EEE – Exercises in Existential Eccentricity

"Movements, Artefacts, Transitions" 

By Barb Macek

The presented video is a visual summary of the first trials with the method EEE, developed to investigate the relation between the concept of "eccentric positionality" in Helmuth Plessner’s biophilosophy and the human condition labeled "SLE - Systemic Lupus Erythematosus" (i.e. an autoimmune disease) for the project: "Autoimmunity and Anthropological Difference" (2019-2023). 

The EEE (exercises in existential eccentricity) stand for a practical and daring research method, exposing the researcher in her vulnerability as a chronically ill person. They involve artefacts related to the illness narrative, and constant transitions between the centre and the periphery, eliciting different self-aspects. The aim of these investigations is the development of a new concept of autoimmunity.


About the project "Autoimmunity and Anthropological Difference" by Barb Macek:


Autoimmune diseases have become a global health problem, with rising numbers of people affected. But cause and genesis of these diseases are still unresolved, so finding new ways to understand the underlying processes is in demand.

Aiming at a new conception of autoimmunity I developed a technique titled "Exercises in Existential Eccentricity" (EEE) within the framework of autoethnography and the philosophical anthropology of Helmuth Plessner.

Plessner coined the term "existential eccentricity" to describe a specific positionality of beings who exist in self-distance caused by their ability of self-reflection. The project hypothesis postulates that this anthropological peculiarity plays a role within autoimmune dynamics.

The research question asks: Are autoimmune diseases manifestations of an existence in eccentric positionality?

The EEE were designed to investigate the hypothesis in a practical and daring way by exposing the researcher in her vulnerability as being affected by a chronic autoimmune disease. The technique involves a set of questions derived from the main themes of the anamnesis, but also photographs and objects that are related to the illness narrative. These artefacts serve as stimuli, activating different self-aspects in the process of the inquiry. But the central feature of the EEE are constant transitions, referring to the category of existential positionality, practised as movements between the centre and the periphery, eliciting different voices and engaging them in an intense dialogue.

Finally, the obtained data are transferred into poems by means of poetic transcription. The results are expected to expand our understanding of autoimmunity and provide new images to help people cope with autoimmune diseases.