Lisa Banu - How to Appear in Dark Times
Hannah Arendt and Eugene Gendlin on Making Space
Responding to the question, “How can designer’s (re)act in dark times?” editors Staszowski and Tassinari, offer an insightful possibility linking individual experience and public action suggesting,
Acting politically as well as acting through designing in these times means thus moving in this space of possibilities, where one can experience a freedom and creativity that can never happen in private. For this to take place a space of appearance is required: in other words, a politics. Every individual can find for himself or herself this space of freedom,
and yet cannot find it alone. Designers are also granted this possibility. But the transformative character of the processes and consequences of designing to begin something new can only be fully enacted when our individual understanding of our actions and our words becomes part of a discourse.
How can a designer’s understanding of their actions and words become a part of a discourse? This essay presents a way towards transformative design as a process of making implicit embodied experience, explicit. The opening question of the possibility of action rests on Hannah Arendt’s articulation of “Dark Times.” She explains, “The darkness is what comes when the open, light spaces between people, the public spaces where people can reveal themselves, are shunned or avoided, the darkness is the hateful attitude toward the public realm, toward politics.”
Relying on the work of Eugene Gendlin, the philosopher of the implicit, Lisa proposes reflexive mirroring of Arendt’s account, asserting that the darkness is what comes when the open, light spaces between feelings, the inward spaces where a person can reveal herself, are shunned or avoided, the darkness is the self-hateful attitude toward the inner-realm, towards self-acceptance. This reflexive move requires the following two considerations:
1. Continuity of inward experience and outward action
2. Distinction between organic expression and social imposition
Transformative design exceeds conceptual comfort and aspires to make room for emergent, inarticulate meaning. In the same way, empowering self-understanding bravely makes room for the yet to be articulated confusion of feelings and sensations. Gendlin’s work lights a way beyond the “hateful attitude toward the public (and private) realm” that does not rely on the clarity of conceptual conformity.
Lisa Banu, Ph.D. MSW, RYT Lisa's background in philosophy and mind-body practice of psychoeducation focused on grief, loss and anxiety brought her to explore Gendlin’s work. Her current research focused on Gendlin’s writing [Process Model and essays] grow out of her perspective as a design historian, philosopher, and social worker.