Thursday, January 19, 2017

And yet another further thought on Lord of the Rings

If you re-read the part where Elrond agrees to let Merry and Pippen into the Fellowship rather than the two elf-lords he was considering, it's really rather amusing. What he actually does is relent, to Pippen's badgering -- pick me! pick me!-- and to Gandalf arguing for the importance of friendship over sheer might... as if friendship isn't something that is quickly forged when on travels, as it was between Gandalf himself and Shadowfax just before he got to Rivendale, and it will soon be between the elf, Legolas, and dwarf, Gimli, on their way to Mordor.

Elrond the great leader more or less goes, "fine, it's only the end of the world if you fail... take your two munchkins over my elf-lords, even as even if two elf-lords can't "storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in [them]," they could at least come closer to that pippenmerry possibly could.

It's irritating that pippenmerry weren't given better reason, for as it is it really seems folly that Elrond didn't wave them and Gandalf off, reminding them all that just previously they only got away from the Ring Wraiths at Weathertop because they were beset by only five rather than the full nine of them... increments in power absolutely still count, even as the course is of evasion not brash confrontation of Mordor's total force.

Further thought on Lord of the Rings

So at the Council of Elrond, there is an elf-lord, Glorfindel, who argues that the One Ring be deposited in the middle of the ocean. Gandalf acknowledges that if might well be safe there for "a passing of a world," but because the threat -- even if incredibly long delayed -- would still however exist, it must instead be dealt with for good immediately. To me this sounds a bit like someone arguing that, yes, the sun is in no soon danger of burning out, but a number of billions of years from now it nevertheless will do so, and so it is our greatest concern to do something about this fact -- NOW.

Fortunately Elrond immediately steps up to argue that the way east to the sea will be under most watch -- it's likely what Sauron's expecting -- so it's not really an option, anyway, because otherwise Gandalf would seem a bit ripe for mocking; especially considering that the alternative he favours involves bringing it closer and closer to him, where the orcs get denser, and the pathways, more clogged.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Musings on the hobbits in "Lord of the Rings"

I was thinking of writing a short essay on Lord of the Rings -- the book. Not sure, but probably. I'll mention now though that comparing the book with the film, one notes how much more democratic Jackson is compared to Tolkien. Jackson's impetus with the hobbits is to make each one of them leaders in the sense that with their decisions, abide the fate of the world... so leaders in the most flattering and worthy sense. Frodo decides to set off alone into Gondor, and the future King -- Aragorn -- has to react to this decision, and decides in fact to change course, which is what happens in the film. So all good both ways there: Frodo sheds himself the impetus of the great council of Elrond, which willed they go as much as possible as a team. But in the film it is Merry and Pippen who are responsible for destroying Saruman, they sway the ent-leader to his decision to participate and fight, when he had at first decided to play it the Tom Bombadil way and let the whole rancid world go discombobulate -- go fuck -- itself, whereas in the book this is a decision the ent-leader comes to only on his own. Merry and Pippen do nothing in their stay with him other than see things they can brag about when they return home... about how close they were to central events, which is a kind of closet narcissism. They also grow a couple of inches, literally, which encourages a kind of grandiose narcissism. It's the "parents" that do the meaningful stuff.

Now of course it is one of these two hobbits who distinctively distracts the Nazgul commander, by stabbing him with his magical sword, and so he can be dispatched by the warrior "who is not a man" but who is temporarily stunned and on her ass. But could you imagine how the reading experience of the book would have been different if somehow one of the hobbits -- being good at riddles -- had divined that the secret lady warrior joining the Rohirim into Gondor -- which he only seems to know about -- might be the "no man" perhaps fated to defeat the Nazgul lord, and arranged to keep close to her through the battle to perhaps serve as a sort of an innocuous but essential assistant to her delivering the fateful blow? He's small, nimble and easy to overlook, and, more essentially, one of the very few soldiers with the kind of magic sword that can do any kind of damage at all to the Nazguls (the book makes this explicit: without the magic sword, no painful piercing of Nazgul tendons, no meaningful distraction, no dispatch of the Nazgul king, and more assuredly, one very much squashed princess on the battlefield).

You can count up the number of times where Merry and Pippen do surprisingly essential things in the battlefield (for example, do you know that the epic fight with the tremendous cave troll in the film is absent in the book because of one of them stabbing it in the foot just as he was making his entrance?). But without the canniness Jackson gives them, in the books they seem only those who do surprisingly well for child-sized hobbits (meaning: any Gondor knight would have been better for the Fellowship, overall; and the Elvish lord that is considered... infinitely superior.)

Strangely, this doesn't seem as true with Jackson's film version of The Hobbit. In the film, he does credit Bilbo with the canny decision to distract the trolls, which in the book is all Gandalf's doing... Bilbo is passive. But elsewhere in the book Tolkien seems to give him much more credit. The defeat of the spiders is all Bilbo's doing: basically imagine the whole contribution of the elves in the movie and attribute it to Biblo solo and you're part ways close to assessing his actions properly... but not quite at all fully there! for Bilbo lures, bates, and even seemingly triangulates the spiders to their doom. And of course, unforgettably, Smaug's doom is all Bilbo's doing. In conversation with Smaug, Bilbo believes he sees something awry in the Smaug's sword-proof armor and he manipulates Smaug into exposing his full "magnificent" body, into posing, so Bilbo can be sure about what he saw. The fact of this flaw eventually gets transmitted to Bard so he can direct his aim... so he can do something actually meaningful, other than posture heroically before being fried to a crisp. 

Bilbo didn't install the flaw in Smaug's otherwise perfect construction, but he is all Rogue One in that he is the one who finds out about it and gets the message on its way to "princess Leia" Bard. In the movie, of course, Bard spots the weak spot on his own, and without any cunning involved. Bilbo, on the other hand, had to endure Smaug accurately undressing Bilbo's every motive... even his being in the possession of a magic ring.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Comments (various)

From what I understand, this article is advocating sort of a Rousseauian understanding of human nature. That the infant is actually born beautific, but is warped into something pained and self-reproaching through the adverse influence of malevolent (a commercial, authoritarian) society. I think this is right, but why... but how, exactly, do these ostensibly absolutely anti-human manipulations get installed in the first place? If aliens from Mars who supremely hate humans didn't put them in place, just to royally screw with them, then humans themselves did. 

Even if ultimately something that absolutely deserves the mocking and attack this article presents them with, did they once actually HELP humanity? Was somewhere in the past humans' developmental history so badly off, that the perversity of such conceptions of children and parents listed here, and the whole structure of an ostensibly dominant-class ruled society that joys in manipulating and cowing the rest of society, actually a step up from where it was before? Did it exist because to some extent human beings saw it as a tool that would help alleviate their pain, and in fact, in sum, did so, even as it is an accomplishment ultimately not much more worth our celebrating that the true societal advancement a couple thousand years ago of teaching children they are bad and full of sins, from the previous norm of not giving a damn about "reforming" them at all and rather just routinely killing them through child sacrifice?

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I'll permit myself one more comment on this very interesting article whose progressive goal of helping to eliminate the inculcation of self-hate, of self-alienatization, I absolutely support. The article is advocating that we have been taught to understand ourselves as naturally insufficient, as something negative, when in reality we are all something positive. And therefore our sense of self inadequacy; and therefore our being willing slaves to a consumerist society. But I would ask if this article ITSELF serves such an end, for it teaches us that if we would assume human beings are always good unless they are malignly tampered with, and are therefore never actually ever evil -- only ever traumatized -- even when they do the most cruel of practices, we are quite wrong, for the world as it is is one put together by absolutely malignant forces -- men, fear and hate you; the dominant classes, fear and hate you. All irrationally: for the purpose of nothing other than further succour of their own privilege! And so if we agree with this perspective, are we not then requited to being in a state of arousal, a state of fight? Is there not then a sense that the Freudian father is actually NOT something the theorist entirely abhors, would see entirely vanquished, because a fight against something big that hates us is basically the life we are necessarily --if conscious, if wide-awake -- doomed to need to accept as a good part of our lot? 

What I'm getting at is that I think articles like this would help further the goal of communicating that each one of us is intrinsically good, by exploring how these adverse practices got installed in the first place in a way which doesn't suggest that somewhere in our lineage there were genuinely evil people in charge. My own sense is that the earliest human beings were of a psychic state equivalent to the most traumatized, abused people alive today. That was once the human norm. Children made it to adulthood only because of stimulations they offered their afflicted, depressed parents. Not at all out of love, out of generosity, because human love, ironically, hadn't yet been born yet. Red in tooth and claw, alas, comes closer. Since then miraculously there have been incremental steps up, and so as we rightly look down on parental attitudes from a century before, we are also looking at practices that reflected genuine advancements in caring from their own predecessors, each one being the best "solution" they were able to come up with at the time. 

If you look at human history this way, as I do, then, yes, we need to do everything we can to denormalize conceptions of male/female nature that are actually erroneous and get in the way of a positive life, of complete self-actualization. We need to be loudly and proudly feminist, each one of us. But it is easier to see our "opponents" as not castrating gods of menacing power... as some kind of Lord of the Rings Sauron, but sad creatures from childhoods of horrible abuse, who nevertheless remain a great problem. You can defeat them, but not feel like someone who's actually repressed his/her pleasure-seeking ways to function as a more stalwart crusader. You can avoid depriving yourself of pleasure as you subscribe to requirements of mythic crusader. A lot's at stake, but there is never a need to nip your living an enriching, pleasureful life in the bud.

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It's mentioned quickly and not dwelt upon, but what I like about this article on Trump is (Andrew) Sullivan's description of Trump being "fused" with the nation, of THAT as Trump's primary goal. This relationship to a polity, to a nation, is highly psychohistorical. It gives a sense of him not "governing" to enrich himself and his billionaire friends -- for cynical purposes -- which is what you'll hear from many on the political left, but foremost out of a genuine, powerful psychological desire to be a component of something larger and omnipotent... which should even at some point entail his total self-sacrifice, his suicide. Sullivan describes this something as a "nation," but the DeMausian psychohistorical understanding would be of a Mutterland... to be back in a pre-lapsarian bond with our mothers, a bond which lapsed, specifically, when we "sinned" by abandoning Her for our own self-actualization and individuation.

The progressive war against Trump will not be against some guy who enjoys being an enfant terrible, against some guy who's only (forgive the pun...) trumped up on his own grotesque bloviated self; it'll be against a guy who thinks his own mom could not possibly be prouder in seeing him fight for her via her being projected out onto the nation, in seeing him stick up for her, for HER honour. He'll think he's her favourite, devoting every resource he has to ensure no longer will her face, her dignity, be casually besmirched by those who'd laughed off loyalty and honour as virtues in favour of measly, arrogant, self-spoiling. (Yes, I understand she was an immigrant from Scotland, not native American. It won't matter.)

Progressives need to understand that their opponents will not understand themselves as trolls, but as of the purest light. If we progressives still think self-sacrifice and selflessness are virtues (I'm not pro-selfishness, just not for selflessness as sacrifice of self to please denying, mean-spirited parental gods), if we get into their mindset we might be forced to tip our hat to them, because their horrid efforts will not be about themselves only indirectly, in that it feels good to not have their mothers hanging over them ready to obliterate them for too much self-devotion. This fusion state with their mothers, which will make them immune to guilt and very ready to sacrifice themselves for group (i.e., mother's) gain, will make them very formidable opponents.

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10 hours ago

Molyneux seems a pretty big supporter of Lloyd Demause's ideas. DeMause, however, doesn't give a fig about IQ; rather, he's into who's been most fortunate in having the most progressive and loving parents, because a child from out of that kind of environment is going to have an emotional IQ -- the extent to which they will want to help others --  that's off the charts! It's from people like these that you'll get your most decent, most humane society. 

DeMause does however argue -- as does Steven Pinker -- a Whiggish idea of history as progressively getting better, as improving, which needn't -- but apparently does -- give amo for discrimination against other peoples, other cultures. I think Molyneux is using DeMause's theories because he sees therein means to take advantage of one of the weaknesses of our current batch of most loved, of our current batch of progressives: they do romanticize, cast a Rousseauean glow around people they're rightly trying to support. In this moment when people may be wanting to discredit progressives and so turn our society more openly more hateful, he means to make use of their one blindspot to discredit them entirely, even though they're overall the most fact-adhering, most wide-awake people on the planet. That is probably his foremost goal. And that's a terrible thing. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Further reply to Marc-Andre Cotton

Re: In the midst of the Greece turmoil, his shared feelings are of particular significance to make sense of the deep psychohistorical factors underlying the current crisis. Three years ago, in an ABC News 24 interview by Leigh Sales, Varoufakis stated:

This is our Great Depression. Not only in an economic sense, but also in a psychological sense. Greeks are in a catatonic state. One moment in a state of rage, another, this is a typical case of manic depression. There are no prospects. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There are sacrifices, but nobody gets a feeling that these are sacrifices that take the form of some kind of investment in turning the corner. This is the problem when you are stuck in a Eurozone which is really badly designed, which is collapsing and which does not give opportunities to its flimsier parts to escape through some kind of redemptive crisis[2].

Such a public statement carries strong emotional overtones resulting from the close interweaving of past and present sensations—a regressive process Dr Vamik Volkan has termed “time collapse” in his many books and articles[3]. Fears and intra-psychic defenses associated with a past traumatic experience tend to resurface when triggered by a contemporary menace such as social unrest or economic downturn, often reactivating a sense of victimization. In such a case, current perceptions and traumatic memory become inextricably interwoven into a seamless totality.
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Enjoyed the essay. Thank you. Wanted to mention a concern I had about this particular section. DeMause's argument is that economic upswings and periods of peace are actually much more scary to, produce much more unhappiness in, people than periods of depression and unrest. Happiness is the significant trigger (of trauma) because it reminds people of how their mothers abandoned them when they first felt the pleasure of self-individuation. I mention this because DeMause's take on economic depressions is actually really very interesting and needs to kept fresh as a vital potential counter to everyone presuming that we're in a period of revolution owing to how stressed out everyone has been during these economically depriving years. DeMause, we remember, would have it that economic depressions... that periods of severe austerity, actually reflect the wishes of a populace. They're experiencing growth panic, owing to prosperity, and at this moment find more emotional peace than distress by the quieting down of life possibility.

We assume that everyone would be so much the happier if during the last twenty years they'd had full employment and living wages. But the DeMausian take would be that essentially for all nations outside that blessed locale of advanced childrearing, Scandinavia, you'd be in error about this. They'd actually be feeling worse. They'd be absent an effective means of atoning for previously incurred societal growth, and they'd feel guilty as all hell... have inner maternal alters haranguing them and driving them insane. As is, they now feel rather virtuous for being able to show off how little they've prospered, and so now they can't be balked from the period of revenge that we all sense will define our upcoming age.

They can't be effectively targeted as "deplorables" because they feel so spare of what actually makes them feel guilty and bad -- namely, riches, prosperity, self-actualization. The ones lambasting them as deplorable tend to be liberals who have prospered and who have richly developed individualized selves, and so seem to to the lower psychoclasses like people who abandoned their obligations to others (read: parents) to tend selfishly to their own interests, and never looked back. And for such are clearly the highest ranking deplorables society has to offer.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thinking on and responding to Marc-Andre Cotton's psychohistorical article on Brexit

Marc-Andre Cotton wrote (originally posted on regard, and permission granted to repost) : 

“S ince a clear majority of British citizens decided to leave the European Union on June 23, heated comments have been voiced. According to The Financial Times, their largely Europhile parliament will be forced to drag the country into “unsplendid isolation” as Britain is heading for “a quite probable recession” (Philip Stephens, “Britain is starting to imitate Greece”Financial Times, 06/30/2016). Not surprisingly, The Spectator—where former Mayor of London and ‘Vote Leave’ campaigner Boris Johnson once worked as a journalist—holds a different view. Waving reassuring news as a falling pound attracts tourists and sucks in investment, the conservative weekly neologized Brexit “the greatest opportunity ever handed to a government by an electorate” (“Business confidence is returning to Brexit Britain”The Spectator, 07/29/2016).

Indeed, fantasies and misrepresentations surrounding this controversial issue have polarized opinions to the point that there is no clue as to what lies ahead. On top of that, shortly after the Brexit referendum, prominent supporter of the Leave campaign Nigel Farage stepped back and resigned as leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), giving the impression that he absolved himself of responsibility for potential damage (Helen Lewis and Stephen Bush, “The Brexit cowards: we left Europe, then they left us to it”New Statesman, 07/07/2016). The main rhetoric of the pro-Leave—“Let’s Take Back Control!”—thus triggered a backfire and a sense of betrayal. “At the top of British politics, an insider suggested, a vacuum yawns wide. The phones are ringing, but no one is picking up.” (Bagehot, “Britain is sailing into a storm with no one at the wheel”The Economist, 06/26/2016)

A “deep-seated hostility”
Admittedly, British recrimination over European affairs is hardly new. A stronghold of democracy since the French surrender of June 1940, the country was not prone to self-examination after WWII whereas France and Germany laid grounds for an economic integration of the continent to prevent future conflicts. In the 1950s, after Indian Independence, Britain grieved the loss of her Empire by securing a Commonwealth preference system with former colonies whilst fighting tooth and nail against the common market scheme. Treasury officials even issued a ‘Plan G’—namely a free trade agreement designed to assert British commercial leadership over Europe—perceived by supporters of European integration as a malicious sabotage effort by ‘perfidious Albion’ (David Gowland et al., Britain and European Integration Since 1945: On the Sidelines, Routledge, 2009, p. 45).
Subsequently, the French President de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s application to join the Common Market on two occasions, accusing her of a “deep-seated hostility” towards the European construction (“1967: De Gaulle says ‘non’ to Britain—again”BBC, 11/27/1967). When the United Kingdom finally joined the Europe of Six, on January 1973, it remained “one of the more reluctant countries” according to negotiator Sir Crispin Tickell and would spend much time arguing about details (interviewed by Stephen Moss, “How Britain negotiated its entry to the EEC-then failed to play its part”The Guardian, 06/25/2016). To many Britons, the EU still confuses with over-generous subsidies and a rising tide of desperate people on the verge of sweeping their homeland.

Thatcher’s privatization program
Illustrative of such frame of mind, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s bargaining with Brussels known as the ‘UK rebate’ has been much written about. In the 1980, at a time when most Conservatives favored European integration, she fought over Britain’s participation to the EEC budget, asking for “[her] own money back” and eventually obtaining a two-third refund of UK’s annual net contribution. As for today, Britons are the eight-biggest contributors to the EU on a per-head basis (James Kirkup, “EU Facts: how much does Britain pay to the EU budget?”The Telegraph, 02/29/2016). Nevertheless, as encouraged by pro-Leave tabloids, British taxpayers are inclined to think they pay more than their share to “the growing pensions of European Union fat cats” (Jake Burman, “Now UK taxpayers forced to contribute BILLIONS towards Brussels bureaucrats’ PENSIONS”Daily Express, 11/09/2015).

It is seldom considered that the Brits themselves have largely contributed to their financial despair. During the Thatcher Years, inequality surged as a major privatization program meant to reverse “the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism” swept the public sector (Margaret Thatcher, quoted by Alistair Osborne, “Margaret Thatcher: one policy that led to more than 50 companies being sold or privatised”The Telegraph, 04/08/2013). The shares of these companies were not affordable for most ordinary citizens and became property of foreign groups and states. Subsequent restructuring measures such as downsizing and increased cost to consumers have deprived many UK household of vital services and shifted the tax burden to working people—and the shame to the powerless. Film director of I, Daniel Blake, a welfare state drama awarded the 2016 Palme d’Or at Cannes, Ken Loach argues: “We have to look again at this whole cruel sanctions and benefit system which is out to tell the poor that their poverty is their own fault.” (Ken Loach, interview by Sarah Montague, “Ken Loach on ‘despair’ behind benefit system film”BBC Radio, 05/23/2016).

Concern over immigration
Powerful fantasies are at play on the immigration front too. In 2015, statistics show that net migration to the UK was over 333,000 and rising—a surge Brexiteers have used to suggest that “mass immigration is still hopelessly out of control and set to get worse if we remain inside the EU” (Nigel Farage, quoted by Alan Travis, “Net immigration to UK nears peak as fewer Britons emigrate”The Guardian, 05/26/2016). Ironically, the strength of the UK labor market is thought to be a key driver of this evolution with the majority of such increase involving countries of western and southern Europe. Prior to the Brexit referendum, polls showed that roughly three-quarters of Britons wanted immigration cut, but disagreed on how to achieve this goal, many voters saw—and were probably misled into thinking—the Leave vote as a way to rein it in, although campaigners never got into specifics. Former Justice Secretary and lead Brexiteer Michael Gove even suggested that a UK withdrawal could see Britain accept more immigrants, albeit from outside the EU (Asa Bennett, “Did Britain really vote Brexit to cut immigration?”The Telegraph, 06/29/2016).

In the last decade, the rise of UKIP—a third party that gained 27.9% of British electorate in the May 2014 European Election, ahead of Labour and the Tories—underscored the importance of immigration in the people’s minds. Concern over integration of minority communities was joined by much debate about British national identity. Demographics of the Brexit vote show that the British majority of England and Wales—where opposition to migrants and concomitant support of UKIP are highest—has tipped the scale in favor of a withdrawal. Areas with a prominent share of over 65s scored the highest anti-EU votes, indicating that the Leave option appealed to the older generation (Ashley Kirk and Daniel Dunford, “EU referendum: How the results compare to the UK’s educated, old and immigrant populations”The Telegraph, 06/27/2016). But Professor of Politics Eric Kaufmann suggests that is was primarily values that motivated voters, not age or education. “Invisible attitudes are more powerful than group categories, he argues. The same is true for a person’s immigration attitudes.” (Eric Kaufmann, “Its NOT the economy, stupid: Brexit as a story of personal values”The London School of Economics and Political Science, 07/07/2016).

A “values lines” divide 
Among those who think European unification has gone too far, support for the death penalty strongly correlates with Brexit voting intention. A similar picture results when Eurosceptics express their views on the importance of disciplining children, whipping sex criminals, or keeping the nation safe. “This speaks to a deeper personality dimension which social psychologists like Bob Altemeyer, Kaufmann disputes, dub Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA).” As further shown by Chris Rose of Campaign Strategy, an NGO consulting firm working with the British Value Survey as a tool, “there was clear evidence from existing values surveys that pro- and anti-EU attitudes strongly divided along values lines”. This values based segmentation of the nation group forms a ‘psycho-demographic’ system, Rose argues. In this case, sub-groups motivated by fear of perceived threats, safety and control, or the need for clear-cut rules swung most strongly to vote ‘Leave’, whereas people oriented towards success or prioritizing individualism and cultural equality—over-represented in younger age classes—voted ‘Remain’ (Chris Rose, “Brexit, Values and Age”Three Worlds Blog,, 06/26/2016).

As we know from other research, such as political psychologist Theodor Adorno’s, a harsh upbringing will most probably result in personal values like submission to parental authority, a sense of duty and order, as well as in-group orientation—all the while fostering a strong resentment and feelings of victimization disguised under mechanisms of displacement (Else Frenkel-Brunswik, “Parents and childhood as seen through the interviews”, in Theodor Adorno et al., The Authoritarian Personality, Studies in Prejudice Series, Vol. 1, Chapter X, Harper & Brothers, 1950, 337-389). It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Openness vs. Closure divide characteristic of the Brexit vote overlaps childrearing patterns and beliefs, with a likely correlation between maltreatment in childhood and Leave support.

Indeed, the immigration issue induces a loss of cultural benchmarks in the ethnic English majority, triggering a sense of disintegration stemming from infancy. Debates surrounding the National Health Service (NHS) funding reflect a growing fear of dispossession that has little to do with economic reality. Within hours of the Brexit vote for instance, the official Leave campaign’s call to divert UK’s EU contribution to the NHS proved a false claim (Kate McCann and Tom Morgan, “Nigel Farage: £350 million pledge to fund the NHS was ‘a mistake’”The Telegraph, 06/24/2016). Such inflammatory rhetoric is often meant to stir up feelings of victimization—all too common in adults who were abused as children—only leading to further frustration once the game has been played (Fig. 1).

A nation of “enthusiastic smackers”
The UK bears a painful legacy of child abuse dating back to the Victorian era when ‘the rod’ was commonly used to subjugate children. Corporal punishment in British state-run schools was only banned by parliament in 1987, and as late as 1998 in other private schools of England and Wales (Colin Farrell, “United Kingdom School CP”, Significantly, traditional English-education is commonly linked with childhood violence, pain and stoicism in the eyes of mainland Europeans, with (in)famous Eton College standing as a hallmark of discipline for the British aristocracy. In a 2006 survey, 80% of respondents still believed in beating children, while 73% said a ban would result in an increase of juvenile delinquency—reflecting an image of Britain as “a nation of enthusiastic smackers” (Rosemary Bennett, “Majority of parents admit to smacking children”The Times, 09/20/2006). More recently, a 2012 Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 63% opposed a ban on spanking in the UK (Fig. 2). Under existing laws, parents in England and Wales are allowed to “reasonably chastise” their children—that is as long as the blows leave no mark—but near half of Britons think even these rules go too far (Mario Canseco, “Britons Opposed to Banning Parents from Smacking Their Children”Angus Reid Institute, 02/29/2012).

The extend to which British adults had been abused as children recently came as a surprise after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) introduced new questions on this topic in the 2016 Crime Survey for England and Wales. In the first study of its kind, the data show that 9% of respondents aged 16 to 59 report psychological abuse, 7% physical abuse, 7% sexual assault and 8% witnessing domestic violence or abuse in the home. The proportion of adults reporting ill-treatment tends to increase with age and women are more likely than men to suffer sexual assault by rape or penetration, with an estimated 567,000 adult women having experienced this type of abuse in childhood (“Abuse during childhood: Findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2016”Office for National Statistics, 08/06/2016). These figures give an indication of the powerful forces at play when repressed feelings and emotions associated with such outrage surface and are displaced in a heated political context—particularly within an aging population. Given this unacknowledged reality, diverting such resentment towards outside targets such as migrant workers and EU regulation proved an easy win for Brexit campaigners and fear-mongering demagogues. And as the saying goes: When you play with fire, you end up getting burned

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My (Patrick McEvoy-Halston's) response to his article:

What is the relationship between a harsh background and a later inability to adapt to a changing society, so strong, it leads to psychic disintegration? DeMause was influenced a lot by James F. Masterons's works, and for him what stops people from growing... what stops whole socieites from growing, isn't so much that they came from angry parents, that they suffered the rod, and that this somehow cowed them into rigid mindsets that feared change-- that doesn't quite lead us to where, for him, we need to go -- but from unloved parents who had children to give them the love they did not receive from their own parents, and who abandoned their children when they began to individuate and self-actualize. Children out of families like that may not just be hardened, less flexible, more naturally rule-focused, but incur the feeling that they are hopelessly bad when they vicariously participate in a society which expands one's possibility for self-actualizing... one's ability to become your truest self, which is the way our society has been of late, as it was, for instance, in Weimar. Inner alters in their heads, representing their angry mothers, lose all interest in them, and they panic and do everything they can to regain her favor by stopping all further growth, and warring against progressives pushing for more of it. 

To speak of psychoclasses, I do think that what had been happening is that a higher psychoclass was displacing the societal forms which helped maintain the primitive homeostasis of lower psychoclasses, and that this lead to feelings of self-disintegration as the nature of the societal "exoskeleton" no longer facilitated keeping one's private self sane (your point). But I don't think that immigrants are being demonized simply because old memories of abuse are coming back and anger at parents has to be displaced somewhere... so onto, how about?... immigrants. It didn't play into anybody's hands, as if this need for revenge could have been directed elsewhere. They feel surrounded by predators, and this is early childhood memories returned; but I think people are not just reminded of how tormenting their parents were but of how bad they believe they themselves once were to have incurred their parents' abuse and rejection, and this "bad" part of themselves has to be projected out. Immigrants are ideal "poison containers" in that they are not actually seen mostly as predatory but as weak and needy... and in our early childhoods we decided that the reason our parents rejected us was because we were vulnerable -- that's what made us bad: what else could be conclude when our first experience of abandonment was as at the age of two during the re-approachment stage? ("Authoritarian parents" is a dodge to some of us, also because it allows us to avoid being reminded of when we were most vulnerable, which wasn't when we were 8 or 9 and mommy and daddy were threatening us with a stick, but 1, 2, 3 and 4 and we were hopelessly vulnerable before parents as gods). They are the bad children we decided we once were, not just convenient people to kick at when ideally you'd kick back at your parents. All immigrants as targets by regressing psychoclasses, then? No. Just those "we" can identify as being brought into the country after "we'd" ceased to be able to keep up with societal growth while those out of more loving families -- the higher psychoclasses -- thrived and took total charge of it. So those given entrance post mid-1970s, when the working class could no longer keep up with ongoing societal growth and when a liberal professional class emerged which could. 

When we emphasize the idea of parents as bearing the rod... as authoritarian and mean, it's difficult to appreciate that what people most want to do right now is bond back to their parents via their Mother Countries; it's difficult to understand renewed nationalism, the great joy of it, for the increasing many. Why the hell would they want to do that? Merge back with such a beast? It's important to bring up the idea of splitting. So not just a revival of memories of abuse, but of the psychic to having an angry, abandoning mother in splitting her into two: one that is loving that you can cling to, be to her the favorite you never were in real life, another on the outside you can war against. Nationalism isn't us clinging to the one with the medusa head; that scary lady is outside.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Establishing no true justification for shame or regret, through memory reprocessing, in "Nocturnal Animals"

Nocturnal Animals

There is no point in living if you can't quit the feeling you shamed yourself by being weak when you could have been strong to terror -- this is the point of "Nocturnal Animals." In fact, if you die immediately after showing you're not such a hapless fluff after all, just showing you could be strong before your worst tormentor is such a victory that that ostensibly sad fate of your body being slowly besmirched into dust, cast amongst the other wilderness rocks and stones, really doesn't matter so much. Presumably you die with your memories of you as a strong drawn sword, smacking down the threatening dragon, basically determining the nature of your spirit in the hereafter: this is what you surely mostly were deep down the whole time, even if it took this particular moment to buck it out into the open. Okay, I suppose I can sorta accept that... there's nothing like seeing yourself finally as a perpetrator when you've seen yourself so often as just a passive victim -- even if it's still not not actually hating anyone, the next step up, surely, in character evolution. Except, because never, not for one real moment, is there ever actually an instance in which Jake Gyllenhaal's Tony Hastings shows himself as weak, this victory seemed like it should have been applied to some other sapien' soul. And it gets you wondering, has the movie doubling back on itself, implicating its creator, someone whom we might otherwise have assumed, had he actually showed his protagonist as actually someone who turns a bit humiliatingly cooperative when tormentors are upon him -- known some true shame -- that he was once probably weak himself but had come to know some triumph over a past and more deplorable version of himself. 

No, this guy, Tom Ford, isn't even up to the point of admitting he ever was weak, we begin to think, and perhaps it haunts him... is sufficiently aware of it through his otherwise conscious experience of life as a steady sea of accomplishment, that he feels he has to balk it back somehow... and so creates a film whereby he might entrench in his own mind a sort of facade, a covering, where he can believe he has revived, frankly, bravely, a version of his own humiliating time of weakness but really only in hope of displacing it, bumping it to the side, with the facsimile of it that bears no real trace of such discomposure. 

If you explored every crack and crevice in Tony Hastings and his family's interaction with the roadside bullies, you can't really come upon a single instance where he could have known better... where he could have done something which clearly, to him in the moment, would have spared his family what they ended up suffering: the worst possible fate of repeated rape and murder. There may have in fact have been something he could have said or not said, agreed to or not agreed to, that would have alleviated their fate somewhat, made it so that, perhaps, they would have still surely been poked and prodded a whole lot but not ultimately on the alter of total sacrifice. But who could possibly have anticipated it? Here is an alert, sophisticated family, smart to the nature of the people they are confronting and trying all sorts of spontaneous and perfectly smart strategies to defuse what could not help but excite and annoy their tormentors: their evident belief in themselves as morally superior beings. They do think they are better than these hillbillies, and they know that this registers pretty plainly, that they'd most actually just like to talk smack and remind them of their low station, so they don't just simply defer but sometimes, even a bit, antagonize them -- yeah, we don't like you and we know you know it, but you are still being total jerks here toying with people beyond all tolerance -- doing something that's only half sincere, with the other half just time-passing drama -- and we know you're aware that there is some point where you're supposed to call it off ... and do you really want to trespass past that?; does it really flatter you to exit being the grandly empowered playing with absolute victims and instead perhaps forever become those permanently and eventually destructively entwined with them, just so you can show you don't always just play? Be satisfied that you made us feel very, very threatened; that we let you know that we know that no matter how we twisted and turned our fate was entirely in your hands; and let it go at that: we amounted to another amusing pastime to titilate you true lords of the road in this actually quite enhancing realm of the quintessential American wild (we've been reminded of that: we may in our own way be cocksure but surely we ain't cowboys... and you in your way most certainly are) -- a response which flatters the tormentors as beings perhaps mostly actually like themselves, creatures of strong cognitive awareness of this as drama, but also as truly embodying the kind of proud, self-possessed, menacing presence that Americans...  that even bourgeois, Mercedes-driving -- they, still kind of bows down to. You know we think you're hillbillies, but if you care about us not dissing you so much how about more largely considering that we're ultimately registering in this situation that none of us has completely gotten past the moral legitimacy of the great American outlaw. You're quintessentially raw, raw American, even if still villains, while we're adrift from that and evidently hapless for it... but if such, not then also, those possessed of the lordly ability to draw it all back in and resolve at the finish on fair play?... We ain't ever forgettin' you.

Ostensibly Tony might register as irritatingly passive when he follows the lead of the sheriff as he explores the case. He does just do as requested. But this seems well-considered: the sheriff shows he knows what he is doing, and Tony doesn't want to detour from the most straightforward path to justice. He gets tapped on the shoulder sometimes to "remind" the caught tormentors of what they actually did to them rather than their pretence that they were nowhere near the area and did absolutely nothing wrong, officer, but this plays more like conductor's direction receding to the star trumpeter's blasting away. And when Tony finds himself alone with the chief tormentor, ostensibly we're supposed to take as truth that Tony is unable to pull the trigger of a gun because he has been sadly inhibited; but the reality is that it doesn't play as effective bait to work at potentially cancelling his efficacy at this moment because all we've really seen of Tony with a gun thus far is, not his absolute inability to shoot, but rather his ability to be caught out in surprise... he's not a natural gunfighter; such things will happen. And so when he ends up shooting and killing him later it doesn't play as him finally accomplishing what he'd feared he was too naturally cowardly to be capable of, but just as him doing as intended when set and able to focus. With just this guy and him in a room, there was no way he was going to find himself laid low while the villain got away... and so that wasn't what happened. 

Tony's terrible misadventure, then, in a sense, victory, constitutes what is only a fictional story, the plot of a novel written by a man who too suspected he might actually be a weak, hapless person, doomed, in his case, to be the person who'd only work in a bookstore and never finish his novel that his wife decided he was just before leaving him. But this person triumphs too by proving to be someone who got a job teaching at a university and who actually wrote his captivating  and accomplished dream novel. His wife's assessment of his character was erroneous, a mis-applied hit, and she has to acquiesce to the fact that she suffered a subsequent fate of finding a subsequent husband who looks great but who cheats on her regularly, and a job where everyone lacks her former husband's kindness, substance and soul. Ostensibly, if she'd have more genuine faith in him, she'd have been much more satisfied. Her plaguing demons were at work in her decision, not her having alertly spotted clear evidence of the way his own would ride his whole adult life. 

But in fact despite her cheating husband and her financially-at-risk gallery and her nasty, self-obsessed associates, she comes across as living a quite self-actualized life she no doubt really enjoys for its poise, beauty, glamour, and circumspection. We're not supposed to see this, but in this instance, again, we of course see it. No way really would it have been sufficient to have tried to go half-way on this by sticking with a tweed-professor someone who'd, sure, eventually write a great novel her smart-set would enjoy, but who'd still always beset upon her with his ho-hum demeanour an affliction of memory of her undistinguished college self onto her chosen and preferred strictly cosmopolitan adult existence. Maybe the fact that Tom Ford doesn't allow us to really process her as someone triumphantly finished off by a former lover she spurned, even as he wants, with him not returning to her in the end even as she's debased herself of a clear signature of pride in her life away from him for him, to overtly make it seem that this is what happens, is Ford's means of enabling himself with an alternative if he can't rewrite some past shameful encounter as something spared justification for shame? 

Maybe, if he's got to live with the ostensible fact that much of his adult life has actually been undermined by some past event he'd never fully quitted, he can dig into his subconscious tested, irrefutable evidence that his adult life's simply too legitimate to ever be something born out of having being sidelined. Not cover, this time, but antagonist, to a burr that's still dug in there.