On Ordinariness: A Foray in Cultural Phenomenology

[We’ve had opportunities to hear some of these arguments from Marvin Bram, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Mikhail Epstein earlier in the year.  I would like now to flesh-out these points more concretely, and consider the  phenomenological apperception of what one anthropologist has termed the experience of “liminality” — a state in which one’s usually well-delineated cultural distinctions  become blurred, even foreign.]

By virtue of natality and the ability to act, each new individual poses a threat to civilization. The child carries barbarism with him or her. (Einer Øverenget, Hannah Arendt, 217)

Let us first agree that modern cultures, and most especially the Western Curriculum, are about making distinctions. Language, and of course writing,1 is a vital accomplice in this activity that “cuts” the world up into so many discrete entities, creating a sense of order where formerly there was just (dare we say it) ordinary stuff. The logic of a culture’s language (syntactic, grammatic, and logistic structures) will determine in large measure how these distinctions are drawn and what categories are applicable within different contexts, establishing diverse horizons of meaning.

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About kulturcritic

With a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Sandy had a ten-year academic career, with appointments at University of Virginia and the Colorado School of Mines. He spent the next twenty years in executive ranks at several of America’s largest international firms, including Computer Sciences Corporation, Ernst & Young, and General Electric. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America, as well as parts of Eurasia and Africa. For the past five years Sandy has been living in Western Siberia with his wife and young child, teaching at the Pedagogical University and the Altai Institute for Law and Economics in Barnaul, Russia. Published works include VERONIKA: The Siberian's Tale (a novel), (Islands Press 2011) Apocalypse Of The Barbarians: Inquisitions On Empire (Islands Press, 2010), The Recovery of Ecstasy: Notebooks From Siberia (Booksurge, 2009), Recollective Resolve: A Phenomenological Understanding of Time and Myth (Mercer University Press, 1987), Ethical Decisionmaking Styles (Addison-Wesley Press, 1986), and Gandhi in the Postmodern Age: Issues in War and Peace (CSM Press,1984).
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2 Responses to On Ordinariness: A Foray in Cultural Phenomenology

  1. Patric Roberts says:

    Sandy,
    Excellent articulated reflection of the “gap” between the raw pulsating primary knowing love embodied in our flesh as human beings and the imposed insane ordering in modern culture demanding obedience and negating free independent self organization of our virtual identities and narratives. You are one the great writers in our world today. Thank you!

    Having shared your experience of living in Colorado and the inculturation of discourses, governance, education, religious, and commercial scientific mapping where all the transactional configurations in the societal exchange conversations are reduced to mathematical certainties in an elite ordering of those with the gold make the rules in casino of high risk, greed and coercive deceptive leadership. I must share that being a stranger is actually a wonderful clearing for learning to cultivate the “eternal gap” of non-being, elder wisdom and wholeness.

    Like you, I remember those “little barbarian friends of mine and unchartered journey’s looking for hobo’s living in the forest where miles of railroad tracks had been laid into the rough wilderness in Columbus Ohio in the 1950’s.” I can never remember a day in my life where i ever felt like I was in wholeness in the bifurcated inculturation of America’s constellations of discourses i parachuted into as a cognitive agent. There was an embodied sadness at what was happening in the civilized order demanding obedience and negating the spontaneous barbarian within me. So, there were severe beatings, arrests and marginalizing of the wild independent self regulated virtual identity and the narrative of being a criminal.

    The good part of and for me was the “Bozo Clown Punching Bag” we played with as children, the harder authority struck out the faster I responded with ridicule, insolence and total disregard as an independent thinker. You learn to box within the boxes. Although I must admit at 61 years old this fight is beginning to wear me a down a little. Siberia is starting to sound to good to be true and cocktail in laughter much needed.

    Especially when you understand the discourse of “Why The American Empire Was Destined To Collapse” by Morris Berman “They Eat Their Own” 3-2012 Interview American Trilogy
    http://carolynbaker.net/2012/03/09/why-the-american-empire-was-destined-to-collapse-nomi-prins-interviews-morris-berman/ Add a little Rolling Stone political music with The People vs. Goldman Sachs; an incrimination of the global banking industry, and Climate Change Terrifying New Math; an indictment of the denial operating in Christian hopeless horseshit operating in sanctimonious liturgical hypocritical bullshit that is using Jesus as a moral justification for arrogant insane violence in global discourses, corporate institutions, judicial rulings and consumerist consumptive hedonism, and this civilized American cultural matrix is now a death trap without any apparent gap in sight.

    Yet, my friend you may appreciate my wondering adventurous naivete of still being the young barbarian boy from Columbus Ohio. I found a SPLACE (art~less uncivilized spontaneous social place and space) in America “The Lakota Nation” where social defiance of demands is eternal and biological conservation of ancestral oral social wisdom continuum is victorious in the midst of this insanity in modernity. Yes we actually have barbaric alien savages who have already landed on earth!

    I am committing to create a clearing for learning to collaborate the artists in civilization (especially writers like yourself) to collaborate in a new discourse, institution and praxis arising in “living speech acts in real time and pure play” in the gap you are pointing to. The challenge my friend is that these “alien barbarians” contradict the projected Hollywood’s notions of what is a arrogant aggressive competitive human beings in the Darwinian theory and actually embody being Homo sapiens amans in our humanity rooted in an ancestral wisdom continuum over 7.000 years old. What I discovered as a “Friend of Lakota” is Wolakota a treaty P2P, C2C, G2G that is based in peace and friendship without greed. They survive without money, structural civilization’s mapping, and institutional bullshit just proves to be dysfunctional fragmentation in the social order, and religious nonsense isn’t in a hope of a world to come rather the sacred experience in a heart song of humanness in a manner of dignity in being Lakota. For the first time as a stranger in strange land since birth, I found a little tiny village society to care for and cares about me, and I am fully committed to see this little village thrive freely and stop immediately the harm being done to them by America’s cultural epitaph “They Eat Each Other.”

    It may be a “Clearing for Learning” for some real food, fun gatherings, singing and dancing exploring surprising learning of what we know we don’t know (blind spots in the observer error) in the gap where we little barbarians can be revitalized in our emergent solidarity as disruptors passionately desiring an “Island of Sanity” that cares, feeds and nurtures the little barbarians of tomorrow as sacred beings and not economic transactional configurations to be robotic lab rats at work in the mental machine that in my honest assessment has lost it’s mind and is truly powerless now!

    An American Poetic Patriot ~ Mushin

    “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! Had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.” Frederick Douglass

    A few recent links you may enjoy!
    VC: Friends of Lakota
    http://occupycafe.podcastpeople.com/posts/47271
    VC: Ownership in a 99%/1% Economy
    http://occupycafe.podcastpeople.com/posts/47125
    National Geographic August 2012 Digital Mag
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/pine-ridge/fuller-text
    Aaron Huey TEDx: America’s Native Prisoners of War #334

    Chris Hedges: “America’s Sacrifice Zones are the Future of All of Us”
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/20/chris-hedges-americas-sacrifice-zones-being-destroyed-for-profit/#.UAtcdpKhyul.facebook

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