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Friday, April 25, 2014

DIVERGENT: Shai Woodley and Theo James - What Real Beauty looks like

Theo James as Four in Divergent
Yes he is beautiful. The performed role of Four introduces the new masculine. What man can and could be.

Shai Woodley as Tris in Divergent
Tris is not pretty.
She is not sexy.
She is not cute.
She is not hot.

Shai is simply beautiful.

Tobias runs from Abnegation to Dauntless.
Beatrice runs to Dauntless from Abnegation.

In his fearscapes Four calms his breathing and heart rate. His approach is passive. Four advises Tris to calm her breathing and lower her heart rate. Deal with what's in front of you. Be brave.

Tris actively deals with what's in front of her, to confront and eliminate it so the simulation moves to the next one. An active approach.

Interesting inversion

Yosarrian  in Catch-22: “I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them."

Rebecca Schwart/Hazel Jones in The 

Gravedigger's Daughter: Where we're from is nowhere, Mister. But somewhere is where we are going.

Or shall we just read Beatrice through Dante who first saw her when she was nine. As a woman she had the highest reputation of goodness and charity as did her father. Completely selfless. He loved her all his life. She accompanied his imagination through the Circles of Hell and to Paradise, always guiding him with her strength and goodness. 

Beatrice comes to a Circle of Hell which is Dauntless to rescue Tobias.

Greek form of TOBIAH. This is the name of the hero of the apocryphal Book of Tobit in many English versions of the Old Testament. It relates how Tobias, with the help of the archangel Raphael, is able to drive away a demon who has been plaguing Sarah, who subsequently becomes his wife. 

Dante's  Beatrice dies when they are both around 25 years old. Dante cannot be consoled and he writes poetry about death as in Medieval times love and death were joined - Courtly Love. For 2 years afterwards he has an infatuation with a "woman in a window' to whom he writes poetry. Beatrice will reproach him for this in his writing. Then Dante will go into local Florence politics until he is exiled with a threat of death over him. (Both of them had been betrothed as children to others and married others.)

...but the government was still essentially middle-class republican. At the head were the three priors, drawn from the major guilds and housed across the way from the Alighieri hose, in the Tower of Castagna. (p. 71 Dante by R. W. B. Lewis)- I found this floating sign interesting although unimportant.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DIVERGENT and Deconstructing Touching

Last Dinner at Abnegation
This dinner and its setting is very like a present day Amish meal in the home. People eat quietly, saying just what they must. It is stifling for anyone who starves for intelligent conversation while eating with family and/or friends. Tris's anxiety about choosing is controlled. Caleb's secret is contained. And nothing really much is said. Just the allusion to Marcus's beating his son to cause his defection. Not true of course.

This is reality that conceals the REAL. The false contentment that replaces joy and spontaneity. Beatrice thinks there is something missing in her because she can't be selfless enough. 

One can see how feelings fester in this environment.

Perhaps some Ritalin!

This is what peace looks like. And it is monotonous and boring eh.

This is also the Happy Ending readers and movie goers want for Tris and Four. The happy family. No faction problems. Just quiet contentment. Children, a dog perhaps, etc. 

The Happy Ending. And all this is conveyed in a short dinner scene. This is a director and a screen writer who are seriously intelligent.

Awkward Embraces
The Lack of touch is so acute in this scene. The awkward embracing of people who are not used to showing affection to each other. And certainly not passion or desire.

The movie moves on to focus on every time Four touches Tris. She feels each one intensely. He is touching indifferently. Factually you might say until this scene.

Four Advising Tris on Fighting Peter
This time he grabs her arm roughly to make sure she remembers what he told her about fighting. That she must attack first and not go on the defensive. Of course her short lived initial success with Peter surprises him and infuriates him so that he hurts her even more. And Eric signals for him to put her away with a  kick at the end of it.

Lamb to the Slaughter Compliments of Eric
They all know he has arranged for this match to eliminate Tris for talking back to him at the knife throwing. This is the way it goes for truth-tellers, for parrhesiastes. 
Desire/Lack in Touching
Step back: the pattern in the tapestry
won’t tell itself till more of it is made.
Although it’s eighty-seven in the shade,
we have to work this hard making the hist-
ory we need till, trusting it, we’re free
to kiss each other better than when we
imagined kissing when we hadn’t kissed.
I would say the same is true on waiting to experience sex.

Monday, April 21, 2014

DIVERGENT: Reading Tris as a Nietzschean Revolutionary Through Baudrillard's Forget Foucault

Power/Knowledge are in a Functional Relation Known as the Foucauldian Grid- The Matrix
Power does not come from the top down. It is not something you can have, take, give away, barter, lose, share or anything else of that order. Power comes from below, through the interstices of the Foucauldian Grid. It seeps from below and we see Beatrice caught in that, being denied her "will to know."
Agnes Martin Grid Painting 
Foucault advocates applying resistance pressure locally where it can be most effective. Of course, power does the same.

Jeanine is fusing the power of Dauntless with the Knowledge of Erudite
She is fusing the power/knowledge Foucauldian Grid which will keep the system static
Don't get me wrong. There is a certain beauty in your resistance. But we cannot afford that beauty. Each person in their faction must submit their independent will to their faction, for our peaceful coexistence.

And this is what constrains Beatrice. She rebels in a passive/aggressive way to the pressure of power. Her brother Caleb corrects her, restrains her, introduces her to Jeanine, tells her she is wrong about Abnegation and generally controls her. Her movements are restrained as a child when she wants to run with Dauntless. Her father warns her to be careful at the dinner table. She generally exists in a bourgeois family environment eating dinner together with restrained conversation, preparing meals, dressing so as to limit her freedom of movement. 
She has grown up and lives in the Grid of Abnegation, its Dominating Discourse of language and action.
To jump or not to jump nor reason why

Tris jumps into the abyss
Where there is power, there is resistance. - Foucault
Foucault Straddling the Chasm

Baudrillard has said Foucault does not go far enough. He straddles the abyss. He does not push to excess, extremes to collapse the system. (Following Nietzsche) He does not push to the edge of the abyss and then over.

You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: 

how else could you become new, if you had not first 

become ashes? - Thus Spake Zarathustra

This is what Tris does.
Tris is becoming the best Dauntless she can be. 

Tris is exemplifying Zizek's prescription for breaking the system.

 One embraces the 

idealistic pronouncements and works to make them surface, to become reality, to truly 

be what they are. 

She is excessively Dauntless in challenging each event as it escalates.

Dauntless Manifesto

  • We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, 
  • And in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.
  • Dauntless never give up.
Where Caleb - eating from the trashcan of ideology -  observed the everyday prescriptions of behavior for Abnegation -  which Zizek would label as Abnegation Lite -  Beatrice sullenly complied when she had to. But her will to know was stifled. She could not grow in that environment. She wanted MORE!

Tris is more Dauntless than Dauntless. Worse as Nietzsche says. And in excessively being an excessive Dauntless, Dauntless is imploded and the entire system along with it. 

This is what Edward Snowden has done with his over-identification with the ideology of the United States of America. 
A lot is imploding all around us now.

Now Cody Wilson has come along to take it to excess and implode it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

DIVERGENT REVIEW on Nietzsche's INSCRIPTION OF THE BODY (Baudrillard, Deleuze,Foucault)

Tris sees Four's tattoo for the first time right after she has been in Four's Fearscape - and so do we

We have seen Marcus come at Four with his leather belt to beat him in multiple selves - a nice wave to The Matrix. We now know that Marcus has beaten Tobias/Four since a young child and Four is paralyzed with fear of him as he regresses to a young child when confronted by him in his Fearscape - (my new word for it.) 

We are not told any more details, but the scene is allowed to resonate in our minds.When you are beaten your body/mind is inscribed as the two are inseparable, in a relation with each other.

We know Tobias's back was beaten because the welts and wounds would not be visible there.The tattoo is announcing the beatings to the world if the world sees.The beatings are revealed and concealed.The belt sliced around to his arms where the tattoo becomes stripes.

A tattoo such as this INSCRIBES the body/mind again. The MEMORY of the constant beatings is inscribed. The memory produces CONSCIOUSNESS of the original inscription. As repetition reinforced the memory of the pain, the tattoo reinforces the memory of what it emotionally and mentally means to you. 
Tris begins to touch the tattoo
The understanding and resonance of touch. Abnegation foregoes touch except in rather indifferent ways. Tris is taught that touch means something. By experiencing the lack of touch, the desire for it and its importance to you increases your awareness of it. Tris is aware of every time Four has touched her in coaching her. His touch is indifferent. Her reception of it is eroticized. She touches Four's tattoo with great tenderness and curiosity. Why all of the factions?

Because Four does not just want to be one person but all of them. We can imagine the child wanting to be imaginative, intelligent, brave, honest, happy and selfless and being beaten for showing any of those indications. His will to knowledge/power has been stifled with beatings. Tris's will to knowledge/power has been snuffed out by her family and her love for them, also an effective way to drive them underground. To repress them in the Inscription of the Body. And Tris's Body/Mind has been reinscribed at Dauntless to be sure. Abnegation, just as all of the other factions, is about Obedience. Staying inside the Dominating Discourse.

For Tris to touch Four with such awe and tenderness is the awakening of eroticism for Four. He turns and kisses her and touches her wanting more. It is then Tris stops him and says, "I don't want to go too fast."

Woman is not equal to man except in the Order of Production. In the Symbolic Order of Seduction, woman is OTHER. Tris does not have a fear of intimacy. That is a clinical term that belongs in the Order of Production. We know she is a virgin and has had Four in her imagination since she met him at the net. She has been unknowingly seducing him. SEDUCTION cannot be produced. It does not figure in the Order of Production - Baudrillard.

Reading through Lacan DESIRE/LACK is a relation. Tris wants to experience desire, not sexual satisfaction. And she wants Four to experience desire. Does she know this? Doubtful. But intuitively she does. This is where that philosophical term the unknown/knowns intercedes, that term Rumsfeld so befuddled himself with. It means that there are knowns you know which you are unaware that you know. Without Lack, there is no Desire.

By going slower Tris will experience longing, desire, waiting, and contemplation of the beloved object and the deepening of self-awareness. Badiou says that love is a challenge, a risk, a jump into the unknown. This is Tris turned into a lovely metaphor. This was Twilight. This is not Hunger Games.

But by going slower Four will also experience these deeper feelings. This is where Four resonates with Dante and his beloved Beatrice, his lifetime muse, whom he only saw once or twice on the street and whom he never knew. An apparition sort of who guided him through the circles of hell. Four's Beatrice will rescue Four from the dungeons of hell.
Step back: the pattern in the tapestry
won’t tell itself till more of it is made.
Although it’s eighty-seven in the shade,
we have to work this hard making the hist-
ory we need till, trusting it, we’re free
to kiss each other better than when we
imagined kissing when we hadn’t kissed.
I would say the same is true on waiting to experience sex.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Jai Courtney as Eric

Reading Eric through Zizek

We see Eric first on the roof asking for a first jumper into Dauntless. Beatrice says, "Me." As she walks up to the wall Eric's face is not pleased but neither is he showing his displeasure that an Abnegation girl is going to go first. He is displeased though. Very much so.

Beatrice hesitates and Eric says, "Today initiate." And she gathers her courage and jumps.

The first fight between the transferred initiates is when Eric pairs The First Jumper (Tris) with The Last Jumper (Molly). Now we see how smart he really is. I said smart, not wise.

Without getting into a psychological swamp here - too deep anyway - reading through Jung we now know by this sentence that Molly is afraid of allowing herself to fall. She is then going to over-compensate by being physically strong and intimidating and in this instance cruel and sadistic. Right at the end of her beating up Tris we see Eric give her a subtle nod and she pounds the side of Tris's head and knocks her out. 

Jung's psychological theory can be used against someone as well as to help them. This is the continental philosophical position on the uselessness and danger of theory. Any theory can be turned against you.

She is then ranked next to last for losing.

We see a young woman being treated as "equal" with no allowances made for her being a woman and paired against another woman. All very PC Feminist according to the books. Eric is observing the rules while he stacks the fight against Tris. 

This is how it is done ladies. All the laws and rules will never help you while this goes on. We have surface compliance acting as a mask for a deeper deception. And Eric is planning this. He cannot be faulted in terms of Feminist political correctness.

Tris uses parrhesia to call Eric on his punishment of Al. 

"Anyone can stand in front of a target. It doesn't prove anything," says Tris

Dauntless ideology: 

  • We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, 
  • And in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.

Eric tells her to take Al's place, same rules. Flinch and you're out. So Tris is challenged into an act of Parrhesia. This was the risk she took, among others.

Tris stares into Four's eyes without flinching even when nicked.

Eric: "Points for bravery Stiff but not as many as you lost for what you said. We make soldiers here, not rebels. Watch yourself."

And then Eric will treat Tris as more equal than equal.

Four is angry, telling her to be smart. Tris goes to the dorms where her friends cheer her for her bravery in standing up to Eric and being the only one brave enough to do so. This is how people become scapegoats. They say what everyone else is feeling and thinking but are afraid to say. Eric knows this and has her fight with Peter next to pay her back. She has little chance, starting strong but gets brutalized. As she is down on the floor bloody, she watches Four walking away and Eric signals for Peter to knock her out which he does with a kick. It appears that this has been his strategy since she volunteered to be First Jumper and he looked at her with hate in his eyes. She had 3 strikes at that moment: A girl; A Stiff; First Jumper

It seems that losing a fight wipes out all the points accumulated so Molly wipes out First Jumper points and Peter wipes out the rest she has earned from accomplishment. They were just skills in learning to fight. The fight itself is the real deal and Eric will gt rid of her.

But Eric has also taught her to be Dauntless and Dauntless never gives up. It is Eric who has put the finishing touches on Tris's expertise. Never Give Up. She goes into the Control Room to stop the simulation and she cannot expect herself to come out alive from THAT! So Eric's training has boomeranged on him and we can expect the same from some returning Middle East vets. 

She misses a day in a hospital bed and Chris and Will come in to say good-bye before going to war games, telling her she can't go, that she is "out" now. Eric has dropped her as she fell below the line. 

This was clever and subtle plotting by Eric and quite in line with the "equality" feminists scream about. This is what happens when your demands are turned against you. You demand equality and you get it in spades. So be ready. 

Tris runs and makes the train for the war games. Eric confronts her and asks, "Who let you out?"
Tris replies, "I did." Softly, non-aggressively, assertively as she looks him in the eye non provocatively. Eric is nonplussed for a minute then says, "OK." He can't look stupid in front of everyone here. Four picks Tris for his team to be able to watch her - ? - keep her safe from Eric? - because he values her deadly intelligence?

 Tris shines, winning the game for her team. She is initiated with the zip ride.

Tris will be the one Eric personally injects the tracker chip into. This is a man who cannot tolerate an assertive woman who does not flirt. Chris flirts a little with him and then he hangs her over the chasm. To frighten her. But Tris he is out to destroy. These men are everywhere. Learn to recognize them and watch them. Avoid if you can. Deal with them if you have to. But learn to recognize them even when they paste smiles on their faces.

Zizek would say Tris over-identifies with Dauntless ideology. She is more Dauntless than Dauntless as Nietzsche might phrase it. And by pushing the ideology to the breaking point she destroys the faction system as it works at this point. Zizek tells us this is the way to force the system to be what it says it is or crumble. Tris is exposing the mask of Dauntless that presents the "floating sign" of "lite," all nourishment and value gone. 

An empty sign exposed by Tris leading to its collapse. This is her revolutionary act. This is how anyone becomes revolutionary. Push it to the edge of the abyss then push it over. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Tris Standing as Target in Place of Al
"Anyone can stand in front of a target.
It doesn't prove anything." Tris Prior

The context: Al has been told to stand in front of the target and he is trembling with fear.

Dauntless Ideology: 
  • We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, 
  • And in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.
  • Dauntless never gives up.
Tris stands watching as Four gets knives ready for throwing at Al. She wants to say something and is afraid to say it. 
But she believes in Dauntless Ideology.
 Ordinary acts of bravery and the courage that drives one person to stand up for another. 
Have you ever been in this situation?

This is the challenge to a PARRHESIASTES.
Compared to Snowden it is a small personal thing. But beginnings start somewhere.

The Meaning of the Word Parrhesia
  • Frankness
  • Truth
  • Danger
  • Criticism
  • Duty
...the commitment involved in parrhesia is linked to a certain social situation, to a difference of status between the speaker and his audience, to the fact that the parrhesiastes says something which is dangerous to himself and thus involves a risk, and so on.

By inverting the paradigm, the searchlight is thrown on the Other, the more powerful entity, and we see that the parrhesiastes using parrhesia discloses the character and “truth” of the “sovereign” to the people. In that respect parrhesia lifts the mask of the “sovereign.”

If there is a kind of “proof” of the sincerity of the parrhesiastes, it is his courage. The fact that a speaker says something dangerous — different from what the majority believes — is a strong indication that he is a parrhesiastes.

Danger: Someone is said to use parrhesia and merits consideration as a parrhesiastes only if there is a risk or danger for him in telling the truth.

So you see, the parrhesiastes is someone who takes a risk….Parrhesia, then, is linked to courage in the face of danger; it demands the courage to speak the truth in spite of some danger. And in its extreme form, telling the truth takes place in the “game” of life or death.

When you accept the parrhesiastic game in which your own life is exposed, you are taking up a specific relationship to yourself; you risk death to tell the truth instead of reposing in the security of a life where the truth goes unspoken. Of course, the threat of death comes from the Other, and thereby requires a relationship to the Other. But the parrhesiastes primarily chooses a specific relationship to himself: he prefers himself as a truth-teller rather than as a living being who is false to himself.

so, you see, the function of parrhesia is not to demonstrate the truth to someone else, but has the function of criticism: criticism of the interlocutor….Parrhesia is a form of criticism either toward another or towards oneself, but always in a situation where the speaker or confessor is in a position of inferiority with respect to the interlocutor. The parrhesiastes is always less powerful than the one with whom he speaks. The parrhesia comes from “below,” as it were, and is directed towards “above.”…But when a philosopher criticizes a tyrant, when a citizen criticizes the majority, when a pupil criticizes his teacher, then such speakers may be using parrhesia.

Duty: The last characteristic of parrhesia is this: in parrhesia, telling the truth is regarded as a duty. The orator who speaks the truth to those who cannot accept his truth, for instance, and who may be exiled, or punished in some way, is free to keep silent. No one forces him to speak, but he feels that it is his duty to do so. Parrhesia is thus related to freedom and duty.

in parrhesia the speaker uses his freedom and chooses frankness instead of persuasion, truth instead of falsehood or silence, the risk of death instead of life and security, criticism instead of flattery and moral duty instead of self-interest and moral apathy. (FS pp.11-20)
Foucault - Fearless Speech

This is the context that Tris finds herself in Dauntless training. Four would prefer that she keep quiet. She cannot. Her position is dangerous with Eric and she risks it all in doing this. Eric will pair her in a fight with Peter who can beat her and hurt her badly, which Eric gives the OK for by nodding his head at the end of the fight, and Peter kicks her into unconsciousness. 

The part Foucault does not discuss is the assignation of scapegoat that falls on the Parrhesiastes. When Tris returns to her friends they cheer her for daring to speak out to Eric. The Parrhesiastes often says what the others are thinking and feeling but dare not say themselves. 

This was Snowden's dilemma. Who was going to tell the truth? Then he realized that he was going to have to be the one. And the fires of hell from the empire came down on him to kill him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DIVERGENT: Reading Jeanine's Strategy and Tris's Radical Otherness Through Zizek

"Abnegation if left unchecked, will destroy the faction system"
Jeanine is absolutely correct in knowing that Abnegation will eventually ruin the peace based on the  faction system as it is, patterned closely on the Quakers and on Gandhi's method of Satyagraha that brought down the United Kingdom, and disrupted the Indian Caste system, where people were born into a caste (determining their entire lives) with never any chance of change. But what did the Quakers do? 

They began the resistance to slavery in 1760 in Virginia. They were active in the Resistance Movement against the Viet Nam War. Quakers believe in carrying their ideals and beliefs into action. They are not Sunday Christians. The Quakers initiated the abolition movement, destroyed slavery and the wealthy plantation system that depended on enslaved labor. It took about 100 years.The Quakers also fomented the resistance and end to the Viet Nam War. Does anyone think Abnegation cannot do this to the faction system?

Abnegation is obstructing Jeanine's plans to introduce materialism and prosperity, i.e. capitalism. They will not be complicit in fostering "capitalism" which will be less regulated, or unregulated by any moral codes of behavior.

The movie reveals many things to us without comment. We see some older people in Abnegation as the crowds move in the streets toward the Initiation Ceremony, but few if any in Dauntless. We also see older people in Amity. We slowly learn that the factionless mainly come from failed initiates, especially Dauntless. Dauntless is itself increasing the population of the factionless, increasing the problem of homeless hoards. Dauntless thus creates the factionless that they must protect the city against. Dauntless creates its own reason for being. This information comes to us in a purely visual form with the announcement of being chosen, some information that requires us to connect some dots. 

It is apparent that at one time Dauntless - and the other factions - were created by some spontaneous and authentic feelings. The factions as we see them 100 years after have become institutionalized. The factions have entered the Order of Production, ensuring irreversibility, metastasizing. What might have transpired is being changed into an Event by Jeanine.

This is what Edward Snowden warned about the NSA mass collection of information. He did not say that it was being misused BUT that at any time the administration of NSA changed, with those coming to leadership positions there, this could easily happen. That different people could decide to use the information in a different way that would compromise citizens and reveal their personal lives to their detriment.

Divergent gives us this moment in time where institutionalized factions - and we are most familiar with Dauntless - have metastasized into a totalitarian mini state and formed an alliance with Erudite.

As Baudrillard tells us through Nietzsche, when the Symbolic Order moves into the Order of Production it becomes IRREVERSIBLE. It metastasizes. This is what we see with Dauntless. New Rules. Roth's book makes this clear in Four's complaining to Tris, but if we can read through Baudrillard we need no explanation as to what's going on here. The Order has changed in Dauntless and in Erudite. Science and technology are on their way to endless complication. The Foucauldian Grid of power/knowledge is now visible.

Tris is a true revolutionary. Katniss is a figurehead and those using her are violently fighting the government. So why is Tris this radical figure? An imaginary figure Jeanine has had nightmares about is now present in her reality. 

Tris is exemplifying Zizek's prescription for breaking the system. One embraces the idealistic pronouncements and works to make them surface, to become reality, to truly be what they are. 
Dauntless Manifesto
  • We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, 
  • And in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.
  • Dauntless never give up.

So here we have the ideology. You know like our own freedom, equality and justice for all.  Zizek will say to over-identify with the ideology to force it to be what it says it is or disintegrate. Tris has over-identified and continues to push it.


First she believes it. (Roth's book pushes this point over and over. To make sure we get it.) The movie shows us Tris's face as Max gives the Manifesto in an address to the new initiates and they are lifted and carried in a ritual of solidarity. An act now empty of meaning but an act of propaganda for the initiates who are seduced. Then she begins to participate in the reality of the training which has little to do with the ideology and a lot to do with obedience and "never giving up."

Discipline and Punish - Michel Foucault

Clearly only an Abnegation born and transferring to Dauntless is innocent enough to take this to their hearts. This is why they are a danger to Erudite. Tris  believes in the ideology of Dauntless that does not exist in the example of the leaders. Is this familiar to the reader?

This is what forces Tris to expose herself by becoming a PARRHESIASTES. This is the kind of behavior to expect from Abnegation. It is the kind of behavior to expect from the Quaker community, the Society of Friends. It was the kind of behavior that Gandhi displayed to bring down the United Kingdom. "That little man in the loincloth," as Churchill called him. So Jeanine is correct to fear it. Abnegation will eventually ruin her plans, obstruct them for sure. 

Jeanine opts for our present government's preference: PRE-EMPTIVE THREAT. That is, like the movie Minority Report, stop the projected violence before it happens, while it is just a small weed to be rooted out, as Mao says of capitalism. This is what our police and law enforcement are doing today. We are under surveillance to make sure we do not plan to do anything in the future that the government might object to. 

Jeanine is very modern. She is taking precautions and she is correct in doing so from her perspective.