08 November 2006

Post-Election Grogginess

I find myself completely exhausted today after staying up late into the morning and watching in wonder as the results came in. For those who have been kind enough to comment in recent days, I promise to respond soon. I'm still in a bit of shock as to what happened last night. Don't get me wrong. I'm not expecting momentous changes or for Democrats to suddenly begin acting like genuine progressives. Yet this still is a ray of hope. It is the hope that perhaps some of the more eggregious offenses of this imperial presidency can be slowed down. It is the hope that some of the abuses of the prior Congress can be reversed. It is the hope that the topics of discourse might be changed as a result of another party now controlling the message that gets disseminated throughout the various media channels. This, perhaps, is the most important, as simply turning something into a topic has the power to reconfigure lines of force and power. And finally, it is the hope produced in discerning that rhetoric alone does not win the day or create reality. That is, occurances like this remind me that things are possible... They rescue me from my Adorno-esque pessimism.

A few months ago I would not have believed this possible and I find that this experience of change significantly calls into question a number of my theoretical axioms (I've been working through these shifts in theory for a number of weeks on this blog). How is it that forms of social configuration that seem like iron can so quickly dissipate like so much morning mist? The Mayans had a thriving culture that suddenly disappeared. They didn't disappear as a result of some natural catastrophe (as far as we know) or through depleting natural resources. No doubt the Mayans believed their culture and state to be eternal. Yet it disappeared. How does such surprising and sudden change take place? It seems to me that good social theory help us to see the contingency of the present state of things, that there are other possibilities, that other collectives, subjects, and ways of feeling are possible. Just as psychonalysis allows the analysand to overcome the closure of their universe of desiring, discovering new possibilities where they never before thought they were possible, good social theory creates possibilities where before only the iron laws of historical necessity and power were discerned. Good social theory reminds us of the essential fragility and finitude of the power relations holding together a particular type of collective.

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December 30, 2008 12:14 AM  

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