Friday, February 29, 2008

A Language of Gifts

A Dictionary Entry...

There is a movement within the Western world away from the negations inherent in modern political and institutional talk, away from the negations of psychiatric and self-help discourses, toward a world more attuned to languages of affirmations. However, the very difficulty within such languages becomes apparent in the effort to leave a talk of negation, for a negation of negations becomes necessary (and perhaps it might be necessary). However, there is another way to engage in such talk.

Let’s talk gift-exchange.

A focus upon the movements of gifts within rhizome networks.

A sort of economics – an economics often at odds with the typical economies of the Western world. For example...

Money is not essential. Take a guess how the typical Western economy likes that idea!

A way of to survive in harsh environs – one is always attuned to the gifts of the other, one responds to the gifts of the other, the gift keeps moving, and it finds a way to keep us alive.

Perhaps a requisite way of life – just try and go-on without it!

Is an exchange -- therefore, is unavoidably communal. There are no singular bodies here, the gift-exchange necessitates a world of others.

The exchange is not simply between two people, but moves, often with great rapidity, along viral lines, through rhizome spaces.

The gift is never originated. It is always given in response to a previous gift. The gift is always in response... No beginnings in the movements of gift-exchange -- no endings either -- always in the middle!

The gift is never about what I have given, but always about my response to the gift given by another.

I believe this is one of the more important aspects of the gift-exchange -- the act of giving the gift is minimized by the giver, and the gift of the other is made much of.

The goods required to live successfully in life are not obtained through institutional negations, through identifying and giving language to undesirable personal or social pathogens, then, by setting in place a professionally-devised plan designed to remove the undesirable pathogens.

The goods required to live successfully in life come to us in rhizome spaces by means of innumerable gift-exchanges.

The goods required to live successfully emerge for us in response to the goods we receive through life, nature and community. They always come in the context of a sensed and sensual and responsive life.

Unlike affirmation/negation, positive/negative, health/illness (and many dualisms like this), the gift-exchange has no clear opposite.

The gift-exchange often occurs between animals and people – human and non-human creatures moving in response to the gifts of the other.

The purpose of gift-exchange is not acquisition. The purpose is connection. The gift-exchange is about relationship.

The gift-exchange is not about justice and fairness (though it may be at the basis of justice and fairness). Fairness and justice are abstractions to be applied to all people in all situations. The gift-exchange moves not to abstractions, but rather in response to a specific and sensual world, to particular person or group of persons (or creatures), and to a unique and unrepeatable moment in time.

The gift-exchange only exists in a real and sensual world – never in abstract realms.

While the gift-exchange occurs in sheer abundance, it only truly occurs in one specific, singular moment. This dichotomy is easily understood when in the actual moment of gift-exchange.

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