Thursday, September 21

must be seen as

I have been wanting to write something about this newsworthy mess that unfolded in Virginia ever since it happened over a month ago. but what to write? and why? and why now?

my thoughts have needed time to percolate. I still don't know if they are done percolating. is there an ideal thought-percolation time? is there a point at which you have thought enough about something? I kind of don't think so. but probably it depends on what your thinking-goals actually happen to be. are we thinking to do something, or solve something, or...? usually I am thinking for the sake of it, and in that case there is never enough. but I usually have to stop at some point, because only so many things can fit into the whole percolation.

more and more thinking about Charlottesville would also need more and more data about Charlottesville. and while I've been able to get some, there is no way to get it all. I wasn't there. what I have to think with are observations and thoughts that other people have written down on twitter and facebook and other internet spots. such places become the avenues by which I find my news and my sense of newsworthiness. there is so much room in the world for so much news these days. so many stories and voice. this twitter-essay is less directly related to the Charlottesville mess, but it's a story and a message I keep thinking about.

to supply my brain with more informed view, I could, I suppose, listen to more newsy podcasts. or watch some more newsy videos. the podcasts I tend to put on while I wash the dishes are more ponderous, less newsiness. although, in the way of timeliness, 99% Invisible did recently re-run this Memory Palace episode about a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

I don't know if there are any confederate monuments in Indiana anywhere. there is this place, though, just up the road a bit. though it fits the theme of memorials to dead white guys who participated in the general ruination of many, many non-white guys, I don't think anyone is likely to get all enraged about it. I'm not sure though.

it's difficult to think about the complexities of causality and blame. I wonder quite often, what good does blame do? what use is it to spend so much time investigating the precise sources of evils and ills and wrongs and badness, even if we are able to figure it out? does investigating it all make us think we will have any control over the wrong?

maybe just knowing is control enough, in some way. however complex and impossible, we have to try to make things less bad, if we can, right?

sometimes it's hard to see how. sometimes it's easier. sometimes listening is enough. and sometimes listening isn't even that easy.

I've been listening to a few new podcasts lately. Malcolm Gladwell's pet research-and-thinking-aloud project Revisionist History has been a mix of interesting and meh. this very first of the episodes struck me--it's about art and snobbery, patriarchy and sexism, and the concept of "moral licensing." go listen. learning about moral licensing was worth it despite Gladwell's rambling self-important tone.

moral licensing. a justification for keeping all our old and toxic ways of thinking because we spent a little time poking a hole or two in their edges.

so much to think about. I've also been reading a little from a book called Intersectionality. the chapter on how educational institutions play various roles in perpetuating injustice has been thought-provoking for me, now, as I consider my future as a small piece within larger systems of educational institutions. my favourite part of Intersectionality was a quote from Audre Lorde.
"Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependence become unthreatening." (qtd in Collins & Bilge, p. 169)
necessary polarities. necessary and productive difference. no consensus, no flattened-out unity. difference. to see difference differently changes it. is that what Lorde means? that what might be threatening to us if we resist will transform into a beautiful, wonderful thing is we'd just learn to see it that way?

or is it actually that the threat was all in our heads to begin with?

I'm not sure who the we is. hypothetical we. everyone we.

or me and you. maybe. partly.

and then there is the whole paradox of tolerance to grapple with. what belongs in this world we are creating, and what doesn't? what things are okay, and what things are so bad we shouldn't even look at them? think about them?

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