Feb2011_As concerns Belonging


...of discontent

[b 4warned, an unrepentant rant]

FULLTXT_PDF_2011_Belonging

There are times when I come down to the bone of my discontent. I don’t break it for rage and suck the marrow. I study it with whatever indifference I can muster. And what does it appear to be? The fact that, as much as I want to assert myself, not so much as an individual [an idea that has been commodified beyond repair] but become myself as a creative being, an evolving literary process developing through a human being happening on the name of t. m., I still do wish to belong. [My personality and idiosyncrasies will flow forth into this creative process but I am uncomfortable saying that I want to assert or develop my I….]

Yes, Ja, Oui, Oink, my, perhaps sublimated, desire to belong to a bigger unit than that of the creative, self-adulating ego. I have the good fortune of already being a member of a loving&functional family, as well as relationship. Plus, as decreed per paper, hologram and all the other hyper-sophisticated national ID insignia, I have the great [unironic] fortune of being a citizen of Switzerland. Being a citizen of a specific country is always  99% ulterior machinations’ result and in my case I would be an utter fool not to acknowledge what a superb fortune it is to be a citizen of little CH: it means no natural catastrophes, actual social security, little to no violence/crime, no famines, functioning health care… just about all the promises of modernity come true. So then, being a member of these three meta-collectives [family, relationship, Switzerland] you would think I am satisfied.


But for some unconscionable reason it’s not quite enough. I want to join the ranks of some group by personal merit and having earned the group’s respect. The problem is, I think that ultimately I A) forever perceive them as outgrowths of teenagerish cliques or medieval guilds B) somehow do not fit the patterns, am unable to produce the requisite moves that would identify me as member.

What about Academics? No way Jose! After a couple of years in that medieval arrangement I wish I could be less reductive about this guild and “problematize” everything to the n-th degree, possibly even dissect it from a “Foucauldian” perspective. But the hideous fact remains that the institution is seriously medieval: you find your master/patron and try to brown-nose your way into tenure, plus massive, serious amounts of linguistic bullshitting. I know this because I’ve been to the seminars, listened to the lectures, read the books. In fact I had an entertaining revelation at U of C: for my M. A. thesis I emulated this hyper-complex style to a scary degree, my pro-rector actually told me “you can’t write like this, I know what you mean but you’d have to be an established scholar to write in this style”. She was referring to the fact that every chance I had, I opted for the Latinate word or constructed the boxed-in sentence; growing up speaking german I had a slight advantage in pulling off these linguistic legerdemain….see what I mean? One more thing about this caste: they [meaning in my case qualitative social sci] are probably best informed about all the megatonnage of tri-continental [latin America, Africa, south asia] poverty and are of the liberal mindset to condemn it, yet, other than writing papers, going to conferences and typing up solemn, academic books to be read by their colleagues, that is, other than bitching, nothing much is being done. There are the laudable exceptions like David Graeber but quite interestingly, his stunningly brilliant approach to anthropology is, as far as I can see, being largely ignored within the academy. Still and all, I can see why people would do it; I might even eventually. It’s a great shot at carrying out one’s entelechy, of realizing one’s own intellectual potential while getting a shot at teaching young, unsullied, hopelessly hopeful minds issues one cares about. So there’s a certain feeling of empowerment at the micro-scale, with a sense of oblivious omnipotence at the macro. It’s just that there exist different levels of straightforwardness about this and thus I like people like Graeber [or Bond, or Latour] who take it straight on the chin a lot better. So yeah, apart from my rejuvenated desire for total personal self-realization, I am quite reluctant about this guild… plus I’m not presently accepted into it.


[“So, uhm, basically, indeed, everything is fucked up. And us saying so in a really complex, intriguing, well-worded way and plus also writing cool, thought-provoking, aesthetically-dust-jacketed tomes about it, if that doesn’t change the capitalist condition then what will?”]


Journalists? I’m attending the school of journalism here in beeeeeeep and while it is good, it is by a very long shot most certainly not worth its money. Not even half the price tag to be brutally precise. Too many lecturers don’t take their “teaching vocation” serious, it is super-evident that they come to the lessons ill-prepared. And I have to point out, as I do time&time again, the technological means are simply not kept up to speed: the printers are surely from the 90s, we are not sent PDFs, nobody seems to have ever heard of PowerPoint, the digital blackboard is an alibi excercise if there ever was one, etc. One could viably say this is being a spoiled prick on my part but if the tech is so readily available and makes work and cooperation in particular so much more congenial, to not use it amounts to a kick in the gonads, really. “We’ve done it like this since before the deluge, fuck all y’all and the 10k you put up each year”. Which is another sore point: the employer, some journalistic corp, should be paying the tuition but many seem very reluctant; they’ll be happy to take you on once you can wave that piece of paper but before that you are a financial burden, no matter that you are being trained to become a competent journalist. And this is the most abcessed points of them all: the journalistic landscape [not just in Switzerland, see USA] is indeed a blasted, neo-liberal wasteland. The dark side of a moon made from newsdesk diarrhea. I’ve had fights at the editorial office over shit I’m oto exhausted to even recapitulate here, suffice it to state basic, no-brainer ethical issues disregarded in the name of party-lines and in respect for ad-space-buyers. No shit.


...interesting opinion...

The places where you could conceivably publish something that would qualify as rising above the tide of a comatose AP rehash are unfortunately unable to pay anything more than a sub-existence rate. And yes, why not say it, it’s a freaking clique: you see the same people who have long since made their way from early talent to tedious, watered-down clone articles of one-time brilliance [M. Roten is a particularly salient example]. Until two months ago or so I was bitter about not being an integrated member of this propagandistic posse but that outlook has slowly changed. I’ve realized that, irregardless of how pathetically bromidic it might sound, I have to remain on course with my own interests and form, elaborate these even if the celebrity-chasing, spectacle-stoking, 24h-breathless-reporting-but-never-analyzing, foxy-but-not-sly, sponsor-softballing crew cannot get down with it. Even if I do not get paid a dime for this. I must put my cognitive surplus to a use I can believe in and that is not muddied by the shit-tide of the times, flow it from NYC or elsewhere. [Metropoles are in the grave habit of overestimating themselves, mistaking their powers of connection for some magic or might intrinsic to the place. Not so, Mr. Schmo!]


What other crew to join then? A conceivable reply would be: fiction writers. But this is a collective so disparate as the atoms of a noble gas. Thus the more sensible answer has to be: myself. A team of one. I am constantly assembling and being assembled into collectives, true, but in terms of my entelechy it sometimes does me some cognitive good to conceive of myself as one. This one that is engaged in imagining another world where the cliques and castes and guilds and crews and syndicates and mobs are more intelligently organized. The one that wants to create the most aesthetically pleasing sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters and stories and books that are possible within the narrow confines of his own biography and congenital talent. This innermost one that aspires not to any worldly Ws [wins] but to one capitalized, wordy, idiosyncratic E, that of entelechy. Not just for himself of course but just as much for the few unlikely readers that take passing note of his effort, possibly even nod to themselves, trying to figure out what it is they wish for in the exclusive matrix of group-belonging, then click onto the next page.



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About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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