The Philosophy of Slack 5: Slack and Individuality

In ages past, individuality was a function of effort (and/or privilege). Not so anymore. In our hyper-connected, hyper-conformist world, most are compelled to put an effort into fitting in, to excel in a given domain. Work and excellence are now often delineated by impersonal collectives; bureaucracies, institutions and organizations. Gemeinschaft gives way to Gesellschaft.

The slacker, in her unwillingness to participate, is thus in an ideal position to cultivate individuality by, well, doing nothing.

By opting out of a society of driven narcissists, slack achieves true individuality. This is not apathy, for that is a state of active indifference. This is the kind of individuality only “achieved” by a passive indifference to even apathy itself. Slack doesn’t check facebook, text or e-mail. There is no regimen or routine, even a nominally unproductive one, in slack. A powerful, unanticipated individuality results. Perhaps “emerges” is a better word. The “artificial”, in the sense that Paul Valéry understood it, melts away — evaporates — like snow on a warm spring day.

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9 Responses to “The Philosophy of Slack 5: Slack and Individuality”

  1. Sorouja Moll Says:

    Foucaudian “conduct” seems to be what slack is destabilizing here. The conduire des conduits or “conducting conduct” is an exercise of power that penetrates the social economy with the removal of the idle and others who are deemed socially delinquent, in their multifarious manifestations, from the public and private.

    “From the seventeenth or eighteenth century onward, the human body essentially became a productive force, and all forms of expenditure that could not be reduced to these relations, or the constitution of the productive forces, all forms of expenditure that could be shown to be unproductive, were banished, excluded, and repressed” (“Society Must Be Defended,” 31).

    A site of this social rupture is evident in the 19th century asylum.

    To be slack, however, I would argue is not to opt out of social containers entirely. To be slack requires the individual’s adherence to something other than its “self.” To individuate and emerge into slackness, one first must recognize what has made it taut – just as we recognize how the sun does indeed melt the snow.

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    Indeed — definitely some Foucault hacking going on here. The process of deconstructing our social construct is, clearly, dilemma-ridden. We are “tau(gh)t” in so many ways…

  3. kerrjac Says:

    Sounds like ‘the dude’, from The Big Lebowski.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    If that’s the case, then my job here is done… ;)

  5. Sorouja Moll Says:

    “True individuality” is a philosophical problem in the very definition of what exactly is “true.” What “emerges” is an escape mechanism from society and a self-seeking authorization to act without any responsibility or care for others. Even in the self-induced euphoria of “slack,” the individual does not live in a vacuum and their actions do affect/effect the people around them. In other words, “slack” as a narcissist wolf is lamb’s clothing.

  6. The Necromancer Says:

    This is not it at all. Slack is not in a mode of self-love verging on self-obsession. Rather slack embraces self-acceptance. This is acceptance of the individual in the widest possible frame — a mere insignificance in the totality of a near limitless and for all practical purposes eternal universe. Alas, here individuality disappears in a sheer inability to comprehend. But slack is cool with that — what other choice is there?

  7. Sorouja Moll Says:

    The philosophical base of “slack” is caught in its own semantic web of “the self” and “the individual”. The subjectified decision to “opt out” and opt into “doing nothing” is entirely contra(dictory). This “nothing’s more than matter”. The decision to “opt out” of social belonging and to embrace a “self-acceptance” (or a personalized anarchy of “I don’t understand anything”) that refuses responsibility is not only some “thing” but a narcissism that disregards the materialism of the very “eternal universe” it suggests to “disappear” into. The individual is still bound to the earth by gravity — “doing nothing” is simply not a choice.

  8. ricki Says:

    Hmmm…slack seems to have a polarizing effect, an interesting paradox…

  9. The Necromancer Says:

    @SM: We’re all caught in semantic webs and burdened by the weight of gravity. Slack just finds this fairly bogus (c.f. “Slack and Action”).

    @ricki: Polarizing (and paralyzing) paradoxes, semantic webs and the weight of gravity — the triple threat…

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