In response to a stimulus…on transcendence

Define transcendence with regard to your own research and where your interests are taking you.

Right now I’m just thinking about Foucault’s panopticism and biopolitics and ways in which urban practices like skateboarding seem to challenge this. Ocean Howell, a former professional skateboarder, now an assistant professor of Architectural History, asserts that defensive architecture, created by urban planners to deter skateboarders, only encourages skateboarders to innovate new moves, adapting to new challenges presented by the evolving urban landscape (Howell 2001: 21). There’s something in there about transcending obstacles that people put in front of us by using the obstacle for play.

Howell argues that skateboarding reveals commercialised public spaces, and creates genuine public spaces…I’m interested in how that could translate in my work with young people, how they might transcend limits because of the obstacles faced rather than in spite of it.

I’m also drawn towards how we might transcend stories of ‘success’ that are told to us – the Singapore Story, in particular. In brief, it is about how Singapore survived a traumatic separation from Malaysia and transformed from a small fishing village to a global cosmopolitan city with one of the highest GDPs in the world. The Singapore Dream is often jokingly referred to as the 5Cs of ‘Cash, Car, Condominium, Credit Card and Country Club membership’. But a story that defines success in purely economic terms surely misses out on other aspirations. In many ways, those who are not able to excel academically, and those who are not financially-privileged, struggle to see themselves as successes in other ways. They also struggle to have others recognise this success.