8.05.2008

"Me, you, and everyone we know"

I steal from Miranda July, whom I love sometimes and who drives me up the wall other times. Though, I suppose that's true of almost everything and everybody, so at the very least, I want to give her credit for a perfect summation of life these days.

I was writing to someone about what I miss about the neighborhood where I grew up, and I said,
I'm pretty heartbroken over how much the city has changed, and I miss the neighborhood I grew up in -- which was a pretty rough, but very community-centric place. I learned a lot by being raised there, and it makes me sad that the things that made it distinct are quickly being erased.

I feel like I keep coming back to the problem of individuality and what a supreme fallacy this is. America seems very obsessed with originality and proving one's uniqueness, especially in a city like San Francisco. It's kind of exhausting. And I'm not sure what the anxiety over proving one's inimitability is about. I suffer from it -- feeling that I need to be different in my own way. I guess that's why I quote myself (the arrogance), to point out the romanticization of my unique upbringing. It was unique, and it was irreplaceable, but I'm not sure why that matters in the scheme of things.

A friend recently told me that after spending a number of days with me at a wedding that he hadn't realized anthropology was an actual "skill" (his words, not mine). So maybe my main point is that specificity of experiences may in fact have a value -- that it allows you to perceive the world in certain ways. But then...I'm not entirely sure why or how that matters. So what? Another friend has noted that I'm an expert at discarding my emotions and moving forward, always asking, "what's the point" of dwelling on inconvenient feelings or past disappointments. So I guess I integrate this willingness to find no meaning in anything (nihilist!) into my larger research conundrums right now. But then, I get these weird moments of pollyanna-ism, and I'm much more positive (though not a positivist). Perhaps others out there in my mini-audience will weigh in (you are not adequately participating in my expectation of public discourse...) as to whether one can find a point to all this uber-self-reflection.

5 comments:

Monday said...

"To me, self-description is a calamity" - Jasper Johns

I've got to agree with Mr. Johns. There are few things more fatal than "uber-self-reflection" and yet . . . the unexamined life?- what a snooze! I suppose the calamitous is also, often vital.

In summary, two words: HUMORAL LOGIC.

misanthropic anthropologist said...

you're giving away your anonymity, Monday... I know we've debated this, but this is my blog, goddamnit! Thank you, however, for rising to the demand for public debate on this issue. Don't hate me for beating a dead horse (and an already well-tread one, at that).

misanthropic anthropologist said...

p.s...yes, mixed metaphors. the horror!

Monday said...

Your dead horse is my lunch meat.

misanthropic anthropologist said...

But think how starving you'd be if you didn't have my metaphors for...urgh...food for thought. (Oh, it's gotten so that I actually seek out metaphors, just to make you crazy.) You're totally baiting me.