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[Xmca-l] Perezhivanie in the U.S.A! Or, when feelings contradict facts
Speaking of perezhivanie, I wonder if we might stop for a minute to
consider the collective perezhivanie of the U.S. right about now (apologies
for the U.S.-centric post but perhaps this is relevant across the globe?).
My guess is that this is where politics (esp. of the leftist variety) has
failed us most in the last 20 years or so (perhaps long before that but
I've only known well the past 20 years).
These ideas were prompted by Jon Oliver's 11 minute piece about the
Republican National Convention last week:
The gist of the message here is that the Republicans are taking "feelings"
for "facts" (and hence are delusional and "false-to-facts"). I agree with
Oliver's assessment (or the part before the parentheses).
But I also agree with Newt Gingrich's assessment that it is important to
understand the feeling of the electorate (and if I might add, I think that
this is the great failing of the Democratic party in recent years - the
assumption that "the facts speak for themselves" and that "feelings don't
matter". Is this contrary to a concern with perezhivanie).
In fact I would propose this as precisely the research question is in
desperate need of study right now. Namely, how do feelings come to
circulate so widely? How do they spread like contagion? And what is the
lifeblood and marrow that supports and sustains these feelings as they
circulate through the social body?
Or, more simply, how are feelings constituted?
I suspect that this happens at different scales. At the broader scales,
mass media are important for cultivating the particular feelings (in all
their diversity) of a given historical moment by giving us the "raw facts"
(note scare quotes!). And big institutions are not insignificant in this
But for feelings to be felt, they have to be lived in the capillaries of
everyday experience where the exchange of energy happens that animates the
muscle and sinew of the social body that enables movement of that body.
It is this capillary action that interests me the most - what are the
everyday interactions that sustain feelings in spite of facts? What are the
everyday events and experiences that support and sustain the narratives
that are put out by various media? (and, to be sure, the media must
necessarily be responsive to these capillary actions if they hope to
maintain an audience!).
So I wonder is this a question of perezhivanie?
Or does perezhivanie necessarily involve the situation-as-such, what we
would otherwise call "the facts"? (and in which case, this wouldn't be a
case of perzhivanie at all but would rather be a case of something
(my language is catching me in a web of dualisms here:
perceptions-of-the-event vs. the-event-as-such (/or "the-event-in-itself").
Perhaps perezhivanie will be opaque as long as I am caught in this web of
meaning? In other words, is perezhivanie non-dualistic?)
I feel this to be an important question for any democracy hoping to live up
to that name. Without any attention to "feeling," then we run the risk of
dismissing as delusional a massive proportion of people who live with us on
this earth (latest polls show Trump trailing Clinton by just a few
percentage points - is everyone on the political right deluded? Or is Newt
and others on to something?). Where are feelings now?
Seems Volosinov is relevant here too - perhaps in helping to link the
micro- and macro- scales (with apologies to Jay L's slightly different use
of these terms).
What do you think, perezhivanie or not?
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602