Narrative, Power and the Public
3. Back to the Future: Democracy of Experiences, Methodological Abundance and Verbalization
The point of the metaphor of “democracy of experiences” is not to claim that in fact different types or areas of experience are equipotential when approaching a given phenomenon. It is certainly true that all kinds of psychological, social and economic conditioning affects how we interpret and contextualize anything we encounter. It is hard not to give greater emphasis to knowledge of physics than to knowledge of cooking when building a bridge. Hard, but not impossible. Likewise, it is hard not to use some kind of aesthetic criteria when addressing an exhibition. We habitually do, in fact, give more credence to certain types of criteria when approaching certain types of experience. Moreover, there is sometimes good reason to do so. The metaphor is not intended to deny either of these two facts.
Rather, the metaphor tries to point out that there is the possibility of putting the conditioning in brackets and of accepting that different areas of experience—also unexpected ones—may have something interesting to say. Striving toward that possibility is not frivolous play. To be pathetic: if we knew for certain what life is about, what is its so-called meaning, then we could, in principle, be sure about how to prioritize different kinds of experience and how to let one area of experience (let’s say biological knowledge of survival or practical knowledge of meditation) legislate over the others. But insofar as we do not know this, we should, in principle, be open to the...
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