I mentioned reading Derrida (slowly); his subject is Nietzsche (slower still). “…do we hear, do we understand each other already with another ear?” (1985:35).
Derrida is discussing the inversion of Nietzsche into Naziism, in which “what passes elsewhere for the ‘same’ utterance says exactly the opposite and corresponds instead to the inverse, to the reactive inversion of the very thing it mimes” (30). He goes on to discuss how language is always “the double of the other”, that “the one can always be the other” (32).
So, I wonder, with what “ear” have I been heard by colleagues in the CGSA? If it was the opposite, the double, the other of what I meant, then I’d have to flip the Bahktinian schematic around the other way. In other words, from my peers vantage point, *I* operate as “the centrifugal force” pushing us apart while they reflect back to me the centripetal forces they perceive pulling us together. This might be one reason why translation has been so arduous – coming from different ‘centers’, as it were?
Also, I think the emphasis on discourse has led me a bit astray. To the extent that discourse (in groups) is my “pet project” (how nice to be known!), it is only a tool. What’s coming into clarity for me now (yes, not prior, not before, not on the timeline that would (?) perhaps have been more easily received, sigh) is that “the problem” I’ve been sensing and trying to address (go ahead, say it, in my regretably fumbling manner) has to do with the relationship between discourse and structure.
The discourse of CGSA, as reflected in its public documents, the supposed “norms” of conduct in meetings, even including interventions with me in private, presuppose that dissent is undesirable. I object! (It is ironic, given my consensus background, that this is where I find myself, now.) Yet, this is my understanding of what democracy entails. “Aha,” you say! (Me, too, smile.) There WAS an “agenda”!
If you don’t really know me yet, let me explain my “way”. I am less deliberate than impulsive (a personality trait or character flaw, depending how one wishes to read it); I have definitely been operating on a democratic assumption which I now recognize may or may not be shared. I want to be part of a democratic process in as close to an ideal sense as possible, which means a process (system, structure) that proactively resists its own entrenchment, its own tendency toward paternalism (e.g., aren’t we taking care of everything?) and even fascism (for example, what “mandate”? and when did we all agree that meetings of the CGSA representatives would be confidential?)
(Oh my god did I really write that?!)
Yeah, I did. Shoot me now and get it over with. I want accountability (all ways – from representatives to the rest of us, from the rest of us to the representatives, from all of us to/with each other: this is what I understand as a commitment to collective action). I want democratic mechanisms that a) guarantee unpopular and minority views get a full airing before the whole graduate student body and that b) bind us – explicitly and overtly – to joint action, or at least to conscious and intentional community support of actions taken ‘in our name’.
I’m not proposing that these mechanisms be applied rigidly or without exception (necessarily), but I am proposing that they be in place should anyone ever feel the need to use them. I think the four-step procedure outlined by the brainstorming process last December adequately (even simply) covers the basics.
In point of practice, as Joanna stated, the procedure is (almost) what has occurred. Steps 1 and 2 have occurred. What hasn’t yet been done is to carry out step 3 (discussion and analysis) and step 4 (majority vote) in regard to a specific instance. A tension (perhaps not the only one, but a biggie) is that I’m asking the CGSA to institutionalize the procedure first, and (at least some people) want to experience it in action/application. It is unclear to me whether or not “going through the motions” will lead to adoption of the procedure, or just reinforce the status quo of dealing with each item independently and informally. I could re-bring the example of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights if folks want a trial run (I do still think it’d be cool for us to become a signatory), but I’m hesitant as to its efficacy as a more-or-less neutral example (especially since it would set me up to talk more – the horror)!
Perhaps someone else could propose an issue or cause to serve as a test case?