscious, dissolving a singular attention toward the stage and resolving to specific individuals in the auditorium; bringing their respective selves back into the room, their thoughts wrap in specific bodies, their own unique breathing, a few hundred personal sensibilities.
In the audience, a pair of hands are brought together at three different points simultaneously, spreading through the crowd centrifugally, while a second wave spontaneously arises between audible midpoints. The individuation of clapping becomes resounding applause as the lights brighten once again the stage, a collective rejoining of attention with the attitude of mutual gratitude, together once again as a unity.
The theatre seating is arranged as a full circle amphitheatre, the seats slightly banked, three players standing in the centre bowing. They rotate around the table and chairs which make up the set, bowing to each sector of the audience, their moment of communion with the audience revealed as the lights slowly begin to rise up the banked auditorium. The players hold specific faces and smile and bow, their attentions rise with the lights, their smiles warm and welcoming.
For those in the crowd, those who know, this is just the beginning. The received direction of gratitude is too much for the players, so they bow as if to avoid it. They are not receiving praise for what they have just done, the performance they have presented the crowd with; and when they rise from their bow, the players brightly reflect to the audience their appreciation: that the audience members have brought themselves here, have dragged their bodies through the bitter and wet winds of winter, to enjoin their attention.
A man steps onto the stage, applauding the players, and in turn faces the audience at eye-level. The players first join him to applaud the audience, then seating themselves as the noise dies down, leave the man standing alone in the silence.
Silently he turns on the spot admiring the individual members of the audience, some of whom he recognises. He nods as if to himself. He breathes deeply, sharing the same air. The audience settle once again, and as he lifts his hand and opens his mouth, so their attention raises, the quality of their listening becomes acute. He does not deserve it, this attention, and looks at his own open hand, his breath caught in his throat.
Upon his palm, a single note of attention, unbroken.
Around that instant, a range of intensities of focus, a long tail of attention stretched across the crowd: from the primary gravity centred on the man on the stage, his hand uplifted, his mouth open, the expectation of words to come; to the distant murmurs of invasive thoughts orbiting outside the hall amidst the venting gusts of wind and street-traffic. There is enough unity across this psychological dynamic to be felt by everyone, and he is holding it in his hand, lighter than even a single photon. Will it be bright enough to cross the distance, the distance between them all, the divide of performer and audience, the speaker and the listener, the words and meaning? But for that moment, it is perfect. His heart is full with gratitude for the moment, and with some reluctance he sets himself the task that he knows will be the breaking of it.
He closes his hand around the air, a fist catching nothing, and then drops it to his side, his head drooping. This is no performance. He feels it heavily in himself, the impossibility of the task ahead of him, the chasm of misunderstanding. How ethical is it to invite these people to take part in something that he knows in himself will fail? Surely he should let them enjoy a sweet fantasy, like the promise of an afterlife to the patient dying on their bed? No, the fantasy he offers is firmly marked with failure, a difficult pill to swallow.
He lifts up his head, and smiles at the innocence before him and clears his throat.
"This is not performance," he says and looks around. "This is no illusion. This is a record of what is happening," he glances around conspiratorially, "more or less." He has done this enough times to have accustomed himself to a surrounding audience. So he walks and talks, noticing whose eyes catch him, the brightest amongst them perhaps their first visit to this kind of event lighting up the room brighter than the stage-lighting; or faces recognised, like Indy and Alice, the hosts who have made it possible, Pamela who was present at the conception of the performance, and close friends Liam, Nick and Mamading; or the most skeptical members of the audience, who help him elicit his next phrase.
"This is not the real thing," the man continues to clarify. "It has happened like this before, these players are not actors but did this for real. More importantly," he nods and follows his own next words carefully, "it will happen like this again, but not exactly. Never exactly. The next players are amongst you, may even be you, surprising as it may sound to you at this moment." He discerns the audience as specific individuals as he speaks, known and unknown to him, and while some turn away not being able to bear even the potential onset of their collective attention, most realise that though the man looks at them directly, few of the audience follow the object of his attention, so they remain hidden in the crowd and continue to nakedly stare at him.
"Let this role-play serve as an introduction to MTTP EDP and SEA, the central protocols of ecological economics. There will be plenty of opportunity for you to brush up your understanding of what they stand for, there is a long tail of knowledge and insight within the room — and beyond." Here he gestures to the cameras, to those live and those watching retrospectively. "This evening is mostly about sharing, as well as creating new opportunities. May we remind ourselves that it is the person who does not know, who may bring us the most important lesson to what we are doing, and further, what course we may set collectively from this evening onwards."
He lets that advice settle and sink in, especially within himself, and for a moment he closes his eyes and looks down. Without words he prays that his brother is in the audience, someone who can see what he can not, a way to global unity. Raising himself to meet the audience again, he nods to an assistant on the first row, who hops up and together, they remove the table from the stage.
"What is important, and something which is missing from a performance, is the genuine trust that only realness can bring. May we have afforded ourselves this opportunity here, for the next few hours, between us, now."
He stands at the centre of the stage, alone.
"Present Perfect does not work as a video, or as a book. What transpires here between us this evening is live, is the beating heart of ecological economics. We shall be conducting our weekly open 'board room' meeting that constitutes our 'company' of players, both here and elsewhere on the planet" at which he spreads his arms wide to take in the entire audience both geographically and temporally present and otherwise; "share and improve upon our 'n+1' methodology; and make collective decisions about the money you have brought with you through the Invitational-Protocol.
"The main streams of today's gathering will be invitation to concurrent new Action-Cycles, with associated dragon's and angel's participation." Here he nods at Gerald, Sofia and a third member of the audience he is guessing at, Cliff Prior of Unltd, a social business fund. "Or to watch the on-going performance that is our macro-patronage drive, with plenty of opportunity to involve yourselves at any stage."
He notices his last word and its intertextuality — too clever if he had meant it intentionally — and clears his mind of any pretensions. After all, the listening now is real.
"The evening shall gently decline as we rise to some uplifting and insightful jaxing, with open-mic policy as per usual. In fact, most of the events are running simultaneously, so simply vote with your feet and contribute as you see fit."
He stops at the centre of the stage, rotating on the spot.
"Whatever the fit, the ecosystem we are co-creating here is fully determined by us. There is definitely space for you, and if there isn't, make one."
At this, he lowers his head. This is his space, and he fills it. The bow is also an invitation, for others to join him, and indeed to take his spot. Some people begin the applause, but he motions for it to stop by lifting up his arms and patting the crowd gently as if it is the belly of a great beast.
"Welcome, and thank you for making ecological economics real." He smiles into the silence. "I am on-point for us this evening and my name is Vector Kincaid." He brings his hands together and bows towards each of the three sectors of the crowd.
He knows it will not catch, the West is fatally addicted to noise. Nevertheless, there are a few who like the notion of bowing and respond in kind, exercising their preferred mode of indicating gratitude. Not to shower the recipient with adulation and the fearful force by which collective admiration inflates the frail human ego, but instead to collectively conserve social balance by simply breaking eye-contact and cutting away attention so that everybody is left with themselves, alone, small, and grateful.
Thus, as equals, they bow.
This concludes the first section of the Green Movement of the book, GIFT. Continue reading the whole book, and consider gifting-it-forward.
Sep 30th, 2013