In an experience or experiencing?

Something is proving very difficult for me to pin down at the moment. Am I experiencing  or am I having an experience? Don’t ask me why this question matters. Or, why on earth it entered my head. All I can say in response is that it has.

Dennis Atkinson describes experiencing as a temporal process, a series of temporal flows; whilst experience is a more substantial entity. An experience is something that happened, a reduction of the flow of experiencing temporalities to the form of a series of signifiers. So, when experiencing I’m having temporal interactions with my environment, my landscape, my being. I’ve read that some individuals with depression experience changes in their temporal experiences of time. The flow of being in an experience, absorbed, tends to change our perception of time. On the one hand time goes more slowly yet it appears to whoosh by unnoticed.

Husserl appears to have considered temporalising and here’s a great paper considering temporalising consciousness. I’m going to need to consider this more, however, the stand out words at the moment are: “The present is not simple. It is fundamentally complex.” So, temporal flows abound during the process of experiencing, perhaps chaotically, disorganised, numerous and jumping back and forwards in time. I can somehow go with this. It creates an image of neural networks sparking reactions multidimensionally, multilayered and in all shades of colour. I feel that experiencing and experience are both simultaneous and asynchronous.

Atkinson states that there’s a reduction in temporal flows when experiencing transforms to experience. Perhaps this is our cognitive filing system coming into the foreground, anchoring meaningful temporal flows with our existing representations of subjects and establishing new ones where the temporal flow is unknown, unrecognised. I can potentially see where an overload of temporal flows which cannot be reduced and linked to signifiers might be almost ‘dangerous.’ I can also see where this idea of disrupting the flow of experiencing can lead to learning through possible disorientation, and, as Atkinson states disjunctive temporality, ruptures, punctures and disturbances in our experience of a subject or topic.

I don’t know enough about education, teaching or learning. All I know is that my temporal flow take me to Gert Biesta’s discussion of learning as a reaction to a disturbance:

“If we look at learning in this way, we can say that someone has learned something not when she is able to copy and reproduce what already existed, but when she responds to what is unfamiliar, what is different, what challenges, irritates, or even disturbs. Here learning becomes a creation or an invention, a process of bringing something new into the world: one’s own, unique response…. Instead of seeing learning as an attempt to acquire, to master, to internalize, or any other possessive metaphors we can think of, we might see learning as a reaction to a disturbance, as an attempt to reorganize and reintegrate as a result of disintegration” 

Is learning a series of temporal flows (experiencing) which have been reduced to a series of signifiers? Or is it because some temporal flows are themselves forms of signifiers which are unknown, and therefore result in reorganisation of an experience?

Perhaps this leaves me with more questions than answers. 

Dennis Atkinson: Art, equality and learning. Pedagogies against the state

Gert Biesta: Beyond learning. Democratic education for a human future


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