Friday, December 3, 2010

The Politics of Experience

I'm reading a wonderful, wonderful book called, The Politics of Experience by R.D. Laing. One of the central points of the book is that we as a culture have been driven out of our experience. That is, our experience isn't really our own, but rather a pseudo-experience; one detatched from the real world and from our own bodies: mind, heart, and soul. (My writing not in italics.)

As i'm reading, i'm weaving in my own experience of my experience to Laing's theses:

As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavor; as men of the world, we hardly know the of the existence of the inner world: we barely remember our dreams, and make little sense of them when we do; as for our bodies, we retain just sufficient proprioceptive sensations to coordinate our movements and to ensure the minimal requirements for biosocial survival——to register fatigue, signals for food, sex, defecation, sleep; beyond that little or nothing. Our capacity to think, except in the service of what we are dangerously deluded into supposing is our self-interest and in conformity with common sense, is pitifully limited: our capacity even to see, hear, touch, taste and smell is so shrouded in veils of mystification than an intensive discipline of unlearning is necessary for anyone before one can begin to experience the world afresh, with innocence, love and truth

I just want to keep the fire, magic, and love in my heart. I want to know and feel what i love and what i hate at all times. I want to make my life a weapon against oppression, against this culture and be effective. I want to be honest and vulnerable and strong. I want to trust myself and resist confusion, denial, apathy, and subservience. I want to speak for the trees, sky, clouds. I want to speak to them and hear them speak to me. I want to resist seduction and embrace education.I want others to feel empowered by me, to feel loved by me and inspired by me. I want them to feel these things with me. I want to let go of control. I want to live in my body. I want to re-join life and re-learn the lessons that have been killed from me. I want my experience back. I will do what it takes to make all of this a reality.

What we call "normal" is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being.

My experience has been trampled on. My experience has been twisted. My experience has been stolen from me and i haven't even been able to face this. My experience has been replaced with images of cruelty, mutilation, emptiness, apathy, and alienation. My experience is "normal". My experience is like my peers' experience, like the drivers on main st.'s experience, like the minimum-wage dishwasher's experience. My experience has been wounded, but it is not obliterated: it can heal and it can live.

Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal.

Unless this culture is stopped, insanity will prevail. Unless we find our experiences again, we will submit to destructive myths that are not our own, continue to be alienated and un-whole. Unless we stand up and assume the responsibilities of human beings, those in power will wreck us all, individually and collectively. Unless we realize reciprocity, the planet will be destroyed and the alienation will be complete.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! It's been a long time since I've read that book. Good to be reminded of it--and of the constant necessity to fight against the pressures of alienation.