Heidegger and the Post-Local

Because writing here is a brilliant way to spend the last week of the quarter. But it's evening here and I've already resigned myself to not doing much of anything else, so I might as well take a moment to riff off of Jenny's most recent adventure (and if you stumble here from elsewhere and haven't read what she writes, please do) on the interwebs. She writes:
But I’m also interested in what life is like post-local, given that the “local” has been co-opted by the food authorities as a stand-in for the benevolent eating life, and is on its way to being applaud-worthy national rhetoric. But can we find a way to act globally in our local economies, and should we? Is there a benevolent global here in my neighborhood that doesn’t recall the particulate matter from China, that we don’t necessarily feel we have to resist with our proudly-purchased local roots and fruits?
It's a great question, and it makes me think of an answer to a question that I asked in class today. The speaker - while not really answering the question I had asked in the first place - said something to the effect of, "Well, our limits of what it means to be human are constantly shifting." Good point, and clear enough in its way, but that got me thinking of an enigmatic phrase in Heidegger's 'Building, Dwelling, Thinking'. There, Heidegger tries to articulate a notion of the horizon as that moment - that limit - from which a thing begins its presencing. The formulation has always struck me as an opaque one, but I think today's discussion actually helped me to clarify my thinking a little.

We define what it means to be human by drawing boundaries. Or, to put it in a more limited sense, I define what it means for me to be human by drawing boundaries in my own life. These might be moral boundaries - don't steal candy from babies, for example - or emotional boundaries - I love my parents - or political boundaries. The point it is that I construct a sense of who I am by articulating a sense of where I end, and it is precisely through that articulation of where I end (and not simply in a physical sense but also in an emotional, a philosophical, a social, what have you) that I distinguish between what is internal (and subjective) and what is external (objective, in and of the world).

I'm likely misreading Heidegger here, but Jenny's question about what it means to be local is a good one; more than that, it's an urgent one. What does it mean when we claim that we eat local? Sure, there are any number of benefits to eating local, but Jenny's question also makes me wonder about who gets left out. The answer - and I don't think this is Jenny's answer - one might offer is that cultivating an attachment to eating local could lend itself to the cultivation of a particularly parochial mindset, a way of interpreting the world through this lens of here/there, local/global, the good that is right here and the Other somewhere out there.

Nothing I have much of an answer for, but it's worth thinking about.


jenny said…
I actually think you offer a rather appropriate answer to, and interpretation of, the question. Most exciting, I think it's just the beginning of more thoughts in this vein.

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