Literature as Collective Unconscious

Literary criticism

The Tyranny of Forensic Science and the Law

Two episodes….

On Sunday evening, I watched “Madame Secretary” (which I already like better than “The West Wing” or “Commander in Chief”). It dealt with a West African dictatorship with a polygamous leader, who was planning some sort of coup or purge, and it was her duty or opportunity to stop it. Which she did.

Then I watched a Global Voices show on PBS about a tribe, also from West Africa, which is obsessed with boxing, and like the Dominican Republic is for our baseball leagues, these guys dominate boxing in England other parts of Europe.

I was reading “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”, the final work in the Stieg Larsson “Dragon Tattoo” trilogy, and when I opened it (I often read when I’m watching TV), it was a one-page chapter about the only documented Women’s Army, on the model of the legendary Amazons and also from West Africa in the “colonial age.” They actually fought colonial armies to a standstill. It was only in the 1800’s that they were finally defeated by regular troops with artillery and modern rifles. Larsson puts one-page chapters like this in his book, apropos of nothing, except that Lisbeth Salander more or less fits that profile, too, of “woman warrior.”

Now, I can imagine how the collective unconscious works in the electronic media. Even though there was no prior arranging to put a new episode of a CBS political drama right before a PBS documenatary about the boxers from the same region of Africa (although there could have been), that does not explain why I was reading “Hornet’s Nest” and the very chapter (I was reading the book sequentially, not skipping around) which also dealt with warriors of West Africa! Some people see these kinds of things as miracles, or God (or the Devil) manipulating them to Enlightenment or whatever. This was a particularly vivid example (amplified by the current Ebola crisis, also in West Africa), so it stands out.

Larsson has been dead for several years, and this book was published around the time of his death. I don’t own the book – I checked it out of the library. It has restored my faith in great literature – this being among the first such works grounded in the new cyberconsciousness.

Stieg Larsson more or less recreates himself in his protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist. As a novel, or trilogy, the Dragon Tatoo stories ring totally true. And they are laced with real political and moral issues, the main one being the tyranny of the psychiatric profession (and the rest of forensic science and medicine), and their sociopathic desire to punish, confine, and destroy — all in the name of “human rights”, “helping people”, “law enforcement”, “family values,” etc. as well as the traditional class and slavery issues. If you haven’t read them, they deserve as much or more of your attention as The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.

It seemed like a good time to watch a DVD I had picked up – the original “Planet of the Apes,” with Charlton Heston. This was a serious attempt to put the original Pierre Boulle novel into film, and the screenplay was written by Rod Serling, so it may be a ways away from the book. Boulle also wrote the original “Bridge on the River Kwai”, to give you an idea of his stature. I’m digging through my books – I think I have “Apes” in a paper-back, somewhere. I hoarded good S-F books since I was in high school, but I never read this one.

I was blown away. The film was made in 1967, but is set beginning in 1972, and there are a lot of undertones about the counter-culture revolution which was happening, then. Heston plays an astronaut, using the first interstellar drive, along with two other men and a woman – they hope to start a colony and breed wherever they end up.

The 1967 technology and film style is so refreshing, after watching today’s CGI fantasies. Even the Star Trek Next Generation stuff, made in the late 1980’s and early 90’s is relatively “clean” and straightforward in the writing and development of story lines. Now, it seems like everything is through the eyes of madmen and political hacks, trying to serve Big Brother and little else. I also watched a 1956 British film of “1984” on the internet a couple of days ago, which also fits the category, here. The cast included Michael Redgrave (Vanessa’s father) and Donald Pleasance.

I don’t know if Boulle was a professional psychologist, but he seems to have a profound view of the nature of power, and how the “professional class” will sacrifice every human value and spontaneous impulse to the success of their work and status in their profession. The scientific Apes are little or no different from the state psychologists and “guardians” in Larsson’s dystopian Sweden, riddled with Cold War relics and dreams of expanding the Swedish Empire.

The reason I can say that Larsson’s work is “great literature” is that it references or alludes to dozens of other works and situations in the real world, history, the nature of the “national security” apparatus and how it trumps everything – most of all, basic human decency. In the Apes film, Taylor (Charlton Heston) is most interested in finding out why or how these “superior” apes, presumably light-years away from Earth, are descended from humans (kept in a sort of Yahoo-like slavery – see Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”). He finds some exceptional scientist-apes who are researching that very question, and they save him, and he eventually saves them to continue their work.

The whole academic game (or better, racket) remains the same. A very few people are actually scientifically curious and interested in bettering the human condition and the planet. The rest are opportunists and careerists, who learn how to manipulate the system and serve the ruling class, but little else..


Literature as ‘Collective Unconscious’

I don’t read a lot of fiction, or other “literature.” When I do read in that field, it is usually criticism or essays by people better-known for fiction. I still remember Ayn Rand’s formulation, supposedly taken from Aristotle, that the function of literature is not to record man as he is, but as he might and ought to be. She claimed that was the basis of “Romanticism,” too, but her definition of that period differs somewhat from what we learned in school.

I was probably attracted to Rand’s novels because she wrote them that way. And unlike most of my urban-sophisticate f riends, I actually knew a lot of people who seemed to be similar – rural and small-town, “lone-wolf”, hacker-type people who were going to change the world and fight evil, however defined, from outside the system. People who didn’t compromise or kiss-ass. Most of them didn’t have husbands, wives, or children. They were “prime movers” – independent spirits who occasionally found someone else on the same or a similar path, but they didn’t correspond even to culture heroes like actors or musicians. But they were the kind of people recognized as “geniuses,” “saints,” or otherwise remarkable examples of the human species.

Most of my adult life, I’ve read stuff like the Jame Bond books, the Hornblower series (fictionalized Admiral Nelson of Trafalgar), and even Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. Most earlier science fiction falls into this category, although it has since expanded to include all forms of art, literature, film, and poetry. We can have “anti-heroes” as well as heroes. Arch-villains as well as people who are not sociopaths or otherwise bent on harming others.

Yet, for the lower-class reality I inhabit, the villains are very often the heroes. We live as slaves, so we look up to the people who are slave-drivers or otherwise of “the ruling class”, hoping they will recognize our efforts, and in case of trouble, show some measure of concern and compassion. And we create a completely different sort of “survival code”, much like Lisbeth Salander’s in the Dragon Tatoo books.

Another context I’ve inhabited all of my adult life is the cyber-culture. I started working in a university computing center when I was 20. I didn’t like it, but it was a good job, and the people there were the nerds and Sci-Fi fans who were at the top of the field. I had always been inclined toward science – especially astronomy and paleontology, and even though I wasn’t very sophisticated about technology, working on cars, inventing things, etc., I always had friends who did these things – starting with my older half-brother, Jon Krug, who was a master craftsman, ham radio operator, etc. when he was still in high school.

To complete this review, I might write some more sections like….

Stieg Larsson’s world

Snowden and Assange

Why Assange is “wanted” in Sweden

How the Swedish Right (something like a “Scan-Am Mafia”) is responsible for many of the disasters since the end of the Cold War.

Nazi-Fascist elements in 20th century Scandinavian history


Eleanor Marx and The Feminine Mystique


Is Feminism fundamentally wrong? 5-11-14

Crazy missile launch officers and lawyers

Is there a women’s law, science, philosophy, literature, etc?

How can it reconciled with the earlier view – “man”, “the father” etc. as the primary human being?

I’ve always been a “feminist”, whatever that means. So I was a bit surprised in reading a recent review of a biography of Eleanor Marx (Karl’s daughter and main assistant) that her “feminism” is in question. That would be true of many other famous women’s leaders and advocates. Was Joan of Arc a feminist? Obviously not. Is Phyllis Schlafley a feminist? Few would say she is. How about our own Jeanette Rankin? I believe she might have been one, although a recent Montana-made film about her (with an actress playing her) got the response it probably deserved by one of Montana’s leading Marxist women – she threw it in the trash-can.

Women’s liberation, sexual equality, even sexual freedom (to have non-marital sexual relationships), and self-ownership (as opposed to being owned by father, brothers, husband, or even sons, which is the case in some cultures) are the foundations of what we think of as the correct “feminist-gender equity” principle embraced, for example, by the Green Party. I was the one to suggest that we change simple “feminism” (one of the original 4 Pillars of the Greens) to “feminism and gender equity.” I was surprised to find it still included that way on the GPUS website.

The problem with modern “liberal feminism” as maintained as the strictest sort of dogma is that it includes several things that are inherently offensive or criminal to conservative sensibilities. That would be such things as abortion and equal legal status for non-traditional marriages. And that has become the paramount political issue. No one cares about the environment, foreign wars, a vast and out of control “criminal justice” prison racket, or Food Stamp cuts when they can worry about taxpayers paying for abortions or providing benefits for gay or lesbian partners. These “family values” issues truly incense maybe half or more of the population, in a way that no war or anything short of healthcare access can accomplish.

The public demand for accessible and affordable healthcare, without the “consequences” of losing our homes or bankrupting us (never mind being excluded from the system entirely because of an inability to pay for it)  was overwhelming. So, what did the Democrats, let by our own Pharma-addicted Senator, Max Baucus do with this once-in-a-century opportunity to slam-dunk the Republicans? They introduced and forced down our throats the failed and exploitative Heritage Foundation Romneycare – written and produced by the “health insurance” extortion racket, so that not only are we stuck with this “model”, but forced to pay for it – at some 4 times the actual cost of competent and comprehensive health care for all Americans, “legal” or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the Republicans now call the ACA “socialized medicine”, and reject it unanimously. It should have been the Democrats who rejected it unanimously, but of course they’re not that smart, and they don’t care about “objective reality” – just “jobs” for their friends and supporters, and thus the need to win the next election, no matter what the policies or success with them.

More money will buy more votes. The Democrats obviously believe this even more than the Republicans. It’s just that no real Democrats can support their party anymore, so it’s run on Republican money, with predictable results. Right, Secretary Kerry?

In the 1950’s, the Age of The Feminine Mystique (a strange title, in retrospect – Ayn Rand loved it, and sold it at her lectures), we often spoke of “the Battle of the Sexes.” My extended family followed this to a T. And somehow, I was early-on pegged to “hang out with the women” rather than the men. I actually went to Tupperware Parties and the like when I was in grade school, and even into junior high, I played Canasta (Samba and finally, Bolivia) with my grandmother’s friends. But of course I wasn’t a jock, but I was a farm kid who did all that kind of stuff with my grandmother and her friends.

In these “traditional cultures”, there was a lot less gender-stereotyping than there is in modern techno-culture, although we’ve obviously made up a lot of ground since the 1960’s. I actually remember an Econ prof at UCLA saying something like “98% of the girls at UCLA are beautiful. The other 2% are Econ majors.” And they thought that was funny! Even less so since that professor’s daughter (and none too attractive) was an Econ student, there.

Eleanor Marx obviously had the same problem, although her father probably loved her deeply, and told her she was beautiful or whatever good things applied.

So, that’s one axis of the problem – beauty vs. intelligence, sexuality vs. modesty and loyalty, and other aspects of women’s character which are prized by men. Not usually bellicosity (war-mongering), stubbornness, or even attractiveness to other men. We want to be “the only one” – a view more often ascribed to women.

Traditionally, the whole complex of “women’s issues” – child-bearing, home-making, and even the creation of what I call “interlocking social directorates” or social networking is largely the province of women – especially those, I was going to say, in the middle and upper-classes.   Come to think of it, the woman is just as often “the person in charge” in working-class (and of course, single parent) households.

Women in Combat

One of the strangest turns in recent feminist history was the co-option of the Women’s Movement by militarists. Pat Schroeder, a Congresswoman from Colorado, seemed to set the pace for this, followed by “G I Jane” Harmon, from the very District where I lived in Los Angeles – gerrymandered to include vast aerospace and other military facilities. And there’s Madelein Albright, the former National Security adviser to Pres. Clinton, and the first woman Secretary of State. A disciple of that last great Cold Warrior, Zbigniew Brzynski, and a rich divorcee, she basically bought her job with contributions to the Democratic Party.

Her great “triumph” as a Holocaust survivor (adopted by a non-Jewish family to conceal her Jewish parentage) was to mount an assault on the one anti-Nazi part of Jugoslavia – Serbia, costing some 1800 civilian lives and hundreds of billions in damage to be restored by NATO- member contractors.

Following close on her heels, and with the same or similar intellectual pedigree, was Condoleeza Rice and Susan Rice, apparently no relation. And so, we are now poised for war against the Russia which already surrendered to international capitalism, and should apparently still be punished for that stupid and unnecessary capitulation.