Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Augustine describes himself as "still tightly bound by the love of women"

Foucault's Gotham Simon Critchley

In Book 8 of the Confessions, Augustine describes himself as "still tightly bound by the love of women", which he describes as his "old will", his carnal desire. This will conflicts with his "new will", namely his spiritual desire to turn to God. Alluding to and extending St Paul's line of thought in Romans, Augustine describes himself as having "two wills", the law of sin in the flesh and the law of spirit turned towards God. Paralysed by this conflict and unable to commit himself completely to God, these two wills lay waste Augustine's soul. He waits, hesitates, and hates himself. Seeing himself from outside himself, from the standpoint of God, Augustine is brought face-to-face with his self and sees how foul he is, "how covered with stains and sores". He continues, "I looked, and I was filled with horror, but there was no place for me to flee away from myself".

Such is the fatal circuit of what Michel Foucault calls the Christian hermeneutics of desire opposed to the pagan aesthetics of existence. In a seminar at New York University in 1980, Foucault is reported to have said that the difference between late antiquity and early Christianity might be reduced to the following questions: the patrician pagan asks, "Given that I am who I am, whom can I fuck?" The Christian asks, "Given that I can fuck no one, who am I?" Foucault's insight is profound, but let me state categorically and without a trace of irony that, as a committed atheist, I side with the deep hermeneutics of Christian subjectivity against the superficial pagan aesthetics of existence. The question of the being of being human - who am I? - that begins with Paul and is profoundly deepened by Augustine arises in the sight of God. The problem is how that question survives God's death. This is Rousseau's question in Confessions, it is Nietzsche's question in Ecce Homo, and Heidegger's question in Being and Time. In my less humble moments, I think of it as my question as well. Whether or not he exists, we are slaves to God.

About us News Home Issue 1 Contributors April Fish and Other Hoaxes  Simon Critchley is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. His last book was Things Merely Are (Routledge 2005). Infinitely Demanding is forthcoming from Verso.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I married for practical reasons and it was a terrible time of torment

Please raise your hands if you can sail through it smoothly.
by PK   

Having grown up in an ashram, I was in a dilemma when it came to marriage.
Now marriage as an institution is an attempt by the human mind to bring some order in the chaos that sexuality brings. The average humanity goes through this mill and it is the only kind of evolutionary sadhana an average person goes through. Humanity has been brain-washed to find happiness in it – not just happiness but the ultimate happiness. Then religious factors have been drummed into us which are very contrary to real life. So marriage creates many dilemmas. Many of the dilemmas are so contrary to our own life’s path that a lot of pain is created.
Marriage until it goes beyond the hormonal level and social customs cannot give happiness. It was designed for regularity and social order. It can give a lot of happiness but until companionship develops between the two parties, there is no happiness.
I have known two marriages in the Ashram which were based on the necessity of the spirit and devotion to each other. Marriage vows were taken more for convenience of the society and its laws. The marriage in spirit was already made.
A very basic problem of marriage is that people outgrow themselves and both the partners do not grow equally and not in the same direction nor at the same speed. This creates even more self-centred pressures.
I could see the marriages around me and the lack of happiness in them. This was very discouraging. Most marriages were held together because of economic or legal hassles and sometimes because of the attachments to children.
I wanted to try out partnering with a woman but every time I made a friend or reached the embrace stage, the woman’s demands would begin and this was a big put-off.
Then I meditated and realised that I am reacting to the shape of woman automatically. This is something that is embedded in us since the beginning of time. If we focus sincerely within we soon see that it is not one person that we are attracted to but the basic characteristics of the opposite sex. Proximity plays a big part in these affairs of love. Leave two bodies together and they will find enough attractiveness in each other to want to mate.
When people marry they do just this, totally ignoring the person in the body. When the body’s needs are met the real person residing above the neck starts making his or her demands and thus the acrimony begins to enter the atmosphere.
Having realized this I concluded I wanted a love affair and not a marriage. Moreover I would wait till somebody found me attractive enough and love me for myself and then I would let myself go. I was very influenced by the book Mrs Craddock by Somerset Maugham. In this, he says, ‘Between two lovers there is always one who loves and the other who lets himself/herself be loved.’
And I could see this happening all around me and my own experiments with flirting proved that as long I was running after a person she would show interest but soon it would melt into nothingness.
Finally I had the experience of somebody who came into my life and gave herself without question at the age of 36. It was giving all the way. And it was a most beautiful experience. I had many elevating moments as I saw myself in all hues and learnt more about myself than I had until now. Suddenly my own self was laid out in front of me without any curtains.
Then circumstances changed and nothing came out of it.
I even discussed this with my teachers in the ashram where I had grown up. If I had to stay out in the world and not in the ashram, marriage was becoming a pragmatic necessity. But as a practitioner of numerology I had seen that marriage happened only with the diametrically opposite ‘number’. So if I wanted to get into marriage I should be ready for opposition, misunderstandings and turbulence.
Again as an experiment I started my love affairs. I would fall in love (so called) but every time I would propose marriage they told me that they did not feel needed and would leave me. I wondered what was wrong with me how these ladies could see through me.
Eventually I married for practical reasons and it was a terrible time of torment. But I decided not to run away. I learnt a lot about my own selfish attitudes because the feedback from the partner was immediate and honestly speaking true. So first I concentrated on my negative attributes and compromised with my partner at every stage. When the relationship began to stabilise and she started trusting me a bit, I stared discussing her attitudes and how some of her behaviour was hurting me. Slowly she also started to change her patterns but not as consciously as I had done.
Now I can say that marriage put me in a bind and forced me to look inward and gave me the final push towards enlightenment. When all is said and done, the best moments I have known in my life came through my child and I am enjoying my child like a person possessed. Because now my wife and I have found friendship we are having, generally speaking, a jolly good time, busy raising our kid. Her own insecurities do frighten her sometimes into quarrels with me but they are manageable. Filed under CommunicationMarriageRelationships, My life in perspective. PK- of s164gk1, New Delhi
Pradeep Maheshwari  - Resume
S-164 Greater Kailash, Part 1, New Delhi 110048. India
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Have been active in Import/Export/Representation of Companies from Europe and Marketing Consultancy, Counseling. Product design and Development, Persona Enhancement as personal trainer. Teaching FRENCH & English, Published author, My latest books: ( The ABC of Artnership, Soul Speak) Age 56 yrs.
I follow the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother of Pondicherry. I am an ardent believer in the lessons imparted by The Dalai Lama and Osho of Pune, Guru Nanak. The Sufi philosophy of living is what I try to emulate in my life.   
Writers that have had a profound influence on me are Bertrand Russell, Somerset Maugham, Guy de Maupassant, La Rochefoucauld among others.
Books that have helped in my forming are: Up the Organisation, Zen and the Martial Arts, Journey to Xtlan, Peter's Prescription, Cheiro's Book of Numbers, The Book of proverbs, The Reader's Digest and its many publications etc.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Son as surrogate

R Jagannathan
DNA, Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The end of the Noughties is a good time to think about boys and men. Contrary to what is articulated in the media and by card-carrying feminists, boys need more attention than girls — not because they are special, but because society has more to lose for boyhood gone wrong. When it comes to girls, we know what has to be done: allow them to soar. But do we know what to do for our boys apart from bringing them down to earth?
Do we know how to deal with the crisis of manhood? The issue is aggravated by the deluge of daily images of dysfunctional men: from rapists and molesters of various kinds to the Rathores who use positions of power to subvert the law, from boys who learn to murder for money to perverts who stalk potential victims on social networking sites.
Reverse sexism is not helping. You may not see gender-insensitive headlines like “Boys do better at IITs,” but “Girls top SSC rankings again” is par for the course. In short, men have very few positive images to build a reworked future where women will claim their rightful share and men have to do most of the adjusting.
Power corrupts. Male power has, over the past few centuries, been used as much to subjugate as to protect. It is time to change that —and the best way to do that is by focusing on how we need to bring up our boys so that they grow up to be the kind of men we need. Demonising men may be a useful way for damaged women to vent, but it is not going to get us anywhere. To understand why men need to change, we also need to acknowledge evolution’s impact on male development.

Fact 1: No species apart from humans has given only one gender extraordinary dominance over the other. Why did this happen? Answer: unlike humans, power is more equal between the sexes in most species. Have you ever heard of rape in another species even though all males in all species have the same biological urges? Probably not. Equality of power doesn’t mean equal physical strength. In all species, the male is bigger than the female. But in no species is the female incapable of defending herself well enough to deter over-aggressive males. Why did this happen only in humans?
Fact 2: Humans began to dominate other species because specialised male functions helped generate long-term wealth and consolidated power. Males developed physical strength, risk-taking abilities, and aggression. Females developed the ability to empathise with other humans and built networking capabilities. Tribes with specialised gender roles grew stronger and from this realisation it was just a hop, step and jump away to formal patriarchy and male dominance.
Fact 3: Women, especially Indian women, have played a major role in making men what they are. The typical Indian mother, trying to make up for the emotional deficit in her relationship with her spouse, ends up building up her son as surrogate to step into the void. (While psychologist Sudhir Kakar has made this point several times, a good recent book to offer insights in this area is Shaifali Sandhya’s Love Will Follow).

This kind of toxic maternal affection and high emotional expectations permanently scars boys and as they develop their own sexuality, they sometimes develop both deep bonds and deep anxieties about their mothers. Later on, they tend to see women only as mothers or whores, not equal sexual and emotional partners. This is the mindset that sometimes creates rapists and molesters even while ruining spousal relationships.
All these factors have taken a heavy toll of men. The vast majority of ordinary, decent men have limited awareness of their own emotional needs and an even poorer ability to communicate. Half their human faculties have been sacrificed to the cause of evolution.
Today, the relentless cycle of evolution is moving in the direction of female empowerment not only because it is the right thing to do, but because unbridled male power is damaging all of earth. The power imbalance is leading to constant conflict (global war-mongering), and destructive self-aggrandisement (the crash of the global financial system is a male greed issue).
As a society, we have a lot of things to fix. Top of the agenda is a focus on boys and their developmental needs — mental, physical and emotional, including gender sensitisation. A significant chunk of investment must be made in counselling parents and schools, for this is where many innocent little boys become transformed into problem men. There is no time to waste. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Feelings of guilt and shame in women

How men and women respond differently to sex Hindustan times - jan 4, 2010 - When it comes to sexual responses, men and women are poles apart, concludes a new study. Led by Queen's University Psychology professor Meredith Chiversk, the study found that men's reports of feeling sexually aroused tend to match their physiological ... Women 'may have lower sex drives due to guilt' Telegraph.co.uk Why men and women really are on different planets while in bed Daily Mail bolohealth.com - CBC.ca - msnbc.com - News Locale guilt may make women have a less satisfying sex life bolohealth.com - jan 5, 2010‎ - Feelings of guilt and shame revolving around sex can explain the reason behind the low sex drives in women. Low libidos can trigger to unhappiness in their ... Women 'may have lower sex drives due to guilt' Telegraph.co.uk Men and Women Show Different Responses to Sexual Stimuli News Locale

Intimate Relations: The Natural History of Desire by Liam Hudson (Author), Bernadine Jacot (Author). Hudson and Jacot (The Way Men Think, 1992) make a perplexing and incoherent effort to analogize intimacy and art. The authors declare "that psychological differences between the sexes are both deeply engrained and imaginatively galvanising" and "that there exists a parallel between art and intimate relations." Unfortunately, very little that follows has anything to do with these potentially engaging assertions. (Kirkus Reviews) Differences between the sexes are both deeply engrained and imaginatively galvanising 10:40 AM

Women have a lower sex drive than men, and are more likely to lose interest There was the intimation that, at its core, women’s sexuality might not be passive at all. There was the chance that the long history of fear might have buried the nature of women’s lust too deeply to unearth, to view. « Previous Page  7  Next Page » Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the magazine. His new book, “The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys Into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing,” will be published this month. More Articles in Magazine » A version of this article appeared in print on January 25, 2009, on page MM26 of the New York edition. 4:46 PM

Married (Happily) With Issues 
Do you fear the snakes in your own marriage? Are you clearer about your job as a parent than your job as a spouse? Share your thoughts NYTimes.com:
December 1, 2009 (Page 10 of 10)  « Previous Page Elizabeth Weil, a contributing writer, is working on a memoir about marriage improvement called “No Cheating, No Dying.” 9:15 AM 

Sarojini Sahoo: In one of my recently published interviews in Muse India, I stated that I differed from Simon de Beauvoir' in her 'Other' theory where she says “one is not born but rather, becomes a woman.” I further stated that I think a woman is born as a woman. Such a statement by me surprised some of my scholar friends in that how could I state this when it is known to me that according to social anthropology, gender is more a societal than a biological phenomenon. I have posted my new blogging “Being Feminine: A Matter of Socialisation or Biology?” at SENSE & SENSUALITY to clarify my stand. Your comments and suggestions will make me applauded and guided.  Sarojini