"Relationships between things are not fixed material things. And since the meaning of 'things' is dependent on their mutual vitality, things themselves are mutable. Despite every systematizing effort, time, as change (including human agency), is not 'arrested.' It is not criminal, but instead it is the essence of potential. Time is the necessary condition for inessential contingency." (10)
Eric Mark Kramer--"The Spiders of Truth."
"Brief Biographical Interjection"
I believe that it is important to fully state my background in order to politically and socially situate myself in regards to my writings. My background is that of a Southern Californian, blue-collar, working-class family. While my family faced extreme economic difficulties during the 70s, we never starved or lost our house. During the 80s and 90s my family saw their economic status jump into the middle-class and to a relatively comfortable lifestyle. My religious background has ranged from a complete Baptist faith in my youth to agnosticism in my teens and is now firmly set in an attempt to explore spirituality in its many expressions. I attempt to remain independent in my political affiliations, although many of my family members, like many Southern Californians, are devoted economic conservatives who embrace a fiercely liberal lifestyle. I've had first hand personal experience of many of our country's institutions from private to public to reform schools, honor societies and volunteer programs, probation departments and social workers, jails and mental institutions, community colleges and universities, and as an undergraduate accounting/business major, a humanities graduate student, and writing instructor/editor. I've also long been interested in subcultural societies, exploring and associating with a wide assortment of groups from Christian fundamentalists/faith healers to Wiccans, gangs to surfers, punks to heavy metal headbangers, academics to activists, drug dealers and Alcoholic/Narcotic Anonymous groups, to wealthy thrill-seekers and homeless street-kids. Throughout all of these experiences I have come into contact with thinkers of the profoundest levels, each with their own completely rationalized worldviews. This has led to a deeper comprehension of how we, as humans, construct rules that govern our group actions and how discourse communities operate. Some of the experiences in my life have left me deeply scarred and cynical, yet I embrace a fierce optimism and perhaps, even, an illusionary romantic belief in the essential possibilities of humanity. Many people view me as having a definite leftist slant and I would identify myself politically as a democratic-socialist, yet even though I pursue a policy of live and let live, I often surprise myself with some of my conservative moral stances.
As a result of my experiences my philosophical stance is based on the assumption that most humans have the basic tools necessary to enter into discourse communities. As an educator I believe that it is my responsibility to develop a practical methodology designed to facilitate student-based writing assignments in which they will explore their own social and political stances, begin to explore their environments, and learn to compare/contrast their own positions with those of other individuals, groups, and cultures. I believe that an important route to critical self-awareness of one's own beliefs is to write about them. Once one has gained a conscious understanding of their own self (and this must be the first step) then they can begin to use this base as a launching pad to written (and research) explorations of the outer-world of "other" individuals, groups, and cultures. It is essential that students, instructors, and theorists begin to resist the pigeonholing process of dogmatic thinking and learn to range across all boundaries/borders, raiding disciplines/movements for useful techniques, using what is at hand when needed, and never fearing (loss of 'face', respect, position) to change one's mind when situations and environments prove the present methods inadequate. Perhaps my pedagogical/theoretical parasitism is anathemic to academia. My stance is essentially a call for hybridity and transperspectivity in order to develop a complete understanding of a constantly changing and complex era.
Lastly, I believe that 'reality,' 'truth,' and 'knowledge' are socially constructed and often support oppressive power structures. At the same time I retain a humanist belief in an individual's abilities to seek out particular truths or to live quite happily according to the dictates of universal/absolute truths. I believe, though, that critical consciousness requires one to weigh their own beliefs and challenge them constantly through interaction and dialogue with other theories and belief systems. Implicit in my stance is a combination of a humanistic belief in the power of intellectual efforts and a pessimism concerning the motives of those who have the power to re-present 'truths' and 'reality.'
My life-experiences infiltrate and color my theories. They direct me towards certain lines of thought and direct my academic interests. There is no way for me to completely escape my cultural background, or, its influence on my worldview. Thus, I believe fully that the best course of action is to be completely honest about my experiences and my beliefs. I have set this self-description down in this public manner in order to reflect on the conditions of my understanding.