I just finished Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Wretched of the Earth, and I’ve been reminded of and thinking a lot about a fucked up dream I had in high school. I haven’t really posted in a while. Maybe I’ve been too busy with grad school, maybe I haven’t felt the need to post since I left the University of Miami and know have other outlets for creative intellectual expression.
For those who haven’t picked up any Fanon, he’s a founding postcolonial theorist as well as a psychoanalytical and existentialist thinker. He’s most known for his defense of violent revolution, which he frames in Wretched of the Earth as a cleansing, liberating praxis through which colonized peoples fully reject dehumanizing colonial worldviews (because colonialism is an “unthinking” system of violence, Fanon suggests that it can only be transformed through force or greater violence). Behind this is Fanon’s perhaps more fundamental theory, which is that colonialism is a “Manichean worldview,” a binary framework that opposes whiteness, civilization, purity, intellect, and everything good against blackness, savagery, evilness, passion, and sexual taboos. The psychological violence of colonialism, as discussed in Black Skin, White Masks, pushes colonized people to reject “blackness” desire and identify with “whiteness” (the opposite is also possible, but requires conscious political and symbolic maneuvering). In fact, however, the savage other is the creation of colonial situations - not only is there no colonized without the colonizer, but “blackness” in this Manichean system is in actuality a reflection of colonial anxieties.
So anyway, enough background. My dream took place in the colonial era (I think it was in Congo, but it was a long time ago), and I was both a missionary and a colonial subject. I mean, I was seeing the world through both peoples’ eyes, but they weren’t actually the same person. As a missionary, I was standing on a tall ladder outside of the church doing some kind of repair work. As a colonized subject, I was running through some dense underbrush to the mission (I guess there’s no need to sugarcoat it - my unconscious coded the whole scene within “the jungle”).
My missionary self knew that my colonial subject self wanted to kill me (since I could see both worlds at once). I was completely terrified. But I remember not being surprised - I may have even thought I deserved it. At that point, my colonized subject self ran out of the jungle and pushed the ladder down. The missionary self fell and I broke my neck.
At that moment, I woke up. I remember feeling terrified that I could intentionally kill someone - even in a dream.