• Alexander Novack

Why are we syndicate?

In my first post, I wrote about syndicates in general, and I gave a clue as to why we, at {Syndicate} are a syndicate, viz. because we create. That's our official motto, in fact: "We create." Two words. Our creating is the thumping heart of our enterprise. It quite literally is why we exist.

There are so many ways to form an organization. Really, an organization is just a set of people. The notation of set theory has sets denoted by curly brackets: { }. Here's a set of numbers, for instance:

{2, 5, 15}

You might ask yourself: "What property must these numbers have in common to form such a set?" The answer is: No property need connect these elements. They are a set simply by virtue of being grouped. This runs contrary to the usual way people think, which is that sets must be formed intensionally (meaning that some property is specified and, then, elements of the set are elicited by locating objects possessing that property). People assume that, unless there exist some common property linking the members of the set, it is somehow not a legitimate set. The shortcoming of this assumption is that, if we were to accept it, then properties would have to be more primitive than sets. But, that leads to an infinite regress, the sort that anyone with a 3 year old well knows.

Adult: "Eat your veggies."

Child: "Why?"

Adult: "Because veggies help you grow."

Child: "Why?"

Adult: "Because veggies have good stuff in them your body needs."

Child: "Why?"

Adult: "Because your body is a biological system that chemically requires certain groups of molecules to perform basic metabolic functions."

Child: "Why?"


Our 3 year old in this dialogue has both the easier script and the philosophically upper hand in this exchange as she tie-down ropes the adult like a rodeo star does a calf. There are only so many more why's needed before the adult runs entirely out of definitional ammunition and will resort to tyranny. We account for properties in terms of more basic properties until we run out of still more basic properties. Then, we're fucked.

So, there must be some brute facts down at the bottom that start the process, and these facts will be declarations of a sort (a.k.a. axioms). Ideally, axioms must be self-starters, not needing to depend on other things for their raison d'être. Thus, if sets are definable in extensional terms, then sets can serve as uber-primitives for all the rest. We say: Here's a group of elements. Call this group X. Y is made up of X's. And so on.

There's something unnerving about (extensionally) enumerating members of a primitive set. Perhaps, it's like awakening a golem. You aren't really sure what it's going to do or become. It could be this, or it could be that. But, it'll be something that makes for subsequent things. Logicians spend their work hours investigating all the surprising consequences that arise from axioms, and some genuinely astonishing results have been revealed from the most innocuous of beginnings.

Most entrepreneurs have in mind a very specific business entity they want to fabricate. There's nothing wrong with that, and I salute them! However, I considered that path to be limiting. It's not how nature works, yet nature has produced the most bewildering and humbling of results.

That's a picture of a wasp stinger and a very sharp needle. The needle was planned and manufactured, whereas the stinger was not planned at all. It came about by evolution. It's not like some ancient predecessor of the wasp said: "We need to re-tool!" Nature simply creates and creates in abundance, and circumstances dictate which creations stay and which ones go. The results speak for themselves.

"Why not do things that way?" I asked myself? However, as with nature, a good shovelful of luck is needed, though the same could be said for starting up a business in the normal way, too. I have, indeed, been the beneficiary of some extraordinary luck, miraculous some might say. I have encountered and brought on board the most remarkable group of creative and talented people to form the nucleus of Syndicate. I don't deserve such good people, and yet, here they are, notwithstanding. They have unleashed a most prodigious oeuvre. It's a torrent becoming a deluge. Just look at our instagram pictures. It's an embarrassment of riches.

I did my empirical research, of course. I asked myself: "Where does one find examples of a somewhat randomly chosen group of creators evolving into a singular behemoth force? And, note that I was not after any sort of collectivist examples. Collectives exist for the sake of the collective which has priority over and above the individuals who comprise it. I had in mind something more like an art colony, at least those in which the individual artists comprising it are prioritized. The organization into a colony is more along communitarian lines, and individual incentives are ultimately self-directed. We see examples of this in Los Angeles in such places as the Original Farmer's Market (at Third and Fairfax) or at the Grand Central Market. Since I was a kid, these places have held a deep and powerful allure for me, pure magic. They could be described as an evolving syndicate of smaller operations. They were not planned to be as they currently are but developed that way, naturally.

Our enterprise is, therefore, a syndicate in its most modest form. Yet, it is a syndicate nonetheless. How will it evolve? Where will it go? That's not for us to decide. Our job is just to create and create in abundance.

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