Now to revert to a voice of singular authorship for clarity’s sake: What I am driving at here is the dissolution of the individual within the collective chaos of experience. The author is not dead, s/he is stillborn, and what’s more, stubbornly still being born that way, day after day, one place after another. Identity is the crucial paradox: with it, we fit neatly into categories, play our roles well, satisfy our tribal urges; without it, we disengage, implode, disappear. Currently, I am working through a fluctuating, fluid, all-inclusive identity that cannot be tied to any one voice, one position, one body, or even one group. We are that commonality, that singular plural; every one and no one. This “we” cannot be an “us” that opposes a “them.” It also cannot be “yours,” “mine,” or even “ours,” because it contradicts possessing: it belongs!
The formulation goes something like this: I live. I am given a name (Colin McMullan). I identify with that name. As time passes, I come to identify that name with a “me” that doesn’t work; a subject bound for conventional individualism, an eminently restrictive field in which to produce and relate. I change that name to reflect a different role: a disavowal of authority, and a claim of relative anonymity (Emcee C.M., Master of None), which gives me a function, differentiates me, and allows me to work. Again, over time I come to identify this name with certain pitfalls (a brand-like identity, the marketability of the anti-ego). Meanwhile, through the work I do, I connect with a lot of people, and I come to understand the work as consisting ultimately of those connections themselves. So it becomes our work, or rather the work we do, together.
We come upon a name like the K.I.D.S. (Kindness and Imagination Development Society). But we see the pitfalls of a collective group identity too: exclusivity, internal conflict, the reframing of familiar subject positions within the new boundaries of this micro-group. So the group we want cannot be a group at all, that would be far too obvious (in Althusser’s sense: our misunderstanding of ideology as “true” or “obvious” reality). It must be all groups and no groups at once. All activity that transcends our condition as subjects is ours to celebrate, whoever started it and wherever it came from. The resulting identity is confoundedly amorphous, relative, contingent, indefinite, in fact unidentifiable. It is hardly an identity at all. It is thereby like life itself: a mystery, a question in response to every question posed. In short, as the K.I.D.S., we live.
This is not nostalgic, but it is retroactive. Our play represents strategies to reclaim the pre-subjective and to highlight the persisting spaces and moments in between ideological subjecthood. Since we first formulate ourselves as members of a family, we cannot rely on the familiar. We must turn to the strange. This is how we play at life’s work.