Archaeological and architectural

Frames allow us to deliberately distort our perception of the world. For instance, a frame of self-interest would better enable me to trace—sometimes where there isn’t any—threads of selfishly-motivated actions. For example, I could detect the soothing effect charitable acts have on the ego as the main reason for their undertaking, instead of generosity or kindness. A frame of evolutionary instinct would allow me to tinge every act as one which allows its performer to enhance the propagation of its genes. For example, I’d see a relationship as motivated by the perception that the male partner thinks the female can bear and bring up children, and that the female partner thinks the male can provide shelter, support and security when she needs it.

Of course, we get ourselves and others into trouble when a particular frame becomes the only construct through which we perceive the world. I don’t want to discuss that though. Instead, I want to share a new frame, one relating to the practice of introspection. Introspection, typically, is a solitary pursuit. It occurs inside our own head and involves no outside parties. And I’ve begun to think that it comes in two forms: archaeological and architectural.

architecture and archaeology

Archaeological introspection is concerned with the excavation of pre-existing, but buried structures. It is a practice which alternates between gentle sifting and furious digging into our past.

Architectural introspection is concerned with the construction of something new. It is the use of raw materials to build new meaning or a new narrative structure.

Naturally, I suspect that the two are not distinct; they exist on a spectrum, rather than as an either-or choice. However, I have found it useful, in my own moments of reflection, to ask which I am primarily engaged. “Am I attempting to excavate and examine something from my past, or am I engaged in the building of something new?”