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Envisioning the Policy-making Experience of the Future

Poetry-making and Policy-making (Part #1)


Part I of Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast (1993)


How can we go about creatively envisioning the poetic experience of policy-making in a time to come? If the marriage works, then any progeny could well be quite different from both parents. Our imagination must necessarily be stretched. It is important to recognize that the product of this union will not replace the parents. Rather it performs a new function reflecting a creative union of their concerns. Perhaps it should be thought of as a "keystone" or "arena of conversion" between two approaches to reality. Perhaps it is the place from which policies can be engendered and emerge. And perhaps it is the place from which poetic imagination can derive new materials vital to our collective future. In these senses it is not the place of policy-making itself but rather a new place at which "policy-precursors" are made -- perhaps to be understood as the templates on which policies are built and by which they are integrated.

1. Paradigmatic courtship

The environment for this conjoining would be one rich in metaphoric seeds which participants could trigger. In the early phases of this joining process the different factions would "struggle" with each other, perhaps in ways best comprehended as courtship. Each would use metaphors and other poetic devices (notably rhythm) to intrigue, ensnare, entrain and seduce the others. Perhaps the skill of a fisherman casting a net, or a sorcerer casting a spell, give some sense of the process. Entrancing through music gives another. But, as in any courtship, none of the other factions is so "easily taken in". The response to "sweet words" has always been complex. Each has devices and ploys and the strength to resist those of others.

Much of what already goes on in policy-making environments can be described metaphorically in such terms. The vital difference from a future perspective may lie in their real appreciation of both the cognitive significance of the complex patterns deployed and a much heightened awareness of their aesthetic appropriateness -- or their "goodness of fit" in a design sense. These would be associated with a sense of their sustainability, viability and credibility. Is there not a desirable truth in the potential consonance between the sustainability of a favoured pattern of metaphors and the pattern of organized behaviour for which it might be a template?

aphors and the pattern of organized behaviour for which it might be a template?