A Talk on Group Mania and The Criminal Mind
What is a group mind? And how does it think? When does it stop thinking? Why does it produce the lynch mob. The falsely accused. The criminal. The legally dead. The agitator. The paranoiac. The pervert. The murderers among us. Aggressive subjects and castrated objects. This talk will interrogate the role of outcasts, or those occupying the fringes of social relations, as part of the "total personality" of the group.
This opening talk will offer a psychoanalytic framework that may help us to begin to think about how group dynamics, even at their most destructive, can provide a context for creativity as well as alienation and "queering" of its subjects. What is the function of the marginalized subject in providing the image of freedom from the group while at the same time being dominated by it? How do we seek our revenge? Get justice? What is the role of compliance? What does it defend against?
Through Freud and Klein's theories of identification, projection, and object relating, we can examine how the group becomes part of the individual, and the individual becomes a part of a group. Films such as Fritz Lang's M (1931) and Fury (1936), Lars Von Trier's Dogville, and Todd Field's Little Children(2006,) represent the tension between group phenomena and the valency of individuals to take particularly destructive stances—-as Hans Beckert says in Fritz Lang's M, "nobody knows what it's like to be me."
Cynthia Sailers is the author of Lake Systems (Tougher Disguises,2004). She is currently writing a dissertation at the Wright Institute in Berkeley. She is a board member of Small Press Traffic and previously co-curated the New Yipes Reading Series. Currently she lives in Alameda.