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July 19, 2010


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Lise M

I love your analysis of these quotes, particularly in this line: "You get to both reinforce your own victim status (which keeps you from having any burden to do anything about anything, as it is your victimizers duty to set things right) while simultaenously declaring yourself the winner of an argument you don't even need to condescend to have."

I see these quotes as both addressing our discomfort with uncertainty.

When we're uncertain we seem to default to either defending our uncertainty (by calling certainty and articulation impossible) or clinging to a negative outcome because we know it will win us supporters.

Unfortunately, stances of despair and paranoia only take advantage of people who have experienced lots of pain. They are the ones whose agreement we exploit when we are running from uncertainty into negativity for the sake of looking right.

Like you said, if we're not so desperate that we either give up trying to understand or choose an analysis that hurts us and others, we may be able to patiently, through real looking and listening, see and illuminate.


Hmm. I think I follow you. Would like to hear more abou the paranoia-v-depression dichotomy. That's a real phenomenon ... the rush to hypervigilance (esp. online) as a way to postpone the nagging inner-collapse of depression. I see the parallel with gender identity, where the constant need to assert one's sexual identity results in some kind of ugly paranoia. But I also see a parallel with our frantic struggle to stay happy or maintain that we always were essentially happy. American happiness is the highest civic virtue, right? Small wonder that the psychotic paranoia of the American security state keeps so many people happy.

I think we have to slow down, stay sad for more than 20 minutes, and strike forth knowing that we have no guarantee of success when we try to mend the broken world (or our broken, depressive hearts). At what moment do we declare/realize that something within or without is broken?

Anne Moore

I really appreciate your comment, Karl, and the value you place on sadness as its own thing. One of the mistakes I make in my own work is this tendency to breeze through sadness/grief/disappointment in my rush to find something to celebrate--as if the moment of disappointment has no value in itself, which I don't think is true.

Slowing down is the key, and I think gives us the opportunity to make the connection between grief and transformation--because ALL transformation depends on loss.

So you should read the Sedgwick essay I'm talking about in the original post: "You're so paranoid, you probably think this essay is about you." It's in her book Touching Feeling.

Ian Thal

I hope everyone grasps that paranoia, by definition, is delusional and the defining behavior is making causal or structural connections out of coincidence, dismissing evidence to the contrary, and irrational thought patterns that reaffirms a state of anxiety.

There's nothing wrong with such left ideals as liberté, egalité, fraternité, et sorrité, but the paranoid style of "analysis" has been doing more damage to the left's credibility of the last few decades than any of the attacks from the right.

Yes, a rigorous exploration of symbolic systems is a useful endeavor in a number of disciplines, but when applied to areas of study which demands a rigorous sifting through of evidence we end up with pseudo-science.

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