Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve and Difference

I have been ill the last several days, thus no posting just didn't have the energy.
I have been reading Derrida's Dissimination (re-reading actually) and Louis Jorge Borges' collection of short stories Fictions. Perhaps needles to say I have been having very interesting dreams, but also a bit reflective. Not on anything in particular but just in general.

Some of my reflections continue around the identity, but also the relationship between religion and culture, and difference and essences. Reading Derrida and Borges gives an interesting perspective from which to gaze upon our culutures various struggles. Of course of late the inter-webs have been abuz over Christmas, and what is said and done publicly around the greetings we exchange with oneanother over this period. Growing up in a tradition that to some degree did observe the church year, I have always found it odd that we wished one another Merry Christmas in the season of preparation for that feast day. I continue to find it odd that to many the Christmas season is in Advent and ends on Christmas day, or at most New Years day. My cultures observance of Christmas has always been at odds with my perception of it that it really matter's little to me that I am addressed with the inocuous "Happy Holidays" at this time of year.

However, I wonder if our struggle is with difference itself. "Happy Holidays" allows me to abastractly admit difference and yet not have to confront it in concrete and uncomfortable ways. If I as a Christians greet someone with "Merry Christmas" and they do not observe Christmas (The number of people who don't is unclear to me since it seems that many who are not Christian put up Christmas trees and exchange presents on Christmas day, as well as celebrating some other holiday), then we are both confronted with our difference, a difference that is perhaps uncomfortable most of all because my greeting implies a particular ordering of the world that the other denies in someway. I don't think our culture in fact values difference any more now than when our culture attempted to be simply some monolithic culture. We push our difference away when they mean conflict and errect non-conflictural facades of difference when we say we celebrate it. "Happy Holidays" doesn't admit difference it camoflages it in the name of tolerance. What many want I think is in fact not open articulation of differences and the various ways in which differences coexist already but an amorphous terain in which I can be different without it being noticed commented upon or remarkable. I contend that is not in fact valueing difference it is just another way to avoid conflict that emerge when difference is faced and confronted. Difference is not easy, nice or comfortable.

So, Mery Christmas even if you don't celebrate it or simply celebrate it as some secular celebration near the years end. It is after all Christmas Eve. And perhaps I will as I move out of being ill and these various reflections from the merging of Derrida and Borges, give you a better articulation of the meaning of difference and hwo we continue to deny it all the while saying we want to celebrate it. If you are familiar with Deleuze he may be part of the explanation, as one who does that very thing afterall differnece is just simulacra.