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        dramactional thinking
gary e. davis

March 20, 2016

part 4 of 8

     
     


I choose ‘dramactional’ rather than ‘dramaturgical’ because I’m thinking outside of professional drama (let alone the mechanics of theatrical production, which is what ‘dramaturgy’ usually means). Social theorists (e.g., Jürgen Habermas) who adopt notions of “dramaturgical action” are setting up readers to think too close to professional theater, thus possibly concealing the immanence of authentic acting in genuine interpersonal life.


I / me

The following note is impossible, but bear with me; it’s short: Being the life in worldliness is beyond being wholly of worldliness. I, showing distinctively-human life (or doing my best, I hope)—being the life—has representability that we can share as “me” representing myself, represented in mirrors of the ambiance, be it my own or/and shared, representing my worldliness piecemeal, which is also importantly already ours; and ours that is importantly mine. Lifeworldliness is made of liminalizable depths of enacting, I-ing me into and as my worldliness—I, the life, through me, in the world: living a lifeworld, a life worlding.

That’s a flourishive way to introduce the I/me difference, but the I/me difference was overtly proffered as such by William James (the pragmatist philosopher/psychologist), and is empirically established as real (albeit implicit) for children and adolescents, showing at each era of child/teen development in era-specific ways.

Laterally, so to speak, the difference is lived immanently in doing, presented to attention as that doing done. This is especially evident with non-attentive doing that is habitual. “You already put Splenda in the coffee.” “I did?” I keyboard without representing what I’m fingering, as if the letters produce themselves—except when I write such self-referential sentences—but the occasion of choosing these examples isn’t pre-meditated—unless I point this out, which gives me occasion to realize that I can surmise how they implicitly were, though that “how” isn’t given time to self-actualize. Such recursive capability is an acquired taste (as is worry about so-called infinite regress, which is as silly a notion as saying that one knows what a billion is without counting it). A capability shows itself in activity, not representable as discrete capability (except for methodic reconstruction of functionality). More accurately: Intentionality shows itself through actually doing things: understanding, appreciating, comprehending, etc. which gives instrumentality (efficacy) purposes. (People who talk about expertise apart from reasons to gain and sustain it, relative to an ecology of value, don’t know what they’re talking about, including the Husserlian tradition of phenomenology that regards Heidegger derivatively.)


life of the actor

Vertically, so to speak—that is, representing the overriding irt overridden—there’s a difference between all of oneself (relative to living the life) and its interactive aptness: self and scenic personality. But this difference is so habituated that relative personality itself can be quasi-autonomous, relative to the habituation: Being a parent, being a durably close friend (variably among close friends), being a romantic intimate, being a professional, being an artist (apart from one’s monetary profession)—the trope of multiple personality easily gains rich credence. Yet, one selfhood, one selfness in the well-lived life coheres it all.

Conversely, being a theatrical actor outside of dramaturgical work isn’t authentically a matter of regarding all interaction theatrically (unless one designs to do so). The theatrical actor truly loves, too, and all life that is heartfully worthwhile. So, it’s honest for others to not know that one is an “actor,” yet honest to confess it offhand.

There are occasions in film/video where the formal presumption of character role allows its actor to invisibly drop the role. Most recently, I’ve seen this in Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups,” where documentation among celebrity friends is postured as scripted acting. This also occurs when Directors invite improvisational freedom by the actor. Indeed, any professional actor may confide (if not avow, for the sake of privacy) that the permeable membrane between named role and oneself is what it’s all about—ecstatic, “erotic.”

Being a psychoanalyst isn’t authentically a matter of regarding all interaction as occasion to secretly diagnose; so, an analyst with a conversant at a leisure gathering, where the latter finds out the former’s profession and becomes guarded, is just part of the analyst’s day. The analyst truly lives, too, and includes graciously living with others’ discomforts with their own images.

A master teacher isn’t turning every interaction into a teachable moment.

Thus, the analog of actor (as selfhood) becoming a character extends readily to the entirety of interpersonal life, just as conversely the genuineness of interpersonal life may not extend into one’s manifold selfidentity. The public/private difference matters immanently.

A trans-personalness, so to speak, of interpersonal relations expresses an engaged self limitedly, each living her/his separate lifelong paths. (And she may feel masculine, he feel feminine, each living with others who get anxious about that). The happiest marriage is flexibly manifold, if it’s durable, though their braiding is intimate (beautifully so, one hopes).

So, performing oneself (a notion with which some philosophers dwell—and I will more later) is simply about being in time—one’s manifold times of a life, eras of a life, regions of a life—and elusively being time itself: primarily futural, flourishive, in which one’s past is always, potentially, in revision, there to be recolored, even rewritten, relative to inestimable presents that give (and are given) importance.

I’ve developed this kind of notion so extensively (in notes) that I regularly use a neologism: ‘s/p-differentiality’. I refer to themes as being relative to an s/p-differential relevance; or a phenomenon is s/p-differentiated. The manifold richness of this liminality for me, by now, feels beyond tropes. It calls for discursive paths irt particular others or textual works that enable enowning of the difference. For my own life, the difference is now second nature.


living where everyone’s a playwright

Enlightened teaching of children makes learning into play whenever possible, because imaginative play is intrinsic to being, and playing to learn is intrinsic to being well.

Commonly in therapeutic stances, one may talk of “reinventing yourself” in turning an unfulfilling life around.

Successful professional lives are full of improvisations.

One develops a construction plan, then gets it translated into “critical pathing,” so an organization can play it through to tightly choreographed completion.

Then, there are those who make the stories that become industrialized entertainments, occupying so much of leisure time. And sports.

One plays. One is played. A play is made to win another’s engagement—in the broadest sense of continuum: from civility through solidarity, and friendship to kindredness and intimacy.

The trope of play and playing, nearness and nearing is inexhaustible.




next: authoriality, part 5 of 8

 


   
    © 2016, gary e. davis