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Title: A poetic pilgrimage towards a cosmopolitan world
Author: Göttel, Johann (Hans)
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 4589
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2018
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The practice-based research-dissertation or "poetic-philosophical praxis" referred to and explored in this Reflective Commentary concerns two major topics: the artistic and intellectual work of the second UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld (1905 - 1961) and the implications of that work for a persuasive new understanding of the cosmopolitan idea. Pursuing these topics, I developed a "poetic-philosophical praxis" intended to reveal the passages toward and contours of the cosmopolitan world in which Hammarskjöld lived and for which he lived. Praxis, as I understand it, does not exclude or oppose theory. In the practice-based research-dissertation - in the form of a book entitled "Dag Hammarskjöld für kosmopolitische Passagen" - a continuum of theory and practice is embodied through "poetic notes" which trace, follow and elaborate the cosmopolitan thinking of Dag Hammarskjöld. As the book unfolds and the poetic-philosophical praxis advances, there are deliberate disruptions and swerves resulting in estrangements and inter-worlds, polyvalent perspectives, contexts radically reconsidered, shifting views that create new perspectives. Instead of setting out to prove and confirm just one meaning in any given context, this artistic practice values the freedom to deviate in order to reveal what I perceive as "meaningfulness"-less exact and restrictive than "meaning" but potentially more enriching. Both the practice-based research embodied in the book and this reflective commentary attempt to uncover in Hammarskjöld's diplomatic work and mystical thought, elements of statesmanship that shed light on a seemingly paradoxical approach to global community, an approach that strives to escape politics rather than conceive everything in political terms. Social Sculpture has its place here: some of its key concepts and methods offer a philosophical framework for cosmopolitan thinking. The notion of pilgrimage is also central to the praxis. As I construe it, pilgrimage relies on landscape, horizon and the stars in the sky. It does not strive for the fixed structures of mapping but rather for "wayfinding". To support wayfinding, a special source of guidance is introduced: between the chapters of the book, a narrative ass takes the lead to guide both the researcher-author and the reader. Under the gentle dominion of the ass, the researcher is taken a certain distance from his original pedagogic background. The ass's intuitive sense of direction leads toward Hammarskjöld's idea of world government and away from it again. It leads out into nature and wilderness; to the idea of the "higher human being", rooted in Kierkegaard and the Taoist tradition; to the special example of Marcus Aurelius; and ultimately to the idea of "international community"- the creation of which was a central concern of Hammarskjöld's. The transformation of Europahaus Burgenland into Akademie Pannonien reflects the origin and sphere of activity of this PhD research. This place of learning, for which I have served as director since 1990, is now being shaped into "an atelier for cosmopolitan theory, practice and poetry" by bringing together ideas of world citizenship and Hammarskjöld's (anti-)political wisdom. The art of Social Sculpture, rooted in the thought and practice of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), and developed by Shelley Sacks in the Social Sculpture Research Unit (SSRU) over several decades, is adopted as a creative frame for exploring this material in its wholeness and as an inspiration toward freely rethinking it. The perspective of Social Sculpture allows one to move, like Hammarskjöld himself, between worldly affairs and the mystics of the Middle Ages, between outer tasks and an "inner atelier"i which invites "every human being to be an artist."ii This commentary offers theoretical support for the practice-based research dissertation embodied in the book. Just as an artist steps back from a painting to see more than is possible whilst working on it, the finished artistic practice will now meet enquiring eyes. This commentary represents a new involvement with the entire practice-based research process and the book: watching it, elucidating it and interpreting it. And, in doing so, completing it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral