Six Dumb Cultural Habits of Storytelling about War, Veterans, Schooling, and Sustainability
David M. Boje
May 29 2014 (revised August 25th)
Keynote address to 13th IACCM Annual Conference BETWEEN CULTURES AND PARADIGMS: Intercultural Competence & Managerial Intelligence and 6th CEMS/IACCM Doctoral Workshop, 26-28 June 2014 (Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, UK)
“You are what exists before all stories. You are what remains when the story is understood” — Byron Katie (2008: 26).
You are what exist before not only your own personal living stories, but also the dumb grand narratives that cultures, governments, corporations, and their managerial agents try to socialize, indoctrinate, or cajole you into.
Abstract: I recount six dumb cultural habits of storytelling about war, veterans, schooling, and sustainability. By storytelling I mean the interplay of living stories of the selves with the grand narratives of others’ culture accomplished by below-awareness antenarrative. My purpose here is to demonstrate how storytelling analysis can be done on cultural problems. How do these dumb grand narratives become believable in cultures? What are the living story webs that get left out of those abstract grander narratives? What are the anatenarrative connections between grand narratives and living story webs? I think it has something to do with what Walter Benjamin called the end of storytelling competencies. It takes interpretative competencies to do a storytelling analysis of culture and cross-culture. My theory is that through a series of antenarrative bets, living stories are aligning with dumb and dumber cultural narratives. Some linear-antenarrative bets are pretty dumb, such as when President Bush put a beginning-middle-end on the weapons-of-mass-destruction Iraq & Afghanistan 'Mission Accomplished' grand narrative together with antenarrative bets after bets that stagecraft would be persuasive, and it was, for a while. Some cyclic-antenarrative bets keep recurring in what Nietzsche called the eternal return. Others are spiral-antenarratives, such as the managerial intelligence of the Triple Bottom Line. Finally, there are rhizomatic-antenarrative bets that we will find a way to avert climate change, while the conservative right claims endless oil reserve, and so on. For today, I will develop a storytelling analysis of 'spikes are too tough' in order to give some cultural context to the video I will show about homeless veterans we are working with. We use an intervention called Embodied Restorying Process (ERP) with the veterans, and we are using it with the most dangerous schools in the US, and with some sustainability efforts at my own university. To be embodied, the restorying, must contront the existential questions of our time. So what I propose here is not social constructivism, rather its an interpretivist, and ontological analysis. It is also an example of the confrontation ongoing between the critical, ontological, post-positivist, and epistemic pragmatic sorts of storytelling that is the topic of my latest book (Boje, 2014a).
You can find more on antenarratives at ANTENARRATIVE.COM or see Boje (2001, 2008a, 2011, 2014a; Boje 2014b Posthumanist Ontology paper). Or, for radio show on antenarratives, see radio commentary by Roy H. Williams (June 2nd, 2014:
Cultures are constituted by an interplay of Grand Narratives that oversimplify, Living Story Webs of care for one another, and the Antenarratives that connect them.Here is a video to help you understand the Living Story Webs and relation to indigenous materialism.
Boje discusses the differences between indigenous ways of storytelling versus euro-western ways. These differences are demonstrated in Cajete’s telling of a traditional American Indian story called “Coyote Loses His Eyes.” Indigenous storytelling teaches attunement to the environment, respect for community, and other traditional values, in a living, participative process.
Cultures are material in ways that social constructivism denies. With the reverance for the linguistic turn and the surrender to the discourse turn, culture has shed its interest in what I call the new critical materialisms. In my new book, (Boje 2014a) I develop a pragmatist storytelling approach to quantum rhetoric, one that traces aspects of ontological materialist rhetoric in Heisenberg (1927) and John Dewey's (1929) turn from post-positivist pragmatism (e.g. William James, 1907) to ontological pratmatism, along with George Herbert Mead (1932).
I (Boje, 2014) wrote the different paths of connection in COPE (Critical, Ontologic, Post-Positivist, & Epistemic) pragmatist roots of storytelling methods. I hope it gives some mapping of the COPE terrain, the various spaces, times, and materialisms of that research using storytelling pragmatisms. My main inspiration is the philosophers and narrativist schollars who have criss crossed the between, the between C and O, C and P, C and E, and so on:
E—>O Barad, Burke, Barthers, late work of Burke
C—>O Rorty, Dewey (again), Mead, Arendt,
E—>C Habermas (ever the Kantian)
This has led to my working out the ways the many different sorts of 'new' critical materialisms are interacting.
Figure 1 - 7 Contending Materialist Rhetorics (from Boje, 2014a).
Materiality Storytelling has at least seven competing rhetorics trying to persuade us.
- Representationalist (a kind of social constructivist & humanist perspective)
- Marxist Historical Materialist (assessment of material conditions & suprplus value chains)
- Foucauldian Postmodernist (discourses --> materialism)
- Barad/Strand Constitutive Materialist based on Neils Bohr approach to materialism --> discourse (a reversial of the Foucauldian, and taking a posthumanist standpoint.
- Postmodern Althusserian Aleatory (subterranean or underground aspects, such as the hidden nature of the homelessnss, the way women's bodies are abused, the violence of the neoliberalism capitalism in relation to conflict-minerals)
- Bakhtinian Dialogical Materiality (ethical answerability for the conditions)
Liquid/Quantum Materialist (Zygmunt Bauman's Liquid Modernity) and Adorno & Horkheimer's critique of Culture Industry consumerism.
- Boje's (2014a) Storytelling in Quantum Age based on Heisenberg Observer Effect & Uncertainty Principle).
Just observing the materialisms of neoliberalism changes behavior, but only for a brief while, because the fast-pace of social media ecology moves along to some other story. These are more than just materialism rhetorics, rather that are some very different pragmatist-ontologies and some ways of doing ontologic-analysis that are quite different.
Figure 2 - Several of the New 'Critical' Materialisms
Storytelling analyses are situated in domains of discourse analyses, and the materialisms analyses, which are embeded in socioeconic, what I call leviathan institutional & political networks, cross-cultural analyses, and the new fad transhumanism and posthumanism analyses. There is no particular, ordering, the figure is just to give some sense of ways analyses are cross these boundaries.
For example, Karen Barad is critical of mateiralisms, such as that of Foucault and Marx (as well as Butler) fornot takng a posthumanist standpoint. Foucauld, for example, is accused of putting discourse ahead of materialism (Discourse-->Materialism). For Barad its the reverse materialism before discourse (Materialism-->Discourse). Nor is Barad persuaded by Marx's 'historical materialism' or the analyses of material conditions. Rather Barad's agential materialism, is the intra-activity of materialism with discourse, in a posthumanism. Posthumanism is critical of 'Humanism Storytelling' as I will call it. Anete Strand (2012) works with Barad and extends my own work on storytelling to develop 'material storytelling' that focuses on the material-apparatus of storytelling, and the intra-activity of materialism with storytelling. Bøje, Jørgensen, and Strand (2013) look at how 'living story' from its Native American & indigenous traditions is a form of material storytelling, focused on its being in-place, in-time, and and in-materialism.
Transhumanismism, on the other hand, wrestles with a reverance for cyborg, the technological extensions and modifications to the human-body, as popularized by Donna Haraway, but taken to an extreme. Transhumanism moves away from any sort of restriction by posthumanism to a quantum-nature, or particle-wave biologism. Rather, the transhuman lives in a virtual world as well as a natured world, but now its a world that is technologically re-engineered, so there is no 'natural' nature, not for some generations (More on transhumanism and posthumanism).
Barad is not the only new 'critical' materialism scholar. Point of fact, there are many contending new 'critical' mateiralisms. For example, It is Samantha Frost (2010) who develops a new materialism reading of Thomas Hobbes’ (1651) Leviathan. Deborah Cook (2006) develops the materialism storytelling she reads in Theodor Adorno¹s work (with Horkheimer) on what is known in sociology and economics as the Culture Industry. Cook (2006) are challenging ways social constructivists leave out the body, the materiality of bodies, consumerist understanding of bodies, the agency of bodies. Patrice Haynes (2012) believes the new materialisms have been too dismissive of the spiritual, and wants to even bring back immanence. This would be a horror to Diana Coole (2010) whose new 'critical' materialism reworks the ontology of Merleau-Ponty, its focus on embodiment that has being-in-the-world.
Persuaded by Samantha Frost I (Boje, 2013, 2014a, 2014b) have been working with what Thomas Hobbes (1651) called 'Leviathan.' Leviathan is that hoard of institutions, for example, working with PTSD, from psychiatry, DSM, military, university, psychology, political, etc. are complicit in materializing the storytelling and the embodiment of stress in many populations. From an organizational storytelling standpoint, for me, this means that there is a materialization, dematerialization, and rematerialization cycle of stess.
Leviathan the swarm of institutions that are the State and the corporations. Now Leviathan has gone global, and with it stress has morphed from something haunting veterans and abused women, to the daily malady of all those living in global capitalism. Leviathan recruits heroes to fight its global wars. However, there is heightened perceptions of community-based stigma in U.S. culture that is a barrier to treatment for the stress of combat theatres (Stotzer, Whealin, & Darden, 2012: 2).
Tetranormalization is all about what Henri Savall and Veronique Zardet (2005), and a contingent of French professors are developing as a critique of the standardization movement globally. Tetra means four, and there are four kinds of standards: accounting & finance, environment & quality, human rights & humanity, and trade relationships (for more, Boje & Rosile, 2010).
Figure 3 - Four Wings of Tetanormalization source (Boje & Rosile, 2010).
I am currently editing a book for Routledge on the topic, which I hope will be out later this year. For my part of it, tetranormalization is suppressing the materialisms by substituting experts who put out standards manuals, outcomes assessments, norms for doing the tetra of global business. There is a masking, a veiling of the ontology and the objective presence (ontic as Heidegger calls it).
Global culture is involves a covering over of materialism-assemblages, acover up of ontological and ontic (some very empiric) conditions. Social constructivism has a great fear of being accused of naive realism.
Figure 4- Spike Bench - Pay-to-sit
Yantai Park in Shandong, China introducedpay-per-minute benches. In London, Canada, and China, there are spikes being installed to keep the homeless from sleeping.
In the case I am presenting, 'Spikes are too rough,' my purpose is to demonstrate an ontologic-pragmaic analysis of the contending materialisms. Rough sleeping draws our attention to the concounter of several new 'critical' materialisms. Actually they are several quite old materialisms that are being reimagined, mostly by some contemporary feminist scholars. Deborah Cook (2006) took up Adorno and Horkheimer's critiques of Culture Industry, and gave it a new 'critical' materialism rendition. The neloiberalism materialism leaves out the body, and the whole consequence of consumerist culture (something Bauman is also looking at in his critique of Liquid Modernity).
My own recent work is looking at a 'critical' materialism rendering of Martin Heidegger's (1962/1996) Being and Time.
Homeless veterans have have many close encounters with the materialisms of late modern capitalism, and neoliberalism politics and its economics. When the veterans make that abrupt transition back to home culture, there is a placelessness, a collapse of their place. The place of the working and the middle class in global society has collapsed. Is it any wonder that in the placelessness, too many veterans become nomadic, so-called 'homeless.'
A Leviathan of institutions work with homeless veterans, and do so in ways that aggravates placelessness (Boje, 2014b). In the UK and in the US, there are more veterans dying from suicide than from combat, in these recent wars. Care for Heidegger is the very ontological foundation of Being-in-the-world of the primordial life (from birth to death).
There are revelations about the lack of care that occur, when one is rough sleeping, homless veterans, sleeping placeless.
- Becoming invisible to mainstream culutre, the homeless veterans can see the home-culture.
- See ontologically, the materialisms of neoliberalism economics, there are many encounters with care-less, the collapse of the ethics of care.
- Seeing in an ontological way the ways the DoD (MoD in UK) and the Veterans Administration keep those in need of care on waiting lists, refuse to list or hear, and have a dis-embodied way of approaching trauma (so-called PTSD)
- Seeing ontologically that the bottom dropped out of society, the social, economic, political and cultural fabric unraveled
- There are materialisms beyond the mind-conception for PTSD detached from embodiment, detached from the matieral conditions of war, turning away from bodies addicted to freely-dispersed meds in combat zones, to the wyas the pharmacuetical industry drives the definitions of PTSD by the APA who made $30 million selling its DSM I to DSM V manuals
- PTSD is very economic, an industry of med-makers and treatment-providers, and the ethnomethod of housing allowances and other kinds of benefits tied to ways PTSD is conceptualized as a particular kind of event, a singular event in a particular place, time, yet without any materialism of who caused it for what payoffs
- Homeless is a discourse, something invented by political culture, picked up in popular culture, as if home was not a human right, as iff home was something for wealthy folks.
The formerly homeless veterans we (Boje et. al, 2013) we have been working with, as well as the student-veterans (mostly not homeless) have this interesting relationship to the materialisms. The student-veterans and the active veterans are actually told by too many commanders to game the PTSD, not report any harm from the material conditions of war zone encounters, to never admit that they are in need of care. Best not to be labeled, pathologized, marked for life with the stigma of PTSD. Its a career-killer, and you will never be promoted, and often demoted, even ousted. Suck it up, man-up, and move back in the redeployment line. I have listed some WWII videos below, some by John Houston, that hollywood director, who did documentary films on the manner of care for WWII, shell-schock veterans: the use of hypnosis, the ways of psychoanalysis, the intensive treatment of veterans. Far less suicides with such intensive care.
I am a Vietnam-veteran. Half the homeless US veterans are Vietnam era. APA changed the DSM manual for our generation, not admitting PTSD until the 1980 edition.
I asked several Vietnam-era homeless veterans, and some from the recent Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo era, to engage in a process we call Embodied Restorying Process (ERP). It is not the same as White and Epston (1990) classic 'restorying' process, which is rooted in a 'textual analogy' and a strange reading of Michel Foucault. Strange because its all discourse, and no materialism. The materialism in Foucault vanishes. DOn't get me wrong, I really like White and Epston's restorying and it has been used quite successfully to treat veterans with PTSD. Palgi & Ben-Erza (2010). However, I believe that an embodied restorying can be more effective treatment.
As I began working with the veterans in my community, I noticed, how reluctant the student-veterans were to be associated with anything having to do with stress. The cultural costs of admitting to stress are just too great. The military cultural conditioning coupled with the popular culture stigmas about soldiers with PTSD make seeking care too dangerous. Ironic, that the suicides among veterans are greater than the deaths by combat, lately. To me this is explained ontologically, since the meaning of stress is stigmatized, and taken over by the Culture Industry, and by the Pharmecuetical Industry, and let's be frank, by the Leviathan of corporate, government, and university institutions.
In the work we are doing, with ERP, it was actually easier to work with formerly homeless veterans. They are willing to talk, and to See the Leviathan, its Being-in-the-world.
After three months of doing a volunteer class at Community of Hope, at the Oak Street location, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, we began using ERP methodology. It seems so ismple, the combination of restorying with sandplay. Yet there is something very ontological about it, not the sort of social constructivism, one might expect.
Heidegger (#155, 1996) says idle talk is "'passed-along' in further retelling." He cautions that it is a mistake ot dismiss the idle talk as worthless. Idle talk is in motion. It is part of being curious, moving close to something going on, and probing. but idle talk is temporary, and moves along to some other eventness. In the age of social media, idle talk moves very quickly. The case I develops on 'Spikes are too rough,'is deminstrating an ontological analysis. Spikes are part of a particular nexus of materialisms, where instead of care for homeless (some of whom are veterans) there are spikes. One of these is a quite vulgar materialism, and from many a critical materialism, it is "burdened with moral guilt" (#282). There is a lack of answerability a neoliberalism-materialism not being "responsible for others" (#282).
ERP is one wya to tet at discloability and undiscloure of the materialisms of spike-mateiralism.
Conscience of Care
Spikes violate "conscience of care" and this "conscience reveals itself" (#278) in all those spikes. 'Spikes are too rough!' The caller, that would be me, and I am not alone in calling it too rough, this materialism. I am "calling out" (#271) the most wealthy, and invokeing a "voice of conscience" (#271), and of complicity, since I am part of the least wealthy class of business professors.
For a little while idle talk of social media becomes curious about 'Spikes are too rough,' and then moves long. Tarrying for a while, the shourd of ambiguity, and the tranquillizaiton of those grand narratives of neoliberalism are given ample illumination, and there is breif glimpse of ontological clarity, and a "vulgar, interpretation of conscience" (#270) and that way individualism is so practical, so economiccal, so willing to employ spike-technology, spike-tools. A "critique of conscience: (#270) is needed to pierce the ontological distortioins of the care-less, those .01% wealthy who practice the materialism of individualism that is against not only humanism, but posthumanism.
Being-at-home and Not-being-at-home
"Being-at-home" and "not-being-at-home" (#189) are put into an ontologial problematic by Heidegger. The public is fleeing from responsibility, being so tranquillized by the political media. The .01% have no "desire to see" (#171) theire own "entanglement" (#175). After all the homeless are in "side-by-sideness" (#174) with the most wealthy in the "disclosed spatiality" (#132) once it is "illuminated" (#133) by critical 'new' materialisms, not just of Heidegger, but of Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty, and John Dewey. Dewey (1929) turned to ontology, after reading Hesienberg (1927), and took the observer effect and the Principle of Uncertainty into an ethical terrain (Boje, 2014a).
The "idle talk lives at a quicker pace" (#173) Heidegger observed, and this was well before the advent of social media. Now iwht Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the rest, the pace is much quicker. But, that also means there is curiosity for awhile, and then the nanoseconds of attention move elesewhere with Heisenberg and Dewey's observer effect. Take the spotlight away, and the forces of distancing take over, and there is all that tranquillizing by the grand narratives. The spotlight does not seems to stay long enough to get at the root causes.
The spikes drew global attention, 130,000 signatures, and they were removed from one plush condo for the welathy in London. Yet, the root causes, the collapse of care itself, go unnoticed. The public once again is indifferent, turing away from the ontic (positivist, empiric) objective presence of many other technologices to torture the homeelss, and to keep them hoeless. the forces of this suppresison are endemic to enoliberalism political cultural late capitalism and its economics of win as much as you can for your self. Than, on top of the ontic is the ontological confusion and lack of ontological clarity about it all collapse of care itself.
I want to thank the formerly homeless veterans and the Community of Hope for being a community of care. They allowed this YouTube to be showed for the purposes of the confernece, and then it will be taken down from public view. They have nodesire to be on desplay.
In closing, as Dewey (1929) put it, not every desire is disirable, and not every satisfaction is satisfactory. Some desires and satisfactions of a material sort, lack care for everyone Being-in-the-world, and are jsut not sustainable.
Appendix: Supplement Boje (2014b) Warwick Conference Paper
THE STRANGE HISTORY OF PTSD IN THE DSM MANUALS: A GENEALOGICAL ANALYSIS OF DISCURSIVE-MATERIALISM ROOTS OF STRESS DISORDERS
Table 1: Political, Economic, and Social/Cultural decision on stress
|DSMs||Year||What is Stress then?||Some Films of the time period|
|http://youtu.be/pfgsGe64yzA is one from 1940s that is indicative of DSM-I
http://youtu.be/ZDA5hVpAptQ again DSM-I where the stigma of 'battle fatigue' was to get labeled with 'lack of intestinal fortitude' (not guts) in your military record, if you cam forward seeking help.
Withdrawal of combat exhaustion
|A list of films of Vietnam PTSD (ironic since the Vietnam veterans did not have any combat exchaustion in DSM-II|
PTSD finally makes it in after 10 years of protesting.
Expanded to “everything and anything”
PTSD restricted to one traumatic event
|DSM-V and PTSD criteria film list|
About the online films:
WWI (1917) - it was called 'retrograde amnesia' and 'shell shock http://youtu.be/sP2ravKtcY8
Shell Shock 1914-1918 in WWI http://youtu.be/faM42KMeB5Q
Then, if you see several 1940s WWII YouTubes on PTSD treatment (ironic there was no PTSD in 1940s, it was called 'battle fatigue'
http://youtu.be/pfgsGe64yzA is one from 1940s that is indicative of DSM-I
http://youtu.be/ZDA5hVpAptQ again DSM-I where the stigma of 'battle fatigue' was to get labeled with 'lack of intestinal fortitude' (not guts) in your military record, if you cam forward seeking help.
http://youtu.be/dAuxheODl_A WWII hypnosis for PTSD (again strange since it did not exist as PTSD until DSM-III, in 1980 after a decade of protest. DSM-II took out 'battle fatigue' from its manual. Here in this WWII film, 'battle fatigue' dematieralizes and is defined as a paralysis of the mind, affecting lack of sleep, and lack of memory of (materialism) events of war.
8 part series on PTSD in WWII narrated by John Huston - 1947 one of 3 films he did for the military in order to show industry that veterans released form the military were competent and well able to be workers after recovery from amnesia, hysteria, battle neuroses, not being able to talk, not remembering their own name, aphasia, stammers & stutters, and men with terrible violent ticks, and so on - http://youtu.be/x7uJ7hEhhB4 When the military saw Huston's film, they pulled it, and it remained out of circulation for 35 years, until the Cater administration. Huston got good at hypnosis and worked to put some of the veterans under, and then a psychiatrist would take over and elicit the stories of death and the fear of death from the soldiers. "And when you were shelled how did you feel?" asks the Army psychiatrist. part IV - http://youtu.be/z6BtQkWlIDk clips of the hospital ward, and the torment of things half remembered. This fits with Heidegger (1962 section #57, p. 83) about the tribulation and melancholy of 'concern' that is ontic, about 'cares of life' which is not the same as the ontology of care, its 'Being-in-the-world' of the encounters, before the Thingification/Objectification/Reification of the constructivist turns it into epistemic narrative (#61, p. 88). The film segment narrates that the Army makes no strict separation between the 'mind' and the 'body' because physical ills often have psychic causes. Interesting that they were using EEG and Rorchock tests in WWII. See part IV interviews http://youtu.be/kDNoaSMKx0g with shots of uses of art, sports, playing guitars, physical exercise, group-psychotherapy (psychiatrists tells large groups they are going to learn through various interventions a knowledge of one's Self, in order to be once again, just like other people; ways of finding relief from stress/anxiety was learned in the home in child to parent relationships, etc.; one soldier chimes in "I think it was all caused by economic conditions in the world...", the doctor goes on to say "its not just the war... these kind of troubles have gone on through all time, through all centuries..."), and occupational therapy (making wood crafts, paintings, and so forth to prepare them for various sorts of employment situations. This preparation for employment, is the link for some sort of publication in management journals; the focus on organizational intertextuality (narrative networks) is link to organizational theory journals; the fact that all this is culturally-based storytelling is the basis for the communication studies journals. Through hypnotic suggestion a psychiatrist works with a shell shock victim who forgot not only the incident/event but his entire past. In the storytelling, under hypnosis, the veteran relives the traumatic nucleus event of combat. This is a particularly good sequence. A navy veteran stutters since a shell shock incident at sea. There is a storytelling reliving of the incident, and then the psychotherapist asks the veteran, about the first words he had trouble pronouncing. They begin with the letter 'S.' What does the letter 'S' remind you of? Its the sound of a German 88 high explosive shell coming in. What is interesting about this is it is an example of the Embodied Restorying Process. As Houston narrates, the soldier was living mostly in the past, and now is living in the present, sometimes the veteran thinks more in the future. What is significant, for me, is the stress trauma is tied to the material conditions of combat, to its sounds and visual sensations, and the body reacts to the materialisms, encoding it in the body. The film segment has scenes of veteran working with family. In one segment a soldier says that a survey he read showed that people on Park Avenue, where only the richest people live, are more nervous than the veterans. They get pills on Park Avenue, or they say 'Oh he's not a good doctor' and these people would be taken to the hospital, locked away in a Sanitarium if they were not already full. The psychiatrist tells the group of veterans. You are as good as anybody else, and to be honest with their employer about their psycho-neurotic condition, you have nothing to be ashamed of, since everyone (civilian &/or military) has a breaking point, and can develop a nervous condition. The veterans have fear about getting jobs, and the civilian reaction (stigma) to their military service. This is intriguing since the use of the DSM PTSD surveys I have done in pilot test confirms this WWII soldier's observation about the Park Ave. rich having as much or more stress from the socioeconomic conditions as there is in the seasoned combat veteran
It would be fun to get material from military archives and YouTube versions to go with each DSM generation and see the embodiment or mind-ment of the culture of stress and treatment.
You can find this in Public Domain, the civilian version of DSM-V PTSD instrument:
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Adorno¹s Culture Industry is a critique of consumerist materialism, how consumers are persuaded by media (TV, radio, newspaper ads, and now Internet media) to act against their own self-interest as advertising manipulates desire, develops political candidates in media spins so an attempt at authentic understanding of the body politics is impossibl