Re: Hurrier I Go, Behinder I Get

Roderick, Ian (roderick@PATHCOM.COM)
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 10:44:56 -0500

-- [ From: Roderick, Ian * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --


I'm going to splurge and allow myself a couple of responses today. I know I
am short changing myself since the discussions in this group continue to
interest me greatly.

> From: Bob King
> Subject: Re: Hurrier I Go, Behinder I Get

> On Mon, 28 Oct 1996, Annie Armentrout wrote:

> > >On Fri, 18 Oct 1996, Bob King wrote:
> > < S N I P >
> > >> Some of this "play" is not encouraging to me, and I do think it
speaks of
> > >> serious misunderstandings of the situation we're all in (a situation
> > >> well described by cereal-box or common sense versions of

> > And just what situation is it that we're all in? How is it being
> > misunderstood? And what do you mean 'we'?

> Annie, I'm playing/working with the idea that the situation
> we're all in is one in which we are very suspicious of statements like
> "the situation we're all in," very suspicious of the idea that
> "misunderstandings" are still possible even in conditions of pluralism,
> and very suspicious that there is in any sense a "we!"

I was wondering if you meant understandings instead of misunderstandings?

> In other words I'm interested in how an era may be defined by its
> questions rather than its answers -- particularly an era (our own time in
> history) which lays claim to the paradoxical "answer" that there are no
> answers. So, knowing I'm out on a limb, the "we" I refer to is the we
> that seems to easily and naturally generate questions about the invalidity
> of the category of "we." I realize I'm presenting my own point of view on
> this. I also realize it may not be a topic others are all that interested
> in! -- and in part I'm interested because I looked pretty hard at the
> topic of ethics and pomo (being a product of my times, you know) when I
> wrote doctoral exams, so I drift into "authorial voice," (another category
> of suspicion!) at times.

Bob, I share very similar sentiments.

I think "we's" or what Schutz described as "we communities" are always
constructed and provisonal and proximic and never universal and given. The
problem is when the values of that we community or we relation become
universalized and hegemonic. The specificity of the eithical relationship
that has been established between associates is lost and applied to all
regardless of position, context, etc. I would never shrink from using the
term we completely, though.

I have often heard retorts of "Who is this we" when speakers use the
referetial 'we'. It is a good question on its own. It asks the speaker to
place her or himself. What I am not so keen on when the question is used as
a sort of nullifying argument and accompanies a claim that to speak one must
only use the referential 'I' or one is oppressing one's others. There is no
reason at all that I can think of to suggest that it is inherently unethical
if one consciously considers one's addressee to be other-than the we from
which one speaks. It seems to me, such a rhetorical strategy simply
reintroduces subjective individualism in through the back door. (I now take
a moment to step down from my soap box..)

> By all means (in reference to your following words), I do think we should
> talk and debate these things (i.e., is there a "we?"), and I do think
> the debate can be done in common sense language. In my last post, I tried
> to do just that -- putting/stating my perception that the bugaboo or
> "problem" with postmodernism is that it has not found a way to acknowledge
> "the given" (i.e., the spiritual dimension of humans, our ties to our
> planet, our we-ness and wee-ness, etc.). Although the last I heard
> Derrida was reading and talking about the Bible (a friend of mine was
> lucky enough to be in a seminar he did a few years back at UC Irvine),
> for the most part I don't associate postmodern theory with anything other
> than the idea that we construct our world from scratch, in some sense.
> Maybe others have read some passages in pomo theory about spirituality or
> what not. I haven't.

I think spirituality has been recast in a number of ways. In the pomo lit. I
am most familiar with how it has been incoproated into the work of the
sociality theorists such as Michel Maffesoli. Maffesoli and others have been
very interested in groupism or what they unfortunately term tribalism in
contemporary everyday life. They percieve there to be a renewed emphasis
upon small affective collectivites in the face of globalizing and
rationalizing trends of modernity. A lot of their writings stem from re-
reading Durkheim's _Elementary Forms of Religious Life_. Religiosity, as
Durkheim theorizes it, is extended to become a theory of sociability whereby
the bonds of sociality are based upon affective and organic rather than
contractual and mechanistic relations.

> I have, however, seen much of such discussion in feminist theory (i.e.,
> eco-feminism), so in part I'm also wondering why (me being suspicious) the
> attention to postmodern theorists more than feminist theorists (part of
> the much noted backlash? -- I'm not sure, but I'm curious).

I am not surprised by this situation. Given that female modernists have yet
to attain the status of the male modernists, it is not so surprising that
feminists and female postmodernists do not share the samel limelight as male

> > Moreover, if that situation is
> > such that it can't be/shouldn't be talked about/explained/debated in
> > concise and coherent language and have some tie to common sense (which
> > be damnably uncommon), then doesn't that exempt a great many of us from
> > that 'we'?
> I agree with what you are saying/asking here. I am seeking ordinary
> conversation, coherent language use, and common sense about our present!
> I'll look forward to reading what you think. I'm trying to be disciplined
> because I (obviously) like the topic -- this is my email time allotment
> for the next couple of days as far as writing goes! :)

Well I won't bore anyone any further with my thoughts on language use and
inclusion. I'm just going to fall back into quietude again.


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