Since 2006 (with time off now and then) I have been recording my thoughts here at Dial M. By now Jonathan and I have accumulated close to 700 posts at Dial M and at this point I have forgotten a lot of the stuff I’ve written for the site. The other day I re-discovered something I wrote in January 2009 called “No one understands you” and was surprised at how much it predicted a certain dead end in which conversations around identity always find themselves nowadays.
One historical interest I developed in writing my book Dig is the intellectual history of the American Left. When identity politics became a hot topic in recent years (and I am old enough to remember its last big moment in the early 1990s) I knew what I was looking at: an argumentative dead end that the American left has been stumbling into since the 1960s. The postmodern left, the academic left, has inherited a useless mental script from its New Left parents. Anyone who has gone to an academic conference in the last few years will have seen some variation on the following script play out in someone’s Q&A session:
A: You suck.
B: No, you suck.
C: Speaking as a C, I think you both suck.
A: You would say that, wouldn’t you.
Needless to say, no-one is really having a conversation in this type of a situation.