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[Xmca-l] Re: Political constructions of selfvspoliticalconstructions of identity

I'm biting off a tiny, possibly decontextualized chunk of this impossibly
rich thread (that's what you get for taking a break for two days). And I
haven't watched the Monty Python thing yet. But from this last interchange,
I can't help but feel that there are at least two different points of
confusion/disagreement here.

One has to do with whether we are speaking of the *message* each candidate
offers, or the *identity* the candidate is perceived to embody and which
influences others (i.e. their "political" identity). I don't think these
two things are always the same. The irony is that while one of Trump's big
messages clearly does relate to sameness and othering, at the same time as
Larry points out, there is "no solid and rigid identity" since he is
defined by his independence and capriciousness, the ability to say whatever
he wants and adhere to no particular position or ethos; more so than the
supposedly many-faced Hilary who is nevertheless unified in the eyes of the
public by her predictably compulsive need to do whatever appears
politically expedient. Trump is like a box of rancid chocolates: you never
know what you're going to get, only that they will probably be vile. As a
cynical friend of mine observed recently, he could suddenly say "Nah, not
gonna build that wall on the border after all. Don't feel like it!" and
none of his supporters would care. Do we consider the quality of being
mean-spirited and demagogic to qualify as a coherent identity, or these our
evaluative terms for someone who is articulating something very different
from identity?

The second point has to do with the distinction (tension?) between
ontological questions on the one hand, and epistemological ones on the
other. If we are going to speak of -ity's and change insofar as it
meaningfully informs human practices and our current ethical challenges
(e.g. the risk of Trump being elected and the world ending sooner), then *as
humans, *we cannot get away from epistemology since that directly
constrains our ability to do anything with these ontologies, whatever they
may be. How can voters come to appreciate that summer in fact does not
change into autumn if all they can see is that we're running out of time
and it's colder, and those are critical distinctions for the way they make
meaning of their lives and negotiate the world, including the election?
What difference does it make if Trump is actually a different Trump at
every moment (albeit still himself), if what voters are able to know and
see must be informed by a pattern of some sort, a way of articulating the
"essence" of what Trump is for all intents and purposes as it relates to
our values and goals? Similarly, how can we speak of Hillary's identity
without having some epistemological reference point (what we know of her
past record, what we notice her saying vs. doing)? And perhaps most
importantly, how can we avoid being misled by false information,
manipulation and bias in a way that will allow us to vote as citizens and
not as pawns in another's agenda? I suppose in this regard I am espousing a
kind of pragmatist reading (hopefully more philosophical than colloquial).


On Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 3:14 PM, Rein Raud <rein.raud@tlu.ee> wrote:

> Annalisa, you can think of the ity in terms of a 5-day weather forecast.
> Where I live, it can change substantially in several hours - in the morning
> we are told that the day after tomorrow will be sunny, in the afternoon
> that the day after tomorrow will rain. And yet it is the most possibly
> correct forecast each moment. Trumpity (just like Clintonity) may be
> entirely different at each moment, and yet it is what makes him Trump (or
> her Clinton). And no, I do not believe that an Aristotelian substratum is
> necessary for a process of change - this is how Western metaphysics has
> envisaged this, but it is not the only way to describe change at all. For
> example, in a celebrated passage, Dogen (1200-53, my favourite Japanese
> thinker) says that “firewood” never changes to “ashes” just like “summer”
> does not change into “autumn”. I agree. Best wishes, Rein