Friday, February 3, 2017

Selectively Vanishing (Alternative) Facts...


What if only a G_d who does not see and know all, who cannot read my mind and needs my confession, a G_d who has to rely on a big Other outside Himself- what if only such a G_d can be said to exist? What if total knowledge entails inexistence and existence implies a certain non-knowledge? Such a paradoxical relation between being and knowing introduces a third term into the standard opposition between ordinary materialism, for which things exist independently of our knowledge of them, and subjectivist idealism, for which things exist only insofar as they are known or perceived by a mind- things exist insofar as they are not known.

This is why the critique of ideology has to contain a theory of constructed ignorance: one of the main lessons of the critique of ideology is that it is not only knowledge that is socially constructed but also ignorance- in all its fifty shades from simply not knowing that we don't know to a polite ignoring of what we know very well, and covering all intermediate levels, in particular the institutional Unconscious. Recall the liberal appropriation of Martin Luther King, in itself an exemplary case of un-learning. Henry Louis Taylor recently remarked: "Everyone knows- even the smallest kid knows about Martin Luther King- can say his most famous moment was that 'I have a dream' speech. No one can go further than one sentence. All we know is that this guy had a dream. We don't know what the dream was." King had come a long way from the crowds that cheered him at the 1963 March on Washington, when he was introduced as "the moral leader of our nation": by taking on issues beyond segregation, he had lost much public support, and was increasingly considered to be a pariah. As Harvard Sitkoff put it, he took on issues of poverty and militarism because he considered them vital "to make equality something real and not just racial brotherhood but equality in fact." In Badiou's terms, King followed the "axiom of equality" well beyond the topic of racial segregation. He had spoken out against the Vietnam War and was supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis when he was assassinated in April of 1968. As Melissa Harris-Lacewell noted, "Following King meant following the unpopular road, not the popular one." In short, elevating King into a moral icon involved a systematic erasure of a lot that was known about him.

One could go on citing innumerable similar cases, from the virtual disappearance of the key Freudian topic of infantile sexuality in our "permissive" era, up to the systematic unlearning of facts about colonized peoples imposed by the colonizers- such unlearning concerns not only the facts, but even more so the ideological space that establishes the coordinates for our understanding of "primitives." (For example, when early ethnologists encountered a tribe whose totem was a bird, they automatically attributed to the tribe members the ridiculous belief that they were descended from this bird.) However, there is also a positive aspect to this process of unlearning. In the final pages of his monumental history of World War II, Winston Churchill ponders the enigma of military decision making: after the specialists (the economic and military analysts, psychologists, meteorologists...) have offered their multiple, elaborated and refined analyses, someone has to assume the simple and for that very reason most difficult act of reducing this complex multiplicity of views, where for every reason for there are two reasons against, into a resolute "Yes" or "No"- we shall attack, we shall continue to wait. In this sense, a decision to act involves unlearning the complexity of a situation. This is why what Hegel calls "negativity" can also be put in terms of insight and blindness- as the "positive" power of blindness, of ignoring parts of reality....
- Slavoj Zizek, "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism"

4 comments:

FreeThinke said...

I had no idea Hitler was either so enlightened OR so muscular.

};^)>

Has the content of the video been verified?

-FJ said...

I'm sure that Hitler was a real nice person...

FreeThinke said...

Hitler a nice guy?

On certain levels yes, on others decidedly not. Like all of us he had blind spots. Unfortunately, his form of opacity had deadly consequences that adversely affected the lives of hundreds of millions.

One cannot help but wonder what grief the world might have been spared, if Hitler had been assassinated before he marched into Poland and the Sudetenland?

Should we credit the profound evil that accompanied Hitler's rise to power to Hitler, himself, or was Hitler merely an instrument that served to focus some enormous hatred, resentment and longing to get even that lived in the German people, themselves?

FreeThinke said...

Hey! Hitler –– if that really IS Hitler and not photoshopped montage of his head on someone else's torso –– had a better physique than Vladimir Putin.

So does Anthony Weiner come to think of it.

Disturbing thoughts! >):-o