Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 18:57:42 PST

there is also a very good website with a lot of resources and opinions
regarding "real" and "fictive" and their relationship.
It is called "Transparency" and you can find it here:
I just found it looking for Sherry Turkle's book and other references.

The whole area of writing about "real" and "fictive" and whether the
boundaries are solid or not is very complex.
If you take the "fictive" or "imagined" to mean something like "figured"
-- then you go into the worlds of Dorothy Holland (Identity and Agency
in Cultural Worlds).
You can understand the "figureness" of different cultures -- but still
accept that they are "real" for the participants in those cultures.
But then, you can go more toward the "gaming" theories and the worlds of
Sherry Turkle in which the participants in the gaming worlds, although
they seem to know that the computer games they are participating in are
games, still experience them as "real" at least as real as "RL" (real
living) if not more.
Real and fictive are hard to define -- as the postmodernist theories are
trying to show.
Yet, I think that understanding the nuances of how they relate to each
other is one of the most important keys in our understanding of how
culture creates reality and understanding of it.
I am struggling with these issues for a long time and I find it
unproductive for a social researcher to blur the distinction between the
"real" and the "fictive". Yet, on the other hand, these concepts are
value laden and it should not be a researcher who decides, but the
"subject" -- in other words, the concepts of real and fictive should be
"emic" (decided by those whose worlds we are trying to observe and
Also, I think there are some more layers and dimensions there and that
people are not always referring to the same when they qualify something
as being real or fictive.

Mike Cole wrote:
> Thanks Ayhan. Very apt suggestion.
> mike
> On 3/5/06, Ayhan Aytes <> wrote:
>> Mike,
>> In the context of digital media, the blurry border between real and
>> fantasy is addressed in Sherry Turkle's book, Life on the Screen (1995,
>> MIT). Her etnography focuses on MUDs (Multi user dungeons) and applies a
>> psychoanalytic method to explore how people experiment with different
>> identities.
>> Ayhan Aytes
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: []
>> On Behalf Of Mike Cole
>> Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 4:08 PM
>> To: Andy Blunden
>> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined
>> I hope others will continue to chime in with their observations and
>> suggestions. I also agree that Peter's crack about Bush is relevant. The
>> other day a speaker at our department noted how Reagan used to, visibly,
>> confuse pictures he was in with the new role he was playing as president
>> and Bush sometimes gives me the same impression (his slightly bowlegged
>> swagger when they let him out of the corral with jeans on being
>> informal).
>> My own take on mediational theories of mind is that there can be no
>> sharp distinction between what we call reality and what we call fantasy.
>> For the only paper I have written where this is taken up (if you are
>> interested) see the paper by Cole and Levitin on the web
>> page.
>> I am posing the question because of the need to teach some about new
>> massive multi-user games and various cyber environments where, for
>> reasons that may implicate your computer screen comments, Andy, the
>> borderlands are particularly foggy and seemingly extensive.
>> This has also brought me to the topic of imaginary companions and
>> transition objects, the latter of which Mary has been trying to bring to
>> our attention. But I am finding is that while there is a tone of
>> academic work on the topic with respect to kids becoming "more
>> realistic" (to speak crudely) there is too little about the way in which
>> adult experience is infused with the imaginary. Hence, my query to all
>> of you. mike
>> On 3/5/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>>> A couple of decades ago, my job was managing a building automation
>>> system, a set of interconnected computers which turned building
>>> equipment on and off and reported back room temperatures etc. It was a
>>> matter of some concern to me at the time that people had real
>>> difficulty understanding the differences between the temperature (EG)
>>> they saw on the screen, the temp the system had in its memory, the
>>> reading on the physical gauge and the actual temperature, etc., etc.
>>> People tended to accept what they saw on the screen as absolute truth
>>> and get very upset when it turned out to be untrue. This experience
>>> led me to observe that the whole computer screen business, whereby
>>> software invisibly intervenes between user action, reality if any and
>>> screen image, was enormously confusing for people (all of us) who
>>> don't understand what is going on 'behind the screen'. I think Peter's
>>> crack about the Bush administration is not far wide of the mark.
>>> No-one knows or understands what lies between the news-readers audio
>>> on their TV and objective reality. If you're not aware of that immense
>>> chain of human interaction that produces a story with only the
>>> remotest connection to anything that actually happened in the material
>>> world outside, how can you have a realistic and critical attitude to
>>> the news? I'm sorry I can't give you references to academic studies of
>>> this Mike; I know there is a lot of stuff about games which goes on,
>>> ... Andy
>>> At 05:02 PM 4/03/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>>> The following quote from Dewey speaks to issues that have been ongoing
>>> on XMCA and also provide context for a question I am hoping for some
>>> help on (having been so successful with my question about references
>>> on narrative!). In particular, it concerns the
>>> conclusion that experience is a hybrid of what is termed here the
>> physical
>>> and the mental. This snippet is provided courtesy of Matt Brown, a
>> member
>>> of
>>> our seminar on mediational theories of mind.
>>> Here's a little tidbit from Dewey that I think is interesting for
>>> several
>>> reasons: it answers the question from earlier about whether Dewey is
>>> concerned with the social, it provides a sort of summary statement of
>>> central Deweyan theses, and it is exceptionally clear (for Dewey).
>> From
>>> Chapter 11 of *Art as Experience*:
>>> Experience is a matter of the interaction of organism with its
>>> environment, an environment that is human as well as physical, that
>>> includes the materials of tradition and institutions as well as local
>>> surroundings. The organism brings with it through its own structure,
>>> native and acquired, forces that play a part in the interaction. The
>>> self acts as well as undergoes, and its undergoings are not
>>> impressions stamped upon an inert wax
>>> but depend upon the way the organism reacts and responds. There is no
>>> experience in which the human contribution is not a factor in
>> determining
>>> what actually happens. The organism is a force, not a transparency.
>>> Because every experience is constituted by interaction between subject
>>> and object, between a self and its world, it is not itself either
>>> merely physical nor merely mental, no matter how much one factor or
>>> the other predominates... In an experience, things and events
>>> belonging to the world, physical and social, are transformed through
>>> the human context they enter, while the live creature is changed and
>>> developed through its intercourse with things previously external to
>>> it.
>>> Here is my question, related to this characterization of experience:
>>> In various situations (in particular, I am thinking of various massive
>>> multi-user games and related cyber-interactional meeting places) it
>>> appears that people can, perhaps cannot help at times, confusing what
>>> we would normally refer to as "fantasy" and "reality."
>>> There is an extensive literature on the development of this
>>> distinction in children's development, but I am seeking research on
>>> the distinction's presumed presence or absence among adults.
>>> Any and all help appreciated
>>> mike
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> Andy Blunden, for Victorian Peace Network
>>> Global Justice Tours:
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Ana Marjanovic'-Shane,Ph.D.

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