passion :-)

As I always do, I’ve been wondering about the “silence” regarding my last few posts/emails regarding the discussion about Lebanon (outlined here.)
Lo and behold Swati walked in the door the other night. No small talk for us! We dove into politics. 🙂 It was intense: she was jetlagged and I’d just downed a beer. I kept telling myself, “Think, Steph, think! This is serious!”
It seemed to come clear that we were both “missing” or “misinterpreting” something in the other person’s talk. The point I gained from our talk was that maybe the concept of “discourse” itself is biased? I’m not sure if this is what Swati was trying to get at, but (it seems?) she was reacting to a certain narrowness (?) in the term. I don’t mean to speak for her: I’m publicizing my interpretation for correction and/or confirmation. Hopefully, also expansion! 🙂
Swati critiqued my emphasis on discourse as limited only to culture. This isn’t my view, but I think I can imagine why it might seem so. I tried to clarify that what I’m really interested in (and trying to talk about) is language. “Discourses” are units of language (I add, now, as further clarification) that make wrapping my mind around the complexity of language somewhat manageable. I think the political and economic count just as much as the cultural, perhaps – in substantive, material terms “more” (although I’m not sure this kind of quantitative hierarchy gains us much theoretically). Language (perhaps only in my imagination?) is a way “in” to understanding and changing these systems, specifically at the level of values and choices that uphold them.
Meanwhile, I was amazed by this story: Hamas Spokesman Blames Palestinians for Gaza Chaos, which came shortly after I challenged my friends to participate in a discourse of self-criticism (August 26th). NYTimes: “In an unusual instance of self-criticism, a well-known Hamas official has deplored the collapse of Gazan life into chaos and has said that much of the blame belongs to Palestinians themselves.”
“’I’m not interested in discussing the ugliness and brutality of the occupation because it is not a secret,’ [Ghazi Hamad] wrote. ‘I prefer self-criticism and self-evaluation. We’re used to blaming our mistakes on others.’ Palestinian joy after the Israeli departure ‘made us forget the most important question &emdash; what is our next step?’”
Now, will my friends reading other sources situate this official for me in some other narrative, some other discourse? Another thread of the argument (!) between me and Swati is the credibility I attribute to the NYTimes (source of the above-linked story). I read a variety of viewpoints in the Times, including political and economic critiques. I’m not entirely convinced the alternative press is saying anything that unique? As a case in point, a student in the intro to mass media class I taught last semester presented on alternative and mainstream press coverage of the May 1 immigration rights protest in Boston last spring. ALL SOURCES USED THE SAME AP ARTICLE, they had simply changed the headline.

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