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Posted on June 27 at 10:33 a.m.
The French poet Lamartine wrote, "The ideal is only truth at a distance." Which I read as 'the ideal remains true only as it remains out of reach.' Thanks for a hip, humorous restatement of that principle, Starshine.
On Cool or Not Cool?
Posted on May 3 at 10:38 a.m.
I'll add one more thing. A lot of young women are facing the fall-out of this. As the parent of one who may be considering marriage sometime in the next few years, it is depressing to think of this becoming her problem.
On Indecent Exposure
Posted on May 3 at 7:19 a.m.
On a more serious note, there seems to be considerable evidence of widespread porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Lots of men, even in their 20s, are having difficulty having intercourse with real women. While many of them won't talk about this -- many respond anonymously to surveys and blogs, finding some consolation they are not alone.
This is a downside of neuroplasticity. The brain changes by its conditioning. If we men get-off on "paper dolls", we may lose (fortunately reversible in many cases) our capacity to respond to flesh-and-blood women.
A slightly broader, but related, issue has to do with relationships, not merely sexual function. This is the 'air-brush' syndrome. A man becomes so used to magazine beauty that his 'standards' become too high. Every real available woman he knows is too fat or too ugly. He won't consent to any committed relationship.
Posted on March 19 at 12:55 a.m.
Dear Nuria,Thanks for the narrative. I like your crossing of contemporary modes with ancient wisdom. Oh, I think your 'apigraha' should actually be 'aparigraha'. It comes from the word "parigraha", which means reaching out for something and claiming it for oneself -- the 'a-' is the negation. (And, no, I'm not going to buy that you dropped the 'ar' because you weren't attached to right spelling!)
On My iPhone, Myself
Posted on May 31 at 12:32 a.m.
A FEW WORDS ON THE F-WORDI’ve had, for some years, a private theory about the deeper psychology of the word. It seems to me to be rooted in the many ambivalences of penetration. Penises penetrate; but so do swords and bullets. Sexual love is the epitome of everything open, trusting, unveiled and vulnerable. Therefore, it is also the most painful arena for violation and betrayal. There is something rapacious in the f-word. We are accustomed now to speak about the “f-bomb”. Well, bombs are all about violent penetration, aren’t they? Missiles and bullets are phallic shaped, designed as they are for aerodynamics (as Nature designed the shape of the male organ for dynamic movement). The voltage of the word comes from the great contrast between love and violence. The word has a violent effect on listeners, which is why it is a “bomb”. Who cannot remember being shocked by someone’s use of the word (as I was, in my early teens, by my father)? The use of the word is a kind of confession to harboring a will to violence, sort of like the archaic British curse “blast them”. But that expression does not go far enough. It is the will to blast them where they are most vulnerable, to violate and desecrate what is most dear and tender to them. The f-bomb is always dropped in antagonistic verbal exchanges “when the gloves come off”. It is a kind of verbal rape, and it carries the idea of the will to rape. Speech itself is an act of intercourse, the open ear and the sperm-like “word” being metaphors as old as Stoicism and the Bible. The f-word is an extreme word that carries an extreme idea. It promises to damage, and indeed DOES damage, a respectful view of the act of love. The act of love, of course, is the origin of family life, and the beginning of all (non-test tube) human bodies. So, to curse the act of love is to curse one’s beginnings. To be flagrant and cavalier in advertising one’s cynicism about the act of love is to confess (however unconsciously) a sense of one’s own psychological, if not spiritual, illegitimacy.
"If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred." –Walt Whitman (b. May 31, 1819)
On Documentary Digs Into the F-Bomb
Posted on April 25 at 11:38 p.m.
Good column, Starshine. This article satirizes what to my mind is a critical question: Do I regard the errors of others as 'mistakes' calling for correction, or as 'sins' calling for condemnation and attack? And to what degree am I willing to put my knee-jerk ego-reactions in check, and give my imagination a little stretching room to consider whether there might be a backstory here. Some famous writer (I forget who) attributed all moral failing to a failure of imagination. We don't stop to put ourselves in the place of another, precisely because (1) it takes effort, and (2) it might take the wind out of the sails of our agitated self-righteousness. Yet, unless we do stop to listen to our 'second thoughts,' we will continue to run headlong into unnecessary wars, we will continue to choose punitive justice over reformative justice, and we will harm our own children through physical and emotional violence. Sadly, all of this only masks a secret self-contempt. As you suggest at the end, no one can name others as a-holes without naming oneself, however subconsciously. A wise rabbi once said, "judge not, lest ye be judged."
On No More Meanies
Posted on April 13 at 2:03 a.m.
I met Claire while singing in Canticle. We both joined the same season, Winter 1996. I had never done formal choral singing before, and found the 15 weeks and the performances exhilirating and frightening. Claire joined me for tea after the first performance. We went to Frimples, or whatever it was called at the time, there at State and Valerio. It was the perfect evening of debriefing, after the long uphill trek, and the frightening glorious vistas. We were both older than most of the singers, and were not part of the social cliques.
Claire was a sharp, quick-witted, compassionate woman, with wonderful musical gifts. One thing I remember in particular from our conversation. I was describing to Claire a segment of a movie on PBS I had happened to catch, a British film about a woman who has lost her husband, a cellist, and his ghost hangs out to help her psychologically move on. I never caught the name of the film, and wished I could find it, to watch the whole thing. Remarkably, Claire instantly knew it was "Truly Madly Deeply" with Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. I can't think about that film without thanking Claire.
On Obituary for Claire Jeanne Sangster
Posted on August 5 at 2:10 a.m.
One perspective yet to be considered in this long string of comments, is that of the accused's son -- the boy's friend. Think about that for a moment. Did HE suspect anything was happening all those years? If so, think about the mesh of secrecy, hypocrisy, disgust, shame -- and conflicting loyalties to mother, father, friend.
Here might be the most obvious victim. The accused's husband is another victim. The "victim's" parents and family are also victims. It is impossible to imagine being any one of these people and not feeling harmed.
The broader point here is that while the relationship of the woman with the minor is the focus here -- that relationship did not exist in a vacuum. Apologetic arguments based on the principle of consent fail for me, because they are based on the fallacy of isolation. No human interaction is hermetically sealed -- especially sexual interaction. An intuitive recognition of this fact, I think, forms the basis of laws regarding sexuality.
On Woman Accused of Sex with Minor
Posted on June 16 at 11:17 p.m.
If transient means passing through, ephemeral, fleeting, momentary -- then we are all transients. The difference between Gregory Ghan and anyone else is only one of degree and not of kind. And kind means kindness. We are all camping. We do all sorts of things to try to hide this fact, and superimpose appearances of permanency to placate our insecurities. But sooner or later each must face up to the truth.
On Victim of Isla Vista Assault Dies
Posted on May 1 at 2:49 a.m.
Do these three musicians wish to communicate with us? Do they care we are here? Would it be such a compromise to the purity of their artistry to bend so low as to please their audience, to flatter our expectations, to stir our memories, just a little? (How 'bout a little "Spain" from the "Play" album?) Was it just me, or did I not feel a great relief and longing surge through the audience at the 'blues moment' an hour into the concert; and then again at the Monk groove in the encore? DeJohnette seemed to voice my complaint, in the freedom of the moment, when he growled "this has gone on way too long: it is time for the blues." But the most disturbing confessional moment came (if spontaneity is anything, it is often transparently unguarded) for me during the "broccolini and mashed potatoes" rant. McFerrin suddenly asks (in what was the "singer's" only use of "words" in the whole concert), with a child's stratospherically high falsetto "Mommie? Whatchya doin'?" He then voices the mother answering that she is making dinner 'broccolini and mashed potatoes' and the child must eat it because it is 'good for you.' By the time I got to asking myself whether the concert was nutritional or not, candy or vegetables McFerrin worked himself into a manic repeating rant "Is this entertainment? Are you being entertained?" Over and over, until "Are you being entertained to death?!"
Is that then the point? McFerrin the performance artist is too creative to be boxed into a "jazz concert"? And the audience (was there an edge of contempt and accusation there?) is too square and staid to appreciate such fine artistry? Yes, Bobby, Chick, and Jack I DID come to be entertained. How foolishly traditional and uncreative of me!
On Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and Jack DeJohnette.
The Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary will dedicate a new learning ... Read More
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