Externalität und Wandel

Ein Beitrag von Yideyoshi TABUCHI

Today I’d like to have a talk with you about the externality. The
externality is always a great issue to those who are conscious of it. The
consciousness over the externality, however, does not guarantee that we can avoid the danger of excluding people. To the contrary, the more we are conscious of it, the more we feel that we are fatally excluding people
Today, I would like to tell you my own story concerning to the externality

I guess some of you know that I have started to work as a newsboy a couple of months ago. From the beginning, this challenge was deeply related to the sense of “lack of externality,” especially when I work for my research topic. As a researcher, I am working for the limitations and possibilities of subjectivity in the capitalistic society. For this purpose, I intentionally talk about the marginalized. People who are forced to work in a worse condition, the housewives whose “labor” haven’t been estimated enough, the aged who have been determined as if they were less productive to the society, and the youth excluded from the regular employment, etc, etc. But when I talk about them, I am always wondering whether I am really speaking THEIR language. I always feel that I’m speaking quite distant words to them.

Whenever researchers research on anything, they inevitably objectify their subject of research, and, at the same time, privilege themselves as “a man of observing.” If, as Jean-Paul Sartre says, our consciousness is always “a consciousness of something,” a consciousness is inevitably to stand outside of the very things that the consciousness is conscious of. Therefore, for researchers, being together with their subject of research even when they are talking about them is always one of the most difficult tasks.

Thus, the very motive of my “engagement” was a sense of duty to know the life of my research target, which I ought to have been well versed in.This way, my newsboy life started. Now, I think I’d better describe the daily work of newsboy. We start working from 1:00 in the morning, and finish around 5:00, and that means we work almost 4 hours a day. All through the 4 hours, we have to carry almost 300 of newspapers. And it is really hard work. In addition, we have NO weekly holiday. Needless to say, before I finally came to manage to get my work done in 4 hours after three months and half of “discipline,” it took me 5-6 hours a day!!.

Anyway, describing the toughness of news delivery is not today’s story. But the story goes along with my internal fluctuation about the toughness. Going through my field note, I can trace my interpretations of this work. So now, let me trace back my filed note for a while.

October 4th, a week after the first day, I already observed a serious
shortage of communication. I wrote that in the office even the daily
greetings were rarely exchanged. This has been, and remains to be, one of
the most important concerns for me. According to my note, people working for the news delivery not “do not exchange greetings,” but they are not expected to do so. This, of course, means they are not expected to be human. This kind of interpretation of mine surely belongs to the genealogy of Marx. In October 29th, my note was about one colleague who had just left off. I wrote how few things I knew about him. I didn’t know his name, I didn’t know what he did, I didn’t know where he lived, and I didn’t know why he quitted.
Actually, there was even no announcement when he left. Suddenly, one
faceless man didn’t come, and a few days after, anther faceless man started
to work. I wrote there is no function as human, but only human as function.

My field note went on and on in the same tone. Then, something had happened. I don’t know what exactly had happened to me, but my tone gradually started to change. Firstly, I started to show my confusion about always criticizing the news delivery. And then I ended up being unable to write anything. I knew that this happened along with the process that I had been “becoming” newsboy. I got skilled, I came to understand the system, I started to speak jargon, and above all, I came to know the people. I could have analyzed my colleagues claiming that, for example, their humanities were alienated. But when I got to know them personally, I found myself in the relation of the very humanities. And more than everything, I couldn’t call them “they,” for now “they” became “we.”

If I can describe the situation, my feeing was like, “how I could conclude
that ‘they’ were alienated, while I knew that ‘we’ are such living. How
could I give myself the authority to declare that they were this, not that.”
In short, I lost my words.

I think there were at least two aspects behind the change. I was changed on the one hand, and I changed on the other. Several experiences made me ”within” the field, and I was changed from “a man of observing” to “a man of observed.” Moreover, I also changed the field. The very existence of myself inevitably operated the field, and somehow changed it. Therefore, the people I saw was no more the people I had seen before. Indeed, I came to feel that the communication in the office started to increase, and I knew that I myself, my talkative character, played not small role for that. This was really, I say really, magnificent experience. Strangely, while I lost my language for criticism, I felt like I got the externality within my body.

It doesn’t mean, however, that my criticisms in the field note lost its
legitimacy. NO! To the contrary, it does have legitimacy, though partly it
may be. Actually, I knew that my sense of criticism was right even when I
was loosing my words. The criticisms of my field note have been legitimate, even to the present day, the day I lost my words on the issue. Moreover, I do not intend to say “stop talking.” I can’t stop talking. And I won’t stop talking. Maybe I am on my way to go further. On the process to find more appropriate words, talked in more appropriate way.

Anyway, something I can say at this stage is this. However important
critical sensibilities and criticisms are, sometimes the point where
critical sensibilities are rooted, and criticisms cease is more important.
There, we can absorb the externality, and assimilate it to the very bodies
of ourselves.

This was the end of first half of my presentation. Now I want to talk about
small interview to my parents, about how they change after I started working as a newsboy.

First of all, both of my parents told me that they had no interest in news
delivery before I became newsboy. Both of them emphasized that my decision had a strong impact on their daily thoughts. But, there were also very interesting differences between my father and mother.

My father, who was the manager of major Japanese company and now retired, honestly confessed me that he had a negative image on news delivery. He said that he thought it “the bottom.” My father was born in a very countryside of Okayama prefecture, and went to Tokyo when he entered the university. Like many other young men from countryside at that time, my father also hated the ”backwardness” of where he came from. I believe that it may influence his favor to white-collars, and his soft and reserved prejudice against blue-collars.

Therefore, I can easily imagine a small typhoon hitting him when I went home and said, “by the way, I started news delivery.” So it was no surprise to me that he thought news delivery was the bottom work. What really surprised me was, that he said he now tried to say “thank you” to them as much as possible. My mother smilingly said “your father now has a chat with delivery boys.”

My father was still insisting that his “bottom image” of news delivery did
not change. But he also admitted that he now came to concern working
condition issue. He said he unconsciously checked the news that he had
passed through before. “Now whether forecast is the most important news for me, ’cause rain might be the biggest enemy for newsboys,” he said and

My mother’s case was bit different. My mother didn’t go to university, but
she was very sensible woman. I’ve heard that she was one of the top-level
students of the top-level high school. She could have gone to university,
but the time did not allow her.

My mother told that she did not have a negative image on news delivery. She said she always had a feeling of gratitude to them. In her case, change was brought in her intellectual interests. She was now interested in news
delivery as a vocation. How is the working condition, how much do they earn, how many days off do they take, who do pay for the gas, and are all these fair?

Anyway, the common feature for them is, that now they see newsboys in front of them, not in somewhere of this society. They see the continuity between their life and news delivery. And all these things could not happen before I started news delivery.

Here, we see strange phenomenon. While I lost my words for criticisms, my parents got the words for the externality. While I thought I lost the way to speak up for the externality, I was successful more than ever in telling my parents about the externality of newsboys.

Now, let me tentatively conclude that I got the externality, and I could
also hand it down to my parents, and all that happened at the point where I lost my critical words.”