Friday, 7 August 2009

Dualisms suffocate me

Listening to a talk on post colonial theory left me choked and gasping for the plural identities I don. I realised that my being operates on dualisms: man/woman, feminist/non feminist, inntellect/pragmatic, etc, etc. I strive to define myself based on an identity but then the identity is always in a state of constant flux. What is my identity? Am I a Tamilian, Am I a Christian, Am I a South East Asian. The answer probably is that I am everything. The politics of identity sometimes seem to stress my notions of identity. Does my ancestory define me? Maybe it does but then what is my past? Is it the Christian past or the non-christian one before conversion. Can I call myself a being given to reason or do I operate on a practical basis.

These and many questions that lace themselves on identity niggle me today. Well, as for tomorrow, I might be free of the dualisms for it will become another past that used to be a part of my yesterday.


  1. I am sure of one thing. Tomorrow, or the day after or whenever, you will never be free of dualities. Unless you can turn time backwards and become less than six months old!
    It is a proven fact that babies of that age have no idea of dualities - they in fact do not have a concept of 'me' and 'you'. Babies often catch and pull their own hair (unintentionally, of course) and then start bawling from the pain. Why can't they simply let go off the hair? Partly because they haven't acquired motor control on their fingers but also because - they don't 'know' that its MY hand that's pulling MY hair. Its wierd, but they don't understand the concept of a 'boundary' of where their body ends and where something else starts. And that is the basis of a lot of dualities. It is after six months or so that they start learning some of these confounding things and continue learning for the rest of life.
    Do write more on this topic...

  2. Pushkaraj: True when you say that I will never rid of dualisms. But guess I can stop them from suffocating me. Thanks for taking the pains to write a long comment. I must admit that Patience, thy name is Pushkaraj! (How handy is Mr. Shakespeare)
    I guess the same 'baby' example holds good for identity too. Right?

  3. They suffocate me too, these dualisms. It seems like people prefer to place everything around them within the context of a dichotomy... just to make it all easier for them to understand. Unfortunate, for them, then, that they do not see dichotomies as limitations... black & whites... that allow for no variation... and that stifle the very nature of who we are.

    Susan, you have a truly incredible mind... like an uncut gem. I say uncut because you have not allowed for the restrictions and embellishments of society to "polish" you. I have always found diamonds in the rough to be more compelling. ;-)


  4. Nevine, I just came back from a small trip and lo, behold, when I opened my blog, there were not one but five comments to be moderated. The word 'moderated' sounds so loaded.
    So nice to you to trod these paths of old posts that were written long ago. Through you even I reread them. Dualisms still suffocate me. I guess one has to learn to live with these.
    Your kind words always make me feel good. Thanks, dear Nevine to dig my older posts and comment on them as well. I am truly honoured by by this visit :)



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