Trekking Processual Planes beyond the Rule of Law

  • Philip C. Parnell


Fantastik, Cinch, Ultra Spic and Span, Lysol Antibacterial Hand Gel, Shiny Sinks Plus, and Ultra Dawn—all are bottled-up allies stored under my kitchen sink for battle against the dangers of germs. Most often my antibacterial arsenal is out of sight and mind, cloistered behind two cabinet doors, and unlinked from activities and goals that are compartmentalized and uncoupled from cleaning the kitchen sink, swabbing the linoleum floor (with built-in shine), and assuring house guests that the enemies of order and offenders of the senses are under control. Compartmentalization, separating and confining different life activities so that the debris of one does not cascade into and disrupt what is going on in another, is a way of getting by while being effective in some relationships and wreaking havoc in others. In doing battle against living a life that could be charted through hydraulic equations, compartmentalization cognitively cages the serpent of ignorance—bringing him under control in one endeavor is not going to make him pop up in another—and disguises as mere cracks social fault lines that stretch across a life, making them useful separations of the fragments of a fractured existence. This is moral survival. Through compartmentalization, my Ultra Dawn cannot link me to incipient cultural streams of eradication that may be snaking through a subconscious collectivity of my culture. The “damned spot” can grow without becoming inconvenient. Through the mentalistic segregation of identities, the body that conquers germs at home is not a body that would organize society along notions of contamination.


Urban Poor Squat Settlement Quezon City Land Syndicate Kitchen Sink 
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© June Starr and Mark Goodale 2002

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  • Philip C. Parnell

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