Theoretical Intro (skip if it bores you and move on to the essay)
This essay is an initial attempt to develop a ‘transperspective’ understanding that draws upon critical theory (Lefebvre), revolutionary concepts (Situationists, Geosophy), performance theory and art (Berry and Epstein, Gomez-Pena and Sifuentes), and urban spatial studies (Soja). Following Mark Johnson, in his book Moral Imagination: Implications of Cognitive Science for Ethics (1993), I believe that we need to develop new cognitive understandings based upon a recognition of our own situated positionings and the “imaginative capacity” to recognize “other values and points of view” in order “to change one’s world in light of possibilities revealed by those alternative viewpoints” (241). Transperspectivity also involves the introduction of the author’s personal perspective as an honest and straightforward exposure of one’s own situated perspective. As a guide in the development of a personal perspective I have turned to Donna Haraway who proposes using a partial perspective—“the moral is simple: only partial perspectives promise objective vision,” and she argues that this partial objectivity is based on a recognition of one’s own “limited location and situated knowledge". Like the anthropologist Johannes Fabian, in his book Time and the Other (1983), I believe that cultural critics need to make a progressive move towards treating the cultures and individuals in their works “in their own terms,” we must always be aware of the invisible power of defining sociocultural systems, especially when one social group has the power to define another’s “own terms” (39-40). George Marcus insists that when engaging in critical ethnography that we must remember that when we construct our narratives that we must engage in “problematizing the construction of the spatial, of the temporal, and of the perspective of voice in realist ethnography” in order to realize a “critical juxtaposition of possibilities” (43).
After further explaining some of the main concepts of transperspectivity I will then illustrate its practical demonstration in the ‘living diorama’ performances of Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Roberto Sifuentes.
There are two important descriptions of ‘third space’ consciousness. First, Homi Bhaba, in Location of Culture (1994), calls for a critical method that engages in a “doubly inscribed move” that “simultaneously seeks to subvert and replace” the dominant ideologies of society, or in other words, the dominant systems of representational and discursive power. In order to do this he states that we must create and enter a “discursive space which is not exclusively delimited by the history of either the right or the left.” Instead, we need to be able to adopt multiple perspectives that allow us to move in “between these political polarities” (22). The urban theorist Edward Soja argues, following the spatial theorization of Henri Lefebvre, that a ‘third space’ perspective would also recognize the “fully lived space” of our social reality through an integrative understanding of the social, spatial, and temporal in the interplay of “an active arena of development and change, conflict and resistance” (11). This “active arena” should be understood as encompassing both real-life events and imaginative undertakings.
My development of a transperspective understanding recognizes that human creativity and production always involves both creative and destructive tendencies. Instead of trying to separate and isolate these tendencies we need to come to terms with these forces. Throughout history there have always been attempts to regulate the creative production of poets and artists because as Artaud wrote in his essay on Lautreamont: “people were afraid that their poetry would escape from their books and overthrow reality” (471)? I would add to this statement that societal regulators also seek to shut-down expressions of creative madness because it confronts society with the insane contradictions that reside in its foundational concepts and principles. Lacan states in the essay, “Function and Field of Speech and Language,” that we remain loyal to “tradition” because we have “nothing to say about the doctrine itself” and that: “It is our task to demonstrate that these concepts take on their full meaning only when orientated in a field of language, only when ordered in relation to the function of speech” (39) Thus he views it as our most:
We must keep all certainties at bay until the last “mirages or masks have been “dispelled” (43). “[I]t is not a question of reality, but of truth …” (48). So we can recognize truth statements as valid as long as we remember that these truths are but singular truths and that they must be recognized as part of a multiplicity of shifting and metamorphosing truths.