Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Collective Forgetting, Individual Myopia and Selective Guilt

What creates collective forgetting, individual myopia and the kind of “selective guilt” that facilitates the creation of “the other?” Tyrants like Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot all undoubtedly had their soft spots. Wagnerian romanticism was the anthem of The Third Reich. The psychic process of compartmentalization is a common defense mechanism that allows many people to continue on with their lives in the shadow of otherwise traumatic events. Is it possible however to excise large chunks of happenstance on a mass scale? The first female Italian premier, Georgi Meloni, is also a neofascist whose Fratelli d’Italia has direct historical ties to Mussolini. Remember that famous photograph of Il Duce strung upside down on a Milan street? Antigone defied Creon to bury Polynices; in a perverse rendition of the myth, Mussolini's remains were stolen by a follower from an unmarked grave. During the Bosnian conflict historical grudges going back hundreds of years ignited the murderous rage between Bosnia Muslims and Serbs who had been previously living peacefully side by side in embattled cities like Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The mind itself is naturally selective a la Neural Darwinism, the title of a tome by the biologist Gerry Edelman. The Stockholm Syndrome is, in this regard, a survival mechanism. George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But isn’t that the tragedy of consciousness? The much vaunted trait, that purportedly separates humans from animals, employs every trick in the book to excuse what’s too hard to face.

read "Died Young" by Francis Levy, The Brooklyn Rail

and listen to "Police State"by Pussy Riot

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