At Arms Length: Jen on mediated relationships

18 11 2006

From Unsane and Safe:

In effect, I found that human relations in Perth are Mediated relationships. That is, for the most part, relationships are theoretical postulates. To give an example: one does not, for instance, notice somebody in need and then immediately render assistance without first pausing to consider the theoretical postulates which are thought to govern the situation. There is always the sense of a need to pause thus, and to consider one’s axioms before any human interaction with another.

This “arms length” theoretical mandate is given further enhancement by a sense of division between public and private realms of society. This is less a structural division these days as it is an epistemological division. One assumes that the role that one has been financially harnessed to do actually provides the attributive source of each person’s identity. So much for “public” identity. “Private” identity is the lower brother in this epistemological hierarchy. One “privately” varies from one’s fellow citizens, but this is not considered problematic unless it impinges on one’s capacity to fulfill the role that is designated “public”. One is defined by the manner one has found to earn money. One is not defined by one’s choices in life – which are personal – unless it is considered that one’s personal choices impinge on one’s public identity. In other words, personal choices are not considered interesting, except in the occasional negative sense. This theoretical division between public and private produces a social pattern, which constantly repeats.

Reading this reminded me of a passage, in the honours thesis I wrote on masculinity in Lord of the Rings, in which I considered Australian male friendships in very similar terms. I suggested that the dominant model of masculinity in Australian society is one which views close or intimate male friendship with at least a tinge of suspicion. Hence, the dominant mode of male friendship in Australian society is a mediated friendship; mediated, that is, through a shared activity or interest (be it fishing, drinking . . . perhaps even blogging) which both defines and limits the friendship. (Unlike Frodo’s and Sam’s.)

But I digress . . .

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