The Liar and The Blogger
The line above is taken from a little known Jarmusch film starring Johnny Depp. Its a quirky, funny and at times quite sad Western. Many of my friends think it belongs to the crap genre of movies.
Since there seems to be some discussion on anonymous in blogos, I thought I'll write something. Since I am anonymous. And as I am anonymous, so the dominant discourse says, what I write is irresponsible and criminal. So unread what you read. Because what I write are lies. They are symbols on a black page designed to trick your eyes, play your feelings, deceive you. Because I am a deceitful anonymous blogger.
Lets study the word anonymous. It comes from the Greek word, anonumos, which simply means nameless or more exactly without name. That is the root of the word. The dictionary meaning of anonymous has three different meaning : having an unknown or unacknowledged name. Having an unknown or withheld authorship or agency. Last, having no distinctive or recognisable character.
From its history of meanings, the word "anonymous" has had no ethical or moral value attached to it. From Roman law to its modern tomes, being anonymous is not a crime. To sign off as John Doe or Jane Doe is legally acceptable, at least in some countries. Perhaps if you sign off as X or more recently, V, it is a more sinister form of anonymity. There seems to be a swirling mass of malevolent agendas behind those two anonymous symbols.
But being anonymous has no moral or ethical value attached to it.
No, I am lying because I am anonymous. There has to be a moral and ethical value involved. Being anonymous means you are irresponsible. You are unwilling to stand up for what you assert. You are not honourable. You cannot see the light of day. You belong to the dark side. You are the shadow in the shadows.
But who imputes this moral and ethical value into the meaning of "anonymous"? Is it History? Is it Precedent? Is it Politics? Is it ideology? Is it culture? No. I am spouting more lies. Spinning greater webs of conniving.
Lets have a thought experiment. By putting randomly putting a name "Lionel De Souza" onto an essay means that it is good. It is responsible. It is honorable? Sometimes, a name may have too much power, too much honor, so much so that good judgement is impaired. Remember how MM Lee and PM Lee had to explain in Parliament the problems of property kickbacks because the developer associated the brand name Lee and gave discounts when he should not have done so. Sometimes, having a name brings about irresponsible behaviour too. But that is Lee. How about "Lionel De Souza"? It may be a name but it could be anonymous too because it has no distinctive or recognisable character from whatever it is being spouted by the dominant discourse.
But I am twisting the facts again. Making unsound associations. Because I am anonymous. Because I have withheld authorship and agency in this blog. And this withholding in Singapore is a bad bad thing. Its bad morally because it means I have something to hide. Its bad legally because it means I cannot be held accountable for what I write. Its simply bad that I am withholding my name from you. Bad.
In Singapore, the meaning of "anonymous" is like the meaning of "gay". There are ethical and moral associations which are imposed into the originary meanings of the words. From these associations, a certain degree of criminality is deduced. Unfairly, of course. Its like this : if you spoke to a communist once, you are by default a sympathiser. Because the word "communist" had its associations too. Its like Islam now. Its a slippery slope when we make build bridges across bridges of associations into the originary meanings of words. Good can become bad. Justice can become evil.
But I am of course lying. Because I am an anonymous blogger. Black background. Evil transfigured in my words. When actually I want to be a nobody. No name. Just the words because we remember the words but hardly the Names.
Its not. I am lying again. Being irresponsible.
The associations to "anonymous" in the Singapore context is simple. Strip away the moral and ethical values. Face it in its stark reality. The real association. If you are anonymous, you cannot be held accountable. Accountability. You must pay the price with your Name. Capital politics. To be heard. You must pay the price with you Name. To take political action, you must pay the price to join a political party. So simple. So clear.
but then I am lying of course. Because I am an anonymous blogger.
Quote of the Day --
"Writing is pre-eminently the technology of cyborgs, etched surfaces of the late twentieth century. Cyborg politics is the struggle for language and the struggle against perfect communication, against the one code that translates all meaning perfectly, the central dogma of phallogocentrism. That is why cyborg politics insist on noise and advocate pollution, rejoicing in the illegitimate fusions of animal and machine. " -- Donna Haraway, The Cyborg Manifesto