One way you can tell a subject is particularly contentious is if you see me taking two sides of the argument on two separate occasions. Especially if I’m the one starting the argument each time and I’m the most vociferous each time.
Particularly when I still can’t decide where I stand.
And especially when I change my mind during said arguments at least three times.
So yeah, contention.
Languague right. It’s pretty fucked. Björk inspired me again today (I fall in love with her voice a million times a minute whenever I’m listening to or thinking about it. If you don’t love her go listen to Five Years, if you don’t love her by the second time she says she’s bored of cowards I swear to all that is holy or not that you don’t actually have a heart.)
Basically, it’s that line about making your own currency and stamps and protecting your language.
I mean, I want to make my own language. There is no greater freedom. To be able to say exactly what you mean without just living out someone else’s grammar and linguistic structure with every fucking word you spout.
There’s an obvious problem though, if you make up your own language, nobody else will understand.
Society is strangled by the fact that everything has to make sense, and not just to me (or you, if you feel that way inclined) but to everyone else as well.
It’s that social element that gives hegemonic forces their stranglehold upon us.
Let’s take a step back to the contentious issue already alluded to.
Basically, I can’t decide how to use the words father and mother. Paternity and Maternity.
The terms are loaded. There’s a whole ream of associations with each.
Now to me, my definitions are different to others, not least because they are, to some extent, defined by relationship with my own mother and father. In ways, my definition is non-traditional, but in other ways it isn’t.
Then there’s the fact that I’m aware what the cultural norm is. Fathers are authority and maybe games (particularly competition), Mothers are love and nurture.
Now in fact, for me, father becomes anger, drunkness and distance, the one to rebel against (which I guess makes him authority). Mother becomes sadness, a guilt attached. The love’s there for both, but different.
Anyway, we’re supposed to be talking about society, not my own upbringing (maybe some other time…I’m conscious that I just painted a fairly bad picture pretty quickly, but that ain’t true, there was just no outwardly expressed love in my family, it was all implicit, hidden and almost ignored…I think I only realised recently how strongly it was always there…anyway, I’m gonna change the subject).
So there’s a mix coming into the words. Personal experience, and the culturally mediated ‘norm’. The patriarchy, the word even, it’s about father hood.
I’ll get somewhere near my first point maybe, which is that I don’t want to be a ‘Father’. But, y’know. I’ve got to be (assuming I have kids at some point, which I really hope happens).
I don’t want to be some cliched stereotype, I want to be loving and caring, and to all intents and purposes, closer aligned with the ‘norm’ of motherhood. I intend to nurture and raise and be loving and equal and everything. I don’t want to be distant and authoritative, I don’t want to be cruel and I certainly don’t want to be anything like the SCUM daddy:
Fatherhood and Mental Illness (fear, cowardice, timidity, humility, insecurity, passivity): Mother wants what’s best for her kids; Daddy only wants what’s best for Daddy, that is peace and quiet, pandering to his delusion of dignity (`respect’), a good reflection on himself (status) and the opportunity to control and manipulate, or, if he’s an `enlightened’ father, to `give guidance’. His daughter, in addition, he wants sexually — he givers her hand in marriage; the other part is for him. Daddy, unlike Mother, can never give in to his kids, as he must, at all costs, preserve his delusion of decisiveness, forcefulness, always-rightness and strength. Never getting one’s way leads to lack of self-confidence in one’s ability to cope with the world and to a passive acceptance of the status quo. Mother loves her kids, although she sometimes gets angry, but anger blows over quickly and even while it exists, doesn’t preclude love and basic acceptance. Emotionally diseased Daddy doesn’t love his kids; he approves of them — if they’re `good’, that is, if they’re nice, `respectful’, obedient, subservient to his will, quiet and not given to unseemly displays of temper that would be most upsetting to Daddy’s easily disturbed male nervous system — in other words, if they’re passive vegetables. If they’re not `good’, he doesn’t get angry — not if he’s a modern, `civilized’ father (the old-fashioned ranting, raving brute is preferable, as he is so ridiculous he can be easily despised) — but rather express disapproval, a state that, unlike anger, endures and precludes a basic acceptance, leaving the kid with the feeling of worthlessness and a lifelong obsession wit being approved of; the result is fear of independent thought, as this leads to unconventional, disapproved of opinions and way of life.
For the kid to want Daddy’s approval it must respect Daddy, and being garbage, Daddy can make sure that he is respected only by remaining aloof, by distantness, by acting on the precept of `familiarity breeds contempt’, which is, of course, true, if one is contemptible. By being distant and aloof, he is able to remain unknown, mysterious, and thereby, to inspire fear (`respect’).
-Valerie Solanas – SCUM Manifesto, available all over the shop, including here.
Sorry for the long dense and vaguely irrelevant quote, but seriously, This is big important and scary stuff. I Solanas will make you think more about the fucked up nature of the world than virtually anything there is.
My thought stream is interrupted, so I shall move closer the the point. Yes.
Basically, there’s a dilemma. Do you withdraw from the loaded language or do you subvert it?
The first big argument about this came from Significex talking about wanting to abandon both terms in favour of the gender neutral ‘Parent’. That didn’t sit well with me. It sounds strained and unnatural.
But I think the real problem, as came to light in more arguing with the Sea Witch, is the fact that it’s like giving up. It’s like saying, you’re strangling us with language, and so we’ll have to lose all the richness of it, and just use neutral bland terms to describe everything.
Sure, they’ll lose some power, but where’s the challenge, where’s the subversion, where’s the ‘fuck shit up’ attitude that you need to grab people, make them think, re-evaluate, and then change.
Where’s the taking the language and re-inventing it?
That’s what we need to do surely? Declare independence, don’t let them do that to you.
But how can you redefine language in a way that actually gets across the difference. The palimpsest insists that you always see the old traces.
When I was thinking about this earlier, it all tied in with a big spiel about post modernism. The route that challenges everything, asks all the newest and most exciting questions, because it asks all questions.
That sense of play, of vague, uncentred, looseness. That danger, that lack of structure. It means everything gets upset.
But it’s like an internal language, one only you can understand.
It is detached, and somehow, useless. It has no answers.
But I can’t give up on it. I do believe that there is value there. The challenge can be laid down. Then we can build something.
Float downstream, into the ocean, and build something new. (cf The Passion of New Eve, another of my favourite texts).
I’m not resolved. I feel two opposite and contradictory things at once. There is no absolute truth, just multiple truths. All jumbling for dominance.
But they can’t. We just need to keep on jumbling. The very foundations of patriarchy cannot hold against this plague of uncertainty forever.
Language is weird. And we’re stuck with it. But that I suggest we beat it into submission; and not the other way round.
Just a thought.
Now playing: Chris Clark – [Body Riddle #01] Herr Bar [foobar2000 v0.9.4.3]