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Saving Face Uncategorized

The Invisible Man, Part 3

The nature of social invisibility, a topic often ignored in intellectual circles, is starting to achieve some level of visibility for itself in the halls of academe. Much of this is a result of Axel Honneth’s pioneering work, an influence to the fore in a recent special edition of Distinktion: the Scandinavian Journal of Social […]

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Saving Face

The Invisible Man, Part 2

H. G. Wells’ short novel The Invisible Man was originally published in 1897, and was subsequently made into a horror movie in 1933, a film that stayed faithful to Wells’ original story. The Invisible Man (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The 1970’s Invisible Man series (with David McCallum), which portrayed the protagonist as a troubled but sympathetic […]

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Saving Face

The Invisible Man, Part 1

For all the trouble it brings, the omnipresent watchful gaze of the relational world does have its benefits. You get noticed, for one thing. This is a significant benefit of an intersubjective existence – no-one dislikes anything more than to remain invisible in a social world dependent on attention, acknowledgement and recognition. To be noticed by […]

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Knowing Your Place

Wrapt In a Brown Mantle

The line ‘wrapt in a brown mantle’ is taken from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. It is part of a section (lines 359-365) that was inspired by an experience Sir Ernest Shackleton had on one of his expeditions. Detailed in his book South, Shackleton describes how he was convinced that he and his colleagues […]

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Knowing Your Place Saving Face

The Stresses of Work

The workplace provides a fertile space for the relational world to weave its magic/unleash its misery. The set of relational senses – honour, respect, pride, envy, shame, humiliation, acceptance, belonging (some of the usual suspects) have a field day with the combination of close relationships, institutional hierarchy and the inevitable emphasis on relative status. As […]

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Keeping Score

Judgement Day

In a previous post, I discussed the role of relational conversion via religious institutions, making the argument that religion to a great extent has succeeded in making the invisible but watchful presence (see also the post Wrapt in a brown mantle) that is the relational world codified and organised – made it visible.  The pomp […]

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Knowing Your Place

When Enough is Enough

Donald Winnicott’s concept of the good enough mother has endured past its psychoanalytic origins, gaining an unusual level of popularity since its first airing in 1953. No wonder, as Winnicott offers a logical and reasoned rebuttal to the unachievable concept of the perfect mother: A mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion, but […]

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Knowing Your Place Uncategorized

The Silent Markers of Desire and Disgust

In so much of the research on class influenced by Bourdieu, there is clear evidence of a more complex relational cartography, a world of ‘horizontal’ relations that, while mostly unacknowledged, act as a counterpoint to the standard ‘verticalising’ of relational activity so beloved of Bourdieu and his devotees. This is especially the case in accounts […]

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Knowing Your Place

When the Spell is Broken

To know your place should never be equated wholly with forms of submission; for many it can also represent a source of comfort. Knowing your place means that you can lay claim to some status, position and prestige, however insignificant in the wider scheme of things. A sense of place also provides some level of […]

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The Family

Women and Their Mothers

Jeanette Winterson’s upcoming biography (a great read by all accounts) is the latest in a long line of memoirs that put centre stage the relationship between author and mother. The content of Why be happy when you could be normal? occupies a similar emotional context to that portrayed in Nancy Friday’s classic My mother my […]