The History of Violence

Many have tried to write a history of violence, in particularly Nietzsche, who realized that weakness was a form of violence too. I am certainly thinking about Nietzsche whenever I write in the last few days … he has never let me down; some of his most bold and outrageous claims, commonly viewed as material that one has to overlook in order to reach his real insights – the are the last I’ve understood.

We will eventually want to talk about guilt and violence, I want to propose that I had made the error of fowarding an experiential rather than conceptual notion of guilt. And we will want to talk about violence and a kind of “universal bad conscience” of an era. But before that I want to proceed more anecdotally.

I’m always thinking about the Chinese, myself and the Chinese. There is most definitely a form of violence to the Chinese, which may be compared to Nietzsche’s “Christianity”, ie, in the sense that it’s not an outright, in your face violence. I’ve only recently understood the extraordinary violence of *my mother*! My mother and my father, and many of my relatives. It’s not even motherly guilt, it is flat out violence — of I don’t want to make it sound like I was abused or anything, but only recently did I realize the malice behind parential aid, made even more malicious by the fact that they won’t admit to it. As I drove home today I had visions of ancestor worship and ancient China, and of the overpowering, crushing, form of gift wrapped violence there.

And of course, this is related to my own attitude towards life, my own inheritance of the above, which can basically be understood as “hatred of exclusivity”, hatred of mastery — technics versus the sacred, the corrupt versus the sacred, as I said in the last entry. Well, I’ve thought about this, I’ve thought enough about this inheritance to make it my own, and this has gained enough subtlety and conceptual complexity that — that I can be fairly called a real human being — rather than raw unreflected stupidity and violence. But yes, there is a raw violence there — everything can be talked over, nothing is private, everything is social. I’ve pretty much stopped talking to the Chinese. If this sounds harsh, let me just say that the Chinese are one of the last major “peoples” I’ve come to hate (in the correct way, not simply because they’re annoying). There are moments when I want to scream, now what the fuck are you doing? I’ve already spoken of my fantasies of violently assaulting my (Chinese) roommate, I now realize that I had misanalyzed it. That look on his face — the way he wanted to drag out all the insights that I’ve fought so hard for, that I’ve meditated so long over — and *rape them*, well, yes, I believe I would be fully justified in breaking a few of the lesser bones.

But there are of course certain insights to be had from such raw stupidity, things you wouldn’t recognize otherwise. I’m not kidding, this fellow, PhD and everything, probably has an IQ of about 85. It feels like a goddamn step back in time, say 500 years or so, that’s for sure. If this was 1500 AD in China, I feel like he’d be the one in charge. Much like Faulkner’s Emily, there is the feeling of “historical revenge” at work here.

… I had long known about violence but I had not considered writing a history of it — I started this blog with talk, after all, about the *history of love*. I had long simply dismissed violence as, well, to my shame, as a kind of sin. For example, I had long known that love was far more dangerous than hate precisely because self-love is the root of all violence. After all, what does hate ever accomplish? Maybe I put a bullet through my brother’s head, or maybe I assault my spouse or my roommate. On the grand scheme of things these things are abnormalities and matter very little. But the massive systemic oppression, the enormous projets, the great wars, the genocides, well, you need some devilish spirit behind all that, and all that is founded upon self-love (not the romantic love of “a history of love”, which is really much more closely related to the opposite of violence, guilt) — and isn’t that really what “gets things done” in history?

So basicaly, my error in two posts ago, in “the Violence of blankness”, was the attempt to separate one form of violence from another and to valorize a form of “guilt-violence”. But in fact violence and guilt cannot be so easily linked — it is not, for example, Christianity, even if Christianity emphasized guilt or sin. Nor is it the Chinese for the same reason. Those things, though they involve guilt, are violence in its purity. There is no violence of blankness which I realized later — but there is guilt. The previous essay still feels fresh (and correct) to me — the emphasis there was on the separation of violence and guilt into two moments. There, we talked about writing a work of self-love, a work called “Watching out for my own kind” that would be a kind of manifesto for *my kind*. That essay would never get written — instead, we spoke about how art involves overcoming a fundamental failure — this failure that would be the subtle transformation of a work of (self-love) or violence into a work of guilt, a work of, well, a violence towards violence, a violence of blankness, of sorts.

That is, the important thing is that we will not be talking about simply another sort of violence (which may indeed be the flow of history on a grand scale) but rather a violence against violence —

TBC

 

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