Emotion as Taboo: Emotion as Dissent
The dismissal of the internal emotional lives of individuals at the bottom of a power hierarchy is a taboo which I’d like to transgress. In particular, it is interesting that emotion is discounted in culture. First of all, its immediacy is discretely invisiblised by the cultural reflex of saying this is not a reality – it does not happen; and by saying this tacitly is stated the assertion that the internal emotional lives are misapprehending things as they are. People often apologise after their emotional expressions.
Through induction this leads to inferring an aspect of madness; that the mind, the rational being, has been overwhelmed by the unreasonable feelings which are felt distorting and presenting a fiction – something ‘made up’ – instead of what is true.
The sciences have overly devalued the subjective in the human theatre of culture that has created in it a hierarchy of legitimacies as the financialized economic imperative has more readily exacted profit from the STEM subjects than those of the humanities. The cash generated from the production of goods has been regarded as more immediate and important than the psychological, emotional and existential experiences of the people employed (often a euphemism for indentured) to make said goods.
Ibid, the iPhone is more important than the people who make the iPhone. The dominant systemic structure of our society has privileged the expropriation of value (resources in terms of materials, time, effort, welfare and skill) and instrumentalisation of the sentient people involved in these processes.
The expression of emotion as a reaction to the expropriation of the materials, time effort, welfare and skill from the lives of people is taboo. It is forbidden by writ of silence. By expression of pain and anguish the individual is committing a public act of dissent. It is by inference a public act o objection, an attack on the order of things holding at its heart a howl that something is wrong – that paradise is not paradise, that the stated divine is fallible.
It is a preamble to exegesis which threatens the order that has been protected to date. It is whistleblowing on archetypes foundational to the society as it has been engineered. It is a criticism of the architecture of behaviour as it has been set out and therefore received as other; as anathematic. Emotion is an individualism which will not be tolerated and defined by its non-consonance to its surrounds.
In its framing by the biggest gang in town, it is unhealthy to the order of things which should be met with deference, and surety in that deference elsewise it will be marked as anarchy, as chaos, as destruction. It is madness borne of hysteria; of feeling which takes from no sense and is not calibrated of this world. It is unmoored, a canon loose on a changing sea which for the sake of the whole must be dealt with.
This is how perception is wielded or guards its corner from having to change from its found convenience; the comfort of being undisturbed, insulated from such mortal elements.
Emotion is derided as to be less human, less intelligent, less rational by the western Kantian inference. Emotion is what happens when reason has been exhausted – stiffen your upper lip and I will listen when you are not emotional – that’s the coolaid; the double bind put on peoples and people for millennia. Know your place in silence, do as you are told, wait to be engaged with – that’s how people get on
Then after years of being passed over, passed by and passed on whilst you endure apparent double standards, or vernalized forms of abuse and debasement, when you finally stand up for yourself and say fuck you they sue the outburst as proof of why you were not ready, why how they defined you was correct, why how they acted was right; how you are mad, unstable, unhealthy, unwell.
You have been gaslit like women have for centuries piled up. You get told its all in your mind, you’re making it up, what you are feeling is phantasmagorical, it is illusory and people are told not to engage with it as it is bad to encourage fantasies, fictions and lies – people are told they might be complicit with progressing the psychosis as it aggravates behaviour.
Emotion gets appended with labels like aggressive, confrontational, strange, abnormal, weird; cloaked affirmations bandied around casually in small talk which colour receptions and interactions in the public court.
This is all enough to create smoke sufficient to obscure what may be going on at the heart of a taboo; a culture which obscures things from sight is a culture which has things to hide. This is done with the generation of fear cultivated in the conjuring’s presented to children – the tales and myths woven around the absence of light that get whispered in evenings to keep the ward in their place, where they have been put; in a bed of peaceful slumber.
Kings and Queens and witches and demons, spells and curses and noble births. There be dragons beyond the edge of the known and civilized worlds; and in the stories told are the references for how to behave should you fear you have come to face the enchantment of a sorcerer which can change its face or hide behind another’s, or even infect something it has touched.
What is in a name ? We must ask the grammarian about glamour and the grimoire, the life of words beyond the page is the impulse taught to an infant to do all the things of human theatre, ‘madness’ being one of those; emotion being its banished other which creates a vacuum, an absence of light on to which hopes and fears are projected.