Elucidation

It turns out to be necessary to differentiate this blog -- and its title -- from any association from lady -- or lady-man -- priestesses and the so-called messy church.

The title is inspired by the notion championed by the under-appreciated British philosopher Gillian Rose. It is a complex concept, only incompletely spelled out in what follows:

If we want to occupy the 'broken middle', we can't do this by brushing over differences and disagreements, by pretending that they're not there or that they don't matter. Philosophy, for Rose, is all about recognising and identifying conflicts which are ignored or overlooked. But what we then need to do is to refuse to identify the different positions as 'guilty' or 'innocent'. To live in the middle is to experience the impossibility of reconciling different positions, to refuse to take sides and so to look guilty to everyone, to satisfy no one, to be torn apart. This, says Rose, is where the sacred is. In particular, the broken middle tries to mediate between 'the ethical', the collective tradition and culture of a particular community and 'self-expressive nonconformity': individuals who refuse to be bound by tradition or culture ...

The key virtue of the broken middle is anxiety. Anxiety comes from allowing ourselves to be unsettled by the way that 'self-expressive nonconformists' challenge our ideas and assumptions, bringing uncertainty and insecurity. But you can't properly experience this anxiety unless you are also bound up with the life of a particular community: it's easy to challenge everything you believe in if you have a group of friends who all think exactly the same as you. But to challenge everything whilst also remaining committed to a community of people who have very different and deeply held ideas is another thing altogether. Rose is very critical of people who maintain their innocence by refusing to belong to an institution.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Good, or ancient, or Catholic"

Tsunami!

The Benedict Option