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Human Development/Consciousness Evolution ,Self; Evolution
Record Type: Review   ID: 268

Borders, Boundaries, and Frames: Cultural Criticism and Cultural Studies.

Henderson, Mae. (Ed.).

 This work is about "outsiders in literature," those who cross boundaries or walk or write on the edges of known boundaries. In coming to terms with an exceptional experience, on the way to transforming it into an EHE the experiencer must cross previously set borders and limits not only in thinking but in him or herself. Henderson points out that "borderland inhabitants are always considered transgressors and aliens." This is the way Western society often thinks of EHEers—and sometimes even the EHEers do themselves. In a way, this book is a successor of Colin Wilson’s Outsider, which in my youth gave me courage to pursue my exceptional experiences even though none of my peers (or elders) appeared to be doing so. She points out that to push one’s self to the borderline "means transgressing those limits that ensure safety, acceptance, and even friendship" (p. 3). This is the provisional fate of every EHEer. (For an example, see the case of Kim Carlsberg in Section 10.) She refers to "the collapse of borders in scholarship" that is now occurring. The concept of exceptional human experience itself is an example of this. Henderson says this has given birth ("crosshatched" is the term she uses) to "fields of reference that can be neither contained nor limited, but must constantly refer to something outside, inside, or beyond themselves" (p. 4). This apt phrase can be applied not only to front-line scholarship but to the sense of reality and self that EHEers eventually come to—what was a boundary becomes a line that becomes an awareness of being both inside and outside, self and other, and therefore a process rather than an encapsulated self. She also relates border crossing to Victor Turner’s transitional state of liminality, and observes that such crossings can be liberating, creative, enabling, exultant, providing the experience of "unbounded identity" (p. 6). Moreover, the border experience can give birth to new forms of self and cultural expression and knowledge. This is a hallmark of EHEs. Henderson concludes her Introduction by pointing out that what is being proposed here is that border crossing can be "an act of creation rather than one of violation" (p. 26). This certainly applies to EHEs as well. They have been regarded as anomalies, violations of the natural order, symptoms of derangement, evidence of delusion or deliberate hoax. I propose that they be viewed as seeds of inscendence/transcendence: In crossing inner/outer borders a new self and a new way of being in the world and being aware of the world is born. Henderson notes that border crossing confers what W.E.B. DuBois called "double vision." I have also pointed out that EHEs do the same. This anthology of essays is most provocative in illuminating the nature of borders, those who cross them, and the value of doing so for both self and culture. Every EHEer is a border crosser. Is every border crosser an EHEer?
Publisher Information:New York: Routledge, 1995. 211p. Chap. notes; Contributors: 212
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