Friday 24 December 2010

The music of psychology

Being stuck in an airport (which Astrid, Izzy and I have been for the last day or so) makes me think about what goes on in people's minds as they are awaiting something together. The facial expressions and body language are all remarkably similar. What this is suggesting to me is that there are very clear patterns. With the metaphor of frequencies and regulation, resonance and topologies, I'm increasingly interested in the possibility that the best way to describe the pattern is through music. This puts a different spin on all that work on the 'psychology of music'... what about the 'music of psychology'?

Positioning theory allows me to consider the inner and outer worlds as co-determining - I can study the outer world with more precision than the inner world: there are notes, frequencies, symmetries, patterns. Anyone who has studied music already knows that the study of the outer world (the sound world) is a good way of trying to understand the inner world and the relationship between inner and outer.

What is interesting me particularly is the scansion of musical metre... each musical articulation being like a 'line' that makes up a drawing (like the lines in the Rodin picture I talked about the other day). The question of how the different articulations, the different metres, the role of harmony and counterpoint which underpins them, is perceived and resonates with an individual psychology is a question of such complexity that it might provide a more sufficient way of describing psychology and social processes than the reductionist tendencies of psychological 'science' itself.

Each articulation, in a multi-instrument composition, is also performed within the material context of the instrument that plays it. Each instrument brings its different properties. Just as a knowledge performance is played with 'some content' or 'an inspiring teacher' or 'a useful tool'. Somehow I think we map our world according to these articulations. Finally there is a question about the rationality of this mapping process (one of the criticisms of Mezirow's pedagogy is the rationality he assumes that learners posses in being able to reaon about their understanding) I wonder if our maps at once are rational and at the same time appear to us irrational, and that this might be because the topology of these maps is so complex: it's very hard to hold the whole of a knot or a Möbius strip in one's head at one time.

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