a place where all my changes were
For our next step in this ambitious narrative experiment; our main intention is to find our mark; as an autoethnographic text; an archive of probable self history; a more user friendly, self -reclaimed Panopticism
( in the Foucaultian-Analysis-of-Bentham’s-model-sense of the word).
If our calculations can ever be said to line up with our guesses in this investigation; with its subsequent corollaries and reports; scattered throughout the complete body of the overall text so far; then it can be said that we have effectively suggested bridges; cognitive linkages from a probable past to a current and pragmatic present. We will then have at our disposal a fully functional vehicle of inferential performativity.
In other words, we will have created, within an acceptable range of probability to instinct to the actual; an adequate and versatile general tool; whereby we will be able to generally predict; where and when power becomes less and less personal; less and less volitional; more and more generic and public; particularly, in its specific permanence on individual thought to behavior; pointing from its categorical imperative origins; to a more operational practicality; a general pragmatic derivation of the orderly and the oldest parts of our mind; the psychic apparatus of unconscious to sub-conscious to conscious mind; the root generator of supporting armature; the Archive of our overall state of being to nothingness.
In Bentham’s case, however, he saw power as dis-individualized; a relationship where people, generally, yet unwittingly, appoint themselves wardens, bosses, principals or administrators; or maybe chief executive officers; in complete, although unverifiable normative enforcement over themselves; unverifiable because people (especially this writer) often don’t realize they can either be their own worst enemy or most valuable friend and ally; and nine times out of ten, it requires someone else, a friend maybe, to at least give them a clue; as to what is up.
Neil Young, generations ago, wrote a song called Helpless. We will look more closely at some of those lyrics; especially those words that go to the heart of what many women and men, before this poor writer’s humble keypad-as-pen-scribbled-attempts in pixel; have already crafted; phrases and expressions attempting to aptly capture the confusion; the wonder; the inherent rebellion; that were, and probably still are, the high school years.
For our intents and purpose, it may be prudent start from the following excerpt:
While waiting his turn, the little boy’s thoughts again pivoted; this time to another one of his father’s old college books; perhaps one of the Harvard Classics Series; the one talking about Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon; his mind’s eye drawn to several passages there in those pages; the ones describing the automatic functioning of power; itself a machine, the boy thought similar to the device of secrecy hard at work; in his own family.
Miki Dihn was the closest thing to a best friend our young man ever had. He was the paperboy; delivering the Detroit Free Press five days a week; Saturdays and Sundays, if the subscriber, was so inclined.
His route took him throughout the entire apartment complex; a collection of Georgetown-style two storied buildings; each one housing anywhere from four to five; one, two or three bedroom apartments; all of which were neatly arranged in dwelling groups; clustered around generous carports; evenly spaced along a broad flat plane; of a few square miles north and south; east and west; a kidney bean shaped ample expanse with three spacious common areas; one on the northeast rise; one, in the flat open center; where two large boulders sat; one round, the other horizontal; and to the west; a sloping rise bordered by a tall wooden fence; running the north-south length of a short-rised-ridge it met there; a swinging door, made of the same dark stained wood as the rest of the fence; figuring prominently in the center; allowing two-way egress.
At any rate, Miki and our young man met one day, a few years after he and his family had moved there from their home in Ypsilanti; our young friend’s father somehow managing to snag the best parking space in the building to which they moved; when, as he does once a week; every week; after he had first received the route; itself as new as the apartment complex it served; came to the door and knocked.
Our young man; the subject of this investigative thought experiment, met Miki Dihn when he answered the door that day. Miki’s actual name; Mihn Dihn, was Vietnamese in origin; on account of the fact, that he and his family; his mother, our friend came to know over the ensuing two or three years, only as Doctor; since she was a surgeon at a local hospital; and his sister, Mimi; whose name, our young friend could never forget; because she was — well, pretty; had fled, to this country from the South East Asian conflict, more commonly known as: The Vietnam War.
They were aided by another Doctor; a Jacques Derrida-looking Frenchmen with curly black hair, graying on the sides; and a sometimes serious look; other times playful glint in his eye; a curious scholarly contemplative person, our young man came to understand was more than simply a friend of Miki’s mother.
At first, the friendship that would develop over the next couple of years got off to a bit a rocky start, however.
Our young man; his nose often buried in his father’s old college books, had been reading a well thumbed and highlighted copy of E Franklin Frazier’s On Race Relations: Selected Writings.
Miki came from the kind of background where, unless they were diplomats or other Doctors, he never had much experience with children of his own age; let alone black children; or for that matter, black children who were reading E Franklin Frazier at the time.
So, as time progressed and the two boys started hanging out together; talking about and dabbling in dark room photography; Marvel Comics, especially The Sub Mariner; mock ups of wooden laser guns; and other things Science Fiction; Miki’s paper route; which our young friend often helped out with; and when Miki and his family moved away in the late spring of our boy’s last year in elementary school; took over; for a short while; nonetheless, little things at the beginning of their short-lived friendship started to pop up.
Like times in the summer; when the Apartment Clubhouse Pool was opened; and the two wanted to go swimming; but couldn’t, because of the rules: children under the age of eighteen had to be accompanied by a responsible parent or guardian; and our boy’s mother was home; on her day off; and Miki, badly wanting to swim, practically ordered our young friend to walk all the way back to his apartment and hurry her up; something the young boy knew, instinctively, was a fool’s errand.
The kind of bossy ordering around Miki frequently did when the two first met, prompted our young man to, somewhat awkwardly point out; that his family was not disorganized; and even though it didn’t conform with certain socially accepted norms common to Bloomfield Hills at the time; such as having a lot of money; as a family, whose Oklahoma-raised and not quite citified parents; nevertheless were a practical and, reasonably intelligent group; so to speak.
A little taken aback at first, Miki gradually allowed his perspective to broaden; as did our young friend; who, as things turned out, learned almost as much from Miki as Miki learned from him.
Then, by the summer of our young man’s fourteenth year, after returning from his grandfather’s funeral; Miki and his family having moved away in the late Spring; to Virginia maybe?; and leaving behind a massive but well kept paper route; our friend was faced to face with a venture that, at the time, intrigued him; in so far as the actual thought of enterprise, in any form was truly something to which he would give his best shot; curious to see what, if anything, would happen.
Not really in it for the money; one thing he saw; almost as if his mind’s eye was right there as a front row witness; would forever endear his mother and father to him; but before getting too far ahead, we need to remind ourselves that this particular young man, in the described space and time, was a fourteen year old boy.
A young man for whom, if we were to employ a critical lens from our current perspective; perhaps one based on a hybrid of Michel Foucault’s concept of the deployment of sexuality on the one hand; and eleven major characteristics of adolescence across the period of childhood development, on the other; this writer believes we will come away with a more focused and refined overall approach at this point.
The intention here is clear; to reinforce the argument that this thought experiment; this self narrative; is indeed, a critique of the situatedness; as Tami Spry and others would define the revealed state, condition or case of any contested space; or the counter-hierarchical trinary inter dependency of self; either with others across multiple social contexts; where space is generally always contested; or with conscious, subconscious and unconscious levels of mind; this writer argues; extends and simplifies the existing concept of situatedness; especially, as it stands throughout most contemporary performance studies methodology to date.
That is to say; our next stop is to revisit what situatedness means; particularly when seen as an opposition between physical and mental inscriptions; historical landmarks; themselves sign posts of a deep; and probably perpetual, self competition.
(to be continued)