Repressed

I just did a post about fatigue. After I was done I sat on the verandah with some recreational drugs. And it hit me why I was so tired. Repression.

Ancestral voices

There’s a pent-up rage and appetite for destruction beneath the surface of Kenya’s consciousness, threatening to burst out unbeckoned, in an ecstasy of mayhem and carnage. It was the same in the early days of Nazism. The ancestors rumbling restlessly in their graves…

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;

And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The country I was born in, where I currently live, has walked off the beaten path into unknown territory, and collectively finds itself poised on the edge of a cliff. Now, for the first time in two generations, we shall discover if the polity has the stomach for the raging revolution it’s always paying lip service to.

Dangerous times are these

This inner darkness that affects all Kenyans across the political divide and throughout the socioeconomic spectrum, rumbling as a foreshock does, isn’t something articulated. It’s old and uncontrollably powerful. Worse, it’s unconscious, felt only as an uncomfortable silence (like that of a deep chasm), and a dark foreboding.

The middle class especially, but all Kenyans, feel this—a temporary, wobbly state between water and steam. Will it cool? Will it blow?

And everyone holds his breath and her tongue, afraid to contribute to the final state—afraid to be responsible for the impending explosion.

And if we keep it up, an what an explosion it will be.

The genius of dialogue

The real heart of democracy is dialogue across the divide. The use of words to diffuse the psychological pressures formerly resolved by war. Those pressures are real, if invisible, and must push something, or someone, and violently.

It’s a healing thing, a safe thing, when they push words.

About that fatigue

Then the middle class person, at once impotent by instruction to change the political course, and also fragile with the care of all he or she could lose, faces this precipice.

Staring down into hell itself, and unknown terrors.

Unprotected by upperclass wealth and privilege, protecting the delicate egg of his or her hopes, this usually comfortable group wonders what to do next.

Of course she or he chooses the passive route. Maybe if I hold my tongue, hold my breath, talk trivialities, the storm will pass. Right?

Carl Jung

Wrong.

Are the people of my country—am I myself—nursing a festering, destructive repression? Well, let’s get past the psychobabble shall we? It’s an important issue and it faces not just my country, but the United States, the United Kingdom, and several other countries around the world. And it’s spreading.

To be “repressed” is to have feelings, strong feelings, that we don’t want to face or admit. Feelings that go against our wills and our beliefs—about ourselves, our world, and what is right. These feelings, we’re told, don’t just go away and die somewhere. They get buried—repressed—down in the psychological depths of our personalities, where they lie, feeding. And brooding. And growing.

Are we repressed here in Kenya? Am I? Well, we have deep feelings of either disenfranchisement or entitlement, both rooted in injustice and gathering gangrene within. These feelings form a crippling wound, and are either ignored or badly bandaged with thin, oversimplified tribal narratives. Either way, they’re never addressed with real solutions. They’re only ever discussed in vitriol and tribal cliché.

Sounds like repression to me.

Maybe I’m generalising. Or maybe everyone has this malaise buried deep down and mostly unaddressed.

So, Carl Jung…. He said repressed emotions only get tamed one of 2 ways. Either the subconscious contents of the repressed complex are emptied into the conscious mind through being expressed in words, or they explode in bursts of irrational behaviour. He urged the psychoanalyst to guide the person to explore those buried feelings, understand and accept them. That powers down the powder keg.

Too quiet

Without this de-powering, the feelings become harder and harder to keep buried. It takes more and more effort to keep them down and deny them. And for disciplined people with rigid lives, the effort to keep the civilized veneer up drains more and more energy.

I think this is why I’ve been so tired lately. The effort to stay productive and structured is more difficult as I ignore the ancestral voices, the deep forment of rage and mayhem at the mounting injustice.

I think this is what causes African nations to blow up in genocidal atrocity. And it’s coming here this time.

I hope not. But I know there’s a desire in me to burn the whole edifice down. And I know it’s in a lot of us around the world.

Let’s talk

If there’s a way out of all this, it’s through dialogue. But people in many places feel beyond talking with “those idiots” on the other side of the divide.

It’s coming for you.

Let’s talk.

And talk and talk and talk until we’re all talked out.

The alternative is to see how far all this polarisation is trying to take us. And I suspect, it’s a very, very ugly place.

Boa noite e boa sorte

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