I went to church this morning, for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. This is rather monumental for me, being that Chesapeake is a spiritual void that is filled with spectacular kitsch houses of (pat roberston) worship. (How's that for making a generalization!) This church has a young southern preacher, and he doesn't embody the typical worship leader disease--the absence of genuine understanding, so that is refreshing. I was also reminded of where my strong distaste for worship music comes from. I am convinced that CCM is a consequence Satan's roaming brilliance and success in infiltrating and employing his Wormwood like tactics into suburban churches. I say that with a hint of humor. Anyway, it was good sermon based around Matthew 7:13-14, which is a verse I've been hearing since I was an infant Christian, and today offered no new meaning. I have by now realized and been a victim of the Afghanistan like terrain one ventures into when deciding to become a christian, and each person steps into their own nightmare of truth. The sanctuary reeked of soccer mom perfume and adolescent cologne, and I simply reeked. It was a comforting morning despite my mind's inevitable critiques, they are only that--hyper analytical critiques. I'm left to my silent house today, no TV, no Entourage tonight. I'm listening to the Get Up Kids on my record player while barely watching football on mute. An old bottle of stale wine to my left and packaged flavored "college" pasta in a green Target bowl to my right. My desk is too small, and I do not have enough storage space in my room. A friend sent me some pictures and a small piece of paper she made with onion skin and whatever other organic gems are required to create the canvas for her words or imaginations, hallucinations or intoxicated musings (the most valuable kind). It has one single sentence, "I met a cat one night, her face half black and half calico."
"God, if you can hear, can you help me and my friends? We've been driving all night into dead ends. We just wanna find our own way home again. We knew you as kids but lost you in smokey bars. We lost you in the boom of lowered cars - in parties that grew into the yard God, if you can hear, as the sun is creeping down, Could you kindly point me right out of town? Honestly I'm sick and tired of falling down. We knew you'd be here in the fray of darkest nights, and the sad and holy glow of tv light, in the blood and the bruise of back-alley fights. So we're totally deprived, buried alive I couldn't help myself to save my life Totally deprived Buried alive I couldn't help myself to save my life Totally deprived"
I'm bored, so I ramble, and create issues to debate internally.
"The authors define the term slut as "a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." The term is reclaimed from its usual use as a pejorative and as a simple label for a promiscuous person. Instead, it is used to signify a person who is accepting of their enjoyment of sex and the pleasure of intimacy with others, and chooses to engage and accept these in an ethical and open way — rather than as cheating. The Ethical Slut discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way. Discussion topics include how to deal with the practical difficulties and opportunities in finding and keeping partners, maintaining relationships with others, and strategies for personal growth. It contains chapters discussing how consensual nonmonogamy is handled in different subcultures such as the gay and lesbian communities, information on handling scheduling, jealousy, communication, conflict in relationships, and etiquette for group sexual encounters."
A friend of mine told me about this book called, "The Ethical Slut", and I'm betraying my own opinions on the matter by even discussing it (I don't want to validate it). I can only imagine that the desire to eloquently justify something as arbitrary as promiscuous sexual activity, and the desire to build some kind of philosophy around what is ultimately a primitive biological, instinctual practice that has been made into a selfish base recreation, is born out of boredom, and encouraged by the downfalls of post-modern waste. Even the title, "Ethical Slut" presupposes the idea that this form of "college behavior", or "coming of age" is deserving of the complexities of that which is debated in the arena of ethics. I should not be surprised that a book like this would be published, considering the misguided value that has been placed on the "freedom" of selfish sexual behavior. Something such as sexual promiscuity is not even worth the discourse. It's not hard to explain the motivations, it's not hard to explain the desire a person may have to justify his or her behavior, and it's not hard to live a life such as this if you desire to do so. So I guess I just think it's silly to write a book about it. Promiscuous sexual behavior..hmm..I don't consider it a question of ethics, it's just a question what a person wants and how they handle, or essentially deny the complexities involved in human emotions when crossed with the objectification of sexuality, and defining a "relationship" on utility. I'm assuming the book is written entirely in the context of worldly existence, because I think there are obvious spiritual consequences of such behavior. The first line of the summary is humorous; "The authors define the term slut as a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you."....haha, this implies a resentment to what the author obviously feels is the typical and repressive "taboo" that society attaches to "sexual enlightenment", and maybe that "sexual enlightenment" is what the author aligns herself with, above all of us "tragically repressed puritan pedestrians".
Or perhaps, I'm being too tough on the book, and demonizing the author's benign and well meaning attempt to lift, what she feels is society's repressive attitude towards sexuality, and the misunderstanding that comes with it, and the damage that could result as well. I guess my reaction the this idea is that it's superfluous and pointless. The attempts to "ethically" justify this activity is not an issue, the behavior is justified by the one who engages in it, and if one believes in it, why should that person seek society's blessing? The same debate could be had about drug use, or murder. Murder can easily be justified in a social context, just as easily as lying can be justified depending on circumstance. I might venturing into questionable grounds of moral relativity, which I'm not prepared to argue. Obviously murder is of more consequence than promiscuous sexual behavior, but that is what makes the book even more arbitrary. In the objective, sex is sex and the value given to it goes as deep as the person who engages in it, and they deal with those consequences themselves, and it is their responsibility to inform their partners of their "philosophy".
I should admit that I have not read the book, I am writing this based on the summary which I posted above...so this, like all my text should be taken with a rock of salt. Although, I do get irritated when sex is giving such a stake in the fate of relationships. The validation of what ultimately amounts to selfishness. No one would argue that sexuality is not a strong and determining influence in one's behavior and I don't mean to make light of it in the least, but to place sex as the "policy maker" to which all aspects of a relationship should ultimately be based on is only an extension of adolescent immaturity, and will eventually propel one into unending disappointment. I can once again refer people to what Kierkegaard refers to as the aesthetic lifestyle.
disclaimer: this post is concerning sex in the realm of the worldly, the tragic tragic role it has taken.
I've been reading more Kierkegaard lately, and I was wondering if anyone had any opinions regarding what is referred to the "teleological suspension of the ethical". This was interesting to me, so I thought i'd see what you folks thought.
In the book "Fear and Trembling", a Kierkegaard book written under the pseudonym of Johannes de Silentio, he explored the idea of faith. The story of Abraham and Isaac is brought into light, and the character of God is called into question. Of course, in the biblical story, God does not end up requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son; although Kierkegaard sought to lift the story out of its historical context in order to challenge what he thought to be the passivity, or complacency of the faith of his time. "de Silentio maintains that his contemporaries have been peddling faith at a cut-rate price while purporting to surpass faith by means of philosophical knowledge. His job therefore, is to show how costly real faith is an how, far from getting beyond it, Abraham spent a whole life trying to get as far as faith. The true price of faith is the horror religiosus, the fear and the trembling of Abraham's dreadful task.........The slow ascent to Mount Moriah is filled with the terror. Abraham is isolated before God, denied the comforts of the universal, stripped of an explanation, and deprived of human community and human language". There are many interesting questions that come into play in a situation like this, perhaps the bottom line of this idea is that God is outside the realms of human reason, so any request made of us by Him can not be thought of in the context human rationality, or ethics. Although, the morality of a Christian is based on God's law. Is there a connection between God's law and God's calling? What takes priority in the case of God requiring something that seemingly contradicts his Law, like Abraham being called to sacrifice his son. It is a fine line between relying on our own rationality in the context of our understanding of God, and the passion for his calling and receiving his will into our lives. What is the story of Abraham and Isaac supposed to represent? Let us avoid a literal interpretation for the moment and consider that this story is meant to illustrate the difficulty, or even horror, of truth faith. If anyone today were called to sacrifice their own child, I hesitate to say many would believe that it is God calling him or her to do something unfathomable and horrific. I would imagine that the disbelief and reluctance would be justifiably rooted in the idea of the apparent contradiction; that being God's love and the evil of such an act; that would then propel that person into a very trying isolation, to put it lightly (perhaps even calling one's own devotion to Christ into question....why would I want to serve a Christ who would ask this of me?). So, is it even possible to remove your own rational understanding of God and morality in order to deconstruct morality completely, and begin to open yourself up to the call of God, being that God defies all human reason. This can also open up the discussion to the problem of "fanaticism". "Is something true just so long as you are deeply and passionately convinced that it is true? Is that not the very definition of fanaticism? That is precisely the problem which everyone must wrestle who approaches this text." So the sum of this post I suppose ends on this basic question: What happens when your faith in God and your attention to his will brings you face to face with the "horror religiosus". Thoughts?
"Faith is this paradox that the single individual is higher than the universal--but please note, in such a way that the movement repeats itself, so that after having ben in the universal, he as the single individual, isolates himself as higher than universal"
"Our generation does not stop with faith, does not stop with the miracle of faith, turning water into wine--it goes further and turns wine into water"
why are we intrigued by scoundrels? whether it's pedophiles or presidents, war lords or whores...why do we write books about them, why do we make movies about them? our research of the mental and developmental spurs evolves into the glorification of filth and perversion. we're paying cash to see the circus i suppose. there is appeal in the peaks and valleys of human nature, the celebration of suburbia and sodom all the same//////////// I should admit, or boast the fact that I am writing from the bottom of my own ideas, looking up at them, as my words look down on me, judging me just as they should, holding me accountable. thank goodness for the liberties of literature, if I could be so bold. the manipulation of words to hide your ego or disease, the loophole of transforming sickness into beauty and eloquence, romanticizing foolishness. what is involved in writing a book? do I need a plot? I figure i'll just write a dissertation, an essay...the non linear kind of book. I'll embrace the post-modern approach, so that way I can chalk up my lack of talent to the enlightened idea of deconstruction and the avant garde...my book will the be literary equivalent of the scrap metal thrown together in the front lawn of the art museum. hopefully I can catch a wave of the cultural void, and they will grasp anything that serves to prop up their ego or self loathing.
Palin: wrong woman, wrong message Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger. By Gloria Steinem September 4, 2008
Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.
But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.
Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."
This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.
Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."
She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.
So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.
Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.
So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.
Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.
Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.
And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.
Bob Dylan was a snot, and perhaps he still is. I love Bob Dylan because he makes us wonder why we love him. Of course, in some ways, it is obvious why we love him. His music, and more importantly, his words, have been an influence, and in sometimes even shaped society since they were written. But what is so wonderful is that over the years, he has done his best to make fools of us. He has never confirmed anything but his mystery, and reluctance to be perceived in any one way, or to be a voice for any cause. He dismisses any attempt of ours to "sum him up", and while that seems as though that would be a normal concern of any artist, Bob Dylan seems more successful than most, especially with his iconic status. I would imagine that, in the process of becoming such a popular figure, there would have to be some intention, some calculation involved. Although, it seems that any intention he had was an attempt to confuse us, mislead us, almost an attempt to lose fans. He's challenging. He has never allowed his fans to become complacent or comfortable in their adoration of him. After countless interviews, exhaustive coverage, books, albums, etc; the only thing that remains clear is his very enigmatic nature. In 1963, he insulted the National Emergency Civil Liberties Union in a drunken rant he went while accepting the Tom Paine Award. He let his picture be taken at the crying wall with a yarmulke on, and he also became a Christian, and he also intentionally wrote a bad record, which he admitted doing during a CBS interview with 60 minutes. He remains the "voice of a generation" after years of denying the title, he remains a folk icon after committing a cardinal sin at the Newport Folk Festival, and also denying he himself is a folk musician, despite the the fact that it was the folk community which he found identity in early on. I can see no loyalty to any aspect of the public, no gratitude towards any of his fans. It's magnificent! It's almost as if he exists as a reaction to himself. He simultaneously belittled and reinforced his voice time and time again, in what could be seen as indifference to his fans, maybe even an eagerness to disassociate himself from a movement he had been made the main voice of. He refused to stand for anything, and in that way he stood for so much. Maybe the obtuse manner of the press was a main catalyst for his malignant indifferent nature, perhaps it was as simple as that. I had a conversation with a friend the other night who thought that Bob Dylan's image was completely contrived, and maybe it was. Although, I would never call it a ploy or a "PR stunt", or a gimmick. I think it could be thought as "contrived" in a way that implies pure commitment to his own ideal of who he, himself, should be. Why, even now, do I care to think about this so much? I think it comes down to admiration and fascination. The timelessly relevant importance of Bob Dylan! I'm a sucker for it.