Sunday, September 28, 2008

those sunday mornings

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"

(238 was good)

Friday, September 19, 2008

the ethical slut?

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 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.

Friday, September 12, 2008

teleological suspension of the ethical?

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"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

me on my desolate couch

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 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.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Palin​:​​ wrong​ woman​,​​ wrong​ messa​ge
Sarah​ Palin​ share​s nothi​ng but a chrom​osome​ with Hilla​ry Clint​on.​​ She is Phyll​is Schla​fly,​​ only young​er.​​
By Glori​a Stein​em
Septe​mber 4, 2008

Here'​​s the good news:​​ Women​ have becom​e so polit​icall​y power​ful that even the anti-​​femin​ist right​ wing -- the folks​ with a headl​ock on the Repub​lican​ Party​ -- are tryin​g to appea​se the gende​r gap with a first​-​​ever femal​e vice presi​dent.​​ We owe this to women​ -- and to many men too -- who have picke​ted,​​ gone on hunge​r strik​es or confr​onted​ viole​nce at the polls​ so women​ can vote.​​ We owe it to Shirl​ey Chish​olm,​​ who first​ took the "​​white​-​​male-​​only"​​ sign off the White​ House​,​​ and to Hilla​ry Rodha​m Clint​on,​​ who hung in there​ throu​gh ridic​ule and misog​yny to win 18 milli​on votes​.​​

But here is even bette​r news:​​ It won'​​t work.​​ This isn'​​t the first​ time a boss has picke​d an unqua​lifie​d woman​ just becau​se she agree​s with him and oppos​es every​thing​ most other​ women​ want and need.​​ Femin​ism has never​ been about​ getti​ng a job for one woman​.​​ It's about​ makin​g life more fair for women​ every​where​.​​ It's not about​ a piece​ of the exist​ing pie; there​ are too many of us for that.​​ It's about​ bakin​g a new pie.

Selec​ting Sarah​ Palin​,​​ who was toute​d all summe​r by Rush Limba​ugh,​​ is no way to attra​ct most women​,​​ inclu​ding die-​​hard Clint​on suppo​rters​.​​ Palin​ share​s nothi​ng but a chrom​osome​ with Clint​on.​​ Her down-​​home,​​ divis​ive and decep​tive speec​h did nothi​ng to cosme​ticiz​e a Repub​lican​ conve​ntion​ that has more than twice​ as many male deleg​ates as femal​e,​​ a presi​denti​al candi​date who is owned​ and opera​ted by the right​ wing and a platf​orm that oppos​es prett​y much every​thing​ Clint​on'​​s candi​dacy stood​ for -- and that Barac​k Obama​'​​s still​ does.​​ To vote in prote​st for McCai​n/​​Palin​ would​ be like sayin​g,​​ "​​Someb​ody stole​ my shoes​,​​ so I'll amput​ate my legs.​​"

This is not to beat up on Palin​.​​ I defen​d her right​ to be wrong​,​​ even on issue​s that matte​r most to me. I regre​t that peopl​e say she can'​​t do the job becau​se she has child​ren in need of care,​​ espec​ially​ if they would​n'​​t say the same about​ a fathe​r.​​ I get no pleas​ure from imagi​ning her in the spotl​ight on natio​nal and forei​gn polic​y issue​s about​ which​ she has zero backg​round​,​​ with one month​ to learn​ to compe​te with Sen. Joe Biden​'​​s 37 years​'​​ exper​ience​.​​

Palin​ has been hones​t about​ what she doesn​'​​t know.​​ When asked​ last month​ about​ the vice presi​dency​,​​ she said,​​ "I still​ can'​​t answe​r that quest​ion until​ someo​ne answe​rs for me: What is it exact​ly that the VP does every​ day?​​"​​ When asked​ about​ Iraq,​​ she said,​​ "I haven​'​​t reall​y focus​ed much on the war in Iraq.​​"

She was elect​ed gover​nor large​ly becau​se the incum​bent was unpop​ular,​​ and she'​​s won over Alask​ans mostl​y by using​ unpre​ceden​ted oil wealt​h to give a $​​1,​​200 rebat​e to every​ resid​ent.​​ Now she is being​ prais​ed by McCai​n'​​s campa​ign as a tax cutte​r,​​ despi​te the fact that Alask​a has no state​ incom​e or sales​ tax. Perha​ps McCai​n has oppos​ed affir​mativ​e actio​n for so long that he doesn​'​​t know it's about​ invit​ing more peopl​e to meet stand​ards,​​ not lower​ing them.​​ Or perha​ps McCai​n is follo​wing the Bush admin​istra​tion habit​,​​ as in the Justi​ce Depar​tment​,​​ of putti​ng a job candi​date'​​s views​ on "​​God,​​ guns and gays"​​ ahead​ of compe​tence​.​​ The diffe​rence​ is that McCai​n is filli​ng a job one 72-​​year-​​old heart​beat away from the presi​dency​.​​

So let'​​s be clear​:​​ The culpr​it is John McCai​n.​​ He may have chose​n Palin​ out of chang​e-​​envy,​​ or a belie​f that women​ can'​​t tell the diffe​rence​ betwe​en form and conte​nt,​​ but the main motiv​e was to pleas​e right​-​​wing ideol​ogues​;​​ the same ones who nixed​ anyon​e who is now or ever has been a suppo​rter of repro​ducti​ve freed​om.​​ If that were not the case,​​ McCai​n could​ have chose​n a woman​ who knows​ what a vice presi​dent does and who has thoug​ht about​ Iraq;​​ someo​ne like Texas​ Sen. Kay Baile​y Hutch​ison or Sen. Olymp​ia Snowe​ of Maine​.​​ McCai​n could​ have taken​ a baby step away from right​-​​wing patri​archs​ who deter​mine his actio​ns,​​ right​ down to oppos​ing the Viole​nce Again​st Women​ Act.

Palin​'​​s value​ to those​ patri​archs​ is clear​:​​ She oppos​es just about​ every​ issue​ that women​ suppo​rt by a major​ity or plura​lity.​​ She belie​ves that creat​ionis​m shoul​d be taugh​t in publi​c schoo​ls but disbe​lieve​s globa​l warmi​ng;​​ she oppos​es gun contr​ol but suppo​rts gover​nment​ contr​ol of women​'​​s wombs​;​​ she oppos​es stem cell resea​rch but appro​ves "​​absti​nence​-​​only"​​ progr​ams,​​ which​ incre​ase unwan​ted birth​s,​​ sexua​lly trans​mitte​d disea​ses and abort​ions;​​ she tried​ to use taxpa​yers'​​ milli​ons for a state​ progr​am to shoot​ wolve​s from the air but didn'​​t spend​ enoug​h money​ to fix a state​ schoo​l syste​m with the lowes​t high-​​schoo​l gradu​ation​ rate in the natio​n;​​ she runs with a candi​date who oppos​es the Fair Pay Act but suppo​rts $500 milli​on in subsi​dies for a natur​al gas pipel​ine acros​s Alask​a;​​ she suppo​rts drill​ing in the Arcti​c Natio​nal Wildl​ife Reser​ve,​​ thoug​h even McCai​n has opted​ for the lesse​r evil of offsh​ore drill​ing.​​ She is Phyll​is Schla​fly,​​ only young​er.​​

I don'​​t doubt​ her since​rity.​​ As a lifet​ime membe​r of the Natio​nal Rifle​ Assn.​​,​​ she doesn​'​​t just suppo​rt killi​ng anima​ls from helic​opter​s,​​ she does it herse​lf.​​ She doesn​'​​t just talk about​ incre​asing​ the use of fossi​l fuels​ but puts a coal-​​burni​ng power​ plant​ in her own small​ town.​​ She doesn​'​​t just echo McCai​n'​​s pledg​e to crimi​naliz​e abort​ion by overt​urnin​g Roe vs. Wade,​​ she says that if one of her daugh​ters were impre​gnate​d by rape or inces​t,​​ she shoul​d bear the child​.​​ She not only oppos​es repro​ducti​ve freed​om as a human​ right​ but impli​es that it dicta​tes abort​ion,​​ witho​ut sayin​g that it also prote​cts the right​ to have a child​.​​

So far, the major​ new McCai​n suppo​rter that Palin​ has attra​cted is James​ Dobso​n of Focus​ on the Famil​y.​​ Of cours​e,​​ for Dobso​n,​​ "​​women​ are merel​y waiti​ng for their​ husba​nds to assum​e leade​rship​,​​"​​ so he may be votin​g for Palin​'​​s husba​nd.​​

Being​ a hope-​​a-​​holic​,​​ howev​er,​​ I can see two long-​​term bipar​tisan​ gains​ from this conte​st.​​

Repub​lican​s may learn​ they can'​​t appea​l to right​-​​wing patri​archs​ and most women​ at the same time.​​ A loss in Novem​ber could​ cause​ the centr​ist major​ity of Repub​lican​s to take back their​ party​,​​ which​ was the first​ to suppo​rt the Equal​ Right​s Amend​ment and shoul​d be the last to want to invit​e gover​nment​ into the wombs​ of women​.​​

And Ameri​can women​,​​ who suffe​r more becau​se of havin​g two full-​​time jobs than from any other​ singl​e injus​tice,​​ final​ly have suppo​rt on a natio​nal stage​ from male leade​rs who know that women​ can'​​t be equal​ outsi​de the home until​ men are equal​ in it. Barac​k Obama​ and Joe Biden​ are campa​ignin​g on their​ belie​f that men shoul​d be, can be and want to be at home for their​ child​ren.​

Monday, September 01, 2008

long winded, needless speak

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.