Journal Entry 9–23–21 9:40 am-11:00 am
This journal is about more forms of dehumanization and when it is done. The story we went off on was Philoctetes and how he experienced dehumanization by others and himself. The website mentions that the different ways people tend to dehumanize are by having power over them, harming them, witnessing them being harmed, regarding them as “not one of us”, and by regarding them as disgusting. Philoctetes definitely experienced most of these; both dehumanization by agency and experience.
Having power over them: There are certain people we can definitely say had power over Philoctetes. Neoptolemus was said to have power over Philoctetes because he was in a position to save him. Odysseus could be said to have power over Philoctetes by being able to have someone deceive him to get the arrow and bow. One time I have experienced this type of dehumanization was in Nigeria. I was a 9-year old that was forced to do most of the chores of the “seniors” just because they're older and have more power. Their position of power and my position of helplessness left me no choice to do what they want
Harming them: Odysseus is responsible for this type of dehumanization. Odysseus, being the psychopath he is, realized he had to do anything to get Philoctetes, even deceive him. Even though he left Philoctetes in the middle, he still felt that he had that right to Philoctetes’s weapons, disregarding Philoctete’s feelings. This example reminded me of how harming people dehumanizing them in real life is real. Reminds me of Dance moms, when Abby will intentionally hurt the kids’ feelings by having a rank every week on who did the best, knowing it was dehumanizing to the others.
Witnessing them being harmed: Everyone on that ship watched as Odysseus kicked Philoctetes and did nothing to prevent it from happening. I believe this is where self dehumanization begins to kick in. You feel as if you were not worthy for your group once they start to believe you were not. Neoptolemus also watched and witness how Odysseus was ready to harm Philoctetes just for his benefit. Even though he knew it was wrong, he still ended up doing it. Back to the real-life, a major event can definitely relate to this; Black Lives Matter. So many people witnessed the brutal abuse against African Americans, especially during 2020. Literally, African Americans were getting abused and when the only way to bring attention to the matter was by using that hashtag, some others witness and still decided to not bring attention to the hashtag their own way. They believed it was just our problem to deal with, dehumanizing us in a type of way; basically saying we are not good of a reason to find for basic human rights.
Regarding them as not one of us: Odysseus tries to imply Philoctetes is not even one of us just by the action of kicking him off the boat because he was not able to bear the pain of the snake bite. Real life-wise, this can still be applied to Black Lives Matter. People really started the #AllLivesMatter movement and I think that definitely implied we really do not care about them specifically at the moment.
Regarding them as disgusting: Neoptolemus is known for thinking Philoctetes was disgusting, based on what he was told and based on what he saw himself. It even got to a point that Philoctetes saw himself as disgusting as like a warning to stay away from him or to not be frightened. This reminds me of when I was in middle school and I just came back from Nigeria. I was automatically seen as nasty, “bush”, smelling, when all of this did not apply to me. But at some point, I truly started to think of myself as such. I am also guilty about seeing those that come from Africa in such a way.
While analyzing this play, it made me reflect on my personal life and what I have done to hurt others. My friend group recently just suffered a fall-through, because someone felt as if the intent of our words were to harm her when it truly was not seen that way. There had to be a reason she felt as if we would purposefully hurt, but long story short, she decided she did not want to be friends with us anymore. At first, I was hurt, then I started talking to other friends and they made me realize that the things that may not hurt me can definitely hurt others. Instead of me speaking up and say we were wrong for doing that and the person who actually hurt her should apologize, I was a bystander because I believed I did nothing wrong. However, I did something wrong by not speaking up and making her feel like her feelings do not matter, which I feel bad about now. Being that I want to apply my leadership skills, I should tell the girl who needs to apologize, to apologize.
One thing we also discussed in class was the idea of Odysseus being psychopathic. The idea of being Psychopathic stems from the idea of basically pretending you care about a situation, just to gain something beneficial. Odysseus never cared about how Philoctetes might have felt after ostracizing him and how to get back in his good graces. All he cared about was getting that bow and arrow for himself, no matter what he has to do. He even went as far as telling Neoptolemus that it is okay in some instances to not be morally right and just doing what he has to do to get the victory. He dismissed the idea of morally losing than winning in a deceitful way. This instance reminded me of the show YOU. Joe is a stalker and will do anything to get with the person he is stalking. He never really cared about the people surrounding that particular person. He literally did anything in his power to get in the midst of that person and act like a mediator in their midst, just to end up isolating this specific person from her loved ones. He showed very strong psychopathic behavior.
The story starts with a strong central conflict which was getting Philoctete’s bow and arrow to win the Troy War. Philoctetes name meaning definitely gives context on how the story ends. At first, he was just seen as a tool for his weapons, but over time, we learn that it was more than the weapon, the weapon would have been useless without Philoctetes, basically showing he matters as well. You can sense dehumanization of agency when Odysseus says “The man inhabits these regions, clearly, and is somewhere not far off. How could he go far afield when his foot is maimed by that old plague?” basically assuming that there is no way he could be productive or walking around with an injury of such as if disabled people have not always found a way to move around overtime. Even Neoptolemus dehumanizes Philoctetes by also seeing him as disgusting. One thing certain here is Neoptolemus is being used by Odysseus until he gets what he wants.
As the story goes on, the readers can sense Odysseus is willing to do anything to get that bow and arrow. He will go as far as lying as much as he needs to and faking empathy by asking Neoptolemus to insult him as much as he needs to, to get on Philoctetes' good side. Of course, Neoptolemus’s conscience comes into play because he knows it's wrong and would rather lose honorably rather than winning in a deceitful way. However, Odysseus convinces him that one day of deceit will not define the rest of his life. You can sense the narcissism and psychopathic behavior from Odysseus at this point of the story. Over time, Neoptolemus ends up agreeing because he believes this is part of real-life and he needs to do what he needs to do to be a grownup. Odysseus also plays on the family nobility card basically telling him that if he wants to be as great as his father, he needs to do this.
At this moment in the play, Philoctetes feels both disgusted and ostracized and this is where self dehumanization comes into place. He feels as if he had to ask questions about where they are formed, in order to find some type of connection for the sake of Xenia (peace).
As time goes on and Neoptolemus gains the trust of Philoctetes and Philoctetes is trying to get Neoptolemus to take him home. Right here is where we can compare Philoctetes and Odysseus. Odysseus tries to use nobility to trick Neoptolemus to do the wrong time, but Philoctetes uses nobility to convince him to take him home and to use that good morality. Philoctetes also believed he had to show self-pity in trying to trick Neoptolemus into taking him home. One can consider this a mini psychopathic behavior.
Lastly, Heracles shows leadership and mentorship by trying to make sure Philoctetes do not feel insecure or dehumanized. Heracles' words of motivation give him more power and confidence to believe the fate of the Trojan War is in his hands. He basically receives the blessings of the original owner, which convinces him to go at the end of the story.
Basically what I have learned is dehumanization is something you are going to experience, either by others or by yourself. That one person is just needed to show your potential.