on conversation and self-awareness

Perhaps my willingness to write is due to an assured level of self-confidence or just over-development of American ostentatiousness. It’s been rather easy for me to write so perhaps I’m the wrong person to answer this. Or perhaps I’m the best person to answer this? Oddly, the act of asking that question is what I wish to emphasise – am I justified in giving my opinion, and if so to what extent? Self-awareness. It is not even a ‘first step’ towards the goal of ‘equality’ or ‘correctness’ – I argue that it is a precondition to entitlement to speak on a matter. Of course, this veers strongly into the area of moral judgements, but seriously, self-awareness is fundamentally virtuous. It is the opposite (sorry for the binary) of ignorance.

I understand the assertions that such a sentiment is entitled and arrogant, but I feel it at least deserves a second look – after all, this is not the primary movement of Enlightenment bullshit. This is a secondary movement towards creation built upon a bed of [justified] ideological destruction: post-modernity.

Post-modern reality of multiplicity (any given perspective is valid) perhaps it is the time when we should discriminate again, we have let the pendulum swing too far towards freedom (freedom to be ignorant?) and everything-goes and too far away from any ____ and neglects our capacity to understand one another. Despite the multiplicity, we still do understand one another when we speak. Language games are all well and good, but ultimately we do carry on. We do live despite complications.

Truth might naturally scatter once one looks at it closely, much like a Monet painting, it seems unified and solid from afar, but as one approaches one realises that it is made up of seemingly infinite brushstrokes. This metaphor is not new, but perhaps my placement of emphasis is: we must not neglect the larger picture. Each stroke has a place within the larger, each stroke constitutes the larger picture.

You’re so correct that it is limited in nature, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is that writing, while an inherently selfish act, seeks to convey something to a wider audience. Communicating complex ideas requires language, which, when looked at sociologically, can be seen simply as a tool (as opposed to in terms of its aesthetic or culturally significant components). This utilitarian view of language helps, here, in terms of the assumptions that certainly exist when one writes a blog in English on the Internet. Of course it is exclusionary, but it is important to remember that everything is exclusionary. Everything is political. To my mind, this means that we need to be very careful and considerate of which politics we advocate, we need to work towards the ideal of inclusion despite its impossibility. This may sound somehow idealistic or optimistic but think about it; writing in a secret code in a private notebook and keeping it locked away is the most exclusionary form of communication. Writing in English and posting on the Internet affords so much more visibility, so much more potential Affect (after all, what are humans to do in this life than affect one another?).

I would like to return again to the idea of ignorance, for a moment; while it is a concept that operates on Western assumptions of what one ‘should’ know, I maintain that there is not only a value in being informed, but I also consider it an existential necessity, at this point in human history. Perhaps our self-destructive tendencies, that are so clearly manifested in terms of climate change and can be seen on various other planes, are demanding us to evolve [contentious word, I know] towards a more informed global civil society, a global public sphere.

I know that this smacks of utopian idealism but, having grappled with the state of affairs in terms of existential humanity, I have equated the question of whether one is to write to the question of whether one is to live. It is a Sisyphean task, of course, but one must go on, one must try–and we must not only be aware of our task, and maintain an ideal to work towards, but we must also actively work towards such an ideal, such that we not fall into the trap of purely rhetorical advocacy.

To this end, I see your Žižek quote (which is fabulous, by the way), and raise you a Marx quote:

‘Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’

While I’m all in favour of people ‘shutting the f*** up’, I also think that we should remind ourselves that we do not know everything, that we are constantly learning. That being said, being open to alternative perspectives only comes through conversation. Consensus for a movement can only come through conversation. So while it may seem that we are speaking into a void, we must make the effort, acknowledge and respect when others make the effort with sincerity and self-awareness, and try to carry on.

edited by KH