The literature of ambivalence

The move from the heterogeneous realm to the homogeneous realm via the Oedipus complex and its resolution, well, apparently, takes us away from feelings of ambivalence. I guess that one’s dislike for one’s authorities is repressed at this point. One no longer love-hates them. One just feels positive and represses the aspects there are to dislike. Or, in other words, one’s heart is filled only with love.

I suspect, though, that there is a peculiar literature of the heterogeneous, which just reeks with the kind of irony which is facilitated by emotional ambivalence. Such a form of literature is not read well (and is certainly, moreover, not read correctly) by those who have made a perfect translocation to the ‘other side’. From the other side of the Oedipus complex — the non-ambivalent side, the conforming from the heart side — there is very little to laugh about, in all probability. There are just “types” either acting in obedience to, or in defiance of, their clearly allocated and well-defined social roles. (From this other side, one does not find a “type” in rebellion to be funny, but rather appalling, or shocking, or pathetic, depending on one’s most accustomed reaction to a revelation of the flimsy nature of the social fabric.)

Identity politics, then, is not the politics of ambivalence towards one’s own social role. From the point of view of identity politics, one challenges from the basis of the post-Oedipal social power that had been granted one’s particular group within a particular economic setting. One does not challenge anything at the level of being issued with a role or identity. Identity politics, then, is for those who have implicitly acquiesced to power on an individual level, and are still unhappy with their public status. There is a certain place for it. That goes without saying. Still, it is not Marechera’s politics, since he did not acquiesce to power in the first instance. He has not accepted the definition applied to him of “black”, but rather pairs the term with “sunlight”, thus deconstructing it.


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