The Museum of Vestigial Desire

Free Speech

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Feeling free is a specific kind of a feeling. This feeling describes a state of being in which the freedom to speak and act is unencumbered. Not just for the present but also for the future, for ever and ever. There is no fear - either of immediate effect or repercussions. This state of being only exists in this description. Else it is a myth which is chased meaninglessly.

Free speech is not a given, it needs to be practiced. It is a freedom only in the sense of its availability and legal guarantee. It has to be actualized to come into being.1 And this actualization is not easy. Because there are two factors at play. One is external to the idea of a person, and one is internal. The external becomes the internal and the internal becomes the external.

Practice does not assume a transition process and effort. It only acknowledges that there is a curve in the ability to enjoy degrees of freedom. This curve progresses with experience and habit.

The external factor that we state above is familiar to us as a kind of limiting and restrictive social norm and the internal factor is what we term inhibition. Neither of these factors are designed to be breached. One is a social defense and the other is a personal defense mechanism.

Why do we need to defend? Why are personal defense mechanisms put in place. Initially they seem like a good way to minimize social friction, conflict and the unpleasantness of hurt and argument. But with every safety there is a loss.

This is where the mortal life span of memory is helpful. If social friction is not relentless but temporary and episodic, it is not even remembered. Social history gets substantiated only on repeated emphasis. Temporary events disappear like noise on the field of a radar. The temporal landscape is worth exploring only to prototype ideas and models, but for making any dent in the thick skin of time, this exploration does not register.

So, as a gesture, ritual, temporary and eventually non-disruptive act - free speech is possible. The transition from the personal to the public is interesting to map because they are two processes that are not necessarily linked in a definitive way. One will definitely be effected by the other but the time for this effect to happen cannot be projected or predicted. Only if the resonance of the points of personal action are broad based and consistent enough, will the points even connect to render a terrain. Once a new terrain is rendered, it identifies itself. Once a terrain is self-aware of its presence, it cannot be wished away easily.

We propose that we speak freely personally in at least a recurrently rhythmic way. These acts of speaking freely can very simply just speak of things as they are for us. A very simple tactic that is only radical because it has become a rare privilege that has become associated with power and the privilege of comedy. Speaking of things as they are has become a mean trick that is something to get away with. Social drama can be punctuated with acts like these. At least layers and layers of obfuscation and blurring that social lubricant (read, "niceties", "etiquette") leads to can be fiddled with in a small way and strategies for the re-mapping of social edifices can be drawn-up.


  1. Based on our understanding of Lawrence Liang's talk at the dis-locate 14 Symposium on November 2, 2014. 

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