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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.

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