More on the Question of Invalidation

I am still on strike, but I am announcing that the weather is still lovely and that it is going to be a good day.

I keep forgetting that it is now safe to get up in the morning and just do things. Normally I only think this is safe in out of town, safer out of state, and safest out of country. The reason it was not safe for a long time was that in Reeducation, getting up in the morning meant recommencing the regimen of destructive self criticism which Reeducation had devised.

I am aware that the 12 Stoners always promise that “Just for today …” they will live right and treat themselves right. But I had already been doing this for eighteen years, albeit outside the auspices of the 12 Stones, when I entered Reeducation. This fact, together with my accomplishments from ages 16 to 34, was precisely what Reeducation alleged to be invalid. Life could not be genuine if it had not been lived under Reeducation’s auspices.

I should not have been able to get this far and would not have, had I been “honest with myself” or “aware of my feelings” (which I could not have been, Reeducation believed). It could not be I, but must be a “false self” who had gotten so far. This “false self” must be strong and frightening indeed, since it had gotten so far given what my actual psychic circumstances had to be.

This was why Reeducation and I had to engage in such a fierce battle against the life I had been leading and my accomplishments. We were supposed to slug away until that “false self” broke open and revealed the Inner Child underneath, and until the “false self” admitted it was nothing more than an alibi for the completely powerless and irreparably damaged preschooler cradled inside like a damaged fetus not yet stillborn.

Although I have a good memory and I was the one present during all relevant events, I never did agree with all the details of Reeducation’s view on the condition of that child. That is why I remained “in denial,” and how I failed Reeducation. Still, Reeducation and I did a pretty good job of slugging away at me. I always liked to wake up and get up mornings before that.

I have since been apprehensive as the sun comes up, afraid the slugging will start again, or that I will not be able to stop it, or that I will feel compelled to help with it, or that I am so used to it that I will not notice it until in horror, I see a visible wound.


Things I learned as a child, which seemed impossible and were later revealed, in fact, to be untrue: Life was a terrible thing and one ought to commit suicide. If one lacked the courage to do this, one must find the right combination of drugs and pastimes to get oneself through the day, as actual improvement was an illusion. People who believed in the possibility of improvement were to be scorned for their coarse tastes.

What Reeducation thought: Life was an unhappy burden. But it could be managed, made easier and more pleasant, and thus borne.

What people have always said when I have said I wanted to leave the East and leave academia: I am [insert insulting adjective here] to believe in the possibility of autonomy, liveliness, and joy. I must realize that life is suffering, for one thing, and that all suffering is self created, for another. [Note the contradiction in that last sentence, folks.]

What I did before age 16: Freeze myself for now, knowing I would get older and not have to listen to these speeches.

What I did in Reeducation: Freeze myself and wait for the storm to end, but feel anxious — getting older would not bring automatic liberation, I realized, so staying frozen was not a good option. The frozenness became increasingly worrying for this reason. It was fear that this death-in-life might become permanent that made me quit.

What I did in academia, after being strong-armed into staying in it: Freeze myself and wait for my sentence to end. Not a good strategy, by the way.

Why I got into my infamous abusive romance: I was so unhappy at work, and people at work were so abusive, and I could not afford to spend more time out of town. This appeared to be the best step up available.

How I reacted to my infamous abusive romance: I thought:

Well, it is too bad that this is how my life has ended, and I am embarrassed to have wasted so many talents and so much health, but it is what has happened and what I have done. I really did my best given the information and tools I had, so I will not criticize myself too much. I will simply accept that this is how my life has ended.

If there is reincarnation, I may have better luck next time. I wish I could believe in reincarnation, because I would so like to come back as the exact same person, even, and just not mistreat her so much. But now, having struck what appears to be a near fatal blow, I will just sit and endure to the end. Other talented people have had worse lives and not even gotten the chance to discover their talents. I am grateful to have had so much more of a life than so many people get to have.

I do apologize to the universe for having killed that girl who had so much potential and so much to give. Wasting her life and the opportunities she had was not what I meant to do, and I did not do it on purpose. But I have done it, because I was told so many times that people like her deserved to die. It is still very hard for me to say that. It is in fact terribly painful to accept, and just saying it feels even more destructive than the actual murder did. But perhaps I am just being shown here that it is true after all what they say, life is better understood as a burden than as a gift. I have been delusional, perhaps, in my optimism. Perhaps I am being shown reality at last.

At this time I was 47 and had been struggling with Reeducation for 13 years.

What got me out of that abusive romance: A flood of desire. I saw so many people just jumping in life, as I had done before Reeducation, and I could no longer repress the envy. Reeducation had taught that life was not for people of my lineage. We were not good enough to go to the beach on weekends or the theatre in the evenings, or to develop our careers. We must stay home and make peace with our flawed natures. But one day I could not stand it. I failed to repress my desire to swim in life.

On swimming. I knew Reeducation was destructive the minute I realized I no longer believed I deserved to take Saturdays off to go to the beach. In my abusive romance, I went one step further down: going to the swimming pool stopped working like a renewing salve. I am flashing now on early May, 2005, just over a year into that relationship.

The Person was not speaking to me because I had disobeyed in some manner. It would have been a great opportunity to break up, actually — just accept that he was not speaking and make it a matter of policy not to read e-mail or take calls in the future. This did not occur to me, though, because he had so terrified me a year earlier about what he might do if I left the relationship. I had committed at that point to staying in it until his green card issue was resolved in summer of 2006. With it he could keep his house and job. Having those to hang onto he would not need me.

So instead of leaving the relationship, I just enjoyed my time off from it. It was a beautiful late spring, and I had really interesting classes. We had the last week of school with marvelous contemporary texts, and finals week with interesting creative projects. I had this pale pink skirt with a gauze ruffle that I had bought in Laguna Beach. It was still cool enough to sit outside on the porch, and to go to the pool in the middle of the day.

This is to say that I had a wholeness to me then that I still have not fully recovered, and that that wholeness was still just a shadow of the wholeness I had had before. And the destructiveness of that relationship was as it was because people at work were as destructive as they were at that time. And it is the destructiveness of the people at work that did the most damage. And people have always told me you cannot go back in time, but I consider that time is space, and I am just moving spaces.

Moving into the space of May 2005, before Katrina, is not a bad goal. March, 2004, before that Relationship started, is the next one. After that October, 1998, before the full reality of my present job set in. After that the beautiful summer and fall of 1997. Then the many illusions, plans, and writings of 1995-96. Then the law school revelation period of 1992-93. Then 1990-91, the strong but still fragile moment when I felt so settled and proud and full of hope.


50 thoughts on “More on the Question of Invalidation

  1. On life being an unhappy burden NECESSARILY (and not accidentally), you will eventually enjoy Genealogy of Morals, which will enlighten you.

    On the accidents that cause spiritual death or “soul loss”, I had almost the same experience; the same sense of having come to an end.

    Except the main feeling I had at the time was, “This would certainly not have happened, had I known more than I did at the time.”

    So I felt that I simply had to replace the missing band of knowledge that I should have had and yet hadn’t obtained in time to save me, in this first instance.

    Actually, whilst I think a lot of the knowledge I needed to have had CAN be indirectly acquired on the basis of behaviourally modelling one’s knowledgeable parents’ behaviours (at least one might have enough defensive behaviour internalised so that one doesn’t walk directly into trouble), I think that actual, true, genuine knowledge of how others’ behaviour and attitudes can actually be genuinely malignant can only come to be known through accidents like yours and mine.

  2. Anyway, but looking on the positive side, now that you have faced “death” there is very little knowledge that will actually daunt you. I think you can face almost any kind of knowledge — which most ppl will subconsciously defend themselves from facing.

  3. Actually, though, I had had that ending feeling before — 1) at my first real academic job, which brought a horrible set experiences [and that I never told Reeducation about in full, because it had become so clear it would be too much to process for him, since he had not been in academia it would take longer to explain than he would be able to maintain interest … FLASH … maybe THAT was why R. thought I was hiding from something, but I’ll bet I am giving R. too much credit], and 2) in Reeducation. Reeducation was the worst. That is why I am harping at it until I am sure it is dead.

  4. Incommensurability. You are going to appear to be “hiding” a great deal if the values and attitudes you have are incommensurable with those of re-ed. Enough said.

  5. And I’d make this a separate post but I am too lazy. An aspect of Reeducation I have not highlighted quite enough was its idea that one should admit one’s true peers were all these drug involved people, alcohol enablers, and so on.

    Mine in terms of trouble are abuse victims and I think even torture victims although it seems arrogant somehow to compare myself to them.

    But then I have true peers of other aspects of life.

    It seems odd that one should only have one group of true peers, and that the others should be considered friends of a “false self.”

    But Reeducation really wanted me to get rid of my more accomplished type friends, and make new “recovery” oriented friends without so many intellectual credentials. In retrospect this was another standard abuser tactic: isolate the person and have them associate with people under *your* control.

    HONESTLY. The term “Reeducation” started out as a joke and also just as a way to be oblique but the more I look back the more it looks like Guantanamo.

    And I would *not* have figured all of this out … I had figured out a lot of the logical fallacies and so on, a lot of the stupidity, but I would not have figured out that it was *abusive* had I not gotten into that thing with my X and learned what all the standard abuse tactics are and that they are considered abusive.

  6. I think there are people who genuinely convinced — from experience — that life is a very negative thing, and that those who think otherwise are suffering from some unearned privilege (the precise point of view that I wish to debunk in my memoir).

    But this is the experience of people who are already suffering from “soul loss” — so, of course, their experiences are not the same as for those who are not suffering from the same ailment, or perhaps to the same degree as these others are.

    And my misfortune was to encounter those who had codified their soul loss as a genuine take on reality that was in accordance with Marxism.

    And yours was to encounter those who had codified their soul loss as psychotherapy for others.

  7. Yes, although that wasn’t the first. I rail at Reeducation because it was supposed to be on my side and all, but really I’m talking about broader phenomena & also my first education.

  8. I’m reading a book now called *I Hate People.* The subject is burnout caused by the people you work with, with their awful habits, dopiness, lack of caring, and all the rest of it.
    Not having to work anymore and being free to choose my companions on the basis of affinity rather than proximity has made such a difference to me.
    Goethe had a name for this: Wahlverwandschaft, which translates as “elective affinity.” It is a rare privilege. Most of us, most of the time, have to deal with people we really hate. Since we are brought up to believe that it is wrong to hate, we turn the hatred into self hate.
    I also read a short piece on shaminism in Margaret Atwood’s *Surfacing,* which did not strike me as very convincing.

  9. “Since we are brought up to believe that it is wrong to hate, we turn the hatred into self hate.”

    True and key. And it is why I like to be abroad, actually, even living and working and having to deal with everyone, I still manage not to internalize as much. I should start thinking of myself as abroad right now, here … I’ve thought of that before, but forgotten, and it’s a good yoga.

    I should read that book. Just not thinking I should like certain people makes me relax.

    I’ll look at the Atwood link. I am not at all convinced by this neoshamanism business although I see Jennifer’s point with it for Marechera.

    One of my issues with the idea of soul loss in the other active thread here, for instance, is the focus … “you have soul loss, let us do a ritual to fix it and create reconciliation” isn’t always the best. It looks too much like the 80s and 90s theories of multiple personality disorder. For some people I’d rather just say yes, there was torture abuse and brainwashing and you remained complete. And that right there can reconnect people, I’ve found.

    I am perhaps not in the most patient mood for these things. Sometimes I really feel it’s time to meditate, others I feel it’s time to get on with things, at present I’m in the mood to get on with things.

  10. P.S. Oh God, I’ve looked at the link. I cannot stand that flaky New Age stuff.

    I learned this semester not to be polite about it except in the most superficial of ways, in unavoidable social situations and so on — as with 12 steppers too, not give them ANY quarter although I may see privately that everything has its points. But I no longer have energy for conversations in which I explain carefully and politely why it is that even though I have had certain problems and I do certain things for them and have connections to certain non western religions I do not want to listen to this kind of silly preaching any more than I want to go to some newborn born again church.

  11. And also — as I figured out in 1996, the summer I was able to dedicate four months or so to writing myself out of the worst of Reeducation — I don’t think all this focus on what is wrong, broken, lost, imperfect, and so on is always the best thing to do, or going out looking for lost things the best way to spend time.

    What I always tell people I am teaching skills to is to look at what they do know and add to it, not freak out about what they don’t know. To realize/ recognize one does not know everything, and to get comfortable with that, is a different operation, also important, but it’s got a different purpose.

    It’s the same thing, I think, in these matters. At the moment I am just tired of speculation, I suppose.

  12. I just want to clarify one point and then I’m done here, at least so far as shamanism is concerned.

    When I say, “soul” as in “soul loss”, please replace that word “soul” with “fire”, so that the term becomes “fire loss”.

  13. I just say I am not a spiritual person and let them pity me. It’s obviously not doing them any good, and why should I care?

  14. Fire loss, that’s good … saying one is not a spiritual person, good strategy.

    (Some perhaps brilliant insight related to this — to the question of religiosity — has been flashing at me today but disappearing.)

  15. AHA: here is the other thing: hypnosis. Which is what a friend talks about rather than soul loss.

    She would say (does say) I got hypnotized by that Reeducator.

    I think this is attractive because you can wake up from hypnosis.

    I think all the things happen — abuse, fire loss, hypnosis, etc. — and they can overlap but aren’t necessarily metaphors of each other. So you can need to understand how the abuse worked, re-find your old self, and get de-hypnotized … all of it.

  16. I agree. The mind is complicated. I think that why I prefer the shamanistic method myself — or whatever idea I have chosen to call that — is because a lot of my incapacity to cope well was due to general repression, including repression of my own spontaneity, repression of belief in my stronger capabilities, and so on.

    My only caution regarding any kind of improvement or recovery is not to expect it to be easy. Optimism tends to be one’s enemy in this, since the normal human condition is to lose various of one’s faculties, to become a victim of conformity or diminished. The state of wholeness and health is actually the most unusual one and obtaining it/returning to it isn’t easy. At least, that is why Nietzsche uses the metaphor of war so much, I think.

  17. I think the shamanistic method *is* good for deep stuff. I am only b—–ing about the New Age appropriations of this stuff.

    I’m from California and used to people showing up from the East/Midwest, escaping a bad marriage or something, going to the Redwoods, and then claiming within the year to be Native American shamans and things like this. So I am allergic to arguments like the one being made on Atwood.

    Correct on optimism as enemy. I think this is actually why the Reeducative industry expects slowness. I have many times tried to recover from Reeducation by just ignoring it, or by resolving to live as I did before. I’ve done this because it seemed really necessary, as in, I cannot afford to be impaired like this, I must stop!

    But really, I had to know WHAT I was stopping. And when I started the blog, I started doing it the way one does things like quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape, etc. My method, at least for those 3 things and related ones, is slow.

    Step 1, and key: say you have already started, not that you are starting. This circumvents the problem of when to start, whether to start, whether one wants to start, whether it is worth starting.

    Step 2, also key: no deadline for finishing, just a series of small commitments to stick with the program for that day, or for the next few hours, and so on.

    So you’re already in zone, you just want to get further in and stay there, and you DO expect difficulty, you just DON’T expect insurmountability.

    I realize that sounds like a recipe in a girls’ magazine but … my point is yes, optimism of a certain kind is an enemy indeed, and I appreciate the war metaphor.

  18. Yes, I think the new age appropriations probably make it too easy, thus catering to a Western (or global?) consumerist mentality, as in “I’ve consumed a product of healing, so I am now fine.”

    The opposite is required — a sense of awakening of those parts that have until now been passive. This might feel like trying to learn to ride a bike, or anything that is awkward because one is doing it for the first time.

    Your pride — your very sense of “survival” — is tied to a dysfunctional mode of behaviour (tolerating neurotic white women). Therefore the dysfunction is perpetuated on the same basis as your will to survival. The two things need to become unpaired.

  19. Yes, that’s fundamental — neurotic white women and also some white men, if they use similar strategies (as did Reeducation and my infamous X, they beamed at a subterranean level that were weak/sick and needed the care of a strong, sane man like my father or me, and I fell right into the trap!).

  20. On those small, transgressive steps, though, that feel uncomfortable until one gets used to them: that was what Reeducation had me do to get me used to itself. “The discomfort is good,” it would say.

    I’ve usually found the opposite — what is good and healthful, and sometimes new, is what is most comfortable. What’s destructive does not become more comfortable just by becoming more familiar.

  21. If you have an unhealthy instinct that is paired emotionally with a healthy one, such that the two are in many senses the same, the emotionally healthy one (the will to thrive) will become more comfortable with the transgression, whereas the instinct to cater to the whims of others will probably temporarily freak out. But this is key to separating them.

    And who said anything about baby steps?

  22. Yes, I remember that stage, but it was finished before Reeducation … which was a whole different thing. (Remember my view is that anyone can be captured and everyone breaks under torture.)

  23. “the emotionally healthy one (the will to thrive) will become more comfortable with the transgression, whereas the instinct to cater to the whims of others will probably temporarily freak out”

    got to and past that point a couple of decades ago.

  24. ? Whatever. It’s been a long time with lots of twists and turns and isn’t time/space to discuss everything on this blog, and my shamanic wound, so to speak, has worked overtime lately and wants to rest. Swimming pool! Gym! Library! it says. It’s going on vacation for about 3 months and doesn’t want even to be talked around, it says. 😉

    And I’m distracted by the Mississippi stuff which is so much larger.

  25. P.S. And your idea of transgression is good, by the way. Example: a certain relative’s dislike of me (not an ideal situation, and one I regret).

    Reeducation, one version: Lament and mourn. Ask what one did to cause this. Place self in abject position. [TERRIBLE]

    Reeducation, other days: Accept loss. It is sad but real, and unfortunately, the situation was not caused by either of us. One can neither control nor cure it. [ALL RIGHT, BUT NOT TRANSFORMATIVE]

    Transgression: given what the situation is, perhaps this situation is good. If this person still feels so challenged by me, or again does, perhaps it means I am doing something right! 😉

  26. And on all these things, remember my views, contra the current emphasis on how one “attracts” things — a) one can be healthy, yet have vulnerabilities, just as to colds, and b) everyone breaks under torture.


    Also on this, to myself: the main Reeducative things were that you had to fret (“feel”), and it was bad to think (that was a way to avoid “feeling” and thus “truth”), and it was indicative of denial that you knew how to have a nice day (doing that was just a way to dull that pain you needed to feel).

    That’s why it’s easy to just flip these things around: no requirement to fret, nothing wrong with being able to think, everything normal with knowing how to have a nice day.

    It all just comes down to — as we have said — an imperative to embody hysterical upper middle class Southern white womanhood. Had I only known.

    But in terms of action it just comes down to this:
    – no need to fret
    – good to be able to think
    – nice to have the opportunity to enjoy what is pleasant, make the best of the day.

    Those are the things Reeducation took away, and that is why it was such an amazingly huge ball and chain.

  27. Yes, so a reversal may be possible.

    And, I, too am enacting a reversal. I have tried, tried, and really tried to get along with people on the basis of the contemporary egoism of self-c0ncept in the contemporary culture/s. Now, I am officially giving up. It is possible that this can be seen in the light of a concession of failure, and yet so what? I think I have definitively “crossed the bridge as spirit” because I have a strong enough self concept these days that it does not need to express itself in an adversorial format.

    So there is that.

    And I am no longer prepared to battle the (spiritual) plebs for a little bit of earth for myself. Unfortunately, they are unsalvageable, doomed, unreachable by any human logic. So I am not TRYING to be a teacher of them, by any means, and will never try again. They demand it — and they shall not have it.

    I am free.

  28. I’ve got a comment that responds more directly to this but first, here’s a thread from Historiann on which I have been therapizing myself (and hogging space — sorry Historiann):

    It made me realize a big aspect problem is a Betty Friedan problem. Raised for housewifery, not wanting to incarcerate myself that way, not having support or context for anything else, but rather undermining, not having been raised to have enough self esteem to have been able to withstand economic dependence, yet being at the same time someone suited for a big career. Trying to manage all of this. But it’s a problem of privilege in a way — the way having *bound feet* is that.

    I got over most of that without naming it that way, and didn’t realize that it was the structure Reeducation wanted to reinstall — with a vengeance.

  29. I’ve tended to feel I needed the blessing for my projects from authorities not in a position to give it. So energy goes into convincing them and not into just moving ahead. That of course has to do with my first education, which I had almost vanquished when I went to Reeducation (and honestly, a *good* analyst would have been a good idea at that point, I just got lost in the unfortunate conjunction of the 12 step craze, Southernness, my not understanding that I was not seeing a person trained as I would have expected, and so on).

    Also, just moving ahead as an adult is not expected of women in Southern culture — one is expected to at least FAKE not knowing what to do, asking Daddy, and so on. If you don’t do that you get into real trouble, and I did not figure this out until too late — did not figure out the duplicity (and don’t like it).


    Anyway, and this is post worthy but I don’t feel like writing a whole post, Reeducation is right that I tended to repress (some) feelings. It is just that Reeducation assumed the feelings I was repressing were what it projected, and it + academia prescribed a program of further repression.

    I was supposed to have repressed things like sadness, childhood sexual abuse, the desire for a family, and these things were supposed to be connected. However I never repressed sadness, I don’t have symptoms of sexual abuse, and I am seriously neutral on the family issue. I have argued and argued with Reeducation about these things, and tried to show how they are based on false assumptions.

    However, there were things I did not know, namely what family alcoholism was and how it worked, what verbal and emotional abuse were and how they worked, and how to identify both of these with confidence. Reeducation did identify me as having experienced these things, which was illuminating, but told me nothing useful about them.

    Meanwhile, there are feelings and interests I have always repressed, for example:

    * exploring my first idea for a college major (although that might not have worked for me at the time, I still repressed it for the sake of the family)

    * going for a really good professor job (in our family that was both arrogant and uncool, and it was assumed I wouldn’t be good enough anyway)

    * quitting a bad professor job and doing something else in L.A. (not quite realistic as I had no savings, but it could have been done)

    * quitting a medium professor job and doing something else in N.O. (the job was so much better than the L.A. job that I hesitated)

    * quitting a bad professor job and doing something else in S.F./Portland/Seattle (this wasn’t quite realistic at that point, though, as I had no savings)

    The reason I didn’t quit these jobs is that I never had huge amounts of money in the bank for the transition, so my parents’ fears about me/it were not unfounded. And since I didn’t have their MORAL support, and since my main goal in life was always not to upset them more than they were already upset and also to try to earn their love / get back into their good graces, I’ve stayed in these academic jobs I’m not happy with and haven’t dealt with this situation in the most proactive of ways.


    I have trouble telling sometimes whether my funk is really that I’m not interested in my field. I really think it’s the opposite — I am interested, enough to want to really do it, enough to feel sharply the isolation from it my academic jobs have given me, enough that toxic work atmospheres in it hurt my soul.

    Also, I think it’s a false idea that if one is interested enough, one should be able to work well just anywhere. There are cases where this is true NOT if that place isolates one from the material, from easier access to the self that does the work, and so on.


    Topic for another post sometime — my relationship with the colleague who convinced me to stay in academia when I really was going to quit.

    Honestly I think he is as important as my Reeducator or my abusive X, and I think he is an abusive person or can be. But he doesn’t present this way, and he is just a friend (closer then than now, as I know him better and mistrust him more).

    What he did: activate my nostalgia for the academic life I had expected to have and did not. Convince me that it was still available, and available to me, and that I should keep on trying.

    Of course I had more experience than he and knew the real score, that it was too late, and that more trying would just get more of the same mediumesque results — at least until I really got over Reeducation, which I hadn’t yet, and also only if I landed a certain type of job, which I was no longer in the running for in any realistic sense.

    The nostalgia and desire he got in touch with were real, though, even though they are not the only realities (as they are for him).

  30. P.S. Key also in the repression list is not addressing the problem of my dissatisfaction with life in Maringouin as I planned to.

    Maringouin is OK and it is the only area to live working this job. But you have to get out many weekends for sanity, which is a little tricky to arrange due to money, so you have to get in the habit and find your strategies. I knew this from the outset but have been continually dogged by people who want to browbeat me into loving it and staying home.

    So I am constantly dogged by people who don’t want me to recognize and address problems, but to assume they aren’t the “real” problem, try to repress them, try to search elsewhere.

    That’s the other thing to just stop.

  31. Trying to manage all of this. But it’s a problem of privilege in a way — the way having *bound feet* is that.

    I got over most of that without naming it that way, and didn’t realize that it was the structure Reeducation wanted to reinstall — with a vengeance

    This seems to be the universal patriarchal way of “fixing things” — to return everything to its traditional, conservative state.

    Watch out for patriarchs professing to be therapists!

  32. Also, just moving ahead as an adult is not expected of women in Southern culture — one is expected to at least FAKE not knowing what to do, asking Daddy, and so on. If you don’t do that you get into real trouble, and I did not figure this out until too late — did not figure out the duplicity (and don’t like it).

    I figured out the duplicity that had brought me to a vulnerable condition in relation to others at the same time as I figured out that I was being abused at work. So I fought back against both these things simultaneously.

    And it was all also linked to a NOTION of privilege that my family had — although not with a counterpart of an actual experience of privilege, at least in the adult stages of my life.

    I think that the cultural assumptions my parents had were that a young women will be treated by other members of her society with kid gloves, unless she is particularly evil, in which case she deserves all, or most, of what she gets.

    You can see how the logic of this works in practice: So long as people are being kind to you, we, your parents approve of your behaviour. However, if people are cruel, then this is an indication that you have stepped out of line in some way, and you need to be punished severely for your misdemenours — and expect the punishment to continue until we find out what they are!

    It’s an extreme form of psychopathic idiocy — kicking someone when they’re down but applauding them when they are up, as if these conditions emulated the natural justice of the universe.

    I think my parents’ version of morality is extremely sick.

    1. Yes, it’s sick, but it’s how the dominant culture works, I really think.

      Glad to know the duplicity isn’t good for one. It’s been recommended to me and I just can’t face trying it.

      1. Reading between the lines of Zarathustra, if you do not accept the duplicity, you are authentic and much healthier, but you are also much more at risk from society, who may not appreciate your honesty.

  33. and, clearly, you can see how this indicates that my parents were true believers in the Rhodesian system — a conclusion that I only came to later.

    For, behold the logic: “The blacks of Rhodesia fail to thrive because of their misdemeanours. Consequently they deserve to be treated poorly.”

    And you can see that my reversal of this viewpoint does not come from any “liberal guilt” but from personal experience regarding its injustice.

  34. Personal experience, yes. And of course they’re true believers, although not major beneficiaries. It’s usually those who aren’t major beneficiaries who so rabidly defend something they’ve lost, after the fact.

    Didn’t thrive, so must have done something wrong — a common defense of the system. Often of course it is true insofar as not everyone knows how to work the system to their advantage, or does not have the tools to survive in it, but that’s another matter.

    “Liberal guilt” is like Christian charity or something — you worked the system and it worked for you, and you know you’re privileged but also know the work you did is yours. You can’t quite afford to have things change to your possible disadvantage. You understand how egocentric and non community oriented that is, but stick to your guns while feeling guilty and voting for Obama.

  35. I think my parents induction into the Rhodesian system was something that happened to them on the basis of censorship and the kinds of education they had, so that certain unconscious attitudes on their parts came to appear as ‘common sense’. Really, they are less inclined to defend the system than to fail to examine the illogical nature of their attitudes, which tend to go to more and more extremes the more they panic.

    1. People in Perth are less that way actually. They are more into a self-conscious notion of the atomised patriarchal family as a power unit, designed to drive the success of its members within society at large.

      The reflexes here are to defend the family members without reflecting too much about moral issues of right or wrong, but rather rationalising these in defence of the family members and their existing behaviour.

      So power is quite conscious of itself here, it seems, and quite efficient.

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