Sunday, 22 May 2011

Eccentricity, fetishism and principles




Well, eccentricity is a difficult one to play isn't ? Why don't we have more eccentrics ? There are different types of eccentrics, they can be in-group eccentrics, which means that though they do look like anyone in the group, they have maybe one object that will make them stand apart. You have out-group eccentrics, which means that a sub-group will create it-self as a revolt against the biggest group normalizing effect. Finally, we have the individual eccentrics, the people who have guts to know they might be rejected by anybody but do not care, or care too much.
Eccentricity is a beautiful thing in our humanity. It has brought forward great minds and artists. And yet, we do not like them. More than that, eccentrics tend to be laughed at or ridiculed. It comes principally I guess from a need to feel superior, or need to know our ways is better. There might also be some subconscious jealousy to this emancipating act. It is an emancipating act to let free of some tacit rules. The pressure from societal rules is one that can be easily defended. One of the best tool society has to normalize everybody and to criticize individuality is politically correctness.
Take any declaration by anyone, ask questions so that person push their idea and you will find some form of extremism that is condemnable by our normalized political mind. Lars Von Trier was a great illustrating help for this question: “having empathy for Hitler”has been interpreted as some form of support for basic antisemitism by anyone. The best part is that it made actuality and the first people to judge him where the people incapable of watching his films, principally because they are not mainstream, not normal to watch. Empathy for Hitler means understanding, “verstehen” for the Weberians among us, it does not mean at all accepting his position. “ You don't have to be Caesar in order to understand Caesar”. It is easy though to take media outrage for granted and founded.
Understanding and empathy are essential tools for any human beings. If you want to change someone's mind, you want to deal with someone actions, you want to know what is humanity then you need to be able to be in anyone's shoes so you know more or less what lead them to think that way. In the case of Lars Von Trier, he proves that we have put Hitler on a pedestal which makes him more godly than human. We cannot understand his position because somehow that has become a blasphemy of society.
An objection I have heard was that eccentrics are needy attention-whores. Perhaps they are, but I am sad for anyone who lost any sense of wanting to be the center of attention. We are all humans with something to offer at some point of the other, denying ourselves that is just giving power to a normalizing group pressure which might tend to homogenize us all. It is even more sad a comment when it is not provided by a depth of understand where this attention-seeking needs comes from. Lars Von Trier for example, throughout his films, has tried to show us the part of darkness in all of us. It is probably a part of darkness we are not ready to accept in ourselves. If he did choose an extreme example, couldn't it show that he is a bit frustrated not to be understood ?
Understanding is actually an important ethical principle as well. When someone is put to trial, he is allow to explain his position. His position is important for us to understand as it provides the motivation and the background that led to an action known as condemnable, even for the perpetrator. Once we learn why a person was push to commit such an action, can't we try to prevent the circumstances to happen again. Wouldn't that be the sensible way ? I know that again, I might be judged like Lars Von Trier, though luckily I am not as famous, but I wish Ossama Ben Laden would have been on a trial, so we could have have more to understand why he led such a fierce battle.
I've put fetishism in the title because there is for me something of fetishism in a lot of eccentricities, especially mine. I have a red zippo, a green scarf, a long jacket, two fountain pens and my diary. I care about them because they do provide me with shallow ways to support my identity-building efforts towards a better, more original rather, self. I have friends who messed a bit with them and asked why I was so centered with material stuff when I can be such a post-marxist. Fetishism is about caring for your belongings, it is not about accumulating, which is the main problem of a consumerist society. The more you care about your belongings, the less chances there are that you will look to buy new stuff constantly to make your-self feel better. Fetishism is probably a good form of resistance against a “Brave New World” society. Of course, an object that everybody possessed is hard to care for individually, and coming into the possession of a unique object does mean that you attempt to break a homogenizing pressure.
My point is that true originality will always make most people uncomfortable because you are unconformable. You might be deemed dangerous as people will not know what to expect of you, it echoes the fear of lack of control. Who strives on being controlled though ?
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