Johnnie Moore

A deeper appreciation of Antonio Dias

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Antonio Dias asks two great questions in the comments to his post on drowning (which I blogged the other day). The first is:

How do we engage with people who are trapped in b&w thinking without pushing them deeper into their delusions?

It is so easy to trigger people’s defensiveness by being critical. I wonder if when I attack pomposity I’m being a kind of blusterer myself? Antonio asks his second tougher question:

How do we keep from practicing just another form of b&w thinking by acting as critics, setting up just another form of opposition, a new version of the old conflicts?

That’s a good question to live in, as Chris Corrigan would say. It identifies a trap I easily fall into, of preaching a need to understand paradox and ambiguity… in an intolerant way.

Antonio’s extraordinary flow of writing both challenges and comforts me. Lately, I’ve caught myself engaging in the kind of tense, drowning thinking and reminded myself to relax into a more floating way of being with life’s challenges. I think reading his material is a good practice in holding that distinction.

His post on Planning, Superimposition and Palimpsest is another that I’ve felt very moved by. There is a density to his writing that can be intimidating. Read Antonio impatiently, read it like prose, and his style and content can feel frustrating, like being caught it weeds or nettles. Read it like poetry and instead, I feel more I am held with love by the ideas he expresses.

I’m going to excerpt one paragraph but it doesn’t really do justice to the whole piece. It touches some deep chord in me about accepting the ebb and flow of life and the certainty of death and decay.

A palimpsest takes us out of the optimist/pessimist binary of Progress/Dissolution. It hints at a relationship towards what is that builds while also recognizing that every construction is conditional and provisory. The result is not to remain pitting progress against decay, but taking what each can give us and putting them into relationship with each other. The truth within the parts is held in relationship to the truth between the parts. What is said, what is eroded, what is lost, what is restated, and how; they all proceed over time and with shifts of contingency and attention….

I don’t have an a complete answer to Antonio’s question about managing our black-and-white responses to black-and-white thinking but I think having a sense of humour will help. Woody Allen is pretty wise to how our hunger for the mystical gets waylaid by our greed for the certain. I’ve often quoted his quip about his desire to

forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. And then see if I can get them mass-produced in plastic.

Antonio invites us to stay in the smithy.

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