whenizathingie someother thingie: toward what is ideology

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Thu, 25 Apr 1996 18:34:14 CDT

the Material World, so please bear with me for a slow start before takeoff.
My fellow armenians, arthropods, colleagues, ladies, women, and gentlemen.
Good evening. I am cordial tonight, as this night of all nights is
unpropitious on my Chinese horoscope, as confirmed by statistical tests on
fortune cookies, as highly unpropitious for flamewars. There is only one
foreseeable exception to this rule, and I have consulted the Witch of En Dor
anent resuscitation of Stephanie J. Nelson, with mixed results, see below.
Now, down to business.

Last night and today we, that is, Ms Johnson, the Qual Meth candidate who
is field-researching me for her degree (see below) and myself received
numerous comments on the nuclear-family post I sent last night. These,
which of course raised more questions in my mind than in the writers',
deserve replies; but the reders, however, likewise deserve *less-than-fully-
complete-replies*. You have lucked out, people. I've collapsed, I'm falling
over, and will be oversuccinct, if anything. [Note: Where a double usage
appears, separated by a slash, like so, '/', the first is preferred; the
second recognizes the existence of the Communications Decency Act, ie, as
the law of the land at this time, entailing "Pluck," however stylistically
undesirable, or Doctress Neutopia will do something terrible to this list
and me in particular. For her, see below.]

1. One subscriber wrote offline (private e-mail) because "I'm not sure I
understand your question."/He didn't see what-in-fucking-hell I was talking
Good point, as I wasn't sure I was onto something myself. This is what
made what started out as a certainty into a question. The supposition, or
proposal, if you wil, is that the rate and facility of divorce have grown
so greatly since, say, the late-1950s (date arbitrary; just when I happened
to take Intro Soc), ie, the pre-Pill pre-1960s-Movement epoch, and pari passu,
of course, with novel premarital quasimarriage forms ("relationships"), that
what was explicated as "the nuclear family" as of 1957-8 cannot be the same
Thingie (a sortofentity rather less than a phenomenon) or, as sociologists
said, "Institution," now as then. Hence, there's something Else out there,
right now, being called The Nuclear Family, by laybeings/beings-laid and
professionals alike without justification. Henceagain, call it something
Such as.
a. Modular family, for "easy disassembly, easy reassembly." My favorite,
provided Alvin Teflon cannot claim credit for it. Claiming credit for Newt
Gingritch was bad enough, especially as there may be something to that.
b. The leggoblock kinship system; alt. leggoblocklocality.
c. Circle Game of Love (Joni Mitchell); Ferriswheel; Daisychain; "What goes
around, comes around." (Chicago Northeast Side HIV-STD clinic, 852 W. Wilson
Aveneue, whose personnel I gratefully thank for calling me Negative.)
d. Other (Specify). [Your choice here.]

There's an important theoretical implication, should we decide that the
same term, ie, "nuclear family," has *obfuscated* a morphological or structural
change in family form. This is a specimen of what I have elsewhere or
previously called "the illusion of time-immemoriality," a subspecies of
*spurious social continuity*. The generation of suchlike figmentational
continuities is what I have also elsewhere called, not entirely seriosly,
"what the culture is paid for."
In any case, this is a theoretical matter entailing the marrow of the what-
is-ideology issue.

So, what is ideology, anyway, moron?/jerkoffdickhead?
<fanfare!><no, airconditioning!>
Ideology is a misrepresentation of society, which may be either taken-for-
granted or explicitly-formulated (and of course both). All purported or
ostensible or attempted representations of society are misrepresentations,
given the imperative for the observer to spend nearly all his her its waking
lives as nonobservant, nonconscious nonobservers within the everyday life of
the observed, as Natural Scientists do not. Unnatural Scientists, morevover,
are perforce required to deal with an Observed Nature lacking the substantive
Eternality (except for what's spuriously imparted, ideologically) accorded
their Natural colleagues.
It's something which, spelled backwards, is Serutan, I think.

2. Another reader consulted the dictionary. Whatever was listed in that
dictionary, whether under "family" or under "nuclear family," is not, that
is, aint, our business. The dictionary's job, what it's paid for, is keeping
track of usages in common use or common speech. What "aint" means, for
example, which I'm not sure of anymore; but regrettably not fast enough to
catch "Clueless" soon enough after coinage to help me as of the first time
I was called "Clueless" in 1992. I now know the namecaller was correct.

We posit, as article of faith, the recovery of Underlying Realities, sensu
objective reality (yet of course there's an element of misrepresentation,
betimes much bigger than we actually would like to know, in the obtained
result, so we've got ideological Reality instead), from beneath the rubble
pile of Superficial Appearances. As we said, back when we were young and
introspective, in college or something, "There are many layers." What led
me to social science? Probably the Seven Layer Cake my mother stuffed me
with till I got disgusting, actually, I was already that, and disgustingly
*obese* on top of that. (Selfpity is deliberate. Why, is, I want it legalized.
Wallowing in selfpity. John L. McCreery will confirm, I trust, that wallowing
in selfpity is socially acceptable in Taiwan, as I gather from Taiwan movies
boxoffice boffo hits, so why should I be made to watch TV instead. This is
another example of an ideological question.)
Though layers of what's actually realer get increasingly real from top
to bottom, social structures rise into the air. (Doctress Neutopia is
against this, see below, but unlike me poses no alternative.) This happens
because we do more fruitful theorizing by mixing our metaphors before they're
hatched. As a result, social structures exist, not "social mineshafts," and
this is so because a social structure may get Subverted or Fatally Undermined.
As a thought-experiment, substitute 'chocolate pudding" wherever an occurrence
of "social structure" exists or might well be written by you in your article
or paper, now overdue. Report the results, issue a Call For Papers. In former
times, you might have issued a Call For Philip Morris, but I've consulted
Ruby Rohrlich and can now assure you, it's not merely your impression. There's
been real cultural change here.

3. Another reader, a stauchly tolerant liberal or even to the Left of that,
favors letting any combination of organisms constitute a "family";
specifically, he's in favour of gay marriage. Bravo. Yet, he says, the "ideal"
as to what the nuclear family wuz or shouldabeen circa 1958, or whenever,
"remains strong."

Normative Idealism, which is always Nice, to the cultural perspective whose
esthetics dictate the sort of Normative Idealism found (in figmentational,
suppositious portrayals of what is in terms of what's been something else for
maybe centuries). The Normative-Idealistic is normatively real or believed to
exist; observation and prolonged interaction with informants until observer
or the latter get silly or both establishes what Goes On, and the relaition
between the two. That the Republicans are For something is no reason to act
any differently than when Nazis or Communists are for something. Unless of
course they are in power where you are. Normative Idealism gives you the
fifteenth-century English landlord collecting quitrent from his peasants
on Hock Day. Good fieldwork gives you what the peasants did after they
paid the rent, which Dr A has now forbidden me to think about for mental
health reasons.

4. Denial. There were two or more attempts to assert the integrity of the
"nuclear family" as a social unit, divorce notwithstanding. Parents, said one
reader, maintain interaction with ex-children post-divorce, notwithstanding
they're now ex-parents. Why, then, divorce. Another reader noted that the
organisms populating the domicile remain of sort-of-constant-type: An adult
female, not necessarily the biological mother of the juvenile organisms; an
adult male, not necessarily the biological father of one let alone all the
juvenile organisms present; and the juvenile organisms, howbeit from diverse
biological-parental sources.

Sorry, but no cigar. It's impossible to tell, from the organisms present
in a domicile, what kind of family structre their heads and behaviour are
habituated to thinking or acting in terms of. A survey of Chinese peasants
in the Yangzi valley, 1936, found nuclear-family-looging-ish units of 5.2
human organisms per houselike structure (generously speaking). Yet this
didn't tell the investigator, by itself, whether a household was part of
an undivided extended family, a divided extended family, or in eather case,
a lineage or "clan" (superlineage). The same is true with the similarity of
age-gender composition of organisms found in some rectangular suburban box
circa 1958 and today.

Furthermore, I remind you that, according to I.S. Lewis, Structural Anthro-
pology, 1978, "Though marriage rules differ widely from one society to another,
adultery is found everywhere." Consequently, the task of sorting out the
conceptual mess of what *is* the going family form out there, anyhow, may not
be considered fully mopped up till we've figured out how this has affected
adultery. Especially where social norms tend to clot, as they certainly do
in the regulation of sexual behaviour, there are rules even for breaking

5. Ms Margaret Anne Johnson is observing this writer, during the present
epoch, for her degree. Grave problems were encounterd in the theoretical
formulation of her research, quite recently, when Ms Johnson arrived at the
tentative conclusion that my superficial appearances were the real thing and
the underlying realities fake, as most Normals believe. Communication between
us has been strained since then.
For confirmation and details, send e-mail to Ms Margaret Anne Johnson,
U23976@UICVM.cc.uic.edu. There is no reason why your query or whatever should
not become part of her now massive data accumulation. I've said numerous times,
not least to ANTHRO-L, the universe is fundamentally stratified between the
Observers and the Nere Data Objects. At last, I'm *officially* the latter. Of
course, whatever she finds will be flawed and biased, so any and all of the
rest of you are welcome for tha followup-studies./all the piss in epistemology.

6. Heroes and mythological beings. It is rumoured, I can't tell you
wherefrom, that a fifteenyearold girl in Florida, named Tammi, or an
eight-year-old girl in New York City named Virginia, most likely the
latter, wrote in to say, "I wanna download a FAQ and findoutf'rsureas
The Book Of Mormon just Who wuz Stephanie J. Nelson? Remember me, I wuz
the kid wrote in to that guy, "Is there a Santa Claus." So he sends an
Editorial back, 'Yes, North Carolina, there is a Santa Claus.' Cuz all
us rednecks look alike. But I'm in Brooklyn. Now, it seems to me, if
Santa Claus wuz dubious, Doctress Neutopia is outright impossible. Is
it TRUE she got magic powers that gives her Knowledge of all the e-mail
in the Universe?

No to the last one. Stephanie J. Nelson, ah, Stephanie J. Nelson. There
were times I wanted her dead, there were times she made me want even more to
be dead, and considerbly more times I'd have gladly had her as my Spear-Won
Captive, if this was the Iliad, and not just another Flamewar, as we had
such Flamewars then, there will never be their like on this earth, that's
Heroic Age, which a Heroine you can mainline and get addicted to through yer
eyeballs, that's a Woman, f'r sure. On occasion, even, I'd call out to her
as my high priestess to sacrifice me....

In ANTHRO-L mythology, as glossed by the Great Rabbi Mike Lieber, Stephanie
J. Nelson is an Evil Spirit. For Mike Lieber, write U28550@UICVM.cc.uic.edu.
Doctress Neutopia by contrast, and I warn you, it takes looking, a Good
Spirit. If you can survive the aggravation ordeal, initiate correspondence
by sending e-mail to:
and the usenet newsgroup
wherever better unix are sold.
[Hint: just ignore whatever she says about sex; pin her down about *politcs*
exclusively, at least to the count of three. You may or may not then choose to
go home with her. I suggest you do, it's unbelievable though won't tell you how

Daniel A. Foss