Wednesday, February 15, 2012
orthogonality and good craic
i read an article about the santa fe institute that has me once again, in fits of longing for intellectual company. founded back in the 80s, they have created an intellectual environment par excellence. they have a number of scientists, researchers and humanists in residence at all times and every conversation that takes place must be an interesting one. their founding premise is "that intellectual vitality arises from people interacting across a wide range of disciplines." they have even coined a term for it: orthogonality.
i think i have long known the value of orthogonality and even used it in my work - there is great value in bringing together people who don't look on the surface like they have much in common and seeing what kind of sparks fly. i've had quite a lot of workshops where people were skeptical of the group i brought together - from ship captains to cartoonists to flash developers to learning specialists to gospel singers - but sparks always flew and magic ALWAYS happened. so there IS something to orthogonality.
in the article, novelist cormac mccarthy, who spends a lot of time at the SFI, says he does so because of the "good craic." that's another thing i'm craving - good craic. craic is a gaelic word meaning lively chat or conversation. husband and i have great conversations on a daily basis, but it would be nice to have some others, some fresh blood, so to speak. let's face it, after 15 years of knowing one another and having these discussions, husband and i are pretty much on the same page.
a friend sent me an email about a conversation group she started - it features wine (always a plus) and meets approximately monthly. each member submits an article that the other members read and then they get together and discuss over a glass or two of wine - sort of like a book club. hers is more career/business-oriented, whereas i think i'm looking for something quite philosophical. it doesn't need to be a formal think tank or have fellowships and high-powered macarthur grant recipients like they have in santa fe - i just need intellectual stimulation and input. good craic.