Monthly Archives: July 2009

Reminder

They will never give permission to say this, but I do. It is not about “codependency” or about “seeking difficult situations.” It is about having been trained to accept sadistic behavior as one’s lot, relinquishing one’s rights as man and citizen, and not having the tools to name and resist emotional bullying. And for me to say this is not to evade responsibility, to “judge,” or to place “blame.” It is to make a correct diagnosis and a correct set of identifications, precisely so as to be able to do something other than say woe is me. The Reeducated will not like this, but it is about me, not them, and I do like it.

Axé.

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Some Concerns About White People

Are they willing to integrate themselves into all facets of American society?

Do they share core American values?

Why do they keep to themselves so much?

Why do they insist so upon maintaining their own cultural traditions?

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Jennifer adds some concerns about white men:

Are they willing to put aside their emotions (especially sexual) so that women can get on with the job?

Are they rational enough to see both sides of the picture?

Can they keep going in a situation which doesn’t automatically favour them, and in which everything doesn’t automatically go their way?

Axé.

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Peeling Away

Update in real time: This post, like most in this blog, was written days or weeks ahead of time and is thus chronometrically fictional but these words are written in real time. The dream in reality was a dream about riding on the Deutsche Bahn which had superimposed upon it the Santa Ana Freeway and some San Juan Capistrano type vegetation.

I have two comments: 1. I am completely different outside rural Louisiana! It is really unbelievable how morose I become in my town / university although what outsiders tend to wonder is how I survive these at all. Still I find this post as originally written disgustingly morose.

2. Someone in the conference where I am talked about mechanisms for creating complete subjection via the deployment of Christianity and the model was precisely that of Reeducation. This I would say in response to several of the recent comments on this blog. Since I would say it several times in comments, I am saying it once here.

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I am so glad I have this blog because I really do need to remind myself of my right to exist each day. There are historical reasons why Reeducation’s remark that I was an “intellectual snob” was so devastating that I, in response, committed psychic hara-kiri. I know what they are and it is not that I am not willing to write about them, it is that I have thought about them long since and I find them exhausting to discuss. Reeducation, undertaken to cure the wounds sustained during these events, only made me relive them in a distorted way and I will not risk hearing further echoes of this.

Although it does not discuss these things the blog helps me relax with them, make peace with them, and reach out to the person they happened to — the one who is coming back to me. And I am in Germany today, giving a paper. I am so glad to be here and so pleased to have been invited. I am so grateful to be going on to Spain afterwards. I am glad enough about these things that I almost feel I am who I was. Riding north on the Deutsche Bahn after flying all night I fell asleep briefly and dreamed I was on the Santa Ana Freeway, going out to Laguna with hibiscus blooming.

And I know, but reject the reasons why being from Southern California and liking it there was supposed to be so shameful. I know, but reject the reasons why having studied in the UC system and having enjoyed it has been considered so sinful. And I know I do not sound like a person from San Francisco but like an Angelena and that some people hoped I would be someone else. But my dream of the road out to Laguna was a happy dream and I am so glad that this kind of dream is coming again to me.

Axé.

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Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Asher Lev

…At the end of the novel, Lev creates his masterpiece. He paints his mother as crucified between himself, her son, the artist and his father, her husband, the activist. The entire novel has been about his own struggle, being torn between his love for his parents and community and his love and need for art. At the end, however, he begins to understand how his mother has been torn between her love and duty toward her husband and her son. The image of the crucifix is not a static image of suffering, but an active image of being torn between two opposing forces. Of course, for Jew, using a crucifix too express this concept was heretical and a betrayal of his own heritage, and he must leave his family and community.

That masterpiece that he created gave me a powerful image. Not so much the painting, but that Lev stepped away from his own pain to create an image of profound sympathy for his mother and profound understanding of the dynamic in his family. He stepped outside of that dynamic to describe the whole, and he took the risk of using images that ultimately undermined his parents’ understanding of the sympathy. He portrayed a truth, and he accepted the consequences for telling that truth, which was the knowledge that he had hurt his parents just as profoundly as he had shown sympathy and that he must live exiled from his community.

The power of that ending for me came with Lev’s acceptance of this fundamental struggle between himself and the people who loved him most, but who also caused him the most pain through their rejection of something central to his being; and his acceptance of the struggle between his love for those same people and the ways that he wounded them. There was no resolution, no way to reconcile the two. All he could do was create this masterpiece of sympathy and understanding. His creation was an act of love, even if the people for whom he was expressing it could in no way accept it.

This is to say, that point of crucifixion, or perhaps more accurately that point of being drawn and quartered, of being pulled in opposite directions, of having to hold the point of tension in your own being, that is not only the human condition, but the source of creativity. If you can express that point honestly, it may also be the point of great art. It is not the point of peace. [Emphasis added.]

My name is Professor Zero.

Axé.

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Sur la souffrance

Also in Reeducation, it was important to suffer so as to prove one could feel pain (pain being the only actually admissible feeling). One could not feel pain and do something about it — that would be “impulsive.” One had to feel pain and “grieve” it, lament and suffer.

I had always found that to move ahead in life, which is not long, it was best not to become enmired in suffering if one could avoid it. Prisoners and concentration camp members, for instance, survived by finding ways to alleviate suffering and breathe more freely.

I think this is key to those days in which I so tried to move out of “procrastination” via time management and discipline. I already had so many yokes upon me that to try to think of work in that way was not liberating.

I had formerly thought of creative and intellectual work as a form of rebellion, a space of freedom. Although I do believe in keeping regular hours and working in small pieces, I do not like thinking of work as a space of limitation and suffering.

I also think that telling myself, in those days, that it was a question of time management and that I had suddenly become a poor manager of time was just one more way of discounting myself, of discounting my professional point of view.

In sum: deciding one has the right not to suffer is really important.

Axé.

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On Transference

I had a realization about how Reeducation worked and what it killed via a comments thread on a different post. I could write a coherent post about that if I had time, and the comment is really just a pre-note, the thoughts in it are not well worked out at all. For now I am just pointing to them so I do not lose them, and hoping I understand them well enough for future reference.

The principal insight in the comment is how, through a complex knot of transference and countertransference, Reeducation cemented in my academic paralysis. This paralysis had other sources as well, coming from the real conditions of academia itself and that fact that one is not supposed to name these for what they are. Yet as I have always said, I can and could always deal with the real conditions, even if they are less than ideal, and even if the way of dealing were to leave … until Reeducation created these untenable conflicts.

I had written these notes on a scrap of paper earlier on, but that was before I had the revelation recorded in the comment I have already linked. I will not develop the following notes either at this time, just record them here so that I can take that scrap of paper from my desk and recycle it. Eventually I will meld them with that comment to come up with a new, brilliant essay on why better discipline and time management, acceptance of the fact that work is hard, and lowering of standards so as to evade perfectionism IN NO WAY address the problem of writer’s block.

The notes are:
1) Alienation from research identity because of the ideas that a) everyone knows you cannot or will not be a researcher, and keeps saying so; b) when you become one anyway, they say you should not have, it was and is hurtful to them and to others that you have oppressed everyone by becoming a researcher [so far these ideas are covered by Joanna Russ’ How to Keep Women From Writing], c) if you can write academic prose, it shows you are an unfeeling person alienated from yourself, d) the topics you write on only prove how disturbed you really are [those two ideas are from Reeducation], e) research and writing are part of academia, and academia is a place of extreme pain and betrayal, so I do not want any part of it; I am willing to give up research and writing if that is what will get me out of academia [what I learned from my experience in academia].

2) Loving the research projects but having been taught to hate the self that must exist to undertake them. Having been taught that self is to be killed and buried. Expecting to be able to undertake the research projects without the focus and insight of that self. At the same time, loving that self enough to want to rescue it from captivity in universities, and take it somewhere it can exist and without also torture (like that little mermaid in H.C. Andersen who had to walk on knives each day so that she could be with her one true love).

3) As we have said before, having had the authority one needs to run a project invalidated. The project may really need modification, and it may really be too large to finish in the allotted time. The self who is undertaking it may be right about these things. To be told no, you just do not have enough faith in your own speed, you are just planning to be lazy, you just do not believe enough in the project as originally planned, so stop fiddling and just knock it out, is poor advice and very invalidating. It is also very much uninformed. I mean: if an engineer said the plans for a skyscraper have a serious flaw and need revision before construction begins, would you not listen to hir?

Axé.

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Reauthorization. Stomping on Dat Whiteman.

Reeducation deauthorized.

“You are not authorized to be a successful person. The degree of power you wield in your own life is highly inappropriate in a person of your background.”

“You must disempower yourself. You must recognize that your happiness and integrity is an illusion based on denial. You are not authorized to live as you do — to be as you are — to speak.”

“You are too calm and your powers of concentration and focus are too strong. This could not be a result of meditation or be anything positive. It must be obsession, compulsiveness, and inability to feel.”

“You do not feel enough pain. You must feel pain and grieve.”

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The methods of which I availed myself to disable myself as instructed included but were not limited to: Ending visits to woods, rivers, and beaches. Cutting walks and workouts. Smoking. Sleep deprivation. These measures weakened me and softened my focus, and I stopped doing as well as before in life and at work. I listened more closely to Reeducation’s version of me, and lamented my losses.

“This is problematic,” said I to Reeducation. “I do not see how cutting power and increasing pain in these ways can come to any good end.” Reeducation smiled. “You are finally doing what you really want to do, what you really need to do,” it said.

*

That reaction was blood chilling. Yet I still expected Reeducation to change its mind based on the poor results. Of course it did not, as these were the results it desired.

I am reauthorized.

Axé.

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