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February 06, 2009

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Coleman

I believe this is what makes Badiou's thought a great contribution for the Left. The notion that every human animal is an infinite multiplicity ("uniqueness") is lowered, as it were, to a trivial ontological fact, rather than standing as the highest discovery of philosophy and the cornerstone of modern governance. It isn't something to celebrate or cultivate, this uniqueness simply is.

Jodi

thanks for your comment, Coleman; my Badiou knowledge is weak, although not entirely nonexistent; your remark helps me organize some of my scattered assumptions/knowledge/reading

Eric S Gregory

Please kill my me.

Dale

I wonder how the current prospect of a major downturn potentially affects this discourse of the special individual. I recognize that this is a wholly unoriginal question, but what better place to begin subsuming my irrepressable self, than in an unoriginal question?

I have what I'm sure is a hackneyed and overblown impression of the 1930s as a period where people pulled together to build public works, form new forms of solidarity, etc., all of this culminating in the vast public works project that was WW2.

What I'm concerned about is, what happens when a similar crisis hits the subject shaped by the radical atomization of neoliberal culture? Decades of lobbying, union-busting, downsizing, corporate restructuring, and the culture of the individuated consumer rebel -- all of these things have eroded the kinds of resources of shared community and interdependence that, one presumes, allowed people to make their way through the harrowing years of the Depression.

So it becomes a chicken-and-egg thing: does the prospect of crisis force the issue, imposing on us a complete reformulation of cultural values, such that forms of solidarity and communitarian thinking rise to the forefront? (I get a hopeful wiff of this when I see the public enthusiasm for a capping of executive pay.)

Or, conversely, does the *absence* of any intuitive memory of those values in post-millenial culture create the conditions where an even more brutally atomized social compact becomes the norm?

Jordan

Unique does not imply special. Unique is a fact. Special is a way of life. It is the way of life that requires us to destroy the earth -- special is thanatic. And nobody doesn't love Sara Lee.

Jennifer Cascadia

One of the very counterintuitive aspects of Western individualism is that you are not permitted to claim difference for yourself in a way that implies radical difference. People immediately become offended by this, perhaps more than they would about anything else. You cannot be permitted to be outside of the paradigm that determines that "difference" does not in fact pertain to one's being but to the potential of one's being to make "free" choices about the products one will buy (speaking metaphorically and literally).

I have noticed a similar phenomenon -- that is is verboten to speak of "Western" as if it implied a set of cultural values that you can recognise and distinguish from cultural values that exist elsewhere. To speak thus implies a notion of difference (that differentiates between groups) that seems to go very much against the grain of how Westerners would like to see themselves. They don't want to stand out as different as a GROUP, but only as individuals, so they will not tolerate reference to their values as reference to the values of a group.

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