It is interesting to me the various places and occasions that move us to consider things and their lighting. Here is one of those occasions:
NPR: Gender and Willingness to Compete.
Of course, this is a general overview presented in its brevity for the purpose of the general education of the reasonably intelligent. But nevertheless, what strikes me is that here again is a questioning that appears out of seemingly nowhere, that confronts the perceived natural order of things. This time, the manner by which we figure to find the best candidate performer of any situation, as well as what the best group of candidates means, and the the very functioning of real mechanisms, is brought to issue. But that is not what is particularly significant to me. What appears significant is not that the system is faulty; rather, it is that the way by which the system has been questioned does not open a new vector for discussion. In fact, it does more than bring the situation in to question; it suggests that there is a substantial lack involved in the situation as it is. If we have been following my ideas through this blog: It actually indicates a particular substance, an actual situation of position that is not able to be considered by the present route of real meaning, even while this route poses its total inclusion.
Now, for those so keen, it is difficult to miss the past 50 years of social justice that can be wrapped up in this situation. The too often misappropriated seminal essay by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s on political representational voice, “Can the Subaltern Speak” begins to stir in memory. But the issue I notice on this pass is not a silence that has been left out due to the functioning of a systematic ideology of oppression; i do not propose a recinciliation of parties. So much of philosophy and critical thinking is dead set upon social justice that almost every contemporary philosopher must enjoin her ideas with political meaning, while missing the ‘subject-effect’. We are indeed still confined by the post-colonial/post-modern appropriation of social justice. Spivak’s critique begins to evoke an end, but it is an end that finds its beginning once the political subaltern has been ‘fully colonized’, or perhaps more politically correct phrasing “free”. For, in that great post-modern era, there was still a sort of idealism that felt somehow the colonial motion could be ‘dissolved’; dissolved indeed it was, but into its enforcer that we call ‘Capitalism’. But make no mistake: We all have been colonized, and most thoroughly. (Zizek: The most difficult thing is to imagine outside of capitalism.) The dream of Spivak and her bud Derrida (and the like) was more than that upon the finding of the question that opened the door to ‘nothing’ thus revealed in the destruction of the soveriegn Western Subject that a multiplicity of agents lay hidden in oppression, but that the universe was indeed constituted by this multiplicity, that freedom was in this release; dread for us to find that this was just a deception that functioned for the West to make everyone Subjects.
Nevertheless; the bodies should be counted and ordered, and everyone has to first speak for this to happen, and there indeed is a value, and a goodness, in bodily freedom, even as it might be theoerticaly bound, (note the first paragraph of pg 68 in Spivak, on desire) Yet those kind of ideal appropriations came about and took place (to take place) in a moment when there was still a kind of exoticism hanging around the West; orientalism still colored the world through the shadow of European colonialism. It was the last age of magical thinking that still could go on with a certain aire of plausibility. Now, though we are still working out the finer details of how the ideals of equality, freedom and human opportunity should be applied, and magically adjusting reality in the processes, even while we try to stamp out the ignorance of at least blatant (if not institutional) racism and bigotry, it is not difficult to see that the World is indeed, and has become, The World in a proper objective sense; as they say, globalism is more than some big idea, media and technology allow us to have good neighbors 3000 and more miles away. It is (now really) a small world after all.
So when we now look at Jean Francios Lyotard’s ‘The Differend’, we might be able to begin to see it in its proper light, apart from the direct appropriations of feminism and race relations; this is to say that while we indeed do involve others in an ethically considerate reflection, we should maybe start, maybe begin to be able, to understand that a reflection never gets further than the view that beholds it – or more precisely, if we have been keeping up, that there are two routes such that there is one type of reflection that does get further than its view.
Consider this latest post in Dark Ecologies about Slavoj Zizek:
REPOST: Stranger in our Midst
The point that is made by Zizek, explained along a particular path in the link, is that the stranger is not someone we do not know. It is not the situation at hand that a stranger is someone foreign to us. Rather, it is that the stranger is the situation that we know all too well. It is not that we don’t know, for his example of the migrants in Europe, these strangers that are coming into our land; on the contrary, we know exactly who and what they are, and it is this kind of knowing that allows the EU to maintain the conditions of its situation as such. We are concerned that these people coming into our country will cause all sorts of catastrophic problems that could lead to the disintegration of the EU (will Britain pull out now? Germany?): Because the integration that is the EU is situated in the terms that tell us exactly what these strangers are, it is the contradiction inherent of the stranger confronting our boarders that frieghtens us and causes all sorts of stir. For example, it is not that migrants are raping our women; everyone is raping everyone all the time no matter what label we put on a group to justify our statistics. We integrate difference into our union by allowing for the stranger to act in strange (or deviant) ways, to thus confirm our boundaries and what we know (qualified by that “we don’t know”) as true.
Yet the significance I see, that which I have been let unto, is that it is in this knowing the stranger that also allows us to perpetually put off and defer what is really strange, what we might say is alien, to merely a stranger who comes in and disrupts everything and does heinous acts. What is alien is that which defies our sense of truth such that it remains invisible to our view. Effective as it may be, we routinely usurp the power of what may be alien through what means truth by virtue of what we see or are able to view, through what means truth allows us to see.
Before we get to this point, though, and as we remain in the political realm of social justice, and derive discourse from the paradigm of a particular vector cycle of meaning (correlational), there is what I have called a partition that allows for the correlational cycle to appear solute, to appear as though it addresses everything that can possibly be. By this partition, we have a position, identity, but it is an identity that is based in what Francios Laruelle might call a philosophical decision. It is this position, the placement of the partition in meaning that can define a paradigm, but also what we can call an intrinsic mythology, what I call, in short, a route of meaning, by which I may situate True Objects.
Yet, when we consider the studies from the first link that shows that women tend not to enter a competitive situation when they know it is competitive even when they will have excelled in the activity, we have an indication of a situation that is viewed as pervasive and ubiquitous as it is prosaic, a situation the meaning of which and the manner of which is commonplace and taken thereby as obviously true; for, a feminist need not be a woman as well as the statistics are speaking of gender. But not only this; usually such a kind of result that brings the question leaves us in a lurch wondering what might be the content of this hole that was created by the available question. Yet here we have also the indication that indeed we can identify the content of the the ‘subaltern’. But see; this is only similar to the colonial recordings of the colonized practices and beliefs, such as Nicholas Dirks notices in his book “Castes of Mind”. Here we do not have to wonder about what might truly be the content of such proscriptions and then wait for the subaltern colonized bodies to speak themselves. Here we know exactly what the content is, or at least that there is indeed a content we know of that we are merely denying. The difference lay, on one hand, in where we place the partition, but on the other, which way we look, in what direction, and how we see things, what i call orientation. Women, Indian-Asian, Native-American, Latino, and more –indeed they were and are being denied by the practice of colonial oppression, but they were being denied as a practice or effect of or because of, not what the colonizer did not want to see, but exactly because of the colonizer could not see. In our present considerations we are not nullifying that there are still bodies that cannot be seen who need to find their voice; instead, we are saying that once the bodies are found and the voices heard then the political no longer is the ‘last frontier’, or to put it in specifically post-modern terms: The ‘fact’ that we might be confined and limited by discourse does not mean that the only recourse we have is to the political-ideological realm, nor to the philosophical iterations that serve to reify its domain; similar to what Mr. Vedantam suggests in the NPR story, such an automatic default is most probably a false choice, a recourse that is seen to be the only route due to the placement of the partition of meaning, but that indeed now we might be able to see that there is some content beyond the limit, and as such, the limit would be then proposing itself in denial of the content that lay beyond it.
Hence, I am also reminded of the situation in which I find myself, because somehow I don’t like to compete and routinely go around direct test comparisons of assets, even though I am a man and (i like to think) quite masculine to boot. It is this apparently auspicious combination of traits that then moves me to withdraw from competition while all the while working on subversive means to win. Like Captain James Kirk in the Kobayashi Maru:
2009 Kirk Cheats
In a way, I don’t like to lose, and because I found myself in a no win (post-modern white wash) situation, I realized that this could not be the absolute case. And in fact, the discourses that revolve around, through and every which way upon a political and ideological, as well as psychological, solution somehow left me out and is leaving me out. Not as a Spivakian subaltern with no voice, but some kind of different invisible content, noticed yet denied.
(Hey; wasn’t there a Vulcan officer in one of the Star Trek movies who was named “Spivak” ???)