Playful, Violent, Dreaming, Waking, Pure, Comical


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I reiterate that the dicta “you have no power,” “it is ‘dysfunctional’ to believe you have any power,” “you must renounce power” and all similar statements are arguably the meanest and most destructive which can be pronounced.

It was what I was told as a child, to make it clear that I was at the mercy of the adults and that there was no exit. It is what torturers say to their victims – indeed, it is the point of torture.

Indeed, it has long been known that if you want to disable someone and rob them of their selfhood, what you must do is tell them they have no power. Slaves rebel and escape when they realize they do in fact have power.

The passivity and hopelessness Reeducation instilled, the self-doubt it sowed and the confidence it siphoned off, were and are an evil spell.


Right now I am killing Reeducation, which I have met on the street, by stabbing it in the stomach with a sharpened stick. I am picking up the corpse by the stick I have run through it and tossing it into the bayou.

As you can see, I am not Gandhi and I think there is such a thing as violence in the public service. If I were a great wind, I would blow every “reeducative” entity off the face of the earth. I do not care if some of them are “exceptions.” I am sure they come from evil and are here to do ill.

If the earth were swept clean of their wicked spell, the ceilings and skies would be clearer and more transparent. The snarling gnomes of Reeducation would not try to hold us down in tiny warrens. One would walk abroad freely.

Reeducation is an agent of the repressive state and I prefer witchcraft.


Reeducation felt I was too powerful and too realizada, especially given my gender and Reeducation’s view of my background. I really did try to comply with Reeducation and, although I see that this is an error, I carry it in me in ways I still do not always see.

This week I went to see the industrial psychologist we all use because of the permanent state of war which exists in one of my departments. He said I was too accepting of the situation and not exerting enough power. He is perfectly right, although it is still hard for me to believe it when anyone speaks out against the repressive and terribly pessimistic principles of Reeducation.


It would be very nice if Reeducation would simply wither and die but it appears I must still take it on face to face. And the ravages of Reeducation still most closely lodged in me are that one is powerless and must accept this. One must not ask, seek, expect, attempt, or hope for anything. But I do not think it is possible to live this way except as an inmate in a prison or a hospital. Do you?

Power and control were the things Reeducation felt I had too much of. And Reeducation was invented for people who were locked into relationships with addicts, which I was not – although I would say that being locked into Reeducation was rather like that, and that being locked into the dynamic in the more problematic of my two departments is like that. What I have always found, and what I continue to rediscover, is that the way to escape from such relationships is not to renounce power and control, but to assert them. “Freedom NOW!” “Amnesty NOW!” “Independence NOW!” “Peace NOW!” were the slogans shouted in the streets when I was a child; I resonated with them then and I approve of them today. And no, I am not impatient. I simply do not see the point of holding things back when they are ready to go.


And the ideal subject of Reeducation, I am told, is one who does not rule the self and attempts instead to rule over others. I had such feelings at five. I thought I could prevent my parents from killing each other by allowing them to kill me. I would have done better to realize that I could not keep them from killing each other, but that I could at least remove myself from danger. Had Reeducation seen this and pointed it out to me then, it would have been useful. But to atone for having had such misconceptions then by renouncing adulthood thirty years later, as Reeducation wished me to do, was ridiculous.

The problems with Reeducation on the questions of power and control were (1) its assumption that one must be an egocentric powermonger and (2) its multiple misconceptions on where it was appropriate to have and to exert power and control and where it was not. I had long arguments with Reeducation on the matter of when such assertiveness was not only appropriate, but also necessary and likely to be productive. In these arguments I claimed I could only control myself, my career and my life. Reeducation said I should abandon this illusion of adulthood, hand control of my life over to alien wills, and reinitiate the attempts to control problematic people and situations I had abandoned in late childhood.

Reeducation also placed a very great value on helplessness, whereas I did not. And I can in fact be very capable. I do not think Reeducation understood that my optimism and confidence in life came from competence, not from imaginary “godlike” powers. According to Reeducation my belief that I could not control entities outside myself was “faithless.” My belief that I could control myself was “grandiose.” And I disagree utterly. And I was much more lucid before Reeducation than afterward. And Reeducation was about repression, about learning to limit oneself. And I am learning to reclaim power now, and I do not care what Reeducation would say.


20 thoughts on “Playful, Violent, Dreaming, Waking, Pure, Comical

  1. And alcoholics drink because they feel powerless. And I come from an alcoholic family, and this is one of the reasons I disagree so strongly with Reeducation’s lesson on these matters. I learned upon leaving the house that one did in fact have power, that it was not true that there was no solution in life except to drink. But in Reeducation we were to believe, once again, that the world was dark and we had no power in it. It was suggested that the solution to life was Prozac.

    I reiterate, I find it *very* odd how much Reeducation, which was anti-drug, was caught up in mindsets I recognize as mindsets of addicts. And Reeducation seems to call the milder version of these mindsets “health” and the more severe ones “sick” – whereas I would call the milder ones “sick” and the more severe ones … an entire existential attitude I merely disagree with.

    The perceptions in this last paragraph could be important – I quite like them, in fact!

  2. Also – reflecting upon the matter while wandering around the house – it seems to me that abusive and manipulative people *often* have, as their opening salvo, the announcement that the situation is worse than you realize, and that you are powerless.

    I know this from having moved as much as I have. In every new place there is always someone who tries to get me into their power by saying that. I might have recognized it in Reeducation for this reason.

  3. Also in Reeducation, as I have said before, I do not know why it was so important to grieve, suffer, and feel pain. It was because if one did not, one was “in denial” and so as to prove I was not, I had to suffer more.

    I realize now that I am trying to live as I once did, how well I trained myself out of having pleasant activities unless, of course, they were a required social event, and how many techniques I developed to cause myself pain – lack of sleep, lack of exercise, uncomfortable chairs, lack of fresh air, all of this and more I have suffered in order to feel the degree of pain and discomfort Reeducation thought it would be appropriate for me to feel.

    I got used to that and living as I once did seems shockingly luxurious, out of bounds decadent (although it is hardly, it is merely healthful).

    HM. Abusers want to see their victims writhe. The idea that I was not in enough pain and needed to feel more was perhaps Reeducation’s way of getting me to writhe … this would be one more way in which it was just plain abusive, not otherwise sophisticated.

  4. I wonder if there was an element in reeducation of tacit submission to the influence of authority. Actually, I think we have been over this before, and I’m sure there is. But what I’m thinking about is that in co-dependent relationships, the hardest aspect of self-development can often be to see the abuser (the partner in the relationship) in a cold, objective light. One is too attached to do so. So then, perhaps how reeducation deals with this is to make the outside parameters of personal development rather limited. The victim is then not put in a position of having to recognise uncomfortable truths about her assailant. Instead of seeing his behaviour as offensively abnormal, “normal” becomes whatever the assailant happens to be doing — for example drinking to excess, and numbing himself to reality. This is something that presumably does not take much self-effort to accept — so reeducation is more likely to have success with such a lowered bar.

  5. Yes – that is what has been explained to me – people in Reeducation are so messed up that this very, very lowered bar is necessary. I have always found these low bars to be very limiting.

    Right now I am trying to escape my father’s professorial influence on me, which is as bad as I have long realized but I think greater. He was an officially quite successful professor, and he was/is an alcoholic. He:

    – thinks the entire enterprise is charlatanry
    – respects the entire enterprise very much
    – is convinced he has no power in the power structure and is angry about that
    – is convinced the power structure is evil
    – believes completely in the power structure and identifies with it
    – believes everything is hopeless
    – believes everything is brilliant
    – says there is no point in trying (esp. for teaching)
    – says you have to keep on behaving as though nothing were wrong (esp. for research)
    – says research is meaningless
    – says research is the only valuable thing in life

    But mostly, he emphasizes powerlessness. I am only now coming to grips with HOW undermining it has always been, although I have been aware of this generally for many years.

  6. Maybe you need to have those opposite perceptions in you, tearing you in two directions, if you are to be a successful academic. Why is being a successful academic devoid of social contradiction?

    Hmmm … well, I think everyone has those two opposite perceptions, actually. In my father’s case the seesaw between the two extremes was unstable. It was what drove him to drink. The extreme obedience gave him the success and security he had, but as he knew, also limited him. Yet he felt he had to toe the line absolutely, so he was unhappy and drank, and the other side of absolute obedience was absolute cynicism. In the end he retired early and distanced himself from everything. Not a happy way to handle any vocation or indeed, any job, because it the self was disallowed. This at least is my perception / interpretation, based on what he said and says. –Z

    I know, for myself, I like to go with the tide of my own thoughts, however and wherever they lead me. This is not helpful towards being a successful academic. I should just limit myself to writing only a bit beyond what has already been “established” about my subject. I should take an eclectic approach, conceding something to all of the critics who have made it into publication — a bit of racism here, and bit of stand-offishness there, some general psychological speculation as well. Having my own well-defined opinion is too arrogant. After all, where did it come from? Where are the texts supporting it? Don’t I know that I haven’t even made it into publication yet, and so it is far to premature to have an opinion?

    On the other hand, that well-defined opinion is what can make a brilliant career, if not a “safe” one. I think a lot of the advice toward caution is generated for the self-protection of people perhaps less talented than you. –Z

  7. But mostly, he emphasizes powerlessness.

    Hm. Not good. I tend to underestimate my own power. This had an unfortunate outcome on the boxing ring recently, when I clocked Mikey very hard. At least he said that he had never been hit that hard. I didn’t think I was doing more than tapping. I’m not sure what to make of the differing perceptions.

  8. I don’t know that I’m talented in terms of overall communication. I can communicate quite well verbally, it seems, and relatively well in writing. But I do have very strong views, and I am very much out of step with most current views on everything, listening to a different drummer as it were. My imagination is also very powerful and tends to soar (giving me a lot of space that seperates what I think from what others more conventionally think — making communication something I have to really work at.)

  9. OK, now I have been to an interesting folklore event way out in the country that had to do in part with traditional healing.

    I think Reeducation may work on people who are in fact in a “codependent” relationship they cannot see at all and do not want to let go of, and who do not have other sources of spiritual strength. Their emphasis on powerlessness I would translate, to best effect, as a suggestion to find and feel one’s power in its own place, not to let it get distracted, fragmented or sullied, to keep it in touch with its source. Also, not to expect it to be larger than it is, but to keep it opened out to still greater sources.

    On the way back I was thinking about what I would ask one of these “traiteurs” to do if I went to one.

    I think: 1. remove the invocation to powerlessness: this, in Reeducation, did more to block me than I am yet aware of. 2. remove startle reactions, dissociation, PTSD-like symptoms – although these are direct results of the invocation to powerlessness, and I think if (1) were done, (2) might not be necessary. 3. clear energy generally, keep it free of others’ negativity and rules. This would, again, let power come through calmly from its own source, and would work in tandem with (1).

    Perhaps not surprisingly, this was the pre-Reeducation ‘gestalt.’ I would have the traiteur set that in motion again.

    Also, it appears, one can do this to and for oneself.

  10. On academia: I think what it comes down to for me is, you have to put yourself into it. When I have done this it has always been easy, and when I have not, on the advice of my father, Reeducation, and so on, it has been converted to drudgery I cannot see my way out of. This is why I always advise putting oneself into things – albeit a professional self, for professional situations (professional does not have to mean non-self).

  11. Yes, I make it a principle to put myself into what I do, because I had this really terrible experience once. It really shattered me and changed my whole views on everything. What happened is that I was compromising my sense of self in order to try to fit in and please the authorities. I still expressed part of my natural exuberance, but I repressed and hid a great deal of what I felt in order to please. Anyway, they turned around and attacked me very thoroughly and viciously, despite the efforts I had made to suppress aspects of myself that I thought didn’t fit in. What that was like was hard to describe. My feelings at the time were that if I had been behaving authentically and much more genuinely, and then been punished for that, it would have been almost worth it. I could have held my head up high. But my inner truth was that I had been behaving at least 50 percent inauthentically and in a way that had been totally calculated to repress my self in order to please — and I had still been found displeasing (and been punished as if I had been 100 per cent displeasing).

    The realisation of what I had done to myself (as much as what it was that had been done to me) made me determined NEVER to compromise concerning who I am, ever again.

    Because it would be the worst thing to look back over one’s life and think, “You know, I never really did what I could have done. I was never really what I wanted to be, because I always felt like there was an axe hanging over me — and despite all the compromises I have made, I am deeply dissatified with what I have achieved on the basis of these compromises.”

    NO, it is much better to realise: “I was who I really was, despite all the setbacks and opposition that generated. I lived an actual life — not a mere imitation of one, or an impression of one through somebody else’s eyes. No matter what went wrong about that, I was unquestionably alive and had a life!”

    Yes. I have already made more compromises than I am pleased with, and yet fewer than I might have done, which fact I am pleased with. Perhaps related, perhaps not, and it’s too late at night to explain it, but I’ll note it here since it was something I realized earlier in the evening, while driving: all spaces are sacred and one can bring soul power to them all. This is not something I have always realized or always done, and I struggle with many spaces because I forget that I have power. But all spaces are to be honored because all are sacred – even though only some have or are huaca. I do not know if this makes sense but as I say, I am noting it down because it is my realization of this hour. –Z

  12. One of the best ways of recovering a self — indeed, a fastrack way, can be discovered from Nietzsche: “The great epochs of our life are the occasions when we gain the courage to rebaptise our evil qualities as our best qualities”. (BGE 116)

    Find that which in your personality you have been suppressing, and make a point of expressing it.

  13. Yes– but power is threatening, because once you have it, others can sense it in you, and the often find this threatening to their own understanding of how power should be legitimately obtained. I mean, if you are exuberant without having “earned it” then this can be seen as a contentious kind of power. But it is far more dangerous to the holder of such innocent power if they do not realise that it poses a danger in the mind of others, or if they are half and half in relation to their own acceptance of this naive power.

  14. Yes – these (in addition to the exhortations of Reeducation) are all the reasons why I tried to extinguish power. But it does not go away, so I might as well channel it – it doesn’t have to be exuberant.

    I think the sort of power Reeducation wanted renounced was not any special kind of power, but just the regular power of the regular adult. [It *said* it wanted to quash ‘godlike’ power, but that was just a smokescreen for its plan of psychic destruction!!!] That is the power I am mostly trying to reactivate, since it was what I quashed most successfully.

    There are other sorts of power. I have two: expertise, which I tried to quash for Reeducation’s sake, and esoteric power. Expertise I became ambivalent about due to Reeducation and this confuses people mightily. If I reclaim it, they will be happy and calm.

    Esoteric power, I have but have not developed a very great deal, but I am using it as we speak to gain back the regular grownup power I really quashed. I think I will then just let it grow – might as well.

  15. hm. Well the two powers I seem to have that trigger some people very badly indeed are these:

    Exuberance. And this is because the culture I have come from is of this nature. It is a very pulsating culture, which registers every passing moment as being relevant to life itself. This exuberance is African, not Western, and so can sometimes be mistaken for insolence, or menace or some kind of political challenge, when it is none of these. It refers only to itself.

    Masculine insensitivity: I’m not supposed to have this, but I do and I can’t seem to tone my natural way of relating down several notches without constantly standing guard over myself and becoming very ponderous and artificial. Believe me, I have tried. So I aim to be in environments where my natural temperament is tolerated, and I’m not forced to think and behave in a manner which would be considered more appropriate to my gender, but which would put about as much pressure on my as doing everything blindfolded and with my left hand.

  16. Large cosmopolitan cities where exuberance and serious expertise are needed, or else very rural areas where one is expected where the same is the case, are the ticket I think.

  17. I think the sort of power Reeducation wanted renounced was not any special kind of power, but just the regular power of the regular adult.

    This is an interesting point, too, for unless my cultural antennae are way off, one of the things that is happening in the West (certainly, I think in Australia and probably America, and perhaps to a lesser degree, Britain) is that we have lost a conception of what it means to be a discrete human being.

    It’s related to a forgetfulness as well as an active movement away from humanism, by those who are running a political agenda to take all power.

    I think that related to this is an inability on the part of most people to recognise what it means for another person to be an adult human. They may want this designation and its rights for themselves, but they fail to acknowledge any meaning in another’s status as an adult. There is a tendency to see another as a utility, but not as a person with special sensitivities, with a desire for autonomy and respect, and so on.

    In Australia, I have found that you are treated as an adult (according to a very negative definition — you are left alone) so long as you do what is expected, follow the social rules and don’t stand out too much. But if you do stand out, then your utility comes into question. There is no wish to guess your motivations — rather, you must be subdued. So the put downs are usually swift and severe.

    The approach I’ve described above works to prevent most people from attaining adult status in the broadest sense. They can be “adults” in the manner of work drones, quiet conformists, paying their bills on time, and not looking for any trouble (except to the extent that they find all other adults to be kind of a threat against the little solipsistic zone they’ve built around themselves, in which they are king.)

    Yet most people are not treated like independent minds. To go on as if you have an independent mind marks you as recalcitrant.

    Yet an independent mind IS the adult mind, by my definition.

    So, we are in a lot of trouble.

    Even and especially the school systems do not bring up the generations to think of others as independent minds in the intellectual or emotional sense. “Independence” is restricted to a set of rights which somehow represent “democracy” and are not to be violated at any costs. “Independence” in this instance is “My self as private property.” A sign that says, “Keep out!” But this is not adulthood somehow, as it does not involve mutual recognition, only partisan defensiveness: Myself against the world of others who would want to take myself away from me.”

    If there is no mutual recognition in the world of adults, then I don’t know what we have, but it is not worth it.

    This is exactly how it is here, and it is what I have always disliked about Europe where, at least as I see it, these tendencies are yet more extreme because the official culture of each little country is yet more uniform. It is precisely why I am so much more comfortable in Latin America where, at least in my experience, people do see each other more as discrete individuals. Here people want to be autonomous, as in, inviolate or something (“self as private property” and “partisan defensiveness” in your words, “myself against the world of others who would want to take myself away from me”) AND YET adulthood is understood as conformity. So you have all of these putative individuals who want to be autonomous, yet only recognize their own autonomy and do not realize how conformist their putative individuality is.

    And so: no independent minds. THIS is actually the crux of the problem I have always had with academia: it requires independent minds, you cannot do it without one, and yet you do not get treated as one and must accept this. It is an untenable contradiction in my view.

    (I have the same problem with men although this is also just a result of sexism. Somehow though, the structure is the same.) –Z

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