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Messages - Stephanie K.

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Here it is a related post on this TMT thing:


May it be that "aggression" and "Thanatos" are not necessarily essential elements of human nature, but instead it is the human being that, afraid of the inevitability of one's death and destruction, adopts an aggressive attitude trying to find some "relief" in killing other people -- that is to say, try to reduce one's existential angst by taking an active role instead of waiting passively to die?

something, I guess you're thinking along the lines of the above poster; I'd like to point out though that, as far as Freud is concerned, the "aggressiveness" and "Thanatos" are innate in humans -- that is to say, instinctive -- and humans can not help but "display" them, just like the rest of the universe, after all. You, on the other hand, tend to attribute a great deal of importance to the human consciousness, rendering aggression and the waging of war a "choice" that the humans make consciously.

But after all, that's the whole point, isn't it?

To be sure, Marcuse worked with Freud's Eros only, disregarding Thanatos - as far as engaging in war and being aggressive "consciously," there's nothing strange or unusual about it (think soldiers in war) - what was being discussed here, I believe, was whether Thanatos is to be called an "instinct" or not ..

So if I get this right, this means killing others (murder) in order not to kill ourselves (suicide) in order to keep up with lack of life meaning and the conscious awareness of our deaths? And that the deaths of the "other" serves to establish a symbolic immortality buffer for one of the parties?

Kind of like the child that is forced to concede its physicality and "trade it in" for a symbolic sense of self (i.e., self-esteem)?

we fly - I'm confused - how does the parallel you draw between the "symbolic immortality" buffer and the "trading-in" of physicality for a symbolic sense of self on the part of the child?

eli - in regard to the "symbolic sense of self" on the part of child - after s'he trades-in "physicality," as Becker puts it in his words -  you mention, you've quoted yourself within another of your own posts something interesting. Here it is:


In the depressive position, the infant is able to experience others as whole, which radically alters object relationships from the earlier phase. Before the depressive position, a good object is not in any way the same thing as a bad object. It is only in the depressive position that polar qualities can be seen as different aspects of the same object. Increasing nearness of good and bad brings a corresponding integration of ego. [...] In a development termed the "primal split," the infant becomes aware of separateness from the mother. This awareness allows guilt to arise in response to the infant's previous aggressive phantasies when bad was split from good. The mother's temporary absences allow for continuous restoration of her "as an image of representation" in the infant mind. Symbolic thought may now arise, and can only emerge once access to the depressive position has been obtained. With the awareness of the primal split, a space is created in which the symbol, the symbolized, and the experiencing subject co-exist. History, subjectivity, interiority, and empathy all become possible. [...]


In working through depressive anxiety, projections are withdrawn, allowing the other more autonomy, reality, and a separate existence. The infant, whose destructive phantasies were directed towards the bad mother who frustrated, now begins to realize that bad and good, frustrating and satiating, it is always the same mother [...]


From this developmental milestone come a capacity for sympathy, responsibility to and concern for others, and an ability to identify with the subjective experience of people one cares about. With the withdrawal of the destructive projections, repression of the aggressive impulses takes place. The child allows caretakers a more separate existence, which facilitates increasing differentiation of inner and outer reality [...]  When all goes well, the developing child is able to comprehend that external others are autonomous people with their own needs and subjectivity.


Now, as to the "symbolic immortality" buffer - as I understand it - and I would prefer to borrow the example one of our fellow posters (copain, I believe) gave in relation to the subject some days ago - with it basically meaning, killing other people who may only be marginally "connected," "associated," "responsible" for what tragedy happened to the others (to put it bluntly, "When You Can't Beat the Donkey, You Beat the Saddle.")


GYalo - while it's true that wanting to be "God on Earth" is crazy, as Caesonia tells him, that's we do on a societal level, when dealing with the mortality issue - with the "artist on the top" orchestrating the whole thing (I think Bion says the leader is usually a man with marked paranoid trends, and if per chance, the presence of an enemy is not immediately obvious to the group, the next best thing is for the group is to choose a leader to whom it is!)

So, all the wars started and carried on for years on end, wars fought over and beyond what that financial rationale would guarantee/justify, with blood being shed 'in vain'. I can actually see here that there's a theory (called TMT) that maintains that all human behavior is mostly motivated by the fear of mortality [...]


[...] George W. Bush's approval rating jumped almost 50% following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. The tragedy made US citizens aware of their mortality, and Bush provided an antidote to these existential concerns by promising to bring justice to the terrorist group responsible for the attacks (albeit he waged war against Iraq too, not having much to do with the attacks, or actually having any of those WMDs)

With Caligula, Hitler (between-you-and-me, this TMT I told you about, would have never been spelled out were it not for Hitler), and Stalin, of course, things got too far ... with their absolute and unbridled power that corrupted these people to the point of killing literally millions of other people (remember Stalin with that quote?)


General Board / On Propaganda - The Dance of Deception
« on: April 12, 2012, 08:20:22 PM »

Quotes from pitchman follow:


Political government and the State were a much later development, growing out of the desire of the stronger to take advantage of the weaker, of the few against the many. The State, ecclesiastical and secular, served to give an appearance of legality and right to the wrong done by the few to the many. That appearance of right was necessary the easier to rule the people, because no government can exist without the consent of the people, consent open, tacit or assumed. Constitutionalism and democracy are the modern forms of that alleged consent; the consent being inoculated and indoctrinated by what is called "education," at home, in the church, and in every other phase of life. That consent is the belief in authority, in the necessity for it. At its base is the doctrine that man is evil, vicious, and too incompetent to know what is good for him. On this all government and oppression is built. God and the State exist and are supported by this dogma. Yet the State is nothing but a name. It is an abstraction. Like other similar conceptions - nation, race, humanity - it has no organic reality. To call the State an organism shows a diseased tendency to make a fetish of words. The State is a term for the legislative and administrative machinery whereby certain business of the people is transacted, and badly so. There is nothing sacred, holy or mysterious about it. The State has no more conscience or moral mission than a commercial company for working a coal mine or running a railroad.

Life begins and ends with man, the individual. Without him there is no race, no humanity, no State. No, not even "society" is possible without man. It is the individual who lives, breathes and suffers. His development, his advance, has been a continuous struggle against the fetishes of his own creation and particularly so against the "State." It has always been the individual, the man of strong mind and will to liberty, who paved the way for every human advance, for every step toward a freer and better world; in science, philosophy and art, as well as in industry, whose genius rose to the heights, conceiving the "impossible," visualizing its realization and imbuing others with his enthusiasm to work and strive for it. Socially speaking, it was always the prophet, the seer, the idealist, who dreamed of a world more to his heart's desire and who served as the beacon light on the road to greater achievement.

Our political and social scheme cannot afford to tolerate the individual and his constant quest for innovation. In "self-defense" the State therefore suppresses, persecutes, punishes and even deprives the individual of life. It is aided in this by every institution that stands for the preservation of the existing order. It resorts to every form of violence and force, and its efforts are supported by the "moral indignation" of the majority against the heretic, the social dissenter and the political rebel - the majority for centuries drilled in State worship, trained in discipline and obedience and subdued by the awe of authority in the home, the school, the church and the press. The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime. The wholesale mechanization of modern life has increased uniformity a thousandfold. It is everywhere present, in habits, tastes, dress, thoughts and ideas. Its most concentrated dullness is "public opinion." Few have the courage to stand out against it. He who refuses to submit is at once labeled "queer," "different," and decried as a disturbing element in the comfortable stagnancy of modern life. Perhaps even more than constituted authority, it is social uniformity and sameness that harass the individual most. His very "uniqueness," "separateness" and "differentiation" make him an alien, not only in his native place, but even in his own home. Often more so than the foreign born who generally falls in with the established.


[...] For true liberty is not a mere scrap of paper called ''constitution,'' "legal right'' or "law." It is not an abstraction derived from the non-reality known as "the State." It is not the negative thing of being free from something, because with such freedom you may starve to death. Real freedom, true liberty is positive: it is freedom to something; it is the liberty to be, to do; in short, the liberty of actual and active opportunity. That sort of liberty is not a gift: it is the natural right of man, of every human being. It cannot be given: it cannot be conferred by any law or government. The need of it, the longing for it, is inherent in the individual. Disobedience to every form of coercion is the instinctive expression of it. Rebellion and revolution are the more or less conscious attempt to achieve it. Those manifestations, individual and social, are fundamentally expressions of the values of man. That those values may be nurtured, the community must realize that its greatest and most lasting asset is the unit - the individual.

Society exists for man, not man for society. The sole legitimate purpose of society is to serve the needs and advance the aspiration of the individual. Only by doing so can it justify its existence and be an aid to progress and culture. The political parties and men savagely scrambling for power will scorn me you as hopelessly out of tune with our time. Admit the charge. Find comfort in the assurance that their hysteria lacks enduring quality. Their hosanna is but of the hour. Man's yearning for liberation from all authority and power will never be soothed by their cracked song. Man's quest for freedom from every shackle is eternal. It must and will go on.

The ruling classes [oppressors], as Lovdie's post has it, constantly take care that the oppressed remain ignorant of how the whole thing is artificially built, that their ideas and even basic "instincts" are worked upon, such that they won't be able to challenge the tenets upon which the system rests. This is where propaganda sets in. But poster pitchman shows us all too well where real power lies.

Noam Chomsky admits in the documentary about him, "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media," that the information in his books comes from the mainstream news media. "The information is there [in the mainstream media] ... If somebody wants to spend the substantial part of their time and energy exploring it, and comparing today's lies to yesterday's leaks, that's a research job," he says. The thing is, people have to work; and when they come back tired from work, they settle for the first thing they can: the TV box in front of them, listening to the lies they are fed on a daily basis, without even trying to figure out the obvious inconsistencies.

General Board / Re:
« on: April 12, 2012, 08:18:14 PM »


[...] Like the kills of most successful snipers and fighter pilots, the vast majority of the killing done by these men were what some would call simple ambushes, and back shootings. No provocation, anger, or emotion empowered these killings.


But of course - these are the kinds of nihilistic killers - there is a movie "Mr. Brooks" which depicts a guy who killed people for the hell of it..

Examining his modus operandi, from the fastidious preparation and cleaning up of the crime scene before departing, it looks like Brooks was obsessed with not getting caught (he responds to Smith's inquiry as to whether the person they would agree on killing could be someone who he knew, by saying, that you never kill someone you know, that's the surest way to get caught) - and yet, as Smith lies dying, Brooks reveals that he used many different MOs before becoming the meticulous Thumbprint Killer.

Funny - les protagonistes - when Smith (the guy who wanted to see Brooks murder someone) told him before they were to enter the apt to commit the murders, he wanted to crap so badly - even more funny when he actually pissed on the scene - LOL!

Socratic Method / Re: Der Besuch der Alten Dame
« on: April 12, 2012, 08:16:20 PM »

"The Visit of the Old Lady" is a 1956 tragicomedy by the Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The location of the drama is Gúllen, a once flourishing small town that lost its ancient bloom when its industrial plants closed down and business took a plunge. The forgotten, poverty-stricken inhabitants of Gúllen are by now used to a modest life, spending the major part of their days reminiscing about better times, until one day the arrival of the "Old Lady" alters the Gúlleners' existence at a stroke. Claire Zachanassian, a native of Gúllen whose profitable marriages to oil magnates, artists and industrialists have made her extremely rich, and her strange court consisting of two blind servants, two former gangsters, a butler and Husband Number 7, are met with sincere enthusiasm by the citizens of Gúllen at the railway station. And they are not disappointed. Claire promises to donate a billion to the township on one condition - Ill, a merchant of Gúllen, must be killed. In years gone by, Ill had a love affair with Claire. Claire became pregnant and claimed that Ill was the father. But with the help of two friends - now her two blind servants - Ill was able to escape responsibility.

Claire had to leave Gúllen and live as a prostitute, until she met her first rich husband. The stipulated murder is a planned revenge against Ill and the Gúllen inhabitants. In the course of time, Claire has acquired the industrial plants and the entire town, in order to ruin them. The first reaction of the Gúllen citizens is water-tight solidarity with Ill, but gradually it begins to spring leaks. Their opinions change from "poor soul, guilty of a childhood misdemeanor" to "irresponsible, immoral evil-doer". At the same time, the people of Gúllen indulge in new, luxury goods — on credit — represented by new, yellow shoes, which are soon worn by all citizens, including even police officers and the mayor. Even his own family are not spared the attraction of increasing lucre. His wife buys a fur coat, his son a car, and his daughter takes lessons in tennis. Only the teacher evokes the humanist tradition, and attempts, at first timidly, to interpose himself before the death sentence that has, by now, come to be seen as immutable. In the end, even Ill accepts his fate. In a climactic town gathering, Ill receives his sentence, which is immediately carried out by the people of Gúllen.

The fundamental underlying point of the play is that money can allure people's minds, especially those weakly determined. It also notices how money creates the power to control the world around. As the arrival of Claire Zachanassian shows, the promise of money can lead people to hate and even murder. It can pervert the course of justice, and even turn the local teacher, who is one of the few who manage to warn Alfred Ill of his impending doom. The teacher is a self-declared humanist, and his moral collapse, as well as that of the priest, demonstrates the power of money to overcome both religious and secular morality. It suggests that greed can turn anyone.The usage of this theme also develops around the main idea of "money-hungry".

This yellow thing - very creative on the part of the Durrenmatt - I mean, you can just imagine smth like that happening for real!

General Board / Re: Systemic/Organizational Violence
« on: April 12, 2012, 05:45:17 PM »

Law professors won't do much overtly, they engage in subtle violence. Often, when we think of violence, we think of the very overt, loud, obvious kind — primarily physical violence, but also in the form of "over the top," very loud, confrontational (and frightening) yelling, screaming or threatening.

But there is also a more subtle and insidious form of "word violence," and this occurs much more frequently because it "goes under the radar" and masks itself as "normal." While it can be easily dismissed or overlooked because of its quieter presentation, it can do serious damage none-the-less, by

1) creating stress
2) fostering oppression
3) deflating motivation
4) curtailing creativity
5) eventually leading the way to more overt forms of violence.

(A) In the case of passive-aggression, "word violence" can manifest as a result of the passive-aggressive's strategy of saying one thing while intending and doing another. For example, a person with a tendency to act passive-aggressively may give agreement or approval while in conversation with you, but then take a different course of action than the one you agreed upon, fail to participate altogether, or actually sabotage your effort by withholding information or brewing discontent or confusion. When you confront a passive-aggressive about these behaviors, he or she will deny them outright, or even deflect accusations or blame back at you. In these ways, his or her choice of words — or the choice to withhold certain words — can be a form of subtle violence.

(B) Someone who consciously withholds is practicing another form of "word violence." A withholder may elect to withhold praise, feedback, agreement, or information for the purposes of gaining some measure of control or having some specific impact on you. Withholding may be a tool used by a passive-aggressive person, or may simply be the communication-control strategy of choice. Either way, withholding can escalate from lower-impact word-violence to a form of mental abuse. By withholding praise, feedback, support, or information, for example, the withholder increases his or her odds of "throwing you off-balance" and thus making you feel uncertain about what you're doing. When professors withhold praise or other information, his or her students are unclear on their priorities, and would most likely suffer greater feelings of insecurity, lower morale, and general stress.


(C) Inconsistency can be another form of "word violence," particularly if a person is aware of — or consciously chooses — inconsistency as a means to an end (usually a feeling of control). Someone who is inconsistent may tell you different things at different times, or tell different things to different people, thus creating confusion and uncertainty. For example, the inconsistent person may give an assignment, and then when the other person is well along with the work and checks in regarding progress, may blithely say, "Oh that. We're not doing that anymore. Didn't I tell you?" Another manifestation of inconsistency is when a person "runs hot and cold" — being friendly and supportive one minute, and distant or curt the next, with the effect of keeping others in a state of perpetual imbalance. One common saying for this manifestation is when a person "pulls the rug from beneath your feet." Inconsistency can also escalate from mere unskillfulness to a type of "word violence" if an individual repeatedly and consciously demonstrates inconsistency between what he or she says or demands and what he or she actually does or models.

(D) Incivility can be another form of "word violence" that includes passive-aggressive behavior, withholding, inconsistency, bullying, and other forms of communication and behavior that most people would identify as rude, uncooperative, hostile, or insensitive. Examples of chronic incivility might include not returning phone calls or emails, not complying with requests, lying, blaming, extreme curtness, or withholding information or support. As with other forms of "word violence," incivility can escalate into more overt forms of violence, and, at a minimum, jeopardizes enjoyment, satisfaction, and overall well-being — each of which affects an individual's ability to participate fully and to the highest of his or her capability.

(E) When "word violence" occurs in the form of bullying, it can begin to seem less covert and start to appear on the radar of either other individuals or, depending on the impact or results. Bullying may include overt hostility in the form of yelling, name-calling, baiting, or belittling; or it may include the more subtle but no less insidious forms of "word violence." Derisive comments — including those which are veiled as humor or friendliness — are also a form of bullying and incivility. Typical examples include comments or "jokes" that derisively refer to gender, spiritual practice, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, or perceived intelligence. One clue is that such comments or "jokes" aren't funny, and are often intended to diminish or make someone uncomfortable, or sow seeds of dissention and create factions — none of which are productive by any definition in any kind of group or organization. Interestingly, the conscious withholding of a comment or feedback that most average people would consider a norm can also be a form of bullying — in this case, the bully is manipulating another by purposely withholding approval or agreement.

We actually had a teacher who'd not bother with this petty kind of stuff - she would unilaterally decide to not apply the curve at all and give almost (but two) students Fs. She was captured by a handful of her angry students and beaten up real bad.

There were also rumors her daughter had been kidnapped once for several days, with her (the professor) not actually making a big deal about it (although, truth-be-told, there were no established connections between her daughter's mishap and her notorious grading behavior).

And yet, she continued to do the same thing over and over again for years in a raw, while she's "young and beautiful" - surprisingly cut down on that kind of thing with the passing of time, once she probably did not think it was that "natural" for an "old witch" to be "brash and bitchy".

I'm surprised you (and/or the teacher you talk about ) dismiss/-ed it as "petty." It's not "petty," it's a whole new level of "game."

FYI, passive-aggressiveness was until some time ago included as one of Personality Disorders in DSM-IV, but then - for reasons not clearly stated - it was removed. Passive-aggressive people can LITERALLY be a pain-in-the-a s s, with their sabotaging on you and their afterwards big big smile, apologizing to you for what went wrong! All done on purpose!

Withhold feedback about a certain issue tends to make it fuzzy where the mean is, what's considered "good," "bad," or in terms of professor evaluations (grading) of the student's work, "low," and "high." (You'd likely consider yourself just a "P")

As to the Inconsistency thing - I think it's pretty clear you're dealing with a b i t c h, and that you have to watch out at every second what s/he really wants you to do.

Bullying behavior is more appropriately addressed in another thread (by poster "Poni") that I'll include here for you.



[...] The bully then sits back and gains gratification from seeing others engage in destructive behavior towards each other. This is known as trolling. Most serial bullies are also serial attention-seekers. More than anything else they want attention. It doesn't matter what type of attention they get, positive or negative, as long as they can provoke someone into paying them attention. It's like a 2-year-old child throwing a tantrum to get attention from a parent. The best way to treat bullies is to refuse to respond and to refuse to engage them - which they really hate. [...] In other words, treat nobodies as nobodies. [...]

[...] The objectives of bullies are Power, Control, Domination, Subjugation. They get a kick out of seeing you react. It doesn't matter how you react, the fact they've successful provoked a reaction is, to the bully, a sign that their attempt at control have been successful. After that, it's a question of wearing you down. The more your try to explain, negotiate, conciliate, etc the more gratification they obtain from your increasingly desperate attempts to communicate with them. Understand that it is not possible to communicate in a mature adult manner with a disordered individual who's emotionally retarded.

Awesome - could you expand a bit?

"Word violence" can be so insidious that, over a relatively short time, the standard falls dramatically and yet what is considered "normal" or what is tolerated increases, creating an increasingly vulgar, crude, and cruel culture. So incivility and "word violence" soon become a new "norm." Systemic or organizational violence — a feature of "corporate psychopathy" — ultimately comes down to various individuals choosing to act in a way that is uncivil, violent, manipulative, or otherwise disregarding of the ill-effect on others or the common good.

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