Friday, March 14, 2008

It's not Chicken

A thread on Marxmail reminded me Freud’s definition of myths as "distorted vestiges of the wishful fantasies of whole nations, the secular dreams of youthful humanity". Like Marx criticizes the German idealist for not grasping the "connection of German philosophy with German reality", Freud criticizes previous approaches to dream interpretation for not recognizing dream as a psychic activity and not comprehending its relation with material physical life.

A hilarious thing occurred today when I suddenly entered the next room where my brother and his friend were watching TV. At the moment of my entrance, glancing at me with an expression of uneasiness my brother said: "Let's switch the channel, he could make comment!" Presumably they were watching a political debate ridden with myths of Turkish nationalism about the recent incursion to Northern Iraq. And I felt myself like commercials disturbing the enjoyment to participate the ideological sleep:

"Sleep is a condition in which I wish to have nothing to do with the external world, and have withdrawn my interest from it. I put myself to sleep by withdrawing myself from the external world and by holding off its stimuli. I also go to sleep when I am fatigued by the external world. Thus, by going to sleep, I say to the external world, "Leave me in peace, for I wish to sleep." Conversely, the child says, "I won't go to bed yet, I am not tired, I want to have some more fun." The biological intention of sleep thus seems to be recuperation; its psychological character, the suspension of interest in the external world. Our relation to the world into which we came so unwillingly, seems to include the fact that we cannot endure it without interruption." (Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis)

I was the objective external stimuli that incites the dream, "the guardian of sleep". Then I quickly left the room.

Lately, I assumed that I am going mad since I've begun to detect a continuous ideological message in the regular language of mainstream Turkish media. It is extremely annoying to the extent that it is unbearable for me to watch TV or read newspapers except sports news. I was undergoing an ideological abuse looking for an excuse to state that "The sun is not yellow it's chicken". But I realized that my madness is not because I do perceive a thing that doesn't exist. I am accurately detecting the occurrences of the coarse ideological massages. But I am not capable to internalize it, or recognize it as a routine expression of everyday language, or receive the message in its original form, or entrench the massage in my perception without turning it inside out. When I run across the ideological message, I typically point out the sun and cry out: "Here! It is yellow and it is not chicken". Therefore I am mad.

We can combine Freud’ two definitions: Myths are the disguised fulfillments of the social wishes that serve individual to preserve his or her sanity by participating in social insanity. I can't conserve my sanity as long as I am not capable to participate:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
What if I've come here accidentally?
Comrade Renegade Eye wrote:

“If the masses wake up, you'll have a different outlook.

At least when you go into a dream state, you do it armed with probably more insight than you desire.”


Hello Ren,

I don’t think masses are in a state of continuous ideological sleep. The paradoxical absurdity in Alice’s situation is she is unaware of the actuality that she is dreaming. But other characters of the Wonderland are conscious that they are the ingredients of a dream. Actually, Cheshire Cat says Alice: “If you are not mad, why are you dreaming about me?

Marx elucidates his thoughts on mythology at the end of the first chapter of Grundrisse:

“From another side: is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or the Iliad with the printing press, not to mention the printing machine? Do not the song and the saga and the muse necessarily come to an end with the printer’s bar, hence do not the necessary conditions of epic poetry vanish?”

There is a significant similarity in both Freud’s and Marx’s approaches to Mythology. They both regard it as wishful fantasies that rise above the infantile stage of development of societies.

We are aspiring after a world, a higher stage in the development of society, in which humankind are able to endure the external life without interruption.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t manage to sleep nowadays (literally). It is not for that I’ve overcome the alienation from external life, but the stimuli of external life are so powerful that it doesn’t allow me to sleep. This the perfect condition of a revolution.


Renegade Eye said...

If the masses wake up, you'll have a different outlook.

Atleast when you go into a dream state, you do it armed with probably more insight than you desire.

susanchap21 said...

I have recently been looking into dreaming and what it means. I found a very interesting video about dreaming and its connection to the psyche Remembering and Interpreting Dreams on YouTube. Thank you for a very interesting post. I am going to need to read it again.

Renegade Eye said...

The same process is happening in the USA. I think ideology (false consciousness) that would work, even a few years ago, is being challenged. Unfortunately the opposition is still in the confines of the US two party system.