It is in the crucifixion of the desert rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth that we come to discover the pleasure and pain of the spectacle. In psychoanalysis, the term to denote the experience of pleasure and pain is embodied in the French word, jouissance. A better direct translation would be: orgasm.
Why do I make this distinction? Because, today, especially in the West we are drawn to anything that is centered around the spectacle. The pleasure of entertainment but the discounted pain of knowing it is only a form of entertainment.
From Jerry Springer to a buffet of reality television. Transforming reality into something we don’t participate in changing but rather watch the simulation of. Anything that is presented as a simulation is merely for the entertainment of the viewer, but even more sinister is the spectacle exists to immobilize the spectator. Is this not the perverse art found in going to the movies? No one really ever goes to watch a film and says: I am going to go take notes on how to change the world.
Because the way the capitalist gaze has situated our lives to believe and defend the idea that entertainment is all about the individual experience and to compartmentalize our ethics away from the spectacle.
This is how Rome was able to capture the human propensity toward entertainment as spectacle…they transformed murder into a game, for the entertainment of the onlookers. Knowing that, in doing so, no one would act otherwise.
Entertainment numbs us to the reality that exists around us.
Take for example the recent shootings in Connecticut.
To say its a tragedy would be an understatement.
As someone who has two children, I would have retaliated without pause, if something would have happened to them. But that’s my point, it isn’t personal enough. We might care in an [em]pathetic way, but nothing more. Is not the news meant to be some arbitrary medium by which we engage with the rest of the world?
However, I claim it is their severed distance from emotional attachment is one of the many reasons we don’t really care.
Offering up a token prayer in response to evils in reality does not change the landscape of evil, it only delays it in our mind; meaning we have to deal with the root cause of the issue. So, what of prayer?
In a purely psychoanalytic sense, prayer highlights our castration. In that we direct all of our needs and requests outside of us because we believe we are incapable of acting and doing anything our own.
This has partial significance in todays world where experiencing god has become hyper individualized, consumerist, and entrench in property based identity. Meaning we have come to believe that what we own, even our beliefs is who we are. Which can be seen perversely in American politics. When we are attacked and then in an almost religious sense, respond with America as an identity. Country music is one site of American nationalism at its most vulgar.
But does a song stop violence from happening?
Don’t get me wrong, reflection is important, but before|after the event occurs, preferably so we can prevent the evil from occurring again. Nationalism is not the answer against violence on any scale. But maybe there is a kernel to be adopted in the perverse core found in both the Christian approach to prayer [some approaches, not all; contemplative is not one such prayer we should adopt, it does not assist in making a revolutionary society; most prayer does not] and nationalism. The revolutionary element that I refer to is found in Zizeks notion of communism, that what one has all should have [not necessarily in the sense on sexually transmitted diseases though!]
This revolutionary space is where we come to find something true about the nature of humanity, that we are capable of working together toward the common goal of being human to one another. That the most revolutionary act is not one where we pray with words but rather our bodies, and that the Christian journey is not about sharing theology but rather allowing the defense of life, in any form to be the goal.
That is why the title Christian has the potential and still does get in the way of being a better humanity. It categorically demands we stand above others. Yet, is not prayer, praying to the other? Is not also the other the face of god found in the other? “When you have done it to the least of these you have done it to me”.
It is not revolutionary when we simply meet as Christians, but when it leads us to realize that to find myself in the other by defending their humanity. That maybe the failure in the system of religion and ultimately, by implication its child- the church [the system; I define the church as humanity] has followed in the footsteps of its mother, the media, and become part of the entertainment complex [ is not the cross hanging as direction around a neck or hanging up on a wall the adornment and realization that the murder of an innocent man is still in our psyche, that we have actually immobilized ourselves by worshiping and object of murder. Hence why some Christians are more than okay with capital punishment because via theology they were okay with the first one they identify themselves with.
Maybe the error is not that Jesus was a victim of capital punishment, but rather, that as humans we did nothing to prevent the spectacle. I hope we have learned from that?