Rage

Rage without utopian prospects of real change is like living in a favela on the edge of Pandemonium waiting for the rebellion to begin, no matter what you do you are still trapped in a sub-basement of Hell with no prospects of escape. Rage is useless when there are no chains, only the fiery wall and abyss between you and the unbridgeable gulf of a false heaven. Forget paradise, forget heaven, learn to live in your despair and hopelessness and then maybe you will change the very ruins of hell into a paradise of solidarity. One must enter the depths of darkness to know the light. Carry your rage as a light in the despair of our times, seek out the other without redemption or hope only the truth of one’s rage.

S.C. Hickman, Nightmares and Revisions

Slavoj Žižek commenting on Italo Svevo’s novel Zeno’s Conscience, makes an interesting point in that Zeno faced with the prohibition not to smoke feels desperate and guilty when he does smoke, so the analyst he is seeing changes the strategy and tells him health is not an issue (which it is!) so that he should properly smoke as much as he likes. Zeno taking the advice does just that but instead of freeing him from guilt he nows feels doubly guilty to the point of despair, and it is only when he has reached this extreme moment of despair and helplessness before his double-bind of smoking or not smoking that he finally quits smoking. Zizek commenting on this says:

“Zeno is totally perturbed and desperate. He smokes like crazy and nonetheless feels totally guilty, without getting any narcissistic satisfaction from this guilt. In despair, he breaks down. Whatever he does turns out to be wrong: neither prohibitions nor permissiveness work, there is no way out, no pleasurable compromise; and, since smoking has been the focus of his life, even smoking loses its sense, there is no point in it. So, in total despair – not as a great decision – he stops smoking … The way out thus emerges unexpectedly when Zeno accepts the total hopelessness of his predicament. And this same matrix should also be applied to the prospect of radical change.”1

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