from professor and author Sylvère Lotringer via Fiona Duncan:
When I started Semiotext(e) (a magazine) I made sure there was a patchwork of people: French, Italians, Germans, Americans, Chinese. Americans especially are difficult to work with in a group. Because, as I said, their subjectivity is such that they have this impossible division: the request of the culture that people stand on their own as individuals, when in fact it is impossible to be an individual because it is the most socialized culture I know in the world. But without any code that sustains it. Everyone has to reinvent themselves in relation to the others to get acceptance and definition from others. It’s very difficult to live on an experiential, individual level. And when you have a group it multiplies. The main focus of the group is to become an individual within the group, not to work on the project; the project become the excuse. You have to create a patchwork that de-emphasizes the coherence of the group, to make holes so that there is air coming in, so the group doesn’t fold into itself.
I’m not American, but this tension between having individuality and being self-reliant while also experiencing intense social pressure exists in Canada as well.
The message is “be yourself and be on your own…but not too much.” How much? “We’ll tell you when you fall out of line.”