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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Finding Our Balance: Reflections on Thinking, Knowing, and Doing in ISPSO

This paper is a work in progress, much like what is represented in this Velasquez painting, Las Meninas, which hangs at the Prado. Here we have the artist in the process of painting the princess, while reflected in the mirror are the anxious king and queen and in the forefront are the dwarves and other mis-fits brought in to amuse the young royal, so that she will submit to having her portrait painted yet again. Her ladies-in-waiting, known by the Portuguese name of meninas, are doing their best to cajole her. Velasquez was inspired by the recently published Don Quixote, and this painting was his attempt to call into question the prevailing notion that a firm hierarchy was in the best interests of contemporary society. He has turned the scale topsy turvy by giving more prominence to Princess Margarita and her ladies in waiting than to the royal couple and even greater importance to the dwarfs and to the dog by placing them in the forefront. He imbued them all with a sense of dignity and individual worth usually reserved for persons of distinction.I hope that what I am about to offer can be seen in the same spirit, in the sense that we may have developed a firm hierarchy of thinking that has impeded our ability to think new thoughts and that what might be called for now is a better balance.