I said I would return to the topsy-turvy nature of The Lichtenbergian Society's attitudes towards failure and success and here we are. In case you didn't go read last Friday's post like I told you to, the deal is that the Society meets every December for its Annual Meeting, and part of the agenda is each member has to account for the previous year's Proposed Efforts, i.e., did he or did he not accomplish them?
The Society's Charter states that its purpose is "the promulgation and promotion of Lichtenbergianism." (It also states that "the duty and the right to define, for the betterment of all Mankind, the meaning of Lichtenbergianism is restricted to the Members of the SOCIETY," just in case you were thinking of starting a splinter cult.)
Part of the joke is that to be a member in good standing, you must have successfully procrastinated on any number of creative efforts during the year. And so it is with some pride that a member will own up to not having accomplished a Proposed Effort with a rueful "Cras melior est" at the Annual MeetingIt's regarded as something of a shame to have accomplished all your goals: you have betrayed the high ideals of what it means to be a Lichtenbergian.
But then people began publishing books and plays, or doing world tours, or becoming a perfect corporate tool, and it was just a bit much. We instituted Censure as part of the annual proceedings, because really, how were we supposed to maintain the integrity of the group if its members kept doing things? Members are now called upon to defend their success or face Censure or, worse, expulsion from the Society. Hilarity generally ensues.
What is this about? Are we actually slagging our members for being successful?
Of course not. It's a RITUAL that maintains the order and comity of the group. As we've come to realize, failure is always an option in the creative process, and ABANDONMENT is a key Precept. To abandon our jokey stance on what it means to be a member in good standing would put us all at risk of collapsing under the pressure to succeed, to do All The Things RIGHT.
Censure is an extension of the joke that permits us to fail at our attempts. We are able to recognize our fellow Lichtenbergians' success, to applaud it in fact, by asking them to explain how that success does not negate their commitment to the High Ideals of the Society. Conversely, those who were not as fortunate in their efforts are able to hold their head high, because their procrastination yielded the desired results.
Finally, the RITUAL of Censure underscores our commitment to the idea that we create because we must create, not because we are seeking success by doing so. As I wrote on Friday, create for your audience; create for your audience; create for your audience. Hm. Perhaps I need that on a t-shirt.
Feel free to leave comments on this or any other post!