Critical theory and the resacralization of contracts


. . . sometimes it takes absurdity to keep perspective . . .
— V. L. Emmerson
My deepest hope and goal for my creations is twofold: to celebrate differences, and to also transcend those, touching on themes and emotions common to humanity and life at large. Recognizing and cheering our individual and cultural differences across the globe is beyond important, and I hope to reflect this in my work. Now more than ever though, the world could use a reminder of our deeper threads, our human connections. In our lives we all chase separate goals, but it’s also key to remember that some of those are common to us all. I believe we are all seeking, to some level, the same things: a little bit of happiness, and a little bit of peace.
 

A Critical Perspective

Hey Veronica! Have you heard of critical theory? A group of scholars came up with a collective philosophy that is almost best defined by its edges. I bet you can direct questions to Cheryl - she literally wrote a book on it.

Here are some quotes from King, C. S., & Zanetti, L. A. (2015). Transformational public service: portraits of theory in practice. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 

  • Critical theory - a personal and political response to repression and oppression - "is the foundation of transformational public service” (p. 46).
  • “It encompasses a broader reference to a method of self-conscious critique aimed at change and emancipation” (p 47).
  • “The focus of critical theory [...] is not simply to mirror reality, but to change it” (p. 48).
  • “One of the guiding principles that emerges from this work is that strong and respectful relationships are containers for personal growth, are essential to our healthy functioning, and are central to the possibility of practicing transformative work” (vii).
  • Critical theory can and must be practiced in our daily lives (p. 117), where "institutions and practices must be challenged from both within and without" (p. 116).
  • Critical theorists believe the "observer effect" is not just a law of physics but also a special part of social sciences. "Thought, understanding, experience, and even the act of observation are not neutral, self-contained, detached, or objective. They are all unavoidably influenced by social and historical forces [and ideologies]" (p. 47).
  • Seminar and check-ins are also, arguably, a critical theory thing, since “change can only be achieved dialectically; if simple domination does not work, neither does simple protest or even simple revolution" (p. 116).
  • A bit more on dialectic ways: "the estrangement effect--shock value—is at the heart of dialectical logic and thinking. Dialectical thinking is destructive, but the destruction reemerges as a positive act [...]. This estrangement is part of a necessary process because it creates the conditions for seeing the world anew, in the form of the synthesis (new possibilities, a new status quo)" p. 49.
  • To practice critical theory, critical pragmatists can use educational facilitation, for example, to "explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify actors to change it, and provide clear norms for criticism and practical goals for the future" (p. 48). Their "ability to see the negative (the contradiction, the shadow) and use it dynamically [...] is so essential to the practice of critical theory” (p. 48-49)(yay anxiety!!!!)(but actually... as you've experienced... not being able to unsee all the awful things that COULD happen is just the inverted superpower of waking up to dreams of all the amazing things that should be).
 

Woah! Look at all those words! Where's the story?!

I'm glad you asked, Critical Sarah. Let's see how these beliefs can inform our critiques and empower us to acknowledge aloud how self-care, catharsis, contracts, and curtains are all connected.