an idiot blog for an idiot world
with 6 comments
The Kathmandu Post, February 22, 2014
Written by Pranaya
February 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM
Posted in neurons firing.
Tagged with i as another, identity, lies we tell, memory, narrative, self
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I love this piece! I was dealing with identity politics in a recent essay too. Yes, I do believe identity is performed. As an optimist (;-p), I see this as possibility rather than lies. Though, lies is certainly true too and “possibility” may just be euphemism. But that identity is performative/made up of masks is important for feminists and homosexuals — this liberates them to tear away those masks and stories imposed on them because of their biological make-up. It really depends to what end we put on these masks for.
Since we live in such post-modern times where identity is not fixed, might as well take this bull by the horns. “Who am I?” remains a right question, if it is asked unceasingly. This translates to what you’ve framed: Who am I now? Our time has generated a crisis where we cannot answer this question, but this crisis has also liberated itself by producing its own possibility: we must always ask the question.
Why? Because certainty is now dangerous. I’m convinced of this argument (most recently brought up by Simon Critchley: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/the-dangers-of-certainty/). Wars and even religion tells us the dangers of certainty and the need to be flexible. To be certain is to end up in tragedy.
It does lead me to think about my religion. I no longer trust doctrine or scripture to be absolute, absolutely correct or factual, but I am open to the fact that they illuminate for me certain truths that work like the multi-dimensional crystal you mentioned. That is, these truths are — as you wrote — stories and metaphors rather than facts. And the metaphor leaves its interpretation vulnerable to multiple meanings, according to each individual’s history/experience/context. That is why I believe religion is a personal matter that, when brought to the public sphere, must all the more be tolerated. Eventually, I stand as an outsider to my own religion more often than not.
But I like this position. It helps me to ask that never-to-be-answered question (Who am I + now?). Although I’m not certain that the Church will have it right, and am sometimes antagonistic towards it, I’m more than happy to participate in the ethic of being committed to it — a something that leaves me disappointed. I guess I learnt the tough lesson that life isn’t about choosing the right things, much less being right, but about choosing the disappointments we would actually enjoy dealing with.
It’s strange because when we met in 2008, I was so certain about my faith. I remember talking to you about it. Now, I’m not. I want to say I made a mistake. And I’ve always appreciated your tolerance, your openness and most of all, your questions :-).
February 26, 2014 at 3:12 PM
Dearest Shu, of course it would be you who would leave such a nice, thoughtful and well-considered comment. You are so insightful, you know? And you think I am the one who is inquisitive but I think it is you who is constantly engaging with your own curiosity and asking yourself the same kind of questions that I ask myself. I guess the difference is that you grapple with faith and religion while I grapple with a lack of faith and a kind of sad nihilism. But in a way, I’m glad that you are not certain. But your certainty was not a mistake, it was just one step on a continuing evolution towards being comfortable with not knowing. But yeah, certainty is dangerous and it is often the fools and the misguided who are most certain of their actions and their beliefs. The truly wise men are like Socrates, knowing that they know nothing, always uncertain, always doubting.
February 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM
How can you be a nihilist and like Sartre?
March 7, 2014 at 11:49 AM
i’m not a nihilist.
March 8, 2014 at 8:09 AM
And, damn witty with that “no one” man!! ;-D
February 26, 2014 at 3:42 PM
You’ve been very crucial to my thought life, and will always be! 😀
I hope you enjoy the James Wood piece I sent you. I thought of you when I read it. I remember your struggles with home and home: home in KTM, and home in NYC. And how you love and hate them both. You’re not alone! 😀 Also, the question James Wood asks of himself at the end is the question I think you were asking yourself a few years back… Although, things may have changed now.
Well, keep writing then. That’s your only home for now. I’m always visiting it, making myself at home, and of course, I always enjoy your hospitality! ;-D
February 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM
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