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11/11/2010 / Lynn Rabbitts

Chapter 6: Subjectfriggintivity

I like the book Communication and Culture. Really, I do. While I haven’t been a vocal proponent of the book, so as not to go against the hegemony of the class, for the most part I have enjoyed it.

That is until I read chapter 6. I have since then: read the chapter, liked it, thought I understood it, done miserably on a quiz, re-read the chapter, stared blankly at the quiz questions again, ripped-up the previously penned blog and considered offering up my cat as a sacrifice to the sikh prophecy (as proclaimed by Marilyn Monroe) “Everything Happens for a Reason” I didn’t receive this chapter for my group presentation.

This chapter should have been broken down into at least two chapters. Yet, since we’re given four parts, and since the previous chapters have instructed us, in terms of framing a context, that he who controls the present controls the past, this post shall be biased towards the final philosopher: Judith Butler.

Okay, complaining is done, blog post begins…. NOW!

I cannot believe I already used Annie Hall prior to the chapter on Freud. I’m a bad writer, this blog is the lesser for it, and, gentle reader, you have every reason to be disappointed. In an attempt to make amends, we shall look at my favorite book, Catch-22 by the immortal Joseph Heller, specifically chapter 23: Nately’s Old Man.

The book deals with the ideology of war, authority and the subjectivity within the hegemony for all participants. Due to space constraints, this will focus around the minor character of an old man residing in Rome.

His quote:

“When the Germans marched into [Rome], I danced in the streets like a youthful ballerina and shouted, ‘Heil Hitler!’ until my lungs were hoarse. I even waved a small Nazi flag that I had snatched away from a beautiful little girl while her mother was looking the other way. When the Germans left the city, I rushed out to welcome the Americans with a bottle of excellent brandy and a basket of flowers. The brandy was for myself, of course, and the flowers were to sprinkle upon our liberators.”

(Catch-22 pg 246)

This is a “performance” of subjectivity. In this case should the old man not follow the new culture his liberators bring with them he could be facing serious consequences in the non-performance or mis-performance of his acts (CC pg 101).

This quote of his performance goes on even further. He goes on to explain how instead of sprinkling the flowers on the liberators he hits one of the Majors in the face. This added performance might be for the benefit of the GIs, and spending subjective legal tender popularized by the American liberators of Rome.

One aspect that interests me, within this book is the institutional agents used throughout. While we are taught “throughout our lives, institutional agents direct us towards normal behavior” (CC pg 94), the institutional agent in this book is survival and self which drives to create the “normal behavior” the brings comedy to the first part of the book.

To me, the anti-authoritarian aspects of this book make sense. Think for yourself, take your actions and then stand-by them. Not because it’s popular or even in the best interests of the populace, but because you believe it’s right.

To further this example (and as I am now completely lost on this chapter) I’ll close with an excellent take on the most recent elections. Here, William Saletan explains how the Democrats didn’t really lose the election. It’s a different subjective take on a widely perceived notion.

And therein is my problem: am I getting subjective confused with subjectfriggintivity? Has years and years of trying to be subjective to principles not allowed me to grasp this concept?

[h.’s brain blows up]



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