Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bearberry: Philosophical Histories of Actual and Virtual, Important questions - Might virtual Harbin give rise to other actual Harbin Hot Springs?

Harbin ethnography:

... Virtual Harbin, as ethnographic field site (MacLeod 2009), and as it develops and grows, especially with new information technologies and innovative virtual world builders, will provide multiple opportunities to explore and engage related questions.

Philosophical dualism has a long history vis-a-vis materialism, and mind (C. McGinn, The Character of Mind 1982), including ideas, symbolizing and language, in the West. From Aristotle and Plato to DesCartes to contemporary philosophical expressions of dualism, such as substance dualism, to critics of dualism such as Gilbert Ryle with making fun of dualism by calling mind the 'ghost in the machine,' to sexologist John Money's view that dualism problematically informs vernacular or folk metaphysics (Money 1988: 116) in relation to sexuality. And Harbin Hot Springs explicitly explores expressions of 'oneness' (Ishvara 2002), emerging from much eastern philosophy/1960s thinking and New Age Spirituality, perhaps in response to the disjunctions from Western dualism, and the alienation of modernity, and as expressions of Harbin truth. This ethnography of actual Harbin will characterize its unique fabric of life, or 'culture,' emerging from its now nearly 40 years of history, and juxtapose it with social networks that emerge in relation to the development of virtual Harbin as ethnographic field site. This distinction between actual and virtual Harbin will both highlight the significance of plural spheres of Harbin life, as well as explore through participant observation ways in which such spheres are similar and dissimilar.

Emerging out of the context of historical examinations of the actual & the virtual (Boellstorff 2008: 34), important research questions in this history of emerging Harbin 'nowness' include the following. In what ways might virtual Harbin give rise to other actual Harbin Hot Springs in other parts of the world (similar valleys), emerging from the virtual Harbin model, or constructed, Disney-like, materially, from this, in other parts of the world? In what ways might virtual Harbin give form to new water dance forms, like Watsu (water shiatsu), perhaps in virtual space while flying (like in Second Life), which then give expression to actual therapeutic, movement practices, both in the Harbin warm pool, as well as at home, as well as, perhaps, in actual space. In what ways might we re-conceive the ontological relationships between the virtual and the actual/physical? And ethnographically, in what ways might new forms of ethnography emerge in relation to such developments, vis-a-vis the virtual and the actual?

Prehistories of this actual/virtual Harbin ethnography ...

( - August 14, 2010)

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