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Towards Post-Violence Societies: An Outline of Interdisciplinary Violence Studies and Violence Research
The oral tradition, as well as education reform, makes post-violence societies possible. Ending violence is a multi-generational project. Do not tell us violence is part of life. You can reflect violence without seeking to replicate it. To indulge in violence only reflects that the artist does not understand violence and how it intersects life. There is no common interest in gratuitous violence for the course of the matter and to do so is not art, but exploitation. Star Trek: Picard season one writer and producer, Michael Chabon, responded to critiques of violence in season one, stating, “And the reason that there has always been violence in Trek is that Trek is art, and there has always been violence—implicit and explicit—in art. It belongs there. It belongs in any narrative about human beings, even human beings of the future” (Trek Movie, 2020). This masking of violence though its cordial display is a cover up of the very intuition of violence. It is protecting violence as an institution. The altruistic remedy of discourse no longer glosses over finer texts of restitution and lives for the eternity of solace, but instead seeks to gratify quick-mire desire from a former glaze of concave prostitution of integrity and remorse.
Secular remunerations of violence are no longer deterred from a segregated sense of remorse for their motivation, but instead, instill their passive intrigue as a matter of determined logic. Casual violence causes determined latency of resurrected vines of dispersing motivations that are more casual than they are thoughtful. Yes, one must be thoughtful to the reality of violence and art that depicts life’s circumstances must certainly address the firm reality of violence, but this permissiveness of participation in a violence-society is not a reflection on it, but a reflection of it.
With violence in art, unnecessary violence masks true violence. It dislocates strategic empathy and is a product of Old-World laxatives that are neither present for the enumeration of fallowed discourse nor the wasted periphery of violence as a digestive tool, which it should never be. That is the central error. It believes and perpetuates the false national notion that violence can be a digestive tool to analyze violence as a realistic entity, which reflects a lack of thoughtfulness on life as well as violence. Violence is not your brother or your reformed friend. It is the dearth of the wasted detours that de-evaluate the fragmented memory of your seized hands from the labors of your worthwhile love. What have you of love, you ask? That is not a question you would pose if violence were not so familiar to you. We must liberate our minds from the masks of violence and its attaining air. We must learn to see the day as a repositioning of reattained wealth of bread and breath of will.
Secular reformed post-religiosity sees all wealth as a force of interaction of market values. Noble Laureate William Nordhaus and climate economists argue we must see the natural environment and the conservation of species as a market transaction with an affixed value that can be measured, and furthermore, applied to the national, global consciousness. They argue that without assigned monetary value we will withdraw further from consigning value as a fixed entity to be preserved and lauded. In the very same way, when degrees of violence are measured and assigned as digestive tools of reflection, they only perspire in the perpetuation of conflict maintenance. This conflict maintenance is at the heart of violence-restitution. Violence-restitution, I argue, is not the remedy to violated parties aggrieved from violence, but instead refers to the payment made of violence progressions, sacrificial altars towards the means of instilling violence; payment for goods received. I am not attempting to suggest restitution for wrongs is not required in a civil society. Indeed, restitution to its highest form should always be required. What I mean here with the phrase, “violence-restitution” is the ontological instinct society wills within us to repeat violence onto one another from generation to generation. Without the retraction of violence-restitution, the casual acquaintance of violence memories, violence cells, violence through patterns that mimic the waves of conquest and condemn apertures of appraisal, will indeed nest in our hearts as something we must give to. Humans are inclined to want to participate in something outside themselves. Everyone wants something to support or validate, whether it be religion, the state, a job, or entertainment, believing it will support them in return, but rarely is this model extended towards each other.
There has come to be no small part of the population that has been conditioned to believe that violence is real. It is not hampered by philosophy nor disdained by its allegiance to oppression. Violence, as it is, is in fact a philosophy that is out of touch with possibilities and potential; those grasping at uneven straws hoping to eclipse the meaning of the experience of insight into a given moment or time-equation. However, unlike time, violence is not real. It has no meaning. It is not fostered on necessity. Nor should it be the eloquent dispersion towards tired sands and littered spindrifts of dispersal and haloed entry to a day’s imagination.
The philosophical dispersion that violence is a fundamental reality is not unlike the ancient belief that child sacrifice appeases the gods. Just as humanity was able to overcome those limited perceptions, so, too, can we get beyond the belief that violence is part of the natural order. Essentialists would have us dictate to our children not to be like those that practice violence instead of teaching our children that violence is a pastime that is overdue for reality maintenance. Violence is a philosophy of emotive maintenance.
Emotive maintenance and orchestrated pride provide condensation for violent thought and reflexive antiphony of the chorus of undeveloped emotions. Pride stems from anger, which stems from fear. Fear of the other, imposed, exposed, or reluctantly flagrant, composes all its rhythms into a pool of trauma waiting to be enveloped by the esteem of outlets and release. This release is not as simple as a causation or as complex as a single leaf. It may be hidden from sight, but only because we willfully obscure it with culture and intent in our arrival to a point of matter. James Gilligan writes in Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic that the “different forms of violence, whether toward individuals or entire populations, are motivated (caused) by the feeling of shame. The purpose of violence is to diminish the intensity of shame and replace it as far as possible with its opposite, pride, thus preventing the individual from being overwhelmed by the feeling of shame. Violence towards others, such as homicide, is an attempt to replace shame with pride” (1996, 111). Shame, and its relative fear, do not impose on us the necessity of violence, but we have learned to keep this as tools for dispersing our emotive responses to natural rhythms of emotional winds. This emotive philosophy is biolence (more on that later).
Violence is an emotive philosophy of displacing the other. Each individual has an internal shrine of imposed, rationalized, and imagined independence that may or may not be tied to reality. For most this shrine is deeply relegated to imposing on others what they cannot see in themselves. This intellectual emotionalism stems mostly from what Ernest Becker discussed as the quest for a self-made kingdom-of-success under the duress of the “denial of death.” In Lisa Isherwood’s and David Harris’s text, Radical Otherness: Sociological and Theological Approaches, they point out that in contemporary hermeneutics there are divisions of view of the universalisms of the dogmatic presuppositions that “exclude the other” (2013, 88). The consideration of the likelihood that there may or may not be “cultural traditions in question: interests in death, birth and sex, for example, or life itself” (2013, 89) summarize not just the intellectual ordering and taxonomy of judging the space between measures of otherness, it is also a reflection of the everyman judging their personal space in a measured world that threatens their imagined independence and from this conflict with all its reliance on emotional judging comes violence of pre-ordered reasoning.
Cultural traditions measure forward motion from those who have not stop-gapped or expelled emotional reasoning because of the threat of imposed injustice on one’s perception of the kingdom-of-success that so many believe they are entitled to. The intercommunal conflict of cultural traditions persists in times of peace and among those at peace, and even relatability, with their cohorts. The emotional response to giving oneself for another’s inner presence, as Emmanuel Levinas would have us embrace in becoming the other, is not withstood as a degree from which the individual misplaced emotional sequence of time and otherness dispels the rhythms of emotive consequences. It is here that the perceived universalism of cultural traditions flattens the curve of progress towards the realization that belief in the reality of violence is a failed philosophy.
It is taken as a subconscious cultural anecdote that “goodness” is pejorative. It is not required for our daily negotiations of distilled values. It is not woven into our self-projection onto the world, the Earth, or our shared customs. Only in story form is it most revered, a token of appraisal for lesson learning and retributive auxiliary anecdotes. In Iris Murdoch’s beautiful work, The Sovereignty of Goodness, she considers the relationship between attachment and self with the proscription of goodness, stating,
Can good itself be in any sense ‘an object of attention’? And how does this problem relate to ‘love of the real’? Is there, as it were, a substitute for prayer, that most profound and effective of religious techniques? If the energy and violence of will, exerted on occasions of choice, seems less important than the quality of attention which determines our real attachment, how do we alter and purify that attention and make it more realistic? Is the via negativa of the will, its occasional ability to stop a bad move, the only or most considerable conscious power we can exert? (1971 ,67)
Can we – by will – eliminate one another’s debt? Or does such an action enforce a concession to a substitute for prayer. I have touched upon the top of violence-restitution, not as a payment to remedy an act of violence, but as a self-feeding obligation we find ourselves ensnared in as a method of re-living and retrieving former acts of violence that we feel we must enforce. Whether Freudian or a more dream-like waiver from the post-Freudian Ernest Becker, there is the repetition of violence that repatriates itself to our senses with a fresh shower glow as though we are thankful as though we feel unworthy for such a gift.
What can substitute the magnanimity of prayer in such a way to be transcended as a persuasion of social order? Peace research can broaden this speculation amongst larger societies into a vacuum of prosperity. There are many of those more spiritually inclined that substitute the quest for peace as a meditation on the holy. It is meditation. Peace is a tranquility of sound among a noisy harbor of self-defeating war faring ships coming to tide. Johan Galtung explicated Gandhi to summarize a major aspect of conflict resolution as transcendence. Stating in Peace by Peaceful Means, “[t]ypically this was an approach Gandhi used when working in a direct conflict between others, but also when working as the first party in a structural conflict. The conflict is transcended; what looks incompatible becomes compatible in a new structure. The horizontal caste systems, trusteeship, Britons staying on in India but not as colonizers, a (British) Commonwealth of equal and sovereign nations – these are examples” (1996, 116). Galtung finds no error or sustained trouble marrying prayer-forms with progressions towards social substitutions for problem solving and learning. These techniques are not so many instances of forceful and aggressive will, but divergent thinking.
Through divergent thinking of and about transcendence we can move to a simultaneously stationery and fluid place of debt forgiveness. This is by no means an artistic work or re-seasoning of will, but let’s consider the artistic trait. In the book, Violence: Humans in Dark Times, artist Jake Chapman posits,
The artist is supposed to be preoccupied by a sense of inner personal rigor, and yet the work is made with a presumption of the eventual viewer. The artists can’t fully experience the effect of their work on others, and in this sense cannot make finite claims over its meaning. Rather than providing general autobiographical reason for a work, it would seem more pertinent to consider the work devoid of the artist and as an object amongst a history of objects. (2018, 241)
Chapman’s relinquishing of imposing meaning on the viewer from the artist’s point of view is a form of transcendence, not just of ego, but also of possession. There is a healthy detachment in Chapman’s reasoning that “artists can’t fully experience the effect of their work on others.” This reasoning is not unlike an imposed marriage of respect between the creator and the viewer (or, the Creator and the subject). Allowing, permitting, reasoning a space between participants is just how forgiveness comes into harmony among those forgiving the violence of debt and those receiving that forgiveness. This is not a substitute for the stoic skepticism of goodness, but a practical applied transcended goodness that does not require the temperament of the artist to employ.
What is the elimination of debt, but the elimination of violence? The elimination of imposing fractures? The de-possession of will? Social negotiation of will is not abstract, not limited to an artistic temperament. It is a hollow endeavor that is constantly surveying for its opportunity to dominate and oppress. The violence of will attaches itself to behaviors that evolve and share traits, mate, and spawn new factories of endorsement, but the negotiation of self and observer towards a forgiveness of debt bends mercurial will to an abatement of self-conscious appraisal and lends new roads for maps of horizontal forgiveness. That is a trait of transcendent conflict resolution.
Biolence is an important element to understand in the quest to assess what a post-violence world could be like. Biolence shields that imagination and makes innumerate the potentiality of the cause of justice towards the wattage and graces of overcoming violence towards interpersonal and transnational peace. Biolence is an expanded anxiety native to the core of our biological traits to which we succumb. Though it is not without markers of clearly divided obstacles that are so fervently obvious steps we must overcome as a civilization and a species.
Biolence is natural, but it is not inevitable. The more harm we become accustomed to, the more harm we become prepared to inflict ourselves. It becomes organic. It becomes biomechanical. It becomes biolence. However, in spite of so many poets, tinkerers, judgmental continental philosophers, and aggrieved mothers, violence is not natural nor is it inescapable. Violence is not inevitable. Biolence, which I intend to roughly mean those human, animal, biological motivations towards aggression as nature indicates intellectual potential to overcome in human-trusted mechanical biolence against the opposition of an untrustworthy superficial biolence that can easily be understood as something that can be done away with. As we work towards a more perfect society, we cannot do so without an understanding of violence as a reality to be overcome. Without an understanding of violence, we cannot overcome it. We are overtly capable of overcoming violence with a firm understanding of it and incorporating that understanding in our push towards a free, communal, secure society.
All ruminations of violence are course details that so many talented, productive thinkers in the past have over-simplified with the gloss that violence is inevitable. Being natural does not dictate the manifestation of the inevitable. Not in this case. What is equally natural is our propensity to observe, indicate and course correct our way of life towards a more natural whole. Personal self-harm, interpersonal violence, integrated self-hatred and political violence – these are all indications of the same motivations just set along the sliding scale of a different carrier. Familial violence is the absorbed recollection of cultural information that is interiorized and fabricated as original, making the actor of violence a new birth of an origin state, but it did not start there.
What takes place, in this course, is a form of political violence in that it is a cultural enforcement of accepted norms to which others are subject to. In Cindy A. Sousa’s exhaustive article, “Political violence, collective functioning and health: A review of the literature,” she illustrates the individual and collective responses and needs for the organized action against these acts, illuminating, “[p]articipation in civil society and political processes is essential for the health and well-being of individuals” (2013, 174). Sousa continues,
It engenders a sense of responsibility for collective functioning, enhancing individual well-being (Nowell and Boyd 2010). Political violence undermines individuals’ ability to engage with, and have confidence in, social and political life by: contributing to individuals’ isolation and withdrawal from society; deteriorating individuals’ trust in others, justice, and government entities and democracy itself; and lessening individuals’ abilities or willingness to engage in political activities. (2013, 174)
With greater collective and individual clarity, we must bring to the surface of our lived social lives the reality that all forms of “[p]olitical violence diminishes individuals’ trust in the moral organization of society, government entities and processes of democracy” (2013, 180). Structural violence put into perspective – either that which is historic or present day – brings us closer to examining our personal path in accepting violence as par for the course of detrimental waves of uninvited dystrophy in allied persuasion towards a just and reasonable outcome of our social experiment of civilization. If biolence was inevitable, we would not be able to articulate methods out of its reach. Cultural precedence that our strengths lay dormant for extended periods can be found in just about any avenue of political and social history. In the article, “Fear and Anxiety: Writing about Emotion in Modern History,” Joanna Bourke asks, “Is fear identical to anxiety? Is fear a response to danger or, since many fears arise in states of tranquility, is it something more subtle?” (2003, 114). Of course, within a multicultural society, and transnationally, dictations of discrimination of fear will vary.
As Bourke notes, in “Fear and Anxiety: Writing about Emotion in Modern History,” “words used to describe feelings similar to those expressed by the English word ‘fear’ vary culturally, and this variation profoundly changes that culture’s emotional world” (2003, 119). It seems reasonable to articulate social and interpersonal fear as carriers of hate and violence, not unlike carriers of a virus that mutates as it is passed on and transmitted from one individual to another. The biolence of fear communicates interpersonal resentment towards an unholy rectification of the dowry of social disorder. As previously stated, at times the elaboration of social injustice and our responses to it may seem to come out of a seemingly counterintuitive space. Daniel Kapust points out, in “On the Ancient Uses of Political Fear and its Modern Implications,” that historically,”[c]owardice was stigmatized, while courage was to be praised and cultivated” (2008, 356). Writers of ancient times sought to heighten emotions and impose fear and practices of resolution and a manner not unlike propaganda more than intellectual expression – however it may be assessed and discerned, yesterday or today. Fear as an evocation of political violence has long been a communal trend to spread apathy and division and grow interpersonal resentment towards the other, any other.
Violence can be the past. We can breach a post-violence world. Biolence does not need to be our homing motivation. Just as humanity can withdraw from the shell of antiquated beliefs on accustomed “rule of law” so too can we seek a higher order that elaborates on the past – just yesterday – as a seismic shift towards a more distilled order of consequence. What is “consequence” but our native intention? Our intentions are often more neutral than what is mapped, and our desires are often better served in an appropriate environment where we are free to discover our individual potential and observe the stars in all their reflecting light; reflections of us beaming down to ourselves.
In The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism (1997), Regina M. Schwartz draws a deciphering line that connects the violence of cultural and systemic identity formation and what are secondary acts of religious violence. It is distinctive to think of identity formation as an act of violence. When ideology, disinterested love, and the forceful integration of instilling separateness into youth as they navigate self-discovery and ontological stamina all play into identity, certainly it is a form of violence. That this sown the seeds of future enacted violence against the very others they were taught to be apart from, separate from, othered in all respects, this manifestation of violence can be seen to be easy to reproduce, simple to manufacture at either a level of an individual child or as a collective group. Violence enacted as identity formation is a form of biolence.
Collectively this identity formation is tied together by the very insignias of authority that donate collective memory to the self. With this ease of disparity, it becomes clearer that religious freedom is a misnomer as that freedom of religion is not from religion in the auspices of cultural identity formation. Though not absolute, the derivative of limitations of freedoms does equate to a monopolized stance on differentials of choice, experience, expression, and fortitude – economic or otherwise. Those in less economically spurious regions will be less likely to obtain the fortitude of freedom within the navigations of choice of religion – perhaps, signifying the limitations of freedoms to counter violence being subject to the violence of identity distribution and disposition. Identity is limited by the same weight as religion itself. What is internal is shared as a community. What is communal is holistically grand in its interaction with a larger impaled economic entity of the state or denomination to sternly integrate the castration of change to prevent any counterinsurgency that might dissemble the progression of those in power becoming power. Power is law and as Walter Benjamin illustrates, law is violence. The interested parties condemn the individual to the illusion of disinterestedness.
Socio-ontological denominationalism, which are groups within groups, functionary projections of the mind’s executive functioning bringing order to the external world are soliloquies of fostered detention of identity. Between the state, the external public sphere of coercion, this lament carries into the private sphere latent threat centers. This can be manifest in structural constructs of stigma and discrimination or with even more immediate and dire consequences such as in interactions with the police. The mentally ill are 16 times more likely to be killed by the police and by some numbers account for up to half of all fatal police encounters (Treatment Advocacy Center).
The threat of an abstained identity has ramification all throughout society. However, with the insights of experience and age, it will largely be agreed that it can be a good thing and have positive effects on individuals and the community at large. Traditional feminist tokens of the reality of public and private sphere denote the public as male centered and aggressive and the private as female centered and nurturing. This is traditional, though that should be taken loosely, as even within the these staples there is a long – and current – tradition of imprinting the private sphere into the public to make an influence on nuclear religiosity and help attain structural change, laying the foundations for the centered credence of private feminist identity formation which, as has been demonstrated, enforces relief from violence in the public sphere. Women in leadership positions throughout all denominations of the tokens of society leads to peace, restoration, and a healing resolution for those who have been subject to violent identity formation.
To continue the theme of violence of identity formation and socio-ontological denominationalism or, groups within projecting groups, Amartya Sen makes a very finite distinction on choice that I would like to leverage towards our collective choice to overcome the limits of the regressive philosophy of the inevitability of violence. Amartya Sen, in Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, states,
The freedom to determine our loyalties and priorities between the different groups to all of which we may belong is a peculiarly important liberty which we have reason to recognize, value and defend. The existence of choice does not, of course, indicate that there are no constraints restricting choice. Indeed, choices are always made within the limits of what are seen feasible. The feasibilities in the case of identities will depend on individual characteristics and circumstances that determine the alternative possibilities open to us. (2006, 5)
One of such restraints is structural power entities maneuvering power to limit or disobey the merits of discourse. As Amartya Sen later puts forward, “democracy is not just about ballots and votes, but also about public deliberations and reasoning, what – to use an old phrase – is often called ‘government by discussion’” (2006, 53). Models of discourse and tightly gravitated discourse theory often articulate the limits of our canon of knowledge as we have been molded by built-in taught infrastructures of poetry and conquest.
The fact that Shakespeare is so widely taught not only demonstrates a limitation of the masses of imaginations to the portfolio of Shakespeare but is also a model from which we can detect an ongoing deliberation of the limitations to our discussions, decision making, and forged imaginations towards to ends of tempered negotiations of truce and conflict resolution. The arguments for these limitations are sound. The opening up of the literary canon towards multicultural, inclusionary texts not centered on the white male experience is more than a matter of boardroom diversity, but a fight for the existence of our imaginations that we rely upon to forge conclusions in the ontological struggle against authoritarian soft power.
The individual and collective identity molded through a canon selected repeatedly over generations by those few in power is violence. It is the violence of tenure, the violence of relapse to a sequestered hill on the edge of disparity. These previously generated groups within groups of grossly domesticated denominationalisms force back a spirit of openness that would grasp the future’s end; the discontinuation of violence: the solstice of an evening pane blowing against the whistle-blow of an open and fruitful mind. There is significant and evident merit in Leanna Simpon’s assertion that presence leads to revival. Presence is an act that counters normative weights that seek to subdue or act as tranquilizers of peaceful negotiation to one’s lifeforce. In her essay, “Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigenous Girls’ Presencing as Decolonizing Force,” (2016) Sadrina de Finney references Leanna Simpson’s piercing clarity of thought for countering what I refer to as denominationalisms through visibility and presence. de Finney quotes Simpson, stating, “Our processes – be they political, spiritual, education or healing – required a higher degree of presence than modern colonial existence.”
The violence-narratives of those maintaining power imitate disinterestedness as the fashioning of structural presence. However, Simpson’s “presence” counters judges of dismissal and grafters of the illusions of transparent time. The choices we delimitate are portended as arbitrary where instead they are full of voice, individuality, free expression, and lifetimes of experience that we have incorporated into our being.
Through an auxiliary absence of detention of a form of prosperity of reason and unseasoned neglect of negative attributes, we can reframe the teaching of constitutions of individual balance and proper power sharing. Through the relinquishment of the negative attributes, we can share time as a hallowed space made only for the soft distribution of shared experiences and learning behaviors that form sentimental reason that aids in the restitution of the unformulated expression of anti-violence in all its mass and presencing transpositional repairs. Choice and power and the fundamental instructional turns that negotiate between a past of continued violence and violence-narratives or a future of post-violence space and place that dictates to no one is clearly what lies between the balcony of our structured presence. There is peace in not soft power, but soft time.
Violence-narratives that motivate and stir social norms towards the presence of abrupt anxiety and maintain them is not without violence-customs. Violence-customs, on the surface would seem to be circulated by the populace, but this is not so direct. Political infrastructures seek out, either directly or indirectly, ways to nurture violence-customs through the appearance of disinterestedness. As previously stated here, violence-narratives of those maintaining power imitate disinterestedness as the fashioning of structural presence. Through that presence violence-customs are nurtured as is the reluctance to initiate a dialogue on aggregating towards a society post-violence.
One thing I am convinced of is that sociological epidemiology is not without integrated, various resources of mercy. Various subgroups function to stricken and tighten where that mercy is dispersed in a psycho-social combat that does nothing further than make greater the verses of division. However, that mercy is still there, in all of us. The structural education system fails to tether it outward and outbound away from self-interests and self-serving harps of discord. Make no mistake, if the potential for mercy is there – ready to be enriched towards collective prosperity – than so, too, is the potential to override violence-customs and the seemingly hearts-in-lockets that maintain violence discourse.
Consider the pentameter and meter; the non-metrical intonation that has sharpened and swayed the motion of voices through ages is a poetical discourse. The matter of substance is intertwined in the detonation of reason; abstract patterns made logical through practical affairs. Romance is common, meter more than a dalliance of human affairs, but, instead, a science of discourse. So, too, does the chained reason for our meted-out mercies seem opaque and non-controversial. As those acquainted with discourse theory know, the phenomenology of discourse is the study of dominance. John Guillory states simply in Cultural Capital that “[t]he movement to open the canon to non-canonical authors submits the syllabus to a kind of demographic oversight” (1994, 7). The canon of the discourse of mercy also derides the white-washed syllabus as an “oversight” to say the least. Guillory later turns his reader to scholar and critic, Erich Auerbach’s, functional definition of “literary language,” – what he condensed under the triumvirate diatribe of “selectivity, homogeneity, and conservatism,” or what Auerbach referred to as Hochsprache (1994, 71). With a selective, homogeneous, and conservative canon, Hochsprache is little more than maintenance of quasi-scholarship or from a sociopolitical discourse or dominance, it is the continuation of dedicated voices to a standard of reason that does not serve in the interest of all, but the few. It is well-reasoned neglect. So, too, is the perpetuation of violence-narratives that incubate and tolerate violence-societies.
Political withdrawal is a diminutive form of violence-customs. What gets missed is that structural power can, in its entirety, be diminutive in form and solidity. If structural political exchange is itself diminutive, how much more so congregated and integrated sources of violence-customs that keep post-violence realism out of reach? The force-formed canon of structural neglect, maintained by ages of reasoned custom denotes that those with the dominant authority to preserve the canon also preserve the appearance of political disinterestedness; a withdrawal of tides of overt inter-dwelling in the affairs of self-replicating violence-customs. At this granular of an intrigue, stronger attention should be given to Canadian indigenous writer and scholar, Leanna Simpson’s notion of presencing as a means of “engagement and visibility” (from Sandrina de Finney’s essay, “Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigeneous Girls’ Presencing as Decolonizing Force,” in Girlhood and the Politics of Place, Mitchell and Rentschler, eds).
Reading Hannah Arendt’s text, On Violence, one takes away that political as well as non-political faith in consequential violence exists as if it is a means of imposing order on the world. Truly faith in the media, on both the political right and the left, today imposes an order of violence as a consequential lecture of the derelict architecture of human affairs that is a promise of substandard growth or accelerated “progress” through means of violence-responses; unconditional and obtuse. Violence is Othered. Violence is always something that is in the hands of other people’s actions, never the responsibility of the individual in quest of violence. Arendt seeks to restore human affairs to political actions that do not employ failsafe violence, but, perhaps, an error is belief that such a political infrastructure could subsist on the power it accumulates and still retrain non-violence ideas.
However, this very reading into Arendt is frustrated by her criticism of the non-violence class as harboring within its existence being just degrees away from the violence-employed classes. Arendt is an apologist for political superstructures while simultaneously a critic of its vices and temptations. For Arendt, answers lie in careerist organization as organic organization, even those grassroots entities attributed to non-violent means, are too engrossed in the patronization of violent inclusivity. What she is truly protesting is the threat of violence against the violence of law, which she readily admits relies of violence means towards an end of power and control. Therefore, for Arendt, the powerless are in no position to impose non-violence governing because it suffers from the same temptations and associations as those in power. But why then concede to embedded power entities as arbitrators of what power is and how it unifies international relationships?
All this is not to take away from the depth of brilliance that is The Origins of Totalitarianism, which should be standard required reading for every student as a means of critical thinking studies (to use an umbrella term). Still, in On Violence, her critique of violence does not seem to abandon power-shareholders in her observations of the relationships between power and violence. Perhaps, there is some relationship between her critique of “the masses” and her insinuation that government should be managed by careerists and emblematic shareholders whom she admits are not without fault. There can be no excuse for her criticism of scholarship, in the sciences or the humanities, as evidence of a myth of progress. Arendt seems to distance herself from John Stuart Mill, in addition to Max Weber and C. Wright Mills, on the relationship between power and violence, over Alexander Passerin d’Entreves, whom she claims “distinquish[es] between violence and power,’’ though what is more is that Arendt harshly condemns bureaucracy as a rule of “Nobody” seemingly more dangerous than what integration may lie at the footsteps of power and authority in the manifestation of violence as we know it (1970, 35-39). Arendt states, “one of the most obvious distinctions between power and violence is that power always stands in need of numbers, whereas violence up to a point can manage without them because it relies on implements” (1970, 42). In a hard-hearted aristocratic function, Arendt rejects the similitude of power, authority, and violence.
George Kateb, in his article, “Arendt and Representative Democracy,” (1983) sees Arendt as arguing, “[t]he aim of politics is to perpetuate itself, to immortalize itself: not only in the sense that individuals aspire to say and do imperishable things, but in the enfolding sense that all who act for the sake of preserving future possibilities of action. The common interest is the preservation of the frame of action. Those who act, in the proper way, are those who act with the feeling that others will come after them to take their place on the stage of action. She says, ‘If the world is to contain a public space, it cannot be erected for one generation and planned for the living only; it must transcend the life-span of mortal men’” (1983, 25). Arendt briefly mentions in On Violence that “participatory democracy […] derives from the best in the revolutionary tradition – the council system” (1980, 22). John Sitton draws out Hannah Arendt’s organized structure for councils in his article for Polity (1987) and locates two central problems with her “instrumental dimension of political action,” stating,
The first is her argument that “no one could be called either happy or free without participating” and its connection with her notion of positive freedom. This statement raises the spectre of “self-realization” conceptions of politics, examined by Berlin, that lead so easily to a “despotism of liberty,” i.e. that people must be forced to act in a certain way in order to achieve their higher natures. The second is that it is not obviously clear why council democracy would necessarily encourage the multiplicity of opinions. The common experience of small groups seems to indicate the opposite, that small groups are as likely to be narrow-minded on political issues as are the isolated citizens of representative democracy. That is, even if we accept Arendt’s argument that proper opinion formation cannot take place under representative democracy, that is no argument for how council democracy can avoid this difficulty. (1987, 86)
Arendt herself is subject to othering violence and through her means to organize and substrate the polemical identification of a proper form of organized power, she withholds the standard bearer of violence itself: that from all power violence is the motivator to the force of law from which it is entitled to follow or adhere to substandard impositions. Arendt is an institutionalist for formal power. It is possible her utopian vision of a shared consent for power elevation lacks the nuances and poignant articulations of Third Wave and Fourth Wave Feminisms, which are far more structured in their critique of power sharing that dispels the illusions of frank rule without the very bureaucracy that Arendt is critical of as being emblematic of both a symptom and instrument of oppression. To vote for institutional power is to side with the inevitability of violence.
It is the premise of this thesis to clearly mark there is the potential within our DNA to carry ourselves away from institutions that exist on the belief of such an inevitability. The old-world philosophy that reigned in terror for so many centuries declined to evaluate what the symptoms of a world post-violence would mature to. Without an examination of those old-world theories, we cannot break free from their logic or depose the articulated rhythms of how they have nurtured the very vibrancy of our creative dispositions and taken-for-granted soliloquies of time through discourse and deliberation. The parental nature within us understands a world post-violence has potential and with that reasoning the first matter of order is to withdraw from all impositions that violence is a guarantee in the world from which we must resist nomination of rule above and rule without.
Elementary, communitarian democracy does not suffer from budget constraints or amoral, substrate alliances with terror. Neoliberal doctrines and passive communities ally against a world post-violence. It is not that I am saying we are just failing the text of being a superpower. We are failing the test of being an independent country. Money is violence. Money is ownership, directly to possessiveness which was the fruit Adam and Eve ate that led to them being expelled. The apple in the Garden of Eden represents possessiveness. I have always ascribed to this, from the time when I was young until now, possessiveness over others, over emotions, over land, over resources, over dispersion of equality and parity of thought. There is a difference between being gifted and receiving a gift. Someone who is gifted, but never receives the gift of the opportunity to express that gift is just another voiceless soul. Receiving the means to live is a gift that being gifted alone does not functionally will towards, not always.
If you have been following this argument, by now you must be asking: Am I saying violence is an aberration of humanity or will be like and can be like an aberration of humanity. Clearly, it has not been an aberration, nor an exception, but a fundamental practice. However, I do think we can get to a point in our psychosocial elementary political, emotional, and characteristic employment to where it would be as if violence were an aberration. It is a necessary collaborative goal. Steve Pile, in his work, The Body and the City: Psychoanalysis, Space, and Subjectivity, writes that,
[T]here are no accepted psychoanalytic concepts which can be easily transposed into, superimposed onto, or mapped alongside geography – regardless of the kind of geography […] It is easy to claim that psychoanalysis has been systematically misrepresented, but I would prefer to suggest that particular aspects of psychoanalysis have been selected and presented as if they were symptomatic of the whole approach. (1996, 61)
Psychoanalysis has always been a critical framework from which we draw distinction and elaboration of problem-solving divergent thinking. Pile further states,
An account of space must take […] questions about the relationship between the body and space, subjectivity and space, society and space further; but in directions which do not melancholically presume some ideal past, or presume that there is nowhere to go, or offer false promises, or victimise people – and which allow for the possibility that people make history, though not in circumstances of their own choosing. (1996, 166)
The distribution of intellectual idea-history can counter any thought on the desire of easily assumed spaces and withholds our environmental projects and creations as institutes of established power created and implemented by force and the violence of law.
I will further argue that from psycho-schematic contributions to the landscape of violence, it can be argued that violence is as the space and place of a culture attempting to dispute the monothesistic and, certainly, proto-monothesitic renunciation of incest. In The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism, Regina M. Schwartz posits that “[s]exual practices might seem a rather unusual justification for conquest until we delve deeper into the logic that binds sexuality and the land together in both biblical law and narrative, a logic committed to erecting carefully drawn boundaries of identity” (1997, 65). Through Steven Pile’s psychoanalytic framework of the geography of a place and Schwartz’s astute intuitive stance that sexuality bonds violence to land we can begin to see a pattern where it can rightly be argued that those who are violent wish to engage in and are, in fact, rebelling against the ancient prohibition against incest. This rebelling against prohibition is a violence of that specified land.
Possessiveness as a center of outlandish “sin” as it were, a marked trait so worthy of being expelled from paradise. That trait is framed in time and historical explication just as Ernest Becker’s brilliant explication in The Denial of Death. An anthropology of a denial of incest may withstand the scrutiny of open and matrical scholars and tinkers of thought to rightly expose a human want that triggers and continues the maintenance of violence discourse and practices. Being too much to bear, we preserve this denial through functionary programs like Hannah Arendt’s insistence of a power-sharing elite to distribute law and order. Within this violence-regression comes the trauma of a society that is masked in theatre, culture, and familial personalities as a vacuum of trauma. And those without this pressing need or accompanying denial are pressed together into a violence-like, violence-neighbored conflict with those that do harbor this denial; such as the Trump-era protests in Portland; a violence-neighbored conflict between the protesters (those without the denial or motivations of incest) and the secret police (guards of the partition of the maintenance of denial of incest motivations and desire).
Elizabeth Frazer and Kimberly Hutchings write in their case study of Simone de Beauvoir in Violence and Political Theory (2020) that “a democracy that defends itself through acts of oppression denies its own values and destroys itself as a democracy” (2020, 31). Through the onto-political problem of deciphering how one group is granted attained freedoms while another group must necessarily be dejected, we see that violence presumes inequality as a state of line and a premise for a conclusion to the maintenance of the law of violence and violence-customs – that which when violated or threatened is seen to be an act that weakens state power and stimulates a violence-response. Violence recession cannot become a neutral olive branch without coming together out of denial of our proto-sexual impulses. We frame our nations and borders on the illusion of denial of arcane sexuality, though a thoughtful consideration of historical god-reference and elite position of traditionalists, as well as traditional shareholders of power, bequeath an exuberance of demarcated rhythms of clear and tolerant rejection of the prohibition against incest and incest-borne distribution of resources and power. Through productive conflict resolution the offending party must make restitution to those they had victimized in a personal and sacrificial manner on their way to rejecting the thoughts and interpersonal motivations of violence; first through act, then behavior, and finally in thought and emotional release and the catharsis of wayward entry into the banal discovery of selfhood.
There is the potential movement today for even the brightest types of democracies to normalize into a hybrid totalitarian, democracy-lite, formational violence. Of course, whether these institutions were ever true democracies to begin with should, must be questioned, but that historical mapping is beyond the scope of this present section, though not out of mind. The younger generation presents true potential to revolutionize the very interpretation of a democracy, but we have seen this potential in the younger generation with prior generations and it has not come to pass. It is possible any type of government tied to capitalism necessitates violence and a forced acceptance of inequality. This seems the most likely scenario that will develop in the future. However, of course, that could arguably be changed if different types of people ran for office, were enticed to run to office; a different personality type compelled to run for office would offer a revision of New Deal politics that pundits and commentators may well say is the first step towards a post-capitalist society, if corroborated correctly.
Let us entertain this thought. Let us say that with this younger generation new personalities enter government, those that resemble the difference between value of self and inflated self-importance. Let us say that a full, broad version of the Green New Deal has been enacted, and from a bottom-up approach lifts the inclines of society in a thorough and magnifying presence of autonomy and deliverance. Is there still violence?
It is most likely a single, solitary, national revival of self-value would greatly diminish though not extinguish the inducting claims of interpersonal violence. It would be present and real. However, through an obvious, necessary, and easily implemented revolution of the education system, incidences of interpersonal violence would be cut back even further. I do say “easily implemented” because the academic community has the understanding and know-how to implement this today, we only lack political and sociocultural will.
The dominance of an esteemed society would make graceful, commingled estates of pastures of grain and deliverance. Taking the path with least resistance, it is through this first a.) political reformation followed by the b.) educational reformation that the path to a post-violence society would most easily be riddled out of confusion, but, alas, there would still be bureaucratic structuralism that would most likely not understand how they were failing a complete elimination.
First must come the elimination of structural violence, then what must follow is the letting go of violence of the self. The educational model would prepare and sustain a path towards this deliverance, but not complete the work. A new pattern of selfhood must be explored expeditiously. An adroit sovereignty of self awaits those to release their importance over the Other in all matters of displaced rhythms of selfhood and false alliances of ego. To become another is to become oneself. It resolves interpersonal violence as well as spiritual malfeasance and the relenting whispers of arcane retributive glances towards denial of form.
Ultimately, and this is the big secret, we are fully capable of doing this today, right now, within the confines of political and structural violence, we can each find within ourselves to be released from violence-customs. However, it is living with each other that becomes the problem. In that we must together treat the doctrines of self-togetherness and absolve the limits that we perceive living with each other brings. Still, make no mistake, we can do it today if so motivated to try, and some must do it to aid in the pathway towards a large-scale deliverance. There must be those who have already succeeded, waiting for the rest to land in the presence of warmth and welcome them with open dexterity of self.
The essentially three-tiered “path of least resistance” model for overcoming violence-societies includes an essential deliberate movement and societal collaboration of self-interest in health and well-being. We cannot, must not go down this path without asking and examining why these ideas are so alien to us. Collectively, it is either that we skipped a grade level that we were not prepared for and moved directly into shared society against the will of self-interest, or we skipped a grade level because we were thought more advanced than we were. We required that extra time to get to know one another and learn what it means to live in a shared society.
This absence of shared community either occurred within sociocultural DNA early in the evolution of our social selves or, and possibly both, it is a more recent eclipse where we can place a strong suspicious view of post-WWII universalism. As I previously hinted towards, if we were to have a good governance model that emphasized the importance of self-value over inflated self-importance, individual actors would be less in the way of things and this alone would do wonders for communal perceptions of what it means to live together, in this shared space, localized and global.
I stated in the previous section that, first must come the elimination of structural violence, then what must follow is the letting go of violence of the self. The educational model would prepare and sustain a path towards this deliverance, but not complete the work. A new pattern of selfhood must be explored expeditiously. An adroit sovereignty of self awaits those to release their importance over the Other in all matters of displaced rhythms of selfhood and false alliances of ego. To become another is to become oneself. It resolves interpersonal violence as well as spiritual malfeasance and the relenting whispers of arcane retributive glances towards denial of form.
This resolves a great deal of violence-debt but does not meet the nutritional source of the matter of getting to a post-violence society. There is after-care to consider. If first, institutional change caresses the collaborative self towards systematic change then the educational model that transfixes the self towards a strong, unrelenting invitation of peoplehood propels the self towards self-regulation and the inviting of spiritual, abstract, and dexterous forms of unrolling the scroll of inviting, shared selfhood.
It is true that the educational model that works towards preparation of the individual becoming the collective is needed regardless of what regulatory reparations are performed within and alongside the elimination of structural violence forms. However, this is an educational model that is firmly and specifically separated from capital interest. The removal of capital reward from firm study is holistically required to replace the burden of support from the individual to the group. Joanne Savage, et al., concluded in their study, “The Role of Poverty and Income in the Differential Etiology of Violence: An Empirical Test,” that there are greater incidences of violence among their sample with those in lower income brackets. Their conclusions, drawn from their data, was,
The pattern of mean incomes suggests that violent delinquents live in families with lower incomes than nonviolent-only offenders (M = $43,051 compared to $54,374) and nonviolent-only offenders have the highest income in both data sets, even compared to nonoffenders (M = $51,352). The poverty rate among violent offenders was 20.3%, compared to 14.6% among nonviolent-only offenders. The poverty rate among nonoffenders was 15.9%, slightly higher than the nonviolent-only group. (2019, 9)
With the from the ground up approach of a holistic Green New Deal paired with an institution so invigorated with anti-capitalist values that it invites the beginning of a post-capitalist environment, structural change manifests itself in many, divergent forms. The marriage of capital and wealth separates the more valuable self-interest of the self-valued principle of wealth of knowledge. Throughout the entire three-tiered path of least resistance model it is the invitation and value of knowledge that alleviates a great deal of violence-debt and exhilarates the self away from violence-customs.
Mary McCormick illustrates in her article, “Through a Different Lens: The Social Sanctioning of Family Violence,” that
During most of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, child abuse and neglect were articulated as failure to train the child in moral conduct, and failure to provide discipline and structure to the developing child, thus failing to socialize him to assume his role as a productive citizen (Dolgin, 1997; Peled & Kurtz, 1994; Chicago Vice Commission, 1911). It was not until Henry Kempe identified battered child syndrome in 1962 that the outcomes of harsh parenting or corporal punishment were viewed as child maltreatment, a social problem, not a parental option in child-rearing (Peled & Kurtz, 1994). Society’s ambivalence toward violence in the family is apparent in the various definitions and interpretations of battering and abuse including, physical aggression toward a child or intimate partner, corporal punishment, harsh parenting, non-accidental physical injury, assault, and crimes against women (Ateah & Durant, 2005; Rothenberg, 2002). Based on these definitions, violence in the family has been viewed as the result of individual pathology, moral failure, lack of internal control or as a crime (Worden & Carlson, 2005; Erickson, 2000). (2007, 46)
Our inherited roles in perpetuating a culture of violence-customs regulates the sustained chores of non-violence inquiry against a backlash of those who wish to preserve traditional modes of violence. This is not without willful participation or collaborative insistence on a focus of capital-centered, valued violence. McCormick continues,
The use of force in families in the service of maintaining the social order is normative. While regulating behavior is essentially a function of family structure, when this structure breaks down, it is the role of society through its institutions and structures to regulate the behavior of the individual (Durkheim, 1951; Ross, 1900). Coercion and control, in other words socially sanctioned aggression through financial, legal and religious institutions and structures, becomes culturally consonant. (2007, 53)
That the behavior of the family is symbolic of the totalitarian instruments of violence-coercion through history is not the placeholder of releasing sustained violence, but the knowledge of symbiotic relationships is. The educational model, again, would seek to release a great deal of factor and form from the divergence of familial violence-customs. With that, we would be better positioned to navigate the impulses of the avenue where the forces of “self-control” blanket over the glossed indices of structurally placed violence resources. The self and the collective are already firmly related. It is releasing the light of the potential of making this a beautiful relationship that adheres towards a future without violence or control; being released from possessiveness, and informed of the doctrinal dislocation of where the venue of self-hood relies.
The more harm we become accustomed to, the more harm we become prepared to inflict ourselves. It becomes organic. It becomes biomechanical. It becomes biolence. However, despite so many poets, tinkerers, judgmental continental philosophers, and aggrieved mothers, violence is not natural nor is it inescapable. Violence is not inevitable. Biolence, which I intend to roughly mean those human, animal, biological motivations towards aggression as nature indicates intellectual potential to overcome in human-trusted mechanical biolence against the opposition of an untrustworthy superficial biolence that can easily be understood as something that can be done away with. As we work towards a more perfect society, we cannot do so without an understanding of violence as a reality to be overcome. Without an understanding of violence, we cannot overcome it. We are overtly capable of overcoming violence with a firm understanding of it and incorporating that understanding in our push towards a free, communally democratic, secure society.
Sacred hope takes precedence over inherited inaction towards violence. It could be argued (named) with the degree of violence in history, that it should take precedence, but we are far too wide in accepting our dismissal of good nature and healthy motivations towards others from the most element and common corners of social welfare. In Lisa Diedrich’s book, Indirect Action: Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, AIDS, and the Course of Health Activism, she describes of the motivations and aspirations embedded in the casual thoughts of Susan Smiley who thinks about her mother with schizophrenia each time she passes a homeless person on the streets exhibiting such symptoms, stating, “Smiley’s awareness that ‘that could be my mother’ signals her attempt to find a method to witness ‘the residue of all residues’ not or not only in order to assimilate it through discipline but as a call to struggle against our impoverished response – conceptually, politically, practically, and aesthetically – to mental illness” (2016, 175). The stigma of mental illness extends to an ingrained stigma against hope through and in mental illness and the hope to rise above and conquer it or the ability to live with it. This is not unlike the stigma of sacred hope. “[C]onceptually, politically, practically, and aesthetically” we react against the best of interests of others in favor of an easy, accepting, laissez faire economics of care for ourselves and others. Through casual naming, we isolate those most vulnerable. We find it difficult to stipulate our values in a shared economy. The thought occurs then retracts to indifference and the commonality of restitute occurrence.
Ruti Feuchtwanger writes about “women’s yeshivas” and batei midrash that only in the last generation began to learn and teach Talmud with divided approval in “Knowledge Versus Status: Discursive Struggle in Women’s Batei Midrash.” Feuchtwanger states, “[t]he fundamental value and power of this knowledge make it the basis of power relations between those in possession of it and those who lack it” (2009, 168). Surfacing from the austerity of knowledge comes a galactagogue of language and learning that (re)possesses an enforcement of just egalitarian values that meet and dissemble along given traits of more holistic flags of even and cool temperament. This negligence is how we have treated our sisters and mothers from our own communities. It is how we have treated the sick and marginal. It is how we have inquired among the cancer stricken to defend themselves as to whether they are responsible or deserving of the illness, another form of biolence. We are ritually negligent in a cross-border, cross-oceans, intranational, and forensic sense that should eliminate our hope for sacred intervention. However, there is the sacred hope of determination to implement change across judicial imparting of justice and mercy. With that hope, we can teach our way out of our violent inheritance.
With greater collective and individual clarity, we must bring to the surface of our lived social lives the reality that all forms of “[p]olitical violence diminishes individuals’ trust in the moral organization of society, government entities and processes of democracy” as Cindy A. Sousa states in her article, “Political violence, collective functioning and health: A review of the literature” (2013, 180). Structural violence put into perspective – either that which is historic or present day – brings us closer to examining our personal path in accepting violence as par for the course of detrimental waves of uninvited dystrophy in allied persuasion towards a just and reasonable outcome of our social experiment of civilization.
What we seek to escape with intellectual isolation is a form of cultural anxiety that does not lend itself to becoming a force of light to en-culture and embrace different modes of thought and existence. That is an aberration of thought to be avoided if not thoroughly cleansed from. If it is true that thought and celebration of life wishes not to be ascetic, but sensitively aesthetic in the contours of the regions of shared space, then embracing diversity where it stands is a calling for light bearing modes of expression. As Sarah Ahmed states in another – though approachable – context, from her book, The Cultural Politics of Emotion,
The very existence of fears and anxieties become ‘a sign of the times’, characterised as they are by rapid transformations and innovations, which had not only eroded old structures and values, but have also led to feelings of loss of control and loss of certainty about the future. (2004, 72)
Love […] sticks the nation together; it allows cohesion through the naming of the nation or ‘political community’ as a shared object of love. Love becomes crucial to the promise of cohesion within multiculturalism; it becomes the ‘shared characteristic’ required to keep the nation together. The emotion becomes the object of the emotion. (Ahmed 2004, 135)
In the article, “Fear and Anxiety: Writing about Emotion in Modern History,” Joanna Bourke asks, “Is fear identical to anxiety? Is fear a response to danger or, since many fears arise in states of tranquility, is it something more subtle?” (2003, 114). Of course, within a multicultural society, and transnationally, dictations of discriminations of fear will vary. There is truth in the archetypal statement that violence is cyclical. Though we do no service to ourselves by thinking of an archetype as being settled law. Violence, like sexism, functions by the lack of resolve to adjust human attrition to patterns. bell hooks, discussing the sequential order of sexism in her book, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, states, “Sexist men and women believe that the way to solve this dilemma [of women’s exhaustion by men’s gendered and familial expectations] is not to encourage men to share the work of emotional caretaking but rather to return more sexist gendered roles” (2004, 96). It is not that sexism, violence, hatred, homophobia, militarism are archetypes because they are unreachable by reform, but because they are expected and nurtured by a completely preventable vulnerability and that is what is cyclical, that is what is permitted violence.
Epitome scaling, that is what I call, summaries of abstracts of perfect examples of humanness symbolic of the reducibility of capitalist functionality and normalcy of dispossession are concentrated in terms of solidifying conquest and habitual norms in a divergent society. The populist tendency to navigate from one hyper-concentrated form of epitome scaling to the next exposes a projection from being witness to ontological reduction while the more harshly dispossessed are displaced, dislocated, and dismissed by the triggers of those navigations to the new form of (un)equal expression. Between epitome scaling and those concentrated, navigating tendencies resolves a share-metrics that reflects time out-of-bound. There is only one reality, we simply each share and split different lived experiences of that single reality leading to (un)shared perspectives. Share-metrics is the buildup of external retreat from the resemblance of truth that our participation in this other staged reality demands of us and encourages.
Byung-Chul Han summarizes succinctly in Topology of Violence that the “situation in which an act of violence often arises from the system and systematic structure in which it is embedded. Thus, manifest, expressive forms of violence can be traced back to these implicit structures, which establish and stabilize a system of domination but withdraw from visibility” (2018, 77). Those equally prone to violence are not immune from sensing the reality of these low-visibility structures. Terrorism, which Han quotes Baudrillard as being “viral violence” (Han 2018, 95), was interpreted by the American political right as a systematic condition of religio-cultural conditions that were safely othered from within the counterview of evangelical worldviews equally prone to violent ethos, but not without the ability is see violence as a system, however flawed their explication in fact was. Western civilization, though endowed with violence, does not lack the ability to understand that there are methods of interpreting cultural and systematic structures involved that mask violence.
The new left that arose in the West (as well as the Mideast, though did not stem from this equation) in the post-Bush wars era grew more sensitive to the realities of political self-reflection and violence-cycles. This was an expected outcome. Violent men wanted the U.S. involved in a violent struggle on their own terms, in their own land to recruit and grow a new way of being, a fresh culture that would arise from that violence and the Bush administration was happy to oblige. Strongmen on the Middle East always knew getting the U.S. involved in their lands would lead to such results. Just as the old guards in those lands and that extended area understood the roots and branches of the extent of their power, which left the Arab Spring at a significant disadvantage. The distant West watches structures of upheaval and, some, reflected on the violence in their own culture and implications of violence contributed to the global pool. Still, there is no reward for not learning the lessons that the previous generation had already digested and disseminated. For many of this generation, just as the last, diplomacy was understood and proceeded as structural violence.
Edward Said wrote in Orientalism, “[t]he Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe” (1978, 63). Much like Western close-stitched appraisals of non-Western lands and cultures, violence is enclosed and self-referential. Like these appraisals, violence is the #1 draft pick in a wedding dress on the cover of a sports magazine, celebrated for its originality and charm. Violence carries with it an inherited magnetism that pours down the sewage caps and into spaces where those struggling to survive under neoliberal encampments fall subject to its wake and emulate the contours of its proscribed indoctrination. Violence is its own ethos of calamity; it is a sports broadcaster – microphone in hand – nursing the wounds of its own fallen mother on the defensive line. Violence believes it is enriched listening to its own narrative, the belief in doom.
For some who are devout and allegorical, there is the worldview that history is like a lesson-plan from which we teach our children to surmise good and evil and build a better society. This is a privileged worldview. More often among those historically subject to violence there is a more refined examination that these historical references would have been better to have not happened at all. There is no wisdom from suffering that cannot also be gained through critical thinking. There is no holiness, no advantage, no plane of retreat that can demarcate a type of love of benefits from once having suffered or to be in suffering. Slavery in the United States didn’t happen so that future Americans could learn the difference between right and wrong. It is not a lesson on civics. It was a not a hidden blessing so that the country might benefit from a perceived “true” source of multiculturalism. Such attempts to justify history only perverts justice.
There is an expanding scope in narratives from text to imperialism. Within that scope violence-stories are distributed and nurtured among all classes so that the nature of society begins to resemble the direction those in power want to take society. It is cyclical, yes, but it is not without motivation of intent. Narratives derived from power become intertwined with narratives derived without power. It is an intertextual hegemony creating three-dimensional global maps of violence. Those who are privileged and those who are not are all contributing to the lifeforce of these maps that sustain the unilateral direction from subculture to national project. From hate crimes to invasions, these narratives oscillate and orchestrate the same intent and contribute to an intergenerational luster based on misdirection and inherited worldview.
Violence-narratives among and tied into the social classes carry with them a sense of authenticity of the national-bound experience. Our narratives act as texts and manifest as plays to be performed. As Edward Said shows, “texts can create not only knowledge but also the very reality they appear to describe” (1978, 94). Violence-narratives appear in contemporary societies as waking dreams that in turn become manuals for further illustrations of a point or thesis. They are not limited to those of ill intent, but also become inspiration-stories for activists fighting for racial justice, restoration in Syria, justice for families who are victims of gun violence, and science fiction that dictates a future communal democracy that stabilizes the worst indulgences of violence-perpetrators. These all fulfill the acts of violence-narratives indirectly or unabatedly. The perpetuation of violence-narratives is not dissimilar to Frantz Fanon’s explication of the bourgeoisie from European heritage to an “racketeer mentality” in underdeveloped nations:
The bourgeoisie, which evolved in Europe, was able to elaborate an ideology while strengthening its own influence. This dynamic, educated, and secular bourgeoisie fully succeeded in its undertaking of capital accumulation and endowed the nation with a minimum of prosperity. In the underdeveloped countries we have seen that there is no genuine bourgeoisie but rather an acquisitive, voracious, and ambitious petty caste, dominated by a small-time racketeer mentality, content with the dividends paid out by the former colonial power. (2004, 119)
Fanon’s bourgeoisie are maintained by violence-narratives. A consumerism capital reading of Václav Havel’s post-totalitarianism, that totalitarian regimes continue to thrive not through unrestricted oppression but through economic displacement of societies into a consumer goods dependency, reifies the opposition of power that is mutually dependent and equally participatory. They sell us the idea of money and we buy into their leadership and quasi-national sense of direction at the cost of human rights and in the contradictory spirit of the myth of self-determination.
Of course, violence-narratives also arise opposing the state and its institutions. In Uzbekistan in the late 1920s, the exchange of power away from the religious elite and players in agriculture intermixed with resentment of women being in public unveiled. This led to a “murder wave” of unveiled women (Kamp 2007, 136, 141). Clergy encouraged the violence as a form of protest against Soviet cultural and economic incursion. The project of modernization was tainted with the redistribution of wealth outside the old guard and among the supporters of the newly, locally enfranchised. As Marianne Kamp writes in “Femicide as Terrorism: the Case of Uzbekistan’s Unveiling Murders,” in Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence across Time and Tradition (eds. James Wellman, Rowman & Littlefield), it “was religious discourse in the context of political struggle that made women the target of murder” (2007, 141). Traditional violence-narratives gave way to colonial violence-narratives and in a not unexpected treatise between the two, women suffered violence as the repercussions of the strain on societal dogma and narratives of alterity.
Contemporary women’s organizations that work to turn the tide on essentially similar social conditions that lead to that “murder wave” do not always find success either economically or in a sustainable participatory model. Feminist projects, intranational and immediately local, sometimes struggle to cover a space of activism and project management with their participants and the consequences of their intended benefactors. In an interview with Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, she is asked how feminists can maintain cohesion organizationally and strategically. Dr. Okazawa-Rey responds,
We as feminist need to develop a methodology that includes a much more conscious way to think about personal growth, personal development, dealing with the contradictions we face in our lives – in the ways in which we haven’t taken care of each other and ourselves, in a way that we can deal with whatever traumatic experiences we’ve had, or betrayals, or the negative experiences we’ve had as activists or in the academy – so that we’re not taking it out on each other, which is often. (from Feminist Freedom Warriors: Genealogies, Justice, Politics, and Hope by Chandra Talpade Mohanty 2018, 27)
It is essential that women’s organizations avoid the violence-narratives of neoliberal or post-totalitarian economic models. Feminist theory is exceptionally aware of the intrinsic relationship and evolution of oppressive regimes of capitalist and politically rigid institutions. Likewise, the mystic-like endeavor to experience the promise of a post-violence social framework depends on the severity of women’s liberation and inclusion across political, social and familial relationships. Traditionally marginalized subjects of violence must be made whole. Through the course of enriched communal prosperity that inoculates cultural boundaries from structural violence, we must ensure a continuous presence and observation of self-reflection towards our collected participation, directly or through apathetic and permissive inaction, that reifies the centrality of a feminist-oriented necessity of the social project of renewal. Feminist interests seeks the release of subjugation of all peoples.
Narrative maintenance and re-provocation from slave-owners and laws assured the statutes of bondage in perpetuity without even the potential favor and release from grievances that mamzerim might enjoy. Re-victimization was assured through legal means and social convention. There was a systemic relationship of slave codes “linked to interracial intimacies” (“Promise: Sexual Labor and the Space Between Slavery and Freedom” Owens 2017, 187). Laws captured racial and sexual violence and reflected the very act of the capture of the individual. The spirit of these laws does not truly change over time but adapt to new resonances and institute fresh policies that malign and contain the rights of an individual and the assurance of personal safety. On more than one occasion I have heard white, southern men state, “I have never owned a slave” as justification to exclude civil expenditures and project a narrative to rejects the reality that history conserves its forefathers’ interests, both metaphysically and in the pursuit of sustaining alienating powers of influence. This perverted rationalization is often used to deflect discourse on reparations.
None of us is hidden from violence. None of us, no matter how protected, is blind to the realities of a violent world. Children in America are fully aware that as adults we are doing little to protect them from school shooting and public, mass shootings in general. They are fully aware. The children will be our judges. Adults in America take their frustrations out in social media, where they find like-minded people and fall into the illusion that something has been accomplished. If it were not for social media, adults in America would have achieved a more direct confrontation with government and if it were not for the reliability of knowing that adults will accept the extent of their frustrations being resolved on social media, the government would be more apt to act. We fail the children by failing ourselves and becoming victims of our own illusions about speech, action, and about technology seemingly replacing those vital virtues. It doesn’t. Instead, we accept the funnel of violence because we give ourselves a false catharsis and accept demur as resolved action.
When comparing American adults’ use of social media and public discourse there is great visibility of the acting out of what James C. Scott refers forms of political discourse that “[insures] domination or resisting subordination” to the benefit of those in power. Social media is not very much unlike the “rupture of the political cordon sanitaire between the hidden and the public transcript” (On Violence: A Reader, Lawrence and Kareim 2007, 107). Through forms of contemporary resistance to power the public unites individuals to a collective gaze on power. This force of the public crossing into and over where they share what is in their living rooms with the larger world has become an effective management tool for those in power because it stops there. Yes, there have been marches from diverse groups and interests, and that is important, but perhaps it is that diversity of interests that promises to fail to have an impact on the actions of government. Society becomes self-managed in the power of speech without reaping the rewards of public action. We block ourselves in by showing ourselves out on the pages of URLs and hashtag delivery of opposition to power in the safety of sanguine rainbows that even offer the benefit of those in power from having to erect physical barriers to prevent us from crossing into a solidified threat to their authority.
That is not to say that those traditionally marginalized, even by activists, have not come to have a public voice and even public action through contemporary collective tools of opposition has led to increased knowledge by those not normally exposed to such plights. The disabled community has taken a seat at the table of this discourse and performed acts of opposition while living-in-public that have taught others their perspective even without the benefit of action from powerholders. It cannot be denied this is a benefit for society. The organization Adapt, for example, has held protests at government offices and streamed their fight on social media while simultaneously creating public figures in the disability community that otherwise would have remained unknown. When considering other fights streamed on social media there have also been benefits. Moral Mondays in North Carolina was streamed and followed on social media and led to the prominence of Rev. Dr. William Barber who would go on to lead the revival of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign within a nationwide capacity. Still, despite these positive social impacts, society relents progress in the face of fascism through a type of non-linear sponsion of territory.
The violence-narratives of cyclical familial trauma create a tension of permanence. Critical race theorist, David Theo Goldberg, stated in an interview when questioned how “working for justice” might assist in helping “us rethink more ethical and peaceful relations amongst the world’s people,” that,
Given social conditions inherited historically and exacerbated today in both their local and global relations, any commitment to pursuing justice now must attend to considerations of repair. Reparation, as Achille Mbembe most notably has made clear, need not be narrowly construed to focus simply on a question of “returns.” If we consider it rather in broader terms, repair has to do with remaking and reconstituting, putting together and making whole. (Violence: Humans in Dark Times, Evans and Lennard 2018, 223)
“It’s an irrefutable fact,” Chief Examiner Nimira tells Captain Janeway, “that violent thoughts from others lead to violent actions” (“Random Thoughts” 1997). In season 4, episode 10 of Star Trek: Voyager, members of the crew of Voyager have already been visiting the Mari planet for three days both as tourists and traders when the incidence occurred that would lead to Lt. B’Elanna Torres’s arrest for having a violent thought, or at least, the suggestion that a violent thought was present. A Mari in a rush swing by B’Elanna, stepping hard on her foot and causing a reaction that is normal for a Klingon. The perpetrator immediately goes to a seller in the market and begins beating him, bludgeoning him and destroying his shop. When Chief Examiner Nimira learns about the alteration that preceded the attack during a thought-interrogation of the Voyager crew present at the time, she determines that Lt. Torres’s thoughts of anger had spread like a virus upon contact and resulted in the violence. The violence in the Mari responsible was a result of the loss of control, external influence, and passive absorption, or so Nimira believes.
The Mari, a telepathic species, were once a hyper-violent race, but after outlawing violent thoughts, social disorder nearly came to a complete end. The planet lives in peace and harmony with only rare incidences of violence. Unknown to Chief Examiner Nimira or the authorities, there is a rich underground market for violent thoughts that as telepaths the buyer can immerse in and experience as though firsthand. The Mari dealer that Lt. Torres and Captain Janeway were negotiating with at the time of the violent thought, Guill, comforted Lt. Torres and placing his hands on her shoulders and asking her if she was okay. In the process, he consumed her inner temper and innate Klingon disposition for future gain, usurping the moment of the Klingon violent tendencies to be repackaged and sold to others for pleasure. There is not just an economic incentive for violence on the Mari homeworld. There is a great dearth of violent experiences to absorb in a world with a surplus of peace, as Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok learns during his own investigation. Guill is not just a trader in the market, but also supplier in the black-market trade of violent impulses. Other Mari are willing to pay Guill for this exchange of violence-experiences. Guill and the Mari that collided with B’Elanna had orchestrated evoking the violent thought from her. When Nimira learns of this underground market, she is confronted with the fact the authorities cannot simply purge of n-grams that house violent impulses as though they are isolated and self-containing. There is a larger Mari impulse, among some, to seek out exposure to violence while on the surface blending in with a peaceable society.
What are the Mari authorities to do now? Should they continue to wipe the offending n-grams from the minds of those who have harbored violent thoughts, sequestering the experience of thought as source motivation? If so, are they not attempting to make the individual whole by returning them to a previous state? This effort towards repair is not sustainable. They are not able to return to an individual to a state of nonviolence, because Mari society came from violence. Repair in instituting a post-violent society, even among the enlightened Mari, necessitates forward progress and not just the erasure of offending thoughts. By attempting to roll back to a source of origins, they did not free themselves of violence, but merely displaced it to the underground. Their methods did not repair, or make whole, but sutured the wound before sending the soldier back to the battle lines. For the Mari, the violence-narratives did not retreat under new laws. They were simply relocated and kept secret even in a telepathic society.
The relocation of violence-narratives demonstrates the agility of violence to persist and extend itself even under the duress of quarantine. Here violence only becomes more valuable to those who wish to attain its lure. Are we to believe that the same could occur in the restriction of violence-narratives in human life? Would childhood trauma and the relapse of predisposition be a sought-after commodity to be attained through back alleys and meetings in dark rooms? Are we truly traders in guilt? Merchants of pain? Is there a collaborative orchestration taking place in our reality? Truly a directional approach to satisfy our need to consume violence under the illusion of commerce. Are patriotism and diplomacy, capitalism and the economy, health care and human rights, all exterior portrayals of demonstrative “intentions” to resolve violence built in natural defenses to preserve the continued existence of violence-narratives and the sources of predisposition?
Perhaps the Neo-Freudian, Ernest Becker, would imply that yes, we are so driven by the hero’s quest to imitate immortality that humanity, at least in contemporary capitalist societies, has been driven to devise a system where we can feel good about ourselves for attempting to deride violence on the surface while simultaneously restricting our ability to move beyond violence-narratives and preserving the sources of conflict that restitute these narratives. Perhaps white picket fence and 2.5 children quests of norms are a form of nuclear religiosity that seeks to cement violence-narratives as being unapproachable and unrelatable in our quasi-civilized society. If we state we are living in peace with world through admirable, peaceable means – a family, a house, a stable career – then we create the illusion that the slow violence of persistence of norms is not relevant or that peace can be created in isolation against the grain of globally preserved integrated violence.
What the Mari and the cycle of childhood trauma have in common is both the persistence of violence-narratives and the dismissal of society to claim the necessity to be made whole. With both, the conditions exhibit a sense of exturbation failure under the terms agreed to in quasi-humanist (or Mari) societies. Both exist in realms guilty of fundamentalism that purges the respondent from the most immediate symptom while still relying of the tools and method of treatment that house the urtext of sourced violence-motivations. It is not unlike when The Doctor was forced to rely on the experience and insights of Cardassin exobiologist, Dr. Crell Moset, in hologram form, to assist in releasing B’Elanna from the grasp of a parasitic alien (“Nothing Human” 1998). Dr. Crell Moset possessed the skill and knowledge to save B’Lenna’s life, but only due to the experience he gained through grotesque experiments and tortures committed against the Bajoran people. Are we to save and preserve life with knowledge gained through mass atrocity? The evolution of medical sciences in the 18th and 19th centuries did just that. James Marion Sims performed painful experiments on enslaved Black women which led to him being credited as the “father of modern gynecology.” The source of preservation for some comes at the cost of extinguishing the lives of others. The violence-narratives of cyclical familial trauma creates a tension of permanence and retreat from that permanence to an earlier state is not what makes us whole but is derivative of sequestered lies and intoxicated moments of release.
Relinquishing the soul to a violence of permanence of mind only contributes to these obstacles of ontological boundaries. We remain detached, consumed by consumer culture, and restive in the elapsed disparity of frank and normative concerns. Without an eclipse of these boundaries, the presence of mind to migrate past bonds of freedom will forever elude us. Years ago, when I was a student of psychology, I suggested to a professor that the field had reached an eclipse and had begun its descent into the forward motion of understanding and advanced treatment. I was young and hopeful. Full of ideas and insight suggesting to myself the pluralism I foresaw was also realized by others, projecting my positive, divergent thinking into a mold of passable standards. Of course, I was shot down by that professor. Corrected and confronted. The reality is, though we may seem to be following the natural progression of thought, the world does not see or understand how we as individuals attain insights, though shared or divided. During the labors of freedom, we must not be afraid to articulate, communicate, express our visions with clarity and actuating attention.
Collective society blames violence on survivors, mitigated or eschewed, that results in a real expressed similitude in the behavior and frame of thought for those who have been “liberated.” Many adults who were abused as children continue to care for those who abused them in old age or illness, “in extreme cases continue to submit to their sexual demands” (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Herman 2015, 112).
Children have no voice in the public arena, no voting bloc in electoral politics, and no powerful moneyed interest group to advocate on their behalf. Young mothers are almost as voiceless. Though preventive interventions serving high-risk mothers and children would be relatively inexpensive to implement and would pay for themselves many times over in the long term, most politicians’ budgetary vision does not extend past the next election cycle. We are left, therefore, to pick up the pieces later on, when survivors turn to mental health professionals for help. (Herman 2015, 266)
While we, on the one hand, give voice to the voiceless as though to pronounce the language they are not present to articulate, it is not that survivors have nothing to say for themselves. Expressed or not, they have their own experiences to speak from and we must not presume to be so present we are entitled to speak over them. Acting on their behalf when they are not able to is a reasonable place to start, but we must not imitate those who would rob their power. It is far easier to morph from advocate to gross adjudicator than many who are not survivors realize.
We live in dual realities between what we know is true and what should be true. If we were actual diligent stewards of each other, of the people, conflict resolution studies would be integrated in our public schools’ curriculum. Leadership and discipline would be values also taught at a young age and not for the advantaged who, often, are either trained from fortitude or from the most unexpected courses of life. We have now rich enough liberal arts institutions to inform and educate our youngest minds and this should never be sacrificed, no matter the immediacy and importance of STEM education. Just to give an example of our diligence gone wrong, I once met a biologist with a good career working in a lab. Upon inquiring about my education, she asked me to explain what the term “liberal arts” means. This further lead her to ask me what the word “humanities” means. If this is the result of our hyper-STEM educational model, imagine what critical thinking skills are lacking in corporate boardrooms or among the political elite. Science deprived of the humanities is not progressive or emblematic of the hope it strives to represent for the future. It is not creative, and it will stall in its problem-solving potentiality.
A key labor of freedom is to transition from a civilization of self-actualization to an encampment of another actualization. When the externality of the bare minimum is dominant, as though a structural foundation on training wheels, it means – optimistically – there is room to grow and fulfill our dimensions of otherness and otherhood. There is no shape of the planet without our circular interests. The human-reciprocity principles to and subjected to structural disorder and the similitude of simultaneous individualistic determinism paired with universalist projectionism demonstrate that the current state of othering reaches into a forced negation of humanness and the divine in each other-self. The fall of humanity and the perversion of our habits are upheld as instructive towards individual realization at the cost of nurtured growth towards sharing a beneficial circular interest that heals each wound that binds us as well as the planet’s finite resources.
Law enforcement, the state of institutional public education, political doctrine, capitalist interdependency, all demonstrate the fabric of bare minimum of fostering social growth. They are as though we are projecting into social order what we know are necessities, but we do so with one blind eye and barely visible sight in the other eye, impaired by our slow – through historically evolving – ideas of living with other and living while self-shaping. This precludes a more natural and nuanced selfhood, sainthood, otherhood, and base understanding of the necessary reciprocal involvement of living towards the great labors of freedoms that determine our evolution towards sustainability and human rights of difference and embrace of othered personal architecture. Conflict resolution begins with the other. We are taught, with a contemporary allegiance, that it begins with ourselves. Through the process of obtaining forgiveness from others we can begin to mend and reshape the balance of the self and how we fit into the stars and cooperative society.
Nuclear religiosity is ostensibly a doctrine defeating the interest of the other through the contexts and narratives of family. Feminist geographers draw attention to the potential dubiousness of understanding family in these contexts, which enforce rigid social limitations and preserve neoliberal altercations against marginalized groups. “To understand family, then, requires emplacing these relationships in context, and recognising that despite their vulnerability to spatial and temporal variations, family in the everyday and everyday families occupy much of our time and concern” according to Anna Tarrant and Sarah Marie Hall in their article, “Everyday geographies of family: feminist approaches and interdisciplinary conversations” (Gender, Place & Culture 2019, 2). There is a great dismissal of the diversity of familial contexts and superstructures while, at the same time, demanding our resources to fall at the behest of family dependence, from free support and caregiving systems to overt exploitation and demands of economic and emotional diligence.
[W]here neoliberal state restructuring in the North has led to the responsibilisation of individuals who are increasingly expected to provide social support [,in] the global south […] processes of labour migration, military conflict and occupation, and displacement have forced the reworking of family life for those in the majority world across longer distances. (Tarrant and Hall 2019, 6)
These distances that are imposed on migrant families from both forced relocation and state policy and are largely absent of strong social support outside those groups which simultaneously emphasize family has the basic unit of humanity. The form of nuclear religiosity habituates paternalistic recourse to maintain the appearance of fixed standards of privilege and inequality as dominant straight-worth of life. To conceal the elasticity of family and reframe a narrative of oppression as a metalogical truth reveals a labor of freedom of the need of teshuva from the dominating class.
A May 2019 report from NPR, “Extending ‘Zero Tolerance’ to People Who Help Migrants Along the Border,” discusses the suppression of migrants in the U.S. and the structured opposition to even assist migrants through the simplest offerings of humane treatment. Professor Scott Warren faced a possible 20-year prison term for his involvement with No Mas Muertes, which provides water and food by leaving these necessities in the desert for migrants to find. In another case, Teresa Tod faced charges because she stopped to assist a dying migrant after she was flagged down while driving by the dying woman’s traveling companion. The woman’s life was saved only thanks to the fact that Todd stopped to help, but because the migrants entered her vehicle Todd was charged with human trafficking. Again, these greater distances of family re-stabilization and return to an extreme religiosity of familial mores by the state indoctrinates social impasses with ideas of delinquency and stunted recourse on the road traveled to the sacred hope for dignity and rest.
The poverty of violence. The violence of poverty. We are wells to our own indifference in the gulf of matrimonial expectations. Though we await the bride, we seek new order in the lesser self of complacency of norms and retreat from our souls to a mitigation of reclusive burdens. Though conflict resolution studies bare basic requirements for self-involved reiteration of othered promises, they become a hope of obsolescence in the dormitory of lesser involved humanities through a proprietary exposition of the sciences of humanity.
Marie McCormick’s article, “Through a Different Lens: The Social Sanctioning of Family Violence,” (Journal of Policy Practice, 2007) lays out the status of social distillation of familial retreat from humane principles,
Society’s ambivalence toward violence in the family is apparent in the various definitions and interpretations of battering and abuse including, physical aggression toward a child or intimate partner, corporal punishment, harsh parenting, non-accidental physical injury, assault, and crimes against women (Ateah & Durant, 2005; Rothenberg, 2002). Based on these definitions, violence in the family has been viewed as the result of individual pathology, moral failure, lack of internal control or as a crime (Worden & Carlson, 2005; Erickson, 2000). (2007, 46)
The division of responsibility is seen as independent from policy reform and in that is the strength of violence principles, that we will propagate a self-sustaining functionality of violence in place, rather despite, intervention programs that heal and nurture families and communities out of the doorstops of violence behavior. As McCormick notes, even the maintained belief of the cause of poverty is seen to be the result of “individual failure rather than as the result of failed social policies that deplete families and communities of financial resources, educational opportunities, adequate healthcare and basic safety (2007, 49). The rudimentary structure of violence, if we carry to Walter Benjamin’s view of the marriage of state lawmaking power and the execution of violence, is oblique to a window of modern statehood and the political science of violence structuralism in all its mythmaking propensities and doubt deriving dualistic culture planting.
However, violence is not neutral or natural like a law out of favor with intellectual rigor. It is a learned trait and a characteristic that is taught repeatedly with infamy in unstill mires of persuasion. Josephine A. V. Allen illustrates that degrees of violence are more derelict than impending physical harm, stating,
This definition of violence includes harm that is socially sanctioned and avoidable actions that violate one or more human rights or prevent the fulfillment of a basic human need. Violence is seen to occur in three ways: through (1) omission, failing to provide assistance to people in need, (2) as a result of repression, or a violation of civil, political, economic and/or social rights, or through (3) alienation, or severely limiting people’s emotional, cultural, or intellectual growth (Dasgupta, 1968). (2001, 48)
Allen correlates, in her article, “Poverty as a Form of Violence,” that violence and poverty, contended as collaborative with the above centered understanding of violence, means that “poverty may now be defined as any act or condition that causes injury to the health and well-being of others” (2001, 48). The many doctrinalized re-institutionalizations of the religio-ethics of poverty have yet to cease the fluctuations of its boundaries. Hashem’s primacy and established law, that “He who gives to the poor with not be in want, but he who shuts his eyes will be roundly cursed,” (Proverbs 28:27) does not shun the practice of poverty as a crime against humanity that it is, as the violence of the Ur(text) denomination of justice.
We are double-binded and double-blinded to the propensity of our will to exact a proclaimed justice that fights rather than unites, that scratches pearls for the sake of lost marriages that were intended to be so pure and defined by the laws of love that elevate life towards its higher course. Instead, we have the encumbrance of violence as its own ends and its own demeaning of definition of the livelihood of the saints. Where is this demotion located in the spatial grid of defined values? Where are we taught to understand God’s presence and seek out quarters of docile strangers, always loved in earnest and in the aid of our transparency? We are not transparent. We are doubled, each of us, in the effort of confuse our stead towards self-definition and the intent of our hearts to do good to others. Our hearts were robbed as children and as a substitute we created a second self, a second soul. One that elongates the passage in time along with us, on the way to restore our immediate presence in the wedding hour we so lost as established time and meter. This second soul does hot haunt us or cause us an extenuation of mercy, no. Instead, we live below the barriers of heartened and derided judgment, ever-so graceful to the shekinah doorpost or the miserable displacement in time, were we have honor and not rejection of others, which is a more elaborate measure of the rejection of ourselves. Statehood is ontological terrorism.
Normalcy is what is being rejected, not progressive entry. The need to establish a new language and new criteria for identifying and communicating the most urgent issues of our time is becoming increasingly apparent. Presently, the most common and most effective mode for framing these issues is in terms of globalism, globalization, and global studies. However, framing issues in these terms is problematic since the emphasis is being placed on openness, opportunities, and our ability to construct the future in terms of our goals, values and hopes. Yet, it is becoming undeniable that the future will be characterized less by openness and opportunities but by limitations resulting from the fact that the Earth is a closed and finite system, e.g., considering the continuous expansion of the world’s population, the depletion of natural resources, accumulating waste, and impending energy problems, to name just the most obvious cases.
During the 1930s, broadcasters became increasingly aware of their domestic audience. As David Cardiff has noted, they realized they needed to be ‘conversational’ rather than ‘declamatory’ and ‘intimate rather than intimidating.” In consequence, they attempted to emulate the language of domestic space. Indeed, as Kate Lacey has shown, “as radio matured, it become more familiar in address…the prevailing atmosphere of a public meeting was gradually replaced by the consciously studied informality befitting the familiar setting” (Space, Place and Gendered Identities: Feminist History and the Spatial Turn, eds. Beebe, Davis, and Gleadle, 2015).
If, reading from the interpretive gaze of Walter Benjamin and Luce Irigaray, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is an early foray into woman’s early, structured cognitive foray into space and place in a manner that suits the metaphoric realization of this project. However, that is not without many caveats of early entry into this subject matter. Certainly, Zora Neale Hurston’s literary anthropological sensitivities are accumulated into the fold. Space and Place is functionally a wide, vast, and realized permutation of lived reality that can be altered to transfix the subset of masculine architecture that denotes, deconstructs, and demonstrates resisting folds in the space time of lived reality that must be countered to utilize the very inclination of space and place into a palace of reformed society through a feminist lens.
Both organized and scholarly feminism has matured over the years, leading to a consequence of intimate inclusivity that comes closer to perfecting the end-goal of protecting those very women the ideas sought to lift. Additionally, the idea of transformation has developed in tide and step with this accumulation distribution in the stock of dignity and transgressive peoplehood towards the end of resisting the violence of law and becoming a restorative emblem for the seeds of registered feminine counterweights to masculine architectures.
In Ruth Salvaggio’s article, “Theory and Space, Space and Women,” (1988) she offers descriptive direction to the tone and maneuverability of her directive thesis in the gaze of literary theory, stating,
[M]y approach is historical, because I navigate through a time period that eventually leads to what Showalter calls “Women’s Time,” that is, roughly the last fifteen years of feminist criticism. But I will also be navigating my way through spaces that cannot be measured in historical terms, what Showalter has in mind when she describes the largely French feminist exploration of “Women’s Space” as “the space of the Other, the gaps, silences, and absences of discourse and representation, to which the feminine has traditionally been relegated” […]. It is through this Other space, I believe, that women are breaking with both traditional and postmodern concepts of space. (262)
In a thorough survey of the review of feminism and space and place, despite strides to the contrary, the firm reality is that there is an aspect that “cannot be measured in historical terms.” The traces of adamant neglect of women and women’s best interest, well-being, and security in the lived reality of Western and global affairs demonstrates how dire these directive studies must be placed into an approach of being manifest towards a lived reality. Since the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) where, in that time, it was firmly declared that a world with women in leadership leads to a world at peace, there has been set back after disastrous set back. What space and place, human geography (and feminist geography), post-modernist philosophy, and feminist studies can offer is an interdisciplinary magnifying lens into the holistic treatment of social degradation that continues to assert goals against our own self-interests.
If validation is the contemporary ethos of feminist teaching, then reform and re-testification are allies in the (re)domesticated workspace of elucidation and reification towards the goal of multi-pluralistic landings of peace and restoration of a transfixed public space. To cite my other project, “Socio-ontological denominationalism, which are groups within groups, functionary projections of the mind’s executive functioning bringing order to the external world are soliloquies of fostered detention of identity. Between the state, the external public sphere of coercion, this lament carries into the private sphere latent threat centers,” bringing into the fold all manners of elected and well-placed resistance to progressive change, or, as some would phrase it, the normalcy of women’s place in a collective society. Normalcy is what is being rejected, not progressive entry, but the hope of equality. It is capitalism that is a dormant place, bringing any adequate study of space and place into conflict with the sought goal of collective best-interest. A feminist rendering of these measurements of time, collectivity, and social welfare also adjudicate a spendthrift moralism that wakes in the honor of even the slightest suggestion that we be stamped with the same sisterhood, the same brotherhood, or non-binary disposition that starts a conversation, rather than be forced into inclusion.
Sandrina de Finney writes in her essay, “Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigeneous Girls’ Presencing as Decolonizing Force,” (Mitchell and Rentschler, eds. Girlhood and the Politics of Place) that “[a]s a disruptive practice, I look for counternormative conceptual frameworks that offer openings to rethink trauma in our work with Indigenous girls. One such framework is Leanne Simpson’s notion that acts of presence are integral to Indigenous resurgence. Simpson emphasizes that decolonization involves understanding and generating meaning ‘through engagement, presence, and process.’ She asserts that ‘Indigenous societies were societies of presence. Our processes – be they political, spiritual, education or healing – required a higher degree of presence than modern colonial existence’” (2016, 21-22). Through community and the giving presence of the community’s wide stance on demarcating modes of obstruction come “engagement and visibility” (2016, 22). Through community comes resurgence and through that, “girls’ everyday act of presence” (2016, 22). Presence is an act that counters normative weights that seek to subdue or act as tranquilizers of peaceful negotiation to one’s lifeforce.
There are those who feel that “presencing” requires more formal redress, such as theology that counters exploitation and dominant histories. Robert Warrior, in his article, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians,” commented on the work of some activist Christians to aid Indigenous communities in developing a religio-magnified praxis, but notes, “Liberals and conservatives alike have too often surveyed the conditions of Native Americans and decided to come to the rescue, always using their methods, their ideas, and their programs. The idea that Indians might know best how to address their own problems seemingly lost on these well-meaning folks” (1989, 2). That an introductory narrative might still need to be established gives insight in the continuous othering by even those that promote seeking an assisting role. The space they provide is not merely inclusion, but an insertive, including us, too.
Alicia Arrizon, in her article, “Mythical Performativity: Relocating Aztlan in Chicana Feminist Cultural Productions,” (2000) associates ideas and space with performative standing, stating,
The term “Aztlán” redefines space. Its discursive configurations, ranging from ancient mythology to land annexation, are engaged repeatedly in Chicano cultural studies and Chicana feminist practices. From the “manifesto” of the nationalist Chicano movement to the radical feminist perspectives in Cherríe Moraga’s queer configurations of space and bodies, the genealogy of Aztlán affects cultural identity, shaping the ongoing modifications—and sometimes, commodifications—of the collectivity. According to myth, Aztlán is the ancestral homeland in the north that the Aztecs left in 1168 when they journeyed southward to found the promised land, Tenochtitlán (Mexico City), in 1325. (2000, 23)
Whether the chemistry of progressive whites to aid with their self-identified superior resources or the magnitude of El Plan de Aztlán at the first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in Denver in 1969, “presencing” requires far fewer resources or organized, instructive methods. There is a statement adopted by the disabled community, “my existence is resistance.” The space of the body is the space of mind that permits and instructs deciphered coalesced insights that weaken kingdoms, i.e., colonial empires. That being said. It is not without organization in any capacity that instructs the next generation to displace learned reasoning of conceding compromises. The insistence from Robert Warrior that the Exodus model is worth being emulated, constructive insights are only insights. Thoughts that are intended to strengthen critical thinking, even ill-formed, white-centered permutations, do just that (as it is often discovered), inspire a cacophony of ideas that are naturally selected, sorted, and reasoned out. Often in such a way that some elders will hear the sound reason of child’s request and relay an often-repeated colloquialism, “out of the mouth of babes.” “Presencing” is the identification of a social unit’s natural way of healing as well as its instinctive identification of that which seems to impose a pre-manufactured order.
Such an imposed order comes from location. Steve Pile is suggesting, again, in his text, The Body and the City: Psychoanalysis, Space, and Subjectivity, that psychoanalytical frameworks have been present in treatments of space and place from the onset, and no doubt this returns us to an ever more accessible location of “Leanne Simpson’s notion that acts of presence are integral to Indigenous resurgence” (to return to Sandrina de Finney cited above). Recording, writing, stenciling children’s insights into the width of colonial influence on their everyday lives is not really without an aspect of a practice of the very psychoanalysis of space that Pile is referring to.
At the time of the book’s publication, 1996, Pile stated that psychoanalysis was a “marginal” resource for geographers (61). With strides in interdisciplinarity, that has certainly become less so and though arguably Neo-Freudian, Pile is not without a similitude of the structuralism of Jung that so many post-modernists found influencing win with. At the very least, Pile’s constructs points to another field, that of developmental psychology, as being an even more obvious candidate for a marriage with humanist, feminist geography. The geography of de Finney, citing quotes from children as a merit of space and place is not without the implications of an assumed background in developmental psychology, though that does not make the practice whole. To immerse ourselves not only in “what is benefitted by” but also “what benefits” serves to take the most obvious indicators of space and place and developmental psychology towards a progressive dire praxis where the concept of the universal can at the least have some neighboring constituents towards what needs have to be met for sustained progress of societal and inclusive networks of ontological abode.
I believe the only English translation of French feminist, Claudine Hermann’s short essay, “Women in Space and Time” can be found in the text, New French Feminisms: An Anthology (eds Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron). Hermann is concerned with the “hierarchical function of space” and degrees of power and (place)ment (1980, 169). Hermann is aware of the potential violence of space and imbues that violence comes from a lived allegory or social order; an order not intended for her space, or her recline. She used images of a professor or a lawyer as separating spaces:
In length, width, and height, order is established by division, the disposition of space for man is above all an image of power, the maximum power being attained when one can dispose of the space of others[.] (1980, 169)
Hermann agrees with Walter Benjamin that violence is law and law is violence. Claudine Hermann indeed sees self-replication in the status of power and a dominating intruder onto the will of others. Hermann is concerned with the forced conformity that power of status brings into other people’s spaces, stating, the “space of the mind is divided according to rules governing physical space: everyone must conform or risk a social sanction ranging from social scorn to exclusion from the group, pure and simple” (1980, 169). Hermann sees an emblematic order from power into bred social strategy. She states that men enjoy a “full space” while women contend with “empty space” (1980, 169). For Hermann, maneuverability is directly tied to cognitive (re)placement with the tides of power structures built into the solemn societal squares of time.
There is no difference between intellectualism and fantasy, perhaps, as far as their component structures. We can say biology exists. This we know for certain. If that is the case, then philosophy and biology are the same and function under the same guiding rules. That is, if philosophy exists. If is it true, then it is the same as biology and intertwined within the organic structures. If philosophy exists, they are all part of the same machinations. This again returns us to what I have stated previously that:
Violence is not inevitable. Biolence, which I intend to roughly mean those human, animal, biological motivations towards aggression as nature indicates intellectual potential to overcome in human-trusted mechanical biolence against the opposition of an untrustworthy superficial biolence that can easily be understood as something that can be done away with. As we work towards a more perfect society, we cannot do so without an understanding of violence as a reality to be overcome. Without an understanding of violence, we cannot overcome it.
With an understanding of violence, we can move further into understanding philosophy as biology, and in that path, waive the transient guilt of our present selves, into a motivation higher than our structural setbacks and dependent labor. Within the plight of our struggles to understand our own emotive output we can see the cascading ritual of human ambivalence that ties us to continuously carving so-and-so Loves so-and-so into the same tree, just off campus, generation after generation. When we move beyond the guilt of the present self we will escape the harmony of stranger-ness and into the burial rites of the past of human experiences, what we should then rightly call the Old Age.
There are aspects of Claudine Hermann’s short essay, “Women in Space and Time” from, New French Feminisms: An Anthology, eds Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron that may arguably be dated among some feminist circles, citations that are dubious, at least, simplistic under contemporary interdisciplinary study charts, though Herrmann denotes the struggle of feeling forced to ‘catch up’ in her statement, “perhaps, wisdom, would be highly desirable, just as it would be preferable, as we have seen in recent years, to establish a science based on harmony rather than domination” (1980, 173). The message of the essay is aged just enough to reflect the feelings of being subject to tassels, weights and the substandard expectations of social order upon women’s experience of time and place. I would argue for many women those feelings haven’t gone away, nor have those lived experiences. Therefore, the space that Herrmann indicates can be labeled as a legitimate realm of placement of power in masculine authority. In “Feminist Thoery and Economic Geography,” (1994) a review by Andrew Leyshon and the prolific scholar, Liz Bondi, acquaints the reader with the 1994 IBG Conference, put together by the Women and Geography Study Group as well as the Economic Geography Study Group. The session was titled, “Feminist Theory and Economic Restructuring.” Many of the speakers worked to argue that the economic exploitation of women and women’s labor in new capitalist functions highlights that a holistic insightful needs to give a strictly economic outlook a second review. Women’s work was changing, as it continues to change, and masculinarity, with its advantages of being able to forfeit domestic duties to his partner, warrants the need to review the economics of humanistic geography through a feminist lens. Increasing privatization paired with the largest increase of women’s work then coming out of the public sector created an economic climate of greater insecurity (Leyshon and Bondi, 1994). Humanist geography, feminist geography, and radical geography properly draw their lineage to the 1960s. Certainly, with the English translation of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space in 1964, new possibilities, new avenues, new spaces became available where before were vacant trigonometry of resistance to moral restitution.
Naturally, too, the doorknob could hardly be drawn in scale with the house, its function taking precedence over any question of size. For it expresses the function of opening, and only a logical mind could object that it is used to close as well as open the door. In the domain of values, whereas the door-knob opens more often than it closes. And the gesture of closing is always sharper, firmer and briefer than that of opening. (1964, 1994, 73) – The Poetics of Space, from the chapter, “House and Universe”
Rightly placed, emblems of feminist geography can properly be traced to First Wave feminism and the accompanying deconstruction of women’s work and “women’s space.” There is a serene sense of a mechanical duplication in the natural reproduction of the slow, but evident progress into applied theory being utilized among professionals. Though, of course, economic materialism did indeed and does maintain a stranglehold on a seismic attribution to an explication of human affairs. Susan Stanford Friedman, in her text, Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter, states that with her text-project she intends to “move feminism ‘beyond’ theorizing difference to theorizing the spaces in between difference” (1998, 68). Friedman humbly proclaims that her work in not the first to move towards these analyses from various fields and the feminist subgroups within those various disciplines but puts forwards that these movements “constitute a new geography of movement of intercultural contact within the context of shifting power relations” (1998, 68). Friedman further states,
The explanatory power for feminism of this migratory geography of borders moves simultaneously in two directions: the descriptive, delineating networks of existing syncretism (positive and negative) in everyday life; and the utopic, forging pathways of possible connection, affiliation, and reconciliation. (1998, 68)
Stationary assemblages of difference and power seems unlikely to have ever been the case. The only way feminist expositions of power and influence would not make their mark, through conferences or streetware bases is through totalitarian oppression that stymie intellectual, interpersonal, and prosperous growth. Of course, the problem not being resolved is that the introduction of feminist thinking into masculine or economic spheres is only a step towards alleviation from post-totalitarian, consumer mandated applied political science of neoliberal disposal and the accompanying suffering of millions of people.
Like Gaston Bachelard’s doorknobs, so acutely observed through a behavioral discourse, the poetry of motions towards feminist dialects can bring a seismic shift away from power-sharing masculinarity, but much like the Seneca Falls Convention, articulation without application delineates the proscribed choice of freedoms. Without the basket in hand of the acquired rewards for lived potential and labors of choice, difference multiplies. Feminist theory intertwined with geography more aptly names those barriers that we may, hopefully, postulate on the weaknesses of masculinarity so as to (re)tame its imposing configurations. Naming is not without its religio-psychology. The cultural indices of naming allow both the one doing the articulating and the one living the freedoms being ascribed to meet the potential for a free-form tomorrow where “[n]aturally, too, the doorknob could hardly be drawn in scale with the house” and the universal meets the interpersonal.
Indeed, narratology is a distinct indicator of the fermenting truculent ontological struggle between reality and form; expression and indicators of recess of being. In Albert Murray’s celebrated work, The Hero and the Blues, he comments that “the writer who deals with the experience of oppression in terms of the dynamics of antagonistic cooperation works in a context which includes the whole range of human motivation and possibility” (1995, first published in 1973, 49). What is the “whole range of human motivation and possibility” other than an ontological recovery from crisis, to fermentation, to resolve through spatial difference. That which is figurative is wholly doctrinal. That which is doctrinal, through literary means, incites characterization into sublimity. That which is sublime is easily cross-referenced into an ontological discourse and is a production of space and place.
This production of space and place is inherent representations of reality as intersectional. Sharlene Mollett and Caroline Faria, in their Gender, Place, and Culture article, “The spatialities of intersectional thinking: fashioning feminist geographic futures” (2018) put forward that, “intersectionality was, at its inception, already a deeply spatial theoretical concept, process and epistemology, particularly when read through careful and serious engagement with Black Feminist Thought. In short, the interlocking violence of racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism constitute a spatial formation” (2018, 2). How does this reify an author’s deliberative representations in the context of feminist struggles in art as collaborative with reality? Mollett and Faria continue, and this is a very important point,
The entire framework…must be rethought and recast’ (Crenshaw 1989, 140; Moraga and Anzaldúa 2015). Writing more recently, scholars argue that intersectionality serves as ‘analytic sensibility’ (Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall 2013). An analysis is not simply intersectional by employing the term, rather it ‘is the adoption of an intersectional way of thinking about the problem of sameness and difference and its relation to power […]’, making the point that it is ‘what intersectionality does, rather than what intersectionality is’ (Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall 2013, 795). (2018, 3)
The codex of analytic discussion is a process of discovery for the reader. It is narrative empathy to inquire towards both the deleterious direction and the entirety of one’s own representation of reality in a collaborative effort with the literary formations on the page. The word catharsis is not apt, but an extension of that working body of idealization in the term would be adroit. The author’s or critic’s representation of reality as an intersectional mode of direction towards a cartography of “analytic sensibility” codifies the indicators of education and praxis as motivations of direction. In that, we find a liberation of a thought through an ontological rhythm that has the potential to withstand and extend an invitation to a measurement of reality that the author or critic seeks to clarity. The emphasis on spatiality is a trajectory more than a concluding end and its shape is that which escapes relations to power in how it defines one’s ability to stand above it, identify, and name systematic power for the future.