Unfolding Imagos: an inquiry into the aesthetics of Action-Phenomenology

DProf thesis

Stanley, P. 2021. Unfolding Imagos: an inquiry into the aesthetics of Action-Phenomenology. DProf thesis Middlesex University / Ashridge Business School Business School
TypeDProf thesis
TitleUnfolding Imagos: an inquiry into the aesthetics of Action-Phenomenology
AuthorsStanley, P.

In modern civilisation, magic in its instrumental (sorcerous) sense would appear to have been completely superseded by science, but that should not blind us to the (arguably) reliable efficacy of invocation, nor to the metaphysical implication of this efficacy–that it points to the psychophysical nature of reality.3
This thesis is an inquiry into the use of imagination as being restorative of identity. Working experimentally with poetic-aesthetic method—writings initially, then visual images—I use altered states of mind, and access to the otherworldly, in order to offer re-arrangements of local realities. Preoccupied as most people are with everyday realities, radical proposals—animism, enchantment, non-ordinary ways of knowing and being— don’t often find room: in our everyday lives, workplaces, relationships; or in action-inquiry. The body of this inquiry reflects the qualities of what Bachelard terms an immense philosophical daydream.4
My claim in-depth is, firstly that working with poetic-aesthetic method in this way is restorative: of individual, groups, societies; secondly, that the framings offered in Part V Light are the bases for further in depth research. Initially proposed as inquiry into the healing of disrupted identity (a consequence of organisational and procedural abuse), the focus of inquiry shifts, unfolds. Inquiry into writing, poetry, aesthetics gives way to a deeper inquiry into connectedness; uncovering healing engendered by Seeing connections: to the morethan- human world (animism), the otherworldly (enchantment).
Questions of knowing and being surface, along with how to relate these back to the world. In A Language Older Than Words, Jensen relates a story of connecting a plant—a dracaena cane—to a polygraph. The story relates the plant’s responses to a researcher imagining harming it; plant becoming attuned to human; yoghurt responding to death of remote microbes. This leads to altered ways of knowing and being not often in our consciousness; preoccupied as we are with everyday realities.5 Atelier—a series of experimental practices—provokes deeper inquiry: into the nature and frameworks of inquiry, and, ultimately, theory.
The problem, the contradiction the scientists are stuck with, is that of mind. Mind has no matter or energy but they can’t escape its predominance over everything they do. Logic exists in the mind. Numbers exist only in the mind. I don’t get upset when they say that ghosts exist in the mind. It’s that only that gets me. Science is only in your mind too, its just that that doesn’t make it bad. Or ghosts either.6
Experience of trauma, abuse, offers distortions of mind and self. These distortions are ascribed as illness but provoked through the deepening inquiry of a series of experimental practices: referred to in this work as The Atelier. I come to suggest that this is a problem of mind; and of our relationship to the unscientific. Playing with these distortions unfolds access to rarely accessed realms: of consciousness; of seeing. Inquiring into these fields of identity reveals new putative fields: Imago-Unfolding; Via Arbora; 4th-Person Inquiry; Action- Phenomenology. These fields occur—in layers—throughout this text, and in mind.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Research GroupWork and Learning Research Centre
Department nameBusiness School
Institution nameMiddlesex University / Ashridge Business School
Publication dates
Print02 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Nov 2022
Accepted11 Oct 2021
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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