Postcards:

For all things philosophical.

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d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Tue May 29, 2018 12:19 am

It happened to me again: what often happens to me as a progressive in Nebraska: someone very dear to me reminded of how conservative the Midwest really is and how inarticulate the thinking behind it really is. Nascar or something was on, and they made the argument that the cool thing about racing is that they stand up for the national anthem, which was an obvious reference to the NFL. My response was to say:

“On this, I will respectfully agree to disagree with you.”

And they respectfully walked away. But let’s be very clear on this: I love this person and I’m quite sure they have similar sentiments towards me. If for nothing else, I love them for giving me an intro and segue into an issue I have wanted to discuss: this NFL ban on kneeling during the national anthem. First of all, what I would point out is that the main reason my dear friend does not see Nascar fans kneeling during the national anthem is because most of them are white.

And that is an important point. We bring black players into the NFL because they give the game a little more intensity, a little more umps and a little more entertainment. So who in the fuck are we (as white people (to tell them that they cannot question the greatness of America when their own kind is being regularly shot by cops and warehoused in privately owned jails so that shareholders can earn a little more money?

I saw something similar in the movie Wind River when the main characters drove into an Indian reservation home and the image of an American flag was shown hung upside down. Of course, the so-called patriots would become indignant. But we white people stole this land from the Indians while claiming that private property is sacred. So can you really blame them for not being “patriotic”?

The problem with patriotism is that it is a little (or a lot (like a player: you fall in love with them and they claim to love you, that is while going to the bar without you every chance they get. And when you express your insecurities about the situation, they claim it is little more than a lack of trust on your part. Basically, what they’re assuming is that you owe them trust when, in truth, they have to earn it.

And this is the way it is with patriotism: we don’t owe America our faith in it. America has to earn it.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:13 pm

“Christian communities often seem to take one of two paths in their approach to Revelation: Some Christian groups seem to be preoccupied with the book and what it might tell us about the future, and the rest don’t read Revelation at all. In this lecture, we will briefly go back to colonial America, where interest in Revelation was common among Protestants. We will trace the “progressive” approach to Revelation, in which history was assumed to be progressing toward the millennial kingdom of God. People could share in this progressive march of history by spreading the gospel and reforming society. We will then look at the divergence of the apocalyptic and progressive perspectives, at which point some Christian groups dropped their interest in Revelation while retaining a hope for social progress and some hung on to Revelation but moved away from the hope for societal reform. We are still feeling the effects of that split today. “ –from Apocalypse: Controversies and Meanings in Western History by Craig R. Koester

As strange as it may seem for an agnostic such as myself (an atheist that hedges their bets), this particular lecture series has been useful to the extent that the divide presented above tells us a little about something that is currently at work under the Trump administration and his relationship with the evangelicals. As the above points out, there was a split in terms of how the Book of Revelations was interpreted. On one hand there were the post-millennials that saw Revelations as a kind of blueprint for a just society and, therefore, set out to achieve that millennium of peace through social reform. On the other, there were the pre-millennials that were mainly focused on the unavoidable process that went on before the millennium could be achieved. By looking at it as prophecy (history described before the history actually happened), they mainly focused on the suffering that would come from it and, consequently, not their role as social reformers that might ease the suffering, but rather as truth holders obliged to save anyone they can by converting them to Christ so that they too will be taken away in the Rapture before the anti-Christ comes.

?: Do you see the difference…..

This difference could not be more highlighted than it is under Trump. On one hand we have post-millennials (mainly black evangelicals (that see our path to the millennium of peace through social reform and who are completely opposed to Trump and his policies. On the other, we have pre- millennials (mainly white evangelicals (who see Trump as a means to save us from ourselves so that we too can be swept up in the Rapture.

And I’m really not that comfortable with the latter.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:37 pm

My latest immersion is one of the Great Courses series: Argumentation: the Study of Effective Reasoning presented by David Zarefsky. And I would start with a confession: much of the appeal of it to me involves some (maybe a lot of (confirmation bias. I have always questioned the analytic approach to philosophy because it never seemed capable of actually addressing the very real situations we are dealing with.

And Zarefsky goes right to this point by pointing out that while formal logical (that which the analytic approach rests its juice on (can achieve certainty and even seem scientific, it cannot possibly begin to deal with the very real situations that most people use argumentation to do so. We can get a better sense of what I’m getting at through a point in either Joe Hugh’s reader guide to Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition or Buhcannan’s guide to The Anti-Oedipus, the three means by which we confirm and assertion:

1. The syntactic: since A is B and B is C; C must be A

2. The semantic which is the primary M.O. of the syllogism (all men are not women; joe is a man; therefore Joe is not woman (and paradox: think Zeno’s Arrow which plays on words and is hardly cause to go prancing around between an archer and their target.

And finally, 3. The Existential that addresses the very real messiness of life

It is in the existential (and to some extent the semantic (that we see the role that resonance and seduction can play in an argument, what Zarefsky referred to and defended as rhetoric –a generally derided term. And you can dismiss it all you want, but it certainly seems to work. And if Trump is not proof of that, I don’t know what is.

That said, my main point is that, given the above (as well as the increasing influence of corporate funding on universities), we can easily see how the analytic approach to philosophy generally tends to act in the capacity of (as Deleuze & Guatarri put it: state philosophy. The analytic approach (just like formal logic (tends to get along by going along as well as not challenging the very forces of oppression that producer/consumer Capitalism presents. Only the continental approach can do that while the analytic approach stays out of trouble.

I mean think about it: what does 1+1=2 or because of A, B; because B, C; therefore, because of A, C (as certain as it may seem (really challenge?

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:54 pm

Today I want to explore the InCel (involuntarily celibate (movement and the Red Pill sights they are associated with. It is, of course, tempting to mock it –and many highly intelligent people do. But I’m not really sure that is the smartest approach. For one, it can only exacerbate the situation by taking (what seems to them, at least (a kind of “in-crowd” tone that is, in the sense of not being part of that “in-crowd”, the very source of their understandably painful experience of alienation. And this is important to understand since it may well be this experience of painful alienation that lies behind most of the mass shootings we’re seeing in America. I mean this could well be the reason this is mainly occurring in High Schools and Colleges, the outright cauldrons of narcissism and vanity in which being part of an “in-crowd” is everything. And I’m not blaming the victim here. Kids will be kids. But what I will suggest (and I apologize for my opportunistic Marxist jab (that a lot of this comes from producer/consumer Capitalism and the way it bombards us (via TV ads (explicitly with images of what it is like to be part of an “in-crowd” while implicitly implying that if you are not like one of those people you see, you are no one.

The thing to understand about InCels and Red Pill sites (and this is what makes it even scarier and relevant to our present situation in America (is that it is generally innocuous: a lot of beta males expressing and sharing their frustration with females. And what male hasn’t? And they’re not totally unjustified in their frustration as females are, by no means, saints. And they even prop their positions up with perfectly authoritative theory such as evolutionary psychology and psycho-biology. The problem is that it, given the bubble it works in, too easily succumbs to misogyny and rape culture. There are people on these sites who have literally argued that rape should be legal. Even worse (and more relevant to our present predicament, these sites are known to be prime recruiting grounds for Neo-Nazi and Alt-Right predators. And it is easy to see how that could happen given that those recruiters will basically be offering these guys an “in-crowd” to be a respected member of.

To take a philosophical route, what this results from is what Spinoza referred to as a sad affect: that which results from not having power over the other node in a given relationship. And the only thing that can result from that is the defeated node seeking other means to achieve joyful affects. Bill Maher (in a way I am fully sympathetic with (countered this by pointing out that he too, from time to time, had been an InCel, but recognized that the way you deal with it is by becoming a doctor or a rock star. As my Psych 101 textbook pointed out: it’s a matter of self worth. That’s the way I dealt with it. But unfortunately, not every male has been blessed with the same intellectual and creative curiosity as me and Maher.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:42 pm

In the preface to Zizek’s Plague of Fantasies, he points to the kind of paternal fantasy at work in many tyrannical social structures. He offers as evidence Josef Fritzl who basically trapped his children in his basement and exploited them and rationalized it as him simply doing his “sometimes uncomfortable” duty to protect his children, his duty to protect them even if means destroying them. Zizek then connects this to the case of Nicolae Ceausecu who brutally ruled Romania who, when asked about his travel ban, rationalized through an imagined paternal mandate to protect his children from the “evil world”, much as Fritzl did.

Now in the next week and a half I will be immersed in this book, I hope to go deeper into the more abstract and subtle aspects of Zizek’s thesis (think the push/pull effect of jouissance here). But for today, I have to apply it to the most prevalent issue in everyone’s life right now (can you guess it?): Trump.

I mean it: nothing could better prop up Zizek’s model of the tyrant than Trump’s style of public speaking. He clearly fancies himself some kind of paternal figure looking out for the interests of his children: disenfranchised white people. And no matter how ignorant it may seem , and no matter how much we dispel it, he will still experience it, in his head, as some kind of paternal wisdom: something that we, as his children, don’t yet understand.

Now some among us might dismiss my point as alarmist since, given the system we have that is pushing back, Trump will never be able to live out that fantasy. But that is really beside the point. What should really matter to us is a rather profound point made by Tony Schwartz on AM Joy today on MSNBC when asked about Trump’s coziness with brutal dictators such as Kim Jung Un and Putin:

The thing to understand is that Trump, to his frustration, has to deal with the institutions our democracy has built over the years. He has to play nice. But make no mistake about it: were he to have the lack of consequences that Un and Putin have, he has the perfect potential to be every bit as brutal and murderous as any dictator before him –that is given his outright narcissism, psychopathy, and, in general, mental illness. We can see this in his general comfort with the idea of separating children from their parents when they seek refuge in America.

I mean how close do you have to get to kicking babies and puppies to recognize how dangerous this asshole and his followers really are?

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:28 pm

Today I want to dig a little into (explore (the 3 expressions of the petit objet a that Žižek offers in his preface to The Plague of Fantasies: subtraction, protraction, and obstruction. And fair warning: the following material may not be suitable for all viewing audiences –that is given the element of Jouissance (French for sexual ecstasy (that I tend to attribute to Žižek’s application of the petit objet a.

(And please keep in mind that I am just exploring the subject and, by no means, consider myself an authority on the subject.)

For my purposes, it is good to start with subtraction since it seems to have an almost tautological relationship with the petit objet a which, as I understand it, means the small object. And I call it a good start because it offers me a hopefully clear way of explaining the connection I see between the petit objet a and Jouissance.

But first let me explain my understanding of Jouissance. As it was explained to me in my graphic guide, Lacan for Beginners (and I can easily imagine the snickering out there), it is a matter of looking more deeply into the experience of sex. On the surface, it is an experience of pleasure. But at the same time, it is an experience of discomfort. Lacan’s argument for this was that if you took the sexual act right up to the point of climax, then cut it off, you would experience extreme discomfort. In more blue-collar male circles, we refer to this as “blue-balls”. And this is a perfectly legit attempt on the part of Lacan to be more scientific and empirical.

I, on the other hand, being more creative than intelligent, see the deeper and more subtle aspects of this –much as I suspect Lacan did and Žižek does in ways above my pay grade. If you think about it, the act of sex is one of working your way (of reaching a threshold (out of a place that you are actually enjoying at the time. It’s like you’re being pulled in two directions at the same time. And you can apply this to pleasure in general such as the experience of a really good song that makes you want to fold into yourself.

And we can see this kind of push/pull effect at work in the objet petite a as concerns subtraction. The foot fetish (as I understand it at least (is a matter of a small object reaching into the whole without actually offering it. I would suggest that it’s a kind of metonymical relationship that creates a push/pull relationship between the signifier and the signified. And, of course, every heterosexual man can relate to this metonymical dynamic though the phenomenon of cleavage: that which makes the breasts fully present (an objet petite a in itself (while making them absent: a form of subtraction.That is why it drives men nuts.

Unfortunately (and as I should have expected), subtraction took up today’s window. And I suspect this will be the same with protraction and obstruction. But in my defense I did say this was an exploration.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:32 pm

“But first let me explain my understanding of Jouissance. As it was explained to me in my graphic guide, Lacan for Beginners (and I can easily imagine the snickering out there), it is a matter of looking more deeply into the experience of sex. On the surface, it is an experience of pleasure. But at the same time, it is an experience of discomfort. Lacan’s argument for this was that if you took the sexual act right up to the point of climax, then cut it off, you would experience extreme discomfort. In more blue-collar male circles, we refer to this as “blue-balls”. And this is a perfectly legit attempt on the part of Lacan to be more scientific and empirical.”

Now something I should go into deeper here (based on what I understand about Lacan (is that there is darker element at work here. As Lacan went on to explain, Jouissance is also at work in forms of hysteria and neurosis. It is always a matter of experiencing discomfort on the conscious level while experiencing pleasure at a more sub-conscious level. And think about it: why else would we repeat behaviors that, at a conscious level, give us discomfort unless we, at a subconscious level, experienced pleasure.

A young man falls in love with a young woman that has all the objet petit a’s: nice breasts, a face that is rough but nice to look at, and a sexually affable personality. In other words, what he is looking for is what he sees as a slut. He gets said young lady to fall in love him. The next thing he knows, that young lady is taking every opportunity she can to go out without him. (And I am taking this scenario out of Žižek’s Plague of Fantasies.) He begins to fantasize about her having sex with other men; can hardly help himself.

So you have to ask why it is he does this to himself. First of all, at a more superficial level, he does it because what he sought out in the first place was a slut. Therefore, that’s all he can imagine her being. But at a deeper Lacanian level, he does it because he experiences a kind of subconscious pleasure in imagining her with another man. Why else would he repeat the behavior?

And this negative aspect of Jouissance (that push/pull effect (is important to understand since, in Plague of Fantasies, it expands into acts of evil such as the extra bump concentration camp officials must have felt while exposing Jewish prisoners to debilitating exercise routines under the guise of looking out for their health.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:31 pm

"That is to say: desire and jouissance are inherently antagonistic, even exclusive: desire's raison d'etre (or 'utility function', to use Richard Dawkin's term) is not to realize its goal, to find full satisfaction, but to reproduce itself as desire." -from Zizek's Plague of Fantasies

And here I find myself at odds with myself in that my understanding of Joiussance doesn't just conflict with the above, but the graphic guide's, Lacan for Beginners, translation of the term as sexual climax. Still, as I wrote previously on the issue:

"Now something I should go into deeper here (based on what I understand about Lacan (is that there is darker element at work here. As Lacan went on to explain, Jouissance is also at work in forms of hysteria and neurosis. It is always a matter of experiencing discomfort on the conscious level while experiencing pleasure at a more sub-conscious level. And think about it: why else would we repeat behaviors that, at a conscious level, give us discomfort unless we, at a subconscious level, experienced pleasure."

And I should take the genealogical approach of tracing back to an earlier post:

“But first let me explain my understanding of Jouissance. As it was explained to me in my graphic guide, Lacan for Beginners (and I can easily imagine the snickering out there), it is a matter of looking more deeply into the experience of sex. On the surface, it is an experience of pleasure. But at the same time, it is an experience of discomfort. Lacan’s argument for this was that if you took the sexual act right up to the point of climax, then cut it off, you would experience extreme discomfort. In more blue-collar male circles, we refer to this as “blue-balls”. And this is a perfectly legit attempt on the part of Lacan to be more scientific and empirical.”

The problem (and maybe my peers on the Žižek board can help with this (is that, in the first quote, Žižek distinguishes Jouissance from desire (the process of desire being that which leads to Jouissance: sexual climax as the beginner’s guide defines it (while I tend to convolute the two terms. To me, that push/pull experience described in the part on Jouissance in the beginner’s guide suggested that the dynamics of the sexual climax are built into the process of getting there. I mean think about it: isn’t the experience of sex one of working one’s way to a threshold that will take you out of place that you’re really enjoying at the time? Of being pulled in two directions? It was through this understanding of Jouissance that I was able to apply it to other experiences of pleasure such as that song that makes you want to fold into yourself and, thereby, gives you pleasure. It even applies to the pleasure that we get from what we are doing here: it is a series of not always comfortable actions pursued for that experience of the breakthrough. And lot of what Žižek describes in the book seems to support my model such as his descriptions of thwarted lovers: the way they seem to take pleasure in their pain.

It just seems to me that desire is a redundant term in that it seems to encompass Jouissance.

Or have I totally mucked up in my interpretation? Merely hijacking the term for my own uses?

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:21 pm

“Here also, however, it is much more productive to look for this notion of fantasy where one would not expect to find it: in marginal and, again, apparently purely utilitarian situations. Let us simply recall the safety instructions prior to the takeoff of an aeroplane -are they not sustained by a phantasmic scenario of how a possible plane crash will look? After a gentle landing on water (miraculously, it is always supposed to happen on water!), each of the passengers puts on the life-jacket and, as on a beach toboggan, slides into the water and takes a swim, like a nice collective lagoon experience under the guidance of an experienced swimming instructor. Is not this ‘gentrifying’ of a catastrophe (a nice soft landing, stewardesses in dance-like style graciously pointing towards the ‘Exit’ signs…) also ideology at its purest?” –from Žižek’s Plague of Fantasies

This is exactly the kind of thing that puts Žižek in my holy triad (along with Rorty and Deleuze). Not only have I experienced the performance he describes above, but I can easily see the analogical overlap (the candy coated tyranny at work (with other utilitarian and everyday experiences. And as Žižek also explains, when it comes to the unconscious, the truth is out there. And the message implied by the performance above is:

“Don’t worry; market Capitalism has your back. No matter what catastrophic events we bring into your life, we will always be there (for a profit that is (to fix it.”

Of course, we all know the limits on this as concerns plane crashes. And we see the overlap with TV commercials that advertise debt relief services as well as Identity theft protection services: both of which will provide protection (and they say this with the same smile as the stewardesses (from problems they created in the first place –that is, once again, for a small fee.

And we see this same candy-coated dynamic at work in the local news which is incapable of taking a position on anything. They just report the news pretty much in the same way they do the weather: detached. And to offer an interesting anecdote here: an old friend of mine, one that went from republican to libertarian to what seemed like frustration, confessed to me (and I am summarizing here( that he no longer wanted the news to express its opinion about anything. He just wanted it to report the news as compared to (I assume ( MSNBC and FOX News. And I have to give him credit for ‘baby steps’. And I assume that he was prioritizing local news.

But here’s my problem: we can easily imagine the local news (much as media in general (going right along with its smiling, candy-coated view of the world while the rest of the country succumbs to a totalitarian regime. We can see it performing the same absurd scenario as the stewardess during safety instructions. I mean it already seems to be doing so while our government is bullying children.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:18 pm

"Calcutta is regularly presented as Hell on Earth, the exemplary case of the decaying Third World megalopolis, full of social decay, poverty, violence and corruption, with its residents caught in terminal apathy (the facts are, of course, rather different: Calcutta is a city bursting with activity, culturally much more thriving than Bombay, with a successful local Communist government maintaining a whole network of social services). Into this picture of utter gloom, Mother Teresa brings a ray of hope to the dejected with the message that poverty is to be accepted as a way to redemption, since the poor, in enduring their sad fate with silent dignity and faith, repeat Christ's Way of the Cross... The ideological benefit of this operation is double: in so far as she suggests to the poor and terminally ill that they should seek salvation in their very suffering. Mother Teresa deters them from probing into the causes of their predicament –from politicizing their situation; at the same time, she offers the rich from the West the chance of a kind of substitute-redemption by making financial contributions to her charitable activity” –From Žižek’s Plague of Fantasies

Of course, this all gets pulled off because of how likable Mother Teresa really is. Note, for instance, the time she appeared in America and argued, against abortion (that is with a twinkle in her eye), that if a woman didn’t want their child, they could easily give them to her. I won’t even go into how unrealistic that was. The interesting thing was how Clinton, a pro-choice politician, responded: stuck in the corner of either agreeing with her or offending (of all people, MOTHER-FUCKING Teresa!!!!! (simply said something to the effect that the woman was beyond reproach: a clear act of appeasement. The problem, to me, however, is that when the woman expressed a political opinion, she threw her hat into the arena of political discourse. And there, no one is beyond reproach.

That said, the main reason I bring this quote up is that we see a similar dynamic (that which Mother Teresa served as a veil to (at work in advertisements for children’s charities. And how can we resist those big sad eyes anymore than we could Mother Teresa? The problem is that, if you think about it, you have to question the very fact that those children exist in the first place. You have to look at the parents. I mean you’re living in a shit-house shack built on top of garbage heap with barely enough food and clean water for yourself, and your response is to bring a child into it. And I know this sounds harsh. It even sounds rightwing since the right would all too enthusiastically grab onto it without (as the right is all too prone to do (pursuing the issue further.

Were they to pursue it further, they would recognize that the problem is the result of their gag rules on foreign aid that includes counseling on birth control and abortion. In other words, what we see in these ads are Christian groups asking us to give money (that is through the pressure of guilt: the big sad eyes of the children (in order to fix a problem they contributed to in a major way. They want us to fix their mistakes, to have their cake and eat it too.

Of course, in the face of those big sad eyes, we’re not allowed to politicize.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:59 pm

The interesting thing about right wingers is that they tend to throw out bullshit as if they are incapable of imagining someone actually fact checking. It even seems more absurd in the age of Google. And I’m not focusing on Trump here. That issue is being addressed on a public scale through news media. This, rather, was inspired by a recent personal/anecdotal experience. My right wing friend (as he sometimes attempts to do (threw in a little right wing jab at me: he argued that what is happening on the southern border has actually been going for some time and couldn’t see why everyone was making such a big deal about it. My response was reluctance to just accept the assertion and that I would have to look a little deeper into in. And me being me, I did. And as expected, I found out, as usual, that he was only partially right:

The truth is that separating families has always been an option on the border and sometimes actually happened, especially in cases where they decided to prosecute the parents, the main justification for taking the children away being that you clearly could not put them in jail with their parents. However, this tact was not generally taken. (And thank you PolitiFact!) Before the mess we are seeing in the south, the general procedure was to house them in family detention centers where they would be processed until they were either given asylum or deported. In other words, it was rare for children to be separated from their parents except in cases where the child did not actually belong to the adult they were with or were entering alone, the main concern being human trafficking.

But here’s the interesting thing about it: the core of mine and my rightwing friend’s relationship is our mutual intellectual curiosity. We have interesting conversations all the time while, knowing where each other stands, avoiding politics. He had to know that I was going check into it and, facts being facts, dismiss it. And this is likely why he hasn’t pushed the issue since then. And I’ve seen the same thing at the bar, the “library” I go to as part of my process. Once again, they know who I am. They see me every day at the bar with my book, notebook, and computer. Still, every once in a while, they will throw in one of those right wing jabs that they know I’m going to research.

You can’t help but see Frankfurt’s bullshit dynamic at work. They are, in a sense, a lot like actual bullshitters: they tell you stories about their selves that they have got to know no one will believe. I once had a guy describe to me an experience he had in the military: a narrative that perfectly fit Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

I mean you really have to think about the psychology behind all this in order to really understand the age of Trump.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:22 pm

Having reached the end of my second full reading of Žižek’s Plague of Fantasies (as well as countless partial stabs at it along with my ventures into Lacan), I’m starting to get a better (if yet vague (understanding of the relationship between desire, drive, castration, the symbolic order, and the phallic and the fetish: the objet petite a. If I understand it right, castration (that which ropes in drive and the desires that emerge from it (is the symbolic order’s way initiating us into its self. This, for us as individuals, creates a void that we have to fill in with phallic supplements that often take the form of fetishes built on the dynamic of the objet petit a, a process that is supplemented by fantasy.

?: or am I getting it wrong….

But assuming I am getting it somewhat right, it seems to me that this could as effectively be described as society not so much suppressing our desires as channeling them to the interests of the powers that be. Now, of course, anyone more familiar with the continental approach might protest that I am over-simplifying what the writer(s) was saying. And I will give them that. Still, I have to question the practicality of taking all these oblique and poetic back roads in order to represent the subtleties they are trying to get across when they could just as easily start with what is immediately accessible and work their way from there.

And the only answer I see to my interrogation is that the continentals are more interested in being interesting writers than they are purveyor’s of truths. It’s a little like what Umberto Eco pointed out in an interview:

The difference between the analytic and continental approach is that the analytic approach attempts to build off of previous discoveries much as science does while the continental approach attempts to say the same old things in such novel ways that they seem to be saying something totally original.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:18 pm

"Lately I've been running by day, drinking by night, as though first to build a man and then destroy him....." -from 'Words' by Philip Levine

The story of my life……
*
In praise of Phillip Levine:
*
http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/levine ... y_lion.php
-From ‘They Feed They Lion’ by Philip Levine

?: does this poem have the same feel as The Smith’s How Soon is Now (https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/sear ... tion=click( to anyone else……

I would also note what I call “the apocalyptic style” in it, that similar to Ginsberg’s Howl: that which runs through a series of images that feel loosely connected. And we can easily feel the influence of Yeat’s ‘The Second Coming’.

That said, the above poem pretty much typifies the reason I have come to love Levine’s poetry and why I have (after many years (returned to his selected poems: that kind of grimy, oil stained feel of someone negotiating an industrialized and unjust environment through a kind of reverence via struggle.
*
“My brother comes home from work
and climbs the stairs to our room.
I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop
one by one. You can have it, he says”
-from Levine’s poem ‘You Can Have It’

It’s been interesting returning to Levine in the age of Trump in that you recognize Trump’s potential followers (those negotiating an industrialized and unjust system (in it. And let’s be clear: this is not to assume that Levine would be some kind of Trump mouthpiece. In fact, I would argue that Levine’s interests were a little more Marxist in nature while also seeing the futility of resistance (see ‘Not This Pig’ and ‘Baby Villon’).

And, of course, the scariest thing about it is that Trump seems to want to return us to that grimy, oil-stained environment that Levine was dealing with. And if Trump succeeds we can only hope to approach it with the same spiritual fallback that Levine describes.

d63
Posts: 630
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:23 pm

“Classical demonism illustrates the absolutist perspective of deviance by dividing the world into good and evil. To follow the universal set of rules on which a society is based is “good;” to disrupt the plan is “evil” and an affront to God and society. This dualistic perspective, which is often characterized by a supernatural element, suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with those who do not adhere to the social order. Classical demonism has reemerged as an explanation for deviance in modern society, often being used as a convenient way to explain and categorize bad behavior. Modern demonism, while more secular than the classical form, continues to divide the world into opposing forces—those who know what is right and those who do not.” –from Paul Root Wolpe’s outline for his Great Courses lecture: Explaining Social Deviance

And I would offer a form of demonism that Wolpe did not actually go into in his lecture: the tyranny of the functional under producer/consumer Capitalism. The main point I would ask you to focus on in the above is:

“This dualistic perspective, which is often characterized by a supernatural element, suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with those who do not adhere to the social order.”

The point Wolpe went on to make is that when we talk about the supernatural, it must, by definition, be about what seems to be beyond the natural. He uses it in a more general sense than gods and ghosts. Therefore, when we are talking about “evil”, we are talking about something that cannot be empirically defined. One could almost think of it as metaphysical in a sense. For instance, we can talk about an act as being “bad” in that it will have a certain negative effect; but when it comes to evil, all we know is that it FEELS evil.

He also pointed out that norms (and deviances from them (are basically social constructs. Therefore, deviance (in many circles), is defined by that which breaks or threatens the commonly accepted sense of what the social order is. And the way they prop this up is by acting as if the generally sense of social order is rooted in nature itself –that is as compared to a human construct- a natural force if you will.

And nothing could make this more clear to us than the way we (via media (normalize previously deviant behaviors. Take the sitcom Will and Grace. In it, we come to accept Will, the homosexual, through his portrayal as a perfectly valid producer/consumer. We do as much in TV ads that do not present minorities as their selves as much as yuppies with darker skin. Even when African Americans are presented as rappers, they’re presented as the brothers and sisters that made it as is made clear through all the bling.

Producer/consumer Capitalism is a human construct: an agreement among the participants. In that sense it is a religion (note the god-like invisible hand (a demonization that defines as deviant that which fails to act in the proper role of a producer/consumer. All you have to do is watch any episode of COPS and you will see what I mean. It’s basically a whipping post for non-producer/consumers: white trash and minorities –what is "evil" in the eyes of producer/consumer Capitalism- or that which fails to placate to the tyranny of the functional.

d63
Posts: 630
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:03 pm

“And this is what we’re up against: a group of people that made a really bad choice, are starting to see the consequences of that choice, but are having a hard time accepting the fact that they have made that bad choice. In reference to the above, if they accept the fact that Trump makes oversimplified choices, they too have to admit that they have made an oversimplified choice. Now imagine how hard that would be for an individual in the face of a reality that is making that all too clear to them. Imagine the denial one would be tempted to resort to.”

Another model to consider here is Kierkegaard’s Continuation of Sin. The point of it is that, sometimes, when a person commits an act that they know to be against a general sense of right, instead owning it, they’ll take the irrational step of leaning into the momentum of the wrong. For instance, I once saw a story on TV of two boys who decided (through a kind of weird incremental process that builds into an outside-of-the-norm act (to kill one of the boy’s parents. They, through the inertia of it, eventually carried out the act. And we can easily imagine them, having recognized what they had done (and completely intimidated and overwhelmed by the likely consequences and the guilt that was too much to own), choosing to lean into their sin (to become “pure evil” (in order to avert responsibility for it. We see a similar dynamic, for instance, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth as well as Sam Raime’s movie A Simple Plan. The two boys went on to do a school shooting.

And I believe we can apply the same dynamic to belief systems. We’re talking about a group of people (outside of the 1/3 of the American voter pool that are completely lost (who, out of frustration, decided to experiment with Trump and saw that experiment go horribly wrong. Imagine the blow to your sense of yourself as an enlightened individual. Imagine the temptation to double down or your previous indiscretion, to rationalize.

In other words, as progressives and democrats, we have to be gentle (and thoughtful (when taking advantage of the reality that is moving many of them away from Trump and the Republicans.

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