The rage of Caliban

When Dorian Gray looks at his portrait, he sees Caliban in his own nature. Wilde's view not only looks back to the eighteenth century but also foreshadows W.H. Auden's post Freudian conception of Caliban as the darkness inside us we seldom face but cannot avoid.

(Shakespeare's Caliban: a cultural history. Vaughan, Cambridge University Press, 1991)

One of the purposes of this blog is to send out Messages in Bottles. Perhaps a message from an enchanted island, but whatever the origin they are calculated to stir up a storm. A  message in a bottle is possibly the purest of messages, since it has no hidden agenda. How can it? It states a position that must be of necessity, explicit, and awaits a reply that of necessity is abstract. Since there can be no possible connection between author and recipient - the transaction is randomized, like a control - then the "reply" must be considerably purer, and devoid of hyperbole and caveat. This does not affect the quality of the reply, for the recipient may be either bright or stupid, but what all random recipients have in common is their response to raw data, uncluttered by the sort of riders you apply to, for example, reading an article in the Guardian, or watching the BBC's Question Time. The data is raw and elicits a raw reply. Another purpose of this blog is discourse, which is what my regular readers engage in. I cannot think of an analogy, but it is unlike the message in a bottle because it is knowing and has previously laid out rules, which are an incredibly complex series of suppositions and counter-arguments.

I have to admit that my posts sometimes push the limits of what is generally held to be "acceptable" and "appropriate", and that some posts are to some recipients supposedly "offensive" My take on this is that this is a false reaction, based upon the recipient's own insecurity. Insecurity about what they believe and what they should believe. It is, for want of a better analogy, the rage of Caliban seeing his face in a mirror; the darkest thoughts laid bare. The offense is purely the horror of revelation, as if revelation is intrinsically offensive and that the messenger should indeed be shot forthwith.

Raw data, received as it is by an interpretive community which has long adopted the role of Witchfinder General, is accordingly treated not reflectively, but doctrinally. The first level response is frequently "friend or foe". If an enemy is discerned, the response is a first strike, button pressing missile, or a cliche word, usually a portmanteau word that is used more defensively, but more importantly to assert which flag the recipient is flying.

I recently sent a message in a bottle with my post entitled Savages, and also my post about Steven Purcell. Unfortunately, my cast of regular readers know me well enough, and are intelligent enough to think about it, and argue a point before branding me a racist or a homophobe. (The whole thing falls down with a regular readership; they are tainted and knowing and understand that some kind of dialogue is taking place) It may well be that these posts are racist or homophobic, but that is not the point. The point is to see what people think. How people react, not for reactions sake but to understand better the zeitgeist, the received wisdom of the population and to fully understand the social implications of ones own abstract and often desultory, thinking.
Someone sort of suggested this blog may be a bit fascist. Of the Steven Purcell post, an anonymous commenter said,

"Your previous comment and your poor defense of it place you firmly in the same boat as gutter journalism. Show a little humanity"

and also

"I believe it is necessary to stand up for the little person, those with no voice. I stand against the fascist. You stand very near to fascist behaviour."

I am not sure what the last comment referred to, or how they discerned this - which is why it is so interesting. You have to agree there is a purity about this comment that defies contamination by loyalty and politeness and indeed any foreknowledge of me or my five years of blogging or my private correspondences with commenters and bloggers.

My response to these comments was two-fold. The first was to challenge my understanding of fascism, and then, having assured myself that I understood the idea, and did not need a major rethink, to try and figure out what prompted the poster to use the word "fascist".

I leave my regular readers to answer that one, because, messages in bottles are ok, but once in a while you need to have discourse*

"According to Foucault, truth, morality, and meaning are created through discourse*. Every age has a dominant group of discursive elements that people live in unconsciously."

(anal seepage type posts will resume shortly) 


Norton Folgate said...

I'm quite surprised posts mentioning "anal seepage" weren't immediately construed to be homophobic by somebody.

Being called a fascist is par for the course when encountering any strident lefty just before he demands the right to remove your freedom of speech.

Ruth@VS said...

A good post, WW. Part of our problem these days is that we have been trained to self-censor certain things. I used to work in the public sector where "equalities" training was (and still is) de rigueur, and most of this training consists of what not to say. I only once encountered a (black) trainer who was brave enough to voice what people actually think and allow people to express it without being judgmental. The fact is, we all have pre-conceived views of some kind based on our life experience, whether we see "fascism" all around us, or "racism" or think that every child criminal can be rehabilitated and live in a nice, fluffy world. The key is to be able to discuss them, challenge our perceptions and accept views different from our own. That is freedom of speech, a rare commodity to be treasured.

Condolence Messages said...

Wao what a very nice post. thanks for sharing it...

Adrian Mountebank said...

Friend of mine asked me to post this for him. He's too busy today to do it himself.

'Since Harris’s seminal 1952 work, developed by Garfinkel, practitioners of ‘discourse analysis’ have spread through the hallowed groves of academe like freshly released gametes spreading into warm, soggy Y-fronts.

Scorning the hypotextual delusion that mentally encoded templates guide action, discourse analysis focusses on finding new ways for people who are too stupid to do statistics and who are much too important to collect data meticulously and systematically themselves and too talentless to get grants to pay other people to collect data for them, to gain promotion in their colleges anyway.

By focussing on the foundational issue of how a description is built to present a course of action as following from a standardized routinening, they hope to turn out ‘journal articles’ based on ‘spoken text’ (discourse) provided to them by a strange man standing by a tree with his trousers around his ankles in Russell Square at two thirty five in the morning, and provided at a time when the author himself was in no position to contaminate the spontaneous protocol except with sounds that were prelinguistic.

Discourse analysis conceives quantum singular geospatial intuition to be the source of all formal equivalence relations between countertexts. Accordingly, the output of its advocates has been compared to the plaintive cries of jellyfish on insanity peppers.

Brief hope amongst military historians that discourse analysts' work on ‘sublanguage’ might reveal new meta-Enigma U-Boat codes devised by Grand Admiral Karl ‘Dunkin’ Doenitz was drowned when it became clear that this avenue of work was devoted entirely to identifying how to ask for a large sandwich.

In sum, were discourse analysts to be possessed of any talent whatsoever they may have been about capable of reinventing the flat tyre. As it is, they merely suck.'

Wrinkled Weasel said...

thanks, Jim