Sunday, March 29, 2009

a supposedly salacious blog about vice begins with a comment on diction

I love the work we do--well, most of the time--but I hate the language of activism. It sounds like the language of therapy to me much too often. But beyond my natural and justified aversion to that (on which more later, *much* more, trust me) it's as if we just have a set number of tropes we can put together in one order or another or modify this way and that, but seeing as how there are only a set number of tropes, there are only a set number of permutations. (And thus perhaps only a set number of ideas?) It's as if using other vocabularies or frames of reference would sully our thinking, or depoliticize it. As if we're not clever enough to tease out the reactionary elements from other models.

Would it be possible to have a conversation that touched on identity and identity politic and our community and our city and social change in which the following words and phrases did not appear:

"race" "class" "queer" "oppression" "privilege" "community" "marginalization" "people of color" "disempower" "objectify" "violated" "trauma" "internalize" (see how contemporary psychotherapy is one of the few influences we do allow?) "solidarity" "ally" "homophobic" "concensus"

I could go on.

And it's not that I'm not happy that our little generation of leftists *has* these words to name these phenomena. And I'd be horrified if for example I was forced into a time warp that took me back into 70s era second wave feminism where I couldn't chirp "whoraphobia!" w/impunity whenever I happened to see any.

But I would be delighted if just once we attempted to discuss all these concepts without the aid of our buzzwords.

I think it would be incredibly awkward and immensely productive.


  1. welcome to the blogosphere! I've liked all I've seen of you on facebook and your madness radio interview...will follow the blog with interest!


  2. use google reader...or if you have firefox you can do RSS straight from the browser...

  3. A "set number of tropes" is a reflection of a limited horizon of ideas.

  4. Daniel, if you go to and set up an account, you can follow any blog, no matter whether its blogger affiliated or not, through the blogger dashboard.