Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, June 29, 2015

Democratizing of Culture ~ Diversity in the Social Imagination

The democratizing of culture is serious and its happening here and all over the world. It all starts with the jump on the band wagon catch phrase ~ 'diversity'. Of course, diversity can be a good thing from time to time. We add diversity to our diet for better health, we need a variety of information in our life. We take in new 'diverse' information and make it our own. That is how we understand new information. We make it our own. However, in that way, the diversity taken in is not the same diverse information any longer. It melts in, gets absorbed but that is how we make use of any kind of information or anything, even nutrients.

In that process, the group that does the taking in remains what it was and yet somehow new as in refreshed... just like when we hit the 'refresh' button on our computers. It refreshes the screen yet it remains recognizable.

In America, we are no longer able to recognize ourselves as 'Americans'. What had happened was that new information came in and it was absorbed.

However, that is no longer the process...it no longer gets absorbed, it gets democratized. That means new information remains what it is ~ 'diverse'; and thus, remains on the outside. It is not taken in and 'used' as integrated or made part of the old information system. Why? Isn't diversity all that matters. Yes and No. Yes, because diversity does matter and it matters only because it is there to be used because it is different.

No, because though diversity matters it only matters because it is different and in that state can be put to use. Diversity that is not used as in absorbed is useless. Why would we take in something that would not 'refresh' the system in place? Absorption could be seen as good and bad for the 'newbie' as it is truly good for the older information in place.  All in all, it is a both a win win and lose 'loss' situation. When newbies come, they lose but they also win. They are no longer who they were but become part of something much bigger than what they were. They become integrated into the older information which takes in the new and thus grows and yet remains what it was ...now refreshed. It retains its original character 'culture' and adds to it, taking in and refreshing.

What is interesting is that new information cannot be entirely alien. It has to have something we can recognize and at the same time see and even taste the difference. The best example is in the case of ethnic food. You can never get a truly good ethnic dish here in America ... exactly the same as you would in the place it came from. Yet, having new dishes added to our diet is good for us, it gives us some diversity, it refreshes our palette but it would never be taken in if it wasn't already presented as similar and yet new to the "American menu". The similarity is that it is food, the difference is the combination and taste presented on a recognizable plate.

Social imagination works in the same way. Social reality 'our shared imagination' is about the way we live, breathe and eat together in a place that has a given menu. We need that in order to recognize what restaurant we are actually in. If we democratized the menu to the point that there isn't anything different and everything is exactly as good as it was where it was and exactly the same serving there as here; then, everyone would be cooking his/her own meal at the restaurant - what's the point, don't we go out to get what we can't get at home. Don't get confused just yet. Though we like it our way, we make it our way, we still begin with seeing a difference.

Otherwise, in a sense, it is like 'relativizing' everything we do because we think we are and everything is the same... complete and non-distinct islands of information; and in that sense, each island is completely good as it is and that would mean we don't even need diversity because our island of information is not in need of diversity. Even if we were to take in what we thought was new information or variety how could we justify it since we are already seeing sameness cause that is what democracy does, it creates a majority of sameness. Which is both necessary and yet stagnating. Hence, we need to hit the refresh button and absorb some diversity- difference. Again, if we could take it in new information because it is not different as we agreed with it being like our own, then I guess it being so like us would make it not diverse.

Wait. Does that mean the new information we take in as described earlier on in this post goes through the same process? In the sense that we take in only that which seems similar. Yes and No. Yes, because using the argument just above means that though we need to have need of different information it cannot be so different. And, No, because when we do take in something different and make it our own, we first have to see and accept that it is different. Today's diversity lovers start from the premise that it is not different. So, what then is the reason to absorb new information and make it our own if is not different? There is none. We cannot absorb anything that is the same as we are, uses the same information we use.

....and so what would the picture look like if we started from the premise that there is no diversity since our assumption is that all people are like us anyway. I suppose, in that case, we might get a picture that looks like this... ironically, in saying that this image looks like it makes some kind of strange sense since as it is all the same. However, was anything absorbed???

No, nothing, since in the condition of sameness there is nothing different to integrate or absorb and nothing to see that says there was a viable difference to begin with; hence, no residues, no after effects, and no integration...and certainly no refreshment.

Is there a picture for when new 'different'  information gets integrated- absorbed and it is visibly apparent?

Yes ~

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