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Graphing Vitality: Terror Management Theory, Spiritual Transformation, and Schizoanalysis/Re-synthesis as Hypertext Research-creation

  • Author / Creator
    Palm, Schyler
  • I have been asked to describe this project in a succinct way, and to give its associated processes a name. I use the word 'associated' here after Chapman & Sawchuk's commentary on research-creation, in an attempt to refer encompassingly not only to the forms but especially to the forces that precede, constitute, and perhaps even evolve out of this text's objectification. By this I understand the project as an intervention—mostly for myself but perhaps also for you, its unlucky reader.This project tries to do too much.It is an example of what happens when multiple ways of knowing come together and are allowed to speak to each other. It is the product of a queer brain with ADHD + indeterminate neuroses, which experienced religious trauma.It attempts to excite in the way that computer games excite, while informing in the way that study informs.It is a work of research-creation, a form of research that combines research methods with artistic practice; includes journaling, academic writing, reading notes, short fiction, rumination, therapy, surreal objects, impressionistic description; and is written somewhat in the style of a choose your own adventure story.It is also a mess, over-promising, incomplete, and sometimes gimmicky, but does something, I think, at least a little bit interesting.This research project sees itself as both data and analysis, extracts themes from its own corpus, and wonders at the potentials of its own reconstitution. It asks what happens when things like beliefs become variables in a fluid psyche, how those variables might be modified, and how that modification might change the functioning of a life.This project resists closure, is purposefully speculative, holds its own deductions in indefinite suspension, and finds its opportunity for scholarly purpose not through alliance with master narratives but through its attempts at provocation.It is for me (and maybe also for you) permission and reassurance:- Permission to take what you need and leave the rest.- Permission to find use for and comfort in the ideals and myths one has inherited—even ones transmitted along majority religious lines—even at the same time that we suspend them, transform them, or outright reject them at their premises.- Permission to be soothed by things like chanting, incantation, or the recitation of prayer, without understanding their mechanisms, without abandoning our skepticism.- Permission to sustain contradictory beliefs, not only because all knowing is never certain, but because articulations of truth will always be historically, culturally, linguistically, and technologically bound.- Permission to assume multiple positions which have classically been opposed, but whose clear segmentations tend to erode with time and scrutiny.- Permission to leave confusion unresolved and to pursue functioning life in ways befitting one's circumstance.- Reassurance that a craving for divinity does not make one a poor empiricist, nor does fluid opinion in the face of evidence diminish one's spiritual sensibility.- Reassurance that we will all reconcile with death in our own way.- Reassurance that belief and unbelief are just another binary polluting our thinking, and that it is not a question of what to believe, but how to believe (and then, ultimately, how do I believe? which is to say, what are the effects of my belief?)Some words that could describe this work, and whose corresponding scholarships (where they exist) have inspired it:- research-creation- autoethnography- hypertext- computer game- schizoanalysis- defascizing intervention- queer object- boundary object- spiritual healing- and experimentation in Terror Management Theory experimental (experi-mental?) design.If I were to give this project and its associated processes a name, I would call it analysis/resynthesis, or a taking apart and a putting together again.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-gf2k-4e20
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.