Manifesto reimagined

What if the word manifesto was not a dictum imposed on others but an invitation into your evolving purpose and practice in the world?
Manifesto by Studio-Lu

A recent assignment in my M.F.A. program called on us to write a manifesto for ourselves. My first thought was, “I have no idea how to write a manifesto!” Yet, the moment that thought evaporated, another was close on its heels: “Be particular.” It is a phrase my grandfather used often. Honestly, I am not 100% certain what he meant when he used it, but it became a catch phrase in our family over the years—a response that could suit more occasions than you would imagine. “Be particular” became the beginning of my manifesto.

More words followed easily. I pulled phrases from my website through the years and thoughts I realized had long been guiding principles behind my work. Voila. A Manifesto. Homework completed.

Sharing it with my writer’s circle after submitting it for class, my fellow writers liked the sentiments I expressed but bristled at the word “manifesto.” For most, it conjured notions of “manifest destiny,” of conquering and taking by force. These meanings are the antithesis of what we foster in our circle, where we cultivate deep listening and seek to nurture each of us as writers to find and live into our own voice.

I admitted to the same initial reaction. My feelings shifted, though, when I thought about manifesto as more akin to manifestation than dictum. With that lens, the word became more of an evolving process to me, a sense of creation and offering, rather than an imposed mandate. We talked about reimagining the word as coming from birthing rather than conquering and what that transformation might look like.

 

After the Manifesto by Craig Buckley Columbia University
Searching to see how others are thinking about manifesto in this day and age, I found a book called After the Manifestoedited by Craig Buckley and published by Columbia University Press. While Buckley investigates manifesto in terms of architecture, he captures the spectrum of viewpoints on it in a way that is applicable to uses of manifesto in any genre. Of the various reactions he mentions, I find myself in the “protean camp” at the moment, willing to re-vision what this word means, repurpose it to be more fitting now and into the future.

In the spirit of manifesto as an invitation to growth, evolution, purpose and practice in the world,  I offer you my mine. What’s yours? Or, what’s a better word than manifesto that can accompany us with ongoing relevance?

MANIFESTO | BE PARTICULAR  ©2022 Lucy Mathews Heegaard.

Dear Rebecca

In the winter of 1863, my great, great, great, great grandfather, David Mathews, left home to serve in the Civil War. He was 36 years old, not a wealthy man, and regretted having to leave his wife, children, and extended family as he felt his greatest responsibility was providing for them in the lean times the war had brought.

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Shades of Change

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” — Hal Borland

Sitting on my front stoop in the early spring of 2009, I was playing my guitar on the first warm, sunny day of the season. Named “Little Girl,” my guitar is a far better instrument than I deserve. I had been sad when I discovered she had developed a long, narrow crack during the cold, dry months of winter, and I felt pretty negligent in tending to her properly. (more…)

Growing Older and Up

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” — Mark Twain

Approximately 19 million people do it each day. Some love it, some dread it, but either way, this day comes every year: your birthday.

As a kid, I was young for my grade. Being six when your classmates are already seven is an embarrassment, so in elementary school I tried to hide my age. I was certain older meant better. (more…)