Friday, May 31, 2013

Umpired Umbathy, Pathic and Pathological, Part XI

“ To have a soul separate from the body is to have a body separate from other bodies. The soul is individual, and the individual is separate. The trauma is separation, the nucleus of the separate, individual soul. There is no trauma without a split in the self: part of the self regresses to the time before the trauma; stays behind, with the mother, in the womb; a self-encapsulation in a dream-womb. Out of separation not accepted comes a delusion of separation, the dream or fantasy of being himself both mother and child. He makes himself independent of the mother by making himself his own mother. The self is formed like a nation, by a declaration of independence, a split from mother or the mother country, and a split in oneself into both mother and child, so as to be self-sufficing. An independent sovereignty, a private corporation, a person, is made by self-splitting ( schizophrenia ) and involution ( introversion ).

In a dream, in fantasy, in unconscious fantasy he makes himself both child and mother; or rather, child in the mother; little one ( manikin ) in the mother; penis in the womb. Genital organization is the dream of uterine regression, of return to the maternal womb; a fantasy, a make-believe game, a play, a drama, acted out by the genital. “ Every human being can and does enact with his own body the double role of the child and the mother.” Ferenczi, Thalassa, 23.

If we now survey the evolution of sexxuality from the thumb-sucking of the infant through the self-love of penital onanism to the heterosexual act of coitus, and keep in mind the complicated identifications of the ego with the penis and with the sexual secretion, we arrive at the conclusion that the purpose of this whole evolution, therefore the purpose likewise of the sex act, can be none other than an attempt on the part of the ego—an attempt at the beginning clumsy and fumbling, then more consciously purposive, and finally in part successful—to return to the mother’s womb, where there is no such painful disharmony between ego and environment as characterizes existence in the external world. The sex act achieves this transitory regression in a threefold manner: the whole organism attains this goal by purely hallucinatory means, somewhat as in sleep; the penis, with which the organism as a whole has identified itself, attains it partially or symbolically; while only the sexual secretion possesses the prerogative, as representative of the ego and its narcissistic double, the genital, of attaining in reality to the womb of the mother.  Ferenczi, Thalassa, 18.

The body, like the body politic, is a theater; everything is symbolic, everything including the sexual act. The principal part is a public person taking the part of the community as a whole: persona publica totius communitatis gerens vicem. The function of the representative organ is to impersonate, incarnate, incorporate in his own body the body politic.  Incorporation is the establishment of a theater ( public); the body of spectators depend on the performance for their existence as one body. Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle Age, 163. Cf. Roheim, Animism, 322.

Both politics and sex are theater; sex, said Talleyrand, is le theatre des pauvres. The penis is an actor; it does not actually attain regression in the maternal womb, it enacts the regression “partially or symbolically.” The rest of the body “ takes part in the regression hallucinatorily,” as spectators, passively identifying with the action of their representative, their prince or principal part, the leading man. The penis is the head of the body, the band of brothers: the rest of the body is to the penis as chorus to tragic hero, hypocritically and from a safe distance enjoying the thrill of being spectators at their own execution. The act of coitus is reminiscent of these melodramas in which, while there are of course dark clouds threatening all kinds of destruction, just as in real tragedy, ther is always the feeling that ‘everything will turn out all right.’” Talleyrand cited in Reik, Masochism in Modern Man, 296. Ferenczi, Thalassa, 42; cf. 40-41, 43.

-- Norman O. Brown, Love’s Body, copyright 1966, Random House, New York. 130-132.

Umpired Umbathy, Pathic and Pathological, Part X

“ A favored type of investment among world’s-fair concessionaires is an aboriginal village. Eskimos, Filipinos, or Ashantis usually can be hired at extremely moderate rates to sit around in an appropriate setting and act as if they were at home. The city dweller’s curiosity about exotic peoples, built up by a childhood of reading adventure books, is apparently insatiable. Providing suitable food is not such a problem as it might seem once the concessionaire has learned the fact, unreported by anthropologists, that all primitive peoples exist by preference on a diet of hamburger steak. Dufour derives from this pervading passion a theory that all races of man once inhabited a common Atlantis, but Rogers does not go so far. He just says he is glad they do not crave porterhouse. Once engaged, the aborigines must be encouraged and, if necessary, taught to perform some harmless maneuvre which may be balleyhooed as a sacred tribal rite, just about to begin, folks. This is ordinarily not difficult, as the average savage seems to be a good deal of a ham at heart.

Dufour & Rogers’ debut as practical ethnologists was really caused by a large captive balloon that blew away from its moorings at the Century of Progress. The balloon had been one of the sights of the midway, and its taking off left a large site vacant. So Lew and Joe, who already had a couple of other shows, leased the space for a tropical village, which they called Darkest Africa. Some of the partners’ acquaintances say they opened with a cast of tribesmen from South State Street, which is in the Chicago Black Belt, but Lew insists that he came to New York to engage them all. ‘ Naturally there was no time to go to Africa for performers on such short notice,’ he says, ‘ but you would be surprised by the number of real Africans there are in Harlem. They come there on ships.’

By the time Dufour got back to Chicago with his company of hamburger-eating cannibals, Rogers had built the village, a kind of stockade containing thatched huts and a bar. ‘ We had a lot of genuine junk, spears and things like that, that an explorer had brought from the bacteria of Africa,’ Joe Rogers says, ‘ but this chump had gone back to Africa, so we did not know exactly whick things belonged to which tribes—Dahomeys and Ashantis and Zulus and things like that. Somehow our natives didn’t seem to know, either.’ This failed to stump the partners. They divided the stuff among the representatives of the various tribal groups they had assembled and invited the anthropology departments of the Universities of Chicago and Illinois to see their show. Every time an anthropologist dropped in, the firm would get a beef. The scientist would complain that a Senegalese was carrying a Zulu shield, and Lew or Joe would thank him and pretend to be abashed. Then they would change the shield. ‘ By August,’ Joe says with simple pride, ‘ everything in the joint was in perfect order.’

The partners bought some monkeys for their village from an importer named Warren Buck and added an outside sign which said, ‘ Warren Buck’s Animals.’ By the merest chance, the branches and leaves of a large plam tree, part of the decorative scheme, blotted out the ‘ Warren,’ so the sign appeared to read ‘ Buck’s Animals.’ Since Frank Buck was at the height of his popularity, the inadvertence did not cut into the gate receipts of Darkest Africa.

The concession proved so profitable that Lew and Joe decided to open a more ambitious kraal for the 1934 edition of the Fair. They chose a Hawaiian village this time. Customers expect things of a Hawaiian village which they would not demand in Darkest Africa. They expect an elaborate tropical décor, languorous dance music, and a type of entertainment that invites trouble with the police.”  -- A.J. Liebling, The Telephone Booth Indian, copyright 1942, Library of Larceny Broadway Books New York.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Umpired Umbathy, Pathic and Pathological, Part IX

The Wolf and the Lamb

The strong are always best at proving they’re right.
Withness the case we’re now going to cite.
A lamb was drinking, serene,
At a brook running clear all the way.
A ravenous Wolf happened by, on the lookout for prey,
Whose sharp hunger drew him to the scene.
“ What makes you so bold as to muck up my beverage?”
This creature snarled in rage.
“ You will pay for your temerity!”
“ Sire” replied the Lamb, “ let not Your Majesty
Now give in to unjust ire,
But rather do consider, Sire:
I’m drinking—just look—
In the brook
Twenty feet farther down, if not more,
And therefore in no way at all, I think,
Can I be muddying what you drink.”
“ You’re muddying it!” insisted the cruel carnivore.
“ And I know that, last year, you spoke ill of me.”
“ How could I do that? Why I’d not yet even come to be,”
Said the Lamb. “At my dam’s teat I still nurse.”
If not you, then your brother. All the worse.”
“I don’t have one.” “Then it’s someone else in your clan.
For to me you’re all of you a curse:
You, your dogs, your shepherds to a man.
So I’ve been told: I have to pay you all back.”
With that, deep into the wood
The wolf dragged and ate his midday snack.
So trial and judgment stood.

--La Fontaine

As quoted in Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, by Jacques Derrida, Stanford University Press, 2005.

No mention of Sarah Palin.