“Monogamy is a way of getting the versions of ourselves down to the minimum.”
― Adam Phillips, Monogamy
Identity is the Ur-form of ideology
–Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics
Talking to Douglas Lain this afternoon while grading papers, he was explaining some of his ideas on over-identification. I won’t share them as he is writing an essay, and while I may an accidental plagarist, I am generally not that much of an asshole to friends. It occured to me, however, that there is a relationship between under-determination and over-identification.
I suppose this is obvious: the way people who need to reduce causes into narratives that simple and have single factor origins. We see this trend in science–ignoring, of course, that social sciences actually use similar controls as “base” sciences but the not of factors that can be correlating or even playing casual role in a complex social development may not be reducible to single factors for which one can control. We definitely see this in political identify.
Over-identification can be anything by which we try to sure up our self image, reducing cogntive dissoance, and make our lives more coherent than they are. For whatever reason, and I will leave this to more speculative anthropological psychology, we feel the need for coherence to imply both narrative and consistency, and identifying with this narrative of the self seems vital to our view of the world.
One thinks of the tendency to idealize and demonization lovers–often the former flipping easily into the latter. One thinks of David Horowitz going from Maoist to hyper-conservative. The reduction of ideas to simple narratives–understandable, and generally wrong–plays into the an attempt to derive an identity.
The question becomes if we admit that over-determination of social events explains more than reduction, what do we have defining “us” as “radicals”?