See you as a thing, that they can see you as a thing, Do you know what that means? It’s terrible, we know how terrible it is as an idea, and that it’s wrong, and we think we know all these things about human rights and human dignity and how terrible it is to take away somebody’s humanity that’s what we call it somebody’s humanity but to have it happen to you, see, and now you really know. Now it’s not just an idea or cause to get all knee-jerk about. Have it happen and you get a real taste of the Dark Side. Not just the idea of darkness, the genuine Dark Side. And now you know the power of it. The total power. Because if you can really see somebody just as a thing you can do anything to him, all bets are off, humanity and dignity and rights and fairness – all bets are off. Alls – what if she said it’s like a quick expensive little tour of a side of the human condition everybody talks about like they know but really they can’t even imagine it, not really, not unless you been there. So if alls it is is her way of seeing the world was broadened, what if I say that? What would you say? And of herself, how she understood herself. That now she understood she could be understood as a thing. Can you see how much this would change – rip away, how much this would rip away? Of yourself, you, what you , what you used to think of as you? It would rip all that away. Then what would be left? Can you even imagine do you think? It’s like Victor Frankl in his book says that at the very worst of it in the camp in the Holocaust, when your freedom’s taken away, and your privacy and dignity because you’re naked in a crowded camp and you have to go to the bathroom in front of everybody else because there’s no such thing as privacy anymore, and your wife’s dead and your kids starved while you had to watch and you don’t have any food or heat or blankets and they treat you like rats because to them really you really are rats you’re not a human being, and they call you out and bring you in and torture you , like scientific torture so they can show you they can even take your body away, your body isn’t even you anymore, it’s the enemy it’s this thing they use to torture you because to them it’s just a thing and they’re running lab experiments on it, it’s not even sadistic because to them it’s not a human being they’re torturing – that when everything that has any like connection to the you you think you are gets ripped away and now all that’s left is only: what, what’s left, is there anything left? You’re still alive so what’s left is you? What’s that? What does you mean now? See, now it’s show time, now’s when you fiind out what you even are to yourself. Which most people with dignity and humanity and rights and all that there don’t ever get to know. What’s possible. That nothing is automatically sacred. That’s what Frankl’s talking about. That it’s through suffering and terror and the Dark Side that whatever’s left gets to open up, and then after that you know.
(ed. Abacus, 2001, page 102-103)
David Foster Wallace, we love you even if you are dead.