Commitment and Ambivalence (Steven Rosen)

I appreciate Ronald Polack’s personal reflections on his experience in a proprioceptive dialogue group. His comments were quite welcome after a relatively long period of inactivity on this website.

I must admit though, that I myself could be doing a lot more to vitalize the website, both by encouraging people to respond and become involved, and by adding new posts of my own. So what’s holding me back?

Even when I was younger, I was never very good at multi-tasking. Lately, I’ve been devoting much time and energy to an electronic book: A work on the subject of death and transformation that I’m writing as a multidimensional text, with personal dreams and images woven into the philosophical discourse via hypertext. In many of my previous books, I’ve sought to counteract academic detachment and abstraction by bringing myself into my text in some personal way. To embody the text, I’ve tried to put my own body where my words are. But, in the past, I haven’t managed to do this in a thoroughgoing, sustained way. One of the problems is that my academic and personal voices reflect different dimensions of my being, and it has been difficult to express these distinct realms in words and images that work together on the same printed pages. What excites me about the potential of an electronic book is that the separate dimensions of myself can be effectively entwined without simply being reduced to the single dimension of the linear writing surface. In my e-book, you will be able to read a philosophical account of identity, death, and transformation on one level, and — at critical junctures in the text — to click on hyperlinks that will take you into relevant underworld dimensions of images, reflections, and dreams.

Still, my involvement with the e-book is not the only reason I have recently devoted relatively little time to the life of this website. In the very first post to Practicing PD (5/28/09), I disclosed a side of myself that looks to avoid the demands that might be made on my time and energy if I were to receive large numbers of emails from people wanting to post their proprioceptions and dreams. Perhaps I am too much the introvert. Perhaps the child in me fears “success” and the responsibilities it would bring. But then there is the adult who — despite his conflicts — is posting these comments because he does emphatically want to encourage as much proprioceptive dialogue as possible. I believe PD plays an indispensable role in embodying cyberspace, and it is a major reason for my setting up this website to begin with. It seems to me that the best way for me to encourage a meaningful response to my call for PD is to practice PD myself, even if this means making explicit the darkly regressive aspect of my personality that wishes to retreat from PD. When you read this post, you might say to yourself: “If Steven is ambivalent about doing PD, why should I bother.” My hope is that you will say instead: “In disclosing his ambivalence about PD, Steven is indeed engaging in PD, and I can do the same.”