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Sometimes I struggle to live a post life.

By ‘post’ I refer to ideas like postmodernism and poststructuralism, but I prefer to blur these together and just use ‘post’ to refer to what I think of as their ‘central view’1. For me, post is about rejecting totalising and universalising perspectives, i.e. perspectives which present themselves as showing the entirety of a particular thing, and/or claim that their view of a thing holds in all possible settings. This idea is not unique to ‘the posts’, of which postmodernism and poststructuralism are perhaps the two most well known, but it’s the way I was introduced to this idea, so that’s the language I use.

My post life is thus one where there is no complete identity or self. I am many things to many people, and I am never all of them at once in the same place. It would be more accurate to say that I live many lives, rather than a single life. To describe my life as post is to accept this as part of my lived experience. Despite this, the pull towards ‘integration’, towards trying to live a complete life and bring all of my self to every thing I do, has been a powerful one throughout my time on Earth.

One part of my lives is that I have ADHD. This year I started doing more research on ADHD and I came across a talk by Russell Barkley. In one section he describes ADHD as ‘time blindness’2. I cried the first time I head that section of his talk. I felt ‘seen’. I have terrible memory recall. I struggle to remember what I did earlier today, or this time last week, or that conversation I had with a friend last month, and so on. Is it any wonder that I have a post life? It’s not just a symptom of the Information Society, it’s also a symptom of the very fabric of my brain.

I’m also someone who’s simultaneously conflict-avoidant, but loves being on the boundary of different perspectives. I’m an anarchist and a Civil Servant. One of my favourite political essays is Leszek Kolakowski’s “How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist”3. Although I can see value in or resonate with multiple perspectives or approaches, sometimes they are in conflict with each other, and I seem to internalise those tensions. As a result I find it hard to describe myself in ways that don’t feel instrumental, and hard to know my values. I never feel like I’ve ‘figured it out’ and I’m ‘doing the right thing’ with my life or my time.

I’m also drawn toward action, and I often find myself coming up with answers before I have a question. Most of my ideas and my projects are driven by this approach of having an idea or wanting a thing to exist and then doing it. As I’ve started my PhD, I’ve started to see the power of questions. Questions are like fences for scoping out some area of unexplored territory, whereas answers are like partial snapshots of what’s in an area. Questions and answers can overlap, and they are both important. Questioning and answering are also both processes. So you can make a question, and then use that to design a way to answer it, then answer it, and then ask more questions. Or you can start with an ‘answer’ and ‘just do something’, and then see what questions that creates, and then try to answer those. It’s a back and forth process where questions and answers shape each other.

What I’m not wondering is, if I’m always coming up with fleeting answers, what are the questions? Are there questions which can help me to pull together some of the different answers I want to work on, or the different parts of / my selves? A good example is my PhD and my theories on money abolition4. At first they don’t seem to be related at all, but they’re both motivated by a desire for liberation and anarchy. I need to spend some time thinking about the ‘questions’ which motivate me and my interests, and see what they tell me about my lives.

  1. Yes this is something of a contradiction. 

  2. Russell A. Barkley, “30 Essential Ideas you should know about ADHD, 5A ADHD is Time Blindness “. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmV8HQUuPEk 

  3. Leszek Kolakowski, “How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist”. https://web.archive.org/web/20090808211314/http://www.mrbauld.com/conlibsoc.html 

  4. See abolish-money for an old essay on this.