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[Xmca-l] Re: Having an experience



And to the question that I have calqued (perhaps improperly) as the
question of re-presenting the essence of an experience, or even knowing how
to talk about an experience, I had two quick ideas:

1. This is a problem that I grapple with every year as I teach
undergraduate students ethnographic writing. One of the biggest problems
that I see is that students come in wanting to provide a perfect
description of events that has maximal fidelity. Now, I suppose that the
seeking for fidelity isn't the problem so much as is the way in which they
understand fidelity. They understand fidelity to mean a perfect rendering
of the exact things that were said and done - every movement, every sound,
everything. Yet my fear is that this loses precisely what we are talking
about here - the experience (and Jorge Luis Borges has a wonderful essay
that I have attached called Funes the Memorious that describes a man,
Funes, who was capable of that kind of perfect recollection that students
aspire to; and to my mind the essay suggests that Funes has lost the
ability to Have an Experience). A perfect description of every little thing
that happened without capturing the experiences had is missing what is most
essential, most real in human activity. Participants in interaction do not
attend to every little thing. Nor is every little thing what it appears to
be (particularly to a cultural outsider!).

So I suggest to my students something somewhat radical and perhaps a bit
scandalous for the more scientistic of social scientists. I suggest that my
students consider fidelity not in terms of one-to-one mappings of word to
world and instead try to maintain fidelity of the real and consequential
meanings of the experience had by participants. The scandal here is that,
because part of the work of ethnography is rendering what happened in one
cultural context in the terms of another cultural context (perhaps not
unlike the problem confronted by Rolf and Alfredo's designers?), this
translation may require representing happenings in ways that are not really
perfect representations of what, physically and acoustically, "actually"
happened. The suggestion here is that in representing the "meaning" in one
cultural context in terms that will be understandable to people in another
cultural context, one might need to alter the details in one's description
a bit. This is the art of ethnographic description. (and I imagine that
some reading this will have a very visceral reaction to this suggestion -
"isn't that just plain lying?").

As I'm writing this, I am reminded of Mike's (Luria's? - Wordsworth - see
two stanza's pasted below) famous line that science too often "murders to
dissect". That is, we kill the experience in order to study it. I suppose
I'm wondering: what is the alternative?

2. For the more philosophically inclined, Heidegger has done some wonderful
work with the notion of befindlichkeit. Here is a secondary source (Eugene
Gendlin) describing what it is in case anyone has an interest:
http://www.focusing.org/gendlin_befindlichkeit.html
Here is a nugget from that page to get you started:
"Heidegger says that *Befindlichkeit *refers to what is ordinarily called
"being in a mood," and also what is called "feeling" and "affect." But
Heidegger offers a radically different way of thinking about this ordinary
experience. *Befindlichkeit *refers to the kind of beings that humans are,
that aspect of these beings which makes for them having moods, feelings, or
affects."

Okay, back to experience.
-greg
Here are the last two stanzas of Wordsworth's The Tables Turned - a little
screed against book-larnin' (and perhaps even better than "murder to
dissect" are the closing words: "a heart that watches and receives"):

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.


On Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 1:32 AM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Beth in your question:
>  "how to study the object which is the unity of the experience?
>
> Is it possible that to study the "object" (which is the unity) is another
> category error. In other words the unity (as integral) is PRIOR to the
> "object OF" and also prior to the "subject OF" "an" experience
>
> The "recognizing" objects (as Dewey contrasts with  the concept
> "perceiving" is not "an" experience.
>
> "an" experience has a particular quality of    "having" an experience
> which is not POSSESSIVE.  Having an experience is "undergoing" an
> experience.
> I am proposing that these contrasting concepts of "having" (possessing and
> undergoing) are subtle shifts (slants) that Dewey is bringing to the "fore".
>
> Andy says Dewey uses "beautiful" scientific language to explore this
> phenomena.  Beautiful as receptively "taking in" dewey's meaning. THIS
> beauty "hinges" on "an" experience being an experience of undergoing or
> grasping or taking in "an" experience (as a unity of being completed
> through becoming completed. Being is the completed form that exists (is
> completed) prior to subjects  and objects forming  and prior to emotion and
> intellect forming and prior to intuition and reflection forming  their
> multimodal qualities.   Qualities of these various multimodal "aspects" of
> the unity of "having" "an" experience.  These aspects are various ways
> //about// reflecting and RE-presenting "an" already completed and existing
> experience after first undergoing the experience.
>  As Andy emphasizes the unity  is prior to distinguishing the multiple
> modes that can then be recognized.  The unity of "an" experience when
> undergone is "perceived" not "recognized" (as Dewey meant this contrast in
> terms.
>
> Therefore is place-making contrasted with place-undergoing??
>
> In Buddhism is undergoing the key phenomena of unity as "dependent
> arising"?
>
> Yes beautiful and a particular phenomenal/imaginal slant "/"
> Poetic
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "Beth Ferholt" <bferholt@gmail.com>
> Sent: ‎2015-‎07-‎16 11:15 PM
> To: "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net>
> Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Having an experience
>
> But when we reflect on some things it is hard to do so without loosing the
> whole entirely in the process of reflection.
>
> Jay said in a chain recently, in response to a related question, something
> about having an artist on every research team.  I have been thinking about
> this.  If the "artist, in comparison with his fellows, is one who is not
> only especially gifted in powers of execution but in unusual sensitivity to
> the qualities of things" then  this is who we need to tell us which
> property is the one that can characterize the experience as a whole.
>
> No?  Am I missing something in what you just wrote?  The unity is prior but
> how to study the object if this unity is its essence? -- sort of like the
> empty space in the bowl being the bowl, so when you study the bowl itself
> then you miss the whole point.
>
> I am thinking of these two quotes, although maybe I am conflating things?:
>
> "Its nature and import can be expressed only by art, because there is a
> unity of experience that can be expressed only as an experience." and
>
> “Few understand why it is imperative not only to have the effect of art
> take shape and excite the reader or spectator but also to explain art, *and
> to explain it in such a way that the explanation does not kill the
> emotion*.”
> -- p. 254, Vygotsky (1971)
>
>
> I am really meaning this question in a very practical way, thinking of how
> I am always speaking to preschool teachers who describe their students and
> the activities with these students with such art, and how I am getting
> better at creating classroom spaces that support this description -- but am
> still not clear about how to consistently create spaces in my papers for
> similar forms of representation and reflection.
>
>
> This question also comes from reading the Alfredo and Rolf paper, and
> thinking about Leigh Star's work.
>
>
> Beth
>
> On Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 1:45 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>
> >  No, no, Beth. As Dewey says:
> >
> > "This unity is neither emotional, practical, nor intellectual, for these
> > terms name distinctions that reflection can make within it. In discourse
> */about/
> > *an experience, we must make use of these adjectives of interpretation.
> > In going over an experience in mind /*after/ *its occurrence, we may find
> > that one property rather than another was sufficiently dominant so that
> it
> > characterizes the experience as a whole. "
> >
> > Isn't this beautiful scientific prose! We make these distinction when we
> > *reflect* on an experience. And perhaps we include the experience in our
> > autobiography, act it out on the stage, analyse it scientifically, all of
> > which presupposes analysis and synthesis. But it is important to
> recognise
> > that the unity is prior. It is not only a unity of emotion and cognition
> > (for example) but also of attention and will - and any other categories
> you
> > abstract from an experience.
> >
> > Andy
> >  ------------------------------
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> > On 17/07/2015 3:00 PM, Beth Ferholt wrote:
> >
> > Or reproducing the part that represents the whole?  Like a fractal? I
> > think it is the similarity across scales that makes an experience
> > proleptic, or gives that 'bliss conferred at the beginning of the road to
> > redemption" that Vasilyuk refers to.  You have an experience on several
> > timescales and so a sense of deja-vu is central to having an experience.
> > This is what I am thinking about after reading both the paper of Dewey's
> > and your recent piece on perezhivanie, Andy, although I am picking up on
> a
> > small piece of the last email in this chain -- : If something is only
> > itself in its whole then you can't study it, is what is bothering me.
> Beth
> >
> > On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 11:22 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> wrote:
> >
> >> Not "getting at something", Michael. Just pursuing this question you
> >> raised about Dewey's saying that the aesthetic quality of medieval
> >> buildings arises from their not being "planned" like buildings are
> >> nowadays. He goes on to say "Every work of art follows the plan of, and
> >> pattern of, a complete experience." The puzzle he is raising here is the
> >> completeness of an experience which gives it its aesthetic quality, and
> >> this cannot be created by assembling together parts in the way a modern
> >> building is planned. An experience - the kind of thing which sticks in
> your
> >> mind - is an original or prior unity, not a combination, and this is
> what
> >> gives a work of art that ineffable quality, something which can only be
> >> transmitted by reproducing that whole of an experience.
> >>
> >> Andy
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> *Andy Blunden*
> >> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>   On 17/07/2015 2:32 AM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
> >>
> >>> Andy,
> >>>
> >>> I'm still not sure about your question.  Did I set out to have that
> >>> experience, that morning...no, I don't think so (it was a long time
> ago,
> >>> but I'm pretty sure no).  Could I have just treated it as an
> indiscriminate
> >>> activity, probably, I had done so before.
> >>>
> >>> But I am guessing you're getting a something here Andy?
> >>>
> >>> Michael
> >>>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> >>> xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy
> >>> Blunden
> >>> Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:21 PM
> >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Having an experience
> >>>
> >>> YOu said: "... But that time I had the experience with the
> paintings..."
> >>>
> >>> I mean that was an experience. Did you set out that morning to have
> that
> >>> experience?
> >>> RE, your question: "what does he mean when he says you can't do things
> >>> indiscriminately and have vital experience, but you also can't plan
> things?"
> >>> Andy
> >>>
> >>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> *Andy Blunden*
> >>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>> On 17/07/2015 2:09 AM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> Well I'm not sure I understand your question Andy, but perhaps it has
> >>>> something to do with my grandfather's favorite saying (translated from
> >>>> Yiddish),
> >>>>
> >>>> Man plans, God laughs.
> >>>>
> >>>> Michael
> >>>>
> >>>> -----Original Message-----
> >>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu]
> >>>> On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> >>>> Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:04 PM
> >>>> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Having an experience
> >>>>
> >>>> So Michael, there was just that one occasion, in all your
> museum-going,
> >>>> when you had an experience. Was that planned?
> >>>> (I don't mean to say you haven't had a number of such experiences,
> >>>> Michael ... just some number actually)
> >>>>
> >>>> Andy
> >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>> *Andy Blunden*
> >>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>>> On 17/07/2015 1:19 AM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>>> Hi Larry and all,
> >>>>>
> >>>>> I think this is one of the most complex aspects of experience, what
> >>>>> does he mean when he says you can't do things indiscriminately and
> have
> >>>>> vital experience, but you also can't plan things?  I have discussed
> >>>>> (argued) about this a lot with my students.  I have especially seen
> him
> >>>>> raise this point in at least two of his great works, Democracy and
> >>>>> Education and Experience and Nature - and again of course in Art as
> >>>>> Experience (notice he is not saying how Art enters into experience
> but how
> >>>>> art is experience - I have come to notice these little things more
> and more
> >>>>> in his writing).
> >>>>>
> >>>>> The difficulty we have, at least in the United States because of the
> >>>>> dominance of the idea of meta-cognition, is that we too often
> translate
> >>>>> what individuals are bringing in to experience to organize it as a
> form of
> >>>>> meta-cognition.  It is kind of possible to make that interpretation
> from
> >>>>> Democracy and Education, although what I think he is doing more is
> arguing
> >>>>> against misinterpretations of his work as random, child centered
> >>>>> activities.  I think he is clearer in Experience and Nature that we
> bring
> >>>>> in who we are at the moment into the activity, and use who we are (I
> don't
> >>>>> want to say identity) as an organizing principle for what we do.  It
> is
> >>>>> perhaps one of the places where Dewey and Vygotsky are close.
> Perhaps I
> >>>>> can use the same Jackson Pollock example.  The first few times I saw
> his
> >>>>> paintings I was trying to "apprecitate" them because I was told that
> was
> >>>>> the best way to experience them.  Dewey says no vital experience
> there
> >>>>> because my activities become stilted and artificia
> >>>>>     l.  Sometimes I went through the museum and just looked at
> >>>>> pictures, one to the other.  No vital experience there, just random
> >>>>> threads.  But that time I had the experience with the paintings I was
> >>>>> allowing who I was, what had been built up in the trajectory of my
> life to
> >>>>> enter into my experience with the painting, making it a vital
> experience.
> >>>>> I think Dewey makes the argument in Experience and Nature that it is
> not
> >>>>> just the experience the moment before, but the experiences leading
> to that
> >>>>> experience, the context of my life, of my parent's life, of a long
> line of
> >>>>> historical experiences.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Anyway, my take.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Michael
> >>>>>
> >>>>> -
> >>>>>
> >>>>
> >>
> >
> >
> >  --
> >  Beth Ferholt
> > Assistant Professor
> > Department of Early Childhood and Art Education
> > Brooklyn College, City University of New York
> > 2900 Bedford Avenue
> > Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889
> >
> > Email: bferholt@brooklyn.cuny.edu
> > Phone: (718) 951-5205
> > Fax: (718) 951-4816
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> --
> Beth Ferholt
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Early Childhood and Art Education
> Brooklyn College, City University of New York
> 2900 Bedford Avenue
> Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889
>
> Email: bferholt@brooklyn.cuny.edu
> Phone: (718) 951-5205
> Fax: (718) 951-4816
>



-- 
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson

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