Sunday, September 26, 2010

Palestine: a ionesco play

Buildings are being erected throughout the play.

a group of Palestinian men and women: you've robbed us and taken from us nine out of the ten bedrooms that made up our house and now you are robbing us of our last bedroom

Spiritually Blessed Land Thief: Look, I really want to end the antagonism between us. I am going to put an end to the official process of robbing you. I'll only allow it to happen unofficially. we'll call it a temporary freeze. Let's talk peace.

Historically proven to be really efficient and unbiased American intermediary: now that's what I call fair. don't do the same mistake of refusing what is generously being offered.

Palestinian group of men and women start arguing; some scream 'let's be realist and take whatever we can end up with'; others say 'no point, they are intent on taking everything we should keep on claiming back everything'.

Palestinians for any piece of peace: we are for peace

Historically proven to be really efficient and unbiased American intermediary: good to see that there are still some rational and reasonable palestinians who are committed to peace. let's bring them to the peace table.

Palestinians not for peace: We have nothing to do with this. It seems that Being Spiritually blessed by god works well for some so we'd better do the same thing. From now on we are the Spiritually Blessed anti-Land thieves. we'll do anything that God tells us to do to stop you.

Spiritually Blessed Land Thief to American peace-seeking intermediary: see they're not very reasonable people. They're religious fundamentalists on top of that. not like us Spiritually Blessed urban cosmopolitans. Clearly there's no peace partner there.

Palestinians for any piece of peace to Historically proven to be really efficient and unbiased American intermediary: we are for peace but you have to make sure they don't keep stealing the last bedroom bit by bit.

American peace-seeking intermediary: didn't you hear what the Blessed Thief said. there is a temporary freeze. you are only being robbed unofficially. grasp this window of opportunity while it lasts.

Spiritually Blessed Land Thief: Too late. God's pressure is too great. we have to start stealing your land officially again. End of the freeze.

Palestinians for any piece of peace: that's not fair. we only agreed to have peace if you keep stealing the land unofficially.

Spiritually Blessed Land Thief: So I have officially resumed stealing your land while we're negotiating peace. why should that matter? I invite you not to let such minor details affect your commitment to peace. you should know that my hand and my heart are open for the peace of the brave.

Palestinians for any piece of peace: No! We insist on our right to be robbed unofficially. Our honour is at stake here.

Historically proven to be really efficient and unbiased American intermediary: Come on you guys, let's not miss this GOLDEN opportunity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tea Party needs some soothing herbal tea

I am not saying this is the only thing that the Tea Party is about, but I was hearing some of them interviewed recently and they clearly have a historical continuity with the followers of David Duke (The Association for the Advancement of White People) that I did fieldwork with in Baton Rouge in the mid/late nineties.

Listening to them, I have no doubt that some are traumatised by the fact that they have a black president called Barack Hussein Obama. Like they really think the unthinkable is happening and are *seriously* traumatised in a way so foreign to our largely liberal imagination that our imagination cannot even begin to understand how traumatizing this is for them. I really think that most of the attempts to understand them with the usage of normal categories of sociological thought are bound to fail because it does not take into account the nature of their difference(similar to Islamic fundamentalists in this regard). They constitute a radical alterity. They are what Husserl calls an 'accessible inaccessibility'. They are accessible enough for us to know they are there but not enough to know what they are on about. You really need a serious prolonged fieldwork experience with them, one that takes you completely out of your comfort zone and make you reconsider your basic categories of understanding the political landscape if you are to begin to understand them. I hope/I am sure some researchers are already doing this.

My guess is part of their trauma is animated by the following paradox:

Trauma is not just about something you think is disastrous happening to you. It is about something disastrous happening such that your imagination is unable to internalise it and then find the language to express it. For the tea party people the trauma is that what they consider as one of the most sublime and sacred positions on earth: the presidency of the united states is occupied by what they consider as one of the most abject positions on earth: a guy that combines blackness (his look), liberalism (his politics) and Islam (his name). This creates a short-circuiting of the common racist imaginary as how can you say the things your really want to say about a liberal black guy with the name of Hussein while knowing that you are saying them about the president of the united states of America. All the other economic/globalisation etc...that animate this mob are emotionally articulated to that black/hussein-ish presidency.