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Jun 16 2012

Blogathon: 1st Hour

Okay…okay… I’m awake…

zzzz

Huh?

Right. Blogathon.

I was having the most…um…well, I wouldn’t say WONDERFUL, but certainly a most something-something dream. It did have Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The actors, not Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. We were having some kind of adventure in the most impossibly dismal, foggy, cold, drizzly November weather imaginable, and I ended up having to cut off Martin’s hand with a chainsaw. There was also some silly stupid would-be-criminal kid there who ended up meeting with some kind of horrible death.

At one point, I emerged from some kind of pub/warehouse (I like how dreams just randomly impose contradictory locations on top of eachother) to find myself in extremely familiar surroundings, as Benedict walked sullenly away, up a steep hill. After looking around at the buildings, I called out after him:

“This is Bree, isn’t it?”

He looked back and gave me a wink, then continued on his way.

It wasn’t Bree, of course. Bree is fictional. How would I know what Bree looks like, enough so as to find it familiar? It was actually Clee Hill village, in Shropshire. You can get a pretty decent coronation chicken sandwich there, but the pubs do NOT care for outsiders. Especially those with accents they can’t distinguish from American.

Anyway…

The rules and motivation behind Blogathon are detailed in the preceding “zero hour” post. I write 24 posts over a period of 24 consecutive hours, and to support me, you use the widget on the right hand menu to donate to the Secular Student Alliance. I’ll periodically be taking topic-requests from people who’ve donated, so if you’ve done so, let me know in the comments or via twitter (@nataliereed84) what you’d like to see me babble about.

Since I’m not entirely awake yet, still on only my second cup of coffee, and haven’t yet eaten anything, I’ll start with something I’ve been thinking about lately that doesn’t require me to actually come up with any original insights.

When considering the various groups in our culture that are most strongly met with clearly emotional and intuitive hatred and marginalization, it’s of course really important to look at each individually and think about what might be motivating someone to react to it with as much hostility as they do. There are lots of different things underlying the intense and vitriolic, emotional reactions people have to sex workers, drug addicts and trans women, as just three examples.

But I’ve often found an extremely interesting touchstone to use in understanding why these groups are hated, marginalized and expelled from society’s inner circles as they are is the concept of the “scapegoat”. I don’t mean this in the modern usage of “someone you blame for all your problems”. I mean this in the ancient sense. That on which you place the sins of the community and then drive away, out of the village.

When we marginalize such groups, what of our OWN sins, collectively, as a culture, are we trying to drive away? What are we trying to absolve ourselves of by seeing it embodied in them?

Maybe we’re scared of our relentless consumerism, our constant pursuit of internal fulfillment through the acquisition of external desires, and scared that it won’t ever work. Maybe we’re scared of how our ruthless consumerism has made absolutely everything available to be reduced to the level of commodity and exchange, and that we’ve perhaps sold ourselves as well. Maybe we’re scared that all the dichotomies, categories, heirarchies, binaries and borders we’ve built our understanding of the world and society upon are, deep down, unstable, mutable, arbitrary and available to be transgressed.

People are extremely fond of saying that the various marked outsiders, the scapegoats, “threaten the foundations of society”. Maybe the bigger fear lies in some people’s lives reflecting the truth of what those foundations really are. Or that those foundations were only ever built on sand.

But my theories aren’t all THAT interesting. That’s not what I’m interested in suggesting. I doubt that what I’ve so far thought up, with my lazy, manic little brain, has gotten at even a tenth of what drives us to do the things we do in regards to targeting and marking particular lives as though they’re inherently worthless and repulsive.

What I’m interested in here isn’t the few little answers I’ve been able to come up with. What interests me is the question. It strikes me as one of the right ones to be asking.

When we push out the addicts, sex workers and trans people, when “we” (society, collectively) clearly wish death on them or at best consider their safety and survival a non-concern (“just another dead tranny hooker. Probably a junkie too.”), what are we most hoping might someday die with them?

 

3 comments

  1. 1
    Jason B

    Wow, Is this the stuff floating around hour head first thing in the morning?
    The only thing i can think of when i wake up usually involves eggs and dancing coffee beans.

    Well, good morning, and I’m looking forward to reading your blog for the next 9 hours at least!

  2. 2
    BecomingJulie

    At one point, I emerged from some kind of pub/warehouse (I like how dreams just randomly impose contradictory locations on top of eachother)

    THIS! I get the same sort of stuff in my dreams. Also, things like houses that can only be reached by ascending a sheer vertical surface, and car parks in shopping centres with ladders and walkways to reach the stores. And being shut in a shoe shop after hours with my (now sadly deceased) dog ….. Now that last one was fun …..

  3. 3
    ik

    And I think of GLaDOS’s song in Portal 2: ‘I used to want you dead. But now I just want you gone.”

    I, the absolutely normative, begin to wonder if we could respect each other across some barrier. I don’t even know how that might feel for me or you.

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