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[Xmca-l] Re: Perezhivanie and Organic-and Performance Activism (long post0

So glad someone watched the videos of Richard Schechner. Thanks for the noticing of multiplicity/relationality/performance.

In a different post, Mike referenced the long-standing program I’m involved in as a possible model relevant to the ongoing discussion. The project is multi-faceted and I and others characterize it in many different ways. I don’t know what’s the best characterization for this context but will begin writing and see!

The project has been going for about 40 years. We've been calling it a development community lately—its focus is human/community development. It exists to create opportunities for growth and development for people and their communities. To organize environments that involve all kinds of people—young and old, rich, poor and in-between (regardless of political, religious, gender, etc. identities —in transforming their relationships to themselves, to each other and to the institutional gatekeepers of both local and global culture. To re- initiate hope and imagination through exercising our human capacity to self-organize to meet our needs and our capacity to perform individually and collectively who we are becoming. To support people to become active creators of their relationality, their emotionality, their learning, etc., which entails being active creators of the environments (stages in performance language) by which (in tool-and-result fashion) their/our relationality, emotionality, learning, etc. is created. We also call it a community of and for performance activists—performance/play understood as the dialectic who we are/who we’re becoming, i.e., the “human condition.” The project and its network of organizations are built by all kinds of people as programs in which people can “perform their becoming.” 

[From a talk I gave in October in Bogota at a conference on “Addressing Violence through Culture” (full talk) http://loisholzman.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/BogotaTalk.pdf <http://loisholzman.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/BogotaTalk.pdf>
The work we do doesn’t fit into any known categories and so it goes by many names—social therapeutics, the psychology of becoming, the development community, performance activism, postmodern Marxism are some of the most recent. Social therapeutics because it is grounded in Fred Newman’s creation of social therapy 40 years ago. Social therapy helps people in emotional distress and pain by a group process of creating new emotions. A psychology of becoming because it takes human beings to be not just who we are but simultaneously who we are becoming. The development community because it engages in the activity of creating development and the activity of creating the community that supports development. Performance activism because its politics is one of reconstruction and transformation through people creating new performances of themselves. Postmodern Marxism because it is inspired by Marx’s revolutionary philosophy and radical humanism of transforming the very circumstances that determine us through the all-round development of everyone—AND by the postmodern questioning of the tenets of modernism including truth, reality and objectivity. As postmodern Marxists, we don’t interpret, predict, commodify, define or deconstruct. Instead, we create new, ever-evolving organizations and programs— in and through which people can exercise their power to create something new, to become historical even as they remain societal, to embrace the individual-group dialectic rather than assume a separate individual and group in opposition to each other, to transform how we do everything, to recreate what culture is and to what it means to be a citizen.]

The project/development community began in NYC and over the years some of the organizations and programs have expanded to other US cities and our approach to development, learning and social change has put us in partnerships with hundreds of other people and organizations world wide. The majority, I’d say, work with people educationally (all ages, in and out of school), culturally, therapeutically, organizationally.

>From the same talk as above:

This revolutionary activity of ours is realized, manifest and developed through a network of independent organizations that we have built and expanded over 40 years. Two guiding principles were there at the start and remain to this day. First, to be independently funded and supported, and not take money or be constrained by government, corporate, university, foundation or other traditional funding sources. This involved reaching out to ordinary Americans for financial support and participation, by stopping them on street corners and knocking on the doors of their homes. That activity allowed individuals to become active participants in the activities and organizations we were building together—citizens in the best sense of that word. And because we reached out to all sorts of people on the streets and by knocking at their doors, what has evolved is a new kind of partnership between wealthy and middle class Americans and the poor, a partnership that sidesteps the institutions and assumptions of tradition, ideology and politics as usual.

In these times, I think of what we do as a new form of activism. That’s what we’re inviting people to participate in. Not a reactive activism, but a reconstruction-deconstruction of the existing circumstances.. People coming together, with their agreements and disagreements, and creating something “other” with them. And to do so, people have to perform, to step out of their comfort zones (the phrase the teenagers use), to do whatever it is without knowing how, to play/perform life—relationships, conversations, meaning, etc. 

Relevant to the current political situation/climate, we have developed some amount of expertise in supporting people to perform new kinds of conversations that might create new possibilities. Conversations in which truth, us vs them, either-or, someone must be to blame, identity and assumptions and judgements that come with them, etc. aren’t overdetermining. Some examples—Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, which brings cops and inner-city teens together in performance workshops, creating skits and conversation and a new kind of relationship, literally creating culture. Another—talking to hundreds of strangers on the streets about current mental health diagnosis—bringing their voices to the professionals who debate these issues and simultaneously involving ordinary people in a new kind of conversation, helping them see in new ways and experience that someone actually wants to know what they think. Another example—an activist for independent politics door knocking in her building and asking if people wanted to get together and talk about their feelings now that Trump is in office. They then met in a restaurant near their building—they got out of their bubbles and their ideologies. The begin to see other possibilities, even opportunities. It was a simple ask. Another example—one of our graduates from Greece organizing youth in refugee camps and youth from the village to create music and poetry together and performing both inside and outside the camp. Going from country to country in Europe with their stories and inviting people to participate in making the project Europe wide. Inviting different kinds of people to create their relational lives and stories and in so doing deconstructing the stories given to/scripted for them. There’s actually hundreds more examples.

There’s a wealth of materials, written and spoken and visual, from and about this ongoing project. There’s books, articles, talks, blog posts, videos of activities. Some are academic/conceptual/theoretical (most but not all of mine) or research oriented. Others are not. Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, Marx, Shotter, Searle, Cole, Gergen, Quine, and some of you here can be found in these works.

This is my version of the project on this day, February 8, 2017. Should you be interested in an older version or a future one, or someone else’s version, please email me and I can direct you to an article or two. Better yet, come and see for yourself! 

The project has helped me, humbled me, given me the gift of awe at people’s capacity for creativity and transformation. The most important thing I think I’ve learned is, “Talk to people.” All people. Strangers. Those we don’t agree with. Those we’re fearful of. Being/becoming (performing) curious helps us move around our assumptions that we know who people are and the seduction of believing that carrying out sophisticated analyses of what they mean or what motivates and/or moves them brings us (close to) the truth. What happens when people who ordinarily don’t come together are brought together to perform a conversation can be magical. Antagonists, strangers, different cultures, different ages.The second thing is a bit of advice—take an improv class! It’s the most practical tool I know out there for living in these times.


Lois Holzman
Director, East Side Institute for Group & Short Term Psychotherapy
119 West 23 St, suite 902
New York, NY 10011
Chair, Global Outreach, All Stars Project, UX
Tel. +1.212.941.8906 x324
Fax +1.718.797.3966
Social Media
Facebook  <https://www.facebook.com/lois.holzman.5>| LinkedIn <http://www.%20linkedin.com/pub/lois-holzman> | Twitter <https://twitter.com/LoisHolzman>
Psychology Today <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conceptual-revolution>| Psychology of Becoming <http://loisholzman.org/> | Mad in America <http://www.madinamerica.com/author/lois/>
Lois Holzman <http://loisholzman.org/> | East Side Institute <http://eastsideinstitute.org/> | Performing the World <http://www.performingtheworld.org/>
All Stars Project <http://allstars.org/>


> On Feb 6, 2017, at 9:39 AM, lpscholar2@gmail.com wrote:
> Lois,
> Thank you for the link to you, Richard, and Ken, on stage with the new generation.
> The scene where Ken asks you to extend your hand and then he responds within four differing  ‘()’ – frames – was thought provoking. His way of understanding how each frame ‘changed’ who you were as his ‘()’ and your rejoinder within your ‘()’.
> So... Relation itself means multiple ‘()’ within ‘()’. 
> I recommend watching this video that engages the understanding of performance studies
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> From: Lois Holzman <mailto:lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>
> Sent: February 6, 2017 6:23 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Perezhivanie and Organic
> I’ll take a stab at summarizing it later this week, Mike.
> Lois Holzman
> Director, East Side Institute for Group & Short Term Psychotherapy
> 119 West 23 St, suite 902
> New York, NY 10011
> Chair, Global Outreach, All Stars Project, UX
> Tel. +1.212.941.8906 x324
> Fax +1.718.797.3966
> lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org <mailto:lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>
> Social Media
> Facebook  <https://www.facebook.com/lois.holzman.5 <https://www.facebook.com/lois.holzman.5>>| LinkedIn <http://www.%20linkedin.com/pub/lois-holzman <http://www.%20linkedin.com/pub/lois-holzman>> | Twitter <https://twitter.com/LoisHolzman <https://twitter.com/LoisHolzman>>
> Blogs
> Psychology Today <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conceptual-revolution <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conceptual-revolution>>| Psychology of Becoming <http://loisholzman.org/ <http://loisholzman.org/>> | Mad in America <http://www.madinamerica.com/author/lois/ <http://www.madinamerica.com/author/lois/>>
> Websites
> Lois Holzman <http://loisholzman.org/ <http://loisholzman.org/>> | East Side Institute <http://eastsideinstitute.org/ <http://eastsideinstitute.org/>> | Performing the World <http://www.performingtheworld.org/ <http://www.performingtheworld.org/>>
> All Stars Project <http://allstars.org/ <http://allstars.org/>>
> > On Feb 5, 2017, at 6:42 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>> wrote:
> >
> > Your own work ought to provide an example of a long-standing program that
> > could serve as a model for people to consider, Lois.
> > mike
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 10:52 AM, Lois Holzman <
> > lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org <mailto:lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>> wrote:
> >
> >> Here are two links to two videos in which Richard Schechner addresses
> >> politics and performance studies. He is a pioneer and friend of performance
> >> activism.
> >>
> >> in 2012—https://vimeo.com/54675823 <https://vimeo.com/54675823> <https://vimeo.com/54675823 <https://vimeo.com/54675823>> (begins
> >> around 57 minutes)
> >> in 2016—http://www.performingtheworld.org <http://www.performingtheworld.org/> <http://www <http://www/>.
> >> performingtheworld.org/ <http://performingtheworld.org/>> click on PTW 2016 Plenary Part 1. It’s a
> >> conversation between Schechner, Ken Gergen, me and two inner city young
> >> women. The set up is long but interesting. The conversation begins with
> >> Schechner at around 20 min.
> >>
> >> Lois Holzman
> >> Director, East Side Institute for Group & Short Term Psychotherapy
> >> 119 West 23 St, suite 902
> >> New York, NY 10011
> >> Chair, Global Outreach, All Stars Project, UX
> >> Tel. +1.212.941.8906 x324
> >> Fax +1.718.797.3966
> >> lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org <mailto:lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>
> >> Social Media
> >> Facebook  <https://www.facebook.com/lois.holzman.5 <https://www.facebook.com/lois.holzman.5>>| LinkedIn <http://www <http://www/>.
> >> %20linkedin.com/pub/lois-holzman <http://20linkedin.com/pub/lois-holzman>> | Twitter <https://twitter.com/ <https://twitter.com/>
> >> LoisHolzman>
> >> Blogs
> >> Psychology Today <http://www.psychologytoday <http://www.psychologytoday/>.
> >> com/blog/conceptual-revolution>| Psychology of Becoming <
> >> http://loisholzman.org/ <http://loisholzman.org/>> | Mad in America <http://www.madinamerica.com/ <http://www.madinamerica.com/>
> >> author/lois/>
> >> Websites
> >> Lois Holzman <http://loisholzman.org/ <http://loisholzman.org/>> | East Side Institute <
> >> http://eastsideinstitute.org/ <http://eastsideinstitute.org/>> | Performing the World <http://www <http://www/>.
> >> performingtheworld.org/ <http://performingtheworld.org/>>
> >> All Stars Project <http://allstars.org/ <http://allstars.org/>>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>> On Feb 5, 2017, at 1:30 PM, lpscholar2@gmail.com <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Another scholar of ‘performance studies’ is Richard Schechner who posits
> >> a continuum for ‘performance’ that spans 5 categories: play, games, sports,
> >> theatre, ritual.
> >>> Play is ‘free’  where ritual is ‘strictly’ programmed or designed, while
> >> games, sports and theatre MEDIATE between these extremes as more play-like
> >> or more ritual-like.
> >>> This continuum is basically an elaboration of how performances are
> >> variations on ‘ritual’ as an encompassing category.
> >>>
> >>> This allows Schechner to extend the values of ritual into creation of
> >> symbolic reality that pervades the analysis of other performance genres:
> >> play, games, sports, ritual.
> >>>
> >>> Shechner explains performance studies in the preface to his book
> >> [Performance Studies: An Introduction]:
> >>>
> >>> Performance studies – as a practice, a theory, an academic discipline –
> >> is dynamic, UNFINISHABLE.  Whatever it is, it wasn’t exactly that before
> >> and it won’t be exactly that again.
> >>>
> >>> One dominant metaphor by which performance studies has been figured is
> >> ‘the unmapped terrain’.
> >>> This metaphor figures uncertainty,  ambiguity, navigating the
> >> incomprehensible, the ungraspable, the unsaying at the heart of the
> >> certain, the graspable, the comprehensible, the saying.
> >>>
> >>> This unmapped terrain may be ‘’exhilarating’ for those scholars and
> >> persons who relish “not knowing” that is hard to pin down. So too is the
> >> study of ‘performance’ exhilarating and privileges open-ended questions.
> >>>
> >>> The potential to illuminate, instruct, an inspire, is enhanced not
> >> diminished by this ever present ‘uncertainty’. Don’t try to fix performance
> >> studies down is its central value and if you do the symbolic realm will
> >> become a mere idol.
> >>>
> >>> By insisting that performance studies cannot be fixed or defined,
> >> performance studies is situated as a NEGATIVE discipline trafficking in
> >> ‘denials’ and the unsaying of speech.
> >>>
> >>> This gives a flavour of the way performance studies is posited in
> >> apophatic terms of the unmapped terrain in the fashion of Schechner’s
> >> explorations of the continuum of ritual, play, games, sports, theatre.
> >>>
> >>> Beth and Monica exploring playworlds and perezhivanie can be put in
> >> dialogue with Schechner.
> >>>
> >>> I was channelling Claire Chambers above who is deeply engaged with this
> >> performance thematic playing out through historical epochs and becoming
> >> secularized in modern  performance studies.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> >>>
> >>> From: Edward Wall
> >>> Sent: February 4, 2017 4:10 PM
> >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Perezhivanie and Organic
> >>>
> >>> David
> >>>
> >>>    Yes, that was the difference I was noting. Vygotsky in the passages
> >> I was reading seems to using ‘organic’ as denoting something ‘natural,'
> >> while Stanislavsky seemed to using it s somewhat more holistic fashion.
> >>>
> >>> Ed
> >>>
> >>>> On Feb 2, 2017, at  3:01 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>>
> >> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> The Russian word that Vygotsky uses for "organic" is the same as the
> >> word
> >>>> we use, and I assume that the same thing is true of the word that
> >>>> Stanislavsky used. It is "organic" transliterated into Cyrillic, rather
> >>>> than translated into Russian.
> >>>>
> >>>> What really makes this problem new-thread-worthy is that the meaning of
> >> the
> >>>> word "organic" at the end of the nineteenth century is not the same as
> >> the
> >>>> word meaning that we use in several important ways.
> >>>>
> >>>> Take, for example, the crudest possible way: semantic prosody, or the
> >> "good
> >>>> vibes" of some words (e.g. "organic food") vs. the "bad vibes" of others
> >>>> (e.g. "artificial flavor"). The nineteenth century began with a romantic
> >>>> movement towards nature and towards holism ("Gestaltism"), against
> >> dogmatic
> >>>> rationalism and atomism. So "organicism" had a semantic prosody that
> >>>> involved not only naturalism (which it still does) but also a form of
> >>>> proto-structuralism. Organic structure involved a complex whole with
> >> parts
> >>>> that are interdependent like organs and not independent like ball
> >> bearings.
> >>>>
> >>>> Today, this semantic prosody falls on deaf ears. If anything, it's the
> >>>> other way around: we know all about cells, and we know that they are
> >>>> independant and dispensible in large numbers (you slough off millions
> >> every
> >>>> day). But mechanical parts are precisely engineered to fit each other,
> >> and
> >>>> for the want of one, the whole machine comes to a grinding halt.
> >>>>
> >>>> Nevertheless, we can still see this older meaning of organicism in
> >>>> Toennies' distinction between Gemeinschaft (community, mechanical
> >>>> solidarity) and Gesellschaft (society,organic solidarity) and also in
> >> the
> >>>> work of Bernsetin (workers have a mechanical solidarity based on
> >> likeness
> >>>> while middle class people have organic solidarity based on mutual
> >>>> instrumentality).
> >>>>
> >>>> (Of course, there's the same problem. Even working class families have
> >> an
> >>>> organic solidarity, while it is sometimes hard to believe that white
> >> collar
> >>>> office workers sitting at computers in cubicles are anything bt
> >>>> mechanical....)
> >>>>
> >>>> David Kellogg
> >>>> Macquarie University
> >>>>
> >>>> On Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 4:20 AM, Edward Wall <ewall@umich.edu <mailto:ewall@umich.edu>> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>>> Stanislavisk seems to consider what is termed ‘organic’ in his taking
> >> up
> >>>>> of perezhivanie. Vygotsky also uses the term ‘organic,’ although as
> >> near as
> >>>>> I can tell, without regard to perezhivanie. However, what seems to be
> >> being
> >>>>> called ‘organic’ is very different (or so it seems) in these two
> >> cases. Is
> >>>>> the Rusiian different?
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Ed Wall
> >>>>>
> >>>>>> On Feb 2, 2017, at  11:15 AM, lpscholar2@gmail.com <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Beth and Monica explore the phenomena occurring in playworlds
> >> generating
> >>>>> perezhivanie.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Playworlds are performance worlds and these worlds may be exploring
> >> the
> >>>>> relation of ‘unity’ and ‘difference’.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Another term that may have relevance when Beth and Monica refer to
> >>>>> negating the negation is the operation of ‘apophasis’.
> >>>>>> William Frank (On What Cannot Be Said) describes the apophatic :
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> *In apophasis, which empties language of all positive content,
> >> absolute
> >>>>> difference cannot be distinguished from absolute unity, even though the
> >>>>> respective discourses of difference and unity nominally stand at the
> >>>>> antipodes. BOTH configurations, unity and difference, are exposed as
> >>>>> relatively arbitrary and, in the end, equally inadequate schemas for
> >>>>> articulating what cannot be said. (Franke)
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Claire Chambers in her book (Performance Studies and Negative
> >>>>> Epistemology) comments on the above Franke citation :
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> *If unity and difference cannot be distinguished from one another (we
> >>>>> cannot KNOW what makes them distinct), then it is impossible to
> >> determine
> >>>>> what either ‘is’ – meaning that knowing and being, epistemology and
> >>>>> ontology, are also impossible to distinguish from one another.(Claire
> >>>>> Chambers Chapter 1)
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> I am not sure how far to go with this theme of : Negating the
> >> negation?
> >>>>>> I hear this theme in playworlds.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> If this seems relevant, i can post the first chapter of Claire
> >> Chambers
> >>>>> book. I will just mention that Vygotsky’s Judaic childhood and
> >> adolescence
> >>>>> would have encountered this apophatic ‘tradition’.
> >>>>>> Enough for one probe or possible pivot?
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >>