in proxy

Discussion in 'English Only' started by lilyppbb, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. lilyppbb Member

    The quotation comes from Zadie Smith's lecture, in which she's talking about impossible identities. She said:

    It seems to me that people experiencing impossible identities -- ... for example, muslim and gay, ... --can build up a terrible tension within themselves. ... That is an intimate tragedy. But worse are the occasions when this internal violence faces outwards and becomes lethal to other people: when we project the "other" we are on to another human and hurt or even kill them in proxy.

    What does "in proxy" mean here?

    Thank you.
  2. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    "In proxy" means the other person is a substitute.

    According to the author:
    - we see a part of ourselves that we hate
    - we "project" that part onto another person (we imagine them as that part)
    - we attack that person, in order to attack the thing we hate
  3. lilyppbb Member

    So she's trying to say, we hurt or kill that other person in order to kill that part of us we hate?
  4. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    Not "in order to".

    The key is "project". If they angry person "projects" the part they hate onto another person, then they really think of that other person as being like that.

    So they aren't attacking something in themselves. They are attacking something they hate, because they (falsely) imagine it is in that other person.

    But the reason they hate it, is because it is in themselves.
  5. The pianist

    The pianist Senior Member

    English - US
    Using the combination given, i.e. muslim and gay, we have here a person with possible 'Dissociative Identity Disorder', formerly called 'Split Personality'. At any given time one of these personalities may control a person's actions and kill someone. Thus, one could say that one personality was a proxy for the other.
  6. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    She doesn’t mention hate. What she says is being projected onto others is otherness, feeling different, an outcast.
  7. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    We have a natural inclination not to hurt or punish ourselves. But we feel punishment is necessary for something like that. So we find someone else who has that same quality to punish and, by proxy (by analogy, indirectly) we feel that punishment also applies to us. So we can "punish" ourself without hurting ourself.
  8. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    Incidentally, the combination "in proxy" feels strange to me; I've only ever come across "by proxy".

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