Construction



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Conscious                 -                    Unconscious
Light                         -                    Shadow
Simple                      -                    Complex
Mono                        -                    Poly
One                           -                    Many
Spotlight                   -                    Floodlight


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In building something, we're always leaving other things out. In choosing these bricks, we forsake others.

But what do we do with those things that we've left out? Where do we put them? Do we keep them in sight or hide them away? Do they threaten our structure; or do they bring a welcome sense of perspective?



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Imagine a pool of infinite size, full of lego bricks. To construct anything with those bricks, from the small to the large, the simple to the complex, you must select certain bricks, and leave others out.

If you want to something of a very definite size and shape then you must use exactly the right number of bricks, and exactly the right kind.

The more specific your goal, the more selective you must be.

This analogy can be applied to any ‘thing’ that we can think of; from the concrete to the abstract. My ‘table’ is hard, and not soft. A ‘Jew’ does not work on the Sabbath. And so on.

From a pool of infinite possibilities, certain bricks are selected and these become the things that populate our world. They are defined as much by the bricks that they are, as by the bricks that they aren’t. Indeed, their definition comes from the interplay between these two realms; between ‘am’ and ‘am not’; ‘inside’ and ‘outside’; ‘self’ and ‘other.’

Construction is, then, defined as much by exclusion as by inclusion.


Our consciousness also works on this principle. We can imagine our conscious mind as a spotlight. Whatever falls within the limited field of its beam we become 'conscious' of. We flash our beam this way and that, lighting first one area, and then another: but always we leave so much in the dark.

Exclusion is written into our way of interpreting the world. We see things by defining them (‘its hard’, ‘its red,’ ‘its hot’), so on the one hand definition is essential - without borders, there would be no distinct things at all; and thus, no world. And yet we can drown in our definitions. As with all things, the challenge is to find a balance between these two states; between ‘too defined’ and ‘not defined enough.’ We could say that our health depends on this balancing act.

How, then, to maintain that balance? If we accept that we’ll always be overlooking something, then one way is to attempt to be aware of those things that are being left out. This means being able to see past - or see through - our structures, to the multiplicity that lies beyond their boundaries.

For instance, one story that we could tell about the recent EU referendum is that it was about those voices that had been ‘left out’ finally having a say. Certain sections of British society had been increasingly marginalised by a culture that did not reflect their views and concerns, and they saw the vote as an opportunity to be heard. In this story, Brexit becomes a rupture in the psyche of the nation: what had been left out - or repressed - finally bursting to the surface.

Its worth noting that in telling this story I am excluding others. A story is a creation, and, as we’ve noted, to create something I must exclude things. My story picks from the complexity and multiplicity of ‘Brexit’ and strings together a specific constellation. But what have I left out? What remains hidden? Is it important? After all, my story is only one among many.

Exclusion becomes repression when we lose sight of, or attempt to deny, those things - those stories - that are excluded. Repression, as we’ve seen, can lead to all manner of unfortunate symptoms and pathologies, including the sort of rupture that I described in my Brexit story.

In constructing ourselves, we also leave much in the dark. This realm is known by some as the shadow, and it contains all of those things that we would rather not see. In pushing these aspects into the dark we fool ourselves into thinking that they do not exist, at least not within us. Thus, when we spot them within others we find it all the more easy to judge and condemn. In doing so we are projecting those elements that we deny within ourselves, and making other people accountable for them.

In seeing through ourselves we become more aware of what it is we are leaving out. It is not that we bring everything into the light - after all, we will always be excluding something - rather, we become more aware of our own potential, of the many voices and possibilities that lurk within us; no matter how ugly they may be.

If psychological health is contingent upon this seeing through, then most tabloid newspapers can be described as utterly pathological. Their stories are, more often than not, various scathing indictments of this thing or that person, urging us to find fault anywhere but at our own doorstep. Almost daily a sacrificial scapegoat is offered up, their blood spilled so that the rest of us can go on with our lives as normal.

One of the values of criticism, and all its various analogues, is that it brings other voices to the conversation and prevents things from becoming too singular. It chips away at the walls of our structures, reminding us that other things exist beyond them; and, indeed, that those walls may not be as solid as we think they are.

We’ve described seeing-through our creations as imperative to our well-being; yet, as with all things, when it is taken to an extreme it can become dysfunctional. It is possible to see too much. When we are too aware of possibilities it can become hard to choose one over another. We can become enamoured of novelty, afraid to sacrifice the many and devote to the few.

And so here we are on our tightrope, caught between too-much and too-little. We must create; we must tell stories; and to do so we must be selective and leave things out. And yet we must also be aware of those things, lest they one day catch us with our back turned.

Well, at least that's one way of looking at it.


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Related posts:-
The Colour Wheel
This, Not That
Projecting a Shadow 
Full Spectrum
Step Toward Madness
I'm in Control
Monotheism & Polytheism
Infinite Doorways
Still Waters
Walk a Straight Line
Left Out 
Making Connections
Digging Deeper

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