The task of intellectuals today is to facilitate these goons to go their own way, to the point that they create such a gap between themselves and intellectuals that their criticisms, demands or desires are no longer taken seriously. The difficulty will be in how to create and reinforce this unbridgeable gap effectively.
I wonder if the Greeks will in fact aim not to experience any discomfort at all. You know, if the infantile refusal to experience discomfort is really as pervasive as you suggest, we are all in the same boat with it. Some people seem to have adapted to the new psychology, whereby people attempt to mould other people to suit their needs, rather than speaking to them directly, one person to another. This is the advance way of doing things now — but it is both advanced AND infantile at the same time.
Yeah, it is like sinking sand if you meet someone with this world view. They might seem ok on the surface, but then they start labeling you with this or that aspect of things. And I KNOW by all this time that I do not have, by any means, a typical Western modern character structure, so I KNOW when this happens that what is taking place is usually projection, if not just simply shoddy thinking. There tends to come a point when people reveal their shoddy thinking to me — or their incapacity for thought. Suddenly I become aware that somebody has been reading me as a Western character type all the time, whereas I had made clear to them that I am not. I have very much an austere, post-war character structure, and I’ve inherited the shame from my father who was beaten in the war. So I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve to the extent of the modern personality. This makes people uneasy. They think they know me, but they also feel they are not sure. And rightly so. They shouldn’t be sure because the lower reaches of my character structure are repressed and reticient. When the turning point comes and it is apparent that I am not as easy to “read” as I was thought to be, that is when the accusations fly that I have somehow been rather tricky. In an attempt toget to know me better, I am given many different labels that pertain to people diametically different from me in character structure.
As for the horrific tendency of people to revel in their psychiatric diagnoses, I do believe this to be an extremely bad cultural trend. Now that I understand the lay of the land as it is for the majority in the industrialised English speaking world, I also understand why it was so difficult for me to find the means to solve my own problems, that is from the position of someone who had the opposite condition to most people brought up in the West. They are inclined to speak their minds to all. I was suffering from shame so deep it swallowed all my emotions and I couldn’t access them anymore. That was actually my state, and whenever I tried to speak, people accused me of being arrogant. I was suffering from profound repression. All I got from people was that I must be a female stereotype (a very Western one!) because I was trying to articulate something I could not actually articulate. When one’s emotions are buried deep, it is amazing how little it is really possibly to articulate. And then these Western types kept saying, “Oh, no, you are drawing attention to yourself,” as if I already had a typical Western character and was being flamboyant. And I’ve had random fly-by-night shooters label me with a lot of typical Western characteristics, due to the general prevalance of psychiatric terms in the contemporary culture. Severe emotional repression is the exact opposite to the highly integrated and/or emotionally charged character that most Western females are labeled with, which they also probably correspond to more or less. This attitude of flamboyant self-diagnosis that many contemporary people go in for really makes mental health into a very superficial cultural discourse, and does nothing to get to the bottom of the systemic pathologies that are engendered and reinforced by imposing gender stereotypes. To be deemed feminine and loquacious and emotionally volatile when my problem was an excessive tendency to impose control over myself has not been helpful. My level of emotional control always was and still is very high. It became pathologically high, though, when I was taking out my aggression on myself, rather than integrating it with the rest of my being.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Christianity
Experiencing my father’s strong hate, I turned my aggression inwardly. This led to my succumbing to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my twenties. An overheating of the immune system. Inward-directed aggression is of course the exact opposite of being emotionally labile, which is what Christian ideology tends to accuse women of being. It perplexed me no end when people brought up in a Christian culture kept ascribing these opposite attributes to me. I didn’t understand that they were merely employing the mechanisms of an ideology, so I thought I must have been communicating especially badly. I tried still harder to communicate, using different methodologies and varying the emotional tempo to see which approach might work. It was really necessary for me to alleviate this extreme guilt complex — this sense of having failed in life absolutely, because my father lost the war. To escape from my troubles I felt I had to communicate. This was really difficult whilst people were alleging I had the opposite characteristics to the ones I had. I felt locked into my own mind, and the more I felt this way, the more aggression I directed at myself. Christianity was killing me from the inside out.
It wasn’t until I read Nietzsche that I began to understand human psychology. Before that I had been dwelling in the mode of metaphysics, which meant upbraiding myself for every small sign of falling short of an overarching standard of perfection. From Nietzsche I learned that all humans harbor aggression and that is it better — healthier — to direct those energies in some way outwardly, rather than keeping them inside. Nietzsche effectively saved my life by stopping me from attacking myself.
My immune system used to be so low that not only would I contract any virus going around, but I would then spend the greater part of the year getting over a minor cold. A ‘flu virus in my system was a major disaster for me, as the infection stemming from it would inevitably migrate into my sinuses and ear canals, leaving me debilitated for month upon month. Because I had internalized the Christian ideology of moral perfectionism so much, I couldn’t offer any excuses for myself. I would mumble something about not being able to hear others properly, due to my eternally blocked ears, and try to soldier on. I knew any sign of weakness would only invoke my father’s wrath more completely. He would rain down fire and brimstone. I was the cause of everything that had gone wrong. I was the externalisation of the negative feelings he had about himself.
That I was unable — and literally prevented — from communicating the nature of the problem I endured for many years was down to cultural Christianity. If women are not to be trusted on principle, there is little they can communicate. They must keep enduring whatever situation they are in until they find a way out of it.
Although I succumbed to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my early twenties, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had made significant achievements in managing to climb out of it. I really had to re-pattern my whole psyche so that its energy systems were not directed inward but went outward to some degree. I had to destroy myself (as I had been) and build myself up again, whilst having no recourse to communicating my project to anyone. Those I did try to speak to communicated, by their actions, that they not only didn’t understand but that I made them angry. I had to save my very limited energetic resources not in soliciting the help of others but in building myself up.
These days I find that those who embrace cultural Christianity still do blame me for something nebulous, but their opposition to my goals and intellectual efforts is not all that active. Something in me or in the air has changed. It would be a vast understatement to say I am grateful for it.
Mike and I have a common sentiment that we simply love to share. It’s that “communism is good.”
“Hey, did you look at my essay and check my grammar?” I shout out from the other room.
“Yes. All done.”
“And are you sure you weren’t tempted to add anything extra?”
“I added one thing only — that communism is good,” he answers.
It has been difficult for me, encountering the ideology that says I must adapt to cultures and attitudes that I don’t feel. Everything that pressures me, that pushes me in one way or another, saying “hurry, and adapt!” has had its peculiar and complex effect on me.
I lost my health for many years, but it is back again. I think I nearly killed my father once or I might have imagined it, being prone as I am to taking on the blame for others — or perhaps he did it himself, by trying to force me to become without a mind of my own. It made for an impossible situation — where survival was possible for one of us or the other, within the limitations of his ideological view of women, so the more he told me that I couldn’t speak, or even think properly, the more I told him to leave my space and me alone and go and die. Then he became manic and nearly drowned in the ocean and an ambulance had to take him to the hospital. I couldn’t get others to take me or my situation seriously, so I fought with fire as best I could. I was numb to social relations by this time. I repeated my mantra for survival: “Either me, or him.”
Hate gets to the bottom of your soul eventually, and when you know that you are hated, you become ruthless eventually. The struggle for survival seems to sharpen on all sides in harsh relief, when you are surrounded by hate. You make absolutist ultimatums to preserve yourself — and it comes down in the end to “Either me, or him.”
And I knew this, too, because I sensed his pain: my father had lost everything in losing his place in Rhodesia. His work place could no longer fund him, and his pay was diminishing with inflation, monthly. Perhaps his way of adaptation was to preserve in me a little retrogressive flavour — a little island of Rhodesia. Survival said I didn’t have the option to offer him that. “Either him or me.”
Hatred has its way of going deep — his constant attacks did that. On morning I was sleeping in late, due to a virus. 9.30 am — and he threw my bed over. I scrambled to cover myself with a sheet, naked. Right-wing and left-wing attacks on my identity now strike me with all the psychological force that sends my blood cold. This has gone on for so long. The ideological onslaughts that command me to change because I’m evil are based on Western needs to label and combat evil identities in their midst.
Whites who come from Zimbabwe (or “Rhodesia”, as it was known) are not, however, evil — as Western liberals hold. And, Communism is not inevitably “good” either! Get to know our sense of humor, our interests and nuances, because conforming to your cultural norms (rather than being out of step and in a time-warp) isn’t morally pure or all that intelligent either and adaptation is not the only meaning left in life after everything else in life has lost its meaning.
I’m reading more and more from this herald of cultural decline book of the early 200s, THE BLANK SLATE. He states that the humanities were mistaken in trying to get people to see that the world was “a weird and dangerous place”. The reason he gives is that the humanities types didn’t know enough science to understand the need to avoid masochism. Instead they held, via Freud, that the perceiver is irrational and also (through what Pinker claims to be a misappropriation of physcis) that their perceptive faculties influence what is being perceived (i.e they embraced cognitive relativism).
More likely weirdness and danger are the taulogical constructs of the conservative mind’s own perceptive apparatus — that is to say, its short-circuit and dead-end.
I really think Pinker’s book has to be closely read and scrutinised to better understand the horrors that some of us lived through during the past couple of decades. No doubt Pinker’s writing encapsulates a lot of the logic of antihumanities and justification for instinctive animalism that took hold of many — but he also pushed that project forward.
I also think that Bataille’s philosophical matrix, far more than Nietzsche’s, furnishes the perfect answer to this form of radical right wing antagonism. Bataille, in effect, says, if you fully KNOW the limits of your own being, you will not buy into this sort of stuff — it will have no enticement for you. Furthermore, Bataille’s capacity to see from both high and low perspectives, rather than jsut in animal terms, enables one to see how small a picture one embraces when one attaches oneself to this form of evolutionary psychology.
But it is still, in a way, our cultural hegemony. Most people have been pulled into it to some degree.
…. which all leads to a very enticing impasse. To be alone with the weirdness and danger must be a privilege reserved for the few….the ones who have a capacity to do that and enjoy it without being all weirded out and left unable to cope. I call those highly profound few “intelllectual shamans”.
Yeah, I’m not sure about the “Friends” imagery, as I never had much time for that show, but what is clear is that we are moving out of thete social engineering rubrick, which has had some successes but has largely failed. That doesn’t mean that there are not theories of “human nature” circulating out there and formulating all sorts of rubrics, which are fundamentally as wrong as can be. Those who submit to nature get nature in return, which means nourishing mothers and authoritarian fathers but very much little inbetween — and certainly nothing beyond this. Nature reproduces itself in a rather predictable way, but it doesn’t let in any intellectual light. For that to happen one would have to oppose “nature” — even, to some degree, on principle.
I’m not sure academia has been completely overtaken yet, but the point of any authority is that it has to have the ability, which is to say the socially condoned power, to remain remote and detached. You cannot have any symbolic or actual sense of authority if the overarching principle of governance is not permitted to remain detached but has to become embroiled in any squabble.
Although now I have a mirror blog.
Please go here instead of where you are:
When this happens, we are all in a very low state, as I feel we are today.
One simply has to have something to compare it to, to know this, however.
When I went back to Zimbabwe, I felt I did not have to justify every little thing I said by trying to show that I had shaken it dry of all emotionalism (i.e. any personally discrediting content). At least in the white culture, there is not this form of social censure. People are just people, and their status does not have anything to do, in principle, with the degree to which they can demonstrate a separation between their mind and body. In black culture, where “civilisation”, was externally imposed, women are ascribed as more emotional than men. This is from both the colonial point of view and that of the culture they already have. Therefore we can say that the black cultures are often more genuinely “natural” in that they identify men and women in terms of their familial positioning.
It’s not good in my view — this global “return to nature”. We need something else to intervene –some reason, some values imposed from as if from on high, but ideally something people have been led to feel would automatically be creditable.
Patriarchal power has been normalized to date, and not critiqued by the important figures of Western intellectual culture.
One reason for this is suggested by writer, Samuel Slipp*, who holds that it was because Freud had abandonment issues with his mother, which prevented him from viewing his relationship with his mother in a logical, accurate and consistent way. Due to his unstable connection with his mother, he was unable to make any inroads into “feminine psychology”. Perhaps “human psychology as it pertains to women” would have been a better term.
In any case, from a young age Freud’s psyche was split between seeing his mother in a wholly positive and wholly negative light. He would have had to understand his own psychology in relation to his mother to make sense of hers, but the “light” kept changing on him, due to early developmental issues.
As an important side note: It is my considered view that “feminine psychology” is a practical outcome of patriarchal power dynamics. In my view, an understanding of social dimensions and their changing nature is vital, or else one ends up with the metaphysical postulates one had started with. If women are necessarily “passive” — so be it. That is a fundamental truth of metaphysics. If one has accepts this, one will not be able to turn up any evidence to the contrary, no matter how widely one may look. It is of vital importance, therefore, to differentiate metaphysics (with its religious basis) from genuine science, which is always alert to measuring the changing world “out there”.
But, patriarchal approaches to psychology have ruled supreme, even up until today. What this means is that a certain degree of pathology — including Freud’s own, indicated by a lack of knowledge of “the psychology of the feminine” — has become normalized. Patriarchal dynamics, insofar as they exert a negative and pathological effect on those who come under them, have not at all been understood. Although feminists and sociologists are well aware of the negative outcomes of power as suppression, psychologists, in my experience, lag behind.
I have already written broadly about my father’s experiences with his mother. His father had been shot down in a plane over the ocean, during World War Two. I’m uncertain of the details, except that he was a radio-man in the back of the plane and was fighting on the British side of the war. My father grew up to hate his mother, due to similar abandonment issues to those Slipp describes with regard to Freud. Only, my father’s abandonment issues were more extreme. He also dealt with them differently from Freud. Rather than retaining an unconscious (that is, not intellectually integrated) ambivalence toward his mother, he developed pronounced contradictory principles to live by, which he formed into theological principles.
The first principle my father internalized was that one must, unconditionally, obey authorities to gain permission to thrive. This was a message from his mother, whose marriage of convenience had allowed my father to have a source of financial sustenance. She had obeyed the patriarchal principle of finding a male breadwinner, in order to support her child, my father. There was no social security system in Rhodesia Consequently, he had to also learn to obey this principle of necessity unconditionally. “Even though this new power over you is arbitrary and alien, you must obey it unconditionally.”
The second principle my father had internalized was that unconditional obedience leads to pain, abandonment and a life where one doesn’t get to decide the final meaning of anything. It’s inadvisable to follow this path. My father, in many unguarded moments, made it extremely clear to me that the path of unconditional obedience also leads to relentless, inescapable misery.
My father’s subconscious communication to me has always been in terms of two opposing principles: I command you to submit to all authorities without condition. I also caution you that this path leads to the most extreme form of unhappiness there is on Earth. If you do accept this formula for living, be aware that you will be extremely miserable. Nobody can help you here.”
So I learned a great deal from my father about how not to conform, under pain of risking my very sense of being.
My father’s principles were tricky, though. He’d placed a great deal of emphasis on the side of unconditional obedience. Indeed, he’d label any difficulties in life as being related to an inability to unconditionally trust.
Thus, when I faced some problems in my life, due to taking others at their word too much, which is related to my right-wing culturally conditioned naiveté, he would always label the problem in the exact opposite terms. “You’re not trusting enough! Your belief in authorities is too conditional.” I learned that this wasn’t so when my father tried to break down my sense of independence, to teach me to “trust”. Once again, it was a contradictory message: “If you give up your power to authorities, you will lose the pain that’s brought about by separateness.” The addendum was: “Only — from experience, I can tell you that this solution to your problems will induct you into desperate and suicidal misery!”
Of course, I decided not to trust my father on this. It was not only his logical consistencies, but his emotional urgency that persuaded me against developing too deep a trust.
Still, there were people who could not help but see things entirely his way. They were people who thought they were on his side, but were actually working against him, because they sided with unconditional trust of all authorities, no matter who they were. That is, they supported the idea that no matter what troubles it had already bought us, the patriarchal structure of paternal authority was correct. Thus they made the faith-based assumption that if I conformed to my father’s requirements, all would be well. But his own experience, as it had become semi-articulate, had warned me against this.
To trust unconditionally is to cast one’s fate to the winds: It is to open oneself to any violent storm that may be passing. My father’s residual integrity, a key part of his buried African persona, had manifestly designated this a bad option. I also couldn’t side with unconditional acceptance. This was a demand that came from my father’s would-be allies. Their demands nearly undid me. I had to fight for an internal anchor of self-justification to keep my sense of self.
There were those who have read my writing and who decided that my fight for independence from authoritarian control was all wrong. I’ve had those who, in opposition to my father’s semi-articulate plea not to trust the formula of all-acceptance, have demanded that unconditionally I accept a new way of life in Australia. There are also those who cannot understand why I will not conform to my father’s requirements to become his unconditionally accepting mother. I should be the punching bag against which his desperate emotions raged. It should be clear to them that any child is not equipped to be their father’s mother — to unconditionally accept them, so that they can move beyond the early childhood stage of confusion into adult maturity.
Those who would lay on me the heavy burden of being my father’s mother, correcting the past through controlling the present, have no idea what they are doing to me. A child cannot accept an adult’s burdens — and the story of my memoir is how I had accepted them for too long.
There are all sorts of situations that disturb me profoundly because they seem to be demanding of me, as a woman, that I give my trust and approval to them without nuance or critical distancing measure. I am to accept any authority without questioning or investigating whether it is good or bad. These situations paralyze me with a threat of annihilation. I can’t engage emotionally with such demands. I’m overwhelmed with numbness. I disengage.
For my whole life, there are those who have tried to force me to become the emotionally life-giving mother of my father, in the belief that “father knows best” and submitting to authority without question is the norm. In response, I’ve feared every situation that demanded I give all my trust without condition or limit. Moreover I have been fully aware that the only measure separating me from destruction has been in resolutely not giving my trust in this way.
Others have chosen to assume my disengagement from these violent social demands must be related to my ego. I must have such a gigantic ego that I can’t engage with people who demand my absolute compliance.
The opposite is the case. I have simply been preserving what is left of my ego when I I have stepped out of an extremely bad situation. I won’t be pushed into a role of being anybody’s early childhood mother, or giving them my wholehearted trust regardless of their behavior.
* Samuel Slipp’s book, The Freudian Mystique, usefully suggests why the psycho-dynamics of patriarchal family structures did not come under scrutiny via Freud.
I still long for a challenge and for the toughness that makes you feel like you are really working against something to get results. Beach running doesn’t really make me feel all that tough. Writing books that nobody reads was a very tough experience, because it was me against myself, trying to get to the bottom of things hidden from myself. That was painful and I did become raw from the effort needed.
I’d like to do something I would consider personally significant, for the rest of my life, like offer my services to combat ivory hunters. This would push me against myself and against my limits and would be doing something right, leaving a better global legacy.
I just miss the rawness and the wild. I yearn for it. The birds singing outside my window in the morning are something, but that is nothing like the wildness of unpredictability — the sort you get in Africa.
My cash resources are strapped and the work I have is limited. I would expand outwardly if I could find a way, but it is very difficult to know how.
The only certainty is that I’m moving into a new phase of my life.
So actually some kind of Jewish literary star. Because she wrote well and was well-poised socially to spring into the world of literature, she could push the boundaries and write in this way. In the end it is just a text, which is to say that whatever becomes of the author herself has to do with her own ability to untangle herself from the mess she was in.