a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Anecdote offers an analogy…
Back when I aspired to
rise develop serve as a commercial photographer, I was privileged to meet some very successful Chicago photographers. I learned important principles from the influence of those who were kind enough to reach back and help a fledgling along. One piece of wisdom that I held onto applies to our present discourse.
This particular principle forms an analogical take on how epistemologies vector (bias) our theoretical constructs. Despite conspiracy theorists’ tendency to see everything as the product of a sinister cabal, most often, it’s contingencies and their inherent dynamics that steer collective thought and its artifacts. What? Let’s see.
My Chicago friends were very intentional in teaching me to practice photography in such a way as to achieve consistent excellence. They were convincing because all of them faithfully practiced these precepts. One such practice was completely second nature within the studio operations that my friends led.
The common denominator for excellence to which I’m referring was a stern insistence that when an image had been captured (and film processed) and a project completed, then all the photo/light gear must be put back in their appropriate places in the equipment cabinets.
Location gaffers/grips are accustomed to this practice. On location shoots, everything goes back into the cases/trailer after a shoot as a matter of course to prepare for a move to the next location.
In a studio, the temptation is to just leave the lights and control equipment out, because it may be needed for the next shoot.
My friends knew/know how important it is to begin every image with an empty space, even in the studio. So while gaffers/grips do this simple thing as a matter of course, studio associates need to be taught this discipline. Any preconception [e.g., leaving equipment set up] vectors creativity, and this fosters repetition and sameness.
What if a creative advance into novelty requires a drastically different kind of lighting and control? But, “hey, we already have these lights set up.” Sometimes, the allure (ease) of the existing set-up is so strong that we don’t even question it, and we miss an opportunity to ‘see’ the possibility of different lighting.
During Clare Graves’ career (1940s-70s), stadial theory [ST] was like background equipment in a pre-existing set-up in the social sciences idea-space. ‘Development’ and ‘stages’ formed what Judith Butler describes as ‘frames of recognition.‘ Researchers like Graves probably didn’t question the consensual context as ST was a legacy norm. Quite natural to believe that any new data would need to fit into a developmental matrix. —We note, this can be an unconscious piece of the theorizing process, i.e., bias.
Stadial theory/Eugenics—systematizing superiority
A legacy to overturn, again
We recall the story of Franz Boas (“Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 1) and a band of renegade anthropologists overturning stadial theory nearly a hundred years ago. Those few were swimming against the swift currents and tide of “consensus.” That’s rare.
It’s no accident that arguments from 100-200 years ago are re-appearing right now. Nationalistic sentiments have awakened old ideas/old justifications and this is happening all around the “developed” world. Sadly, I’ve observed that some intellectual circles [e.g., Integral] are providing cover, aid, and comfort to these dark impulses. In light of DJT‘s America, a Boas revival seems more than fitting.
Next week: “Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 7. Come see.
[this post approx. 850 words (about a 3 min. read)]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?