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

From: Beth Ferholt (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 16:52:04 PST

I am beginning to look at the ways in which adults found this
distinction between 'fantasy' and 'reality' blurred in a play
pedagogy project we conducted last year. 5-7 year old children and
adults improvised C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
together, turning a classroom into Narnia over and throughout the
course of a year.
So far I am thinking that the adults may have been so fully in this
blurred region, and sometimes a little stuck in this blurred region,
because the children showed us ways of participating in the playworld
activity where space was never assumed to exist apart from time,
where the borders between 'fantasy' and 'reality' were never assumed
to be fixed. You moved across boundaries, in a certain rhythm that
allowed coordination, but you somehow weren't allowed to make a
static map of the territories.
This is my suspicion from participating in this playworld project,
and from playing with the video data we collected, but I am thinking
about ways to understand just what was happening to the adults. I
wonder if, because the phenomenon we are studying is dead and grey
without time, we need to be finding ways to talk about it that
somehow does not allow us to ignore time, or even think of time as
separate from space ... I am thinking about video, but also about
fiction (Proust, James Joyce, Virginia Wolf) -- hmmm. (I am talking
about something that is different from, although related to, flow,
here -- I think.)
Maybe it's just hard to find a way to understand a skill when the
people with some of the most relevant expertise are cloistered in
elementary schools and mental hospitals.
This discussion so far has really helped to 'unstuck' me in some of
my thinking about this playworld project, so thank you!

On Mar 6, 2006, at 2:58 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Thanks to everyone's reminders and comments my copy of Life on the
> Screen is
> tucked next to my
> computer and open to pp. 185-186 where the issue I was crudely
> raising is
> described in these terms
> (remember, the online environments at the time were not yet graphic
> in the
> way that Grand Theft Auto or even
> WOW is):
> .... we shall soon encounter slippagesw-- places where person and self
> merge, places where the multiple
> personae join to comprise what the individual thinks of as his or her
> authentic self........ One IRC enthusiast
> writes to an online discussion group, "People tell me that they make
> mistakes about what is happening on
> cyberspace and what's happening on RL. Did I really type *ON Real
> Life".. He
> had indeed. And then he jokingly
> referred to real life as though it, too, were an IRC channel: "Can
> anyone
> tell me how to /join #real life?"
> Gotta start preparing tomorrow's lecture SO much better informed
> than I was
> 48 hours ago. Thanks all.
> mike
> PS-- I agree Mary, "it is quite important to distinguish between
> theories of
> object
> relations, and postmodernisms."
> On 3/6/06, Mary K. Bryson <> wrote:
>> Sherry Turkle's work (Life on the Screen, Second Self) provides a
>> clear
>> place to start thinking through the complexities implicated in this
>> distinction -- fantasy/reality/ that is similar to its other binary,
>> reality/virtuality
>> The intellectual heritage that gives Turkle's work such
>> explanatory power
>> on
>> these questions is her background in object relations theory (from
>> psychoanalysis). In object relations, this is the labor of the
>> psyche and
>> the binaries collapse in the "transitional spaces" (from
>> Winnicott) of
>> that
>> intermediary concept of "imagination".
>> I think that it is quite important to distinguish between theories of
>> object
>> relations, and postmodernisms.
>> Mary
>> On 3/4/06 5:02 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:
>> 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.
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