December 28th, 2017

cass, can you not

Uncomfortably accurate

An interesting observation from Hamlet in Purgatory is how totalitarian power seems to have a knack of infiltrating and corrupting the dreams of its victims, while at the same time giving to real life something of the quality of nightmares — not just the awfulness, but the feeling of powerlessness, the sometimes literal and always emotional sensation of walking under water, of the very fabric and mechanism of things being against us.

The causality is plausible, and of course the examples aren't hard to find (the book mentions a couple of dreams from Nazi Germany), but I vaguely feel it extends beyond the traumatic nature of living in a society that's totalitarian or becoming so; not metaphor, but isomorphism.

(Ditto, and not unrelated, for the relationship between abusive familiar environments and totalitarian societies; I would be surprised if, say, brain scans didn't show similar (dis)functional patterns in people interacting with either.)

(Chronic cortisol levels and class structure. Surveillance and introjected abuse. It's easy to oversimplify, and I tend to see politics through the lens of non-cooperative game theory, but there's something to be said, if nothing else poetically, for the old school view of societies "going crazy" in an almost Freudian way. Political systems have to be stable strategic equilibria in order to exist, but perhaps there's also something of the oniric in them, for good but most often for ill.)