goldmourn (amberdawnpullin) wrote,

play / time / simplicity / dialogue / change

Time for play is essential for a healthy sense of ourselves, being engaged in the world and knowing who we are. Now, however, playtime, especially shared playtime, is no longer the norm but the exception to how kids spend their time in many, particularly middle-class, communities. In fact, some of the centuries-old games that older children passed down to the younger ones, including double-dutch skipping rhymes and Mother May I are being forgotten, and what Merilyn Simonds calls the “underworld of children's culture” is being lost.


My own belief is that although on-line networking and face-to-face communities are often depicted as opposites, they work best as a blend. As Putnam says, “An extensive, deep, robust social infrastructure of relationships must exist so that those using the electronic media will truly understand what others are communicating to them.” That is, through personal reflection and sustained dialogue with others both on-line and off, people can make the ephemera of mere data real and hold the borderline fictional to account as they interpret it in a context of shared understandings and mutually trusted words. But it requires regular conversations to temper the stimulated and abstract world in which, without even realizing it, people can become dissociated from the consequences of a phone call left unreturned or a data field left incomplete. Dialogue remains the foundation of civic engagement; it both helps people to feel fully present and to take responsibility, and challenges them to do so.


I've become a convert now that I realize that voluntary simplicity is also about recovering a sense of self in local and personal things, and feeling anchored in place and time through them. We end up wanting less because we get that much more out of what we have. What philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin called the “aura,” the “authentic” presence of an object imbued with the character of a place because the people who made and used it wove their particular talents and traditions into it, applies also to people. It's through time, then, that objects and people take on the distinctive character of place. Of course, this is precisely what gets lost when objects become mere commodities in the standardized space-time compressions of the global economy. And it's our individual selves that get worn away when we're going too fast, on-line and off, buying into new identities and investments, getting more things, getting more things done faster, processing our lives in a blur of fast-forwarding efficiency and servicing all the technology.


I expect the will to change things as a society will emerge only when enough people take the time to stop and really pay attention to their experience and the stories of the people they know and care about. It will begin when a critical mass of people realizes that time does matter --- not just how we “spend” clock time, but how we live in time. Clock time is merely an artifice, a device used to organize, schedule and regulate life. Seconds and nanoseconds are mere abstractions. Taking our time means articulating the embodied experience of life. It doesn't just mean designating time for dialogue. It means living the time of dialogue and making that face-to-face experience real, which includes respectful listening, searching for commonalities, reconciling differences of opinion and moving toward possible consensus.


It's equally about time. It's about stitching time and space together differently and realizing that you can because [...] we are the seams, and we stitch ourselves together through shared experience.

source: all of the above is from No Time Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life by Heather Menzies
Tags: excerpts

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