What is our ANSWERABILITY to all the Homeless? by David M. Boje, Ph.D. Aug 15 2015


This is my own autoethnography, my reflections on my encounters in the worldhood of homelessness. Above is a news clipping (p. 8 of Sun-News, on August 5th, the day after the Veterans Theater troop put on the play, “A Day at Camp Hope” performed at the Good Samaritan Society’s auditorium (a rather nice theater with a raised stage and seating about 175). Note: The caption has both accuracies and inaccuracies.   Traci and Sykes, actually do or did live in ‘Camp Hope’ a tent city, however the misreport is that Dother Sykes, a Vietnam Veteran lives in “permanent housing.” Others in photo, have elected not to be shown. Be it known, Veterans Theater does not represent Camp Hope, our focus here, and now, is those homeless seeking housing.  This is important because the claim by City of Las Cruces is that every veteran who is eligible for housing, can have permanent housing within 30 days. This is what I will call the ‘mythic narrative’ and many people, including the press, to seem to be believers, to be persuaded. Others, such as Veterans groups, on the ground, have a counternarrative: there are homeless veterans, eligible for permanent housing, still out there, in our community.

The above photo tries to capture the many moods, the attunements to Being-in-the-world of a non-profit social welfare agency, common in cities across America, and around the world.  How the transition from homeless through tents into permanent housing is happening for veterans.

A “bad mood” can arise in our life (Heidegger, 1962: #136).  And this blog post is all about the moods that arise in our lives.

A mood arises out of Being-in-the-world and has an antenarrative attunement to Being-in-the-world.  A mood is not a psychological emotion, but rather, an attunement to Being-in-the-world.

What kind of mood is antenarrative attunement? It is the sort of mood of balance, of Being-with, that is acquainted with other sorts of moods, even with the ‘bad moods.’ In fact, the attunement mood becomes most aware when its encountered a countermood ((Heidegger, 1962).

“A mood assails us” ((Heidegger, 1962: # 137)! And the mood of some homeless assailed us that were closest to them.

An antenarrative mood arises out of Being-in-the-world always spatial, deseverance and directionality, in its throwness, and encounters all sorts of moods. Here in this case, its throwness into the turbulence of homeless, which can bring on some ‘bad moods.’

moods of systemicity attunement

For more on Moods of Systemicity Attunement see study guide

Moods of fear, anxiety, falling through turbulence can face off with countermoods of curiosity, assertion, understanding, and care. That leaves the mood of idle talk, which Heidegger reminds us, can have some good data, in the midst of the unreliable chatter. And certainly much of storytelling is idle talk, and news reports, more public.

Even an apocalyptic  prophesying the disclosure of something beneath the an city’s tent camp, off in the future, that is brewing, in idle talk.  What is the evidence? None, and nowhere, or locked up. What counts are the facts of the case, its ‘there’, not the rumors, the idle talk.  The inexorability failed, officials and executives not persuaded, not moved, and that is the enigma (IBID.). Nor was the social media aroused from indifference.

The antenarrative mood is and has to be, ontologically-grounded, in balance, but is Being-with the other sorts of moods (see figure above).  Antenarrative in its throwness, is most aware and illuminated when it is fleeing-from, leaping away (Heidegger, 1962: #134).  Whence and whither the antenarrative burst forth and shows itself, in the Being of the ‘there’ disclosed “moodwise” (Heidegger, 1962: #135).

Many veterans and many homeless are ‘having a mood’ which means antenarrative can be disclosed, or “slip off into bad moods” (Heidegger, 1962: #134-5), and the staff of any social welfare agency, and now Veterans Theater members too, are put off balanced, where is the balanced level of the antenarrative mood in this environment? The Being-there of antenarrative, in everydayness, in its mood, is shown in the directionality of its movement, and in de-severance (bringing something far near).

Much is “hidden in the dark” (Heidegger, 1962: #133), as to whay these characters lack their ‘there.’

The narrative-mythic is that the many social welfare agencies, moving homeless from ‘here’ to ‘yonder’ from temporary tent-housing, to permanent housing.  And that brings us the directionality, the antenarrative of this concernfulness.

Dother Sykes, who was alleged by the Sun-News to live in ‘permanent housing’ in fact left it, over two months ago, and volunteers at a tent camp, and as a character actor in Veterans Theater troop, and is a member of the board of Veterans Theater Foundation.

Antenarrative’s existential spatiality is “grounded in Being-in-the-world” and they are now “yonder” belonging to something encountered within-the-world of detention(Heidegger, 1962: #132-3).

The reason antenarrative, its mood is “between” but not in a way of narratologists’ ways of splitting up the phenomenon of ‘Storytelling’ into modalities: mythic-narrative versus living story is that without the antenarrative there is no way to put the fragments back together again, and this “joining-together: is not the rejoining of two fragments present-at-hand, the narrative with the living story (Heidegger, 1962: #132). Antenarattive, its mood, its directionality and deseverance is the ontologic “between” (IBID.). 

In Grounded Theory there is an “unrestrained tendency to derive everything and anything from some simple ‘primal ground'” (IBID.), but it is not “ontologically determined” (Heidegger, 1962: #131), in its everydayness, but rather is a presumption of the theory, and what is present-at-hand.

Being-in-the-world of the Homeless, its worldhood, that averaging of human beings, into the category of the ‘they’ becomes visible (Heidegger, 1962: #130). Humans in their bad mood, have been passed over, thrown back into the ‘they’ assigned by Others into the ‘they-self’ (IBID.).

The ‘they-self’ is distanced and separated from “the authentic Self” (Heidegger, 1962: #129).  Many of us thought we knew the authentic Self, but have case them into ‘they-self’ which prescribes a specific ways of interpreting their character, in everyday contexts, where the homeless are signified, put into averageness, and into something Veterans Theater troop, resists, stigma, stereotype that covers over authentic Self. The ‘they’ of homelessness in public discourse, by social and print media is not ‘really’ just nothing at all, but rather a way over covering over, to become a ‘who’ that is relegated to a‘nobody’ ((Heidegger, 1962: #128).   The publicness, the averageness of the ‘they-self’ is a disburdening of one’s Being into “inauthenticity and failure to stay by one’s Self” and therefore is “not nothing at all” (IBID.).

This bring me to an important point. There is an “answerability” (Heidegger, 1962: #127), and here Bakhtin and Heidegger seem to use the word ‘answerability’ in much the same way.  storytelling, can steal away and deprive antenarrative “of its answerability” (Heidegger, 1962: #127).  The ‘they’ as a social category, can be “answerable for everything most easily because it is not someone who need to vouch for anything” (IBID).

Many  became “disburdened by the ‘they'” and under its “stubborn dominion” (Heidegger, 1962: #128).  The ‘they’ supplies its stubborn dominion, in the struggle for the homeless to become something else.

Antenarratively there is an answerability, for now some homeless persons, to get to the “heart of the matter” are not under a stubborn dominion (Heidegger, 1962: #127), the ‘they’ has leveled them town, made them a statistic, in publicness of social media. They are about to vanish from the web pages, more or less, to strike through their names, and assign them to inconspicuousness and unascertainability of the ‘they’ (Heidegger, 1962: #127).  Such is the answerability of the distantiality of antenarrative, the way it putts the pieces of mythic-narrative together with living story by the Being-with of antenarrative, the ‘between.’.

As the play entered its last act on August 4th, I asked each actor, Being-“with-one-another”, what what tents meant to them, and campers were in a ‘good mood’ with only good things to say(Heidegger, 1962: #126.

The answerability of antenarrative-mood, is to care about spatiality, the directionality and deseverance of its relations to countermoods, even bad and good moods.

There is a hermeneutic of the homeless condition, played out everyday as moods (attunements) and countermoods come into relationship. Empathy does not constitute Being-with of antenarrative, for empathy is not primordial, it is not an attunement, but more of a remote acquaintanceship, or pretending to be acquainted (Heidegger, 1962: #125).