THE PREAMBLE OF THE SYLLABLE MANIFESTO
Syllble proclaims the imagination revolution is underway. Polycrises have and continue to shape our current planet. This worldbuilding syllable manifesto announces the needed transition in how we think about stories. Reshaping the notion of the lone genius, our work proves that storytelling and creativity are communal endeavors. Humans have a genius within them essential for the collective, and so exists a genius in all aspects of the world.
Storytelling is worldbuilding: Demonstrated here in this document is an aesthetic system and set of values based on collective worldbuilding and communal art making. This living document is a collaborative effort to reshape how our institutions can connect with individual artists, audiences, and their characters – as well as their needs.
SECTION 1. A need for moral imagination
A key component of the imagination revolution is the moral imagination. The process of seeing others in new worlds requires us to embrace complexity, and people whose vision of existing is different from our own internal set of values, background and experiences.
SECTION 2. A need to create worlds that build community
Building worlds brings people closer to each other. We prioritize intentional coalition building that respects differences in standpoints while pursuing shared goals. We aim to utilize more effectively the advancement of technology and multimedia to counter the isolation and polarization it often causes.
SECTION 3. A need to create beautiful worlds that bring creative shock and discomfort. Beautiful worlds are worlds that need to move us
Beautiful worlds are alchemical factories that can transform dense emotions, pain, and lack of vision while bringing us closer together around shared values. Beautiful worlds capture our collective spirit. Beautiful new worlds give us new spaces to live in and inspire endless new stories that contribute to our collective evolution.
SECTION 4. A need to be more human in the age of machines and artificial intelligence
We recognize the deep need for authenticity, and being more human is a process that grows and emerges through community art based social practices.
DIAGNOSIS OF THE CENTRAL PROBLEM
We are amidst a polycrisis that is converging with disruptive forces of technology and new economies; we proclaim we have entered “the era of the imagination.” We say these challenges are fueled by the classical, ontological, constrictive view on storytelling and art-creation.
SECTION 1. Mainstream storytelling is broken, fueling polycrises
The crisis of imagination is fueling social isolation, social disconnection, loneliness, pessimistic views of the future and our inability to create better futures. Climate change is destroying ecosystems and displacing billions of humans and non-humans. Social polarization is breeding destructive policies that are blind to the whole of emergent systems. Hypercapitalism with its relentless focus on extraction and profit maximization, is widening the wealth gap, stoking social unrest, and breeding instability across various realms of society.
ARTICLE I. THE BIRTHING OF INTERSECTIONAL-FUTURES
We believe that building fictional worlds together may serve as a template for building the real world together for us and future generations. We embrace Afrofuturism and other types of Futurism from different cultural and historical perspectives, as a way to foster alternatives to the thinking that brought about these polycrises. The imagination revolution is about finding new visions for our future from the margins of collective thinking. We embrace intersectionality as a vision for all futurism.
SECTION 1. A need for progressive utopianism
Progressive utopias is a concept in art that we aim to reinvigorate thematically as a value in our work, recognizing hopeful realities from a decolonized perspective that is more human-centered, heart-centered, community-centered. A need to utilize science fiction, fantasy and all storytelling methods to entertain and enlighten at the same time.
SECTION 2. Collaborative science fiction and fantasy worldbuilding
We believe as we voyage through worlds, we encounter new ways of making meaning. As a social creative practitioner, the communal aspect of literature accelerates our becoming as writers, and artists of different genres, tapping into others’ skills, sharing burdens, supporting each other and embracing a culture of paying forward.
SECTION 3. The myths of worlds
Terraforming worlds vanquish the ice age of the mind, soul and body. We need a new hero’s quest for the wisdom of the community expressed through visionary worldbuilding. We elevate the next generation of artists as we grow. There is a need to think long term in the future. We must bring authenticity to our work and the sustainable journey that is practicing patience and aligning with our purpose long term.
ARTICLE II. CREATING NEW WORLDS IS AN ACT OF PROTEST
We need visionary worldbuilding to instigate in us new insights, breaking the academic, industrial and cultural siloes of the past. We proclaim this new language and aesthetic that invents and encourages new styles through artistic collaboration and aims to bring a new wave of experimentation in arts, cinema, gaming, music, sciences, theatre, poetry, prose, politics, literature, and fashion with new worlds that no one’s seen before! Each item is part of a whole, a world that must be named. We embrace the creation of compelling art fueled by community, collaboratively making forms of change as an act of protest.
SECTION 1. On transnational artistic collaborations and creativity as a community activity
As the trends in social connection are going down worldwide in modern countries, we believe that collaborative artistic ways of being in community are a rebellion against the broad flow of our crumbling systems that is fragmenting our transnational relationships. From pandemics to climate change, global threats mock our divided world. Only when we stand shoulder-to-shoulder can we truly conquer them. If we want to survive, we must co-create systems that serve the greater good. Co-creating art can inspire and allow us to see what is possible and see more people through shared reality.
SECTION 2. Values of fictional transdimensional world travel
To exist in the same world together, we need to have shared agreements on how the world works and functions. As a result when this is not done, a personal worldview can exclude you, others will never be able to see you nor can you ever reach them. A divided world increases in division into smaller worlds. We believe it is necessary to facilitate movement between and across worlds, aspiring a need for new concepts around mobility grounded in fictional trans-dimensional travel that as humans we travel between worlds in all aspects of our lives from the internet, films, books, nature, creatives, myths and more – a need to reclaim the engines of meaning that gives us a smooth travel to new, unknown and familiar worlds.
SECTION 3. Critical agency as a radically important
We believe that critical agency can only be developed by reclaiming the social connection of communal art making, as the indigenous groups of our now and ancient history and the past did. Collective agency is the underlying governance structure for everything, both in the fictional worlds and the communities building them. Collective genius fuels our free will and unfolds the multitude of our identities.
ARTICLE III. ENGAGING THE CRUMBLING SYSTEMS
There is a deep need to understand the tension between sustainability that seeks to fix these troubling problems and crumbling systems that have hurt us. Balancing the need to maintain solidarity with all the troubles of this messy world, yet also allowing for resources to come in where they can. There is a need for exploration of how to live well despite broken systems. Using humor, entertainment and play helps us resist the annals of doomerism.
SECTION 1. Principles of degrowth to artistic work
The values of degrowth models allow us to imagine new ways of engaging each other as a community and foster meaningful connections between diverse artists around the world. Through worldbuilding we believe it’s a Multi-hyphenate act as artists thus we must create art that doesn’t necessarily make economic sense so we can capture the beauty and magic of the worlds’ higher forms speaking through us.
SECTION 1.1. How we see degrowth
The relentless focus on “growing a following” at all costs feels akin to the relentless focus on growing income at all costs – both are detrimental to the cause of art. If we apply degrowth principles in this way, we focus on building community rather than amassing followers, and making honest art rather than maximizing income.
ARTICLE IV. PROCLAIMING AN ERA OF COMMUNITY, COLLABORATIVE, HEART-CENTERED ART
We believe combinations of talents and perspectives is what makes art even more powerful and impactful, this should bring a heart centered perspective that elevates everyone into a framework that embraces each and everyone’s genius. We believe communal ownership models are necessary so we all have an equitable stake in collective action.
ARTICLE V. THE NEED TO CREATE ART FOR OUR TIMES
Our world needs artworks that are healing and radically accessible. For this to happen we need to embrace the profound power and extremities screaming in our hearts that are needed to be shared out with the world. Understanding how we are as individual artists and as a group. It is our time now to serve. To take pain into beauty. Unfolding the eyes and heart of humanity requires us to engage our own archetypes. It’s wrestling with our own archetypes through communal-art. This we believe brings out true art and warms us and in others are very natural human inclinations for beauty, for caring for the planet, our curiosity, our deep affection, our friendship, understanding each other and our creativity.
SECTION 1. Our modern archetypes
Creating art that speaks to the times and our modern archetypes requires us coming together. Archetypes are patterns embedded in the fabric of our shared world. It is the unfolding identities within a sea of possibilities. Archetypes are paths that facilitate the expression of ideas to make sense of our experiences. New shared-worlds must be the ships that allow us the confidence to travel across the increasing worlds in our day to day lives. In a world that is becoming more technologically embedded we are moving through a great era away from centralization to an industrialization that is technological and decentralized, this fact is challenging the old norms of our world and we no longer have the inner tools necessary to make sense of our lives, our changing worlds and how we personally transfer and relate with one another.
SECTION 2. What are our archetypes
We proclaim that our modern archetypes that need to be embraced are: Heart centered, transmuting pain to beauty, community art-making, degrowth, reimagining possible futures.
This document was drafted in collaboration with creators within the SYLLBLE community as well as invited experts and thought leaders. Every year new Syllble members and thought leaders will be invited to contribute to this document through presentations at the annual SYLLBLECON:
(2023) Elyse Hauser, Amanda Colleen Williams, Jacquil Constant, Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, Cheryl S. Ntumy, Zoyander Street, Bristol Baughan, Bairton Brown, Caitlin Keely, Cameron Posey, Fabrice Guerrier, Kyle Hinton and more. Watch the first discussion session on launching this collaborative arts movement.
This document originated from the opening sessions of SYLLBLECON 2023 on December 9th with conversation both online and off-line with artists and thought leaders from different artistic mediums, backgrounds and genres not limited to – creative writing, filmmaking, gaming, regeneration and environmentalism, afrofuturism, african futurism, songwriting and music, activism, scientific researchers, academia and more – find a unifying language and aesthetic that transcends borders and sparks new inventive styles through visionary worldbuilding through artistic collaboration that serves as a source for social and cultural activism. The syllable manifesto will be a living document as members and new people join Syllble’s community and collectives they will be asked to respond and add and propose to the Articles and Subsections of the document.