1.2 ~ The Book of You (an extended activity) ◊

Wherein we strive to attain a sense of ‘subjective objectivity’.

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Now that we are a little more acquainted with our own narrative (fallacy)—let’s take an extended moment to map it out. We do this so as to attain an ironic sense of ‘distance’ from our selves. To cultivate an embodied-yet-dissociated sense of meta-cognition, wherein we ‘think about what we think about’. This is all to attain what might be called subjective objectivity—something that is ‘objectively true, for you’.*

* You need to read all of this with a glint of irony for it to make sense. Don’t take any of this too seriously—least of all your self. That’s partly the whole point. To paraphrase the poet Oscar Wilde; life is too important to take seriously. Also, to quote the philosopher James P Carse: “To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful… everything that happens is of consequence… for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself.” This programme specifically avoids any specificity, so that we might remain open to our on emergence.

Hoho! So when filming this Ritual of Becoming (at the time known as The ‘Choose One Word’ Programme) I was in an abandoned warehouse in a busy industrial area with a camera person on a hot day with just 2 days to get all the filming done. Occasionally loud motorcycles would go past, and sometimes folks would just wander into the filming area (because they thought it was abandoned). This conspired to have me embody a more, uh, ‘spontaneous’ style of dancing through the nebulous curriculum—there was no room for perfection.   

Hence: this activity. I probably could have placed it in the previous lesson—stitching the videos together—but there’s a charm in pacing through this haphazardly. So—here we go.

This activity is the first of a series of lenses we will apply, to which we may begin to be able see ourselves in new ways, in a new light. If any particular lens, activity or mode doesn’t work for you—that’s fine. There is no One Way. Instead, there are but a number of Ways within which we can play, to see what might emerge. In time, you’ll learn what works for you. Then, in time, you will flex the wit to make your way anew (like the trickster spirit you are). But in the meantime, here’s how you can write The Book of You.

You’ll note that the activities I suggest are more provocative and inviting—rather than prescriptive and compelling. This is, essentially, a blank canvas. You might opt for a good writing app (I recommend any minimalist writing app that doesn’t feel like ‘work’ to use). Or you might opt for a paper journal—whatever works for you.

Whichever approach you choose, the key thing is to begin this activity with the words ‘Once Upon a Time’…

By doing so, we engage in what could be a kind of ‘naïve knowingness’. We ironically use the conventions of a fairy tale opener, so that we don’t take ourselves or our narrative (fallacy) too seriously. We don’t believe in it—just like we don’t believe in fairy tales. And yet, at the same time, we acknowledge that Events Did Happen—there is something true and real here. Only the truth is nebulous, contextual, (mostly) subjective, fraught. This isn’t ‘some bullshit story’ plucked from the aether—but nor are we going to kid ourselves by pretending it is clinical recounting of fact.

It’s a story. A story that harbours some patterns of insight. And we are going to be able to see these patterns more clearly once it’s somewhat our of the murk-web of your mind, and on paper (or a screen) in front of you.

To contemplate…

So: what is your story? What genre of tale do you weave for yourself? A humble ‘I’m just a normal person’? A harrowing tale of tragedy? A tale of struggle and survival? A tale of being misunderstood? A tale of gratitude and angst? What’s going on here? What has shaped this character you seem to play?

Spend some time with this one. At a minimum, 10 minutes. If you’re counting, then three or four pages would be wondrous. Prose laden with insight. Sopping. (That’s 750-1,000 words, if you’re typing it out). No one else need read this, or any of your entries. This is for you.

Next—after having indulged in this narrative—we explore a non-narrative approach to life (using narrative).

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This a work-in-progress ‘virtual book’, meta-blog and online programme by Dr Fox. Illustrations by dangerlam. (CC BY-NC-SA)