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  • Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm

    - Stephen Schafer

     The objective of the curriculum game is cultural healing through educated and enlightened insight.  The means for achieving this objective is the Role Playing Game, and the method is based on programming the curriculum-game with the parameters of the Journey of the Hero.  The Journey portrays the expansion of personal perspective and focus of attention from that of the relatively self-centered individual to the more inclusive and comprehensive perspective of the Cultural Persona.

    Within the Psyche, the Cultural Persona corresponds to the individual persona on multiple levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Jung alludes to the authenticity of a "cultural persona" and its susceptibility to healing:

    "Now the doctor in me refuses point blank to consider the life of a people as something that does not conform to psychological law.  A people, in the doctor's eyes, presents only a somewhat more complex picture of psychic life than the one of its aspects the psyche is not individual, but is derived from the nation, from collectivity, or from humanity even.  In some way or other we are part of an all-embracing psychic life, of a single "greatest" man, to quote Swedenborg.

    And so we can draw a parallel: just as in me, a single human being, the darkness calls forth the helpful light, so does it also in the psychic life of a people," (Jung, 1933, pp 209-210).

    "All the world's a stage and all the people merely players."  Just as a play has a cast, a culture has its citizens-each playing her part in the drama.  Though the members of the cast may come from different cultures, speak different languages, believe in different religions and philosophies, they are all part of a collective persona-the cast in a particular drama.  As constituents of that persona they speak a vernacular language, have composite habits of thought and action, and a constituent identity.  Collectively, on opening night the entire cast may experience physical symptoms of tension.  When the audience applauds at the final curtain, the cast will experience a collective elation that is tangible.  In or out of character, the cast of Chicago has a personality that is distinctive and recognizably different than the cast of the Lord of the Rings.         

    However, in addition to their constituent persona as part of a cast, individuals may function simultaneously in a variety of personae from other constituencies.  As the character dons each mask, the patterns and qualities of her personal dynamic will vary.  A person functioning as a constituent of a family persona may adopt the primary role of "mother," while in her neighborhood group she might play the role of "block leader," and at her job she might play the role of "teacher."  Simultaneously she has the potential of all these personae, but the roles emerge as dominant according to the dynamic patterns of a particular domain or environment.  Each of these domains has its own predispositions, rules, laws, values, and memories.  All personae exist in potential, but only one at a time can be dominant. 

    A cultural persona has a particular personality of its own, and the dynamics of the collective personality correspond to those of the individual.  Because its constituents share the patterns associated with being human-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states-the cultural persona will have a corresponding structure-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  This structure is not the same thing as a stereotype; rather, it is highly complex and versatile.  If two angles are the same in an infinite number of right triangles, the sides of all the triangles will be proportionate.  Each triangle will have the same proportions that correspond to all the others.  Advertisers know this and pollsters probe the various subtle bodies of collectives as a matter of course.  They assess the collective self-image (usually physical), thought or opinion (mental), feeling (emotion), and values (spiritual). According to the principle of correspondence, the cultural persona also plays many roles and has tangible physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual characteristics.  Functioning as a military superpower the cultural persona behaves one way, and responding to help the victims of natural catastrophe it behaves another way.  On the world stage, the mask of the prevailing political administration (specifically, the face of the president) becomes the protagonist, while at regional or state levels, the persona shows a more diverse countenance.

    Just as we assume the hypothesis that thought is dynamic but don't carry the hypothesis to its logical conclusion, so we assume the existence of a cultural persona but don't think of it as really real.  Actually, we assume the existence of a cultural persona in nearly everything we do, and it is very real.  The substantial power of the media is addressed to a collective audience.  Political polls are addressed to a cultural persona.  The validity of statistics is based on populations. Advertising is addressed to target groups.  The communist and democratic principles are essentially collectivist, and the whole premise of civilization itself assumes coherent parameters of a collective persona.  Depending on the extent and degree of correspondence between the two, a collective persona does, indeed, have definitive impact on constituent persons.  To verify the fact, one only need refer to the psychological effects of the present War on Terror and its multi-level (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) impact on every constituent persona.  Other examples of the principle include the principle of law, the phenomenon of propaganda, the Nazi phenomenon, the perennial conflict between Israel and the Arab world, colonialism, ethnic identity, feminism, racism, ad infinitum.  It is hoped that this study will convince educators of the validity of incorporating such a seemingly metaphysical dimension to the educational curriculum so that students may equip themselves to understand and use the dynamics of the psych-ecology and to navigate their everyday human illusion of reality.

    I like to think that the Cultural Persona of the United States of America-near the end of its journey-is the hero experiencing the mythic Ordeal.  Its challenge is to know itself, to evolve beyond its selfish, personal expression, and to realize its authentic expression as a World Server or soul of the world.  Knowing itself means achieving a critical mass of enlightened consciousness among the components of the Cultural Persona-us.  The well-known seer and prophet, Pogo, once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."  The "enemy" within us is that aspect in each of us and all of us that is limited, ignorant, fearful, and unwilling to evolve or unable to achieve her full potential.  Only when our psychological limitations (lies, wounds defense mechanisms) are addressed will the psyche of the Cultural Persona cross the threshold of Initiation leading to greater potential.  Only when the cultural persona is functioning with a relative degree of harmony will it be capable of addressing the problems of its consummate challenge.  With a "healed" perspective, the cultural persona will see authentic, practical, and lasting solutions that would not be apparent to a more limited and self-serving perspective.  Perhaps, with effort, the American Cultural Persona will succeed to authentic leadership in the world.  Such leadership resides in the office of the World Server, not the tyrant.  If the cultural persona realizes this concept at all, significant realistic improvements in our dire situation could be spontaneous.

    In the Media of Dreams, I provide considerably more detail relative to the specifics of a curriculum game, but for now I will address some salient points.  In order to design a curriculum-game with authentic psychological parameters, the synchronicity of psychological patterns will need to be addressed and related to the programming patterns of cybernetics.  My assumption is that if the patterns are interactive, the game player will be able to use them interactively.  All of these psychological patterns are expressed as symbolic language, and are therefore susceptible to symbolic synchronization.  If this fact of reality is understood and accepted, our worldview immediately becomes holistic. 

    We can begin contemplating the holistic reality based on the synchronicity of various symbolic media.  The term media has many uses, but if we define the word media as language used for conversation between or among states of being, the term applies not only to radio, television, print, and the internet, but to all forms of symbolic language including the languages of chemistry, biology, physics, electromagnetism, string theory, and psychology in its many variations.  For example, English, German, Spanish, metaphor, analogy, correspondence, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, geometry, permeable membranes, thought, emotion, sound, color, Gestalten, behaviorism, and dreams are media.  One could even say that the personality is the medium between the relatively intangible and the relatively tangible states of being-between psyche and substance, between the unknown and the known, between the soul and the spirit.  One might also understand that the language of dreams is a conversation between the unknown and the known, psyche and substance, soul and spirit.  Is it logically valid, then, to say that the personality equates to a dream?  Such questions must be contemplated when arguing the efficacy of a game as curriculum.


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