Acting-Out Politics

Weblog opens discussion about the psychology of Bushmerican style of behavior.

Karl Hubbuch, “Three Recruits”, 1924

Three recruits – three facial expressions, three bodily postures and one common alertness mixed with deep seated fear of what war can do to them. These German recruits were under the Damocles’ sword of mandatory military service, but American recruits today who are free to make their own decision about enlisting or not, are in actuality not free from the necessities which can force them to sign up – chronic unemployment, inflated price of college education, general pauperization as a result of austerity measures and modest but a reliable salary for being military.

The face of the recruit on the left shows that he is already psychologically mobilized, and his stern seriousness includes militancy. His eyes and gaze communicate that he’ll be able to meet the enemy without any sentiments. His neck and head are one with his body which is already took a form corresponding to commands of his superiors. In comparison with his buddies we, the viewers of the drawing can see his hands, and that, probably, suggests his readiness for the weapons which he’ll get soon.

The recruit in the middle seems to be much more human. His forehead is more streamlined, the facial features are soft. His lips has a slight grimace of a sulking on his destiny. Still, his eyes are accepting what is happening to him – he is ready to make an effort.

The recruit to the right is stocky and rather thickset. But the most interesting in him is that he reacts on being “in the line of duty” with the strongest concentration. His attention to what is before him is the sharpest – as if, he is already taking aim to open fire. How much in his ability to be attentive to what’s going on in front of him is real and how much is a pose in front of his sergeant is difficult to say.

The practice of subjugating the already educationally limited human beings by making them recruits and soldiers through despotic rule and ideology of jingoism and megalomaniacal promise to triumph over enemies is congruent to our human nature. To corrupt ordinary human beings into becoming killers of human otherness in the world is the warmongers “noble” “high craft”. It’s so much more difficult to learn how to talk and negotiate peacefully with different from us (dissimilar) people than to understand scientific miracles. That’s why when Einstein in his later years comprehended it he became the object of suspicion and hate even in a democratic country.

*To The Memory Of Audie Murphy (1925 – 1971), Perhaps, One Of The Most Humanistically Significant Actors In American Western

During WWII Murphy was an efficient soldier, a person with a soul without any militancy and bravado (almost paradoxical combination in any army). And he was a movie actor without any emotional pedaling – exist as a style of acting oriented to seduce the viewers by transforming them into movie-star’s blind admirers. The quiet rationality of his screen persona is different and personified an alternative to the sentimental appeal of the Western (positive) heroes to the public. Murphy with his non-imposing humanness was organically (not just by the movie plot) victorious over the exaggerated vulgarity and cruelty of the bad guys and villains and their pompous and their braggadocios idolatrous fixation on guns and moneymaking. While he made many movies he never felt himself a star. His characters were “too real” in comparison with the shiningly positive or boastfully negative personages.

Audie Murphy was, as if a follower of Robert Bresson even before this exceptional film director made his major films and had theoretically elaborated his existentially spiritual cinematographic style. In American Westerns where there was a sharp contrast between the bad and the good people, Murphy personified the alternative good, good without any pride, a good inseparable from humility and modesty (righteousness or even confidence was never sticking up from his head).

Murphy’s exact but non-imposing style ennobled the American Western.

Murphy’s exact but non-imposing style ennobled the American Western.

Murphy’s personage is kissed by a glamorous lady

What is supposed to be a bravado pose – confrontational and gun-supported, with Murphy is a relaxed one, which in his case was never out of tune with alertness and quickness of reaction.

Audie Murphy and Jimmy Stuart (as we see Audie’s character is gentle but stubborn)

Audie Murphy’s hero is concentrating on his coming action not so much physically as mentally

Murphy’s character is looking ahead into the

“On any given night, more than 554,000 people are homeless in America. In New York, authorities report that 114,659 children are either homeless or living in temporary housing. And in the past six years, homelessness in Los Angeles has surged 75 percent to more than 55,000 people. Hunger, disease, and violence are rife in homeless communities. How can something like this happen–how can it keep getting worse–in the richest country in the world?”
Richard D. Wolff

Gustav Courbet, “Charity Of A Beggar At Ornans”, 1868

After seeing the Yemeni children deformed by famine created by war we feel that for our nominally democratic country to allow children in any planetary spot to reach this condition means that everything can happen inside US – that soon we, Americans (today almost a million of federal employees have to work without salaries and to beg their land-lords not to throw them to the street) can reach the condition depicted by Courbet in his “Charity of a Beggar”.

The beggar passing on his endless road the “shipwrecked” woman with children was stopped by a child asking him for food (the hungry from the hungry one, the homeless from the homeless). Without knowing what to do the wandering beggar… pretends in front of the child that he is giving him a peace of something, and the child living with hunger god knows how long is… prone to believe him. He is taking from the pauper the imaginary offerings and trying to fill with them his mouth. And for a precious moment he, probably, feels a little better. And, may be, the beggar as well.

We have to prepare ourselves that with this so called leader of our lives with his shining smiles, brute jokes and daily menaces who is already responsible for two children’s death, will come the time when American children from poor families will be in danger of extreme chronic hunger Courbet depicts. The necessity and “health” of “austerity measures” were officially proclaimed by the conservatives even before of this “archangel” (sharkangel) in the white nest. Mass murders at schools and on the streets of our cities take place with unforgivable efficiency. The face of Courbet’s beggar and the inevitable credulity of a starving child is impossible to forget.

This new type of Americans are not able to defend themselves and their children from being slaughtered right on the streets of American cities and in schools, movie theaters, supermarkets, concert halls and inside their homes. Hundreds of murders takes place all over the country, year after year, when desperate, hateful or mentally sick people armed with military kind of high-tech machine-guns kill innocent citizens whom they more often didn’t even know personally. And nothing is done about it already for many years because of the growing cult of high-tech weapons in the country, obsessive desire to possess them and the cowardice of new Americans not trying to save the innocent people from becoming victims. Instead they rely on luck – that their family members and friends will not be killed, but another people instead.

The billions of dollars the traditional – conservative Americans spend year after year on high-tech weapons for private ownership (with which they play like fairytale king with golden coins). Their fear of the growling poor (who “dream to take away their property, land, houses, guns and destroy their families”) exaggerated by the stress of modern life is intensified the more “foreigners”, “blacks” and “democrats” “are trying to survive and live better appropriating the American dream for themselves”. These worshipers of super guns are chronically afraid. Psychological need for super-guns keeps the gun sales in US extremely liberal – people can buy military style weapons without even having to prove that they’re mentally trained to handle it responsibly, and they are practically free to play with bullets like kids with plastic toy-soldiers.

So, we have those who obsessively buy assault super-weapons to feel themselves as potential Crusaders on their own land, then those who buy super-guns to kill casual people to feel a quasi-orgasmic relief of having become somebody, and those who just live like trees in a forest, with vitality spent on everyday life – who cannot even try to protect their children from guns in the hands of criminals and crazies. This last category of people – the fruits of American post-WWII mass prosperity are more educated than the gun-eaters but much more passive. They’re unable to do anything about the deadly anarchy of private guns – the psychological black hole amidst American democracy, except… publicly weeping and sincerely suffering when their child, friend and neighbor have been “casually” killed. And this weeping goes on for decades, while a new breed of mass murderers, obviously, cannot be stopped because they’re statistically hidden amidst the private high-tech guns worshipers demanding the absence of regulations for selling super-weapons to anybody who wants to purchase it.

The cult of high-tech weapons in private possession is very American and a very mass-cultural cult of high-tech toys in general. Like a child cannot be rational about an irresistible toy and is emotionally trapped into a symbiotic relations with it, like today’s adults are psychologically glued to their cell-phones, so Americans of all ages are fascinated with barrels and triggers of guns and feel exalted by the contrast between the smallness and compact beauty of the thing itself and grandiose results when you are putting your hands into its magic. Many believe in life giving power of guns like traditional believers in the Almighty-God.

But for our philistines unable to protect their loved ones from the gun muzzles – life is as a socio-political game – you play along according to the rules and will be rewarded correspondingly. They think that nothing can be done against random mass shootings taking annually about 40,000 American life – that god helps “my children and family”. They’re subdued by the massiveness and fanaticism of American gun lobby and gun-cult. They are not so much afraid of them as they are oppressed by the heaviness of their presence and existence. On some level they’re aware that they‘re betraying the victims of mass shootings, but philistines are inert. Life for them is a game in time and the evil is a part of it – what can you do with it? They’re not necessarily physically cowards, but – spiritually. And between spiritual virtues and everyday money the space is large, as life itself.

Gun-worshipers accumulating weapons at homes and souls don’t shoot people like pathological haters and mass murderers but – it looks, they wait for their time. And until it’ll come, they continue to buy and store as many high-tech guns as they can and train themselves in high-tech shooting. But semi-prosperous philistines are beyond justification in their shameful political passivity to find ways to stop the sales of weapons to unqualified people. In a decent society weapons in the hands of not qualified and mentally disturbed people are not supposed to wander around looking for victims.

The predatory mind at best can only tolerate applied science – the one which can help the decision-makers to multiply their profits and power without grasping that applied research can exist only on the basis of the implicit – pure and disinterested science.

Science is a combination of facts with their verification, studying and interpretation (not without permanent critical self-analysis of the very process of thinking on the part of scientists) leading to their understanding. For the scientific minds (opposite of predatory ones) facts are a sacred reality belonging to the very structure of the world including our environment and us ourselves. The difference between scientific minds and predatory ones is that the former are respectful of facts, while the latter rush to exploit them for impatient profits. The scientists are intellectually pious before the world, while the predatory people are driven to dominate the world, nature and ordinary human beings.

Scientists try to understand the sacred world – for them to study reality is a refined form of worship, in which intellectual process is paired with emotional love for the mysteries they try to unweave. But for today’s neo-cons “understanding” of facts is done by intuitive guesses, just by believing that their impressions from the world are right because they personally are “very smart” and because their ideas confirm for them the wisdom of their predatory – appropriative orientation. Being without humility in front of the complicated nature of the world, predatory mind doesn’t have the time to verify facts and intellectually control what it “thinks”. It behaves with the world with vulgar familiarity. It acts instead of thinking – it’s like a general commanding its own and other people’s bodies.

It’s not surprising that neocons are incapable of understanding facts and proofs of the phenomenon of global warming (GW). But it will be simplistic to think that they are refusing to accept the dangers of GW because to accept it means to lose their profit from, for example, fossil fuels. Of course, they’re in panic of losing their profits (what are they without profits? Just prefixes without words or lower than the low and emptier than emptiness). But being phobic about their inability to grow wealth and about losing what they already accumulate is the basic reason why they cannot even imagine to think like scientists – their minds are so crude and their souls so frightened that for them it’s psychologically impossible to appreciate the seriousness of scientific intellectual procedures, like verification of facts or strict analysis of one’s own thinking and conclusions. Serious thinking for neo-cons is humiliating and traumatic – they permanently need to feed themselves with easy success and sleazy victories. That’s why they corrupted everybody with super-duper consumerism and appealing flattery entertainment.

The very fact that for these post-modern primitives not only the dangers of GW are not real, but that the very idea of GW creates in them paranoid fury is a confirmation that for them living exclusively by calculating and appropriating money/profit is practically the only reality while scientific thinking is more than suspicious.

These people dressed in power operate with magic distortion of various facets of reality. Take, for example, the childish absurdity of their statements that investing money into political candidates is a form of freedom of speech or that “corporations are people” and have a right to have human (individual) rights (that not only private moneys to politicians are a freedom of speech, but corporate money also), or that the more high-tech weapons are in private hands the safer will be we, Americans. You can easily add to these examples of abysmal scientific illiteracy many more profit-worshipper’s exemplary beliefs and “sayings”.

It’s not enough to teach science and arts on college level – free to everybody in US, but teachers should feel free to explain to their students how politico-economic determinations can distort the very perception of science and arts, how propagandized through mass-media values of extra-consumption and super-entertainment distract people from cathecting disinterested (not based on obsessive-compulsive calculation of the personal advantage) thinking about life.

Dora Maar “Picasso Sleeping” (1936 – 1937)

Looking at the photograph for the first time one can get the feeling that something is not quite right here. Indeed, something is very particular in Picasso’s sleeping. Is it really sleep, or something more or something other than sleeping? Picasso is, as if, embracing himself with his left arm and right hand (the one he will soon be using again holding and directing the brushes. He is, as if, covering, enveloping himself to distance himself from the world where his alive body is temporarily settled in the bed.

The contrast between the light and dark areas of Picasso’s body, the bed and the air of the room hints that the topic here is not the fact that Picasso is sleeping because it’s time to sleep – to rest, to accumulate energy in order to continue his spirited life and creative work (or that it’s already morning and time to get up, etc.) The point here is rather that the contrast between light and darkness together with the intensity of his posture suggest that something is very particular about his non-presence while sleeping. Take the contrasted area of the pillow brightness right around Picasso’s head drowned in the darkness (we’ll see what this contrast means – what the artist is up to – later, in his works, or his fingers, as if playing melodies on his left shoulder (on the way from the effect of light to visual music expressed on the canvass).

Picasso’s face is covered by a “self-sustaining” shade – not a naturalistic shadow projected by, let’s say, the angle of the window cover or something. It’s the shade of his “sleeping distance” from us regular people and from our monotonous world and rudimentary imagination. While he is sleeping his soul is not resting nor hypnotized by the events of the world or high or delirious. It’s wondering in different worlds. It’s not only the mysterious darkness of his face separates him from us, but the light which warms his body and intensifies his back, shoulder and right hand. While sleeping he is, as if, charging his imagination by the alternative but… universal knowledge about the “bizarre” lives which will later become visible in his creative works.

Sleeping Picasso is much farther from this world than we, regular sleepers and dreamers just resting from the despotic concreteness of our lives revenging us in our sleep by the images of exaggerated fears or hypertrophied happiness, until the next morning with its habitual routine when non-freedom and entertaining boredom return and pleasures again will be severely taxed by the limitations of our organic stupidity. But in his works Picasso who during his sleep is charged with alive otherness will address us with the vitality of his creative gift to carve life more real and exuberant than our every-days and holidays, our flying-ups and our falls.

For Dora Maar’s Picasso to sleep it means to acquaint his mind and soul with creative innovations of perception and reactions, feelings and love. Picasso as an artist is alertly opened to the present mixed with its past and future in their common organic limitations. It makes him a really democratic type of personality. For him hysterical innovations are much more dangerous than human limitations without sparkles of intolerance to otherness. In the same time there is no conservative routine in his artistic style with the highest coefficient of transformative dynamism. In his work he, as if, personifies the sublimated democracy in action – able to carefully modify itself in appearance and essence. His artistic style is always realistically oriented – is always semantically pursuing objective reality provable even when it seems exaggeratedly exotic.

Take just a tiny fraction of his artistic achievements – portraits of Dora Maar. His numerous paintings of her – are endless modifications of her face and body and her facial expressions and moods without modifying her soul or distorting her appearance – you can always recognize her face and facial expressions in spite of their transformations. Like she in her photograph “Picasso’s sleeping” immortalized psychology of his creative personality as a part of the Grand-Master’s mystic, he immortalized her in her very being. The experience of mutual immortalization! What can be more glorious result of personal love?

Dora Maar, “Boy on the Corner of the Rue de Genets” (1933)

We see that the wall the boy is leaning against is probably the back wall of some kind of a “cargo” place), be it a garage or a storage. Judging by the boy’s face he is trying to rest – to semi-sleep – right on his legs. His clothes are not orderly and he looks tired but at the same time, somehow, busy.

Is he selling himself, as some of his gestures seem to hint at or just appealing to the mercy of anyone who might help a child in poverty? May be, it’s not even so important what particular reasons make the boy to appear, probably, habitually, on the corner of the Rue de Genets. The point is – the kid of his age is standing around the pole with street name on it and obviously soliciting from the passersby something he needs and obviously cannot get in other way.

The widespread reaction to this situation (today, as decades ago), is either the nasty suspicion that the kid is just “making business” while pretending to be poverty-ridden or even homeless and hungry or that he is exploiting his predicament to get a handout on the street instead of working or looking for corresponding agencies established for the purpose of helping children. To think like this is the habitual trick of those who identify poverty with immorality and a façade for illegal or pervert behavior. Instead of offering to a child some disinterested help this sort of people will indulge in twisting the problem to justify their indifference and philistinism. In a decent society a child has to be protected against the circumstances forcing him to stand around the corners or walk along the walls while appealing to passersby. There are numerous sentimental photographs about children in poverty, but Dora Maar in her “Boy on the Corner of the Rue de Genets” adds to the popular topic making human compassion too easy – the ambiguity of the cause of why a child in poverty has to be dependent on pedestrians.

Dora Maar, “Boy Holding a Cat” (1934)

Was this boy protectively embracing the cat – forced out of the door we see near him by his parents or relatives who didn’t want the cat inside their home? The door doesn’t look like belonging to a private residence. May be, he has just bought it or even saved the cat abandoned by its previous owner(s)? May be, these owners were mistreating and abusing the poor cat, and this made our boy so protective – he hold the creature, as if he feels responsible for its life in front of the world. Anyway, whatever the reasons of his protective passion, he obviously projects towards his cat his soul’s bonding energies.

But observing the photograph longer we feel something more here than boy’s noble desire to care about a beautiful animal like cat – nurture its little flame. It’s possible that the boy doesn’t just guard the cat’s chance to enjoy life like every living being wants. By being a bit obsessively protective toward the feline the boy can be prone unconsciously identify with its loneliness and a lack of attendance. May be, he himself in his own family feels not loved, not cared enough, emotionally abandoned. But by friendship with a cat, by being, as if, its elder brother he is also attending… himself. Now, he has a cat who will love him in response, share its warmth, play with him, who in a way – will encircle him with its, cat’s attention.

Each mother is also a child to her child. Alive beings in relationships know the two poles of mutuality, and play the both with one another in emotional palette of reciprocity, which is the content of relationship. It’s not only the cat is happy that the boy has adopted her, but the boy is equally happy that he found her. He, may be, belongs to his family, but the cat can become his own family. And he may enjoy new elements in mutual relation with the cat which he couldn’t discover in his togetherness with his parents, relatives or friends. Every person and every creature can improvise their own particularities of emotional togetherness which are original and an independent world for them to study, to learn, to love and to live through – in a life, where too many people stay emotionally hungry and underdeveloped.

Dora Maar, “Model in the window”, Paris, 1933

Have you notice that dolls often become tired of girls? It’s, as if, they feel that the girls’ real interest is not them, their dolls (whom they restlessly dress-undress and do-undo their hair, etc.), but… the men of their future. So, the girls’ dolls got the desire to look like dollishly beautiful women. A doll – an archaic pre-robotic robot “understood” that to pretend being a woman means to attract attention of men’s gazes – to become from being a thing to being somebody. For a doll to look like a woman means to be desired, even if men’s desiring gaze ephemeral, superficial and not serious. For the doll to look like a woman means to be a tiny bit like a woman, to be noticed and to be touched not by chaotic and indifferent girlish hands but by the heavy men’s fingers.

Doll-woman attractiveness is concentrated on her smooth face and warm neck, on her shoulders like a cool silk and on her generous breasts. Men who’re attracted to doll-women are really less interested in women’s lower body than in their “appearance” – their face and bust. Dolls are instinctive models – they can be used as doll-women, doll-mannequins, doll-facades – dolls wearing woman’s appearance as men do thick gloves, mustache or necktie.

Yes, dolls come to men through girls, as girls come to men through dolls. What a difference with the destiny of a teddy bear in the boy’s shy-passionate hands! Teddy bear for boys from the beginning is a partial object, not a model of the future man. While a girl looking at her doll learns to see in the doll her own dreamlike and victorious feminine future, for the boy his teddy bear is his psychological dead end. For the girl her doll is hypothetical, approximate, crude version of her future, but for the boy his teddy bear is at best a caricature on his future manliness – a completely negative futuristic statement.

Dora Maar, “Model in the window 2”, Paris, 1933

But why can a woman have the desire to look like a doll – to pretend in front of men’s even quick (unconscious) gaze to be a doll? In the second photograph of already not a doll-woman, but of a woman-doll Dora Maar in her theater of mystification shows not a doll faking to be a woman, but a woman pretending that she is a doll, although the very doll-ness here has changed its aesthetic parameters. Now, doll-ness (as a model for a woman) is not an attempt of a doll to become more seductive – more human for a male gaze, but to the contrary – woman needs to look like a doll-boss and doll-power. Doll-ness here is a metaphor of toughness, strictness and hardness – of power.

In this photograph the woman-doll (as the opposite of doll-woman) looks like a person in charge, as someone responsible for maintaining order in the area, who can be perceived as watching around with the intention to detect any kind of disorder and noise which can undermine the logic of domestic rules and regulations. Here, woman-doll is the guardian of routine life in the courtyard. Look, how masterfully she is showing herself – presiding with her imposing physicality over the windows, balconies and public and commercial ads. Strong woman-doll is proud of her body because of its domineering presence in the yard.

Doll-women’s sexuality is fake but around them the men prone to be attracted to their particularity will feel almost erotic trembling of an invisible butterfly’s wings, while woman-doll‘s “negative” appeal is that of the ability to put men into a position of a child. The woman-doll’s appeal is sado-masochistic one. Her dollish rigidity (reflecting the crudeness of her body) is perceived by the local “bums” as “despotic ugliness”. But men with the woman-mother complex will be able to reach with woman-doll even sexual satisfaction. Some men are able to enjoy happy experiences with both kind, doll-women and women-dolls, because in both cases the common denominator of emotional experience is doll-ness – doll’s rigidity stabilizes the relationships when human personalities are not involved or are under-involved.

Cosmetic, fitness and beauty industries have been built on the paradox that doll-women are attractive by the upper part of their bodies – beautiful face, neck and breast (Dora Maar even leaves out/cuts the lower part of her doll-woman in the first photograph). Men who are obsessed with doll-women like to demonstrate to other men their sexual victories, which for them are like social achievement. On the other side, men who are attracted to the women-dolls are psychologically need “maternal” emotional support. It’s not by chance that Maar makes the woman-doll exceptionally tall – motherly presence or absence are of absolute importance for the child and for emotionally dependent men.

*Of course, in Maar’s two photographs above the both “models” are dolls used by the artist metaphorically as figures helping her to explain to us the difference between the two types of women in need of men’s attentive gaze. Doll-ness is used by Maar as a semantic artistic tool helping her to characterize men-women emotional attraction.

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