Sunday, February 24, 2008

Self-Reflexiveness Gone Wild

Dr. Kenneth G. Johnson, taught at Institute of General Semantics (IGS) summer seminar-workshops for many years. For various and sundry reasons, these courses are no longer given—a shame. But I attended many of them beginning in 1979, first as a participant, then as staff member. I cherish the memories of the time I spent with Ken in classes and just schmoozing.

Beside his masterful and entertaining lecture-presentations, he also 'led', or rather facilitated, the group process sessions (based on the National Training Laboratory T-Groups) that the IGS had made a part of its training process for developing an extensional (fact-directed), non-aristotelian orientation. The VERY open-ended group discussions encouraged self-reflexiveness (thinking about thinking, speaking about speaking, reacting to reactions, etc.) in participants with sometimes amusing, sometimes puzzlingresults. Ken observed what people said and said very little himself. Over the years he collected a number of priceless self-reflexive comments which he heard in the course of these sessions and elsewhere. (He may also have created a few himself, to represent some attitudes he had noted in observing what people say and do.) Now enjoy some of Ken Johnson's 'brain pretzels':

"I'll be happy to be the leader—as soon as I figure out where we're going."

"If I'm going to fail, at least I want to know what I'm failing at."

"Let's all spend our time observing what happens in this group."

(After a pause) "I love the silence. I just enjoy sitting her whether anyone is talking or not. Don't you?"

"I figure that if I don't do it I'll never know what would have happened if I had done it."

"You are being critical!"

"Now that I know myself better, I don't know who I am."

"All I have to say is I have nothing to say."

"I don't mind hurting. At least then I know I am alive."

"I don't know if I'm courageous or scared to chicken-out."

"If you look at it objectively, I'm certain you'll agree with me."

"This is all very exciting, but I'm bored"

"I don't want your attention and to prove it, I'm going to leave the room."

"I'm willing to reveal myself but I have nothing worth hiding."

"If you don't know, how do you know that I don't know?"

"I hate people with strong likes and dislikes."

"Of course I trust you. But you might tell someone I don't trust."

"Even wasting time isn't a waste of time."

"I'm not afraid to express my feelings. It just scares the hell out of me."

"As soon as I find myself I'll reveal who I am."

"One good thing about this D group: If we don't know where we're going we can't get lost."

"I feel much better now that I'm uncomfortable."

"I'd like to learn by doing without doing anything."

"I resent all the hostility in this group."

"I wouldn't be so paranoid if people weren't always talking about me."

"One thing I know for sure is that we can't be certain about anything."

(Hands folded tightly accross chest) "I have this outgoing feeling toward people."

"Have you noticed—we're more in the here-now today than we were yesterday?"

"Who gave you permission to give me permission?"

"I feel terrible when I feel something and I feel I shouldn't feel that way."

"I find this tension very relaxing."

"I don't know where we're going but we're making a lot of progress."

"I have nothing to hide but I don't want everyone to know my secrets."

"What am I feeling? I'll have to think about that."

"Try to be spontaneous."

"If Korzybski were alive today, he'd be turning over in his grave."

"I'm still searching for myself. Have you seen me?"

"I'm learning a lot about people—especially me."

"My major problem is that I am too critical of myself."

"I don't care what people think—but it bothers me when they don't agree with me."

"Let's take a vote to see if we want to take a vote."

"I'm not too sure about my facts but I have no doubts about my conclusions."

"I am not upset." (Tearing hair)

"Dammit. I am going to punch out the next bastard who calls me hostile!"

"Our whole purpose here may be to find a purpose."

"Stop yelling at me. Tell me how you feel."

"I don't know what the score is. I don't know what game we're playing."

"I feel depressed because I just can't express my feelings."

"We don't have to tell anyone that our sessions are confidential."

1 comment:

Jason said...

Haha! There were quite a few quotes that I had heard several times before, but I never realized their inherent contradiction until this moment ;)