1. My Name (nom du guerre)
“It’s only natural I explain…what defines my name” (Nas)
The impetus for beginning this blog was frustration with “feminism” in the media. My complaint is not with feminist issues and news gaining much needed public attention (to be clear, this isn’t anti-feminist) but rather with the discursive mode of feminist writings in the media—their framing and appearance, topic and content selection, enunciation and articulation, and reader reception and engagement.
For me, it highlighted a serious problem that seemed to be growing ever more prominent in the shift from the physical medium of print news media to the online space of news media (=new opportunities for different voices to be represented in the media space): identity in place of ideas
Shisou and Hihyou: Two Japanese Words
Shisou and Hihyou can be seen, in a certain way of understanding them, as different positions.
思想 / しそう/ shisou = thought, “theory”
- Shisou is thought. It takes time. It is akin to a body of knowledge with tradition and history, produced through reflection and refinement. It provides concepts, ideas and possibilities for making sense of the world.
批評 / ひひょう / hihyou = criticism
- Hihyou is criticism (rather than critique). It is a media practice: it needs to intervene, to fulfill its role in shaping discourse, values and judgments in the public arena.
The first mora in each of these Japanese terms (‘shi‘ / ‘hi‘) phonetically correspond with the two gendered English pronouns: ‘she‘ and ‘he‘. Thus….
My user name was thus designed to reveal something of the aim of this blog thing here: utilising thought in the practice of criticism from a position of non-identity (wherever that is possible).
Rather than from the position of a “she” or a “he“, attempt to go beyond a fixed identity with the constant transposition and parallax view of Kojin Karatani’s “transcritic”.
2. The Aim/s
Exteriorisation: A Practice in Public
The words here are a praxis of exteriorisation. Previously, my frustrations with media and journalism (lack of thought in general) had led to two different coping methods.
- Dialogue. Direct communication with the person responsible. Perhaps those images of the ever so easily enraged, and equally eccentric, letter to the editor writer are not entirely out of place here. Things couldn’t just slide. Action needed to be taken. But while often serving as a cathartic, they led to little other good. As the ‘private’ correspondences continued along their non-satisfactory course, they often ended up providing no more than a writerly jouissance as self-indulgent irony became the only viable option remaining. All in all, while satisfying at times, the effort v. effect ratio was rubbish.
- Ambivalence. Ignore. Avoid. Worse than the irony in the first method, is the second’s amalgamation of the most notorious postmodern dead-ends: ambivalence, cynicism and internalising gestures. That is, refusing to engage from the very beginning. Resignation. Not even making an attempt to read past the “reel-like headline” designed to attract and excite gullible readers and a steady stream of comments and replies and repeated site hits as they check the discussion multiple times. Avoiding the stimulus from the outset, sinking into emptiness and/or egotism. Stay in control. Don’t let them excite you. Don’t work up all those energies. There is no satisfactory outlet for them, you already know that!
This blog, then, is a ‘new’ strategy (blogs are probably passe now, but i am here speaking on a personal level) that at least provides the possibility of publicness and participation in a (the) public sphere– even if it only serves me personally to sustain the illusion needed for continuing these efforts at externalisation.
Independent Individuals in Place of Identity
In true contrarian spirit, and to actually look as if I am not only trying but am indeed capable of digression-free brevity, it may be of value to offer some words that achieve such lapidary concision they have little need for additional ones. Adorno, hardly the poster boy feminist thinkers had/have on their bedroom walls and thus not the most advisable choice here, wrote of the mass media culture industry:
“It impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves.”
Perhaps these words are likely to be viewed as an anachronism. In the age of affect, where intellectual rigour has been substituted by identity, they are the impossible, unattainable and thus abandoned ideals of the enlightenment that are modern, all too modern.
But isn’t the genuine goal of today’s identity politics none other than the desire of abolishing identity based inequality?
And, does not in fact the hope of ever achieving this lie in realising a collective of autonomous and independent individuals who do not and are not judged by identity conventions?