Landscapes of Shame, Eruptions of Desire
Governments are institutions that derive their power from the submission of the governed. Their injustices are dependent upon passive or active collaboration. Official definitions of tradition, religion and culture can inculcate an appetite for submission through shame: the internalised feeling of humiliation excited by a consciousness of failure, guilt, shortcomings, offences against propriety, modesty, decency or life itself. In wishing to avoid such humiliation, the majority surrender powers of imposed restraint to a minority — who can then increase their power by amplifying the majority’s fear of their own essential weakness and tendency to slide compulsively into offence, disgrace or ignominy. Consequently, the majority empower the minority with further strictures and generally abnegate the responsibility of self-monitoring and self-determination to the quasi-parental forces they have called upon to ‘save them from themselves’ (often formulated in terms of saving the mind from the body). This relief at external regulation depends partially on a nostalgia for infancy, partially on a lack of faith in one’s capacities for adulthood or essential worth.
KeywordsBurning Amid Explosive Beach Hunt
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- 2.Tony Dunn, ‘Howard Barker: Socialist Playwright for our Times’, in Gambit XI no. 41 (London: John Calder, 1984) p. 73.Google Scholar