Monday, May 29, 2017

One Hundred and Twenty Two

This morning I made an online search for articles related to Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia. It led me to articles about something called ‘homoerotic mourning.

For Freud, love is the desire to possess the beloved as a predator possesses its prey, based on the mistaken belief that the beloved is as necessary to the lover's existence as food is. He claimed we all fall in love with a woman who reminds us of our mother because she was our source of nourishment when we were infants, and falling in love as adults infantilizes us.

What most people call love is an illusion based on a naïve overestimation and idealization of the beloved. In reality all women are alike, which perhaps explains why Freud appears to have had an affair with his wife’s sister.

Or his affair may have been an example of the Rachel/Leah illusion, in which a man marries a woman and then discovers, too late, that she’s not the ideal woman he imagined. The man usually blames his wife for deceiving him, when it’s his naïveté that’s responsible for his mistake.

A woman, according to the old saying, marries a man hoping he’ll change (i.e., will mature) and a man marries a woman hoping she won’t change (i.e., will remain his infantile ideal).

Ironically Freud claimed it's women who are childlike, and therefore untrustworthy. 

Beautiful women are especially dangerous because they’re narcissists, and love themselves more than they do any man. But she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen outside of a movie (and she didn’t have a key light), and as good as she was beautiful, which is why everyone who knew her loved her.

Adolfo was no exception. “You don’t understand her the way I do,” he told me, “because you’re an American, and she’s a typical European woman”. His naïveté amused me because he was a psychiatrist, and therefore should have understood her (and me, and himself), better (To me the otherness of women seems insignificant compared to the otherness of Americans).

Women in a patriarchal society are constrained by the expectations of men; but European women learn how to play the game, and manipulate men’s rules to their advantage, while American women want to change the rules. I enjoyed watching her because she did it so well, and because I also enjoyed manipulating the rules.

Beauty gives a woman power. But it also limits what she can do, because it arouses expectations in others; and when we don’t conform to the expectations of others, they blame us, not their own naïveté, for deceiving them.

Freud said mourning is the natural process by which we deal with the loss of a beloved. Melancholia is pathological because it never ends.

She wasn't and isn't necessary to my existence. I can live without her. But I’m a different person without her, and I don’t like the person I’ve become. I mourn the person I was with her. Therefore I suffer from what the articles call ‘homoerotic mourning’ - the loss of my ideal self, the person I could be and should be.

Most people, according to the articles, eventually come to believe their ideal self is not lost to them, but is embodied in someone who is like them but better than they are, who they can love as they can’t love themselves. This explains not only hero worship, but also homosexual love, which seems to me as much a mistake as Freud thought heterosexual love. All three overestimate and idealize the beloved.

Freud was almost right in saying we love the beloved as a predator loves its prey, because the only way we can possess the beloved is by making her (or him) part of us: emulating her, and making her virtues ours. In loving her I loved myself, or that part of me which most men learn to suppress in order to become men as our society defines manhood. But I can’t love myself without her; or rather I have no incentive to do so without her.

Freud was also almost right in saying all women are alike. All women - and all men, too – are alike in that all deserve to be loved. I used to love them all because in her I saw what we all could and should be. Now I love no one.

These articles are mostly written by genderqueer authors who claim most people suffer from homoerotic mourning because our society doesn't allow men to love other men, and women to love other women, sexually. It seems to me that, on the contrary, our society doesn't allow men to love other men, and women to love other women, except sexually. 

There's a place in heterosexual society for homosexuals, just as there's a place in patriarchal society for women, so long as they masochistically embrace their inferiority. By admitting they're inferior, they confirm the superiority of (heterosexual) men.

Heterosexuality and homosexuality are equally perverse when the only way we're allowed to express our love for each other is sexual (especially when that sex is sadomasochistic). Sex is what we settle for when we aren’t allowed to love each other. Fearing that if we did allow ourselves to love them, we would masochistically embrace our inferiority to them, makes us unable to love anyone, including ourselves.

Society expects all of us, men and women, to conform to our respective roles. Pundits devote their attention to gender roles because it enables them to ignore the others.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

One Hundred and Twenty One

Why are we so cruel? Other animals hunt and kill each other because they must, because life must feed on life. Only we humans hunt and kill for the pleasure of it, the schadenfreude.

I assume it’s because of our neotony. The young of other species play at hunting, play with their captured prey before killing it. But by the time they’re adults they’ve mastered the art of hunting, and take death seriously. It remains a game for us because we remain children.

It’s because we’re children, conscious of our helplessness, that we turn some into our servants so we won’t have to work, and others into our livestock so we won’t have to hunt. We do it not because we must, as other species do, in order to survive, but because killing and/or enslaving others merely because we can allows us to forget how helpless we really are.

We respected our slaves and our livestock when we still recognized our kinship, our common weakness. That respect was one source of religion. We deified the totem animals who died so that we might live, just as we did our ancestors. But as we seemed to grow strong, we lost respect for everyone and everything that seemed weak.

Natural philosophers studied the world, hoping to know their creator through his creation. Finding no evidence of him, they did not conclude that he didn’t exist. They concluded instead that he existed only in us, brahman to our atman. Only we are immortal, as he is. Other animals are avatars of god in the east, and in the west machines he invented for our convenience, pawns in a game god plays with man, his only natural child (they include those animals who look like us, and appear to be as human as we are, but do not worship god as we do). Using them as god intended is not cruel because they are mere automatons, as Descartes said, and do not suffer as we do.

This world is what we’ve made it. It seems cruel to us because we’re cruel to each other, and to ourselves. We alternate between exaltation because we’re all-powerful - powerful enough to destroy the world, if we want to - and depression because we can’t or won’t do what we know we should, and probably will destroy the world. We know what we should do, but only as children know what adults do, without being able to do it themselves.

This is what our life, my life, is, but I don’t care. 

Even if this planet circling this star should be home to the only life there is, the only things alive as we are, I don't care because I want to know and understand more than this, as much as I am able to understand of what life is, and what it can be, before mine ends. I want to understand myself as well as I can before I cease to be myself.

I know I’ve been cruel. Not wittingly, but because it’s my nature, human nature. None of us mean to be cruel. We’re cruel as children, left alone on the shore of the endless sea, are thoughtlessly cruel to the little creatures they catch and play with to pass the time until their parents return for them.

We are children without a parent, ronin without a master. Edward Abbey said that because most men are unable to govern themselves, they’re even less able to govern others. He imagined this was an argument for anarchy, but most people see it as an argument for putting up with any master, however bad. The only thing worse than a bad master is no master. Namque pauci libertatum pars magna iustos dominos volunt.

Before Lord God made the sea and the land
He held all the stars in the palm of His hand
And they ran through His fingers like grains of sand
And one little star fell alone.

And the Lord God hunted through the wide night air
For that little star lost in the wind down there
And He stated and He promised
He'd take special care
So it wouldn't get lost again.

Now Man don't mind if the stars grow dim
And the clouds blow over and darken him
So long as Lord God's watching over him
Keeping track of how it all goes on.

But I've been walking through the night and the day
'Til my eyes get weary and my head turns grey
And sometimes it seems maybe God's gone away
Forgetting His promise that we heard Him say
And we're lost out here in the stars.
Little stars
Big stars
Blowing through the night
And we're lost out here in the stars.