The Agora of the Senses

Arts of Existence

How am I to live in this world? How do I learn to live my life? Imagine that in order to answer questions like these you went to a new type of art school or conservatory of arts: a conservatory of arts of existence, a community of practice where arts of existence are cultivated and exchanged. Sensagora is a vision of how such conservatory of arts of existence may be and how it may harness collaborative powers enabled by the Internet.

 

 

A complementary world

I am Eduardo Neve and I’ve constantly struggled to really know how to live in this world. This has taken me to a quest of many years of seeking wisdom as ways of learning how to live this life that I live. The result of this quest has been the creation of a mental patterning, a kind of imaginary world or memory palace patterned in such a way that once I enter, things that happen in there are conducive to becoming at least a little bit wiser.

This imaginary world, however, is not isolated from the actual world of everyday life. It overlaps, and the elements that populate this imaginary world are sourced from actual experiences. It is like a meditative state that enhances the the world instead of taking one’s mind away from it.

I want to share this patterning with others in a community of practice for the collaborative cultivation of wisdom. I call this space the agora of the senses, Sensagora. These are early stages of this project and what you see here is very much work in progress.

 

 

Collaborative Wisdom

In my journey, I’ve seen that wisdom is something very personal – nobody can become wiser for me, and what works for others won’t always work for me in the same way. But at the same time, wisdom is inherently collaborative: without learning from others what they have figured out before me, my chances of becoming wiser would be severely diminished. The most important life lessons I’ve learned have come from interacting with other beings.

With the Internet’s growth the potential for communicating insights has increased exponentially. In addition, there is a lot of potential wisdom condensed in the narratives that circulate this expanding network of networks. However, it is increasingly easy to get lost in the overflow of information. Relevance has not increased at the same rate as information, and there are not enough Internet architectures that can channel insights in ways that are conducive to wisdom.

How would a platform for the collaborative cultivation of wisdom be? Would it be some kind of ‘wisdom matchmaking’? Unlike things that can simply be exchanged in a simple transaction, and could thus be easily algorithmically channeled, the communication of wisdom requires something more experiential and collaborative. It would entail particularities in its design so that experience, and not only information, could really be acquired. It would also have to consider the value that various kinds of wisdom give to remaining hidden from view and from presence: offline wisdom.

 

 

Agora of the Senses

Since I was a child I dreamt of some interactive place, where what was exchanged was not information, but different types of ‘wonders’ – that is, truly awe-inspiring intensities. This hope gradually evolved into envisioning a place for assembling, combining and exchanging aesthetic experiences.

As I started focusing more on wisdom, I envisioned the potential of drawing from the arts in order to cultivate wisdom, and I became fascinated by Michel Foucault’s notion of working on the self as a work of art.

I started to find in the model of a Conservatory of Arts the potential for patterning or structuring a platform for the collaborative cultivation of wisdom. Sensagora is the result of this exploration, merging a new model for a Conservatory of Arts, and the principles of platform design for collaborative wisdom.

The design philosophy of this system is that we may all interact and collaborate without renouncing to singular styles of thinking, feeling, doing, and learning. This is difficult to actually achieve in an information system, but I think it can be done following different design philosophies, that focus more on repertorial ways of learning and ‘wisdom architectures’ that enable them.

 

Repertoires and wisdom architectures

Although there is always something perennial about wisdom, a filament that persists in the river of change, there is also something updatable about wisdom, a constant actualization in light of new perspectives and experiences. When wisdom is cultivated collaboratively, the scope for its actualization increases, and any information architecture intended to support this process would benefit from a design that allows for the constant diversification of its entities.

Repertorial philosophies have things in common with modular philosophies – you use basic building blocks that can be rearranged. But repertoires can be remixed in ways that redraw the original boundaries, like in a music improvisation. A wisdom repertoire can derive from another, be combined with another, and be diversified into new wisdom repertoires. In wisdom architectures the order of things, the style of structuration, is constantly open to redefinition by its participants while still sustaining the basis for complementarity and collaboration.

Current computers and information systems are often limited in simulating the generative powers of imagination and creativity. Rich sensory video game design is very resource intensive both in its production and enjoyment. Designing and hosting as many world variations as the number users of an interactive platform would be beyond impractical. The visual design of wisdom platforms can be minimal enough to allow for much richer creations that our imagination is capable of, leaving only what’s essential for database indexing to the information system at the base, even if multimedia formats can be used for inspiration.

 

What’s next?

I’m aware of the complexity of this vision, and the variety of critical blind spots this may entail. But I think there are viable paths. I find a lot of potential in the collaborations that may be had between people coming from backgrounds in arts/humanities and people coming from backgrounds in maths/engineering.  If you like this project, please contact me at eduardo@sensagora.org – I would really appreciate it!

I’m also working on a journey prototype.