Monday, March 31, 2008

Renata Salecl

A brilliant lecture by philosopher/sociologist Renata Salecl on "The Tyranny Of Choice", a generous critical organization of epistemological ideas on the still-increasing mania of "free will" or "recreation of the 'Self' " so prevalent in Western society.

Salecl comes at it from a "late Capitalist" angle, and it's fascinating since she grew up (and still resides, I believe) in Eastern Europe, giving her perspective a unique (to us) flavour, an outsider's one, though still saturated in the omniprevalent pop-psyche mainstream media, largely (in her examples) through "lifestyle" best-sellers.

This has been something I've been fascinated with for over a decade, and it was enjoyable to have her cross many of the T s and stipple a lot of I s from my own conclusions.

"Choice" is largely irrational, according to Salecl, intoning Freud.

I would add my own thoughts: "choice" is not the end-all; the important matter is "what creates choice"? It's desire. And what creates desire? (the next question goes). The answer is unknowable, mysterious, and even unseemly to ask. That's the terrifying beauty, the unpredictability, of living, superseding any puny "control" we like to think we exercise in important matters.

Desire is its own force; choice is a natural, organic result of who we already are. Here's where I differ, in one respect (though recognizing her macrocosmic argument) with Salecl: choice isn't "forced" or the result of "guilt" or "demand": it is the inevitable result of who we temporally are, and is unamenable to bargaining, plan, belief, or fantasy. Scary? Perhaps. But it's the truth as I see it. And a far more liberating one than what passes for the "free will, create your own identity" simplistic opportunism rife today.

(The audio feed is 52 minutes in length.)

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