A Collection of Spectacles

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Actors and psychologists have mutual understandings about many things. Who would’ve thought?

Edit: Except the latter is the cowardly form of the first. Actors observe others in order to reproduce themselves in front of a public. Species-beings at their finest. What does the researcher do but watch people from a protective shield?

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04. Thinking, over and over again

over and over and over

innumerable, inevitable, intricate poses

shared between two weak bodies.

Cascade fall

Run beneath

All the way through.

Over, again.

Simultaneously assuming the

Twelve o’clock pose.

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I need to learn more and read more. The point of this exercise was to limit myself, restrict and cut off all of my vices, mainly writing. This is a task that I don’t always want to do, but that springs forth from me involuntarily. Reading, reading, reading. Biopolitics and governance: How the simple acts of living and dying are controlled and contained, regulated. We were at work today, and I’m so frustrated because everyone asks me questions about things as if I’m the spokesperson for whatever it is I’m learning about at the time, mental screams yell well, go figure it out for yourself, it takes time and dedication to learn information and really retain it. We’re at work and he asks me what the deal is about theory, and why it’s important.

Your entire world has been constructed by the words of others. Let’s start from the most basic example (and I will write this out as painstakingly clear as possible). As we all know, and know well, the structure of our government was outlined for us in detail by those we now call the Founding Fathers. These writings still exist today (we are referred again and yet again to the Federalist Papers, particularly 10 and 51) and contain proposals for basic ideas such as checks and balances and the need for different branches of government. These proposals, obviously, were successfully put into place, and are still in place today. Here is the greatest most simplistic example of ideas that started as theory, and ended as fact.*

Never ask yourself why theoretical writing is important. Simply look around at the fact that three branches of government exist to begin with, and then remind yourself that someone first had to think of the idea before proclaiming it to the masses. Under modern circumstances, for some peculiar reason, we tend to forget these origins and instead  act as if these constructs were assembled by unseen ghosts. We start with them as fact, forgetting that they once did not exist, and had a theoretical origin.

Now, to delve deeper. In Federalist 10, Madison talks in depth about the nature of factions. A faction is, at its most basic definition, any group of individuals unified under a common interest that is “adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” To quickly summarize, liberty is the air that feeds the fire of factions, however it would be out of the question to abolish liberty in order to kill factions. Thus, to successfully control them, one must allow as many factions to exist at one time as possible. This way, no one group can gain enough momentum to usurp the needs of the whole.

Moving one step deeper. The need to isolate and control faction is similar to the distrust displayed by the Fathers towards the members of government themselves. The separation of powers and checks and balances were created in an attempt to deal with this.

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Madison claims that liberty is essential to any political life, but  then the deeper question is, what is liberty? Theory is important because, even when theorists do not see their ideas implemented themselves, their beliefs may later be modified and used by others. Ideas behind the need for inalienable rights can be tracked back to currents within social contract theory. Those who created our country’s basic ideas/needs read and modified the works of Locke (especially), Hobbes, Rousseau, and so forth.

Within these writings, which influenced Madison and the others greatly, was the idea of a fixed human state. All told different histories, but had their own version of the state of nature and what it once meant for man. How is it that we have come to create the society we now know today? Each had answers. In this fashion, the Founding Fathers tell us that we are guaranteed certain rights. These rights are secured to us as soon as we step into the political arena. However (in quite Marxian fashion, actually) I believe that we are asked to be non-partisan in the realm of politics, while many of our rights (to speech, religion, etc) apply to our private lives. In civil society we are asked to be individuals, where we should be communal, and thus here, we only look to other people as means to our ends, while we are communal only in the political realm, precisely where it might be more useful to be individuals. Still, returning to the original point, the appropriation of rights stems from speculations about the original state of man.

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I question even the most fundamental belief in a fixed human nature, for it’s possible that the notion (one which we, today, accept almost always as fact) began in the mind of one, only to be spread and adopted by the minds of many. In other words, could it have been taught to us that man is essentially evil, vile, and hopeless? Is it possible that we have, on our hands, a history of distrust set forth by the skeptic Founding Fathers? We may be far more subject to suggestibility than we would like to think.

I will end on this note: I am wary of any thought from the Left that begins with a notion of human nature as its starting point. Modern society has long had its umbilical cord cut from any nostalgic notion we may have of nature (in thinking of this, my mind immediately recalls scenes from Bambi). We are so disconnected from this “nature” that it is spoken of like a mythical creature, some have seen glimpses here and there, nothing substantial. Beg any member of modern society to tell you what nature is like, and watch them ramble on about the behavioral instincts of animals, the cutthroat, yet beautiful laws of the beast, “yes, we may fully believe we are ethically sound creatures, but it is the kill-or-be-killed commandments that we should live by.” Then, raise your hand and lower your voice slightly. Ask them where their knowledge of this beautiful “nature” from. Surely, not from first-hand experiences. “If not for literature and the media, if not for scientists and present-day society’s need to classify and categorize, as well as for its unquenchable curiosity towards what man may have been, you would not know of a ‘natural state’ to begin with.” Some may moan and cry for the days when the world was not globalized, and society underdeveloped, but they still must wrestle with the fact that there is no going back. That being said, ironically, modern man has only modern society to thank for his understanding of nature.

When I meet the caveman, I will ask him all about his life, and I will let you know. Until then, I will try and make due.

*This is to be said, criticisms of the ideas, notwithstanding. This goes simply to show that someone can have an idea that can be implemented in actuality, though this is not meant to touch upon critiques of such structures themselves.

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