Saturday, 14 December 2013

Fetish-fétiche-feitiço

Fetish-fétiche-feitiço
The concept of the fetish is a little understood thing, in the modern world the word is commonly associated with any number of variations in human sexuality, expressed in what are generally considered idiosyncratic ways. Body parts; the lack thereof; situations; inanimate objects; etc., each serves as the specific focus of disparate urges and desires, distinguishable from each other and “usual habits” as a specific sexual fetish, a particular part of the body eliciting sexual gratification or arousal within certain individuals.

Wider use of the term refers to a material object, thought to be endowed with supernatural power through the mystery of it's creation, in various human cultures idiosyncratic "fetish" objects serve similar purposes, whether as the channel of divine consciousness, protection against "evil spirits",  a device able to influence other people's behaviour or attitudes, or an object influencing the "tangible and intangible" aspects of the world.

The word comes down to English speakers, via the French translation (fétiche) of the Portuguese term feitiço {sorcery; incantation, witchcraft; artificial}, all are derived from Latin: factitius {made by art, artificial}, which also has the term: fascinum {Witchcraft; Charm(object), Phallic} and fascinō {to enchant, bewitch, charm, fascinate}, we are here dealing with words concerning the production of illusions.

A fetish object in Rome called the “Fascinus” was thought to be the embodiment of the divine phallus, it was represented through (often winged) phallus effigies used to protect their wearer from evil and honoured in sexually themed rituals within the Hearth of the cult of the Vestal Virgins, amulets, fetish objects and spells were used to invoke this “Divine protection” against the use of the Evil Eye, or other nefarious influences, we read from Augustine of Hippo:
this obscene member, placed on a little trolley, was first exhibited with great honour at the crossroads in the countryside, and then conveyed into the city itself... to secure the growth of seeds and to repel enchantment (fascinatio) from the fields1
 
In Portuguese feitiço is present in the word for “fascination”: enfeitiçar, meaning basically a “bewitching” of the senses, the Latin root of these words is still in use in the modern English language: factitious {not spontaneous or natural; artificial; contrived}, fatuous {inane; unreal; illusory}, facade {a superficial appearance or illusion of something} and facsimile {an exact copy; equivalent of} are particularly relevant examples, reflecting a critical attitude towards manufactured fetish objects intended to provoke a sense of fascination, or exert some form of influence on other people. 

For instance: having constructed a facade of intellectuality, Russell Brand's facile political observations are promoted to divert popular sentiment away from political action, offering fatuous metaphysical affirmations, his factitious opinions about current events, and manufactured solutions in place of actual participation, in the conditions of popular struggle or destitution he complains about”. 

He has fashioned of himself a fetish object ostentatiously adorned with every kind of populist finery, in interviews pandering to his cult of individuality, he appears inhabited by a potent spirit of purely spectacular rebelliousness, superficially he expounds dissatisfaction with "the status-quo” on a range of issues, while embodying many of it's most self indulgent inadequacies, his animated diatribes appear designed to encourage a mystical self abandonment in the spectator, currently bombarded with financial austerity reforms that Brand will not experience the adverse effects of. 

The masses of people, portrayed negatively in the mainstream media, but holding none of the critical or intellectual tools to make conscious in how many ways, have been failed by an industrialized education process clearly insufficient to human requirements beyond participating in the economy, especially since the dawn of the information age. 

This failure of their own state to inoculate the masses against the susceptibility -so painfully made obvious in the 20th Century- to ideological manipulation by the likes of Lynton Crosby, Russel Brand, Goebbals or David Icke, means there are ever increasing majorities of people becoming informed via the internet, and coming under the fascination of the mystical "truth fetish" Russel Brand represents. 

"One's reality is a result of your intention, and your attention" 

Brand's attempt to become a mediator and guide for this disorganized milieu, which is oppressed by the idea of being oppressed by something, is focused on the active rejection of "western Materialism" in favour of eastern metaphysical misdirections: "People need to live spiritual lives,,,,it's good to have access to the infinite consciousness that is available to all people, but through the five senses is delineated keeping us trapped on a material plane", he quotes flowery sermons from spiritual guru's almost verbatim, glorifying his own mystical experience to a position of pre-eminence in the mind of the spectator. 

Unfortunately in their traditionally ascribed alienated situations, people find expression of their anger and dissatisfaction through his impulsive rants and hypnotically delivered sloganism, after all he is a performer, he wouldn't be much of one if he couldn't manipulate people's emotions, misdirect and captivate their attention, fascinate and enthral the audience, actually he appears to be a pretty decent performer. 

His example is the active rejection of a world he considers illusory, in contrast to the private delusions of his own mind, to which he ascribes a greater value than they're actually worth, by reference to how much he personally derives from them.

If you're a millionaire living in a mansion in rural California next door to other millionaires, you can get away with rejecting the objective reality the majority of people share and clamour to escape from, because you will rarely be confronted with it, why not afterall you will have to pay heavily for the privilege. 

What's worrying is the apparent willingness of people who live outside that bubble, to forego their own observations or investigations, their own immediate experience in favour of identification with one or other “brand” of safe forms of rebellion, (rock and roll, Transcendental meditation, religious fundamentalism)  expounded by self appointed “experts”, who are nothing more than pre-packaged internet or television personalities clambering at the heels of the most insignificant human life. 

People are rejecting the professional media or common knowledge, in favour of mystical solutions provided by idealistic and self obsessed celebrities who can say whatever inanities pop into their head, and reach millions via the unregulated maelstrom of information on the Internet. 

Because these icons of the information age superficially articulate a sense of depth perceived to be lacking in official narratives.

Because they do so with such impetuous energy, and misguided self belief, employing Neurolinguistic Programming techniques and various fetish objects developed specifically to promote blind, unthinking fascination, the hapless passer-by has little choice but to accept what they see as "enlightened revelation" and assume the role of spectator/consumer. 

Like the Witch-testing methods of a more primitive age, the reasons Brand and "Truth celebs" give to support their childish solutions, merely portray a constructed facade of “truth”. 

Superficially appealing slogans are reproduced to appeal to dissatisfaction and capitalize on disenfranchisement so prevalent in the modern world. Narratives, ideals and reified concepts are fashioned to encapsulate this spirit of rebellion, historical and religious fetish objects are reproduced to subtantiate the appeal to revolutionary ethos, all in order to provoke people's unthinking fascination by, and eventually complete acceptance of, a particular mode of being.

Factitious illusions are constantly reproduced in this milieu in order to distract people from the fact they are being distracted.The masses attention is distracted from their own economic exploitation, the Ruling classes intentions remain veiled, albeit partially alluded to by professional spokesmen or popularity seeking public personalities acting to "repel fascination from the fields", diverting it into habitual consumption of the saturating mass of endlessly reproduced fetishes and fetishized objects.  

The social value of a "truth", is determined by it's ability to provoke a response, bewitch or fascinate it's receiver, the attention given to that "truth" is measured in popular appeal, there are more direct methods than viewing church attendance or book sales since the advent of social networking, popular search terms, trends, views, likes, shares indicate to anybody the social value of a particular "truth", in this way the power of emerging fetishes can be imbibed with the most appealing aspects of all those which came before it, each new production serving as a feedback loop from which the production of emerging fetishes is based2.. 

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(a great free resource for personally investigating the roots of language and words with which our world is constructed is wiktionary.org 

1. English translation by R.W. Dyson, Augustine: The City of God against the Pagans (Cambridge University Press, 1998, 2002), p. 292 online.

2. A concrete example of this is the "News digest" format, proving popular on TPV, it served as the next subject of interest to Brand in his "Trews" in which he reads the daily newspapers and provides his own interpretation of the interpretation of various writers for newspapers such as the Daily Mail.
People already used to outsourcing their ability to interpret or rationalize the things they read in the news, are being given another layer of alienation to contend with, the News reaching Brand 2nd or even 3rd hand is then filtered, reconstituted and an ersatz version is reproduced.