Friday, October 31, 2008

जिहाद अगेंस्ट रसिस्म

Lacan's word play on the word 'publish' has been on my mind lately. He always used a word which was close to the French word for garbage and refused to publish anything. Most of his material comes from his seminars. Without really knowing what his objections were to publication I would like to speculate.

Writing involves self censorship, even the formation of a sentence necessarily entails imprisoning ideas which are broad and wide into tiny little boxes called words. I associate this concept with Foucault but I'm not sure if it is his. Even the attempt to be as open and clear as possible involves some truncation of a concept. On top of this there are the societal limitations on what we write. At the most basic level: "what would my mother think?", "what will the government think?" etc. upon reading this.

I have often wanted to experiment with the talk-and-type software to see if the limitation is less when it is the spoken word being recorded. My writing on this page is my attempt to transcend, smash, obliterate every boundary, social convention, and moral that would prevent my mind from flowing freely onto the page. I select the most abhorrent topics I can think of and try to write about them as if no one is reading. Thus suicide bombers, child molesters and various other social outcasts are my favorite areas of contemplation.

Since I don't know any of either group I have to imagine them, conjure them up and instead of imagining them as the 'other' i imagine them as myself.

Of the two groups I find it more likely that I could be a suicide bomber as the idea holds some level of attraction for me while sex with a child does not. Nevertheless my writings on Wilhelm Reich and Greek sexual practice are an attempt to deconstruct words like 'molestation', 'deviant' and others that are thrown around in our culture quite often.

'Deviant' is one of my all time favorite words, perhaps because it sounds so sinister and yet the meaning is so banal. To be deviant is first to deviate and if what you are deviating from is absurd to begin with then to be deviant is to be correct. For example, if the stories my mother told me were true, the Soviets used to classify dissenters as psychologically deviant. Thus people like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov were deviant by the standards of their culture. Furthermore a nice upstanding German family in 1938 would classify the teenagers that did not want to be in the Hitler Youth as deviant, an SS officer who refused to participate in the mass murder of children likewise would also be classified as deviant.

Conditioning takes so many forms, not only as to what is supposedly deviant, but also to what is supposedly normal. In the culture I grew up in racism is the norm. As the election approaches I find myself hoping Obama will win primarily because I want the first president my son knows to be black. I have noticed that they are showing a lot of black crime suspects on the local news which is something I remember from my childhood and one of the many not so subtle forms of conditioning that creates racism in European culture. I hope that a black president can counteract some of that, as well as the thuggish image projected by many black role models, rappers, athletes, etc.

I feel very little guilt when it comes to my racism, I regard it simply as a product of my environment. If I grew up in Europe in the 18th, 19th or early 20th century I would hate Jews, I grew up in America so I am ambivalent toward blacks. I think this is a fundamental problem with the way racism is addressed in our culture. Individuals are singled out as racist but the underlying structural causes are not addressed. I used to use the analogy of a dog bite, if the first collie you ever see bites you, then you will be afraid of collies for a while until you get to know a few nice ones. If 30-40 percent of the collies you know in your lifetime create a negative experience, maybe not a bite, maybe just a growl, your unconscious will internalize your negative feelings about collies whether you like it or not.

I had a black baby sitter when I was 6 whom I admired and looked up to, I had a great group of friends when I was 9-12 years old, many of whom were black. My negative experiences of black people began when I moved to the Midwest and I still have racist tendencies. So how can people who have lived in an openly racist culture their entire lives be expected not to be racist?

The first step to controlling racism is to acknowledge that it exists, not in society but in oneself. If this happens it can be recognized when it arises. Too many white liberals are quick to point out the racism in others without looking carefully at their own tendencies. This extends to all non-white races, not just blacks. European culture, of which America is the most vulgar and ham-handed representative, has been killing, raping and pillaging non-white peoples for hundreds of years. This fact is not openly discussed in the brainwashing that passes for education. It is hidden, worse it is celebrated. I think of movies like 'Apocalypse Now', shouldn't I feel revulsion as the helicopters swoop in playing Wagner and launching rockets at school children? Shouldn't I feel hatred for Robert Duvall's character when he says 'it's Wagner, it scares the hell out of the slopes"?

Although my intellect is aware of such things millions of minutes of patriotic indoctrination on military bases, at parades, seeing dad in uniform, a uniform similar to that worn by Duvall, cause me to identify with Duvall, to celebrate the destruction of the Vietnamese peasants. I watched that scene hundreds of times, trying to undo the conditioning, Clockwork Orange style, focusing on the old Vietnamese man, running next to a cart pulled by an ox, running from the gunships over head, pathetically attempting to save the animal that represents his family's livelihood. And I am proud to report that this conditioning works, I do not feel pride now as I watch the helicopters swoop in, I look forward to the little girl throwing the grenade in the helicopter with the wounded, and relish the screams of the American soldiers as they are burned alive.

But this takes work.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

The men at the receiving end of that grenade are also the product of conditioning. Yes?

Thanks for your help with that email. You are absolutely right, and I am going to respond with hope, not fear.