Althusser and Showering


Louis Althusser was a manic-depressed French-Marxist who strangled his wife to death. He was also a brilliant philosopher who argued that instead of being labeled as a science, philosophy should be viewed as “the class struggle within theory.” He argues in his 1970 essay From Ideology and Idealogical State Apparatuses that escaping ideology is impossible. From the moment we are born, ideology shapes us, and whether its the way we dress or the religion we follow “man is an ideological by nature.” It’s a fascination essay that I highly recommend.

Going to church on Sundays, not eating meat, voting Democratic–these rituals that could make somebody’s ideology. The other night, after reading Althusser, taking a shower I realized my nightly shower ritual had become so absurd and specific that it was a major facet of my personal ideology. It’s as follows.

1) Warm up with hot water for approximately one-minute.

2) Wet and wash hair with cold water.

3) Apply conditioner.

4) Wash feet while conditioner is in hair.

5) Rinse conditioner with cold water.

6) Soap up the rest of body with hot water.

Whether this is boring, revolting, or idiotic, it has really become a part of me. If I fail to adhere to this ritual I go to bed uncomfortable or at least feeling as if my day isn’t complete. “There is no practice except by and in an ideology.” So next time you preform an idiosyncrasy, take a moment to consider how it relates to your unique ideology. Just don’t start telling people about you bathing habits.

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