megan's blog


Priya Parker's discussion about the gathering has helped me to understand the importance of bounded space/time. In many cases, though, it seems like time is the most important element. For instance, while "I Am Here" days are certainly a lustrous concept, I would have believed Parker if she shared that it had disintegrated into a dull, disorganized gathering simply because of its bold proposition for the amount of time involved, and somewhat nebulous boundaries of geographic space. Yet it became a rewarding and sought-after gathering because of its definite shape in time, regardless of the volume of it. "We discovered from these experiments that spending twelve hours together as a group is fundamentally different from spending four hours together on three separate occasions. The longer you're together, the more reality sets in. You can only chitchat for so long." (137) Similarly, I was intrigued by Parker's mention of Platon's white box, with which he is "displacing his subjects from the context that they're in and is, through this physical object, connecting them to all the other photo shoots (and therefore people) who have come before them." (64) Time operates differently in this example, but it still serves as the basis for displacing an individual from the usual tempo, concerns, and distractions of their everyday lives, thus producing the space necessary for a fruitful gathering to take place. I like the idea of trying to "make sure the energy isn't leaking out," (65) but there is also value in allowing the energy to seep in prior to the gathering. With Parker's less than ideal dinner party, she realized in retrospect that a gesture as simple as sending a primer email of sorts to build anticipation and to equip the guests with the tools for experiencing the gathering positively would have worked wonders. This prompted me to wonder: what is the role of the guest in enabling a successful gathering? How much responsibility is placed on each guest, beyond simply following the guidance and/or rules offered by the host?

... a few more particles ...

*ritualization of the gathering - focus shifts to form over content; needs are neglected to the detriment of the participants

*keep away your Bobs

*what it isn't helps to see what it is

*have a desired outcome

*visibility? ("everyone could see one another at the same time and thereby function as a kind of organism." (52))

*"Etiquette allows people to gather because they are the same. Pop-up rules allow people to gather because they are different—yet open to having the same experience." (121)

*"It's rare for groups of people to do things together for a sustained amount of time. We all carry with us the technical capacity to be anywhere, to check out of the present time or space. That means we always could be doing anything. So the active choice to do ONE thing and to do it with a fixed set of people is significant." (139)