Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lost in the Game

I spent a few blissful weeks ignoring the news, but I've recently been drawn back into it. It's a little weird when you come back to what passes for reality. Everything in the news seems absurd until you get back into the swing of the categories that you have been trained to recognize as real and universal. Then it starts to make sense again. That's when I remember that the media's function is to reproduce and reinforce all those categories and to make certain that problematizing those categories is seen as extremist or ridiculous or, best of all, unimaginable.

When I became disillusioned about the state, it was truly mind bending. I became conscious of the state as as a constructed symbolic realm, and I withdrew from it my assent. In my conscious mind, I denied the legitimacy of the state. But I have not been able to conquer the forty years of training that led to the embodiment of the state in me. The categories and meanings which inform the state and render it real and commonsensical are not consciously chosen. They are embedded at this point in the structure of my mind. Even now, I have difficulty articulating what the alternative to the state would be. Hell, is an alternative even useful to think about? The absence of the state is, in a real sense, unthinkable, unimaginable for many and damned difficult even for me who recognize the state for what it is.

When I criticize the state using the categories that reproduce the state, I am beating my head against a cognitive wall. I would like to be able to think of the state and the absence of the state in terms that are independent of those which underpin and legitimize the state itself. I am pretty sure that most of what the state, through its actors, does is to reproduce itself. Perhaps it is possible to secure the benefits that states claim to offer while dispensing with reproduction. But I am not sure that I am capable of this kind of thought or if it would do any good if I were. It wouldn't make sense to anyone else.

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