miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2012


(From Mark Taylor's Field Notes from Elsewhere. A nice example of deconstructive reversal, and of the unexpected undermining of certainties. And an elegant defense of marriage as well).

I have always been wary of balance
because I fear it will take the edge off. I prefer things off balance, slightly out of kilter, just a little bit edgy. When things seem settled, I get unsettled; when people get comfortable, I am uncomfortable. I value disagreement more than agreement, resistance more than compliance. As a parent I am demanding, as a colleague, difficult, and as a teacher, tough. It is because I respect others—because I want for them what they often don't want for themselves—that I try to keep them off balance.

On the face of it, she could not be more different from me. She is balanced, I am not; she seeks the middle ground I avoid. She does not get unsettled when things seem settled, nor does she become restless when things slow down. To others it appears that she balances my imbalance. This is not completely wrong because my obsession with imbalance can, I confess, become excessive. Sometimes pushing things as well as people to the limit crosses the line. When this moment approaches, she pulls me back by insisting that I must restore a semblance of balance. I often resist but usually know she is right.

In daily negotiations large and small, her strategies and tactics are more effective than mine. Without repressing disagreement, she is able to win acceptance; without overwhelming resistance, she is able to gain compliance. She understands that balance and imbalance are inseparable—each simultaneously promotes and subverts the other. When regularly anticipated, the insistence on imbalance inevitably loses its edge. Predictable tactics of resistance become ineffective and can quickly be dismissed as simply more of the same. At this point it becomes necessary to change tactics and switch directions by resisting resistance and insisting on maintaining a semblance of balance. With this reversal the prospect of settlement becomes unsettling for those who had anticipated agreement to be impossible. Compliance, paradoxically, becomes a tactic of resistance. At the very moment when everything seems settled, no one is sure what to expect next, and thus everyone remains warily off balance. Far from stabilizing, equilibrium can be disruptive and balance edgy.


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