Sunday, July 17, 2005

It’s more than a week since my last post, which was a cheat anyway, designed to get some content up without further thought on my part. I suppose, therefore, this is the inaugural post proper. A week has given me some time to think about what this blog is really all about, and sadly I’m as uncommitted to any one approach or topic as I’ve ever been. There’s far too much to think about, in far too many different ways, and that’s just how it’s going to be. If I was reading this, I’d expect to get some gender politics, although no one does it quite like Zoe and Cleo, some current affairs commentary a la Public Address and Fighting Talk, and a very little bit on culture and difference but ,Tze Ming Mok has that all stitched up really. There might be an element of self revelation and Hubris, but I’m trying to restrain myself since this is supposed to be a public forum. There might be some meta-narrative posts on what this blog is all about, but I’m hoping not too many. And none of this will come to pass if I don’t figure out how to do hyper-links. My level of technological literacy is rather embarrassing so why am I even making the attempt?

It seems to me that blogging is generally a way that people respond to the world while simultaneously constructing themselves. This recursive process of looking at the “the outside” and having an opinion about it and how it relates to who you think you are, is probably something that everyone does (depending very much on your philosophical point of view). Bloggers do it in writing and on line, and their reference points are often online as well. I’m not sure where my reference points are really, so I expect that starting a blog is a way of discovering that, and making myself up at the same time.

This notion of self-construction popped up in a vaguely related way when I read ,Tze Ming Mok’s post about the British bombings and how they were done by second generation British Muslims. Without, of course, having any significant knowledge about the situations of the men who chose to blow themselves up, it did strike me that people seek to fit in and give themselves meaning in any way they can. If you’re feeling alienated from the culture in which you live, it seems reasonable to look for an alternative position that validates who you conceive yourself to be. Granted, not everyone is going to choose what mainstream media like to call an “extremist” position, but in clubs, pubs, paddocks and halls across the west people are creating little like-minded communities of dancers, talkers, runners, drinkers, card-players and whatever-elsers. And there are lots of ex-patriot community groups too. We wouldn’t want or need to do this if we all still lived in teeny groups (villages, walled cities, hunter-gatherer and wandering pastoralist communities – pick a time, pick a country) in which everyone knows each other and there is less movement of people and information. But here we are – global village, plus a big history of colonisation and all of its (justifiably) malcontented. At this point in history, we’re moving around and being exposed to difference and differences inside complex societies in ways that never happened before. Creating and holding onto an identity that has meaning and appears stable over time is kind of crucial to coping with this. Maybe for the bombers, being able to give their lives validation in the company of like-minded people, to finally fit in somewhere, was too good to miss. A particularly sensitive rendition of this appeared in Britain's Sunday Times.

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Anh Nam said...
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