We are always expressing ourselves

We are at all times expressing ourselves. There is no “not-expressing” ourselves. We – all beings – express themselves, strive to articulate underlying desires and needs. There is no block to this – even when we are struggling, we express ourselves. We can only struggle as ourselves.

And even in thinking, we express ourselves. Thinking is an activity, an expressive activity, like any other.

The real conflict we face in life is not between expressing ourselves and not being able to express ourselves, but rather between our sense of power and our sense of powerlessness. Such a “sense of power” has to do with our ability to interpret our situation clearly or not. How clear is our sense, our perception, of our ability to express ourselves with respect to a certain situation or environment?

The internal conflict we face in life, therefore, is a matter of imagination – not expression.

 

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Cultivation

It is not that children are uncultivated – innocent, naive, etc. It’s that the rules we play by are not clear to them. The games we play are not clear to them. This is why children are so good at free-play – because the rules are not clearly defined for them. (Free-play, perhaps, is the result of a mind forced to create its own image of the rules.)

Cultivation, then, is a process of communication – the process of communication. Not necessarily through writing or speaking, but through the production of pain and pleasure (scolding, laughing, hitting, grabbing, isolating, holding, etc.).

Appearances, of course, play a big part. We don’t so much care whether the child really understands the game – as long as he or she understands how to play it. Understanding a game involves understanding the games connected to it, and the dynamics possible in the game’s development or dissolution. But at base, what we really care about is that the child is playing the game according to the vested interests of those players seeking or in positions of power.

Take, for instance, a simple game: rolling the ball to one another. One child rolls the ball to another child, and that child rolls it back, and back and forth they go. We (the parents, the teacher, the babysitter, whoever) can articulate simple rules for the game: no throwing the ball, no holding the ball for a long time, no rolling the ball in a completely different direction from the other player, etc.

The children probably don’t understand what other games this one may be tied to: perhaps the game of “enforcing non-violent play” or of “enforcing sharing and collaboration” (for the parent or teacher), or even the game of “instituting activities to develop sensorimotor functions” (in the case of a daycare teacher or physical therapist).

The child isn’t required to understand these other games, which guide and influence the game he or she is playing (in this case, rolling the ball). What matters is that the child understands how to play the game – i.e. bring the game to life.

It is not that the child doesn’t know how to play – which, in essence, would be the definition of uncultivated – but rather the child is not familiar with the game provided for him or her to play.

Being unfamiliar, to a certain extent, with these games, these rules, the child is forced to play, to use its own familiar resources to form its own rules – rules that are still iterable, but less defined than our society’s rules, and thereby freer (less predictable, more fluid and dynamic).

Language as possibility

Language is not how you communicate – it’s what you hope to communicate. It’s what you hope to bring to life. Writing is not language, but that which, in its organization, its structure, its appearance, aims to bring language to life. It’s what you are hoping others understand from what you are writing.

If we return to the unicorn analogy, language would be how you understand the unicorn – what it’s “supposed” to look or be like. Language exists completely in the what-if, in the virtual. It’s the interpretation.

So much of language is built on hope – every communication is really the communication of a hope, a wish, a risk.

Image of possibility

What is communicated in every communication is an image of possibility. Communication is not the “transferring” of a “message” from a “sender” to a “receiver,” as is commonly pictured, but the process of producing images of possibility using speaking, writing, gestures, etc. Such an image is not the expression of a truth, but of a possibility – it is the form in which possibility can be thought, or rather, imagined. Communication, then, is an imaginative process.