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10204Re: dancing in the streets

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  • dawie_coetzee
    Apr 4, 2007
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      I had a quick response ready, but a technical hitch gave me the
      opportunity for further reflection. While the position is interesting
      and the applicability to the topic is obvious, there are a number of
      issues that arise herefrom.

      Anyone familiar with the culture of 12th-century Europe will realise
      that `…a medieval (or, in the case of non-European
      cultures, "primitive") personality so deeply mired in community and
      ritual that it can barely distinguish a "self"…' is just flat wrong.
      Nobody will tell me that Bernart de Ventadorn could barely
      distinguish a self – and Bernart was not an exceptional phenomenon.
      The Middle Ages were full of individual selves. The difference was
      that they were in relationships with one another, relationships both
      carried by and crucial to the structure of the world in which they
      lived. In other words, the relationships of reciprocity played a more
      important role than the relationships of common subjection.

      There is a tendency either regretfully or triumphantly to identify
      ancient cultures with the sort of collectivism that was invented in
      the 19th century, along with the `masses'. Most of those cultures
      might be better described as `relational'. They don't have `masses'.
      What I mean by relational is different from both collectivism and
      individualism. The relational mode treasures the individual as the
      subject of relation, as that-which-relates.

      In terms of the topic at hand, a false ultimatum is too often
      presented between the `individualist' suburb with its promise of
      personal autonomy, though devoid of any context in which such
      autonomy could be meaningful; and `collective' East-bloc high-rise
      social housing with its abhorrent dissolution of selves into a
      formless continuum which likewise precludes any meaningful
      reciprocity. This arises entirely from the failure to distinguish
      between the collective and the relational.

      If there is an epidemic of depression, could it not rather be because
      the world has become more `institutional' since the 17th century? To
      those who, like me, hold that coercion is murder and that every
      moment lived under duress is a moment subtracted from one's life, the
      desire to draw a sword at a man with a clip-board comes quite
      naturally.

      -Dawie

      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>
      wrote:
      >
      >
      > Hi All,
      >
      > I didn't read all of this, but the prescription for
      > depression seems to be fun, in public, with lots of
      > other people (i.e., community festivals). No cars,
      > of course.
      >
      > One more reason....
      >
      > Regards,
      >
      > Joel
      >
      >
      >
      > http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,,2047969,00.html
      >
      >
      > How we learned to stop having fun
      >
      >
      >
      > We used to know how to get together and really let our hair down.
      Then, in the early 1600s, a mass epidemic of depression broke out -
      and we've been living with it ever since. Something went wrong, but
      what? Barbara Ehrenreich unpicks the causes of our unhappiness
      >
      ...
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