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Pinter’s Provocation: Self Love in America

by : Greg Moses
Wednesday December 28, 2005 - 03:12
2 comments

« Just think of me as your new guidance counselor ... Or just think Mr. Jefferson’s Answer to The Friend of Peace (1816) »

By Greg Moses

In homage to the Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter’s acceptance speech testifies to gifts of inspiration; hints of realms apart within; callings to craft that expose writers to tempestuous solitudes where lines between truth and unreality are not marked out in advance, where things press against each other in duality, both untrue and real at the same time.

That the writer who is driven into realms of edginess and duality can still keep a cold eye on profanity, horror, and outlandish hypocrisy is what Pinter then sets out to prove. His object lesson is the USA. By the time he is finished, we have a perfect ice sculpture of American immanence. One should take 46 minutes to see the words played out to their full and freezing effect.

One thing Pinter does not confess is that the writer sometimes presents a carefully chosen lie that begs to be decried. This prophetic lie is not to be confused with what Pinter calls the political lie that aims to keep truth well buried under phrases like “the American people”. The prophetic lie is what Pinter delivers when he states that “the most saleable commodity” being pushed by the juggernaut of the USA is “self love”.

We know that Pinter is not accepting the USA’s brand of ’self love’ as self love itself, because for 46 minutes, Pinter practices a kind of self love that would freeze such salesmanship at the doorstep. And we know that any people comforted by the sound of their own name can have no real capacity for self love, because self love must have something to do with self knowledge, but knowledge is precisely what “the American people” do not seek at the sound of their own name.

So when Pinter hisses at the USA for selling ’self love’ on the global market, he is really provoking us to argue that it’s not real ’self-love’ that the USA is selling. The problem goes that deep.

On the 13th of December, twelve days before Christmas, the governor of California decides whether to stop the execution of Tookie Williams. Fantasy blurs into reality. The governor could never have been elected without first making himself real to the American people through fantasy projections of obligatory violence, heavily capitalized and mass produced. Fantasy gunslinger, property developer, the state’s executioner in chief. A kind of ’self love’ is being sold in the governor’s tale. Is this not the kind of ’self-love’ that Pinter accuses the USA of exporting?

But ask Tookie Williams (as Phil Gasper asked him) where do the problems of real-life gang violence begin and he will tell you the answer is ’self-hate’. The ’self-love’ so well commodified in Schwarzenegger (a minstrel name if ever there was one) is minted in a dual economy that also circulates ’self-hate’. The same fantasy machine that lifts the Aryan upward churns whirlpools for others, tugging them down into gulags for life.

This is Pinter’s provocation: are “the American people” practicing real ’self-love’? The kind of self love that Martin Luther King, Jr. once called ’somebodiness’ and that serves as the first condition of empowerment? If it was ’somebodiness’ we were practicing, wouldn’t we be a little busier about our own freedoms at home? Wouldn’t we care not to be the kind of people who send black ops around the world and then pretend not to see? Isn’t there a kind of self love that demands something from us long before we have to be needled into noticing that we have in fact given up our ’self-love’ to a commodified political lie?

There is a kind of self-love that answers to the crisis we are in, and I’m sure Pinter knows it, but it is not the kind that he sees us selling, and so he spits the lie right back into our faces. Will we swallow it? If we are selling such a deeply counterfeit value to the world, are we capable of being ashamed about it? In a nation preparing for holy days of shopping, have we lost our capacity to be provoked by Pinter’s allegation of counterfeit love?

Somewhere it is written that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet we have long holiday debates about torture and human rights. This is what happens when you turn your self-love into snake oil. Commodify the self-love that you plug into the golden rule, and you forge an ironclad alibi for worldwide scourge. Question is, America, do we have the shame needed to tell Pinter that we recognize his prophetic lie?



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> Pinter’s Provocation: Self Love in America
Thursday December 29 - 17:56 - Posted by fa8321c1c28f6c66...

Mr. Moses: You are confusing ’self-love’ with narcissism. True love of self can only be expressed through active service to others, the others being all the people one holds dear, & for the those of us who have great hearts, all life itself is part of this love. Service to anything else that disguises itself as ’love of self’ is mere indulgence, senseless power games, intellectual and as well as physical masturbation, ego-centrism. Mr. Pinter is obviously asking Americans if they know the difference between love of self and adolescent narcissism.
Your article, sir, answers that question quite resoundingly, I might in add, in the negative.




> Pinter’s Provocation: Self Love in America
Friday December 30 - 22:58 - Posted by bff4dad99758c8b5...

I think the article and your response are both equally confusing:

You can listen to a 10 minute interview with a Nobel spokesman at
http://nobelprize.org/literature/la...

In addition or otherwise for your perusal you may wish to contemplate these facts

When playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October 2005, it produced anxiety within government circles in Britain. Pinter’s determined opposition to US and British foreign policy, and his resistance to the renewed imperialist carve-up of the globe centring on the war against Iraq, have brought attacks on him from many quarters. His fellow playwright David Hare noted that not a single party leader in Britain had congratulated Pinter on the award. This was hardly surprising, given the support the major parties in Britain gave to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The Swedish Academy’s citation noted Pinter’s position as “the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century,” and recognised that his opposition to imperialist war and his dedication to freedom of speech and democratic rights “can be seen as a development of the early Pinter’s analyzing of threat and injustice.”
In the last 15 years, particularly, Pinter has been a vocal and trenchant critic of militarism and war and the erosion of democratic rights. Pinter has remained defiantly “off-message,” championing critical independence from government propaganda.

With the great invasion of privacy, legal and illegal in both the US and UK I understand why he would be easily dismissed by the corporate media in particular.

cheers, Jt

Should you enjoy some philosophical speculation;

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster

What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil

These quotes are over a 100 years old but I think they reflect contemporary US foreign policy and "W" in particular.






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