October 5, 2012

Who's Afraid Of Lil Wayne?



This is a video of Lil Wayne's deposition about some nonsense that is beside the point here.

Big surprise: Lil Wayne doesn't take the proceedings seriously.  I know, I had to make sure it was really him, too.

I'm no judge, but he looks like he's in contempt, certainly contemptuous, and at 2:45 makes some serious threats against the lawyer: "you know he [the judge] can't protect you in the real world?"

Watch that part, empathize with the lawyer.  How did you feel?  Did you feel intimidated?

Note that no one reigns him in, no one stands up to him, no one ends the interview, no one demands nothing.  Part of this is deposition theatrics, but even the attorney's demeanor changes, he starts acting the way a person who doesn't want to show he's intimidated starts acting. He gets flustered, he pauses, he backs up.  Wayne is 5'4" and by all accounts has chronic bronchitis, but everyone is intimidated by him.  Why?


If you met Lil Wayne in a dark alley and he said, "He can't protect you," you would probably wonder who this maniac was talking about and run.  But if you were a lawyer at a deposition, you'd be way less scared, and that's because not only are you in a safe environment, but it's your environment, your "frame"-- you have all the power, and he has no power except some assorted Constitutional rights which we all know don't apply to black people anyway. (NB: "black people" is code for "rappers.")   If you follow this, then the question simply is, why would you be scared at all?  What exists inside you that still surfaces even in the safety of infinite power?

"He might slap you with a bag of weed."  There is that.

The first fear is an instinctual one:  the lawyer could physically fight back if he had to, but when he looks into those cold eyes, he has a sense that there are no limits, everything is on the table-- from insults to decapitation, anything could happen.   That's the fear of the uncanny, which we experience outside of a horror movie when we face: masks, artificial faces, psychopaths, and even ordinary objects which we are told are uncanny (mirrors, basement freezers.)  "I don't know what he's capable of" means "I know very well what he's capable of, and it's everything."

That's the kind of fear that fits a street fight, but it has no place in a court; he may want to decapitate you, but he won't be able to.  So why are you afraid?


The interesting thing about being taught that violence is wrong is that of all the lessons we were taught-- no means no, all men are created equal, a bird in the hand is something something-- that lesson actually stuck, it became part of our core identity.  Most "normal" people aren't afraid of the consequences of violence (pain) as much as of the violence itself.  Fighting itself is bad.  The lawyer isn't afraid of getting hurt, he is afraid of there being a fight.  Wayne may be the aggressor but the voice inside asks, "what did you do to provoke him?  Why didn't you stay away from him?"  This fear is so primary that the lawyer backs down from Wayne for Wayne's sake, not to avoid getting hit but so Wayne doesn't have to hit him.  Wayne is feared not because he's good at winning fights but because he's good at starting fights, and its oddly been indoctrinated in us that it is everyone else's job not to provoke fights with those you know will fight, even if you're in the right.

I want to point out how this dichotomy is very much predicated on a difference between people, not a sameness, and it's felt to be part of the hardware, not the software.   There's you, who "knows better", and there's him, who "fights", and that's just the way it is.  And since you "know better" it's your responsibility to not let this get out of hand.  Pro-gun proponents can be seen as the logical consequence of this position: ok, I'll accept your societal commandment not to fight, but I want to preserve my right not to have to back down, either.  The sad, logical retort to this, and I'm going to term it the "liberal" position not because I'm slamming liberals but because it comes from a place of compassion, though, when I write this out explicitly, is really just a kind of kind of classism:  "it's best just to back down from them... because that's they way thems are." 

There's your analogy for America's ((silently) passive-) (loudly lamented (but secretly feared)) aggressive post Cold War approach to all other countries.  The nested parentheses aren't because I'm a terrible writer, but because those kind of modifications and redoublings are how we unconsciously justify doing things we know we shouldn't-- we modify our positions not to do something but after we have done them.  Narcissism can be confusing, the hint is that it operates outside of time. 

If you think this fear/foreign policy explains our reticence to attack other countries, you've misunderstood: it just means we don't like being in fights, it doesn't mean we don't like other people being in fights for us.  Hence: "allies in the region"; volunteer army; UN Peacekeepers; "adverserial legal system";  talking heads yelling at each other on TV.   That's how we work.  Chechnyans are violent; Americans are violent by proxy.

But the specific point is the premise upon which this all rests:  guy A may be afraid of guy B, but he is more deeply afraid of the existence of a fight; and the only reason he'd be more afraid of "the fight" is if he felt on some level that fighting was wrong, and he could only have learned that from somewhere, was taught it.

To get people to be more afraid of fighting, even in self-defense, than the physical pain of an assault takes a lot of years of training, good thing we jump on it early.

First off: associate getting hit with guilt.  Even if it's not your fault, it is still felt like it's your fault, and this can be verified by every woman in a domestic relationship, which is why they stay.  This isn't innate, we learn this: your parents hit you only when you do something "wrong";  parents separate their fighting kids, "both of you go to your rooms!"; a schoolyard fight is never judged according to fault, the school punishes both people equally; "zero tolerance" says the institution that cares nothing about justice, only the preservation of power.  "Nothing gives you the right to hit another person!"  Nothing?  Seriously?

The only people who learn that getting hit isn't synonymous with guilt are those who get hit inconsistently, randomly-- having older brothers, abusive parents, constant fights with other kids in the neighborhood, etc.

You'll observe a certain characteristic true of all bullying: the victim never fights back at all. He takes his beating, as if to show that he can take it, his strength is in not being broken.   Why not at least throw a few weak punches?  This is why the terrible father's typical advice to his bullied son, over the protestations of his useless wife-- "stand up for yourself!  Just punch him back, and he won't bother you again!"-- is absolutely correct yet impossible to execute.  The problem isn't that the kid is afraid of the bully only, he's (more) afraid of the system-- that he'll get in trouble if he fights back, or that he doesn't trust that system to protect him if he fights back and the bully escalates.  The parents and school raised the kid to instinctively be ruled by the system, and now suddenly they are advising him to rebel?  The bully's doesn't have this fear, he has already opted out of the system.  And so the victim, after getting beat up, hears how it was his fault: "You know he's a jerk, why did you go near him?  Just stay away from him." (6)

This is why, on the day that the victim does, finally, "fight back", it isn't by squaring off and throwing an uppercut-- it's overly violent, vicious, excessive, and that's not because he needs to overcome the bully but the bully and the system that in effect was protecting the bully, the system that controls the way he sees the world.

It's very difficult/impossible to raise a kid to be in the system, yet teach him also to fight against that system "sometimes." That was one of the problems with OWS, you can't shut down Wall Street if you have two credit cards in your back pocket.  The only way to do this is if you try, on purpose, to raise your kid to be a little bit sociopathic.  I realize that this seems like strange advice coming from a psychiatrist, but I'm not a very good psychiatrist.  Also, I drink.

The only way to make kids understand that there are legitimate times when they must operate outside the prevailing system is by teaching them that there are even higher systems. (1)  I don't specifically mean religion, but some kind of higher ethical duty; for lack of a better term I'll call it a strong superego; which says, without needing to explicitly define every case, "there's a right and a wrong, and you know what it is." (2)


Somewhat off topic: why do so many "nice" (read: white) teenage girls get horned up over Lil Wayne?  "Rebellion against the father?"  Assuming she even lived with a father, most fathers aren't rebellion worthy, there are very few staid, formal men with fixed rules requiring breaking. The likely explanation is more instinctual: extremes in appearance signify "the man underneath"-- a secret vulnerability, a tenderness, that will be given only to the one person who "sees" it (never mind a million other girls are seeing it).  This is an idea that young women instinctively believe in, that the "ugly" (though to them it's hot) exterior is a mask that must necessarily cover a beautiful interior, in the same way that a "good" young girl, aware that how she looks and acts is a put on hiding her own secret "darkness" (specifically: unlike every other girl in the world, she likes penis), so she assumes that what's on the outside must be the opposite of the inside, until you're over 40 and then inside=outside=soot.  Teen boys, with their own identity confusion, meet the girls half way ("you don't know the real me... my secret darkness..." A man with one side tough and one side tender is pretty much a female fantasy, i.e. it no longer exists, except in rappers (rappers is code for black people) and serial killers (and s2 of Dexter is the male version of this adolescent fantasy acted out with knives.)


What's makes this video an example of the consequences of American (=debt based capitalism) parenting is that the lawyer has the advantage of years as a lawyer--AS the system, with all its power-- and yet has that momentary lapse back into a childhood position of scared kid facing a bully. Think Narcissus: nothing before age 26 made that kind of a kid strong, he never earned his power-- he went through the motions, gravity carried him towards the power that was literally handed to him upon graduation, and he believed in it because he had no reason not to.  But in that moment with Wayne, we see that his identity as lawyer is put on, a role, which lies on top of the kind of person who still gets intimidated by physical strength, by bullies-- i.e., a kid who was raised in Nicetown, America by otherwise good parents, completely free of any tests that would teach him what kind of a man he was. "I'm a good student."  Oh, you should tell Wayne that.

That power of being a lawyer isn't inherent in being a lawyer, it only exists if everyone else believes you have it, and Wayne chose not to believe it, so the lawyer didn't have it.

The whole fight is taking place inside both men's heads, which is why Wayne is winning.  So how could the lawyer get over his fear, what would he have to do to not be intimidated?

Flip the question: how is it possible for someone with no power (Wayne) to be able to scare those with more power?  The answer is to do what Wayne does instinctively: make the fight into a different kind of fight.  He doesn't accept his "role" as defendant, as someone at the mercy of the court's rules.  Wayne doesn't just not let himself be intimidated by the lawyer, he doesn't see him as a lawyer, as an agent of a larger, massively powerful structure that could crush him into oblivion.  He sees him as a bad of soot he could easily punch.  And because the lawyer's power was given to him by the court-- the lawyer doesn't see it as really who he is (he doesn't believe in roles, but identity)-- it is, essentially, paper mache, and Wayne's blows right through it.  Wayne makes him doubt himself and his power, and so he responds as a powerless man.

If that seems too theoretical to you, think about it this way: the reason the lawyer chuckles, pauses, his inflection changes, and he asks silly questions (3) isn't just because he is intimidated, but also because the lawyer doesn't want to appear intimidated of Wayne.  As if to show he's a man, he tries to meet Wayne halfway, on his terms, he defers to Wayne's power but tries to laugh it off.  He tries to pretend that, as a man, he's not afraid of Wayne.  That's why it fails.   As a man, he is afraid of Wayne, but as a lawyer, he has nothing to fear.  Where's the shame in getting beat up by Lil Wayne (never mind the pain)?  But that's the lawyer's instinct: not to be seen as weak.

What the lawyer should have done is take control of the context, retreat deeper into the role of agent of the court with all the power.  "It doesn't matter if you can beat me up, it doesn't matter if you don't recognize the strength of the court, it exists, and I have it."  In other words, to take his physical weakness as a given but irrelevant: so you can beat me up, so what? (4) 


1. Note that the message to overthrow a prevailing system, e.g. the government, is in the Declaration Of Independence (following Locke) not just as a right but as an obligation; and it is only able to do this by appealing to "fundamental" rights, "natural law."  The point here isn't to argue whether there is a natural laws, only to show a higher system was explicitly codified to facilitate being (from the system's perspective)  "sociopathic."

2. The danger, of course, is in the balance between defining and not defining, i.e. if this higher system or superego is not well defined enough, does not possess its own rigid rules or internal logic, then one runs the risk of creating an Enslaved God-- a narcissistic excuse for breaking the lower order rules because it benefits you.  ("Stealing is wrong, but in this case...")

3.  Either this lawyer isn't very good, or he really was intimidated.  Protip: never ask "do you recall..." because a legitimate answer is "no."  It should have been straight facts ("did you... is this...?") This is a deposition, not a trial, so as long as this lawyer gets all the facts out and forces Wayne to admit to whatever it is this case is about, he can move for summary judgment and that's the game. But instead of focusing on facts and forcing Wayne to declare his position relative to those facts, he's meandered into the nebulous world of "identity", and has inadvertently made Wayne look interesting, legitimate, authentic-- Wayne is just being Wayne, after all-- thereby helping Wayne's case.  You will observe how many comments on the video are pro-Wayne, even though Wayne is unimaginably hatable in this (and all other) videos.

And, continuing from "I am an agent of the court, I have all the power" it is his responsibility to ask the judge to deal with Wayne-- in not doing so, he showed considerable weakness.  If you want a TV analogy, here's two: when they depict a psychiatric hospital, the doctor says, "please give the patient this injection" and then the big orderlies/techs have to do the nasty business of restraint, but this doesn't make the doctor appear weak, it makes him appear even more powerful.  In this analogy, the judge is the orderly.  Second example:  the woman who manages to get a gun during the scuffle and points it at the nasty serial killer, only to panic, "stop right there or I'll shoot!  I mean it!"-- which serves only to reveal that she is not going to shoot, not intentionally; so as long as the murderer makes no sudden moves he can calmly walk up to her and take the gun, using her ambivalence and fear against her.  In this analogy, the judge is the gun.  Shoot, stupid.(5)

4. Strategy: Wayne would have lost all his ground if the lawyer had been a woman.

5.  The rule for ambivalence (as distinct from questions/decisions/problems) is that it is never resolved by thought, only by action, and that the action chosen is irrelevant.

6. You'll also observe something that you learned completely backwards.  If a bully beats you up, it's even worse if you tell on him, if you're a tattle tale, it reveals you to be less of a man (or kid.)  But think about this for a second: where did you learn that you'd be less of a man?  From the bully.  In other words, that threat is entirely for the bully's benefit, it in no way reflects anyone else's reality, yet you bought into it completely.  Why?  And the answer is that, in the bully's system, in the bully's "frame", telling is a sign of weakness, worse than getting beat up; and since you have agreed to operate in his system, since you have agreed to operate by his rules (say, a fist fight you could never win), in those rules if you don't tell, you at least retain your dignity.  Which of course you don't, the whole thing is madness-- to anyone not inside that system.  I take this diversion to show you the immense power of "the system" on: how you act, what you want, what you value, what you fear.  If narcissism can be spun into something positive-- let's call it stoicism-- the lesson is that your fears and desires have nothing to do with the object before you and everything to do with the "system" you've chosen to be in. (I'd make a pornography reference here, but I'll save it for the book.) My advice to everyone smaller than me (the higher order system) is to always fight back and always defend your neighbors, regardless of the cost.