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        enacting, acting, action, and activity
gary e. davis

March 20, 2016

part 3 of 8


Action is more than its apparent behavior—obvious. Behavior that is accredited to persons is an abstraction from a person intending to actualize interests or values, always expressing interests of action. This intrinsicness of intending is why we easily personify things, and ordinarily describe things as if they have intentions (but children do this pre-linguistically!): The tree sways (as if it’s not just that the tree is swayed). The elements bond (as if it’s not just that they’re bonded). We do that “to” things because we do things, thereby imbuing all that’s brought into our valuing with as-if acting, like we are. We are actors, thus beings “finding” (bearing) import, “discerning” (granting) importances in terms of intentions, whether the other is alive or not.

Intrinsicness of intention in perception complements (mirrors) the intrinsicness of intention in attributed behavior, which is always an abstraction from acting, enacting an interest. But behavior-based thinking is common in professional life, where “training” is mistaken for teaching; functional efficacy is mistaken for self efficacy (thus, lack of durability in training is some fault of the trained person or the training method). Helping professions (counseling, health care, social welfare services) are exemplary, under conditions of population management that pretend to be human services. For example, the mental health approach that is called “cognitive-behavioral therapy” sidesteps personal interest or “investment” in healing by relying on methodic notions of “cognitive” education that tend to treat values and motivation-to-change marginally; and train clients (calling it “teaching”), apart from a person’s life. (Why this happens is a long story; in short: It’s too expensive to invest in long-term one-to-one coaching or multi-session therapy.) How the client comes to enown desire and gain long-term commitment to change is a trans-cognitive/behavioral mode of thinking that C-B modeling methodically either conceals (too difficult to understand) or treats informally (supplementally, outside the theory, as a matter of professionalized experience—or pro forma professionalization).

That’s a longer version of a single note of mine that goes as follows (given my fashion of writing ‘selfidenty’ instead of ‘self-identity’; link follows):

Behavioral thinking conceals the importance of motivation—desire or need—that allows one to enown behavior. Changing behavior without motivational enowning will not last. And motivation is not cognitive; it’s “conative” (intentional), yet conativity is ultimately selfidentical. If interest in action or intention of action isn’t connectible with selfidentity, it risks losing its rationale for being worthwhile.

I’m always at risk of using notes with inadequate explication because I’m more interested in sharing what I’m doing than presuming that a reader isn’t my twin, i.e., me being more audience oriented (slowing down my hike, pacing better, to help virtual others catch up). I’m not indifferent! I have e-mail, in case that’s news. [This comment may seem to belong to a footnote, but you’ll see that it’s apposite to upcoming narrative compression and my figuration of creative process itself.]

So: Action is more than its apparent behavior. Activity isn’t basically behavioral. We’re all actors, in a literal sense that has nothing to do with drama or dramatic conceptions of acting—or does it? One may think it highbrow to say that everything is theater, as if our days are acts in which we characterize our time (keeping oneself masked, backstage, privatized—a notion common to psychotherapy because it’s common to daily life). But a literal feature of every literal scene is how easily our reading faces ambiguity (i.e., enframes itself with need for interpretation) because experience that finds others and things making themselves/itself into as-if behavioral text is worlded, albeit mysteriously, which we have to address by questioning or inference or imputing or extrapolation from the text of experience. Conversely, the integral ambiguity of writing expresses the integral partiality of all action, and that ambiguity expresses the integral complexity of having trans-scenic interests of activity implied by emplacing activity out of each person’s futural (project-ive) investment, relative to what “I” find scenically apt at “this” time (self-limited communication) or the other makes into “self”-enframing mystery of their intent.

next: dramactional thinking, part 4 of 8

    © 2016, gary e. davis