Choice, Discourse, and Presence Against the “Inevitability” of Violence

To continue on the theme of violence of identity formation and socio-ontological denominationalism or, groups within projecting groups, Amartya Sen makes a very finite distinction on choice that I would like to leverage towards our collective choice to overcome the limits of the regressive philosophy of the inevitability of violence. Amartya Sen, in Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, states, 

The freedom to determine our loyalties and priorities between the different groups to all of which we may belong is a peculiarly important liberty which we have reason to recognize, value and defend. The existence of choice does not, of course, indicate that there are no constraints restricting choice. Indeed, choices are always made within the limits of what are seen feasible. The feasibilities in the case of identities will depend on individual characteristics and circumstances that determine the alternative possibilities open to us. (2006, 5)

One of such restraints are structural power entities maneuvering power to limit or dis-obey the merits of discourse. As Amartya Sen later puts forward, “democracy is not just about ballots and votes, but also about public deliberations and reasoning, what – to use an old phrase – is often called ‘government by discussion’” (2006, 53). Models of discourse and tightly gravitated discourse theory often articulate the limits of our canon of knowledge as we have been molded by built-in taught infrastructures of poetry and conquest. 

The fact that Shakespeare is so widely taught not only demonstrates a limitation of the masses of imaginations to the portfolio of Shakespeare but is also a model from which we can detect a ongoing deliberation of the limitations to our discussions, decision making, and forged imaginations towards to ends of tempered negotiations of truce and conflict resolution. The arguments of these limitations are sound. The opening up of the literary canon towards multicultural, inclusionary texts not centered on the white male experience is more than a matter of boardroom diversity, but a fight for the existence of our imaginations that we rely upon to forge conclusions in the ontological struggle against authoritarian soft power.  

The individual and collective identity molded through a canon selected repeatedly over generations by those few in power is violence. It is the violence of tenure; the violence of relapse to a sequestered hill on the edge of disparity. These previously generated groups within groups of grossly domesticated denominationalisms force back a spirit of openness that would grasp the future’s end; the discontinuation of violence: the solstice of an evening pane blowing against the whistle-blow of an open and fruitful mind. There is significant and evident merit in Leanna Simpon’s assertation that presence leads to revival. To cite my other project, “Presence is an act that counters normative weights that seek to subdue or act as tranquilizers of peaceful negotiation to one’s lifeforce” (Tilley, 2020). In her essay, “Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigeneous Girls’ Presencing as Decolonizing Force,” (2016) Sadrina de Finney references Leanna Simpson’s piercing clarity of thought for countering what I refer to as denominationalisms through visibility and presence. de Finney quotes Simpson, stating,

“Our processes – be they political, spiritual, education or healing – required a higher degree of presence than modern colonial existence.”

The violence-narratives of those maintaining power imitate disinterestedness as the fashioning of structural presence. However, Simpson’s “presence” counters judges of dismissal and grafters of the illusions of transparent time. The choices we delinatate are portended as arbitrary where instead they are full of voice, individuality, free expression, and lifetimes of experience that we have incorporated into our being. 

Through an auxiliary absence of detention of a form of prosperity of reason and unseasoned neglect of negative attributes, we can reframe the teaching of constitutions of individual balance and proper power sharing. Through the relinquishment of the negative attributes we can share time as a hallowed space made only for the soft distribution of shared experiences and learning behaviors that form sentimental reason that aids in the restitution of the unformulated expression of anti-violence in all its mass and presencing transpositional repairs. Choice and power and the fundamental instructional turns that negotiate between a past of continued violence and violence-narratives or a future of post-violence space and place that dictates to no one is clearly what lies between the balcony of our structured presence. There is peace in not soft power, but soft time.

Painting: Helen Frankenthaler, Book of Clouds, 2007