söndag 31 oktober 2010

A Postmodern Sermon

Today it's sunday. So what better than to share a bloggalicious sermon, in a postmodern information-highway-type spirit. Today's sermon is about postmodernity, knowledge and experience. Many people ask what postmodernity actually is. Though I'm a fully fledged postmodernist, I'd like to highlight it at its worst here. The worst thing it can be is trivial. When the old tired "all is relative" in fact means "nothing is new". What postmodernity need is to take the conflict of interpretations seriously. It must allow us new grips on things. It must allow to speak with a new language, that allows new and different experiences to be taken seriously. And allow us to hold these experiences to be a genuine form of knowledge.

We often have a romantic image of Samer (Swedish) or indigenous peoples in general. We attribute "contact with the earth" and a "deeper understanding" of things, to them. We acknowledge their right to be themselves, and understand them to be something (or someones) that is qualitatively (at least to some degree) incompatible with our way of seeing, understanding and leading consumerist, career-centered lives.

This is a curious position. It's interesting because it's not that many steps away from admiting to ourselves that there may be something genuinely human that is incompatible with our way of life. It is also interesting because we acknowledge that their type of knowledge has merits, and is of another type than the knowledge produced (for the most part) in artificial, controlled environments in laboratories in the western world.

I've experienced one too many times (and I do this on occasion myself as well): People appologise for their own experiences, as were they not knowledge enough. In fact, most of us have started to doubt our own experiences as knowledge, when it does not match up perfectly to the standard measures of natural science, and how we are expected to word our understanding of the world with the guidance of this perspective. We make excuses for ourselves and say things like "sorry, I know this is a little out there..." and "we'll you can of course say what you will about this but...". This occurs as soon as our experience proves richer than laboratory wisdom.

My question is simply this: Should we really applogise because we add another dimension to experience and knowledge? Shouldn't we just be happy, astound and amazed by that?

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