You are viewing hegels_bagels

Previous 10

Mar. 22nd, 2010

On the Immaculate Conception of the Historical Smart-Cunt

Our purpose is to deconstruct the timeline of Scottish History as a means of providing the theoretical tools necessary to craft a radical gaze which sensationally reveals its appalling transparency. One thing stands resolute in face of our deconstruction of all that went before, the muted silence of the proletariat within this privileged discourse. It is true, forsooth, that the ebb and flow of intellectual chic has lent itself to increased visibility. The aspiring smart-cunt’s self-absolving decision to shoulder the cross of speaking for the proletariat masks the damage wrought to their epistemic standpoint by years of jumping through hoops and barking on command. Such is the libidinal-epistemic baggage accumulated by centuries of thoughtless emulation, of mere description and of the privileged idolatry which has been long festering within successive generations of immaculately conceived historical smart-cunts.

The Scottish Proletariat have been the unwitting target of historical vulgarization despite their being the most ardent and loyal supporters of the smart-cunt ideal of Scotia. Historians furrow their brows and knead their beady eyes in faux-abjection at the countless losses inflicted upon the Down-and-Outs in Bathgate during the Great War[s] yet they lack the self-reflexivity necessary to be able gaze upon the cruel abnegation of the demobilized pals [sic] battalions. These losses were either the virginal lamb sacrificed at the altar of capital or a tragic accident with no outstanding reason other than rotten luck and/or poor timing. Big Dougie’s genocide of the Proletariat is beyond compare in terms of ruthless modern efficiency and subsequent ideological un/veiling. So they wear poppies with pride, all the while ignorant of the paradoxical referent[s] pinned upon their breast; the pissing on the Passchendaele dead combined with the upkeep of an opulent stately home overlooking the Forth Estuary. Every Winter the Haig dynasty wrings its hands in greedy anticipation at the kind donations made by an unwitting Josie Public.

It is not enough for Billy Bourgeois that Jimmy fi’ Drylaw [ya cunt] uncritically infuses his wiry frame with the indelible totems of diktat heritage thereby sealing his thraldom to noble elites. It is not enough that Jimmy, by virtue of his ardent morality, would lay down kith and kin for the petite ideal of Bonnie Caledonia. For overlong we have allowed this exclusive clique of white Scots[men] to impregnate our vulnerable psyche with the most frightful tales of descriptive emulation all whilst they obtain jouissance in oak-clad reading rooms at our heedless regurgitation and embodied veneration of their self-indulgent facts. These facts [sic] have no application out-with the institutional matrix which successively reproduces their in/validity. They are not accepted as fact out-with a rigorously policed discourse which takes a vested [though not necessarily objective] interest in the discursive regulation of fact.

We must now anticipate the apologist argument [in true paranoiac smart-cunt style]. With broad brushstrokes we have described the conditions of possibility ascribed to all institutional narratives and have outlined a hollow tautology [e.g. facts about Thatcherism are neither equivalent nor analogous to facts about Hapsburg intermarriage] masquerading as critical insight [an epistemic rupture between academic theory and material reality] which is far from earth-shattering. So then we have [seemingly] taken a fact [sic] out of context and like the small child we have placed a square block in the round w/hole. It appears we require the maternal embrace of Scottish History to reassure our paranoiac-anxiety and to take the square block out of our hands, showing us it fits in the square w/hole and not into the round w/hole. It is through the metaphorical act of gazing upon m/other’s placing of the square block into the square w/hole that we obtain our sense of the Big I-Am. It is through seeing the mirrored reflection of vicarious jouissance in the gaze of m/other and desiring, craving that gleaming spark of loving recognition in h/er gaze that we learn to become clever little smart-cunts who mind our P’s and Q’s. We are becoming the ultimate arbiters and watchful gatekeepers over our own self-castigating thraldom to the omnipresent gaze of surrogate m/other. Heaven forbid the poor child who persists in the delusion that the square block does indeed fit into the round w/hole. Like our irregular comrades, these silly children become damaged unlovable rouges indelibly branded with the [institutional] mark of Cain the slayer [of un/reason]. The child incurs the displaced abjection of m/other. The child will never be a smart-cunt.

We ought to look closely at those we dis/trust to reproduce our collective heritage since it is their petite insecurities and un-cathected wet dreams which we uncritically venerate as fact. This necessarily begs the question: What of the Historian and what of their facts? The Historian is a petite of the lowest order with obvious libidinal investments in the reproduction of Scotland. [His] discursive positions [how he perceives his space, race, times etc] are [though not always for reasons outlined below] informed by [his] research interests. The Historian uses [his] research as an exercise in self-indulgent jouissance. Such is the case of The Rural Historian whom vicariously [and guiltily] longs to the point of melancholic grief over the loss of [his] maternal-feudal [childhood] jouissance through groundbreaking [sic] work on crop rotation in West Highland settlements under Donald Dubh c.1540: Such is the case of the Catholic educated Historian whom self-deprecates all over [his] fealty to Protestant ritualism within Bigtown University through subliminal work into the righteousness of the Stuart Pretender. He imagines his-self as a Crusader. A desk-bound Richard the Lionheart.

Leaving aside the peculiar psychoanalytics of the Historical smart-cunt for another day, we see [he] is in fact a haunted figure beset by intangible distance from that which is Actually happening as well as that which may very well Probably happen. In face of these seemingly hostile threats to [his] ego-unity, which [he] sees every-where and no-where, the historian busies [himself] with total description [an archaeology of all known facts extant within a temporal space], or/and petty quibbling about this or that niche sub-field [i.e. crop rotation under Donald Dubh]. It is worth bearing in mind we keep a further avenue in reserve for the time being viz. the amateur historian. This subliminal standpoint is at sixes and sevens with itself hence its flagrant disregard for empirical validity and consequent suppression of out/with-with/out critique. We demand the reader shudder in orgasmic jouissance over whether one Scottish Merk equated to either two-thirds or one-fifth of an English Pound Sterling in 1613.

Of course, the [imagined] apologist will hasten to amend the above proposition by privilege-wanking over the petite ideals of unfettered scholarship and so-called enlightenment. This is their pathetic attempt at excusing their comfortable life @IKEA; a life supported by academic wage slavery. The materialist will ask: Does whether the relative [speculative] values of a long dead currency merit investment of labour and capital? The reactive fancy of the petite mouths a resounding YES! Scholarship should be pursued free of fetter and irrespective of perceived utility. Their arguments [as we have seen] mask privilege since we are to assume nary a historian has ever been tempted to coquette with the seductive Medusa of ideology and that scholarship is self-dis/interested. Pish.

A fact is discovered, be it a piece of pottery or an ecclesiastical document attesting to the chastity of Margaret of Norway, it is gazed at, longingly, lovingly, until eventually [by any means necessary] it marches to the monotone drum-beat of teleology [see below]. Every fact has its place; every place has a fact. This place is Divine and the fact is an esoteric force imbued with Holy power. We are certain Fergus Mor was the first King of Scots to the extent we canonize the fact and rebuke those who speak their vile heresy against it; indeed, very little distinguishes the burning of heretics at the stake and the imposed institutional abjection forced upon children who must persist in putting that fucking square block in that bastard round hole. The child [likewise the heretic] must be ritually exorcised and clinically eviscerated by The Professionals. It must be normalized at all costs. M/other has failed the child. It must find a surrogate institutional m/other.

Historical facts are devoid of meaning outwith the policed boundaries of the discourse that gave birth to them. This much is clear yet it still gets us no further than the epistemic standpoint we are so eager to rip to shreds. Let us begin anew. Scottish History is the socially constructed residue left behind by successive generations of fact-emulation. So then; very little distinguishes the production of this fact from the production of that fact and it therefore follows that this self/same precept also applies to the intrepid smart-cunt who makes this or indeed that fact. By our harsh standards, however, the historical smart-cunt is less intrepid more insipid. Like all smart-cunts, the Historian is deathly afraid of the m/other superior. The Psychoanalytic-Cixousian His-Story of Scotland merits a self-contained work; for the moment [and in lieu of a proper analysis] we demand the reader name offhand, that is without sneaking a peek at Google, a female Scottish historian, either past or present. Scottish History [it seems] is a privileged discourse and it is certainly not taught to the oiks. Few polytechnics offer more than a couple of embattled academics laboriously plodding through the same 40 hour modules over-and-over until their slides curl at the edges. They are certainly not trusted by the QAA to provide accredited degree courses in History. The facts are elite and are taught to a privileged few charged with their reproduction at work, rest and play.

What follows is an embryonic attempt at outlining the principal features of the Historical episteme. We will then be in a position to see at first hand what makes the fact possible and why it is these facts are little other than descriptive emulations.

NB: History refers to Scottish History. No claims are made about Danish His-Stories and one cares not one jot whether or not you consider this a flat-ontology [sic] with-out validity in your leafy Berkshire Suburb.

Institutionalization:

Scottish History does not adhere to a non-linear trajectory amenable to the Real forces of rupture, motion and volatility. Whilst it may exude the restful appearance of definite certainty and progressive teleology it does not furrow its brow overlong about abject psychic-material conditions in the here-and-now for these are simply the logical developmental markers en-route to some or other delusion of perfectibility. It will be all-right in The End. Such are the investments [entire lives/careers/families depend upon it] in the linear falsehood of painstaking progression toward being all-right in The End that a certain timeline become fixed, de facto, thereby rendering all Probable and Actual critique strictly taboo. The heretofore eccentric gaze of the Scholar melds as one w/hole through the gradual normalization of tertiary curricula which subsequently reproduces a standardized factual gaze. An acrid gaze that applies textbook facts to haunted bodies and demands they submit to the divine edict of the smart-cunt. Critique a pool of facts [The Clearences] within a temporal space [Modern History] and one is hung for treason [try denying the Clearences in a smart-cunt debate]. The reader is moreover dared to adorn an England football shirt whilst taking a vigorous constitution through Broomhouse this FIFA World Cup. The reader will see at first hand the xenophobic paranoia inherent within the dynamic of a third-hand understanding of teleological fact[s].

Emulation:

The historical field is a seductive dance of endless emulation. Once a fact is accommodated into a timeline then Probable debate is meaningless and therefore marginal. The field degenerates into sycophantic and mirrored emulation of itself. There is little point in embellishing the facts. In moments of torrid abjection, however, the historian may invert the episteme so its rancid stink eats away at what little remains of [his] ego-integrity. What is so utterly pathetic about all this is their gaze is simultaneously emulative and materialist yet cruelly distanced from the Academy. This is the oblique tragedy of the amateur historian, its most concrete manifestation, the History Teacher.

NB: The History Teacher refers to a secondary teacher. Tertiary lecturers shelter from the torrent of radical critique under the golf umbrella of the privileged smart-cunt.

The archetype is as unctuous as it is pathetic for day-after-day-after-day is spent parroting misleading facts ordained as Truth by [the amateur’s] academically brilliant cohort. The amateur teaches the facts made by [their] smart-cunt former class-mates to children and/or vulgar peasants [local his/stories/her/stories] because m/other identified their seductive allure. Chagrin at not being the smart-cunt they wanted to be is intensified [and sublimated] through wage-slavery and their alienation from decision-making which, were it not for melancholic longing for an investment in the production [and not the mere reproduction] of fact, would [eventually] yield either sweet revolutionary fruit and/or rancid psychoanalytic blight. Such petite dreams keep the delusional-aspirant smart-cunt’s oar in. A synthetic concern for past/current always distant oppression [privilege may be mentioned in lessons but always with especial reference to facts and/or distant material hyper-realities] is a thin veneer over the self-castigating white-guilt inherent within a defective gaze which is hypersensitive to the imagined demands of m/other. Unable to see the roaming for the gloaming in our liquid times the amateur regresses to the only psychic time-space they felt secure: The Academy.

The teleological timeline is historical Gospel for it is simultaneously glorified and exalted by the institutional matrix, it is therefore associated with the most abusive of privledges. This is all very well. But what does it mean in the here and now? It means the amateur is threatened by that which is radical. What does he do when under threat from bigger boys and girls? He runs to m/other. M/other taught him to check a fact. To distrust that which goes against the ebb and flow. To kick a wo/man when s/he is Down and Out in Bathgate and to hold in contempt those whom are not special little smart-cunts like him-self. M/other taught him to trust certain agencies with the provision of his facts. These agencies tell him what to get angry about and when to get angry. When Ess-Tee-Vee tells him to get angry, he gets angry and he tells his spotty smart-cunts to get angry as well.

NB: The Historian is part of a broader psychoanalytic matrix [smart-cunts]. This is not the time to give pursuit to the smart-cunt over the garden fences as they rip our Stone Island from our clothes line.

Teleology:

This can be a mundane as setting a plan in motion to buy a dozen eggs or as complex as designing a eugenics programme for an Aryan society. It is a recurring [and compelling] subtext to Scottish History though it should be noted in passing that considerable debate amongst the smart-cunts remains as to what this perfectible goal is or indeed was. Such dissent is especially quarrelsome to the big business of the discipline since it impels the elders to enforce the synergetic imagination. We touched upon this in the above discussion on the normalization of historical curricula as a means of creating a collective factual gaze which feeds-back into ideological reproduction. Smart-cunts who read for a Bigtown University degree in History [Anytown Poly is not a custodian of fact; it can-not be trusted with the facts] are compelled to submit to a normalized consensus of imagination; the Ultima Jimmy.

Ultima Jimmy is not a transhumanist cyborg of the kind sufficient to make an asexual futurist steampunk moist between the knees. Ultima Jimmy is a primitive communist hunter-gather bearing no uncanny resemblance to the imagined rural idyll of clanship. How frightfully original. An anguished cry for pastoral feudalism by those keen on Sunday constitutionals down Dundas Street in Barbour Hunting apparel. No matter if they have only seen the countryside on Country File. No matter if they oppose Fox Hunting despite never having seen a mange ridden fox in all its majestic élan. No matter if their direct/distant descendants were no-thing more than Flanders fertiliser. We endure their pastoral caterwauling but unlike the parasitic petite we have the good grace to pretend not to shudder in hypocrisy at their serf-like dependence on Central Belt Capital.

The paternalist veneration of the [haunted] crofter is so utterly nauseating since it shows the purblind gaze of the historical episteme in full rosy-cheeked pubescent blossom. Facts never mislead. M/other never tells porky-pies. Santa is indeed real. Jesus was more than the carpenter’s bastard step-child. It matters not how these imagined societies existed, what matters are the Real lessons which can be learned from their assumed existence? If we are to pay heed to the historical episteme then the lesson learned is self-same [i.e. this is how it should be] and always set against a sepia background of nostalgia. If only you would submit to the legitimacy of our Truth, our Facts, our Answers [and how we have laboured to provide you with them] then we would deliver you from your ghastly abjection to a promised land where you would be free from your mortal worries; a land where you would be chained to capital until you degenerate into no-thing more than an embarrassment to those who quaff from our fountain of youth. This is the manifesto of the historical episteme and the quasi-autonomous Scottish State. Teleological reasoning, in whatever rose-tainted hue it may momentarily masquerade in, is so utterly flawed. It is accursed by a retrospective episteme which in turn labours under the historical-libidinal baggage accumulated through a defective methodology of hindsight, inference and empirical delusion. It can never hope to infer what will be from what went before.

Conclusions:

The historical episteme has scant regard for human agency. We are the kilt-clad puppets acting out the will of an invisible hand in front of a demanding audience of our betters. The hand is [at the very least] visible in the pre-modern for one can hardly avoid paying lip-service to the Decree Absolute of regal/democratic oligarchs c. 1200-1700. Perhaps it is the explicit and super-liminal compulsion ‘to do’ that is so longed for by the Historian. Like all smart-cunts, they are never happier than when being told what to do and when making infinitesimal progress to some or other abstract [often institutionalized and self-indulgent] goal. There is no scope for action or radical thought out/with and with/in these ruthlessly policed discursive frontiers; the Historian finds a loving surrogate m/other in The Books where a haunted husk of psychic-abjection and libidinal solitude seeks pure sublimation in a futile [though not entirely fruitless] quest for mini-Truth.

Just look at those so keen on their discursive reproduction; the Salmond’s; the Gray’s; the Goldie’s or the Liberal-cunt whose name eludes me. Are these individuals capable of leading our backward isle into the Tenties or are they simply the greying befuddled puppets of an otherwise militarized system of consolidated privilege, seductive manipulation and surplus extraction.

Footnotes:

A debt is owed to the invaluable advice of North Edinburgh ‘gadgies.’

For literary description of ‘A Smart Cunt’ see Irvine Welsh’s novella.

Please refer all correspondence to your Wastepaper Bin. Nae cunt gies a fuck.

Oct. 10th, 2009

The Network: Toward a Psychosocial Appreciation of Twitter

The following post is adapted from an article due to be published in the December issue of Psychotherapy Networker:

…The explosion of the network has corrosive effects upon the subjectivity of its unwitting users. This is quite a statement and we shall have to justify our dystopian view. Before proceeding with the analysis it should be noted that no apologies are forthcoming for any offense and/or unpalatable reaction formation resulting from consumption of this piece. It is now necessary, for the purposes of analytic precision, to clarify some basic theoretical/definitional issues. We are neither interested in rational theories of networking nor in their descriptive models; we are interested in grounding our psychosocial inferences in cathartic-clinical observation[s].

It is worth noting the [retrospectively] Orwellian sounding term of the network is used to denote a specific brand of network [twitter]. There are no specific misgivings about this or that brand of network; indeed, their consumption[routine or otherwise] is neither encouraged nor discouraged. This is a critique of the psychosocial which in essence as well as practice transcends the technological-rhetorical specifics of the network[s] under analysis. The network for its part provides the mechanics for discursive interchange; it allows users [rigorously pre-defined] scope for the intersubjective and ad-hoc construction of novel discursive regulation[s].

This is an important point although great care must be taken not to take its argument to its formal logical conclusion; given the network takes a relative back-seat as it were when it comes to the imposition of the regulative function [which either constrains or expands the discursive interchange] it is simply not the case that users are accorded primacy during their [re]enactment of discursive regulation. Consider, for example, users are clamoring for a re-tweet function, yet the network remains curiously impassive as to its introduction. The emergence of novel regulative function[s] is therefore not user defined, or even user informed, but is determined by a greater force of impersonality existing above and beyond their soulless avatars.

The network is a diffuse organism consisting of commodified impersonal avatars involved in the very grubby business of ad-hoc discursive [re/de]construction. This sounds all very positive thus far and to an extent it has the potential to remain so. It is naïve to assume this is the sole intent of the network; as if the network embodied some quantitative and necessarily logical development [as opposed to a twisting] of reason into its technologically infused form. The argument has potential in that the network does encourage free [sic] discursive interchange. However, the technical rational argument crumbles where it counts; the network employs manipulative media to construct the illusion of stakeholder community; a community that ultimately transcends parochial xenophobia, tangible social anxiety as well as bothersome corporeality. However, the network simultaneously functions to construct psychic [as well as spatial] distance between users thereby enhancing their alienation but only through their routine consumption. An intangible feeling of irreconcilable distance between users jars upon every attempt at their sincere interchange. The concept of enunciative sincerity is one alien to the function and purpose of the network. It is not enough the network eradicates passion and enunciation; it has to construct an arena of delusional contrivance and petty masquerade in which every statement is concocted to have a precise and manipulative effect [on followers].

Consider; such calculating, scheming rationality ruthlessly eliminates the unpredictable spark of spontaneity that makes discursive encounters so utterly sublime. As we become irreparably enmeshed with the network rigorous discursive regulation we successively distance ourselves from the ability to defend our principles and values in situ, where it counts; that is beyond the warmth and relative security of our Georgian townhouses and Listed Victorian Ivory Towers.

There is an implicit point of great import here which is shamefacedly obfuscated by genial self-parody viz., the assumed correlation between reading comprehension and the network. The assumption is a bastard child nurtured into existence by the Liberal idealism of technical rationality. For those not intimately familiar with developments in progressive tertiary education theory in Scotland it is assumed total submission to the network will have a concomitant and inverse correlation with reading comprehension. They forget the network was not designed with the edificatory purpose in mind; the networks progenitors are deserving of high commendation for they do not lay claim otherwise. 140 is the standard and it is no matter of fateful coincidence that this is the global standard attached to Short Messaging. It is logical to assume the network was designed with the global text vernacular rather than the fulsome grammatical principles of the English verse in mind. It is therefore unlikely there will be an unproblematic correlation between reading comprehension and integration with the network.

This insight does neglect a point of great utility in the liberal argument in that a user, in addition to making [un]authoritative statements, will often make use of third-party referencing [of research]. It is not uncommon therefore to encounter full texts of Kierkegaard, PhD theses in Gender Studies from UCLA and HTML links to Žižek’s latest interview in among the cacophony of relativistic statement, shameless self-promotion and petty posturing. However, these crystals of knowledge and the impersonal avatars of old school reason, although highly commendable and deserving of sincere respect for embodying ethical principles of cultural edification, are not immediately obvious to the novice user.

The bitter aftertaste of impersonality is compounded further by the distortion of projective mechanisms. It is here that complex, often ambivalent, emotions are transferred onto soulless avatar[s]; those ephemeral fleeting objects lacking solidity and definable discursive position[s] which incidentally may or may not be parallel with the users/others introjected perspective of their and that self. It is clear the network contains the potential to annihilate the theoretical foundations of object relation theory and for this reason alone it is important to grasp certain basic principles prior to hasty generalization.

The introjected self/other perception succumbs to the confusing diversity of individual differences [a philosopher there; an abortionist there]. The consequences are uniformly delusional and the network supports the delusion through the discursive regulation of followers. The network itself is inclusive of a wide variety of self appointed experts on every conceivable subject; their constant is found in their perpetual struggle to claim a momentary hegemony at the expense of impersonal others. Within the network users selectively believe in their own hype and are thereby locked into schizoid narcissism surrounding the purity and righteousness of their polished turds.

The network is the playground of the delusional dilettante; their excessively embellished preponderance hastily lumps together modes of thought all with scant regard for their long term ontological and/or epistemological coherence. Their statements are meticulously crafted to include as many intellectualized practices as possible. The network triggers a paranoid-delusional psychosis fueled by the blurring of distinctions between the real and hyperreal. The paranoid-delusional position is compounded by the inherent voyeurism within the network. Nowhere are the petty insecurities and voyeuristic tendencies of the network better embodied than in John B: - Stalking you on MySpace [http://bit.ly/ThqL7]. Irrespective of the analytic consequences, the theoretical outcome is that the network haunts once politicized intellectual positions with the ghastly spectre of self constructed persecution. More precisely, by [seemingly] authoritative others extant in reality who are somehow observing their interplay of statements. The roots of this perceived persecution are locked deep within the psyche of the user but may/may not find their catalysts in academic inadequacy and/or secondary denigration of intellectualism.

Fear stalks the conscious so that once its nauseating retch is momentarily beheld it is seldom forgotten viz., what if an authoritative user unmasks my delusional psyche and obliterates my perfect unity. Such intangible fear is offset by assuming the discursive position [of authority] and by introjecting inferred qualities of an authoritative user who is invested with a magical capacity to unmask others at will and without a moment’s hesitation. It matters not whether the introjected figure of authority performed within the network for the purposes of unmasking others is an actual object or rather represents an associative chain of semantic allusions with roots in hyperreality; both have an equally corrosive impact.

The ruthless commodification inherent in the network has briefly been touched upon; however, for the purposes of rich analysis it is vitally important to understand the difference in competitive kind the network imposes upon its users. Commodification inevitably introduces laws of competition to the network yet these intangible rules differ somewhat from those we are accustomed to and necessitate elaboration.

The network forces users to commodify their subjectivity but within certain lexical [and by extension semantic] boundaries. Statements are shackled by an arbitrary discursive regulation imposed from above and outwith. The regulative function cannot be subverted without irreparably confounding the statement. Extension services nevertheless do live a charmed esistence and are used to far exceed the lexical/semantic boundaries of the imposed regulation of the network. It should be noted that observable instances of extension are exceedingly rare since the concept itself contradicts the essence [sic] of the network.

If a user cannot say it using 140 characters then it is hardly worthy of saying at all. This [il]logical relation will have an unobservable [and] quantitative impact upon reading comprehension. There is no doubt about whether or not the network will have a concomitant yet delayed impact upon lexical flair. If we restrict ourselves to pithy blogbytes then we become indolent, voluntarily and willingly weakening our innate ability to comprehend and [de/re] construct the text. We allow ourselves to be overruled at any moment by complex political/legal discourse. We allow ourselves to be restricted to second-rate inner representations which impact our very perception of the social world. These are the longitudinal effects of the network.

The blogbytes that the network insists upon are uniform, both in length and lexical density; inclusive of 140 characters only. They are neither statements nor grammatical sentences [in their naked commodified form]; they are hyperreal residue of a projected subjectivity carefully calculated to have a generalized effect upon an undifferentiated mass of followers. The network itself has no trackback facility to verify the authenticity of these blogbytes yet retains a strict policy on intellectual property. How this works in a relativistic forum characterized by no formal agreement on what constitutes truth among users remains to be seen. The network is therefore heavily dependent upon implicit intersubjective understanding[s] between cabals of users bearing no vague resemblance to the ethical[?] practice of the academy.

Competition within the network, as we have seen, is a symptom of impersonality and commodficiation. Reaction formation aside, every user of the network, irrespective of levels of conscious awareness, shares an adulterous relationship with the narcissistic anticipation of more followers. The accumulation of follower subjectivity unashamedly constitutes the bedrock of self-worth and social value within the network. To have followers is not only to be enmeshed in the vicissitudes of the network; it is also to be heard above the cacophony of meaningless relativistic interchange.

The value of statements [and by extension of self worth] within the network is measured by a univocal relationship between quantity of followers and quality of statements. To make quality statements one must therefore be in possession of a sizable quantity of followers. The network denies this specific regulative function nevertheless, despite rhetoric to the contrary, it is very much the case that the network discourages the formation of isolated pockets consisting of relatively few followers. If one is not wholly enmeshed with the network then either they themselves are and/or the network itself is fatally flawed by design. The rhetoric of the network therefore contradicts itself; its overriding goal is to [submit, force, impose] all its users to its regulative discursive functions thereby thoroughly enmeshing users in its tangled web of utter pointlessness; hence the imperative to follow [what are esoterically termed] whales.

The whale is a user who has accumulated an unfeasible quantity of followers. They are at once the ideal and the envy of the ardent peasant class. However, and more importantly, whale status attests to the subjective investments made by impersonal others in the knowledge relayed by the whale [both within the network and outwith in reality]. The pathetic consequence of whale mentality is the delusional state of grandeur which can be [un]reliably inferred by a simple ratio calculation between the user’s followers and the users they follow back. If the discrepancy is cavernous then there may very well be a fleeting delusion of grandeur beneath their conscious intellectualization. The network for its part asks politely [and quietly] that users maintain a one-to-one equilibrium between followers presumably [that is superficially] to mix things up as it were. The stark reality is altogether more disturbing; to maintain this equivocal relation between followers is to extend the networks reach into pockets of resistance previously impervious to the imposing regulative function.

It is important to note that it is possible to subvert the imposing façade of discursive regulation maintained by the network; although it is equally important to note these pathetic methods of confirming one’s delusional state are abhorred by user and network alike. We have sympathy for those who fall into the addictive cycle of follower anxiety since they highlight a distorted investment in [and subsequent cathexis of] libidinal and necessarily sexualized desire to be respected by their homosocial peers; an age old problem familiar to all analysts in the field. The problem is archaic ranking alongside Kleinian therapy in terms of institutionalization. However, the narratives of aetiology and their medium of symptomatic expression are altogether different from what we have historically become accustomed to in our respective analytic endeavors.

It is in this way niche industries parasitically feed of the insecurity and anxiety of the network and its users. They promise that their program, blog post or hair gel has the potential to alleviate our subconscious misery over our chilly isolation from the network thereby delivering the Nirvana of inclusiveness. It all seems rather inhuman, to be farmed, cultivated and eradicated like so many bales of wheat or ears of corn. As always these niche industries never fail to amuse; 10,000 followers and all one has to do is covet their neighbors Oxen at the altar of Lucifer. Blame lies not with these opportunistic niche industries [their innovative spirit is to be commended]. They are simply adhering to the de facto capitalist law of exploitation. It is simply that their exploitation is so frustratingly intangible; the exploitation of human anxiety and misery.

Parallels may very well be rightfully drawn with psychoanalysis, we nevertheless remain selectively blind to such inferences; such is the way of our glamorous trade…


Stalk hegels_bagels on myspace @ www.twitter.com/hegels_bagels.

Jul. 9th, 2009

Six Theses on Seduction: Response to Critique

This post is an edited HTML version of an open letter due to be published in The Psychologist.

...It is worth noting the defensiveness inherent in any response to literary criticism; as such I felt it prudent to refine my responses over an extended period to avoid reaction and engender response. I hereby apologise to those who badgered me about the length of time taken to respond to their constructive criticism. I assure you all your criticisms were of vital necessity to my continuing researches; the length of time taken for me to respond was simply an indication of the complexity of the questions you asked of the text. In noting inherent defensiveness we must be aware that critique concerns not the personality but the ideas. As such literary criticism exists in a pure abstract realm with little material and/or psychological consequence.

“… (Ultimately) seduction is a pseudo psychological discourse; it resists serious analysis at every turn:”

Superficially at least, this is a valid criticism that few serious analysts would be at pain to contradict. Seduction is indeed pseudo psychological insofar as it adheres to no known code of empirical validity. Its validity is subjectively profound resting entirely upon the conduct of its self identified members. However, the critic is misguided. Just because a discourse makes specific yet unverifiable claims, it does not necessarily follow that it resists rigorous analytical inquiry. Irrespective of how objective/subjective this inquiry may or may nor be the key here is to break the discourse of seduction down into nodes of isolated meaning (a single or collection of texts on seduction) which fit into a broader web of knowledge (the sum total of the discourse of seduction). It becomes possible therefore, to reliably infer certain constants, irruptions and intersections; constancy, discontinuity and epistemic links across discourse are in turn systematically deconstructed to reveal base elements. When the base elements are revealed they are subsequently reconstructed using an oppositional epistemic standpoint.

To dismiss the discursive unity/discontinuity of seduction as a vulgar parody of enlightened empiricism by virtue of its subjective epistemic standpoint is to deny the complexity of the discursive processes underlying its motion. In a pragmatic sense, to deny this evolving complexity is to deny and repress a reflexive expression of masculine gender identity. Clearly the liberal feminist hegemony considers its position to be sufficiently weak enough to merit the marginalisation of pragmatic expressions of masculine gender identity in favour of a verbatim rehearsal of clichéd essentialist arguments. These arguments, incidentally, form the very foundations of the discipline and to undermine them both in theory and in practise is to threaten the generative reasoning behind ‘seminal’ researches.

The claims of seduction are unverifiable ergo they are false; this position is theoretically weak since it fails to appreciate that in seduction claims (to validity, truth, essential being et al) are verified by an epistemic base contrary to empirical psychology. This in itself threatens the basis of the discipline, but more importantly, it reveals a latent and revolutionary dynamic with the potential to tear asunder the objectivism inherent in empirical researches. Ultimately, any attempt to engage with the discourse of seduction at the level of empiricism will be doomed to frustration and will inevitably express itself in vitriolic criticism of method. The discourse of seduction explicitly states; attraction is not a logical phenomenon. It cannot be understood from the empirical standpoint of formal logic.

"...(He) writes about particular experiences,, as if nothing else in society mattered, extrapolating a dystopian view of gender identity from a psychosexual base that is found wanting and it is used to sensationalize findings beyond recognition:"

Again another valid critique, however, upon closer inspection we see that it lacks the sophistication necessary to validate its own claims. I will however, accept responsibility for shifting between degrees of abstraction with little concern to the reader yet I struggle to comprehend how this complicates the analysis as a whole. If the claimant were to actually study my introduction and not skim for constants (such skimming can be excused; reviewers are first and foremost academics and academics do not pay the mortgage by reviewing texts for scholarly journals) then they would be immediately drawn to the various qualifications concerning my theoretical background and subjective investments in various discourses including but not limited to seduction and psychotherapy. It will prove much to disheartening to both reader and author to reproduce verbatim the myriad points raised by the introduction. It is sufficient to note this; within the introduction I acknowledge that my clinical experience informed the biographical/theoretical reasoning behind the archaeology of seduction.

Taken as a whole, the method of Cathartic Discourse Analysis (CDA) attempts to exorcise the demons inherent in an analysis of a contradictory discourse from the (superficially) opposed epistemic standpoints of psychotherapy and Marxist-feminism. Quite how application of these generative historical discourses to masculine gender identities is “sensational” is frankly beyond me. We shall forgo a discussion of the similarities in dialectical method between the discourses of Marxism, Feminism and Psychoanalysis in order to focus our response on a central issue viz., I agree with the claimant; the outcome of researches using such internally antagonistic discourses will indeed be a dystopian view of gender identity. For this I make no apologies, like all self serving writers I simply say what I see, like catchphrase, except with syntax, rather than visual representation.

“...As if nothing else in society mattered:”

Forgive my ignorance, but surely debates surrounding the relative merits of sustainable agricultural models and the compelling researches into the links between phonological processing and reading development have no place within a highly specialised technical text. My aim was not to produce a work which constructs artificial discursive unities for the sake of ordered totality. Quite the contrary, I set out to “call it as it was” in doing so constructing only those discursive unities which were evident in the texts themselves. Whether the outcome was a rigidly closed discursive totality or an open fragmentation of discourse with no real beginning or end (only links to other discourses each with their respective historicity) is debateable.

“…how tangible is the discourse of post feminism he is so keen on; isn’t it the case that the suffix ‘post’ has become a hollow term used by therapists to denote something which only they are expert in:”

The discourse of post feminism is as tangible as any other discourse. Such questions are of no utility whatsoever and they reveal reactionary insecurity which is closed to the fluidity of specific yet open to the relativism of general discourse. This is somewhat unfair. I wholeheartedly agree, the suffix post has neither utility nor value in serious psychoanalytic researches. Nevertheless, it seems silly to dismiss the concept on a purely syntactic level. It is merely a theoretical construct which neatly encapsulates, in a single readily accessible term universally understood (for right or wrong, the constants and contradictions of what came after patriarchal feminism?

This is a key question which has and will be dealt with at great length in past and future researches, for the moment; let us stay in the realm of immediate deconstruction. The question of what comes after (patriarchal feminism) gives rise to curious defence mechanisms within its adherents such as fatalistic acceptance of the futility of feminism; adaptation of old feminist constructs to fit new theoretical contexts; elimination of old constructs and attempt to formulate a subjectively profound theory (although this in itself has problems of idiosyncrasy and verification) and (what we are dealing with here) steadfast denial of new contexts and with it refusal to engage with new material. The discourse of feminism is over invested, somewhat naïve and obstinately grandiose; as such it clings historical constructs of negligible validity without the slightest concern for the material struggles of their young sisters which (with every passing hour) are becoming more alienated from traditional feminist discourse and, most importantly and more unpalatably, this alienation does not stem from a conscious masculine attempt at imposing a false gendered order; rather it is rooted in the individual feminine subconscious and intersubjectively forms the recognition that the insights of traditional feminism, while worthy in their historical context, simply do not apply to their material struggles.

We have dealt with these processes in great depth elsewhere, nonetheless, the exact why’s and how’s as to the rejection of traditional feminism and its twisting in accordance with new social contexts and more sophisticated feminine goals are as yet poorly understood. I have neither the time nor the energy to deal with the claimant’s final point nevertheless it takes not a skilled psychoanalyst to see the lack of self worth and lack of security evident in the delusional belief that I a lowly academic have invented an entire discourse of post feminism (sic) in an attempt to “make a name for myself.”

“…(Unfortunately it seems as if) cathartic discourse analysis (CDA) and the discipline of discursive critical psychology are more convenient constructs and less (as is claimed) revolutionary tools for clinical psychology since both in theory and in method the text only functions to legitimise a subjective endeavour that belongs firmly in the realm of pop psychological coffee table texts…”

I will accept that grandiosity in theory and in method won over, it is certainly not the convention to ignore all accepted benchmarks of theory and analysis. For this I make no apology, nevertheless I am reflexive enough to realise that this complicates the issue of generation. I stand by my earlier point; it is not possible to understand the discourse of seduction using traditional epistemic standpoints. One must be fully immersed in the discourse before analysis can be conducted, hence cathartic discourse analysis (CDA). I outlined this method in some depth over a series of chapters, however for the sake of convenience I shall paraphrase.

As the name implies it is a method of self/subject analysis that threatens the validity of so called reflexive discourse analysis (RDA). RDA is founded on an internal paradox between subjective involvement and objective distance which produces incoherent findings tentative as to their level of abstraction. CDA does away with this uncertainty yet it remains cautious over the wholesale intrusion of subjective insecurities. In being immersed in the discourse under investigation, the over zealous analyst is prevented by the immediacy of concrete experience from constructing artificial unities and inappropriate totalities. It is a method inextricably bound to the introspective analyses of psychotherapy and the total self absorption implicit within the anthropological methodologies of ethnography/phenomenology.

It is the case that in my haste to refine the methodological principles of CDA I was insensitive toward the ideas contributing to its genesis. Nonetheless, to marginalise a sincere contribution to methodological inquiry using such disparaging terms highlights the fact that CDA disturbed the dormant complacency within adherents of the RDA method. The RDA method is most commonly encountered by students in its base commodified form, the form whereby it is refined into X number of stages to be followed or Y number of boxes to be checked off en route to credible research. The intrusion of empiricist irrationality into subjective modes of inquiry geared at deep psychological understanding and the analysis of motion is deeply troubling since it complicates the very foundations on of discourse analysis. It also raises searching questions as to how best to instruct students to conduct discourse analysis, but these are questions for another day. One cannot commodify a method of discourse analysis that is based on the ‘feeling that something is right;’ this can only be obtained through immersing oneself in the discourse. Therein lays the problem; CDA is based on assumed trust between reader and text. I acknowledge this represses critique and insists on silence. Its insistence on total investment also begets the question of verification; as such it is vulnerable to (superficial) dissent surrounding the validity, not the content, of the discourse under analysis. Alas CDA is an emerging method and is in dire need of refinement by those outwith the diminutive elite who are currently receptive to its claims.

“…While berating the discourse of seduction at every opportunity, (he) is not reflexive enough to realise that his theoretical reasoning is interpretatively based on the constructs (he) deconstructs…The reader is encouraged to adopt his jargon and drop his name wherever possible…”

This is an indirect consequence of CDA so I ask the reader to keep in mind the above discussion for reasons that will soon become abundantly clear:
In being totally immersed in a discourse such as seduction it is a logical consequence that the discourse infuses essential being. It is therefore unavoidable to coquettish with the modes of expression common to the discourse. As we learned earlier, CDA gives rise to theoretical shorthand used to distil complex psychosocial phenomena into intersubjectively recognised terms such as post-feminism; AFC or Value. It is worth noting however, that the term(s) are only recognised within the confines of the discourse; it is the analysts’ responsibility to explain and describe the phenomena to the best of their ability but always with reference to the feeling of congruence between clinical and actual experience.

I agree, seduction is a jargon heavy discourse, however, the role of CDA, unlike RDA, is not to dismiss these constructs under the thinly veiled disguise of a pompous insistence on rigour but rather it investigates discourses on their terms using (exploiting) their theoretical constructs in search of deeper more representative analyses. It is here that RDA’s pomposity seeps through into its cousin since the analyst, unlike the analysed, brings a web of external meaning to the task, a web of meaning that the analysed is not likely to share. Nonetheless, it is hoped (somewhat naively) cases of incongruence will be tested against what has been learned in vitro as it were.

“…And one is left wondering exactly where the community is and how can weak AFC’s like me, or so he would have me believe, find it/study it:”

While appearing the weakest of all the criticisms thusfar it is in fact the most theoretically sound. One can be forgiven for assuming the intangibility of the (seduction) community. It is not a tangible community in the sense of a youth group or a trade union. It is a constructed sense of community that makes reference to a specific discourse; these communities emerge within existing social bonds and cumulatively form a closed therapy group. The individuals who form this community are closed to those who fail to immerse themselves wholly in the discourse. However, this complicates ethical procedures relating to deception and it is as yet unclear as to the sincerity of the identification. If the proposal is one of a quantitative scale used to measure sincerity then my efforts have been entierly in vain...

Jul. 3rd, 2009

The Toxic Discourse of Scottish Nationalism: Ten Years of Contradiction

While out and about the thought occurred to partake in light refreshment. I had need of refreshment, this conveniently can be exchanged for X amount of money commodity in a specific place during set hours determined by legislation; such are the infinite subconscious yet market(esque), banal and ultimately objectifying calculations we engage in before, during and after entering into the value relation. Just as the exchange of equivalents was about to be brought to a close, their (formalist) logical conclusion viz., exchange of X amount money for Y number of commodity was violently threatened by a dissenting voice whose bar room eloquence challenged not just the economic abstraction that is the exchange of equivalents but also the subjective construct of national identity. His critical interrogation centred around a single theme viz., my reasons for consuming this rather than that brand of commodity. It is therefore of the utmost importance to understand a little about the beverage in question. I chose Carling over a comparable unbranded Scottish derivative for no unremarkable reason.

Little did the dissenting voice know of the arbitrary rationale underlying the choice. I could just have easily asked to exchange X amount of money commodity for Y number of Brillo pads. Triviality aside, the astute reader will nonetheless have already drawn a crucial distinction viz., Carling is English and I reside in Scotland. We shall leave the question of how best to twist agency and subjectivity into crude dichotomies and how we can go about inappropriate analyses without an ounce of critical thought to petty bourgeois Historians so that we may penetrate deeper into the dynamic which drove the original interaction. The astute reader will also have immediately inferred that the industry watchdog InBev (2009) reported that Carling have to date invested £21 million into an audacious marketing strategy designed to shift the public perception of its brand away from English “show us your tits or a fist in your face” masculinity toward a more respectable petty bourgeois construction structured around active yet responsible consumption. Carling advertisements now proudly assert their abhorrence of artificial flavourings, preservatives and their insistence on an original English recipe and most crucially on sourcing their ingredients from English farms. Carling aim to construct a natural and wholesome English brand but their constructions go further since they also link their humble 'pint of piss' to Feudal modes of agribusiness rich in personality and conservation. It is not our role to castigate Carling over the ins and outs of their marketing strategy nor over the quality of their wares. They are a hapless coincidence in this tale of reaction. I therefore apologise unreservedly to Carling; hegels_bagels neither advocates nor discourages the consumption of Carling beverages, it is simply a marriage of coincidence.

So far we have learned I entered into a simple exchange of equivalents; however someone has questioned my decision to do so by alluding to the insecure contradictions dormant within the subjectivity of Scottish nationalism. It is worth noting incidentally that there is currently (July, 2009) a petty bourgeois veneration of the glorious decade of political liberation that is devolution. His argument was symbolic and by questioning my decision to consume an English brand, when there were comparable and in his opinion superior and above all indigenous brands on offer, he sought to reorder my national identity at the level of choice (of symbolic commodities). What he is doing here is questioning my national identity but only by invoking a laughable dichotomy. I am them and he is us therefore I am a dangerous outlaw who threatens his imagined Scottish order as evidenced by my flagrant disregard for locally sourced commodities and my choice of mass produced English commodities.

Scottish nationalist subjectivity is a curious admixture of false class consciousness, imagined persecution and an irrational fear of a similar yet tyrannical and powerful other. Scottish nationalists coquettish with the semiotics of victimisation but of a peculiar kind, more precisely, the semiotics of passive aggressive victimisation. Here its activists adopt a subliminal approach to their victimisation in which the bitter defeats which threaten the logical bases of their assertions are passively accepted despite their vitriolic drum beating to the contrary. The amusing logical contradictions of nationalism pale into banality when we consider its impact on the Scottish proletariat. It claims to be an inclusive movement yet it systematically alienates, derides and exploits the dupes who fall under its mystical spell. It provides the proletariat with a xenophobic programme of (re)action. Such infusion is an indirect consequence of biased and ultimately hyper real readings of Medieval Scottish History. Somewhere in your (Scottish) community groups of young proletarian men fuelled by piecemeal exposure to Medieval Scottish History taught by barely qualified polytechnic graduates are gathering to collectively hate and to collectively hate a very specific yet ultimately elusive foe; a foe that lives and breathes amongst them in secret = The English.

Nationalism also alienates proles from a reflexive and reasoned consideration of their material conditions and at every turn its petty bourgeois branch managers deride the semiotics of proletarian national identity as vulgar and as somehow un-Scottish. One would be at great pain to discover a Lion Rampant adorning the chest of a petty bourgeois town planner or to find a bunch of Edinburgh born law graduates speaking in the brusque patois befitting their collective heritage. The aforementioned graduates who eventually become nationalist branch mangers in their spare time are subtly attuned to the exploitation of the symbolic markers of proletarian ‘Scottishness’. In essence and in practise Scottish nationalism is a toxic discourse since it allows scope for the construction of arbitrary and xenophobic divisions between two populations who differ only in quantitative measures and not in terms of the qualitative conditions of their material existence and subjective consciousness.

The reader will agree that this is quite a state of affairs and it is somewhat unfortunate that the processes described in brief earlier form the momentary hegemony within the bourgeois body politic (in Scotland). The symbolic processes facilitating the construction of their imagined English oppressor are quite remarkable, especially considering the qualitative similarity between our respective populations. The activists of toxic nationalism are deserving of neither sympathy nor pardon. Their (false) consciousness lacks a noble ideal to justify its practise. They are selectively blind to the onward march of advanced capitalism and are the ultimate vulgar economists in their insistence upon protectionist free trade. Quite how Edina’s petty bourgeois would do without French mineral water for even one evening in the year is beyond even the powers of Hegelian futurology, alas such is the hegemonic nationalist agenda in Scotland.

We may take comfort in the fact that the petty squabbling of devolved politics is of little or no great consequence to Billy Bourgeois. However, we take not a crumb of comfort from the unpalatable realities of the toxic activism infesting the contemporary subjectivity of proleterian Scots. On and on they bleat about the importance of our commodified Scottish heritage but again and again they fail to see that their petty toothless reformist agendas are structured around childish ambiguities such as freedom and constitutional rights which simply dissolve under the weight of global capital.

‘Freedom’ and the rights which spew forth from its constructed existence form but a single aspect of the absolute and bare minimum requirements for humanity and therefore they cumulatively form the most basic conditions of humanity. In this light, the activists who fight for our 'freedom' wish to keep populations limited strictly to the base minimum of their latent potential and furthermore wish to ossify these limitations in a legalised statute that cannot be challenged within the confines of the system.

The thorny issue of the infinite realms of human potentiality are far to taxing for the pragmatic activist to comprehend given their recompense to ideals of meritocracy and ambiguous diktat rights that all of us 'should' possess. The right to a standardised and comprehensive education for example; we ask why it is that some schools are objectively as well as subjectively better than others? The right to free speech: we ask why it is that some political discourses are allowed only a marginal and token consideration. The right to a fair trial adjudged by a jury of one’s peers: we ask why is it that the innocent and honourable students of Islam are being persecuted daily for exploring the revolutionary dynamic within their religious discourse.

The answers to these questions and more are within our grasp but are contingent upon the proletariat eliminating the childish insistence upon immutable rights.

Mar. 27th, 2009

Crises of Masculinity: Post Feminism and Men.


Men are in psychosexual crisis; a crisis which expresses itself as a mass anxiety and a paralysing inability to interact with women. This mass anxiety originates from a systematic devaluation of the phallic value of masculinity which has subverted and twisted the gendered power relations fallow within the institutional structures of work, family, education and identity.

The labour processes associated with modern industrial capitalism form the principal component of stable masculine gender identities.  However, the onset of advanced capitalism has severed the once taken for granted relationship between labour and masculinity using three convergent processes. Firstly, the arenas where these links were forged and maintained i.e. the pit, the quarry, the assembly line have been decimated.  From the 1980’s onward men have faced two differing paths of work. To either retire their labour power thereby voluntarily devaluing their masculinity or conversely to engage in re-education with a view to finding employ in feminised labour processes. Both paths effect a fundamental reordering of masculinity. Secondly, as devaluation intensifies another insidious factor emerges; that of tangible uncertainty. Within the feminised labour process of the capital intensive office there can be found no stable reference point with which to structure a masculine self sround.  As Fredrick Engels in his Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man points out in much the same way as the hand developed an opposable thumb for grip; the masculine self evolves around a feminine labour process in doing so becoming diluted and distored as to its purpose and intent.  Thirdly, the systematic onslaught on masculinity culminates in the ascent of women to the extent whereby women match and emulate their occupational and economic status. Either way, there are now relatively few links between masculinity and labour. 

However, it is worth noting that this is an embryonic process which is not finalised and in motion toward an as yet unpredicatble goal.  Nevertheless, every change in the structure and composition of capitalist work has a consequent impact upon the family and on education.  Let us leave aside the latter to concentrate on the former. The insecurity manifest in masculine work is transferred into the family. Historically, the family and with it the nuclear family was a masculine hegemony. However, the processes of devaluation at work have eroded his hegemony leaving the dual income or single parent family. In both familial contexts the woman asks the question; why do I need this man? Such introspection is tortuous since it is contrary to societal conditioning, nevertheless it accelerates the obsolescence of men. However, what they fail to consider is the added burden of synthesis created by the need to conform simultaneously to a fluid construct of femininity and the fluid construct of masculinity. In the dual income family the process is similar but slightly different. Here both genders are confronted with the added burden however; this operates alongside insidious competition for familial hegemony and status on the bases of work and economic value. Insidious since there are few real differences in terms of labour process or the social value embedded in the products of their respective alienated labours. 

Let us now turn to education; the processes of education under advanced capitalism have undergone momentous change . Within this, the once patriarchal institution of education has become thoroughly feminised. Here the dice are loaded against boys whose emergent and polyvalent masculine desires are twisted and distorted into petty bourgeois ideals of gendered interaction which allude to constructs of chivalry and respect. Indeed, this is what the Australian sociologist Robert Connell terms the early learning of the curiously Western “heterosexual romantic myth” (1983: 161). As reinforcement the institutional rules of the school actively discourage through punishment any display of overt masculine behaviour with persistent exhibition labelled as deviant and dysfunctional (ADD or ADHD) and not as indicative of experiential learning of doing and being a boy.   What this does is introduce young boys to the burden of synthesis before they are, in developmental terms, able to cope with its logic and consequences. 

Assuming the boy continues his travels through the feminised education system he might be forgiven for thinking that tertiary education may provide him with the stable gendered reference point of his self that he so craves. However, he will find that tertiary education is nothing other than an arena preparing young adults for specific forms of feminised labour. Moreover, the very act of participation contains in it the voluntary severance of the links between masculinity and physical labour for his participation bars him from returning to working class masculinity but his classed masculinity betrays him to members of the petty bourgeois. In short he is too effeminate for the proleteriat and too masculine for the petty bourgeois . It is also at the level of tertiary education that the young man is confronted with the embryonic spatial and discursive power of women and the seeming discursive impenetrability of their feminine discourse. Beyond this, young men often find themselves hopelessly outnumbered and psychologically overwhelmed by the intersubjective primacy accorded to women in tertiary education. However, these processes may hold validity in subjects like social work, the humanities or nursing but do they hold validity in the masculine domains of hard science and mathematics. In short, yes they do, for the social stigma attached to and the consequent psychosocial development of these students necessarily implies their prior masculine neutralisation. All that occurs in this context, with or without women, therefore is the repeated projection of masculine insecurities onto others which only serves to perpetuate crisis and negate real development. 

All the institutions outlined above contribute to gender identities and we have seen that historically they, for moral right or wrong, provided individuals with stable self reference points, yet in contemporary society the sense of stability has been eroded and there is now an added burden of synthesis for both genders perpetuated by these institutions. For example, a girl must be sweet and passive yet academically brilliant; a young man must desire women yet respect them emotionally and an unemployed man must now take responsibility for household chores while his partner commands a wage. What all this suggests are new contexts which masculinity has been forced to adapt to, adapt through tortuous self confrontation providing the quantitative impetus for more drastic qualitative shifts not restricted to perceptions of women but extending into real discursive practise with women. 

What this qualitative shift represents is the ideology of the metro sexual the essence of which can be summarised using the phrase “…is he or isn’t he?” If we peer beneath the surface of this supposedly liberating revolution in the logic and performance of masculinity we see it is merely an instrument of objectification and commodification deployed to open previously sacrosanct experience to the voracious appetites of capitalist markets. The British psychoanalyst Kevin Horrocks (1994) argues we must not downplay the psychological impact of advanced capitalism. Indeed, Men writ large are characterised by emptiness and rage over their paralysing inability to meet women which becomes expressed in obsessive neuroses. For example, obsessing over a woman one has never met before nor even had fleeting interaction with; this may take the tragic form of cyber stalking, repeatedly trying to buy her affections through gifts and displays of chivalry or changing ones identity and values because the woman disagrees. These tragic behaviours are derided and exploited by women intoxicated by the delight of rejecting men and denying their masculinities. We extend our sympathies for is it any wonder men engage in these obsessive behaviours when they are taught from the earliest possible stage to suppress their masculine discourse in favour of a diluted discourse of no excitement or value whatsoever.

Perhaps we are overstating the essential nature of masculinity. Indeed, masculinity is a fictitious modern construct with no relevance except that existing in ones head.   This position negates the diversity of masculine discursive practise and more precisely the points at which it intersects with femininity.  Nevertheless, our position is sufficiently deep enough to recognise there are many ways of negotiating masculine being and doing in the face of momentous change. 

 Feminist scholar Susan Faludi neatly sums this curiously contemporary masculine quandary thus: 

 “…If men are mythologized as the ones who make things happen then how can they begin to analyse what is happening to them…” (2000: 13).
 

Mar. 19th, 2009

The Quandry of Post Feminism: What is to be done with men?


We now live in a post feminist epoch characterised by the reversal of male chauvinism and its twisting into female chauvinism. Within this, an estrogenic gaze is applied to men furthering their objectification. What we see therefore, is the application of the same objectifying logic only this time to men as well as women. The objectification of women is deconstructed by post feminists and parodied in commodity form within a counter culture which ironically embraces chauvinism. Consider: the explosion of ‘babe’ culture and fashion embodied by the Playboy and Hustler brands. The irony is members of the counter culture misappropriate symbolic value. This symbolic value holds validity only within the counter culture, its ironic intention communicable only to its enlightened members. In other words, it matters not a jot to the producer of the commodity or to the male chauvinist how the commodity is intended to be put to use after its sale; for the former continues to receive (his) exchange and surplus values, whilst the latter is ignorant of the symbolic meaning seeing the commodity as mere use value i.e. a piece of clothing, jewellery, a particular tattoo and so on.   

We must note commodities only form one part of the post feminist counter culture, and a restricted one at that; what is of greater import is how and where these commodities are weaved together and displayed as one. In other words, how do women use these commodities and where are the arenas of performance. The arena is attraction and the commodities themselves play the role of enticing or teasing male chauvinists, only for the woman to deny male advances thereafter. This creates delight for the woman who is able to assert their sexual/symbolic power over the man to whom the experience is tragic for it locks him into insoluble contradictions with regard to his masculinity and its authenticity. Indeed, the pettier the stakes the greater the pleasure in the exercise of power. What we see in practise is the concept of men as interchangeable puppets to be played with and who fulfil different roles at different points of a woman’s overall development.

The critical question facing contemporary feminists is thus; is this order of things empowering or when we deconstruct its performance and philosophy are we still left with the same structures of oppression, only this time pettily applied at the point of attraction to men. It was Karl Marx in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1959 [1852]) who postulated history is a cyclical and repetitive bourgeois construct. He built on Hegelian conceptions of history arguing Hegel was correct to point out history repeats itself, the first time as farce, but argues he forgot to add the second time as tragedy. Indeed, it is exactly this context which faces us in male to female attraction, the tragedy being reversal of power does nothing to alter the structure of oppression; it simply replaces one insidious form of human subjugation with another.

It is self evident shifts in gendered power have occurred operating at the point of sexuality; more precisely at the exact moment of male to female attraction. So we are able to see discourse pertaining to the achievement of female orgasm without a man and the hyper real glorification of the strong independent woman who is chased (by men) and who doesn’t chase (men) during attraction. This state of affairs occurs in parallel to an unprecedented objectification and commodification of masculine bodies and lifestyles. So we see the explosion of men’s magazines devoted to the commodity man and its improvement or we see Peter Andre proudly displaying his objectified form in the music video for Mysterious Girl. (1995) Ironically these objectifications and the logic they follow pander only to female constructs of attractiveness, this is hardly surprising when we consider these objectifications are produced for and by women themselves. Indeed, it would be palatable if these processes were male instigated for it would make our theoretical reasoning more cogent but the inference can only be women are complicit in reproducing the very structures they profess to deconstruct through this counter culture.

Perhaps producers do not think in such abstract terms and apply a broad concept of sex appeal which encapsulates what is currently attractive at a particular moment. The stake commodity producers have in the concept necessarily implies it is a contested arena characterised at the macro level by market competitors and acted out competitively at the micro level by consumers. Commodified sex appeal gives rise to culturally relative terminology i.e. hot, sexy, slamming etc but the principles across context remain constant. One:  the person embodying the commodities is available for sexual encounter. Two:  the commodity and person is of sufficient value to be recognised by others. Nonetheless, we may be misreading the potential of this process since it does confer the forging of sexual identities. However, its insecure nature means it is entirely dependent upon the referential validity of others. Its seeking of approval from another begets any true spiritual development; this is the case for men who resist the objectification of their sexuality, arguing it leads to the wrongful definition of them as inauthentic men.

The petty nature of this power reversal is vaguely reminiscent of the reactionary message embedded within Sydney Pollack’s motion picture Tootsie (1982) which portrays a young male actor engaging in transgender practise to enhance his employability. Without dwelling on the narrative of the picture or its implications for transgender practise, its implicit message was men can do femininity better than women. In our context, the logic is reversed through petit bourgeois reformism to imply women can do both masculinity and femininity better than men. However, the reality may not be as empowering as we would like to admit since both genders now have the added burden of synthesising the constructs into one. Men and women no longer have a singular gender identity uniform across all contexts but have an identity continuum which utilises different shades of masculinity and femininity in different contexts as required. The arena where these psychosocial relations come to the fore is the arena of capitalist wage slavery. Here there is equal parity between genders across labour processes which for both shakes the foundations of their previously stable gender identity by creating the burden of synthesis.  

The task of first and second wave feminism was to open up the public (read masculine) spheres of politics and work to women in doing so, deconstructing their patriarchal sources. However, this has left no theoretical space for third wave feminists who see no problem in being complicit in the structures of their own and men’s degradation arguing their compliance is both economically and individually logical. While we do not pursue this line of reasoning as far as arguing in favour of an observable female conspiracy against men and women it seems foolish to simply ascribe to this process the experience of female empowerment without any serious attempt at unpicking what lies within. Although, try as we might, there is simply no conspiracy, merely a public salutation of the female bourgeois. Even then, this position is fragile, the woman relying upon hyper sexual performances of masculinity and femininity deployed at exactly the right times. There is no phrase in the English language which encapsulates this curious form of feminine power without recompense to the simile

"…like a man..."

This culture is literally and metaphorically happening and is fuelled by the three-fold dialectic between labour, consumer egalitarianism and anti-materialism. However the revolutionary potential of the dialectic handed down by first wave feminism has been twisted and blunted by the forces of advanced capitalism. What capitalist forces have done is taken the insidious logic of objectification, the laws of which revealed by Susan Brownmiller and Andrea Dworkin, and applied it to men as well as women. The best part from the point of view of the capitalist is while some sections of women and men may obstinately resist their objectification, post feminist women adore it, the act of consumption not only reinforcing the exclusivity of their counter culture but also the structures of oppression imposing upon non enlightened women and men.

First wave feminists were the first to truly recognise women could hold spatial power and that this spatial power could be translated into tangible power over lives, bodies and men. Such recognition of was achieved through Maoist consciousness rising but the method is not without its limitations, indeed, it creates a colonising state of mind among risers who tacitly believe they are improving the minds of peasants. Second wave feminists, were thoroughly bourgeois and uninterested in radical uprising; instead they were more concerned with the law of quantity into quality, whereby small quantitative increases in terms of miniscule systemic reform lead eventually to a qualitative systemic change. Their seduction with the masculine world of reformism created a context which sealed the subjugation of successive generations to the forces of capitalism. Indeed, their coquettish relationship with masculine power structures meant they were oblivious to the realities of capitalist labour and its development. 

Let us not discard all reformism for aspects of it were truly remarkable. For example, the ceding of power and control of women’s body back to women through birth control and IVF treatment and a series of Parliamentary Acts in all advanced nations designed to embed gendered egalitarianism in public and private spheres. However in a different light these activities are not empowering. Consider; where is the glory and liberation in being a single woman with sex appeal who is empowered enough to have a one night stand becoming pregnant but with no knowledge and so continuing pregnancy beyond legal termination date, more than this, where is the empowerment in making the choice to end a potential life, indeed, wouldn’t be less psychologically burdensome to cede decision making?   For right or wrong, reformist activity forever re-ordered the constructs of masculinity and femininity.

Our third wave post feminist epoch has incorporated the chivalry of second wave reformism into the Maoist consciousness rising of the first wave to create a dangerously potent synthesis which bears fruit today. What they attempt to achieve is a problematisation of the constructs masculine and feminine arguing a well behaved woman is seldom the arbiter of their own destiny. However, running parallel to these asexual arguments is a sex positive argument which is pertinent to our role reversed argument. Here attraction to men is viewed as a fluid pleasurable construct. If we take the history of feminism not as isolated facts but as dialectical, as emerging, as happening, then we can see the interweaving of feminist ideas to produce our third wave role reversed context. Here men are obsolete not just in attraction but in all gendered relationships, more than this, the only thing they are good for is for the assuagement of self referential validity. It is not abundantly clear whether this exercise of power is confined only to attraction at present or whether it is evident in other arena.

Either way, the reversal implies a shift from the male to female chauvinism using the reactionary rationale; if one can’t beat them join them and me Jane you Tarzan mentalities. However, this leads to no real change only the petty re-application of oppressive logic to men. Nonetheless, it is based upon women reawakening their spatial power and of the embattled nature of men as a result of reformism and changes to occupational structure through the playing of the feminine game as a means of attracting men. However, that is all it is; mere playing and games, for the message is that I am objectified and available but the reality is where the power lies in that you can come over but I will always reject you but the key is my power is reasserted and yours devalued. The exact processes whereby women achieve this are termed screening processes. Here a woman is presented with plural strange men of differing quality and availability, where screening works is to quickly discern between men of little use value or consequence. This neutralises men’s gaze and its consequences are tragic for men but delightful for women.

This individual lust for power operating at the point attraction and emanating from the attention of men only serves to fragment any cohesion through an arbitrary segmentation of taste and fashion. Third wave feminists distrust women as much as they distrust men and are reactionary toward any encroachment of their ordained right to exercise feminine power. At the root of all this is a desire to be like men, to desire so makes the task of third wave feminism thus; we must study the processes of male attraction to internalise what it is they objectify in a woman and then parody this as part of a counter culture that tricks men into believing the woman is available. This is not just delightful but empowering.  Consider, the view expounded by one active post-feminist woman :

. “…There’s countless times in my life where I know I’ve turned people on just by showing off..."

Thus the female chauvinist knows only to well how to play the game and like any individual in a market economy competes against others using rational strategies to maximise delight and minimise tragedy. We infer therefore women’s delight in attraction stems from hyper sexual performances of masculinity and also note that this hyper sexuality logically confers they will have a negative conception of effeminate masculinity either physically or more importantly psychologically.

The dialectic between looking hot and being permanently unavailable is cultural and is why when men attempt to carry the process through to its logical conclusion i.e. fucking they are tragically rebuffed and derided for their weakness. The power women have in attraction coupled with broader shifts has meant the estrogenic gaze views all men as homogenous therefore a man has to invest significant effort in becoming attractive but in a different way. There is a fine line, however, for too much investment leads to inauthentic embodiments. 
 

Mar. 18th, 2009

The Post-Modern University: The View From Within


For those unfamiliar with the internal organisation of the British tertiary education system here’s a (very) brief summation. There was a unique two class system, prior to 1992 between the University on the one hand and the Polytechnic on the other. The distinction can be understood thus; Universities had the right to award degrees, as granted by Royal Charter; yet the polytechnic degree were issued by local authorities. This meant, in theory at least, that the polytechnic student left with a degree issued by their local council; the very same institution responsible for empting your bins, sweeping the streets and maintaining your drainage system.

However, in 1992 this order was disrupted by the New Left and its emphasis upon meritocracy. This cleverly disguised the fact that less and less petty bourgeois children with their undeserved sense of accomplishment were able to go to University under the guise of widening participation. This is a discourse bandied about by administrators and the like and it holds true to meritocratic idealism in that all individuals irrespective of their social class or background are assumed capable of University study. We shall have cause to deconstruct this noble sentiment shortly. At this point it is sufficient to note that after 1992 the polytechnic system was restructured.

However, what was it replaced by? The Royal Charter (1992) gave polytechnics University status, meaning they now had the right to issue degrees. However, the transition from polytechnic to University was initially and still is traumatic in as far as it removed the last vestiges of state support from tertiary education. This forced vulnerable institutions to coquettish with local and international bourgeois for investment, selling its patrons (students) as future wage labour to be realised in return for this investment.

Although the state was banished from Higher Education the logic governing the system has barely changed. Old Universities still accept elites whereas New Universities still mop up the remains. Moreover, like their historical forebears the New Universities run in accordance with the logic of profit. For example, in my (New) institution they gain economies of scale by investing wholesale in computers which they expect all students to use as part of their respective degrees. All this was sold to us as a brave new epoch in the institutions history cementing its rightful place as a modern institution. This was in 2002; it seems the hierarchy at the aforementioned institution are blissfully ignorant of the rapid superseding of computer technology so much so that when operating from a limited capital base it is always wise to err on the side of caution. 

It is a fact that Universities are businesses; however, it is not immediately obvious where their profit is found. The answer is simple; profit is found in its customers, the students. The subject of consumption logic within student psychology is worthy of books in its own right so we shall not venture into that shrubbery maze for now. 

The students we find at New University are victims of widening participation. They represent that portion of youth who did not have enough social capital to merit a place at Old University. In effect, they are the dregs of state and private education; dregs because they accept a parody of University education as part of a socailly constructed young adulthood.  It hardly requires a massive stretch in logic to envisage cultures of low achievement compounded by a limited capital base which dictates second rate resources and irrational investments. My department for instance faces a £140k shortfall for the academic year 2009-10 yet as a collective we have invested in a massive rebranding programme to the tune of over £5million; for reasons of confidentiality we cannot investigate any further.

Victims you say, those are strong words. Let us be clear, we say victims precisely because they are being duped (through no fault of their own) into believing two false truths. Firstly, that degrees issued by Universities are one and the same. Second, the education received adheres to objective and reliable benchmarks of scholarship. Let us deal with the first proposition. Although in theory degrees from New and Old Universities are one and the same. In practise, a symbolic stratification emerges oblivious to the great equalisation of 1992.  Employers, graduate schools, and the students themselves are acutely aware of the differential investments made in degrees by society at large. One fallacy of meritocracy is while it is a noble theory, under current conditions it is tragically inoperative, therefore it remains an instrument of false consciousness. Second, the type of education one receives almost without exception (we use 'almost ' for reasons that will become clear) is vocational carried out under the discourse of employability which stresses flexiblity, in other words, yielding to the forces of capital. 

There are no bold claims within New Universities as to graduate destinations, in fact quite the opposite, we are told to plug career opportunities in approved organisations such as local supermarket.  It is no coincidence these organisations are those investing in the institution. We have only to turn to America where its New Universities have such laughable faculty titles as “The K-Mart Professor of Marketing and Business Administration” (Kansas Community College.) A further point is this, it seems facetious to introduce critical thought or edifying literature to our students when we consider this point: At what point do we require our supermarket manager, our police officer or our perfumery assistant to have a working knowledge of Epicurean philosophy or an appreciation of the innate beauty of the Hegelian system. Beyond this and still related to our second point, as much as academics proclaim otherwise there are no objective benchmarks of scholarship. All that exists are a series of ambiguous learning outcomes which distil knowledge into various buzzwords such as employability, critical thought and IT skills. Indeed, the decision making process as to what constitutes learning is subjective and varies from academic to academic; institution to institution. Now if we factor in our earlier point of low achievement then it is logical to assume that New Universities will have lower criteria of achievement than Old Universities. This is owing to the simple fact that in the abstract the work presented by New University will be of a higher standard than that presented by Old University. 

The reader will notice our qualification viz., “…almost without exception…” A critical reader will exclaim “you are just making exceptions to your so called general rule.”  For this I make no apology. As we have seen above, the New Universities are struggling to exist; therefore there is a state of chaos which will not be found in Old University. This chaos, however, asserts itself positively, since it allows for something essential to the academy, namely The Maverick. Old Universities seldom allow for our Maverick since they threaten their ivory tower complacency . Our Maverick has a restless thirst for knowledge questioning not just their research interests, but also the perspective of their students. The Maverick in Higher Education therefore has more latitude to do their own thing as it were. It seems therefore tragically unlikely that the Old University student will foray into the worlds of critical discursive psychology or Queer theory since the academic culture within the faculty will not allow it. 

This is sad since the students at Old University are likely to be our future slavedrivers, isn’t it frightening to think of their infallibility, more to the point, that actually their education is more sanitised than ours because of our Maverick and their routine insistence for us to think outside the box.                    
 

Mar. 17th, 2009

Where is the Working Class: Response to Discussion.


A proposition cropped up in discussion yesterday evening which caught my cognition:

“…Marxism is dead because there is no working class…”

Our task today will be to unpick this assumption. Let us begin with the question of what is working class by considering classical Marxism. The working class is a labouring class whose reason for being is to have surplus extracted from them by an abstract bourgeois they are likely never to see, smell or even hear. Consider the perfumery assistant who works for Bigtown Department Store but will never see or meet the owner. However, the individual under scruitiny sadly lacked a critical understanding of classical Marxism and when probed, revealed their false consciousness and their apologetic tendency. To the individual in question, the working class’ was that portion of humanity who lived a brutish, nasty and short existence. Upon further probing, this narrow definition was extended to include all sections of the ‘working class’ who were resistant, or at the very least outwith the reaches of capital, in so far as their constant is none of them work.

So we are armed with the crystal of insight that working symbolises that one is not working class; yet by not working one is working class. It is little wonder our petty bourgeois are the most ambivalent and insecure strata in our society. Nevertheless, we bravely persist.  Working apparently does not predict being working class so what exactly does ‘working’ predict? It predicts access to a world of symbolically valued commodities. As we learned from our earlier forays into this fanciful world it exists only to promote false consciousness. How does it do this? Well, it makes the traumatic onset of proleterianisation more palatable. As advanced capitalism gathers pace it has a tendency to erode traditional class distinctions by equalising labour processes bringing them more into line with classical Marxist distinctions of class. Clearly such an order is incongruent with accumulation of surplus so there is need for some instrument of false consciousness all the better if it unwittingly yields profit in doing so. The role of instrument is therefore played by symbolic commodities; not even the most brilliant of bourgeois minds could have predicted its pervasive impact on human societies.

People who work; work for a wage, this wage is squandered on symbolic commodities, why? To express self? For enjoyment?  While these are the superficial rationalisations there is a more insidious process at hand here. Humans cannot help stratify and organise their mental representations in order to understand context however, when that context is governed by laws of competition, it is logical to assume their stratification principles are competitively organised. Selves therefore now stand in relation to others like commodities at market. The point is this; the bourgeois no longer have to worry themselves about bothersome things like ideology or politics because the work of divide and conquer is conducted on the ground by its wage slaves using symbolic consumption

The stupefying false consciousness dictated by this order prevents the revolutionary seed within the organic composition of capital from ever bearing fruit viz., the process erodes traditional class distinctions by equalising labour processes thereby creating a shared experience of labour uniform across all labourers. Here every occupation has been stripped of its reverential halo and is reduced to its quantitative aspect in so far as it represents a definite quantity of labour time and not a unique quality of humanity. Thus, to the bourgeois, it matters not one jot if the labour is conducted by a teacher or by our perfumery assistant, all that matters is that it yields surplus values; thus all social labours, be they conducted by our teacher or our perfumery assistant, are one and the same to the bourgeois and considered in their quantitative aspect alone.

We have yet to answer our falsely conscious apologist; does the working class exist.?  Yes, because you, I and our readers are its members. The thing to keep in mind when such intrusive thoughts occur is do I work? If the answer is yes, then lo and behold you are working class. You can invent all kinds of fanciful notions to make more palatable your meagre existence but ultimately to the bourgeois you aspire to be you are nothing but a set of hands in which a capacity to labour exists. To think otherwise is false consciousness but to argue publicly in favour of the contrary position is the height of legitimating folly which makes the bourgeois task less complicated by lessening the social need for ideology. 

A residual stench hangs over us still. The apologists are dumbfounded; surely  we are classless, governed by the invisible hand of meritocracy! We therefore ask them to do something extraordinary, we ask them to think outside the box, we ask them whether they work or not, and whether their immediate ancestors/family work also. They say yes, yet there is no class society, and each can earn the right to be bourgeois. There are not enough hours in the day to point out all the things wrong with this assumption; no doubt we shall endeavour to do so; but not today.

Marxism is still relevant, perhaps more so, since there can be no doubt as to the validity of its class structure. We exist in a critical revolutionary moment in history which is likely never to be repeated for two decades. Now is the time to seize initiative in the struggle. It is the case that classical Marxism is naïve and insecure in so far as it resists any attempt at modernisation by the forces of post modernity. Nonetheless, this is an isolated problem existing at the level of ideology for our activists are well aware of the impact of post modernity, advanced capitalism, liquid society however ivory tower academics chose to label it and they will not be duped into accepting a vacuous world of symbolic commodities as a second rate substitute for human dignity and solidarity.   
 

Mar. 16th, 2009

Counter-intuition: A Preliminary Psychoanalysis.


The last three decades have seen a momentous reversal in gendered roles, specifically in the discursive practice of flirting. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries the playing of delightful tricks and games was the exclusive preserve of men. However, from the late 20th Century onward we observe the erosion of this order and elevation of women to an active role in an intangible discursive and social psychological practice of flirting and the tangible arena of economics and culture.  It is women who through subtle non verbal cues allow the man to proceed with his seduction; indeed without her implicit approval attempts at seduction are contemptuously denied and their desires blocked.  It is worth noting the criteria for approval are never static and constantly in motion based as they are on the machinations of female intersubjectivity, therefore, it is illogical for men to lay claim to a universal seduction strategy since the shifting criteria for approval dictate that his strategy will be obsolete even before he has had time to speculate and rationalize. 

Flirting successfully necessarily requires an element of counter-intuition.  What is this esoteric construct you ask?   It is simply another way of describing the discursive practice of flirting or the playing of subtle mind games when interacting with a member of the opposite gender. The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott (1997) argues the playing of the flirting games are a prerequisite of adult self construction. He deconstructs the orthodox binary within psychoanalysis between the child and the adult to argue it is only through the playing of flirting games that the adult develops a coherent sense of self . What his subversion does is open up a potential space for the construction of a stable gender identity, a luxury rarely afforded in a liquid society in which a great many of the taken for granted reference points are no longer valid. 

The Discursive Emasculation of the [Masculine] Other.


The once taken for granted markers of so called reproductive value have been undermined i.e. a secure job; guaranteed income; virility and protection from harm and by extension so too have the intersubjective scripts pertaining to male female interaction been undermined. Thus, we see a crippling uncertainty and anxiety over how the other gender behaves while in the presence of its definitional opposite. Indeed, as women obtain waged and sexual autonomy they come to realize that there is no use value in retaining the construct of passivity and so remove their agency from the intersubjective scripts governing male female interaction in doing so constructing alternative post feminist scripts. A key aspect of these scripts is:

 “…What used to be carried out as a matter of course now has to be discussed, justified, negotiated and agreed…” (Beck & Beck-Gershein, 1995: 7).

Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine a context of sheer masculine anguish at having to engage in detailed negotiation with women with ultimately uncertain outcomes. Seduction comes to the fore here in so far as it renders the uncertain certain in the sense it allows a discursive reproduction of masculinity which manipulates its doing yet leaves its being intact.  However, this Butlerian performativity totally misses the corrupting psychological impact of a discursive reproduction upon impressionable and miserable young men. As we learned from our investigation of the three fold nature of capitalist production discrepancies emerge between the alienated me (ego) and the grounded I (id) which create horrific neuroses and delusional thought processes which if sufficiently problematised would be labeled as deviant or even pathologic. Consider, in the Cartesian tradition; I believe I am a racing car driver ergo I am a racing car driver is just another way of expressing I believe I am Napoleon ergo I am Napoleon; at which point to we omit the former from more systematic classification?

Our investigation does beg the question; are there any alternatives which men turn to in their search for certainty. In short yes in the form of popular magazines, their deconstruction is not the goal of our inquiries; nevertheless they form a key part of a desexualized and devalued masculinity, let us without haste investigate their logic. 

These magazines are reactionary pamphlets designed to stimulate masculine solidarity. In reality, however, they perpetuate masculine inadequacy by assuming sexual relations are fraught with risk (of rejection) and essentially random determined by the whims of fussy women who are to be distrusted by virtue of their desire to challenge and distort masculinity.  Within this, feminine sexuality is beyond the realms of masculine comprehension with the mythical monster of the female orgasm and its seeming intangibility seen as ideals which men can never fully attain. Its discourse therefore does not idealize the male orgasm but rather reconstitutes it around passive foreplay which in itself is entirely driven by her pleasure, her stimulation and her orgasm. This forever alters the measures of masculine virility in so far as it is measured not in terms of sexual conquest (how many times he came) but rather in terms of the female orgasm (how many times he made her come).
 

Previous 10