Saturday, November 06, 2004

ULA Internal Stuff

The main problem the ULA has had from the beginning is getting members and interested parties to think in terms not of "I," but "we." Baseball announcer Joe Morgan has said that on the best teams, players realize they benefit AS INDIVIDUALS when they put the team first. Putting down a sacrifice bunt to advance a runner benefits the individual if the team wins. As Moragn put it, when you think about team, "Good things happen."

There's an appropriateness to this idea. There IS karma in the universe. Things don't occur in a straight line. For people to understand the nature of the universe they need to abandon linear, individualistic thinking. I don't think it's an accident that I've gained the most attention as an individual among ULAers by abandoning much of my own writing and working hardest to promote the team, the ULA name.

In many ways there's no mystery to the idea at all. By promoting the group, the individual benefits. There's synergy in working together. Most writers by nature are so overwhelmingly self-focused they're unable to see this. They play not chess, but checkers-- seeing the game board only one move ahead: as it is at THIS moment of time, instead of what it could look like. They'll always take the pawn-- the chess piece directly in front of them, even if it means abandoning future gain, shutting off future victory.

This is understandable for poets, who are notoriously self-absorbed-- this week's reading the only existent fact in the universe for them. Prosists-- would-be novelists-- should be able to view the world with its layers of complexity from a broader viewpoint. (One reason we have no great novels from the establishment is because those writing them were trained to write insular short stories. They have little experience in any field that would require them to view the world expansively.)

Team: Polar explorers would start out with several teams. When getting close to the goal they would put their energies behind one team-- one push to the destination, knowing that joining forces and focus was the only way to triumph. This is thinking I try to give to ULAers, not often successfully. They join up and move into the spartan ULA barracks, where the only topic, the only goal, is working together to get to the compassed destination-- but they want to bring all their baggage with them. Dozens of large suitcases! filled with unneeded soft summer clothes, with silly games and distractions; with their own personal much-beloved projects which are fine and well but have nothing to do with conquering the culture; with getting to "the pole," the problem at hand. As the hard-trained explorers ready their dogs, their gear, and themselves for the struggle ahead, the new person, dressed in spotless white-- polo shirt and shorts-- is thinking about tennis! waving around a racket, all eagerness relating stories of the lawns of Wimbledon 10,000 miles away-- you want to tell the person there are no lawns or tennis courts where we're traveling.

When we do set out with our huskies and our sleds the person will be snoring away loudly, unprepared, unserious, not an Amundsen pro but a Robert Scott amateur who might best have stayed in comfortable Britain among the ladies and tea cups.

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