chapter  9
36 Pages

Civilized barbarism: the nature of psychic wounds

In private as well as public life, the average modern day is filled with stories of deception, scandals, tongue-lashings, and psychic brutality. Even on TV, one finds more than Baudrillard's bland fictions: one's favorite television characters spend a lot of time shouting at, lying to, and hurting each other in every conceivable way. Soap operas chronicle adultery, extortion, divorce, and other varieties of human evil, with the apparent aim to entertain. The barbaric, predatory habits of the fight ooze out seemingly from every pore of modern and postmodern culture. They have even become the staple of the formerly hallowed halls of higher education. If in past generations, students at least pretended to be absorbing wisdom for life, today's students will admit, with minimal prodding, that they are aiming only "to get by" a professor's course so that they can join the "rat race" outside. An implicit mutual contract operates in most university courses: the professor won't make too many demands on the students if they don't make too many demands on the professor. Otherwise, the relationship is understood to be antagonistic, even if externally polite.