Sunday, October 04, 2009

the postmodern self

In a weird Wikipedia chain (Baudrillard-Zizek-Lacan) I found myself looking into Self-Relations in the Psychotherapy Process, a book my former semi-retired boss wanted to get rid of. It has a chapter on "Understanding and Treating the Postmodern Self." At first I'm skeptical, but oddly enough, I found myself identifying with their case study:
One wants to join the cynic, who seems so smart and invulnerable. Then the earnest and innocent self is left behind, ridiculed and humiliated. The innocent self becomes a kind of "hot potato" to be passed back and forth, no one wishing to be the final receptacle of such vulnerability. [...] One might say that Henry [the case study] lacks just such a capacity for transitional experiencing, a place between the fixedness of self as "really this" or "really that." What Henry has not fully appreciated is that no one is "really" a banker in some transcendent sense, nor is anyone really not a banker; if one looks closely enough, one finds that there is really no such thing as a banker in a Platonic or essentialist sense.

I find myself also feeling that cynicism is a safe place for me - where I can blame other institutions for my failures, or at least something I can't change. I also often complain that I can't really be a graduate student, or that I'm "becoming one of them." But there isn't going to be some day where I wake up and I'm "really" an academic intellectual or I'm "really" someone who knows what she wants to do with her life. Anyway, I wish I could scan the whole chapter and send it to you. Well, I guess I can, if you're interested. Let me know.


Chase said...

Here's how you tell whether you're an "academic individual". What lengths do and would you go to for free food? It's a simple, easy, reliable rubric.

Tiff said...