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Feb. 26th, 2002

it's late, and raining.

everything looks different in the rain: buildings, cars, people. you can tell a lot about a person the way he or she navigates the rain.

i was reading james donald's Imagining the Modern City tonight. it has a fantastic cover: looking over a man as he walks: you can see nothing of his face, just the circular brim of his hat, the thin laces of his shoes, the cotton of his jacket and pants, and the stones in the ground. his tie is shadowed slightly, poking out from beneath the hat. it's a very apt cover for the book, as it doesn't show anything of the man, anything that might be thought of as natural, which, half way through, seems to be one of donald's theories. cities aren't natural, but rather are a place where 'being a citizen, being a man about town, being a person--these are not identities, they are performances.'

as i said, interesting book. don't think i agree with that bit, but i ought to wait and see where he goes with it before passing judgment.

however, there is a section in the book where, casually, donald drops that he expects to be carrying and ID card any time soon. which i think has got to be one of the most disgusting ideas in all of time. ID cards. wonderful. why don't we just have all our crimes, incomes, sexual preferences and pets put up for the world to see?

the thing about society, is that you don't have to be known. you don't have to prove who you are to anyone. it doesn't matter that upon yourself you carry enough ID to make an ID card completely redundant, what matters is that you could spend your time having to present said object to any suspicious minded individual. (i resist the urge to say blue uniformed, because who really knows how long that would last? you might need an ID card just to buy bread.)

it is important to every society to be able to lie. a free society means a society of liars, cheats, and magicians. a free society means that you can't trust your neighbour.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Feb. 25th, 2002 06:23 pm (UTC)
2002 02 26
I can't help but wonder where humankind's, implied, natural state is then? I loathe these thinkers who talk about natural & unnatural states like some turn of the (last) century French philosopher frothing at the mouth at every "wild child" discovery.

And I hope Donny boy is being careful to avoid or explain his position with regards to primary & secondary qualities. (I'm assuming he avoids the topic entirely like most lazy authors do when they accidentally buy into a controversy from the history of ideas) How are Identity and Performance defined? Does one lie in the observed and the other in the observer? How does one make a distinction when the observed is also the observer, as is necessarily the case in a sentient being? There is a heavy implication that Don has made some sort of judgement call here. Is that even called for?

Ever chatted on the net? if i had a dime for every time I've been asked THE SAME questions by new people. I'd Pay for a card just to get past it. "Here check it out for yourself! Take my hair! Sample my DNA! Just get past the categorisation and lets have a real conversation! I wonder if the real issue isn't if we should have such cards but whether we should ascribe such importance to the types of information they could provide?

Funnily I once read a proposal for a society of freedoms based on the complete transparency of every facet of everyone's life. Impossible to keep secrets at any level, every person is forced to be completely honest, so much so that the concept of truth/falsity would become defunct.

And yes, everything does look different when it rains. It's because everything is wet.

Love Madam G
benpeek
Feb. 25th, 2002 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: 2002 02 26
i rather doubt there is a natural state for everyone. perhaps for every generation there is one, but i can honestly say that if it was suggested that i throw off the shackles of electricity, and start livingin the wild like my ancestors, i'd rather be put out. natural is, i think, generational. which might go to explain why older and younger never really see eye to eye on what they are doing.

by that sort of reasoning, you could argue that any statement on our natural state is useless. i certain think so. and it's the deviations in life that make it interesting.

as for donald, i think you might be being unfair. i've only just hit the chapters in which he discusses this stuff, and there have been hits of a distinction. i but more reading to be done soon, i should think.

as for the ID... well, that's all getting to know someone, isn't it, madam g? it lets people decide what another person needs to know about you. and remember that a society enforced ID card would only give us one identity. it wouldn't be used at parties and social events, where you all pass around the card and go, 'oh golly, amy likes the same bowie era as me!' and the two of you can go off and talk about it together. (and i should point out, that you can set this up on the net, so that when you are in chat, using IM, or ICQ, or a few of the others, then others can look this up. mainly they don't.)

i don't like that proposal of a society, myself. but then i am sure this doesn't surprise you...

ben.
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