NAS 2000 Study Note V.
Dec. 2, 1987. S.K.
On Pedagogy Of The Silenced.
—Towards Foundation of Networking —.
1. Context; What problems I am writing about?
Who am I to say anything? For what good this talk is going to do?
Who will listen to this, serious enough to respond any way? So shall I be silent too?
1.1) The “Chief”, the Big Indian, in a novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was a psychological “dumb”. He lost his speech and put himself in a mental institution, where he came under a tyranny of the “Big Nurse”. Centuries of repression, humiliation, and hopelessness, which Chief calls as “Nobody Listen to Indians”, got him into Silence. [Ken Kesey. Viking 1962.]
The novel is about this Silent Indian, whose way out is “speaking out”. I shall reflect on the problem.
Why Silent? What keep him from speaking out?
And what are the ways out?
1.2) Paula Gunn Allen points out this Silence in many novels by Native American writers;
“Tonguelessness. A dimension of alienation is not mentioned in the literature concerning it but that occurs frequently in the work of American Indian poets and novelists. The inability to speak is the prime symbol of powerlessness in the novels of Momaday, Welch, and Leslie Marmon Silko.”
[The Sacred Hoop. Bacon Press 1986. p. 138.]
1.3) But the Silence is not exclusive problem of American Indians.
The Native Americans have better chances in speaking out and breaking out of the Silence than White students whom I am familiar with. At least, the Natives have easily identifiable targets at which they can be angry.
1.3a) Indians ought to be angry, not sad.
Natives had a superior philosophy-metaphysics, in which “History” contained Future Time Dimension. It ought to have told them the power of Prophecy. They may be procrastinating, using the History as an excuse for their silence. If so, it is indeed sad. But then, why?
The case of Chief in One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is one “pitiful” example. Murphy in the novel was amazed and told the Big Indian that “Nobody can stop you”. Of course, Murphy was wrong. There are so many things that stop anybody speaking out. That is what I am intending to discuss here.
1.3b) Most of us are oppressed into silence.
Over the years that I was in a university, students changed a bit. The angry mood of the radical students of the 1960-70 is gone. Students today are just as sociable and cheerful as the students of a decade ago. The amount of “chatting” has not changed much. On the surface, they are more “reasonable” and managing their affairs better than the students of a decade ago. but they are more sad than angry. And as to their sadness, they rather not talk about.
They know they may not get jobs after graduation. They have a hard time managing financial matters for staying in the university. These things are depressing; enough. But, the economy is not quite the cause of the sadness. If I say it in a simple word, it is the feeling that the society does not want them. They are “surplus”. They know that, but they do not want say that. It hurts to talk about that. Therefore, they are silent. And they are silent about their silence.
To speak out means to take that pain. It is no less the first act than for an alcoholic to declare am an alcoholic, or a battered wife to tell others “I am battered”.
This writing is a declaration, saying that I am oppressed into silence. My task is easier, in a relative sense, than the cases cited. But I think it has to be tried.
1.4) As an academic, I observe that academic writings are done in the posture of “claiming knowledge” and “giving commands”.
Philosophy, Social-Political Critiques, Commentaries on Human Condition, etc., are articulated from an assumed superior position for the benefits of less intelligent beings. In that, they are “Imperialistic”. This is not one of those “texts” to tell anything to anybody, but an attempt to open a gate for the voice of victim crying out.
Those who used to read things in the psychology of “identification” with Intellectual Heroes will not find it comfortable. By saying that I am silent under oppression, I am telling you that you are also unfortunate miserable losers, silent under oppression. You are no more than “the second class citizen”. You are rotten, shrinking, alienated, loveless, powerless, and have no guts to speak out. You are eating your own heart out. Only thing you have plenty is Fear and Narcissistic Self-Pity. Your intelligence is too busy avoiding pains and inventing excuses for the drying-up state of yours to do anything else. If you get offended, it is intended. For I think it is better to be angry than to rot in silence.
So you would say “I don’t have to listen to this”. Indeed you don’t have to listen, let alone responding. You look at those people in the miseries below you, and you say to yourself that you are doing alright. In that you have some 5 billion people below you. The fact that you and I are in university level education or have had one indicates that you and I are within the top 1% of “well-to-dos”. The vast majority of the World population today cannot even read, let alone write. Thus, for me to write this is a self-contradiction. But, if we, in the position to voice, remain silent, there will be no voice. By being silent, we are imposing silence on the vast majority of humanity under the oppression.
I am quite aware of the possibility that we can sit on a fence, if not be “good boys” to the oppressive powers so that we are safe. Nonetheless I write. The reason is simple. I want to cry out. Seeing that, you can cry out, I hope. And by doing that, I wish I become sensitive to others and hear better of the silence that the majority of human race is suffering.
To compensate my arousing of pains in you, I shall discuss strategies in breaking the silence. One of strategies is called “Community Building” or “Networking” and has been proposed by many people. But most of them stayed as “Utopia”, because they pay insufficient attention to the reason why people are silent.
Another reason for the failure of so many writers, despite of their good intention, is their writing style. They preach, as if they themselves have no Problem. Or they tell as if the problems can be solved by a simple “change of attitude”.
Some of them tell you that you are making “logical mistake”, which can simply be corrected by “analysis” of words. They give lectures on definition of words, etc., to correct mistakes in our thinking.
Not that people do not make logical errors. We do think wrong, and I do appreciate the “therapeutic value” in looking at the ways we talk and think (feel). But, it does not touch our practices in actions. It skips over the problems in our ways of living. Intellectualization is an essential part of “speaking out”. Yet, when it is edified enough to be accepted for academic or intellectual publication, it is abstracted out to be useless.
1.4a) Example: Dr. Buscaglia is right in saying we are silent about our Love. But the “Love Professor” is concealing the real conditions of Love.
The “Love Professor”, Dr. Leo Buscaglia, tells of a moving story of his girl student committing suicide. He says, if people Loved her, this would not have happened. That is true enough.
As Dr. Buscaglia points out, we do not hardly even smile at each other. We repress love expressions. We indulge in Narcissistic Sex Affairs, but we are Silent in the Love that goes beyond privacy (private property). As a result, we also suffer what Paula called “Lovelessness”. It is a part of our “Alienation”. But the silence is our “Political Will”. And we kill others by that. Dr. Buscaglia is right about that.
1.4a1) But, think deeper! Suppose the Love Professor found the girl student in time, and she wanted to make Love. What the Love Professor would have done?
Not many of us can afford to support her in material sense, let alone enter into physical relation with her. Macho Sexists talk of a fantasy of multiple sexual relations. But, that can only be done as “aggression” and “possession”, not as “caring”. (Polygamy is different and requires separate discussions.)
Needless to say, she may not have needed physical sex. But, if we are to draw an “off-limit” line somewhere, we are saying “We can Love people only when it is reasonable and safe to us”. We are “Fair Weather Lovers”.
Under the capitalism in the U.S., the “reasonable and safe” limit is clearly shown by the Practice. Namely, we let her kill herself. Dr. Buscaglia is silent about this.
And his silence about the “practical condition of life in the U.S.” is, at least partly, the reason why his books sell well. By the concealment of the real Problem, people are made to feel as if they solved the problem. Now they are “beautiful loving persons”. There is no risk in entertaining such an illusion. But, of course, in the meantime, the suicide is increasing with an exponential rate.
1.4a2) Suppose, Dr. Buscaglia wrote like Wilhelm Reich, he would have gotten into real troubles. [See for Reich’s idea and practice, Joel Spring. A Primer of Libertarian Education. Black Rose Books 1975. LC189 s73.]
Freud, Marx, Marcuse, Foucault, et al tell us that Sexual Repression is the origin of all other repressions. Paula Gunn Allen talks of “Lesbian Power” in the book cited. Whether or not they are “right”, how far are you willing to think and talk? Or do you want to remain “safe”?
The Ideology that demands love to be controlled within a “reasonable and safe” limit, is the one that killed the girl student. If you are not convinced about the hypocrisy and inhumanity of the “reasonable and safe limit”, try an experiment of telling your girl or boy friend that you love her or him only within reasonable and safe limit. Or better yet, let the other side tell you that and see what you feel.
1.4a3) This also leads into the question of silence as a “Crime Against Humanity”. We say we did not know that we have been practicing Genocide Policy against Native Americans, just as Germans did not know the infamous Genocide against Jews. We did not know, because silence was imposed on us. And the silence was, at least partly, imposed by us.
1.4a4) Dostoevsky talked of unreasonableness of Love.
We can read the argument between Jesus and the Grand Inquisitor, in famous Dostoevsky’s novel, Bratya Karamazovy. The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus that his Love is Unreasonable.
It is interesting to speculate how the Professor of Love read this debate about Love. I have a feeling that Dr. Buscaglia did not understand Human Suffering, let alone Existential crisis. He is a typical American, full of self-confidence and “do-gooder” level righteousness, but shallow. Perhaps, he have never gotten hurt in Loving someone deep. Did he ever consider if humans are capable of unqualified and unlimited Love?
1.4a5) What is “Reasonable”?
We note that the “reasonable and safe Love” is the kind that let Massacres and Genocide of Natives go on for centuries in the North America.
It was “imminently” reasonable to take lands away from Natives, so that White Race can Love them. It was “obviously” reasonable to destroy environment for Buffalos so that Indians must starve. You have realize that if we did not do that we would not have this University here. We are parts of the Reasonableness.
And, the self-centeredness is the foundation of Reasonableness — that is, what European Intelligence has come to know as “Reasonable” is concerned —.
White Race was not “Loveless” except perhaps Spanish Conquistadors —. But its Love was limited to its immediacy (Self-centeredness). We may condemn the “immediacy”, but we are not going to be any better by condemning it. For our Love is not going to be liberated from our immediacy by simply saying it is limited. To go beyond, we need some practical social construction. That is, we need Engineering of Social Scale Love, in which breaking out of Silence is a Part.
(1.4a6) We are not Angels of Love. So what we can do?
I am not saying we can go out to the “rim”. We may be fools, but not crazy. Besides, when the chip is down, we chicken out any way. But, then I would ask what you are going to do about your dishonesty.
We are not Angels of Love. What I like to discuss is some “practical” alternative that can be reached by us “imperfect” beings. I like to discuss what we “can” do, not what we “ought” to think, As such, this is a talk for and by “artisans-craftsmen”, not for and by “philosophers”. I am not capable of “Moral Talk”, but trying a humble thing like “Engineering”, except I honor “Feelings”.
2. Who has the right to speak?
2.1) Indians did not have the “Right to Speak”.
Indians were allowed to speak. For that matter, even the drunken utter some words. But the “to speak” implies “to be listened to”. The “Right to Speak” is the Right to be listened seriously. The “listen seriously” is a nebulous thing to be specified, but let us say that it means to treat what are said by others as if they came from within our minds. It entails a “social relation” of a certain level. You may hear attentive enough to recite what are said, but you may not necessarily be “listening” in this sense.
We do not know what goes on in our own Mind (or Brain), and the mental Processes involved in linguistic, Symbolic, intercourses are largely inaccessible to us, despite we are doing them all the time. Perhaps, “Hermeneutics” might help a bit. [P. Ricoeur. Hermeneutics And Human Science. Cambridge U press 1981]
2.1a) But, let us start with an experiment on ourselves to see what improvements in Communication do. This is a “Process Approach” discussed by A. Whitehead, D. Bohm, et al, and it is similar to “Learn-Teach-Learn” approach, developed for Native Education.
[R.F. Mulcahy and K. Marfo: “Assessment of Cognitive Ability and Instructional Programming with Native Canadian Children” in L. Stein (ed). Contemporary Educational Issues. Copp Clark Pitman. Toronto 1985. p. 157-176. Ref cited. J. Schubert and A. Cropley; “Verbal Regulation of Behavior and IQ in Canadian Indian and White Children” Developmental Psychology 7. 1972. p. 295-301. The paper points out an important role of “interactive discourse” in developing intellectual faculty and “creativity” I wonder, if Network play that role.]
2.2) Speaking is an Act of Sovereign Being.
It is a royal protocol that the Sovereign speaks.
Speaking is issuing commands. It is, therefore, and assertion of Political Will and Power.
Unless you are commanded, you are not allowed to speak. A famous linguistic philosopher, A.J. Ayer asserted with an intellectual authority that speaking is Commanding. [Language, Truth, and Logic. Dover 1946.]
Slaves do not have their own Will, nor Power, They may chat, but do not speak.
2.2a) I had an unfortunate, but very educational experience in this regard. I was among teachers in an African country and was staying at a guesthouse with them. One British teacher had an excellent skill in dominating dinner conversation. She would not let anybody say anything edgewise. I was amazed at the art, and for the first time in my life I came to see what the sense of “dominance” has to do with speaking.
Incidentally, in that newly independent country, those who speak English are said to have incomes at least ten times of those who only speak native languages.
2.2b) Of course, I knew that in schools teachers had authority to speak. They commanded us students to “know” what they told us. Transmission of Knowledge is the mandate of the “Education” as such. Just as the First Law of Thermodynamics, “Knowledge” has to flow from the superior to the inferior. If we learned anything in school, we learned that rule. We are made to “learn” in the sense of “copying”. There is no sense for students to think, let alone go through the time-consuming process of learning. Some theoreticians in education might stress Process of learning, but school systems are fundamentally Authoritarian. The Creative sense of learning is reserved for a few privileged. After all, teachers know the Right Answer. It is a lot simple and efficient to tell students what Knowledge is.
To be sure, there are many teachers who do “educate” despite the system. I am one of those who are lucky in having had them in schools. It was as if they knew and wanted me to write about this. Only I did not know what I was destined to become.
And, the authoritarian education based on “recitation” was not all together useless. I learned in Philosophy that Epistemology is concerned with justifying “knowledge claimed”. To claim Knowledge is to claim of the Political Power of Commanding others, it has to be Justified. An in the process of justification, one find it unjustifiable. That is, the failure of Philosophy is the success of its teaching.
In Mathematics, the ultimate of the teaching was to teach Incompleteness of Mathematics. In Physics, the ultimate of the teaching was to teach the existence of the vast unknown and the unknowable. Physics is a Poetry. All the social and political theories taught me contradictions and insanity of the way we think and live. Suppose, I did not learn various Geometries, I would not have come to see that Geometries are Arts. I am glad that I was trained to understand Whitehead, Bohm, et. al.
2.3) To be sure, there is a matter of “intellectual discipline” which does include concentration of thinking and self-critical analysis.
“Intellectual Courage” and “Intellectual Honesty” are indispensable, at least for avoiding Narcissistic tendency of oneself. I can listen to someone telling me something I do not like only to the extent I can do it to myself.
2.3a) As I shall discuss later, the problems of Narcissism are not going to be solved by simple denial, not by contemptuous rejection. One who cannot love oneself is not likely be capable of loving others. Rejection of “self-love” would be very destructive. Hence, I do not reject Narcissism. At any rate, we have to understood our Narcissism, before we can do something about them.
2.3b) Critical understanding of the phenomenon of “Authority” is important, if we are to build Communities and Networks.
2.3c) For that matter, mistakes are very precious “educational materials”. We only learn, in a sense, through our own mistakes. Those who have not mistaken are poor souls who cannot learn.
But this is not the “Sinner Trip” of Christians, but an elementary logic that the “Perfect One” has no room of betterment, and hence no need of Learning. To the “bottom” 99% of Humanity, this is unnecessary qualification. Nonetheless, it is needed to be said. For I am not attempting to “eliminate” problems, but merely working ways to deal with problems. I expect no sympathy from those who has no problem within themselves, and I have no sympathy to help them either. Even the Universe as the God has problems such as creating Human beings within. My “God” is not Almighty, but the kind that can be silenced by the Power. He has to know what humiliation is, therefore He must be capable of being Defeated. He can be depressed, sad and be angry, as well as capable of joys, love and being sensually sensitive to ephemeral beauty. I do not reject “Righteous”, but understand it as a Part of Narcissism.
3.. “Money Speaks Louder” and Where we are sinking in Silence, Money Speaks Loud. Why? How this came to be? Let us think about this.
3.1) In a Haida Myth, there is a story about a daughter of a powerful chief. She is proud of her lineage and arrogant. Natives do not like arrogant person. Nonetheless, like in any other society, Haida had a fair share of arrogant snobs. Because the respect of Human Dignity and the fear of persons in the position of Power to do a lot of damage is not easily distinguished.
Besides, Haidas had a Slave System, like Greeks had. Haida myths are better in that they did not go through “editorial distortions”, as much as Greek myth did. The existence of slave means existence o Trade. And Trade means “Money Exchange”, as we shall see. that is, “Arrogance” is a by-product of exploitive trading (“Capitalism”).
At any rate, she went out picking berries and stepped on Bear excrement. She slipped and landed right on it. Being an arrogant person, she cursed Bears out loud. Some bears nearby overheard her rude remarks, and abduct her. She was put in a prison, while bears were deciding what to do with her. Then, just in time, Mouse Woman showed up and offered help to her. This is because Mouse Woman knew what this girl was destined to be. In Native stories, it is a typical pattern that those who are destined to be of some significance are “tested” but always get helps from Mouse Woman. The trick was to place her copper piece on her excrement. Copper was a precious metal. The Bears got impressed. She marry the sone of Bear Chief. And this was the origin of Bear Clan among Haidas.
We notice that the piece of Copper “Spoke Loud”. We would say that the Copper was “symbolic” of social-political status. And the “status” speaks.
[And, if you know “Anthropology of Money”, you note also a universal association of Money and Excrement. As to the universality of “Excrement” in myths see Levi-Strauss; The Naked Man Harper 1981. H. Lefebre; Language et le societe. 1966. G. Dalton; “Primitive Money”. Amr. Anthropologist. 67. 1965. C. G. Jung Psychology and Alchemy 1944. etc.]
To be sure, the girl found the son of Bear Chief to be attractive enough to marry. And Bear People find her acceptable. They did not make her a Slave. But, we do not overlook the role of the Copper piece. If it did not “speak”, none of those happened Speaking determined the course of events, or we might say that it made a “social commitment” between persons and between communities.
The essence of “Speaking” is in the Exchange, around which individuals construct each “living”. Human beings are not simple machines and “social-political life” as such does not tell the whole story of the “Living”. But nonetheless, that part is a very important, in the sense it represent the “center core” of the living, if not what was referred as “Super Ego”. Marx was quite correct in his saying that “Economy” is the base, except his oversight about the essence that the “economy” is mediated by “symbols” (speaking).
(The Haida Myth points out “Sexual Trading”. Marx failed in this regard. Also Freud failed in “Psychoanalyzing” the Economy.)
3.2) Capitalism is a culture controlled by Money Language.
We are not overtly “emotional” about Money, particularly after the Market Crash of October which taught us that “Money is just a number on paper”. Subjectively, we may not feel money to be very important. But, in terms of organizing social scale actions, money is important. We work for persons or institutions rather “persistently”, even if we do not like the boss, company, etc. We are not quite so “faithful” to our loved ones. It would be very difficult to organizing stable co-operations on the basis of Love or Friendship. Sometimes, we are Passionate enough to pursue certain actions. But we do not last in “working” as much as we do with things for pay.
Family is an institution which is very stable. But family can be sacrificed for the Job that pays. Rewards by our loved ones and friends are valuable, but not quite enough to sustain a long lasting Project, nor a large scale operation. Even artists and poets have to sell their product, otherwise, they eventually “discouraged” by the lack of “audiences” and “listeners”. Silence by the society has a very strong negative effect on artists. Schools are not “money making” institutions, not in any direct sense any way, but they too rise or fall with money flow.
We might ask a question of ourselves. Can we sustain a cooperation without Money? Volunteering works, charity organizations, social clubs, Political parties, “secret societies”, etc. do exist. It is said that about 18% of “works” in the U.S. is done by “non-profit” and volunteer works. (This does not include “Home Works” by wives.) Yet, they are not quite “legitimate”. We would say, they are “Avocations”.
More interestingly, people who receive “welfare Money” apparently do not feel it quite “legitimate”. It is not earned by “work for pay”. Some natives apparently feel it “shameful”. Whereas, the extra that Medical Doctors charge is “legitimate”. Why?
People do not “listen” to their fellow beings and act (work) on the basis of the communication. Lawyers would “listen” to their opponents more serious than to their wives and children, let alone friends. Is the language of Money so loud?
3.3) Suppose we are to set up a Network. How much efforts are we willing to put to it? And how long we would keep it up? Most likely: we would only put “spare time”, and only wen we feel like doing something for it> It is a part of “Fun Play”, and has only a secondary importance.
And, since “extra curricular” things are for “recreation”, there is no sense doing them when we do not feel like doing. They may be satisfying our Narcissistic needs, but not considered as “Meaningful”. Works around homes, communities, are of that kind.
And when “Alienation” of ours gets to be such a degree that we get “Depressed”, we would be totally apathetic and would not do anything.
4) Abdication of Sovereign Will in Large Social Scale Actions.
We have a sense of control in our individual affairs. We may have a sense of control in our community life. But, in large-scale social scale, we feel we are totally powerless.
4.1) How this came about? One thing we note is that the “recreations”, “community works” are “Immediate”. They do not directly concern with a large social scale. The paid works, on the other hand, do have “Social Meanings” of a larger scale. To build a “Professional Career” is “Meaningful” in a Social Scale. Whereas being a “Nice Guy” to neighbors and friends ar “Socially Meaningless”.
Suppose our Network was some kind of “Study Group”. Unless it has to do with “Professional Career Building”, we would not take it serious.
We do have Bible Study Group, Aerobic Exercise Club, Basket Weaving Association, Marxist Org, etc. They do have stability. Amnesty International has been operating quite well for a long time. Human Right, Environmental, and Peace Action Groups are, on the other hand, rather unstable, but does provide some sense of “value” in our life. Einstein had a group called “Olympians”. Max Weber used to have “street corner cafe group” to discuss things. For all these Groups, we have varying degree of “Meaningfulness”, but not as much as our “Professions”.
4.2) What is the secret of maintaining a “meaning” for a group?
We have a need to “feel good about oneself”. One kind of way to satisfy the need is “individualistic” one. We play golf, listen to Music or “Spend Time” with family, friends, etc. But they are rather “Ephemeral”, in a sense they are “pastimes”. Another kind is “social”. The “social” one is nebulous, but it somehow contributes to “Making of History”. It relates to the Will of human kind. In the language of Natives, social actions are the means of acting out Prophecy.
Actually, the distinction of the two kinds is not easy, nor clear cut. But, for our considerations, it is convenient to make.
4.2a) For example, we look at community actions like Soup Kitchen. We can do such “charity works” and it is important in that such action “speaks” of our “quality” of life. But our charities do nothing about the Economy as a whole. Our system of Political Economy keeps producing “welfare recipients” by millions.
We are “humanitarian” enough to adopt “unfortunate” children from Reserves. We feel good about ourselves in doing the “philanthropic”works. But we do little to change the social structure that oppresses Natives.
4.2b) Why people are silent about the System? Is it not because we “gave up” any hope of doing anything about the System?
We may be analogous to Slaves. We would help our fellow slaves in misfortune. But we do not have the Sovereign Will to change the Social System structure.
(Or if we are relatively “well-to-do: part of the population, we do not wish to change the structure.)
Our sense of “Meaning in Life” does not contain much of Social Scale actions, except the “job”, “profession” which do get to “Social Significance” through Market System.
In the above sense, if we “value” our jobs and professional works more than personal “enjoyments in life”, perhaps we are not too wrong — except the question of what the System is leading human race to —.
Perhaps some Natives become “radical revolutionary” and work on social scale changes, at even sacrifices in their “personal” enjoyments in life.
4.3) But there is a problem. When a large number of people are involved — I am referring to some 5 billion people —, how anyone can find the “Collective Will” of the people?
We do not even have means of communication. Our technology made the communication from one point to another faster, but has not reduced “complexity”. Rather, the complexity of the world is increasing with an accelerating rate. We do not have the competency to handle that.
There is not “Specialized Science” about the Whole of the World. Science today is hopelessly fragmented into specialized “routines”, so much so that there is no “wisdom” in it. It is not even “intelligent andy more than specialized machines are intelligent.
In that sense, we are bunch of “ignorant slaves”. And our “master” is no better. The “boss” does not know what he or she is doing, except trying to hang onto the position of “boss”. The “boss” does not have the Will of its own, let alone knowing the collective Will of Human History.
There, a native writer Silko is right. [Ceremony]/ It is the Prophecy of Myth that represents Will.
(4.4) But what happened to our Myth? We made it Silent. We are back to where we started in this note. The silence is killing us. Why do we not, then, speak? What stops us from speaking out?
(to be continued)