Unreal Nature

November 1, 2016

By Disintegrating, These Communities Irradiate society

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… characterized not as a loss or failure but as a type of “transitoriness” which remains “part of the perfection” of the most intensely motivated intentional communities.”

This is from the very end of Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College: 1933-1957 by Helen Molesworth (2015):

… In the second edition of Communitas, published in 1960, the Goodmans updated the section on intentional communities to address their often-inevitable dissolution. By “disintegrating,” these communities “irradiate society with people who have been profoundly touched by the excitement of community life, who do not forget the advantages but try to realize them in new ways.”

[line break added] The Goodmans suggested that they “are like those ‘little magazines’ and ‘little theaters’ that do not outlive their first few performances, yet from them comes all the vitality of the next generation of everyone’s literature.” In the case of Black Mountain, this phenomenon can be found directly in the rise of such journals as Black Mountain Review and Jonathan Williams’s Jargon Society, which transmitted the ideas of the college’s dispersed community of writers and poets after its closing. And more diffusely, the notion of community that undergirds Communitas can be seen in the turn toward socially engaged practices within more recent contemporary art.

[line break added] The concept of art as a “social practice” and the self-organization of artist-run collectives that have come to prominence within contemporary art since the 1990s, for example, reflect many of the motives and desires of those who headed to the intentional communities that developed out of Black Mountain. What is compelling about the Goodmans’ assessment is that the breakup of intentional communities is characterized not as a loss or failure but as a type of “transitoriness” which remains “part of the perfection” of “the most intensely motivated intentional communities.”

My most recent previous post from Molesworth’s book is here.

-Julie

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