Friday, June 19, 2009

Speaking publicly, privately

I love public bathrooms, not so much as a place to void my bowels but as an interesting zone of discourse. What are the rules for writing on bathrooms walls? It must be something one wants to publicize, but not publicly. There is a general contagion to the area. The reader will likely be smelling shit or piss while reading so the ambiance lends itself to complaint or the noisome. As much as I strive to apply the methodological imperatives of historical materialism, it is really base materialism that rules my heart.

In the bathrooms at the park I frequent the graffiti is all about clandestine sex acts--bj's and hj's, the largest writ being simply "SUK IT." A friend tells me that in the bathrooms of the University of Chicago there are expressions of general misery in several languages. I expect that in most public bathrooms one will be able to identify a dominant discourse that speaks of what that population most wants to say but feels is publicly derisible. It is also a complaint that the author is ashamed to make. There is a double exclusion: first the objective exclusion of the statement from public discourse, and then the subjective or interior exclusion of that statement from the subject's conscious attitude toward objective conditions. One feels ashamed to have this complaint.

The other main bathroom graffiti, uber-trite political slogans, is the converse: something so vacuous it can be uttered publicly or privately without stirring thought or response.

Are these not the poles which attempt to organize thinking about consumption of animal? The quietism of the vegetarian who does not want to be lumped in with fools, and those groups who are "anti-cruelty," as tautologically evacuated as being "against terror," who successfully propagate a public discourse organized solely by charisma (and it might remembered here that charisma is the political logic of the dictator).