Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

TV VIOLENCE, A Class-based Psychoanalysis of TV

The issue of Television violence contributing to violent behavior might well be approached as a class-based differences between the lower or working class and the middle class. The term `working class' sounds better because they do the work because it connotes the touted virtue of work whereas `lower class' sounds disparaging. But `lower class' is the more general term because it includes the large numbers of workers who are unemployed. Like any such generalized analysis, these abstractions are only descriptive, suggestive and quantitative, not definitive, dogmatic, or rationalistic.

We delight in babies building their model of the world by sensory-motor validation. They see it, reach for it, put it in their mouths, taste it and smell it, gradually including an expanding set of items into their world view, as described in DUCK, a Model in the Mind, p.178.

In modern abstract culture, MAC, this validation process is diminished to a pathological degree. At birth, the child is taken from the mother, secreted by the medical staff to be ignored or prodded in unseemly ways. Actually, childbirth practices are much better than they were decades ago, but recently the number of babies breast fed is decreasing again, presumably because more mothers are working.

In modern abstract culture, MAC, The sensory input is severely `abstracted', (dragged away). No longer is the baby passed from one loving extended family member to another. Most MAC babies are put to sleep out of touch of their mothers or any other human beings rather than cuddled and fed all night or put in a pile of siblings. Most survive this barbaric rejection to grow into deeply deformed spirits, some even die of what is called `sudden infant death syndrome'.

Instead of the ready breast, babies are given a pacifier, often not even allowed their own thumb. Instead of mothers milk rich in appropriate nutrients and antibodies, they are given cows milk or soy with sugar added. Instead of sticks and stones and dirt and bugs, the babies are given plastic. Instead of stories lovingly told by tired mothers, they watch TV.

Early in childhood the child internalizes his society's class - two for this argument. Both classes are exposed the drastic dissociation of mental from physical life by watching TV as pointed out by Jerry *Mander in Four Arguments for the Abolition of Television, all are put into classrooms where passive stupidity is enforced. But some come from households in which the parents work with the physical world as repairmen, waitresses,[ See Barbara *Ehrenreich's *NICKLED AND DIMED, Harpers Jan '99.] builders and growers, all occupations recapitulating the sensory validation of infancy, all engaged in the implicitly validating inherently therapeutic work of manipulating the physical world. These people are referred to as the `lower' or `working' class.

But everywhere we see people aspiring to the middle class, rising above the mundane and often dirty and servile work of the workers toward the clean work of what is called the middle class, the ELBYs. The schools have almost completely abandoned the low status training in shops, crafts, even arts and music. These curricula were stagnated in nineteenth century modes, while the middle class curriculum, basically working with pencil and paper, were lurching into the twentieth century, faster now with the advent of computers.

The issue here is the dissociation from the physical world, the cultivation of abstract reality, the inhibition of physical competence. The middle classes easily succeed in transcending the mundane, making their living as clerks, advertisers, lawyers, and data processors. They rest on the labor of those who grow, harvest, process, and serve the resources which support their lives. Middle class people develop interpersonal skills and power relationships as MAOs.

But the working classes hold on to a residue of sensory validation in the construction of their world view and its constant development. The working classes, still dominated by the otherwise healthy impulse to hold the mental and physical world together, internalize the violence on TV and manifest it in their outer lives. Distracted as they are with reality, they often lack the interpersonal know-how of middle class minds devoted to gaining interpersonal power, sustained by explicit rewards and experiences detached from reality.

Lower working class life is built around sensory validation and manifestation. Like the child who looks, then grabs, then smells and tastes, working class life thoughtlessly validates the reality of things by comparing one sense with another. In its advanced form, the working class individual is apt to spend his life in complex validations: the behavioral effects of neurotransmitter analogues, the market effect of interest rates, or the effects of earthquakes on various building designs. This heritage of the working classes extends from validation to manifestation - making things with the hands. The baby looks at the moving shadow, grabs at the finger, crushes the biscuit, chews the rattle. Later she is apt to master the video camera, micro-manipulate the silicon chip, unravel the DNA molecule, construct the transportation system.

In contrast, the middle class child learns to dissociate from the real world. Often plastic toys are hung over the crib, just out of reach, teaching the child to look but don't touch. The child may be propped up with a bottle, independent of the sensory validation of the breast, learning that needs are met separate from interpersonal process. Manipulative toys are often carefully engineered plastic extrusions which fit together easily in a very limited way. And these toys are quickly displaced by books with pictures of things absent, dolls that sound like people who aren't there, and the omnipresent television of lives somewhere else. Helplessness is elaborately cultivated - requiring the services of working class people to provide and maintain every detail of life's supporting system. This precarious and fragile life style is secured with money, and its terrifying fragility is obscured and alleviated with interpersonal power, status and loyalty systems of the middle class, ELBY.

In this class contrast, violence is validated and manifested by the working classes, but observed and enjoyed in detachment by the middle classes. The working classes are torn with the frustration of being unable to interact as indicated, while the middle classes cultivate the detachment and vicarious living with schizophrenic pleasure.

The disadvantaged lower class people are suckered into what they implicitly hold as the reintegration of mind and reality. They manifest power in their behavior, but lack the elaborately covert and devious modes of the middle class. Thus, in the context of the dissociations of a pathological modern abstract culture, increasing violence can be seen as therapeutic behavior because it integrates with TV's `mind of society' and manifests it in real life.

When it comes to television, the working class child is impelled to emulate the behavior seen, to make it real, to validated it by examination and manifest it in behavior. In contrast, the middle class child is elaborately taught, indeed compelled, to dissociate validation and manifestation toward an impersonal detached mental life. Again the fragility is sustained, protected and obscured by money. This cultivation of middle class helplessness is so pervasive that most people are unable to program their VCRs and are thereby condemned to watch what they are served.

Since power goes with money, the middle class have the upper hand. Not only are they comparatively free from the temptation to emulated the crimes on television, the HUGS actually enjoy their superior position and ridicule those stupid enough to succumb to the lessons TV teaches. Indulging their middle class superiority, they tempt the lower classers to misbehave, SUFF, then build cages for their punishment, further enhancing the pleasures of the victor over the vanquished, POP. This compelling pastime already occupies millions of people and a large portion of the economy and resources of the culture.

We can expect a continuation and elaboration of this great cultural game of temptation and punishment, POP. More prisons will be built, more CGMs and MAOs will be engaged to maintain the system. Nothing can be proven, so no remedy is likely. Any manifestation of common sense - suggesting elimination of violence on TV - will be ridiculed and attacked as a threat to rights and privileges. Suffer the children.[ See also Robert *Wright's *BIOLOGY OF VIOLENCE, in New Yorker Magazine, 3/13/95.]

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