Saturday, July 30, 2011

Talk to Me Intellecutal Baby

This post doesn't have much in it about knitting.

I love talking intellectual. I love academic life, the exchange of ideas, the passion with which people engage with their chosen subjects. I know that my path in life will lead me back to the halls of universities eventually. I'll detour around a bit and then get another degree which has nothing to do with the first two that I earned. You know, for the fun of it.

When The Center in Long Beach started their QSpeak series I thought, "What the hell, it's free. I'll go." And then, of course, I loved it because listening to academics talk about queer issues is like drinking too much espresso too fast, I get all jittery and excited.

I saw Judith Halberstam speak today. Yes, the person who wrote the most awesome Feminine Masculinity. She spoke of many interesting ideas and notions, but the one that I want to consider here is the idea of the personal economies that lie outside the capitalistic world. While Halberstam only mentioned the idea in reference to one of her talking points, the idea stuck clearly with me because it is an idea I engage with often.

I'd better explain myself. Personal economies is about sharing, it is all the stuff that we trade without thinking about it. I have more lemons from my tree than I can use and you have more eggs from your chickens than you can eat, so we share with one another. This kind of economy is totally outside of capitalism and totally inside the kind of activity that builds common community.

In my life, I seem to have been the recipient of number of things that other people had no use for anymore, but were still working perfectly fine. Among these things include a practically new cell phone, my car, my cat, and lots of clothing. The main reason I think these things have come to me is because I am willing and glad to accept them.

People are suspicious and anxious when you share with them. Just this past week a co-worker of mine was talking about buying sheet protectors and inquired where I had purchased mine. I replied that I had more sheet protectors than I would likely ever use and I would be happy to just give her some. Her response was very hesitant, as if I would be going far out of my way to share. And really, I am the same in these situations. I am hesitant to accept and understand her socially mired reaction.

In reality, all that someone is offering, is to share. I have too much of this, here, you can have some. We learn how to share toys as children and I believe we so totally grow out of the notion that by the time we are adults we no longer understand how to be on the giving or receiving end of sharing.

And that is precisely what the engine of capitalism desires. It wants me to hoard my sheet protectors and for my co-worker to buy more. Which is totally ridiculous in a society crumbling beneath debt.

I am an advocate for personal economies of sharing. Sharing is about giving without a motive and without the desire for anything in return. I am an advocate for both sides. Do a little sharing and do a little taking when others offer to share with you. See what happens. Think about the act that you engage in as it is the only way for personal economies of sharing to change the way the capitalism behaves. It might not work, but it would at least lead to a different place than the consideration of our government to, yet again, raise the debt ceiling.

What can you give?