Saturday, January 7, 2012


Blogging really is an art form, or able to be an art form, an improvisatory one, and risky in a figurative way--verbally acrobatic: you go up without a net, you may lay a net down while you're in the air. I felt this with what started out to be a shallowly clever post about Clinton the black president and Obama the Jewish president. I wanted a nice link for the Clinton part, found Toni Morrison, and saw something that wasn't shallow, the idea of defining Clinton's metaphorical blackness in terms of his metaphorical persecution, which then applied pari passu to the metaphorically Jewish, persecuted Obama.

None other than Thers, as it happened, was thinking about a related issue, the distinct kinds of hatred projected by right-wingers on the First Ladies, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, and these fit a kind of mirror image of the schema: Michelle is hated with the classical anti-black racism, in exclusive terms of her body, and Hillary in the pattern of anti-Semitism, in terms of her supposedly calculating and conspiratorial mind. Now the idea starts to get pretty serious.

A famous idea from structural anthropology is that of the floating signifier, the sign-object detached from its meaning but still pregnant with a kind of meaningfulness that you can't grasp, like the figures in surrealist painting, or clever advertising. Is this a case of a floating signified, a content wandering from expression to expression, racism from race to race?

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