posted on May, 19 2014 @ 03:58 PM
Under the Veil of Ideology
For the bored wanderer,
My friends, have you ever seen yourself without ideology? We rarely do. Why not try it? Remove your
clothing, your makeup, your product, your devices, your tattoos, your piercings and stand in front of a mirror. See a reflection of what you actually
are and begin to behold yourself. Feel your skin, your nakedness, your senses. Smell your hair, your arm, your knee. For at least a moment, occupy
yourself. Smile, frown, contort your face in any expression and your body into any position. Touch your body. Explore it. Think about love, loss,
laughter, pain and arousal; induce tears of joy and sorrow and explore the capacities of the mind and emotions. Body. Self-awareness.
Jouissance. Vulnerability. No one is watching; no restraints. You are nothing but what you are. This is you without ideology.
But what is ideology? Imagine in your nakedness and in your self-exploration in front of a mirror, someone walks in the door and sees you doing these
strange things. You freeze. Embarrassment, shame, disgrace, and humiliation washes over you. What goes through your mind at this moment is ideology.
“Pull yourself together” it says and “suit up”. Remember, no one wants to see you like this, and you know this because you don’t want to see
anyone else like this. We have an ideal to uphold, you and I. We are ideological. Hide your true face, you monster. It’s time to step out into
We are the costume-wearing species. Swaddled and hidden beneath a carapace of compromise, culture, custom, and commonplace convention, lie us, naked,
even when fully clothed. Like how the ancients preserved their dead, we too wrap ourselves in so many strips of this and that idea in the vain hope
that they will preserve us, but only mummifying ourselves in the process. By wearing so proudly our ideologies and masks, we become them, the official
products of dead paradigms, other people’s baggage, and sleep-walking billboards. We do it because, well, others expect it of us. We too expect it
of them. In this sense we are infected by, cursed with, or at the very least dependent upon, the ideologies that have frequently arisen throughout the
course of human history.
Even though we dare not mention it, the real world is out there, happening at all times as it acts continuously, and never is it found in the personal
stories and narratives we tell ourselves in order to cope with it. I know—such a shame. But because our consciousness ever so slightly lags behind,
it is always hindsight and afterthought to the rest of ourself. As such, ideas themselves are just such afterthoughts, neither material nor
non-material, at least until they become sentences and paragraphs in our inner and outer dialogues. But the ideologies that abound from them are built
of a thousand hindsights and a thousand afterthoughts, crystallized into words to become religion, poetry, politics and rhetoric, a confluence into
the sea of culture we drown within. Through inundation, these afterthoughts and hindsights influence our own, even sometimes taking their place, or
are reassembled and redistributed, thereby continuing the process ad infinitum, or at least until the last human takes his last breath. Even
then—even with no one watching and no social consequence—the last man will still try to die with honour.
As we can witness by simply going outside, ideology is keeping up with appearances. It is required of us. Our consciousness lags behind and suffers
greatly in the face of belittlement and shame, so it does its best to take the reigns in avoidance and cowardice by attempting to deceive the rest
with its inner-politics. Thus it drapes the body in this and that bauble, this and that article of clothing. It doesn’t want to be seen for what it
is and puts up a front. Isn’t that so?
We often say that our reasons and intentions are what is real in the hopes that these reasons will convince not just others, but ourselves, that our
actions were indeed justified. But the truth is in the action itself, the reality, an actual and concrete occurrence, while the reason and
justification for it, will forever remain in the hindsight and the stories we tell ourselves and others. The thick ideological impluse in this method
is the distortion of truth for the sake of coping with it, the employment of Plato’s Noble Lie, designed to guild the truth, the concrete, the
actual state of affairs in golden curlicues. Ideology as disguise.
Plato was correct. And it is actually quite hilarious to witness the extent to which we will go to maintain this lie. Culture is the greatest source
of comedy. Michel de Montaigne relates in his essay “On Custom” many of his own ideological tendencies in a humorous yet sadly realistic fashion,
which I highly recommend as most of his writings are essentially timeless. He recalls a French gentleman who blew his nose into his hands, justifying
this offensive action by saying “what privilege this filthy excrement had, that we must carry about us a fine handkerchief to receive it, and, which
was more, afterward to lap it carefully up and carry it all day about in our pockets...” which, he continued, “...could not be much more nauseous
and offensive, than to see it thrown away, as we did all other evacuations.” I am unable to disagree with him.
This is the nature of ideology: that we practice things we don’t necessarily believe in. It is the perpetuation of the Noble Lie, or in
psychoanalytic theory, the appeasement of the big Other. It is carrying our snot in our pockets. We say “bless you” when someone sneezes, knowing
full well their soul has not left their body. We make kings and queens out of individuals, put them on thrones of gold, knowing full well they are no
different than you or I. It is choosing honor over shame, even though no such distinction exists.
But ideology isn’t necessarily so abstract. It often manifests and rears its ugly face—too often. It manifests in the actions of human beings;
ideology itself is composed of human beings. It appears in the conscious and unconscious need to align oneself with one particular ideology over
another, to choose one at the expense of all the rest, and to display that choice in the public square. Look at everyone around us—they wear their
ideologies on their clothes and they act it out in the streets and in the marketplaces. We brand ourselves in it and wear their slogans proudly. We
trade ideological pieces of paper for ideological goods and services, even though we know full well how little of value they actually are. We merely
pretend we don’t know, because it is the best way to justify our continuing participation in such a farce.
Thank you for reading,