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May 16, 2022

Lab #20: Navel-Gazing to Compassionate Emancipations with Simone Medina Polo

What are we doing when we tell stories? What does myth do that logic cannot? Why do we take on myth and storytelling?

There is a speculative dimension to storytelling when we are trying to get a sense of where we are coming from and where we are headed. From our origin and onto our death, we find ourselves practicing Omphaloskepsis—which precisely translates as "contemplating one's own navel," or more contemporarily "navel-gazing."

In tracing the origin of their own practices, philosophy and psychoanalysis see themselves in the acts of navel-gazing through the mythic figures of the comedic Socrates and the tragic Oedipus. When we see philosophy and psychoanalysis through to the point where arguments and logics become impotent in their self-indulgence, their appeal to myth and theatre has an efficacy that seeks to put us in contact with a fundamental sense of vulnerability, dependency, and compassion among others beyond ourselves.

Much like the figure of the navel that points towards someone other than ourselves as a condition for the possibility of our existence, the myths of Socrates and Oedipus are deployed by philosophy and psychoanalysis to point toward something beyond own their starting-point in an excessively self-absorbed pursuit. To see philosophy and psychoanalysis through to their end entails a certain gesture of letting-go after we realize that the pursuits of wisdom and self-certainty fail time and time again only revealing that tender space amongst others and in ourselves as a stranger to ourselves. 

Simone Medina Polo Simone A. Medina Polo is a philosopher and interdisciplinary artist based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Currently affiliated with the Global Centre for Advanced Studies for the Masters program in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, she holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Concordia University of Edmonton. Simone is also the festival producer for the Nextfest Arts Company. And under the creative moniker pseudo-antigone, Simone produces contemporary electronic and pop music to explore the voice and instrumental intensity as an expression of transgender embodiment.

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