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The Museum of Vestigial Desire


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Negotiation is needed in situations when the default mode of behaviour is not going to yield any transaction.

Basic histories of political science say that when two bodies are in relation, there will situations of dis-equilibrium which need to be resolved via negotiation. What are the rules by which this negotiation ought to be performed?

Negotiations are zones of theatre, combat and courtship. Depending on how low the base-line can be lowered, the zone of a specific round of negotiation can be drawn around one of these circles.

In combat, a popular style of negotiation is as follows. You first jam your foot in the window of time within which your conversation is happening with the other party. Then, rightly you find it difficult to trust the other party enough not to bang the window shut on your foot. Instead you charm the other party into placing their foot into the window themselves and give them sufficient reasons to trust that you will play nice. At this moment an urge to end the negotiation with brute force overcomes you and you bang the window shut. The other party promptly concedes defeat and does not attempt to try anything else. A fear of you gets deep-set in their heart. This style of negotiation necessitates an immediate act of distancing that you need to perform. If you do not do that, the spectres of guilt and bad memory will haunt you for a long time.

This act of distancing creates seemingly empty, unidentified space within you that you do not know what to do with. Gradually, after you have become dysfunctional with floating islands of ambiguous space inside you, you will need to perform a de-fragmentation exercise on yourself. This can be done by voluntarily deciding to split into two people and creating a multi-being body.

Your multi-being body will be an entity that has a partition surface that is super opaque. There are no consciousness leaks that seep through. On one side you can cultivate someone who prides on being an animal that can win any negotiation and the other side there can be rest of you.

The aura that this rule-bound animal develops will help you bring all future rounds of negotiation to a suitable close. The distance you maintain from this animal will allow you to choose between rounds that you need to win at all costs and rounds that you do not mind conceding defeat in.

To backtrack a little bit, if we look at negotiations as zones of theatre and courtship, we are able to picture more styles of negotiation that you can consider adding to your multi-being body.

In theatre, negotiations are very real too but the base-line is less absolute. The winnings and setbacks are more temporary. But does not change their symbolic value or importance. Like dogs fighting over a bone in a video game, winning or let's say crafting a deal with a preferred kind of balance of power is a prize enough. But theatrical negotiations have to be dealt with the constraints of the roles from within which they are being dealt with. Roles cannot give way, roles cannot develop cracks or become inconsistent. Depending on how the roles are scripted, the performer can take it towards postures which seek victory or victimhood.

In courtship, a kind of dynamic theatre is constructed. Romantic alliances develop in the first place because of the room for negotiation that opens up between people. How flexible are the boundaries of this room? Negotiations in a courtship situation are not engaged with with the idea of winning or securing a compromise on either side, rather the objective of striking a win-win situation becomes more pragmatic. Of course love games have a different objective and rounds of love-play that masquerade as cold rounds of negotiation hope to act as probes to calibrate a mutually comfortable win-win point.

Play has the capacity to leave no room for negotiation between players and the game. The only possible mode of engagement is playing by the rules. If there is a conflict around the rules you are advised to switch the game and disengage. But if you are able to load the game in designer mode and make play of the act of designing rule-sets itself, nobody is going to stop you. Games are infallible in their interface but subject to negotiation in their design. Mythical significance cannot be read into positions of stability that game-states occupy. Rather these stable states need to be seen a fragile pockets of time that can be punctured anytime.

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