Trying to get back on track– more third space

I could/I/I could… turn you inside out…
-R.E.M. (it continues)

Okay, before I start what is going to end up being a rant, a simple concept. I think it’s simple, anyway. It’s entirely possible I’m an idiot. 🙂

We read, as I mentioned in my previous post, Third Space

The author starts the book by proposing that two spaces are essentially “us” and “not us” or “in” and “out” or however you’d like to express it. This is a staple of American (US) Political Philosophy, as the whole of this nation’s under-culture is a huge binary. Good guys and bad guys. White hats and black hats. Vader and Luke. Lex and Clark. Binaries.

The third space, then, is the abstract area where things exist outside that.

Image time:

image of 3rd space

Bear in mind I quickly whipped the image above up in Photoshop, so I know it’s not beautiful. 🙂

But here’s how *I* saw those relationships. I mentioned Ventura and the fishers/hunters in the post before. That is a binary. It’s fixed and situated. Ventura basically said “you’re one of us or you’re them.” Those aren’t areas that allow for gradation. They are bounded boxes. If I say “you’re Phill, or you’re not” there isn’t a way for those of you who are not me to enter the box of “Phillness.” It’s closed to you. You’d have to remove my skin or steal my identity to get into the box, and then you’d change it.

So 1 and 2 are “closed.” They’re solid states, fixed within the greater system of this concept of third space. I didn’t designate which is the United States and which is the independent tribe, if we’re using the book’s binary. I think attributing the number shows bias. But those are fixed. Sure, those which constitute the group could change their definition of “us,” but in so long as we theoretically believe in an “us,” they are fixed boxes.

The third space is everything in the middle, but it isn’t fixed. It’s gradation. It’s fades and mixes and violations, and those who would hope to be both (in the construction the author addresses, one cannot be both– us or them, not “us and them”). I chose to represent it triangularly, instead of as a straight line, because the spacial movement indicated by the triangle is more indicative of how this would work than a bar is.

So in class, what seems like a pretty simple idea basically fell apart. Someone placed the “first space” of this system inside her head (which is fine on an individual level, but it violates the rest of the system if that person wants to talk about spaces with everyone else) and we somehow ended up talking about how the US forces want to take the souls of Muslims who they torture.

I maintain my belief that sometimes as powerful as theory is people do bad things with it. The author of this book is a Political Scientist. In the Poli-Sci world, this sort of concept makes good sense, as the binary is the enemy of true political understanding (us/them has dominated much of human interaction). If we yank away the Poli-Sci frame and don’t pay attention to what the author is saying, suddenly third space becomes really confusing when it actually isn’t. It would shift, depending on the binary (there is no “third space” we can always assume; we can only assume that every binary creates a third space of some manner).

Or maybe I just don’t get it.



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