Saturday, July 04, 2015

Territory and deterritorialization

I was listening to My Bloody Valentine's collection of EP's from 1988-1991 this morning, the couple of songs that fit into a short drive.  The first song is really good, but then it drops off a little.  I find myself wondering if it was worth the money to buy it, even if it was given to me as an Xmas gift. Then the fourth song comes on, and at first I think "this is a pretty good song," then it occurs to me that, indeed, the song is no more than pretty good, and that I am cutting it some slack because I like the band and, as I said, I don't want to feel like the money or even the time spent listening to it has been wasted.

It occurs to me that a large part of aesthetic judgment is just like this:  we really root for our own stuff, the home team, because it's just so much easier for us and it justifies our own behavior.  So, for instance, all the players on Manchester United or Chelsea seem like big stars because we see them on TV all the time, they are familiar.  It is much more difficult to be objective in evaluating players on minor teams who you don't see all the time.  And we have to like or appreciate what we see, or we must admit to ourselves that we have been wasting our time watching crap.

So much of life is like this.  You have to pull for what you know, for what you do, because that's all you have to go on, and the alternative is to go around beating yourself up continually for doing or buying the wrong thing.

The world needs for people to specialize, to have a well-articulated division of labor, in order to have some efficiencies of scale.  How screwed would I be if Mary and I had to both build and maintain my living structure, raise and prepare all my own food, be 100% responsible for raising my kids and curing them of maladies, etc.

But specialization by its nature creates silos, and to be firm and secure in our ever deeper ensconcement in our own silos, we have to keep digging in.  But the deeper we go, the less oxygen and perspective their is, so we must diversify too.  Or, rather, we must always seek a balance between specialization and generalization, a mix of desk time and interaction with others.

To bring it back to culture, we need particularity and local culture, folk music and landscapes and landmarks and street food and barbeque regional chauvinism and dialect and all that.  We need a sense of place.  But if that was all we had, we would be screwed. We also need a healthy interaction with the big Other.

Finding the right mix is the crux of it.

I am reminded of Deleuze and Guattari and their talk of deterritorialization.  It was always a bad-assed sounding word, though I never really knew what they were talking about, because it was so impossible to read them.

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