Friday, July 23, 2010

Not One More Victim.

I. What is consciousness?

A. Brains, Bodies, and "Things."

"Consciousness ... is experience or awareness. Human mental life has a phenomenal side, a subjective side that the most sophisticated information-processing system might lack. To paraphrase Thomas Nagel, there is something it is like to be in a conscious mental state, something it is like for the organism itself." (T. Hondereich, Oxford Companion to Philosophy, at p. 152.)

Comparisons may be found between proponents of A.I., like Daniel Dennett or (perhaps) the Churchlands, and skeptics concerning A.I., such as Colin McGinn, John Searle, or Thomas Nagel.

What does this highly technical debate in philosophy have to do with raging political controversies? Why should feminists care about the mind/body problem?

Well, the mind/body problem is concerned with figuring out how it is that subjective, "technicolor" phenomenal experience (qualia), "coincides" with duplicable information processing by organisms or machines (that is, if machines ever become conscious) "accessing" facts in data banks. No effort to deny subjectivity or reduce "qualia" to behavior is very persuasive, especially when the denier is informed of his or her own pending death. James Garvey, "Hacker's Challenge," in The Philosopher's Magazine, 4th Quarter, UK, 2010, at pp. 23-32.

At the heart of much of this discussion are rival paradigms, different a priori assumptions concerning what is at issue when we speak of consciousness and the only conscious entities that we know of -- i.e., persons. To suggest that computers can be conscious is to imply that computers can be persons without being human beings.

Proponents of so-called "strong A.I." theories -- I call these theories "ideologies" -- fail to realize that this contention about conscious machines as persons involves the further suggestion, or "analogous entailed proposition" as analytical philosophers say, that some human beings may be "object-like," or single-function machines.

Our dominant culture still sees women as, essentially, sexual objects or providers of satisfaction to others. In other words, women are single-function entitites.

The logic of this externalist mechanical discourse regarding consciousness implies that some humans are less than fully conscious entities, that is, less than persons: the mentally ill, possibly members of some disfavored minority groups or races, or all women. ("Is Western Philosophy Racist?" and "Jacques Derrida's Philosophy as Jazz.")

Traditionally, in terms of the mind/body duality inherited from Christianity, by way of Descartes, women were associated with the body; men were identified with mind or thinking. This denigration of feminine intelligence required centuries of conceptual struggle to overcome, to the extent that it has been overcome.

As beings lacking in cognition, premodern understandings of women, dictated that women were more "object-like" than men. The consequences in terms of the sales of women as brides, concubines, possessors of dowries, prostitutes is well documented by feminist scholars. ("John Searle and David Chalmers on Consciousness" and "The 'Galatea Scenario' and the Mind/body Problem.")

The desire to transform others into "objects" worthy of control, manipulation, or use by self-proclaimed "superiors" -- who insert "errors" in texts, perhaps -- leads to political philosophies and behaviorist psychologies that make persons into "things."

In America, some persons today -- like beautiful women or movie stars -- are more likely than others to become "things." ("Richard A. Posner on Voluntary Actions and Criminal Responsibility" and "Behaviorism is Evil.")

Under Capitalism almost all persons become commercial objects or products, that is, "things" that are for sale. The difficulty that then arises, however, is that users of "things" or "commercial products" need to fill the void of a world increasingly deprived of rival subjectivities. Thus, the yearning to create things that serve our needs or fulfill our purposes without expressing needs or claiming rights as well as purposes of their own.

This need may explain sex robots or persons asked to perform the functions of sex robots -- like the various kinds of prostitutes thriving in our society, some of whom enjoy great social esteem -- as with many politicians or advertising executives. What follows should make it clear that the mind/body problem is a metaphysical discussion, but it is more important as a political debate in sexist society. Terry Eagleton, "Was Marx Right? -- It's Not Too Late to Ask," in Commonweal, April 8, 2011, at p. 9. ("Senator Bob, the Babe, and the Big Bucks" and "'Ex Machina': A Movie Review.")

This bizarre situation also explains our popular forms of slavery, disposable fashion models, insatiable thirst for novelties in the celebrity realm, teen vampires, sex goddesses, some porn -- male and female "idols" -- also many images in advertising and art. What is missing from our interactions (or Dr. Phil-like "relationships") is the messy reality of free subjects to rival our interpretations of the world. The dominant ethos underlying this controversy and set of issues reflects values that are overwhelmingly sexist. The Cartesian "I" is (and always has been) male. Today, sadly, the Cartesian "I" is reduced to what can be expressed in a "twitter." Peggy Orenstein, "I Tweet, Therefore I Am," in The New York Times Magazine, August 1, 2010, at p. 11. (Look past the social science babble to the unrecognized ideas and philosophical assumptions in this article.)

Science is and will remain irrelevant to what is fundamentally a political and ethical decision not about how consciousness emerges from, or is produced by, cerebral processes -- something we may figure out some day -- but what is consciousness and in what terms do we define the ontological level to which consciousness instantly elevates those who possess it, those who "are" conscious, regardless of whether this category will someday include machines?

"It is precisely thus that the for-itself apprehends itself in anguish; that is, as a being which is neither the foundation of its own being nor of the Other's being nor of the in-itselfs which form the world, but a being which is compelled to decide the meaning of being -- within it and everywhere outside of it. The one who realizes in anguish his [See what I mean?] condition as being thrown into a responsibility which extends to his very abandonment has no longer either remorse or regret or excuse; he is no longer anything but a freedom which perfectly reveals itself and whose being resides in this very revelation. But as we pointed out at the beginning of this work, most of the time we flee anguish in bad faith."

Sartre, "Freedom and Responsibility," in Existentialism and Human Emotions, at p. 39.

Must my freedom come at the expense of the liberty of others?

Sartre feared this was necessarily so. I suggest that this is a highly masculine-aggressive view of freedom and rational agency.

Simone de Beauvoir's use of these ideas, for example, allows for the inclusion of the feminist revolution within the metaphysics of mind/body duality and dual-aspect thinking. ("Master and Commander.")

Other people cannot be objects for you to "fix" in accordance with what you think is for their own good. You cannot do things "to" people without their consent because you believe that it would help them. You cannot disregard their needs, wishes, hopes and emotions (or rights) to "affect" them.

To do such things to others is to violate their autonomy as subjects. Ironically, many women suffer from this bizarre delusion that they are entitled to "alter" others to satisfy their own notions of what is right and/or good, perhaps as a response to being altered by the suffocating expectations of social sexism. There is no "remote control" for other people. Not yet. ("Jacques Derrida's Philosophy as Jazz" and "David Hume's Philosophical Romance.")

Consciousness frightens people. We feel a need to deny consciousness or subjectivity to others. This is especially true of women who have been denied autonomy themselves by powerful men -- fathers or abusive husbands. More astonishingly, many people feel a need to deny consciousness to themselves.

As Erik Fromm suggests, persons try desperately to escape freedom. This accounts for Darwinian explanations and dismissals of mere "behavior" or "events" as opposed to "actions," as evolutionary drives, or Freudian subconscious drives, Marxist economic determinations, and many other efforts to avoid the reality of subjective choice and construction -- not always conscious to be sure, but quite real -- of those annoying "lesser" others whom we need to "fix," like women, racist stereotypes, "inferiors," "crazy people," Communists, terrorists, muslim fanatics, "detainees," Democrats or Republicans. For some reason, these others do not want us to "fix" them. ("'The Matrix': A Movie Review" and "'The Island': A Movie Review.")

"Rejecting his own existence, the nihilist must also reject the existences which confirm it. If he wills himself to be nothing, [an object?] all mankind must also be annihilated; otherwise, by means of the presence of this world that the Other reveals he meets himself as a presence in the world. But this thirst for destruction immediately takes the form of a desire for power. The taste of nothingness joins the original taste of being whereby every man is first defined; he realizes himself as a being by making himself that by which nothingness comes into the world. Thus, Nazism was both a will for power and a will for suicide at the same time. From a historical point of view, Nazism has many other features besides; in particular, beside the dark romanticism [Ayn Rand] which led Rauschning to entitle his work The Revolution of Nihilism, we also find a gloomy seriousness. But it is interesting to note that its ideology did not make this alliance impossible, for the serious often rallies to a partial nihilism, denying everything which is not its object in order to hide from itself the antinomies of action."

Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, at pp. 55-56. ("'The Rite': A Movie Review.")

Tragically, this nihilistic impulse and will to power, usually, will result not only in suicide, but also in the destruction of persons surrounding desolate and despairing individuals trapped in moral nothingness or squalor. ("More Censorship and Cybercrime" and "Censorship!")

II. Can you buy persons in America?

A. Electronic Slaves at the Megaplex.

Two features of our culture are relevant to my discussion of women (mostly) in these very weird situations of so-called "celebrity."

"Celebrity" is somewhat different from the older word and concept of "fame." Fame seemed to point to something more lasting and related to positive achievement of some kind. Celebrity is a kind of fancy notoriety or object-status. Jean-Paul Sartre was famous; Mamie Van Doren was a celebrity. If you ask "who?," then you have proven my point. ("Celebrity" and "Pulp Fiction.")

Entanglement of America's twin deities -- sex and money -- which are usually "in bed together," as it were, round out the picture of our contemporary "reality." Commercialization, commodification, packaging accompanies the notion of a "movie star." It is not simply that movie stars are, and have always been, commercial entities (or products). Smart "stars" and all women in Hollywood have always known this is one price of success in the movie business -- being transformed into a joke. I think this recognition that she had been made into a dirty joke had much to do with the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe. ("Of Women and Their Elegance.")

What is new in American culture is the displacement of the iconic status of celebrity not only into products, but as a single, all-consuming (right word!) action and event that matters: BUYING THINGS. Stardom is about "buying things" with your newfound wealth, even as other people buy you, through purchasing your image on "things." Persons used to have souls, now they have "images" and "image-consultants" instead of priests, which may be an improvement:

"Aside from the changes in society as a whole, developments like hedonistic consumerism and the constant need of stimulation of the body, which make any qualitative human relationships hard to maintain, it is a question of breakdown in cultural resources, what Raymond Williams calls structures of meaning. Except for the church, there are few potent traditions on which one can fall back in dealing with hopelessness and meaninglessness. There used to be a set of stories that could convince people that their absurd situation was one worth coping with, but the passivity is now overwhelming. Drug addiction is only one manifestation of this -- you live a life of living death, of slower death, rather than killing yourself immediately. [The goal of torturers and powerful officials in many places -- including quite a few in America, like New Jersey -- is to instill nihilism by denying the value of anything or anyone that you care about.] I recently spoke at a high school in Brooklyn, and the figures are staggering: almost 30 percent had attempted suicide, 70 percent were deeply linked to drugs. This is what I mean by 'walking nihilism.' It is the imposing of closure on the human organism, intentionally, by that organism itself. Such nihilism is not cute. We are not dancing on Nietzsche's texts here and talking about nihilism; we are in a nihilism that is lived. We are talking about real obstacles to the sustaining of a people."

West, The Cornel West Reader, p. 293.

You purchase the identity, role, or status of the action hero of your choice with the acquisition of the official t-shirt, or other item. You buy the t-shirt and you become the "One." Batman underwear is available at Target for $4.95. For an extra dollar on the item price, you can probably get your Batman underwear bearing the signature of Christian Bale. Soon "Inception" t-shirts inviting you to "Take the Leap of Faith!" will also be available at K-Mart and fine stores everywhere. The Batman underwear features the bat logo on the fly, as it were, and "Inception" may feature a spinning top in the place of honor. ("'Inception': A Movie Review.")

The predictability of response from others is what commodification promises. You pay your money and you get the quality of the product (or woman) associated with your "fantasy image" along with your expectations. People want reliability, predictability, every time, in terms of the reactions of others, as with electronic appliances. This expectation is very distant from the often painful and messy reality of sharing a love with and for another subjectivity, where the mystery and inner pain of the beloved is shared, where one must love without full understanding, sometimes, and respecting the boundaries, privacy, silences and needs of another person. ("Abuse and Exploitation of Women in New Jersey" and "Sexism, Race, and Incarceration," then "Foucault, Rose, Davis and the Meaning(s) of Prison.")

Genuine love grows and deepens with pain and the passage of time; the commercial form of what is called "love" is about purchasing or getting a newer model. Love may increase and live with a person in the absence of the beloved and despite the loss of someone with whom a life has been shared. Love is a lifetime deal. ("'The English Patient': A Movie Review.")

Transferral of these needs and cultural expectations -- which are still overwhelmingly and uniquely American -- to the sexual realm and encounter means that sex is abstracted into a symbolic exchange, a mediated encounter coded in movie "icons." Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, DiCaprio and Winslet on the Titanic are found at the local wax museum. This museum is an externalization of our collective subconscious in America. People magazine. Our only "real" shared territory these days -- given the differences between many factions of the society -- is entertainment culture. We are beginning to treat one another as we treat our lap tops, I-pods, DVD players, cars. ("'Diamonds Are Forever': A Movie Review" and "A Doll's Aria.")

We have deviated "recognition" of the other, as a person, into abstract fictional identities associated with Hollywood characters as "avatars." (See Bruce Willis in "Surrogates.") Look at human behavior in New York bookstores, sidewalks, shopping areas. I am sure that you will find yourself in the company of any number of Scarlet Johanssons, Kate Winslets, Zoe Zaldanas or Leonardo DiCaprios, Denzel Washingtons, Harrison Fords. The reason we are projecting our inner needs and desires on to Hollywood fictions and commercial products, also actors (Carmen Luvana, Jenna Jameson), is because they are more convenient and better at meeting our "needs" than "real people." ("Drawing Room Comedy: A Philosophical Essay in the Form of a Film Script.")

This is a hell of a burden to impose on artists. This is to make movie actors "unreal." Yes, movie actors are real people, but not in their capacities as "stars." As movie stars, persons become commodities. Smart actors in the movie business never forget that truth. We have made it impermissible not only for movie stars to age, become sick, commit a crime, but we have deemed it an affront when a movie star dies. Harrison Ford said to an interviewer: "I figured out that Hollywood is about money early on." ("A.I.")

"I do think that the influence of Skinnerian behaviorism in the United States can actually be discerned in certain fragments of American life. Most people in the United States believe that they have to be trained to do things (even to make love), and then being trained they must wait for the approriate conditions to be realised. [sic.] Then, like automata, they will routinely produce the necessary actions. Renting a car in the United States is a fascinating example of this. The beautifully trained Avis girl [sic.] says the same thing from coast to coast, talking exactly like some automaton from Dr. Who, and one can see somehow that that person deeply believes that this is the way the human psyche should function. [The word "function" is used without irony.] The idea of doing the thing a little bit differently each time, perhaps instead of saying 'take care how you go now, do you hear,' saying something else instead, even outside the exigencies of a job, would threaten the kind of routinisation in American social interchanges that goes well beyond the ritual of custom. [Courtrooms may be worse examples of this phenomenon despite the hard truth that justice is always individual.] I think one of the elements in this assumption of scientism that has somehow filtered down through the teachers' colleges, through the business schools [law schools] -- a legacy of the idea [of] humans as fit subjects for experimentation, that simple or complicated they are ultimately automata. That I think is not a scientific principle, but a moral view which I would wish to repudiate."

Rom Harre, "An Analysis of Social Activity," in Jonathan Miller, States of Mind, at p. 172.

The "girl" in the Avis office has a counterpart in every office that you will visit in America, whether in banks, hospitals, shops. This depersonalized attitude to "dealing with" others is becoming common throughout the culture, together with the false and evil assumptions concerning humanity from which they derive.

These philosophical assumptions -- for this is what they are, bad philosophical ideas -- have produced horrors like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but they will do much greater harm unless they are challenged now. Persons are not and should not be "cyborgs." ("The 'Galatea Scenario' and the Mind/Body Problem" and "Good Will Humping.")

Being treated like a thing will generate a "thing-like" response. The phenomenon of "black rage" -- which is a real and highly understandable condition -- is a response to dehumanization. One would have to be deaf to the meaning of words and blind to the realities of our lives in America to believe otherwise. It is either because one believes in an inherent "superiority" of one race over others, or because of social conditions, that African-Americans are incarcerated well in excess of their share in criminality as compared with whites in the United States, that they suffer from emotional illnesses, higher suicide rates, worse poverty rates, denials of education, publication, or other creative opportunities in comparison with whites. Few people will admit to being racists these days. When alternative sociological explanations for disparities affecting African-Americans are discarded, only one intellectually respectable response to what we see and live with in America remains -- it is called "racism."

Compare Ray Rivera, "In Calm 911 Call, a Killer of 8 Spoke of Wanting to Kill More," in The New York Times, August 6, 2010, at p. A1 with Margalit Fox, "Marilyn Buck, 62; Imprisoned for Brink's Holdup," in The New York Times, August 6, 2010, at p. A21; "New York's Prisons Fall Short Again," (Editorial) in The New York Times, March 22, 2011, at p. A26 and David Kaiser & Lovisa Stannow, "Prison Rape," in The New York Review of Books, March 24, 2011, at p. 26.

Concerning New Jersey's continuing plunge into the sewer of pervasive child molestation, see John Petrick, "Paterson Man Gets 12 Years for Sexual Assault of Girls, 9," in The Record, March 30, 2011, at p. L-6 and Erik Shilling, "Garfield Man Charged in Sex Assault," in The Record, March 30, 2011, at p. L-3. ("Deborah T. Poritz and Conduct Unbecoming to the Judiciary in New Jersey" and "New Jersey Prosecutors and the Mafia.")

The logical inferrence that can be drawn from an examination of a great deal of American social science, penology, social psychology and forensic science included, is that there are persons (experts) whose goal is to generate criminality from oppressed people through the use of frustrations and denials of self-esteem. I cannot imagine what other reaction persons expect from individuals in prisons or inner-city settings targeted for experimentation in such horrible ways and bombarded with contradictory messages concerning consumption and violence. I am sure that one goal of the obstructions to my communication efforts are to generate a violent or pathological response from me. I doubt that such efforts will succeed with me. However, I am sure that -- if such tactics are used against vulnerable people -- many victims will be made to destroy themselves by torturers. (Torture as sex in America's prisons, especially as regards women.)

Tragically, hatred of women is matched by the hatred of many social scientists (often females!) for men and/or women on display in efforts to condition "acceptable behavior" from inmates in U.S. prisons. Torture as therapy is always a sexual act. ("'Shoot 'Em Up': A Movie Review.")

The utterly harassed individual -- even non-human animals -- who react to cruelty by lashing out at torturers or "trainers" is providing the expected response to "conditioning" that will be used to rationalize the racist and other evil assumptions motivating the so-called "research" to begin with.

Violence is what America wants from young African-American or other minority males. Sex is what America wants from young and desirable women. As crazy as this sounds, there is no other way that our social reality makes sense. It is possible that these "wants" are not fully conscious for many of our leaders and social scientists. We teach these same sexually-heightened young people that they should abstain and be "good." Result: schizophrenia or suicide. R.D. Laing, The Divided Self (London: Tavistock, 1960), pp. 58-61 and D.D. Jackson, "A Note on the Importance of Trauma in the Genesis of Schizophrenia," in Psychiatric Quaterly, Vol. 20, p. 181.

Is the goal of the constant "error" insertions in my writings to produce a violent reaction, breakdown, depression, or is it all of the above? I will continue to write.

III. "An Essay on Liberation": Prostitutes, Performers, and "Products.

A. Andrea Adams, Brittany Murphy, Lindsay Lohan, Kristin Riordan.

Relations among persons as well as between individuals and government agencies are depersonalized as never before. This impersonality or depersonalization is typical of the interactions that are inescapable for everyone in postmodernist cultures. I think this feature of our society and aspect of our lives has now become worse than depersonalization, more like inhumanity.

The inhumanity becomes structural and systematic, a feature of the social hirerarchies that we create and that then create us, "speaking our subjectivity," as a language of cultural/commercial exchange. ("Antonio Gramsci and Hegemony" and "Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Redemption.")

Others are seen as obstacles to one's goals or means to achieving them, instruments and not ends in themselves. Get that promotion by doing whatever is necessary, make sure that things run efficiently, meet one's sales quota at any price, be seen as having satisfied officially-set objectives whatever the reality may be and regardless of the human cost. After all, we are told, there is no "objective" reality under the dominant contemporary ideology beyond self-defined strategies and goals, specifications that simply are reality, persons merely become statistics. ("'Michael Clayton': A Movie Review" and Michael Caine in "A Terrible Shock to the System.")

This fiction in which we live (persons as instruments) enters into punishment in the legal system:

"Moreover, the prison sentence, which is always computed in terms of time, is related to abstract quantification, evoking the rise of science and what is often referred to as the Age of Reason. We should keep in mind that this was precisely the historical period when the value of labor began to be calculated in terms of time and therefore compensated in another quantifiable way, by money. The computability of state punishment in terms of time -- days, months, years -- resonates with the role of labor-time as the basis for computing the value of capitalist commodities. [Brittany Murphy] Marxist theorists of punishment have noted that precisely the historical period during which the commodity form arose is the era during which penitentiary sentences emerged as the primary form of punishment."

Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?, at p. 44. (Foucault, De Sade.)

Not only are you an object, but you are an object reducible to a certain amount of money. This status as a "commodity" is true of every movie star, including those who are also genuine artists.

Celebrities are not "real" persons for audience members. People on red carpets are rarely viewed as themselves audience members or occasional shoppers in grocery stores. Celebrities become, for lack of a better word, "tokens," icons for display, whose status and value are precarious and always fluctuating. ("'The Reader': A Movie Review.")

Like baseball cards, today's trendy beautiful actress appearing on a magazine cover will be gone tomorrow, or on a reality show, "traded-in" for a younger, more beautiful, trendier version of herself appearing in Hollywood, seemingly, every day. To gain one pound (size 4) or age from the median ideal in today's media circles (age 19) is a terrible offense which makes one's professional life even more precarious.

Like a fancy car, whose value declines the moment one drives it out of the show room, beautiful women are old at 30 in Hollywood, especially if they play ingenues. Worse, it may be that women in all of American public life are "old" at 30 years-of-age. (Again: "'The Stepford Wives': A Movie Review.")

To buy into this system of meanings and shallow scheme of values is to guarantee misery for yourself and tragedy for all. It is essential for women placed in such absurd and evil situations to realize that these corporate commercial values are just that: all about money, not about people.

Who you are is reflective of those you love and the people who love you. What matters is what you find meaningful, satisfying, creative, or important, and not what others tell you is worthwhile (money, for example, or political power).

You and only you can define your purposes, meanings, loves. No one, certainly no so-called "therapist," torturer, cop, lawyer, judge, or other "expert" can presume to define your subjectivity, nor can anyone (legitimately) deny that inner realm to you by making you a slave, or an object of conditioning. In terms of depersonalization, Marilyn Straus, there is no difference between your situation and the plight of someone like Lyndsay Lohan. ("An Open Letter to My Torturers in New Jersey, Terry Tuchin and Diana Lisa Riccioli" and "Judith Butler and Gender Theory.")

There will always be plenty of people trying to do exactly that to you -- to enslave you. In the curious phase of culture we now occupy, there is an effort underway to possess "electronic slaves" through the consumption of DVD's and magazines.

We are projecting absurd emotional needs on to celebrities whom we, too often, worship as substitutes for the gods of the ancient pantheon. Meeting celebrities in the flesh will almost always be less interesting than studying their works. The AMC t.v. shows "Mad Men" and "Rubicon" are examining some of these issues from very different perspectives. ("'The Prisoner': A Review of the AMC Television Series.")

No one can tell you what you must find beautiful or good. The conclusion that a film or book is "good" or "great" is less important than discovering the conclusion for yourself, experiencing art, wrestling with its meaning and importance is what matters. The destination is the journey with all cultural experience as opposed to consumption. The point of seeing a movie is to see/experience that movie for yourself and decide what it means, or whether you like it, certainly not merely to tell your friends that you saw the movie or to adopt the views of a famous critic in a newspaper. ("David Denby is Not Amused.")

No one can tell you what to feel. The purpose of any human life is to live it, fully and on your own terms, as a person. In my judgment, this requires a moral outlook on life and most importantly, the capacity to love deeply and truly. These emotions and capacities are also threatened today by the shallowness of our public culture and decline in education, alienation, consumerism, rampant nihilism, official inhumanity, and the loss of spirituality regardless of what you think of religion. We no longer really see one another or feel one another's pains and losses.

Why should it surprise us that our reactions to works of art are so inadequate?

Social life is meant to be inadequate, sometimes non-existent. ("Nihilists in Disneyworld" and "Why I am not an ethical relativist.")

Absence of feeling and imagination explains the death of 18 year-old Andrea Adams who "jumped from the tenth floor of the Tower Block in which she had spent the last few months of her life."

The indifference of overworked and burned-out civil cervants, the almost deliberate destruction of all ego supports and coping mechanisms (did they obstruct her writings?), separation from the one person who genuinely cared for this young woman -- all of this amounts to a kind of murder by ironically-named "social welfare workers."

The cruelty barely concealed behind psychobabble platitudes and New Age drivel, or policy-wonk talk and legalisms, is shown to be what it is -- lethal platitudes offered as a smoke screen for murder or indifference amounting to murder and greed for public money:

"At the inquest, coroner John Pollard identified 23 separate failings of individuals, organisations and authorities that had contact with Andrea during the critical stages prior to her death, yet ruled that none of the apparent failures had a direct causal link with Andrea's death. 'Rather, she was completely overwhelmed by the apparent hopelessness and worthlessness of her situation.' ... "

Worse, is malice, sadism, delight in cruelty that become common experiences for powerless young women in Europe and/or America, especially in places like Hollywood.

There are so-called "experts" in America who produce feelings of helplessness in persons targeted for destruction for a "small fee." ("Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture" and "Psychological Torture in the American Legal System.")

"In their own internal inquiry into Andrea's death, the Greater Manchester police condemned the officers' lack of action and failure to contact Andrea's mental health worker." (The Guardian, July 7, 2010, at p. 7.)

It is difficult not to see the death of Brittany Murphy -- whose failed effort to remain 19 years-old forever and a size 4 is both heartbreaking and absurd -- as closely related to the death of Ms. Adams. Seeing Ms. Mulligan's face on a magazine cover or Ms. Wasikowska's success as "Alice," I feel great concern for their future welfare. (Both of these new young stars look to be about 19 years-old and wear a size 4, I believe.)

Moreover, dozens of other young women, like these two victims, Ms. Murphy and Ms. Adams, die in America and the UK on a daily basis. I have known some of these victims. ("Would you have helped Katherine 'Kitty' Genovese?")

The result of incarcerating Lindsey Lohan, for example, may be disastrous in the long term:

"There is a horrible inevitability to the news that Lindsay Lohan is going to prison. After all, this won't be the 24-year-old actor's first period of incarceration. In 2007, she was convicted of driving under the influence and cocaine use after a meeting between her Mercedes-Benz and a Beverly Hills tree. She spent 84 minutes behind bars, her one-day sentence having been reduced as a response to prison overcrowding. This time she'll need to pack a toothbrush." (The Guardian, July 8, 2010, at p. 14.)

A jail sentence is the best way of destroying what remains of this young woman's self-esteem, reinforcing negative assaults upon her worth, after surviving a broken home and difficult upbringing in the Disney-like asylum of Hollywood. It is a miracle that Ms. Lohan is not more disturbed than she is. ("The Art of Melanie Griffith.")

If Ms. Lohan is allowed to use her talent -- which is clearly her way to cope with adversity -- to help others (by teaching drama to persons traumatized by rape or other violations, for example) as part of a creative and mixed non-custodial sentencing package, I believe that Ms. Lohan is much more likely to do well leaving self-destructiveness behind. Someone who has so much to give the world should not be consigned to this oblivion of a jail sentence in response to what, obviously, is a cry for help. ("The Art of Robert Downey, Jr.")

Optimum results are more likely with the right relationships in Ms. Lohan's life. The yearning of power-wielders to impose their will on persons they may secretly envy and/or despise for their talents and intellect is a very ugly and visible aspect of many judicial or expert decisions in celebrity cases.

Being a famous movie star can help you in a courtroom but it can also hurt you. Many judges are addicted to the tributes and humiliations of persons who come before them, so-called therapists may be worse. Ironically, this is usually more true when judges encounter celebrity defendants or exceptionally gifted persons who are required to genuflect to them. I suspect that this was part of the problem in Robert Downey. Jr.'s experience with the legal system: judicial ego run amok. (Again: "Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture" and "What is it like to be tortured?")

Kristin Riordan -- the "prostitute" to New Jersey media -- is a human being, a person and not a "thing" or sex robot, who deserves a second chance to make something of her still young and redeemable life.

The tragic loss of one young woman's life should not produce yet another victim of forces of control and pacification of women that have grown monstrous, much to the delight of judges in what is widely acknowledged to be America's most corrupt and mafia-controlled jurisdiction, New Jersey.

Saying these things has much to do with the criminal censorship to which my writings are subjected. Assaults on an envied intellect will not make you any smarter, New Jersey Cubanoids. New Jersey officials may suppress, censor, alter my writings or destroy my cable signal to prevent me from writing further.

I do not believe that these actions are taken because my writings are ineffective. I cannot believe that daily violations of copyright laws and plagiarism, censorship and suppressions of speech as well as computer crime can take place without the cooperation of government in America. ("What is it like to be censored in America?")

"The construction of a free society would create new incentives for work. In the exploitative societies, the so-called work instinct is mainly the (more or less effectively) introjected necessity to perform productively in order to earn a living. But the life instincts themselves strive for the unification and enhancement of life; in nonrepressive sublimation they would provide the libidinal energy for work on the development of a reality which no longer demands the exploitative repression of the Pleasure Principle. The 'incentives' would then be built into the instinctual structure of men [and women]. Their sensibility would register, as biological relations, the difference between the ugly and the beautiful, between calm and noise, tenderness and brutality, intelligence and stupidity, joy and fun, and it would correlate this distinction with that between freedom and servitude. Freud's last theoretical conception recognizes the erotic instincts as work instincts -- work for the creation of a sensuous environment. The social expression of the liberated work instinct is cooperation, [mutuality of concern,] which, grounded in solidarity, directs the organization of the realm of necessity and the development of the realm of freedom. [Karl Marx's "Essay on the Jewish Question."] And there is an answer to the question which troubles the minds of so many men of good will: what are the people in a free society going to do? The answer which, I believe, strikes at the heart of the matter was given by a young black girl. She said: for the first time in our life, we shall be free to think about what we are going to do."

Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, at p. 91.

To remain passive in the face of a near plague of dying young women, or African-American men and all kinds of women being lost to pathologies resulting from out-of-control nihilism and commodification, racism and sexism, is to share in the guilt for these crimes by the culture. To witness torture and do nothing is to become a torturer. ("How Censorship Works in America.")

We are reducing young women -- more than ever in human history, I believe -- to sexual objects and destroying the self-esteem of those young women early in their lives. Women who do not meet the transitory and sometimes absurd standards of beauty of any given society are in deep trouble today. ("America's Holocaust.")

We are injuring young women, hurting them every day, making them feel more guilt for the slightest imperfection, aging -- soon breathing -- will be something women should feel guilty about. We are turning girls and women into "things" of little value.

Not every young woman will look like the latest fashion model. No one should feel that they have to look a "certain way." Beauty can mean many things.

We must be aware of the suffering and uncertainties that young women experience in a media age when self worth may involve identification with celebrity alter egos or ideals that become impossible to emulate. Loss of self-esteem has taken too many lives for us to remain indifferent to further losses. Let us hope that Brittany Murphy and Andrea Adams are the last victims of this scourge.

Are these the thoughts that you wish to censor and suppress or plagiarize in America?



Peggy Orenstein, "I Tweet, Therefore I am," in The New York Times Magazine, August 1, 2010, at p. 11. (Forget the psychobabble and look to the underlying ideas.)

Julie Bindel, "Driven to Despair: The Lonely Death of Andrea Adams," in The Guardian, July 8, 2010, at p. 4. (Harrowing account of psychologists lethal indifference to cruelty.)

Donald G. McNeil, Jr., "U.S. Infected Guatemalans With Syphilis in '40s," in The New York Times, October 2, 2010, at p. A1. (Who cares about the little brown people?)

Ryan Gilby, It's Not Too Late, Lindsay," in The Guardian, July 8, 2010, at p. 14

"I, Sexbot," in Harper's Monthly, March, 2010, at p. 25.

The foregoing article describes a company that offers "ROXXXY" the world's first autonomous sex robot. Designed by artificial intelligence engineer, Douglas Hines, ROXXXY is available in six different personalities, including "Frigid Farah" and "Mature Martha," and is priced starting at $7,000.00.

Only six personalities? The same society that allows for the sale of this sex robot criminalizes slavery and prostitution for persons engaging in sex acts for money. See the film "Cherry 2000" which dates from the late eighties. ROXXXY is the identity prepared for many women in America. Is this "robot" what many men want when they "marry" or "date" a woman? I hope not. ("'The Stepford Wives': A Movie Review" and "The Art of Melanie Griffith.")

Benedict Carey & John Markoff, "Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot," in The New York Times, July 11, 2010, at p. A11.

U.S.C. researchers developed a robot called "BANDIT" to interact with children suffering from autism whose parents or significant others are "too busy" for such encounters. Soon these robots may be built to resemble celebrities, like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Lindsay Lohan or Brittany Murphy, Melanie Griffith and Robert Downey, Jr. ("Nihilists in Disneyworld.")

Jaron Lanier, "The First Church of Robotics," (Op-Ed) in The New York Times, August 9, 2010, at p. A19. (Confused Op-Ed essay, spoiled by over-editing, echoes my comments in this essay and elsewhere that "machines become more human as we become more machine-like." A citation to my work would have been appreciated, Mr. Lanier. Please see "What is it like to be plagiarized?")

Caitlin Flanagan & Natasha Vargas-Cooper, "Sex and Porn in the Age of the Internet," in The Atlantic Monthly, January/February, 2011, at pp. 87-104. (Further borrowing of ideas or reactions first published in these blogs without acknowledgment.)

Kira Cochraine & Hadley Freeman, "Feminist Icon? The Lady Gaga Debate," in The Guardian, September 17, 2010, at pp. 4-6. ("I am not a piece of meat!")

James Garvey, "Hacker's Challenge," in The Philosopher's Magazine, 4th Quarter, 2010, at pp. 23-32. (November-December, 2010.)

Juan Galis-Menendez, "Magic, Technology, and the Self,"

Juan Galis-Menendez, Audietur et Altera Pars,

Juan Galis-Menendez, "R.D. Laing and Evil," at:

I am very grateful for this publication and for the creation of a link to this blog at that site. One of these essays has also been selected for inclusion in a Critical Psychiatry web site in the UK which has also linked to these blogs. (I am told that several of my writings are available in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America.)

A link to this article and to my blogs is found at

Dennis Overbye, "Is Gravity Real? A Scientist Takes On Newton," in The New York Times, Science Times, July 13, 2010, at p. D1. (The "ideal" nature of gravity and its "illusory" properties are set forth, allegedly, by daring physicist and Kantian, Erik Verlinde. I believe this article is a hoax or fraud.)

Ray Rivera, "In Calm 911 Call, a Killer of 8 Spoke of Wanting to Kill More," in The New York Times, August 6, 2010, at p. A1. ("Black Rage" and see Charlize Theron in "Monster.")

Margalit Fox, "Marilyn Buck, 62; Imprisoned for Brinks Holdup," in The New York Times, August 6, 2010, at p. A21. (Every crime committed by a woman in America, often unknowingly, is a political act.)

Previous Writings Dealing With Similar Issues: "The 'Galatea Scenario' and the Mind/Body Problem," "A Doll's Aria," "John Searle and David Chalmers on Consciousness," and "Would You Have Helped Katherine 'Kitty' Genovese?" then "Abuse and Exploitation of Women in New Jersey" and "Foucault, Rose, Davis, and the Meaning(s) of Prison" also "Mind and Machine" and "Good Will Humping."

Scholarly Works:

Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1993).

Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London & New York: Verso, 2004).

Omar Calabrese, Neo-Baroque: A Sign of the Times (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992).

David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Andrew Collier, R.D. Laing: The Philosophy and Politics of Psychotherapy (New York: Pantheon, 1977).

Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories, 2003).

Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity (New York: Philosophical Society, 1948).

Terry Eagleton, On Evil (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2010.)

Stephen F. Eisenman, The Abu Ghraib Effect (London: Reaktion Books, 2007).

Susan Estrich, Real Rape: How the Legal System Victimizes Women Who Say No (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage, 1973).

Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (New York: Vintage, 1965).

Marilyn French, The Women's Room (New York: Summit Books, 1977).

Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

Marjorie Grene, Introduction to Existentialism (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1948).

John Gribbin, In Search of the Double Helix (New York: Bantam, 1985).

Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).

Frederic Jameson, "Postmodernism, Or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," in Thomas Doherty, ed., Postmodernism: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 62.

Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act (New York: Cornell University Press, 1981).

R.D. Laing, The Divided Self (London: Tavistock, 1960).

R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (New York: Pantheon, 1967).

Norman Mailer, Of Women and Their Elegance (New York: Tom Doherty, 1980).

Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969).

Colin McGinn, The Problem of Consciousness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).

John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (New York: Dover, 1999), (1st ed., 1869).

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).

Katha Pollitt, Learning to Drive and Other Stories (New York: Random House, 2007).

Rick Roderick, Habermas and the Foundations of Critical Theory (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986).

Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual (New York: Vintage, 1994).

Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: Kensignton Books, 1957).

Roger Scruton, Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy of the Erotic (New York: Free Press, 1986).

John H. Smith, Dialectics of the Will (Mich.: Wayne State U. Press, 2000).

Claudia Springer, Electronic Eros: Bodies and Desire in the Postindustrial Age (Austin: University of Texas, 1996).

Mark C. Taylor, The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

Roberto Mangaberia Unger, Passion: An Essay on Personality (New York: Free Press, 1984).

Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Purity is Hurting Young Women (New York: Seal Press, 2010).

Cornel West, The Cornel West Reader (New York: Perseus Books, 1999).

Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (New York: Random House, 1988).


Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home