This contemporary view of identities as brands is suffocating. A person is not a brand. A person is not either good, harmless, or, when it makes a mistake, an evil to be boycotted. And likewise, boycotting something bad, cannot automatically make someone good. Harm is in everyone. We all see and do things in ways that are bad for others, so nevermind our self-image.

Does that mean we should engage in a neverending war over perspectives? I think it means we have to do all we can to curb any power that solely represents a single perspective, including our own. I really don’t believe it is ever any specific person’s wrong step causing things to be bad. Instead I think we should ask ourselves how this person, group or we ourselves have gotten enough power that this could indeed bring harm to others. This is never actually about the other. If we want to live in a less Machiavellian society can we please try and be honest enough to not see ourselves as the good ones? We are the Machiavellians. I’m so tired of people being judged right or wrong, cemented in identity, instead of a being that can make mistakes. This creates the illusion that as long as we support the good people, the clean ones that did not take any wrong steps, we can be equally good and clean. Please! That is turning the simple fact that the individual, the group and the earth cannot share a single perspective into a horrid ideological war of identity against identity, of good vs bad traits. For the sake of a better world, can we please try and be a little more evil, and a little less of a person and take our steps to a better world from there, so that earth can become a place of interaction instead of a stage to act out our illusions?

Categorized as Identity

Coming Out

To come out as someone belonging to a general category on the basis of specific experiences has always felt a little fake to me. It makes me feel as if I am an impostor. Not only do I always want to escape other people’s judgements concerning my identity and escape the categories I was supposed to belong to, I wanted to flee my own judgements concerning these just as much. This wish to flee is easily misunderstood. Society is hierarchical and deems some categories more preferable than others. And so the wish to flee becomes suspect, as if it is could never be anything more than a wish to not belong to an ‘inferior’ category.

However, I grew older and feel no shame in posing as whatever category I want to. I am in a situation that is privileged enough so as to be able to feel somewhat independent of these judgements, and do not feel I always need them in order to feel real. I feel I am real even as a an impostor.

INTERFACED with Marcel Proust

Language is always fixed and curtailed by culture. Language is magic because it can talk about things that are not themselves present. Language is also magic because a single word or sentence can be transposed and reshaped to fit new objects and situations. At the same time, there must also always be a certain amount of rule and order in language for it to make any sense in a social group. However, its rules are never universally fixed from now into eternity.

For instance: the word tree incorporates all trees, and all these trees can differ so much from each other that you wouldn’t even have deemed them to be of the same ‘kind’ if it wasn’t for the word. Meanwhile, the word can also be used to describe many things that are not trees at all, but that in someway or another resemble something tree-like. These other things may look more like a tree than many trees do. A word can become a metaphor. The possibilities of words to refer to other things are endless.

You may choose to then always look for the most universal of characteristics: those that are always shared by any member of a ‘kind’. Such people talk often of the true meaning of things. However, I do not belief language to work this way. I don’t think it would have much use at all if it would be restricted that much. And even completely tied down into logical formulae, language always preserves its possibility to be transposed to a different situation, to become a metaphor and to enlarge or change its extensions. Just notice how often the scientist begins to see what happens within their organization of language into a specific chain of causes and effects as something that can be lifted from the subject and projected onto completely different aspects of life. This is not necessarily because the formulae are true, but because this is the way language works.  A simple sentence I am {put something} may not even change what is between the brackets, due to cultural conditioning, and may stay the same all through ones life while the experience connected to it: the extension {you} is completely changed. 

Culture make communication possible by fixing categories to a certain degree. However, as entropic systems grow, change, break and die, they cannot be fixed for all eternity, or language itself would be of no use. Communication must be able to respond to a changing environment and have a use in situations which are not completely known or understood. There has to be an openness to change, so it is always possible to make a different use of words. Any culture possesses a whole host of different uses of language. You will generally find a very organized use of it, with rules and fixed formulae for instance in its sciences, in its magic spells, and at the same time a much more playful and transformative use of it in its poetry.

In any culture, one may discover not to actually fit the categories provided by this culture, or to fit, but only in a category deemed inferior. Such discrimination happens through the restricting of language by that culture, and directs not only the order of the words but also of the body. You may be forced to come out and fight for your right to be a different body, and take up space. If however you have the luxury to be ‘normal’, and you do not need to come out as different, I want to argue that it is time to also perform a coming out. You either are, or are not completely tied to the categories your culture, your ancestors and the people in power have provided for you. If you are ‘normal’, {you} comes courtesy of those with the power to fix the categories. I imagine you may want to come out as not fully controlled by just that.

Instead: come out to yourself as {something} else. Your relation to yourself is mediated by the language that is shaped by the society in which it is used. But you can take some control over how this language mediates your own understanding of yourself. Just as it is the magic of language to be able to describe change and to exist in a changed context and to change itself, you are equally equipped to do just that yourself. You are the dynamic being for which this dynamic medium has its use. Go beyond what you know, and extend in time and beyond the categories you think make sense at this particular moment. Because the categories will change, and are not making sense to exactly everyone in equal measure right now either. There are always people suffering because of them.

So, ‘normal’ people who do not need to come out but may want to come out as emancipated from the powers that defined them. Pay homage instead to a being that changes, that surprises, can be unpredictable and will always discover desires and experiences that it had not imagined it could have. Come out as many little different things again and again.

This does not imply for a need to try to be anyone else, or to change that with which you are comfortable. It simply implies to be not quite so much as a finished whole, fixed in time. Start using the words used to describe identity, and which culture has made very heavy as if it was ammunition, and use these words instead as you would try on a piece of clothing. However much you like wearing the same loose sweater, have you never enjoyed the physical sensations of wearing something very different instead? Have you ever tried on a skirt, a dungaree, tights, a feminine pose, some masculine aggression? Wearing these in the right playful circumstance will give you goosebumps and a lot of pleasure. And while you may not discover a need for any particular change, you will discover yourself and the language you use as itself existing through change.

And so just as you would put on some new style of clothing sometimes, try out some new words to describe yourself. In a new or unsure situation, you can only measure the use of what you said and did in this situation by reflecting upon it afterwards. You will discover yourself as an entropic being that needs change as much as it needs conservation in order to persevere in time. Experiment with what you could be and feel, instead of being what you think you are regardless of context. The latter being can only persevere if backed up with the terrible powers of an oppressive culture. And this enormous spending of power certainly does not constitute a well formed entropic system.

Would you prefer to be yourself rather through force or play? Through force you are going to need the backup of many others. And many of us will not get this backup. And if we would, we would hurt a whole lot of yet other people that do not fit. Instead, through play you can interact with the language you and others depend upon, without the need to fix yourself as a particular word in a fixed spot inside of language. By universally defining what you and others are, you will likely alienate even yourself in the process.

Anyone identifying as normal will automatically come out as not in control of their own judgement. If instead you try to follow along the stream of change, something only an equally changeable being and its language can do, you may discover your own footsteps and follow them instead.

Categorized as Identity