The Lay Philosopher

From Jerkdom to Natural Freedom through Psycho-Linguistic Terror

Since our childhood we grow up being told what to think, what to worship, what political system we should idolize, what achievements are considered success, which people are inferior and which superior, which schools provide us with the best education, which banks pay the highest and enticing interest rate, which professions are “perfect” for us, what foreign languages make us “stand out from the herd”, what set of values really define “our level of civilization”…blah blah blah…

Cutting the crap, it is somehow no surprise that some of us have developed such an incorrigible cavalier attitude over the years growing up in a society that is under an ever present threat of ignorance, fear, indolence, debauchery and wantonness that gradually results not just in our fragmented society’s decadence but its slow obliteration beyond recognition.

It also comes as no surprise that we’ve indulged in an unbearably nihilist fatalism, that the world we hitherto lived in will one day come to a catastrophic end for there’s no one left with the courage and readiness to preserve it. While we display an unflinching zeal in defending the ideas and idols of aliens, we’ve never wondered how far we’ve consigned our existence to the flames. We dread the very mention of the word originality as in aboriginality, for the world constructed by vanquishers and usurpers is an epitome of the highest level of imagination and creativity, so we’ve been led to believe. As the Russian nihilist writer Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in his crème de la crème novel The Idiot:

“Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.”

As can repetitively be witnessed in the novel, the protagonist Prince Lef Nikolaievitch Mushkin is the most despised and satirised character because of his unrelenting originality, his insistence on not paying any attention of whatever sorts to the perpetual lamentations of the gullible masses orbiting about him trapped in their irresistible and uncontrollable compulsion to repeat others, the so-called are the “expressions of a genteel and civilized society“. And this is what brings us to the beginning of this essay – this self-righteous and inconsiderate mimesis with infinitesimal shades of kitsch to be admired by the dilettante is not self-contained it rather is contagious. And that’s the principal reason we’ve to be reminded day in and day out that we should not believe in the “gospels” of the ironically self-proclaimed “good society” that doesn’t know (1) what it wants & (2) yet strives hard to convince others of the need to “realize their dreams”, “be successful”, “be this, be that”. This by way of a digression brings us to Slavoj Žižek’s psychoanalytic concept of “forgiveness”. Though unorthodox, his bold proposition in his “For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor” that a society should not be forgiven just because it feigns ignorance is what we should exactly do. One way to do this is to strengthen our grip on our cavalier attitude, for it’s at the moment the most potent and effective defense mechanism, a formidable bulwark against the cataclysmic epic flood of ignorance and sophistry. As Žižek succinctly put it in this work of his,

“Ignorance is not a sufficient ground for forgiveness since it masks enjoyment; an enjoyment which erupts in those black holes in our symbolic universe that escape the Father’s prohibition.”

Apart from our nonchalance towards the absurdly asinine mass that thinks ignorance could help ameliorate our condition by getting us out of “solitude, failure and reprobation”, I propose that we keep not just poking fun at it but also meticulously continue prodding its gaping ignorance-inflicted wound. At the end of day, given our individualistic yet unreserved rage to master our ineptitude we could celebrate our victory, of course, “in the eyes of the winner” with the Ancient Persian parable: War Nam Nihadan – We can kill their self-imposed ignorance that blindly goes around trying to “proselytize” us, bury their defiled primitive, Simian corpse and plant beautiful flowers on their grave to conceal not just the pungency of their putrefaction but also their resurrection that might reignite the mass ossification of the credulous and the desperate.

The Lay Philosopher

A Vicious Cycle of Disenchantment

Those last few turbulent years, it’s as if we don’t have feelings – guided perception- of any sort anymore. Because of this benumbed sensation we can’t even properly articulate, though in non-elitist terms, the myriad of disenchantments we’ve to go through on a daily basis for we’re mostly left with no memory of their very occurrence. Universalized disenchantment with the Order – the Dominant Group, the Political Regime, the Capitalist Economy, the Fake News, the Subaltern Cacophony, the Mediocre Public Service, the Higher Education that Principally serves as the Industry of the Precariat to state just few of our objet petit a of an existentialist frustration – is the rule rather than the exception. As a desperate act of escaping this contagious affliction, we’ve come to espouse fanfaronade – swaggering, empty boasting, the ostentatious display of our poorly constructed, empty-shell persona that feigns invincibility – and molysomophobia, an excessive fear of contamination – by old or new alien modes of thinking, unorthodox use of language, “dangerous” yet meticulous prognosis of the fragility of the immanent contingency of a single object – narrative or praxis – , simultaneously. Hence, we committed an inconsiderate act of concocting a mélange out of oil and water.

The only palatable way out of this conundrum, at least for the time being, apparently appears to be a massive “inoculation” campaign by way of a recumbnetibus, a sudden, wake-up knockout punch both verbal and physical. But this metaphysical vaccination outreach must carefully be under the aegis of personalities with the prerequisite courage and knowledge to call a cunt a cunt, in lieu of a stunt performance for the incurably ultracrepidarian, individuals or groups with an irresistible urge to give opinions and advice on matters of supreme importance such as this, outside of their minimalist, parsimonious, bookish knowledge (or “expert advice” as they prefer to refer to their apparent pseudo-intellectualism and the accompanying insatiable thirst to carpe the troubled diem in light of their “forethought”).


The Lay Philosopher

On the Irresistible Urge to Reflect

The irresistible urge to reflect – to systemically wail, to voice out the uneasily unutterable, to extemporize one’s unbearable existential trite – basically emanates from one’s frustration. One’s frustration apropos of the burden of an imposed living, an inexplicably ubiquitous phenomenon of being tasked with a mission – to satisfy one’s protectors under whose tutelage one is constantly marionetted. One ominously feels the coming of a certain serendipitous calamity to befall him, should he fail to get the pain of the menace inhabiting his conscience off his chest. Hence, the need to displace this geist pronto before it turns into an implosive conflagration.

In a world not of our making or of choosing for that matter we’re consumed by the ever present fear of aphasia, a debilitating infirmity that hampers one’s capacity to reveal as it were one’s phenomenal existence to the world out there and repressive amnesia, the failure to remember one’s apotheosis in the form of anamnesis, an unconsciously driven compendium of piecemeal personal fragments in the form of parables, poems, songs or else apologetic confessions on the deathbed.

If one’s doesn’t engage in the obsessive fabrication and confabulation of one’s nostalgia-dominated subjective perspectives regarding most things in life that might or not matter once in a while, one is inadvertently forced to succumb to the fear of being forgotten by one’s significant or rather insignificant others, those entities that inhabit the wide world outside one’s domain of control, sometimes those of the cimmerii, all those phenomena that dwell in the darkest corners of undiscoverablity at least for the time being or till their hideousness gives way for an unexpected revelation to the light of the observant and imaginative mind of an eccentric persona.

Courtesy of Unravelling Magazine
External Sources

An Excerpt: “The Silence of Polyglots”

Not speaking one’s’ mother tongue. Living with resonances and reasoning that are cut off from the body’s nocturnal memory, from the bittersweet slumber of childhood. Bearing within oneself like a secret vault, or like a handicapped child –cherished and useless-that language of the past that withers without ever leaving you, You improve your ability with another instrument, as one expresses oneself with algebra or the violin. You can become a virtuoso with this new device that moreover gives you a new body, just as artificial and sublimated-some say sublime. You have a feeling that the new language is a resurrection: new skin, new sex. But the illusion bursts when you hear, upon listening to a recording, for instance, that the melody of your voice comes back to you as a peculiar sound, out of nowhere, closer to the old spluttering than to today’s code. Your awkwardness has its charm, they say, it is even erotic, according to womanizers, not to be outdone. No one points out your mistakes, so as not to hurt your feelings, and then there are so many, and after all they don’t give a damn. One nevertheless lets you know that it is irritating just the same. Occasionally, raising the eyebrows or saying “I beg your pardon?” in quick succession lead you to understand that you will “never be a part of it”, that it” is not worth it,” that there, at least, one is “not taken in.” Being fooled is not what happens to you either. At the most, you are willing to go along, ready for all apprenticeships, at all ages, in order to reach-within that speech of others, imagined as being perfectly assimilated, some day-who knows what ideal, beyond the implicit acknowledgment of a disappointment caused by the origin that did not keep its promise.

Thus, between two languages, your realm is silence. By dint of saying things in various ways, one just as trite as the other, just as approximate, one ends up no longer saying them. An internationally known scholar was ironical about his famous polyglotism, saying that he spoke Russian in fifteen languages. As for me, I had the feeling that he rejected speech and his slack Toccata and Fugue for the Foreigner silence led him, at times, to sing and give rhythm to chanted poems, just in order to say something.

NB: This is an excerpt from Julia Kristeva’s 1991 poetic-critique of strangeness, otherness, “fanatic[ism] of absence”, that is characteristic of the foreigner, the alien. the metoikos, the immigrant, the refugee, the Bohemian etc., Strangers to Ourselves pp. 15-6.

The Lay Philosopher

We Are Not Entitled To Our Opinions!

For a split second, a brief momentary pause, let us all pretend that “We are entitled to our opinions!”. And afterwards, let’s take a deep breathe to reflect on this – unexamined claim – of ours. In his “On Repetitions“, the Danish “maieutic” philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, opines that all of humanity – the homo sapiens stock – could be classified into three: that there are officers, maidens and chimney sweepers. Accordingly, these are the three classes of subjects one could almost effortlessly though after a cautious, painstaking observation comes to identify on the receiving end of the classification scheme of things and phenomena. Nevertheless, what Kierkegaard deliberately deprives us of in his contemplative parables is the Master, the one responsible for orchestrating such a provocative and tempting taxonomy in the order of things. He, in a systematic way, forces us to search for clues even where there appears to be none, for the very essence of the self-obsessed, compulsive connoisseur of categorization.

Coming back to our first proposition – that “We are all entitled to our opinions!” – what we seldom dare to touch upon is the situational or rather the deterministic aspect of this very paradoxical statement that claims to express a state of affairs that feigns to have emanated both from within (the inherent belief that the common folk holds meekly assuming that one deserves an opinion just because he’s a human “being”) and from without, from an external authority with a penchant for ruling over its subjects with the utmost exploitation of Manichean categorical imperatives such as this one, both at the same time. Per se, when one is entitled to something it primarily refers to the very nature of the verb – entitle – itself, which is ab initio a transitive verb clearly indicating the existence of a subject – the Master – and an object – the semiotically Enslaved ruble. This in a very profound way, serves as a memento for interesting times such as ours in letting us reminisce the existential fact that there is no such things an entitlement to an “opinion”, a sentimental attachment to either the the rudimentary set of beliefs we conjure or the common sense, mundane set of perceptions that the society we dwell in as in being thrown into it, forces upon us.

In fine, lame and inconclusive talk of entitlement to anything apropos of our so conveniently called “fundamental” rights without retrospect, circumspection and subjective meditation on the crux of the matter courageously, with the eyes wide open, we only have one pathetic woe left – We think we know that we’re “entitled” to something. But the central question that remains unanswered by design, that has been constantly dodged, perennially warded of as “evil spirit”, “By who?”.

For every entitlement claim that we believe or rather think we have there an authority responsible for its coming into being. Entitlement cannot exist without an Entitler – the State, gods, tribal chiefs, warlords, demagogues, elites…etc. Without an agency pulling some linguistic strings behind the scenes, giving us the very essence of the illusion of “free will” or rather “autonomy” leading us to believe that “We can absolutely say or do whatever we want however we want it!”, there’s no way we could absurdly claim – rather intransitively, without acknowledging the existence of the secret “boss” – that we’re unilaterally “entitled to anything at all. If we were entitled to something by ourselves, things could have turned rather in our desperate quest for accidental favors. And it is out of this denial of the Other, the core of the Ego-Ideal through several defense mechanisms, most of which are the comforting myths we invent to suit our design and desire for a momentary happiness that we sacrifice the very essence of our – entitlements/rights/freedoms/liberties, though all of these terms are not identical in meaning or in application yet they have a source as well as rendezvous point. After all, as the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan quipped in his 1975 seminar, part of a seminal series edited by his son, Jacques-Alain Miller, “Book I: Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953-1954“, in the “Overture to the Seminar“:

“The master breaks the silence with anything – with a sarcastic remark, with a kick-start.”

In this case, the master breaks the silence with a deeply twisted sarcastic remark, sort of a metaphysical prank: “You are all entitled to your opinions/rights!”, which could roughly be interpreted as,

“All of you’ve claims to absurd things or ideals you believe in such as what I’m about to tell you now (which is nothing sensible) but whose origins you will never come to acknowledge! And I leave you to them, till you figure out but first breaking out of your entrancing slumber!”.

All the master tries to prove, if anything, here is that

“You are all the hostages of your illusions -You single-handedly, without ‘conjecture’ have decided, made up your petty minds – desperately hoping that you could all live without me. The incorrigible fact is you cannot live without me.”

The Lay Philosopher

Valar Morghulis, “All Men Must Die!”

Here, in the absurd tropic, there’s no need for regimenting public opinion and informed judgement through “psychology” – brainwashing, whitewashing – and mind-altering drugs – MK Ultra and Artichoke – or else an endless array of mass conversion of the public into drones using think tanks, choral societies that sing of an exalted bullshit. The mob has already done that job on behalf the clandestine existential “hangmen”. The mob confesses without torture, confabulates without hypnosis, and what’s worse is delusional without a dose of LSD. For a society that’s sold its soul on eBay for a crumb, everything presumably appears meaningless, kitsch, absurd, futile and dangerous. Every act of reawakening the metaphysics within is seen as a brutal, heinous act of annihilating an entire race. There’s a widespread fear of the unknown, the slightly known, the sentient, the archaic, the alien “within” while there’s – paradoxically – a general tendency to worship the so-called “high art and high artist”, the leitkultur of the so white west-world with no examination, no soul searching, no sojourning. Those who attempted the allegedly “Impossible” were called names, labelled as terrorists worse than those militant terrorist that ever lived. Their metaphysical tremor was ostracized, depoliticized, cast out like dark magic. As a bulwark, a panacea to this “inter-generational virus” the people gave birth to loyal eunuchs who’d conspire on behalf of the “all-too-powerful” state. As Sol Yurick succinctly epitomized it in his provocative piece, “How the Athenians Planned to Colonize the Mind of the West and Immortalize Themselves“:

“Seeking to prevent the entropification and inflation of ‘high’ cultural values, minions of the ‘State’ fought back. Aside from assigning armies of agents to penetrate, observe and frequently provoke this inchoate and many-sided Movement [often perceived as an ill-contrived subversion], another tactic was to mobilize [social scientists such as] psychologists and sociologists to not only study, but to accuse the rebellious young of an infantile, Oedipal disorder; a desire on the part of the ‘primal horde’ to overthrow ‘The Father” and possibly to fuck ‘The Mother’.”

Yurick also reminds us very well that,

“Those intellectuals who persisted in remaining rebellious were driven into political sects or were herded into academic stockades. All that seemed left to do was to target their assaults on hapless literary texts.”

All in all, for a society that keeps bamboozling itself with denial and the “complete obliteration” of the métoikos, “The resident alien”, “The Behemoth in Our Very Midst” in favor of forging a society “free from contamination and unwarranted cross pollination” every fragment, every shard, every circular logic, every folk psychology, every whitewashed pseudo-intellectualism disguised as an ancient wisdom seems to make “sense” all the more, for it’s a society that’s not ready to come to terms with its own contradictions. So much so that, it’s unbearable for it to see, even the faintest sign of individuals trying discover it. This societal ritual of cleansing the Hydra of Intellectualism – indigena or otherwise – continues to pose the greatest of all dangers, even more than the hubris Icarus, in its totalitarian attempt to enforce a society of conformity that’d simply be characterized as inept, docile, servile rife a culture of shared inferiority complex when it comes to the recognition and exploration of its own identity and praxis. If the majority – the herd – has made up its “mind” with the leadership a few “initiates” on the subject of wiping out critics, storytellers, rebellious chronicles using the weapons of mass incarceration, mock trials, beheadings, burnings at the stake, stoning, shootings, bombings and all sorts of psychosomatic torture in lieu of verbal arguments, there’s no way it’d moderately be cured of its shock state. Once they’re bloodthirsty, it’d be very difficult to persuade this vindictive ruble to for go its compulsive addiction to trial by killing first. In order to ensure the pathetic “survival and preservation” of a society of so many privations, Valar Morghulis (High Valyrian for “All Men Must Die!”), all men of knowledge, all men of autodidact intellectualism must be “taken care of.”


The Lay Philosopher

We can’t turn tides just wishing that they’d!

There’s no simple path out of the muck we’re rolling in now. But, the rediscovery of a secular national history of Ethiopia, rid of imported “gods, philosophies, ideologies, demagogues, pop cultures…the list goes on” could be a bulwark against the loss of an already fickle history founded on shaky grounds, fields of quicksand, most of which are as Maimire Mennasemay succinctly pointed out, “prêt-àporter“, emulations of the worst order that take all the borrowings for granted. No questions asked. No explanations provided. No arguments constructed. No promises made. Just crass morality and rote memorization of the gringo’s curse all we’ve left to make it to (if we survive this tidal wave of ignorance and mutual bullshitting the next epoch of post-everything, posts- that’re nothing but dregs of a once illustrious era. Getting out of this loop of absurdities demands immersing ourselves in the daunting task of (1) defenestrating the kitsch (2) opening our eyes wide to our very own “Arcades Project” (3) constructing and then, reviving our version of metaphysical reality, conditioned by our own sets of order and chaos (4) To say the least, to convert every last lamb into a lion that could hunt, be wounded, get sick and die for itself other than the out-of-sync, insouciant gringo.

As a wise man once said, everybody needs a savior of their own that could manifest in so many different forms but white. Sometimes all a somnambulist society needs is not the recitation of “wise words from the good old days”, it’s rather a painful stab to its frontal lobes in order jump start it up, dust it off, force it to remember what’s capable of and what it’d accomplish: “problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior”, as part of its subjective apotheosis. The coming age of our indigena thinking, a mode of thinking that emanates from our own unborrowed minds devoid of decadence through systematic whitewashing urgently demands that the age-old gringo-worship be demolished, and on the crucibles of this shattered world-view be the new local order or rather sublime chaos be founded. After all, we’re just Africans not morons who couldn’t think for ourselves. If we let others think for us as we’ve done for the last five centuries of oblivion, then there’s no guarantee that we’d ever be able to exist as a species, as a unique aberration. As a famous proverb reminds us:

“Do not hesitate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing.”