Transgression: it is a common word, circulated enough for us all to believe we understand what is meant by it when it is used. Ideas about what constitutes transgression are equally commonplace. Transgression, we might say, goes without saying. Yet, is that in fact the case? Or is it not that we are so used to what we take to be the idea of transgression that we have, in all truth, forgotten, or not even become aware of the extent to which transgression constitutes our identities? Believing we understand the term as indicative of breaking a law, doing something illicit, disrupting order and rebelling against societal norms, if and when we think we transgress, we do no more than conform to expectations of acceptable ‘deviance’. We act up in a manner already in some sense prescribed, whether socially or historically, and so merely conform in a way that is more or less tolerated, even when excoriated.
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