Dissertation notes August 20th 2011
Why I took away your face, my face, their face…
It begins with the feeling of being invisible, the insignificance of self in the context of the wider world. Of course there are times when I am very much aware and knowing that for the universe to be each and every particle is essential.
Then there comes the time of realization that my voice is denied. Wrong class, wrong gender, wrong age, wrong dialect… My humanity denied as I am sent through the machine that inspects every part of my physical body. Only my thoughts and soul remain for now inscrutable, invisible and wholly mine, but my physical body no longer belongs to me when it is examined, judged and scanned as any anonymous lump of meat, as object. This process implies that my body is a commodity and therefore desired yet also an implied carrier of danger and threat (or else it needn’t be scanned) and therefore despised, perhaps feared , certainly hated.
The exercises of making compliant vast numbers of individuals and in the process emitting a homogenous mass of aligned willing particles is disturbing to me but what is the method’s real aim, what are we primed to participate in?
I do not feel that my individuality is desired, praised or rewarded by ‘society’ .
[a point that I was reminded about : Zygmunt Bauman and Amartya Sen’s different backgrounds resulting in different takes and understanding on contemporary concerns and their histories and futures..]
I feel that increasingly individuals around me fit smoothly into the compliant porridge of people, who hear, see & say nothing, who can be fed ‘new news’ weekly – no matter how contradictory the content and show no sign of distress – which should be a prominent reaction and much less a sign of involvement or action. (odd wording – re-word)
The society we have become; fed on a steady diet of comforting TV-papp, consuming non-information and non-essential items in great capacities; until very recently was all about the “I” but not “I”- the independent individual- but I the serial consumer whose every whim and appetite that “I” had a right to sate.
I think a separation within the term “individual” took place. Separating independent thought, removing the impulse to make decisions independently, but leaving behind the empty shell with un-satiable appetite for consuming, comfort and pleasure.. [with this I am distributing the responsibility of loss of human/turn to commodity also to the consenting consumer]
Critical thinking is an un-pleasurable activity as it requires discipline and involvement unpractised by a population that enjoys surface entertainment that does not penetrate and does not require a lot of attention / engagement discipline. Our thinking capacities are collectively diluted and reduced. The average citizen is non-responsible and lazy in perception. The question ‘what causes this’ has to be asked as the symptom is not expression of generic, genetic inheritance but instead an inheritance of learnt culture. A culture of disengagement. Disengagement rewarded with material gain, engagement not necessarily punished but not rewarded either. (???)
What is then manifest is a mass of disconnected individuals; joined by superficial synaptic connections of the superficial pleasures (i.e shopping, drinking/intoxicating spending, sex, consuming). This is a mass of disconnected (entmündigt ) individuals
A certain Disorientation is only now setting in, years of ‘I am not responsible, someone else is’ are taking their toll. This kind of thinking is not trained to respond. Just a short time ago there was much talk about the de-politicised youth culture. I thought it was much worse and the general population’s culture was de-politicised and disinterested, political engagement un-cool as priority was placed on consuming and owning, owning was and remains the cool option; if one does not have then one is not as worthy as those who do have. From a you tube video interview with Erich Fromm this quote he read from Marx: “The less you are, the less you express your life, the more you have and the greater is your alienated life. Everything the economist takes from you in the way of life and humanity he restores to you in the form of money and wealth.” (Erich Fromm, To have or to Be) Erich Fromm asks the question: “ What is superior? To have or to be?” As long as shopping was unobstructed questions did not arise and the population remained asleep.
Years of little engagement beyond watching the drizzle of pleasure TV-papp, leave people helpless and powerless to participate in which way their society, country and future is going. Their greatest ambitions were all based on pleasure and accumulation and the manufacture of all aids to this end. Of course this is no training for living.
Worse, the pleasure culture and financial gains culture lost sight of essentials. One of the most important sources of power: knowledge, is eroded. Journalism for example is a profession that has been abused, cut and slashed employment positions, worldwide; Newsagencies across the country, but also across the globe, vanishing like the Dodo. The majority of our news are no longer news, they are now unchecked public services announcements, private company announcements, police and government announcements, which are then tweeted, copy and pasted around the globe at breakneck speed: almost all unchecked; who could check them with diminishing resources and the idea that full time, highly trained journalists now are not needed (when they are needed more than ever) and the reporting and sporadic checking down to individuals who are not necessarily unbiased, or are likely to not understand wider implications, are not trained to spot and question problems, inconsistencies etc..
(for this ‘Flat Earth’ author, journalist: Nick Davies you tube lecture is very informative: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbd3RQBkprw)
How secure is our status of human, of individual in a climate that relies on non-information for information? Who defends citizen against the erosion of their individuality and against their commodification? Where are the big ideas that save us from being led to the conveyor belt, sprayed down, scanned, ready for dispatch? For now we chose to travel for joyful reasons, holidays, further education and such. Many people around the world already have little choice but to choose to be dispatched for work, removed from their homes in order to survive or facilitate the survival and prospects of their families. Others still have no choice at all and are forcibly removed and dispatched for labour, for ‘use’ in other places, often places of which they do not speak the language and become very disempowered, losing ownership over their choices. Choices reduced to hope and non-hope.. [Future implications for the host countries also not taken into account, unless you return your labour batch they will potentially become a ‘problem’ in the future but that is not the focus of this text. Last point on this matter: I picture the potential future problems similar to the line of problems caused by colonization, Christianizing non-christians and therefore creating minority groups that now 200 years later are vulnerable to prosecution i.e. the Karen minority in Burma, the imported labour forces in India and Sri Lanka which over time caused great problems and violent frictions.. incomplete train of thought – not entirely relevant but kind of..]
The international movement of people and jobs, calling the less worthy ‘Other’ to do the job the indigenous population (we) would not want to exhaust, bore or dirty ourselves with. Let ‘them’ endure these working conditions, ‘they’ are used to it, or glad to do it. Bodies as commodities. In the process of ‘shipping’ they lose ownership of themselves, lose control over their conditions. Return to the point of origin, return home, with only limited possibilities (limited chance of returning home). Here I am thinking about the Dubay workers imported from Bangladesh, promised opportunities, but eventually exploited, left without pay, passport removed from them, without which they have no choice but to stay and endure sever hardship, while their families suffer yet more hardship than that which originally drove these workers to migrate and accept the job in unfamiliar and hostile to them location. (http://www.vbs.tv/en-gb/watch/vbs-news/the-slaves-of-dubai)
I am particularly interested in those workers who if they do not accept the conditions are faced with the threat of hunger, malnourishment, sickness or violence (to themselves and/or their families). Those workers who are held hostage in other locations, often not able to secure wages promised and their passport taken, which in such a situation renders anyone non-human as individuality and it’s basic rights are tightly linked to the ability to prove ones identity. These individuals lose their option to return to their point of departure. These humans are not deemed worthy of respect or rights, non-human, resigned to ‘thing’ for a purpose, which is to be used and then when redundant left to rot. Objects of use (desire) but disposed of they become despised (hated).
The trafficking of women: The using of bodies of desire, the shells desired, projection of desire onto these shells while the individual inside remains suppressed and loathed. Only a position of hate could allow a man to abuse and misuse the body of a woman in this way. The phenomenon of international ‘shipping’ of female bodies for sale, consumption and use by men is another example of the darkest and worst of what is part of being human. The trade of babies for sexual use, the rape of toddlers, children, women and ancient women, the forced gang rapes of countless brutal men who rupture orifices and organs, dislocate hips of the elderly and younger, cut off body parts to express power and hate. Humans are capable of worse than the worst that I have read about. The rape of Nankin, The rapes of women in Congo (fuelled by western love affair with mobile phone and gadget technology which need minerals found in Congo, the sale of which fuels the militia and their brutal reign, our direct involvement and condoning of violence palpable/tangible but most choose to close their eyes to these atrocities that fuel our luxuries. How dreadful it would be to not have all these toys that make out lives bearable, for we might have to wake and engage meaningfully would be not have playstations and i-pads and the latest i=phone…)..
T.s Eliot: ‘humans can not bear very much reality’ (Four Quartets)
Being human is not defined by being humane as I once thought, being human is defined by everything humans do and they do awful things as well as good. Globally I believe we are a species set to self destruct, the expressions of violence too frequent, too horrific. Death in the 1980’s seemed a clean affair. A shot with a bullet, never In the back, a slash with a knife, never the torturous, slow end by a thousand cuts, never the absolute darkest expressions of violence. This image nothing more than a testament to ignorance and to silence surrounding the rape of Berlin women by the Russians, the Khmer Rouge invasion of Pnohm Penh, the killing and poisoning of Vietnamese civilians (for decades to come) by America, Hiroshima where nothing was left to witness except absence…
The endemic and enduring legacy of hostility towards women in the origins of western thought (Aristotle, Kant, Rousseau….)
Humans turning on themselves, when there is no other discernible ‘Other’ then they will go out of their way to ‘other’ individuals/groups from within the ranks. This will never stop. (wome, hair colour, spiritual choices, facial features, all manner of ‘difference’ can be enough to endanger belonging and therefore security)
Removing the face & voice from people removes a lot of their human status, seeing them as bodies limited to status: object/thing is facilitated. Prisoners through the ages have had their heads covered their eyes bound blind. This is also reminiscent of those nightmares where the evil is unseen or can’t really be seen but is seen paradocically everywhere we turn.
[I am thinking of Henry Fuseli’s nightmare/incubus]
[Butoh – nightmare – de-human…]