The asymmetry of disgust

This week. I’ve pondered a post on the Occupy movement and actually going to one forced a silence for a little while. This post is not about the occupy movement, but I was provoked by the multitudinous number of interests, some of which were more about implying things than actual facts or statement (we are planning to write an extended post on this subject). Implying suggestive terms is the worse kind of rhetoric and it undermines a decent and rational conversation but alludes to fear mongering or already present prejudices, instead of attempting to justify or acknowledge them.

Two of the posters that were put up on a series of columns were relating to wikileaks. One simply said ‘free Bradley Manning’, who is currently alleged to have given a number of the infamous diplomatic cables to wikileaks. But the other one implied that Julian Assange’s trial is a set-up, show trial or distraction technique from the importance of the wikileaks movement. I will grant that commenting on any current legal case is never a good idea to pass a judgment before the officiating body (or in other words: what the hell do I know?), however, there is an aspect of a permanent stain on anyone’s name if there is ever an accusation of sexual assault. For many people, this allegation is the death of a professional career, even an allegation which is later shown to be false has already committed serious damage. It is odd though, how within the critical discourse of the ‘occupy’, there wasn’t enough distancing from a man currently on trial. I suspect that there are many who are willing to turn a blind eye to a ‘hero’s indiscretions if they are still a hero. If I am to be honest, I think I would still consider the likes of Aeneas or Achilleus to be great heroes (even if they are fictional) despite being distinctly flawed, in the case of the former, I wonder whether his flaws are inherent to his character.

I was thinking the other day about a particular celebrity who has seemingly been forgiven for the fact that he was not only convicted guilty of rape, but is almost celebrated for the personality and bravado he has about that instance. I speak of the appearance of famous boxer-rapist Mike Tyson, who appeared notably on the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen (another instance of a celebrity who is complimented for womanising). There are a good number of people who will distance themselves from the work of wikileaks from its cult of personality leader, but the ‘at-least-ambivalence’ response is a dangerous tacit sign of acceptance of a very serious allegation. There is an asymmetry to separate the wrongdoings of a person from the person when it seems convenient to one’s self-concept. To downplay such an allegation is to downplay the seriousness of the act.

I note another asymmetry between disgraced celebrities. When Gary Glitter was convicted of child sexual abuse, it was a virtual death of his career. Many of Glitter’s songs had particular prominence in the US, usually as introduction songs for sports teams before big games, and would almost definately provide some form of royalty fee to the artist. There was a notable disappearance of those songs after he was convicted guilty, definately the case after his second conviction, that his act was so heinous that his fame was retconned (and one should not understate the prominence of some of his songs) as if it were erased from history. Compare this to say, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out which is hardly percieved as coloured by the activities later emerging by the man. It is interesting how some cultural asymmetries occur in our perceptions for essentially similar kinds of phenomena. I suspect there’s a Knobe effect/x-phi analysis waiting to be made here.



Did you know that Courtney Cox was the first person on TV (allegedly) to say “period” (referring to mensturation)? What a blood revolution. Its strange how men are so taboo about a very everyday and uniquely female experience. They are scared of it that’s why! Attitudes towards mensturation are very peculiar. Early biblical accounts put it on the same level as having sex, in terms of its spiritual impurity.


Verstehen truths

Who is the real Destre? Some people say it’s Michael, others, one of the other areopagites repeated, but, what does it really matter? Oscar Wilde wrote on the importance of deception and face management as a way of portraying some kind of other reality of a person.

When Liberace died, many were curious about the nature of his death. Liberace was a beloved celebrity in the United States and beyond, representing a certain kind of mindset or kitcsh. For many, he was a cultural icon, for a certain demographic, he was the face of a new wave of technology that was otherwise unfriendly and inaccessible. The legacy of Liberace, unlike that of Sinatra, will not last, and did not last with much warmth after his death.

Why was this? A large speculation is that many peole inquired into the cause of his death. A media frenzy then came of this issue, of how, or why he died. It then became that the man’s reputation, which he took his life to build, was destroyed by the suggestion that he was a homosexual. With that, his career ended in a way that not even his own could have taken away. I see today in the news of some rumours about John Lennon; all interesting for the newspapers to get us buying and watching.

It got me to consider the whole importance of face management in social interactions. In many professions, and to the identity of many social individuals, reptuation, and image, is everything. Perhaps it is that impetus to understand our fascination with trying to find celebrities with their pants down (figuratively and literally). Those icons who work hard to their eminent status and those individuals who have by means of their own effort and goodfill have achieved a status, or did a service, or entertained in ways few people could ever do, are those individuals we are so fascinated in dishing the dirt about.

A galpal once told me, and I think is apt. Everyone has dirty laundry. I was with Michael at the time and he just kept sniggering about a certain person in the room, who had notably dirty laundry. Immaturity aside, the serious point is that we could all find something shambolic and embarrassing about others, perhaps the shambolic and embarrassing thing can be that they have no interesting lives.

If there is an image that can be shattered, the pieces of its shattered glass clearly show that the image was not a false one. The shaming of individuals is mere self-indulgence. Because truths about the self are truths of a different domain of facts than those normal ones we think of. To say there are ‘truths’ about a person is not to speak in a domain of facts, but within an ellipsis. It is, to invoke a pun. A verstehen turth of a person that may or may not be truth-apt, bit far from it is it to assume truth-aptness as a tacit and necessary condition.

Antisophie (and Sinistre*)