You are the Culture that is You

There’s an idiom to the effect that when you find yourself in a traffic jam you are never “stuck in traffic”, you are traffic.

It’s something of a cognitive and linguistic reflex to identify an artefact, entity or system as a bounded or isolated fact in the forest of references and definitions that we inhabit. We are entrained (as though hypnotised) not to see a critically important fact of our existence. This is that every attempt to isolate – and subsequently as subjectively alienate – terms and definitions as nodal points in a linguistic or otherwise cultural coordinate system inversely binds them to that matrix of reference.

When we define things, places, persons and (our) selves as unique and bounded, differentiated objects, this is always done in ways that leave those things utterly dependent for existence upon all those other places in the coordinate system. Our selves are defined as isolated but can only be so in terms of their intractable dependency upon all other things for meaning. The more unique we become, the more dependent we become for that meaning upon a world and ensembled (as cultural) system of belief beyond ourselves.

Inversely to this, all aspirational communication and connection is a culturally and linguistically binding function that simultaneously isolates and alienates us. The more connected we are, the less we become.

We exist somewhere at the center of all this turbulent communication and cultural entropy. What we experience and how we exist is not something above and beyond the generative indeterminacy of living culture. We are not trapped in an endlessly-extensible and adaptively opportunistic paradox of culture, we are that paradox.

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