Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Other, Wed. Section

In Appadurai’s article, he asserts that “The world we live in now seems rhizomatic (Deleuze and Guattari 1987), even schizophrenic, calling for theories of rootlessness, alienation and psychological distance between individuals and groups” (3). The most complicated aspect of this assertion is that our world is “schizophrenic.” The definition of schizophrenia (the web definition at least), states that is “a severe mental disorder characterized by…emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations,” Or “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.” Schizophrenia is a violent disorder, but then the second definition allows for an almost peaceful definition, with the mention of “coexistence.” The tone given off by “rootlessness” and “alienation” are more in keeping with the severity of the mental condition, however, this is maybe because as a reader I react against the idea of being “rootless/alienated”.

The word recurs in “The Other Information City,” as Lawrence Liang says “Every major city in the contemporary seems to have a not very hidden schizophrenic desire” (1). He attributes this to a “Post Globalilzation anxiety,” furthering the motif of being mentally unbalanced or unstable through the use of “anxiety”. The “mythical other” the city wants to become could be at the expense of the present, but what exactly are the stakes of having such a complex/irrational desire? Anxiety and schizophrenia suggest that this desire is disruptive to the state of the city.

The idea of the Other is implicated in the mention of schizophrenia, as the depictions of people afflicted with the disorder of having two personalities (the Jekyll/Hyde stereotype) suggest that one person always has within him/herself an Other that can’t be interacted with. However, the idea of the Other is discussed in “The Other Information City” is not quite so intense. The Forum, the mall in which one has the negative promise of not running into people unlike you, keeping the Other at bay. Tourists also figure into this idea of the other, in which one is on the outside of a culture, and the very title puts the tourist outside of the closer community. The “unseasoned IT Tourist” at Infosys shows that one is outside of the culture, while the employees are simultaneously being taught how to assimilate to any culture in the world on the very premises. Thus tourism in this day and age allows for everyone to be a tourist anywhere, if there are no original roots to begin with. Appardurai also discusses the Other in terms of the tourist, claiming that the “past is usually another country,” and the “tourist fantasies” contend that “your present is their future” (4). Thus, in this case, the Other can’t be interacted with, because it is perceived of as in a different time.

The ideas aren't perfectly related, but the idea of being balanced/stable and being rootless/alienated demand whether or not this state of being is good or bad, or if good/bad doesn’t even factor in. The connotations of the descriptions used in both articles have a sense of foreboding, but I wonder if foreboding and fear is intentionally implied and if so, why?

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