Playing

October 27, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography, Play

I am not a scientist.  I was trained as an artist.  Unconnected to an institution, with no allies in academia, and a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in art, I am not in a position to conduct experiments and publish papers.  My art form of late seems to be to create hypotheses derived from information available in the professional literature (published papers) without conducting proofs of what I hypothesize.

I talk in these blogs as if my theories are established because that is how they feel.  As an artist, not an academic, I am not burning allies if I’m wrong.  I’m not breaking academic rules.  I am not jeopardizing my career.  Tenure is not an issue.  The respect of my peers is not an issue.  Making sure I can continue to publish is not an issue.

I am playing.

I am playing and creating while engaged in the study of the nature of play and creation as it relates to human evolution.  Making believe while engaged in a study of make-believe is deeply congruent.  My methods juxtapose comfortably with what I explore.

Working outside of academia, I can ignore both the barriers between disciplines and the theory conventions that decide what gets published and what does not.  My theories receive no criticism and no respect.  Academics contact me with questions, but they have little or no contact with disciplines referred to in my work outside their area of expertise.  They abandon treads that lead in my direction, unable to evaluate the implications of my work without looking for allies in other disciplines. When you’re fighting for respect inside your discipline, who’s got time for battles in other disciplines?

Studying play and creation as it relates to human evolution frequently bridges over to explorations of awareness.  As a long-time meditator, I have experience of feeling part of something larger than myself and an awareness of the creation/appreciation nature of experience.  This informs my understanding of evolution.  I don’t have to be right.  It’s my experience.  Bridging spiritual experiences into biological hypothesis is academic suicide.  I’m not an academic.  That kind of death does not scare me.

These factors are balanced by an existential intimacy with feelings of terror and feelings of being alone.  When very young, something happened.  There were personality repercussions.  Thirty years of psychotherapy have allowed me an ability to experience compassion for the dark side. I have been intimate with the dark side. I feel no blame.

I write about the multiscale nature of evolution and the connections among the biological, social, ontological and personal.  My academic research has resulted in personal revelations.  Personal revelations translate into academic insights.  In my world of artist as theorist, barriers between disciplines, between evolutionary scales and between ideas keep reducing as I continue to refuse to honor the tradition that we keep things separate.

Lately, while in psychotherapy, I experienced a personal revelation that I deliberately shut down ongoing, deep affection for what’s around me, remembering when I did not do so.  A missing piece of the neoteny puzzle slipped into place.  Remembering the bottomless affection I felt for my surroundings when very small, I realized that affection is a feature of the infant that prolongs itself into the character of adults over the course of evolution.  Love is a neoteny-driven evolutionary development.

Last summer, driving across country in a convertible at night, I realized that programming models I’d developed for communication/cooperation online applications were directly related to the evolutionary biological model I’d developed eight years before, a model which places neoteny at the center of a runaway sexual selection/aesthetic/hormonal model for human evolution.  The revelation was followed several days later by my invention of an alternative programming protocol that potentially allows for exponential increases in creative uses of the web.  The personal experience of barriers coming down allowed an idea that was all about barriers coming down when the personal, the social and the biological all converged.

As an artist, not an academician, my work is personal.  As an artist, I merge science, art, spiritual experience and personal experience.  This merging is not just allowed but encouraged.  It sometimes feels like I am flying but not seen.  In fact, this theme is a common one in my nighttime dreams.  Yet, somehow I live a life characterized by health:  a wife I love that I feel loved by, deeply rewarding family, a profession that fascinates, interests that are fulfilling and friends that are challenging and nurturing.

I have been blessed with a life where I can play.


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