Friday, January 11, 2013

After identity

The NYT carries an article (“Generation LGBTQIA”) which describes young people for whom even traditional gay or transgender identities, until recently seen as transgressive, have become too constraining. Apparently, some have gotten to a point where they just don’t know in what kind of body they would fit; or see their “gender” as just one undefined, “amorphous blob.” Come to think of it, this must be very liberating, even if at times a bit confusing. In fact, such a mini “daily referendum” could be conceived as the logical next step in the Enlightenment quest for freedom.

As Werner Erhard discovered four decades ago, the realization that you really lack an inner core can give “you” the enormous freedom to reinvent “yourself” starting from nothing. And what could logically preclude anybody from repeating this liberating process over and over – without ever being frozen in a state of self-sameness, or within any stable set of “self”-referential preferences or expectations?

This is, apparently, something Czech presidential candidate Vladimir Franz does not fully understand. A composer, painter, and university professor, he is best known for his pretty face covered by an intricate tattoo composition – “a warrior-like mix of blue, green and red,” according to a sympathetic profile in The Guardian. Franz claims the artwork on his face is “a sign of a free will” which “does not harm the freedom of anyone else” – a position that apparently rings true to young Czechs among whom Franz has stronger support than traditional party candidates. It might have been a sign of freer will, though, to have a non-permanent tattoo mask splashed on his face – one that could be repainted each time he gets tired of it.