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

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 14:10:38 PST

Some of the issues regarding "reality, fiction, real, imagined, etc" are
discussed in a study I wrote based on a research on the processes and
activities in an acting class for adults. The paper "Reality - more than
one: Reality construction in the process of acting" can be found at

Ana Marjanovic-Shane wrote:
> Mike,
> 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
> understand).
> 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.
> Ana
> 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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