Sunday, June 3, 2012

Context as Post Modernism

One difference between Apollonian and Dionysian viewpoints is the way each focuses on a pair of concepts or metaphors.  For example, the time/space pair is always linked together.  Objects moving in space create Time.
Apollonian ethoses emphasize time as bounded segments that are recursive but also separate.  Seconds, minutes, hours, and days are each given a separate reality.  They can be counted.  The emphasis is on the linear progression, the “Arrow of Time” was a Modernist phrase.  Space is viewed in the same way; chop it up into manageable little pieces.

Dionysian ethoses view time in non-linear ways.  Time can be still: timelessness, eternity, the past is the present and future, etc.  The cycles of nature are often emphasized: days, months, winter, spring, summer, fall, and years.  Space is viewed as places where strong emotions have played out or continue to do so.

For the Dionysian space is special.  Moreover, just as social relations influence the Dionysian more so than the Apollonian, spatial relations also affect Dionysians more strongly.   In any place, the people, objects, animals, plants, the wind, the memories and stories associated with it, all combine to into a Context that can influence outcomes, feelings, decisions, or one’s contentment. 

Americans have been talking about context for a many years now but it was not something that Old Modernists cared to discuss.   In their abstract worldview, context was not relevant.

Yes, American has become a high context culture.

American scientists have been studying context much more seriously lately.  In archeology, for example, the study of context has become its own trend line, often under the name reflexive archaeology.

In psychology, a new topic is called Ambient Belonging.  The main thesis is

  1. Environment can determine who enters a group.
  2. People infer stereotypes of a group upon exposure to that group's environment
  3. (a) The inference of group stereotypes incompatible with one's identity leads to avoidance of that group, and (b) this process is mediated by feelings of ambient belonging.
  4. A lack of ambient belonging predicts lack of interest in a domain and explains why some populations express less interest in a domain than do others. From here.
I like this concept because it points us back to a central issue for the Dionysian—the purpose of life is to enjoy it.  And, this means one constantly feels their way through each situation.  If the situation changes, so too can feelings.  And, we can avoid the tainted sterotypes about feng shui and the harmony of qi. Here is Sapna Cheryan summarizing her study.  At 6 min in she starts the change environment to change stereotypes message.

Modernists would ignore such claptrap because feelings were irrelevant.

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