Contextual and Transcendent

The Contextual, The Transcendent...
and the Space Between?

Elizabeth Catanese & Anne Dalke

U-Bar, 11/30/05

Transcendence Video--

and reflections

Is it appropriate/desireable to start [with a set of unexamined presumptions]? Might it be better to present the material to be observed without any "story"? with as little "story" as possible? To try to "direct" users as little as possible, just giving them something to make observations on, develop stories about themselves, play with? What are the likely pros and cons, for different audiences, of the two different approaches? Are there ways to better strike a balance between them?

Ever find yourself wondering
about the universe and
your place in it?

Paul (paraphrased): all seeing is contextual...
all stories are context-dependent...
all stories are inherently dependent on the perspective of an author....

Elizabeth: is it true that everything is located within a context?...
I wonder if the opposite of contextualization would be transcendence.

Anne: If the work of science is aiming for "wider" applications of the tales we tell:
What happens to "local" when we "enlarge" the "local"?
Do science stories then/thus "trump" stories that cover "less broad" swaths of material?

Elizabeth: systems can be rocked and challenged.
Unschooling practices make us more random to each other,
less predicatble and less controlled and
more new stories can be created by the process....

Drive-By Shoot

Christopher Alexander, A City is Not a Tree (1965)

we are trapped by a mental habit of intuitively accessible structures

we have a basic intolerance of ambiguity

the first function of consciousness in confusing situations is to
reduce ambiguity and overlap, to
"take down" complexity by establishing barriers

An image of how this works:

In traditional society, naming best friends who name best friends...forms a closed group; a tree

In today's social structure, naming friends who name friends...leads to thick overlap: a semi-lattice

in a tree structure: no piece of any unit is ever connected to other units except through medium of unit as a whole

(in more traditional social units, can't make friends except when whole family does)

lack of this complexity cripples our conceptions of new spaces

this is the mania of the simple-minded--putting the same sorts of things in the same basket

For example:

we can't remember these four images
(orange, watermelon, football, tennis ball)
in single mental act/more than one mental category
(fruits & balls/ or: small spheres & large egg-shapes)

need images as vehicles for (alternative form of) thought


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