Mark Argent
Creativity design composition spirituality work with organisations

Forthcoming events

Events, papers and workshops in the coming months include:

7–8 September 2018
Crossfields Institute, Poetics of Leadership Conference (paper)
University of Cumbria

Decision-makers need to be bold and agile to help their organisations and communities respond to rapid changes in their environments. Actions based on existing patterns of thought and behaviour will not suffice. What stimulates the necessary creativity to think afresh about contexts and choices? In this two-day event, we will explore methods available for leadership development.

My paper Revisiting Oedipus as a way of thinking differently looks at the way Freud uses the Oedipus myth in describing the Oedipus Complex. Freud sees this as universal, but I suggest this makes it hard to recognise the places where it doesn’t fit. An alternative approach is to see this as a product of Freud’s particular circumstances as a Jew in late nineteenth-century Vienna, so it becomes a worked example of how one person understood sex and the sexual in society, which invites an exploration of how other stories might make sense in other contexts.

16–17 November 2018
Opus conference (paper)
ETC Venues Victoria, 6 Drummond Gate, London SW1V 2QQ

My paper is entitled: Reading Oedipus from a gay perspective

Freud found something in the Oedipus myth to which helped him to make sense of sex, sexuality and social organisation. In speaking of LGBT+ experiences it is easy to end up defining these against heterosexual norms. This paper reads Oedipus in Sophocles Theban Plays from a gay perspective as way to explore some of the richness of gay experience, read as something that has always been present in human society.

It picks up ideas around the individual and the collective, around the perils and necessity of curiosity in finding out who one is, and the place of Oedipus whose self-wounding terms him into the “blinded seer”, inhabiting a valued and distinct voice in public life, through the experience of being wounded.

Freud reads Oedipus as one who kills his father and marries his mother. But in the play, Oedipus’ parents have already tried to kill him, which sparks an exploration of how homosexuality sits in relation to heterosexual convention, and how gay people life out the reality of growing up “different”

Freud’s reading of Oedipus suggests a well-defined social order, with repression acting to enable things to find their place, which is the opposite of Oedipus’ self-destructive curiosity. The paper suggests that gay sexuality has an important role in holding what the dominant social order cannot.

January 2019 (date t.b.a.)
Belief and unbelief at work
Led by: Mark Argent and Coreene Archer

Religious participation has been decreasing for at least a century, to the point that many now see it as irrelevant. As the world has changed, the place of belief systems within occupational systems is increasingly being called into question.

The move to make religion or belief a protected characteristic under discrimination law has made it even harder for faith-based conversations to take place. As the protection covers both belief and a lack of belief, an unwelcome attempt to persuade a colleague to change their belief could constitute harassment, while expressions of a contrary belief could be evidence of a discriminatory mindset.

Many employers approach these issues cautiously, offering private facilities so that prayer or worship can be conducted discretely, and allowing paid holiday or unpaid leave to be used for observance of religious festivals. Meanwhile, manifestations of belief such as jewellery, headwear, facial hair and facial coverings are increasingly being fought over in the tribunals, as some workplace policies seek to limit all non-essential forms of religious expression. These measures further contribute to the idea of the workplace as a secular space, in which a seminal aspect of some people’s lives must be kept hidden. This is complicated by the way in which belief or unbelief shapes personal values and their orientation to the values of the organisation.

When something cannot be discussed, organisational consultants may question what is going on in the silence, and what might be being displaced onto it. This event, led by Mark Argent and Coreene Archer, takes a neutral stance in exploring the dilemmas and difficulties arising when differing beliefs, rights and freedoms come into contact, and conflict, with one another.

Other things under discussion include:

  • A one-day event on creativity and spirituality;
  • Working conferences, stradling the space between spiritual direction and group relations conferences and exploring reactions to books, and as part of a discernment process exploring future directions in religious organisations;
  • A group exploration of scripture as living myth/story;
  • A group-guided retreat;
  • Individually-guided retreats, exploring retreat as an experience of hospitality.