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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Saturday, October 20

levee gonna break

Put on your cat clothes, mama, put on your evening dress.
Few more years of hard work, then there'll be a 1,000 years of happiness.

~dylan

The following is from Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman (why do I always think of spiders from Mars?). Ziggy speaking...
Look around: others are making their choices and get what they want, why do you fail? This does not necessarily mean that if only you tried sufficiently hard you might get rid of everything you do not like in that world of yours, that everything in that world is soft and pliable and ready to be remoulded at wish. What it does mean is that such things as cannot be changed and put in desirable shape by your own effort are not worth your second thought, and being concerned with them would be a sheer waste of your time.

The effort is sufficiently vast to keep you busy all your life! You need to find the best diet-and-exercise regime to keep you slim, agile and fit; you need to discover what sort of sexual identity fits you best and then try, one after another, the available means to make you attractive for the sex of your choice; you need to find out how to make friends and influence people; how to pass an interview with flying colours and how to make other people dependent on you without exposing yourself to the danger of dependency; how to be confident that you can steer things your way and how to have trust in that confidence of yours. A lifelong job, indeed.

No wonder we witness these days a veritable 'counselling boom', with so many experts around peddling their wares and obtrusively offering their services: advice on how to make sure that the choice is right and that a wrong choice has been avoided. Their tunes vary, but one motif is audible in every melody: the buck is on your desk (your kitchen, your bedroom, your jogging track and your credit card). It all boils down to your skill, cunning and resolve. It is your action or inaction that makes all the difference between success and failure, pleasure and unhappiness. Anthony Giddens has coined the 'sequestration' concept: we, the individuals, can 'sequestrate' the experts' arcane knowledge, make it our property and handle it as all property is handled -- take it or leave it, cultivate it or throw it away. Giddens sees in this the warrant of our autonomy. We are not the wise guys' puppets, we are free to decide. Maybe. But the other aspect of being granted that 'leave to sequestrate' is allowing the experts to stay out of trouble. If the recipe or the regime does not work, it is again your, their chooser and user's fault; you did not look where you should have or looked not closely enough, The expertise as such emerges from the failed trial unscathed, its authority intact, its image unpolluted. The game of counselling-and-sequestration goes on, spurred by the anxieties of loneliness and inadequacy which the life individually lived cannot but daily generate.

This is the world we live in, and this is where all sociological analysis, for better or worse, has to start its conversation with human experience.


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