New Civilization News: Yes, and ...    
 Yes, and ...11 comments
picture 24 Jul 2004 @ 17:07, by Flemming Funch

Tom Munnecke, in commenting on Mass Listening, says:
Listening is also part of the "Yes-And" Improv dialog form I am now researching. Improv actors have to listen to their partners... what a concept. They also learn that accepting a partners' offer is different than agreeing with it. And that "yes,but" creates a zero sum conversation, while 'yes, and' opens up a much more richer dialog.
Ah, yes, thanks for reminding me. I've done Improv too. You know, improv is when one creates a reality together on the spot, which hopefully becomes interesting and maybe funny. One of the ground rules is to accept whatever anybody else brings into it, and build on it, rather than reject it if it doesn't suit you. If I come into a scene, and I had in mind that I was going to be Doctor Shtrumpfswanz, head of the psychiatric department, and somebody else beats me to it and greets me with: "Oh, the plumber, I'm glad you finally came!" - then I'm the plumber from then on. No use protesting and rejecting it, it would just ruin the scene. If somebody establishes that there's a table in the middle of the room, then there's a table in the middle of the room, no matter what clever alternative ideas I might have had. The answer is "YES, AND..". I must build on whatever everybody else have brought into the scene. For that matter, good improv comedy arises exactly when the participants are willing to accept what is there, and some rather surprising elements might have been brought together. And you find yourself playing tennis in a submarine, or something else you might not easily have found logical.

I frequently go back to find wisdom in the things I learned in improv. There's really a lot there that applies to life in general.

Improv works great when one is totally in the moment. One accepts everything that is there, and addresses it as real, and at the same time one channels something that might take it in just about any direction, and one has to track continuously with several other people who do the same. The moment you get stuck in your own head, getting bright ideas about what is supposed to happen, and not noticing what is really happening, it stops working. It is sort of an odd thing, like starting sentences without having any clue how they'll end. And finding that things often are better that way. Certainly more funny.

Anyway, I think Tom's point was how that kind of thing applies to regular conversation, and relating to others. The Yes-And principle. Hmm, I actually hadn't considered completely doing that in regular life.

What if I just accepted everything anybody brought into the scene? Hm, that's actually a hard one.

I was once waiting for a while in the reception of an insane asylum, as that also happened to be where one kept people who were on drug rehab. And some of the, eh, residents came up and chatted with me. Which was delightful. You know people who see spiders on the wall, or tell about their life as tabloid journalists or secret agents. None of which really was happening, but I didn't mind at all jumping into their reality and accepting what they were experiencing. Now, the psychatrist on the other hand was somebody it was no fun to speak with, but that's another matter.

But in the real world? What if I accept somebody else's reality, and just build on it, and see where it goes, rather than introducing any kind of "Yes, but ...[you're wrong]" kind of thing. I suppose that would really make for good listening. You allow them to reveal more of their reality, and see where it goes.

For that matter, that has also been a key ingredient in my work as a counselor. I'm not going to argue with the client. Whichever way they experience the world is what we'll start with. OK, my job is to help them transform it into something that is more useful to them. But I don't do it by negating what they believe. I do it by a kind of conversational judo. I use the force of their own worldview, and the way they structure themselves, to lead them towards transforming themselves. Works very well, if you manage to stay neutral, and you know something about how these things work.

But I must admit that I don't necessarily do that in a normal conversation. Oh, I'm open to many views, and I can leave many of them alone, but there will always tend to be some kind of tendency towards bringing you over to my view.

Can I give that up in all circumstances? Maybe. I do notice that it almost never works to negate what other people really believe in. It rarely works to try to WIN an argument by methodically destroying the 'opponents' statements. And yet that's what most of us do half the time.

It is the 'shoulds' that get in the way most of the time. How somebody else 'should' think, and how things 'should' be. But the fact of the matter is usually that they actually aren't like that. The 'shoulds' are a mental hallucination we superimpose on reality. Really, the best way of changing anything is to accept what is already there, and then look for available paths of maybe helping it change into something else. And if there are no available paths, you might just allow things to remain the way they are.

Interestingly the more in balance we ourselves are, the less we feel a need for correcting everybody else's worldviews. The more enlightened you yourself are, the less you are obsessed with making everybody else be like you. Ironically, as we could say you had all the more reason to do so, if you've found some kind of nirvana that most others haven't.

But maybe the bigger truth is that the world really would work better if we could accept different world views, and simply allow them to evolve naturally. And maybe life would be more interesting and entertaining if we dropped the mistaken idea that we all live in exactly the same world, and we're supposed to live by the same rules.


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11 comments

26 Jul 2004 @ 09:47 by Tim Rowe @81.109.241.105 : Rich Entry...
No, that's not my 'Porn Star Name', but a comment on how valuable I think this article is. Accepting what is, just the way it is, is often tricky - but I've found it's the only real way of moving forward without resisting what currently appears to be happening. Thanks for the reminder Ming.  


27 Jul 2004 @ 17:43 by ov : Acceptence
This is such a tempting philosophy, 'just go along to get along.' Dopn't resist the way things are, just go along with the norm, because you know, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. Well what about 'all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing' isn't that the exact opposite of 'just accept what is.' This whole subtle silencing of dissent thing is taking on shades of being the 'good German', and is what allows fascism to reig unchecked. You all remember the fascisist and the good Germans, don't ya?  


27 Jul 2004 @ 17:59 by ming : Accepting
Well, that is one angle on it, but not really what this is about. Not about not rocking the boat, but rather about recognizing what is there before we start changing it. If I'm wearing a blue hat, and you say: "You're not supposed to be wearing a blue hat, it is all wrong, so it can't be". Recognizing that I AM wearing a blue hat, and then thinking: "So what do we do about that" might be a more fruitful angle. Israelis and Palestinians denying each other's existence doesn't get us anywhere, however righteous they feel about it. Recognizing that they're both there, and we can't wish any of them away, is the only direction that is likely to get anywhere.

To continue with the improv metaphor, one doesn't just accept the other person's choice, and then get apathetically resigned to it, and then go on and ignore it. One takes it and interacts with it, and builds upon it.

If you're pointing a gun at me, any strategy of mine that involves ignoring the existing of the gun is probably not going to work. However much I'd not want it to be pointing in my direction, I'll have to accept that reality before I can hope to change it.

So, it isn't the acceptance of resignation and submission, but the acceptance of facing reality, and then taking it somewhere else.

The 'good' Germans never accepted the reality. They denied it.  



27 Jul 2004 @ 18:40 by ov : Accepting
"So, it isn't the acceptance of resignation and submission, but the acceptance of facing reality, and then taking it somewhere else."

That is a mighty fine sentence. It gets complicated when the question of reality enters the picture. Robert Anton Wilson said that reality was what you could get away with, and looking at the politics south of the border I'm inclined to think that he might very well have been right. When reality is force and everything else is shrugged off with a smirk, how long does it take to give in to nihlism and and start playing hard-ball in return.  



28 Jul 2004 @ 00:39 by timrowe : Word Clearing
Or rather 'phrase clearing'. Thanks for that definition Ming (of acceptance). It was (to me) clear that no 'submission' was implied. Non-resistance is the key. Then moving on.  


28 Jul 2004 @ 01:27 by ov : Moving Forward
I've read this article a couple of times now, well three times actually. I still can't see the non-resistance, lets move on, approach as being anything but a refusal to avoid a controversy at all costs.

It is one thing to use this in the context of some improptu theatre that has no reprecussions in the real world, and quite another to say this is how we should conduct our global affairs, how we should conduct those affairs which really do matter. There are times when it is okay to reduce everything to playing a game where nothing really matters, but actions that rationalize the deaths of millions is not one of those times. Even in the improv theatre situation there are examples where it is not okay to accept the story that evolves; for example if there was an actual crime (a murder?) happen on the stage then the law would be called in and the play would not be allowed to continue, even though it was improv.

I've just finished reading an article by Andy Lehman from last October that had Ghandi quotes spread throughout it, and it reminded me that not even Ghandi believed in non-resistance, he believed in non-violence, or at least in not being the one that perpetuates violence, but he also believed in standing up for what was right regardless of the personal cost involved in taking that stand, which shows real courage, and is entirely different than consent through silence.  



28 Jul 2004 @ 07:07 by ming : Moving on
Well, what is meant is all quite the opposite of what you seem to read it as, Ov. It is not an "oh well, let's move on" approach. Rather, it is a "let's stay with what is right here" approach. If somebody actually gets shot in the middle of the show, it is very necessary to be very present with that. No, not in the sense of "Oh, well, that happens, yawn, let's move on". No, there are suddenly some very real things to do to take care of it. Staying stuck in one's head, getting really upset and sitting there fuming, thinking "That just shouldn't happen. What is our society coming to? We gotta do something about crime!" will only make you useless at actually doing anything about it right now.

So, we're not talking about the story as it was supposed to be. We're talking about the story as it is right now. Which requires being alert and present, rather than resigned, avoiding controversy.  



30 Jul 2004 @ 14:58 by Quirkeboy @209.92.185.201 : Zen..maybe..
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend a month ago..
He has read quite a bit on Zen.. and I had only read enough to get the impression that Zen involves accepting the present and that life is suffering..
I told him that what bothered my about the philosophy is exactly what Ov has said.. "How do you make any meaningful changes if your just accepting everything?"
He explained that you accept your current situation and dont let it get to you.. understand it.. feel it.. welcome it.. its life speaking to you..
But then when you understand the situation.. make decisions to change it if you need to .. and accept the consequences of your actions with the same acceptance..
It seems that this allows you to be unhindered by your past judgements and personal bigotry.. and see the current situation for what it really is.. and to allow your TRUE feelings to be felt.. if those TRUE feelings are negative.. then you may decide to take action.
PS: Ive read Impro.. its a great book.. I dont even do theatre.. but it involves so much more.. philosophy.. psychology.. mythology.. sociology etc.. a fantasitic read..  



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