Explain Lugones’ notion of ‘world’-travelling and its relevance to ‘loving perception.’

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Lugones introduces a great many terms in her analysis of playfulness, world- travelling, and the loving perception. When clarification is sought in the connection between world travelling and loving perception, defining these concepts is vitally important.  Lugones defines the concept of worlds in a distinct manner:  

A "world" in my sense may be an actual society given its dominant culture's description and construction of life, including a construction of the relationships of a production, of gender, of race etc.  But a "world" can also be such a society given a non- dominant construction, or it can be such a society or society given an idiosyncratic construction.  As we will see it is problematic to say that these are all constructions of the same society.  But, they are different "worlds."  A world need not be a construction of a whole society.  It may be a construction of a tiny portion of a particular society... Some "worlds" are bigger than others.

The "world" is one in which individuals identify themselves and others.  They are not rigid appropriations of the arrogant understanding of the world.  They are fluid and dynamic.  It is for this reason that one cannot really answer "What is a Hispanic?" or other questions that reflect rigid understandings.  Lugones defines human identity in a complex manner, one that is not entirely rigid and defined in a monistic manner: "Those of us who are 'world'-travelers have the distinct experience of being different in different 'worlds' and of having the capacity to remember other 'worlds' and ourselves in them." For example, Lugones refuses to define herself as either a "woman" or one who is Hispanic. She is a world traveller, one that flows between both and other worlds of her perception.  This becomes critical in understanding one's "world" and the ease with which they travel in their own world and in other worlds. 

Part of the reason why Lugones defines world in such a manner is to reject the "arrogance" that has defined human consciousness.  Lugones borrows Frye's construction.  Frye argues that arrogant perception is rooted in "phallocratic machinations."  Such considerations advocate a divisive and reductive mentality in which individuals view one another in binary terms, reducing the complexity of human narrative and voice.  This perception creates division where there should be identification and solidarity.  Lugones argues that part of her advocacy in creating "worlds" is to embrace Frye's plea that "the loving eye is contrary to the arrogant eye."

This is where world- travelling and the loving perception are vital to one another.  The loving perception embraces "the eye of one who knows that to know the seen, one must consult something other than one's own will and interests and fears and imagination." The loving perception is one that allows different worlds to exist. It is a perception devoid of the arrogant need to demonize and invalidate other experiences.  Lugones suggests that in seeing oneself in a loving perspective, world travelling is authenticated because the individual sees "oneself as an agent in a fuller sense than one experiences oneself in other 'worlds.'"  In this way, Lugones' experiences of loving and world travelling are bound to one another.

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