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The acted document

This post is to introduce a new category of this wiki-like digital garden. The acted document is a phrase from Clifford Geertz, referring to culture. This category is a sub-category of the Philology and Culture and Hermeneutics category, but will be used to share informal excerpts, thoughts, aphorisms, etc. — less formal ideas going into the book(s) I am writing.

This preliminary post will consider an important feature of the acted document that is the documentary: self awareness. I will contrast a shining example of this with an anthropological inversion.

In Richard Gabriel’s Patterns of Software, he has a section on “The Life of the Critic”. The first essay models self-reflexivity and reflectivity. I am beyond humbled to read work like that. Gabriel’s work reminds me of how careful I need to be.

It is easy to slip into an ethnographer’s gaze that turns on Others as points of contrast as opposed to viewing them from the vantage point of shared humanity. Sometimes, I tend to exaggerate when criticizing cultural trends. While this is on the level of what Stiegler would call transindividuation, and criticism addresses nonethnic horizons of common actions, I do not agree with it.

By this same token, though, is it not also true that some digitization practice to usurp common horizons by naming them before people have a chance at their own co-creative potential? What is a productive way to address this tension?

Below is the explanation of the following image of an Igbo mask made famous by James Clifford in The Predicament of Culture. The screenshots are taken from Cole & Aniakor (1984). Igbo Arts: Community and cosmos.

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