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  2. The Sumble and You
  6. This article copyright (c) Don Webb  e.v.
  8. It is truth universally acknowledged that we are
  9. programmed by our language.  A ton of opportunistic
  10. therapies take advantage of this maxim.  Lot of New Age
  11. occultniks sell seminars based on this simple principle.
  12. But very very few people do what I'm about to do.  I don't
  13. think people should sell water by the river, and if they are
  14. I don't buy it.  Here's how to do it.  If you want to
  15. program your own wetware, find a study of the concepts that
  16. underlie the language, and then use the concepts.  Step
  17. means real research at seriously heavy libraries, step two
  18. means try and try again until you get a formula that works
  19. and then use it.  I've found (with the help of a few
  20. philologists, cultural historians, and health professionals)
  21. a formula that works.  Or like anything in life -- it works
  22. for the dedicated self programmer.  It is never enough to
  23. just know the secret, you must practice it as well.  Since I
  24. believe in human lib just as much I believe in computer lib,
  25. I'll give it to you free.  I've passed it on to a software
  26. engineering group, and they're going great guns.
  27. The technique is called the sumble.  It is derived from
  28. a Viking custom of boasts and toasts made the night before
  29. an expedition was launched.  I'll skip the
  30. mythic/philosophical underpinnings right now (although as an
  31. amateur cultural historian, I not only can but sometimes do
  32. go on about them for hours).  Suffice it to say that you
  33. don't have to wear a hat with horns while you do it, nor
  34. worship Odin, nor get into a longboat when you're done.  It
  35. has nothing to do with racial ties, but with the language
  36. you speak.  
  37. The practice reflects the nature of time in Germanic
  38. languages -- English, German, Norse, Dutch, etc.  In these
  39. languages there are only true morphological verb forms for
  40. the present and the past.  There are no verb forms for the
  41. future.  "Future" events can only be described with "helper"
  42. verbs.  The time notion of the Germanic languages (including
  43. the one we think with or try to think with everyday) isn't
  44. divided by past-present-future, but by Urdhr (everything
  45. that has happened), Verdhandi (everything that is in process
  46. now) and Skuld (that which  should  happen).  In short the
  47. Germanic languages focus on the past as a guide for the
  48. future, and the magical and religious practices of these
  49. peoples make use of the past rather than being doomed to
  50. repeat (i.e., What  should  happen rather than what must
  51. happen).  If you want a quick handle on the nature of
  52. language as programmer, the works of Benjamin Whorf are good
  53. -- if you want a book on time structure in the Germanic
  54. languages -- try The Well and the Tree  by Paul C.
  55. Bauschatz, Amherst University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.
  56. This unusual and useful time structure is at the base
  57. of the sumble.  I'll describe a sumble and then I'll discuss
  58. its effects on the individuals who participate.  A sumble
  59. consists of four rounds of toasts.  Someone has brought
  60. apple juice, a pitcher and cups.  The sumble leader pours
  61. the apple juice into the cups at the beginning of each round
  62. of toasts.  There is no passing, everyone must toast each
  63. round.  
  64. The first round is to  Principles , those things that
  65. each individual thinks are important.  For example the
  66. leader might say, "I raise my glass to the principle of
  67. Communication, because through Communication our mental
  68. processes exceed the sum of their parts."  Then she drinks
  69. her cup.  The next person might say, "I raise my glass to
  70. the principle of Loyalty, because only through loyalty are
  71. we able to go that last mile."  Then he empties his cup.
  72. And so on.  
  73. The second round is to heroes , real men and women
  74. living or dead that particularly inspire us in our work.
  75. The leader might say, "I raise this glass to Issac Asimov,
  76. because he showed that with clear and simple prose you could
  77. open the doors of others' minds."  She drains her cup.  The
  78. next person might say, "I raise my cup to Matthew Hanson,
  79. Admiral Perry's aide who carried him to the North Pole when
  80. the Admiral was sick, so that Perry might 'discover' it."
  81. And so on.  
  82. The third round is the round of  boasts .  Here each
  83. participant tells something that he or she has accomplished
  84. and is proud of.  For example the leader might say, "I raise
  85. this glass to myself, I went to Dallas and presented a good
  86. paper on the de Bono method at the Association for Software
  87. Engineering Excellence."  
  88. The fourth round is the round of  oaths .  Here each
  89. participant tells of something they are about to do.  The
  90. leader might say, "With this cup I pledge to get release
  91. three out the door a week ahead of schedule with no
  92. defects."  Note that the oath is something that the
  93. individual must have control over -- you can't set goals for
  94. somebody else here.  There is a meta-rule for the oaths.  If
  95. it is possible for you to aid another in fulfilling his oath
  96. without harm to yourself or your goals, you are honor bound
  97. to do so.
  98. Each of these rounds of toasts has at least two
  99. distinct benefits each.  In the first round, the participant
  100. has to figure out what principles are important to him or
  101. her.  This isn't something we do in this country.  We like
  102. to act as though money is the be-all and end-all of our
  103. existence.  It is almost a taboo to say that we like any
  104. part of our jobs or think that they are important.
  105. Secondly, it lets you find out what other people think is
  106. important.  I know of people that have sat at sumble -- who
  107. even though they had worked on projects together for years
  108. -- found the first session very revealing and transforming.
  109. The second round produces effects similar to the first.
  110. It makes the participants see something heroic and
  111. meaningful in their own work, and it allows them to share
  112. that inspiration with their fellows.  We know that our
  113. current difficulties can be solved because others have
  114. solved them in the past.  We are choosing an heroic model
  115. from the well of Urdhr -- if it worked before, it can work
  116. again.  The discovery of transpersonal patterns that have
  117. Worked before is one of the safest and most effective source
  118. of tool for self transfromation.  If we truly want to find
  119. out what we are, and what we can become -- one of the most
  120. important places to look for the structutre of our
  121. concsiousness is in the myths that shape the langauge -- not
  122. only on a word level, but on a gramatical level as well.
  123. This is one of the greatest hidden aspects of oput lives, as
  124. mystery we should seek after if we are truly interestred in
  125. self transformation.  
  126. The third round is also taboo breaking.  We are never
  127. supposed to talk about our achievements -- particularly if
  128. we are team players.  However this not only gives us a
  129. chance to brag, it integrates our achievements into the work
  130. of others.  We achieve recognition for our own work, and we
  131. recognize the evolving stream of quality around us.  Again I
  132. have seen individuals, walking away not only amazed at
  133. finding out what the guy sitting next to him did, but also
  134. amazed at the wonderful scope of achievement that he had to
  135. work with in his projects.
  136. The fourth round is of course the kicker.  This not
  137. only makes the individual come up with a reasonable goal to
  138. overcome, beyond the dead specs of a given project; but it
  139. also makes sure that each individual -- now filled with the
  140. confidence that the toasts have produced -- will apply his
  141. principle to give shape to the work that should come into
  142. being.  This gives each individual a voice in what's taking
  143. place, confidence that his goals are both important and
  144. achievable, and a sense of commitment to the team.
  145. In terms of the time model discussed above, the first
  146. three toasts come from the well of Urdhr and the last from
  147. the well of Skuld.  It's programming that's deeply wired
  148. into us by our language.  It makes an excellent use of
  149. wetware.  Like any piece of linguistic programming, it works
  150. better if repeated.  It's great if your goal is an
  151. individually determined freedom, why not buy some apple
  152. juice and try one today?

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