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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recognizing the Slave

I had an odd encounter this evening, in person, with a spokesperson for a major demonic force in corporate America -- let the name of the big entity go unspoken for now, but let's just say it starts with W. And while at first I saw only the flat deadness in the eyes of this spokesperson -- so much like the eyes of a bigoted policeman I once had the fortune to meet off a highway in Whittier, California -- while this customer service manager spoke his party line, speaking American cust-serv glossolalia, while I lost any hope of seeing his humanity, by some grace I managed to do some internal jiujiutsu, and lo and behold, the conversation turned! There came into my proxy's gaze the merest flicker of humanity, clouds parting enough to reveal the slave in his eyes, the helpless proxy of our ironic country in which individuals march lemming-like toward corporations. This proxy, neither young nor old but already formed, this poor customer service manager seemed, before this signal moment, to have been speaking in tongues, but once I made what felt at the time to be an effort worthy of Hercules to see his slave, we started to have a simulacrum of real conversation.

Being able to recognize the slave in another's eyes: a gift capable of unlatching whatever keeps all our thousands of tiny inner slaves unnoticed.


  1. The duel axis of our latter day freedoms and our submerged slavery are curious indeed; slavery can chart as a bad art, while ours is bon; which will survive the bomb?

  2. Hanna Arendt's Origins explains the genesis of totalitarianism in her tomb citing over 600 sources written in the women's library in paris, on the run, escaping the Nazi's, leaving Heideger (with whom she was having an affair as his student) and, as she ran he embraced the Nazi line. So it seems slavery is not inversely proportionate to raw intelligence. Yet I understand a recent study revealed that Democrats are far smarter than Republicans.

  3. May I say how much I enjoy both your comments? One of you I know, the other I don't, but whoever you are, thank you for giving me at least the illusion that a bit of conversation about slavery helps us transcend our own.

    I love the example of capoeira: the slaves' signal different than its transmission.