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"In Defense of Margins"


At the LA Review of Books, professor of humanities Costica Bradatan writes "In Defense of the Margins," arguing that those who live on the margins of society—slum dwellers in Mumbai, for example—“may know more about what life is ultimately about than the Wall Street banker”:

The center is all about power. Due to a survival instinct, a need for recognition, or a desire to succeed, we tend to flock to the center…

Eventually the center structures itself and everything other than itself: it establishes dichotomies and hierarchies, classes and “rankings,” according to how close or how far away things are in relation to it. As a result, life at the center becomes highly regulated: spontaneity is legislated, the primary impulses tamed, and the vital instincts channeled…

The margins are a different business altogether. Away from the fierce logic of power that creates the center, the margins remain conspicuously dispersed, unfocused, chaotic. Life takes other forms here; it has its own rhythms and priorities, and unfolds in ways both uncontrollable and difficult to predict. There is a certain sense of boundlessness, of infinite potential. It is as though to be at the margins is to be in a state of permanent beginning: since everything is yet to be done, anything is possible. Human existence seems freer here, more spontaneous, and more creative.

Above image via the LA Review of Books