march 25

rat enters kohlberg coffee bar, saying she can't decide what lecture to go to - the one on wine-making and culture, or the one on adolescent risk-taking and narative. i'd been planning to go to the wine lecture, but greg's eyes light up at the mention of narative, and i know why. we've been planning a website, a forum for people to tell and read stories, and the keyword narative has been thrown around so much that sometimes it feels like we're in pee-wee's playhouse. "you said the magic word!" seriously, he's found a focus, one that is universally applicable, much as i see anthropology and mythology... something that everyone knows something about (consciously or not) and plays a part in all of our lives. plus, we were all adolescents at one point, so we can draw dirrect personal connections to this talk. alright. so we re-plan the liquor-run and bound into the lecture hall. scott is there, completing a triad. josh is elsewhere.

cynthia lightfoot, prof at penn state, starts with theory... what are risks? what do they mean to us? meaning is key - in "postmodern" times many disciplines are looking for how to understand new constructions of meaning. meaning can be found by "locating actions... inside shared idioms of culture." so it has to do with the bounds of society, whether we act within them or without them. culture is a part of our identity, but we also form our identities inside culture. having similar identites, sharing cultural or extra-cultural actions, helps create cohesion and bonds (these can form new culture?) as well as sets apart - creates uniqueness, or else perspective from afar, something valuable. here comes the narative part - risk naratives display this point of view as well as how it declares identity. taking risks involves understanding yourself but also leads to even better understanding of yourself, by going through this decision/creativity process. and get this - it's a double narative: first the declaration of identity, and then the action of retelling the events to others, making the identity known, sharing it with others on the same journey.

shoe moves on to group dynamics... how people bond over certain things. drugs - halucinogenics... (this applies to other drugs too)... it is a scene of people sitting together for the purpose of being there, sharing an experience, and drugs serve as a congealing force. (also alter minds, allowing for perhaps fuller experience, not "mundane", able to touch concerns of spirit/meaning?) yet drugs also lead to deterioration... disillusionment? they become too focused on, instead of the social function of being together. it is a difficult balance.

fantasy - talking about doing things but not actually doing them... is the process sometimes enough? i wonder... why not go through with it? physical limitations (time, money, physics?) doubt that it can actually be accomplished? or is the planning enough to add to the script of the narative, to take the mind for a five mile job without leveling the palace steps? the excercise produces ideas for the future, or else exposes dreams that are trusted to the group, or also common with the group. lots of fantasies revolve around the summer and the city... kind of like california - it is a place where dreams come true, where you always want to go, and when you get there, it is actual and you can no longer dream about it, and you have to leave so that you can think about it again. what does this mean? is it masochistic? i think it's more about needing dreams and mystical places where answers can exist... answers that we don't actually want to hear, because then we'll know The Truth, and our freedom to dream is gone.

pranks - this is almost like a secret society... sharing info obtained together, giving the group something valuable and unique. groups can also form ritual which transforms the experience into something more significant. moving and acting in a group, with a singular mind, and the link is so think that it can't be explained to someone else. yet exclusion is the eighth deadly sin... it is fragmentation, with a million poisoned tentacles. not being part of the narative produces jealousy? envy for what they possess? or is it that groups threaten the continuity of the society because of their strength?

big parties - they create a history, a past that can be reflected on. shared memories are perhaps the strongest kind of bond, like what keeps me and amanda together in many wawys... we move forward, building on a memory base that can not be stolen from us... it's locked in and only fades with age (is that why we fear getting old? we create new memories tho...) the stories of the events remind us of who we are, so we don't feel lost or insubstantial. the self is our primary concern - we control it, or we think we control it, but it is ours. so it is not just the event, but the "i am" behind it that gives it significance.

what intrigues me is the placement of all this in the liminal space of adolescence... where humans are at their most indefined. things are fluid and mutable, which is good for exploration and experimentation but also like quicksand. we create identity by feeling out the bounds of our desires and fears, all the while testing them. we cannot move without ground, yet we move so quickly because we travel on air.


cynthia lightfoot
adolescent risk taking as drama and narative

value self
observe good time - not explicit
what do risks mean? construct meaning
locate actions of persons inside
   shared idioms of culture
social identity - promote cohesion
  + sets off from others in community
risk narates point of view
      declares identity 
  - how understand selves
double narative - declaration + 
  the talk about it
anthro - hunting + battle stories
  - imaginative + dramatic
walk line of ordinary + exraordinary
bolster self esteem + autonomy
  - reflexive awareness
have identity of consequence

groups - tight cohesion
  - halucenogenic drugs
    (also lead to breaking off)
drugs - being alone together + talking
   joking or philosophizing
fantasy - desire for meaningful narative
         that can't do - why?
         beyond physical ability?
        summer is magic time for doing
        plans of travel + the city
        magic of intimact + trust 
pranks - gaining secret info together
         ritual transforms experience
         into significant event - symbolic
         secret society - no tel people
         overt exclusion is sin - fragments
elaborate part - drinking + promiscuity
        reflect on past parties - stories
        reminds of "who they are"
stories - "a tale has no abode, 
           no place of being,
           but in the telling"

fantasy - in dif world - inbetween
          spaces - liminal
what romances the adolescent?
   identity - stories of the self
     not just event - the "i am" behind it

for rebelion vs. for creating narative?
males - ordeal + bonding
nerd scoiality - hang cuz convenient?
  not as personally bonded?
awareness that part of larger community

old - group differences - predict behavior
new - explain behavior according to
      meanings attached to behavior
script grows over time
    more time - more ritual
be sefl vs. be ture to others
loner vs. social - defining identity
sincerity + fragmentation
diff language @ same thing
outlayers - more centered + well-rounded
   or no soc. skills or miss narative

sometimes no make sense to those outside
  or discover connection
  or give new question

[scott's theory]
crisis - i don't know anything
 + no authority to tell me
 form own priorities - 
  those are universal
change within the continuum

03.19 | march | 03.26