Wednesday, April 30, 2014

back in our nest...

My love…

It’s 3 weeks ago today you drove Big Red back down to NC… It’s hard to believe.
It feels like an eternity since you’ve been gone! Coming home to the house quiet (Bubba is still with my folks) was kind of eerie….I went for dinner up at Anna and Ben's (and gave Little A his birthday present - a book of Newfoundland rhymes :) ... and now I'm cozied up in our new sheets and comforter…

Guess what was in the mail today!!?

our first RSVP (to Bellwoods) - from Cath and Norm! :)


3 beautiful postcards from you!!! thank you Baby!! those made my day :) Xxxx

And...I watered all the plants as soon as I got in the door (except the air plants, that will be tomorrow), 
and you'll be happy to see that our little burrow's tail is revived from the multiple waterings I gave him (at your suggestion ;) before i left!

It's looking like the NYC plan is going to work! i'm going to chat with Leila and the gang again tomorrow and Friday, but I'm hoping we can book return flights before the seat sale ends on May 02!
It would be really fun to be down there with you...too bad the show will be 2 days before you land! :( ...

I'm really excited for Arn to visit and for us to chat about homebrewing. Ben was so inspired about my St. John's experience that he just ordered us a bunch of materials. We are going to try to make Harpoon IPA (Ben's favorite - from Boston)...

Ali started daycare 2 days ago. Apparently he really likes it. And the caregiver makes them all vegan organic soup and bread everyday! (I wish i could go there too! :)

Ok my roo - I'm so excited to chat with you. And to see you too. I miss you so much! (I just had a little time to myself for the first time in a week and let's just say you were on my mind (!) ;) ....

You are the most beautiful, sexy, creative, loving, and inspiring woman!! You don't even know how much you rock my world...

I hope you are dreaming sweetly...soon I will be too. With sweet dreams of you...

And in case you forgot what a handsome devil I am...

Goodnight honeyheart!! I love youu..

Xxxxox your P

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wittgenstein and Windystein...

hi lover...

we are just home after a wrap-up pint downtown. we visited friends of kieran's out in torbay (about a 15 min drive outside of st. is what the weather was like when we hiked nearby:

the wind was SO STRONG AND COLD!!! it was like little salt and ice chunks blowing into your face!! like an ice/salt facial!! it almost blew us over!!! is an excerpt from the Wittgenstein book I am reading, "The Blue and Brown Books"...

"But if we had to name anything which is the life of the sign, we should have to say that was its use....The mistake we are liable to make could be expressed thus: WE are looking for the use of a sign, but we look for it as though it were an object co-existing with the sign. (One of the reasons for this mistake is again that we are looking for a "thing corresponding to a substantive.")
      The sign (the sentence) gets its significance from the system of signs, from the language to which it belongs. Roughly: understanding a sentence means understanding a language.
      As part of a system of language, one may say, the sentence has life."

I am really interested in his thinking about language, and systems, and context...and I feel some overlap with your work...but I have to do some more reading first. That is just a teaser. :) ...

I am going to bed now, and going to look at the other goodies you sent me a couple of blog posts ago...

We are getting up pretty early, have to pack up, head to the airport, and fly mid-day...Hopefully the weather will cooperate!!

I love you to the moon baby boo. I got your email about rent too (just realized I hadn't responded)...It's all good :) I will keep track of everything, don't you worry!!

I'm excited to have a nice long (and hopefully with clear reception!) talk with you before your weekend trip. I'm really happy you are getting away, spending time with Sigrid (I'm sure she will appreciate time with you so much), enjoying Copes, and a little time away from GG...

love love love love I love youuuuu XXXXxxxxxx

Monday, April 28, 2014

the sweetest thing

hi love...

i love that quilt!! i will reconnect with my Mom, and see what we can create ;) ...

i am really sleepy now...

i just want to send you a couple of treats before bed...



DIANA @ Wavelength Festival

i am really excited to hear what you have to say about my show. and i'm glad you reminded me about 'everything has changed'! i will have to rework that one...i think it is a good one, too!

tomorrow morning i'm going to bike to moksha yoga. hooray! i'm so stiff from sitting around all day on the computer.

i hope you awake refreshed, and go work up a nice morning sweat (mmmm...), and have a lovely summery, skaelskor day. and any moment you are feeling discouraged, or a bit down, or frustrated, or struggling, i want you to pause for a moment, move the feeling to your palm...and roll it up into a little walnut sized ball...and then, close your eyes, and feel my arms gently reaching around your waist, giving you a gentle and loving squeeze, then, opening your hand, taking the discouragement, any feeling that you don't really want hanging around, any tiresome struggle, anything that is there that you want to let go of, and just feel it move from your hand into mine, and i will take it, and i will slowly open my arms, and let you get back to work... and i'll take it over to the ocean and toss it in there for you. and it will float away. offer valid ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. FOREVER.

just like your massage card :)

i love you beyond words.

everything has changed.

goodnight sweetheart...

XXxoxox your Paul

A patchwork quilt that makes me swoon

I just came back to GG from a trip to the Genbrug where I got you a little prize for the office. I LOVE it!

I have been shoveling dirt and rocks all morning with Rachel. It felt amazing! Now I am going to go over and try to join the gym…I want to work out in the mornings, and I can't rely on the enthusiasm of others, I just gotta DO IT. my self;)

I just read your very very very beautiful email.
Your evening sounds so amazing. It makes me pine for you back.
I am MORE than thrilled to come home to you. I almost can TASTE the beauty of our back yard!

It is going to be amazing. So wonderful to be with you and ride bikes with you and swim with you and sun with you and sex with yuoouououou…

I found this amazing quilt maker
I really love this! I wish we could convince your mom to make us one like that! Even if she chose all different blues or something, but put it together like that in a a bold pattern. OMG! I would love it….

Isn't it beautiful???

Aren't you the MOST Beautiful?
I have been looking at all kinds of lovely vases, and apothecary bottles…

And making OUR little tiny succulent pots…
They are going to be the sweetest! I tell yououoouououououou…

I think Dan is so lovely. and I would love to have a new friend (Daniella!) who loves the warmth and maybe we can all escape Toronto sometimes with trips to LA to make art and music;)

I STILL want to tell you about my experience listening to your live set! It was pretty magical for me, but NOW, I also feel like I should listen to it again, as days passed and now I am not as fresh with my observations/experience. What I will say is….
It was SO good.
There was so much potential (especially in a couple of the songs) that I became really really excited for your album. For your process. For your lyrics and lyricism….
I also RE-love "Everything Has Changed" somehow that song really melted me, (it came on  right after the set, as it was in my iTunes that way….) and then i decided to listen to all the songs you have sent me.

The Curse song is really really something special and there were other ones in the set that I loved, but I had never heard, so I will have to remember the number, but I think there is one about "coming home, but you are not there"….wow. that is a winner. So poignant. so sincere.

I love you to my TOES and I can't wait to hold you in my arms too!
And dance with you.! I want to dance with youoouououououou….
and make love to you.
A lot.

I think you are the greatest. Just the best!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunday morning...

Hi baby...

it's 10:30pm and we haven't even left for the club yet. they play late here! we were scheduled for midnight, and the festival organizer asked us to go on at 1am instead! sheesh...i'm getting old i guess, but i feel like i should be asleep by then!

i wish you were here and we could have a few drinks and laugh and dance and then cozy up and sleep in late (it's a bit chilly here, and i don't have you OR little bubs for additional bed warmth!)

tomorrow is jos' birthday, and we are going to make him a cake. chocolate pear i think...but it's a secret so we'll have to bake it maybe next door at kieran's sister's? (kieran's sister and mom live right next door to each other...)

we had a really great dinner at the Sprout. miso broth with rice noodles, tofu, broccoli, and other veggies. i had the same dinner about 8 years ago when i played here with the hidden cameras. SO GOOOD.. i'm 'onna make it for you!

we are headed out now my love...i will find you tomorrow and we can have a nice long chat...

i miss you miss you miss you
i love you love you love you
 you are my one you are my one you are my one
not long now not long now not long now!!...

Xxxoxoxo Your Paulie

Sweetheart...thank you for all the links! So much great stuff to catch up on :) We just had a nice hikr up signal hill, and now are getting picked up to go to the club in 45 min...

There is no internet here at Kieran's mom' I can't post pix until I get a mobile app or something...for now it's old school analog posting.

Do you know what an incredible writer you are?

When you write me I really feel you through the words. And not just because I love you, but also because you communicate so generously, openly, warmly and articulately. (Is that even a word!?) ... It really means so much.
You show me how to be open. You show me how it is to share and give in language. And action too :)

I have to get things ready before we get picked up but I will find you later. My arms across the Atlantic, reaching for you. My heart too.

Xxxx your P

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 3: Whitney Biennial and Ceramics

This is an interesting conversation about ceramics and "high/fine" art and "ceramics"

I love the term "Sloppy Craft" or something like that!

and this too about Ruby's Works…
(he is not a "ceramicist" or does not identify as one)

A Ted Talk, I love….On Being Wrong…..

Did I send this to you already?

I want to celebrate YOU!

I wonder if I ever mentioned how much it means to me that you are letting me change YOUR house into OUR house….I think about it, and I appreciate it, and I am sorry if I don't say it enough…

I want to practice being FLEXIBLE….elastic…


More free and confident and not get too bogged down in a continuous listening for criticism.

I feel that I (and human beings) have a listening for criticism….
I want to have a listening for LOVE.

A listening for compassion and generosity…
A listening for dreaming and taking things on, not for diminishing or making wrong…

I love you so much darling man….

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love to youououoouou

Thank you for that lovely talk today.

You have challenged me to find my beauty and contribution in the face of ANYTHING….

I remember who I am here….There…..with you….near my heart that hurts and heals.

My heart hurts and heals….hurts….and heals….

I move through the day with my eyes up at the sky. The small bits that want to fall kept tucked perfectly against my side. My smile in place….

I do not know what the world will give me next, but I know the world gave me to you. and you to me.

I loved the Cass McComb song so very much….

tears and a wonderful feeling deep inside of me.
A melting. a softening. a deepening. So beautiful

OK. Now I am going to send you some hip hop! hahahahahaaa….
It was  making me feel better….

This song is my favorite to work out to/ dance by myself….

This makes me laugh (but secretly I envy her moves!!) I wanna practice on you….ITs SO sexy….but I think I am not supposed to think so;)

And just because I want this to be played at our wedding;)

Wonder without Wounds….

DOI: 10.1177/1744935911406178
© The Author(s), 2011. Reprints and permissions:

Wonders without wounds:
On singularity, museum and
Ruud Kaulingfreks School of Management, University of Leicester, UK; University of Humanistics Utrecht,The Netherlands
Sverre Spoelstra Department of Business Administration, Lund University, Sweden René ten Bos Department of Management Sciences, Radboud University,
The Netherlands
This paper consists of two parts.The first provides a philosophical history of the concept of wonder, taking Heidegger’s reading of the Greek verb thaumazein (‘to wonder’) as its point of departure. It shows how the Greek sense of wonder, under- stood as a dwelling in the everyday, has changed over time.Wonder becomes under- stood as curiosity and amazement, and gradually turns into something suspicious in the modern age.The second part illustrates how the modern loss of wonder that Heidegger speaks of can also be seen in the history of the Western museum, in par- ticular its transition from Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, to the birth of the modern museum at the end of the eighteenth century.The paper argues that the modern museum has developed a way of organis- ing its objects that destroys their singularity, and that thereby the experience of won- der in the Greek sense of thaumazein is lost.The tentative conclusion suggests that the hostility to wonder as manifested in the modern museum can also be found in forms of modern organisation in general, and that it is embodied in organisational figures like the manager, the professional and the knowledge worker.
Key words thaumazein Wunderkammer singularity planning
Nature is miracle all. She knows no laws; the same returns not, save to bring the different.
(Benjamin Paul Blood (1832–1917), quoted in Deleuze 2007: 67)
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Business organisations are fascinated by miracles: from the German Wirtschaftswunder and the ‘Japanese miracle’ to ‘management panaceas’ and ‘miracle cures’ for a bewil- dering variety of organisational ailments (Fincham 2000; Spoelstra 2010). This won- derful appearance of business also extends to the workplace. For some authors, work no longer needs to be a place of hardship and suffering. The knowledge economy would extract value out of creative people who have fun and happily express their authentic selves (Fleming and Sturdy 2009). More and more organisations are also themselves in the business of offering dreams, utopias, magical products and other marvellous experiences through image work and branding efforts (Brown 2005; Pine and Gilmore 1999). For some, we are witnessing a reenchantment or ‘Disneyization’ of social life through business (Bryman 2004; Ritzer 2004).
Work and organisation as something wonderful – can this be true? Of course, this very much depends on how the concept of wonder is understood in the first place. The concept of wonder has a rich history, as does the relationship between organisation and wonder. This paper attempts to shed light on the complex links between wonder and organisation along two trajectories. First, we give a historical account of the concept of wonder. Drawing in particular upon Heidegger’s reading of the Ancient Greek concept of thaumazein (‘to wonder’), we trace how the meaning of wonder changes over time. Wonder becomes a form of curiosity and amazement, and gradually turns into some- thing suspicious in the modern age. Second, we illustrate how the modern loss of won- der that Heidegger speaks of can also be seen in the history of the Western museum, in particular in its transition from Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, to the birth of the modern museum at the end of the eight- eenth century. We argue that the modern museum organises its objects against the pos- sibility of wonder. In contrast to the Wunderkammer, which sought to generate curiosity, the modern museum undermines the possibility of wonder by placing exhibited objects into a series that is considered to contain more truth than the singular objects them- selves. In the brief concluding discussion that follows, we tentatively suggest that the same process may be seen in many managerial and organisational practices. Like the modern museum, managerial practices such as strategy and risk management may be seen as an attempt to expel wonder (in the sense of thaumazein) from our lives.
A brief history of wonder
The history of wonder is intertwined with the history of philosophy. Both Plato and Aristotle understood wonder as the starting point of philosophy. In Metaphysics, Aristotle (1966: 9), proposes the following:
For it was because of wonder that man both now and originally began to philosophise. To begin with, they wondered at those puzzles that were to hand, such as about the affections of the moon and events connected with the sun and the stars and the universe.
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The Greek verb thaumazein (θαυμα ́ζειν) means ‘to wonder’. It has a clear association with seeing or looking: theaomai means ‘to look at something with wonder’. Etymologically, the word is related to ‘theatre’ or theatron. Yet, we should be careful not to jump to hasty conclusions: the wondering philosopher is not looking at the world as if it is just a grand and marvellous spectacle. In fact, we will see that thau- mazein is a kind of seeing that elicits thought. As such, it is different from what we refer to as curiosity, which sees only in order to see.
One of the problems that we encounter in discussing the topic is that Aristotle never precisely defined what thauma (‘wonder’) might mean. Nonetheless, he is very clear about what might cause wonder in the philosopher: puzzles and, more precisely, puzzles that are close at hand. The Greek word for ‘puzzle’ is aporia. Plato had already spoken about wonder in relation to aporia. In Theaetetus (Plato 1973: 155d), he argues that ‘a sense of wonder is the mark of the true philosopher’ and ‘that philosophy has no other origin’. But preceding this famous passage is a rather complex discussion between Theaetetus and Socrates about certain philosophical dilemmas that do not allow for easy solutions and that leave both men with an acute feeling of helplessness (cf. Theaetetus (Plato 1973: 155c8–10)). These dilemmas are aporetic and the subsequent feeling of helplessness is perhaps what we might refer to as thaumazein. To wonder means that you ‘are in an aporia’, a state of perplexity, because one finds that there is no easy solution available (see also Parmenides (Plato 1973: 130c)). Thaumaston or ‘perplexing’ is how we describe those arguments that one finds impossible to accept but that nonetheless cannot be avoided. Literally, aporia means ‘no passage’, or ‘no way out’. Those, like Theaetetus or Socrates, who are sensitive to these kinds of puzzles are capable of doing philosophy.
For Heidegger, who is arguably the pre-eminent philosopher struggling with the concept of wonder, Plato and Aristotle already symbolise a loss of it. When he dis- cusses the notion of wonder (Erstaunen) in the lectures he gave at the University of Freiburg in 1937 and 1938, he refers to a certain kind of Grundstimmung (‘founding attunement’) that we are not capable of any more. The founding attunement of won- der is what allowed the Greeks to think. That we have lost our sense of wonder is, for Heidegger (1992), a process that started with Plato, and he is at pains to show that this means that we cannot truly think any more. What we have done is to translate thaumazein into curiosity, but curiosity is not the disposition that allows us to think. We will return to this later in this section.
According to Heidegger, when we speak of wonder today we use the term in three different ways, all different in meaning from the Greek thaumazein: amazement, admi- ration and astonishment. Amazement can occur when we look at the performance of a magician whose trick we cannot explain. Heidegger points out that this inability to explain (nicht-erklären-können) is inauthentic: if we really would like to know the ins and outs of the trick, we will be able to explain it. Every trick is, after all, imitable. Moreover, if we see the magician’s trick over and over again, it will eventually become banal and boring, even when we refrain from explaining it. Boredom, Heidegger points out, is amazement’s greatest enemy. To put it somewhat differently, amazement seeks to avoid boredom, but it will ultimately fail.
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Admiration, for Heidegger, implies that those who allows themselves to be admired is somehow of a lower rank for they allow themselves to be judged according to the viewpoints and norms of the admirer. More important for our purposes, however, is that with admiration we see the same problem as with amazement: it always requires more and more. Nowadays, people who want to be famous need to do more and more in order to get what they want because there are already so many famous people.
Finally, astonishment or dumbfoundedness is what happens when the inability to explain – nicht-erklären-können – truly applies. The truly awesome is even in the end inexplicable. The sublime can never be completely understood, Heidegger claims, and it is our astonishment that allows what is so unusual to grow bigger and bigger. But here again lurks the danger of banality: awesomeness loses its appeal after repetition.
These three forms of what we nowadays understand as wonder assume that it is always about something extraordinary. It is only what is not normal or habitual that might cause wonder in us. Heidegger (1992: 157) argues, however, that this kind of wonder is much more akin to curiosity or marvel. Curiosity is, indeed, the founding attunement of how we nowadays deal with the extraordinary or unusual. But this attunement is miles away from the Greek sense for wonder. In section 38 of Grundfragen der Philosophie, Heidegger lays down 13 theses about thaumazein. We will not list them here but the overall point is that nowadays we may try to understand and eventually gain an understanding of what the Greek understood by wonder, but we will never regain the same kind of attunement. Thaumazein is an attunement in which one finds the usual rather than the unusual extraordinary. In wonder, the Greeks believed that even the most banal and normal things become unusual, at least in one respect, to wit, ‘they are what they are’ (Heidegger 1992: 166–7). To put it paradoxically, the extraordinary is right under our noses. It is not unusual at all, and perhaps this is what Aristotle meant when he argued that the puzzles or aporias he mused about are close at hand. Indeed, one might argue that Heidegger’s own phi- losophy is one last grand and necessarily vain effort to transform the usual once more into something extraordinary that might elicit our wonder. That beings are, no matter how normal they may be, is what is wondrous.
The consequence of this attunement, Heidegger points out, is thought. Thought is always what alerts us to the idea that things that make us wonder are always some- where between the usual and the unusual. Beings as beings (to on hè on) are wondrous. Wonder, in other words, opens up a space in which beings reveal their being. Only when one wonders, can one ask the most fundamental question: why are there beings at all instead of nothing? Curiosity would never allow for such a question: it simply presupposes the being as usual and takes only an interest in the unusual. Wonder, however, is captivated by the usual as well.
The space that is opened up by wonder is where beings reveal their being. The human being (Dasein) is capable of wonder because it finds itself in this space too, as a being among other beings. The human being is in the Da; that it is there, alongside other beings, is what allows for the founding attunement called thaumazein. But to be alongside other beings does indeed provoke a kind of astonishment, because Dasein
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always notices that it is excluded from the other beings it encounters. Wonder and the feeling of exclusion are close allies. Dasein suffers from this exclusion. It is an exclusion from nature, but here nature should be understood in the old Greek sense of phusis which, according to Heidegger, means ‘beings as beings’. That Dasein is excluded from the ‘holding sway’ of all these beings is also what causes a fundamental Unheimlichkeit (uncanniness): a feeling that one is not at home in the world.
In the end, what is normal proves to elicit one of the most unsettling experiences Dasein can ever have. When what is usual becomes unusual – this is exactly what thaumazein allows for – being as such loses its reliability. The Greeks, starting with Plato and Aristotle, already began to domesticate the uncanny experience of wonder. They did it by wagering on technè: a whole range of procedures and techniques comes into being in order to tame whatever elicits our wonder (Rubinstein 2008: 13–4). The founding attunement of the Greeks itself was slowly replaced by an entirely new kind of attunement, an ‘avidity for the new’, a Neugier, a curiosity.
In Sein und Zeit, Heidegger (1982: 172) points out that we are dealing here with an attunement that allows us to see not in order to understand or think but in order to see. What curiosity is avid to see is always the new. The most important difference with wonder in the Greek sense of the word is that curiosity refuses to dwell with whatever it sees: it is always looking for something new. Curiosity is restless and as such it is unrelated to the kind of contemplation evoked by wonder. It has no interest in wonder, let alone in understanding. Heidegger argues that we live in an age of curiosity. Most people nowadays would probably consider what the Greeks deemed to be wondrous as hopelessly boring. What is exciting about pondering beings as beings in their ordinary usualness?
We, curious creatures, do not ‘dwell’ in whatever triggers our curiosity. Insofar as thinking requires this dwelling, which might here be understood as being in proxim- ity to whatever requires our reflection, it might be argued that we do not think any more. We suffer from distraction and are constantly drawn away from the wondrous, ‘lured into the alleged bedazzlement of the extraordinary’ (Elliott 2006: 226). The wonder as a wound from which we, as beings who are excluded from phusis, indelibly suffer, is now being replaced by an insatiable avidity for the new, which is, for all its restlessness, not nearly as unsettling as this particular wonder. This relationship between wonder and wounds is something that will be developed in the next section.
Heidegger offers us a history of decline: where human beings were once capti- vated by wonder, they now have curiosity. In between many things happened and here we can only offer a very brief outline of what might have been going on. Crucial in the history is at least the idea that wonder is no longer related to what is ordinary or usual. Christian philosophers such as St Augustine (354–430), who might have been the first thinker offering a more or less systematic account of wonder, clearly tried to disentangle wonder from what is normal or ordinary. In his De Utilitate Credendi (On the Profit of Believing), he defines wonder as ‘whatever appears that is difficult or unu- sual above the hope or power of them who wonder’ (Augustine 2009: 34). Augustine also made clear why wonders are so rare: if human beings would be overrun by them,
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then their belief would only be based on what is very easy to see and not on effort or emotion. Even though wonders are unusual and arduous to comprehend, Augustine also points out that they are clearly not contrary to nature. More precisely, wonders are contrary to our knowledge of nature. Ignorance of causes is a necessary but insuf- ficient hallmark of wonder. For an omniscient being, God himself, there can be no wonder. For feeble human beings with finite minds there must be wonders.
Augustine’s emphasis on lacking knowledge and exceptionality sets him apart from the Greek understanding of wonder. However, Augustine still remains close to the Greeks when he claims that he is, of course, aware of the wondrous nature of the world as such. How can this world, being God’s own creation, not be a miracle? But he also points out that for human beings it is very difficult to understand that the everyday world too is a wonder since it has become part and parcel of their constant experience. So, as a good believer, Augustine knows that there should be no intrinsic difference between the mundane world and the world of wonders, but he is adamantly clear that the second world has an entirely different impact on human beings. In this way, he relegates the essence of wonder to the subjective world of human experiences. It is not the event as such that counts, but rather the effect it has on the individual.
This became an all-important issue for the scholastics as well. In a famous pas- sage, Aquinas writes the following:
Things that are done occasionally by divine power outside of the usual established order of events are commonly called miracles (wonders). We wonder when we see an effect and do not know the cause. And because one and the same cause is sometimes known to some and unknown to others, it happens that of the witnesses of the effect some wonder and some do not wonder: thus an astronomer does not wonder at seeing an eclipse of the sun, at which a person that is ignorant of astronomy cannot help wondering. An event is wonderful relatively to one man and not to another. The absolutely wonderful is that which has a cause absolutely hidden. (Aquinas 2009: 101)
In this passage, we see the introduction of an idea that will become crucially impor- tant for modernity as well. When we allow for the possibility that something can be a wonder for the ignorant and not be a wonder for the expert, then we should also allow for the possibility that what we might deem to be a wonder at this moment can later become something that can be perfectly explained and in this sense be normal. In fact, Aquinas envisages a special role for the expert when it comes to an evaluation of what some people might think is a wonder. The debunking of wonder becomes from now on a permanent possibility.
With modernity, an even more devastating assault on wonder sets in. Descartes is still ambivalent about wonder. He refers to it as the first of the passions, ‘a sudden surprise of the soul which makes it tend to consider attentively those objects which seem to it rare and extraordinary’ (Descartes, quoted in Daston and Park 2001: 13). Descartes makes a distinction between wonder as an event and wonder as an experi- ence (passion). We may entertain doubts about the possibility of wonderful events,
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but should we also dismiss the concomitant experience? Spinoza is bluntly pointing out that we should. Wonders, he argues, fall outside the laws of nature in the sense that they seem to suspend or even destroy these laws. Waking up the dead or walking on water clearly defies the laws of nature. The problem, however, is that there can be nothing outside nature. More poignantly, since the laws of nature are nature, there can be nothing that defies these laws. Therefore, we should also dismiss wonder as an emotion. In Ethica, Spinoza (2002: 318–9) writes that admiratio is an imagination that stalls (defixa) the mind because it is so singular (singularis imaginatio) that it cannot be linked to other imaginations. The mind operates by linking (concatenatea) one imagi- nation to the other and when it is not capable of doing this it simply does not function properly. We will see in the next section how important the alleged singularity of wonder still is. It refuses to belong to a series. The assault on wonder is based on the idea that a reasonable mind produces nothing other than series.
The rational rejection of wonder is apparent in the work of Hume as well. With self-confidence typical of enlightened philosophers – he flatters himself to have found an argument against wonder and all ‘superstitious delusion’ that will ‘be useful as long as the world endures’ (Hume 1982: 110) – he defines wonder as ‘a violation of the laws of nature’ (Hume 1982: 114). Being outside the common cause of nature, they must also be outside the uniform experience that reasonable human beings have with respect to nature. For example, it is no miracle when all of a sudden a healthy man dies. This may be unusual, but it has been frequently observed to happen. It would be a miracle, however, if a dead man should come to life since this has never been observed before ‘in any age or any country’ (Hume 1982: 125). For Hume, miracles are not only improb- able but also completely impossible. Like Spinoza, he stresses that they are based on singular experiences that have nothing to do with what reasonable human beings nor- mally experience. He mocks the idea of wonders by pointing out that they always occur in distant places or immemorial times. He also makes a link with curiosity:
The smallest spark may here kindle into the greatest flame; because the materials are always prepared for it. The avidium genus auricularum, the gazing populace, receive greedily, without examination, whatever sooths superstition, and promotes wonder. (Hume 1982: 126)
The Latin expression here stems from Lucretius (1995: 594) who wrote in his De Rerum Natura ‘ut omne humanum genus est avidium nimis auricularum’: all mankind is too eager for hearsay. There are, as Hume makes clear, always many people who are willing to cash in on this propensity.
What for Spinoza and Hume amounts to mere stupidity, for Heidegger becomes a capacity we have lost. The philosophical history of wonder has always suffered from this ambivalence. As Rubinstein (2008: 14) reports in her account of wonder, ‘it is both the height of intellectual attainment and the depth of stupidity, depending on when it strikes.’ As we saw, wonder represents a risk to common experience, to com- mon sense if one likes, and as such it should be delimited and reined in. But at the same time, we always sense a certain kind of unease when it comes to wonder. What
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would we, academics, make of students who are no longer capable of wonder? In other words, while we have to acknowledge that wonder might open the door to stupidity, we may also claim that the inability to wonder is equally stupid. This is what we can refer to as wonder’s own aporia: it is always caught up somewhere between praise and condemnation.
Wonder and wound
Since Heidegger, we have witnessed a certain kind of reappraisal for wonder. Many philosophers no longer agree with the rational condemnation of it. It may be an attunement that we have, as Heidegger argues, become incapable of, but to claim that there is nothing outside common experience or common sense might exemplify a rather impoverished worldview.
Deleuze is probably one of the best examples here. His philosophy offers an original conception of reality that we may link to wonder. Instead of distinguishing between the real and the fantastic (or non-real), Deleuze distinguishes the actual present reality, ‘the actual’, from an infinite number of unexpressed variations of actu- alised reality, called ‘the virtual’. Both the actual and the virtual are real: while the virtual is not actualised, it ‘possesses a full reality by itself’ (Deleuze 1994: 211).
To wonder, we suggest, implies that one gets a glimpse of this unexpressed world. To experience that we are really surrounded by wonders is to feel the presence of the virtual. In the Deleuzian scheme of things, a wonder is a singular object or a singular event. It is something that does not fit into a series or scheme, and hence it is some- thing that is literally extraordinary (but not in the sense that Heidegger lamented, as something fantastic). Wonders fall outside the domain of ordinary experience, common sense, daily expectations, signification or classification. As a singularity, a wondrous ‘object’, if we may use this term, refuses any comparison with other objects. Wonders belong to the virtual rather than the actual. Once a wonder is actualised or expressed, it will be placed into the orders of the actual world and cease to exist as a wonder.
What remains when a wonder becomes actual, is a wound. There might be an etymological connection between the words ‘wonder’ and ‘wound’:
Wonder, from the Old English wundor, might be cognate with the German Wunde or wound. It would thus suggest a breach in the membrane of awareness, a sudden opening in a man’s system of established meanings, a blow as if one were struck or stunned. To be wonderstruck is to be wounded by the sword of the strange event, to be stabbed awake by the striking. (Parsons 1969: 85)
Deleuze also makes this connection when he suggests that the wound is ‘the living trace’ of the wonder, or what he calls ‘the event’ (Deleuze 1990: 149). To wonder is to experience wounds in the sense of remaining open and vulnerable to the virtual. When a wonder happens and immediately disappears, we can still wonder through our ‘wounds’ – through our sense of the virtual. Wonders wound us; they cut through
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the fabric of our sense of reality leaving a trace of undecidability, opening up our actualised world. What we thought was established as normality, more precisely, as part of our normal knowledge of the world, is shattered and broken. The singularity of a wonder leaves a wound in us.
Even though wonders are a distortion of the ordinary, Heidegger pointed out that at least the Ancient Greeks could still wonder about ordinary things. As we have seen, he does not think that this attunement is still available to us. But do we have to agree with this? What if wonder implicates a way of looking that is not guided by motives of explanation, comprehension or prediction? Marion (2008: 127) provides us with the example of the sensation of three colours arranged on top of the other. We are well trained to immediately grasp this sensation as the image of a flag or traffic light, but we may also attempt to see the colours without signification. While doing this, we might get carried away, for example by the intensity of the colours or the exact forms of col- oured spots. This is, of course, not what we usually do. When driving in a car, it is not recommended to ponder the red and green of traffic lights. Normally, most of us are well trained to only experience what fits into the schemes of the actualised world. Can we still think of a world that does not preclude the possibility of such intense experiences?
The Wunderkammer
Perhaps such a world is hinted at in the following quote:
On 13 May 1572, the very day that Ugo Buoncompagni had chosen to return to his hometown to be invested as Gregory XIII (1572–1585), a fearsome dragon appeared in the countryside near Bologna, an omen of terrible times to come. Soon word of its presence spread, and a party was sent out to overtake it. The captured portent was duly carried inside the walls of the city for its citizens to inspect. Entrusted with its disposal, the senator Orazio Fontana consigned the large serpent to his brother-in-law Ulisse Aldrovandi, a collector of strange and wonderful things and an expert in draconology. As cousin of the newly elected Pope, Aldrovandi had an added claim to possess the prodigious serpent; in a strange way, his fortune too was bound to its discovery. The naturalist promptly displayed his latest acquisition in his famous museum, where ‘an infinite number of gentlemen came to my house to see it’. (Findlen 1994: 17)
Aldrovandi had an amazing penchant for collecting. His museum included thousands of curiosities, which he carefully described in a series of books. By the time of his death he had written 63 volumes. Aldrovandi strived for a careful exhibition of everything that nature had produced and, because of his museum, he could call himself the possessor of curiosities and wonders of nature. It is hardly surprising that his collection became famous; many people undertook long journeys to see it. A dwarf was the guide in his museum, underscoring the exceptional character of the displayed objects. The museum called upon the imagination of the visitor by showing the particular: Aldrovandi
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simply concentrated on what draws attention to itself and might make us wonder. By displaying the richness of nature, the museum showed how little human beings were able to understand it. The most important effect was that the visitors whose attitude was, we would argue, more aesthetic than reasonable, became affected by what they saw. They experienced an intense pleasure when looking at the wonders surrounding them.
The first museums in history, these Wunderkammern that were especially popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, still showed their objects as wonders that visitors were supposed to marvel at. As singularities, these wonders are exceptions to the rule: they blur the distinction between the imaginary and the real. Aldrovandi’s museum was a Wunderkammer where people stood face to face with the wonders of nature. People wanted to see with their own eyes how wonderful creation is. Curiosity plays a role here: people were much more interested in the aesthetic experience of all sorts of wonder than objectively grasping them.
If we follow Heidegger’s history of decline, the Wunderkammer already exemplifies a loss of wonder, in the sense of the Greek notion of thaumazein. The curiosity of the visitors is more akin to amazement and admiration than to a dwelling into the ordinary. But in the Wunderkammer we do see the appreciation for the singular. Because wonders are fundamental to the first museums, there can be no structuring or organising prin- ciple that creates order. Only a minute description of every object in itself is possible. What Aldrovandi did in his 63 books is ultimately the same as making a very detailed inventory. He was not able, nor could he conceive the possibility, of making connec- tions between the singularities he collected. Indeed, to do that would merely imply a disrespect for the thing itself, and thus for creation. Wonders show the unthinkable or the omnipotence of the Creator whose workings are by definition far beyond finite comprehension. Each ens creatum stands for itself and cannot be compared.
The explanation of wonder
We have already seen how this changed during the seventeenth century. Nature increasingly becomes something that needed study and explanation. It should be possible to explain away all wonders. What was initially the incomprehensibility of a wonder could from now on be understood by means of scientific methods. Wonders were to be classified in an order or system and therefore they ceased to be wonders. Nature appeared as a kind of hieroglyph that could only be deciphered by applying the right scientific method. This also implies that events in nature can never be understood as singularities but are imbedded in a network of often invisible corre- spondences between different things. Everything is connected to everything, but in a way that is not open to comprehension by the senses. Knowledge of nature is not primarily a matter of vision, let alone something to be infatuated with, but a matter of cool and aloof reasoning. The task that lies at hand is to read nature with reason, and since nothing falls outside this network of correspondences, nothing falls outside reason’s grasp.
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The processes that we are discussing here have been described extensively by Foucault. In his book The Order of Things (Foucault 1974), he develops an archaeology of knowledge that is concerned with questions such as ‘What is, in a given period, taken to be worth knowing?’ or ‘What is there to know?’. According to Foucault, every form of knowing is embedded in what he calls an ‘episteme’. The episteme of the Renaissance is that of resemblance. This means that knowing is directed at finding correspondences. It is not about the things themselves but about hidden correspond- ences between them. Foucault argues that there is an enormous semantic network that allowed researchers to understand the world in terms of resemblances. We will not enter into this here; the point we want to make is very straightforward: the desire to look for resemblances distracts reason from whatever it is that can apparently be resembled in this way. Walnuts or human brains are not interesting as such, but the fact that they look like each other is. Again and again, Foucault claims how rigorously formal knowledge becomes: ‘The world is covered with signs that must be deciphered, and those signs, which reveal resemblances and affinities, are themselves no more than forms of similitude’ (Foucault 1974: 36).
What is important for us is that the interest in wonder is lost, because a wonder refuses comparison. From the Renaissance onwards, people became more and more interested in these comparisons. Nature was conceived of as a network of correspond- ences, the deciphering of which required hard work. Indeed, the new scientific ethos promulgated a new kind of diligence when it came to the debunking of wonder. Spinoza was a clear example: those who, in the face of wonder, stall their minds were not only peculiar but also indolent. To revel in wonder was frowned upon as a form of laziness. One has not adequately studied the object or event when one remains stuck in wonder. Experts do not wonder.
The aesthetic approach, which was characteristic for Aldrovandi’s Wunderkammer, came to be seen as inferior. Enjoyment and awe with respect to what comes to our senses were deemed to be insufficient. One had to dig deeper. One had to decipher the underlying correspondences. From that point, museums did not show wonders but exotica (Findlen 1994), that is, things that are special and raise our attention exactly because we do not meet them in our daily lives and can nevertheless grasp them with our formidable reason. For the purpose of building collections, people travelled fur- ther and further, hoping to find the keys to decipher the signs they had already found nearby. In these far away places, one could find the deeper truth of all resemblances. The museum still showed special and extraordinary things, but with a completely different intention than a century earlier. Perhaps, we may indeed say here that won- der was being replaced by a new kind of curiosity that aimed to subsume anything new or exotic under the unforbidden laws of resemblance. The implication is that the social function of the museum radically changed:
The ideal museum-goer was a man capable of understanding the experience of seeing a museum. ‘Judicious curiosity’, rather than an unbridled appetite for wonder, defined him. Malpighi’s assessment of the qualities of judgement that the papal legate had displayed evoked the sensibilities of the late seventeenth
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century, when the critiques of curiosity by natural philosophers such as Galileo and Descartes had begun to inform the study of nature. By the 1690s, the conduct of learned visitors to the museum had been ‘civilised’, not according to the protocols of gentlemanly behaviour, already in place in the sixteenth century, but according to the etiquette of the new experimental philosophy that castigated the inappropriate uses of wonder. (Findlen 1994: 29)
There was no longer a place for frivolities. The museum was no longer a Wunderkammer. In the scientific museum, the object itself was no longer central. It was merely consid- ered as a reference to a hidden correspondence, an underlying classification, a secret relationship. The catalogue that lists these correspondences appeared. A simple inven- tory was no longer sufficient. The objects had to be ordered and classified. The catalogue showed the different categories and was almost literally the dictionary of the collection. The principles of order were becoming more real than the things themselves.
This method became more and more important. Museums in the eighteenth cen- tury were no longer about reading nature, but about representing it. With the help of scientific methods, we were able to fathom the essence of nature. Things are not just things; they are composed of smaller parts. Rationality reigned and a mechanical world of separable entities defined knowledge. Instead of reading, attention turned to the grammar that enabled reading. It was about analysing things, that is to say, about bringing them back to their elemental constituents. Nature was ordered and taxonomy became central. The museum displayed these taxonomies and the exhibited objects had the character of species: they were no longer just themselves but rather illustrated the species, the family, the bigger picture. What was at stake then was no longer the pos- session of nature, which was once the case in Aldrovandi’s Wunderkammer. From that point on, objects that were exhibited were supposed to show an order discovered or revealed by reason. The museum exhibited certain orders, no longer individual objects.
This transformation had enormous consequences. From the moment that repre- sentation entered the stage, individual things disappeared. They were degraded to examples of a system: as viewers or researchers, we were assumed to see the system and not the individual thing itself. The aim of the museum was to show the systematic order of nature. This had certain moral consequences as well: people who had learned to look for the system rather than for the thing would in the end ignore the thing.
The next anecdote about Darwin, which we have adapted from biologist Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo (1997), illustrates our point here. Darwin was quite impressed with what he called the ‘domesticated nature’ (Quammen 1997: 210) of the animals that he met on the Galapagos Islands. These animals were of course not really domesticated, because that would presume that they were first wild and now tamed. The animals were ‘ecologically naïve’, (Quammen 1997: 211) a problem that, according to Quammen, is characteristic for insular biotopes. In other words, owing to the lack of natural enemies in these areas, the animals did not flee the moment a new species (in this case a human being) appeared. Fearlessly, they approached the great biologist who would change our worldview. Quammen describes the careless manner with which Darwin caught and killed the animals with his large black hat. Did Darwin believe that he was actually
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killing the animals? We do not think he did. He made them stop living, which is something entirely different. The word ‘killing’ pertains to an individual or to many individuals, but individual animals do not really exist for Darwin. The animals he encountered during his life merely represent the species to which they belong.
As the animal itself is no longer granted individuality, or rather, when the animal as a singular individual does not appear in the picture, then it does not matter whether it lives or not. It is, after all, the species alone that concerns the scientist. The individual animal is reduced to a mere example of what really matters. Even the species as a whole serves something that is bigger than itself: the theory of evolution. Eventually it is about theoretical insight, about order, about knowledge, about a deeper understanding of nature. This type of knowledge, we might say, aims to create black hats that help us to conceal the singular. There is no place for wonder in a world of black hats.
The modern museum
It is hardly surprising that the museum changed radically as well. The Louvre opened its doors during the French Revolution in 1793 and was one of the first museums open to the public. The old residential home of the king was turned into a showcase for the order of the world. It is difficult to think of anything more ironic and sym- bolic. Eventually, even the catalogue no longer satisfied: the encyclopaedia took over its role. The modern museum strives for a broad atlas of nature in which everything is arranged according to the hierarchy of lemmas. The old vision of the world is rebuilt into a new systematic vision.
Bataille (1986) has argued that the origin of the modern museum is tied to the development of the guillotine. Modernity demands the destruction of all former ways of seeing and consequently demands the destruction of the event itself, of the object, the animal or the singular. Similarly, the guillotine destroyed the ancien regime of feu- dalism, kings and superstitious beliefs. Demythologisation and disenchantment are euphemisms that we use for what has by and large been a very violent process that aimed at the destruction of the wonderful. In 1749, the French naturalist and ency- clopaedic author Comte de Buffon wrote the following about Aldrovandi:
Aldrovandi, the most hardworking and knowledgeable of all naturalists, after labouring for sixty years, left behind some immense volumes on Natural History, the majority of which were printed successively after his death. One can reduce them to a tenth of their total size by removing all of the useless and strange things on this subject from them. Despite this prolixity, which I confess is nearly overwhelming, his books must be regarded among the best on the whole of Natural History; the plan of his work is good, his distributions sensible, his divisions well marked and his descriptions rather exact, monotonous but faithful to the truth. [However] the history is less good. Often fables are interspersed, allowing us to see too much of the author’s penchant for credulity. (Buffon, quoted in Findlen 1994: 404)
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The museum has now become a teleological place that shows us the development and evolution of the species. The museum is where we become spectators of systemic rela- tionships. It is no longer about the object in itself, or about aesthetic pleasure, but about strict taxonomy. This happens when modern art museums place individual artwork in a historical series and where even artworks are produced to maintain or continue this series. Museum directors today do not believe in the Wunderkammer: these are degraded to the level of amusement for the ignorant – something for the circus or the family fair. This view is clearly expressed in the words of Brown Goode, who was in charge of the US National Museum at the end of the nineteenth century. He said that a museum should be regarded as ‘a collection of instructive labels, each illustrated by a well-selected specimen’ (Bennett 1995: 167).
From now on, many works of art must be understood as comments on earlier art: one almost cannot appreciate the work without knowledge of the lines in history. The wonder of the presence of the singular or incomparable has disappeared in favour of a series. In this series, everything has its place, complete with a predecessor that announces the thing and a follower that continues the project. This is why everything that happens is announced and unfolds in the future, according to fixed patterns. There is no beginning and no end. What does have a beginning or end is in fact meaningless. While works of art or other objects in a museum might always be able to disrupt the canons of cultural production, the designers of modern museum are very keen on diminishing the power of these objects.
The modern museum shows how much our view of the world has changed and how much series, plan and order have formed our worldview. Only in the series does everything have its place and that is how we find safety and order. We literally find a place for everything. Outside the series we only find chaos and disorder: an intoxicat- ing mist with wonderful singularities. The series makes the world or, better, our relationship to this world a serious affair because it makes us part of the general plan or, as Foucault had it, a part of the order of things. Series do not lead anywhere: they seem infinite, but they really presuppose a direction, a vision or, if you like, a goal. Wonders are banned to a place outside the series, a place that is considered to be less sophisticated, confused and even infantile.
Conclusion: Organisations and wonder
In the introduction we noted that the world of management and organisation is replete with fantasies of wonder: from the omniscient leader who bestows sense into the organisational world and inspires his or her followers, to all sorts of management panaceas that might give a boost to organisational performance. It is beyond the scope of this paper to show how the philosophical history of the concepts of wonder, and its manifestation in the history of the modern museum, is linked to industrial and post- industrial forms of organising. This conclusion therefore only suggests some tentative links that could be the subject of further investigation.
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Let us start by noting that from taxonomy and classification to organisational planning is only a small step. An important condition for planning is a firm belief in mental order and a strong disapproval of singularity, be it an event or a thing. This might explain why organisations often have difficulties with people who have ideas, who become infatuated or who in some other way disrupt the daily routine. As we have discussed in this paper, one of the consequences of modern thinking is the loss or, perhaps better, the abolition of anything that is individual or singular. When the series becomes central, the world seems to disappear. Nothing has a meaning in and outside of itself any more. Nothing appears as wonderful. The very idea of organisa- tional planning might be premised on blindness for what the Romans would refer to as utilitate miraculorum, the usefulness of the miracle.
What we have said in this paper about the development of the museum might also be linked to some key organisational figures that emerged in the same period: the manager, the professional, the expert and the knowledge worker. These people, it seems to us, often elevate the series to a conditio sine qua non. Without a virtuous plan, they say, there is no competitive advantage, no good business and no success. As Clark (1980: 303) has argued about risk managers, they ‘set themselves in opposition to the unknown and try to overcome or control it’ instead of coming to terms with our inher- ently surprising world. Everything gets a place in a fixed order. Organisations are often places where wonders are distrusted.
But this is only one side of the story, as these same organisational figures are also frequently celebrated for producing miracle-like solutions. What these wonders do to us, however, is rather different from what was designated with the Greek verb thau- mazein. Where Heidegger’s history of decline, as well as Deleuze’s philosophy of the virtual, may be seen as a call for a ‘wounded’ life, many business activities and business discourses may be seen as calls to heal these wounds. Guruesque calls for innovation and newness celebrating flexibility in response to the ‘wonderful’ market, for example, are paradoxically calls upon wonders in their ‘disappearing act’: the wound that the market produces must be permanently actualised by a healing product or service. There is no need or pain that cannot be satisfied or healed. The healing force of miracle work- ers in business consists of a systemic denial of wounds. The power of branding often amounts to the promise that it heals our disabilities or incapacities by dint of products that will ‘restore’ our wholeness or our beauty. Stretching the point somewhat, we would say that these two radically different forms of wonder – a wonder with a wound and a wonder without a wound – are already present in the Bible. When Jesus walks on water he reminds us of the fact that we will never understand all the laws that gov- ern our being. He makes us wonder by reminding us of the truth of singularity. When Jesus heals the sick, however, he is merely restoring a law of normality.
Perhaps the wonder of organisation is that it makes our lives miraculously smooth. Here, wonder just means the overcoming of difficulties. Indeed, so many products of our daily life do work miracles and ease our sorrows. Imperfections such as pain and acne are just there to be overcome and the same holds for all sorts of organisational imperfections. Where wonders once left wounds in the membrane of
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knowledge, they now leave nothing but smooth perfection. They are there to ease our sorrows. A pain-free life is perhaps the gist of the curiosity, this avidity for the new, which, following Heidegger’s reading, came to replace the Greek sense of wonder.
We are grateful to Thomas Basbøll and Rasmus Johnsen for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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Author biographies
Ruud Kaulingfreks [] is philosopher of art lecturing in organisational phi- losophy at the University of Humanistics Utrecht,The Netherlands, and the University of Leicester School of Management. He writes on spontaneous organisation, aesthetics and organisation, and related topics.
Sverre Spoelstra [] is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Business Administration, Lund University, Sweden. His current research interests include leadership studies, theology and organisation, and the branding of higher education. He is an editor of the journal Ephemera.
René ten Bos [] is professor of philosophy at the Department of Management Sciences, Radboud University, The Netherlands. He has written extensively, both in English and in Dutch, on business ethics, animals, gestures, managerial melancholy and many other topics.
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