I have not been having fun. I feel the need to say this right off the bat because I am distressed that others have felt pain due to my actions. I am also worried that my blogging will add insult to injury, and I’m not sure there is anything I can do to prevent or soften that…I hope that you will all respect that I am just trying to hold myself accountable to my own intellectual project. It is not easy.
I am going to write as vaguely as possible so as to protect anonymity, while trying to preserve the details that are salient to me. “Salience” is a judgment I’m making based on the subjective fact that I keep thinking about them.
Fortunately, I have at least one friend who is able to see some humor in the overall situation, which I desperately need to keep myself operating with some semblance of “balance”. %-/
And, I just checked email and in fact there have been two responses to my apology. This is a relief; I was feeling some strain that it would not be acknowledged at all. That’s my own history….
I guess there are two main things “up” for me right now that I want to articulate here so as not to lose them as the dialogue continues to unfold. One is the process of interpellation and the other is my personal socially-specific, historic trajectory.
I hope someone will correct or challenge me if this in any way feels like a misrepresentation of Althusser, but interpellation seems to me to be akin to the way groups “call” individuals to take up certain roles. In this situation, I don’t think I could have thought/perceived what I did or felt like I “ought” to say something if there wasn’t something in the group “hailing” me to take up that role. I don’t know how to locate what that “something” is, but I am convinced that my actions didn’t occur in a vacuum solely out of my own pathology. (Of course, they also say that those who are “convinced of their own sanity” are the ones you need to be most careful of, so BEWARE!) 🙂
That’s the interactive, dialectical part, the social construction of meaning or the conjoint production of meaning, however one wants to describe it. And, there is no doubt a “pathological” component, which is why I was so ready to confess my own ambivalence about sending the original email. On the one hand, the historical specificity of my own life “set me up” (in a way) to be receptive or vulnerable to that kind of “hail”. In group dynamics – really, group relations theory – they call this a valence. I know that I have a valence for “complexity”, and a valence for “belongingness” (I don’t know what else to call it). No doubt (sigh) I also have a valence for “resistance”, and also one for the “unspoken” or “absent”.
I’ve also (tried to) develope a bit of a thick skin around “accepting” the roles I’m “called into” by groups and trying to engage actively with them as an exercise of agency. However, I have to say that my experiences with this kind of thing have usually not turned out so well. 🙁 Part of my sadness about how this has developed (or at least one trajectory that it has taken) is that it seems to have irrevocably changed my relationships with people that I was only just starting to get know. That fills me with grief.
I am encouraged, though, by the turn in the email conversation and hope it is a productive and mutually beneficial one that actually produces healing for all concerned. (Fingers crossed!) Also, Becky, thanks so much for commenting and letting me know I’m not alone out here, dangling off a precipice. 🙂