Imprint: Camperdown NSW: University of Sydney, 2002.
Abstract: Almost twenty years ago Baudrillard warned that ‘We live in a universe where there is more and more information and less and less meaning’. Since this unheeded warning, we have produced a far greater mass of information further constraining our inner search for meaning. Many of us have become estranged from ourselves as well as the natural world we inhabit. This thesis is an attempt to better understand our relationship with the world and to discover a new story we can journey towards. The thesis grew out of a longing to reclaim meaning in the everydayness of the world and rekindle the sense of wonder held as a child. It was a search to find home. In order to journey towards this end, the author felt it necessary to return to the season of childhood for young children are in tune with the world, in harmony with her inner music. Children find the world paradoxical and strange thus driving their search to make meaning. In middle childhood children are at a juncture between the world experienced and the world behind lenses; between the dynamic theories championed and ‘truths’ handed down by others; between science and art, wild and tame. These were some of the tensions explored. To assist in revealing the life-world of children, the research draws on a multidisciplinary, multi-modal approach. The conceptual framework is derived, in part, from van Manen’s phenomenological inquiry and Moustaka’s heuristic research. It engages, in particular with the writings of existential phenomenologists Merleau-Ponty, Ricour and Heidegger and an array of literary writers. As an ontological study, it focuses on embodied knowing in order to understand what it is like to be in the world: what it is like to be human. An attempt is made to grasp the essence of the phenomenon and describe it in ways that bring it into being. The hundreds of stories children so generously shared in collaborative groups have been refashioned as myths. For myths are a homeland which gathers up the elements of time and space, dreams and imagination and sings forth potential. Myths can offer direction for our lost humanity. In order to enter the life-world less encumbered, the author felt it necessary to critically reflect upon her own life and the early lives of her daughters alongside the lived world of children and examine the experiences that had shaped her. These memories formed the overtures to the symphony which was composing itself. What has evolved from this spiralling journey is the creation of an unfinished symphony of playful thought which may help to re-enchant the world and her inhabitants. [Author abstract, ed]