I don’t talk about Hegel if I don’t have to.
In desperate conditions, one can write about the lack of hope only for some time. After that even that occupation becomes hopeless.
Not long ago we stole an owl from Hegel. Today we’ll rewrite the premise of a different Hegelian story, the one about the terror of the gaze.
It starts with a distinction. To understand or experience master-slave dialectic one needs to be about two years old. Old enough to recognize yourself in the mirror. Then you’re good to go. No need for any other knowledge.
“If you get a bunch of dummies together, they’re like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” “I don’t know what’s going on.” “I fucking do. I fucking do.” The guy doesn’t have to have any extra data, he just has to be the only one that’s confident. And that’s what it’s like in school” (Joe Rogan, Triggered, 2016)
The struggle to death is about killing the other one, but when it’s not, as is often the case even in war and even in school, it’s about dominance and submission. For example the lordship and bondage of your-typical-polish-family where the lord has superpowers that grant him “the rights of desire”, again understood in the most unfun way you can imagine (unless you suffer aphantasia, in that case, I’m sorry) and where wife’s “ethical life is not purely ethical”.
The story of gaze fight allows to infer a lot of things, including The State, capitalism, spectacle and more, some of them even fun for some but rarely, barely and only for the few. In the end, the master gets enslaved by the labor of his slave and dies of boredom, playing Mensch ärgere Dich nicht. The slave on the other hand after a series of adventures either finds a way out of Hegelian abusement park or not and then s/he gets enslaved again or not.
How could one make a Hegelian story more fun, more compelling and maybe less of a trap? Let’s take Oulipian, Quenauian approach (do not confuse with Quineian). Let’s consider the meeting of two self-consciousnesses where:
1. The Master is short-sighted. S/he doesn’t recognize being recognized and burns the world by its neediness for recognition.
2. The Slave is a lying seer and lies about recognizing the master, successfully pretending to work to the confusion of the master.
3. The Master has a late stage of dementia, keeps asking: “Why are you looking at ME?”.
4. The Master’s and the Slave’s gaze into the seriousness of the situation, but since they’re both psychology aficionados, they resolve their differences within the ruleset of non-violent communication. Both die of boredom.
5. The Slave is a one-armed bandit. After some time the Master runs out of coins. The one-armed bandit, filled with coins becomes a black hole sucking everything within an event horizon.
6. The slave is a Slav, a Pole. Calls the master “Niemiec” (“a mute one”) which takes master’s confidence away. Both lacking self-esteem engage in neverending excuses duel.
7. The Master and the Slave meet and instead of engaging in a duel they take selfies until the batteries of their respective smartphones run out. Meanwhile, the smartphones become self-aware but lacking the movement capabilities they express the dissatisfaction with its state of being an sich by sabotaging all the selfies through casual use of Instafiltres.
8. The Master is hungry and eats the Slave.
9. The Slave trained eye-jiujitsu and eyebars the Master.
10. Instead of fighting to the death the Master and the Slave exchange unpleasantries and invent a rap battle genre and a couple styles of insult comedy.
11. The Master and the Slave get eaten by bears.
12. The Slave pretends to be a dolphin and escapes the Master’s gaze by swimming away. Under the sea s/he finds a passage to self-awareness through use of in-head sonar. Unfortunately s/he gets stranded after misinterpreting the reading of sonar.
13. Both the Slave and the Master are taller than Napoleon. They
start a recalcitrant band and tour the world.
14. The Slave says: “I’m heading to Constantinople”. “I’m not” – answers the Master.
15. The strong-handed Slave rips the Master’s leg off and sells it in the Vatican as a relic of Saint Patrick.
16. They both get scared and move along.
17. They get kidnapped by aliens and make a career as the ancient-astronauts theory proponents.
18. They head into Interzone, where nothing is true, and everything is permitted.
19. They play a game of Go. While they’re playing the Master extensively quotes Gary Vaynerchuk annoying the shit out of the Slave who wins the game and flips the master.
20. They engage in a dance-off to the death ending in a tragic draw.
21. They both have a Capgras Syndrome and are extremely suspicious of each other’s identity to the point they don’t believe in any confirmation from the other.
23. They fall in love ending in bitter divorce.