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. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fantastic "beasts," and how to react when they're not properly locked in, in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Eddie Redmayne's Newt presents himself as respectful and sometimes even demure, but though there are honest aspects to both of these qualities what he mostly is matches best with the "troublemaker" moniker that was attached to him during his time at Hogwarts. He sees the world as requiring vast improvement  -- foremost, a need to encourage tolerance of strange animals amongst his fellow wizards, but since we also see him advocate against anti-miscegenation laws, really for the whole wallop of progressive causes -- and sees himself as a potential chief agent for change. In New York, he finds himself intertwined with someone who is not exactly his equal. This is Jacob, who unlike Newt never went to any kind of special school, is not pursuing advanced studies in the scientific art of magic creature naturalism, and is, rather, mislaid into a terribly depressing, isolated life working in a canning factory -- a job, as the movie tells us, so foul it'll cut short his life by decades. He wants terribly to have a chance at opening his own bakery, but he has no collateral, so it's a pipe dream. Nevertheless, through being allowed to tag along with the irrepressible Newt -- Newt wants upon his first mishap acquaintance with Jacob to "obliterate" all knowledge of magic and the existence of witches Jacob has acquired, but Jacob's required as a witness for a case against Newt's perpetrations in New York so this proved impossible -- he goes on a grand adventure and discovers true love. Though he actually got to live this dream fate, it's not something he still gets to keep... it's not something that can never be taken from him, and his friends do end up obliterating his knowledge of both them and his accrued adventures with them. He accepts his fate without protest, with absolute acquiescence, basically advocating the persecutor's case against him for them, and we see him next moping back to the factory where he'll be subsumed amongst all the other despondent souls, surrounded, and dwarfed, by any number of relentlessly fashioned stacks of tin cans. 

Colin Farrell's Graves is one of the principle leaders in America's society of wizards, but though he presents himself simply as an honest if tough enforcer of the status quo, what he actually is is someone who is very dissatisfied with how wizards have allowed themselves to be humbled by "no-majs" -- i.e., pedestrian no-magic people like us -- so to find themselves invisible amongst them, playing coy, rather than asserting themselves visibly, and is working for change. He has consistent interactions with one ostensible "no-maj" in the city, a teenage boy named Credence Barebone, who has been promised that he might be granted the huge trespass of becoming a wizard himself if he can help Graves find a ten-year-old orphan in the city who possesses great powers. Credence is a fatherless orphan, lorded over by the most terribly scary of guardian mothers. Though clearly not entirely, he is still mostly cowed to her intimidating will, almost completely -- any twitter away from full subservient devotion means a wicked, scar-leaving beating with a belt, and he well knows it. Graves uses Credence to ostensibly find the empowered orphan he's looking for and then immediately abandons him, telling him, though he actually does come from a wizard stock he remains luckless in still being the sort of rare runt denied all wizard powers. Credence, however, doesn't sit quietly with this turnabout, and in fact unleashes hell. 

After the American election where the press devoted equal time to Hillary's actually minor trespasses as they did Trump's "epochal," massive ones, we're supposed to be aware of drawing false equivalences, but I'm depressing the fact of Newt's goodness and Graves' evilness in favour of seeing them as two individuals instructively worthy of compare because I think we are watching them in some sense similarly -- it registers to us that they are both strong advocates for their causes, not just that we like one and hate the other -- and that we actually have more unconscious respect for how Graves is interacting with Credence, what he's thereby risking in doing so. We suck up more sustenance from his visitations with him than we do with Newt's various interactions with Jacob, because in a sense what he does with Credence is more real to us. Here's where it's on the line, because it actually bears resemblance to encounters between bullies and brave "rescuers" in our own lives. 

With Jacob somehow it's just fluff, disconnected from us. "Jacob" is about exactly the kind of creation you'd put forward to a cautious mob, fearful of change, to advocate for the inclusion of a previously invisible out-group. He's a version, in his absolute harmlessness, of the happy gay couple that gay marriage advocates put forward onto shows like Oprah to loosen the masses' resistance. They're absolutely harmless and lovable -- how can you object to the inclusion of people like that? What he is not, however, is someone they would want those they are advocating for to actually be like in real life, nor ever to represent their cause once the cause has gotten past the gate to become part of the norm, because he's an insult to their actual true interestingness, their true humanness, their true ability to protest and their true potency of will. "Jacob" probably registers to us like that as we watch the film. Since part of the subject of the film -- it's point, somehow -- is how one might acquire entrance into the world of wizards if one is stuck being a muggle, and none of us watching the film bear any evident wizard marks, some part of us might find ourselves feeling uplifted and happy if the film confirmed that even though entrance into this world is absolutely forbidden... that there is no precedence for it, somehow through the most fortuitous of circumstances, through the most clever of confabulations, some muggle is made through his harmlessness, his innocuousness, his really just being after all a hapless bystander, to have nevertheless spent too much time aware of wizards for his connection to the wizard world to ever really be depleted from him. He may not have wizard powers, but he's breached one great barrier -- and who's to say that the next one, the even better one, just as rigidly held, isn't actually amenable to a great stealth advocate "lock-picker's" art as well?

So while Jacob is some kind of untrue facsimile of ourselves, lofted "into the sky" and involved in a relationship with our betters that we have no interest in other than that it succeeds, Credence is the grounded, vastly more true version of ourselves. He is a depiction of the sort of human being Harry Potter would really have been if he grew up in the kind of household that would so despise and hate him he'd be perpetually quarantined to a closet. So he is not full of spirit and mischief and overt resistance. He mostly quails to life, as so much that could have enabled active participation has been sucked from him before it had its chance to gestate. He can be drawn to some actually considerable resistance... to think mostly of his own self interest rather than his dangerous mother's, but it takes the constant stealth intervention of father-figure Graves, imploring him to take the risk required, for him to do so. 

Graves betrays Credence, but maybe we "take it" a bit differently. He tells Credence what he thinks is flatly the truth -- you are no wizard, and you never can be one -- but when Credence reveals that he is actually the person Graves has been looking for, the person of vast powers that aren't wizard powers but easily as formidable, and that are a threat to the whole rigidly enforced homeostasis of the current stultified wizard realm, and starts pushing back at Graves and busting the world about him up, his reaction is admiration, delight and astonishment. Shit kid, you do not go down quietly!... Quite genuinely now, fuck everything I've just said! Join me and we will both celebrate our doings in this world! For fucking real this time!... you're bloody magnificent! Credence is Jacob when he is about to have his brain emptied by a wand jolt shot to the head, saying, oh, by the way, by being those who'd find every way to sneak in magical creatures into America and advance causes you actually really believe in even if it risked dire punishment, but being so ready to be those requited to the stance of having no other choice but play it by the book with me, fuck you! fuck you! and fuck you! 

And Newt would not be Graves delighted to see what had been such an agreeably pliant ally become all of a sudden more a powerful and unaccountable eruptive force -- that is, more akin to all the great magical creatures he adores, who are so admirably irrepressible and assertive when let loose on the world. He'd be more, shit man, this is not how this is supposed to go... What is supposed to happen here is that you play along and continue to be hapless and then we eventually decide to grant you some remission from your pain. You'll still be sort of pathetic and register mostly as a person all our make -- your advancement from making only your grandmother's recipes will involve your only make exact replicas of creatures you saw only because we let you tag -- and that's all you really did, tag -- along, but you'll get your bakery, you'll get an assistant, and you'll possess some barest trace of your memories with us, which might be recovered at a later date into something better than that. 

You weren't supposed to stage some kind of slave revolt where you demand everything you want right now as if it were always rightly yours! You were supposed to wait until we were ready... and we're only ready now for small disbursements of allowance. We still require you yet as our sap and our sop. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Aliens arrive to be sat on, in "Arrival"


When a film starts off with the a lonely lead female character drinking a lot of wine, in a lake house that's diffusely lit and morose in tone but also flatteringly palatial, don't be surprised if aliens show up at the planet's door that she proves the only one who's up to actually communicating with them. She's been abandoned of the love of her daughter, of her husband, and her students don't properly appreciate her genius -- what with their twitter and Facebook and whatnot -- and despite what she would show you of her outward successful academic endeavours, she's mostly a sea of self-involvement. What the aliens do, is show just how wrong the whole planet has been to ignore and deprive her -- even if it hasn't so deprived her of a plush university job (but it's not Berkeley, because mr. know-nothing, so-and-so "big professor" has fooled the world into thinking he's such hot holy shit!), all the career accolades, plus a house that's just a smaller version of something Bruce Wayne impressed us with in the last "Superman" movie: because that's not the look she wants, to properly see herself as the fore-saken ice queen. She doesn't have cats, though, or some poor poodle she strangles with her love, but maybe that'd be too much of a tip-off that what we have here is a fantasy compensation where some poor schmuck "aliens" are going to going to be forced into the role of showing off just what a wonder she is, even if they'd rather go off and share their first planet-earth beer with Jeremy Renner. They arrive so placidly onto planet earth: maybe they know the fate that awaits them?: we're just here to be acted on. *sigh*. 

The aliens are mostly inert combinations of inverted large celery stalks and giant squids. They just stand there, like autistic individuals who at a party would be no less than cold death arrived, but out in the wilderness are peaceful, benign, somewhat reclusive but thoroughly intelligent creatures, waiting for someone who isn't a bellicose dunderhead to approach and try and understand them. Amy Adam's character... let's just ignore her film name and call her Margaret Mead or Diane Fossey, because that's the type she is, whom we would assume would ignore humans as silent and inexpressive as this if she was outside this setting -- she doesn't seem much for military personal; wouldn't seem too interested in luring them into an intricate dance of communication; and they're mostly ominously blank-faced and serious too -- shows us how magically complex these creatures actually are. Jeremy Renner is supposed to be her co-equal on this assignment. But after a moment in the beginning where he mansplains her his own true prominence, he has to quietly go along mostly as her assistant, as she shows him up in as loud a manner possible by accomplishing more in one visit with the creatures than what everyone else assembled had managed in their multitudinous various forays. Who could have predicted that?

This film is a temporary salve for depressed people. If some alien, outside intelligence intertwined itself in the direction of this movie and forced the protagonist aliens to insist at one point on communicating with someone else -- if they sidelined her -- when normal directorial control was recovered, the movie wouldn't have turned course and shown her simply respectful of their change in preference and pleased with the expanded communication that was thereby enabled. It wouldn't show her joyous that regardless of the turn of events, she'd proved a very important part of creating the dialogue with the foreign visitors the world had hoped for. It would have drowned out these interactions, shown no interest in them, and displaced her immediately back into her palatial, lake-house home, sipping wine, reminiscing on her lost child, lost husband, and now on how her great meaningful relationship with the aliens had been removed from her as well. If the aliens showed up once again on her television set, showing how with human cooperation they'd solved all the universe's plights, she'd grumble and throw her wineglass violently at the set. How can you show off such little things when what matters is that I am yet once again rudely neglected and forlorn! 

No, that would make her look too overtly evil. Rather, she'd call some friend she'd domesticated as an attendant sap, and explain how actually grateful she was at everything that had happened... even if they could of course gotten much more from them and done so much faster if they hadn't been so ignorant to forsake her help and turn to colleagues who are actually nowhere near her equal and who don't even truly understand the very basics of communication and who may have tenured positions at Harvard and Berkeley but who don't actually know anywhere near as much as she does and who really should be teaching  --

Hmmm.... In a malicious mood, I wonder what it would have looked like if when the aliens at one point were signalling about a weapon, it turned out that that was actually what was on their minds! But not on their using a secret ray gun to devastate earth, but on securing a plain-old, earth-produced, loaded gun, in which to blow their brilliant and complex squid brains out, at being requited to what had proved the unendurable role of being fodder for someone else's specious further anointment. Good god! I mean, I knew this wasn't going to be pleasant... that being movie-prop saps we had to play the part of the visiting kid pet endlessly by his depressed alcoholic aunt, but lord -- doesn't she ever shut up!!! 

Knew you but a little but even that proved too much, dear planet earth! Maybe next time something a bit timid creeps up to your planet, hoping only at first for a quiet "hello," maybe DON'T immediately beset upon it the person YOU'RE ALL trying to avoid?!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dialogue with Diane G

Diane G writes: (speaking to Jim and myself): 

Jim: As someone who spent 16 years as Chief Psychologist in one of the largest prison systems in the country supervising others and directly involved in diagnosing thousands of men with psychopathic and antisocial traits and attempting to treat them,  I can assure you Jim that I know exactly what I am talking about.  In all likelihood, the only way to deal with this man, who unfortunately is at the helm, is to reverse the projection and "lock him up".  But, as I said, this is not about him only.  His entire party in Congress is problematic. And its notions about women's health as well as science and other matters is archaic and self serving.  Your condescending comment to me is emblematic of the helplessness involved in not being able to engage in mutual dialogue without being reduced to ad hominem attack and a need to dominate and control, which rather proves my point re the suppression of women and factors that contribute to it.  More women voted for Clinton though not a vast majority of white women did.  The identification of some white women with their mate and her own phallo centrism is a complicated process.  There is a type of self abnegation, isolation and a loss of selfhood that is involved reminiscent of the type of thing we see in domestic violence.   I would expect that white women with low information who are further out west are much less likely to identify with women having advanced education and experience.  Black women tend to be a bit more sensitive to the kind of man Trump is.  Interestingly,  an informal poll this summer at the major opening plenary of the APA meeting by Johnathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion) had hundreds of attendee psychologists raising their hands in support of Clinton and less than 10 who were voting Trump.  

Patrick: I do not see your point with regard to black people in the south.   Child abuse is rife throughout the US.  Matter of fact, the vast majority of sex crimes against women and children in the US are committed by white men of which a representative portion go to prison.   Still, since this crime is under reported (as one can easily see from the President elects history),  it is difficult to get an accurate figure of how common it is.  While we have plenty of evidence of the harms of spanking, it continues here but I imagine it is more prevalent in some poor and uneducated groups than others.  I was surprised at an informal poll in a psych group here that showed so many spanking their children.  

This list does not show the material I am responding to so that is it for now.

Patrick,  I am presenting a psychoanalytic paper this Sunday in part showing how the US is mirroring the suicide-mass homicide mission with some cites from de Mausse.  Child abuse in general is a foundational element of the thesis.  However, the suppression of women is a part.  Of course, this is not just about the actions or deprivations but about the mental representations.  There are many parallels.  It is eerie.  Another piece that I think is eerie is the NY Times book review of a new bio on Hitler.  I have not looked at the Atlantic Monthly article The Mind of Trump though I have heard it is pretty good.  I expect Mr. Trump will become increasingly more isolated and paranoid and dictatorial as time goes on and he loses the over idealizing support of his followers, or he will just quit or be impeached by Congress within a reasonable period of time.  In the mean time, he can do quite a bit of damage to existing structures and, and because of the low degree of authentic empathy, will not be someone we can count on to do the right thing.  I think the over identification with his rage by the supposedly newly disenfranchised blue collar white male will fade as we still are a system of law and there will be no Krystalnacht (sp?) without just consequence.  For blacks it is easier to figure out.  They are used to dealing with the phallocentric white and will appear more compliant and acquiescent to humor him.  But the rage will only be suppressed for a time.  The master slave identity is a survival technique that can be re introduced temporarily.

Perhaps we needed to have this period so we can empathize better with some of the victims we have amassed here and overseas.  

Women's rights is a big deal for me because of what I went thru as a young woman.  Perhaps as our rights are gradually eroded millennial women will take up the flag and realize what Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem were trying to tell them.  BTW I just noticed in my state the Dems are still trying to get pay equity for women at .77 to the dollar for men but Republicans continue to stop it.  For people who think this a zero sum game I guess they will be happy about that and the idea of locking down borders.  Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out how long i have b4 I need to get out of the market.
Gloria Steinem is also the one who argued that people wouldn't vote for Hillary because she reminded them of their scary moms. Hers' was actually the most acutely "Freudian" (or Jungian: Dragon Mother) assessment I've seen. I personally think that even if you had a man as the Democratic candidate -- Sanders, or whatnot -- it wouldn't have mattered, because what ought to be automatically inferred when someone argues that the nation is still ruled by "mother issues" is the politically more consequent fact that people who had mothers who were unloved enough themselves that they required their children to meet their own unmet needs, and punished them when they individuated and self-actualized for their crime of "abandoning" them, is that they can only handle society progressing in self-actualizing ways for so long. Eventually, as Lloyd argues, they need to put an end to the growth, fuse with their nation as a motherland, split their own "badness" onto other peoples, and then war against them. 

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My response: 

My own opinion is that Trump will be way more successful than people realize. Right now I'm hearing educated people come to the conclusion that Trump won, not actually because so many people are racist but because they have been economically abandoned by elites of both parties who didn't give a shit about them. They envision people returning to the left as soon as the left goes more Sanders... becomes more economic populist. I'm also hearing lots of talk about Trump losing the popular vote, and how that shows how he actually is beginning his presidency a bit isolated, not empowered. When I think of this I think of the Bernie Sanders supporters during the campaign, many of whom are millennials who genuinely are society's most emotionally evolved, but many of whom were actually misogynistic, and loved the fact that under cover of ostensibly irrefutably being motivated to support the most progressive candidate out there, they were with him because it let them fully enjoy vilifying Hillary, overtly enjoy their hating "the witch," which they'd clearly been wanting to do for some time. Some of these might still have voted for Hillary over Trump, but it won't take long before they're entirely his camp. 

And how you're depicting the black population -- which is how Brittney Cooper portrays them as well, I admit, even as I think it's pretty obvious she's deluding herself so she can keep her own birch-wielding mother and grandmother superhuman angelic -- is I think going to set us up for more disappointment. We the left saw the white American populace as racist just moments ago, but are now in unison pulling back because it is psychically discomforting to be drawn to hate those whom we are more and more being forced to acknowledge as having been economically abandoned -- by us. Previously we didn't allow ourselves to really see their deprivation, focused as we were mostly on our own professional lives and polite and commercial havens. And as a result, we were in a sense -- and even if we were using them as our own "poison containers," that is, convenient places we deposit aspects of our own selves we need to disown  -- more "fair" to them: their problem is really what it was that spawned their racist, homophobic, anti-feminist ways -- i.e. terrible childrearing -- not us for so long not really giving a shit about them. Rather than cast a romantic glow on struggling white Americans what we really needed to do is be more aggressive in attributing regressive psychological states outside the white population (where it certainly still is aplenty), and begin to recognize them better in all peoples whose childrearing is as abusive and abandoning as it is in Hillbilly Nation... and apparently in all the Rust Belt states... and maybe also--. If we could do that, we won't be surprised when Trump continues to gain support, which he will, and when members of the press, the judiciary, seem caught up in the same spell as everyone else, and institutions we thought were sure blocks against him are not only not effectual but in some cases, have morphed into building blocks for his cause.

The American left constitutes the most emotionally evolved people who have ever lived. They have not however outgrown two things their children will eventually completely outgrow. One, they did not outgrow the need to disown unwanted aspects of themselves onto other people. They did project some of their own "badness" onto the white working class -- their vulnerability, their rage -- and disconnected all feeling towards them. This is something akin to what regressives do all the time and to a much greater extent.  And it does not mean that there was any other societal group or party still better able to stick up for them out there, but it is of the same mien. Second, as Steven Pinker points out, they have taken every group that white bigots hate and cast Rousseauian makeovers over them. This was entirely unnecessary, and it's going to hurt as we organize to fight Trumpism and find that a surprising number of minorities actually kind of like the hypermasculine leader who's now in charge, even if they didn't originally vote for him, and wonder why we're always defending societies' "weakest" when like Trump we could we making the nation invigoratingly strong again. Fearful of progress, because as Brittney Cooper says, it made them grotesque "Columbuses," "manipulating and ordering the universe to our own liking," they've regressed to scared children again, imagined to be encircled by terrifying parental tormentors. And, they think, here we are bringing the softer side when Trump could make us steel! 

We're Jews in a Nazi society. That's how we've got to think, prepare ourselves. Not the temporarily mislaid who still have many friends and who espy in the horizon the moment when Trump will falter and we'll be able to assert ourselves again. For the "crime" of genuinely wanting the best for people and wanting people to grow Scandinavian-like self-actualized and independent from life-inhibiting, regressive traditions, we won't have many friends, because when most people get on this train it leaves them feeling like they've lost all chance at their parents' love. And when they war against people like us, it makes them feel the parental favourite, the mommy's favorite, they perhaps never were in real life. For them, there won't be any greater kick than their stomping on our faces because they'll be imagining their mothers smiling down upon them for it. Good for you! Pick on the one who'd lure you away from me! 

Best of luck with your paper. 

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Diane G writes: 

Patrick,  I did finally hear amongst the noise and rattle, the reason for the lost election, on a major news channel.  Everything was thrown at this woman in the end.  It is not only that we have a psychopathic male running for office with frequent reference to racism, sexism and oddities of discourse,  extreme and almost murderous projections throughout the time and a history of exploitation of just about everyone he has come into contact with for any length of time,  but how others directly and indirectly helped his cause.  This was about misogyny.  

Beginning with the Republican outrage about emails that caused an 11 hour badgering and harassment, then morphing into a democratic candidate who decided to excoriate her based on all manner of so called "offenses" regarding money which offended his socialist soul but which men have been involved in for more than 200 years and someone who has his own issues historically with women,  then the hammering from the press for the perception of not being more forthcoming, for "hiding" something which is a typical womb envy motivated accusation.  Then she is "too sick".  Compared to what? Followed by  a circus performance by Trump was a disgrace and should have been taken as an insult to any decent physician.  Then we have FBI Comey who said she is not guilty, then lets look again, then there's nothing there.   This is pretty awful in itself but the back drop is hacked emails which were evidently orchestrated by Russia, often distorted and taken out of context and emptied upon the media and public in a measured way throughout the entire period.  Finally,  and this was something many did not see . . . Several days before the election Pope Francis issue a statement and threw it out to the public and to the U.S.  "Women can never be priests".   Why did he choose that moment?  Why did he even mention something that Catholics are well aware of?  It was code to all religious people that women are to be submissive and not take power.  Calling her a demon is part of this last motif.  

But all of this could be put down as simply campaign mud if it weren't for the determination, despite by now much walking back,  that Roe v Wade is to be overturned.  Unfortunately it will take quite a bit to go against this problem because, as we can see, even women themselves have to overcome their own internalized misogyny which has developed over millennia.  I say these things to sensitize you and others who may be reading.  Most informed women, including the young, want to be partners and not objects.  Being reduced to cutesy sex objects without minds like Sarah Palin or Melania Trump is not what intelligent women are all about.  These are insults.

My response: 

Re: "Internalized misogyny which has developed over millennia."

James is right to direct us to the fact of so many married... of so many educated women voting for Trump. Only, I think that his "rejecting left-wing politics" isn't a sensible choice that'll save our nation, as he presents it, or your believing that women have succumbed, understandably, given that they're having to struggle for whatever inadequate gains they've made against accumulated millennias of teachings that they are evil, vile, selfish creatures, and it's a slipperily held thing. I think women Trump voters, like everyone else who voted for Trump, will vote for things that will curb the capacities for true self-actualization (e.g. Roe vs. Wade) because it is thereby that they feel they can reclaim their mother's approval. Of course, they very much plan to hate on their mother too, which is what Pope Francis was doing, which is what Comey was doing, which is what Bernie Bros were doing. But this mostly will involve a split. "Hillary" carrying the bad aspects, mother country America, the good. 

In my judgment, you can be informed and educated to the tilt, but if you had an emotionally immature mother who was neglected and abused by her own caregivers, and who needed you for her own emotional homeostasis more than she actually loved you, as you and your sisters accumulate progress for yourselves you'll come to feel like your mother has turned away from you, like she did when you were an infant and you first learned to walk, like she did when you were a teen and you began your course on your own life journey, and suddenly you'll start reducing yourself to something degraded to save yourself from the apocalypse of her complete abandonment. You'll have Lloyd's (and Van der Kolk's) "persecutory parental [read: maternal] alters" yelling in your heads, and you'll heed their call, even if you have a whole assembly line of PhD knowledge otherwise filling up the space there.  

I really hope the cities are as powerfully cosmopolitan as some are suggesting they are. It is not just the dumbing down of women that makes me sad -- reducing them to something harmless and uninteresting -- it's it happening to everyone as we turn nationalistic and stupid.  

As female Trump supporters start screaming for the blood of their feminist sisters, I really hope that some scholars out there will come to the conclusion that something other than misinformation is involved. If they see other women as demons who need to be destroyed, have they been taught this? You can teach this? Or could it owe to their being possessed... maybe by their killer moms?

None of this should sound too outrageous here. It's pretty much straight deMausian thought. I weep for all the women who didn't get their full chance to self-actualize and be very much opposite of cutesy sex objects, as I weep for all the boys who didn't get their chance to fully self-actualize as well. I'm in the fight to help ensure this fate for everyone, but I think we have to be smarter as to the actual causes for misogyny, for DeMause's way will help us understand why men and women will feel so incredibly righteous as they target empowered, feminist women. It means their mother's love has returned to them. And it will be lost again if you somehow manage to get through to them again. We're too late in this time period's growth phase for this sacrilege to be tolerated.  

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This is an excerpt of full dialogue originally at realpsychohistory -- google groups