By Nigel Rapport

Transcendent Individual argues for a reappraisal of where of the person in anthropolgical thought and ethnographic writing. A wealth of voices illustrate and tell the textual content, displaying ways that contributors creatively 'write', narrate and animate cultural and social existence. this can be an anthropology imbued with a liberal morality that is prepared to make worth decisions over and opposed to tradition in favour of individuality.
Rapport attracts generally on ethnographic and theoretic fabrics bringing into the controversy quite a number voices, between them Nietzsche, Wilde, George Steiner, Richard Rorty, John Berger and Anthony Cohen. In doing so he techniques individuality by way of a number concerns: organic integrity, realization, corporation, democracy, discourse, globalism, wisdom and play.

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In short, he might be surrounded by the ‘actual facts’ of an objective historico-socio-cultural present, but he can transcend their brutishness, surpass a mere being-in-the-midst-of-things, by attaining the continuous possibility of imagined meanings. His experience cannot be reduced to objective determinants (cf. Kearney 1988:225–241). Imagination is the key in this portrayal: the key resource in consciousness, the key to human existence. Imagination is an activity in which human individuals are always engaged and it is through his imagination that an individual creates and recreates the essence of his being, makes himself what he was, is and will become.

Bruner and Weisser 1991:137). Moreover, in this sense, writing is universal—and always has been. Such ‘writing’ is the special preserve neither of certain cultures and times (literate versus non-literate), nor of certain social classes and occupations (professionals versus workers) (cf. Berger 1979:6). Indeed, there is even an argument to be made that such writing was fundamental to the evolution of our humanity; that reflecting on and giving meaning to experience in a sequential fashion enabled our forebears better to image, project and hence predict the possible behaviour of peers—based on a sense of their own narrational progression, an appreciation of the meanings behind their own actions (Humphrey 1982:476–7; Lewin 1988: passim).

Because they can imagine, human beings are transcendentally free; imagination grants human beings that ‘margin of freedom outside conformity’ which “gives life its savour and its endless possibilities for advance” (Riesman 1954:38). ); in Woolf s words, “something useless, sudden, violent; something that costs a life; …free from taint, dependence, soilure of humanity or care for one’s kind; something rash, ridiculous” (1980:180). For here is an act which, in its gratuity, surpasses rather than merely conserves the givenness in which it arises, which transcends the apparent realities of convention, which seems to resist the traditional constraints by which life is being lived.

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