Re: Hurrier I Go, Behinder I Get

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Wed, 13 Nov 1996 09:40:00 -0500

Hi, obviously the above byline applies now more than ever -- days turning
into weeks as I've been moving to a new apartment on top of all the
rest (actually, all the no rest). Sheesh! Anyway, I've been wanting to
respond to Ian's post for some time now, so here goes. . .

On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, Roderick, Ian wrote:
> I think "we's" or what Schutz described as "we communities" are always
> constructed and provisonal and proximic and never universal and given.

If this were so, is it then important to maintain a rhetorical basis
for constructing a "provisional-universal-we?" When you say you wouldn't
give up the use of "we," is this in part what you mean. I'm thinking of
diplomacy, of situations where two proximic groups or tribes have need to
construct a "we community" that works beyond cultural and cognitive
appreciation of differences. If we don't keep the rhetorical basis of a
universal we in good working order, we may not have time to construct it
when we need it most (i.e., when suddenly we have a week at most to
figure out "what to to about Iraq," and we maybe lack any basis for seeing
them as us -- which doesn't mean we need to see them as "just like us").
Cornel West is, for me, an example of someone who is now actively
balancing calls for appreciation of difference with calls for unity --
reminding me in a way of Elvis Costello's "what's so funny
'bout peace, love, and understanding." Movments for social justice have
these two components for me -- recognize and appreciate my differences
from you and recognize that, in wanting to be recognized and appreciated,
recognize and appreciate that I am like you. Cognitive difference and
affective commonality?

> 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 appreciate these references. At my usual and customary risk of
being way off (part of my customs were formed by being in the art
community, where being way off is for the most part okay), is
it fair to say then that "affective and organic" are universal
attributes or "givens" of humans? I'm interested in how, right
alongside what I'd term the hypercognitive impulse of pomo (the need to
register differences) is all the writing about "the body" in our era (the
need to register sameness -- the body as a basis for emotion and
connection to the organic?). In a kind of ethnographic sense, this was
also my interest in how the appreciation of children (beings who we
can all agree are wonderful and are, when little enough anyway,
almost all body and emotion) became an index or means of grounding the
discussion of pomo in the recent discussion. Okay, way off? but I like
it anyway :)

My main query I guess -- doesn't it seem odd that in our intent to
acknowledge difference and avoid hegemonic this and that, we end up
casting about, surreptitiously I'd venture, for some basis of
unity? My main point I guess -- there are universals and givens in human
reality, linked to the affective and organic. Now *there's* a limb to be
out on :)

Ian, I hope you realize I have not tried to represent your positions in
this -- rather your positions inspired me to respond/play. As you put it,
back to quietude for me, back to the computer's REFLECT> prompt. At
least I've done with moving cardboard boxes for awhile. . .