I've decided to contribute something a little different now - on subjects that I have been thinking about for a very long time. I was going to open another blog, but thought that it would save distractions if I just continued here.
I should warn you that this is going to be pretty "big picture" but for all that, it is definitely not going to be abstract. Over the next few months of postings (I hope) you'll come across terms such as "narrative" and "social discourse" but let's be clear - those are not abstract concepts like "the average family" or the GDP.
Social discourse is that living sea of language that you inherit from the many cultures in which you were raised. It's the theatre of your cognition, the shaper of your experiences and what allows you to communicate a wealth of information to others by means of these mere marks on the screen, or those little puffs of air that resonate throughout the cafe. It's the window through which you look out from your inner self to the world around you. It's the sedimented history of thousands and thousands of years of human existence. It sorts, organizes and informs your basic, habitual awareness. It exists in the world around you. (If you still think that's abstract, you can blame that label on several trends in the evolution of social discourse ;). Social discourse or narrative is mainly about the habitual tags, labels and markers we give to all of our personal experiences in the private or public sphere. It's the channel through which things make sense to us and amongst us when we take in, think or talk about them.
Social discourse traverses generations and changes the conditions of our understanding over time. It carries a set of key connotations that have some very strong influences on our experiences. They arise from living in a natural world and the social organization demanded from a given level of technology. Social discourse influences and is influenced by the needs that a level of technology produces: The needs that organize us around gathering, changing and distributing nature's provisions, the ideals that support that organization. The core ideas in our cognition and evaluations are:
- The definition of private versus public
- Gender, family, and reproductive relationships
- Power relationships (e.g., boss, employee; government, capitalist)
- Values (e.g., "freedom" "kindness" or "success" - what are they?)
- Human beings and our understanding relation to the planet Earth
- What we take to be real in the universe