Visions of Inner Life: The Performative Techne of Spirit

Performative Techne of Spirit


  • Donnalee Dox Texas A&M
  • Joshua Edelman Senior Lecturer, Department of Contemporary Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University


This chapter considers the performative techne of spirit by viewing inner life through the lens of visual images. The first section links key ideas: inner life and spirituality, contemplative practice, and the performativity of visual images. The second section discusses cultivation of inner life as embodied practice.  The third section offers readings of three genres of visual images, which represent inner life. The techne of visual images mediates the sense of inner life cultivated in contemplative practice by giving that sense sensual form and negotiating between inner self and outer world.


The first genre of images is the infinite regress of representation.  This image performs inner life as a kind of theatre in which the cognitive mind sees itself seeing itself, never perceiving the world outside the mind directly. The second genre performs the meditation posture associated with Buddhist and Yogic traditions. This familiar genre performs the external signs of an embodied inner life.  The third genre depicts a Buddhist monk wearing an EEG cap. This genre answers the phenomenological question of how we can know the insides of other people by promoting a materialist, technologically mediated view of the mind embodied as the brain. 


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