What is it that we do when we do what we do?

In the book Systems Practice: How to Act in a Climate-Change World, Ray Ison describes systems practice as a kind of performance.

From my review in the journal Ecopsychology (just out, vol. 5 issue 2):

[Ison’s] guiding question for this performance is this: what is it that we do when we do what we do? This double-layered look — not only at what we do but also at our looking at what we do — can help illuminate an immersive web of existence: our emotions, language, social rules and norms, and so on. We are, he emphasizes, always in one emotion or another. Calm is an emotion, along with more pronounced ones, like fear or joy. Language, rules, and social norms are types of social technologies in which our daily practices are embedded, often invisibly.

This embeddedness becomes a trap when accustomed ways of being or thinking, reified in social technologies, leave us unaware of alternative possibilities or powerless to adopt them. To reify is to perpetuate distinctions that arise from projecting our meaning onto the world, thereby ‘‘making a thing’’ of our experiences, as when we talk about problems and solutions rather than perceptions of problematical situations and effective actions. Every noun, Ison writes, obscures a verb.

See also: Ison on science in the Anthropocene.

[Update: Ray comments on my review here.]

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