Saturday, September 15, 2012

Living life on the edge

I feel like I'm living on the edge.

I'm not a radical, borderline sociopath or just scraping by.  But I am caught between two paradigms.

I call the first 'constructionist', and it seems to be our society's predominant mindset.  I think perhaps our individualistic society tends to make us think of our roles as controlling, deciding, ones - either that or as powerless, and needing to appeal to the greater capacity of those with power to realise our visions or ideas.

I'm trying to move beyond that paradigm myself, to foster an approach that better reflects my own perspective - of the world as sets of networked systems.  I don't think I'm right, and other views are wrong  (and I don't advocate naively trying to abandon the system), although I might feel I'm right.  But I do think that to play the role I want on this earth, the approach that I'm fostering will be more useful.  I think of our roles as a synergistic part of interconnected systems - always having our unique influence, and creating our world collectively with others.  It's hard to think of ourselves as synergistic parts while we're applying the individualistic, market-driven philosophy which pervades our education, work and play as much as our goods exchange systems.

So what does this other, better paradigm look like?  I know parts of it.  It's network and agency based, rather than role/label focused.  And it looks more like ecology than engineering.

But I'm still not feeling it or living it.  My language, for instance, betrays me.  Language is a powerful window into your underlying assumptions because it occurs in meshes that reflect the way you think about things.  I work quite hard not to talk about myself 'building' or 'designing' the change I want to see.  But these old constructionist metaphors are resilient buggers.

I know that by picking up on cues like this sort of language, I can review my approach and reset my bearings.  But I still don't really know where I'm going - this 'other paradigm' isn't clear yet, and perhaps it can't be clear until I get there.  I'm confident I will get somewhere, and develop behaviours and patterns of thought that form a fairly consistent set.  I feel I'm making progress.

But in the meantime everything is very messy.  And if you know me, you'd have picked up that messy isn't my favourite state.  It feels like I should be doing more, or different things, to help this along.  Should I be reading more theory and philosophy?  Working to articulate this new paradigm?  Focusing on behaviour or language change practices?  Continue to emphasise action and embodiment and force the mindset to catch up?  Maybe just blogging a bit more will do the trick?


  1. No need to be so fancy about it. You're a non-completer.

    1. Ummm... okay! You should probably be more specific.