Monthly Archives: February 2004
In reply to Sashay’s post on the fear suffered by many people when it comes to technology – and indeed any form of change, J.F. Lyotard addresses this very idea in his piece “The Post-Modern Condition” [ironically comissioned by the Quebec government!]
He speaks of the slow process of change – using science as his example – that no discovery is adopted the instant is occurs – discussing the concept of adoptive norms and language games, he states:
“Countless scientists have seen their ‘move’ ignored or repressed, sometimes for decades, because it too abruptly destabilized the accepted postions. The stronger the ‘move’ the more likely it is to be denied the minimum consensus, precisely because it changes the rules of the game upon which consensus was based. “ (p.337/338)
on a [very] less theoretical scale – i see what my professors fear of my research topic (avatars, identity…) the same as when the telephone was introduced into society and it was feared as work of the devil. In an earlier conversation, Sashay mentioned the social impacts it was feared to have created (cant remember the exact quote) – but look at the telephone now … how many years did it take from its introduction to now? I figure, in another 20-30 years [50 to be fair], the idea of the virtual as an extension of self will be common place, at least in the industrialized countries.
Even the term ‘industrialized’ should be redefined, its been quite some time that the term was relative to western society’s state of production. ‘Industrialized country’ was once synomous with the idea of advancement – with progress etc, and although it still does, there has been another rung added to the ladder. Industrialized countries are now emerging in parts of the world, where 100 years ago, were considered to be under third world conditions. We should move from industrialized to technocized. Maybe once we identify our current society as what it actually is, there will be more acceptance of where we are headed. And the fear of the technological will be shed [for a new fear no doubt].
Shades of similarity
Thinking about things Kelly spoke of her in post from last Tuesday and conversations we’ve had on the topic.
I agree that things do sort of blur into one another after a while. Goodness knows that as I read the theories of Max Weber, I see echoes of things I’ve heard about in other courses, within sociology as well as through other disciplines. The themes are similar and it matters not if you’re studying sociology (as Kelly and I do), or PoliSci or Cultural Studies or History even, the themes are the same.
Is is because we’re looking mainly into static things of the past? Is it because any study of humanity through any lense must necessarily hit upon the same issues and themes? Or is it just because a handful of dead people have come up with concepts that we as a species find so handy that we continually examine and pick apart their meanings, endlessly and incessantly?
I got to wondering about this today also as I thought about the research Kelly is doing on digital stuff and the reactions she gets from her prof on her topic. The reaction borders on outright fear.
Fear of what? Fear of newness, innovation and uncharted mental territories, I suspect.
So that got me thinking again full circle about the thematic nature of the past, the subtle shades of meaning that ultimately hide the truth that little of the thought of the past differs much from one another.
Which is probably why we take classes in which they expose us to the pantheon of human thinkers who, in their time, thought things that were seen as new and novel.
Makes me wonder if, at some point in the somewhat distant future, one of us will become part of the pantheon or at least part of the group that provided our own subtle shading in a theme that isn’t yet fully coherent.
Requests and response
Kelly has asked me on occasion what I’ve thought about the things she’s written here in various posts. I’ve rarely had an answer for her and I suspect she thinks I don’t read this blog.
Now, while it’s true that my days of regularly surfing to various sites are a thing of my now-long-dead pre-1998 past, it isn’t true that I don’t attempt to surf and read regularly certain sites and blogs, this one included.
However, while perusing here, the thoughts that I come up with while reading staying head-bound, caught up in a tangle of feelings and focuses.
True, I haven’t studied yet much of what Kelly has been treated to of late through her courses and personal interest pursuits, so yeah, I’m a wee bit jealous of her erudition. But what this really means IMO is that I can’t meaningfully contribute to the conversation unless she first takes the time to teach me a bit and even then I’d be a bit self-conscious, because I’d be aware that naturally she can only present what she herself has taken out of readings.
In the end, though, I suspect the real reason is that my headspace just isn’t there these days. With the time off from academia I’ve been pretty much taking of late, my head is more caught up in travel plans, project management at my employer, and recipes/marriage/home renovations. I don’t have the enviable ability Kelly has to read six books simulataneously and immerse myself in thought of the calibre she shows regularly here.
Kelly, I envy you your life right around now.
Where’s that Freaky Friday chinese lady with the fortune cookie when you need her, hmm?
Where props are due
Saturday, and i have been around most of the day with this season’s specialty – a cold. Have had much time to think about several trains of thought rolling around my head. First things first, as i am told is the custom in the world of blogs, is giving props to who lead the way for you. In this nature, i want to thank sashay for being my mentor. She has been blogging for quite some time, always get a kick digging through her archives. =)
I had a conversation with kathleen the other day, and we were talking about power issues etc. Been reading more Foucault in my contemporary class, we were talking about concepts of power, that is not something one possesses over another but more like the thing that is between two people that creates the tension towards possession. No matter who seems to have the power, the power is actually a two way street of sorts. Example: If i punish my daughter to two days of staying in the house, i am exerting power over her – but in order for her punishment to be followed through i have to stay home with her – house-ridden as well. And so, my question is, who really has the power? With this, i see power as a ciclycle form.
Another issue that sprung from this, something i watched in a documentary recently
The idea that young girls are encouraged to use their sexuality as an empowering tool that is theirs to control. In one way, one could be convinced that sexuality is indeed a tool (like wit and intelligence – that no one seems to mind if a girl uses that to get ahead..) that is ok to use as long as the girl using it is in control – as long as she maintains the power – this is common in the sex as a weapon mentality that women like Madonna made famous in the 90′s. Anyways – Point is, these girls arent using “THEIR” sexuality but a socially constructed version of beauty and sexuality – so who is it that really has the power???
On this note, thoughts shifted to concepts and images of beauty – and its social construction.. there are people who are attempting to [radically] question and redefine the concepts of beauty.
Again, my question is this – if by altering one’s body in a way that is not acceptable in the mainstream consciousness – to make people aware that there is potentially other concepts of beauty – how can anyone criticize someone like Pamela Lee Anderson for her breast implants – if she has made the decision to make herself ‘beautiful’ – even if the idea of beauty in question is one of the mainstream, is it still not altering one’s natural beauty regardless? My point is, Orlan, although one can clearly say that her idea of body modification towards a redefined concept of beauty, is still about changing your body for beauty… so, the final question is, does it make it any different then Pamela Lee? Not saying i dont agree Orlan’s theory [for as much as i understand it mind you] just that, i want to understand what makes one person right and one person wrong…
Does going against the mainstream for the sake of it alone, make it right?
And really, who has the power in all of it?
And now we rest
I must say, the anti-climatic feeling i felt yesterday was not because everything was over and expected too much – it was because i was simply passing through the denouement (sp?). Had the launch left on my brain.
Today was the launch for the research project – and i have to say, around 5:45pm, i could feel myself deflate, started at the toes, so it took some time to actually get to my head. But I must say – i am heading into this reading week feeling amazingly accomplished! I got all 4 papers done and on time (and they arent that bad if i may say so!) and the launch was a success with a steady stream of people [Special thanks to Shanly and all her hard work - amazing woman! and always with a smile =) ]
The day ended with a much deserved and needed pow-wow with Sashay – deflation complete – thank you for everything.
Onto some much needed [undivided] attention to the research – nothing else but =)
Like anything else that builds and builds and builds for too long, most endings are anti-climatic!
FINALLY finished all my [school] work that is due before the break…As much relief as i feel to be done, there is always something looming on the horizon. Tomorrow, there is a launch for the research group i am a part of. I know that it will go well, but i have invested so much of myself, if not only my feelings, into this project. Its all good – nothing a stiff gin and lemon wont fix!
When it all starts to look the same…
I’ve been working on a paper for my Contemporary Social Theory class (among too many other things it seems) and I have reached a point where all the readings are melding into one another…Even in the standard Foucault/Habermas debates, i am seeing similarities in thought – the same thing being said a different way…Lyotard and Habermas – same thing… Z. Bauman and Habermas.. Bauman and Foucault.. in class, the differences are distinguished.. but when I read it, it seems to blend into one.
I know that it leads back to the [pivotal] enlightenment period. Whether they are trying to downplay this event in social history, and its effects (or lack of..!) on the rest of history, or giving it full props for who we are today, all the theory seems to iterate the ‘what if’ or ‘look at it this way instead’ of theoretical debate.
I cant imagine how fine one can split a hair!
I was impressed with Immanuel Kant’s work on theory of the present ‘Aufklarung’, until Foucault decided to dissect it, along with J.F. Lyotard.
This is what i see [based on the selected readings of my coursepack] in the Modernity vs Post Mdernity debate.
claim 1: There is no distinction, only evolution of modern, since modern is defined as distinct from the past. Bauman talks about this in terms of the fluidity of time being the key, not the solidity of space..
claim 2: Modern was created (very loosely speaking) to break free from the rigid rules of the ‘ancients’, but is now becoming as rigid as what it was trying to break from. (claim 1 makes sense according to this – but again, there are slight distinctions that keep them seperated..)
claim 3: Modern is predictability, Post Modern is spontaneous and in no way predictable..
claim 4: Even Post Modernity has become as predictable as modernity, falling back into the circle of claim 2 therefore – there needs to be a post post modernity?
claim 5: Post modernity is not about breaking away from modernity’s structure, but to redefine better structures…
I think it is easy to see how the debate becomes blurred, and i have to say – all this cyclical thinking hasnt cleared up a darn thing and i have a paper due tomorrow !!
Ill look into the reading list etc this weekend.
Worse comes to worse, you can always email me the list and i can post it.
Ive been dying to write the last few days as things are heating up as reading week approaches.. workload has increased, and alas this equation can only calculate to a big fat “0″ ! Nothing left in my head but the spinning wheels without any oil..
come next thursday night, all should go back to normal… whatever that may be =)
Posting reading list?
Kelly – have you figured out how the rest of us can participate in the Reading List over there on the right? I don’t think with blogger you can give us access to the template — or can you?
If you get bored this week between writing papers, being a mom, a research assistant, a student, a SO, etc. etc. can you check into it?
Kelly – given the explorations of power that you are doing in your classes and in the post you put up last week, I thought you might enjoy this site that is about all things Foucault…
It’s called Foucault Resources — dumb name but great site.
May I suggest we put it in the site links over there at the right?