More generally, Postmodernity can be characterised as a process of de-differentation of what Modernity has differentiated. Max Weber analysed the modernisation process as a progressive autonomisation of domains such as Science, Religion, Art, Justice, Philosophy, Technology and so on (Lash, 1990). Psychology is a product of this modern process of differnetiation. Lash describes postmodernism as a process of de-differentation of all these domains. The moves of the subdisciplines of psychology can so be re-interpreted. Part of them will join Technology. But the core of Psychology, in other words the historically developed art and science of self-reflexivity and ‘political’ action (the participation of the individual in the constrcution of social networks), will have to make itself a new future by developing a science of postmodern men and women. This whole field now is open to sociologists, philosophers and pyschoanalysts. When I read The Meeting of the Waters : Individuality, Community and Solidarity (Kristensen, 1997), I was convinced that most of the chapters – the book is a reader – were written down by personality psychologists or social psychologists, as many chapters deal with Self and Identity. Rob Shields’ analysis of Cinderella as a prefiguration of the postmodern problem of identity in everyday life and in cyberspaces leading to ‘psychoanaesthesia’ and depression, should have been written by a psychologists. However, all these chapters are written by sociologists. The book is a fine example of the deadlock in which modern psychology has brought itself by cutting off its communication with the culturally and historically rooted problems of individual men and women in their everyday life. For the psychologist of postmodernity this should not be a reason for bitterness or envy, but an encouragement. It should strengthen him or her in the conviction that the death of the Modern Ego does not imply the death of psychology as such (Rosseel 2001).
Having acquired my first digital recorder while working in Iqaluit, Nunavut I began to depend on this exciting new technology. To my frustration later on I realized that I was unable to use the .dss files in most applications. But today I found Switch 1.04 and for the first time I was able to save a .dss file to .wav. I chose an audio summary I had made of Kristensen’s (1997) The Meeting of the Waters : Individuality, Community and Solidarity. I would now like to find a place to put in into cyberspace. The conversion was seamless! And I have an editor now so I can edit my audio clips.
Keywords: .dss, .wav, Rob Shields, reflexive modernity, self-reflexivity, postmodernity, modernity, sociology, Switch 1.04, .
Kristensen. 1997. The Meeting of the Waters : Individuality, Community and Solidarity.
Rosseel, Eric. 2001. “The Death of the Helmsman: A Psychology of Postmodernity.” November.
Shields, Rob. 1997. “Cinderella Punk.” The Meeting of the Waters : Individuality, Community and Solidarity.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2003. Audio summary of Kristensen The Meeting of the Waters: Individuality, Community and Solidarity.
May 7, 2007
With our stunning window view of eagles gliding effortlessly over the waters of Finlayson Arm along the ridges and forested steep hills of Sanich Peninsula, we chose to sit side by side more like an awestruck audience than a couple ordering dinner at a restaurant. Within an hour of my arrival at the Victoria airport I felt like I was in another country. Neither the January weather nor the temperate rain forest in its spectacular topography were part of what had become familiar to me as Canadian. I’d already lived in five provinces and Canada’s newest territory but this warm land was nothing like anything I had experienced. Most of the rest of the drive along the dark and winding highway was an anticlimax to that view, that is until we came to the Malahat lookout.
Eighteen months later we are again faced with a choice. Today may be the last day of familiar habits repeated day after day. I’m not sure if I have seen, experienced and learned enough yet to be able to leave.
When I first arrived I devoured maps and trail books to lcoate myself in this unfamiliar topography. Mountain trails traced on a map are useful when you are hiking between and around rocky outcrops, ancient trees and stumps, narrow footpaths . . . Deep in among the Garry Oak, Arbutus and Douglas Fir hilly slopes and valley confuse the hiker who ends up not really knowing if she is ultimately reaching a higher level or heading downhill. Like yesterday when we heading out looking for the low trail along the shore of Tzuhalem and ending up in Genoa Bay having crossed to the other side of the mountain just by putting one foot in front of the other.
Google earth offered seemingly endless potential for locating myself in space and time. But now I realize that it is most useful for tracing where I have been. Flickr lets me geotag my digital photos and visual art works unto scaled maps so I can zoom in to exact locations. Google video lets me float my shaky images and breathless voice in cyberspace describing what I am seeing in the ‘here-and-now’ so that my future self can better remember places that were once familiar.
I have learned the names of the wildflowers that grow under the oaks, fir and deciduous trees of Mount Tzuhalem. I have learned to name it by latitude and longtitude. I know its smells and sounds. I know how to dress in layers in this ecosystem that constantly changes from cool to warm to rain, wind and sun. I know its panoramas and vistas and the names of the mountains and bodies of water that surround it. But I could still get lost here and end up far from my goal.
And this is the glitch in one’s ethical topography of self. The everyday habits, the things that make a home a home, can be taken away either by choice or necessity from one day to the next. And there you are in some unfamiliar place, re-examining again, locating oneself again.
For those who can control how their lives unfold or seem to think they can, habits repeated day after day, reinforce values and make ethical decisions automatically without a lot of reflection.
But for the nomads, the one’s who travel, the unfamiliar shakes us into thinking consciously, deliberately about entrenched habits, values, goals and perhaps even the meaning of life. This is why this phrase remains with me as a question mark, a point of departure for a line of deep reflection that will never end . . .
an ethical topography of Self and the Other based on an authentic relationship of mutual respect
It is by encountering the stranger, the unheimlich, by getting lost in unfamiliar topographies (Taylor 1989, Murray 1991) that we open ourselves to encountering the Other in a spirit of hospitality and friendship that transcends our habitual ways of knowing. It is the unheimlich that puts into perspective that which we held to be true, about ourselves, our beliefs and our values. If the stranger offers us something that resonates or is dissonant with our own beliefs we are compelled to take them out in the light of day, to examine them with new eyes. It is as if in the mirror-pupil of the Other we see ourselves reflected. If we are mutually respectful we will accept that we are answerable (Bakhtin) to that Other and will at least closely examine our own reflection in her eyes. If we are truly practicing hospitality from a cosmopolitical viewpoint (Bennington and Derrida 1997) we will examine those unchallenged assumptions about our values in a more precise and logical way. We will use more precise instruments and acknowledge that somethings were not as they once seemed and our belief in them need to be revised. Others resonate so soundly that it is evident that they are part of our authentic selves.
I see this outer topography as a metaphor for the inner self. Reconfiguring rivers in that intellectual, emotional, spiritual landscape is to me like reconfiguring entrenched habits of thought or behaviour. It won’t happen through human nature but takes a conscious act of will. Through the conscious re-evaluation of our everyday habits and by willfully changing then repeating them day after day we can more clearly evaluate values, behaviours and with greater lucidity and reason (Changeux and Ricoeur 2000b).
1. This is how I have come to internalize Charles Taylor’s moral topography of self. Psychologist Murray summarizes Charles Taylor’s concept of the moral topography of self.
2. Shields’ concept of an ethical dialogical relationship between self and the other has informed my understanding:
Dialogism offers us the potential within a more sophisticated theory of semiosis to position Self and Other, seeing their relationship for what it is, an ethical one of mutuality in the social construction of meaning.
Changeux, Jean-Piere and Paul Ricoeur. 2000b. What Makes Us Think? A Neuroscientist and a Philosopher Argue about Ethics, Human Nature and the Brain. Translated by M. B. DeBevoise. Princeton: University of Princeton Press.
Bennington, Geoffrey and Derrida, Jacques. 1997. “Politics and Friendship: A Discussion with Jacques Derrida.” Centre for Modern French Thought. University of Sussex. 1 December.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Reconfiguring Rivers Ethics Human Nature and the Brain. >> Speechless.
Murray, K. 1991. “A Life In The World In Australia.” Australian Cultural History. 10:32-45.
Shields, Rob. 1996. Meeting or mis-meeting? The dialogical challenge to Verstehen. British Journal of Sociology: 47.
Taylor, Charles. 1989. “Moral Topography of Self.” in Messer L A Sass and R L Wootfolk (eds) Hermeneutics and Psychological Theory: Interpretive Perspectives on Personality, Psychotherapy and Psychopathology New Brunswick Rutgers University Press.
November 2, 2006
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. Digital image of: 1998-9. “Space Invasion with Fireplace and PC.” Acrylic on Arches Paper, 30″ x 22.5.” Lac Gauvreau, Québec, Canada. BY-NC-SA.Uploaded 2006/11/02
I was looking for an old website I had built in 2000 when I came upon Stefano Cazzella’s elegantly designed blog entitled, caccio’s blog: Building WORLD 2.0.
Using the Creative Commond license Stefano Cazzella had hosted text and image from my Flickr album or my WordPress blog on his site. It looks very good there so I hope he does not remove it. However, I have asked him to put my name on it. The digital signature is barely visible on the snow through the window of our A-frame cottage but I had not written my name in my Flickr description of the page. So I sent it to Stefano Cazzella and will wait to see what happens. Fewer than fifty people have viewed this on WordPress but over 200 visited the same image on Flickr since it was first uploaded on November 2, 2006.
I began making my first web pages when Dave and I lived here on Lac Gauvreau, Chemin de la Baie Ste. Anne, Ste Cécile de Masham, Québec. I had already taken my first contemporary social theory courses with Rob Shields. From that time onwards he has been a valued mentor for my grad studies. I was working on the year long PhD seminar course with Professor Wallot at the University of Ottawa. This Canadian Studies PhD was a life-transforming experience. It was education as its best. The institution provided everything a grad student could need including access to a super coach and computer lab. As always Dave and I were squeezing as much as we could with bare bones technology. I was using our first digital camera and this flat bed scanner. My son Dan, who was studying at the Cite collegiale in Ottawa, taught me just enough .html coding so I wouldn’t make too much of a mess for him to clean up. He was a bit of a purist.This acrylic painting was painted over the Christmas holidays in 1998-1999. I had already painted the tree outside our cabin by Lake Gauvreau. The next day the branches were so burdened with snow I had to repaint them entirely. I decided to let them invade the inner space of the cottage since their presence was so insistent.
The painting is 30″ x 22.5″ on Arches paper.
It was shown in March 1999 at an exhibition on Bank Street in Ottawa, ON and again in a gallery on Great George Street , Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in the summer of 1999.
Space invasion with fireplace and PC was one of the first images on my Carleton University home page and on the collaborative, innovative virtual space called artengine. It is one of my favourite images and after our chaotic move out west I really don’t know where the actual physical painting is or the great high resolution digital images the professional photographer took of my work in May-June? of 1999.
One of the challenges for me is to find the kinds of sites that provide me with ideas I can build upon. For example, currently I am unable to simply use a search engine to find useful information on the concept of memory work. I have kept track of this concept over the years using my EndNote bibliographic database. My sister Sharon introduced me to EndNote c. 1992?, an authoring software for creating digital databases with a powerful cross-referencing ability. Thousands of useful entries later and numerous upgrades later I continue to thank you Sharon.
The Creative Commons actually builds on a way of sharing, adapting, building knowledge claims that has been a part of teaching, learning and research for time immemorial. What I can illustrate in an image is difficult to argue in text. Basically we are all using communal memories, communal archives to build our own original creations. Creative Commons acknowledges that and goes against the current where academic capital has become a jealously guarded commodity, knowledge bytes are the new virtual gold. We are in the middle of a virtual gold rush.
I think this is my first complete reference blog-to-blog and I am touched. I had a professional photographer take slides of this series of paintings in 1999 and had Kodak produce a CD-ROM of them all in high resolution. (I lost the CD in our last move unfortunately but I still have the painting.) A lower resolution version of Space Invasion became my avatar for my first web page in 1999. It is was my first acrylic painting completed in the first few days of 1999 for my first exhibition in Ottawa, Ontario and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
I have written somewhere else on one of my blogs that working with Web 2.0 is like being trained by a cat to be at least minimally presentable to be associated with cat royalty. Feed owners learn what Web 2.0 tools like or not very quickly. Bricoleurs learn by trial and error not only how to design spaces that connect, but also how to frame and protect our content. This is a delicious example of how to learn-by-doing.
The Creative Commons license 2.5 that I use with all my work,