June 3, 2008

internal landscape

Filed under: anti-assimilation,Uncategorized,women's history — polywog @ 11:13 p06

The internal landscape is the world inside the body, beneath the skin. Light from the outside world refracts through a mosaic of experiences, paints fractals of light and color, patterns within. The internal landscape is never simply a reflection of what its seen, never a reproduction of the world as is. Rather, it is through how we choose to organize and understand our experiences, and how we choose to engage in the world as we understand it, that we become who we are. The internal landscape is a name for the narratives, metaphors, myths, and patterns–visual, discursive, palpable–that shape our lives. And like any place on a map, the internal landscape is deeply defined by its relationship to the people, places, cultures, struggles, and institutions around it.

Our internal landscapes are deeply shaped by the natural and discursive landscapes of our surroundings. Inside in our bodies and minds we hold knowledge of certain shapes and textures: the stories that root us into our communities and institutions, the assumptions we often never know are assumptions, and the invisible ways of thinking we often take for the only ways of thinking. I saw a movie once about a man who went out in the sea in a storm, and he came up against a wall at the edge of the ocean. He discovered his whole world and everything he knew was only a world within a world. He could open the door and be somewhere else. These edges exist everywhere, discursively, in our minds. And finding the edge of discourse is essential to any liberatory project. Feminism is a means, a boat which takes us out to sea, by which we find the edges of our worlds, destabilize what meanings we might have taken for granted, denaturalize what they have tried to make us feel is natural.

I want to start with this idea of internal landscape: the mess of internalized knowledge we take for granted. So far I have two scholars to draw on in terms of how language reflects and shapes this landscape. These are Jean-Francois Lyotard and Ludwig Wittgenstein. I dont know who else to read. Anyone, ideas??

Of course i have no idea what i am taking about. but. i like this idea as a beginning for writing about epistemology and methodology in a more accessible way.



  1. i think the first paragraph is really beautifully written.

    the second paragraph, i have questions/comments about:

    -i honestly don’t like the word ‘discursive.’ i do not find its meaning self-evident; i feel it comes across as overly jargony, i read it as overly jargony, designed to be shared among a specific class of academics in the know.

    -the film that you were referring to is called ‘the truman show’

    -who is ‘they?’ this ‘they’ seems elusive. i’m very curious. who is accountable for ‘naturalizing’ this social reality. who is responsible?

    one book suggestion i have is pierre bourdieu’s language and symbolic power. bourdieu’s writing is very dense, but the book contains a general introduction to his ‘theory of practice,’ or what is also called ‘reflexive sociology.’ from memory, i no longer have the book: bourdieu writes a lot about how the academy’s theories of language and cognition are informed by a linguists’ practical need to secure ‘capital’ (which is both symbolic and material) in the social world. and yet, they provide ostensibly ‘universal’ theories of how language works for human begins. bourdieu notes we do what we do out of a practical basis: survival and thrival in the social world. his book explores how humans in the social world (divided along race, class, gender, ways of speaking, et al) use language or speech acts in a practical sense. i think this book could be informative to your thoughts about assumptions…

    why do you end your very thoughtful, deep, questioning, probing post, with “of course i have no idea what i am talking about”? don’t you…

    a cricket

    Comment by jadecricket — June 8, 2008 @ 11:13 p06 | Reply

  2. internal landscapes seems to me to also point to ideas of morality and ethics, patterns in human behavior that we all consistently ascribe to but are constrained by particular landscapes in which we occupy and internalize, can the fact that all of us even ascribe to some sort of moral universe point to the possibility of shared and complementary landscapes

    that’s a lot to consider i think, but interesting to think about

    Comment by sunny d — June 11, 2008 @ 11:13 p06 | Reply

  3. […] Polywog has approached the description with grace and beautiful descriptive writing, but soon starts to question it. Most descriptions I find seem to refer back to language as the signifier, but I tend to think of language as the construct for the external understanding of the world around us, rather than the subliminal emotive triggers that dwell beyond the reasoning of language. […]

    Pingback by Translucent » Blog Archive » Internal landscape — July 4, 2008 @ 11:13 p07 | Reply

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