Flavor and Overview
The dissertation uses art to explore play to gain greater insight into play’s cosmic, that is, transpersonal or archetypal dimensions, through exploring various creations of popular culture: Chicago (Marshall, 2002, motion picture); Disneyland; and Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964, motion picture). This hybrid mixture of media and methodology has allowed me to be innovative and playful while, at the same time, maintaining the academic rigor necessary in exploring play. As theory intertwines with artistic creation throughout, there is not a separate creative object to be analyzed, such as a screenplay, novel, or film, which has been the case in other artistic dissertations (Montgomery, 2002; Denney, 2002; Davin, 2004). As such, my dissertation is without the dreaded “Cartesian subject/object splitting” because my artistic creation—a web site of depth psychological hypertext essays and images—analyzes itself from within itself, and in this my dissertation mirrors the study of psychology itself. Van Enwyk (1997) describes looking at the functioning of the psyche from within the psyche as being “like riding a roller coaster built on a Möbius strip. It is full of paradox. It’s chaotic” (p. 70). But it can also be fun!
I approach cosmic play from different directions, through different methods and different modes of cultural creation; the result is a kind of richly textured collage as I explore how play plays in art, culture, and history. This multidirectional approach adds further to understanding of play’s transpersonal aspects. The dissertation is thus an example of what it is “talking about” –play! Lévi-Strauss, creator of the term “bricolage,” in writing about the mythology of the Bororos people, created a “myth of mythology” so that he could better talk about his subject; Lévi-Strauss created a “mythomorphic episteme, one which takes the form of what it speaks” (Staton, 1987, p. 391-2). For those not familiar with Lévi-Strauss, the idea of taking the form of what one is speaking about is similar to art chirography, a famous example of which is the “Mouse’s Tale” in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, in which “the words formed so as to convey a visual impression of the poem’s ideas” (M. Gardner, 1998, p. 51; Carroll, 1998). My web-based dissertation is a playful bricolage discussing play and bricolage—a bricoludomorphic episteme.
This method is participatory, in keeping with the notion that we live in a participatory universe, since the various cultural creations that make up the “Kaleidoscope of Culture” are readily accessible and can be experienced by the reader. The dissertation as web site also invites readers to experience the dissertation in their own way, while the use of essay allows a more freewheeling structure in keeping with the subject of play. The conversational nature of essay allows for tangents, digressions, and reveries, as well as the possibility, through hypertext links, of leaving the dissertation completely behind and venturing out into cyberspace.