⊕ – i received a crash course in postmodern thought

during my first semester at Swarthmore college. In a lesson that was to be repeated throughout my undergraduate education, the professor opened the class by admonishing us to reject binary thinking. As the class was staring at her dumbfounded, she divided the chalkboard in two with a thick vertical line and asked us to name the dualisms that structure our world. After she provided a few examples to get us started – male/female, white/black – we jumped into the game, calling out binaries one after another: rich/poor, smart/stupid, human/animal, cool/lame, skinny/fat … The game went on until the board was full and the air saturated with chalkdust. Pausing a moment, our comparative literature professor asked us if we noticed anything odd about the list we had constructed.
Looking at the chalkboard, we saw an easy answer: on the left of the line were “good” terms – cool,skinny, rich, smart, white – and on the right were their counterparts, the derided terms. In an instant, our class grasped an essential precept of postmodern philosophy: Western thought has hitherto divided the world into a series of binary oppositions that privilege one side over the other. The political implications of the lesson were clear: Oppression can be traced back to the way we think, and hope of liberation rests on escaping this binary thinking.
The postmodern project of overcoming binary thought, however, is more difficult than it may appear. First of all, one cannot simply flip the terms and privilege what was once diminished – that would merely replicate the binary in reverse.
The issue is not which term is privileged but the false belief that existence can be divided into two distinct, competing parts. Thus the task of the postmodern activist became the blurring and problematizing of distinctions in order to destroy dualist thinking. It was all done in the name of political liberation. At least that was the intended goal.

Continue reading “⊕ – i received a crash course in postmodern thought”


047 – Building Alternatives To The Current System

“My goal in the long run and from now on is preparing the ground to convert my trail in a popular lawsuit against banks and everything which it represents, therefore by extending it to the current capitalist system. A trial that could be both a new tool for reunion and strengthening all those who are to build an alternative society to the present.
If this idea goes ahead and I get to return someday to carry it out, will be if a majority of you also believe it, if you are willing to win that trail, if you think it will have a beneficial effect for our fight. I hope to move it forward someday, since it’s going to be the way to come back and never hesitate, that I want to come back to be again amongst you all, but I don’t think it’s only me to decide. I would like to ask you to discuss this in the meetings of the gropus and meeting places and thus would be then, that we could decide.”

Enric Duran

042 – The SLAP

But all the characters in The Slap are touchy, and that seems to be part of Tsiolkas’s point – in the Australia of the 21st century, multiculturalism has won. People of all ages, all ethnic groups and all political persuasions are interconnected and intermarried, and, at least some of the time, they just can’t handle it. The Slap, which was first published in Australia in 2008 and has since won the Commonwealth prize, is a “way we live now” novel, and it is riveting from beginning to end. Continue reading “042 – The SLAP”

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