I Am Because WE Are

Mural Project led by David Genszler

Silohuette Mural Project led by David Genszler

In Charles Eisenstein’s book, The Ascent of Humanity, he writes:

“Interdependency,” which implies a conditional relationship, is far too weak a word … the self is not absolute or discrete but contingent, relationally defined, and blurrily demarcated. There is no self except in relationship to the other. The economic man, the rational actor, the Cartesian “I am” is a delusion that cuts us off from most of what we are, leaving us lonely and small. (p. 20)

I remember learning to see language as a dialogic process as opposed to a linear process during my graduate studies. Dialogic in the Bakhtinian sense that the meaning of a written or verbal message is not formulaically determined by syntax, semantics, and neurological language processing but that meaning is constantly constructed and reconstructed based on the speaker/listener/past messages/anticipated messages. Language can NEVER be decontextualized. Even the “decontextualized” testing items we administer to measure language skill are actually reverberating and being redefined within the very real “context” involving teacher/student/testing environment/etc.

The above quote reminds me that maybe we are dialogic in a way too. We are not actually individuals at all but are (as I have obviously said before 🙂 ) like the waves of the ocean: contingent, relationally defined, and blurrily demarcated.  I am only because WE are.