Representation, Repression, and Recliners: a Feminist Defense of the Fool

On the same day that the Zang Fool posted his entry into the AAAOM-SO’s essay writing contest, Skip and I got a call at home from a representative of the AAAOM-SO, requesting that the Zang Fool’s essay be removed from the CAN Blog. We in turn asked for that request in writing, so that we could both send it on to the CAN Board and also discuss it here on the blog. We haven’t received an answer, so I’m going to go ahead and do my best to respond to the original request, which if Skip remembers correctly, had to do with the Zang Fool’s essay being “inappropriate” and “against posting policy”.

I should probably clarify that 1) neither Skip nor I are, in fact, the Zang Fool; and 2) neither Skip nor I manage this blog. So this isn’t an official response. This is just the kind of response you might get if you call my home number and inadvertently activate my liberal arts education.

In this post I shall argue that the Zang Fool’s AAAOM-SO essay is neither inappropriate nor against CAN’s posting policy; it is, rather, an implicit feminist, post-Freudian, Lacanian analysis of the acupuncture profession. The Zang Fool’s essay, and indeed the Zang Fool’s identity itself —  as a literate, satirical, hyper-sexualized piece of furniture, an ejaculating recliner — are triumphs of Abject Art, and as such, absolutely appropriate to and consistent with the goals of a blog that uses creative writing to prick, prod and provoke.

The idea of CAN’s implicit feminist analysis is not new.  Nora Madden addressed the inherent conflicts between acupuncture professional status and feminist perspectives on work in a prescient 2007 blog post. While Madden invokes less threatening metaphors — laundry, childcare — she clearly lays the foundation for the progression (or transgression) of the analysis into the realm of the abject. “If the professional leadership doesn’t start picking that baby up…their paternity is going to get called into question.”

“The abject…at once represents the threat that meaning is breaking down and constitutes our reaction to such a breakdown: a reestablishment of our primal repression” (Dino Felluga).  As Julia Carpenter points out in a recent commentary on the intense public reaction to the Zang Fool’s essay:

“Obviously, they are both repulsed by it and yet deeply drawn to it –
and that is the whole point of ZF’s post as far as I can see – to bring
something to the surface, to show how something that is held in for so
long, against so many forms of repression and oppression and with the
tension of shutting down our agency, the little guy against The
Structures of capitalism, etc., etc, that all the frustration and
libidinal energy CUMS out in full force, both as an image of male
ejaculation (although aren’t we just assuming that it’s male
ejaculate???) as well as the full force of speaking that which is
taboo.  Speaking truth to power.  Speaking – words coming out of an
orifice representing life force/semen being released from that
transcendental signifier, the phallus.”

Speaking from the perspective of the marginalized, the Other, the Other who is silenced, upholstered, sat upon.

Alternately, it is possible to read the Zang Fool’s essay as a meta-narrative on the way in which meaning and language break down within the acupuncture profession, for example, the ACAOM’s recent redefinition of the word “consensus” to mean whatever the CCAOM wants it to mean. The obscenity of the “unified acronym” CUM is a reflection of the obscenity of language distorted in the service of greed. The self-referential bureaucratic narrative of power is reimagined as self-centered masculine sexuality — or possibiy even compulsive autoeroticism, as mutuality and genuine communication drown in the  meaningless, hypnotic repetition of the acronym.

As Lacan pointed out, the repressed returns. A profession obsessed with status and image, a profession with no interest in self-criticism and no sense of humor, must manifest its shadow: an opposition that can’t stop telling dirty jokes in public. Any attempt by the profession to re-establish the primal repression through censorship must inexorably result in further eruptions of satire. Which the profession, apparently, can’t seem to stop reading.

Author: lisafer

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  1. don’t forget simulacra

    Might I add that in the perspective of Gilles Deleuze, the ZF, as a simulacrum of a reclining chair in the act of satire allows for the priveliged postition to be challenged and overturned.  Much as CAN can be seen as a simulacrum of other professional organizations (AAAOM, et al) and too co-opts this format in an effort to challenge and overturn.

    This, of course, is in opposition to Baudrillard’s perspective of the simulacra, who would propose that the ZF as simulacrum would become a hyper-real spewer of CUM.




    Circle Community Acupuncture

    San Francisco

  2. C.U.M. Weekly

    Thank you Lisa for releasing C.U.M. from the tyranny of censorship.  To celebrate, we should launch C.U.M.’s  new national newspaper.



    …so many possibilities….the name really doesn’t matter so much as long as they keep on coming back for more



  3. In fantasylands like the

    In fantasylands like the acupuncture profession, those of us who really have something of value to add to the dialogue cannot say it, because the guilders have launched the profession into outerspace where nothing makes sense except fantasyland talk. Acupuncture Today is a waste of time, and CAN is a breath of realistic air. Take away the AAC, and the acu profession would have no medium for the b.s. they waste our time with. Zang fool is someone I can take seriously.

    The truth that really needs to be expressed…how do we share this? How do we create dialogue? When the day comes that the AAC is ready to talk turkey, perhaps the zangfool will be irrelevant. In the meantime, it’s not safe to say what needs to be said in public.

    In times like these, we look to those who read the signs of the times, those who say it like it is… Zang fool is one of them.

  4. yeah

    ” the guilders have launched the profession into outerspace where nothing
    makes sense except fantasyland talk.”

    Rest assured that mastering the art of fantasyland talk is a “core competency” within the FPD standards.  The Doctorate Task Force will ensure that the proposed standards stipulate that achieving fluency in fantasyland talk (FLT- a new acronym! yay!) will be essential to FPD training.  Of course, this mastery will be measured in “outcomes”, not hours. Thus, hours of training can be increased to infinity because they are not defined in lieu of achieving outcomes.  What any school program developer considers sufficient to satisfy outcomes is relative, and the hours of training will reflect this nicely.  This is higher education.  Thanks IOM, and thanks to Mark Seem over at Tri-State for beating this drum incessantly!  Now, AOM can better meet “the needs of the public” by setting the stage for lengthier and more expensive training through outcomes by way of training hour explosion! 

    Wait a minute….outcomes…outCUM’s- yes!  The benefit of the FPD is outCUM’s over hours. Why charge students by the hour, when you can charge by the outCUM.

    ORGasm= FPD mania at your local, regional or national AOM alphabet ASSociation.

    I could probably do this forever.  SUMbuddy stop me. 


  5. Has anyone read this?

    Has anyone read this?
    After years of debate, after the ACAOM decides to go ahead, Acu Today finally prints some voice of opposition. Of course, this author reads like a FOX news “liberal” commentator. Isn’t it a bit late to be in opposition to the FPD?
    No, Zang fool, they’re not ready for serious dialogue on this subject. We are left to FLT…but he may be right, a schism or a revolution is in store…