I found this interesting pic online not long ago and it occurred to me that the sort of alternative approach to identity being entertained at Culture on the Edge — an approach to identification that structurates and historicizes agency and intention — is likely one that runs counter to the commonsense notion of the individual, of the self, that most of us have, making this idea of the individual itself a social thing. This alternative approach therefore places emphasis on the collective situation in which our idea of the individual comes into existence as a discursive item, as a social, legal, political fiction which helps to make possible the worlds that we take for granted.
Case in point: private ownership is possible only once we have legally defined and distinguished individuals in place.
To entertain such a radically historicized and socialized notion of the self, of identification as a means to signify the self, means that we have to be willing to entertain that we, each of us, are not special, at least not how we usually think of it. Instead, we might consider that we become special to certain people, at specific times, for particular reasons. We thus turn our attention to the strategies of specialization, as an ongoing process and series of discrete practices, rather than seeing its product as a free floating, transcendental value — much like the move from expressing an identity to studying the techniques and sites of identification.
If we insist on thinking of ourselves as unique, as special, as rugged individuals who stand out from the crowd, then, it is because of the others to whom we are related, in structured situations not of our making. What makes us stand out, in short, are the shoulders we’re thrust upon.
The airport in Birmingham, AL, that I fly in and out of, just got a facelift, part of a national effort to update some US airports. Half of it was closed for a major renovation, which was completed last Spring, and now the other half is closed and being ripped apart so that it too can be reinvented. The new terminal is spacious and bright, with new vendors and electrical outlets at many of the seats, and easy listening music playing throughout.
And Morgan Freeman talks to you every few minutes. Continue reading “Smooth Aviator”
(You really should play the song below while you read this post. For the full audio-visual experience.)
A routine turn of phrase in the English language is to enhance a claim by using the metaphor of depth — thoughts can be deep, the hero looks deeply into his love’s eyes, or “deep down, I feel that…”. Conversely, of course, a lack of such depth signifies insincerity and probably insufficient intelligence — after all, “Shallow Hal” was a movie all about overcoming a preoccupation with surface appearances, learning instead to see true, “inner beauty.” Continue reading “How Deep is Your Love?”
Have you seen this beer new commercial? Continue reading “A Character Study”
In 2008 I took a small group of undergraduate students from our Department at the University of Alabama to Thessaloniki, Greece (that’s us above, with a famous philosopher, who has a shiny toe, likely from tourists rubbing it), where I had been for a conference a couple years before, and at which I first met my Culture on the Edge colleague, Vaia Touna. I’ve returned several times since that first trip, sometimes with other students and sometimes to help further my own school’s initiative to establish a long term relationship with Aristotle University — a school whose namesake was from a village about an hour’s drive east of the city. Continue reading ““The Same…, But Different””
Food Channel viewers in the U.S. will know the popular celebrity cook Paula Deen and the controversy, that hit the media about a month ago, over past racially-charged statements that she confirmed making in a court deposition. One of the things that interests me about this episode is the media response, especially speculations on whether the tears she shed in a morning talk show interview were real or fake — i.e., were sincere (making her apology legitimate and heart-felt) or staged (and thus a manipulative attempt to, I don’t know, save some of her business contracts by resuscitating her public image). Continue reading “Crocodile Tears”