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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Transcending the label

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C188389413/E20080903090803

Transcending the label

Be - updated

Thinking by blogging
One of my reoccurring issues is labels. Thanks to my cross-wired brain, when I am stressed I have to sort and organize.

I call myself Pagan and technopagan because I don't really have better terms. I am polytheistic, part of my faith is Nature-centered, but I have a pretty good affinity for technology and my faith embraces that as well. Or at least in manifests in that. This need to categorize is one of those things that keeps cropping up. Surprisingly, it's not usually me. I don't always fit the "accepted" categories, not even in terms of my nonconformity. That's saying something about both me and the label.

I ran across this on the web. I think it's part of a thesis in progress, so I won't quote it in depth here. But this sentence leapt out at me. I'll even be nice and give them the Technopagan Green.

Ultimately, I will aim to show that Wiccans embody the “Other” as a means of criticizing and protesting modern Western culture.
Interesting thought. I am not sure I agree, especially with that Wiccan label. But I think we can agree that in today's Western societies, Pagans are a fringe element. I can't agree it's a protest. My own personal bias is that religious choice is part of the free market of ideas. Yes I know that the word "religious" doesn't quite fit here, and I am open to suggestions.

I think there is also a dynamic of individuality vs. conformity at work. Some (notice that I said and emphasized "some") people don't need to express themselves as much as they need to belong. They also need a common enemy that they can blame, which goes a long way to explain some of the anti-Christian feeling among many Pagans. Some evangelical Christians have similar feelings aimed at anyone who doesn't share their beliefs. Fundies are fundies.

Especially in the last year or so, I've discovered that things work better in the long run if I don't accept the labels. What's more, the people I feel most comfortable around have themselves either left the labels or are seeking new places that may not have labels.

Which can be very disturbing for someone like me who has organized his whole life on labels. Especially when my label gun doesn't work and I am feeling stressed. In the long run it's rewarding but in the short run it makes me nervous. My "landmarks" aren't there.

I try not to discuss politics on this blog, but when some Pagans (yet again, "some") find out my views on global warming, or government, or the free market, they tell me authoritatively that I can't possibly be a "real Pagan." And up until about a few years ago, I thought that was one difference between libertarians and Pagans because libertarians wouldn't do that. Except some (again, I said "some") of them started. This last year, a certain crowd (who will remain nameless here) yelled even louder that you couldn't possibly be a True Libertarian™ unless you supported Candidate RP.

Stars above, that's definitely True Believer Syndrome. Proving once and for all that libertarians can be just as idiotic as the rest of humanity. And yes, that is a label, but it's a label meant to move people beyond the labels. So I have an excuse this time.

I've said before that Pagans and small "L" libertarians share many traits. Just as some Pagans (pardon, but I still don't have a better term) are "withdrawing into the mists," some libertarians are moving away from public view and leaving the freedom movement for many of the same reasons. I thought it was an interesting coincidence, especially since both breakaway groups were rejecting previous labels as unsuitable.

I say groups, that could be misleading. I don't mean organized groups as such, although some of them are. There's not really a formal membership or hierarchy, those in the group just share common ideas, perspectives, and concerns. What organization exists tends to be strictly local. I'd argue that distribution is one of it's strengths, but that is my opinion.

Another of the fringe groups that I've been watching is the GLBT movement. I wasn't aware of it at first, but among some (I did say "some") gays and lesbians, bisexuals were only "playing" at being gay and weren't really into it. Apparently there are even stereotypes that are encouraged by some respected members of the gay and lesbian communities. That's why films and television often show oversexed bisexuals with no ethics. There is certainly a resentment among bisexuals for being crammed into someone else's label, especially when that someone else should know better. It's harder for me to see if there is any groups withdrawing, but there were some signs.

And then I read this article. Let me quote, pink this time, considering the source. Okay, magenta, but don't tell anyone.

I get the impression that sexuality, for many younger people, is now just about sexuality, and not that much about identity. Is this the beginning of the end, then, of identity politics?

The gay rights movement was built on recognizing and celebrating differences based on sexual orientation. But as sexual orientation becomes more like a space of fluid and changing experiences, rather than a series of boxes marked "gay," "straight" or "bisexual," sexual orientation loses its power as an organizing force. Can you have a Gay Pride march if everyone is merely "open-minded"?
Let's take a really big step here and assume that what we're really discussing is just different facets of the same thing. Let's take a further step and link to Postmodernism, an impressive label that no one has managed to define quite yet.

So posit, these are transitional states as the labels and understandings of one time deconstruct before the assumptions of the next begin.

Where, EXACTLY, does that leave us?

I can't say yet. All I know for sure is that the old labels will draw you back into the past. I can say that this little exercise has shown me that while labels may define my comfort zone, I can't stay there.

Slightly later, grumbling about synchronicity's bitch.

I had to double check something. "Be water." This bit where Bruce Lee discussed his "formless" and "fluid" art Jeet Kune Do (sorry, don't have a web link).

I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds.
Someone is being very obvious. Okay, okay, I get it. It deserves several dozen more looks and some heavy duty thinking.

UPDATE: I did a slight rewrite and I found a YouTube clip of the interview I was remembering. It's not worth embedding here, but it is thought provoking in this context. Fluid indeed.

Obviously Someone thinks this is important, but that doesn't mean it's correct. Maybe I am supposed to prove it, maybe I am supposed to refute it, and maybe I am supposed to cast it out on the water for whoever to find it.

Pardon the pun.

Posted: Wed - September 3, 2008 at 09:08 AM

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