3.6.05

Three questions that I've been obsessing about:

1. Why is it that most folks who do interpretive or hermeneutic research think that my relational "inclinations" (and I quote) mean gravitating towards some arbitrary stuff that I can make up to describe social phenomena? I don't know whether I get more annoyed when "they" make stuff up in the name of textual hermeneutics or any other such "qualitative research label". I'm going to say it one last time (or so I think)....social construction does not mean that one can interpret anything one wants to based on one's personal politics and/or vision of how the world should work. Neither is the notion of 'multiple interpretations' the excuse to do the same i.e. declare existing interpretations invalid and instill one's own as "Authentic" and, therefore, "Right". Understanding reality as socially constructed is to recognize and acknowledge that we act in certain ways and make our lives meaning-full in particular ways at particular times by re-deploying ways of making sense we associate with the past.

2. Why is it that most folks I meet as part of my Ph.D life or are interested in the fact that I've chosen to walk down that road are insistent upon me somehow finding my political activist hat to wear? (This tends to happen more often in South Asian gatherings of the intellectual kind of which I've been a part. Somehow my lack of enthusiasm for Marx is both shocking for these individuals and proof of some kind of inauthenticity that I possess - yes it is essentialized for the most part! - as a South Asian, at least a good one. What baffles me about the latter in particular is that I grew up amongst South Asians who were hardly Marxist but nearly nowhere elite enough to be "the enemy" that "comrades" must take arms up againt...yes I'm being deliberately hyperbolic . So why South Asian-ness comes to be equated by a fascination with Marx is something I have yet to discover). I'm similarly intrigued by the increase in this insistence by folks who know that I'm involved in a project on biographies and international relations (more on that in a subsequent post). Why do some of these folks - generally outside academia - assume I must be some man-hating feminist because I use my brains, don't shy away from expressing my thoughts albeit politely, and am single? Apparently that my parents have taught me to believe in my dreams and have tried to make sure that I always had a high level of self-respect hasn't crossed their minds. That I must be single is also of course because I hate men --- not because I have yet to meet the person I'd live a lifetime with because I love him and not because God (yes I'm going with that) has decided that it isn't time yet (though it would be nice for that blessed moment to arrive soon!) Let me just say this one last time. I have political commitments - we all do. All of life is political in the Nietzschean sense, or so I think. I do happen to have respect for some politicians or those who would be considered part of the political realm because they seem to possess skills I don't. I have a general distaste for political activism because I would prefer not to step on the toes of others and shove my personal preferences down their throats because I'm convinced that I have some transcendentally right answer to the problems that plague our world. So what I'm saying/singing to the tune of the really bad and cheesy 80s song "Hey teacher! Leave the kids alone" is "Hey political activists! Please leave me alone." I'm completely fine with being thought of as the inactive, useless philosopher who's too bourgeois or whatever for your tastes. If my Nietzschean sensibilities bother you find some way to get over it without asking me to go all Marxist on myself.

3. Why is it that when I describe the new baby smell I think of it as a pink smell? This one might seem awkward thrown in with the two above but I didn't want to break the tradition of expressing oneself in 3s. Plus with the insane number of baby showers and "go visit because couple X has newborn baby" events in my life the oddity of the metaphor struck me. So it seemed like a good fit for # 3 :-).

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