Inspiration from JVN (Jonathan Van Ness)

In my research, I have come across a dominant notion of limited available conceptions. A rough sketch of the idea is that we have thoughts and feelings which we must communicate through available words and concepts. Sometimes, this means squeezing the thought or feeling into an available conception, which can result in certain important bits being left behind. Sometimes, this means that a word is not available to communicate the thought or feeling. With a general understanding, this idea can be applied to numerous things that we interact with every day.

For instance, Logan, an American, might have a predominantly conservative political ideology (let’s say 60% for simplicity). However, she also holds liberal beliefs (let’s say 40%). There does not exist a term which completely and accurately reflects Logan’s true political beliefs (i.e. 60% conservative and 40% liberal), so she must identify with one of the available conceptions: Republican, Democrat, or independent. At this point, a critic might say, “Those certainly are not the only conceptions available.” This is true. However, these are the most pervasive categories for politics in America. It is highly improbable that Logan will have the opportunity to fully explain her complex mix of conservative and liberal beliefs to every person with whom she discusses politics. Therefore, she must choose and communicate an available conception, which will partially misrepresent her true beliefs.
However, Logan could rebel. She could reject the limited nature of the available conceptions and insist on providing a detailed explanation to anyone who inquires about her political beliefs. Her full explanation might include her strong commitment to lowering taxes, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, among other things. Or, she could refuse to communicate her political beliefs since language could never fully and accurately capture her true beliefs anyway.
This can apply to similar things, such as sexuality and gender. Although this “system” for communication, which has discursive and imaginative limits, does not represent each of us completely accurately, it is the only system available. It seems illogical to reject the system, dooming oneself to a lifetime of hermit-living (a la “No one can or ever will understand me”).
It is my position that we have to work within this system. And yes, call me out for that lukewarm take right there; that is not a hot take at all. In all seriousness, I see it as our generation’s challenge to rework the limits of available conceptions. Is this a blurring of the existing lines, a constant invention of new ideas, or perhaps both, neither, or something new altogether? I don’t know, but I’m excited. Many people are working on this issue right now. One person who comes to mind is Jonathan Van Ness. Change is happening.
I hope you enjoyed this food for thought.

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