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What is Transgressive Nowadays?

What is Transgressive Nowadays?

I read a blog post by Steven Shaviro today titled Thoughts on Transgression. Here are some of his thousand my thoughts on his thoughts.

Transgression, like so many other things, has largely been commodified and corporatized in the 21st century. What used to seem subversive is now no longer so.

Reading this, I clearly remember when being punk, or goth was a transgression. Today, being non-normative is noticeable, but hardly transgressive as it was.

Shaviro’s post goes on to bring up the effects of the wide-spread adoption of cultural ideas around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In the past ideas that promoted radical equality were both left-wing and transgressive, but today they are culturally normative, and powerful institutions will engage in a performance of honoring multicultural acceptance. As a result, to resist programs of diversity, equity, and inclusion might have become the new transgressive stance of the times we are living thought now.

If this is accurate, people might get scratch their itch for transgression by embracing exploitative and repressive right-wing ideologies.

The post describes the effects this way,

Even more seriously, perhaps, transgression today is largely a phenomenon of the ultra-right. Bari Weiss urges us to embrace the daring of the “intellectual dark web,” where people express such “dangerous” and “taboo” ideas as white supremacy, normative heterosexuality, male superiority, and the attribution of all differences among human beings in social power and wealth to the inexorable effects of genetics. This is what happens when large corporations, in order to maintain their sales, pay hypocritical lip service to “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” Yesterday’s mainstream ideology, which still has widespread support throughout society despite polite surface disavowals, is now packaged as a rebellious and transgressive refusal to conform. This is the basis of websites like 8Chan, and of the appeal of Donald Trump, whose supporters love him precisely because he violates the norms of social and political propriety.

Why think about this?

Because there is a lot of jouissance (enjoyment) in the act of transgression, and it is important to realize that where the boundaries are (i.e., what one must cross over to transgress) is an important thing.

If someone can get their transgression fix by being reactionary, then we are more likely to see an increase in people being reactionary.