In the in-between ‘Space’ of ‘Voice’ and ‘Silence’ there resides torture (consider Peters, 2012).
In a review of Cullen Murphy’s book, Edward Peters writes, “Murphy ponders “ what . . . any inquisition really is: a set of disciplinary practices targeting specific groups, codified in law, organized systematically, enforced by surveillance, exemplified by severity, sustained over time, backed by institutional power, and justified by a vision of the one true path. Considered that way, the Inquisition is more accurately viewed not as a relic, but as a harbinger.” In this sense then, Jane Mayer, author of “Dark Money” writes, “Cullen Murphy finds the ‘inquisitorial impulse’ alive, and only too well, in our [modern] world.”
“The politics of experience sometimes takes the form of a tendency amongst both individuals and groups to ‘one down’ each other on the oppression scale. Identities are itemized, appreciate, and ranked on the basis of which identity holds “the greatest currency” at a particular historical moment and in a particular [social] setting. Thus, in an Afro-American Studies classroom, race and ethnicity are likely to emerge as the privileged items of intellectual exchange, or, in a Gay Studies classroom, sexual ‘preference’ may hold the top-notch on the scale of oppression (Torres, pg 116).”
In the politics of ‘voice’ and ‘speaking’ in my Italian immigrant home there was a tendency to ‘one down’ the other. In my home this “one downing” was done by the “superior order,” that is, the “superior identities” in order for them to wield power over by holding the perception that they were the ones in possession of the “superior social and intellectual currency” (intellect and knowledge) over the other(s) who did not speak in the same dialectic. I’ve heard this referred to as “mafia mentality.”
“This kind of “one downing” works much like inverse cultural capital: identity markers (e.g. color, lesbian, disabled) can easily become the ontological ground on which to base a ‘superior’ insider knowledge of more ‘authentically’ experienced, ‘real’ embodied oppressions which, say, the white, homosexual, able-bodied woman cannot match (Luke, pg 220).”
In regard to Targeted Individuals (TIs), I’ve heard the term “dumbing down” or “dumb downing” to express the act of retarding a person’s ability to “know what they know” and to make connections to and parallels with past experiences. This “dumb downing” is also known as perspecticide and, traditional speaking is one of the most devastating psychological effects of coercive control that is accomplished through isolation (Stark, pg. 267). However, in the abuse-related capacity of relationships, one is made unable to “know what they know” by either making that person self-doubt or by some other form of direct physical manipulation such as in electronic assaults or physical torture. This act of “dumbing down” leads to the person’s inability to be authentically and genuinely known as their true selves. This act of “dumbing down” your opponent facilitates the competition of the “superior class identity” and helps them become organized and recognized as the “real,” “better than,” “preferred identity” that possess the greatest worth among a groups social members. Please consider the invention of inquisitorial practices (History.com, 2017, Inquisitions).
“In women’s accounts of family separations, indentured servitude, forced sterilizations, and systematic genocide are powerful messages about historical silencing and these often rate higher on the oppression scale than white women’s testimonials (Luke, pp. 220).”
The forced and retarding nature inflicted by electronic assaults conveys a message that can be compared to the forced sterilization of Aboriginal women in Australia. Both acts send a powerful message about the historical and political nature of silencing the individual voice. A position that has been historically held by the dominant phallocracy. However, there’s power in victimhood. The perpetrators unknowingly hand over power to their victims immediately upon the initiation of the crime. For the victim has now become the ‘Signified’ by the ‘Signifier’ made by a visible wrong.
In the philosophy of Law, derision is most assuredly not tolerated much like acts of physical violence are not tolerated. Derision is closely associated with bullying, tyranny and the unfair treatment of marginalized groups. Harboring deep-seated feelings of hatred, scorn, and contempt for another or a group of people have historically led to outbursts of violent aggression during historical epochs, wrongful and unlawful death of innocent people by gangs, mafias, and other organized criminal groups, as well as the oppression of groups based on marginalized characteristics such as color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, gender, intelligence, strength, and power. These characteristics have very well established and documented historical cases known to many. The institution of slavery, historical oppression of women’s rights, the Holocaust and other historical events of genocide, the Inquisitions, and the Witch Trials. As well as many criminal cases rooted in individual competition which take into account man’s nature and his relationship to objects in his relational world. We can refer to a variety of documented criminal cases for clarity and proof of man’s paranoia against threatening objects in his field of object relations. Consider Juliett Mitchell’s 2000 work “Madmen and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria.”
Exposing a ‘face’ to the broader social group can pose a ‘cultural taboo’ and reveal a raw sense of lived pain which was not experienced from others cultural perspective. As a result, a deafening silence can abound when individuals give testimonials about the horrors endured by them as marginalized groups whose ‘lack of insider identity’ and ‘lack of status recognition’ can expose raw truths about the true nature of humanity. Raw truths that can expose blood violence and acts of callous hatred. Characteristics such as a ‘lack of insider identity’ and a ‘lack of status recognition’ have historically been used during colonization which creates tensions and hierarchies along divided lines of power. Issues of divide and rule, power, gender and identity, ethnicity and religion are connected to relationships that promote “authentic authority.” But these same attributes can contribute to individual silence and “inauthentic identities.”
Refusal by the larger social group to “look at” and “speak to” the ‘exposed face’ of a targeted individual may be a reason the phenomenon of electronic assault has gone unaddressed and uncorrected. A refusal that has closely been tied to the ‘imaginary symbolic’ and muting feminine voice which has been reflected in the gender politic of historical-philosophical discourses isolating the feminine voice from the dominant phallocracy. This refusal, silence, and muting has been reflected in acts of religious inquisitions, the turning of one’s will toward the wishes of the other, the burning of ‘witches’ at the stake, other acts of forced confession through torture as well as conspiracy theories surrounding mind control techniques.
The Complexity of Power in “Divide and Rule” and “Knowledge and Ignorance” in Colonization
The colonial legacy has re-written cultural identities, individual life histories, and contemporary cultural politics, both individual and institutional. Silence, whether it is being promoted by feeling threatened or guilty, as a consequence of particular subject’s position in relation to an “authority,” or the silencing of one’s ability “to know what they know” through the act of electronic assault and coercive control are complex power/knowledge relations for which simple prescriptions for empowerment through voice and action do not account and may not work. For targeted individuals, this simply is because the “authoritative voice” that is silencing the powerless cannot be seen. It remains hidden under the veil of the invisible via electromagnetic assaults. When you have been systematically terrified over and over again, you get to a point where you become unafraid. You learn to accept your powerlessness and while the assaults have violated your body’s private spaces, and taken your quality of life, it hasn’t taken your life completely and this gives hope that it might one day end. I suspect that for me, as a female, a girl’s castration has already occurred and can no longer be feared perhaps making victimization a bit more palatable to digest intra-psychically. Girls don’t experience the dramatic destruction of the Oedipus complex typical for boys. What complicates psychological issues further is the fact that women need to be loved far more than they need to love. As Freud pointed out women are much more narcissistic than men. Acts of invisible, physical, electronic assaults do not seek to lift up and empower, but rather to tear down, destroy, and demean.
In comparative literature and film, we could consider as the cultural symbolic of invisible assaults, a book by Ralph Ellison ‘The Invisible Man.’ We could also address the new film release of “The Invisible Man” and how this film address issues of invisible physical assault similar to invisible physical electronic assault.
In the book “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, “Invisibility is used as a metaphor for the oppression faced by African American men throughout society as the narrator comes to a greater understanding of himself (Robinson, 2017).” The novel works to protest against racism and the cloak of invisibility that is placed on Black people. It addresses the oppression faced by people of color that goes against mainstream White society. In this way, the Invisible Man is considered an existentialist novel or bildungsroman. This reflects a journey of transformation that occurs within the character. It includes individuality, identity, and self-discovery. “The novel can be studied as an existential one for it deals directly with questions of individual existence, identity formation, and the meaning of life for a Black man confronted with racism and cultural stereotypes.” Some literary scholars call “The Invisible Man” a protest novel (Robinson, 2017). Since all past historical inquisitions, witch burnings, and forced confessions were protests too, I wonder if the electronic assaults I am suffering are the ‘voice’ of some “invisible man” protesting my identity and existence? Why does he hide his face?
The name of the main character in the original novel is never revealed. This is a technique done purposely by the writer. However, throughout the remainder of Russia Robinson’s research, she refers to the main character as ‘I Am.’ The main character, the narrator of the novel, is a social outcast. Who he is, his identity as a black man is rejected by mainstream society. The book was written in 1945 and the main character speaks of his experiences. He is African American, he is male, he is young, he is from the South. It was written during a time in America when Jim Crow laws and segregation was alive and heavily enforced. Racism and discrimination were rapid and blatant in society. But since the author does not give the main character a name, a clever strategy put forth by the way, he refuses to give the main character a personal identity. This forever shields the invisible man from establishing a uniqueness, a distinction that would portray and establish himself as a separate self, a separate part from the larger whole. It also provides another effect. The character is known and recognized by being invisible to the world due to his race. With no name, the reader must further recognize his invisibility through language. That is, through ‘voice’ and ‘speaking.’ Scholars and researchers refer to the main character as, Invisible Man. This is the main character’s self-identity and the title of the book. This literary approach in writing gives ‘voice’ to the sentiments and feelings of the author and thus grants him ownership over the main character.
In the act of electronic assaults, there are no authors to refer to except for those authors found in history which have carried out acts of persecutory violence, genocide, murder, oppression, Inquisitions, and more. In this sense, one is only able to unearth a dialectical, a language that has been spoken by many abusive male leaders throughout historical time. The person casting the electronic signals in my personal case of electronic assault my be a person who is attempting to gain a hold of language, voice, and speaking in the abusive male tongue (dialectic) that allows them to speak but also keeps them safe from prosecution.
I find it important to note that the latest film scheduled to be released February 28, 2020 entitle “The Invisible Man,” the invisible man is a sociopath who is obsessed with a woman he wants to control and possess. When this woman runs away from him in the night to free herself from his abusive control, he ends up murdered. But is he really dead or has he found a way to make himself invisible? The film addresses some of the similar topics the original book “The Invisible Man” addressed in the 1940s only with variations on its themes of rejection, identity, separation and loss, identity transformation, individuality, and perhaps never addressed before, psychosis.
I find the subject of “identity transformation” an interesting topic because this is exactly what Inquisitions did. They tried to convert one religious group to another religious affiliation thru torture. Jews and Muslims were often their targets.
It is not only patriarchy that silences women’s voice. Many women may not survive the odds against them in their quest for mobility and this fact can be exacerbated by the fact that women can and do often silence each other. If the telling of individual experience requires a narrative cultural content and vantage point, it may be desired to silence some voices and not others in order to benefit one’s self-interests. Naming one’s historical trajectory, identity, location, and acknowledging one’s historical complicity in the colonization of discourse by socially skilled power players becomes relevant in uncovering critical facts.
“There are times when it is not safe for students to speak: when one student’s socially constructed body language threatens another when the teacher is not perceived as an ally. It is not adequate to write off student silence in these instances as simply a case of internalized oppression. Nor can we simply label these silences resistance or false consciousness. There may be compelling conscious and unconscious reasons for not speaking – or for speaking, perhaps more loudly, with silence (Luke, 1994).”
“Conversely……several (usually male) students of colour in mixed-race classes over the years….refuse steadfastly to say anything for an entire semester……these young men’s silence is a political strategic move to assert their identity by not giving the ‘black point of view’ for the benefit of white students (or the white teacher) (Luke, 1994).”
Making corollaries between the anal-sadistic universe where boundaries are obliterated and individual histories are re-written (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1984), the Inquisitions of past history were the harbingers for a new world order and similar to these harbingers are the electronic assaults suffered by Targeted Individuals (TIs). Could these electronic assaults act as “mini-inquisitions” where a set of disciplinary practices targeting specific groups, codified in quasi-law, organized systematically by a larger or networked group, enforced by surveillance, exemplified by severity, sustained over time, backed by either institutional power or network gang-related power, and justifies its vision of “the one true path.” But who are the Inquisitors? And will their faces ever be exposed?
Peters, Edward. “God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World,” by Cullen Murphy. The Washington Post. Published on January 13, 2012. Retrieved online February 22, 2020.
Torres, L. (1991) “The construction of self in US Latina autobiographies,” in: C.T. Mohanty, A. Russo & L. Torres (Eds) Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, pp. 271-287 (Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press).
Luke, C. (1994) “Women in the Academy: The politics of Speech and Silence.” British Journal of Sociology of Education. Publishers Taylor & Francis, Vol. 15. No. 2., pp. 220.
“Inquisition.” History.com. Published on November 17, 2017. Retrieved online February 23, 2020. http://www.history.com/inquisitions It is important to not that inquisitions were considered a “tool” to exert social control and power dominance and as such became means of absolute power and control over the powerless. There are many mentions of countless abuses in which people were wrongly accused and tortured. Much like electronic devices today such as smartphones, laptops, desktops, global positioning systems, etc. These “tools” can also be abused and violate people’s personal boundaries.
Mitchell, Juliet. (2000) “Mad Men and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria.” New York. Basic Books.
Stark, Evan. (2007) “Coercive Control: The entrapment of women in personal life.” New York. Oxford University Press. Chapter 8, The Technology of Coercive Control, pp. 267.
Walker, Michelle B. (1998) “Philosophy of the Maternal Body: Reading Silence.” New York. Routledge. pp. 18. Walker points to Le Doeuff’s reference to the “shameful face of philosophy” which “alludes to the fact that philosophy is unable to recognize its dependence upon the images or metaphors that it plunders from an imaginary outside. Elsewhere she speaks of this as the “internal scandal” of philosophy, its inability to fathom its own inclusory and exclusory devices.” Michelle Boulous Walker points out on page 18 that in Le Doeuff’s exploration of the philosophical imaginary “she traces an elision of woman and interiority in the text of an eighteenth-century physician whose concerns slip curiously from medicine to moral philosophy. The text in question, Systeme physique et moral de la femme, published in 1777, is read in conjunction with some contributions to a contemporary one, Le Fait feminin, edited by Evelyne Sullerot and published in 1978. The fact that just over two hundred years separates these is cause for (feminist) concern when Le Doeuff exposes their ideological function of assigning woman the place of a mute interiority in her published work The Philosophical Imaginary (1998). I should point out that Le Doeuff does not attempt to reduce the structural complexities or specificities of these texts to one simple statement about femininity, but rather that she discovers the echo of an imaginary femininity embedded in a philosophical tradition that can only be labelled phallocratic.”
“The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison: An Analysis.” Russia Robinson. Published on February 21, 2017. Retrieved online over WordPress.com February 25, 2020.
Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1984) “Creativity and Perversion.” New York. W.W. Norton. Chapter 1 “Perversion and The Universal Law,” The Anal-Sadistic Universe and Perversion, pp. 2-6.