Stephen Lukes, Power: A Radical View

October 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

is it not the supreme and most insidious exercise of power to prevent people, to whatever degree, from having grievances by shaping their perceptions, cognitions, and preferences in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things, either because they can see or imagine no alternative to it, or because they see it as natural or unchangeable, or because they value it as divinely ordained and beneficial?

(Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 28)

Pollock

January 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

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Jackson Pollock, I have been told, was an idiot, a monkey. I hear his IQ hit somewhere around the 80 mark. He was practically disabled: hypersensitive, an alcoholic, always crying.

I don’t know about the monkey business, but I understand the crying and I get the hypersensitivity. We watched Au Revoir Les Enfants last night and I spent the rest of the night shook-up and fearful with the distinct feeling that nothing was safe and a craving for children’s literature. It’s a shame to simplify it so, but I will merely say that the film re-sensitized me to the extent that I at least partially wished to black everything out again / for some sort of temporary tranquilizer. Whilst I am sure that Au Revoir Les Enfants contained a great deal more of value that might be taken away and remarked upon, the film served to remind me last night of the human capacity for cruelty.

How do we as human beings cope with our knowledge, our memory as a race, of the human history of cruelty? Or warfare and bloodshed?

After watching, T did his utmost to entertain and distract my haunted mind. He introduced me properly to Zlatan Ibrahimović, great Swedish footballer and hero. He showed me the video in my last post — and I was enraptured. What a marvel. What beauty. Incredible. Lovely.

Sport, I thought to myself, is a nice place for a battle to play out. Two teams, opposed. A great deal of training undergone. Wonderful freaks such as Zlatan (edit: there is only one Zlatan). Here we may focus our animalistic natures, the violent, warring parts — in sport. And hope that fans will not go too far … (Not a novel idea, by any means, but not one that had played out so very simply and clearly along my mind’s reel before now.)

How should we cope with our knowledge of human history?

A cop out might be through drugs — taken for all sorts of purposes, indeed. Simple stupefaction (yes, I realise that drugs may do other things besides*).

The proper answer might be: to take action. For the protection of people and the greater good. For the avoidance of cruelty and violence. For safety and security. Hence politics and law. Hence society. Hence civilisation. (And thus I am currently reading On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.)

We have a responsibility to address our ignorance, to educate ourselves, to develop discerning minds and to apply our knowledge.

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*Some may argue indeed for the peace-promoting and conscious-making properties of certain drugs and that such substances might act positively upon a user in quite a contrary manner to, for example, alcohol (which, dull and heavy, is likely to cause greater violence in the consumer or to make a person more likely to act upon a violent impulse). See: Terence McKenna. See: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley.

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