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The obsession of the observer

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Why am I so interested with the theory of the observer in Cybernetics? Why am I trying to incorporate it into my PhD?

I am sure it has to do more with me than with the PhD… after all don’t we all find our topics and our methodology following a personal path that means something for us from another place than the intellect?

I think it is my guts that are interested in the position with the observer… I think it comes from far… from somewhere in my childhood where I felt I was observed, and maybe judged, but “the others”… I presume the “others” were mainly my father. His way to listen to our intellectual side, but never to our emotional side. For him that was a danger zone, he was probably just defending himself, but for us –the kids, the people around him- it meant that he was always an outsider, an observer positioned outside of the dialogue, always in a safe zone, where nothing could reach him and were he would use his intellect to assess the situation.

What did I learn from those early feelings? I learned that feelings, emotions that are not verbalized are not appropriate. I learned that what was OK was to “speak” of stuff, to formalize it, to control it. I also learned to protect myself from something that was obviously dangerous: vulnerability.

For me Cybernetics is probably a theory that allows me to speak about my own revolt to this family communication system. It is a way to claim that the observed is always part of the system and that he his influenced –and he does influence as well- the environment. Cybernetic is my way to claim back the injustice that I felt on my father’s so called objectivity. It is about claiming back my voice. It is about accusing him of not been so right, after all. It is about giving him the responsibilities that he never took –on an emotional level. It is about trying to accept that it is all right to be vulnerable, it is all right to “not know”.

Ironically I am doing a PhD. I have supervisors that observe me, judge me, but that I feel are not on my side. Or maybe not. Maybe it is just my projections on them. Maybe they are trying to help me by just saying: come out of your comfort zone, have fun, get out of theory, come up with your own way of thinking…

I have a sort of “déjà vu” feeling. Walls from my childhood coming back again and again in the process of this PhD.

Cheep psychoanalysis? Maybe.

Easy projections? Maybe.

But there is something there. We do not choose a PhD topic for nothing. It is a process of learning. And I think it is more about learning about ourselves than about learning about a topic. This is why I think this diary is important. Because what I end up writing on my final PhD will be only a fraction of what this process is. The “official text” will be the one of mastering a process of research, but the “real text”, the “felt text”, the experience of doing a PhD is a complete other thing: it is about being lost and discovering one’s barriers. It is about fear and passion mixed in a survival quest. It is about experiencing the multiple levels of our personality, the cohabitation of body and mind in what, after all, is our very own life.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 12th, 2008

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