Repaso

1. As we know, in Reeducation I was considered unfeeling. To prove I was not, I was directed to renounce the intellectual life.

2. I have already realized before that “unfeeling” only meant “not histrionic” and “frighteningly bright to a man like me.” Now I realize that what it meant more fundamentally was that I was not engaging enough with random silliness. “Let negativity get to you more,” said Reeducation. “That way, you will prove that you are a moral person.”

This was one of its most important weapons.

3. If one grows obsessed with the question of how to mend a relationship or a situation – “what can I do, how can I change myself, to get this person to stop being so destructive” – it is a sure sign the relationship or the situation is abusive.

4. I discuss abuse a great deal on this blog but I have not emphasized much how embarrassing it is. I write on this blog but on bad days I do not wish to be seen. The way it pushes its victims into the shadows is a very important aspect of abuse.

5. While I always had some kind of abusive relationship at the fringes of my life – which is what I went to Reeducation to deal with – what Reeducation wanted me to do was to let abusive people further in, put them in the center of things.

*

I think about all of these things obsessively in Louisiana to keep myself from getting engulfed by the atmosphere but in the West it seems unnecessary. Psychically I have already moved west.

Axé.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Repaso

  1. It’s nice that you can break free geographically!

    I have come to realise just how much my own attitudes have been shaped by the demise of my previous home and way of life. It seems the most logical thing in the world for me to have a sense that “life does not go on” and that those who act as if it did are really kidding themselves. Like I can never have enough incredulity for people who want to migrate to start a “new life” or throw out some offspring and then waste time bringing them up under current conditions. Haven’t they heard?? Current conditions are unconducive to life. Nothing can grow here.

    And hence my turning from out to inwards. Hence the life “of the mind” instead of the social life — or with only a small social life to sustain my thinking in general.

    Ah, yes. It is the whole world that is hostile now, I see.

  2. Yes – life of the mind has to be the answer. And I like the dramatic Western geography and here (I am back in Louisiana) the flatness is not conducive to the outdoor life, I find.

    Meanwhile: my footnote is, I am supposed to be codependent to alcoholics (what Reeducation insisted and believed) but I am not (that is why Reeducation hated me). But I have been codependent to people who are codependent to alcoholics, and to abusive people, and this is the root of it all, AHA!

  3. Hawaii suits me perfectly. It would not have done so, however, when I was younger and more ambitious. Making my mark, making a name for myself, seems like a tedious business at my age.

    How dreary– to be — somebody
    How public–like a Frog
    To tell one’s name–the livelong June–
    To an admiring Bog!

    I still am not clear about what re-education is. Could you elucidate? Does this have something to do with cognitive psychology? I’m really in the dark about what you mean.

  4. I love that Dickinson quotation.

    On Reeducation, see:
    http://profacero.wordpress.com/2007/12/19/robert-jay-lifton/#comment-18631

    I get the word of course from Maoist reeducation camps and so on, and it did I do believe have something vaguely to do with cognitive psychology.

  5. 4. I discuss abuse a great deal on this blog but I have not emphasized much how embarrassing it is. I write on this blog but on bad days I do not wish to be seen. The way it pushes its victims into the shadows is a very important aspect of abuse.

    I’m surprised you experience this so intensely. I think that a large part of that is that you have not extricated yourself from a largely hostile ideological milieu, so you have not been able to fully recover from what you experienced.

    I think in my case it was a similar thing. There is something very, very retarded about this culture (I mean the whole milieu and attitudes that are considered normal and appropriate to it.) I mean, the thing I needed straight after I was abused in the workplace was reassurance and someone to stand up for me and just say the simple words, “what happened to you was wrong.”
    This alone, and had it happened soon after the event, would have done an immense amount to alleviate my suffering, and cause me to “bounce back”. (Whether such bouncing back into the general toxic milieu of ideological capitalism would have been ultimately healthy for anyone is an entirely different question. In my view, it would not have been so at all, but my point is that for emotional recovery to take place the principle of having people on your side who can recognise the injustice of what occurred is irrevocable.) That I did not have anyone on my side who could see things in terms of objective standards of fairness and unfairness meant that I continued to feel threatened for a long, long time. I still do, to some degree.

    But standards of objective justice are not unknown to humankind, even under capitalism. In the extremely brutal sport known as boxing, such standards prevail, ironically enough –when they do not prevail nearly as much under the auspices of liberalistic relativism. In boxing, for instance, it would be scandalous if the two opponents were not relatively well matched. You do not have flyweights fighting with heavyweights. The amount of experience both boxers have ought to be comparative in order to make the fight worthwhile. If levels of experience are vastly different, then there must be some other compensatory factor — like youth and greater reach — that can serve to equalise the odds. This is all on the principle of supplying decent entertainment — a mercenary value in itself, but nonetheless one that has been harness nobler values to its ends.

    Yet in the world of supposedly genteel consumerism, it is every man and his dog for himself. The moral relativism that this engenders is extremely violent. It is 111 times more violent than boxing or than anything previously imagined. Boxing, with its rules and regulations, with its referees, and with the possibility of throwing in the towel, is nothing compared to the violence of capitalism and its moral relativisms.

    There is no escape from capitalism, and it pits the weakest and least-trained individuals against gigantic and hardened pros. There is no sense of the injustice of this, that this fight and its outcomes were rigged from the start and that the only entertainment this provides is to those very craven and very bloodthirsty to begin with.

    And yet those attuned to the norms of market consumerism are inclined to criticise the “brutality” of boxing?

    They have no right to do this without first understanding a little more about themselves.

  6. Good points. And yes – it is because of not having extricated myself entirely from the toxic milieu and / or its ideologies.

  7. Oh, yes, you did answer this for me before. Evidently I did not read it. (?) Now I understand.
    I had a very good therapist 20 years ago who made it possible for me to work and succeed in spite of my husband’s problems with a major “midlife crisis.”
    She had an M.A. and was trained in transactional analysis, which suits people of my background.
    I went to another therapist a few years ago, and we agreed that I was going through a rough patch and just needed someone to talk to!

  8. I am vaguely considering going to a career coach – partly because I don’t trust my colleagues!

  9. Are you questioning your choice of being a professor? Because of concerns that you have or lingering ones from the MSW? Because frankly the reeducationist sounds like a quack to me.

    I had a comparable experience years ago; I went to see someone about depression and was informed that I was repressing memories of childhood sexual abuse. I went to 2 more sessions before stopping. I know what has happened in my life, and that isn’t part of my history. I wasn’t going to have someone pressuring me week after week to believe otherwise.

    Not trusting your coworkers may be a sign that you need to look for a new department/position, but not a new career. Maybe it is time to move west; Arizona is working well for me….

  10. Two sessions, good for you – it took me over two years! And that had lasting effects. Yes, the reeducationist was a quack.

    When I stay home too much I think I need a new career, but when I get west I realize I just need a new job – in the U.S., in points west, or else a bigger leap: out of the country, points south. That, oddly, is more realistic financially.

  11. Here is something I just wrote on Marechera’s putative mental illness

    Apparently, we all need Soviet adjustment camps.

  12. Career change, huh? What do you have in mind, Prof? ;)

  13. Bohemian – fantasy: creative writer and journalist; desired: law, practical: university administration; if abroad, a professor job; other things TBA but really what I have always wanted and not gotten is a *good* professor job.

    If I were an undergraduate again I would do a double major in Arabic/Near Eastern Studies and Political Economy.

    J – yes, the establishment accuses dissenters of mental illness.

    R – it was the Reeducationist (intellectuals are bad) but also the profession of professordom (where intellectuals are not necessarily desired or appreciated) … plus family issues … my disease was too much obedience, basically.

  14. From “The intellectual’s revolt” (Marechera):

    “Now look, I won’t give you any shit and I’ll take none from you. Do you understand?” Craig, in royal blue dungarees, stared expectantly at his class. There was no answer. He inched forward, confronted a rabid-looking haystack student. “Do you understand?”

    “Me?”
    Craig sighed. “Never mind. Anyway, today we start with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of King Arthur and his Round Table? He paused.

    The haystack raised his hand. Craig nodded.

    “Well, sir, I saw the Monty Python film on the holy grain.”

    Craig smiled. “Grail.”

    The haystack smouldered a flickering snigger. “Exactly, sir.”

    “That should start us off. But before I begin I think you should read Don Quixote, the story about a guy who fights windmills, a guy sometimes known as the Knight of the Sad Countenance. In our time he goes by the name of Clint Eastwood, Reality’s Minister of Home Affairs. Get it?”

    Dull apathy receded even more into its vacuum. Craig took a swig from his hip flask. And I’m going to be with them for a whole fucking three years. But he did not let it show. He went on, calmly, fluently, all the time ironically observing himself.

  15. That Marechera is smart. My New Year’s resolution is to be jaunty, like this Craig.

    [Random news: guess who was on my flight from Houston to here ... my X, that Anglais! My God I was driven insane in that relationship. But as I keep saying, it was how I finally understood Reeducation, so it is all good, although I would have preferred to have sidestepped Reeducation in the first place.]

  16. Oh well you have the insight you need now.

  17. Z

    I just saw Mon Oncle d’Amerique (Resnais, 1980) which I missed when it came out. Can’t believe I missed it, it’s great, must re-see as it is complicated.

    Anyway it has all of this stuff about behaviorist psychology and it is interesting:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,922187,00.html?internalid=atm100

  18. Sounds interesting. Behaviourist psychology worries me because we are becoming a society without human beings. The project of developing a human out of the process of education has been abandoned in the schools I was supp0sed to be teaching at. In Zimbabwe, there is still the project to create moral human beings out of the education process — but this is very much mingled with tenets of christianity. Still, humans do get produced — well rounded, thinking, moral humans. Yet here what gets produced are consumers.

  19. Visit your Kuwaiti friend someday and she will teach you Arabic or make a messenger account and she will help you learn more Arabic.

  20. J – It is also consumers who are produced here.

    B – I know. I need to go there on an intensive Arabic program. Or get a job at a university in the Emirates (although I would prefer somewhere like Istanbul). I say that I am not studying it now because it will fragment my energies too much, but if I get myself started via immersion, then it will be easy to work on it by messenger. However, perhaps if I dedicated 5 minutes per day, something like this, I’d learn one thing per day, and it would add up. Hmmm.

  21. P.S. I also think “unfeeling” meant “not codependent enough” and that “resistant” meant “not willing to collude in codependent silliness.” Or abusive silliness.

    It seems one was supposed to satisfy all sorts of contradictory desires on the part of the Reeducationist (or Reeducator) … seeing these contradictions and/or not considering it one’s job to meet the needs of an overgrown toddler was very problematic. The way I took it was, “Oh dear – it is true after all what my mother told me about the structure of the world – I am ruined.” The actual truth was, Reeducation had the same structures of unhappiness as my mother.

  22. See my post on my blog about the band of brothers.

  23. Got it! I’m editing out your test post. Bohemian: one of the things I realized out West was that I really do and did want a professor job. Whether I want to sacrifice location for it, or whether the dichotomy between an actual professor job and the fake one I have is tolerable, is another question, but I really do and did want one. Unlike, for instance, my father, or others who just sort of fell into it.

  24. So, what next? Doesn’t loving it mean you are willing to move to wherever needed to practice it properly?

  25. Theoretically yes, but practice is more complicated.

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