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al qaeda in the subdivisions; or, AP American History

with 3 comments

It is worth remembering that, however things look on the surface, we Americans will always be the insurgents, never the occupiers. The IEDs will always be ours, the sniping – we invented that.

Whatever it looks like on the screen, we will always be irregulars, we will always land on the asymmetrical side of things. Our torture rooms are never those of the prison-bricked Central Intelligence office or the PVC camp – they are always in the back room, upstairs and to the back, with the rough hewn chair and the single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling.

We will always be “just kids,” and the wars will always be fought between one backyard and the drainage pond at the corner. Someone’s golden retriever will always run across the field of battle at the critical moment. We will lock and load and empty our magazines before our mothers call us in for microwaved dinners.

In Totem and Taboo, Freud fabulates the origination of the incest taboo in a story that is also (of course) a story of the origins of civilization and the social contract that initiates it. There is a big bad father, and then there are sons. The sons – they can’t get what they want sexually or in any other way – dad has a monopoly over the women. So the sons kill dad (Freud wonders if it was “some advance in culture, like the use of a new weapon,” that allowed the sons to win – I think we can all agree that it wasn’t so much a “weapon” as a set of tactics, namely guerrilla warfare, the sort of thing that would later manifest itself, as we all learn in school, at Lexington and Concord against the Redcoats…) But once dad is dead, there is a problem – a problem whose solution takes the shape of the incest prohibition and, well, civilization itself:

[T]he incest prohibition had […] a strong practical foundation. Sexual need does not unite men; it separates them. Though the brothers had joined forces in order to overcome the father, each was the other’s rival among the women. Each one wanted to have them all to himself like the father, and in the fight of each against the other the new organization would have perished. For there was no longer any one stronger than all the rest who could have successfully assumed the role of the father. Thus there was nothing left for the brothers, if they wanted to live together, but to erect the incest prohibition – perhaps after many difficult experiences – through which they all equally renounced the women whom they desired, and on account of whom they had removed the father in the first place. Thus they saved the organization which had made them strong and which could be based upon the homo-sexual feelings and activities which probably manifested themselves among them during the time of their banishment.

What can we say? If only this were true when it comes to us. The happy – if only ever moderately happy – structuralization of dad’s brutality, the construction upon the solid foundation of a repressed but ever present fraterphilia as well as the (sure!) very dark joke that deaddad gets to play on them in the end as far as access to women goes (“You thought you’d have all, but instead you’ll have none, because you are too many…”) The revolution ends in a socialism of castration – the only consolation arrives via the fact that it you (pl.) that deny yourself the women, rather than that fat bastard of a father, in our case, King George III, later aka LeninoStalin, et al.

No. What happened here is something entirely other. We killed dad, yes, but rather than simply constructing a totem and going on our self-chastening way, we decided (is that the word?) to reenact differently, more viscerally – for real. With our own sons, or especially the sons of others – even as we strike them down, we imagine, time and again, that it is the hand of filial revolt that we raise when we raise to strike. We will always be the bad son, the prodigal returned to fuck dad up right good when we asks what we’ve done with the money, even if there is no beard on those we strike, even if they still are on mom’s tit as we decapitate and worse, in our eyes, fucked up with the drug of repetition without difference, they are bearded and old, they have stolen our mom-sisters from the tent bed, they are sandy with their mature denial of our rights even as infants. We are Issac as Abraham striking down Issac – the call to hold off never comes, because you need a father’s ear to hear it, and we are only sons…

The Child is the father of the Man. Yes, but the natural piety in question, the binding of now to back then, incessantly takes the shape of sprinting in surplus stuff across the backyard, carrying the guns borrowed from our fathers’ (father’s) collection, a children’s crusade, an insurgency of kids, shooting blanks, catching ourselves on film, all in the end for AP credit.

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 14, 2007 at 1:47 am

3 Responses

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  1. From the outside america is actually founded on one of the greatest genocides and a denial of the localities actual history. As if a place was invented in the 16th C. along with modern-science and capitalism.

    The revolution is a rather different event in this context, it’s not a question of totem and taboo, but a complete denial of who and what an american is.

    Does it hurt to understand america as partt of an endless chain of genocides and invasions ?


    August 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm

  2. No, you’re absolutely right. That’s there too – and it only ads another level to the deflection, self-mystification. But it’s important that you bring this up…


    August 21, 2007 at 7:14 pm

  3. Freud and Darwin were too close to apes and too far away from humans , to even acknowledge that not everybody wants all the women . The need to dominate and to have ” all and everything ” is the sign of the weakness.


    September 1, 2007 at 1:46 am

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