Feb 21, 2017

Rough Thoughts On Violence etc.

I've been thinking about violence a lot lately. It's been an increasing source of frustration for me -- people don't seem to understand that violence takes forms that are more than just physical.

For reasons that are quite obvious, it is subjective violence (physical violence that we can view directly and identify particular agents) that generates the strongest reactions from people. But subjective violence doesn't just come from nowhere. Subjective violence is the direct product of object violence, which takes two forms: symbolic violence and systematic violence.

Objective violence is something that we don't notice. It is inherent in the systems that make our normal lives normal. It's things like language, political structures, capitalism -- things that wouldn't flow smoothly without some sort of oppression taking place, thus producing violence.

And it is this objective violence that ultimately leads to the manifestation of violence in a subjective, physical way.

I find it interesting and extremely frustrating that when Milo Yiannopolous is being discussed, some object to the idea of Milo being a violent being. Surely it's those who are protesting and rioting that are the ones being violent, the logic follows.

It's Milo's speech that is violent. It's perhaps not his physical actions, but the strings of words that he puts together that produce symbolic violence. This can potentially lead to the manifestation of physical violence.

But it's very difficult to get people to consider this. It's difficult to see violence when it's not hurting people physically. And it's harder still when you yourself might be violent, but not realizing it. That's the way it goes for privilege too; people don't necessarily want to be in positions of privilege, and it can be difficult to come to terms with the concept.

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On a somewhat related note, I thought a lot about free speech today, because really who couldn't? 

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a book deal.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you an audience.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a server to host your thoughts.

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a college tour.

Free speech simply protects you from persecution over things that you say. It's important to remember that in light of some recent events.

Feb 18, 2017

Unhappiness

I'm always stressed about something. It's rare for a day to go by without me thinking about how I am doomed to fail; if not right now, then certainly in my future. Everyday I think I'm not good enough, and that I never will be.

I hate feeling sorry for myself. This leads me to feel as though I'm overreacting about everything that I feel. I'm feeling sad? I have no reason to, I'm just a pathetic excuse of a person.

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On a recent episode of Chapo Trap House, Amber A'Lee Frost and Will Menaker discussed the life and ideas of the late Mark Fisher. They read excerpts from one of his pieces, entitled "Good for Nothing." This paragraph really stood out to me: 

My depression was always tied up with the conviction that I was literally good for nothing. I spent most of my life up to the age of thirty believing that I would never work. In my twenties I drifted between postgraduate study, periods of unemployment and temporary jobs. In each of these roles, I felt that I didn’t really belong – in postgraduate study, because I was a dilettante who had somehow faked his way through, not a proper scholar; in unemployment, because I wasn’t really unemployed, like those who were honestly seeking work, but a shirker; and in temporary jobs, because I felt I was performing incompetently, and in any case I didn’t really belong in these office or factory jobs, not because I was ‘too good’ for them, but – very much to the contrary – because I was over-educated and useless, taking the job of someone who needed and deserved it more than I did. Even when I was on a psychiatric ward, I felt I was not really depressed – I was only simulating the condition in order to avoid work, or in the infernally paradoxical logic of depression, I was simulating it in order to conceal the fact that I was not capable of working, and that there was no place at all for me in society.

Now, I have to say that I am not and never have been depressed to the extent that Fisher was. However, a lot of what he says in this piece, and especially this paragraph, really resonated with me. I think it's really common to feel like you're good for nothing, that nothing will ever become of you, that you will never have a job or be successful, especially in the context of late stage capitalism. This is how I've been feeling for a while now, and being in college -- a place in which I am supposed to make decisions about my future -- the feeling is stronger than ever. It's agonizing.

What really grabbed my attention was the line about how he felt as though he were simulating depression in order to avoid work. I always feel as though I am just really pathetic and making up silly excuses.

There are times where I get slight glimmers of hope -- I feel optimistic about my future, and I tell myself that I am smart and valuable. But it's nothing more than just a brief moment, and I feel like I'm never going to be good enough.

Feb 12, 2017

Best Interview Of All Time