The problem with the walls surrounding the mind

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Creative freedom is a tricky thing. As artists we maintain a love/hate relationship with communication—on one hand we want to reach people, on the other hand we are afraid to lose our autonomy in a futile attempt to be accepted and understood (also known as “selling out”).

This social anxiety is much discussed in communication theory. John Durham Peters describes two terms that were invented in the nineteenth-century and “reflect an individualist culture in which the walls surrounding the mind were a problem, whether blissfully thin (telepathy) or terrifyingly impermeable (solipsism).” These two extremes set the scale for communication, and as artists we try to strike the balance between them.

The Hakikomori phenomenon is an extreme attempt of protecting the walls of the mind from external intrusion by completely pulling away from social life. On Durham Peters’ scale this attempt to avoid exposure would be pretty close to complete solipsism.

Hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引き籠もり Hikikomori?, literally "pulling away, being confined", i.e., "acute social withdrawal") is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement because of various personal and social factors in their lives.
May 31st, 2011

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