6 Jan 2009

African Fractal Deconstruction

by Corry Shores
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[The following are book reviews in service of devising a post-structuralist, African-fractal colonial resistance.]

Texts: Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind; Parkin, Semantic Anthropology;

Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance

Our review of these texts will serve to preview an appendixed further development of the themes of cultural semiology and their related methods and critical perspectives on colonial power resistance. We read these texts to seek out indications of a post-structuralist cultural semiology, looking in particular for passages that could help us evaluate the difference in potential efficacy between a Derridean deconstructionist method of resistance and one that alters symbolic power structures with more fluidity, internal integration, and stealth. We will rely in part on the texts at hand, and other related ones to more fully explicate these terms from a post-structuralist cultural viewpoint.

In The Savage Mind, Lévi-Strauss takes up his critical method to find structural relationships in cultural practices and beliefs, treating of them as sites of symbolic condensation in a complex system of relations. This method serves him to demonstrate that the complexities of “savage” culture are so rich and extensive as to call into question their denigration as “savage.” He offers a broad range of examples to show that “savage” languages are no less detailed, complex, and capable of making nuanced distinctions (Lévi-Strauss 1966: 3-8), and many of which even go beyond practical purposes to satisfy intellectual curiosities (9). Their thinking is founded on a “demand for order,” and the exhaustive systematizing they employ often leads to scientifically valid results (10); as in the case of magical thought, which rather than serving to be a rudimentary science, is instead a mode of knowledge acquisition paralleling science (13), and also in the case of “savage” techniques in agriculture, animal husbandry, and metallurgy, which suggest a scientific attitude (14). Even myths and rites do not “turn their back on reality” because they are a “starting point of a speculative organization and exploitation of the sensible world in sensible terms” (16).

He elaborates further these observations on technology with his notion of bricolage, which will serve to explicate our more post-structuralist considerations that we develop later. The older sense of the term indicated a straying or swerving that avoids obstacles, and its current form of “bricoleur” means “someone who works with his hands and uses devious means compared to those of a craftsman” (16-17). The bricoleur must “make do” with whatever resources that might be “at hand” and that have been left over from past projects, and use them in new creative ways on current and future projects (17); likewise, mythical thought, as an “intellectual bricolage,” must use a limited “heterogeneous repertoire” (16) to build up “structured sets, not directly with other structured sets but by using the remains and debris of events,” that are “fossilized evidence of the history of an individual society” (21-22).

By such an improvisatory method, the mythical thinking, art, rites, and games of “savage” peoples constitutes objects and events in their world (26-33). Their logical thinking, as well, makes use of terms that are “odds and ends left over from psychological processes,” but yet are still “condensed relations” with semantic invariance as well (35-36). Such a logical system is like a kaleidoscope, in which the fragments come about through a process of breaking up while also remaining “homologous in various respects” and patterned (36); and they possess a “polyvalent nature” that appeals to “several, formally distinct types of connection at the same time,” and that may “work on several axes at the same time” (63), because “each species can take on more than one role in the symbolic system” (64). Also, the contents of totemic systems of classification cannot be easily reified, because they are really more of a means for “assimilating any kind of content” (75-6), and these systems provide “the basis of an ethic which prescribes or prohibits modes of behavior” (97), which serves to secure “the interlocking of social groups with one another” (109).

These totemic systems often have an organic structure with the “internal dynamic” of “being a collection poised between two systems:” as an operator, the species allows and obliges the “passage from the unity of a multiplicity to the diversity of a unity” (136), on account of the “logical dynamism” (153) of its “twofold movement” that can “widen its net upwards” to higher level categories or “contract downwards” to proper names (149); and thus multiplicity is filtered through unity and vice versa, and diversity through identity and vice versa (153); this complex structure, then, consists of an “anatomical detotalization” and an “organic retotalization” (169). The logic of these systems also functions on the local level, even if not universally, because it is constituted by the “intelligibility of the relation between two immediately associated terms,” which may not hold for all links in the “semantic chain” (161), and thus has a coherence without an overarching “logos.” Thus, “the logic of the system need not, therefore, coincide at every point with the set of local logics inserted in it. This general logic can be of a different order” (161-162).

This sort treatment of cultures as operating like linguistic systems is taken up in the collection of articles in Semantic Anthropology, which as well maintain that “society is language” (Parkin 1982: xi), and which also further the post-structuralist perspective we would like to explore. We adopt, then, such perspectives as: the hermeneutic circularity of cultural and historical context interpretation, where interpreting the whole presupposes an understanding of the parts, and vice versa, and thus we must enter at an arbitrary point and “believe” in it (xxii), the mutual contamination of the linguistic and the material (xxiv), the regarding habitas as an “on-going process of play and experimentation, punctuated by apparent moments of orderliness” (xxvi), the impossibility of designating rules for language on account of its pervasive complexity (xxvi), the non-propositional nature of our understanding of the world, which makes performative language, imagination, and metaphor better means to grasp the world than formal logic (xxvii), the breakdown of subject-object relations that hinder our understanding of other worlds (xxxiv), the Derridean viewpoint that text, which we are taking to constitute society, is always dynamically interpretable wordplay, his deconstructionist tactic of de-centering and abolition of the “transcendental signified,” and his critique of the metaphysics of presence (xlv), the creative role that people play in their interpretations and significatory acts that constitute culture (xlvc), and the de-hierarchization of the anthropologist and her “other” (Crick 1982: 25).

Thus, this post-structuralist perspective takes up a more complex and indeterminate sense of the linguistic structure that constitutes society. In this perspective, the signifier does not substitute its signified; rather they mutually supplement each other (Hobart 1982: 52). The cultural texts we interpret are likewise non-hierarchized, and thus interpretation involves a “merger of horizons” so that “the viewpoints of self and other progressively overlap and understanding is achieved” (Salmond 1982: 74). In this way – rather than taking up the “realist” perspective of Lévi-Strauss and others like him, who create a “model” of an “independent reality” (Gudeman & Penn 1982: 89), which is thus akin to a “universal model” that presupposes “the existence of a single, monolithic and comprehensive ‘logic’ of social activity” (92) and that strives to find “‘underlying principles’ or ‘sources’” (94) – we might instead take up “local models,” which are more like collage: each one has its particularity “built as it is out of disparate codes and things, without a given form” (100). Unlike universal models, which represent something independent to them, local models are “constructions of reality;” no objective world stands outside them, only other models do (100), and rather than possessing a “clean, deductive form,” they contain an “‘irrational’ fissure” (101). The adoption of such models serves our task of interpreting and understanding “otherness” (Tonkin 1982: 108), and is based on the nature of meaning, which is not univocally set, because different modes of meaning are found in different domains of meaning (113); thus “linear and structural models are incompetent to analyze the displacing character of meaning” (118) that we presuppose in our post-structuralist perspective. And, meaning is not a “gloss on reality” but is rather “reality itself” (Chapman 1982: 141). If we were to seek out the “laws” of such meaning structures, we need also take note of the “rules” for changing rules (Hastrup 1982: 149). Our efforts to find some semblance of a unity in these systems of social meaning require that we see its constituent “variety,” oftentimes including “incompatible ideologies and beliefs perceived in the systems ‘on the ground,’ which are not “deviations from an assumed ‘norm’” (Williams 1982: 163). In this plurivocal structure, we are all interconnected in a “world of intersubjective understandings” (Sansom 1982: 193). Even from a Fregean perspective we find such a plurivocal semiotic structure, because a signifier can have the same referent while also having a different sense (Barnes 1982: 213), thus Venus, as the evening star or “Hesperus,” is also the morning star or “Phosphorus,” and they derive their different “senses” from their place in the complex relational network of meanings, which in this case are partly constituted mythologically. With this capacity for terms to bear multiple senses, proper names – contrary to Lévi-Strauss’ contention – can “resonate” with meanings (Willis 1982: 237). This plurivocity also leaves room for variegated interpretations of the same cultural sites of meaning condensation, as not only in cases of spirit communication (Irvine 1982: 243-244), but also to all cases of communication (258). Thus the same event can be ascribed different meanings depending on the nature of the hermeneutic dynamics and the cultural context (Milton 1982: 274). What also varies between cultures is the sense and meaning of “number” (Crump 1982: 284). Unlike Western mathematics' “successor function,” which is the principle by which an infinitely iterative sequence of natural numbers is generated without numerical gaps or inconsistencies, “pre-literate” cultures have other ways of conceiving number without the use of mathematical induction (280). We will explore further in the appendix the wondrous fractal arithmetical thinking of African cultures and its potential as a basis for an organized social resistance movement.

Thus we should first explore the topic of social resistance, which we here undertake in James Scott’s Domination and the Arts of Resistance, in where he distinguishes public transcript, the “open interaction between subordinates and those who dominate” that is “unlikely to tell the whole story about power relations” (Scott 1990: 2) and that is the “‘self portrait’ of dominant elites as they would have themselves seen” (18), from the hidden transcript, the “discourse that takes place ‘offstage,’ beyond direct observation by power holders,” consisting of “those offstage speeches, gestures, and practices that confirm, contradict, or inflect what appears in the public transcript” (4-5). Because power holders retain their power by eliminating dissent, subordinated groups must hide their insubordinate intentions, because the “art of dissimulation is so necessary to life” for a repressed social group (2-3), and thus power relations are never straightforward (5), but are rather “encounters” of the public transcript and the hidden transcript (13).

These encounters can take 4 forms: a) making the hidden transcript public through direct confrontation, b) taking up the “flattering self-image of elites,” c) keeping the hidden transcript hidden offstage, or d) taking up a posture strategically between b and c, which is a “politics of disguise and anonymity that takes place in public view but is designed to have a double meaning or to shield the identity of the actors,” as for example, rumors, gossip, folktales, jokes, songs, rituals, codes, and euphemisms (18-19). Thus, through the “artful practice” of subordinate groups, the “theatre of power” can be an “actual political resource” for them as well (34).

The dynamic of oppression and resistance is a necessary product of domination, which, in order to persist, must maintain the balance with the resultant resistance forces through the “symbolization of domination by demonstrations and enactments of power” (45), as in the case of displays and rituals of power (48), whose mere show is effective, because in the symbolic realm of power relations, “appearances do matter” (49). Thus the appearances created by euphemisms and stigmas in the public transcript are tools for both dominant and subordinate groups (54); for the power holders may disguise their oppressive intentions with certain euphemisms while demoralizing the subordinate culture with stigmatized language; and likewise, subordinate groups may find the ways that the inaccuracies of the euphemisms and stigmas can serve to turn the tables on the dominant groups. However, much of the time, subordinate groups succumb to the prejudices of the public transcript in order to better their situation, which is a reward offered by the dominant groups for their affirmation of the symbolic structure maintaining the asymmetrical power relation between them (58).

Subordinate groups, then, threaten the symbolic power structure when they carry out such rituals of subordination as unauthorized gatherings (65). Subordinate groups have other imaginative means of making use of their hidden transcript, as in stories that portray a total reversal of power relations: a king suddenly falling to the lowest station in society, for example. These seemingly harmless cultural contributions to the hidden transcript allow subordinate groups to avoid deadly open confrontation with dominant groups, and thus constitutes resistance in “disguise” (86) that allows their resistance to escape detection (87).

As noted, hidden resistance is a necessary consequence of the “claim to privilege” of the power holding elite (103), whose “rationale for inequality” also “creates a potential zone of dirty linen that, if exposed, would contradict the pretensions of legitimate domination;” and thus each “publicly given justification for inequality” also “marks out a kind of symbolic Achilles heel where the elite is especially vulnerable” (105), and its these symbolic vulnerabilities that subordinate groups may exploit in their hidden transcripts.

These hidden transcripts bear the “forms of negation,” that if were explicit in the public transcript would constitute acts of rebellion; thus hidden transcripts remain always substitutes for openly defiant acts (115). Nonetheless, this does not diminish their efficacy in resistance, for they have the advantage of going undetected. For example, “onstage” Christianity preaches New Testament passages about the virtues of meekness and turning the other check, which serves the interests of those in power; however, offstage Christianity stresses the themes of “deliverance and redemption, Moses and the Promised Land, the Egyptian captivity, and emancipation” (116), which are legitimate and conventional Christian principles, yet ones that serve instead the interests of subordinated groups. We see then that secure sites for hidden transcripts need not always require physical distance from dominant power forces, so long as subordinate groups employ “linguistic codes” that are “opaque” to dominant power holders (121). In fact, dissidents may “foster a high degree of conformity” to conventional standards so that they may in turn “violate dominant norms” (129), which can take place as acts of folk cultural insubordination that are “sufficiently indirect and garbled that it is capable of two readings, one of which is innocuous” (157); as for example, American political satirist, Steve Colbert, who’s comedic routine consists of exaggerating the power structure’s rhetoric and the American media’s willingness to convey it, which deceived the organizers of the White House Correspondent's dinner into believing he was unthreatening to the Bush administration and their compliant media, when instead he made a complete mockery of them all during his performance by projecting back their very own rhetorical contrivances that normally serve to create the symbolic illusion of their dominance, perfection, and integrity. We will look in more detail in the deconstructive movement of iteration and “miming” in the appendix.

As well, subordinates may ironically exaggerate their submissiveness to express a “tone of aggression,” or feign ignorance to get out of trouble by taking up the very same stigmas that normally serve to their disadvantage (132-133); and they have such cultural outlets for symbolic subversion, as in the case of the carnival, in which speech is uninhibited and hierarchies are inverted (173), and also oral discourse, which disseminates dissenting ideas anonymously and without paper record (161). Thus in ways like these, subordinate groups find ways of conveying their message all while remaining lawful, which requires a creative and experimental “spirit” that seeks out “loopholes, ambiguities, silences, and lapses” in a way that remains always at the “very perimeter of what the authorities are obliged to permit or unable to prevent” (138-139), but that “probes” the other side to test and push the limits of the perimeter (193). In this way, if a hidden transcript strategically presses “against the limit of what is permitted on stage,” then instead of an “outright rupture” of defiance and reaction, there is merely a slight breach of the limit, which if goes unpunished, will encourage others to also exploit that fissure, thereby pushing the de facto limit further outward (196).

Appendixed Continuance:

Deconstructive vs. Fluid Alterational Resistance

We take up here further elaborations on post-structuralist semiological anthropology to better determine how the unstable and complex nature of language can serve the interests of subordinate groups. Because groups are subordinated through the symbolic system, power is a product of the “imagination and a facet of human creativity” (Arens & Karp 1989: xii), and power comes about through “unequal access to semantic creativity” (xiv); thus even public ritual and dance can manifest power (xxii). Power struggles, then, are waged “between different discourses, different definitions and meanings” and thus are struggles lying within sites of meaning condensation, including even the “most mundane areas of everyday life” (Jean Comaroff 1985: 190). We look, then, at the nature of language as a constituent to culture dynamics, the ways it manifests on all levels of life, and how the principles involved in these manifestations may serve to articulate effective strategies of resistance, which all members of subordinate groups may take up, as contributors to the symbolic dynamism constituting social power relations.

As we noted in our treatment of Lévi-Strauss, the “terms” of social constructions are the “odds and ends, remains and debris” of bricolage (Hunt 1999: 11-12), the associations of which can become “novel” with each ritual construction (Jean Comaroff 1985: 197). Thus the constituents of social meaning are neither pre-determined, univocal, nor permanent. What we find instead is a dynamism in language (De Boek 1994: 453); and as well, we find that colonial power discourse is rife with uncertainties and ambiguities” (Wolputte 2004: 168). As a result of these instabilities in the dynamism of language, “subversive bricolages” can deconstruct “existing syntagmatic chains, to disrupt paradigmatic associations and, therefore, to undermine the very coherence of the system they contest,” because “purposive reconstructions invariably work with images which already bear meaning; and the latter itself comes to be built into the novel system, for signs are never transparent and innovations are always partial” (Jean Comaroff 1985: 197-198).

We take up, then, an elaboration of this deconstructive dynamic as Derrida accounts for it. For him, this “always partial” nature of language stems in part from a constitutive “fracture” in the structurality of signification (Derrida 1998: 97), which brings the fractured “mark” in “intimate relation” with its outside, open to its exteriority and thus what is not its own (1973: 86). This exterior other is “supplementary” and it shapes and shifts the play of presence and absence (1976: 167), and in the supplementary movement of différance, one sign or “organ of expression” substitutes or replaces another (248), because new marks move upon or re-mark other marks. Yet, because each mark itself is a re-mark, Derrida will say that the “substitute is substituted for a substitute” (314) and that the “signifier first signifies a signifier” and not an immediately present thing or signified (237). In the “structurality” of this structure, the “disruption” of supplementary marks that re-mark other marks is “repetition in every sense of the word” (1978: 280), and repetition in Derrida's sense is differential repetition. As we will explore later, the structurality of language is governed by the “desire for a center” which is responsible for substitutions and displacements for this never present center which has been “exiled from itself into its own substitute,” which itself does not substitute something existing before it (280). This supplementary movement of re-marking is the differential repetition, or what Derrida calls “iteration,” and elsewhere “miming,” which has the complex structurality of a repetition of alterity which “structures the mark of writing itself” (1988: 7), because “meaning” depends on an “irreducible relation to otherness” (Gashé 1986: 272). Thus signification is only possible on account of its being repeated in the absence of a referent or signified, and of a receiver, and is thus constituted by “chains of differential marks” (Derrida 1988b: 10). The re-marking re-marks “leave their mark in the mark,” and in yet an even more complex way, they “remark the mark in advance,” because re-marks themselves constitute part of the mark itself (1988a: 50). Thus on account of the structure of the iterability of language, a re-mark should be able to re-mark “as though it were the first time” (50), because the movement of re-marking is not one of a linear chain, but one of originarity; for, each mark is already a re-mark, and each mark as re-mark is already both re-marking and re-marked. Yet, along with the movement of supplementarity’s re-marking, there is also the movement of erasure, both together making the double movement of trace, because this structure of writing “carries within itself (counts-discounts) the process of its own erasure and annulation, all the while marking what remains of this erasure” (1981: 68). As a double movement of supplementarity and erasure, the dynamic of language is one of perpetually unstable genesis.

This double movement can be taken up as a “strategy” as well, which can have applications in social resistance. On the one hand, deconstruction overturns the hierarchy of a text’s oppositions, which “brings low what was high, and the irruptive emergence of a new ‘concept,’” which “can no longer be, and never could be, included in the previous regime” (42). Thus on the other hand, in the deconstructive double-movement, one inscribes within the text “undecidables,” which are “unities of simulacrum” that do not fit within their inscribed system of hierarchical oppositions, and which also are not sublated from them as in dialectical synthesis (42). These two facets of the double movement are neither successive nor simultaneous, but make up a composite motion, that is already at work in language, but which can be taken up as well as an effective strategy for overturning hierarchical relations in symbolic systems by exploiting their unstable, undecidable structure; and if power relations are constituted by such symbolic relations, then deconstruction could also serve to counteract the symbolic order that keeps subordinate groups at the mercy of their oppressors.

We might, then, consider the case of Arthur Mumby and Hannah Cullwick in terms of a deconstructive strategy. In this case, Cullwick overturned power relations by taking up the symbols and appearances of all social classes (McClintock 1996: 173) in a way that deconstructed the hierarchical order between them by exploiting the constitutive symbolic fracture of this order. By wearing the slave band (151), she inscribed into the seemingly fixed and established mark – whose inscription by those in power was intended to maintain domination over her class – a re-iterated yet differential re-mark. This similar re-mark exploited the fracture between master and slave, whose distinction is based on the master having more liberties than the slave, by overturning this hierarchy by wearing it with pride and even when unnecessary and inappropriate to do so, which made the statement that she was in fact the one at greater liberty; and also, as being “enslaved” by Mumby, she enslaved him by being in symbolic control of his desire to be in control of her. Likewise, when subordinate groups preach the gospel’s message of liberation, they inscribe into the conventional marks of the Bible, which are normally used to oppress subordinate groups with pacifying messages, a similar mark already found in that Bible that stands as a legitimate message to preach, but which overturns the symbolic hierarchy that the power holders hoped to keep fixed.

Such a deconstructionist tactic is based on a semiology that regards the movement of language to be a “violent” one (Derrida 1981: 89), on account of alien marks’ repeated breaching of the constituent fracture in signs. Yet, an anthropological semiological perspective seeking an effective form of resistance may find even this tactic to be too confrontational to be an effective overall strategy, and may rather seek out a more “hidden” textual means of resistance not based on violent alterations stemming from relations of absolute difference, but instead one with more flow of continuity and indetectability stemming from more of an interrelational semiological structure.

For such a structure, we draw from Heidegger's account of the network of signs as being one of a pervasive web of inter-referential inter-relations that constitutes all the things in our world as well (Heidegger 1962: 107-122). We are members of this symbolically constituted world, and on account of our thorough inter-relating and co-constituting with the other beings around us, we should take up a “middle-voiced” Gelassenheit mode of relating, in which we take ourselves neither as subjects or objects, but as co-constituent members of the network (1966: 60). This perspective could perhaps be compatible with the effort to breakdown the subject-object relations that hinder our understanding of other worlds in anthropological investigations (Parkin 1982: xxxiv). But also, I believe, it could help us understand the fluid alterational nature of language dynamics (and also serve to assist in articulating a thorough co-operative effort of resistance.) By being so thoroughly inter-relational, alteration can happen fluidly, because there are no absolute breaks in a relational network. Our meaningful world can be seen as a “fluid and ambiguous” process; because “social life is continuous activity” (Comaroff & Comaroff 1992: 30; 38-39). This fluidity is found in rituals that convert social meaning in a way that blends rather than deconstructs distinctions: In Zionist baptism ceremonies, “former identities” are dissolved as the “circulation of water among the members of the church establishes a fluid unity of spirit that cuts across the social and physical discontinuities of the neocolonial world” (Jean Comaroff 1985: 201). In another Zionist initiation rite, cords made from tree bark are “woven into kilts that contributed to the dynamic transformation of boys into men,” and this transformation of phases comes about through their “ritual intertwining served as an icon of the construction of the social fabric, the ordered interweaving of human beings” (226-227). Rituals such as these effect “transformative” movements in which the participants feel a heightened sense of communitas in which the boundaries between each dissolve through their “fluid integration” by means also of “overlapping sequences which together constitute a cumulative process: within and then between sequences, juxtaposed meanings are contrasted and transformed until the climactic metamorphosis is realized” (231).

Such fluid social integrations and transformations that break down distinctions of difference would seem to bear that “organic” structure Lévi-Strauss describes as the “internal dynamic” of totemic systems which thoroughly integrates the unity with the multiplicity (1966: 136) through a “twofold movement” (149) of “anatomical detotalization” and an “organic retotalization” (169). Such would be the ambiguation between the global and the local, both of which “work off one another,” and neither “makes sense alone” (Fardon 1995: 2). Such a mutually divided and united organic relationality is found in “fractal” structures in which similar forms are found on different scales; these patterns constitute an enormous amount of the structural dynamic of the natural world around us and within us, for both our veins and plant roots, along with patterns in the wind, clouds, water, erosion, bear this fractal structure, in which the local level reflects the global in a way that blurs the distinction between microcosm and macrocosm; and if social relations can be seen this way, then we may make a better case for the fluid model over the deconstructive, because from the fractal perspective, members of a group could each make small undetectable efforts of resistance each in their own different way, while on the whole constituting a greater movement of the same purpose, united organically. This would require taking up an awareness of the fractal dynamics behind micro-macrocosmic relations; as we noted before, different cultures have different sorts of mathematical systems (Crump 1982: 284), and if we may trust Eglash & Odumosu’s observation that African fractal mathematical thinking exists in their indigenous knowledge systems (Eglash & Odumosu 2005: 102), then we may see a promising strategy for dealing with the ecological and political threats to their survival (108).

The authors offer numerous examples of indigenous fractal techniques in architecture and construction, in which, contrary to the Western sense of intentionality, the structures were built across many generations without anyone in charge, yet still a “cohesive fractal pattern” structures the whole village. In the case of Zambian villages in which there is a live-stock pen for each family, the pattern of each unit is reflected on three, if not four, scales.

The chief’s house is the large rear one, and enclosed in his ring is “an alter composed of miniature houses representing the spiritual presence of ancestors;” thus the “scaling sequence allows a kind of infinite regress into the spiritual realm” (103). The fractal patterns are also seen in African textiles, paintings,

sculpture, masks, religious icons, social structures, numeric systems, games, and cosmologies (104).

We wonder, then, with the authors, if the same “bottom-up” self-organizational processes could replace the top-down hierarchical ones that impose order on the people of many post-colonial countries in Africa, given that this sort of thinking is an indigenous sort (107). They note that in Nigeria, many argue for locally-controlled organizations in place of the centralized federal ones (107). They further suggest something like the blurring of the global/local distinction through fractal thinking in their proposal for a solution to the problems with the dichotomous relation between nation and state by suggesting that a “structural reorganization that recognizes the legitimacy of nationhood within the state could preserve the ethnic identities of the multiplicity of people groups in African nations (and thus relive ethnic pressures) while allowing the state to continue to exist as a fractal entity comprised of many nations of differing sizes” (107).

In terms of our question of comparing deconstruction vs. flow resistance, we might see the role of fractal thinking as an effective means of organized resistance to a centralized power. In such a movement of resistance, participating members would take themselves as blurred into a community of other members who help sustain the whole and whose coordinated efforts can bring about an overall coherent structure without any one person holding central control of the movement of resistance or the resulting organization. This way, there is no leadership core for the power holders to detect and eliminate. Also, in such a movement, each member would not need to take drastic overt efforts, because if each member took small undetectable ones, each in her own way, by all bearing the similar and coordinated purpose, they on an organic whole can constitute a far larger effort of a very similar purpose. Each member could contribute in their own way, as the musician making music, artist art, thinker ideas, etc., that when taken apart seem only too vaguely to have rebellious intent, but when all these efforts are in action, a larger such movement can come about. As well, the limit-pushing dynamic we noted before could also take on a fluid nature, if each time the limit is pushed, but only imperceptibly so; for if everyone imperceptibly pushed the limit, the boundary will shift without any detection or person to hold accountable; it will seem to just naturally have moved. In these ways, a fluid alterational, inter-relational, and fractally organized tactic of resistance might perhaps be more effective than a deconstructive one, especially in regard to detectability and cohesion.

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