https://queenmobs.com/2018/08/misfit-do ... ch-runway/
Sophie Lewis on Trans-exclusionary radical feminism
Sophie Lewis discusses trans-exclusionary feminists, their traducing of lesbian separatism and gay liberation history, their attachment to the unscientific imaginary of human sex dimorphism, and The Handmaid's Tale with Alex Doherty on the Politics Theory Other podcast.
Buffy the Post-Anarchist Vampire Slayer
Buffy is a pop-culture phenomenon. The show ran for seven seasons. Its spinoff, Angel, ran for five. Both narratives have continued in comic book form. Buffy has a large, loyal, dedicated audience. That audience does include many bourgeois academics: David Lavery (2004) has described Buffy Studies as an academic cult, and I am a card-carrying member of that cult. But Buffy is not just for scholar-fans; it is for everybody. Buffy’s most working-class character, Xander Harris, starts season four by stating his ethical imperative. He solves his moral dilemmas by asking himself, ‘What would Buffy do?’ (4.1).  The answer, I will argue, is that Buffy would launch a classical anarchist assault on the military–scientific complex, followed by an all-out post-anarchist attack on the Symbolic. And then have hot chocolate.
Not everyone agrees; Buffy criticism, especially in its early years, has often denied the show’s revolutionary potential. Jeffrey Pasley equated Buffy and her demon-hunting friends with the ‘primitive rebels’ and ‘social bandits’ of leftist lore, but concluded that they ended up offering only ‘piecemeal’ resistance, not revolution (2003: 262–3). Reading the programme through the lens of Marxist historiography, Pasley failed to see the more radical elements of anarchist resistance in Buffy. Even less plausibly, Neal King (2003) denied that there was anything anti-authoritarian about Buffy’s ‘Scooby gang’; for him, Buffy and her (mainly female) friends were nothing more than fascist ‘brownskirts’. This position was based largely on a tortured interpretation of Buffy’s first three seasons; by the fourth season, it had become quite impossible to identify Buffy with any kind of fascist politics.
Season four shows us Buffy’s freshman year at the University of California, Sunnydale. As Bussolini has pointed out, this is the same U.C. that brought us the American nuclear arsenal (2005; paragraph 16). Buffy begins dating Riley Finn, her handsome young teaching assistant. (Whoops!) Buffy soon discovers that Riley is actually a special forces soldier working for the U.S. government’s secret demon-hunting project, the Initiative. Buffy tries to work with the Initiative, but soon finds that she can’t handle its military hierarchies and authoritarian power structures. So season four actually establishes Buffy’s politics as anti-fascist. Wall and Zryd have argued compellingly that Buffy’s ‘critical way of thinking about the fascistic and military-structured Initiative’ facilitate Riley’s transformation from loyal soldier to self-proclaimed anarchist by the end of the season (2001: 61). Riley’s ‘anarchism’, they claim, is not rigorous, but rather represents a ‘shorthand alternative to institutional logic’ similar to that used by opponents of globalization (ibid.). The fact that it is non-rigorous or post-rational may be to its advantage, however. Bussolini makes the important point that the famous mass protests against the World Trade Organization, later known as the ‘Battle of Seattle’, took place while season four was originally being broadcast in November 1999 (2005; paragraph 29). Bussolini emphasizes, correctly, that the anti-globalization politics which were contemporary with season four criticize the kind of state-based, hierarchical politics which motivate the Initiative (ibid.). The show presents Seattle-style anarchism as a real and legitimate option for an Iowa farm boy like Riley Finn, or for a working-class carpenter like Xander Harris. The show thus makes anarchism an option for various non-bourgeois audiences. As the streets of Seattle filled with those who believed another world was possible, Buffy was broadcasting a radical endorsement of this belief – on network television!
If Buffy’s fourth season had ‘only’ portrayed a relevant form of contemporary anarchist politics in a highly positive light, that alone would secure the show a place in the history of popular culture. But this season did much more than that. In addition to its compelling narrative about the emergence of a classical anarchist consciousness, season four offered a bold post-anarchist vision. Kenneth Hicks has recently accused season four of assuming that ‘government is incompetent because it’s incompetent’; Hicks finds this assumption ‘inconclusive and unsatisfying’ (2008: 69). But there is, in fact, a perfectly convincing reason for the Initiative’s failures. Richardson and Rabb have quite rightly interpreted Riley’s rejection of the Initiative as a rejection of ‘humanity’s militarization of reason and scientific knowledge’ (2007: 70). Riley’s ‘anarchism’, then, is in part an anarchist critique of what Habermas and others have called instrumental rationality.
This is Buffy’s entry point into post-anarchism. A Habermasian critique of instrumental rationality, while certainly radical by the standards of network television, would nonetheless have remained wedded to the modernist position of the Frankfurt School. To avoid this, the show must take a post-structuralist turn. Amazingly, this is precisely what it does. The second half of season four takes as its central concern the operations of power within the realm of language and Law. Buffy has always shown a strong fascination with language (see M. Adams, 2003), but here that fascination takes on a specifically political form. The show enacts an escape from what Fredric Jameson called the ‘prison-house of language’ (1972). This escape begins with the silent episode, ‘Hush’ (4.10), which performs the elimination of the Symbolic in order to stage a very post-anarchist return to the Lacanian Real. The alternate reality episode ‘Superstar’ (4.17) rewrites the Symbolic order, to make a minor character into the star of the show. Buffy’s post-anarchist project culminates in the season four finale, ‘Restless’ (4.22). This episode is a tour of the dreamworld, the world beneath the rational. As much as any symbolic artefact could, ‘Restless’ approaches the unrepresentable world Lacan called the Real.
So Buffy’s fourth season does not only provide a savvy, vibrant representation of an anarchist praxis which was real and relevant when the programme aired in 1999. The show also models a very viable post-anarchist politics, one which is based on a radical subversion of the dominant Symbolic regime. This politics is the heir of 60s Situationism and the ‘ontological anarchy’ of the 80s. It builds on radical street theatre and the symbolic interventions associated with Carnival against Capitalism and other contemporary anarchist movements. Most crucially, this post-anarchism challenges the hegemony of language. It locates the places where effective revolutionary action is still possible: in the space where there is no speech, and in the mystical space of the unconscious. Lacan named this last space the Real. We can never represent it, but if we approach it even obliquely, we contribute to our liberation from the tyranny of language. This is what Buffy would do. She would be an anarchist, certainly: after all, Riley and all the other kids are doing it. But being an anarchist means something specific in Buffy’s millennial moment. It means that she will be Buffy, the post-anarchist vampire slayer.
‘WE’VE GOT IMPORTANT WORK HERE. A LOT OF FILING, GIVING THINGS NAMES.’
Post-Anarchist Themes in Late Season Four of Buffy
Jacques Lacan is justly infamous for his incomprehensible prose, but his structuralist version of psychoanalysis is nonetheless crucial to many contemporary intellectual projects, including post-anarchism. Thankfully, there is a rich secondary literature on Lacan. Marini (1992) provides a useful summary of Lacan’s conceptual revolution. In 1953, Lacan replaced the traditional Freudian system with a structural system which divided human reality into a Symbolic realm of language and culture, an unrepresentable and unknowable Real, and an Imaginary composed of our fantasies of reality (ibid.: 43). Lacan reformulated the Oedipus complex; he made it our entrance into the Symbolic, which was the ‘universe of the law’ (ibid.). The Lacanian model should be of tremendous interest to contemporary anarchists, for it’s just possible that Lacan located the place where Law happens. That place is the Symbolic, which we first enter via the name of the Father. As Elizabeth Grosz has pointed out, the Lacanian model implies that ‘language alone is capable of positioning the subject as a social being’ (1990: 99). Language does this by deploying the rules, structures and hierarchies of the social. Since these are also the conduits through which political power flows, language advances the statist agenda. That makes the Symbolic a legitimate target for post-anarchism.
If the Symbolic is post-anarchism’s natural enemy, the Real is its natural ally. It was Saul Newman who first recognized this important point: ‘this gap, this surplus of meaning that cannot be signified, is a void in the symbolic structure – the “Real”’ (2001: 139). The Real ensures that the hegemony of the Symbolic is never complete. Thinking about the Real helps us to find fissure points in the structures of postmodern power. The Real is a jackpot for post-anarchists, suggesting as it does that ‘there is always something missing from the social totality, something that escapes social signification – a gap upon which society is radically founded’ (ibid.: 147). It’s certainly a relief to realize that society and its myriad power structures must always remain incomplete. Society might appear to be monolithic and omnipotent, as might the state which claims to represent society. But both were built upon this gap in the system of signification: their foundations are hollow.
Newman uses this Lacanian notion of the gap ‘to theorize a non-essentialist outside to power’ (2001: 160). This is post-anarchism in a nutshell – or in a bombshell, as Jason Adams (2003) would have it. Post-anarchism seeks a space outside power, and endeavours to use that space as the staging area for a project of radical liberation. Like Newman, I believe that this space is to be found in the Lacanian Real. Of course, the Real is not a destination we can reach; it will always elude us. But we can think about the Real. We can develop an awareness of its effects. We can feel its presence in our lives. When we do these things, we challenge the authority of the Symbolic. We question its jurisdiction, in the most literal sense: we dispute its right and its ability to speak the Law. What could be more anarchist than that?
Buffy makes its post-anarchist move about halfway through season four, in Joss Whedon’s celebrated silent episode ‘Hush’ (4.10). In this Emmy-nominated episode, an especially terrifying band of monsters descends on Sunnydale. The Gentlemen are neat, tidy and Victorian in their appearance. They are also completely silent. And the moment they arrive in Sunnydale, they steal everyone’s voices. In Lacanian terms, the Gentlemen rip the Symbolic order away and lock it in a box. In an excellent Lacanian reading of ‘Hush’, Kelly Kromer notes that Buffy normally acts as the Law in Sunnydale: she creates the world by classifying creatures as wicked or good (2006: 1). Buffy wields the power of the Name, a weapon just as potent as her trusty stake, Mr. Pointy. From a post-anarchist perspective, of course, this power is problematic, since it is precisely the kind of power that underwrites the postmodern state. But Buffy, like all slayers, is a woman. And as Luce Irigaray (1985) has pointed out, women are connected to the Symbolic in a way which is tenuous at best. As Irigaray argues, women assure the possibility of the Symbolic without being recipients of it: ‘their nonaccess to the symbolic is what has established the social order’ (ibid.: 189). Buffy’s gender is important here. As a woman, she’s used to being denied access to the Symbolic. This denial of access is literalized in ‘Beer Bad’, (4.5) when magic beer causes Buffy to devolve into a cavewoman. By the end of the episode, she is incapable of forming multi-word sentences. Xander asks her what lesson she has learned about beer; she replies, ‘foamy’. When the womanizing Parker asks forgiveness for his use and abuse of Buffy, she is beyond language, and can only bonk him on the head with a club. At this point we realize that actually, Buffy is often outside the Symbolic. So when the Symbolic suddenly vanishes from Sunnydale in ‘Hush’, she can cope better than an old patriarch like Giles or a young one like Riley. In silent Sunnydale, the Real reigns supreme, and consequently social Law begins to disintegrate (Kromer, paragraph . This is bad news for Buffy, but good news for post-anarchists. Life would indeed be really good, if only the Real could be domesticated (Marini,1992: page 43). At least, that’s how the state sees things. But ‘Hush’ argues powerfully that this domestication can never be achieved. Indeed, ‘Hush’ performs the polar opposite of this domestication: a radical release of the Real.
In ‘Hush’, the Real is dramatically erotic. That’s understandable, since Eros always contains the excess of meaning which characterizes the Real. Erotic gestures thus approach the Real in a way that language never can. ‘Hush’ begins with a daydream. Buffy is in her psych class. Professor Walsh (the mad scientist who runs the Initiative) is lecturing about communication, language and the difference between the two. As part of a demonstration, Walsh asks Riley to kiss Buffy. ‘If I kiss you, it’ll make the sun go down’, warns Riley. He does, and it does. Clearly this kiss has performative powers which language can’t match. Of course, the Symbolic immediately tries to reassert itself. ‘Fortune favours the brave’, observes Buffy. She doesn’t usually quote Virgil, so this looks like the voice of the Empire speaking through Buffy – in this case an Empire of Signs, as Barthes might say. ‘Hush’ is all about the kiss. Riley complains to Forrest that he has trouble talking to Buffy. ‘Then get with the kissing’, Forrest quite sensibly replies. But the really interesting thing about Buffy and Riley is that they actually can’t kiss anywhere near the Symbolic. Their first kiss happened in the Imaginary, in Buffy’s daydream. Their second kiss happens in the Real. Stripped of speech, the two mute heroes meet in downtown Sunnydale, which has become a chaotic no-man’s-land. They hug. Each checks, silently, to see that the other is OK. They hear the sounds of nearby violence. Preparing to do their duty, they start to turn away from one another. They think better of this, turn back, and kiss. The entire kiss is negotiated and consummated without speech, which gives it a great deal of power. This kiss becomes the foundation of their relationship. Buffy and Riley never do get the hang of the talking. But when they are fighting demons together – and afterwards, when they are making love – they move with effortless grace. Buffy and Riley don’t need speech; indeed, they are visibly better off without it. They show us that we can actually operate much closer to the Real than we typically believe.
The other major erotic event in ‘Hush’ is an incident of same-sex hand-holding, which represents the beginning of Willow’s first lesbian relationship. In ‘Hush’ we meet a young witch named Tara. When Sunnydale goes silent, Tara seeks out Willow, the one person who might understand what’s happening. Tara and Willow are attacked by the Gentlemen. They’re forced to barricade themselves in the dorm laundry room. With the Gentlemen banging on the door, Willow tries to use her magic to move a soda machine up against the door. It’s too heavy, and she fails. Then Tara takes Willow’s hand. Their fingers intertwine. They look at each other. In a very well choreographed move, they turn simultaneously towards the soda machine, which flies across the room and blocks the door. (This shot would later reappear in the show’s opening credits.) Willow and Tara don’t stop holding hands after their spell is done, and they are basically inseparable from this moment. Their shared magical power illustrates the nature of their relationship: vital, energetic, and very much greater than the sum of its parts. All of this is accomplished without language. Indeed, ‘Hush’ makes us realize that if the Gentlemen hadn’t come to Sunnydale, Willow and Tara might never have got together. Willow is a hyper-articulate nerdy type, and Tara has a stutter which gets worse when she’s nervous. In normal times, the two of them live on two very different margins of the Symbolic. None of that matters in the laundry room. Here there is no language, only a Real composed of power and love.
‘Hush’ argues consistently that love happens where there is no language. Naturally, Buffy finds her voice at last, and her scream destroys the Gentlemen. The Law returns to Sunnydale. But no one is actually happy about that. ‘Hush’ concludes with a brilliant meditation on the misery of the Symbolic. During the reign of silence, Buffy and Riley have discovered each other’s secret identities. At the end of the episode, Riley visits Buffy in her dorm room. He sits down awkwardly on Willow’s bed. ‘I guess we have to talk’, he begins. ‘I guess we do’, Buffy agrees. The two of them then sit in complete silence, staring at one another across the gulf between the two beds. Their longing is palpable, and it is a longing for the Real. Their plight suggests that we should resist the Symbolic not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it might be the only way that we can find happiness.
Jane Espenson’s ‘Superstar’ (4.17) explores the fascist tendencies of the Symbolic. The teaser shows us a typical monster hunt, with one bizarre twist: Buffy can’t handle things, so she has to get help from ... Jonathan Levinson? This geeky, alienated graduate of Sunnydale High has somehow been transformed into a super-suave James Bond type. Things get worse fast: Jonathan has even colonized the opening credit sequence, in which he gets as much screen time as any Scooby. This is big trouble, because it means that Jonathan has broken out of the Buffyverse’s narrative space. The credits are the part of the programme which knows itself to be a television show. In the credits, Jonathan is not just part of the story; he is part of the real-world cultural artefact we call Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ten minutes into this astonishing ‘Espensode’, Jonathan has taken control of the Symbolic in the Buffyverse and in our world, too.
Throughout ‘Superstar’, the image of Jonathan continues to proliferate across every available surface. We see rows and rows of identical Jonathan posters lining the walls of Sunnydale. The aesthetic is unmistakably fascist: infinite copies of Jonathan’s sad, shy face gaze down on the population. Jonathan has become all things to all people: brilliant musician, vampire slayer, author, basketball player. He is the subject of comic books and trading cards. Jonathan advertises sporting goods on billboards. A poster on the back of Riley’s dorm room door shows Jonathan as a basketball superstar – like Michael Jordan, only short and Jewish. This infinite propagation of Jonathans slides smoothly into a very smart critique of consumer culture. Here is a radical assault on the corporate logo, for those who may never get around to reading Naomi Klein. In this strange and disturbing world, there is only one logo, and it is Jonathan. His image has monopolized the Symbolic system more effectively than Nike’s swoosh ever did. And now we see where consumer capitalism is headed: towards a barren, totalitarian Symbolic, a world with only one sign. Here the Name has been distilled down to its most basic, oppressive essence. That essence is Jonathan.
Naturally, the magic which Jonathan used to rewrite the Symbolic order proves to be ‘unstable’. It’s one thing to disrupt the narrative of the show, but Jonathan’s magic is threatening to spill over into our Symbolic, and that won’t do. This is television, after all, and the name of the show must be identical with the name of its protagonist. So the spell is broken. Jonathan goes back to being a nobody, and Buffy’s on top of the world once again. But the damage has been done. Buffy’s viewers can no longer take the Symbolic for granted. ‘Hush’ has already taught us that the Symbolic comes and goes in the Buffyverse. Now we know that our own Symbolic is no safer than Buffy’s.
The stage is set for season four’s climactic post-anarchist battle. To defeat Adam, the Scoobies must use a spell which combines the strengths of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles. It’s a moment of radical mysticism. ‘We are forever’, declares Combo Buffy. Here we see a powerful expression of Buffy’s typical argument: Buffy needs her friends, and is always better off when she has their help. She may be a kick-ass Stirnerean superhero, but she can’t do it alone. A strong collectivist spirit lies deep at the heart of Buffy. Maybe this is what Fredric Jameson was talking about when he described the attempt to dissolve the subject into the Symbolic as an awareness of the ‘dawning collective character of life’ (1972: 196). By the end of season four, Buffy was post-Seattle and post-structuralist. The show increasingly pointed towards a radically collectivist politics, and it increasingly found space for such a politics in the place beyond the Symbolic.
This trend culminates in Joss Whedon’s ‘Restless’ (4.22), the denouement of season four. It turns out that the joining spell which created Combo Buffy has a price, as such spells often do. The Scoobies try to sleep off the spell’s after-effects, but they are plagued by troubling dreams. These dreams reveal a persistent need to overcome language and embrace the Real. Willow dreams of ‘homework’ which requires her to cover every inch of Tara’s skin with mysterious calligraphy. In this dream, Tara is over-inscribed. She is completely contained and constrained within the Symbolic. This reiterates the argument of ‘Hush’: Tara is always better off without language. Indeed, all the Scoobies are. Dream-Giles directs a play. He gives an inspirational speech just before the curtain goes up, and cheerfully instructs his troupe to ‘lie like dogs’. Public speech is ridiculed here, dismissed as a pack of lies. Gradually the Scoobies start to realize the nature of their dilemma. ‘There’s a great deal going on, and all at once!’ observes Giles. He’s right: as the Symbolic erodes, everything becomes simultaneous. The Scoobies are entering the eternal Now of the Real. This world is seductive; it’s hard to leave. Willow and Giles start to work out the fact that they are being pursued by some kind of primal force. Xander resists: ‘Don’t get linear on me now, man!’ He doesn’t want to re-enter the Symbolic – who would? That would mean going through the whole Oedipal thing again. ‘Restless’ literalizes Oedipal fear through Xander’s pseudo-incestuous desire for Buffy’s mom, and through his aggression towards his drunken father, who makes a rare and violent appearance in Xander’s dream.
Buffy’s dream provides the strongest challenge to the Symbolic. Buffy meets Riley in an Initiative conference room. He’s dressed in coat and tie, as befits his new rank: ‘They made me Surgeon General.’ In the dreamworld, Buffy’s critique of instrumental rationality can reach new heights of beautiful absurdity. It transpires that Riley is drawing up a plan for world domination with Adam (the season four ‘Big Bad’, now in human form). ‘The key element?’ Riley reveals: ‘Coffee-makers that think’. It’s a wonderful absurdist send-up, in the tradition of Situationism, Dadaism or Surrealism. When Buffy questions this plan to achieve the apotheosis of state power, Riley replies, ‘Baby, we’re the government. It’s what we do.’ It’s important to note that Riley did not participate in the joining spell, and is not part of this dream voyage. What we are seeing here is Buffy’s unconscious perception of Riley. This is the show’s way of explaining how Riley could call himself an anarchist without actually understanding what that meant. Although Riley has rejected the external power structures which once ruled him, he has not yet killed his inner fascist. Riley remains a statist, and an especially nasty sort of statist at that. He dismisses his girlfriend: ‘Buffy, we’ve got important work here. A lot of filing, giving things names.’ The work he mentions, the filing and naming, are the distilled essence of bureaucracy. Buffy’s dream becomes a nightmare as Riley embraces Symbolic power. The dream reveals to us that Riley’s political education is not over. He may call himself an anarchist, but now he needs to learn how to be a post-anarchist.
Finally, Buffy meets the mysterious primal force which has been pursuing her and her friends through the dreamworld. This force turns out to be the spirit of the original Slayer, the woman who first took on the burden of slayerhood in the ancient world. Tara shows up to mediate between Buffy and the speechless Primal Slayer. As Tara says, ‘Someone has to speak for her.’ This ancient tribal woman confirms Irigaray’s interpretation, for she is definitely outside the Symbolic. ‘Let her speak for herself’, Buffy demands. Buffy is still the voice of the Law here, constantly trying to reassert the Symbolic order. ‘Make her speak’, Buffy insists. Speech is an imperative here, for the Symbolic order is in a state of crisis. The Primal Slayer is a creature of the radical Real. If she cannot be made to speak, she threatens to undermine the entire Symbolic regime. Speaking through Tara, the first Slayer insists upon her position outside language: ‘I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death, the blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute ... alone.’ She is pure action, and she has nothing to do with language. Buffy reasserts the Symbolic one more time, with a twinkling speech that rolls off Sarah Michelle Gellar’s tongue like a waterfall in springtime: ‘I walk. I talk. I shop. I sneeze. I’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out. And I don’t sleep on a bed of bones. Now give me back my friends.’ This is finally enough to force the first Slayer to speak. ‘No ... friends! Just the kill. We ... are ... alone!’ But it’s Buffy’s position that prevails. She defeats her ancient ancestor, everybody wakes up, and things get back to normal.
Wait a minute. Doesn’t that just mean that the Symbolic always wins in the end? What’s revolutionary about that? Buffy’s still the voice of the Law, and the space outside language has vanished once again. But here we have to look at the big picture. Baudrillard once observed that the events of May 1968 created a rift in the Symbolic order which remained open for years (1976: 34). The events of ‘Restless’ have a similar effect on the Buffyverse. ‘Restless’ appeared almost exactly halfway through Buffy’s seven-season narrative. Seasons five, six and seven are largely concerned with Buffy’s quest to understand the primal nature of her power. In a way, Buffy never wakes up from her dream. She now knows that the Real is out there. She continues to live in the Symbolic as she must, as we all must. But she has learned that her power comes from a place outside language. ‘I need to know more. About where I come from, about the other slayers’, she tells Giles at the beginning of season five (5.1). In a most unlikely move, Buffy becomes a student of history. She studies the ancient stories of the slayer line, seeking the place where it all began, in the time before the Symbolic.
Buffy finally finds what she’s looking for towards the end of the show’s seventh and final season. In ‘Get it Done’ (7.15), Buffy visits the dreamtime once again. This time she goes all the way back to the beginning, to re-enact the event which created the first Slayer. Here Buffy examines its own creation myth. Since the slayers seem to represent the Symbolic order, this also lets the show examine the foundational myth of our culture. Buffy meets the Shadow Men, the ancient patriarchs who made the Primal Slayer. They chain Buffy, promising to show her the source of her power. Buffy protests. ‘The First Slayer did not talk so much’, remarks a Shadow Man. Nor could she, for she had not yet created the Symbolic order. The patriarchs show Buffy the demon energy which gives the slayers their power. She refuses it, but they won’t listen. Suddenly she realizes that she is experiencing a rape, a violation. These men forced this demonic essence into a young woman against her will. These ancient fathers raped their daughter; from this violation the Symbolic was born. As Lacan surmised, the Law originates in the crucible of Oedipal desire.
But Buffy’s been flirting with the Real for a while now, and she’s ready to take back this ancient night. She defeats the Shadow Men, and breaks their staff. ‘It’s always the staff’: Buffy knows a Lacanian phallus when she sees one. For the remainder of the series, Buffy pursues the destruction of this primal, patriarchal Symbolic. And at last she succeeds. At the end of the show, Buffy and her friends change the world. Buffy rallies her army of potential slayers, and makes her ‘Crispin’s Day’ speech before the big battle: ‘In every generation one slayer is born because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule’ (7.22). Buffy rejects her own foundational myth. She rejects the Oedipal logic which established the Symbolic. She acknowledges that the ancient patriarchs ‘were powerful men’. But she insists that her best friend Willow is ‘more powerful than all of them combined’. And indeed, Willow lives up to her press. The young witch works a spell which makes every ‘potential’ into a full-fledged slayer. In this way Buffy’s power is diffused through an entire community. It’s a radically democratic move. Buffy is no longer ‘Slayer, comma, The’. The Law has been thoroughly fragmented. Indeed, following this rupture in the Symbolic, there is no longer a monolithic Law at all. There is instead a play of forces and flows, a give and take. Buffy has created a community of post-anarchist vampire slayers.
The show’s conclusion demonstrates that Buffy is anything but a fascist brownskirt. At the end of season seven, Buffy holds nominal command over an army of slayers. But Buffy season eight comic books reveal that this ‘army’ is really a diverse collection of free-thinking riot grrrls, third-wave feminists and lesbian separatists. They’re all ‘hot chicks with superpowers’ (7.21) now, and they’re anarchists to boot. They would just as soon kick Buffy’s ass as salute her. The slayers are an anarchist army, not unlike those that fought against Franco’s fascists during the Spanish civil war. As for Buffy herself, she’s a reluctant revolutionary. For most of her career she has been the sheriff of the Symbolic, wielder of the Name, bearer of the Law. But to her credit, when the Real came calling, she answered. By returning to the very moment of the Symbolic’s creation, she found a space before language, a space of resistance. She made that space into a weapon and used it to fragment the Symbolic order which had imprisoned the slayers for so long. In this way Buffy modeled an effective, engaged post-anarchist politics. Buffy made that politics available to audiences of various ethnicities, genders, sexualities and social classes. Let the Buffy Studies and post-anarchist communities rejoice together at the arrival of Buffy, the post-anarchist vampire slayer.
“Each Crueler Than the Last” : On Statues of Christopher Columbus—and the Men Who Raised Them
Columbus returned a year later with 17 ships, 1300 men, 20 cavalry, and sugarcane for cultivation. No longer interested in finding Asia, Columbus now fantasized about colonizing Hispaniola for Spain and getting “as much gold as [the King and Queen require]… and as many slaves as they ask.” But when he arrived at Hispaniola, he found the fort burned to the ground and the Spaniards he had stationed there killed by the Taíno, Ciguayo, and Macorix tribes. While Columbus was away, his men had abducted and raped Native people, which the locals would not tolerate.
This was hardly the misconduct of unsupervised underlings. Columbus was well aware of the conquistadors’ desire for sex slaves; on his return trip to Hispaniola, he was already awarding concubines to his officers. In 1500, Columbus wrote a friend that in the Caribbean, “A hundred castellanoes
are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”
Over the course of Columbus’s second voyage, he established a number of forts and villages along the south of the island and in the interior to find gold. Among these early settlements was Santo Domingo, a hub of European colonialism for the next few hundred years. Any inhabitants that the Spaniards found were treated as serfs and forced to bring their lord a quota of gold. Those who were unable or unwilling to meet the quota were beaten, tortured, whipped, maimed, and killed. By the end of 1494, 7000 Taínos were in open revolt.
The Taíno defending the coast of Xaymaca with darts, 1494.
American Dream » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:25 pm wrote:Anacaona: the Woman Chief Who Stood Up to Christopher Columbus
It’s more or less universally acknowledged these days that Christopher Columbus was terrible. Like, the cut peoples’ hands off if they didn’t give him enough gold, pretty much start the transatlantic slave trade kind of terrible. But despite the despicable behavior of Columbus and his cronies, many of the indigenous people they oppressed tried to push back and rise above, including the remarkable Taíno cacica—woman tribal chief—Anacaona.
The story takes place in Hispaniola, which is the Greater Antilles island that is split between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. But before Christopher Columbus’s arrival, the Taíno people called it Ayiti. Anacaona—meaning “golden flower”—was the sister of Xaragua territory chief Bohechío and the wife of Caonabo, the Maguana territory chief. Though initially leaders were friendly with Columbus and his entourage when they first traveled to Xaragua in 1496 (or as friendly as you can be with known murderers), the relationship soured what with Columbus enslaving their people and generally taking whatever he wanted.
When Anacaona’s brother died, she succeeded him, and when her husband was captured by Columbus’s men and sent to Spain as a slave, she succeeded him, too. But despite her personal loss, she continued to work with her oppressors in order to keep her people safe. In addition to her roles as a leader and diplomat, Anacaona was also apparently very beautiful and skilled at creating songs, poems and dances. Washington Irving wrote of Anacaona in his History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus:
[She was] remarkable for her native propriety and dignity. She was adored by her subjects, so as to hold a kind of dominion over them, even during the lifetime of her brother; she is said to have been skilled in composing the areytos or legendary ballads of her nation, and may have conduced much towards producing that superior degree or refinement remarked among her people.
But all of that power attracted some attention, and despite the kindness, integrity and generosity she showed the Spaniards, the new governor Nicolás de Ovando decided she was a threat and must have some secret plot to overthrow him. In a bid to rid himself of the threat and gain control over the entire island, Ovando rounded up all of the area’s lesser chiefs (during a feast Anacaona was throwing for him no less) and locked them in a building, which he then ordered to be set on fire, burning them alive. Anacaona was spared this due to her rank and instead prosecuted on trumped up charges.
To add insult to injury, it is said that Anacaona was offered clemency in exchange for her loyalty to the Spaniards in the form of either a marriage to one of them or as a concubine depending on which account you believe. She refused, which earned her not only a death-by-public-hanging sentence in September of 1503, but also a spot in the history books. She has inspired many songs, poems (including ‘Anacaona’ by Lord Tennyson) and works of art, but above all, Anacaona is known today as a fearless, dignified Caribbean icon and symbol of resistance against tyranny.
Anacaona. Fania All Stars (Our Latin Thing)
Anacaona, captive-bred Indian
Anacaona, from the primitive region.
Anacaona, captive-bred Indian
Anacaona, from the primitive region.
Anacaona I heard your voice, as I cried when I groaned
Anacaona I heard the voice of your anguished heart
Your freedom never came, and Le le le le le le la la.
Anacaona, captive-bred Indian
Anacaona, from the primitive region.
Anacaona, india, captive race india
And Anacaona, from the primitive region.
Anacaona, Areito of Anacaona.
India of captive race,
soul of white dove ... Anacaona.
But Indian who dies crying,
dies but does not forgive, does not forgive.
Anacaona, india de raza cautiva
Anacaona, de la región primitiva.
Anacaona, india de raza cautiva
Anacaona, de la región primitiva.
Anacaona oí tú voz, como lloró cuando gimío
Anacaona oí la voz de tu angustiado corazón
Tu libertad nunca llegó, e Le le le le le le la la.
Anacaona, india de raza cautiva
Anacaona, de la región primitiva.
Anacaona, india, india de raza cautiva
Y Anacaona, de la región primitiva.
Anacaona, areito de Anacaona.
India de raza cautiva,
alma de blanca paloma...Anacaona.
Pero india que muere llorando,
muere pero no perdona, no perdona no.
Esa negra negra que es de raza noble y abatida
pero que fue valentona ¡Anacaona!
Oye, según la historia lo cuenta
dicen que fue a la cañona, Anacaona.
La tribu entera la llora porque fue buena negrona.
Y recordando, recordando lo que pasó
la tribú ya se enfogona.
Memories of the End of History
“I cringe to hear people talk of 9/11 in tones that suggest it was a simpler, kinder, more peaceful time. It wasn’t really.”
If you’ve cared enough to pay attention to details, then you already know that I’m a Discordian. What many don’t know is that many Discordians are former United States Marines.
I served in the marines from June of 1997 to June of 2001. It was a period in which I can honestly say everyone thought that the world had settled out; the Cold War was over, everyone seemed to be falling into line about making money of the poor, everyone was convinced the world was pacified, finally. Which is why in a sense 9/11 was a punch line. Even the people running the military thought this. I used to get briefings which in a sense seemed to have the purpose of informing me, “That the marine corpse definitely still had a reason to exist and that reason is blah blah blah”. Like any of that hokey shit matters now.
These are my memories of that period, a period in which people felt, wrongly, like they were at the end of history. I’ll try to keep this short. But it is an American tradition that you have to listen to a veteran recount his boring stupid tired stories, so now it’s your turn. This is going to be a mix of stories about my interactions with the U.S. government, and also what I saw as I traveled the world pretending to be useful. I have no idea how to do one of these things. Should I tell it linearly or write an alinear history? I’m going to start at the beginning, but don’t be fooled, this is definitely an alinear story. Also, you should know that 60% of all human memories are filler your brain makes up. But believe me when I say that I believe it was real.
I suck at being an infantryman. I knew it from the first week in the School of Infantry. Yeah, that’s literally what they call it. They’re infantryman, not MCU writers. So anyway, yeah, you’d have to figure that most people suck at it when they start. The problem is I didn’t seem to stop sucking. I imagine I’m better at it than some random person rotting in an office somewhere, so I have that going for me. But generally was not good at it. When I went through the School of Infantry, I was experimented on! It was an experimental fast track program, see usually the thing lasts, um, well I don’t know, I didn’t go through how it usually happens. I went through a month long program, complete with starvation training. Ever been so hungry you’d eat food out of a dumpster? Me too! Of course it is possible they lied, and that everyone that goes through the School of Infantry goes through all that.
Like I said, I only went once. It was around September, that this all happened, in California. That last part was the nice part, I had been living in Texas for all of high school. I was just happy to be home. Anyway, I mention the month basically to say that it was fall. This one guy, who will remain a nameless little wishnik troll person, complained that California was so brown, just desert, he thought, and that he missed home in Michigan where it was green forest. A spring later and he was amazed at how green it was. I could only say one thing, “Well, yeah, it’s spring.” So the take away from this part of the story is that I may have been experimentally starved and wishniks from Michigan don’t understand how seasons work.
It was the year 2000, December, when I walked off the plane onto Egyptian soil. I was ushered into a large tent made of carpets to a little bizarre, where I waited with the rest of the idiots to go to the base that had been built by the U.S. for Bright Star, 2000. A joint military training operation for the Mediterranean, hosted on the sands of Egypt’s Western reaches. Right in Libya’s fucking face. That’s how pathetic the U.S. had gotten, we were bullying dictators that we set up. Like paying someone to let you rough them up and take their lunch money. It’s fucking ridiculous! But this is how shit was and is. Anyway, as we rolled through town, I could see the bombed out buildings full of families scraping by. Building, after building, after building, after building, after building. These buildings, or what was left of them, were about four or five stories tall, often did not have a roof or all four sides, sometimes missing both, and had shit tons of people living in them. Fortunately they were reinforced concrete, or at least I hope they were, and so weren’t going to collapse any time soon. So we did a whole bunch of driving around, me being a reconnaissance scout for an armored unit, means I sat around in a hot metal box for hours a day.
So, reconnaissance, lets get some stuff straight. There are guys who are reconnaissance, and that is their special thing, and they are good at what they do. Very good. There are not many who can do this work as well as they. There are a lot of reconnaissance jobs all over the military and also the marine corpse. My job, as a reconnaissance scout in a light armored unit, was quite frankly, a waste of their time and the money spent to train them. So I wound up doing it. It was pretty boring. I played a lot of Pokemon on a Gameboy. Anyway, after the training, which mostly consisted of driving around, so the vehicle crews could practice being vehicle crews, and making hornless unicorns out of C4, because activities enrich your infantryman’s daily life, we had all bitched enough that they let us take a trip to the Pyramids at Giza.
But I’m not going to talk about my experiences inside. Instead, my memories of the palpable disgust on the face of the tour guide/information attendant at the pyramid site. You could see it on her face, if you were perceptive enough. The corners of her mouth, and the corners of her eyes, and the resting placement of her jaw told the story the rest of her face couldn’t. She would rather we not be on the same planet. I couldn’t blame her, I didn’t want to be on the planet either. I mean, why would she be glad to see us. Egypt’s then leader was a guy we were working with. Or maybe it was old fashioned bigotry. I don’t know, I didn’t ask. About halfway through the tear jerking boredom of “training” (to be honest C4 isn’t that great, in my opinion, for sculpting), they asked for volunteers. Now, if you’re smart, you know that this is an excellent chance to gamble. You could be doing something interesting, or tedious; you get a good lunch, or get a shit lunch, or get no lunch. At that point in operation bright stain I was ready to roll those dice. So I spent a week at a tank range radio tower and range control guarding it. Forces, alleged to be Bedouin, had already attacked once, and were repelled.
We were handed live ammo and left with the radio crew. And… nothing happened. Whomever attacked got the message the first time. I spent the week playing poker, reading, running down my batteries for my Gameboy, and doing the occasional react drill for boredom abatement and because practicing increases the chances of not dying. The last week I was there was fairly interesting, a friend of mine who was an Irish guy from West Covina, who could ululate like no one’s business, spent a night spooking our staff sergeant, which was hilarious, because this was a staff sergeant who couldn’t pass a physical fitness test without the entire command staff lying for him, and yet had the gonads to bust down my friend from corporal to lance corporal because he got a second class score on his test. So, we did our best to make an ass of him whenever we could.
The French Foreign legion got attacked the last night I was there. Presumably by the same “Bedouins”. It kind of makes one wonder if the Bedouins are blamed for much lawlessness that they statistically couldn’t possibly be behind. But that’s what they get for living on such lucrative coastal lands. So I guess the takeaway here is that the probability of her look of disgust not coming from a bigoted place is roughly a function of the probability that she was Bedouin. We were tourists after all.
I have the thirst. Not JFK levels of it, my wife keeps me plenty happy. But as a single guy, I had no reason not to indulge myself. Or at least I thought. I think it was my second time in Okinawa that a friend of mine, that I had met elsewhere in the marines, was stationed at the same base as I was. As I was reconnecting with him, shooting the shit with him as it were, it happened to come up that we was getting scuba trained. “Isn’t that expensive as fuck for a lowly serviceman such as yourself?” I asked him. “Yeah, but I got a friend paying for it.” What a lucky asshole, he just has a friend getting him scuba training. “Paying for the gear too?” He nodded his head. Unreal. “Who would do that for you around here?” Thus began his recounting of being a gigolo for old Japanese women. He was the favorite of a particular woman, thus the scuba gear and training. See, what it is, is that serviceman can’t be paid in cash, that’s prostitution. But a woman can give her man nice shit. That’s just being nice.
Now, my predilections being what they are, the mention of sex for pay with mature women did prick my ears up. Unfortunately for story telling purposes, I didn’t start whoring myself out. Not because I didn’t want to, but mostly because the people in my unit are hella chismoso, always sticking their noses in other peoples business. So I thought the better of it, and to this day, don’t know if I made the right decision or not. But I doubt my then current daddy Uncle Sam was looking to share. I mean, Uncle Sam didn’t give me any gold chains, but he did fuck me regular and buy me dinner. I can’t imagine he would have been cool with it. And we were so well kept in those days. So the moral of the story is that servicemen are sometimes exploited for sex. Though if you’ve ever been even at the edge of “Sex exploitation”, re: prostitution, you know the reality is more complex than some limousine liberal’s junior year liberal arts thesis can account for.
My friend didn’t need to learn scuba to live. He wasn’t getting beat down by his john, and there was no pimp. My experience with this is about as lightweight as you can get but the more I hear of the law coming down on sex workers the more it seems like the age old exploitation line that law men and “progressives” use, along with the immorality line the priests use, sounds increasingly like hokey bullshit. Really want to help sex workers? Legalize it and get rid of pimps and other middle men. Middle persons. Whatever, you know what I mean.
Remember the riots in Indonesia? Yeah, that’s ok. Not many people do. I was off the coast for the most of it. Why you might ask? Well, the U.S. Navy patrols the worlds oceans and keeps them clear of pirates and generally tries to make things “safe”. Sometimes they’ll have marines with them. That’s why I was there. I was on a pretty boat called an LSD, which I assume means landing ship deployer or something. I never asked. It had these fancy high powered fan boats that it poops out the back. We load our vehicles on, it deposits us on the beach, and we drive around and be effective as long as we don’t leave the beach and go into the Thai jungle. American supremacy at its finest. So as we sat off the coast of Indonesia, the government of the CIA backed Suharto collapsed. We didn’t lift a finger to help him, or the people rioting overthrow him. It wasn’t until much later that it seemed many of the Indonesian special forces were inciting riots and ethnic violence, particularly rape, against the Mandarin Chinese minority communities.
Why they were fomenting unrest I have no clue. But the result is that a U.S. backed anti-communist dictator’s government collapsed. But you are probably still wondering, amid all of this, why was I even there? Well, you see, Nike and McDonald’s corporations had some executives in the country that could have possibly needed help getting the fuck out. They didn’t, ultimately, because having your own private jets helps one to very effectively get the fuck out. But that was the reason. Then our staff sergeant came through and yelled at us that we were not there because of Nike and McDonald’s like they had just accidentally announced on the ships audio-visual system. I don’t know what is more pathetic, that they let the cat out of the bag like that, or that they then tried to gas light us about it.
Ok, that’s it. You’re off the hook. It’s over. I learned how to do a lot of violence, I saw many different kinds of exploitation, often time so comprehensive it took me two more decades to understand, and put it all together, and generally helped the U.S. government to spread its vision around the world. A vision that shattered on 9/11. I cringe to hear people talk of 9/11 in tones that suggest it was a simpler, kinder, more peaceful time. It wasn’t really. The world was never simple, or kind, or peaceful. These unfortunate people don’t realize that the times weren’t simpler, kinder, and more peaceful, they were.
A Discordian for 20 years, Patacelsus finally got comfortable when the 21st century “started getting weird.” When not casting sigils, taking part in Tibetan Buddhist rituals, or studying the unfortunate but sometimes amusing stories of the dead, he’s been known to wander the hidden ways of the city, communing with all of the hidden spirits one can find in a city. As Patacelsus sees it, we’re all already free; after completing the arduous task of waking up to that we can then proceed, like a doctor treating a patient, to try to rouse others from the bitter and frightening nightmares of Archism. He laughs at Samsara’s shadow-play in lovely California, in the company of his wife, two cats, and two birds.
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