Pop-voyeurs of Power-fights, Sex-indulging and Money-making

In June, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences reported to Congress on the fragile state of the humanities in our country. Only 7, 6 percent of American college students majored in the humanities in 2010. Programs in humanistic fields, from world languages to the study of religion, are notoriously underfunded. And there is a growing cultural sense that in a difficult economy the humanities are mere luxuries. In November of last year, a Florida task force recommended that state universities charge higher tuition to students majoring in the humanities. Public money, Governor Rick Scott argued, should go to students working in fields that create jobs. Florida, he said, does not need “a lot more anthropologists”.
Stephanie Paulsell, “Christian Humanists”, “The Christian Century”, August 7, 2013, p. 35

Social power and fighting skills (for the place in social hierarchy), sex and erotic seduction, and money and money-alchemy (its ability to reproduce/multiply itself) – here are three areas where we are always voyeurs even when simultaneously achievers: with fans, admirers and imitators. It doesn’t matter how successful we are as fighters and power-seekers and -keepers, as sexual conquerors and erotic seducers and seductresses, and as moneymakers and financial success-builders – we always feel a little dilettantish when we face these three areas – the demons of human destiny. We never feel completely in charge. That’s why the heroine of Fassbinder’s “A Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” says that she feels humility in front of the money she makes. Social power, sex and money are for us like what parental intercourse is for a little child. It makes us stunted and stoned. It makes us obsessively fixated forever. It transforms us into mouth-agape.

These demons cannot be conquered by human talent because the areas of experience represented by them are primal scenes. In relation to them we are children subdued by their mysteriousness. We cannot completely grasp what’s going on there. We are tied to them totally, tenderly, tragically, as the hero of Godard’s “Contempt” remarked so poetically describing his attraction to his wife who is psychologically made of “super-human” stuff. The more power people have the more power they want. The more successful they are in their sexual life the more and more successful sex they need. The more influential they are the more they are afraid that they are not influential enough. Our irrational rapport with fight/competition, sexuality and money multiplication is exploited by today’s politico-economic system trying to distract people from any attempt to transform life in society into a more humane social enterprise. Artificial stimulation of possessive and consumerist reflexes makes people enviously admire the marshals and generalissimos of wealth, be in love with the super-stars and melt in front of generals and tough-rough politicians.

People look for success, search for opportunities, and silently or noisily nurture their heroic potential and meanwhile identify with Bush Junior’s kind of belligerent talks, Bill Clinton’s Monika cigar, with the rich, famous and consistent and persistent in their sweaty and fatty dreams. People watch athletic fights and power struggle, vicissitudes of amorous and sexual encounters and moneymaking/money-losing sagas with never exhausted – a tongue-out dedication. The ideologically neo-liberal culture and (mass-cultural) entertainment provides them with these irrefutable theatricalities ad nauseam, it lets the three demons to keep human beings in their jaws – without swallowing them but also without letting them go. By this it keeps people over-occupied and free from trying to change the direction of the system.

We consume countless spectacles of fighting to shining sweet-sweat and blow-blood, boxing, pro-wrestling, ultimate fighting, ultimate fighting for children, baseball and booze-ball, American football, boot-ball and butt-ball, Karate-karaoke, King-Kong-Fu, court battle-matches and lawsuits/settlement punches, etc. We consume sock-sexy soap operas, pornography, pair-nography and group-nography, super-dooper-pooper-scooper-stars in actions, reactions and convulsions – without being able to stop for a breath of freedom (shows appropriated all freedom we could have). And we consume the monumental, cosmic spectacle of global magic of money-multiplication. And we try to learn how to do this – we listen to money multiplication heroes and gurus as SRussians listened to Stalin speeches or Italians – to Mussolini’s voice or Berlusconi’s adventures.

By gluing to the demons of the primal scenes we put our (private) voyeurism (and pleasures connected with it) ahead of our public life. We become privatized, drowned into spectacles. We become an appendix to our primary fixations, which in essence, are theatrical – they yearn to become public. We are privatized but our imagination is public, socialized. We, sitting in the darkness in front of stage performances or in a movie theater dream to be on the stage or the screen – to become great fighters, lovers and profit- and glamour-makers. It is the destiny of everything privatized – to become public: to publicly brag about our private achievements. The private prowess of having “made it” and possessing it is, in essence, public appeal for public recognition. The area of private life is this desire to enhance public image of ourselves, the desire to reach the public appreciation and admiration. The private is oriented on public display from the very beginning. It is public because it is private.

Social power and sex and money belong to this paradoxical sphere of the mixture of private and public, of intimacy and theatricality, of sovereignty and servility of appealing for recognition.