By Mai Brøndsted
A lonely fire burns in a metal tray by the steps leading to the entrance. Pale flickering flames in the grey light of a January afternoon at the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen.
“What’s that music?” asks a gardener standing on a ladder, trimming the ivy. ”It sounds like New Zealand tribal music”. Strong, deep persistent beats and a low electronic hum emanate from inside the building. You can sense a high level of activity happening behind the walls: movement, potent energy, something shifting, vibration, exchange, minds at work. I tell the gardener that I don’t believe anyone is dancing the Haka and enter Future Mind Tours, Büro Reisende expecting a somewhat different ritual.
We are at the headquarters where Agents of the Büro come to work. Today, many wise men and women have been invited on a journey into the manifold layers of the mind. As a text on the back of a printed program explains, the journey may lead to a mind shift in the individual Reisende or, even grander, it may spark a transformation in society to form an altogether new paradigm. That is the brave and ambitious goal of this the fourth and last seminar In 100 Years –Starting Now, Reworking Sustainability and Growth. The title of seminar #4 is It’s our Future, Love! –On People and Mindsets.
The element, as the reader may have guessed: FIRE!
Judging from the number of overcoats hanging tightly squeezed side by side in the cloakroom, a great many ‘Reisende’ have come to travel the mind. Experts from an array of fields representing a broad spectrum of knowledge are present. Guided by the Agents they will spend the next two days immersed in envisioning mind shifts to start change now to make way for a better, brighter and more sustainable future. The impressive programme offers talks, debates and rituals that will facilitate the process.
The sound inside is almost overpowering. Layers of talk and laughter float on a background of an eerie composition. A strange symphony of phones ringing, bells chiming, beautiful angelic choir, snippets of unclear conversation. The music intensifies as I proceed to The Office, a medium size room with red walls and polished floor. By one wall is a desk with a couple of laptops, a printer, a bottle of hair spray and a flask of perfume. Three mini croissants are neatly arranged on a plate and a rubber bug sits delicately on the desk lamp. On the floor beneath resides a discreet chaos of chords snaking in and out in a tangled mess. It is busy at the office.
A young petite woman with crème-white skin, bright red hair and nervous gestures stands in the doorway and eagerly bids everyone who passes by to “please come in”. Balancing in high stilettos on a book she addresses a gentleman just about to enter: “Oh, sir you have to walk on the books”. It is important. The floor is fluid like water, and the books are buoyant tiles for you to step on. If you fall off the path you will fall out of poetry, it is explained.
A little cosy group seated around a low table have in fact set about writing their own poetry. On request they have been provided with pens and paper so they can “write down their thoughts and ideas about the future”. As they discuss cheerfully and passionately the words on papers pile up on the table. Sentences spell out visions, advice, statements and hopes:
Flawed but beautiful.
Be wise now.
Let’s all be heroes.
Suddenly a loud objection from a woman in a short burgundy jacket walking in: ”I cannot step on books. I find that wrong!”. Hurriedly stepping onto the carpet she regains her composure a bit, but seems almost surprised as she exclaims: “I am really having a reaction to this!”. A man from the group stands up and, sensing she needs to sit down, offers his chair. He gives her a piece of paper and asks her to put down her vision for the future. Perhaps inspired by the spread out books that she refuses to walk on, she writes: ”Widespread knowledge is the future”. “I am a writer”, she says in a half apologetic tone before she leaves the office, avoiding stepping on any books.
The group resumes their discussion and poetry production, but are soon interrupted by a tall woman with a clear British accent: ”What’s this?” she asks pointing at a basket full of newspapers on the table. “It’s the collective perspective”, replies a grey-haired man, “and this is the individual perspective”, he says pointing at himself and the two women sitting across from him in the sofa.
Woman: ”What’s the perspective?”
Man: “From here it’s optimistic.”
Woman: “Well no one is laughing! I need to hear a joke!” Sitting down, she states rather radically: ”I think we should not think anymore. I think we should just play out. It shouldn’t be so serious. Because it is comical, everything we do is comical. It’s absurd. We should look at the craziness!” A shy man wearing black glasses timidly taps into the craziness and offers a slightly re-written version of a famous Emma Goldman quote: ”The revolution won’t come without dancing”. The quote actually goes: “If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution.” But hey, let it begin with a dance for the sake of fire. A dance that holds the momentum to set minds and bodies in motion. Flaming feet, clear vision, strong heartbeat. Let’s have a Haka!
The discussion board disperses as the next speak is about to happen. The grey-haired man starts assembling the papers and puts them in some kind of order before he stables them neatly together with a cover reading ”The Hitchhikers Guide to the Future”. Book in hand, and with an air of contentment he gets up, walks to the door carefully staying on the book path that snakes across the floor in ever changing curves that the high-heeled agent keeps rearranging. Rearranging poetry for the
Next generation, please!