The Sunday Tunnel: where it gets political
[Continues from here.]
Reading The Tunnel is like excruciatingly slow masturbation; maybe the kind of masturbation you would apply when you’re miserable to the point of thinking ‘well, let’s at least try to masturbate one last time’. First it takes a long – with a long ‘o’ kind of as a long sigh – time to get it stiff. Then, from time to time, it feels like you might actually come so you jerk harder but you don’t come. You start to wonder whether you haven’t started something you can’t finish before something else finishes you.
And then you’re here:
“Ah, Martha, my ex-in-lax, I have my own hole now, your cunt is not the only cave. Even in death, the ceremony said, if need be. Even in death, the Führer’s followers proclaimed, if it came to that. And they knew death would be where he’d take them: that land that needs no promise. He gave them triumph, exultation, purpose, a sort of secular salvation.” (ibid., p. 462)
And doesn’t that sum it up? We educate people to want things beyond mere survival, beyond fucking out of reflex - jenseits is the short word for it. And then, educated, we face disappointment like we would face being rejected after we had finally summoned the courage to ask her out in public. And disappointment raises its right arm and clicks it heels and we damn education and mirror disappointments’ arm and heels. But we can’t go back to innocent bestiality, education is a lot like HIV, so we live with it like beasts and live with guilt and exactly that makes us superior because it sounds so much like philosophy that at least we have that going for us.
Jesus! Jenseits. Whatever
“Identifying with the victims, and hence engorged by pity, writers on the Third Reich – before my example – have never troubled to put themselves in the villains’ place, to imagine the unimaginable – it is easy to be a victim, you don’t have to do a thing, you simply weep and bleed – but, ah, the beater, to be the beater is not a role whose easy mastery is readily admissible; (..)” (ibid., p. 463)
It’s easy to read this as satire but I didn’t read it that way. I can see myself in the we and I sure can hate the moralizing left wing bastards for which misery is always inflicted and wrongdoing always a choice. I can see myself torturing them. See myself telling them this is their last shot at masturbation. I’d never torture them because I hate seeing pain; I wouldn’t be able to stand a single tear; I would get a head ache from their screaming. But I can see myself torturing them because the fuck they don’t understand, the fuck they don’t try to understand, the fuck I know half of them is capable of torture if that is what it takes to move on with their agenda. Educated innocence they think they have. The fuck with that.
“I am an intransitive man. I’m reconciled to it. Even my husbanding has no object. With my tunnel I have committed the ultimate inactive act. After all what is a useless hole? I can honestly say I accomplished Nothing.” (ibid., p. 468)
We educated them. We gave them democracy. Then we’re surprised that they vote for populists. We don’t understand it, we don’t understand how people incapable of torture seize the opportunity of inking in the circle that matches their very own frustration. We give them a tunnel and are surprised at their vision. We call them them so we, as incapable of torture as they – not a bit different from them then, may feel different and better at inking our circle (the right circle even if it’s on the left) and, with that, they won because we won because they’re not a bit different from us then. And that’s the truth.
“In short, if your will is thwarted, switch it to a wish, then will that someone fulfill it for you.” (ibid., p. 472)
What unites us, makes us stronger. What unites us, is that there is a they. Ceteris paribus this works, vice versa, for them. So we wish us a leader. They wish us a leader. We wish them a leader. They wish them a leader. Then we both watch for it to unravel. What else can we do? What else can they do? After all we’re both somewhat civilized, educated, disappointed, frustrated; wishing for the sun to set and evening to set in over our land, so we may go to sleep and forget all the promises we can’t keep and we feel responsible for even if we didn’t make them (after all they made us).
“(..) Planmantee said, we shall solve that, we are able, we shall create an international ghetto – call it, what a comedy, call it Zion – we shall surround it with Muslims, we shall sic the Jews on the Arabs, bang they may bang all they like at one another bangedy bang-bang, who will care?” (ibid., p. 489)
It might still work if we find an alternative for oil and all. Let’s not deal with possible worlds though, it’s messy – requires even more education and see where that got us in the first place: the modern world!Where every solution comes in two’s, two states, two enemies, too bad.
“Our shit is fucked.” – might be the most contemporary phrasing of the foregoing almost 900 words – and we could leave it at that if we could leave anything at that – which we can’t so we might just lash out, inking our circles as good citizens do – and hating the people who ink the other circles.
Remember though: ceteris paribus! The rest can’t be the same because the others are the same. That exactly is the threat we fight most against: that the others are the same. Understanding that changes the conditions as understanding changes, always, the conditions – and that’s cultural optimism which is certainly possible in a world even if we are moved to make it as impossible as possible in this world.
One state, why not?
Two. One. Zero. Lift-off!
“Bigotry is directed towards persons. It does not believe in abstract universals. Bigots, as opposed to racists, achieve scope by hopping from particular to particular like a toad from pad to pad across a pond. Bigots also consider themselves empiricists. Their attitudes are based – they believe – purely on experience. They believe in the signal instance, outstanding examples.” (ibid., p. 523)
Bigots are the silent majority behind the racist minority. They don’t believe in statistics, probability calculus, correlation because they have had enough education to know that more education just means more frustration. They’ve had enough of education. This they is a soft they because it is a very inclusive they, one that includes me and you and that we can all understand. What matters is being punched in the face. Who cares about the proper reference population and incidence of being punched in the face. Let alone the proper reference population of the punchers.
It’s not natural. It takes effort and we’re tired enough already.
“Maybe that’s the way they do things where he comes from, I said. Yeah? Well he’s not where he came from now because he came from there, now he’s here, and now he has to do what we do or repack his camels and go home, my dad responded. Or git. That’s what he actually said. With all his smokes.” (ibid., p. 523 as well)
We might resist more education but we sure can increase our sophistication: as long as the different tries to be the same it is all right. But sophistication breeds sophistication and one horn leads to the next (things in two’s, remember):
“Because if we were each as identical twins, I would scratch your face to hate the scratch which spoiled your looks and improved mine, while you would say the scratch set you apart and mad your more interesting, and gave you a purpose in life: to scratch me back a thousand times.” (ibid., p. 533)
So doomed if we do and doomed if we don’t.
Except that we’re not doomed so the reasoning must be false.
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