An attempt to tie together conceptions of expressionism in various different domains.
Self expression is a basic human need. We don't all need it in the same way (it is of its nature personal) or to the same extent but in some way, to some extent it is an essential part of what we are. It is my aim in writing this page to think this through, partly by gathering together its diverse manifestations, and to see whether some insights might come out of it that may be helpful in doing it better.

There is some point in considering the origins of the need for self expression. I can only speculate about this, but my speculations influence my perspective on self-expression and so whether sound or not (you may make your own judgement) they are a useful bit of context.

I understand the need for self-expression as profoundly ingrained in us all by the process of evolution. It is a part of our social being which can be traced back to the very earliest stages in the evolution of life. One of the earliest life forms is bacterial, and even these early bacterial are engineered as social beings. They live in colonies, and they are engineered for the benefit of the colony.

When such bateria reproduce they produce offspring which differ depending upon whether food is plentiful or scarce at the time of reproduction. If food is plentiful the offspring are designed to feed and reproduce rapidly so that the colony grows. When food is scarce the offspring are designed for finding new resources. They explore for food, and they emit chemical messages which signal whether they are or are not sucessful.

This is a mode of self expression in organisms so primitive (unicellular) that they have no nervous system.

From these primitive beginnings, sociality has evolved continuously, exploiting to the full the development from instinctual to more advanced forms of adaptive behaviour, has played a role in the evolution of intelligence, and is now deeply engrained in out being. Two complementary aspects of our being work together in this. Self expression is closely coupled with self selection. Each of us seeks that place in society where we can be of greatest benefit, selecting for him or herself that place, albeit after an extended and excruciating search. Thoughout this process we continuously signal to those around us who we are and how well we are succeeding in finding that place.

Kinds of Expressionism

I'm using this term very loosely and rather personally here. Loosely because I talk under this heading of Wu Wei a concept from Tao which is more often described as spontaneity than as self expression, and of a generalised notion of stream of consciousness a literary style, of an approach to philosophy for which I am groping, and of a way of life which is itself a kind of philosophy.

Where the term has been used by others, in art and music for example, I do not use it in the same sense, for what expressionism involves depends upon what these others who have chosen the word have inside them to express, and often these are extreme.


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