RE: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?

From: Judy Diamondstone (
Date: Sun May 02 2004 - 17:42:54 PDT

Hi, Victor,

Of course, rationality is an important tool, we could hardly do without it,
but I'd argue sometimes it is at fault. But that is not quite the issue
here. Not to get too messy, I meant to suggest not that the story of what
happened(/s) in the prison is about inherent evil, in some Manichhean
universe, but that the gool ol' fun the soldiers had at the expense of the
Iraqui prisoners had something in common with the good ol' fun they have had
on other occasions, and the good ol' fun we all have had at someone else's
expense. And I am suggesting that in kinky kinds of eroticism we see an
exploration of the underlying pleasure in the exercise of power on an other,
which perhaps underlies the good ol' fun I have referred to above. But you
are right that the conjuncture of pleasure and power in abuse of the other
must staged by all sorts of other discourses, of the 'axis of evil' brand,
and other othering practices... The military leverages 'good ol' fun' of
this kind to serve all the functions mentioned by Eugene in his post, which
I just read as I was writing this: solidarity; release of sexual tension;
enhanced affiliation with the powerful winners....

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Oudeyis []
> Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 5:19 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?
> Yeah, thanks.
> I just read the Time story. The paper gets here late.
> No matter, the analysis I presented earlier should rather be regarded as
> demonstrative of a scientific approach to the issue through use of a
> plausible example. Actually, the role of Intelligence officers and CIA
> people may be integrated into at least a part of the logical
> analysis. The
> isolation of the interrogation cell warders - even from their commander,
> Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, made them as a group an easy target for
> manipulation by the intelligence staff. You should take into account that
> these soldiers would be more or less dependent upon the intelligence staff
> for most of their information on the prisoners, and this,
> combined with the
> general dehumanizing propaganda of the "axis of evil" brand would
> serve as a
> trigger for the cyclical development of the kind of fantastic
> cruelty of the
> warders. Naturally the understandable docility of the prisoners - most of
> them probably not hardened military personnel - would only serve
> to enhance
> the warders objectification of the prisoners as a-human cattle
> who could be
> ill-treated with impunity.
> The more interesting problem here is explanation of the activities of the
> Army Intelligence and CIA interrogators. The "soft method" for physically
> softening up prisoners involves methods of exposing them to
> disorienting and
> physically trying conditions that produce no apparent lasting medical
> effects; sleeplessness, inteminable periods of standing with a
> hood over the
> head, long periods of isolation, and so on. It appears (remember we only
> know what they tell us) that the interogators were under fairly strict
> orders not to exercise more damaging means for extracting information.
> There are, for example, no marks of beatings, signs of limb dislocation
> etc. on the prisoners bodies. Now, despite the sensitivity of Arab males
> concerning their genitalia, the ridiculous treatment of naked prisoners
> witnessed by the pictures appears to me to be more a method of
> dehumanizing
> rather than of softening them up. I do really wonder what was intended by
> the interrogators, extracting information or some other agenda
> known only to
> themselves. Perhaps the promised investigations will clarify what
> was going
> on there - that is if we ever get to see their results.
> Rationality is not a fault, it's what we use to explain
> experience. To pose
> the possibility of inherent evil is just the kind of demonization involved
> in the cycles of violence and dehumanization we've been discussing.
> Regards,
> Victor
> --
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Judy Diamondstone" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 11:18 PM
> Subject: RE: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?
> > Victor, I think your explanation is rational, which may be its fault;
> you're
> > also missing a significant piece of the story reported in the
> media, which
> > is that U.S. intelligence officers were in charge of the prison and they
> > instructed (or just 'encouraged'?) the soldiers to "soften up" the
> prisoners
> > waiting for interrogation. In other words, those in power encouraged the
> use
> > of (that) power in the service of psychological and physical abuse. The
> > soldiers were reprieved from any moral responsibility; moreover, someone
> > evidently understood sexual mores for Arabic males -- and targeted their
> > genitalia. The eroticism associated with this sort of
> humiliation can't be
> > overlooked, even if it evokes extreme disgust from our (more rational)
> > perspective. The soldiers were having fun -- joissance. Isn't this
> something
> > different from the banality of evil? (just doing our job) and not merely
> an
> > exercise of revenge.
> >

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