I am currently in the Netherlands with my friend and study partner Louis. A tradition seems to be emerging because this is the third year in a row that I am in this beautiful country of water, cheese, weed, and chocolate flakes on bread slices around this time.
What is “this time”? It’s the beginning of spring, of course! In the calendars we know, spring doesn’t start until mid-March, but around the 4th of February, the energy of spring begins to reveal itself. There is sun, birdsong, and some buds and early bloomers. Look around!
By the way, if you listen to the audio: I’m reading out the article in the first 19 minutes, afterward Louis and I talk a bit. Very insightful, audio only!
How to use The Village
Okay, back to The Village. I encourage you to read part one if you haven’t yet. It’s here. You might also want to subscribe to this newsletter because I believe part three is coming soon as well.
Assuming that you are in the know now, let us continue.
I want to offer you some background on the metaphor and the tangible realities, the image ought to describe. Because, as sad as I am to admit this, I do not own a farmhouse or a homestead (yet!).
Let me reintroduce the components, this time with some physical-world explanations attached to them. Here they are again, explanations commence right below.
· The Man · The Field · The House · The Shop · The Garden · The Well
That’s me, or you, as a Being. Call it what you will. The woman, the lady, the kid, the dude. I like being a man, so that’s what I call him. As you build your own image, you could also create multiple instances of your being. For example, I often use “The Kid” to talk about my inner child, which, in this system, lives in and is embodied by The Garden. Another thing I could do is to instantiate my feminine side as “The Woman” and assign some needs and activities to her. For now, I’m happy with The Man.
One of my initial notes to describe this part of the system was: “The Man is ok.” That means that many cycles that pertain to my being and my body are closed and working successfully. I know how to eat, sleep, manage my intake of drugs and distractions, and how to schedule my time to make something happen. Thus, I don’t get depressed very often… anymore! This hasn’t always been like this and I’m grateful that “The Man is ok”.
If your Being is “not ok”, that’s ok! Then that is your starting point. Maybe you might want to build a higher resolution image for different parts of your Being so that you can serve yourself well and close your cycles.*
This is a dwelling space. In my case, my apartment in Berlin. The house is a container for the man, so he may eat, sleep and clean himself, and thus stay healthy and endure.
I’ve also declared the house as “ok”. This means that I have everything I need to do these three key activities. On a daily basis, I’m not missing anything when it comes to eating, sleeping, and cleaning. Again, hasn’t always been like this, but over time I sorted it out.
There are some more boxes that the house needs to tick, to be “ok”, like allowing having guests over etc., but again, this is not my focus here — I might write about the house in detail another time. If you feel that your house (or whatever you like to call your dwelling) is lacking, I would suggest zooming in on it, compartmentalizing it, and sorting it out, i.e. buying and building the interfaces you need.*
* As far as I can tell, that’s what I’m really trying to say with this work! Whichever area of you is “not ok”, demarcate it, zoom in on it, compartmentalize it, understand yourself, e.g. through a metaphor like this, and help yourself this way to work on getting better. Easier said than done, but I promise I will write more on this. I’ll be a fellow wanderer on your journey.
And on that note, a quick intermission: I lied a little bit. Everything that follows now has a lot to do with The House.
The Garden, The Field, The Shop and The Well, are all interfaces (at least in part) in my dwelling. The metaphor of The Village sorts them into outside areas, but alas, I still do not own a farmhouse and have to make do with what I have.
In the metaphorical world, the following components are on an even plane. But in the physical world, the house brackets them in, to an extent, creating a hierarchy: If the house is not ok, the rest falls flat as well. Ergo, the house remains a very important point of attention.
This is the place for friends, joy, beauty, experiments, expression, and experience. What would you call such a place?
When I work on my personal projects — my documentary, my courses, my podcasts — often with my friends, I’m in the garden. In 2021, I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden. The work here is without pressure and urgency. A lot of it is conceptual and experimental. How would these flowers look here? Can we put a swing here? Let’s plant squash and see how it tastes.
The garden is a private area behind the house, and only the people who I show it to can see it. It is not for the public. I need the garden because I can be naked and flawed here. I like to be like that.
There is an experimental component to it, and some of my garden projects will be sold in the shop at some point**. But as long as they are in the garden, they are safe from eyes and judgment, other than my own and my creative partners’.
I labeled my garden as “almost ok”. There are some things missing. For example, making music is a gardening activity that I haven’t established yet. Some other arts and activities, like painting or certain sports that I’m interested in, are not activated in my life. They need interfaces so I can enter into them. That could be a partner for an activity or a certain part of my studio set up in a proper way. To make music I want to buy a bass guitar soon. And of course, I need time and intention.
But as goes the rule of the garden: No rush.
In the physical world, the garden exists in many ways in my computers. Discord, for example, is a place where I often meet my creative partners, so we can do our gardening. A lot of my work is recorded in Notion or in video files. Sometimes friends come to my house, and we do gardening, then we sit at the table or on the floor, or in the kitchen. And some of the gardening is outside, like playing frisbee in the park, or meeting friends at their place or in a bar, or visiting friends for a week. Oh, and I have a balcony, where I do some literal gardening in the summer, like planting tomatoes and potatoes and so on.
** In my notes there is still a placeholder for “The Greenhouse”, which I considered a liminal space for work that is moving from garden to field or shop. I didn’t find a use for it, but maybe someone else does.
This is the place for work and labor, large scale, with the purpose of serving the people and the village, and ensuring the continuity of your own life and that of your family.
For me, The Field was the real discovery. From 2018 - 2021, the years after my corporate career, the quiet years, I’ve somewhat rejected work as something good that I liked. I was looking for a life where joyful activity makes me a bunch of money and my people and I live happily ever after. I would say that is still true, and the ultimate goal.
“Joyful activity > money > more joyful activity” is a very important cycle to build.
The life of an artist.
But if we study the life and work(!!) of artists, there is no great art without lots of labor, or practice. The cycle is probably more accurate like so:
“Labor > Joyful activity > money > more labor > more joyful activity > …”
And so this year, 2022, I am committed to returning to the field, where I will get my hands dirty and my neck red from the sun.
During the quiet years, every time I looked out of the window, I saw the field. It was always on my mind. One of my notes was: “The field is innate or inherited.” What does that mean? I feel like I am born with the field, it is an essential part of me. That means I like work, and I must work. The field is there, it won’t go away, and it’s calling me. Not tilling the field is betraying a part of myself.
It’s a large field, too. Maybe that’s why I’ve been shirking my responsibility. It stretches a couple of hundred meters in each direction. Maybe more. Often, I can’t see the end of it. Beginning the work is daunting, to say the least.
What I’ve found out is that I have pretty large bag of seeds (hehehe) as a tool for the field. My seeds (read: my ideas) are manyfold, and they’re all jumbled up in this big bag. I always thought, “I should put these in order so I can know what I will plant”.
I have decided differently now. My note says: “Go onto the field, reach into your seed bag, and sow it. Your seeds will be sorted in generations 2 and 3, but not in generation one.” The message is clear. One seed after the other — what will grow from them is a surprise. In the coming years, I can be more intentional with my work on the field. This year, I just have to change it from “barren” to “tended”. Zero to one?
So what is the work? What are the seeds? What does the field stand for in the physical world?
Well, I can tell you, I am on the field right now and you are here with me. Writing is my work and my labor. I have declared a place at my table in my studio in my apartment as my writing place. And this is what I’m doing now.
Why? Because writing is innate to me. I’ve always been reading, always been writing, and my body generates and seeks ideas (seeds); more ideas than I can turn into behavioral reality. So I can at least turn these ideas into literal reality, so that they may live on in others; I can build on them, and their cycles become complete.
An important note I’ve made recently: “Writing isn’t hard.” That’s true, it feels a lot like a game to me. Beginning to write is hard sometimes. Once I’m in the groove I’m almost having a hard time stopping.
I’ve weighed writing up against speaking, which also seems very innate and easy for me. Speaking belongs with it, I see it a bit more situated in the garden, though. Speaking for me is a lot more jokey, artsy, fun-ny. When I write I’m amused but primarily serious. Plus, written ideas have continuity and writing them out has an eerily powerful, reality-forming component to it. Words I’ve written are way more real than words I’ve thought.
So, that’s The Field. As you can see, it’s “not ok”. But we’ve got a handle on it. The Field will probably become its whole own world; it needs so many tools and techniques and perspectives and whatnot. For now, I’m just happy that I’m not afraid of it anymore.
One surprise seed at a time. : )
This is the place where your goods reach other people. All the experiments in the garden, and all the hard work on the field — it would be a shame if what you make wouldn’t find your way to others. That’s why we have the shop.
The shop in itself is just a room or a house with a door on the street level, so that people can find it and enter it. It also has a counter and a till, to facilitate transactions. For now, that’s it.
This is kind of the state my shop is in. So far, when people have transacted with me, they’ve come straight to my house, i.e. called me on the phone, wrote me an email, or whatever. In that sense, I can only transact with people who know me. In the door of my shop is a “closed” sign and maybe one that says “under construction”.
At the time of writing you will see this, if you go to www.nowmedia.org : )
So, the real life form of the shop is a website, because the work that I intend to do is writing, speaking, teaching — all things that work fantastically well on the internet. Depending on what your work is, maybe you want an actual physical space! And why not?
Beyond your own website, on the internet there are platforms. Like Substack, YouTube, Twitch, Shopify, etc., which are larger shops that offer you to carry your products in their space, giving you a fair (?) share of what you sell via them. Practical for reaching an audience beyond your village, so to speak!
What I know is that, especially as an artist and a maker, you want to have an area that is primed for transaction. It’s easy for some of us, to do our work for love and passion and that is well and good. But, and I am firmly speaking to myself here, do yourself the favor and build out the shop. If you make nice things, give people the chance to pay for them.
Do you know where you would need to go to give me money, if you like my work? No? Me neither. I haven’t really set up my shop and my till. One for the to do list, when I’m trusting myself to regularly have something on offer. An empty shop is no fun, and people won’t visit it. Especially now that most platforms offer subscriptions and memberships, the incentive and necessity for constant production is super high.
First, we plant and enjoy our own produce. When there is enough, we take it to the shop.
That will make the shop “ok”. A steady flow of produce, and a good order inside so people can find what they are looking for.
I’m currently in the process of experimenting with the order and layout of, and the produce in the shop, behind the shield of the “closed” sign. That means, publishing content in various forms, and thinking up other offerings and services people might want, that relate to my field work of speaking, writing, and teaching. By the way, you can help me with that, just find the three star footnote below!***
That’s it for today
A fair chunk of writing! Took me a couple of sessions. I hope you enjoyed this. Thank you for reading! Sending you love from the Netherlands : )
Next week I will publish part three of The Village, in which I will focus on The Well, and draw up conclusions that I expect will finish this series. If you don’t want to miss it, please subscribe. Edit: It’s here!
Maybe you have noticed that I’ve got some links to drafts or unwritten topics sprinkled throughout this piece. Have you clicked any of them? About which of those topics would you like to read more? I’m always happy to be of service and write about what interests you. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a prompt, ok? And of course, any other questions or notes are always very welcome. ***Help me stock the shop, that is the help I need right now! No payments necessary yet, exchange of words, taste and love very necessary! Love you!
On February 25th, 2022, I will host an Interintellect salon on this topic. Interintellect is a platform that is reinventing the French salon for the internet. If you would like to discuss the ins and outs of The Village with me and others, please join me here. Tickets are $10, and you will join a ~3 hour Zoom call, with other interesting people, discussing this very idea.
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