Disobedience vs Transgression

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Salvatore Iaconesi:

"Let’s analyze it.


To Obey. From Ob-Udire. Ob, which means forward, ahead. And Udire, which means to listen.

To Obey: to put forward what we have heard from others. To execute others’ commandments, to submit to the will of others.

And, as a result: Dis-obey, Dis-Ob-Udire: not executing others’ commandments.

This is a very polarizing word: there is an I and an Other, and the I confronts the Other directly: however non-violent it is, it’s a fight, an opposition.


Now, let’s analyze another word: Transgression.

Transgression. From Trans-Gredire. Trans: on the other side, traversing. And Gredire, which means step, as in the ladder and as in walking. Which leads to: to go beyond, further, to overcome limits and boundaries.

With her Excess Space theory, Elizabeth Grosz says that transgressors do not fight boundaries, they recognize them and, by doing so, they move them.

Transgression is not oppositive. It is not a dis, or a non. It does not have an enemy.

Transgression is to go beyond, not against.

The Status Quo

If in Disobedience focus is on the status quo, on order, on commandments, which have to be negated, to which one must oppose and negate, in Transgression it is on traversing, in going beyond, moving, changing the cards on the table, the scenario, the landscape.

Disobedience, today, recalls Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s troublemakers, of when, in 1982, he wrote the “Industrialization of the Mind”.

When all industries become cultural, immaterial industries (like today), they suffer a paradox: their product, conscience, is a social product and, thus, they cannot produce it themselves; they can only try to induce it, and reproduce it.

In this paradox, Enzensberger highlighted the role of the troublemakers, the undisciplined, of the disobedient: it is them, among few others, who can stimulate the creation of conscience, its production.

To solve the paradox Enzensberger highlighted how the industrial complex only had one way forward: to co-opt them, to hire them, to put them on a stage, to award them prizes.

Disobedience, today, is the opposition to the status quo with a good Venture Capitalist on your side, to be ready to catch the opportunity to lead in new markets, disrupting the competition.

On the other hand, Transgression is about traversing, strolling, climbing over the fence, for the pleasure of it, without opposition, defeat, fight; for the desire to overcome, go beyond, discover, and to have experience of the Other.

Disobedience is work. Transgression is desire.

But work is disappearing, replaced by robots and artificial intelligences.

What we’re progressively left with is imagination, dream, boredom, time.

It is here, in this difference, that maybe one of the principal challenges of our times lays: in this challenge between disobedience and transgression, between this civil and industrious opposition which becomes an instrument for the market in order to defeat the status quo, to be able to bring up another one, and the capability to transgress, traverse, to access Other logics, according a philosophy of co-existence instead of dualism, contrapposition, and spectacle." (https://medium.com/@xdxd_vs_xdxd/disobedience-vs-transgression-1efee9144d1a)