At 04:35 PM 11/25/1999 +1100, you wrote: >Writes Doug, > >>This will no doubt exasperate the Judy-haters, following Butler's in >>Bodies That Matter, it's interesting to watch how & when "biological" >>arguments are invoked - as a last ditch effort to limit the >>social/discursive analysis of social/discursive phenomena and ground >>them instead in some unalterable Real. That's just what Rob is doing >>here - resisting arguments based on gender (and class) relations and >>shifting attention to the realm of the gene. Last time I looked, >>genes couldn't talk, though lots of people profess to talk for them. > > >So is it a theory you reject, Doug (I acknowledge 'the selfish gene' is >'only' a theory - but what isn't)? And am I resisting arguments based on >gender, or rather suggesting gender theory might not explain everything? >This could conceivably matter, as it would be sad, I think, to see in every >older man/younger woman sexual relationship a manifestation of structural >tyranny. I realise I'm a bit theoretically old-fashioned (theorising a >natural realm at play in our experience 'n' all), but all we're doing is >discussing theories that can either contend or complement. > >I don't see why the latter is out of the question unless we insist that, >for instance, the only way a womb manifests in life is according to the >idea of it and the concomitant positioning of its owner - as I took >Catherine to be suggesting. Sure, to apprehend something is inevitably to >allocate meaning, a meaning at once conditioned by, and itself conditioning >of, material relations. > >But wombs would still be there, and still affecting our world, if we did >not apprehend them and they were not part of our structure of meanings. >Same with genes. But, of course, how genes actually operate in >conditioning our behaviour, and how powerful they are as against the >determinations of a gendered society, I can't know. Only theorise. > >I was being consciously political in my little intervention only so far as >to question possibly tyrannical certainties (which can blight the >constructivist left as much as the uncritically naturalist mainstream). >Or, at least, that's what I thought I was doing. > >Anyway, I subscribe to quite a few theories that don't sit well with how >amenable to our desires I'd like the world to be. Just as genes might >condition sexual preferences in a sexually reproducing species, so might >members of such a species be consigned to inevitable death. Don't like >that theory much, either, but as a theory it's a hard one to best. > >Cheers, >Rob. ------------------------- yet rob, you make absolutely no argument that explains to me how it is that a womb affects the world in and of itself. what does a womb do in the world that shapes social relations? how is it that possessing a womb --with or without a view-- matters to me or anyone else outside of the social relations that make it matter? i may come to have a disease associated with the malfunctioning of my womb but what has that to do with my woman-ness, how i'm thought of by you, treated by you and so forth? men have adam's apples and women don't. does that define them as men? i have a special necklace--a stuffed trophy cock and pair of balls. i wear it all the time to work and yet i can tell you without a doubt that this does not ensure that i get treated like a man! i certainly don't get salary offers in job interviews that a man would. and yet i have in my possession those things that make me a man, no? is it that i have to get an erection? but then are men who don't have erections not men? ejaculations? what about men who can't ejaculate? oh wait, i need testosterone coursing thru my body, is that it? phooey capooey on that! the research in that arena has a dismal record. maybe the selfish gene mattered eons ago. i cannot see how it matters now other than we are dealing with the hangover from the eons long drunk we were on making it matter so much.. and as i said, we have social customs, practices and institutions such that we don't need to order our lives according to some biological imperatives in any one-to-one pointer reader way. and what i don't get is that, if this is about evolutionary theory, then why has no one evolved beyond the daze when men dragged women around by their hair? also, how is that you ignore the research that suggests that our social conditions shape the biological? the brain research that shuggests that the brain changes under social conditions ? why ignore research that suggests something counter or fatal to your argument? and don't accuse me of same. i could deal with research about how testosterone makes men more agressive. i'd simply say, so what? that doesn't mean that we have to accept aggression or the behavior they engage in and if it's an issue then we can make special places for them to go to constructively expel it. and what is so great about older men/younger women relationshps that anyone would feel the need to justify them? there is no imperative to procreate as much as we do. yes, we might like to keep it up if we think humans are important. but surely there is no procreative imperative driving our sexual behavior. and i am praying to all known deities that, even as a het man, you don'tsimplyfuckfor [dd-edit] the sake of making babies. pity your wife if you do! such deprivation no one should have to endure! so what if it's hardwired to desire younger women. social criticism ought to be enough to suggest that maybe the practice isn't so great. and why have you an objection to my argument about the relative value of men on the dating marriage market. you have yourself told me that you're quite aware that women have standards such that they'd find all sorts of men attractive and for that you thanked your lucky stars, as i recall. these were your observations of the singles scene in canberra, no? speaking of which, are there some cross cultural comparisons we can draw on , eh? i am absoultely certain that somewhere there is some evidence to indicate that there is something a bit dippy about the selfish gene theory. i should sub to the anthro list and ask....oh wait wait wait! ihave some dorky family sociology texts which i never use. ahhh hah! here it is. why didn't i think of this before?!!! sorry this is for the US, but the avg age diff is 2 years, with women two yrs yonger. 1970s, women were older in 12% of marriages; in 1988 they were older in 20% --this says little about *how* much older. i don't think 5 or so years is *that* significant, particularly since folks are, today, marrying at later average ages and are thus exposed to a wider age range of people than they were throughout the bulk of this century. at any rate, here's some cross cultural historical evidence. yes, historically most societies revealed that men typically married younger women. but the numbers aren't that great.--the differences ranged from 2-5 years for the most part. the one exception is Asian societies where the age differences were sometimes as great as 10 yrs. [still not talking 15+ as i was talking about when i spoke of my academic colleagues.] the argument is that there is a strong correlation between bigger age gaps and greater oppression of women. where women are seen as useless on the market, to be dispensed with and not worth much [recall the hangover of the 'dowry' included with a gal to make her worth taking] because she somehow didn't contribute to her community in as valuable ways as men did. how is it possible that women could have been considered so worthless? if reproduction is so all fired important, one would think that women would be revered and seen as very important, no? what follows is a bit controversial or rather, it will piss some folks off, but here goes: there was a "distinctive western european family pattern, characteristic of England, the Netherlands and northern France which was found already in the late Middle ages. [...] the 'modern' family pattern did not have to wait for industrialization and modern capitalism to develop; it was there in these rural farming societies [conversely, there is evidence that industrialism did not cause the breakdown of the family when it became ascendent in the the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries]. The western european family did not exist everywhere. it had some distinctive characteristics not found elsewehere in the world. the household was nuclear [prior to the ind. rev.], consisting only of parents with their young children. [my insertion: it was the wealthy who had extended families. the working class did not]. [...] In the western Euro family, there was a rleatively small age gap between husbands and wives. typically the husband was about two or three years older, although as many as one fifth of all marriages the wife was older. [this was probably due to the strong tendency for a widow to inherit her husband's business] in eastern europe or asian societies, husbands were likely to be much older than wives. [...] in the western european family, women inparticular put off marrying and chidbearing until they were older. this is one reason that the complex, extended family is more often found in non-western societies where women married young, bore more children early.... [...] finally, the western euro family was unique in having a high proportion of servants and in typically sending its members out to work as servants during their early adult years. in nonwestern euro societies, servants werw much less common. typically only upper class households would have servants, whereas in england and w euro even small peasant proprietors were likely to have them. [...] if by the 'modern family,' then, we mean the nuclear family it is certainly not a recent development. why it should have appeared in western euro already by the middle ages but not elsewhere in the world is a puzzle that has not yet been solved. but this is not to say that no important changes have occured in the wetern family in the last few centuries. [...] looking at the comparative evidence, it appears that the socities in whcih there is the largest age gap between the spouses are the ones in which men have the most power over women. these are the socities in which the marriage market is treated most callously, as a way for powerful men to acquire women as their sexual property. the improvements in the status of women in w. society are related to the shortening of the age gap. there is some indiciation that, as women's status now undergoes another important change, the age gap between husbands and wives is narrowing further still. it is also true that women are marrying later than ever before. at the same time, women feel pressure to marry and have more incentive aws well as more economic resources to stay independent. as this happens, it may well be that our conception of the peak of physical attraactiveness may shift to an older age: toward the woman in her late twenties or thirties rather than the teenager." randall collins and scott coltrane, sociology of marriage and the family: gender, love and property 1991. kelley ---------------------------- > When Prof B goes to the gynecologist -- which I assume she does -- is >it because she wants to "perform" being a woman? Or is it that she needs >a pap smear? If I perform my gender differently, can I trade in >worrying about breast cancer for worrying about my prostate? ----------------- no. but that doesn't mean that gender isn't performed in the doctor's office and every where else for that matter. recognizing that doesn't mean that i or anyone else is saying that we can or should ignore sex based biological differences that *make* a difference in terms of health care. but that's *all* they should make a difference about. but that is not what happens. and the anxiety exhibited here over erasure of those differences exhibits, i think, this weird fear het men have that we're advocating androgyny or some such nonsense. that we're going to rip away from them all those delightful little differences in behavior, dress, flirting, etc that are apparently so important. who says that? my mother tells me, btw, that brain research is showing that younger stroke patients arent' exhibiting the differences. but what having a womb or a prostate has to do with the majority of my life or yours or men's shouldn't matter altogether that much. it does not meant htere will be no differences if we undermine the status quo. it does mean that, i hope, there will be no inequalities in the distribution of 'social goods' based on those differences. it's really that simple. kelley -------------------- >And just so the guys don't think I'm totally kissing up with my talk about >how men lack a sense of commitment and responsibility, here's a movie review >from The Evening Standard. (sorry, I couldn't resist) ----------------- tell me yoshie, can you imagine any white person on this list feeling compelled to qualify their anti-racist typings in the above way in order to forestall criticisms or judgement from other whites because they've taken the "anti racist white" position in a debate and buttressed points made by blacks speaking to the issue of racism? that's what i mean: the dynamics *are* different. you collect anti racist street cred by positioning yourself in debates over race that you don't accrue to nearly the same degree as you do by positioning yourself as a "feminist guy" again, i'm not positing some hierarchy of one being worse than the other, but i think the differences ought to be acknowledged. --------- >Peter "feminist guy" K. ------------ sorry to single you ought peter but this post did strike me as a particularly good example of how un-cool it is be a feminist sometimes. it is, no doubt, especially uncool for men to negotiate that terrain. as for this: ------------------ > and supermodel propaganda that when Ms Russo (45) comes along, or Catherine > Deneuve (55) knocks everyone for a loop in Place VendTMme, there's a sudden ---------------- but of course, the real shocker is that they don't *look* 45 or 55. how often do you hear anyone say, but sly doesn't look 50+ isn't that great? you hear that far more regarding woment than men. in relation to a point i made earlier about women supposedly having naturally beautiful bodies and men not, this is tied in with the above: women are held responsible for not maintaining that supposedly natural beauty. letting themselves go is defiling the temple as it were. men don't have that sort of standard held up to them --at least they haven't had it systematically held up to them thus far, tho that may be changing. ----------------- > The strange thing is that here we have an open secret, about sex, which is > actually known to more men than it is to women. Conversations among the male > trade union will turn up as many yearning or enviable observations about > merry widows and mature divorcees as it will boastful remarks about > cradle-snatching or jailbait (well, almost as many). And yet huge numbers of > women refuse to believe this, and can't credit the fact that men often like > someone with a bit of mileage on her. Better company, for one thing. And it > can help to have been round the block a few times. Stop me before I say that > there's no substitute for experience. --------------- this isn't a shocker to me at all. i know from experience and having lots of very good male friends that men's desire isn't determined in any straigtforward way by media, social customs, etc. maybe this is for the too much info file, but here goes. when i was a kid, my mother would smack me on the bottom and register delight that i had such a 'rock hard' bottom from all the exercise. i was convinced then that this was a desirable trait in general. lo and behold i grew up to learn that i knew far more men who like jiggly bottoms and breasts than those who don't. now, why this happens is not easy to explain. but, this heterogeneity wrt desire does not cancel out the effects of the media and the men who control the ways in which women are reperesented. it is, it seems to me, one of the ways in which women are regulated, it's a puzzle to me as to why media folks would want to represent a limited range of body types when, in their own experience, they must recognize much more diversity than they are willing to register in the media products they create. i suspect that so much of it has to do with the research--focus groups and the like kelley [who notes that there are advantages younger men accrue to dating/marrying older women. 1. if the woman is not wealthy, then the men are seen as very cool for putting intellect and character above beauty. iow, men are given bonus points for being exceptions [just as, arlie hochschild points out in the _ second shift_, men who do more than the avg man are treated as living gods that must be praised for what they do [[even when they don't do half of the housework, but simply more than the avg man]] 2. if insecure, younger men derive the benefit of feeling that the older woman they're with will feel profoundly grateful for his attentions and, thereby, do all that she can to keep it together. 3. as those relationships age and she starts to sag and wrinkle far more than before, that is held against her --he can do so and she can do so--prosecute her for aging and letting herself go--on behalf of the gender ideologies swirling about her.] -------------------- At 05:34 PM 11/25/1999 -0500, you wrote: >kelley wrote: no. but that doesn't mean that gender isn't performed in the doctor's >> office and every where else for that matter. recognizing that doesn't >> mean that i or anyone else is saying that we can or should ignore sex based >> biological differences that *make* a difference in terms of health care. >> but that's *all* they should make a difference about. > ---------------- > Well, you write that you are obsessed with having another child in the >next five years. Don't know exactly how old you are, but doesn't the >deadline -- and the obsession -- relate to your female biological clock? >If you were a man, you could be a bit more relaxed. Especially since as >a single person, you as a man could find a young fertile woman and have >that second child after you got tenure! > Don't you think it matters that girls sexually mature earlier than >boys (or, if you prefer, boys mature later than girls?) That a girl can >be impregnated at eleven or twelve? By any old creep who rapes her? >These are not mere "health care" matters. They are biological matters >that structure our political concerns. > >katha > > ----------------------- you know, i don't get why once again my argument has been misconstrued. where have i denied biology here?. what has my biological clock got to do with whether i get paid the same as a man or why do i end up in the dean's office accounting for a sociological lesson [using swear words in class as part of a soc lesson] when my students inform me that male profs say fuck all the time and they're not even saying it as part of an ethnomethodological demonstration!? why is it that i acknowledge physical difference and said that i want a world in which those don't matter in terms of the distribution of social goods--broadly understood--and yet i am still accused of something i'm not saying or am called to account for something that is not implied in any way shape or form by what i typed. biological clock won't likely shut down til i'm 55 which gives me plenty of time to have a kid. way more than five years. so where's the bioloical determinism in that? the sound of the clock ticking away happens a lot later than it used to for women. certainly a lot of social going into that supposedly biologically determined pattern of thinking. indeed, it wasn't much a topic of anyone's conversation til the 60s/70s. why is that? of course, i could simply have a child without being with a man, no? so why am i not imagining that i can't have a child easily enough in the next five years or 15 years for that matter? . that has nothing to do with my clock then and it has everything to do with two things: 1. the money factor and 2. that it's socially unacceptable to bear child without a man instead of asking about how my biology shapes my destiny we should be asking why i felt so compelled to have a child to begin with. isn't that the real question we should be asking? isn't that feeling one of the very big reasons for women's social condition--the equation of feminity with childbearing and [sliding along the signifying chain] with child rearing and with diaper changing and grocery shopping and toilet scrubbing and with emotionality and sentiment and with the so called autonomous choice to become a member of the 'helping" professions --all these rooted in the myth that childbearing is so determinative of feminitity? and further, the research shows that het men have a biological clock too. most het men start to get anxious these days if they haven't found someone by the time they're thirty five. and most men will put a limit on what age they would like to have children. there is *nothing* obviously biological about that. the social apparently completely determines that sentiment. in terms of medical evidence, men's sperm producitivity does diminish as does their ability to produce healthy offspring. if rob were right about this selfish gene, then you'd think men's drive to procreate would end right about the time their sperm productivity dropped off. but that isn't the case and it surely didn't shape the cultures we createdover the ages. i am not now, btw, obsessed about having a child. i said that in five years iw ould probably freak out which was simply my hyperbolic way of saying i'd go through a mild depression about it all. and certainly that would be bound up with a feeling of failure because i didn't land a relationship in that time that would enable me to do so. so it's not *just* about having a children but a host of other things, to be quite honest. i doubt that i would feel that badly about it in any event. firstly i have a child. secondly, i enjoy having the freedom i have to do all kinds of things that i couldn't when danny was little. so i'm actually quite torn about it for the most part. i suspect that i would fully go with the latter feeling if so much of my experiences didn't suggest other things. kelley ------------------------- A >Doug -- I don't think anyone on this list denies that social conditions >shape how we experience our biology. But it's quite a leap from saying >that childbirth means different things in different contexts to saying >that biological sex is itself a constructed category. I find people >often assert the latter, but give evidence and examples only for the >former--and use that slippage to tar those who disagree with the more >extreme statement as closet sexists, genetic determinists etc. > >Katha > ------------------ to say that biology is socially constructed is *not* and *never* is about saying that we simply apply willy nilly over the obvious physical differences anything we want.n it is not saying that discourse can determine whether we get melanoma or sickle cell anemia. those are two physical diseases associated with "race" that find have absolutely not plausible meaning in definintions of race and yet we know they exist, we know they are biological differences and we give them absolutely no important meaning currently in how we think of who has race and who doesn't and whether race is a social construct or not. the notion that the social can physical create biology or anything of the sort--as if we're magic-- is not what anyone has *ever* said in this discussion. nor is it what butler said as far as i can tell from reading excerpts. what it means to say that it's socially constructed is that how we make meanings out of the biological differences and how we see them and what we point to as important and what is not is absolutely social and does not and is not determined in any straightforward way by something intrinsic located in the body. [all social and physical scientists understand this about scientific research so it's hardly a revolutionary claim] rob's examples were perfect examples of the social construction of instinct/biology. he wanted to say, as he told me off list, that it's instinctual to eat. but what did he describe that as? as soon as he attempted to locate a biological instinct, as soon as he tried to order it, conceptualize it, he came up with an extraordinarily specific example that is not determined by the instinctual and, as i pointed out, is clearly historically specific --it requires property to steal, it requires capitalism to have a commodity, it requires money to purchase something. it requires the notion of scarcity of food and so on. rob was imagining a situation in which he was in a store and became hungry and wanted to eat. well, i guess he can do that. i do all the time. i snatch an apple and then i pay for it at the end of the shopping trip. forpetesake. had he simply said, it's human instinct to eat i could hardly have objected. but it's when he attempted to render it meaningful in a social context and to show how he might not follow his instincts, *then* it became eminently social and carried a lot of baggage that is quite debatable. had he simply said humans have an instinct for the contact of other human beings, no biggie. sounds plausible. but to say that his instincts even are involved in any important way in a desire to touch a stranger is organizing, locating, fixing, constructing an instinctual need in the realm of the social in a fundamental way. the point though is that in and of themselves statements like humans need to eat and need other human contact are unremarkable. it is in the attempt to order them, organize them, show what it means to say 'contact' or 'eat' that we immediately enter the social and cannot escape it. whether judy is ahistorical, i don't know. i've not read bodies. but i do know that there are tons of social constructionisms, plenty of materialist social constructionisms and marxist ones as well. so there's no reasons to say all constructionisms are the same or can be reduced to judy. ------------------- >to 55, when having a baby at 55 -------------- meant to type 45 as that's when my mother went through menopause. most women i know go through it about 50ish ------------- would put you on the front page of the >Times, especially if you did it without hugely expensive fertility >interventions. (and this is leaving out whether you would want to be the >mother of a fifteen year old when you were 70!). For men, you decrease >the age of possible paternity by talking about LOWERED sperm production, >but it only takes one, and there's med science to help, also. --------------- yes, which makes it no different than women then really. i see absolutely no significant differences. and further, one thing that should be pointed out, when it comes to fertility during peak childbearing years it's usually men who are infertile! but for years no one bothered to do that research because of how we organized gender and thus how we organized biology, how we acted on it, shaped it, performed it, thought about, talked about it, researched it. so, what is interesting *to me* is that we are placing such importance on men's ability to father children and women's in ability to mother children as they age. what is that all about. and funny that ! you can say father a child and have it mean something quite specific--but you can't say mother a child and have it mean the same thing. lord god but that's the first time this occurred to me. kewl. --------------------- We all >know "start over dads" who father second sets of kids in their fifties. > Sure there are going to be exceptions, but IN GENERAL the chances of a >55 yr old man being fertile are about a thousand times greater than for >a female (not a scientific estimate). -------------------- but again, the point is, that has very little relevance today as to how we organize the economy or childrearing or education or anything. gender is about all that and biological sex traits have little determination in how we think of gender because gender involves so much more and so there's a huge gap that is completely underdetermined by biological sex traits. how we think of gender, it is important to point out, has a lot to do with how we think of biology. that no one has done much research on male contraception is a result of that kind of thinking. that only til recently have they realized that older men also contribute to down syndrome and other diseases is the result of the way we organize gender conceptually [and how we perform it--that is act on it] it's only been in the last two decades that we've finally learned that *most* cases of infertility result from male biology, not female and that is because of how we organize our thinking about biology. doctors are always policing pregnant mother's behavior. now they're realizing that the father's intake of drugs and alcohol affect his sperm production and the production of malfunctioning sperm that, they say, has some influence on birth defects. that men don't breast feed is the result of a social organization that has rendered it difficult for men's bodies to to do so. men have all the physical infrastructure to do so and there is anthro evidence and current evidence to suggest that men could breast feed. men with pituitary cancer lactate because the cancer stimulates the production of pitocin. my mother heard some papers at a conference not too long ago that revealed that introducing the breast milk into a man's body is enough to stimulate lactation combined with a few days of suckling and upping the estrogen levels if he needs it since he already has estrogen . but this is no different than what it takes to stimulate lactation in a woman who has not been pregnant or is menopausal. of course, the research is very new so problem highly unreliable. but isn't it thrilling to think that men can lactate right now?? isn't it wild that no one ever much thought about it til recently, despite evidence otherwise? in any event, there's a very real example in which biology has shaped by the social organization of human lives--by not use a male biological trait--it atrophied. kelley for info on male lactation see: "Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality " Jared Diamond [Why don't men breastfeed their babies. The non-evolution of male lactation] 1997 "Breast Feeding and Human Lactation,": Jan Riordan & Kathy Auerbach 1993 "Breastfeeding: a Guide for the Medical Profession," Ruth Lawrence 1989 the papers on using breast milk to stimulate lactation i'm not sure where to find those. i'll ask my mother though. --------------- And that does structure how each >sex feels about the timing of reproduction. It's just like death: you >might live to be 110, but you can't count on it. > > Katha > > --------------------- Rob: Look Kelley, pour yourself a cuppa, sit back, and read what I said. Coz I didn't say anything to warrant you're saying this: ------------- >it's just plainly a hypocrisy to assert that discourse theory is wrong >because it's totalizing and turn around and say that your claims are just >what you believe and you can't prove them which as you should know has >little to do with absolute proof or any sort of claim to absolute knowledge >and everything to do with subjecting them to the community of inquirers. ------------- I didn't say discourse theory was wrong. There's tons of it about, and lots of different versions, after all. I expressly said on several occasions that only appeals to discourse as monad were my concern, because I thought that this had tyranny written all over it. Simply put, don't theories such that you would one day have to enforce young women's freedom by disallowing them to have sexual relations with older blokes seem problematic is all I was asking. I allowed for the possibility I'd read too much into Yoshie's post, but that was the one to set me off. And that's all. Actually I thought you and I had sufficiently agreed on the *point* ages ago, and was merely correcting your misreadings of what I'd said. Peter did not misunderstand them in this way - indeed he expressed qualified agreement. You did misunderstand them, twice. Not because you're not a much more sophisticated social theorist than I. Not because the theory to which you subscribe is crap. Not because you're not a democratically inclined open-minded person. I don't think these things, never said 'em - none of 'em. You didn't read my 'last bleat' post carefully enough. That's all. Else I'd've shut-up and got out of this morrass then and there. And you're right about absolute proof, Kel - indeed demanding it has itself been a handy way of shutting people up. And that's all I meant. If you don't think we still have instincts or if you think any allusion to selfish gene stuff in any context is crap, go right ahead. I'm no scholar in the area, and I haven't the time to. I post stuff that seems sensible to me, that's all. This isn't an examination board. ------------- >if you don't subject your claims and reasons to that community then what >are they other than akin to burps at the table --to be ignored or hooted >at in the conversation. why? because the assertion of the claim has no >intention of engaging others in dialogue. it is fundamentally rude or >laughable. it is clearly no discourse aimed at building consensus. ------------- What was my claim, Kel? Tell me exactly what my claim was, so I know what I have to validate, ferchrissakes. How many times do I gotta tell ya that I THINK NATURAL TENDENCIES ARE AT PLAY IN THE ENSEMBLE OF HUMAN RELATIONS. Just because I don't know exactly how, isn't the point. I just want nothing to do with ideology that implicitly reckons it knows it all, or that correct discourse can fix it all. If I committed a crime it was reading too much into Yoshie's rhetorical question (which I may have done - so I bloody said I may have done) This matters if people here hold such an ideology. And it doesn't matter at all if they don't. I certainly never said you did. I haven't made ANY claims about you, Kel. Fascinating though you are, I was talking about something else. >what you perceived because you were turning everyone into judy. ------------- No, I didn't. ------------- >and when >we referred to social relations over and over you ignored that and heard >discursive. ------------- *I* also referred to social relations - in every boring bloody attempt to clarify myself! ------------- >you've again called it discursivity. ------------- Called WHAT 'discursivity'? I called a belief that discourse theory, without reference to a biological human essence, the details of which might be difficult and/or impossible to discern, but the denial of which would be an infringement of freedom, 'discursivity'. I never accused you of it! I just warned against it in general, and quite possibly irrelevantly (in the context of this list - I keep saying I might have misunderstood the guts of Yoshie's post), too. This seems entirely consistent with a humanist Marxist's stance - and that's what I've always thought I was. Where's the problem? -------------> why? catherine's the only one who unabashedly said that. when yoshie >invokes >oppression she's talking about capitalism. ------------ Dunno what you're talking about and I don't want to find out. I'm only posting this to the list in case others think I'm a Kelley-hating dickhead - if dickhead I be, I'd like to be considered so for the right reasons. ------------- > and people who simply assert that they think what they think because they >do and they can't say why are engaging in just as much obscuratism as the >doctrinaire bullies by refusing to subject their thinking to the public >realm. ------------- Seems to me I've been trying to explain myself miserably for a week. So I'm a doctrinaire bully, am I? I'll learn to live with it. Have to tell everyone else I know first though, as I doubt it has occurred top them. ------------->and i'll be wholly totallizing and unabashedly so ------------- As will I. You gotta try to work out your world the most holistic way ya know how. And never assume you're gonna know it all. ------------- >and say that it >is only through that sort of engagement that we will avoid either form of >theology because at least the public realm involves people and dialogue and >has some democratic checks built into it. yours and the bullies' are >totalitarian. ------------- Thanks for that, Kelley. -------------------- At 06:31 PM 11/28/1999 +1100, you wrote: >Look Kelley, pour yourself a cuppa, sit back, and read what I said. --------------- thank you for the patronzing concern ------------ >Dunno what you're talking about and I don't want to find out. I'm only >posting this to the list in case others think I'm a Kelley-hating dickhead >- if dickhead I be, I'd like to be considered so for the right reasons. ------------ heh. right about now i suspect that everyone thinks i am the asshole. ------------ > >Thanks for that, Kelley. ------------- it's too bad that it's annoying to you to be told your position is obscurantist and totalitarian when you haven't once considered that what you did was call me a doctrinaire bully and totalitarian first. and it's too bad that you've refused to engage with habermas's critique of that kind of discoursing since that's why i brought it up. it's too bad that you can happily use habermas's critique of pomo. and science but not see how habermas's critique also applies to gadamer's arguments which can be obscurantist as he points out over and over. as for the rest i'm just not bothering any more. i've completely read your responses and understand what your saying. i'm objecting to what i see as the contradiction between your use of habermasian theory and your refusal to subject your claims to discourse. that's all i complained about. it's that simple. you say you can't give examples and yet you do with maureen. i have to scratch my head and wonder why this could be so. off to have a spot of tea and calm down my feminist ranting nerves which i'd note you don't get too worried about when it's in the service of defending the working class or criticizing butler. kelley -------------------- ------------------xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx--------------------- -------------- xxx ------------- Thanks for the detailed post. I'm not exactly sure what this accomplishes though (what are the implications for his non-mathemed work). I don't speak matheme's nor am I fluent in the most elementary concepts of mathematics (as much as I've tried to understand Russell and Godel). The post I'd posted was a summary of Bruce Fink's book on Lacan's notion of subjectivity. Apparently, Lacan went nuts in the last ten years of his life (scribbling like mad, numbers, charts, graphs, and cutting out paper figures) (almost like he was back in grad school) - and this is when he put to paper the bulk of his mathemes. As far as I can see - all it does is undercut almost everything else that he's written. Lacan doesn't have to be taken into structuralism (or whatever one wants to call it). On the contrary, his work can be taken in a hermeneutic / dialogical direction (which is exactly what Gadamer picks up on in his response to Habermas - something to the effect of, "Lacan, more than anyone else, has illustrated the hermeneutic character of psychoanalysis"). So I hope I'm not being too much of an asshole here. I read your post and tried to put as much of it together as I could. I think I have an intuitive grasp of the problem but I don't trust my intuition all that much, especially when it isn't based on coherent reasoning. Have you made any conclusions about Lacan based on this critique? I certainly sense a frustration with a good many people about Lacan - like, what's the point if you have to spend so much time figuring out what he said, isn't it easier to do something else? I'm sympathetic to this approach... which, I guess, is why I'm more interested in what social theorists are doing with Lacan (like Butler, Zizek, Salecl, Copjec, Zupancic, Castoriadis and so on). Again, I feel like a jerk just dismissed the whole problem by saying "Lacan was nuts" - and then adding "but critical hermeneutics is the way, the truth, and the light..." but unless there's an easy way for me to pick up another language really quick, I'm just not going to be able to muster an intelligible response (I'm also thinking back to my failed attempts to understand the gravity / physics / biology problem you mentioned in the summer past). And I've still got that Cassier guy on my reading list (just to remind you that I haven't forgotten). You know, none of this would have happened if your car hadn't broken down. world in fragments, ken -------------------- Peter wrote: Just a quick question of clarification: Is this 'jouissance' is in a way akin to the thing that Marx meant when he replied, in response to a question about 'what is human nature': 'struggle'? Like 'desire'? I think so. Desire is a "stain" that cannot be removed, in other words it can be clarified only to a certain degree, in the same sense that if our lived reality is class struggle, then it cannot be completely transparent to us. ----------------- > And Lacan puts central to the subject this 'jouissance'? (As opposed to say, Jung, who develops an language of mythology to put in the heart of the mind) Peter ------------- Yes, as something that is traumatic and enjoyable. Jouissance is an experience without thought, in a way. But, since we are thinking creatures, our jouissance is delayed, or frustrated, or reflected upon... and this painful distance (too close, or too far, but never identical with) is rotary motion of desire. Lacan equates "object a" (the object cause of desire) with Marx's concept of surplus value. For the subject, it is that value he or she is seeking in all of her or his activities and relations. Surplus value corresponds in quantity to what, in capitalism, is called "interest" or "profit" - it is that which the capitalist skims off the top for him or herself, instead of paying it to the employees: the "fruit" of the employees labour. The employee never enjoys that surplus product: she or he "loses" it. The work process produces her or him as an "alienated" subject (barred subjectivity), simultaneoously producing a loss, a. The capitalist, as Other, enjoys that excess product, and thus the subject finds herself or himself in the unenviable situation of working for the Others enjoyment, sacrificing him or herself for the Other's jouissance - precisely what the neurotic most abhors! -------------------- On Thu, 4 Nov 1999 01:57:36 +1100 Rob Schaap wrote: > G'day Ken, > You quote someone saying the following: > >Science relies on the designations "true" and "false," but > >they take on meaning only witin a propositional or symbolic > >logic: they are values understandable within the field > >defined by that science and make no claims to independent > >validity. ----------------- > I don't understand this. What does 'independently validated' mean such that the scientist would not claim it for the proposition that Lacan is French? Would giving 'Frenchness' a number suddenly mean only scientists could understand it? The figures of science, the technical definitions, are simply assumed to be valid (science works on the idea of argument by definition). So there is no independent validity for a technical / strategic / artificial language, it is, literally and voluntarily, arbitrary on its own terms. It wouldn't mean that only scientsts would understand this, but you have to be familiar with the artificial code. -------------- > >Psychoanalysis, by contrast, gives precedence to > >that which throws into question the self-confirming nature > >of its own axioms: the real, the impossible, that which > >does not work. That is the Truth taken responsibility for > >in psychoanalysis. --------- > Does Lacan mean this proposition to constitute a claim to independent validity, or not? And, if not, does that make it a scientific proposition? -------------- Not. Psychoanalysis is hermeneutic, not artificial - it works with meaning, association, and deploys concepts that are dialectic instead of frozen and technical. ---------------- > >Existing sciences do not take into account the split > >subject for whom "I am where I am not thinking" and "I > >think where I am not." ----------- > Does he imply a split between 'I' and 'me' here. Does he mean by this that 'I' cannot ever know 'me' (in which case, why bother with psychoanalysis), or that 'I' can know 'me' (in which case, how does he know the scientist is a split subject). Boy, am I ever a long way from where he's thinking ... -------------The Lacanian subject is neither the individual nor the conscious subject (the consciously thinking subject). The consciously thinking subject is, by and large, indistinguishable from the ego. The ego, according to Lacan, arises as a crystallization or sedimentation of ideal images, tantamount to a fixed, reified object which which a child learns to identify. These ideal images consist of those the child sees of him or herself in a mirror - and is ideal in the sense of being seen as unified. Such images are invested, cathected, and internalized by a child because his or her parents make a great deal of them... "Yes, baby, that's you!" Other images appear too "Good boy" - "Bad girl." It is the symbolic order that brings about the internalization of mirror and other images... which become charged with libidinal interest or value. Once internalized, these various images fuse into a vast global image which the child comes to take for her or himself: the self-image. The ego, this image, is not an active agent (being an image) rather is the seat of fixation and narcissistic attachment. Moreover, it contains "false images." The "I" designates the person who identifies her or his self with a specific ideal image. Thus the ego is what is represented by the subject of the statement. Lacan then distinguishes between the statement (enunciated) and the speaking (enunciation). The splitting here can be found in signification: "I cannot deny *but* that it would be easy." The intrution of the word "but" here forces us to refer to a sort of interference between the enunciated and enunciation: between that which is stated and the very act of stating. This "other" subject - this enunciating subject signified by "but" is not something which or someone who has some sort of permanent existence - it only appears when a propitious occasion presents itself. It is not some kind of underlying substance or substratum. In effect - the subject has no other being than as a breach in discourse (the subject barred by language, as alienated within the other) - vanishes "beneath" or "behind" the signifier "but." Temporally speaking, the subject appears only as a pulsation, an occasional impulse or interruptions that immediately dies away or is extinguished. What Lacan accomplishes here is an inversion of the Cartesian subject. For Lacan, the subject can have either thought or being, never both at the same time (thought and being are dialectically entwined and mutually exclusive). So, Lacan turns Descartes on his head: ego thinking is mere conscious rationalization (the ego's attempt to legitimate blunders and unintentional utterances by fabricating after-the-fact explanations which agree with the ideal self-image), and the being thus engendered can only be categorized as false or fake. Lacan holds to the idea that a subject with true or real being would be diametically opposed to the false being of the ego... although this is not ultimately the case. This is the heart of Lacan's notion of the split subject. Being (I am not thinking) (false being) Being / Thinking (Either I am not thinking or I am not) Thinking (I am not). For Lacan, the subejct is nothing but this very split. The splitting of the I into ego and unconscious brings into being a surface, in a sense, with two sides: one that is exposed and one that is hidden. The split, while traumatic for each new speaking being, is by no means an indication of madness. On the contrary, Lacan states that psychosis this split cannot be assumed to have occurred at all. It is here that Lacan places Freud's "Wo Es war, soll Ich werden" as the letimotif of his work - I must come to be, must assume its place, that place where "it" was. Lacan's concept of the subject always has an ethical component - one is always responsible for one's position as subject. So, the split is, in a sense, the condition of the possibility of the existence of a subject, the pulsation-like shift seeming to be its realization. And this leads to two operations: separation and alientation. --------------- > "If you can split subjects a priori, there's nothing you can't get away with," - Schaap, November 4 ------------"Who you think you are and who you are are not identical." - K.G. MacKendrick, November 4, on a snowy Toronto morning -----------> > ... the essence of all "communication" being "miscommunication" ----------- > Oh, I see - so Lacan is actually making a lot of sense, and saying some really important things, but, because his argument has to be read, and because the reading of it by another would consumate an act of miscommunication by definition, it would seem to that reader like a load of bollocks. Well, I'm in no position to falsify that one! Which is why he never wanted his lectures published. ---------- > >Science with a captial S does not exist: "it is but a fantasy." ---------- > So Lacan is as happy with, or indifferent to, creationism and phrenology as he is with/to evolution and neurology? After all, on his account, fantasy is that practice that got us from the former to the latter. ------------- No. Fantasy is the ground of our reality for Lacan. And questions of the true or falsity of science have to do with the political economy of epistemology, the geography of which rules apply when and to whom. --------- > I TRULY-ROOLY don't get it, Ken. ---------- It doesn't have to make sense. But here it is anyway. ken ----------------- Thanks Ken, I know a genuine and weighty response when I see one. >"Who you think you are and who you are are not identical." >- K.G. MacKendrick, November 4, on a snowy Toronto morning Nevertheless ... To make this claim in good faith, you would have to know you're not who you think you are, wouldn't you? But then, to know anything would require you to know that the knower is in a position to know. This you can't know if you don't know him. Ergo, you can't know you don't know who you think you are. Er, why don't I just get back to my marking, eh? Night all, Rob. ---------------------- > Ergo, you can't know you don't know who you think you are. ------------- Ergo, modern (rationalistic) subjectivity as radically paranoid. Which is the *exact* reason that theories of trangression for the sake of transgression don't work - the pervert, the transgressor, acts as though they *know* the law that they are transgressing. Hence, postmodernism / late capitalism is psychotic. It *knows* (in other words, it denies the existence of the imaginary foundation of reality). "It is whether you are paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid enough." - Strange Days ---------- > Er, why don't I just get back to my marking, eh? ------------- Finished. Ta da.- ken --------------------- G'day Ken, Sheesh! I need a break from this marking. Marking is that process during which a teacher discovers, generally around 4.33 in the bloody morning, and after much unpleasant labour, that he's not quite the teacher he thought he was. Sigh. >Ergo, modern (rationalistic) subjectivity as >radically paranoid. Which is the *exact* reason that >theories of trangression for the sake of transgression >don't work - the pervert, the transgressor, acts as though >they *know* the law that they are transgressing. Hence, >postmodernism / late capitalism is psychotic. It *knows* >(in other words, it denies the existence of the imaginary >foundation of reality). Well, for a start the transgressor is not always an avowed transgressor - more generally s/he is an ascribed transgressor (there - a bit of Fouicault for ya) - so s/he ain't necessarily being a psychotic philosopher at all. Secondly, to ask questions without answers, in a world that demands them at every turn, is the sign of neurotic retreat from what's staring in at ya through the window. In case people are missing my point, we all 'deny the existence of the imaginary foundation of reality' all the time. You have to have REAL power to get people to see figments of your imagination as their reality. And we can't all be economists and/or postmodernist 'philosophers'. Cheers, Rob.  --------- dec 99, jan and feb 00 comin rite up =>>> ------- ya lucked out carrol, the kid was home with the flu today. so. i wrote, >> mike: psychoanalytic theory IS a theory of how the social shapes the >> individual. and carrol said, >Kelley, this may be. It is *a* theory. yup The question is is it a correct >theory -- and the basis for saying that it is not a correct theory is >that it is not, from its foundations, based on anything real, how do you know what is and isn't correct? do you actually think that the correctness of a theory is contained within the operations of theory itself? let me ask you carrol, what is a capitalist economy? what is the state? patriarchy? can you see it, taste it, touch it, fuck it? i'm with bhaskar here: the social sciences [and i consider psych a social science] "create" their objects of investigation. nay, ALL sciences create their object of investigation. indeed, the edifice of that "social institution" we call academia is premised on the notion that these objects are identifiable, isolatable and, of course, largely assumed 'til now to be "real" "natural" "out there". that assumption, of course, has been called into question on a number of fronts from marxism to feminism to interpretivism to pomo/poststruc. they are inventions, which doesn't mean that we can't pursue them and that we ought to toss them to the dustbin of history. i.e., you can't see an electromagentic field or gravity but that doesn't stop people from studying them. and they study them through their effects and that's *all* we can do. what such an acknowledgement means is that we need to "do" theory differently before and it is summed up in the pulp culture intro: "pulping" theory is about examining a theory's presuppositions and the conditions of its possibility. The reason why the social sciences aren't quite up to the prediction and control you demand is that the natural sciences work in closed systems: that is, their applications [which is the equivalent, i guess, of your "correctness" or perhaps efficacy, efficiency, what works as a test of theory] are judged as successful in closed systems. Theories about physical processes are applied in the construction and design of refrigerators and automobiles. Voila! they work, right? yeah, until you leave the fridge door open for two days or never change your oil the social sciences have no such luxury --because they must deal with history and social transformation-- with open systems, if you will. [prediction and control is what you seem to be into below, for you are essentially holding psychoanalytic theory to a positivist model of knowledge. so let me point out right here, right now that *I"M NOT INTO THAT. but i know how to take it on and argue with it if that's what we need to do right now. it sounds like this is where you're going.] on that score, i would recommend bhaskar's "on the possbility of social scientific knowledge and the limits of naturalism" in _Issues in Marxist Philosophy_ v II, edited by John Mephan and David Hillel Ruben. A bit obscure, as in difficult to find, i imagine. he's written similar things in his own books, but i don't have copies on hand right now since they're in storage. maybe yoshie can help you out with suggestions. marx *does* posit an account of the relationship between selves and societies. whether you agree with it and how it has been developed in the hands of others is another question. and i said *posit* for a reason. his is an account, not a theory. what folks do when they develop marx's work is that they've reworked the age-old agency/structure debate and, to the extent that they are concerned with selves/psyches/etc and the relation to society/groups/orgs/institutions/whatnot is related to how much of a determinist they are. if you're a structural determinist then, yeah, you don't bother with it because you argue that contradictions at the macrolevel of the economy are what drive social transformation and these are, in turn, manifested in terms of class conflict. and if you're a structural marxist, all that matters to you is the actions of classes -- and in marx's theory classes are NOT about flesh and blood people, but classes acting as entities in and of themselves. at least that's how structuralist marxists have had it. but this is reductionism and, as bhaskar points out, it is a thoroughly inadequate theory of society. [sorry, but the individual beef you brought up is well-taken, but a bit too picayune to bother with. you know what i meant in the context i used it. i'm not of the persuasion that simply not using certain words will make the reasons for their use in the first place go away. furthermore, i was writing to mike and i'm not going to go ballistic on terminological precision when talking to an audience that doesn't know the fine distinctions between individual, self, subject, subject-position, person. it was used colloquially. finally, you might want to consider that disciplines have their own languages and they may well take up words, like individual, to have a certain kind of meaning, knowing quite well about the idea and it's utter silliness-- as you would have it] but >rather appeals *either* to concealed religious *or* concealed >vulgar biologjist premises -- and hence its explanations of *anything* >are not to be trusted. what is psychoanalytic theory, then? what exactly are freudians trying to claim? object relations theorists? lacanians? zizek? i guess the burden is on you to explain what the fundamentals are here since i'm not quite clear what you're railing against. lacan? rail away! but there is much more to psychoanalytic theory than lacan. in fact, the whole desire biz is a major departure from what most folks do with pscyhoanalytic theory. >Actually, I suspect, psychoanalysis has never been anything else >but a theory of literature, which is why it is so much more appealing >to literary critics than it is to people actually concerned with >individual behavior of actual people. well just like anything else, it depends on what circles you hang in. much of psychology is premised on basic freudian principles. behaviorism is an obvious exception. most sociologists have a theory of the relationship between self and society precisely because they want to know why it is that people aren't always slavish sheep simply internalizing social expectations and norms. it's all much more complicated than you will have it. at any rate, pound away at sociology all you'd like, but there are reams of books written on this topic and, i'd argue [knowing it's debatable] that sociology is fundamentally premised on theorizing the relationships between "society" and "selves". the fundamental questions here, carrol, is: how does society reproduce itself and, as well, how does it change. we want to know things like that because we want to know how it is that we leave in a racist society and yet some folks grow up to question and fight against racism. you might not agree with this project, but it is the project i'm involved with in various ways. if you don't we really can't talk because you're just shooting spitballs; it's rather unlikely that i'm going to have an epiphany and give up what i consider my calling. ange tried that last august with me, i could only end up laughing and asking if she were a lollipop lady --school crossing guard in au--and the one to guide my safe journey across the big bad city street. I have been reading a short >article in Vol. 1 No. 1 of the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of >Culture and Society, "Psychoanalysis as the Enemy and Ally of >African Americans." Much of it is a lengthy analysis of a rather >dull and racist joke that Freud was excessively fond of. As >long as it sticks to that joke it is highly entertaining, and while >not very convincing in what it says about Freud's inner motives, >highly convincing it its exploration of the [possible] verbal >reverberations of the joke. Put otherwise, the analysis does not >uncover the joke's *unconscious* meaning (for "unconscious >meaning" is an oxymoron) but rather spreads out for inspection >all the quite rational and conscious states which might find >expresison in the joke. So -- as long as the psychoanalyst >has a real or imaginary text in which to romp about, he/she is >fine, but as soon as she/he turns to people, it becomes dull and >detached from any concrete reality or connection to actual human >life. This also explains why Harold Bloom's *Anxiety of >Influence* is so excellent as literary history and so dull and >unconvincing as an explanation of human motive. > >But even that is not the worst of it. You say it is a theory of how >the social shapes "the individual." That is not possible. Every actual >individual is enmeshed in a web of contingencies that make it absurd >to speak of explaining his/her particular life, by psychoanalysis or >any other means. Society is not one thing, the individual another >(like a potter and his clay), which is implied when you speak of society > >shaping the individual. Neither my skin nor my skeleton nor my nervous >system shapes me -- I *am* them. It is just as absurd to speak of >society >shaping the individual. All forms of psychology (cognitive, behavioral, >psychoanalytic, what-have-you) end up with a mechanistic conception of >the human person and a dualistic account of the "relation of society to >the individual." You can have a theory of how GM shapes the Chevrolet -- what you have written above is reductionism. see bhaskar on the problem with that. >but not of how society shapes the a human person. All Chevrolets are >the same; every person is a unique history -- *is*, NOT *has* a unique >history. It is an utter fantasy, and an arrogant one, to believe that >there can be a science (or systematic knowledge) of individuals. Science ahhh but here you have a theory carrol, do you not? a rather inchoate one but it's there. and you're saying that selves are shaped by society, it's just too complex to understand and explain. hmmm. well that an every other thing we study as social scientists -- from markets to the effectiveness of certain pedagogies to religious rituals to social movements to militia membership to predicting election winners >What kind of oppression has *not* proved extraordinarily hard to get >rid of? Marxism, as a matter of fact, has so far failed to provide >an adequate account of the strategy for uniting the working class >of an advanced capitalist nation around a socialist agenda. well, now, what you want from marxism is a theory of how to unite the w.c. around a socialist agenda? why on earth do you need this? for one thing, i think it's pretty flippin simple and not nearly the task youmake it out to be: work with the social movements and insights that people do have and push them further, radicalize them and do it humanely instead of beating people over the head; do it patiently and above all recognize it ain't going to change in your lifetime. one other question, is it a failure of the theory or.......? the question of why the w.c. doesn't organize around a socialist agenda is actually pretty easy if you ask me. [you've answered it yourself] one could easily use marxist theory to explain this failure. that's not the problem. the problem is what do "we" do -presumably we is the "enlightened" ones who someone/groups/org/events go to at some point and changed us unless, of course, as some of us on this list were, sprung from the head of zeus. when people asked marx how to address that question he didn't suggest that we could theorize the "how" at all. we could only do and for him that meant getting involved in politics and theoretical development --that is, we needed to engage those struggles and wishes of the age. after that you can say anything more because people make history, not theories. >There *is* no identifiable (generalizable) "process of psychic >development." how do you know this? because your therapist said. it seems to me, firstly, that there is a process through which infants come to be human. what is that process? is that not what psychoanalytic theory is after? how is it that an infant who sticks everything==food, paper clips, keys, toys-- in their mouth at 6 months [because it ain't real until you drool all over it at that age] come to be, generally, someone who doesn't stick things in their mouth every single time [only when "appropriate" heh, that is] and checks themselves from such behavior? how do they come to have a consience? a sense of right and wrong? one of the most significant things about being human at all is that we are born too soon. we spend an incredibly lengthy time dependent on other people for our care, nourishment, etc. that matters. and it matters what conditions under which one comes to have a separate sense of self are. and we do. having a seperate sense of self isn't necessarily bad per se. yes, psychologies *are* the product of modernity. but then, everything we work with theoretically largely is, is it not? there is no escape from that. individual is a concept that emerged with the bourg enlightenment. so too is the concept of "society" -- as something with properties that could be systematically studied. it wasn't really around before -- though aristotle certainly forgrounded it [moving from a general theory of states/constitutions/statesmen/citizens to empirical investigations of actually existing states/constitutions/statemen/citizens] >That is an illusion of bourgeois individualism. That is what various of >us in >these threads have been arguing in our many references to contingency, >to >the uniqueness of each individual history, why are individual histories unique? could it have to do with the complexity of contemporary societies? see, you have a theory -- in sociology it's referred to as individuation. in the impossibility of >giving >"systematic accounts" of human motive (except in more or less >tautological >terms). again, see bhaskar. >I think if you were to go to the archives and review a discussion some >months ago of the history of the word "identity" you could see part >at least of what the argument is. The question of "Who am I?" is a >question created by capitalism (though one can see innumerable >foreshadowings of it in earlier literature -- e.g., Augustine). For >Socrates, as for St. Thomas or Dante, the question meant, "What >is my place in a visible order." With capital's destruction of all >visible order (read any poem by the great Romantics or their >successors such as Stevens and Frost), that rational and intelligible >question became mystified. Psychoanalysis is just one of many >attempts to give a rational form to an essentially mystic question. well carrol, i know all that because i trained under someone who wrestled with this issue in some form most of his life. i taught it all for a couple of years. the question, "what is society?", emerged with modernity as well. that doesn't mean that it's a fruitless question to puruse, does it? - once we no longer understood ourselves as existing in some point in a natural god given order that was held together by god's will or whathaveyou, people started to ask: so what makes these things happen? why poverty? why revolution? why invention and discovery? why why why? if you don't like individual for the reasons specified above, then toss society/the social too. >Why bother? I really don't understand why people think they need a >psychological (religious or biological) theory of the individual in >order >to study social dynamics. because, as judith butler ask in the pscyhic life of power, do people simply internalize social norms or is there something else to the process. she doesn't much answer the question. anyway, if people actually simply do absorb the dominant ideas around them then how can we explain why some people reject them and become marxists? or what have you. if we simply are our skins, our societies, etc and so on then your theory lacks, at the level of METAtheory, a theory of social transformation. [i repeat, not a theory of how specfici things change; but your theory is deficient with regard to how social transformation is possible at all. revert to the mechanistic marxist explanations of social change and you might as well hang it up, imv. and yes, there's so much more to it all: people become marxsts or feminist because of the social worlds in which they travel, the historical conditions at the time, etc and so on -- confluence of complex processes. i agree. but agreeing doesn't preclude why it might be important to ask about how conscience and consciousness emerge and why and how they are shaped by the human practices involved in childrearing, schooling, etc. kelley ------------------ >However, on what grounds does Habermas argue that it is possible to separate >out these three spheres. Ultimately, he appeals to an ontological argument - >modernity *necessarily* splits reality up into three self-contained sections. >Make no mistake, there is no overlap between science, art and law. These >spheres are related, in the lifeworld, but become separated based on three >different kinds of logic - logic regarding truth (an objective state of >affairs), rightness (regarding a shared intersubjective world) and truthfulness >(regarding personal subjective experiences). ------------------ ken the problem with this is that you are confusing his use of weber's methodology--ideal typifications--with claims about how the world actually is. and before you get your latex shorts in a knot, please read frank hearn's _the dialectical uses of ideal types_. to speak theoretically necessarily means that we must clarify the muck, even if we know that it's much more confused and mixed up than that. we have no fucking choice here and you do it all the time yourself by insisting that certain terms mean what they mean and nothing else. similarly, you insist on using a film to teach Locke even though the film is polysemic could easily be used to illustrate a number of competing theoretical frameworks. as rob says, no one escapes. habermas's hubris is our own. --------------- >But this is crucial, absolutely crucial. How does Habermas defend the validity >of these three spheres? > >He uses science - the reconstructive sciences. In other words, he assumes the >validity (of science) to prove the validity (of the three spheres). His >argument begs the question. The only way he can get around this is by >emphasizing that language raises these three claims in such a way that they can >be separated. ------------------- no, not as the court of last resort. not at all. habermas repeatedly says that science *cannot* be an arbiter of moral disputes. science can clear some of the underbrush, perhaps. science might be able to tell us that we can control human behavior--say the propensity to rape--among men by administering a certain medication and plan of coercive brutalizing mind control. but science can't tell us whether we should do that. evaluation research on whether life imprisonment or the death penalty is a less costly strategy but it can't tell us which one we *should* opt for. that's why scientific claims must be brought to the public sphere in order to have such conversations. they are had among scientists, to be sure. but rationalizing democratic society would require an expanasion of that process. ------------------ >The irony of all this: Habermas argues that to back out of this, is a step >toward psychosis, schizophrenia, suicide, or monadic isolation. My >counterpoint is this: it is only *if* you completely alienate yourself from >your lifeword that you risk psychosis! -------------- the problem here is that you assume habermas has a unified notion of the lifeworld as necessarily "bad" for us. he doesn't ask that we pull ourselves up out of it and leave it entirely behind. we can't. but we move out of it dialectically and we don't do so once and for all but move back and forth-- they are mutually constitutive. i beg of you to some day read alan wolfe on this in _Whose Keeper_. habermas analyzes these spheres separately but he doesn't want them to ever become absolutely separate from one another. they are mutually constitutive in his theory. but you can and it does no harm to isolate them for ideal typical analysis. ------------- >And I liked this: "momentarily successful communication." What does this mean: >it means that a consensus has been reached. In other words, successful >communication, for Habermas, *terminates* the conversation. ---------- no it doesn't. we go back to it. eternally and that's what it means to be human and to be free. haven't you read his earlier work on this? kelley ------------------- At 04:34 PM 2/3/2000 -0600, you wrote: >You originally wrote that Habermas repeatedly tells us that science cannot be >an arbiter of moral disputes. You will not find in that sentence the term >ALONE. I grew up in an analytic tradition. I ezpect people to write what they >mean and mean what they write. I grant that there are remarks about clearing >the underbrush later in the passage. ---------------- firstly, ken, the conversation was occuring among three people who know habermas's work relatively well. a lot of shortcuts get taken. you were assuming a lot of things about what was being said and what the terms used meant that it would take several lengthy posts to spell out. i apologize, but i just don't have time. i don't have to explain to ken and rob that habermas doesn't argue that science can be an arbiter of moral disputes. sometimes i have to beat ken with a frying pan in order to remind him though, cause i know he knows this. what you have described isn;t really a moral dispute. as you note, they haven't changed their moral positions at all. had the first student said that the prof's obligation was to, nonetheless, show up for class despite any other obligations then this is a moral dispute. see, the problem is this: the professor faced a moral dilemma: save the child or show up for class on time. did facts help him in that case? not really. the students had another moral dilemma entirely than what singer would like us to think it is: should we judge the professor a moral failure because he didn't show up for class on time? you could easily have persuaded the condemning student by presenting him with a series of hypothetical possibilities about why the prof might be late. he needn't have known for sure that the prof was late in order to have come to an agreement with the other student that it would be ok for the prof to be late because he was saving someone's life. in the lit on the phil of social science this is referred to as the difference between empirical and non-empirical sciences. the former are about social phenomena [describing, explaining, understanding, sometimes predicting] whereas the latter are about propositions that can be proved without reference to empirical findings, as i note above that the condemning student could have been convinced with simply the hypothetical explanation offered for why a prof might be late. ------------- > You will just have to explain to me the relevance of your remark that >theories are always undetermined by facts? I am simply giving examples of types >of situations where A makes a moral judgment and B makes a contrary moral >judgment and this can be solved by science or reference to the facts. -------------- last time i checked, science wasn't about fact finding alone ['kay?] but about theoretical explanation and understanding of physical and social phenomenon. Awhile ago someone wrote to LBO maintaining that Sweden had the highest suicide rate in the world. He said that an acquaintance suggested that this was evidence that socialist countries create conditions that make people unhappy and depressed, as much as capitalist countries do, if not more. His colleague interpreted that statistic on the basis of a sociological theory of suicide derived from Durkheim. Someone else suggested Seasonal Affective Disorder. What did the facts tell us. Well, firstly, that his friend was wrong; Sweden doesn't have the highest suicide rate. But even if it did, would the facts tell us *why* people committ higher suicide rates in certain countries? No. We would need to know that if we were to address the dispute over whether socialism is as alienating as capitalism; we would need to know why were we to craft social policies to reduce suicide rates. Science is about explaining and understanding why/how. We come up with tentative theories and then explain them by collecting more data. You then test your theory. If you're into positivism and empiricism, you do so by deploying a model of deductive-nomological explanation or inductive-statistical explanation. Or, if you're a qualitative researcher you seek to make interpretive explanations and understandings through one of the following logics of theory building: ethnomethodology [garfinkel], extended case method [m.burawoy], grounded theory [glaser & strauss], or interpretive case method [geertz]. underdetermination might be illustrated by this social policy issue: should we liberalize divorce laws further? should we introduce a convenant law in order to roll back liberalized advances, as Louisianna did? those are the kinds of public policy disputes habermas addresses. can we solve that moral dispute with facts? well, what are the issues at stake. most likely something like this: claimis that divorce is bad for children and contributes to the crime rate, to deviance, to higher rates of single parenthood, to poverty. a theory about what the effects of divorce are on two levels: at the individual level [children] and what they tend to do that affects others as they grow up [or, for some, fail to]. ------------ You are just hyperventiliating or something when you say >that for every conclusive study there >are ten more that conclude to the contrary. ---------- you aren't a sociologist, are you? heh. ---------------- How do you engage in this debate without immersing yourself in the >muck. Do you quote form Judith Butler? Or Habermas? If it weren't un-pc these >days, I would say the muck is the essence of the matter in most cases. ----------------- sorry, ken, but you've not been reading me long enough to make any assumptions about my reputed over indulgence in high theory. in fact, i tend to move between high theory, the muck, ordinary everyday examples from my life or others, and empirical research findings. please read the following which i posted awhile ago and then you might find that you've made assumptions that are unwarranted. ---------- firstly, i don't think it's a question of taking butler and zizek to the people. it may well be an issue of using these theorists to think through these issues and the problems "we" on the discordant left think we face. it may also be a good idea for those of us who can translate, to translate. it's never going to be a matter of getting people to read the right books anyway. i mean whathefuck are ya nuts? "we" --the like-minded [broadly speaking...] can't even agree on kant, or habermas, or foucault or zizek --why on earth should we think that "we"can get "them" to be more interested in politics. or even that we can use these contentious texts to even explain why they're not. is anyone bothering to try that at all. i mean if habermas has one thing going for him it is that at least he's arguing for the need for a systematic research program to test his ideas --and he's not damn subscribing to some objectivist epistmology or a scientism either! it's nice that zizek applies his framework to popular culture and philosophy. but this is hardly accessible stuff to the well- and widely-read. so who's bothering to try to take this to people or even to try to apply this to something that fucking matters. one thing that strikes me all the time about these debates: absolutely no one ever bothers to use real life, down to earth examples of how this stuff matters. why does it fucking matter to take a zizekian or butlerian or habermasian or marxian position or foucauldian postilion on power in the context of understanding domestic violence? sexual harassment? the relationships between yourself, your work mates and you supervisors? lor of thinking through what might be the best place to throw your political energies if you *are* becoming in interested in politics for some reason --say by being exposed to fora such as these? or perhaps looking at films or television programs and thinking about how they affect your life, are part of your life and what might or should be done about "the media" or not? dealing with crime and police intrusions in your life? thinking through how to do something on your job, as limited as that is, that makes use of what you have in order to resist or not? what to do about urban gentrification and if that's even a problem or not. i'm overgeneralizing a bit, because we do on occasion hit on these topics. but they are rare, as far as i can tell. if these ideas are ever going to be persuasive to anyone who doesn't have at least a four yr degree, then i suspect we've got to start talking about how these competing analyses matter for what we do and why we do. i have no problem with arguing minute differences in the interpretation of foucault's conception of power and knowledge, i enjoy it myself. but until we start using such a framework to understand how the health care system works or does not work and writing and talking about in terms of people's ordinary problems --the problems that fucking matter to them --then we're lost. again, i'm not saying that no one ever does this but it seems pretty rare to me. i guess ange does more than most.... finally, i'd say that what we ought to do instead of worrying to much about taking it to the streets, is trying to figure out where *we* ought to go. i prefer working with those movements that are emerging and solidifying around us, not in imposing some ideal notion of "what ought to be done" conceived in the cloisters of some lefty/marxist/marxish student council meeting. it seems to me, then, that this is what these texts are for: for figuring out where "we" ought to intervene, where "we" ought to throw our activities and energies. so i say, start looking to where people are active in those things you might not think are politics at first and work from there. kelley ------------------ oh fercryinoutloud! ken's drawing on lacanian theory. he used a term used within that tradition of theorizing that has *very* little to do with mental states of people and has to do with ethical reasoning. in real simple terms, as ken very patiently explained to yoshie (who didn't deserve a response at all so twisted was her reponse to ken!), he's talking about how people blindly conform to a moral absolute and do so because it is, ostensibly, grounded in some supreme being or process beyond human control. e.g., the nazi doctors reputedly pursuing science for the sake of science, cutting out cancerous jews to save the body of the aryan race. now, sure, you can complain that you don't like psychoanalytic theory and you can, like me, complain that it's a mistake to use words that have come to carry the cultural baggage that words like hysterical and psychotic do, but otherwise the *substance* of what ken was talking about isn't objectionable at all. we worry about the same phenomenon on this list regularly --people blindly obedient to the law, and not thinking for themselves. you, yourself, worrying that if the working class doesn't overcome its racism then there's no hope for a socialist movement. in the past yoshie has worried that people were moralizing about abortion as killing because they held some metaphysical or not quite dead religious beliefs despite their avowed claim to not believing in god. but what happened here? a person who supposedly knows more about lacanian theory than anyone else on the list willfully and purposfully misread what was typed in order to make it sound as if ken was supporting a position that he simply did not and any reasonable reader could never ever have concluded that he held this position. it's just plain pathetic to subject people to that kind of treatment over and over again.. truly and absolutely pathetic. it's not the first time. it happens with stunning regularity and, as i said re the incident of a couple of weeks ago, it gets tiresome after awhile-- to say the least. me, ken, and rob have a convo about habermas and what do we get -- quotes from stephen k white's anthology!!! a rilly rilly crappy anthology,btw. yoshie, did you know that white critiques habermas ethics because it doesn't give voice to trees and lilypads? and i'm sure if we had more time this semester we'd get treated to 3 or 4 posts a day of quotes! what is that behavior other than an attempt to disrupt a conversation, not by joining in and actually partaking of the conversation, but by hurling paper airplanes across the lunchroom?! yoshie, do you even care that you actually might hurt someone's feelings? and yet we're supposed to care when yours are hurt? enoy your symptom! kelley ----------- a few threads later --------------- Charles objects >CB: Again on this relations/forces of production thing, I think Marx considers working classes to be both force and in a relation of production. But more to the point here, even the instruments and means of production ( which are the other forces besides the working classes) do not develop independently of the class struggle. ---------- No, but it's not necessarily the result of workers trying to make their jobs easier. I think it much more complicated than that. Just take a look at David Noble's _America by Design_. Innovations in the forces of production are also things like the technologies the manufacturing line or even the routinization of service work, which Robin Leidner investigates in _Fast Food, Fast Talk_ which highlights my point and I think will flesh out a long standing disagreement between Carrol and I which we discussed offlist briefly: contemporary service work reconfigures the relationship between labor and capital in an historically specific way. And, moreover, I'd say that it's something we need to account for in our meanderings about organizing AND something that illustrates the relationship between forces of production and social relations of production, terms that get bandied about but not much is said in terms of how they are related. It is an example at the heart of the mission of the list which tries to bridge the gap between those who "do" culture and those who "do" economy. [I hope Hanley and Remick and Woj, cupcake, read coz I've felt impelled to do a C. Wright Mills to show that it's quite possible to engage high falutin' theoretical discourse in plain language. Grade Shett to fill out at the end!] As we know, a significant portion of the pop. in the US now works in jobs that deal directly with clients and patrons and do so in relations of subservience. [We have #s on service labor, but I don't have at hand numbers on subservient service labor, though they can be disentangled using the Occupational Code] A significant part of a service workers daily life is spent thinking of those clients/patrons as "the enemy". This is reiterated over and over again in new mgmt technologies that litter the contemporary firm, a discourse which conceives of us all as workers dealing with "internal" and "external" customers. Interesting confluence eh? Moreover, it is often the case that workers in these positions ally themselves with management. Why not? The "rules" managers are constantly making up to regulate the workplace, to control worker behavior, to ensure the maximization of profit, are rules that workers take refuge in so they can, effectively, tell the client/customer to take a hike if they don't like the service/product they're getting. Workers take refuge in routinized work, in the rules, and do so actively as part of a strategy of resistance against that which they perceive as oppressing them: the customers/clients/patrons. The rules are a Good Thing. In Leidner's ethnographic study of McDonald's and door-to-door insurance sales work she reveals the concrete specifics of what it means to say that our consciousness is shaped by the conditions of our labor. She also engages in a relatively brilliant attempt to draw on Weber's [and Frankfurt School/Habermas's] rationalization thesis by examining the organizational or firm level of the rationalization process. In other words, she asks how rationalization is not just a cultural process [Weber's focus] but one that manifests itself through the standardizing, routinizing technologies [forces of production] of contemporary capitalism. Following the lead of scholars like Noble, Braverman, Richard Edwards' _Contested Terrain_, and Burawoy's _MAnufacturing Consent_ she asks how rationalization shapes workers' consciousness. She shows how these technologies move beyond the workplace and are also part of the social relations of production because they manifest themselves in our very identities and cultural understandings of ourselves and others, a theme also explored by Hochschild in _The Managed Heart_. Anyone who's had dinner at a chain restaurant or listened carefully to the spiel of a cold-call sales rep hears the routinized pitch. We cringe in one of two ways, typically. WRT, McDonald's workers we think: "How awful that job must be. I'd never want to do that and for such miserable pay! They must feel like robots" The worker at McDonalds has replaced the proverbial ditch digger in our lexicon which means that McDonalds workers and others like them often get treated poorly if they are even "seen" or noticed at all. Furthermore, we are also annoyed at being treated like a anonymous number. We are, in effect, on an assembly line: a cog in the consumption wheel to be shuffled along on a routinized "line" that demands that we react in our own routinized ways, on cue. Walk into McDonald's and the first thing you hear is an impatient, "Can I take your order please?" And you know s/he's pissed when you don't know what you want yet! You are routinely solicited to upgrade your order, "Supersize that?" "Would you like a warmed over apple flavored hunk of plastic called "Apple Pie" right?" Then you eat in spaces purposefully designed to get you in and out in a specified time. Taylorite principles are deployed in the ergonomics of chair and table design, color schemes that make you hungry or disturb you so that you want to leave after a certain time. Ditto for the acoustics and music. We, the patrons, are Taylorized, routinized, standardized and trained to take on our appropriate roles. The result is that the relationship between worker and patron is one, often enough, of antagonism. As a trainer at Hamburger University told Leidner, "We want to treat our customers as individuals, in sixty seconds or less" [30 seconds for drive thru]. He said this without any acknowledgment regarding the absurdity of what he'd said. For the trainer, it was quite possible to treat customers as individuals even as they treated as things to be shuffled in and out. In 1951 C. Wright Mills, heavily influenced by the Frankfurt school, argued in _White Collar_ that "the real opportunities for rationalization and expropriation are in the field of the human personality". Now, we typically imagine that service workers at McDonald's must suppress their "real" selves so that absolutely nothing about what they do is unique or original or a reflection of who they are. Indeed, the more sophisticated of these chains script and routinize the element of variation by instructing employees to try to appear spontaneous and to vary their routine by using different scripts. But it's still all scripted! Braverman and those interested in the deskilling of labor have often assumed that deskilling would encourage resistance, if not out right rejection and rebellion. However, Leidner argues that, while there is resistance, such resistance is not in the service of calling into question the routinization of work. Rather, workers actually embrace the script because it protects them from the indignities they suffer on the job. Knowing full well that people not only don't think much of them, but often treat them as if they don't exist, service workers actively engage the scripted routines because they can protect their "real" and "authentic" selves from the indignities they suffer daily by saying, "This is not me; it's a role I must play." The routinized script is a haven, a screen that protects their selves. In turn, the script is also used to psychologically assault patrons who service workers feel are treating them in less than dignified ways or to make miserable those who are perceived as haughty members of professional middle class. By embracing the routinized script, they can exert control over them. The "may i take you order please" is delivered brusquely and impatiently. The request for special treatment is denied on the grounds that it's against the rules. As Leidner argues, and I've noted here many times, the conditions of subservient or interactive service labor shape our consciousness, our understanding of our selves and others; they extend beyond the workplace [into culture, the social relations of production beyond the workplace]: "Sociologists of work typically see relations of inequality at work as affecting the broader society through their impact on workers' economic power and consciousness, both individual and collective. Sociologists of culture tend to downplay workplace relations and instead to concentrate on other means by which economic elites exert social control. But when the principles of routinization are extended to interactive service work, an additional dimension of cultural influence becomes available to employers. Because routinized service work orders the behavior of service recipients as well as that of workers, employers' strategies for controlling the labor process themselves affect the cultural milieu. The Marxist arguments that consciousness is shaped at the point of production is applicable here, but *service-recipients* are also affected. Service-recipients are enmeshed in relations of production on their own time, and the boundaries separating production, consumption, and sociability break down. <...> Routinized service interactions extend the logic of instrumental rationality to more and more aspects of the self and to ever additional kinds of social relations" [229-30]. It is not only that we are increasingly employed in occupations that directly and formally involve "protective services" [guards, police], we are also increasingly employed in work in which we police our selves, our emotions, our interactions as workers and *as workers* we regulate and police the behavior of patrons. Deskilling and even taking on the regulatory gaze of the employer aren't necessarily rejected by workers because they seem to actively embrace the routinization of work to protect them from assaults on their dignity and to preserve and protect their "authentic" selves from such assaults. People adopt an instrumental attitude toward their selves, their identities; that is, they manipulate their selves which, in the context of the organizational workplace, is a thing to be reshaped to meet the various demands imposed on them. And we wonder why the cultural fascination with self-ironic detachment? And we wonder why no one can see the enemy? Kelley ps., charles, this is what I mean when I say that it's sometimes a mistake to view people as being manipulated. Taking a different approach, as Leidner does here [following others, notably Burawoy] reveals that people actively manufacture their own consent to something that would appear as a form of coercive ideology imposed on them against their will. Rather, what is done above is to use and expand on Gramsci's concept of hegemony in which power operates in far more complex ways. --------------- Here's the thing, if the logic of enjoyment is such that Haider gets fans with all the publicity surrounding his denouncement, then tell me, why doesn't it work the other way? Why don't feminists accrue more to their ranks when Rush calls them feminazis? Why isn't the queer community seeing rising numbers of supporters/identifiers as Dr. Laura denounces them repeteadly? eh? Was it just that anarchists got all that negative publicity and attention--the denunciations all over the mainstream media in the US? Or, was it that the particular object of denunciation and what they were struggling against were already appealing to the peeps who became interested in anarcho-activism after the WTO protests? In my hometown, when a church was denounced as a cult [it was not, but that's what happened] it didn't see a rise in membership despite the denunciations and the huge forums that were held, including a free one featuring one of those dudes who deprograms cult members. Nope. The church didn't see rising numbers of membership. In fact, a couple of years later they were exposed for fraud and other crap. The logic that Zizek uses in this analysis is just wrong and that's why psychoanalytic concpets ought not be applied to social phenom -- they don't fucking translate because society doesn't operate like people and people aren't societies. kelley ---------------- >But the psychology of these movements are very different. Feminists >and queers want not to be despised for who they are. ------------------- Oh no, not on Ken's logic. Not the ways he's articulated it in the past. He has suggested that anti-racists get a certain enjoyment out of calling out racism -- on LBO he has suggested this. And i wouldn't homogenize feminism, either. Surely plenty of individual women become feminists in an act of rebellion. and you know perfectly well that there was the whole lesbian-chic and bi-hip stuff that's been going on in the past few years. -------------- Skinheads and >Nazis like being despised by "respectable" people - it makes them >feel threatening and credible. Especially if you're a youth trying to >shock your jaded elders. ------------- that wasn't ken's argument though -- he suggested that the repressive Law of the Father -- the NO--drove them into the arms of the loving Father. Now why isn't the repressive Law of the Father in the disgusting voice of Dr. Laura and Rush, etc driven people to the ranks of the denunciated? Because there's a whole lot more going on here. You can shock your jaded elders by becoming a queer activists, by becoming a feminist, by becoming a union activist, by majoring in sociology. All I'm really arguing is that there needs to be more than the simple analysis that was offered here--that publicity is behind the attrativeness of the movements. I don't freak out about zizek like some on this list do, not for the same reasons anyway. I don't have a prob with psychoanalysis, etc. But I've read the dude and I cannot see what's so novel about what he writes. as for the worry that he's both banal and obscure, Zizek clearly writes for different audiences. His stuff for an academic audience IS arcane and obscure IF you are not steeped in the philosophical tradition or in lacanian psychoanalytic theory. Once you get a grip on that, most of it is also banal. His analysis of ideology [which ken insisted that I read] was ridiculously old hat -- same was said with considerably more flair by cultural studies/birmingham school types elsewhere. who *were* writing for their working class audience. Now, I've bitched before that Remick et al are silly to expect Butler and others to write for them. PLOP etc weren't written for the masses, so don't ask them to be easy to read or even to deal with everyday problems. They aren't even offered as such by the authors. Furthermore, I think Katha P was right in her analysis: Butler has no voice, no passion; there's no cadence or rhtym in her writing. When these authors are put forth on this list as screeds to read, it's assumed that most of us participating are far beyond most ordinary folks in the breadth and depth of our reading and these books are offered as a challenge to the established terrain of the debate. But NO ONE in their right mind thinks thse books are supposed to be the equivalent of a _Feminine Mystique_ for a socialist revolution. Arcane obscure writings for academic audiences are nothing to obsess over. If you want to understand them, go to the library and start reading in the tradition from which Zizek, or anyone else for that matter, writes. When the 'fuser whizzes on this list start jabbering, I'm lost. But I know that all I have to do his hit the stacks or the 'net and I will, eventually, figure it out. Here, though, is a piece Zizek has written for a popular audience. He avoids jargon. Good. Hard to do, since all disciplines, all traditions have their jargon. For those who pick on authors as too jargonistic you're just revealing how blind you are to your own use of it or the use of it by those you've decided are "allowed" to use jargon {e.g, finance/budget blah blah, 'fuser whiz speak, legalese, etc] For those who defend Butler and Zizek et al: "Get off it". It's jargon, face it. Those of you steeped in certain disciplinary or anit/trans disciplinary traditions, however you define them, y/our writing is distinctively marked by the jargon. You can tell right away when someone is steeped in pomo/poststruc thought, as well as Zizek, just as you can tell Wojtek is steeped in conventional social science speak, Max in economics, etc. You have an obligation to use that jargon with an awareness that not everyone 'gets it', particularly if you're going to point out to everyone, right and left, that they have their own jargon, their own idioms. Effectively, all you do is say, "You do it too; nah nah". Hardly a solution to the problem and you certainly aren't going to convince anyone it's worth their while to take it on and understand it. So, Zizek has written for popular audience. What he says is banal; what he writes for academic audiences is also banal, as well as arcane. Coming down on Blur and Clinton is a good thing, but let's not kid ourselves and imagine that Zizek is some kind of genius for this. sheesh kelley ----------------------- >CB: So, give us your summaries of the main ideas of Zizek, Balibar and Butler, et al. rather than ending us off to read them. > no problem! we're just starting our list reading of butler's PLOP at pulp. anyone want to join in, write to s*ubscribe pulp-culture or s(*ubscribe pulp-culture-digest: Here's the intro for Butler: ken doll wrote: >For those who missed it the first time. Despite the (justifiable) grumbling, I >think Butler has a lot to say and I think she's a good writer, with tremendous >clarity, and an excellent theorist. ----------------- she's extraordinarily repetitive, as if writing the same thought three times differently is enough to constitute one paragraph. if you want examples, i've marked them all... anyway, i was typing to someone offlist about butler and realized i focused in on different things than you had, ken. i read it in november without ever sitting down to write about and you know--we've talked about this before--in order for it to hit home sometimes you really need to write it out. i argued earlier that i think this book is butler's very abstract intervention into the debates over feminist/queer politica/social theory which, for a long time, founded their theories on some version of a standpoint theory. [ a URL i sent dunk --  /social_dimensions_of_knowledge/  Standpoint2.html -- might be helpful to fill folks in on the debates over standpoint epistemologies] the interpretive turn, the linguistic turn, the postmodern turn -- all destabilized the subject by attacking the notion that the subject was coherent, stable, that it had an essentialness or could be universalized in terms of a self-same identity [the critique of the metaphysics of presence, iow] one of her concerns in the interview i forwarded in nov was that people took the notion that "gender is a performance" to mean that it was completely open for direction and control--that we could put on and take off gender identities at will. plop is a critique of this temptation because she wants to show how deeply our subjectivities are bound up with subjection. after she wades through foucault's conception of power she maintains that we need to flesh this out -- she wants to do this via a journey through hegel, nietzsche, freud, foucault in order to locate points of convergence, though she insists that she's not positing equivalences. i think for those reading along who are completely unfamiliar with this we need to highlight this: butler rejects the idea that we internalize norms. this is the typical way we understand "socialization". we tend to imagine that there is an outside--'the social,' 'society,' 'the law,' parents, etc and that, somehow, the outside is incorporated into our pre-given psychic interior by force, by manipulation, by persuasion, by lure, by incentive. [hence all this talke of authoritative parenting v. authoritarian parenting v permissive parenting....] butler though is working thru an intellectual tradition that completely rejcts the idea that "socialization" is the imposition of norms on a pre-given subject that then incorporates and identifies with social norms thru some mysterious process. [and it is mysterious in the lit. a concern raised often]. like foucault, butler insists that the very process of internalization creates the distinction between interior/exterior, the notion that we have an internal psychic space that exists in some relation to an exterior social space. butler goes on to argue that, while we might accept that, theorists like foucault still haven't asked or considered that the process of internalization isn't simply a mechanical assumption of the norm/s as it/they are: "given that norms are not interlaized in mechanical or fully predictable ways, does the norm assume another character as a *psychic* phenomenon?" [19]. she's asking whether and, if so, how, norms take an a psychic life of their own. she asks this because she's arguing, following kleinian object relations theory, that the oedipus complex and the formation of the superego are processes that follow after a process that has already begun in the formation of the "ego ideal": "how are we to account for the desire of the norm and for subjection more generally in terms of *prior* desire for social existence, a desire exploited by regulatory power?" [19] in other words, the process through which we identify with and internalize norms is *productive* of the very notion we have of ourselves as having interior/internal/autonomous selves that are seperate from a social outside. BUT, there isn't a nothingness there, there is desire, the desire for social existence, and that desire, she says, is "exploited by regulatory power" that power though isn't simply assumed. it's not imposed on us like a stamp. she asks how it is that power produces the capacity for self reflection and yet, at the same time, how does it limit social life or "forms of sociality"? so she intends this as a detour into the productive accounts of "self-relfective consciousness" espoused by nietzsche and freud in order to argue that melancholia is the primary way in which subjectivity manifests itself -------------------- i have not, yoshie, ever justified, let alone claimed objectivity, regarding what i type by appealing to what workers think. rather, i asked carrol recently to consider that his question seemed to hold people personally accountable for taking on the jobs that they do. i asked him to consider how such proclamations as you have made about cops--and i personally hate cops more than you will ever know--fail to recognize the actual lives of people who become cops or prison guards or security guards or go into the military. if i have ever appealed to what workers think i have used illustrative examples from social research, mostly critical marxist/feminist and marxist/feminist inspired ethnography, as well as illustrative examples of people i know or whom i actually interview for my own critical ethnographic research. there is some role for that in these debates and discussions. this list regularly blabbers away about why workers don't do this or that and it regularly posits claims about how racist and sexist workers are [justin most recently, a man who apparently does not know that his claim is flat out wrong and is not in any way shape or form supported by evidence; had he made a similar controversial claim about any other group, characterizing them negatively he would have been met with a flood of protest. but here, on a left list, it just passes as common sense, what everyone just knows]. it is utterly ludicrous that such discussion take place without, or at least rarely, ever considering the vast body of scholarship on the topic [and with, one would hope, a consideration of the methodological drawbacks/etc] with any of the depth that these issues get treated with re wank-o-nomics and econodrones' and competing methodologies [cf., FROPerie thread] again, no one claims objectivity in any of this. i certainly haven't and i don't believe wojtek ever has. he has, instead, repeatedly been arguing about strategies and tactics, suggesting why left initiative might fail. i think he is wrong to continually do so by maintaining privileged access to opinions, but more than that i think it's a bit of a simplification to continual present them as if these opinions are not rife with contradictions. perhaps that is simply my methodology speaking because i seek out the contradictions, the absences, the fissures, and silences in my research and type out every word, pause, stutter they make in order to actually see and hear them, whereas wojtek tends to present the issues in a more topological fashion. i do not claim objectivity here in any positivist/naive realist fashion, but i do think that research on these issues matters and shouldn't be a stranger to these conversations. indeed, you clearly think so as well since some of the work you cite is based on the very same assumption: there is no difference between _city of quartz_, _hard core_, or _fast food, fast talk_ -- they all examine "traces" or the "imprints" of social structural processes [see your pal Bhaskar as well as your reference to "the sociological imagination" which you once claimed Eric Beck lacked] the traces can be film texts, examination of public records/documents, analysis of written texts, or analyses of interview transcripts and fieldnotes of participant observation what matters, as you know, is the theoretical framework through which one asks questions about social life and makes methodological choices, as well as the political decisions one makes in analyses of and re-presentations and analyses of what one finds. kelley -------------------------- Carrol writes: This seems to be the model Wojtek and Kelley have in mind in their a priori condemnation of anyone's attempting to speak for the workers. ===== if you'd take a look at the book i cited and wojtek referenced approvingly you might realize that this is NOT what we had in mind. Tourraine worked with Solidarity. he wrote two books _Solidarity_ and _Anti Nuclear Protest_ i have worked in several different struggles: labor organizing in three diff union struggles and the fight for plant closing legislation, antiwar, anti-nuke dump citing, and abortion rts activism. in turn, i have worked as a researcher trying to apply and develop, to some extent, tourraine's work outside of labor organizing. my argument has been that we can draw on social research and we can draw on our experiences and those we know to sort through these issues. my argument is that we need to build these truths in collaboration with working people in our roles as intellectuals and activists i have said over and over again that we need to do precisely what marx suggested in his letter to arnold ruge: start where people are, where ever they seem to think something matters, as wrong as they might be, and then work with them to explore, press, and push the contradictions as i noted to you off list. i've typed this same thing to this list three times, directly to you, in lower case and using upper case in all the right places, and you still have never addressed it, so here it is again. Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 19:32:25 -0400 To: From: kelley Subject: Re: culture & poverty/ culture $ wealth to tie this into a thread of a couple of weeks ago about how 'we' are supposed to get workers to become more class conscious: studies like this are helpful in revealing this critical fractures, fissures, and gaps in the ideological superstructure that reveal themselves in the practices that people engage in everyday of their lives. these fractures are what need to be exploited. this is why i quoted, a couple of month's ago, marx's letter to arnold ruge in which he argues that critical theory and practices should engage in "the self-clarification [critical philosophy (theory)] of the struggles and wishes of the age". it seems to me that here, were people are already engaged or, at least, where they are already demonstrating some sort of critical consciousness--whether of the media, workplace practices, politics as usual, etc, where we ought to begin. in other words, maybe we can't expect to get folks to start knocking on doors getting signatures for petitions and the like. but we can start from where folks already do other kinds of critical work, as unimportant as that might seem to 'us'. so, i'll quote marx to ruge again: For even though the question "where from" presents no problems, the question "where to?" is a rich source of confusion....If we have no business with the construction of the future or with organizing it...there can still be no doubt about the task confronting us at present: the ruthless criticism of the existing order... [W]e wish to influence our contemporaries [earlier he notes the importance of recognizing particular historical exigencies within each country that critical theory must attend to and take seriously]...The problem is how best to achieve this. In this context there are two incontestable facts. Both religion and politics are matters of the first importance in contemporary Germany. Our task must be to latch onto these as they are and not to oppose them with any ready-made system such as the _Voyage en Icarie_. [...] Just as religion [by which marx means theory, philosophy] is the table of contents of the theoretical struggles of mankind, so the political state enumerates its practical struggles. Thus the particular form and nature of the political state contains all social struggles, needs and truths within itself. It is therefore anything but beneath its dignity to make even the most specialized political problem--such as the distinction between the representative system and the Estates system--into an object of its criticism. For this problem only expresses at the political level the distinction between the rule of man and the rule of private property. Hence the critic must concern himself with these political questions [which the crude socialists find beneath their dignity]. By demonstrating the superiority of the representative system over the Estates system he will interest a great party in practice. By raising the representative system from its political form to a general one...he will force this party to transcend itself--for its victory is also its defeat. Nothing prevents us...from taking sides in politics, i.e. from entering into real struggles and identifying ourselves with them. This does not mean that we shall confront the world with new doctrinaire principles and proclaim: Here is the truth, on your knees before it...We shall not say: Abandon your struggles, they are mere folly; let us provide you with the true campaign-slogans. Instead we shall show the world why it is struggling.... [...] Our programme must be: the reform of consciousness not through dogmas but by analyzing mystical consciousness obscure to itself, whether it appear in religious or political form. It will then become plain that the world has long since dreamed of something of which it needs only to become conscious for it to possess it in reality. It will then become plain that our task is not to draw a sharp mental line between past and future but to complete the thought of the past. Lastly, it will become plain that mankind will not begin any new work, but will consciously bring about the completion of its old work. from Letters from the Franco-German Yearbooks--a reply to Ruge's claims about the futility of engaging in actually existing political struggles. ------------------------ well no one commented on that paper i forwarded either, angela, so whatever. it looked like a pretty damned good analysis of the politics and events leading up to it all. anyway, i think the problem is that several people noted that they saw nothing particularly spectacular in zizek's analysis, nothing that's not been said here in other contexts. the reasoning behind it, that clinton, blur et al., are using it to solidify support for third way programs by naming Haider the evil enemy in order to make them look good is, as i pointed out first thing, pretty ordinary and very old. it is not clear to me that we can apply a general "law" specifying how we should react based on this analysis. that's my beef with such an approach: there are far too many specific processes and dynamics we need to ask about before we go rushing to the conclusion that the repressive Law is always productive of an identification with/desire for that which has been denied. as i pointed out when ken and i debated this issue re anti-racism last fall, it isn't clear to me that i or anyone should be "quiet" about racism/racialization as if somehow poiting it out can only and always invariably lead to groups emerging to support racism/racialization. finally, the uproar was over a general analysis of anti-racism as founded on that psychic dynamic. you, yourself, have suggested reservations to ken's account. and yes, i do agree that the all-round denunciations of ken/zizek/etc were a manifestation of this phenom, in part. but then, what makes that symptom any different than anyone else's? donning the mantle of a supercilious i can see what you can't see, as zizek does, is prompted by the very same dynamic. ------------- off the top, what i think is fascinating is that no one at all connects this to the FROP debate. and it should be b/c in that debate there have been noises made about exactly this issue that is at the heart of the debate here, to wit: "Capital must expand, but conditions change and with them come new contradictions for capital and capitalism. It is up to us, then, to evaluate the forces that come to play on profit rates. Rising OCC is still a factor, but it's only one. Look around you. It is obvious that surplus value is created in different ways today, and even more obvious, it is realized in many different ways (appears in many different forms) compared to more than a century ago. Taxes and government, the growth of unproductive labor, whole unproductive industries, etc. And notice, I haven't even mentioned the class struggle (and neither did Marx much in the 3 volumes), and the effect of *that* on the laws of motion." so, i'm not quite clear as to why no one is making the connection or recognizes that the above is a very abstract statement for why we need to look at the issues discussed here. chris writes: > I appreciate kelley et al's criticism of that >approach -- which to me don't make it wrong, just one-sided) describes >reality pretty well. i'd really recommend a read of Stolzman & Gamberg's "Marxist Class Analysis v Stratification Analysis." Berkley Journal of Sociology (18). a recommend for everyone, in fact. mine was a methodological critique about theories of inequality [as opposed to stratification], so limited and specific to my concerns. dissertation wanking! i'm trying to develop a model of class analysis that uses ethnography, but to make generalizable claims about social structure [but not by erasing individuals] by using critical methodologies [as opposed method] show us how to bridge the chasm between agency and structure, micro and macro, self and society. it's a method that seeks to delineate what Mills argued was the fundamental task of sociology: it "enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society." [the relationship b/t character and culture, self and society iow] my argument is that most statistical procedures are *not* capable of analyzing class as a social structural phenomenon. they can only tell us about individuals and their characteristics, opinions, preferences. it does not tell us how classes "act" or about the nature of class antagonism, alliances, etc. [which is what is important for FROPdiscussion] however, there is an approach called *mathematical modeling* which is quite different from std statistical research. here, i think statistics can be used to theorize class as a social structural phenomena that ha *generative properties*. [which is why, Carrol, you are wrong to think that classes are not entities that take on a life of their own; again, see Bhaskar on this.].otherwise, any research that claims to be saying something about "classes" that uses conventional stats in order to engage in correlational analysis of variables is not class analysis. As Wilson (1987: p 279) argues: "Mathematics cannot play the same role as a vehicle for expressing fundamental concepts and propositions in the social sciences as it does in the natural sciences. The reason for this is that the basic data of social sciences, descriptions of social phenomena, are inherently intensional in character: the social sciences cannot insist on extensional description without abandoning their phenomena; rather, that mathematics play a heuristic rather than a fundamental role in the study of social phenomena" What's new about his work, Wright says, is that it accounts for the embarrassment of the middle classes: "Why does the middle class fail to see itself as part of the proletariat?" [The failure of FROP is hinting at this as a problem too] He cannot provide a relational model of class development, transformation, conflict because his model is *not* based on social structural phenomena, but on individual phenomena: survey data are data about individuals who have no necessary relation to one another, by definition. So, the only thing that is really new is worthless which leaves us right back where marx was, since Marx deployed different categories to analyze historical class conflict recognizing various factions which, to use Wright's language, occupied contradictory class locations--he was most intrigued with the role of intellectuals. But i'm arguing that labor process theories are a better approach [inspired by Braverman, Burawoy and other labor process theorists . oh and Chris, have you read Wright's debates with Burawoy, they're quite good. i might be mis-remember but i think B and W went to school together and are great pals. B invited W to Berkeley for a semester where they seemed to have some fairly excellent debates recounted in Wright's _The Debate on Classes_. Roemer and other analytic Marxists in this anthology as well. Like Justin, I was bitten by EP Thompson and affiliated work in the cultural studies tradition [Birmingham School] as well as what Mike picked up on, the labor process tradition of theory/research. >In other words, dismissing Wright because his analysis does damage to >traditional views (or even "writes off" such views -- which he doesn't) of >the working class doesn't prove your point. He *intends* to do such damage. >The question is, is he right? And if not, marshall the evidence, or at least >a tenable alternative. I'm working on it dude! --------------------- you might trouble yourself yoshie to read the article and then you might trouble yourself to notice that the article put new class in scare quotes. typically that signifies that someone is challenging the concept and the theoretical framework behind it. the authors did so in order to undermine the "new class" thesis. as usual, you don't know what you are talking about and are trying to miscontrue a person's position based onthings that are simply insignificant. the rest of what you type is, as usual, BS, since i've repeatedly explained my position and provided an example of how to use these categories for the purposes of social research countless times and i recently provided an empirical example of how these concepts can be used fruitfully in creative ways that go beyond the "strata" concept of class and look at how peopel's self perceptions and understandings of who they are are shaped by the *social conditions* of their labor. as you well know the practices people engage in on the job affect their consciousness. they matter. they are material forces in people's lives and as such these material conditions shape their attitudes and whether or not they are developing a cognizance of their objective location or not. and sweetheart, as i've mentioned several times, marx used very similar categories in his own social scientific work in the 18th brumaire to ask the very same questions i was asking and have asked in my research: under what conditions do those segments of the working class start to see their objective interests as members of the proletariat? if you think such work is worthless, fine. i do not. it's sure a whole lot more worthwhile, on my view, than a lot of other crap one might do for a living in academia. ----------------- statement paraphrased >>you're wrong because >>you don't know anything about me and you don't appear to realize that there >>are a few working [BLACK/WOMEN/AUSTRALIANS/ETC] people on this list-- ---------------- yoshie: >Individualizing & personalizing like you are doing here make any discussion >impossible (not to mention boring). -------------- .please be consistent and police and miscontrue every word that someone types based on their identity: genx, geezers, australians, women, men, white, black, latino, not american, american, musicians v armchair musicologists. also ignore everything else they've ever typed. oh wait, you already do that. good on you. afaic, killfile time yoshie where you join rakesh and roger in heading directly for the trash bin. ----------------justin: >I'm Jewish and I don't presume to speak for the Jews. I don't care if you are >a secretary in an office or a welder in a plant, you are not authorized to >speak for the working class. Who nominated you? ------------- please show me where exactly i said that i was? did you fail to read and synthesize my original post to you where i believe we agreed on this issue? ---------------- >As to the comparative point, whether white workers are more racist than >middle class professionals, I didn't say that and don't believe it-- ------------- you most certainlly did say it. you said it in a context where wojtek was maintining that working people's views are such and so about the crim justice system. you took issue and said you'd be more likely to find plausible the claim that working people have racist attitudes, to wit: "Personally, I doubt your supposition that working people do not care about due process, but if they don't, they'[rew just as wrong as if they have racist attitudes--a more plausible claim, from my reading of the evidence. " if you were merely talking about white people then such a claim is not simply pluasible, it is unremarkable. spare me the pretzeling. but if you can'thelp yourself i have plenty of mustard. -------------- >However, as people of the left, we are not in the business of organizing >white suburbanites. The GOP does a very nice job of that, thank, you. But if >we don't recognize that there is a lot of racism among white workers, we are >not going to get off the ground in organizing an important part of our own >professioned constituency. -------------- did anything about what i posted suggest to you that i didn't recognize it? did the reports i provide suggest that there was none? no. they suggested that there wasn't a correlation between class and racist attitudes. more education decreases racist attitudes and that's about all they've been able to find. my only argument was that i think we should ask how oppression works by doing research on how white people construct their privileged positions in ways so as to systematically oppress people and so as to systematically produce and reproduce an ideological hegemony. i said utterly nothing about organizing white suburbanites. perhaps you were confused because of all the talk of white suburbanites who organized during the sixties on the music threads? kelley -------------------- i wrote this earlier, attached to another rant pissed off about the characterization of jim sleeper's comments at the end of that article as the voice of an asshole. i'm not going to bother... but as to this, i'll send along this b/c i was thinking along the same lines. altho i'd already begun the post along the lines i've laid out, i wasn't interested in posting til i saw the "we" in ken's post too. which pissed me off. "we"...sheesh. i can't claim any accuracy, it's just a strong suspicion given the nature of other social movements... i read something a long time ago about how many social movements in this country have been shaped by the limitations of our political system. that is, it's difficult to get congressional legislation passed on controversial social issues, so people work through the courts, hoping to bring a case to the Supreme Court. this was the strategy of the NAACP and abortions rights movement, in part. what little research i did in response to your question, would suggest that this was the case. it's likely that a cadre of aclu lawyers had a great deal to do with it. i think that matters for shaping the questions that get asked, the politics that are played out, the alternatives that we think we have. which of course means that we don't ask certain questions..... the gays in the military issue was an issue that sought to hit the gubmint where it counts: how can you deny people the right to want to serve their country. you see the political value of such a strategy, yes? once you have the federal government on the defensive and land a few precedents in the courts, then the laws at the state level can be attacked too. which is the same reason behind gay marriage struggles: how can you attack people who want to have committed relationships in a time when people are, right and left, worrying over the "decline" of "the family"? and that, of course, is the way the differences in these movements are portrayed: struggle to be part of the system and be like everyone else or social movement practices that undermine and challenge it....? we're queer, we're here and don't look or act like you, so get used to it. or we're gay, proud, the many and we're just like you.... jillian sandell has an article calling into question the whole line of the gay marriage movement-- the demand for respectability by being just like everyone else. do a search at Bad Subjects, can't recall the name i think the economic impulses behind the decision to go into the military are much greater than you think, the visions of dying for one's country greatly downplayed. it has really only been about a decade that USers have felt any sense of number oneness in the world..... the military was an embarrassment. my son, btw, occasionally comes home from school after a social studies class and/or convo with the friends and he asks me, "if we get in a war with another country, nothing bad can happen right mom? we can beat them right mom?" now, if my kid is hearing about how some other country could kick US ass...... things aren't quite so ideologically seamless as you might want them to be. we're not that long away from the humiliations of the Vietnam war, yes? doug kellner has argued that the war flick of the 80s was an ideological attempt to restore the dignity of nationalism via the media. more complicated than i can recount here..... for the kids who went into the military in the mid-80s i don't recall anyone walking around proudly announcing it. there was, afterall, at the time, widespread ridicule of the service as full of dumbies who could barely pass the tests, people who couldn't make it into college be/c their grades were poor. the humiliation that they likely already experienced in high school is simply continued, only now you've got the reassuring voice of Recruiter telling you how you're ace, blahbedeblah. [used to live next door to an air force recruiter] anyway, most of these kids grew up n a world of utterly no opportunities where there seems to be no possibility of dignity. that was my world and the world of the people i grew up with. we're talking coming of age during the worst recession in the country since the depression. we're talking a town where there were, for months, no jobs advertised in the newspaper. a best selling bumper sticker: the last one out of _____, please shut out the lights. etc. only 5 years ago, the 5 country area there lost a total of 13,000 jobs in 5 years. the military will look good to you. and for as long as we've had a volunteer military, that economic turmoil has been a glaring reality for a large number of the people who end up there. there is also the appeal to those who want a college degree but who don't know how to get one. or those who'd like to fly a plane. it's sold in this country, after all, as a temp. job experience and as a step toward college education. that's the biggest pitch they make. as best as i can tell, the initial impulse among the many people i knew was not about dying for one's country or dreams of glorious nationalism. it's more about belonging and finding a sense of purpose and direction in one's life at a time when that becomes a tremendous burden for a lot of kids. not claiming any biological naturalism, but if adulthood = a respectable job then this is one of the most profound decisions one faces. ------------------------