Ah, the Arrogance of Whiteness: Lacan

www.vice.com/en_us/article/4w75en/jacques-lacan-was-sort-of-a-dick-323

Love this!

I like Chomsky’s “charlatan” name calling. It makes perfect sense to me, viewing Chomsky and his apparent approach scholarship.

Interesting also that in my previous posts I have been pondering why certain ideas of Lacan should have anything to do with actual reality.

To me Lacan’s ideas have a great sense about them, but, as we know well now through the problems with Postmodernism, intellectual sense and intension are not sufficient for an basis for an actual responsible activity.

Thanks Sourav Roy for this.

And if you are curious about race and whiteness, please check these out:

Race is Significant in our world.

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race | World news | The Guardian

The long read: For years, racism has been defined by the violence of far-right extremists, but a more insidious kind of prejudice can be found where many least expect it – at the heart of respectable society
— Read on www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

An Attempt at Discussing Some ‘Disparities’: Terrorism, Religion, Truth and Belief.

Taking a cue from Amorinblog, I am making an attempt to speak to the notion of disparities. Lets see how is goes.

 

What is terrorism?

When we think about the activities of terrorism, a marginal view might situate terrorism in terms of truth. What we have with the possibility of terrorism is a function of truth, or “true-Being”. In the consideration of what human beings do, we should not ignore or set aside this aspect of truth: Truth is Being truth. To set this function of human consciousness in terms of ‘belief’ merely reifies the Western colonial construct of subjective centrism, a construct that posits free will and choice in an absolute context of the ability for the subject to align itself with a transcendent course, such as we found in the American context “manifest destiny”. This is to say, we ostracize such “pre-terrorists”, people who might not have becomes terrorists yet they did, through the ideological matrix of the self-referential ethics of choice to say that the one who is a terrorist is choosing unethical behavior;  the native tribes of the western northern hemisphere were for most purposes to the early American government, terrorists in every light, even though we understand now how the American “post-colonial” period was an unethical act (still we do very little to repair the wrong). ‘Choice’, and correspondent terms such as ‘free will’, can be understood as a Western liberal code for creating antagonism in the world, an aggravating aspect of Western capitalism and its war machine.

Yet see that the question is not one about an essence of choice. It is practically nonsense to suggest that we do not have choice. But at the same time, if we do not recognize a dual aspect of consciousness, then we always stay within the ideological paradigm of an absolute ethics despite how we might want to situate or define any other liberal ethics of inclusion; we will routinely stay in the unity of consciousness that is able to consider parts of itself, parts it conceives, the unity that appropriates plurality to its uses. Reflection, in this way, is misunderstood axiomatically to be witnessing something outside of itself. As part of the liberal ethical front (and I mean this to describe a kind of Western impetus, a certain manner of coming upon reality) we should not worry so much about what others are doing, in fact, we are only able to understand such ‘other’ through this antagonistic orientation that is first and foremost based in worry, fear, and philosophical resentimentOurs is based in a contradicting antagonism, and our plight, as well as our ability to act, is based upon a cognitive platform of reconciliation in knowledge. We have then, as we are, to deal with our own BS if we are to ever stop jutting forth to then recoil in the usual modern oscillation of the war solution. In an odd sort of reprimand, the very idea of enlightenment typically does not translate into domination through war; no wonder colonial-exploratory Europe had to see other non-Europeans as ‘less than human’.

Two things here: This is not a argument against war or that we should not have war; this is not an argument for pacifism. Neither is this a suggestion that we should (somehow) withdraw from interacting with others; the point is toward an ability to be honest with ourselves about the situation at hand. As part of an ideological situation, we indeed have a front line; we cannot but be involved with a partition, of sorts, whereby we face and have confrontation with those aspects of the world in which we find ourselves. To move this understanding into any sort of utopian theme of ‘universal peace’ would then be to set aside our moment, our modernity, to basically negate our moment into a whole past to say then that all wars and conflict in history arose due to these constraints, whereas the truth of the matter is that which arrives only within our modern situation as wars stemming from these defined antagonisms: Basically we identify our moment by establishing the contradiction in this context. If we are ever to realize (which is to say, understand the truth of) our situation, then it seems the manner must take place within as the contradiction that is outside of the ideological or mythological construct, a situation that is not accorded to the construct to be thereby abstract (it is indeed occurring within the norm) but, is rather marginalized to the extreme, actively being withheld for the purposes of maintaining a particular kind of reality (ethics).

This is no longer a critique of meta-narratives; such a critique was still occurring in the antagonistic space, a space that could only be resolved through various ‘faiths’ that resolve the modern contradiction (the Deleuzian “Zen”, the New Age Spirituality, the Eastern Karmic cosmos, the “Christian” denominations that are not properly Protestant nor Catholic, and other discourses that take place in ironic suspensions). We have found that the critique of meta-narratives was how a particular ideological state perpetuates itself through ulterior colonialist motions. The Postmodern (but particularly the subsequent ‘method’) thought itself as an exception to the metanarrative, and used irony to suggest its difference, but we found that it merely supplied the ‘final’ narrative to substantiate Capitalism as the ground of real discourse (the “postmodern methodological platform”; see Lyotard “The postmodern condition”, and “The Differend”: The demand for a ground of real veracity, a limiting of irony, calls forth the criterion of ‘efficiency’ that brings about ‘experts’ to define what knowledge is valid, which knowledge is allowed to be considered as true, as well as the reparations that will be made to that aspect of knowledge that was excluded in the interest of efficiency.) But we were not done with irony, that is why definition is insufficient to bring about decisive changes in ideology; hence the various philosophical reconciliations for identity that we find all over the internet, and hence the instigation of a divergence in philosophy.

(Note: The question for divergence seems to be noticed. What others have been trying to do with ‘non-standard’ ideas and such, I simply address directly and say I am a philosopher and this ‘other’ manner of philosophy is still true as it can be identified thus conventional because the orientation upon objects by which it addresses things to gain its veracity. We do not speak from the unitive philosophical paradigm but rather admit that such a paradigm exists at least in parallel. Only one kind of argumentation exists which can reduce all signals to a single matrix, and that is the conventional philosophical route; it does not propose that it is capable of doing this, and that is why we are able to identify its mode with nothing. As I have said elsewhere, we are dealing with the instance of what stays static while something else changes, a calculus, of philosophical reckoning. What has withdrawn has indeed withdrawn beyond all argumentation: It has already been established. As well, any further argumentation is superfluous, redundant but indeed real and valid.)

So this is also not a critique of such identities. It is a describing of how humanity functions; we should not expect such understanding will change our behavior. It indeed will bring about or be involved with some sort of change, but the change will be related in a particularly real manner that seems to be able to avoid the truth of statements and yet likewise be able to argue effectively for how the truth is not what originally was there (a mistaken intension of intentionality). Neither is this a pragmatics, nor a promotion of a way into praxis. This is analysis, a possibility into a beginning of a science that has been brewing for some time (time is not the issue). The fact of atomic interactions is related to the war machine only through incidental, circumstantial yet real discussion, negotiation and argument; the science itself dealt only with the interrelating of factual situations, itself as a founding term that actually departs (instead of merely feigning departure). When we rely only upon a determination of human activity through this former method (of the circumstantial discussion) we arrive at never having the bomb built in the first place, no nuclear energy, no astrophysics, no understanding of our sun or the solar system, etc. No wonder there has been an effort to get back to the “pre-modern” Real thing.

We thus have now reached that point of discernment, an ability to deal with the being of human without recourse to incessant mythological justifying defaults that reify the free intuiting agent of transcendence. Thus far, we have not had a scientifically philosophical way to gain access into what human beings do because we were too busy doing it, busy using the manner; as an analogy, we’ve been like astronomers who have been looking at ourselves looking at the stars thinking we were actually looking at and discussing the stars: Through this approach we can only get so much information about the stars. The most recent of this manner is what we could generalize into a category of ‘Enlightenment’, but other categories that need be sorted are ‘State’ and ‘Capitalism’, among others, and “Neurophysiology” is not one of these primary aspects at this moment. We do not know yet how these function for human beings; we have only been using such categories in a proposal to find out how we might Be, indeed, using them to Be. In our finding this out, then, we have reached a kind of apogee in mythological function: Coming upon such self-reflection there by understands such knowledge as a means to enact, what is now/then seen, as a Truth. Only when this occurs does a moment arise by which to view through a larger frame of what has occurred. It does not occur through any choice in the matter, but indeed functions to begin to detract from itself.

From this moment we might be able to understand what ‘Terrorism’ might be. The first order of business, though, is to dismiss oneself from the reflection of identity, and this does not occur through any choice of free will. As I noted above, this is not a suggestion to indicate that terrible things have not occurred throughout human history, or that we can identify some essential human attribute or psychology to thereby alleviate us from such terrible occurrences. This is a description of what role Terrorism is playing in the reality of being human: Terrorism, in a large sense, is the antithesis of free will and choice; quite terrible. Psychology, at this moment, is too overdetermined in solution to be able to ponder a fact that does not move toward choices of human solutions; there are too many human issues in the world for an institution to consider bare facts; all such facts are ideological and political arguments that function as platforms by which to enact a possibility of real solution. It does no discredit to such psychological method to point out what it does, though, but the reaction that would take such a description as indicating a fault of psychology, or as suggesting that psychology is incorrect or wrong, is missing the point of fact for the sake of its ideological purpose, which is to rely upon the self-evidence of its teleology of real solution. Science concerns facts; real solutions are of a different order, of a different moment. And such moments are not, or at least do not have to be, at odds.

We thus make a proposal that seems almost a truism: Terrorism is the act that takes place from an ideological point of exclusion; terrorism exploits points of access.

I have suggested above that the idea (ideal) of human ‘belief’ is a manifestation of an ideological lack, a founding term that is supposed by the constituents of the ideology to account for what lay outside its purview. It is a colonizing ideal: Belief. Again, in this conceptual moment, we need separate ourselves from the notion that human beings all throughout history have been having beliefs. We are not concerned with what history might have to say about what human beings might “have been” believing (for indeed they were); that is of a different order of analysis. What occurs in terrorism is that the open door, that is supposed to be welcoming and inclusive of various human capacities and manifestations of belief, is not being taken. There is something about the welcome that is understood intuitively and innately to not be welcoming; to wit, the sensible response: My belief is not a belief, it is the Truth. Regardless of how we wish to emphasize our open ideal, in the case of terrorism, it has not worked, that’s why such acts are “terrible”, because they make no sense, they occur outside of our sensibility, our ability to make sense. Our sense of it is 1)that it is terrible, 2)unethical, 4)insane, 5) inhuman,6)of a ‘bad’ sort of religious fundamentalism. Perhaps we even make sense of the people’s acts patronizingly; they are ignorant, they are delusional, they are uneducated, they have been raised in an intolerant culture, they are the product of ‘bad’ ideology or psychology, they have been brainwashed. We cannot dismiss that any of these disclaimers may be the case, but for the act itself, especially individuals who willingly and with intent sacrifice their own lives in the act of terrorism – how else are we to make sense of such acts but through the unitive aspect of consciousness and its humanity that has good and bad psychologies accompanied by ethical mandates ? One cannot choose to escape their reality.

In these kind of reckonings there is no consideration of, as Alain Badiou has said, “difference as indeed different”, in other words, there is no considering their position for what it is in actuality, which is to say, as indeed a Truth that does not reconcile or fit snugly and comfortably in ‘our’ ideological nest. Indeed; I recently heard of how Donald Trump approaches foreign policy in a way that is different than what America has historically: Instead of attempting to defeat authoritarian regimes or dictatorships, reprimanding them with trade and alliance penalties, like the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, Trump approaches other nations on their own ground, allowing their political organization to function in whatever way it does so long as it does not interfere with American interests specifically. This appears very much like a situation where what is different is engaged with in its difference. How ironic that the person who so many in America see as contrary to American interests would be the person who would take an approach that can appear philosophically sound? I doubt Trump is that smart or educated, but it goes to show that we are not speaking about practical reconciliations of thought and action, but indeed a scientific description of the situation at hand. Could this be an indication of a possible beginning of a philosophical science that does not answer to conventional philosophical method?

Terrorism occurs at points of access. (Side note: The paranoia that often arises out of the consideration of an actual Artificial Intelligence develops the very point of access that an A.I. would be able to take advantage.) Terrorism is the revealing that access is not automatic nor guaranteed by any sort of discursive item, and that access now must be authorized (by experts). This is not homicide or murder, in as much as those events target individual people for specific identifiable reasons; e.g. Sam hates Pablo. Of course, we could see some similarities breaching this codification in the U.S. legalizing the corporation as an individual person: The experts tell us now that the human being is an incorporation, and not the other way around. It is not that corporations have become people, its that people must be incorporated to have ‘free’ access. In this sense, then, “in the name of (the True) Islam, I kill a number of symbolic representatives of the Christian West” is murder because this individual is incorporated (with an institution called ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-kaeda, Neo-Nazi, Free-Speech Movements, Pro-life, Black Lives Matter, whatever.. ). The irony, and the evidence that such terrorist groups see themselves through the lens they wish to destroy, is that they are asserting their freedom of access, pointing out the contradiction inherent in the (Western Liberal Capitalist) liberal mind set. This is the divine beauty of Capitalism: Its apparent omnipotence. Those who are not terrorists are those who are definably and axiomatically free to access: They are born incorporated: Nationalism has ‘bred’ itself into an offspring. Of course terrorism is insensible: How does one make sense of an act of assertion that positions itself against something that is already inherent to the act itself? This is the contradiction as well as the blind spot we find also involved in the critique of race relations. How much more non-sensible can it be for those who must behave through such ideological mechanisms? But this is not an issue of knowledge and education as much as it is what is occurring. The fact that such marginalized groups would have to speak about how to gain for themselves basic and inalienable rights is just about the most ridiculous thing that could occur given our ideological ground. Might the ‘terrorist’ actually be more sane??

This is not my position, necessarily, by the way, nor am I arguing anything about what sanity might be. But, an analysis of a situation must be able to point out facts about the situation if we are to get anywhere: Speaking about or describing what is offensive should not be taken as an argument for that which offends. A person of color is not asking me to change my skin color, reject my heritage nor deny myself as a human being in the world; she just asks me to be open to facing some harsh truths that come from outside of my ability to reckon on my own.

Identity has been taken to a further extreme, perhaps as a counterpoint to the extreme absence of sense that the act of terrorism evidences. I am not going to make an argument against that kind of reckoning, but only point out that such situations are about the political order. As to facts, if I may take the Islamic Terrorists as a case example (though we could put this analysis to any so called Terrorist), the suicide bomber is not targeting specific people, in fact, the hatred is entirely ideological (as I said): It is not Burt that I hate but that Burt is American, and he is not so much an American, as I reestablish the Truth of my sense, the sense of Truth, and re-appropriate to assert the Truth, as much as he is an Infidel. The point of access is a symbolic act against symbols, the scheme of which, on the part of the Terrorist, functions to reclaim conceptual territory (see my REBLOG post about conceptual territory) through lumping the antagonist into the counter-partial founding category by which a closing is understood as an opening (an act of faith); the corresponding ideal of the West is ‘belief’. The point of access is exactly the gap that opens up with murder without personal motive; the personal motive is the successful attack upon Truth. It is no secret that the opening for belief allows for all sorts of ethical compromises that brings into question every ‘belief system’ that functions under its umbrella. Only in the “blasé” attitude (Walter Benjamin ?) that accompanies the pursuit of real identity may someone have a valid ‘belief’; one must suspend their ideals in ‘nothing’ in order to ‘really believe’ (or to have faith). It is this kind of nihilism that is terrified by someone who is willing to die to destroy even the smallest piece of the antagonizing ideological leviathan; the transcendence that accompanies the modern nihilism is of a different sort than that usual Western ideal that places religious thinking in the category of concern with a transcendent ‘creator’. The Western religion of nihilism (the state of belief) cannot bring itself to have any sort of passion strong enough that would allow itself to willingly kill itself; how ironic. Here we even have the beginnings of a philosophical explanation of addiction, as well as the reason why it has reached epidemic proportions in America; but as well, a possible explanation of China and how it becomes present in the West.

The point of the terrorist act is to destroy the antagonistic state, the state that directly confronts the Truth through the ideal of human belief (the ideal of ‘belief’ is a singular ideological Truth). The terrorist act thus is an act that is already admitting what it is losing; like the Kamikaze fighters of World War 2 Japan, Japan had already lost the war, but would not admit it. Slavoj Zizek speaks of this kind of ideological instance in the analogy of the cartoon character, say, Wile E. Coyote, chasing the road runner off a cliff, running out into the air. Coyote does not fall until he looks down and realizes that he is standing on nothing, and even then, he has time to wave good-bye to the camera. The interesting part of this, though, is that the terrorists are already a part of the ideology that they are terrorizing, because they are already admitting that this antagonistic state has a claim in their Truth: They are fighting against the ideal of belief, an ideal concept –like that which is unstable within Anslem’s argument for the proof of the existence of God, — that they already and inherently understand; we might see the contradiction suspended in the terrorist act in as much as they destroy their own lives in the process of attempting to destroy the whole of the antagonistic state: A ‘not-life’ for a ‘life’.  Likewise, they know that their act will not actually destroy the whole of the infidel’s kingdom, but perhaps (who really knows) they ‘believe/know’ that their act will cause some sort of cascading event of collapse, as their disruption in concert with the ongoing series of disruptions will inevitably achieve their ideological goal, which is to dispense with ideology (as belief). We might see again a similar ideological activity in the events of Helter Skelter, ,where the murders of Hollywood celebrities would instigate a race war. Such antagonisms supply the fodder that ironically sustains the Capitalist ideology.

Terrorism could be marking that point when Capitalism has run out in to the air; perhaps it is now waving to us, but I doubt it. If I have to summarize the point of this essay on terrorism, perhaps it is that terrorism is an ideological construct that has its basis in nothing, an irony, because while it destroys people, actual lives, it is already serving Capitalism as a source of capital, of “magic”, of supplying energy to the ideological fetishized commodity that is identity: Terrorism is understood effectively, axiomatically, automatically to be identifying a real-true thing. Disgusting ethical juxtaposition really, but again this is why Capitalism could be said to be the umbrella Religion of Nothing, because people have to have faith in order to be able to ignore the incredible depth of the nothingness in which such events, and their labels, induce.

It is within such determinations that we find necessarily that I am not speaking of a unitive situation, but indeed, I am speaking about how such a unitive situation operates.

 

***

 

I could go on, and there is a further bit having to do with explosions, but Ill leave it here for now.

Reality, Naivety and Addiction; Part 2: Google and the failure of communication.

(Note: These posts refer to Slovoj Zizek’s talk he did in Spain a few months ago; this one:

 

***
This ‘post-traumatic world’ that might exist in a utopian dream, if it were not for the naïve subject who is able to have a view where by hope can reside, does not occur within the Symbolic and Imaginary frames; or rather, such a utopia is possible as a political empiricality within such effective frames. Where the ‘post-carnival’ state is possible, there do we find what is ‘the carnival’ itself, the moment wherein things are not what they seem and indeed shift and change in the single view. This is what Zizek (Lacan) calls ‘the impossible’, or, the Real order. The manner by which we make sense of what is impossible is called, for Zizek, psychoanalysis. When we see that these states do not change through subjective agency acting upon some actual empirical object but rather are only changes in view, then we must ask: What is this state wherein Zizek must disclaim his lecture in order to be understood, at once, to be not contradicting his innate imperative for logical consistency, and then as well not offending the sensibility that is discovered through psychoanalysis? Or more precisely: What is occurring such that this state, that he would have to qualify his subjectivity as naïve, against which a Socialist Bureaucracy seems preferable, or, what might be best to deal with things ‘after the carnival’ , needs be stated? Does not a state reflect itself de facto, automatically and axiomatically in the presentation?

What is occurring in the naive state is an inability to be dismissed from the carnival; an inability to make the next move; hence, for Zizek to communicate at this level and be honest he must qualify his presentation: What is naive is that which understands itself as not subject to psychoanalysis. So, the trauma continues and the carnival goes on; this is reality, the effect of the various periodic failures of the Symbolic and Imaginary Orders, and the solution to these evental failures is usually and commonly to resource the Symbolic and Imaginary orders, the orders by which the political world gains veracity, or the semantic scaffold by which what is political may be known.

One does not simply decide to give up on their world and then the world goes away; the world must be destroyed without consent. This is a fact. If we must speak of effective ideologies, we can hear Zizek through his book “Living in the End Times” (paraphrase): It is only at the time we notice the impending failure of an ideology that we fight hardest for its truth. We do not simply give it up, even if we know the battle is lost; we still man our stations and fight for the state. We do not simply and easily relinquish our world because we have a conception that it is ending. Notice the general responses to global warming. The rhetoric is not a condemnation of our system, rather the reaction is either flat denial or a call to adjust how we approach our modern living.

*

Likewise the recent Google diversity scandal. Notice that there is nothing terribly irrational or non sensible in the manifesto. In fact, his essay makes good sense from a open-platform ideal: Every voice should be heard, even the voice that has been marginalized in the popular political environment. He is not saying that Google should not address inequalities in the workplace; he is saying that the manner that they are being addressed may be based upon an incomplete consideration of the facts; a more complete rendition of the facts of inequality or structural misrepresentaion or skewed hiring and promoting practices being the logical and rational ideas that he presents, which are, actually, not too radical. He is not saying anything that I haven’t heard; whether or not I believe them or not, the various notions about gender he produces are indeed valid — but in a certain light.

Then look at the answer that is made by Danielle Brown, Googles new diversity manager.

…I found that it [the anti-diversity manifesto] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.

Does anyone notice anything peculiar between the two discourses?

At risk of putting myself in either camp and looking as if I am defending the manifesto, the anonymous writer is merely putting forth his view under the ideal that everyone should be heard, he is saying that perhaps Google’s diversity policy should be put on hold until everyone is heard. There is nothing radical about this ideal; it is a very democratic and American ideal, liberal as well as conservative.

How about Ms. Brown? Her decision has already been made. The judgement of the diversity manager is that he is “promoting incorrect assumptions about gender”.  Is that really true? It kind of sounds to me that it is the diversity manager that is promoting assumptions that are not true, namely, that the dude is promoting incorrect assumptions. But as Lyotard noted,by what ground shall we legitimate either of these discourses?

Nevertheless, this (his, the Manifesto) incorrect assumption is one that Google does not endorse, and indeed is why he ended up fired.

I don’t think there is a better indication where this world of ours is headed: Nationalism is on its way out; Corperatism is in. Democratic ethics is no longer the standard but is indeed being commandeered by corporate policy, policy that will decide what is ethical for the future.

Just from a (fair) neutral position: I am curious what exactly his manifesto says that is an incorrect assumption about gender. Are we not allowed any more to suggest that men and women are different? I thought in the discussion about race, at least, we are supposed to embrace difference, acknowledge difference and not be blind to color of skin and cultural expression. Any considerate and intelligent person is left to wonder why difference in gender is not to be acknowledged and embraced? Don’t we do that when we fuck?

In the corporate world we do not fuck each other, we fuck other companies. Competition defines the space of ethics; a meta-narrative of ethics does not yet define an umbrella space of companies. Difference, it seems, is not to be abided in the consideration of the workers value: Only the overt potential involved in the equality and sameness of human beings in general is to be considered in the place of production. The ability to produce is the standard, and we, as corporate subjects, cannot afford the inefficiency that can arise in the a priori classification of workers ability: All workers are equal in the potential to produce. That is the (post-) modern ground of ethics.

What do we have? We have the very postmodern condition coming to fruition. The Manifesto Man speaks of a Google echo chamber. What could be a better description of his very condition: He is speaking about a kind of ethical space that we all know of, but because the our existential condition (for lack of a better term here), the ethical condition that is the liberal agenda of freedom and equality that has been with us for at least 200 years, he cannot be heard, indeed will not be heard. Knowledge no longer exists as some source  or conduit for access into an essential and ideal ground for ethics; knowledge now is determined along lines of which knowledge is valid, and so which knowledge is able to be heard. Lyotard puts it in terms of which knowledge is efficient. The Manifesto Man is speaking, and we all (but do we?) know what he is meaning, where he is drawing his knowledge from, but it is mute. Such knowledge is invalid: It is no longer a kid of knowledge that is included in what is valuable. The ‘experts’ have agreed and they have decided.

*

What better description of this world: carnival. And as well: dialectical. So what happens after? The discussion by two or more people is shut down and the discussion continues as if in an echo chamber, which is to say, the movement merely occurs and everyone just rides along, regardless of what sound is made. The Dialectic continues but under a new semantic rubric that is understood to not be new. Indeed; there is an irony occurring. For, while the point I make in my recent essay about ‘the event of the past’  and Zizek being naive, I find that around the same time (well, relatively speaking I suppose, lol) I was writing that post, Zizek himself was in Spain speaking about how he was going to proceed as naive (listen to the youTube above).

In this sense, we find a certain psychoanalytical significance to what is occurring at Google, but in the context of addiction as well. The naive subject has a voice that is always heard in the context of the times as a political voice, able to bring change to the world, in various potentialities, at various moments. But what occurs is that voice is automatically referred to a context that is outside of the communicative potential of the subject: She speaks, but it is as if in an echo chamber. The dialectical subject of ethics speaks of justice, but her voice resonates only in its own space, the sound that is heard in reality is offensive and indeed (now) incorrect, and actually promoting assumptions that no longer reflect what is true, except in as much as this echoing voice affirms the present justice; the past has been changed. As Zizek describes in his book “Event” determined by the facticity of the past itself, the present act alters the very condition by which it has come about to reflect the actuality of the present moment.

**

The addict in his cups is not privy to the change; she is determined by her past as she works to keep the past constituent to that ideal and dialectical moment. The addict sees the material as being unchangeable and essential, and ideal world or “musts” and “is’s”. Reality never breaks into the Imagined world to disrupt it and the addict stays in her echo chamber yelling for someone to hear her. But the world only hears a sound that no longer reflects the true of reality. The two exist within a dialectical moment that is denied for the purpose of asserting a justice that is already occurring, indeed has been occurring, albeit, to challenge the past which determined the criteria by which such justice has been ascertained.

Time behaves atemporally, as witnessed not only by Lyotard 40 some years ago, but in the movie “Fight Club” some 25 years ago:

This is no figure of speech, metaphor, or interesting artistic juxtaposition. It is the actual psychoanalytical situation that occurs.

(This clip is just so perfect ! lol)

Systems of Power and Priviledge.  

For all the Ultra serious theory, it must have a correspondent comic component that allows for its easy access, so it then may have substance; which is to say, show its substance.

Here we have it:

Part Two: Systems of Power and Privilege

COURTNEY PRUSMACK
EDFN 7410
SUMMER 2016

“Identity is the essential core of who we are as individuals, the conscious experience of the self, inside.”
- (Heyck, p. 401)

I sit down to write this paper as yet another black life has just been taken by police brutality. I cannot help but think about the profound anger that I feel each time I hear about a crime against humanity like this one. I believe it is Genocide. Hegemony. Colonialism. I wonder, in my small but consistent efforts, am I making a difference? I think: yes. But, I cannot let the dominant culture silence my efforts, as I have experienced, because black lives matter and what I do to serve as a bridge and ally to people of color, matters. No matter how small. This is not singularly about me; instead, this is about a collective call to action in which I can positivity contribute towards effecting change. I take responsibility every day, as an individual, for making a difference in even the smallest of ways. Over time, consistent small efforts I believe can enact real and sustainable transformations.

I reflect: what if Alton Sterling’s name was known to the two white officers who held him down and assisted in taking his life, before they shot him? What if they saw him as a human, a father, innocent until proven guilty and not as a threat, a criminal, assumed guilty? Alton Sterling is pictured on a CNN news headline with gold teeth. What if the dominant white culture also wore gold teeth or a grill? Would that have made Alton Sterling seem less “different” (read: threatening) and more like the two white officers, so as to subconsciously enact a deep seeded connection among all of the men thus possibly preventing the irrational reaction from the officers towards Alton Sterling?

Two of the Baton Rouge officers involved in killing Alton Sterling were named Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. These are two white men who held down a black man, as I myself witnessed in the video, while a third officer (off camera) shot him. What if Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II had used their own names to introduce themselves before they strong armed Alton Sterling? What if they had learned Alton Sterling’s name? A connection could have been made; a possible momentary yet profound diffusion of what was no doubt a highly charged interaction which may have prevented the victim’s death. Just one moment was needed, one human moment to connect and to know the others’ names. I propose that something as small and seemingly insignificant as correctly knowing and saying each other’s names is the start of dismantling racism, marginalization and oppressive practices and thus, transforming society in the United States. If the devil is in the details, why can’t the angels be there, too?

In this paper, I will briefly explore the seemingly insignificant and sometimes invisible details and small acts that influence our perceptions of one another. Specifically, our names as they relate to the power of language and our identity. Language can corrosively influence and bias us; conversely, it can help transform us towards equality and freedom for all. Respect begins with knowing and correctly saying each other’s names and honoring each other’s language of choice.

To continue with the concept of language as power, and being integral to enacting change, I argue that the U.S. is in need of more people of color to transform what is mainstream journalism and media broadcasting. We need to have much more black and Latin@ voices, for example, normalized into all aspects of the media: journalism, production, direction, field reporting, news anchoring, etcetera. I believe that media has become so powerful, that the normalization of people of color into the mainstream (but not altering their voices to comfort the current mainstream) will help to transform language and names. This is necessary for the marginalized groups but also for the dominant group for our media to be representative of language and names which inclusively represent who we are as a country. We all lose out if voices are underrepresented or not heard at all in the ongoing narrative of our society.

In saying our names, we initiate personal voice. In saying another’s name, correctly, we honor the voice and thus the inherent identity of the person we are interacting with. It is a foundational building block for respect. Student voice and the dialogic are based upon this starting point. As a female who grew up as a member of the white middle class, in a predominantly white town and attended white public schools from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, everyone said my name correctly growing up. I did not have to alter my name or question if my name/identity fit in with the others in my school or community.

Once I left the suburban and affluent community I grew up in, I began volunteering in schools that served children of color, specifically Latin@. Many of the teachers and administrators were white. I noticed a phenomenon: the children’s names were being anglicized to suit the adults. Some students, as young as first grade, had changed their names to the “white” version of it. For example, when I met Miguel (his name on my class roster) he introduced himself as Michael. He was six years old. This was in Prunedale, California- a farming community in North Monterey County that is racially divided (whites/Latin@s). The public school system there in the 1990s had de facto apartheid schools, due to the racist construct of how the white people in charge systemically implemented “bilingual” classrooms and programs totally separated from the “English” classrooms (meanwhile in my class we spoke English, too, hence the term “bilingual”). By the end of our time together, Michael had reclaimed his name and went by Miguel again. That was my introduction to the racism and oppression of anglicizing names. I have hundreds of students I could tell the same story about. Insidiously, it begins with something as basic and intimate as one’s name, as early as when they learn how to first write it in school. I have been thinking about the value of names ever since.

This aspect of anglicizing Latino names in school is for the comfort of the dominant white culture. The Chicano political activist and author, Lalo Alcaraz, is well known for his political comics. One comic strip in particular, published in the Bramlett (2012) book Linguistics and the Study of Comics, uses anti-immigration sentiment as a metaphor for the Anglicization of Latino names. His comic strip mirrored a story in the news in 2009. According to Bramlett (2012) the story goes as follows: “Larry Whitten, a 63-year old manager from Texas, was brought in to help a struggling hotel in Taos, New Mexico. In giving his new rules, he forbade his employees to speak Spanish in his presence and he also ‘ordered some to Anglicize their names’. He said that changing the pronunciation of the employee’s first name (formerly pronounced with a Spanish accent) was not racist: I’m not doing it for any other reason than for the satisfaction of my guests, because people calling from all over America don’t know the Spanish accents or the Spanish Culture or Spanish anything.” (p. 87) This is an illustration of when loss of identity (the stripping of one’s name) is done in favor of insuring the comfort of others.

I am yet to find detailed, published research which supports my theory of our names being symbolic of our identity and thus, the stripping or altering of one’s name being synonymous with disrespect and colonization in the institution of school specifically. The topic is of much importance to me. Hopefully, I will be able to prepare my thinking as I work towards a dissertation which I am cautiously optimistic could include doing research on names and identity stripping in public schools.

I have years of observational, perception and qualitative data, however, that I propose supports my theory regarding our educational institution’s anglicizing of black and latin@ student names for white teachers and employees comfort. I believe this is another way that dominant culture exercises and maintains power, ever so subtly, over communities of color. Through these micro aggressions, our students and staff of color’s identities are slowly being stripped from them. This not only impacts communities of color, but strips all communities of the richness of our identities and dehumanizes in the process. We all lose.

One very recent experience comes to mind. I was part of a district wide interview committee with two other white female assistant principals, a white male district director of maintenance, a white female administrative assistant to the director, a white male supervisor of maintenance, and a Latino male manager of building engineers and maintenance. We were hiring three new head building engineers (one for my school and two for the other two schools represented by their building APs). All of the ten candidates were people of color; eight spoke predominantly Spanish and asked to have the interview conducted in Spanish. Myself and one other person on the interview committee were bilingual, so we were charged as the translators in addition to taking the required notes for human resources to screen the candidates. I have been serving informally as an educational translator for over twenty years; it is not easy, but I have grown in my ability to be mindful of the group dynamic and to include everyone in spite of a “language barrier” via eye contact, body language, etcetera.

So, our first candidate enters the room. He is a young Latino male. His language of choice is Spanish. Everyone from the district introduces themselves to him. They use his name, which they have read on his application. Assumedly, the administrative assistant has spoken to him on the phone or left him a message using his name. They say his name as Joel (phonetically pronounced: “Jole”). The introductions get to me, and I ask him if he says his name “Jole” or “Ho-el” (as it is phonetically pronounced in Spanish). He says, smiling, “Ho-el”. I translate for the group that he prefers his name to be pronounced “Ho-el”. Curiously enough, no one but me uses this correct pronunciation throughout the nearly hour long interview with Joel. They do say his name, in their anglicized version, on many occasion. I continued to model and even once reminded the group he prefers “Ho-el”. No one called him by his correct name but me the entire duration of the meeting. They all wanted to make sure I told him how much we in Adams 14 value diversity, do not tolerate discrimination based on race or ethnicity, though. It was sadly and disgustingly ironic. All I could do at that moment was make sure Joel knew there was one person who respected his name and identity.

Noteworthy is the proposal by Gloria Anzaldúa that a third ‘identity’ is created through the phenomenon of anglicizing. It is neither a Latin@ nor is it a white identity, but an identity of a cultural blend. Anzaldúa (1987) wrote that being Mexican American “is a state of soul—not of mind, not of citizenship” and that a Latino need not live on the physical border of Mexico and the United States to live on a metaphorical border (p. 84). “Generally speaking, later-generation Latinos face this bicultural reality: their Anglo friends see them foremost as Latinos, never mind how acculturated; they affix their cultural blinders and impose on Latinos their Latinoness—their names, appearance, mannerisms, and choices are perceived to be exotic. At the same time, Latinos’ immigrant friends see them in the opposite way; they affix their cultural blinders and impose on them their Angloness—their names, appearance, mannerisms, and choices are perceived to be Anglicized. Latinos are what Keefe and Padilla (1987) labeled a “Cultural Blend” in that “Both perceptions, as subtle forms of rejection, construe a type of marginality “(Bennett, 1993).

I propose that the institution of public education is so deeply entrenched in white supremacy that it is permitting and perpetuating what Anzaldúa coined as “linguistic terrorism” in her book La Frontera/Borderlands: The New Mestiza. Linguistic terrorism is the stripping of one’s native tongue in the devaluation of their natural language. “Chicanos and other people of color suffer economically for not acculturating. This voluntary (yet forced) alienation makes for psychological conflict, a kind of dual identity–we don’t identify with the Anglo-American cultural values and we don’t totally identify with the Mexican cultural values. We are a synergy of two cultures with various degrees of Mexicanness or Angloness. I have so internalized the borderland conflict that sometimes I feel like one cancels out the other and we are zero, nothing, no one. A veces no soy nada ni nadie. Pero hasta cuando no lo soy, lo soy.” (Anzaldúa, 1987). I believe linguistic terrorism includes the stripping of one’s name, as well.

So what is the answer? My proposal is that we can begin with something as simple as learning and saying each other’s names correctly. In honoring the identity of how someone introduces themselves, we extend an offer of deep respect. In respecting others, we respect ourselves. All of us win.

​​References

Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La frontera: The new mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

Bramlett, F. (2012). Linguistics and the study of comics. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Heyck, D. (1994). Barrios and borderlands: cultures of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lasorsa, D., Rodriguez, A. (2013). Identity and communication: new agendas in communication. New York, NY: Routledge.