Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bookish Societies Seeking Members for Carefree and Aimless Creative Disruption of Everyday Life

Literature is full of societies and social clubs, some secret, some not so much. From sinister Spectre in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels to the Story Club in Anne of Green Gables, characters in literature, like their real-life counterparts, like to band together, whether it's to make mischief or something more benign. We've recently found a couple of books loitering in the library stacks, though, which are essentially handbooks for already established (and benign) societies which you can join if you'd like, or just leaf through the books and enjoy the ideas they espouse.

We pledge to fight 'blue-sky' thinking wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless
monotony day after day. 
~from the Manifesto of the Cloud Appreciation Society

Author Gavin Pretor-Pinney started The Cloud Appreciation Society in 2004 because he felt that "clouds deserved better than to be regarded merely as a metaphor for doom." There's a nominal fee to join this society, but the perks include receiving a badge, a certificate, a "Cloud Selector" identification wheel, and a "Cloud a Day." Or, you could just read the book, "an Official Publication" of the society, which goes into lots of detail about cloud classifications, how to spot different types of clouds, and more. It will really teach you to appreciate that "clouds are Nature's poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them."

Read more about the Cloud Appreciation Society online, especially their delightful manifesto! There is also an app, but it appears only to be available for iPhone.

The Wander Society by Keri Smith

Dear fellow wanderer, to repair is to accept and heal.To build skills of repair is to build skills of mending what has become threadbare in our lives. To mend is to practice that a tear does not mean the end of life.
~"On Repair", from The Wander Society website

The motto of the Wander Society is "Solvitur ambulando" (it can be solved by walking). Author Keri Smith found the first mention of this society in a secondhand copy of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and was immediately intrigued. Research uncovered only that the society exists, but Smith cannot say for sure who the other members are. Her book lovingly collects all the mentions of the Wander Society, compiles a lists of "Wandering Precepts" and fellow wanderers, and discusses aspects of wandering - definitions, philosophy, its mystical nature, essentials, meditation, types - as well as "the importance of randomness." There is also a list of "assignments/research/field work" and a "how-to" section - carve a stick! Sew a pouch!

You can apply to access the Wander Society Secret Page online! The website has other materials, which are presented in a somewhat cryptic fashion, including a printable Walt Whitman poster, a membership card, a pamphlet, and instructions to create a pocket library and a portable altar.

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