Objectification

07/21/2013

There is a lot of talk about objectification when people start talking about pornography. This is very appropriate. Most pornography I have experienced has presented women as objects for the viewer’s pleasure and crucially an absence of the woman’s own existence as a protagonist in this process.

Objectification to put it crudely is the reduction of a person or a class of person to a tools for use. An old flatmate of mine had a saying on his wardrobe I loved,

“Love people, not things; use things, not people. ”

As far as I can tell this quote is from Spencer W. Kimball whoever he is…

I think the reason objectification is especially relevant to pornography is that it is difficult to find porn that isn’t doing this reduction of people to objects.

What I want to say though is that this still does not mean that pornography as a genre is by definition bad. It seems to me that porn again is, to use a Family Systems Therapy metaphor, the symptom bearer in a sick culture.

FST says that a particular member of a family or system will often be the one that exhibits visible symptoms that manifest the malfunctioning of the family unit or system. So you might have a child bed wetting and upon investigation discover that Dad has been hitting Mum… In this kind of system the child does not need to change and anything you do do with the child will not make a difference because the child is not the problem.

Politicians

06/19/2013

I am quite tired of politician bashing. It is so easy to accuse the politician on the opposite side of any debate of being stupid, corrupt or malicious. We seem to work quite hard to find evidence to support our desire that they be stupid, corrupt or malicious and forget the moments that make things a lot less black and white.

Recently someone from my church posted a picture lampooning John Key. the caption of the pic read, “The only top job that requires no previous experience, no training, no qualifications and limited intelligence.”

Now let me be perfectly clear. I disagree with Mr Key’s politics profoundly. Currently I am trying to work out if I want to be a member of the Greens or Mana… However to engage in name calling, however funny or sophisticated, serves no useful purpose. It does NOT cause a Key supporter to question their beliefs. The Key supporter will merely CORRECTLY collect the barb as evidence of the unreasoning bias of Mr Key’s detractors.  It does make it harder for political opponents to listen to each other. It does make us underestimate the strategies of of political opponents.

Day to day I am constantly hearing friends and co-workers bash politicians and it makes me sad. I believe that politicians go into this role wanting to make the world a better place. Their desire to serve may be bettered and bruised by the demands of the role but I suspect our cynicism and love of bashing them contributes to this battering. I suspect if I were to sit down with My Key for a good chat that I would find a man who sincerely believes that the policies he advocates will bring the greatest good to the greatest number.

So my request is this. Advocate for the policies you believe in, and care for the people who disagree with you. Be, as MLK said, “Hard headed and soft hearted”.

 

Being who I want to be

01/17/2012

If I want to have streams of generosity and love flowing though me and out to others I need my friends.

I had forgotten this and over the last year I have felt that some sort of work I had been doing on building my person had been sliding slowly but inevitably down the drain. I had never linked these sense of selfishness and hard heartedness that I saw rising in my heart to the fact that it has been a lean year for my friendships

The facts of the matter is that without my friends I am lesser. I need them to be who I want to be. I am not an island I am a nexus of relationships…

So out to all of my friends: I am so grateful for all of your love to me over the years. I am going to be making a different kind of effort to connect with you lot now. I have realised that I don’t merely need to connect with you to assuage my feelings of loneliness. I need you guys in order to be the man I want to be and I realise that you guys need me too.

 

 

Disillusionment/Mid-life Crisis?

01/17/2012

It amazes me that I forget so thoroughly and so often the two basic goodnesses that transform my life from being a hopeless empty place to being one of deep meaning.

God and sleep.

New Post!

09/21/2010

Well I have managed to come back just before 4 months is up.

I am been avoiding writing here… I think because I am afraid I won’t be able to keep it up. So I don’t try…

Anyway it’s been an interesting 4 months. I have been very sick – not the intensity of the sickness – just the frequency of it. I have been wondering what is going on with my immune system.

But I have taken myself in hand. I am taking vitamins and have started going to the gym. My sister is getting married at the end of October and I hope to have lost a little bit of weight and to feel a little bit fitter!

Next post: My spiritual/Sexual state…

On the way up

05/18/2010

Well I feel like I am recovering my sense of self and energy. I have moved into a new house and am loving my room. I have it nearly set up and am enjoying the space.

The last 6 months has been a time of losses for me and I think the grief and disillusionment has been a bit too heavy for me of late.

So I will be starting to write again soon. Hopefully some of you are still checking this blog. Sorry for the down time.

Not Coping

04/30/2010

Well I haven’t been coping with life very well in the last week. Hence the decline in posts here. Just letting you all know. I will be getting back to writing more soon. I have had three good sleeps in a row and am feeling much more like I have the resources to meet life’s demands!

Love

04/24/2010

I suspect that there is a paradox at the heart of love.

I find it interesting looking back over my life thus far and seeing the idea fashions change. I am much more aware of these that clothe fashions…

One idea that was very trendy for a while in my life was the idea that we need to get over the idea that love is an emotion. The message of that era was that love is an action and that we can choose to do it even if we don’t have warm feelings. It was an important message and one that continues to inform my understanding of what mature love is. The decision to be kind even when one is exhausted speaks of profound love.

It is very incomplete though.

In the most profound call to love in the New Testament Paul writes,

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 1but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Paul’s aspired to learn to love. This, for him, wasn’t just loving action but something more. Paul feels that you can have deep wisdom, amazing faith and the most self-sacrificing actions and it all means nothing if you don’t have love. This love that Paul speaks of here is an emotional thing. It is not s simple one and it is not a transient thing but it is a feeling.

For me the door into love is learning to perceive the world’s beauty with gratitude. As I become more and more present to the world and more and more able to see the people in it I find myself loving it and them more. I believe it is a combination of learning to see the other, being present to what is and taking down the emotional barriers built up as protection from being hurt that allows us to love.

And from that love flows genuine loving action.

In one of her comments here Heather wrote that perhaps if we act lovingly then perhaps the emotional side will follow. I am not sure if this is a path I would recommend. I know far to many people, mostly women, who have built lives filled with the habitual acts of loving and have lost touch with what they want. They often wake up after their children have grown and grieve the loss of half of their lives to this habit. I am not saying that loving your children is a problem. I am interested in how we can support families to have enough room for the members to pause to be present to their own experience, perceive other and be open to love and the pain that comes in the package.

A Bit of Nietzsche

04/21/2010

1. on the three metamorphoses

Of three metamorphoses of the spirit I tell you: how the spirit becomes a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.

There is much that is difficult for the spirit, the strong reverent spirit that would bear much: but the difficult and the most difficult are what its strength demands.

What is difficult? asks the spirit that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength? Is it not humbling oneself to wound one’s haughtiness? Letting one’s folly shine to mock one’s wisdom?

Or is it this: parting from our cause when it triumphs? Climbing high mountains to tempt the tempter?

Or is it this: feeding on the acorns and grass of knowledge and, for the sake of the truth, suffering hunger in one’s soul?

Or is it this: being sick and sending home the comforters and making friends with the deaf, who never hear what you want?

Or is it this: stepping into filthy waters when they are the waters of truth, and not repulsing cold frogs and hot toads?

Or is it this: loving those who despise us and offering a hand to the ghost that would frighten us?

All these most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the desert, thus the spirit speeds into its desert.

In the loneliest desert, however, the second metamorphosis occurs: here the spirit becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be master in his own desert. Here he seeks out his last master: he wants to fight him and his last god; for ultimate victory he wants to fight with the great dragon.

Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? “Thou shalt” is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, “I will.” “Thou shalt” lies in his way, sparkling like gold, an animal covered with scales; and on every scale shines a golden “thou shalt.”

Values, thousands of years old, shine on these scales; and thus speaks the mightiest of all dragons: “All value of all things shines on me. All value has long been created, and I am all created value. Verily, there shall be no more ‘I will.’” Thus speaks the dragon.

My brothers, why is there a need in the spirit for the lion? Why is not the beast of burden, which renounces and is reverent, enough?

To create new values—that even the lion cannot do; but the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation—that is within the power of the lion. The creation of freedom for oneself and a sacred “No” even to duty—for that, my brothers, the lion is needed. To assume the right to new values—that is the most terrifying assumption for a reverent spirit that would bear much. Verily, to him it is preying, and a matter for a beast of prey. He once loved “thou shalt” as most sacred: now he must find illusion and caprice even in the most sacred, that freedom from his love may become his prey: the lion is needed for such prey.

But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes.” For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred “Yes” is needed: the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world.

Of three metamorphoses of the spirit I have told you: how the spirit became a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.

Cages

04/20/2010

I am fascinated by my cages. I have so many of them. Most of them are made of gold…

I started becoming aware of my cages when I was studying anthropology and we looked at culture. I started to become aware of the unconscious rules of behaviour that govern our lives. When I started to bring some of the rules to consciousness I started encountering the first bars of my cages. I would walk down a well populated path and consider this thing within my being that made it impossible for me to lie down on it. I would be so embarrassed! And yet why? I did not know any of these people around me that I should care for their opinion…

More and more I start posing my self challenges. Some I fulfilled out of a desire to see what would happen and some I just used the feelings that come up when I imagined flouting a rule to feel out the boundaries of my cage and familiarise myself with the shape and effect of each bar. I became overwhelmed with the multitude of cages that bound my life and all the feelings that composed the bars.

Many of my cages are made of gold. They seem beautiful and they are precious to me but they are nonetheless cages. One of the things that make my cages shine like gold is the idea of morality. The bars are made of guilt (no pun intended).

I was talking to a friend about stealing not too long ago.  I contended that it would be good to steal occasionally. This conclusion comes from my own anger at my lack of choice in this. When I consider stealing, say, a video from a rental shop, or a handbag or a car I don’t think I refrain from these activities out of a sense of care for their owners. I refrain out of fear. Fear of getting caught and fear of the guilt I would feel. Fear of losing my place in society. In the past this would also have been fear of God’s disappointment.  This fear is a cage that is made of gold. After all it helps me do the things I approve of. Ahhh. My cage is my friend! Lovely cage!

Yet these cages create a Fergus that does not love. He fears.

When you bake a cake for a friend out of a sense of obligation then it is not love. When I do because I ought then I do not love. Maybe my cage loves… but I do not.