"New Materialisms: How Systemicity goes beyond the Grand Narrative of 'Whole System'"
David M. Boje, September 25, 2014; Revised Sep 30 2014
This essay is about a growing number of 'new' materialisms out to displace or rekindle 'old' materialisms. For example, Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes is a forgotten materialism according to Samantha Frost (2010) that can become a 'new' materialism. Frost takes her place at the ever-extending 'new' materialisms' feminist-table of Barad, Hird, Fusco, Cook, Coole, Haraway, Strand, and many others. I have been working on a Leviathan re-reading of systems theory. I am growing increasingly skeptical of the claim that 'systems are wholes.' I prefer the word 'systemicity' (Boje, 2008, 2014) because every so-called 'system' I encounter is a work in-process, the not-yet implemented, the forgetting of some past organizational attempt by a long list of CEOs and information gurus to implement one. And each sighting of 'system' is more accurately a 'Grand Narrative' an over-generalization, an idealism that masks the ontological processes of joining-together and unjoining that makes up 'systemicity.' The purpose of this essay is to give an overview of the 'new' materialisms, how it is revolutionary to the 'old' ones in ways that problemetizes 'whole system' idealism. We need an ontological-existential analytic method to investigate and Interpret systemicity. This essay will explore how the 'moods' (i.e. 'attainments') of Heideggerian ontology can help explain entrepreneurship-systemicity, as well was what William Kötke (1993) calls the collapse of the final empire, in the many colonizations by Empire after Empire. The reason colonization applies is because in the ontological method, the various moods of attunement, by which in our case, an entrepreneur brings systemicity into being, is itself a form of colonizing of some worldhood.
The Bet of Entrepreneurship
From Boje (1999): My dad, Daniel Q. Boje, has always been to me a great teacher and also a great storyteller, someone who could put on a bit of theatrics, spin a good yam, and engage an audience.
As I walked into his shop, knowing he would be there working, and not at home, I found him futzing and tinkering with his machine: "Hi David, I have to get this ready by noon, I need you to give me a hand." "Sure, no problem," I replied, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I was in my dress greens, all buffed out from running, pushups and three squares a day at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
"Scour the neighborhood, find as many trash cans, full of garbage, as you can, and run them back to the liquor store" dad demanded with an air of urgency, as he bid me be quick about it. The liquor store was not a liquor store anymore; it was now converted to an inventor's lair, a place where dreams are made real.
"Dad, I said," what do I say if someone stops me for making off with their trash cans?" "They won't" he replied, "I do it all the time. Just tell them Daniel, the crazy inventor, needs some trash for his machine, they will understand." Then he added, "If you see a stranger lurking on the comer, just look straight ahead and act busy and be on your way."
He was putting on the spectacle. He was living in Passaic, New Jersey, a rough, decaying urban city, but a place of cheaper rents, migration and close to science and industry, just the place for an inventor.
So I lugged the trash cans to the converted liquor store, I paid no never mind to the drug dealers, and I tired to keep my dress greens from looking like the trash spilling all over the place. As quickly as I brought them in, he had me go to the back of the now emptied liquor store, to where the hungry machine, a monster, beckoned to be fed. "Dump it in, let's see how it works. It is not quite ready. I am hoping it will hold together for the demonstration. I had tried gears and levers, but that prototype would not withstand the pressure I need. I am using gears, but someday hydraulics."
This patent drawing gives an outline of the invention.
Figure 1 - Daniel Q. Boje's Trash Compactor Design
The innovation was to have the descending trash go into a chute that fed the pistons of the trash compact, and as FIG.3 to 6 above shoe, there are metal teeth that chew through the trash. Each tooth is about the size of a small fist.
Figure 2 - Daniel Q. Boje's Trash Compactor Blueprint Patent US3802337 (Filing Date 6 Oct 1971)
The invention had a double cylinder, a cylinder inside a larger cylinder. The big cylinder chews through the trash, and then the smaller cylinder pushes the trash through the funnel shape in Figure 1.
I could see metal bend and stretch as I fed the gluttonous monster its trash. The mad inventor was tightening hoses; there was oil leaking and squirting everywhere. It was in his hair and eyes, and all over the ceiling and floor. There were horrid howls and terrifying shrieks, as the monster bayed from moving and creaking its ill-fitting parts. The shop lights were blinking and dimming from the load. The monster was about seven feet in length, a long cylinder, with one huge plunger traversing its length, a smaller cylinder within that one to ram the result along its path, an opening at the top for trash to enter, and a smaller opening at the far end, narrowing into a funnel. Hoses and tubes connected a suit case sized box to the body of the cylinder machine. The monster was both violent and gentle. It was violent when he forced all the pistons to smash and press the trash, used the mechanical jaws to bite and chew, and then all of a sudden gentle as it stuffed its cud nonchalantly into a trash-sized paper bag.
"It's got to hold together long enough for the demonstration," he said. "I don't know, it looks awful shaky to me" I replied, yelling to be heard, above the racket. "What demonstration?" I said as an afterthought. "The mayors from the largest cities in New Jersey are coming here at noon. Sam convinced them to come and see the trash compactor." Sam, a New York attorney, was my dad's partner, along with Sol, his brother in law, who sold his jewelry business to bankroll the invention. They were equal partners to the adventure.
As I eyed the liquor store, I asked, "Dad what in the hell is going on?" "Sam wants the mayors to pass a law that will make my invention a legal alternative to the scrubber. He sent limos to pick them up." A scrubber, I knew cost about $12,000, and in apartment, factory, and malls, the scrubber, washed the smoke that came from incinerating the trash, sent down the chutes to some basement. My dad knew he had a cheaper, more efficient, and more ecological product, the monster, a mechanical cow.
"Get more trash," he yelled, "we don't have time to be standing around gabbing." It was ten till noon. Were their really ten limousines, with mayors and chauffeurs, about to pull up to see the monster?
As I pulled and tugged and rolled, yet another trash can around the comer, they were there, ten limos, white as could be, with well-groomed chauffeurs, quickly opening doors, and portly gentleman, dressed for power, making their way into the liquor store. I ran past with the trash. "This is my son, David, on leave from the Army" he yelled to the mayors, "Get more trash?" I dumped the cans into the hungry monster, and scurried to get more.
"Gentlemen, you see here the future of trash disposal, no more air pollution, from the incineration. We are here packing trash in tighter compaction, than if it had been burned." They leaned in, but not too close, because the monster's teeth, driven by pistons, could bite through two by fours, as easily as a man's arm.
Then he would place a four by four into the jaws, and the Mayors would watch open-mouthed, and I think a bit afraid. The piston cranked up more foot-pounds of pressure, and the machine groaned and stretched, seeming to pause to find its strength. Maybe it would stop altogether and bust into a million pieces, killing ten mayors in the process. But, after seeming eternity, the exhaled smoke and spiting grease arrested, and the four by four was seared in two, no match for the monster. Then he would put a solid hunk of iron in the jaws, to show how the robot could sense it was too much to chew, draw its cylinders back and try once more, and not break its monster teeth on food too tough to digest.
"The trash compactor can be installed for about $4,000 per building, unlike the scrubber, that costs you over $12,000. It will save you land fill costs, hauling costs, and it will give you cleaner air to breath. I think you could install it in landfills to compress the household trash, and properly sorted trashed could press newspaper and cardboard into logs for fuel." As I looked about I saw the mayors, dressed in their pin stripes and patent leather shoes, stepping in the oil to get a closer look, and leaning to hear my dad's stories. "What you see here" he continued, "is just a prototype. The ' working model will be clean, quiet and efficient to operate. I have an idea of perfuming the trash to get rid of any offensive odors." More on The Living Story Web of Daniel Boje and 10 White Cadillacs (Boje, 1999).
The Compactor business was sold for three million dollars to a corporation that had a large number of laborers, and a well worked out labor-process to take the monster to an extensive scale and extract millions of more dollars, to be divided between executives and shareholders.
In this essay I want to unpack this Living Story, its Web of relationship to more Living Stories, and show how something ontological a Being-in-the-world of storytelling, showmanship, and this antenarrative 'bet' the the monster machine would be the future of the trash compaction.
Let's start with systemicity, the way the monster-invention, its first prototype, was a partial system, not fully installed, more of Idle talk, than a working invention.
What is Systemicity?
Systemicity is holographic, with many different systemicities in many contexts (social, economic, political, ecological, Materialisms, and so on).(See definitions of Systemicity and related terms) Instead of 'ONE WHOLE' system, there are many uncompleted, partially implemented, partially uninstalled, and interconnected, embedded, and entangled SYSTEMICITIES in interactive contexts (Boje, 2008a, 2014). Systemicities are situated in many CONTEXTS (social, economic, political, cultural, gendered, racial, ecological, and so on). Our systemicities can be EGOISTIC, CRITICAL, or even POSTHUMANIST.
Mikhail Bakhtin (1981: 152) uses the term "systematicalness" to denote unmerged parts and unfinalized non-wholeness, what I am calling systemicity, is similar, however includes as well, the antisystemic. Open systems thinking generalizes with abstractions, at a distance from what I call systemicity (Boje, 2008a). This systemicity is comprised of relatum, four kinds of antenarrative-relata: linear-, cyclic-, spiral-, and rhizomatic-antenarrative processes that connect 'Grand Narratives' of generality to 'Living Story Webs' of local, particular, aliveness (Boje, 2001, 2011, 2014). See Boje (2008a: pp. 2, 29, 54, 191, 264, pp 42-54 for relation to storytelling organizations. Once we pay attention to systemicities instead of the 'Grand Narrative' illusion and idealism of a 'whole system' we can begin to notice the pragmatics of the 'new materialisms' (Boje, 2014).
Some necessary definitions before we continue to the mood-analysis of systemicity of entrepreneurship.
Living Story Web
Living story Web definitions:
When stories lead to a restorying of the past narrative, or the future antenarrative, they become living stories. For example, David Boje says “living story has many authors and as a collective force has a life of its own. We live in living stories. ...
A living story web, is an aliveness story in a place, in a time, in an event, with a mind all its own (Boje, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014). Living story has its roots in Lakota (TwoTrees, 1997, 2000) and in Tyler's (2010, 2011) work on living story 'aliveness.'
What are Webs of LIVING STORY? website. Boje, Jørgensen, & Strand (2013) give this definition that ties living story web, to materialism, and to the ethics of answerability:
[Living] Stories connote a special sense of materiality, what Vizenor (1998: 15) calls "transmotion' defined as "that sense of native motion and an active presence, [that] is sui generis sovereignty" and "a reciprocal use of nature, not a monotheistic, territorial sovereignty." The transmotion of ledger art is a creative connection to the motion of horses depicted in winter counts and heraldic hide paintings" (p. 179).
Storied transmotion is a material "presence in stories, an actual presence in the memories of others, and an obviate presence as semantic evidence" and in a Bakhtinian sense "a dialogical circle" (p. 169) and "in a "dialogical context,‟ the conversions of [ethical] answerability" (p. 27, bracketed addition, ours).
Grand Narratives and Counter-Narratives
Grand Narratives are dangerous to the survivance of Living Story Webs of entrepreneurship. Grand Narratives use a different sort of agential cut (see section below for definitions), a move to generalize, to cut away the living ground, and the materiality of living story web. Grand Narrative cuts off the kind of exploration, the curiosity-mood, as we shall explore, of the entrepreneur. In each context there are many Grand Narratives that privilege one standpoint over any others, and that status quo prevents inquiry. And each Grand Narrative has an ideology that marginalizes others' ideologies, and that cuts off inquiry into what is concealed, hidden, and undisclosed to the entrepreneur. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. (1979/1984). For more on Grand Narrative, see The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge , (Vol. 10). University of Minnesota Press. (1979 in French’ 1984 English translation).
Here is an online version of the Lyotard book: http://www.futuroscopio.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Lyotard-the_postmodern_condition_a.pdf
The Ontological Moods of the Final Empire
There is something about the 'moods' of the entrepreneur, their ways of not just coming up with ideas, but of Being-in-the-world of Empire-building, in a way that is rich in attunement to materialisms, to people, to possibilities. To me, my dad's Living Story Web is about moving from moods of fear, anxiety, ambiguity, into the fallen/thrown/turbulence, and the curiosity, idle talk,, language, assertion, and understanding of the entrepreneur of late modern capitalism, its Empire, and in the end to become a hermit, to return to the land, to nature, and develop a mood of care.
In this section I want to relate Martin Heidegger's (1962) Being and Time Sections V and VI on the moods of what I will call 'systemicity attunement' the attuning to Being-in-the-world, and to finding authentic-Self of care. I will relate this to the side of ontology that Heidegger neglects, something the work of Hannah Arendt, addresses, how the equipmentality, the tool mentality of Heidegger ontology neglects the politics of empire. To make this point, will will rely on William H. Kötke's The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and The Seed of the Future.
Figure 3: Moods of Systemicity Attunement (Drawing by Boje, Sep 23 2014)
Martin Heidegger (1962: Parts V and VI) develops 'moods' and "counter-moods" as attunements to the "structural totality of Being-in-the-world" and to "Being-one's-Self" (# 131) finding the relation between Authentic Self and Inauthentic Self. Parts V and VI of Heidegger are about spatial ontology, the "here", "yonder" and "the "there" of "existential spatiality" that is "grounded" in "location" and "encountered within-the-world" (# 133). His work on mood is in the context of section V of Being and Time, that are all about ontologic spatiality of Being-in-the-world (# 141).
I will discuss moods in the following order, in order to accent the them of entrepreneurship, which for me, is about Fallen-Thrown-Turbulence and Curiosity, while overcoming Fear, Anxiety, and Ambiguity. I also distinguish Fear-mood and Anxiety-Mood. Finally, as a storytelling philosopher/theorist, I am interested in how entrepreneurship is related to Idle Talk, Language, Assertion, and Understanding-Interpretation arrives at a mood of care for Being-in-the-world, authentically. I will start with Fear and Anxiety, which home ontological differences, useful to ontological inquiry into how Self is attuned to environment and worldhood.
William Kötke (1993) burst into my office about 1998, and gave me an autographed copy of his book. He asked that I would teach form it. It would take until 2014 for this to happen (Mgt 655; Mgt 375V both courses have this book assigned). Kötke's thesis is that in the long history of empires, each one collapses as it develops unsustainable practices, that are ecologically unsound. What we are calling Grand Narratives rationalize the collapse, and camouflage it, while mass communication inculcates values and beliefs that keep Grand Narratives of Manifest Destiny, Progress Myth, myth of man's evolution, Social Darwinism, etc. in play, coupled to what I introduced above, to 'linear-antenarratives' of growth, progress, expansion, appropriation, and so on.
Every Empire has a colonizer, a history of colonization. The genocide of the indigenous, destroyed their stable and sustainable practices that were ecologically sound for thousands of year. Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, an organic-metaphor of the body-politic, and body-social replaced it, and Hobbes called the Native the "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" life (Kötke, 1993: 120). This Grand Narrative of Survival of the Fittest (IBID.: p. 128) became the "basic, subconscious image of linear increase" that displaced the cyclical-antenarrative of living in-place, in-time of seasons, and within sustainable materialism of community-in-balance with Nature. Kötke's critical ontology is a challenge to the pragmatism of utilitarianism, the "mechanistic evolution" that becomes the "myth of linear evolution" of recent empires of "man the tool maker" (IBID.: p. 129).
Daniel Q. Boje became Dan-the-tool-maker, and came to see his world through that lens. But, before that, Dan grew up on his parents farm in Spokane, and before that ancestors had migrated from farms in Denmark. But Dan left being Aggie behind. 'Dan-the-man' (a coffee cup I have he had made) became a colonizer for USA Empire, but in the last decades of his life, returned to the land, to his place in the Aggie-ecosystem, became a part of a counter-narrative to the kind of empire that "feeds on the earth like a tumor" (IBID.: p. 134).
"In empire scarcity and insecurity are created by unlimited demands and growth" (IBID.: p. 134). The ever-increasing linear-antenarrative couples to the Grand Narratives of Manifest Destiny, Survival of the Fittest, Social Darwinism, and the Progress Myth of colonialism. This creates a mood of what Kötke calls "Free Floating Anxiety" (IBID.: p. 141). I submit it is the same ontological mood that Heidegger calls the mood of anxiety. My dad became a child of modernity, a tool-maker for Empire, taking the familiar path away from the farm, turning away form being Aggie. This had an alienating effect on his body, as he severed himself from the family body, the social body, and the body of the earth. Military combat accelerated the alienation mood. He came to identify maximizing material wealth within the culture of empire, and was severed from the matrix of life of the earth, as Kötke (p. 142) says "a reality solely of the intellectual, furnished with symbols and meanings [that] have little relationship to the earth."
Another connection to Heidegger, is the mood of fear. "Fear is the basic motor of the empire" (Kötke: p. 142). People, such as my dad, who are severed form balance with he natural worldhood, no longer have a home, and in that sense, finding home as a hermit in the forest, and living in simplicity, is a way to do what Heidegger calls de-severance, bringing a place far very near, a time very distant very close. With fear, the threat of scarcity provokes fight or flight reactions. Certainly we can trace Daniel Q. Boje's and each of his sons, and his daughter's flight from family, the divorces.
In empire after empire, the dominant human purpose "is believed to be the creation and accumulation of material objects" (IBID." p. 144). As I conclude this essay I will return to several 'new' materialisms that are alternatives to the consumerist, acquisitive materialism.
Kötke other main point is that "tribal people who are secure in the flow of life, secure in the knowledge that the mothering earth produces life and sustenance continually, do not allow material goals to divide them or to become an issue" (IBID.: p. 145).
Next, we will explore each of the moods of attunement, making entrepreneurial connections, and telling stories of Dan-the-tool-maker.
Part V and VI Moods:
Fear (Part V section 30: #140-142) -Heidegger (1962: #140) begins with the ontological structure of fear. His work is about how in the face of fear, we fear the fearsome, and how this fearing, that about which we fear, is a particular mood, not in the emotional sense, rather in an attunement to the Situation, to the environs. My dad and I were certainly afraid, waiting for the 10 Cadillacs, bringing the mayors of major cities of New Jersey and New York. Would the monster, its leaking hoses, the tearing gears, hold together, when he tried to show off and snapping a 4-by-4 timber in its mighty jaws?
In fact Heidegger's translator's choice of the word 'mood' is for a German word, that just does not exist in the English language. In German, Stimmung' means tuning of a musical instrument. Mood, in German is both "Gestimmtsein; and "Gestimmtheit" as in 'having a mood' and other times as attention to the Gestimmtsein, by 'Being-attuned' (#134, footnote 3).
The word 'mood' or 'Being-attuned' is not 'emotion' or 'perception' and certainly not Weickian 'sensemaking' (rooted as it is in the empiric five senses, its ontic). Rather, mood is an attunement, ontologically, to the Situation, to Being-in-the-world. My dad had that sense of attunement, to see possibility, Being-attuned where others dismissed the adventure.
Being-within, and Being-in, for example, in-the-talk is different from Grand Narrative modes of themetizing language, or abstract schemata. Fear, for example, has a directionality in space, it is a There' (#141) and its can be Here, or over-Yonder. Fear can close off inquiry, fearing about something. Or we can enter fearsome, and find out about the Here and There, recklessly. Yonder, over-There, fear has a potentiality-for-Being, it has possibilities, disclosable in it (#146). Moods and counter-moods the world matter (#139-140). Facing fear is how an entrepreneur moves from Here to Yonder, to over There.
Kötke (1993: 149) says "fear is used in empire to condition the masses and maintain elites in power." "The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation's Wealth" (More). 85 super-wealthy individuals own as much as half the world's population (More). In colleges of business, strategy courses often about win/lose competition, hyper-competitiveness that is the basis of empire culture and is reinforced by mass media controlled by elites. The moods of fear, ambiguity, and anxiety are rampant in late modern capitalism, and USA empire. There is Fear that the super-wealthy are accumulating at rates that exceed the sustainability levels of the planet for everyone to continue to exist. Gated communities of privilege are everywhere. This is the result of a linear-antenarrative coupled to the Grand Narrative of progress: "the concept of 'progress' is really the old myths of linear increase dressed in new clothing" (Kötke: p. 169).
Anxiety (Part VI section 40: #184-191) - Some fear gets designated as anxiety (# 185). Anxiety is a distinctive way in which Dasein is disclosed (# 184). The character of systemicity is often disclosed in anxiety. There is a fleeing in the face of anxiety, it authenticity, that is ontologico-existential and not just ontico-existentiell (#184). My dad, Daniel Q. Boje, crossed some invisible threshold, made a bridge only he could see from ontological to the science of trash compaction. Being-one's-Self gets "closed off and thrust aside in falling" and Fleeing in the face of anxiety (#185). Going along with the anxiety we can also move towards it. Whereas fear, we turn away from an entity that is threatening, with anxiety it is not a "special factical potentiality-for-Being That in the face of which one is anxious is completely indefinite" and leaves definiteness undecided (#186).
"In anxiety one does not encounter this thing or that thing which, as something threatening, just have an involvement" (# 186). In the anxiety attunement (or mood), there is not a definite "where" or "yonder" or there, and its from a "nowhere" (# 186). But this 'nowhere' does not mean nothing "is where any region lies, and there too lies any disclosedness of the word for essentially spatial Being-in" (# 186). The world is not absent, its worldhood obtudes and oppresses something that is the possibility and ready-to-hand.
When anxiety subsides, we say "it was really nothing" (# 187), but it is not all 'nothing' since the "readiness-to-hand is grounded in the most primordial 'something'" (# 187). "That which anxiety is anxious about is Being-in-the world itself (# 187). Anxiety in systemicity makes manifest possibilities, Potentiality-for-Being, Being-Possible. Anxiety individualizes systemicity, "the authenticity of its Being" and the systemicity "Being-in-the-world" that can be "delivered over" and our anxiousness discloses a "potentiality-for-Being" (# 188). "We flee in the face of the uncanniness" of anxiety, that arises in the most "innocuous Situations" (# 189).
For example, as a Vietnam veteran, I get into anxiety, and it arises in otherwise innocuous Situations, yet 'something' existential-ontological exists, and I am not turning-away form absolutely nothing. "Anxiety is always latent in Being-in-the-world" and this uncanniness remains factically, something, for me, though more rare than before (# 190). Some Situations, my be tranquilized, and for others its "not-at-home" in-the-world (#189-190). The rarity of Being-home yet not-Being-at-home makes anxiety concealed from itself, its authenticity not yet disclosable. Daniel Q. Boje was not at home, until he returned home, and his anxiety, the ecological collapse of the planet became his family, last-breath caring for his home.
Daniel Q. Boje had worked in the Arctic circle, in the Distant Early Warning Line (aka DEW Line or Early Warning System on 69th parallel north, about 200 miles or 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle). Maybe he awakened to anxiety, when around 1960, tending a transformer in the DEW Line, he stuck his bare hands in the wrong place, and enough electricity coursed through his body, through arms, the chest, and down his leg, to blow a hole in the concrete floor the size of a watermelon. He had skin grafts, and in the encountered lived, perhaps, becoming awakened. To his dying days, he opposed the drilling, pipelines, and destruction of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Ecosystem. In his final months, he often called the White house 800 number to make his concerns known.
Ambiguity (Part V section 37: #173-175) - Many people cannot become entrepreneurs because they shy away form ambiguity. My did embraced it. Ambiguity extends to cutting off entrepreneurship, not getting into invention or exploration modes of Being, and even turning-way for others, who might know a next step to take. "Ambiguity not only affects the way we avail ourselves of what is accessible for use and enjoyment, and the way we manage it; ambiguity has already established itself in the understanding as a potentiality-for-Being" so the entrepreneur declaring a field ambiguous, does not delve into the potentiality-for-Being, or the possibilities (# 173). Such an entrepreneur does not pick up the scent of possibility, is stiffled and disempowered by ambiguity. Any idle talk, is surmissing that its not worth trying. "Idle talk and curiosity lose their power" (# 174). A "they" is formed, and take is indignant about opportunity, and entrepreneurship is "snatched away" (# 174). There is a lack of 'care' or caring in the ambiguity, and further inquiry is deemed unimportant. things stop moving, and entrepreneuring slips into the in-between, is indifferent side-by-side to the ambiguity, is against further play (# 175). The mood of ambiguity is counter-mood to curiosity, and falling and thrown-ness.
Fallen Thrown Turbulence (Part V section 38: #175-180). Daniel Q. Boje could fall into things, or be thrown into them, and just go into the turbulence. To organization studies, turbulence is the abyss, but not to my dad. This is where attunement to turbulence, the Holy Grail of organization-and-environment studies can be opened to new possible theories, by an ontological-existential analytic interpretive methodology. The turbulent-field has been closed-off to ecology ever since Emery and Trist's (1965: pp. 14, 16) causal-texture essay declared all organization-environments, to be 'turbulent fields' and environment itself was defined to be only other organizations, with no ecology or ecosystem anymore. This makes entrepreneurship into corporate tool, into activities of interorganizational networks. To me this de0cologizing turbulence was a huge mistake. "Nevertheless, turbulent fields demand some overall form of organization that is essentially different from the hierarchically structured forms to which we are accustomed" (Emery & Trist, 1965: p. 16).
Emery, F. E., and Eric Trist. (1965). "The causal texture of organizational environments." Human relations 18: 12-32.
"Idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity characterize the way in which, in an everyday manner, Dasein is its 'therewith disclosedness of Being-in-the-world" (#175).
Another of the moods that belongs to everydayness is "falling" and is "used to signify" "proximally and for the most part alongside the 'world' of its concern" (# 175). This has direct implications for how entrepreneurs are alongside the world of their concern and has the "character of Being-lost in the publicness of the 'they'" "fallen away" from their "authentic potentiality for Being its Self, and has fallen into the 'world'"(#175-176). this Fallenness into the world of entrepreneurship, into invention, "means an absorption in Being-with-one-another, in so far as the latter is guided by idle talk, curiosity, and ambiguity" (# 176). the entrepreneur, in Fallenness, "is completely fascinated by the 'world' and by the Dasein-with ... Others in the 'they'" (#174). Not-Being-its-self becomes a positive possibility of the invention, which is the concern of the entrepreneur absorbed in a world, a kind of not-yet-Being. Entrepreneurship, then, is not a 'fall' away from some purer or higher "primal status" since there is no ontical experience of that, rather it is an falling upon the ontological clues the possibilities for Interpreting them (#176). In falling, the entrepreneur's factical Being-in-the-world is has already fallen away, but this does not mean the entrepreneur has discovered or come across something for the first time, rather Falling is the definite entreneurial characteristic. The entrepreneur does not fall into some invention or entity, that is present-at-hand (ontically), rather, there is a possibility of ontologico-existential constitutive possible kinds of Being-in that is quite different and is not the Being-present-at-hand-togehter of observation of some subject and an Object (#176-177). The entrepreneur in the process of falling, encounters a way of Being-in that is everywhere and nowhere, a way Ambiguity hides nothing but the order that Being-in-the-world could or should be, is uprooted "everywhere and nowhere" (#177).
It takes many failures to become an entrepreneur! Sometimes you have to fall into it. For example, my Dad (Daniel Quinten Boje) was an entrepreneur. He transferred from well-paying job in Paris France, as a manager and engineer at ITT to manage an ITT office in Brazil. There is a stamp the family passport, NY, NY Sep 30, 1962 (date of the return to the US). We spent less than two years in Paris, but that time had a major impact on everyone’s lives. Steven and I learned French, and went to French schools for the first year, then transferred to American School of Paris.
Figure 4 - We waited outside as our Mom got the call in a motel in Spokane
In 1962, Daniel sent his wife and four children back to where I was born, Spokane Washington. I was the oldest at 14, Steven was four-years young (10), and Kevin (2) and Karen (9 months), and the youngest still in diapers. He promised to join us, but in fact, took off for Brazil with an 18-year-old secretary who work for ITT in the Paris office. Finding herself and four kids in a motel with no money, in Spokane, my mother called the personnel manager of ITT, and complained, and my dad, was fired. With no recommendation, and no more money, he made it as far as Paramus New Jersey, and took a blue-collar job in a paint factory cleaning the huge paint-vats. The chemicals, the pigments, and the colors, would not wash away.
Necessity, the Mother of Invention He was earning extra money painting apartments in near by buildings. One day, the superintendent went on vacation, and my dad took on his job, taking the garbage from the 10 story apartment building, from where it landed in the chute, to the street, into some 20 garbage cans. In this process of falling into a task he thought could be done with less labor, his mind flashed upon a possibility. He took an envelope from the trash, drew the design for a trash compactor, and ran to a phone booth. His proximity alongside the world of waste disposal, he became absolutely fascinated and absorbed, and a bit carried away.
Figure 5 - Always in a Good Mood, Daniel Q. Boje
My dad likes to play. My did not know any lawyers, so he ran his finger, eyes closed along the pages, and made a choice, and dialed. Sam Permit, who answered my dad's call. He is the top patent attorney in New York state. Sam agreed to a meeting, fascinated by my dad's passion and vision. Sam decided to carry the invention financing as a loss, to help his client's tax situation. Sam and his brother, Saul Kestin put up the money for the invention, and Daniel begins to build the trash compactor. But the business did take off, and became more than a write off for Sam's clients.
Together they created a small business, an upward spiral, from his trash-compactor invention (read story here). For more on this invention see (Boje 1999): 10 Cadillacs Story and the Monster. They sold it once it had a factory and sales, and each took One Million dollars. Back in the day, three Million was a lot. During those years, I went to business school, betting someday I would run the family business. Some bets do not pay off.
Figure 6 - This is what Daniel Q. Boje's Trash Compactor looks like today
Figure 7- Daniel Q Boje US Pat NO. 3,384,007 issued May 21, 1968 Patented Apr 9 1974 (approved) See Source
The invention was a huge success. You can see his invention in use behind many of the shopping malls, compacting cardboard into a huge container. Wander the bowels of large office or apartment buildings, and his monster is there chewing trash, stuffing it into paper bags, perfuming it with Maraschino cherry fragrance. Above his factory at 111 North 11th Street where the original monsters were made there was a Maraschino Cherry factory, and my did got to asking the chemist about how they distilled the fragrance.
In the end, his original patents were absorbed, appropriated, integrated into other patents (More). You can barely find his name there.
How to lose your last million dollars. Once again tragedy struck. Daniel Quinton Boje had invested $750,000 in the stock market in a brokerage house that was uninsured (about 1975 before such insurance was required, around 1978). He lost it all when the brokerage firm collapsed. The remaining $250K was invested in a construction business and in starting Mid-Atlantic Golf Association (to compete with the PGA). Cash poor, these small business ventures entered the downward spiral and they collapsed. At the time I was finishing my MBA degree. I worked in the failing ventures, while on break from Burlington College, and Rider University in New Jersey.
Once you have tasted wealth from entrepreneurship, bought your second wife a 1975 Jaguar model E, a pink sports car with V-12 engine, and have a yacht in Redondo Beach, well failure just spurs you on, to fall again, to get along-side some other world, to make more tools for Empire.
This next patent was the year after I graduated from University of Illinois with my Ph.D. and began teaching systems courses at UCLA.
Figure 8 - Patent number: 4177484 Filing date: May 16, 1977 Issue date: Dec 4, 1979 Inventor: Daniel Q. Boje
My dad kept inventing, and invented wide-screen TV (an earlier model that has a magnifying lens, for which he received a design patent award from the U.S. Patent Office, and that is something they rarely give, once every few years, or not at all). He was quite proud of getting a U.S. Patent Award, because as he put it, "the age of the lone-entrepreneur is over. The corporations have all the resources." My borthers Steven and Kevin, by this time had been rescued by dad, from a life of welfare and poverty, in Washington State, brought to New Jersey, to work making fiberglass molds to house the invented lens and a standard color TV aimed at the lens, and reflecting the image onto the view screen.
Tragedy stuck suddenly, once again. Low and behold, he had a partner in the Big Screen TV business, who was a crook. His partner, from the UK, sold the stock in the new company three times to three different groups of investors, and that is fraud. The partner took the money and flew back to the UK, never to be seen or heard from again. My father's new business entered a downward spiral-antenarrative, and it could not be reversed. No matter how we tried, it could not be saved. When the money ray out, Jan, his 2nd wife took the pink Jaguar, and went away. Jan had supported his second invention, while working as a temp. His third wife Patty, was a step mom we also all loved. She showered us with gifts, and hugs. My dad then borrowed money from the Mafia. Yes, there still is one.
Dad created a third invention, a coffee-maker that ran on hydraulics for its controls, and shot scalding hot water through coffee-bags (strung together). It was meant for restaurant use. Actor Telly Savalis was his main investor. The venture failed, and after three failed business business enterprises, and three divorces, he went off to be a hermit doing gold prospecting in the Oregon National Forest, just west of Port Orford, along Elk River.
Figure 9 - Ever the Optimist, Daniel Quinton Boje, in Port Orford Oregon
He stayed away from ex-wives and all people, and reflected deeply about his life. He had fallen once again into the world of Nature. He had moved away from Nature, leaving the family farm, going into the Navy, working for ATT then ITT, becoming manager. He became now a hermit, living in the forest, living off the land. When he came out of the wild, after about six years, he decided to become an artist, taught wood-carving, pottery, and jewelry-making. Mostly he made wooden art-objects and sold them at swap meets, with over-priced booth fees. Several of his clocks are quite priceless (at least to his sons and daughter). In his last decade, he mellowed, was at peace with the world. He died in his sleep gripping the remote control for the TV. The sheriff says he seemed to be smiling. A funeral service was held in a Catholic Church in Port Orford Oregon.
In this Living Story Web Idle talk is the way things are publicly interpreted. This Living Story Web of talk is not something present-at-hand, rather it is "a product detached from Being-with-one-another" (#177). Living Story Web shows the basic movement of falling, and is as far from the universalizing Grand Narrative as one can get. The Living Story Web belongs to nobody, yet its Idle talk is a kind o Being-in place, in-time, and in-mind, but does not arise from the effects of context. The Living Story Web presents itself in the possibility of losing Self in the "They" and "falling into groundlessness" and that is what prepared Daniel Boje to be an entrepreneur (#177). He did not know how to make the trash compactor, as it could be, so he went in search of the scientists and technicians who know how to do the hydraulics. He did the same, in search of a way to make a lens, low cost enough, to work in the Big Screen TV's. He hit on the idea of making the lens flat, and defracting light through grooves, of varying width, as in the way a LP record has grooves. Daniel Boje was in a "constant temptation towards falling" and his Being-in-the world was in the ontological inquiry of Living Story Web. He told one living story, and it called forth another, and his web of relationships brought him into falling into one invention after another. The Living Story Web is one of publicly interpreting, the possibility becoming a temptation, toward disclosedness of all the possibilities of the invention Being "secure, genuine, and full" (#177). Daniel Boje was constantly seduced into temptation, and was never tranquil, until after the third divorce, after falling into the life of a hermit, and synthesizing something that quelled his curiosity and restlessness. His potentiality-for-Being took a different direction. His cancer years added to his self-dissection, brought him into a becoming authentically him-Self, falling away form inauthenticity. His artistic-character was still movement, a self-entangling (entanglement) that characterized his falling-int0-art. But this was no long a "downward plunge" in the "groundlessness and nullity of inauthentic everydayness" (#178). Rather, his downward plunge was overtaken by "ascending" and "living concretely" (#178).
An this is the very moment of "Turbulence" that makes manifest the "thrownness" of his character, its "movement" (#179). Again and again Daniel Boje was thrown into turbulence, and with his curiosity "sucked into the turbulence" (#179). This is not the same sort of turbulence that Emery and Trist (1965) idealized as the environment of organizations. Rather, turbulence is the vortex, formed by the opposition of downward plunging spirals, and ascending spirals [updrafts, in Heidegger,'s later writings].
Figure 10 - Double Spiral in relationship to Plunging into Stress, and Ascending into Uplift
More on this double-spiral at http://peaceaware.com. Falling into the world of entrepreneuring, into a life encountering one turbulent field after another, is evidence, as I observed my dad falling-into not just entrepreneurship adventures, but stress, and the need to de-stress or his body paid the costs. Learning to de-stress to live away from stress, to Being-in and still Being-ready-to-hand within-the-world of entrepreneurship, took his entire life to master. In falling, being-thrown into turbulence, there is a counter, an authentic existence of taking the updraft, and not become drunk on the rush of the downward plunge. The upward spiral, has for Heidegger, the more free and gentler turbulences.
One has to be a very curious entrepreneur to keep entering turbulent fields.
Curiosity (Part V section 36: #170-173). Curiosity is a very fundamental mood, an attunement peculiar to entrepreneurs. My dad was a self-taught engineer, learning his craft in the Navy, in correspondence courses.
Figure 11 - Daniel Boje in front of house he built, while on leave from Navy during Korean War
This house I remember, at age 3, and how he built it down the road from my grand parents' farm, and then had it moved to a lot right next door to the his parent's, my grand parent's farm. My mother hated the farm life, wanted a brick home in the suburbs of Spokane.
My mother Lorane, known in high school as the 'blond bomber' for her basketball moves, worked upon graduation, for Lieutenant Colonel Urquhardt and Captain Swearingen at Camp Penford (near Pasco, WN) while Daniel Boje was called up from Naval Reserves to serve on the USS Antietam.
Figure 12 - USS Antietam where Daniel Boje served in Korean War
Sure my dad had PTSD (http://peaceaware.com). He would rather be at sea than home. Who wouldn't get PTSD? His job was teaching Judo and Jujitsu, on General MacArthur's aircraft carrier, USS Antietam, named after the Civil War battle. But that did not bring on the PTSD. It was too many missions into North Korea, doing recon. How many times was he being flown over North Korea in a Royal Sea Hawk jet, and parachuted into the darkness? He did his reconnaissance, then rowed his inflatable lifeboat to meet the submarine offshore. Then week after week he would do it all over again.
"In the early 1950s, she [Antietam] was redesignated an attack carrier (CVA) and then an antisubmarine warfare carrier (CVS) ... From late November 1951 to mid-March 1952, Antietam's air group flew nearly 6,000 sorties of all types." (More). From age four to six, I lived in a quonset hut on a naval base in California, waiting with my mom, for dad to return from deployment.
I spent a lot of time waiting for dad to return. Even stateside, he spent very little time at home. Said to me when I was much older, he had gotten into a bad marriage. When I was in high school in Spokane, after he took off with his secretary, and left us, I had his navy flight jacket, and in the pocket a silk map of the ocean currents around Korea. He also left, in Spokane, a Trig book, and I used it to teach myself calculus, while skipping school, which was altogether too boring for me. 175 tardies, and 85 absences, it is a wonder I graduated Shadle Park High School at all. It was one of the schools, where getting an A or B would bring out the bullies to beat you senseless. So it was safer just to skip or if you had to go, to be late.
I never met a more curious fellow. Daniel Boje had curiosity, of his reconnaissance days in the Navy. Looking at the basic kind of disclosure of a "there" by going there in a Royal Sea Hawk, "seeing" first hand the possibilities (#170). Curiosity is a "peculiar tendency-of-Being" (#170).
I saved these next attunements to the environs, for here, since that have most to do with storytelling, and an ontologic understanding of storytelling inquiry.
Idle Talk (Part V section 35: #168-170) - Heidegger (1962) begins to define Dasein (Being-There) as "anything but a story" (Boje, 2014). Idle talk is used by Heidegger in "not" a "'disparaging' signification: (#168). In everyday discourse, Idle talk is spoken out, expressed, ahead of understanding and interpretation (see below). Proximally, the Living Story Web, can be antenarratively 'before', 'beneath', a "bet' on the future, or 'between' Grander Narratives of monologic Interpretation. The Web of Living Stories occur in "the totality of contexts of signification into which it has been articulated" (#168). Idle talk pertains to the discoveredness of entities, in our example, of entrepreneurial "possibilities and horizons for fresh interpretation and conceptual Articulation" (#168).
Living Story Web has the kind of Being of expression, that is not just present-at-hand, it is ontological communication, and is aimed at bridging a web of relationships to participate, talking about an intelligibility, where the hearer and teller are listening to what is "said-in-the-talk as such" (#168). In entrepreneurship the Idle talk is in "relationship-of-Being towards the entity talked about" and the Living Story Web of relationship means talking with one another about it, and "what is said-in-the-talk" (#168). Being towards the entity talked about, is the primordial nature of entrepreneuring, and ban go through the route of :gossiping and passing the word along" (#169).
"Idle talk is constituted by just such gossiping and passing the word along---a process by which its initial lack of grounds to stand on... becomes aggravated to complete groundlessness" (#169). But Idle talk is not confined to "vocal gossip" and can be "what we write" and forms of "scribbling" like the scribbles on that envelope taken out of the trash, on which Daniel Boje scribed an image of a possible invention (#169). This is also part of the 'new' materialisms of how the materiality of writing can come before the Idle talk, and is a direction of scribbling before understanding and interpretation, before the full disclosedness of how to make it all work. Idle talk can also be a closing off, discouraging any new inquiry or disputation of the status quo. Idle talk can be too bold, declaring it has already been worked out, and there is no need for further interpreting, understanding, communication, or inquiry. Such a mood can take over Idle talk, and further inquiry will not "matter" to it (#170).
Ontologically, Idle talk means Being-in-the-world, cut still cut off from its primary realationships-of-Being, yet moving towards a possiblity-of-Being, to understanding, and getting the what in the 'new' materialisms is the "ontologically constitutive state, is its 'there' the "uprooting" of even the "most stubborn 'Reality'" (# 170). An entrepreneur moves along towards seemingly "ever-increasing groundlessness" yet does not turn away, the Web of Living Stories, the Idle talk, spurring, for example, Daniel Boje, on until the invention actually worked.
The Living Story Web of Daniel Boje and 10 White Cadillacs. The antenarrative 'bet' was that it would work.
Language Discourse (Part V section 34: # 161-166). Language has its roots in the ontological, in discourse and or talk, in the intelligibility of some possible way to improve on something, on the Articulation of entrepreneurial disclosedness. Language, its Articulation is constituted by Being-in-the-world of discourse (#161). Yes, "language can be broken up into word-Things which are present-at-hand" but it is the ready-to-hand, language's existential use, that gets at disclosedness, the Articulation of being thrown or in Daniel Boje's case, being sucked into the turbulence of Being-in-the-world (#161). To hang around an entrepreneur, my whole life, until he died of cancer, with that smile on his face --- was to understand Being-with-one-another, how all his "assenting or refusing, as demanding or warning, as pronouncing, consulting, or interceding, as 'making assertions,' and as talking in the way of 'giving a talk'" (#162). The Boje sons and father, were always giving a talk, listening to the talk of father-entrepreneur, disclosing the secrets of the furnace, the combustion engine, the transformer on the train set we got for Christmas. We were "talked to" about something and his language an act of communication, that was not just giving information, it was an Articulation of Being, to bring us in a "co-state-of-mind" and understanding, by "conveying of experiences" and that was what Being-with him was like (#162). He was the storyteller, with a "way of speaking" and telling, and "disclosing of existence" (#162).
Heidegger looks at the ontic (word-things, present-at-hand) and the ontological disclosedness Being-in-the-world of discursive speech, the refusing, demanding, warning, pronouncing, consulting, interceding, the assertions, ‘giving a talk,, command, and intercession (#161-163). There is a falling-into the disclosedness of Being-in, the living story web. It is not even about storytelling. It is more a mode of Story-listening. It could be said to correspond to Heidegger's Hearkening to something beyond words and texts, to the intonation, modulation, said-in-the-talk and in the silence:
Following the tones
Going along with the body language
Privative modes of not-hearing, resisting, defying, turning away from the teller
Feeling “can’t hear” and “must feel” (Heidegger, 1962: # 164).
The point here is that a difference between 'whole system' mythologizing in epistemic-inquiry and 'systemicity' is the later's focus on ontologic-inquiry.
Living story web is explicitly ontological, and oppositional to Grand Narratives, particularly those dismissing ' new materialisms.' I want to point to the ways dad moved from materialisms of Empire to something more Natured.
We helped around the shop, something we grew up in, after he rescued his sons and daughter, from welfare in Washington State, moving us into employment in his mostly failing entrepreneurial enterprises, but his dreams never failed to inspired. I was first one rescued from Welfare, and so I had the least damage. My brother Steve died from heroin, my sister got into AA to stop drinking, and my youngest brother, got into cocaine, then become homeless, but is apparently 'clean' and putting his life together now. Me, well the Army does promote drinking, and I was prone to its addiction, but managed to quit and stay away from it these past 21 years. But there is another addiction, we all had, and its something my dad had as well, workaholism. I channeled it into writing.
After dad lost all the money from the Trash Compactor, and the Brit ran off with the cash from the triple sale of the same stocks in the Standalone Big Screen TV, and the the coffee maker invention proved too costly, he just kept coming up with new possibilities. Living in the same building as Stockard Channing, by the George Washington bridge, with his third wife, Patty, who we all adored, he kept inventing. He had this idea to do something for senior housing, create the world's largest mall and senior living center, by putting it on concrete barges, across from Fort Lee, and just sough of the Washington Bridge into New York.
After the three marriages, and his sojourn into the Wild, a hermit, he rediscovered his authentic-Self, he mellowed with the cancer, still worked hard, became the artist, was more philosophical. Even his cancer, the last decade of his life, he was always in the mood to dive into the chaos, churn past the ambiguity, step past the fear, and get curious about some new way of doing things.
Assertion (Part V section 33: #154-160) - An assertion is constitutive of understanding and interpretation. Assertion has a problematic of ontology because since ancient ontology it functioned as a clue to gaining access to what authentically is and for defining the Being of such entities(#154). Assertion lets the investigation of Being proceed further in three ways:
1. Assertion is "pointing out" a quality "The hammer is too heavy" (#154) is Heidegger's main example. As an apprentice blacksmith, I get it. I have a hammer too heavy for this process, and I am pointing-out by assertion, a definite character: the condition of the hammer, and its not a representation. My grandfather (August Boje) used hammers for stained glass, much 'too light' for blacksmithing work.
2. Assertion means "predication" an expression of action, of the hammer, for example, in a process. The hammer is too heavy to hand, is not ready-to-hand. The hammer itself, in other words, in asserting it "too heavy" goes through a narrowing of content, that shows itself explicitly, and is manifest.
3. Assertion means "communication" (#155). Hammer is too heavy, is a speaking-forth of an assertion, in the first and second significations (above), and our Being towards the hammer, its Being-in-the-world, is encountered, pointed-out, for others to grasp and see it, in a mutual sharing, a "further retelling" (#155).
From these three meaning Heidegger concludes "Assertion is not a free-floating kind of behaviour which, in its own right, might be capable of disclosing entities in general in a primary way: on the contrary it always maintains itself on the basis of Being-in-the-world" (#157).
In the example of my Dad's trash compactor, the mechanical gears were "too weak" and the monster-machine could not generate enough torque. The new version with hydraulics could become "too strong" and part of the innovation was to discover ways to contain and control the force of the mighty jaws as the hydraulic cylinder crunched everything placed inside its grip. Electronic sensors were installed, so if someone tosses some hunks of iron (say from a bed railing), the machine would shut down and not keep endlessly trying to bite through steel. The third invention of the hydraulics-controlled coffee machine, was sheer genius, but it was "too costly" to be competitive. Later, coming out of the forest, leaving hermit life behind, my dad's assertions were about the US Forest Service, "letting the white cedar log rot and decay at the bottom of the stream does not sustain life." The Forest Service does not allow fallen trees to be recycled for art or anything else, their assertion, that it is home to insects, birds or fish, or other animals in need of shelter. In violation of the law, Daniel Q. Boje gave me a hunk of white cedar that had been submerged in the Forest for many years.
Understanding & Interpretation (Part V section 31: #143-150) - Understanding and interpretation are moods about the constitution of Being. "Understanding always has its mood" (#143). To be interpreted is a derivative of that understanding of Being. "For-the-sake-of-which" Being-in a place, Being-in time, and Being-in materialism is disclosed, along with the "entirety of Being-in-the-world: (#143). This understanding connects the ontic to the ontological, the what is to the potentiality-for-Being. For the Forest Service what is white ceder log in the stream, that is home for other species, and for my dad its potentiality-for-Being art, and its decaying existence in every case is a waste of what he called "good wood." The problem of two opposing possibilities, in the understanding and counter-understanding. White ceder has definite possibilities, that Forest Service and my dad seized upon each declaring the Other was making a mistake, in their respective "liberty of indifference" (#144). As a disclosure, the understanding and interpretation moods of potentialities-for-Being are not only in the world, but also related to the world of the Other. Heidegger gives three key concepts that can help (Heidegger italicizes part of each word in the original reference #145):
1. Serviceability - in the manifold preset-at-hand, of Nature can only be discovered it a possibility of it has been disclosed. In the inquiry of my dad and that of the US Forest Service why white ceder entities are taken or left is a matter of their conditions of possibility. My dad and the US Forest Service each move forward in terms of possibilities that are "projection" of understanding the "fore-the-sake-of-which" of white cedar logs left in the stream. "Projecting has nothing to do with comporting oneself towards a plan that has been thought out..." (#145). Rather, each is understanding white cedar in terms of possibilities projected in its very material character, in an inventory of something-at-hand.
2. Usability - That projection of white cedar as as potentiality-for-Being, in ways that are authentic or inauthentic usability. This usability is not from sight (the sense of sight with bodily eyes) or the presence-at-hand of the white cedar. Rather, it is something encountered unconcealedly in the white cedar, where 'seeing' is a way of access to other entities and to Being #147). It is grounded in an existential common sense, yet US Forest Service and my did had opposed common sense, that is ontologically conceived, projecting different possibilities.
3. Detrimentality - US Forest Service and my dad, each asserted a detrimentality that becomes visible through the process of leaving or taking the white cedar. For the US Forest service the white ceader ain the stream "is environmntally ready-to-hand" to other species for their sustainability (#149). But for my dad the US Forest Service was a "failure to understand it any more" after the white cedar lay decaying at the bottom of the stream. His was a privation, a kind of seeing in which he understands the life of the white cedar as something to be experienced in an involvement of his art that is ready-to-hand to connoisseurs.
Care (Part VI section 41 #191-230) - Heidegger distinguishes between concern that is present-at-hand or being-along side someone or something, and the 'care' for ready-to-hand, to grasp the totality of the structural whole ontologically (#191). He works out care in its relationship to the other moods (attunements) we have discussed.
The temporality of Care - Both my dad and the US Forest Service had concern and care, and neither one would compromise. Both saw a future for white ceder in the stream, "ahead-of-itself-in-already-being-in-a-world" (#192). White cedar thrown into a world into the worldhood of US Forest Service and the worldhood of artist and conservationist. The two worldhoods were side-by-side, existentially. Each had a "Latent anxiety" and a publicness of the "they" about the other (#192). "Because Being-in-the-world is essentially care, Being-alongside the ready-to-hand could be taken as solicitude (#193). Care is not some attitude towards the Self of the forest ranger or the artist, it is something, a mood of the future, by "Being-ahead-of-itself" (#193).
Heidegger leaves us with a pre-ontological fable that might be used to settle the dispute between my dad and the US Forest Service, concerning the spirit of white cedar:
"Once when 'Care' was crossing a river, she saw some clay; she thought-fully took up a piece and began to shape it. While she was meditating on what she had made, Jupiter came be. 'Care' asked him to give it spirit and this he gladly granted. But when she wanted her name to be bestowed upon it, he forbade this, and demanded that it be given his name instead. While 'Care' and Jupiter were disputing, Earth arose and desired that her own name be conferred on the creature, since she had furnished it with part of her body. They asked Saturn to be their arbiter, and he made the following decision, which seemed a just one: 'Since you, Jupiter, had to give its spirit, you shall receive that spirit at its death; and since you Earth, have given its body, you shall received its body. Bout since 'Care first shaped this creature, she shall possess it as long as it lives. And because there is now a dispute among you as to its name, let it be called 'homo' for it is made out of humus (earth)'" (#198).
I am anxious, sometimes, in the very depths of Being, an anxiety that is "existential-ontological Constitution and function" of materialisms (#190). The existential-ontologic analytic methodology of storytelling, its materialisms, for the most part, remains concealed, something to be disclosed. The epistemic Grand Narratives, in particular, marginalize the materialisms, make the Living Story Web of materialisms, disposable. Yet, the Living Story Web is relationality, to the potentiality-for-Being, in Being as care.
We look searchingly at the storytelling, its entire relational stock line in its Being-in-the-world, not just ontically counting up and recording them, but in the ontologic "potentiality-for-Being-in-the-world" (#191). The entrepreneur Being-fallen, into Living Story Web, all woven together in primordial context, in the systemicity that is itself a "totality of the structural whole which we are seeking" (#191). How is the storytelling to be characterized, in pragmatic in all its pregnant pauses, gaps, the filling-in-the-blanks, the terse-telling, and what is between-the-lines, unspoken (Boje, 1991)?
That Being-ness of Storytelling is an issue, its self-projective, self-organizing, and agential, embedded in talk, hidden in discourse, and all that intertextuality concealing its potentiality-for-Being (Boje, 2001a, 2008a, 2008b)?
We have to explore the Being-in time of Storytelling. When storytelling-in-anxiety, is "already ahead of itself" or "beyond itself" and still Storytelling is Being-in-the-world in thrownness, falling into worldhood, "for-the-sake-of-which" and "in-order-to: that is this manifold of relationships where Storytelling "ahead-of-itself-in-Being-already-in" care for the primordially whole (#192). Storytelling, by already Being in-time "ahead-of-itself-in-already-Being-in-the-world" is in a facticity as well, a potentiality-forBieng-in-the0wlrd, of falling into Being-alongside, of "fleeing in the face of uncanniness" the Living Story Web hides, suppressed everything and then announces itself "ahead-of-itself-Being-in-the-world" (#192). And this is Storytelling of care, (#192), sure it has ontic of "worry" and with the entrepreneur, a "carefreeness" (#193). Storytelling is essentially care, more than just ontic concern that is Being-alongside. Care is not detached from "facticity and falling" as we have seen in how many Situations did Daniel Q. Boje, fall, and still his Self was "Being-ahead-of-itself: finding a the end the structure of care, already-in his roots, and a concern he sustained, Being-alongside (#193).
In German, 'Sorge" (#193), does it mean care, and is different from "Besorgns' and 'Sorglosigkeit.'
There is a possibility of Storying "Being-Free" finding its freedom, by getting beyond the limits of "they-self: of Grand Narrative to a state-of-Being of "care" that lies "before" the Situation and is not inn the "practical" present-at-hand or some "Theory" (#194). Willing and wishing for care, to be "live" on an ontological-existential state of "living" misses how care can be ahead, in-time, "earlier" than the phenomena of the Situation, in a temporal horizon "grounded existentially in care" (#194).
"Care is always concern and solicitude even if only privately" (#194). Care gets seized upon as concern, as solicitude, as a practical for-the-sake-of-which yet care is "Being-ahead-of-itself" arriving from future time showing care is already alongside a world to which the "they" of Grand Narrative has already restricted choices to proper, and respectable, and acceptable ones to the monologic, and thereby tranquilizes the entrepreneur, limiting "factical possibilities" aor projects them into a wish-world (#195).
Hankering - Hankering is "Being-already-alongside in the storytelling, particularly in Living Story Web, it is already an "addiction to becoming 'lived'" (#195). Living Story Web is impelled along and brings its impulsion within it, and crowds out the Grand Narratives and Counter-Grand-Narratives, to head for the in-between, the beyond, the below, the bet, the beneath by making antenarrative connections. Living Story Web is an aliveness, as Jo Tyler (2010, 2011) calls it. This is a grounding behavior of relationality, of Living story Web Being-in-the-world, ontologically.
"In addiction, however, care has always been bound" (#196). So many addictions in the Boje clan, and now this addiction to care, to searching for the "totality of the care-structure" (#196). Yet it lies hidden in "still more primordial phenomenon" (#196). The Being of storytelling its ontological structure, its addiction to care, is "historical" in the very depths of its Being-in-the-world, and this is not narrative or story as some fabrication, it is what is embedded pre-ontologically in care (#198).
Care is temporal, Being-in-Time, a "temporal sojourn in the world" (#199). The disclosedness of carelessness, about "tress, beasts, man, and God" and how "God is fulfilled by his Nature" are disclosed in care (#199).
In sum, care has a double meaning in storytelling. The "cares of life" (#200) and the being thrown into, falling into "devotedness" of care that is ontological, discovering a care ready-to-hand.
Next, I want to tie these moods of attunement, and care, to the 'new' materialisms, especially, ones where everything is alive, related to everything else, entangled, embedded, and interconnected, in an aliveness.
Rediscovering the Materialism in Hobbes
Hobbes’ materialism, for example, is counter to Descartes’ Cartesian cut (as Barad 2007 calls it), and has an a aliveness to it, since matter for Hobbes is vitalistic. Descartes rejected materialist arguments (Coole). Merleau-Ponty (1962): 96) says Coole (2010), “rejected materialist arguments, setting out the duality of rationalist and subjectivist. Merleau-Ponty on the other hand, treated the body as a material capacity for agency (Coole, p. 101). The military body is caught up in materialism forces, set in an irons of mechanistic devices (rifles, grenade launchers, Humvees). We have been working with ways to use new materialisms in our work to help Service Members and their Family members cope with deployment and the Grand Narratives of 'suck it up' prevalent in the Military mythos (Boje, Rosile, Hacker, England Kennedy, & Flora, 2013).
We are challenging the traditional ways of text-based restorying, so wedded to to the Linguistic Turn. Epston (1990) pioneers of 'Restorying' in Narrative Therapy, are all about the materiality of writing, but limit it to only the textual practices of letters sent between family members, friends, role-models, and therapists. Polkinghorne goes so far as to argue that White and Epston’s (1990) restorying processes, have no material-agency, and belong only to social constructivism. Work that Rosile is doing( Rosile, 2007; Rosile & Boje, 2002) looks at how to do an Embodied restorying process, and to effect just the kind of agency that Polkinghorne (1998, 2004) denies as possible.
Military and other institutional Grand Narratives, about the macho soldier, the warrior myth, the lone heroic soldier, etc. —— cut the subject from the context, define that ‘suck it up’ role, that ‘do or die’ character.
The Leviathan is interacting Bodies, agents of the act and passion in “ motion” (Frost, 2010: 165). Patrice Haynes (2012) by contract, takes a transcendent approach to materialism, following Kant. Haynes is concerned about the kind of “dreadful reenchantment” that haunts consumerist materialism, citing Adorno and Horkheimer’s work (p. 159, 131).
Agential-Realism and the 'New' Materialisms
Seven materialist rhetorics (Boje, 2014a):
Figure 13 - 7 Materialisms-Rhetorics (Drawing by Boje, adapted from Boje 2014a: 94)
Russian Formalists stayed wedded to structuralism (to Saussure, to linguistics, and sometimes to the poetic). Historical materialism, focused on the materialism of 'material conditions' of production. Foucault, put discourse ahead of materialism, and for Barad and Strand, materialism was ahead of discourse in theory of agential-realism). Althusserian aleatory is a rhetoric of materialism that gets beneath, below the Marxist material conditions. Bakhtinian materialism is dialogic, moving away from the dialectic of Marx, and Althusser. My own work has focused on Bauman's Liquid Modernity, and relating that through Adorno to the consumerist materialism, and back into quantum storytelling (see conference on Quantum Storytelling for more)
The star figure of the 'new' materialisms is Karen Barad and her work on 'agential cut' inter-activity of materialist with discourse, and her general theory of 'agential realism.' She challenges the materialism work of Foucault, Marx, Butler, Haraway, and others. Most of the critique is for not taking a posthumanist position, or not putting materialism as the first term, ahead of discourse.
Barad is one of a growing number of ‘critical new materialists feminists/posthumanists along with Mira J. Hird, Diana Coole, Deborah Cook, Samantha Frost, Alecia Jackson, Lisa Mazzei, Donna Haraway, Koko Fusco, and our own wonderful Quantum Storytelling Conference scholars: Grace Ann Rosile, Gerri McCulloh, Tonya Henderson, Debra Hockenberry, Jillian Saylors, Krisha Coppedge, Maja Turenen, Marie Wilbanks, Anna Scott, Nazanin Tourani, new arrival Margaret Vickers and Carma Nez, and absent Anete Strand, Wanda Cousar, and of course the late Ivy Durant, her spirited presence still felt. There are some aspiring male critical new materialist (feminist/posthumanist) scholars: Joe Gladstone, Rohny Saylors, Mike Bonifer, Thom Pitz, possibly Jack Appleton, and myself (Boje, 2013, see PDF).
Bard makes a major contribution in linking epistemic and ontologic, in her work on the agential cuts. Bard (2002: 815) defines two kinds of agential cuts, what Rosile and I (2002; Rosile, 2007) call ‘living story web” that enacts an agential cut to the usual Cartesian distinction between subject and Object.
I think scholars are having trouble applying Barad’s (2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013) definitions of ‘agential cut.’ Sometimes this leads scholars to revising, rephrasing, and even reversing those definitions. Barad (2013) develops agential entanglements in her agential-realism, to bridge into Derrida’s work on differAnce.
Lucas Introna (2007), for example, chooses to “rephrase” Barad “to mean that it is in specific agential intra-actions between users (and designers) and materiality that the boundaries and properties of the social and the technical becomes constituted as an ongoing intra-actional performativity (Butler, 1993).” The problems of course are many: that Barad does not buy into Butler’s performativity; the agential cut is now Cartesian; there are no measuring agencies or observing apparatus; its not clear the relations are ontological.
Lucy Suchman (2002: 267) follows Barad’s agential realism and the agential cat, when she writes: “… intra-action underscores the sense in which subjects and objects emerge through their encounters with each other” (as cited in Van der Velden, Mörtberg, & Elovaara, 2007: 4).
Figure 13 - Above is the original figure of cartographic mapping
Van der Velden, Mörtberg, & Elovaara, 2007: 4) go on to say:
“Matter and meaning are thus entangled in intra-action until an agential cut breaks the ongoing entanglement, as in the translation from the mapping of the rich descriptions (as in Figure 1) to the formulation of specifications. The subjects and objects thus come into being through the cut.”
This, for me, is a problematic reading of Barad, since the mapping is already an ‘agential cut.’ In fact you can see in the photo the hand of the agent making the ‘cut.’ What is not clear, is the materiality, since these are photos and what appears to be magazine clipping being arranged into some sort of agential logic of associations and differences. What is the observational apparatus here?
Strand (2012), in her reading of Barad, stresses the 'observational apparatus' in her use of sandplay in the Material Storytelling lab work done in Aalborg, Denmark. "The Material Story Lab offers a process-oriented and holistic approach to practices of knowing and becoming" (Material Storytelling Lab, Denmark). It is our intention to work closely with Dr. Stand to develop a storytelling lab here in New Mexico.
In their attempt at “feminist techno-science” the authors say:
“We would like to focus on Barad’s understanding of intra-actions as dynamically configuring possibilities and constraints in each iteration. In the context of design, Barad shows us that there is a particular kind of vitality to intra-activity, which brings up a new liveliness in the next layer of translation conducted in the design process” (ibid, p. 4).
Here, the authors are looking at intra-actions of the material-discursive in objected-oriented analysis and design. There are translations of possibilities and constraints by the design ‘agents’ yet the liveliness of the materiality itself seems to be unattended, not agential.
Hovoka and Germonprez (2011: 7) apply agential cut as follows, in a Heideggerian ontology:
“Technology becomes noticeable as a material object, no longer an embedded part of someone’s life world when it becomes a constraint through a disruptive breakdown. This disruption can be interpreted as an ‘agential cut’ which moves the technology form ready-at-hand to present-at hand, therefore becoming noticeable to a person in their world of being”
This is problematic, because it is “ready-at-hand” in Heidegger (1962) which would be the ‘agential cut’ (note present at hand, means that it is not ready for use, not part of the process of the equipmentality. Stuff is there, but not ready).
“The key aspect of this perspective is the ontological claim that the discursive and the material do not have inherent a priori properties. This does not deny that there distinctions can be made between the discursive and the material; rather the distinction is temporally and contextually variable and is represented by local determinations (agential cuts) that are emergent, fluid and ephemeral” (ibid, p. 7).
In the above and in the following use, Barad’s ‘agential cut’ of intra-activity, is retheorized as a Cartesian ‘cut’:
“This admits to the analytic capability for making agential cuts which effect a local distinction within phenomena distinguishing subject from object (Barad, 2003). An agential cut is a specific material and discursive configuration which enacts a local and temporary separation between subject and object consistent with a phenomenological sense of social-material separation” (ibid, p. 8).
The errant understanding of intra-activity and agential cut continues (ibid, p. 16):
“The process of design requires agential cuts such that the designer distinguishes him/herself from the object being designed. But as we have presented in our discussion of specific enactments, the agential cuts made in regard to the separation between the material technology and the user, background and context of the system are a matter of choice and will influence both the informativity of the entanglement and the manner and outcome of its evaluation.”
Fenwick and Edwards (2013: 59) give a more nuanced translation of Barad’s agential cut:
“Working with these ideas through feminist theory and quantum physics, particularly the physics of Neils Bohr, Barad develops a sophisticated conception of complex materiality that she calls “agential realism”. Here ‘the world is an ongoing open process of mattering through which “mattering” itself acquires meaning and form in the realization of different agential possibilities’ (Barad, 2003, p. 817). However, in specific intra-actions, an “agential cut” is enacted that causes a boundary to appear. This boundary separates matter into distinct entities and identifies some relationship among them such as causality, or observer and observed – subject and object. An agential cut is realized through what Barad calls an apparatus of observation, which is a specific material-discursive configuration that is exercised in an act of agency. These apparatuses also emerge through other agential cuts. An agential cut is always a performance: the boundaries distinguishing knower, known and knowledge do not pre-exist the cut.”
They follow, Hultman and Lenz Taguchi (2010: 538), who propose ‘diffractive seeing’ and ‘nomadic thinking’. Fenwick and Edwards (2013: 59) summarize it as follows:
“The researcher (or teacher, or learner) learns to understand themselves as part of and activated by ‘the waves of relational intra-actions between different bodies and concepts (meanings)’ in active encounters with a things such as data. To read these encounters diffractively is to see how ‘you install yourself in an event of “becoming-with” the data’.”
This is a good characterisation of Daniel Q. Boje, entrepreneur.
Next, I want to explore, with you, a more nuanced reading of agential-cut.
Let's be more precise. What is agential-cut?
It is more than cartographic mapping. Karen Barad (2003: 815) gives this extended definition and discussion of 'agential cut':
"A specific intra-action (involving a specific material configuration of the 'apparatus of observation') enacts an agential cut… in contrast to the Cartesian cut---an inherent distinction---between subject and object… effecting a separation between 'subject' and 'object.' That is, the agential cut enacts a local resolution within the phenomenon of the inherent ontological indeterminacy. In other words, relata do not preexist relations; rather, relate-within-phenomena emerge through specific intra-actions. Crucially then, intra-actions enact agential separability ---- the local condition of exteriority-within-phenomena. The notion of agential separability is of fundamental importance, for in the absence of a classical ontological condition of exteriority between observer and observed it provides the condition of a possibility of objectivity. Moreover, the agential cut enacts a local causal structure local "components' of a phenomenon in the marking of the 'measuring agencies; ('effect') by the 'measured object' ('cause')' Hence the notion of intra-actions constitutes a reworking of the traditional notion of causality."
The definition of agential cut is repeated in Barad (2010: 32) and she goes on to give qualifications to the definition (ibid, p. 246): “Quantum dis/continuity is at the crux of this im/possible, im/passible, trans/formation” (p. 247)
“Quantum dis/continuity is no ordinary disjunction. Agential cuts do not mark some absolute separation but a cutting together/apart – a ‘holding together’ of the disparate itself … without wounding the dis-jointure, the dispersion, or the difference, without effacing the heterogeneity of the other … without or before the synthetic junction of the conjunction and the disjunction’ Derrida 1994: 29)” (Barad, 2010: 265).
The work by Derrida, Barad (2010) is citing is Specters of Marx. She goes on to elaborate something that has not caught the attention of those, in the review below, that are applying her work (ibid, 265):
“Agential cuts --- intra-actins --- don’t produce (absolute) separation, they engage in agential separability – differential and entangling (that’s one move, not successive processes). Agential cuts radically rework relations of joining and disjointing. Separability in this sense, agential separability, is a mater of irreducible heterogeneity that is not undermined by the relations of inheritance that hold together the disparate without reducing difference to sameness.”
“The quantum dis/continuity queers the very notion of differentiating. It offers much-needed rethinking of ac/counting, taking account, and accountability that isn’t derivative of some fixed notion of identity or even a fixed interval or origin. Ac/counting – a taking into account of what materializes and of what is excluded from materializing – cannot be a straight forward calculation, since it cannot be based on the assumed existence of individual entities that can be added to, subtracted from, or equated with one another….” (Barad, 2011: 46).
"Heisenberg's haunting question to Bohr hands in the air throughout Copenhagen/Copenhagen (Frayan 2000), enfolded into the making of space-time, its reverberations returning again, for the first time" (Barad, 2013: 23).
As Kress (2003: 13) puts it, the stuff of materiality has something to do with the stuff of speech. Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes is a forgotten materialism according to Samantha Frost (2010). And Frost takes here place at the ever-extending materialism table of Barad, Hird, Fusco, Cook, Coole, Haraway, Strand, and many others. Hobbes’ materialism, for example, is counter to Descartes’ Cartesian cut (as Barad called it), and has an aliveness to it, since matter for Hobbes is vitalistic. Descartes rejected materialist arguments (Coole). Merleau-Ponty (1962): 96) says Coole, “rejected materialist arguments, setting out the duality of rationalist and subjectivist. Merleau-Ponty on the other hand, treated the body as a material capacity for agency (Coole, p. 1010). The military body is caught up in materialism forces, set in an irons of mechanistic devices (rifles, grenade launchers, Humvees). Barad (2002: 815) defines two kinds of agential cuts, what Rosile and I call ‘living story web” that enacts an agential cut to the usual Cartesian distinction between subject and Object. Grand Narratives use a different sort of agential cut, a move to generalize, to cut away the ground, and the materiality of living story. Military and other institutional Grand Narratives, about the macho soldier, the warrior myth, the lone heroic soldier, etc. —— cut the subject from the context, define that ‘suck it up’ role, that ‘do or die’ character. The Leviathan is interacting Bodies, agents of the act and passion in “ motion” (Frost, 2010: 165). Haynes (2010) by contract, takes a transcendent approach to materialism, following Kant. Haynes is concerned about the kind of “dreadful reenchantment” that haunts consumerist materialism, citing Adorno and Horkheimer’s work (p. 159, 131). Barad (2013) develops agential entanglements in her agential-realism, to bridge into Derrida’s work on differAnce. Epston (1990) on the other hand, are all about the materiality of writing, about textual practices between family members, friends, role-models, and therapists. Polkinghorne (1998, 2004) goes so far as to argue that White and Epston’s (1990) restorying processes, have no material-agency, and belong only to social constructivism. Work that Rosile is doing( Rosile, 2007; Rosile & Boje, 2002) looks at how to do an Embodied restorying process, and to effect just the kind of agency that Polkinghorne denies as possible.
Excerpts from Boje (2014a: 215-221):
“Polkinghorne (2004) has raised objections to restorying because it purports to build self-agency, whereas his own strictly social constructivist standpoint treats the ‘self’ as a linguistic social construction with nothing to do with space-time-materiality, since all of this is social construction. Polkinghorne (2007) is critical of a Foucauldian approach to power and knowledge (i.e., micro-physics), and instead bases his approach to narrative on epistemic, rooted in Kenneth Gergen’s social constructivism.
Polkinghorne, an unrepentant ‘social constructivist,’ says that White and Epston’s Restorying approach is an “existential view that people have a capacity to revise and reauthor the narratives in which they have been acculturated” (2003: 65). From his social constructivist standpoint, the social realm dominates the personal (existential) and the biological (material) realms. Polkinghorne takes the standpoint “that the meaning is essentially language” and “all human systems are linguistic systems” where “there is nothing outside of language” (2003: 58).
There is a second theme that comes through in Polkinghorne. Narrative displays a temporal dimension that unifies experience with a “beginning, middle, and end” dominant governing plot that is socially supplied (ibid.: 58). He agrees that many “unique outcomes” are left out by the dominant plot” (ibid.: 60) and that a “new and more complex plot” is what Restorying is after. Polkinghorne cites another prominent social constructivist (and postmodernist) who is well regarded in Appreciative Inquiry circles, Ken Gergen. Both Polkinghorne and Gergen treat personal and biological (including the body) realms as under the auspices of the constraints set by the social realm (ibid.: 61). It is the “social realm” that controls the body’s actions, imposing rhythms of work, rest, holidays, eating habits, and so on, and limits the possible activities the body can undertake (ibid.: 62). In sum, personal ‘self’ and ‘materiality’ from a constructivist standpoint are only a linguistic category, part of language socialization.
The American Pragmatist George Herbert Mead (1932) has a very different temporality conception than that of social constructivists such as Polkinghorne (1988; 2004) and Gergen (1994). For Mead, time is conceived as a passage in league with space and energy, where out of emergences noticed in the present, past experiences are selectively engaged in order to promote expected future courses of action. Mead’s (1932) is an ontological and a quantum approach, as is the work of John Dewey (1929).
END QUOTE FROM BOJE’s (2014) new book. More on this Agential controversy
My counter to this is that entrepreneurial moods of attunement to the Situation, are part of the struggle of the entrepreneur to sustain curiosity in the face of fear and ambiguity, while having the courage to fall into, to be thrown into or sucked into turbulence. Relevant to John Dewey's pragmatic-ontology, Daniel Q. Boje exhibited 'intelligent action' in his entrepreneurial adventures, but not always in his web of relationships to Others. That was something, the relational intelligence, that took him a life time to master. In the end, he did. The idle talk can turn agential, become part of the methodology of storytelling, part of the Living Story Web, that is all about agential cuts, and avoiding some that would turn away, or flee, from curiosity.
The storytelling we do is part of the 'new materialisms scholarship, part of the web of Living Stories.
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