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Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Master's Tools

You can, in fact, dismantle the master's house with the master's tools (Audre Lorde). Tools do not know whose they are, so that if you break into the master's toolshed and steal his chain saw, it will in fact do as much damage to his house as if it were YOUR chain saw.

So this is an example of a metaphor that seems to work at the metaphorical level, without being valid at the literal level. It "works" in the sense that people assent to it, or don't question its logic. It sounds good if you don't really think about it.

But then the question is whether it works at the metaphorical level either? In other words, if the master's tools are rhetorical or discursive devices, etc..., or other things that are not tools in the physical sense, why can't those tools be used in ways against the master's interests?  I'm asking because I've always wondered why this was considered to be a good slogan. Isn't the most fundamental characteristic of a tool that it can be used in ways independent of the user's positionality?

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