Monday, 8 August 2011

Bordering upon womanhood

Two years on since the last post I'm back to visit where I left my heart, back to see if its still beating strong.

Reading the post below highlights 8 years spent completing tramites, it appears to be one aspect of international relationships that never changes. After having spent two years dealing with being away from my children for most of the day and generally feeling guilty as hell, I now find myself back in my husband's country, alone with both of my babies,whilst he is stuck in my country waiting for a bloody visa!!! I'm getting a mountain of quality family time with the hitch of not getting to share it my the father of my children, the love of my life.

These moments leave back in an ontological wrestle with the meaning of borders, as physical spaces and psychological boundaries at the mercy of political and financial whim. In their essence borders exist where a government or individual has decided to draw an invisible line that only certain people can cross. As a physical entity borders only exist because of the methods used to control them. It is only by trying to explain the nature of borders and migrating through them to my 3 year old daughter that it becomes clear just how unexplanable it is. It truly brings forth the well sought after philosophical discourse surrounding the notion of freedom.

Does freedom exist? Can it be possible to be free, upholden to noone or no one thing? How loaded is a question of choice, and has anyone ever made a choice that is free from the influence of another human being?

"I am free to do what I want, whenever I like" - The Soup Dragon's cerca 1990ish

Not so tunefull with an added suffix of: as long as I don't break another man's law, or get caught doing so, or leave the house without ID or passport, attempt to cross an invisible line, or remain silent when asked who I am, where I am going, what I am doing, think about why I'm doing it, what my family, employer, friends, state or society will think of it......then I'm free.

Hannah Arendt argued that freedom does exist for those who take it, in whatever circumstance that may be. She was able to take that stance and argue it well through her discussion of natality. She believed that in birth a unique individual is created that is capable of creating something new in the world, able to make a change. In this way we are all free to act, our circumstances do not hinder us from doing so as unique individuals.

In a similar vain Michel Foucault argued that freedom is practiced by an individual, including one who is oppressed or submitting to a societal discipline. Falling in line with social or political behaviours that control movement of the body and mind happen because an individual is practicing their freedom to allow this to happen - in other words they would be just as free to go against it (if social conditioning had never happened to that individual). In this way a notion of freedom does exist but is limited.

A little factor going by the name of consequence is what creates those limits and puts a big fat stop on the idea that freedom exists. So perhaps the question has never really been Does freedom exist?, for this can only produce an answer without meaning. The question can only be:

Does freedom have to exist alone, in order for it to exist at all?

Answers on a post card please!

(Posthumous apologies to both Arendt and Foucault for totally oversimplfying their thoughts on the human condition)


Beatriz Orantes said...

Jenna, freedom seems complicated if you are following others ideas about it. I think If you have your own idea of freedom and you follow it, then you are free. I feel free in some areas and in some others I need to keep working. But I think as far we live inside a society and we want to fit in, we cannot be 100% free.

See you in a week.

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