All right, I’m spending this Valentine noon with my most devoted “lover” – the laptop – writing a few notes for you, whoever/wherever you are, bloggers around the world, unite and read each other!
OK, I did something even more devilishly non-Valentinish this morning: I read an awesome book that put me in the perfect anti-romantic mood. The mood of thinking about the nature of Evil. Yeah, I know, harsh topic for a day full of pink hearts and chocolate kisses. The book is called The Luciffer Effect – Understanding How Good People turn Evil, by the psychologist Philip Zimbardo whom some of you might know: he’s the author of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, when a bunch of students played the roles of guards while others were the prisoners, and the experiment got out of control as the guys began to either feel empowered to control and dominate the others (the guards) or be depressed and let themselves be abused psychologically and emotionally, if not even physically (the prisoners). Now, Zimbardo adds to his theories on the psychology of imprisonment new facts and insights into the Abu Ghrahib situation, as he was an expert witness for one of the MP prison guards.
Anyway, read the book, I don’t have time now to indulge into a serious analysis, but I’m truly enjoying it, it’s a powerful “anatomy of human psychology” and it definitely brings into your mind questions about the ways in which the circumstances of our upbringing, of our lives in different countries and political-social contexts, affect us. The banality of Evil and its reverse, the banality of heroism; how some people put in a particular set of circumstances can commit unbelievable atrocities while others can choose to rebel, to act against the system, to save a life, or many. There’s so much to say and I've already exceeded my limit of wise&dark thoughts on a pink Valentine day.
Oh, one more thing, reading “Lucifer ….” wasn’t a masochistic way of spending the morning, it’s called research: I’m writing a dramatic text about interrogation&torture for a dance-theatre piece with Dan Safer’s Witness Relocation. Yeah, I even had to spend the Christmas holidays reading the History of Torture ☺
However, in some sorta pervert way, after reading about Evil this morning, I’ve probably exorcised the darker thoughts from hidden corners of my memory and I’m now just ready to eat my boiled jumbo egg (a morning-ritual postponed for the book), finish my coffee, get dressed (choose between black and red for the blouse – red!) and go out, it’s a sunny day, I have to teach at NYU, then party with Voice&Vision, then … well, things can be pinkish if you want, it’s a matter of choosing the right clothes, the right peeps and the right thoughts.