Funding My Existence

LightbulbNick Meador writes on his blog:

It appears we are living at the dawn of a new era. Throughout our culture we see signs of change, progress, and evolution. A “Creative Class” is on the rise that—with the help of the Internet and other related technologies—will reportedly transform our entire socio-economic system.

And yet, at the same time, something is amiss. Much of this so-called Creative Class can only prosper by finding work within the current corporate infrastructure, resulting in very little actual creativity or innovation. The very ones who might create the necessary change in society must expend their time and energy worrying about “making a living.” Those who can keep a job have to sacrifice ideas that contradict the wishes of bosses and the company’s stockholders.

For those who have been diagnosed “abnormal” by our society, this problem is especially prevalent. Such people are variably labeled anti-social, eccentric, introverted, highly sensitive, ADD, bipolar, neuro-atypical, differently abled, gifted, or one of many other similar terms that have a derogatory effect. The trouble is that the only people who ever made any worthwhile changes in this world belonged to one of these categories.

The most creative visionaries often cannot function adequately in modern society. This makes it extremely hard to avoid unemployment, let alone to feed and shelter oneself. But admit that you feel this way, and you’re instantly labeled lazy, arrogant, elitist, etc. We’re evidently not ready to admit on a mass scale that the current definition of a “normal” human being is not only imaginary, but impossible.

It is time that we break out of this double-bind. One idea how to do that has sat dormant in the cultural underground for the last few decades. In 1969, R. Buckminster Fuller (a.k.a. Bucky Fuller) published his short volume Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. As Fuller writes:

…we must give each human who is or becomes unemployed a life fellowship in research and development or in just simple thinking. Man must be able to dare to think truthfully and to act accordingly without fear of losing his franchise to live. [...] For every 100,000 employed in research and development, or just plain thinking, one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,999 fellowships.

This will never be possible in a purely capitalistic system that runs according to the tenets of selfishness and greed—or the misapplied motto “survival of the fittest.” The Internet has allowed for certain non-traditional funding platforms, but the most popular ones are oriented around funding creative projects—not funding a creative life. And taking out any kind of loan seems dangerous when there’s no way to be sure about the possibility of paying it back.

For some of us, a “job” or a “career” is not the answer. For some, it’s time to admit: “What I really need is help FUNDING MY EXISTENCE.” Fuller also used the term “mind fellowships.” His purpose was very clear:

Through the universal research and development fellowships, we’re going to start emancipating humanity from being muscle and reflex machines. We’re going to give everybody a chance to develop their most powerful mental and intuitive faculties. [...] What we want everybody to do is to think clearly.

With this spirit in mind, let’s give birth to an online community designed to provide existential funding to the people who need it. Recipients will have to demonstrate what value they have contributed to society in the form of ideas, projects, art, innovation, social movements, etc. Donors will be able to choose which individuals interest them the most.

We’ve spent enough time talking about futuristic visions of society. Some feel an urgent drive to manifest it in reality. It is time to enable those people by funding their existence, allowing them to worry about more pressing matters—like changing the world.

Watch for updates at fundingmyexistence.org or share your thoughts on Facebook!

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  • InfiltratedSlacker

    Exactly my sentiments.  My current life is a testament to this.  I have amazing talent and skill but have to apply it to boring shit to make a living.  And then, after the work day is done, exhaustion sets in, meaning, all that talent and skill gone to waste.

    • Myspace

      Hella’s Lyrics to Friends Don’t Let Friends Win :

      Lay down stay downI have no interest in the future of mankindIt holds no difference in my concept of lost timeIf you’re anti-climatic you can never be freeYou’re given life you give it what’s left of your tragedyFriends don’t let friends win

  • Men With Sticks

    but where will this “fellowship” money come from?  the endowment fairy?

    • http://www.nickmeador.org/ ndmeador

      it would come from donations, just like on other micro-funding systems (i’m most familiar with Kickstarter). a main point here would be that an endowment fairy seems to be entirely outside the realm of possibility (lol), so we need to figure out another solution.

      • ishmael2009

        “It would come from donations”! Lmfao.Meanwhile, back in the real world . . .

        • InfiltratedSlacker

           Back in the real world, Kickstarter proves ishmael2009 wrong

  • http://twitter.com/AimeeCeds Skrrffian

    Thank you for this article Nick, we need your encouragement!

  • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

    These changes should come gradually as we become more advanced and efficient. Yesterday’s Real Time with Bill Maher, I heard a quote from some guy saying that if we give people the ability to sit on their ass, they’ll sit on their ass going on to say only those who work hard should succeed in life. What that man was saying whether he knew it or not was, poor people should not survive. That along with the US’s aversion to free health care, and gun laws, lead me to believe the majority, or at least those in power, do not value others lives as much as they like to think they do.

  • Dont Be A Dick

    Student loan exile with two useless degrees demands more free money from society.

    It’s too late for you to learn from these videos, but maybe someone else can benefit:

    http://blogsaladblog.com/2010/12/18/so-you-want-to-be-a-journalist-xtranormal/

    http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7523833/so-you-want-to-be-a-journalist

    • LanceHardpound

      Do you know what zoology is?
      C’mon, science is useful. Admit it.

    • Jin The Ninja

       troll.

    • InfiltratedSlacker

       You know it actually is free for society to create money?  Oh wait – no sorry that’s the bankers who get that free money.  No, they earned it.  It’s these damn leechy creative types that are the problem…

  • http://www.thegeniusfiles.com thegeniusfiles

    Perhapsyou should reframe the question as: how can I DEFUND my existence. Monetarism has led to a lot of systemic and recursive problems. How can we escape the tyranny of the monetary world view?

    • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

      Space exploration will eventually be able to get us virtually infinite resources and room to grow unrestrained.

      • InfiltratedSlacker

         Yes, because what we really need right now is to export our perfect Western ideals to other planets.

      • Sonnenritter

        lol, Haven’t you noticed that space exploration has been in decline since the moon landings? Where is anyone gonna come up with the money or expertise to explore into infinity? How about overpopulation, climate change, destruction of the global ecosystem, global water, energy and resource scarcity? All the prognoses for these problems are very bad, they are not currently being solved despite the half measures we are taking to address them, and each one is an existential threat to industrial civilization. What is more likely than space exploration is a drastic decline or collapse of this civilization at some point in the next few decades because we are procrastinating too much on these issues and by the time we really start doing something about it it will be too little too late. Its unlikely that humans will land on the moon or any other non-earth celestial body again for the rest of human history, or at the very least for the rest of this civilization’s lifespan. But since we’ve plundered so much of the world’s resources (plenty of non-renewable ones) and are on track to extract many to complete exhaustion, its unlikely that there will ever be a civilization in the future that surpasses this one. So enjoy your view from the peak pal, the whole sci-fi george jetson thing is never going to happen

        • JaceD

          We could start putting money towards space exploration by not wasting so much on the military, we could also put that money to real research into renewable energies. I agree that at the moment things seem pretty bleak, but to limit what humans can do is small minded. You can’t really believe that we’ve reached our full potential when we’ve developed more in the past 20 years than ever before in human history?

    • InfiltratedSlacker

       > Monetarism has led to a lot of systemic and recursive problems.

      There are more than one kind of monetary system.  Privately owned fiat, while being particularly disgusting, doesn’t mean we should write off the rest of them.  What we need now is MORE money, not less, and by more, I mean more currencies.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I find it hilariously ironic that Lassaiz Faire Capitalism touts itself as the economic paradigm of productivity whereas in fact its true genius lies in its unique ability to inhibit innovation through manipulation of legal property rights.

    • InfiltratedSlacker

       I prefer to think of it more of a “it served us well” kind of thing, where now we can think of something better.  Privately owned fiat must fade away, and soon.

  • herzmeister

    >  For every 100,000 employed in research and development, or just plain thinking, one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,999 fellowships.

    If that is true, then there will be a market. Startups will arise to employ such thinkers, writers, dreamers, artists, who can do and publish whatever they like without any rules.

    • InfiltratedSlacker

       Your faith in the Federal Reserve notes is strong

      • herzmeister

        not in federal reserve notes, god forbid. Markets do need sound money of course, but that’s another story. And by the way, a gift economy is just a special form of market.

        • InfiltratedSlacker

           Just sayin, relying on the “free market” to magically solve things is quite the antiquated view now that we know our economy is rigged with privately-issued fiat debt money.  Sure we could get back to better currency, but America doesn’t look like it is about to change anything.  If the free market was really working, we wouldn’t have people like Nick Meador here trying to give creative people a break from the corporate slavery machine.

          • herzmeister

            …nor does America look like it is about to change to some kind of artsy anarcho-communist utopia, or what do you want to say?

            Nick Meador *is* describing a market, whether he realizes that or not.

            What the current corporo-fascist system does is it makes the general conditions for such initiatives much harder.

            As said, even in a freebie community, there is still a kind of currency, but it is a non-discrete one: mutual appreciation. Even there you’ll have a hard time to “fund your existence” if folks there don’t like you and your art.

            Technology can solve this, we need to automate the means that provide our basic needs in order to reach a post-scarcity scenario.

  • Haystack

    I’m all for funding the arts and endowing pure research, but I think this is less a problem now than it has ever been. We have eight hour work days, weekends, and a platform (the internet) which permits us to publish our content and build an audience organically. The obstacles we have to put up with are a cake ride compared to what was in the way even a generation or two ago. 

    I also think this article glosses over the amount of hard work and commitment that goes into genius–the “99% perspiration” part of it. Contrary to popular wisdom, being a manic depressive drug addict does not make you more likely to produce an ingenious new breakthrough. You need to be able to function well enough to realize your ideas. 

  • guest

    “Funding my existence” = The world owes me a living.

    • Aux

      the world does owe us a living, as we dont ask to be born. its just a sick cosmic joke. nature is mother earths farm and we are always on the menu for her lavish bloody dinners. she is always raising souls to eventually be eaten, and seems like evil souls are the most delicious ones, good souls are like plain rice cakes she does want to eat but is forced  to consume to keep her figure from exploding, since good people are the only thing standing in the way of some powerful military from pressing the nuclear button. even mother earth has a diet problem.

  • Nano33

    This is pig-in-the-poke bullshit. The author wants to exchange one form of gate-keeping with another. Good points, though, about the fate of the non-conformist in most societies, ancient and modern. It’s mostly about genetics. The hive does not like those who upset the applecart.

  • Aux

    no logic trying be creative for people that do not want creativity. seems like deep down most people want the corporate life, where just a few have the responsibility of being creative while the others simply follow orders and have not responsibility in creating and doing critical thinking. and most people dont think they can be creative and lack faith in their own ideas glad letting someone step in to make things better. the ones that say they don’t want to be assimilated, when given the opportunity to be corporate will sell out their creative life style in a heart beat for a chance to have enough money to acquire commodities, which is what life is for most these days.  So i respect societies choice to be a machine, i believe in freedom, if thats what the majority wants must be good in the grand scheme of things. 
    all i ask is that you let us die in peace, failed artists have no problem killing themselves when hope is gone. death is the ultimate goal.

    • FunnyMoney

      Face it.  You were born to live under a financial system that other men control.  Basically a made-up game, run by server admins in a MMORPG who get to give themselves all the points they want whenever they want, and you get born with 0 points.  They get to steer masses of people, governments and armies, whole countries even, with their point system.  And if you don’t like it you can be homeless.  How can you call that freedom?  We are not free. 

      Time to open our eyes and look at the pri$on bar$

      • Jenga

        First come first served. the most ancient bloodlines control everything because they have been here for longer. I blame jesus and sometimes big foot 

  • ishmael2009

    What a load of crap. If people want to opt out of the current system, good luck to them, but go and do it, don’t ask others to fund it. Where is the money going to come from for these fellowships? I’d love someone to try and answer that. I could do with a laugh.

    • challengethem

      why not ask others to fund it?  if people want to fund the lives of people who want to opt out of the current system, good luck to them.  just because you don’t doesn’t mean there aren’t people who would.

  • Sonnenritter

    this is retarded bullshit

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/myconica Threedinium

    It was great until the whole ‘sponsor’ thing totally undermined everything that came before it. Chances are if what you’re doing is so awesome nobody will get it until after you’re dead anyway.

  • emperorreagan

    These sort of articles annoy me because it ignores the realities of the global labor market.

    We have cheap computers, for instance, because there are hundreds of thousands of people working in poor labor conditions mining the materials, putting the components together, etc.  The tough realities of the industrial revolution still exist but the west has largely transferred them elsewhere so they’re out of sight and out of mind.

    Likewise, the labor inputs to the food we all eat are out of sight and mind.  It magically appears at the grocery store, after being grown in Chile, or after the shadow labor market of illegal immigrants have processed millions of chickens in a filthy industrial plant.

    Re-imagining the world economy doesn’t start with imagining more freedom for a creative class in the west.  Re-imagining the economy starts with several other things: consuming less across the board in western societies, looking at how we should distribute the hard labor of maintaining societies more equitably instead of distributing it to the most disadvantaged underclass of people, etc.

  • Manlio_grc

    Really interesting article, trully thinking of my current career path. Most of the jobs I want are keept in close doors, only for a select few. I should just focus on my talents and interests instead I beat I can translate that into something beneficial for society. 

    • Bungle

      same deal here. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/OneHalfHour Mike Half Hour

    Our current system is bankrupt, and will become more and more obviously so to everyone soon. Pretty much any other idea will be able to out-compete the current system. Ideas like this are part of the innumerable new species that are waiting in the wings to emerge. Some small number will get traction and move us all forward. You may not like or agree with this particular idea, but a logical person MUST accept that change, massive change, is coming. None of us can predict what the new will be. All you can do is enumerate the possibilities: 1) drown in the tidal wave, 2) asphyxiate in the tidal pools you get trapped in, 3) live on in some new form, once the deluge has passed. The time for watching and waiting is over. You’d better be swimming your ass off NOW.

    PS: side-benefit. Most internet trolls will be in class (1).