Designing a Desirable Society, Part 1

A college-educated young person can speak of what she knows, but cannot speak of what she desires—the terrain of her DESIRE, and of HER desire, is untraveled by her, alien. “Desire” is defined as wanting the not-yet, as missing that which only the desirer can create and for which the desirer is needed. What to do? In the attempt to grapple with slippery political problems, two related, overlapping approaches are called for: design & composition. Susan & Austin took “All power to the imagination!” as the design challenge for this session; we will explore design & composition as approaches to slippery problems. Both approaches hinge on desire: an image of not-yet-existing reality, deliberately formed as a critical reflection on images of currently existing reality. The emphasis in design & composition is to engage in dialogue with a situation. Along the way, the problem's problematic language is taken to task, interrogated, altered, and refreshed via “playing attention to language.” This workshop—part paper, part performance—aims at addressing problems which cannot be addressed in the system in which they arise. To that end, we will bring forth an arsenal of tools/concepts to help us to think ourselves out of the box, formulate our desires, and create the societies we want to live in. Dr. Susan Parenti founded the School for Designing a Society in 1991 with other teachers, performers, artists, and activists to answer the question “What would I consider a desirable society?” In the spaces between coordinating this project, she is a touring performer, writer and collaborator with Dr. Patch Adams. Austin McCann is a language activist/social change artist, current SDaS student, and non-profit development staff person.
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Dr. Susan Parenti & Austin McCann