Monthly Archives: June 2015

Being Celebratory But Not Complacent: Part One (?)

Sometime later today or tomorrow I’ll try to make a more in depth post about gay marriage. For now I just want to mention how you can both celebrate/be happy about gay marriage AND realize that the victory is a victory primarily for those of us that are already fairly comfortable, and that there is much greater oppression facing LGBTQ people, especially Trans people, homeless LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ people who are poor or of colour, LBGTQ people in homo/trans phobic countries or even parts of the US, etc.

It is even possible to retain a queer or “queer lite” opposition to marriage as compulsory and normalizing, and want to keep the project of creating new forms of relating to and being with one another that gay men and lesbians have developed in absence of recourse to heteronormative relational models (akin to what Michel Foucault talks about in his interview “Friendship as a Way of Life”), which I think benefits EVERYONE, and which often involves resistance to marriage, while still being happy for your/our gay brothers and lesbian sisters who ARE extremely exciting about being able to get married.

In other words, it is both possible, and I would even say important, to feel victorious without becoming complacent.

“Radical” and “Political” as the Fast Tracks for Success in Academia , the Arts, and Cultural Analysis

It often feels as though in the general broader bobo/creative class milieu (which I’m part of for better or worse), but especially the subset of that milieu with substantive Academic interests or aspirations in Continental Philosophy or Cultural Studies; being “radical” is one of the only ways to be “political”, and being “political” is the only way to have a meaningful contribution, per the current artistic-intellectual discourse. I’m not radical and I’m not that interested in politics in the old-fashioned and governmental functioning sense of the word, but in the academic-aesthetic world a centerist to center-left person like me who could and should be much more informed about politics and current events can be considered both radical and political by virtue of my interest in radical thinkers and provocative ideas and rethinkings of social ontology. Which is definitely good for me, especially since I’m considering an academic career, but I’m not sure how good it is for serious politics, serious radicalism, or for the integrity and heterogeneity of academia (both in terms of people who are not at all radical making pretenses to radicalism and their being a sort of conformity to a predetermined idea of radicalism which excludes both real radicals AND people who are not radical or are unable to market themselves as such).

Foundationalism, Deconstruction, and the Relational Paradox

When you become attached to something or someone in a particular way, whether it is a person (especially a best friend or significant other), or a text (especially a religious or philosophical text), or even a guiding motif like Being or God or Love or The Human; such that you don’t put it on a pedestal but rather take it or them as a grounding and stabilizing foundation, and something to return to like a compass, to help you get your bearings, you end up draining it of a variety of important things, which are connected but also not reducible to each other.

  • Their meaning
  • Their uniqueness
  • The distinct features of their character
  • Their foreigness, alterity, and difference; in relation to you. Their distance from and closeness to you (if they are a person) is also diluted because a relationship of any sort between people requires a degree of distance, autonomy, foreignness, and in some sense discreteness of the two parties. This is part of the Relational Paradox (which has other meanings in addition to what I am using here). The paradox of all connections with persons and things is that, in order to preserve the relationship, you must be partway out of the relationship, because if you are fully present in the relationship or defined by it, you will destroy it as a relationship. Connection, when it is authentic and meaningful, is always connection to something foreign.
  • Their foreigness, alterity, and difference in relation to themselves. To “foundationalize” something or someone is to command that that thing or person to smooth out surprises, paradoxes, and inconsistencies, so they can function as a more reliable security blanket for you.
  • In relation to the previous component, their lack of being able to make themselves manifest or assert themselves as full, immediate, direct, solid presence and substantiality. To rely on a book, for example, as your “go to” text or your Bible (whether it is actually a religious document or not) requires that you homogenize and familarize it in terms of smoothing out the internal self-differentiation by which it communicates its meaning (because self-differentiation is a crucial part of writing-no one would *continue* writing any more than they had previously written unless the new writing is going to either complexify, contradict, or somehow be at odds with what was previously written) and censuring what Derrida would call the “free play” of the text.
  • This is necessary because in order for your “bible” to serve as a fundamental ground for you all elusiveness (which includes all playfulness) and inaccessibility must be eliminated so there is no possibility of its communication of meaning. The communication of meaning requires a fluidity which is unstable. Therefore, once a text (or person or concept or place, etc.) is dried up of its capacity to communicate a meaning through a flow (which is both a metaflow and a flow into foreign territory) it can now serve as the univocal/nonvocal architectural grounding of pure presence. Whether the “transcendental signified”, to quote Derrida again, is God or Love or Truth or Being or The Human or The World, they all, once they have reached the treatment as Holy Grail of pure presence, have fundamentally the same meaning. A ground is a ground is a ground. The purpose of a Ground is help one “get situated” through the guiding light of an ultra-palpable univocal familiarity, so one can bravely navigate the ambiguity and alterity of the larger world. A Ground has no meaning outside of the stability it is meant to provide, as a cozy place to approach future meanings,
  • One might wonder why this all matters. I will talk more about the ethics and psychology of this in a later post.