". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Expressing Violence

The other day by chance I ran into a small discussion about what I believe is a forthcoming YA post apocalypse novel, with a young woman protagonist who is a page in D.C. (though the congressional page program was eliminated this summer).  Suddenly there's civil war and Washington D.C. is invaded.  The protagonist runs to get home, but the airports are closed, setting her on a cross-country trek.  I think.  I wish I could recall the title of this novel, or the author because then I'd be able to know both author and title, whereas now I know neither, which is frustrating.  Anyway, I was intrigued by the premise as I'm always interested in expressions that deal with our own civil wars, however and whenever and on which grounds the struggles play out.

All this by way of getting to the discussion about this novel.  For some reason a lot of people had read it, even though it's not published yet.  The discussion was all squees of wonderful.  "The best part," wrote one of the participants, 'is when she was trying to use a computer in an internet cafe and when this other girl got in her way she punched her in the face."

This expression, "punch in the face," I realized, I've been seeing frequently online by who I am assuming (it's online) are young females, in discussions and descriptions and desires to do, i.e. -- I wanted to punch her in the face, I will punch you in the face, she punched her in the face. 

I have been thinking about this ever since.  Because I never think, "I want to punch her in the face."  Never.  Not even that bitch on a bike on the sidewalk and her running all over the place stupid dog.  I do believe even now she's too stupid to live, but she will continue to live, while probably being the cause of knocking down somebody who will never be able to walk again.

Is this kind of talk another sign of the general toxicity of our interactive discourse among very self-centered, impatient people? Or is this considered innocuous, like telling your friend, "O that's so gay!" (which I admit to not find innocuous either).

Edited to add: It occurs to me that expressing oneself this way is an attempt to signify aspirational kick-ass bad-assary power on the part of a young person? Gads, that could come through as patronizing of youth, which, when I consider my own youthful attempts of aspirational signification, believe me, is not!

This is probably the right time to admit this too:  I think the film, Anonymous is a complete crock, and that schools should not permit classes to teach the CLASS DISCUSSION GUIDES TO SCHOOLS THAT SAY SHAKESPEARE DID NOT WRITE SHAKESPEARE being sent to them by Emmerich.

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