Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence

Comrades .... Of late I have acquired a deep interest in the works of the Late Bengali Revolutionary Aurobindo Ghosh who was the leader of the Armed Movement in Bengal in the early part of the 20 the Century. It was not overnight, I have been reading some of his works sporadically during the last one year but it is only of late that I have started making a concentrated effort at trying to understand his works more comprehensively. I feel there is a need that some of his works and commentary needs to be discussed, I think I smell a new blog cooking....will keep you all updated....Below I present an extremely relevant quote that I came across recently. Aurobindo Ghosh on Violence
War and destruction are not only a universal principleof our life here in its purely material aspects, but alsoof our mental and moral existence. It is self evident that in the actual life of man intellectual, social, political, moral, we can make no real step forward without a struggle, a battle between what exists and lives and what seeks to exist and live and between all that stands behind either, It is impossible, at least as men and things are to, to advance, to grow, to fulfill and still to observe really and utterly that principle of harmlessness which is yet placed before us as the highest and best law of conduct. We will use only soul force and never destroy by war or any even defensive employment of physical violence? Good, though until soul force is effective, the Asuric force in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes, as we see it doing today, but then at its ease and unhindered, and you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence...It is not enough that our hands should remain clean and our souls unstained for the law of strife and destruction to die out of the world. - Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872 - 1950)
Posted by Abhay 10/22/2007 08:39:00 PM Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Acting out, reaction formation, denial, projection, displacement

THE REAL WAR ON CHILDREN: Jihadi Kids vs Metrosexual Kids from Dr. Sanity by Dr. Sanity Mark Steyn has a column that addresses the recent SCHIP controversy and the remarks of Democratic Rep. Pete Stark...
Pelosi and the Democrats go on and on blah blah blah about "the children", even as they continue to propose more and more entitlements/Ponzi schemes that will leave it to "the children" (when they are grown-up, of course) to figure out how they are going to pay for it. Steyn rightly points out the imminent societal collapses that can be expected in European countries who have been playing this game much more earnestly than in the U.S. Betsy has more on the fiscal aspect of Steyn's piece, which you should read in full.
From a wider perspective, though, what Steyn is talking about is the politicization of children; i.e., the use of children to advance a political or ideological agenda. This sort of child abuse is going on on a number of levels, both in Western culture and in Middle Eastern culture. Specifically, I want to focus on the hyper-sexualization of children in the West, and the concommitant hyper-"aggressivization" of children in the Arab/Islamic world. A recent search of the headlines will give us plenty to ponder on the sexualization being waged in the West. Consider this. And this. and this. In Norway: this Or how about this?
What does any of the above represent, except an all-out assault on the sexual identity and genitalia of today's children. Oh, don't bother to tell me this is all done with the best of intentions...quite frankly, I'm rather sick of hearing that particular line.
  • Don't these do-gooders ever consider the long-term consequences of their actions?
  • Or is it just enough for them to feel in the moment oh-so-good about what wonderful, modern, tolerant, progressive people they are?

They will conveniently forget that it was their policies and their agenda when the sexual chickens come home to roost (imagine an entire society of Brittainys and Madonnas and their male equivalents).

Meanwhile their socialist counterparts in the Middle East really have perfected a way to accomplish what the Stark Raving Mad congressman from Maine insinuated (i.e., "President Bush wants to breed a generation of sickly uninsured children in order to send them to Iraq to stagger round the Sunni Triangle, weak and spindly and emaciated and rickets-stricken, to get their heads blown off)--with one little creative modification!
When they blow their little heads off, they will be dying to blow yours off, too. These jihadi kids don't draw guns and play as a means of discharging youthful aggressive impulses on the road to civilized behavior; they shoot them for real, at real human targets and are rewarded according to how much they are able to express the uncivilized cultural hatred that motivates the adults in their society. Instead of learning civilized behavior, they learn to project their hatred onto Jews and Christians. This is a violent video "game" in real life.
Do you imagine there is not a difference between fantasy play (which teaches a child how to control impulses and tame his or her inner monsters in the safety of fantasy) and participating in real-life violence, brutality or sex (which gives tacit permission and actively encourages the child to become his or her inner monsters) ? If you are unable to distinguish the difference, then you must be a member of the so-called "reality-based" community who seem to specialize in utopian fantasies where human aggression has been magically eliminated from the species, and we all "make love, not war" in some utopian meadow of the not-too-distant future. Good luck with that.
Instead of channeling human aggression and sexuality into societally productive avenues that benefit both individuals and cultures in which they live, we are witness to the spectacle of the political left gleefully encouraging and supporting dysfunctional sexuality that reeks of entitlement, irresponsibility, and perversity. Their moral counterparts in the "religion of peace", channel it directly into hatred and religious fanatacism.
Frequent visitors to this blog might recall that I have written quite a bit about psychological defense mechanisms (and here, for example) which operate unconsciously for the most part; and that they exist in a spectrum from immature to mature. On the immature end we have psychotic denial and ordinary denial (which children engage in frequently). As they mature, ordinary denial will morph into psychological repression (a neurotic, lower level psychological defense) and with maturity, the individual may evolve into using a process of sublimation, one of the most mature defenses, to manage any inappropriate sexual or aggressive impulses.
Contrary to the usual marxist propaganda, it is not capitalism that is encourages the use of immature psychological defenses, but life itself. But, it is capitalism and the capitalist system that offer a healthy channel for the redirection of negative psychic energy into something positive for both the individual and the group at large.
Something, I might add, that marxism, socialism and all its malignant variants completely fail to do. In fact, what they encourage are the use of unhealthy defenses (acting out, reaction formation, denial, projection, displacement to name a few) which, because such defenses are suboptimal and even self-defeating in the long-run, do nothing to improve the lot of either the society at large, or the individual unlucky enough to be living in it.
Societies, like individuals, can adopt mature defenses and deal with reality; or they can deny reality and look elsewhere for the source of their problems. Many countries, like individuals, prefer to put the blame for their own failures onto an outside source, since that is safer for the self-image. In order to maintain the fiction that their problems are caused externally, a group or country or culture needs to indoctrinate children at the earliest age possible in order to make sure that their cognitive faculties are short-circuited and won't question the ideology or dogma.
A "healthy" country, like a healthy individual will utilize mature defenses to cope with their aggressive and/or sexual impulses. They are not afraid of their aggressive impulses because those impulses are reigned in by reason and not indulged in lightly. They are able to find pleasure and satisfaction in their sexual impusles, not by indiscriminantly indulging in every pleasurable urge or whim, but by harnessing that sexuality to values that promote true intimacy and happiness. Healthy societies do not encourage either sexual or aggressive (i.e. violent) acting out in their children. On the contrary, healthy societies encourge responsible sexual behavior and appropriate and realistic compromise and accommodation of others.
Sex and aggression are very closely connected. According to Freudian theory, all behavior can be thought of as motivated by a desire to feel pleasure. That motivation is organized and directed by two instincts: sexuality (Eros), and aggression (Thanatos). Freudian psychology in its earliest incarnations was almost obsesively preoccupied with sex. This is because Freud himself lived in a puritanical Victorian-era society and was reacting against the extreme prudishness of the age. The psychological symptoms Freud saw in his practice and described so brilliantly were to be expected in a society that ruthlessly repressed sex.
One does not need to wonder what kind of symptoms are to be expected in a society that, instead of repressing it, glorifies it and indoctrinates its children into sexual pleasures without concomitantly teaching them about personal responsibility or that there are real world consequences to one's behavior (something that can only be learned with maturity).
In my profession, we have been dealing with these "counterFreudian" symptoms since the "sexual revolution" peaked in the middle of the last century. Nothing like a little Utopian Marxism-gone-berserk to really alienate people from themselves, destroy interpersonal relationships and produce a society that joyfully celebrates sex without personal intimacy for the glorification of the state.
Here in the West, we have glorified one instinct (sex) while ruthlessly suppressing the other (aggression)
Meanwhile, children on the other side of the world are indoctinated into violence without benefit of conscience, as their religion and culture ruthless suppress sex and glorify aggression and violence in the name of god. Jihadi Kids vs Metrosexual Kids. Both are very similar psychic processes that pervert two natural human instincts and channel them them into mindless human actions, unconnected with human reason or compassion. Both have become deliberately politicized and foisted on children in order to advance a utopian ideology and agenda. Now that is a real war on children.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Written text allows for certain possibilities that oral traditions or the internet do not

larvalsubjects Says: October 17, 2007 at 4:48 pm I do, of course, agree that environment has a formative influence on us. This is what all my talk of individuation is about:
However, I would disagree that there are transcendent, transhistorical, non-situated values through which we might posit values to evaluate situations. Values must themselves be individuated or emerge out of the structure of situations. The person arguing that there is something intrinsically negative about immodest dress has a pretty tall mountain to climb: think of the Greeks, Romans, tribes that wear nothing more than a loin cloth.
It is difficult to see how the case can be made that such things have an intrinsically negative psychological or detrimental impact. Rather, just as written text allows for certain possibilities that oral traditions or the internet do not, while also closing off other formations, so too with modes of dress and forms of life. Simply going on the basis of my own readings of Scripture, I find the obsession of many Christians with issues surrounding sex to be bizarre. The Old Testament seems more worried about questions of food and hospitality than sex. The New Testament seems more concerned with questions of how we ought to relate to our neighbor and whether we should pray in public.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Envy is an aspect of what Freud called the death instinct

Gagdad Bob wrote:
One of the most important but little known concepts in psychoanalysis is that of envy. It is a term of art, not to be confused with the dictionary definition. While potentially present in all people, it becomes much more problematic when aggravated by primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting and projective identification. It is one of the most important "mind parasites" discussed in my book, One Cosmos Under God.
According to Webster's, envy is defined as "malice," and a "painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage." The psychoanalytic understanding of envy is that it is an unconscious fantasy aimed at attacking, damaging, or destroying what is good, because of the intolerable feeling that one does not possess and control the object of goodness. As such, it is an aspect of what Freud called the death instinct, since it ultimately involves a destructive attack on the sources of life and goodness. Particularly envious individuals cannot tolerate the pain of not possessing and controlling the "good object," so they preemptively spoil it so that they don't have to bear the pain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Church attendance gives way to spiritual longing. Newspaper reading gives way to blogging

The Odyssey Years By DAVID BROOKS nytimes.com: October 9, 2007
There used to be four common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Now, there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active retirement and old age. Of the new ones, the least understood is odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood. During this decade, 20-somethings go to school and take breaks from school. They live with friends and they live at home. They fall in and out of love. They try one career and then try another.
Their parents grow increasingly anxious. These parents understand that there’s bound to be a transition phase between student life and adult life. But when they look at their own grown children, they see the transition stretching five years, seven and beyond. The parents don’t even detect a clear sense of direction in their children’s lives. They look at them and see the things that are being delayed.
They see that people in this age bracket are delaying marriage. They’re delaying having children. They’re delaying permanent employment. People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments — moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family...
Two of the country’s best social scientists have been trying to understand this new life phase. William Galston of the Brookings Institution has recently completed a research project for the Hewlett Foundation. Robert Wuthnow of Princeton has just published a tremendously valuable book, “After the Baby Boomers” that looks at young adulthood through the prism of religious practice.
Through their work, you can see the spirit of fluidity that now characterizes this stage. Young people grow up in tightly structured childhoods, Wuthnow observes, but then graduate into a world characterized by uncertainty, diversity, searching and tinkering. Old success recipes don’t apply, new norms have not been established and everything seems to give way to a less permanent version of itself.
Dating gives way to Facebook and hooking up. Marriage gives way to cohabitation. Church attendance gives way to spiritual longing. Newspaper reading gives way to blogging. (In 1970, 49 percent of adults in their 20s read a daily paper; now it’s at 21 percent.)
The job market is fluid. Graduating seniors don’t find corporations offering them jobs that will guide them all the way to retirement. Instead they find a vast menu of information economy options, few of which they have heard of or prepared for.
Social life is fluid. There’s been a shift in the balance of power between the genders. Thirty-six percent of female workers in their 20s now have a college degree, compared with 23 percent of male workers. Male wages have stagnated over the past decades, while female wages have risen.
This has fundamentally scrambled the courtship rituals and decreased the pressure to get married. Educated women can get many of the things they want (income, status, identity) without marriage, while they find it harder (or, if they’re working-class, next to impossible) to find a suitably accomplished mate.
The odyssey years are not about slacking off. There are intense competitive pressures as a result of the vast numbers of people chasing relatively few opportunities. Moreover, surveys show that people living through these years have highly traditional aspirations (they rate parenthood more highly than their own parents did) even as they lead improvising lives.
Rather, what we’re seeing is the creation of a new life phase, just as adolescence came into being a century ago. It’s a phase in which some social institutions flourish — knitting circles, Teach for America — while others — churches, political parties — have trouble establishing ties.
But there is every reason to think this phase will grow more pronounced in the coming years. European nations are traveling this route ahead of us, Galston notes. Europeans delay marriage even longer than we do and spend even more years shifting between the job market and higher education.
And as the new generational structure solidifies, social and economic entrepreneurs will create new rites and institutions. Someday people will look back and wonder at the vast social changes wrought by the emerging social group that saw their situations first captured by “Friends” and later by “Knocked Up.” David Brooks The Way We Live Now Share Your Comments About This Column The columnist posts about issues that shape his perspective and addresses reader feedback. Go to Columnist Page » Next Article in Opinion (7 of 17) »

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You no longer have a university, but a series of identity constituencies

Revisiting the Canon Wars By RACHEL DONADIO NYT: September 16, 2007
But when college costs run as high as $50,000 a year, it’s harder to ignore questions like “What will this major do for my career prospects?” While humanities departments thrive at elite institutions (at Yale, for example, history has long been the most popular major, with English usually beating out economics for second place), the high cost of college today exacerbates a utilitarian strain that’s always made it hard for the liberal arts to make a case for themselves in practical-minded America. According to the Department of Education, in the 2003-4 school year, only 1.6 percent of America’s 19 million undergraduates majored in English and 1.3 percent in history, compared with 20 percent in business, 16 percent in health, 9 percent in education and 6 percent in computer science.
Not all academics object to raising market questions. For Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College and the director of its Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, “the introduction of economic criteria into the university is a good thing.” During the canon wars of the late ’80s, he said, scholars had an “imperious” idea that “if we want to argue about the curriculum we’re free to do that.” But now, most realize “we have obligations to the students and the parents and the taxpayers.”
According to Stanley Fish, a law professor at Florida International University and an occasional New York Times columnist, the conservative critique of academia connects to an economic one. “The message the neoconservatives were putting out, that universities are hotbeds of atheism, sexual promiscuity, corrosive relativism and a host of suspect philosophies being imported from France and Germany, actually took quite strongly with the intended audience,” said Fish, who was embroiled in these debates as chairman of Duke’s theory-oriented English department from the mid-’80s to the early ’90s. “It’s easier for a state legislature to cut university funding when there is an unflattering view” of academia, he said.
But Fish thinks humanities professors bear some blame for their diminished standing. He’s at work on a new book, “Save the World on Your Own Time,” which argues that academics should teach, not proselytize. In his view, “the invasion of political agendas” into the classroom in the ’60s and ’70s was “extremely dangerous,” since it meant classrooms could become battlegrounds for political demagoguery...
For John Guillory, an English professor at New York University and the author of “Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation” (1993), “The major fact that the discipline is confronting today is global English, which is a cultural corollary of economic globalization.” At the same time, postcolonial Anglophone culture is only half a century old. “I’m often impressed by this scholarship, but I’m also concerned that this new field seems to be so disconnected from the history of literature and scholarship that goes before it,” Guillory said. “I see too many scholars in the field who know very little about anything before the 20th century, and that concerns me.”
Elaine Showalter, a feminist literary scholar and a former president of the Modern Language Association, who retired from Princeton in 2003, today urges a reconsideration of some of the changes made in past decades. “This period of discovery and recovery (for example, of women writers) has been stimulating, exciting and renewing,” Showalter wrote in an e-mail message. “But now it’s time for a period of evaluation and consolidation.”
To some, another question is how to get students to read critically in the first place. “What does it profit progressives to get minority writers like Walker and Black Elk into the syllabus if many students need the Cliffs Notes to gain an articulate grasp of either?” asked Gerald Graff, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has written on the canon wars.
The historian Tony Judt, a self-described “old leftist” and the director of the Remarque Institute at N.Y.U., which examines Europe and European-American relations, said undergraduates often arrive unprepared from high school and seeking courses “in what we might have thought of as the old-fashioned approach” — broad surveys. But many young professors aren’t interested in teaching outside their narrow specialties, nor are they generally prepared to do so. And colleges are loath to reinstate the core curriculums they abandoned in the ’60s. “Because we lack cultural self-confidence, we’ve lacked the ability to say, ‘This is a good book and should be taught, this isn’t and shouldn’t,’ ” said Judt, who was dean of the humanities at N.Y.U. in the early ’90s.
Judt also denounces the balkanization created by interdisciplinary ethnic studies programs. Multiculturalism “created lots and lots of microconstituencies, which universities didn’t have the courage to oppose,” he said. “It’s much more like a supermarket — kids can take pretty much any courses they like: Jewish kids take Jewish studies, gay students gay studies, black students African-American studies. You no longer have a university, but a series of identity constituencies all studying themselves.” 1 2 3 Rachel Donadio is a writer and editor at the Book Review. RelatedReading List: Books on the Canon Wars (September 16, 2007) Review: 'The Closing of the American Mind,' by Allan Bloom (April 5, 1987)

The salon is a thinking-machine

In 1971, Robert Darnton published an article in Past and Present that transformed the cultural history of the Enlightenment. Voltaire, d'Alembert, and their ilk, he argued, were not the whole story; the Enlightenment was not simply about brilliant men and their embrace of reason. It was also about the plodding philosophasters, the sordid scribblers, who attempted to make their living in eighteenth-century Paris. They were never vindicated, neither in their own time nor in history; the philosophes shunned them, and they were forced to subsist by writing libel and pornography. It was the anger and frustration of these men which provided much of the fury behind the Revolution. Darnton's shorthand term for this class was "Grub Street," after the eighteenth-century London street which housed a similar counterculture...
The other approach is more difficult. It would attempt to study the psychogeographical aspects of eighteenth-century Parisian cultural life. Through reconstructions of the built environment, the streets and carriages, we can study the impact of space on intellectual society. Was one salon more cramped than another? What was the significance of the eighteenth-century shift in salon structure from the immediate bedside of the woman to a more dedicated room or arrangement? Did the spaces around the salon tend to encourage conversation or isolation?
Either way, Deleuzian theory can provide some tools for looking at the problem. We may characterize the Enlightenment as a rhizome, a webwork of flows and blockages of knowledge. The salon is a thinking-machine, intertwined with an authority-machine and a legitimation-machine; it attempts to occupy some privileged site for an interruption of the flow... Posted by Greg Afinogenov at 10:13 AM 0 comments Links to this post Labels: , , , , Wednesday, May 30, 2007