Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wasted Ideology: Brain Infection

Just now, packing my travel bag for the journey back, I placed a large pair of scissors I was taking from my desk here at home in my bag, and considered whether you could even bring scissors on the train.  Almost immediately I imagined (fantasized) a scene from tomorrow (granted I'm quite stoned right now) : an engineer is looking through my bag, and I am become frantic with anxiety but, out of respect for the quiet car, I stand silently and rock back and forth on my heels, saying "I've done nothing wrong.  You can't search my bag.  I've done nothing wrong" until the engineer finds a bunch of drugs, twists my arm and escorts me off to prison.

Why tell this rambling tale?  To show just how security ideology has infiltrated my brain?  To admit the deep self-surveillance I carry out on behalf of the NSA, or maybe to point to how intractable this knee jerk state-sponsored thinking is among we youth-2.0, post 9/11 babes?  To hope that by becoming aware of our ideological flinch, we will defeat it in the future? 

Well, obviously, but also to talk about how you've already dismissed the whole story as a joke or mere paranoia. It's true, that passage. "I'm quite stoned".  Indicating that someone is fucked-up (even yourself) has become shorthand for: "all surrounding sentiment is farce or madness."  Stoner comedies reenforce the idea that smoking weed is awesome, while also portraying weed smokers as bumbling idiots not to be taken seriously.  And alcohol?  Lordy lordy save us from our relationship to alcohol. We spend time in places we don't like saying things we don't mean in order to get sex we don't want, and then, analyzing this situation, say: "boy, I really shouldn't be held responsible for what I think or say or do when I'm under the bottle".  (Most frequently in response to accusations of sleeping/flirting/dancing with a girl/boy of low physical attractiveness/social stature/mind). We use it to numb ourselves from the seriousness of sex, in order to convince ourselves into bed with, ack! another human body, but then, when the sex is awful, we blame the booze.

Buying drugs teaches you to equate purchase with pleasure. With all other consumer goods, the pleasure is mediated, imagined, never to be achieved (maybe this vacuum will shut my fucking kids up so I can plan how to kill my husband in relative silence).  But with drugs (and don't fuck around and pretend I'm only talking "hard drugs" and that excuses your tobacco/alcohol/marijuana), what you're buying is quite directly pleasure.  There is no other use-value.   

And, with the illegal-er drugs, you also get (and pay for!) a tiny thrill from "undermining" the police state.  Like a balloon with a pin prick, each time you think fondly on the illegality of your doobie, a little bit of subversive energy is dissipated, a tiny false catharsis in the face of your total impotence.  The last three of our presidents have admitted to doing drugs, and Bush and Obama harder drugs than I have.  What could be less subversive than a "crime" that literally makes you more compelling to voters?

Yet I could still get put in jail for marijuana possession, although it's much more likely if I'm black or Latino. Beautiful: release the tension of the bourgeois leftist until he's a liberal, while allowing for the apprehension of any "troublemakers" (read: poor dark folk).  Try adding our prison population to our unemployment numbers sometime.  It adds 2, 300, 000 unemployed, or about 2.1% to our unemployment rate.  One poor minority pothead might not seem revolutionary to you, but 2,300,000 of them?

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