Excerpt from my essay, “The Various Shit, Internetual or Otherwise, I Have Been Reading &/or Thinking about Lately”:
5. It has become axiomatic, in this post-post-(post)-modernist age, that identity is composed and not innate and so on and so forth. I find this to be immensely troubling and ultimately kind of preposterous. It seems to me to be a kind of existential overreaction to the terrors of fascism & colonialism: because for so long the powerful presumed there was an innate quality in being white & Xian that gave them the right to do whatever they wanted to those who were not white &/or Xian, a lot of thinkers freaked out and decided that there was nothing innate about people at all and that the very concept of innateness was dangerous. And that’s understandable, because racialism or whatever you want to call it is a ridiculous and provably false set of ideas; equally, however, it is provably false that identity consists only of inputs. There is a unique processor somewhere in a human brain that causes similar inputs to output different people; it’s not that this is totally immutable or intractable — I am in a lather to assure you that I do not believe in the concept of a soul — but that there is a core to any person’s being that will cause them to compose themselves in a certain way, which has very little to do with culture or language. The British neuroscientist and philosopher Raymond Tallis writes in his crushing review of Jacques Lacan & co: a History of Psychoanalysis in France:
Future historians trying to account for the institutionalised fraud that goes under the name of ‘Theory’ will surely accord a central place to the influence of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. He is one of the fattest spiders at the heart of the web of muddled not-quite-thinkable-thoughts and evidence-free assertions of limitless scope which practitioners of theorrhoea have woven into their version of the humanities. Much of the dogma central to contemporary Theory came from him: that the signifier dominates over the signified; that the world of words creates the world of things; that the ‘I’ is a fiction based upon an Oedipalised negotiation of the transition from mirror to symbolic stages; and so on.
It is a principle of fiction that one should be suspicious of the conspicuously beautiful.
It is a principle of fiction that you should probably angry or sad about something if you’re going to try to make it.
It is a principle of fiction that there should always be a character who will run towards a fire.
It is a principle of fiction that a protagonist may be rich or tall, but he or she may not be both if the author wishes for the reader to root for them.
It is principle of fiction that all characters must desire something. In a pinch, fear will substitute.
It is a principle of fiction that the audience should never know less than the characters do.