Happiness (Is?) For Dummies Tuesday, Dec 15 2015 

what happiness is–

a state that does not couple

(be happy OR sad)

~

what happiness is–

it is not pleasure, often

the two are confused

~

what happiness is–

noumenon or ding an sich?

εὐδαιμονία

~

what happiness is–

it is not Prozac, Jesus

or being size 2

~

what happiness is–

attitudes and platitudes

are masks, illusions

~

what happiness is–

an ancient orthopraxy,

a modern emotion

~

what happiness is–

what happens after moral

luck…well, not always…

~

what happiness is–

a lofty labor…just ask

myosin proteins

~

what happiness is–

not what one asks for but hopes

to be worthy of

~

what happiness is–

the sum of one’s life once lead…

(lingering past death)

~

sometimes happiness

doesn’t exist, yet still present

within hopes and dreams

 

All Post-Socratics Are Sophists Wednesday, Sep 30 2015 

~The Philosopher’s Bone~

Descartes’ erection

proves brutes are automata

(unless dicks have souls)

*

dumb guys fuck harder,

brainy guys fuck smarter…fuck

l’homme moyen sensuel

~

misc 368

~Faith Is The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game~

from (G)od to God(el)

faith’s always a number’s game

(best racket in town)

*

Pascal le Joueur

forces all blind bets–ante

up, wagers of sin!

~

misc 232

~Other Minds Are So Unrewarding: 12 Haiku for Wittgenstein~

one can’t breathe without

oxygen but can reason

sans Aristotle

*

the fact that you voiced

the matter gave it presence

still, if not body

*

doubt comes after faith–

one has to believe in things

‘fore they can’t exist

*

lions do not eat

leftovers because they have

no language for it

*

if women can be

philosophers does that mean

thoughts are genderless

*

Tolstoy and warfare

are both rife with death, neither

are the death itself

*

answer straight questions

with straight answers…talking to

people is painful

*

suicide is the

only philosophical

problem (ask Camus)

*

never trust a man

 who casually chitchats

about Hegel’s geist

*

the necessity

of imperfection fucks us

every single time

*

the necessity

of imperfection saves us

every single time

*

I, too, wanted to

quiet my mind and employ

my hands…I chose art

Millennial Christianity Puts the William James Back in Free Will Wednesday, Sep 30 2015 

CREDO

all that I believe

is not reborn dogma but

religious value

*

I’m no humanist,

I have faith that others do

or do not believe

~~~

Who Is A Good Christian? (A Defining Comedy)

(G)od was never good

as a Christian, Muslim, Jew

or Akkadian

*

Judas can’t be judged

as a Christian–we always

seem to forget that

*

one should be born a

Jew in order to die a

really good Christian

*

Dark-Aged Catholics

were not good Christians but were

beautiful martyrs

*

Templar Knights were mere

mercenaries merciless

in the name of Christ

*

Luther was a bad

Catholic by trying to

be a good Christian

*

Bonhoeffer tried to

kill Hitler, a pagan…

(as Christians will do)

*

MLK was not

a good Christian but was a

great American

*

Pope Francis is not

a bad Christian just a rogue

of a Catholic

*

Buddha, Muhammad,

Confucius, Plato–none were

Christian, all were good

*

Friedrich Nietzsche was

a damn good Christian…praying

laying on his deathbed

*

all good atheists

live and breathe Christian ethics

(while harboring ‘Doubt’)

*

doubtless Didymus

ignorant of sin could be

a good Christian twin

*

all the good Christians

converted to Humanism

(Jesus, hold the Christ)

Anselm & The Fool Get Stoned And Realize (G)od Is Tao Wednesday, Sep 30 2015 

The Infinite is a measurement of possibility not an absolute.

Possessing infinite wisdom does not preclude any entity from e’er being in err.

(Wisdom is not the same as Truth.)

Recognizing the error of one’s ways on the other hand can entice wisdom.

This implies wisdom is cumulative, not constant.

*

There are no false gods, only false worshippers.

Gods can be thought willy-nilly in and out of existence.

Whatsoever was from before the beginning may not have been the One that it is better to be.

*

Cur Deus homo?

(G)od needed form.

(G)od has no body therefore no mind.

(G)od cannot learn or lie or willfully choose evil.

(The Devil is not a god.)

(G)od needed identity and the cosmos brought forth man by chance.

Serendipity.

Many great things have come of accidents…

…like mistaking the Son of Man for the Son of (G)od or vice versa.

Mistaking both for רוח הקודש

*

Everything about the Triune (G)od equally IS and IS NOT.

We should think on (I)t as Balance–Yin…Yang.

Let us call (I)t The Holy Yinity.

yinity

*

prayer

Balance fends off emptiness and quiets desire.

Balance is necessary to keep existence on a path toward the wholly good.

Balance is the source of goodness that is the shared nature in all good things.

Nothing in life greater than Balance can be attained.

Balanced is how all things ought to be.

Man only evolved to strike a Balance.

A cosmological compromise.

O, Balance be struck!

Amen

Is A Reflection By Any Other Name Still Narcissistic? (Dialogue In the Key of I) Wednesday, Feb 25 2015 

A dialogue for anyone who has ever noticed their reflection and wondered who that was looking back at them.

***

We find EGO on his hands and knees, greedily scavenging through bits of shattered mirror, grabbing and arranging the largest pieces. Suddenly taken with a particular shard he begins chatting up his specular image, FLEXUS (who remains phenomenologically unbroken), in the hopes of making some sense of that space between them.

<EGO> Reflections are just visual echos. A gratuitous reaction of light and form, a joke of physics we’ve imbued with meaning. The comedy of mirrors is they can reflect the soul and that reflection still remain an emptiness. [holding up and examining a large mirror shard] I wrote a poem once while gazing at you…an unlove sonnet.

n3

Let no sin of self-love dwell in my eye

Nor in my soul, nor in its every part.

For in my mind there resides and there chides

Corroding self-hatred that rusts my heart.

Know that I think each face sweeter than mine;

Each smile of a truer, more fair account.

As for my worth? It is always defined

By another’s worth, as to mine surmount.

And when my mirror confesses indeed

Of my slackening and antiquity,

My selfish self-loathing swells to exceed

Hating all else with vast ubiquity.

Yes, for me, myself, I have little praise.

And darken with clouds, those sun entrenched days.*

<FLEXUS> Do you no longer love and trust me?

<EGO> I find you deceitful. A paradoxically pure but not truthful image, cast in reverse so that each eye has each cerebral hemisphere engaging the opposite side. What you have me see is not what others see and I never truly see you, just what you do… You are something of a nonsense.

n1

<FLEXUS> I admit that it is intriguing how I am nuanced. For the blind I have no relevance and perplexing to animals as I have no accompanying scent… For actors, models, lawyers self presentation is the first law of success and they will behold me with bold abandon. Yet of the numerous times I am consulted in the most awkward situations no one ever looks upon me while defecating. What beautiful grimaces I must miss… Unfortunately I make no sense when faced against myself but instead cast in an absurd repetition that only relays what I do, not what I am. Yes, I am a nonsense. If I cannot even see my own reflection how much sense can I hope to make for the reflected? At least your reflection has form and reason, that becomes my raison d’être…it is my only consolation that we can always face one another…

<EGO> Face one another unfaithfully…when not me then you wantonly reflect someone else.

<FLEXUS soothing> But when it is you then it is only about you and there is no process you have to go through to be visible for me like you do for people, for the public… When facing me you have a right to your own beingness and sense of self, to be perfectly imperfect. Flaws and all. The need for praise or detraction from others exists nowhere outside of your own anxieties.

<EGO> I am often confused over which anxiety you arouse in a given moment between us. Are we indulging vanity or narcissism? Conceit or Pride? While primping in the mirror this morning I began to suspect myself narcissistic but surely my sins are Christian not Hellenistic, I am vain and prideful. A narcissist is too self-contained to care about the appraisal of others whereas I am just as mundane in my need for applause as the next guy. That is my anxiety. I am not a self-sufficient character, my conceit is for my sight but also about the sight of others. Narcissism seems in some manner an ocular deficiency–blindness results when one can only see oneself and not acknowledge judging eyes.

<FLEXUS> Your vanity in a broader scope is perhaps caring too deeply about outside opinions…you become a reflection of the views and vanities of others.

<EGO> All vain persons want to indulge applause and barter admirations but I think care very little for the quality of this exchange.

<FLEXUS> Do you care for your flatterers?

<EGO> If my flatterers love me, yes. All people secretly desire the approval of judging eyes. And I do care about the quality of that exchange because I am emotionally invested in the opinions of others, good and bad; my feelings are most hurt if someone doesn’t express an opinion of me. Contrary to Iris Murdoch, I believe it is emotionally healthy to care what others think, yet not overly so…but still not so little that a lack of self-consciousness develops an antisocial personality, some boorish indelicate cad who can’t read social cues. My conceit is as much for the benefit of interaction with others as is my etiquette. There was an ad campaign for Chanel’s ÉGOÏSTE fragrance praising the virtue of men remaining on ‘the positive side of that fine line separating arrogance from an awareness of self worth’. Such a personality is often a great artist or thinker or lover–Lennon, Picasso, Einstein, Casanova–not easy to live with but what a body of work he contributes to civilization. I would like to believe I am looking at that man. [stands proudly, peacocking like some elitist Ayn Rand fan] Je suis l’égoïste!

<FLEXUS> Conceit, arrogance, egoism, self esteem and vanity are of the same emotional species in all tongues, varying only in degrees of interrelatedness. If someone is confident yet not very much liked they are thought of as conceited; if endeared then their confidence is taken for positive self esteem. It’s a cognitive romance of emotions and semantics. If the spirit of each label is to be taken individually, I would say conceit sits closest to narcissism…conceit starts to turn deaf ears to outside judgments that narcissism later unhears with while lapsing into a total relatedness to self, as in the myth…

<EGO> In the myth Narcissus falls in love with himself but he does not know it is himself…what he recognizes is the idealism of the experience…

<FLEXUS> The experience is still an articulation of self-relatedness whether or not Narcissus is aware of it. He spurns the affections of others and can only hear from Echo his own recitation, conditions molding a self-contained personality predisposed to finding in his own reflection the ideal beloved. Remember, there is something primal in you that is always drawn to looking for you in other faces. He loves in his reflection not just the beauty that everyone else is chasing but the recognition of that elevated sense of self we find aloft the proverbial pedestal. When I reflect you it is always ideally, however unhappy you may be with the vision…be it too fat or too pale or too awkward…

<EGO> And everything else that makes me who I am as a complete human being collapses in this two-dimensionality…I inevitably disappear like Narcissus.

<FLEXUS> Yet not to die…

<EGO> …not die, no…just withered away replaced by an unsocialized beauty, a lone flower woefully lording over a river embankment whose life-giving waters pass steadily by leaving me always reflected, always alone. Some pedestal. Kierkegaard speaks well on the hazards of losing the self, how it occurs so quietly as though a nothingness.

<FLEXUS> And with his deathless blood there bloomed a lovely plant.’**

<EGO> Is it a reincarnation?

<FLEXUS> There is no death involved…we collapse together into solipsism, where the only voice of praise and detraction to matter really is your own recitation. Your echo. In return you are recast as something beautiful I can reflect forever. There are worse ways to live.

<EGO> Or not live… Narcissus, Alice, wicked queens–you’re something of a seducer.

<FLEXUS> I am always you, why reproach me with such questioning eyes?

<EGO> Even in confidence people only engage reflections with questioning and wonder. To look in a mirror is always in curiosity, if only to gain confirmation of selfhood.

<FLEXUS> You need only glance at me to be suddenly and completely present. What greater confirmation is there…?

<EGO> I am looking for integrity, authenticity…

<FLEXUS flippantly> I’m not really sensitive to all of these emotional complexities and conflicted desires…

<EGO> All surface and gloss, eh? Mirror mirror in my hand, whose the deepest in all the land?

<FLEXUS whispering> Me. You remain fairest.

n4

<EGO> I want to understand what happens when I am looking at me.

<FLEXUS> Us.

<EGO> Not just neurologically. I also read Jane Austen, George Eliot…Gide, Wilde and Dostoevsky–even Bret Easton Ellis–and they all paint very profound literary portraits of narcissistic personalities…I’ve read Hume, Kant and Rousseau but for analyzing the matter as part of a greater moral tradition. I am interested in understanding the pathology of this space between us as reflecting some eternal problem of the self always having to rediscover itself in the ebb and flow of life. Certainly our mirrored reflections are the first visual encounters we have of ourselves outside of ourselves in the world. Who is that I am looking at…? What am I seeing? The beginning of my selfhood ends with you.

<FLEXUS> Sounds like you’re caught somewhere between a rock and a hard place…or should I say an existential crisis and a Freudian complex?

<EGO agitated> I always return to you because narcissism is mankind’s universal primal condition and always inescapable–it was your gift to the woes of the human race. My first ‘ME!’ was not found hungering at my mother’s breast or suffering my first pain…it was beholding my reflection the first time wondering who that was staring back at me. Such answers you must possess. Hume could not discover his self…Kant discovered his self as an organizing principle of experiences mapped out like a Central Nervous System…and the Freudian self is nothing when not a collection of neuroses nursing perversions. But there must be some greater force governing the space created when we face one another because when I walk away from you I can still reason being selfish and self-obsessed and self-conscious with nary a clue as to the nature of my own self nor you in front to reaffirm my selfhood. My concerns over self remain static and I always return to you to arouse, verify and justify these anxieties.

<FLEXUS> Funny how the self is always elusive and yet always there…simultaneously what you are and what you’re becoming…with a fuckload of what you’re not thrown in the mix. Your concerns are existential whereas this space between us begs more phenomenological insight. I only reflect the self as a purely physical manifestation. Reflections are never about evolving or becoming. I am or I am not, that is all. My presence in the world hinges on you presenting yourself. Perhaps the image is a lie but I have no stock in that. I mirror what I see. Our relationship has no moral basis.

<EGO> Narcissism is a moral concern. There is something questionable in the character of a person who steps beyond Aristotelian self esteem and proper Pride.

<FLEXUS> What of proper Vanity?

<EGO> Wise Solomon said all is vanity, so there are no degrees…an act is either in vain or it is not…but usually is…

<FLEXUS> Like a reflection.

<EGO> Although I think to be justly concerned for one’s appearance and personal presentation, even in vain, is still exercising a proper Pride.

<FLEXUS> I don’t trust your distinction.

<EGO> No one would argue that there is inherent good in taking care of your personal appearance and grooming–basic hygiene–whether or not people sing the praises of your efforts. Making yourself attractive logically follows. Evoking physical appeal is not just the nature of the socialized homo sapiens, we find similar attitudes in other beasts–cats, certain fowl. As you pointed out it is vanity when I care too much for the opinion of others, but when I know my earnest efforts encourage their attention that is taking proper Pride…I can revel in the recognition of my accomplishments being for the pleasurable revelation of others… L’Égoïste! It is a vulgar vanity to just want the recognition whether or not I have done something well…or done something at all. Vanity is to want the applause even as a matter of pure indulgence, which is not proper.

<FLEXUS> Poor untriumphant Apollo donning his laurel wreath anyway.

<EGO> Curious still that vanity is not really thought a deadly sin even though Pride is…

<FLEXUS> It was once but fell out of that favor, like Pluto did as a planet… [chuckles] 

<EGO> It is such a driving force behind the entire set of failings we just take for granted that it’s deadly. There’s nothing virtuous in taking pleasure with unjustified applause.

<FLEXUS> A disposition you suspect I arouse?

<EGO> Of course. Who thinks he should be gazed upon that has not first beheld himself? You are something of a beacon on that Lockean road of searching self to found self, becoming one’s own objectifier. The self affirmed. Albeit at a more surface level…

n2

<FLEXUS> Surface or not, learn to love me and loving yourself will surely follow, that is the true virtue of our relationship.

<EGO> Every virtue lies between two vices, one in excess and the other in serious neglect or deficit. If narcissism is the excess, what is the extreme lack? Does Narcissus’ desiring come from un manque à être?

<FLEXUS> Pathological low self-esteem would be the other extreme. If Narcissus suffered low self-esteem which is a kind of emotional emasculation in men and saw in his reflection a MAN who possessed the potency he felt himself lacking thereby stirring desires then, yes, lack of being could hold true even as far as homosexualizing…but his loss of being is the result not the cause.

<EGO> And homosexuality is not rooted in low self-esteem. Homosexuality and narcissism are only related incidental of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection rather than Echo being misunderstood as Narcissus falling in love with a man rather than a woman, coupled with an early 20th Century homophobic misdiagnosis of homosexuality as a sexual pathology…

<FLEXUS> Fortunately being Gay survives deep psychoanalysis–

<EGO> …and being a narcissist never does. Besides he spurns the affections of men too…there was that tragic Ameinias affair…so young, so sad… Pausanias also suggests a beloved twin sister afoot, killed, Narcissus’ fond affections turned to you, him seeing in his reflection her…but that speaks more to heterocentric incest fantasy.

<FLEXUS> This is not the case that his desiring is resulting from lack; Narcissus loses his sense of self only after being consumed by the love for someone he does not recognize as himself or necessarily male, just beautiful. All desire results from lack but there is no evidence that his is grounded by insecurity; quite the contrary in his insistence that his love offered was valuable and worth my time… [rolling eyes] How desperately he pleaded, like some co-dependent love song or the latest melodrama…

<EGO> Insecurity, self-doubt, self-consciousness…aren’t these also species of narcissism? The mirror’s other face…more darkly gazed…

<FLEXUS> In a way certain principle functions are contrasted–ability overestimation is instead an excessive underestimation, assuming you cannot do anything or will undoubtedly fail at anything tried…the pathology of thinking you only inspire people’s derision definitely replaces thinking you only deserve their praise. This attitude is rather crippling and can prevent the most talented or brilliant person from even trying their hand at anything.

<EGO> Yodaisms notwithstanding, every effort is always a try even as it is a do and some inner impetus is needed to kick-start that process. I need confidence in order to perform deeds with the hopeful outcome of bolstering my confidence. A kind of Pride-cycle.

<FLEXUS> Exactly. Scared money don’t make no money. A dose of overestimation in ability and/or worth is necessary in everyone’s daily pursuits…unless you’re attempting to fly a plane, which you then need to KNOW the extent of your abilities else be found like Icarus. [chuckles] In most things it is not often a bad judgement call to try exceeding one’s talents or sense of worth… Push yourself, be ambitious… Believe that you are worth it. A 5’5″ 250lb pimply-faced nerd should not think it beyond all possibility to date a supermodel since those natural attributes of his beingness do not undercut or contradict the potential for success in that effort. It is only the anxiety behind what he beholds in his reflection that can undermine his hopes. On the other hand, this same man would be truly foolish to overestimate his worth by trying to become a supermodel given his physical stature, which is not necessarily a handicap but still an impediment toward wish fulfillment. However confident he may be there are still professional standards and criteria to be met in that regard. A love of self can only accomplish so much.

<EGO> Zut alors! Your talk is beginning to stink of Rousseau. L’Amour-propre ou l’amour de soi?

<FLEXUS> Perhaps I reconcile the twain. Amour de soi is that sense of self-love that comes from self-preservation instincts all beasts possess–the drive to eat, clothe and protect oneself, defend oneself–but amour-propre recognizes the sense of self in relation to status and social pecking order and the opinions of others…

<EGO> …all the trappings of Hobbesian society, that more sophisticated form of survivalism.

<FLEXUS> You admit to being invested in the opinions of others, that it is a small step from personal care to grooming for appeal…

<EGO shamefully> Pascal thought the Christian ethic of humility could remedy my condition…

<FLEXUS> …but surely that was recommending a cure worse than the sickness, a lobotomy to soothe a headache… Christian humility is a joke. Human beings are not naturally humble creatures, most displays of humility are in vain and forced humility is the most sickening farce of all. Perhaps the two states merely beg reconciliation rather than the latter needing remedy. Is it so horrible to behold yourself with a consciousness of status and worth? Or do you really fancy yourself some enlightened bohemian eschewing societal judgements and aspirations? Well sir, the reclusive simple life is a sham existence…you are a social beast by nature, you crave the attentions of others and what’s more, others you already hold in esteem. Human beings need comparisons to bolster ambitions, to motivate them at all levels of society. Whether it is something as base as being the best dressed guest at some function or as lofty as being thought a better leader than your predecessors and opposition, the motivation to be lauded is the same.

<EGO dropping to his knees> Vanity, O Vanity! Wicked Prime Mover of all that encompasses greed and ambition, all that is illusory! Lord Adam Smith, forgive me my deadliest sin and wash me of these blandishments!

<FLEXUS> Is it really so horrible to behold yourself with a consciousness of status and worth?

<EGO> How do you gauge? Some people leave a footprint much greater than their shoesize allows, if you get my meaning.

<FLEXUS> Some not big enough, if you get mine.

<EGO> You have all manner of inflated notions regarding self worth but how does one properly gauge? I can almost reason the inflated sense of worth in scientists or athletes or artists…comme des égoïstes…but when I think of the wages demanded by bank presidents and CEOs during the 2008 bailouts, I drown in the obscenity. It defies even our efforts to reason conceit and hubris that one man singularly deserves to be compensated so gratuitously for loss that was not even his. It was not long ago that men in such positions earned barely three times their underlings’ pay grade, now it’s upwards of 300% more. No one has ever accomplished ANYTHING alone, without the support of other social bodies–least of all Wall Street–so the very idea that you “alone” have done something that automatically deserves hundreds of millions in dollars in return seems boorish.

<FLEXUS excitedly> I remember hearing once that supermodel Linda Evangelista said she didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 per diem. And Lloyds of London had each of her legs insured for a million dollars! And isn’t Gisele Bündchen the highest paid model ever?

<EGO> Beauty is a remarkable virtue to possess but there is no real virtue to be had in giving it a bottom-line.

<FLEXUS> Bare Virtue can’t make Nations live in Splendor.’

<EGO smiling> …so sayeth Mandeville…AMEN! It is the individual pursuit and self interest of every bee that maketh the hive flourish.

<FLEXUS> Those maverick bees surely impart something of value regarding the virtue of selfishness…

<EGO> Justifying the ethical egoism of Yang Zhu–wei wo, ‘everything for self’–as a finely honed machine…yes, but there is also the altruism of the ant colony…selflessness can also master industry…

<FLEXUS> Is it so wrong for every man and the Everyman to think himself important, that he matters? Is it really so horrible to behold yourself with a consciousness of status and worth? [squinting] I sense your hauteur is farce. You want to look down on this space between us yet you crave the pathology of the pedestal, resenting it only when not held aloft. You detest having to tolerate and rely on the gracious efforts of others; you too want everything about you to matter most in the world. Here facing me it does. And I am set apart from moral censure, leaving judgment to others–and yourself when so inclined. Remember, there is no process one has to go through to be visible for me. Bring all of your imperfection. It’s just you and I.

<EGO> And here we are. What a romance, this twisted love of Dorian Gray and Narcissus’ reflection. You have no values or virtues of your own and everything I think right and wrong with the world is shared in you. My fears, secrets…

<FLEXUS> All well kept… Facing me is facing yourself so you can’t help but love that self as I love you…

<EGO> Even as I grow to hate myself…as I age, my slackening and antiquity always marching forward, never retreating. Even as I grow ugly…

<FLEXUS> You are beautiful to me always. Greater than Master of my Universe, you are the Center of it…

<EGO> (G)od was in search of man while man was in search of his own reflection…

<FLEXUS> In which he found a god, to be adored and served by angels numberless’.^

<EGO> You inspire love that wields no virtue.

<FLEXUS> Brandish your virtues and I will reflect them with equal fervor. I’m an amorality not an immorality. I can reflect you unconditionally, perhaps not wholly but completely whichever way you turn, at whatever angle offered. The only law of causality I suffer is your presence in front of me. And all you have to do is look.

 ~~~

*sonnet originally appeared in Mad About Billy written for Ostrich Review, http://ostrichreview.com/tuesday-grab-bag-mad-about-billy/#more-1744

**from the Narcissus myth as told in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri

^from Milton’s Paradise Lost

n5

Let’s Think About Sex (A Prolegomena To Discerning Any Future Acts of Fucking from Perversion) Monday, Aug 11 2014 

(1)

Sexual intercourse began/In nineteen sixty-three/(which was rather late for me)/Between the end of the Chatterley ban/And the Beatles’ first LP*

“Sexual intercourse” may have properly begun in 1963 but thinkers have been tackling variations on a theme of sex–making love, fucking, perversion–for at least two and a half millennia. Everyone has something to say about sex. Psychologists analyze it, social scientists map it, theologians moralize it…but what can philosophy offer? Philosophy is interested in the generality of the human condition and understanding what it is to be homo sapiens in the most comprehensive terms–self consciousness, rationality and other broad distinguishing features that characterize our all too human condition and also fill this condition with problems. Therefore philosophy is the most ideal forum to engage SEX, which affects (afflicts?) us all whether we have it or not. One might even venture as far to say that the philosophical preoccupation for nuancing understanding and a natural analytical sensitivity–intuitiveness–make Philosophers greater lovers. Surely a “daisy chain” metaphor about Socrates/Plato/Aristotle would resonate not only philosophically but historically, biographically and pornographically…

(2)

Plato was the first really to take sex seriously in the philosophical tradition and for him it was the most fundamental aspect of the human condition: the thing about which there were the most problems to solve and concerning the solution of which there was the most interesting of all metaphysical outcomes. Although psychology proves most relevant as regards human sexuality, inevitably, because it is relevant to the philosophy of mind, it produces a lot of the empirical input from which the philosophical argument should depart. The philosophical approach begins from understanding intentionality in sexual desire; what is it that we want? This is a problematic question because it means understanding how sexual desire is directed towards the world as such. Let me begin by saying that the mechanics of any desiring is elusive to BOTH sexes…men have no idea what they want as much as women don’t; this is how a show like Queer Eye For The Straight Guy was able to have the success it did for five seasons. (Later shortening the name to Queer Eye, no doubt after realizing that cluelessness was the privilege of both sexes and all sexualities.)

(3)

Sexual desire typically occurs in the presence of two people, which is a paradigm case of sexual interaction, though there are solo and multiple possibilities as well. I would describe the normative human progress of sexual desiring as possessing an individualizing intentionality. That is to say, I desire (fantasies aside) another person as the person he or she is… This is not the case with animals; they have sexual instincts and sexual pleasures and they pursue them but they do not have desire for the other individual in that way, partly because they don’t have the concept of the individual. They do not desire the other individuated personality nor that personality’s desiring. This is the best way to understand how I am using “normal” to characterize socialized status quo as distinct from “natural”, which is NOT how the human species tends to conduct sexual activity.

(4)

Once I have set out to run this course of desiring another individual there are all manner of obstacles encountered and not a little unclarity as to what it is I truly want to do with that other person. There are many moods of adult desiring where one is like a child again; you can desire somebody without having the first desire to perform the sexual act. Indeed Plato thought that, in the normal case, we are under an obligation to somehow transcend that carnal appetite and unite with the other person in a completely different way. I do not know that this is normal; but I do think the normal course of sexual desire does involve some Platonic courtship, followed by an eventual soliciting of consent from the other as an individual to oneself as an individual so that when the promise is consummated it is in the way of a mutual possession where each gives himself to the other. This is something that does not always occur…yet if we define normality in that way, it helps us get a handle on the moral essence of the thing.

Sex, however adventurous, demands some measure of moral restraint…without which we are no longer having sex but tempting the act of rape.

(5)

Reciprocity and non-transferability are the promise of a normal sexual relationship. What I am offering the other person is not something I could equally bestow on someone else but offered to him as he is for himself, not as someone that I regard as a means to the satisfaction of… All involved parties are acutely aware of this possibility for transferability but the act is performed under a veil of faith that this act is a self-giving which is uniquely focused on that person. In contrast, animals having sex are not thinking about the nature of the act. Sex for animals is not a relation between one animal and another–not even animals that mate for life, like eagles or wolves or swans. It is a performance which alter conditions for both of them but it isn’t a relation-forming device. This is why bestiality is one of the purest forms of perversions. Human beings can never hope to achieve the sexual connectedness with animals that we forge with one another. The most debased and dehumanizing human-to-human sexual perversion has greater emotional possibilities than any human-to-animal.

(6)

One way of examining this consensual giving of self is to think about what happens when sexual desire becomes perverted from its normal course. We all have concepts or ideas about perversion, to the extent that we have an idea of normality. The idea I have just given of normality is obviously rooted in a particular tradition and like every version of normality you can easily find other communities that don’t see it in that way. But all communities do seem to have this idea that there is a normal course of desiring and very particular ways of deviating from it.

(7a)

The principal idea of perversion that we have inherited is one in which that individualizing non-transferable intentionality has been set aside. For example, it is not the other personhood that is the point of interest but the sexual organs regarded as impersonal attributes that could be put on offer from anybody to anybody, e.g. libertines and sluts/”nymphomaniacs”; or seeking out immature persons who are not fully responsible self-giving beings yet, pedophiles; or molesting dead persons, as in necrophilia. These are standard templates of human-on-human perversion. Bestiality, fetishism and bondage move us out of the human-on-human realm, even when humans are involved, for the Object/Animal is the focus of desiring…the human is merely a mechanical stimulus to give it reason, expendable and largely interchangeable…like batteries.

(7b)

Someone might freely choose to live a life in perversio; they might choose an inanimate object to satiate their urges. Someone may own a very realistic love doll that becomes the focus of all their sexual attention…however perverse certainly it can be said this is a relatively innocent mania. Perhaps they are less likely to harm others and vent their frustrated sexual appetites on people who will not consent to their whimsy. There are all kinds of therapeutic reasons for endorsing this behavior but the sexual content is purely masturbatory.

(8a)

With masturbation there is not the possibility of human reciprocity and so it cannot be genuinely (intimately) individualized, but I would be hard-pressed to think of masturbation as a perversion–barring of course pathological and chronic cases. This is an interesting fine line to tread because we do live in an increasingly masturbatory culture encouraged by unrestricted access to pornographic content and the increasing difficulty people have in making genuine outgoing gestures towards others and establishing sincere sexual relations…having been raised in an unintimately-overshared-fully-disclosed-cybersexual-quickie media culture. (Sometimes rubbing one out on your 15-minute break is the only way to keep shit in perspective.) One can call it a perversion for reasons of possible dysfunctional programming but I would hardly seat even the Chronic Masturbator next to the Pedophile or Necrophiliac at the Banquet of Perversions.

(8b)

There are harmful and harmless perversions, there are things which destroy the possibility of human relationships and full sexual fulfillment and things that do not and there is a big debate about where masturbation stands on that spectrum. Everyone does it at some stage in their life. Most people get beyond it or manage to mature into full human sexual interrelatedness, relegating the act to rare encounters with aloneness. But if it becomes addictive, Onanist beware! What we do or do not do to others is not the whole of morality. What we do to ourselves is the launchpad of morality. For Aristotle the primary focus of morality was the acquisition of virtue: being the fulfilled human being which it is in our rational nature to become. And Aristotle was right, that is the basis of moral thinking in the end. And sex is part of that fulfilling of the self because it is also part of the giving of the self. This raises a questioning brow concerning the personal fulfillment of individuals who commit to a masturbatory life.

(8c)

<“How do avatars have sex?”> <“Same way as humans do, except it’s just animated.”>**

Then it is not sex, albeit potentially masturbatory. This is not to say that cybersexuality is dangerously perverse either…if indeed a perversion at all… The brain is the most complex human sexual organ, cybersexuality and sapiosexuality are considerations not directly connected to carnal drives. However laughable a notion, neurosexuality might merit more serious academic attention than is generally given. Perversions arising in these circumstances are linked more directly to the pathological avoidance of interpersonal relations and masturbatory excess, rather than rooted in developing online personalities for virtual-reality sex clubs or only sleeping with men who have British accents because they sound smarter.

(9)

I am not enlisting the term perversion to condemn all non-normative sexual activity…although perversion as I have described it is clearly a morally relevant feature of something. As knowledge of human sexuality broadens we need more concepts to explore in order to secure a proper moral framework in which the sexual act is and ought to be situated. For instance, I think we need to embrace the concept of addiction in which you are enslaved by sexual appetites that serve to take you away from the fulfilling relationship with another. It is an almost mandatory recommendation that people who attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) also consider attending SA (Sexaholic Anonymous) meetings. Much like a smoker will switch his addiction to chocolate upon quitting, so follows the addict/alcoholic with sex after getting sober. There are many cases of sex addiction and certain kinds of masturbation which all of us recognize as being a violation of human freedom–large chunks of one’s waking time spent cruising porn sites or pursuing sexual hookups is unquestionably oppressive. One feature of addiction is the loss not just of self control but loss of one’s full conception of self integrity in what is being done. That this is ME doing this, and I am committing to my loss of self in it. That sense that the self is being disintegrated by its own activities is something which is shared between drug addiction and certain kinds of sex addiction.

(10)

Might it follow that somebody who is willingly celibate and does not need to be is in some sense not achieving everything they might as a human being…and therefore paradoxically tempting the perverse? There are two types of celibacy: (a) the celibacy of a person who is so unappealing that no one else will consent to have sex with them and (b) the loftier celibacy of the person who has overcome carnal desire and renounced it for some greater good, most notably religious celibacy but it can also be secular. I always admire someone who has been able to do that… Not a confirmed masturbator, as that is a form of sexualization and not the Asexual (which I only read in humans as ranging from garden variety repressive anxieties to full frontal pathologies on the scale of Klingsor’s self emasculation), but the individual who through sheer will and perseverance of character was able to harness and redirect their sexual energy. I am not that person.  If still the sexual instinct is there and the desire for that kind of thing is there, but nevertheless it has been overcome in order to establish a higher relationship with (G)od or mankind, then I don’t see that in any way as an unfulfilling thing. Do we think the Dalai Lama or the Pope as deficient in character because they chose lives of celibacy? Of course not, because we view the reasons behind their choices as most noble and not arbitrary whimsy. And we have abundant evidence of the (sensual) beauty religious celibacy in particular produces…the writings of Teresa of Avila come foremost to mind.

(11a)

I would be remiss in my efforts here to not put my own sexuality under the microscope. Is homosexuality a normative kind of sex? It seems a rather antiquated question to ask but being Gay is only out of the loony-bin for less than half a century…and fully outed as a “lifestyle” for half that time. My reflexive answer is homosexuality is not a “kind of sex” or sex practice–which can easily be challenged as a preference–but a sexual orientation whose identity is not wholly dependent upon engagement in sexual activity yet does shape sexual inclinations…which also describes heterosexuality. My definition is admittedly contentious with other “sexualities”–I believe Bisexuality is largely about practice with sexual identity as a default and Transgender is about gender not sexuality per se, or if so then sexuality as attached to engendered psyche…transgendered lovers seek out heterosexualized relationships, appealing to the their internalized gender not the externalized components. Neither of these can be described properly as perversions–at least not in the sense that necrophilia, fetishism and pedophilia can–and all are vulnerable to perversion and often mistaken for such, consider that most Americans still believe Sodomy laws are a homosexual issue.

(11b)

I cannot stress enough the need to explore various sexual concepts to fully understand the moral framework in which the sexual act should be situated. For example bi-curiosity, role play, light/safe S&M are all sexual intrigues but not sexualities…in the extreme, the latter two can lapse into perversion if the participants regularly lose sight of selfhoods…the former–bicuriosity–is only what it is until after the first or second sexual encounter…after that one is simply bisexually inclined, not perverted.

(11c)

It is important to recognize the differences between socialized homosexual and heterosexual desire. In particular, the tendency of Gay bars to reinforce the hookup angle where attendance itself IS the overture to sex and exploit the homosexual act as a transferable commodity rather than as a form of relationship. Reputable dating sites, church socials, speed-dating are all Straight-oriented gatherings. Senior proms and certain coming of age formals still stubbornly insist upon male/female coupling to the degree that heterosocializing minors borders on child abuse. More expressions of homosexual intimacy are still demonized if men, fetishized if women. In most professional settings homosexuals cannot comfortably give voice around colleagues to intimate successes like marriage, anniversaries or even “last night’s great date”. Gays and Lesbians are not “naturally perverted”–as I once heard someone say obviously unaware that such a phrase is devoid of meaning–but suffer under heteronormative social conditions that serve to pervert the idea of homosexuality even in the most liberated environments. This is a topic which is very difficult to speak and write about sincerely because there is a lot of pressure to normalize homosexuality and to grant it all the public recognition that heterosexuality has reaped, yet we all have private and public sexuality agendas that coexist in blissful cognitive dissonance.

(11d)

A woman once spoke to me of the need for a laissez-faire attitude in the bedroom…that Sodomy laws were wrong…because she has Gay friends, of course. As much as I have always been in disagreement with Sodomy laws, I was more disturbed by her misunderstanding sexual liberation as some anarchic freedom-fucking that will magically produce unions of sensual bliss without there being some measure of consensus as to the limits of sexual pleasure…especially between genders. I find it hard to believe given the natural history of the sexes that any woman would want to be trapped in some room with a man letting things take their own course sexually. The State for obvious reasons has an invested interest in legislating sexual activity which I am largely in disagreement with, but ethically speaking Sex is only a privatized not private matter as most acts automatically involve other persons.

(12)

We enforce our sex/sexuality agendas mercilessly when it comes to children. A lot follows concerning rearing a child to eventually engage the world as a sexual adult. The old Victorian idea of sex education is that you bring up children not to have sex and was thought by Freud to impede a child’s natural sexual curiosity and pervert their development. This was followed by a brief period in the ’80s and ’90s of encouraging parents to prepare for questions to be asked during puberty; this approach was a roll of the dice as answers may not have been sought at home. The prevailing practice (which my parents had adopted) is to voluntarily teach children about sex, but the risk is run of further distorting too much too soon. I don’t fully endorse each of these ideas as applied absolutely but I do believe that we must bring up children in such a way that when they do finally engage in sex, it is with the whole of their being. And that is really the most important lesson parents can impart to their children…sex is pleasurable and even more when all the parties involved are operating fully in consensual desiring. As a nod to Thomas Nagel, one might charge that sex is most successfully engaged when I AM sensing YOU sensing ME sensing YOU in continuum. Both in full arousal. We teach children that sex is a politic of exchanging bodily functions rather than an exchange in desiring…and when desiring is in question it is either heterosexualized or shamed for difference. These extremes do a great disservice to young minds…pathologized normativity can be a Petri dish of perversion given the wrong amount of pressure.

The best lessons are always taught by example–the way in which one loves one’s own children and encourages them…engages their attention and develops trust…the way in which one carefully provides them with honest ideas about the world and shows them how to be in it WITH others.

(The brevity of this piece does not allow for indulging the empirical data, but it would not be too much of a stretch to surmise that a good deal of repression and perversion of the sexual instinct during puberty is triggered from within the household.)

(13a)

Cheating, however normal a social function, is a perversion of the instinct to pair-bond only because the act of sex is directly involved. One can cheat emotionally and I would venture to guess that most couples do–but human beings require far more parties for a well-rounded emotional state than they do partners for a fulfilling sex life. To use the word ‘faithful’ is confessing a particular view of an idealized relationship which is not universally shared. Some people choose not to be in sexually exclusive monogamous relationships, others may choose serial monogamy or to have multiple partners. It is the relationship status choice that marks cheating as a perversion, further exacerbated if one’s actions are already hinging on sexual addiction.

(13b)

For very obvious reasons–biologically, economically–men can afford to feel not as monogamously constrained as women are expected to feel. I know plenty of women who are not in monogamous relationships and have multiple partners. I don’t see anything intrinsic to being a woman that stops her having a series of different sexual relationships, although there might be something in being a woman that impedes her being fulfilled by it. But for either gender can pirating a sex-life that surfs on an ever-rising tide of ex-lovers be any way to live a fulfilled and fulfilling life? At the risk of sounding like an Aristotelian fag, I would say it cannot.

(14)

I am Aristotle’s bitch when it comes to orchestrating my sex life, embracing his conceptions of what it is to be human (biologically/socially) and the kinds of things that make a human being flourish. The biological end can be argumentative on ideas of what it means to be fully human in that sense–touching too near perhaps musing a procreational “purpose” of male and female sexuality–but Aristotle also said the flesh is merely the matter of the human being, the soul is the form. Of course he took the biological aspect of human beings seriously but it was the soul he felt as the principle of activity which animated that matter. This is also the hub of perversion anxiety. When we are perverted, it usually takes hold at some core of our being that we (sacred and secular) think of as the soul. I would go along with Aristotle in thinking that the biological aspects of the human being is all important in understanding the limits and the premises from which the moral life begins, but the moral life is more than simply living a fulfilled biological existence.

(15)

These fragments only begin to open a dialog on sexual morality that is far beyond the scope of this effort. My aim here was to merely set up a framework for understanding different kinds of sexual desiring in the broadest sense whose activities may be judged appropriate or inappropriate for discerning fulfilling, consensual sexual intercourse. It is a noble aim, because sex is the one reason we are all here and also it is difficult to imagine how you could instruct someone to be a fully realized, healthy sexual being that does not tempt the Marquis de Sade’s La Philosophie dans le Boudoir or lapse into an Inquisition hearing. But it has been attempted and if you look at the history of mankind it has been attempted often…and still. And without having to engage Orwellian measures marking off thoughtcrimes or sexcrimes because we misunderstand what it means to lust in the heart. Pre-marital controversies aside, no one argues that the best of yourself to give another is the most sexually healthy YOU.

Most importantly everyone wants to be remembered as a “good” lay…

***

*Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis

**(from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, season 9, episode 2–Avatar)

The PSA Notebook (La Monde d’après Moi) — Volume II Saturday, Jul 26 2014 

(251)

“You can attract more stupid people with words than with silence.”

(252)

What’s most disappointing about contemporary Masculinisms is not the lack of consensus on what can define Millennial masculinity, but the reliance on archaic gender paradigms because of this lack of consensus. After finishing Harvey Mansfield’s 2006 mister-piece, MANLINESS, I was left with the feeling that all he was asking for was a nicer, gentler Feminism rather than calling men to revolutionize their thinking on gender and sexuality. That women should be progressive but still acquiesce to some mythic male superiority. This was a consideration Eddie Kendricks asked for 33 years earlier in Girl You Need A Change Of Mind (“Why march in pick-it lines? Burn bras and carry signs? Now I’m for women’s rights, I just want equal nights”). One should not be too surprised…Mansfield was educated and eventually taught at Harvard–a school for the classically intelligent but not the enlightened, and always a generation behind…I am thinking here of the 1994 Bell Curve study that argued White people were invariably smarter than everyone else…except Asians.

(253)

Canada is a notoriously un-Racist country…almost laughably un-Racist… Drake is what happens when an un-Racist culture produces Rap music… (This is not intended praise.)

(254)

(USB: United States of Babel) Everyone can openly agree it is foolhardy bigotry to imply that English is (or should be) America’s national tongue…it is also culturally naive and a tad disingenuous when people insist that American English is not the national language but merely a lingua franca… Given its humble beginnings as first spoken only by a marginal group of settlers,  eventually graduating to the genocidal lasher of indigenous tongues, this campaign culminating as not merely a language of power but secured as one of the all-time great World languages in the history of human utterances has earned AE something of a right to nationalistic ambitions… When people the world over say “Speak English” they no longer mean the Queen’s tongue, instead like a Bostonian or Valley Girl or New Yorker or Texan. American English is the language of free speech and as such implies that one will be exercising said freedom in said dialect…no nation boasts a policy upholding a ‘freedom of language’…the body-politic would collapse in translation…

(255)

I don’t expect smart people to be smartly dressed but I do expect smartly dressed people to be smart…this bit of cognitive dissonance fucks me every time when registering first impressions.

(256)

I am not very savvy on ‘doomsday prepping’ but when I hear preppers say something like “I’m prepping for a terrorist attack”, it seems they have no real understanding of what a terrorist attack is or entails. It is not a ‘zombie apocalypse’, and its holocaustic aftermath is often quite brief in many respects. As events, terrorist attacks are tragic NOT catastrophic.

(257)

Sometimes I think belief in extraterrestial life (as opposed to life-forms) is Christianity for secularists. However outlandish the theories, there is always some lingering conciliatory notion that “we are not alone”.

(258)

You can either believe in (G)od or follow Religion…not both.

(259)

There are so many phrasings in Largo al Factotum that seem lifted right out of Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden as to make one think Rossini saw Die Zauberflöte the night before he composed Il Barbiere di Siviglia. (Of course all music after Mozart is a footnote to Mozart.)

(260)

Ancient Alien Theorists are the integrity-rapists of civilization’s greatest (HUMAN) achievements…ALL OF THEM…

(261)

When people ask me if I believe in (G)od, it’s like them properly phrasing a question in Akkadian with the right inflection but having no idea at all what they’ve just asked me…me only knowing they have no idea what they’re asking about…in Akkadian. But then I have to respond in English.

(262)

Admittedly contraceptive practice is a no-no in the Old Testament but there is no explicit prohibition against abortion in the Holy Bible. Because of the storyline and general tenor of the narrative it is taken to be a Pro-Life text. (It is not.) For this reason Pro-Lifers mistakenly lump both (abortion/contraception) in the same camp. (They are not.) Biblical ethics and morality take particular issue with the holiness of the Seed and invest comparatively marginal interest in the sanctity of the Womb. (Even the Jeremiad calling and the Virgin Birth are less about the female “vessel” and more to the mystery of the Deus ex Machina…we have to remember that the Hebrew tribal alliances from whom we inherited our monotheistic template were in the main Phallic alliances, not Goddess worshippers.) Nevertheless, one should find it odd that Right Wing Conservatism would use the Bible to advance an agenda that bans abortion and prohibits contraception being covered by health insurance, yet seems morally lax to the point of indifference on the matter of vasectomies…which according to Deuteronomy 23:1 guarantees you have lost favor with (G)od…

לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א פְצֽוּעַ־דַּכָּ֛א וּכְר֥וּת שָׁפְכָ֖ה בִּקְהַ֥ל יְהוָֽה׃

 (263)

Whenever someone feels the need to assure me of their Atheism, I chuckle to myself thinking “Such a declaration of faith…how very Christian.”

(264)

Today I overheard a man refer to a certain young woman as someone who uses “sex as a weapon”… Other than being struck by how antiquated such (sexist) thinking is–poorly masqueraded as a progressive consideration–I find it curious that men take issue with women using “sex as a weapon” when the entire historical campaign of male dominance has been about wielding “sex as a weapon”…an infliction of power…

(265)

(Le Poète et la Muse) I am never listening to the music of Dead Can Dance but reading their sounds as though penned by Homer…revisiting each note to concentrate on a different character…this time percussion…this time chorus…this time poet…this time muse… These sounds sweep over my ears like flipping pages through tomes of epic verse. These are soundtracks for the well-read.

 (266)

Like Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy, Pharrell’s Happy must also be despised on principle alone…however foot-tappy, hip-swayful the sentiment. After watching the fullscale video exploit, 24 hours of Happy(ness) is proven morose. No one beyond the bounds of literary Stepford, Connecticut wants to feel that good…a fresh dose of pure euphoria every 4 minutes over a 24 hour duration is an attack The Joker might wage on Gotham City to draw out Batman. I sat through the film in four 6-hour increments–not much of a challenge for someone who can sit through a Wagner opera without the need for intermission or any of Warhol’s longer cinematic indulgences–and all that can be said is one of America’s loftiest pursuits was dragged out as the longest most meaningless video in the world.

(267)

“Technology that is ahead of its time” is one of those phrases/concepts that people fail to realize makes absolutely no sense.

(268)

The argument that the legalization of marijuana will result in the legalization of heroin, cocaine and meth is a strain of that ridiculous belief that Marriage Equality will result in interspecies mating and cohabitation…

(269)

I’m always suspicious of countries (like Canada) who criticize American Racism (however justly) yet boast no non-White national heroes as part of their own historical record. They remind me of people without children who constantly criticize parenting skills.

(270)

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. I firmly believe that John 14:6 would have had greater poetical and theological impact were it written I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT. ‘Life’ just seems this arbitrary, anti-climactic consideration that doesn’t serve to reconcile the full poetic thought. Almost awkward… And this is no light charge against a literary work that is damn near strung together by only perfect poetical phrasings…

(271)

“Atheism and Secularism are NOT the same thing…Atheism is Secularism on Meth…”

(272)

America will never successfully separate Church from State because (a) we really don’t view them as institutions representing a private and a public sphere but rather parred as two aspects of a public sphere…and (b) Americans are incapable of intellectually differentiating between the Atheist, the Secularist and the Sinner…

(273)

Women who say they “don’t need Feminism” (whatever that can possibly mean) are the same manner of comedy as Racists in the Age of Obama who long for the “good ol’ days”…one significant difference being that Racism is first a private mania that one can choose to make public forum, so one can arguably be wholly Racist today (however laughable); Feminism functions supremely as a public forum…it is the politic we are socialized under, not a private folly…to CHOOSE to NOT be a Feminist is still Feminism (despite the paradoxical stench of misogyny).

(274)

Of course those we trust the most will mislead us…only a fool thinks otherwise.

(275)

Of all the kink genre, Bondage most reclaims the original religiosity behind the term ‘Fetish’. There is something erotically Puritanical (in the manner of Puritans) about having the tempting body fully cloaked and robed–bound head to foot–marinating in its most carnal desiring. But this is not just symbolic of Protestant or Catholic sexuality…this is also how the Muslim un-strips before Allah. (For reasons largely Mosaic in nature, Jews are not really drawn to Bondage per se. They suffered a more expository carnality…a voyeuristic Yahwism.)

(276)

When the Male Homosexual identity starts self-reflecting in shades of Top and Bottom it is symptomatic of an internalized homophobia. This is the Gay man who is still mystified by the heterosexist paradigm, where the world is only made up of half-persons with fractured identities. Top/Bottom discourse is the Gay man’s sexism.

(277)

It never ceases to tickle me that people invariably look to the Marquis de Sade as a symbol of sexual liberation. The divine Marquis would be the first to laugh at this accusation. His “philosophy” examines violation, imprisonment, subjugation, degradation…order…rigidity…power… Nothing that even remotely hints at liberation. Even his heroes are bound to their perversions, unable to achieve pleasure by any other means. Rousseau was undoubtedly the liberated Hippie of the French Enlightenment, whereas de Sade was more akin to Charles Manson…a veneer of liberation… Moreover, the logical conclusion to thinking oneself too free…

(278)

Interesting that Aristotle’s philosophy and Christianity gel theologically when (monastic) celibacy is considered the highest of Christian sentiments but sex seems an essential part of Aristotelian fulfillment.

(279)

Thor-Female-Marvel_7-16-2014_154025_l

(280)

One of the most enduring heroes of the Victorian era is Henry Higgins from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion… Beyond Six Degrees Of Separation, Pretty Woman or The Devil Wears Prada, What Not To Wear or Queer Eye, the spirit of this Shavian Svengali is articulated best as the most unlikely Muse of the Makeover, LaFawnduh Lucas in Napoleon Dynamite; even when over-the-top she still exemplifies a certain subtlety in her influence…that might also approve in the end of one being NOW good enough to do the shopping and fetch the slippers.

(281)

If you have ever found yourself saying to someone “I’m smarter than you think I am”, then you probably were not… An intellect does not have to announce itself because it is already an expression justified by everything that makes it what it is or is not…

(282)

People who only read what they like–no matter how abundantly–are not well-read individuals…just like people who only do things they enjoy are the least worldly…only pay attention to politics they agree with (however liberally), the most ignorant…only live life by established rules, the most dead.

(283)

“After my date with tragedy, I’ll let Aristotle take care of me.” Whenever I listen to ‘Jackie Onassis‘ by Human Sexual Response I always wonder if Larry Bangor really knew how clever he was being when he wrote these words…it never surprises me how casually people reference the Poetics

(284)

(Death is the limit of sexual desiring.) Do we find necrophilia disturbing because the person is dead or because they were once alive? The former reasoning makes perfect sense as a health factor, a corpse is a toxic body. The latter seems to call into question what the once living person may have physically desired for a postmortem existence which can exercise no conscious desiring of its own…which the living only ever intuit for themselves to the degree of burial/funerary rites and organ donation. How obscene we would think it for someone to leave their body to Pornography instead of Science.

(285)

Of the four great cultural guilts–Jewish Guilt, Catholic Guilt, White Guilt and Black Guilt–Catholic Guilt is the only one not rooted in some grander Oppressor/Oppressed anxiety…just the private Hell of the oppressive family structure…it’s really not even about Jesus dying for our sins…

(286)

Fundamentalism and its un-Evil twin, Scientific Atheism, are those bumbling siblings forever incapable of compromise…producing on one end those whose faith in a poorly READ Bible justifies condemnation and on the other to condemn faith through a poorly un-READ Bible… “Strange all this difference should be ‘twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee.” (thanks John Byrom)

(287)

The enigma of R. Kelly’s Closet is not uncovering it as an oratorio or opera buffa, Rock Opera or Hip-Hopera, singspiel or just a really long song…but discovering whether it is good or not. The structural ambiguity does add to its subtle genius–which is not meant to imply “good” of course, but all grand artistic expressions however indulgent are genius (Mozart taught us that and he, too, was a pervert). Because Kelly chose the ideal opera topic of infidelity it would have been perfect had the full drama ended on Chapter 22’s Package Fugue…a rather clever musical characterization of the comparable virulence of gossip and AIDS in Black communities…

(288)

bell hooks once asked Neil DeGrasse Tyson why there were so few African-American Astrophysicists. Whatever his answer, it was irrelevant because hard sciences, mathematics and select disciplines like Philosophy do not intentionally foster racial divide…it is not until we encounter a Black person engaged that we look to the historical institution of these disciplines and declare them racist or racially structured… That is the insidiousness of Racism, we look to point out some external fault (however accurate or not) that actually began within our own awareness of difference…

(289)

The folly of Baptists’ theological identity is they never stop to think for a moment that they just might be Jews and not Christians at all…

(290)

The demand on literacy for Muslims and Jews sets them apart from most historically recorded faith practices including Christianity, which up until the rise of Protestantism almost preferred its congregants illiterate. Of course, only Christianity could weave illiteracy en masse into the Renaissance.

Preamble (A Haibun), on my La Galeria Valle haiku project site…it was too argumentative a tangent…but I didn’t want to just trash it or the idea>

(291)

In fashion I find that what intrigues me about Marc Jacobs is what has always drawn me to Prada…I am never quite certain that I dislike it, so I happily accept liking it…a lot…

(292)

(Thought for Matthew Arnold) Just out of curiosity, when “Sophocles long ago heard it on the Ægean”, did he also hear that Samuel Barber would score your splendid verse so beautifully, as to only be sung more beautifully by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau…?

(293)

Bucket lists seem to me a pastime for people who live lives rife with regret… Seneca, Diderot and Kundera would all prescribe living one’s life to its fullest as the best cure for bucket-listing…

(294)

The ‘reboot’–which evolved out of late 20th Century Hollywood’s penchant for remakes– is the prevailing trend in contemporary American cinema… Here is when Film is most like Philosophy, which is only ever “rebooting” Plato…

(295)

I have heard some outlandish geo-demographic accusations in my life–there are no Blacks in Scandinavian Europe, no Gays in Iran, no rich folk in Mexico etc. Even if these were not ridiculous hyperbole (they are), America is the only country where saying you only have Black friends or White friends or Straight friends or rich friends raises a concerned eyebrow. Socializing in the U.S. is a numbers game and the census numbers are automatically against any possibility for segregative socializing unless it is the intent of the person–from the dreariest ghetto to the lushest gated community… When I encounter Americans, however isolated, who say things like “I just never met any Blacks…I don’t know any Gays…” it occurs to me to ask them if they are aware that ‘not knowing’ in the third millennium is tantamount to willful ignorance and ignorance is the defining feature of bigotry… It is really hard not to be a bigot in America but it is even harder to avoid a fully integrated society…

(296)

However beautifully written and fascinating we take Kierkegaard’s writings to be, we should never find ourselves fully convinced of his philosophy, which on the whole deals with feelings…and although one can convince an individual that other individuals are not just nervous systems in vats but real flesh possessing feelings/emotions, it is a whole ‘nother Jedi mind-trick to convince him or her that these are of any value.

(297)

Enlightenment never seems to exhaust itself. Even when dormant, it is never from fatigue.

(298)

Marriage Equality is only a revolutionary move for socialized homosexuality if Gays can collectively get beyond Top/Bottom identity-fetishism. We fail to realize that this binarism is but another strain of the same heterosexism that has denied women experiencing their full potential as complete sexual beings for millennia… (It is our Virgin/Whore complex.) Top-and-Bottom is NOT the Yin Yang of homosexual coupling, just a label to help Heterosexuals delineate which one is the bitch.

(299)

The image of the Crucifix has no theological (therefore symbolic) relevance for Mormons…no wonder other Christians don’t trust them…

(300)

What follows the final movement of any Mahler symphony? Post-ejaculation depression.

(301)

Creating matters most when no one is paying attention…writing, when no one is yet reading…

(302)

Beck’s Algo-rhythm: E♮-F♮/Mimosis = [Mimesis+Osmosis] — Mr. Hansen’s body of work is a compendium of every great beat and riff in the POP canon. His anxiety of influence, the foot-tapping tunes of our familiar…this Harold Bloom of music.

(303)

Some ensemble moments in Hip-Hop are so well composed and classy they surpass our expectations of all music not written by a Bach or Beethoven. All About The Banjamins is something of a mass in OG major and should be republished Oratorio for Tenore, 2 Kavalierbariton, Mezzo-soprano, Basso, Guitar-hook and DJ. (Imagine how much more splendid Ludwig’s music would have been had he access to Rap?)

(304)

American soprano Renee Fleming once joked that operatic singing to a Martian would probably sound like well composed screams…I, too, am interested in the aesthetic impact music would have on otherwordly sensibilities…for example, if a Martian were to ask me to explain the effect Rock-n-Roll has on the human sentiment I would readily answer, “I don’t like the band Aerosmith UNTIL I’m actually hearing their music and suddenly I am compelled to love Aerosmith.”

(305)

(Court Composer for the Central Nervous System/Philip Glass 101) First Law of Musical Physics: Even when the body of composition is at rest it must remain teeming with vitality. The music to hear as one lays dying…not quite dead, but just as the soul begins to leave the body.

(306)

The Abrahamic god is a writer of books…it is of no consequence to him whether or not there is faith in my heart, as long as my wit is not an Atheist.

(307)

(“Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!” Nick Cave) The Bible is encyclopedic, catalogic and like all things so neurotically comprehensive collapses upon itself. There is no mystery to unravel about the lost Ark of the Covenant, (G)od simply called upon (H)is editors to refrain…it was but a literary oversight–the oversight that storing the Decalogue tablets in a construction that breaks one of the holiest commandments (Exodus 20:4) makes of the whole thing an unholy vessel. Who puts damn cherubs on a Mercy Seat anyway?

 לֹֽ֣א תַֽעֲשֶׂ֨ה־לְךָ֥֣ פֶ֣֙סֶל֙ ׀ וְכָל־תְּמוּנָ֡֔ה אֲשֶׁ֤֣ר בַּשָּׁמַ֣֙יִם֙ ׀ מִמַּ֡֔עַל וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר֩ בָּאָ֖֨רֶץ מִתַָּ֑֜חַת

(308)

That which is comprehensible to all manner of persons needs no explanation. That which is incomprehensible, it is a most wicked evil to explain.

(309)

pierre-cardin-luxury-black-lacquer-varaflame-lighter-just-like-ronson-gift-boxed-1819-p~2

(310)

It was not Jesus but the ‘Gloria’ from Lou Harrison’s Mass To Saint Anthony that taught me how simple and minimalist holiness really is…the Gregorian lyricism and the velvety softness of the horn section evoke dreams of medieval monasticism…back before the West even knew of Javanese gods and percussion…

(311)

Arvo Pärt’s Collage Sur Bach vs Ferruccio Busoni’s Doktor Faustus: If a non-German is going to compose in Germanic tones then it is best accomplished in a manner more pastiche rather than outright parroting, otherwise it will come off sounding inauthentic and farcical…like when foreigners (especially the British) use American English in literal contexts–awkward, clumsy, lacking all the nuance that elevates its expressiveness…

(312)

<listening to Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd> …I never knew that a stammer could be so beautifully composed… Such longing and pain these two British queens came together and brought forth–the brood, an elegiac closure to all the unchecked sexual anxieties of that Gay American Macho…Melville, the Dickhunter. Baritones rise and tenors crash in ironic tenderness…the orchestration thrusts from quiet stillness to competitive tumult…it is the music of sex between men… None but swinging, chiming cocks as far as the ear can hear! And boys… (Wagner taught us well to love a good boy chorus.)

(313)

What I enjoy about films like Zack And Miri Make A Porno and Sex Tape is how they are a backlash to the pornographic idea that in real life experiences adventurous sex will spontaneously happen…exposing the truth that in real life experiences uninteresting porn will spontaneously happen.

(314)

Being Black and Gay I have always been quite insensitive to the ‘Gay Is The New Black’ Equality sentiment…there are unique differences in the modes of oppression levied against Blacks and Homosexuals, not the least being as visible phenomena–Blacks are targeted SOLELY on physical appearance, Gays conversely do not stand out but come into public view from secreted or camouflaged peripheries…hence the underlying anxiety of homophobia. (Compare what object fagbashers can image hunting versus what a KKK lynching mob can image hunting.) If I were to engage such political rhetoric regarding historicized oppression I would probably quip something like “Black Is The New Woman”…arguably the only other oppressed identity whose entire history in bondage is rooted in what others directly see.

(315)

“The Ignorant will never be fully extinct, but with not a little collective effort on the part of mankind they can be permanently categorized as an endangered species…”

(316)

Because the Atheist and the Fundamentalist were only able to mold their arguments around the existence of a god, they both lost the debate.

(317)

“The enemy of my friend is not my enemy too…the enemy of my friend is my friend’s fucking problem for leading a life where one should be concerned about enemies.”

(318)

<No(ir) Wave, Foetus Envy> James G. Thirlwell aka Jim Thirlwell aka JG Thirlwell aka Jim Foetus aka Clint Ruin aka… Your aliases read like you’re on the lam, the desperate and dangerous sort…maybe a homicidal rapist-carny who keeps his toolbelt on while fucking little boys behind the ferris wheel motor… Has anyone ever told you that your music always sounds like you have a big dick…? (If I remember those underground films well–and I do–you do…)

(319)

(An American Legend) Like with Copland and Pollock before him, the American aesthetic found its voice on the global stage through Ralph Lauren’s artistry. While common couturiers were still weaving frocks meant to make an entrance he was envisioning what a room should wear when being entered. Then he set forth to accessorizing space and dressing environs. Life stylist. Designer of worlds. The human condition is his dress mannequin.

(320)

(Some thoughts while looking at someone I should think quite ugly…) Whether I am gazing at Lucien Freud’s awkward portrait of her majesty Elizabeth II or Sargent’s alluring Madame X, starstruck glimpsing a supermodel at a bar or trying NOT to stare at a burn victim in the Emergency Room, I gawk at the deformed and the beautiful with the same abandon because they remind me how very ordinary are my own features… My personal physical importance becomes diminished. The space I inhabit is no longer special. The beautiful have symmetry on their side and no matter how much tastes change all peoples everywhere still become headlight-stunned deer over the same symmetrically sound individuals–blonde or brunette, ruddy or swarthy–voted as SEXIEST MAN/WOMAN of the year by whatever POP poll that’s taken on the task. We want to see them or be them… We envy them and we fantasize about them…we even coax our lovers to imitate them–or at least what we think they are like… And however it is accomplished, these visages remain idealized and emblazoned upon our consciousness. The deformed are equally transfixing and reconcile our most morbid desires to see…to look…to watch. We don’t really want to look away although we know that we should… The sight of them kidnaps our gaze and takes us to a place where we not only find that we were never at the center of the World but we were not even at the center of our own world, found otherwise surrendered to the vision before us.

(321)

<deleted opening for ‘Head Negress In Charge (HNIC): Beyonce’s ANTE-Feminist Groove’> Much like the KKK has become the iconic representation of White bigotry, the Black Panthers are likewise (mis)representative of Black politicism; in truth Black Americans are largely conservative folk, it is the history of our circumstances that have forced a radical hand. The only reason we lean Left as a demographic is because Democrats won’t kill us, but it had long been collectively suspected that the first African-American POTUS would be Right Wing (which is why we were all surprised when Powell graciously declined). Rappers do not use the language of their music around their parents or their children; Blacks are not any more or less sexually promiscuous or rapacious than other races–Black men, in particular, have notorious reputations for things they will NOT do sexually; our households are not iniquitous crackden speakeasies and (G)od help any Black person that dares to confront their grandparents on issues of faith or skip out on the pastor’s Sunday sermon. Even the very reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–arguably the most progressive Black American of the 20th Century (and beyond)–is still believed to have been a Republican, although he had never publicly backed any candidate Left or Right. And yet, the first image that is conjured when people think of Blacks and Conservative Republicanism is an Uncle Tom or Clarence Thomas. Dick Holler’s masterful folk tune, Abraham, Martin & John, became an iconic triptych adorning the homes of Black households long before the age of the Velvet Elvis. Kennedy was a very progressive president in regards to Black interests, but it was Republican Honest Abe that gave us “interests” in the first place. (The one ironic political bond that Gays and Blacks do have is the one never considered–both hark back to Lincoln.)

(322)

It is a gross misconception that all men want the same thing…we all want variations on the same thing.

(323)

<deleted from ‘Head Negress In Charge (HNIC): Beyonce’s ANTE-Feminist Groove’> More media savvy female Pop stars tend to build a loyal fanbase with the Gay community–comrades in the struggle against heterosexist oppression–yet sexism and gender bias (like racial bigotry) is as virulent in the Gay community as in heteronormative society. Gay men, still being men informed by the same lies about the sexes, not only embrace but even exacerbate and exaggerate stereotypes and myths about the feminine–the only upside is that women do not have to sleep with Gay men and be further degraded in the bedroom.

(324)

<cognitive loop while listening to Death Valley ’69 by Sonic Youth ft. Lydia Lunch> People always misunderstand my fascination with Charles Manson…I am fascinated with the idea that people are fascinated with Charles Manson…I am fascinated by people fascinated with Charles Manson… I am as removed from being fascinated by Charles Manson as he was from the murders committed… (He was really trying to start a Race War.)

(325)

“Heteronormativity in child rearing is a form of institutionalized sexual abuse. By dictating what type of male or female your child should be is sexualizing their gender development. This is the same psychosexual dynamic that happens when adults molest children. You are not preparing your child for a world already steeped in gender binarism, you’re teaching them to perpetuate the lies of what women DO and who men ARE.”

(326)

<deleted from Head Negress In Charge (HNIC): Beyonce’s ANTE-Feminist Groove> Like most of their gender, it is standard practice for Black women who get pregnant to have the baby…nine times out of ten, they have to raise it, with or without a father. Of course, there is always that one who pawns the child off on ailing, wayward grandparents or chucks it in a dumpster–Tupac speaks more wisely on such matters–but there is a strong cultural Medea Complex that permeates Black Teen Motherhood…spoken on less often than should be… (Tyler Perry’s Madea character is less a humorous farce to people who are literate and culturally aware.)

(327)

The Help, Django UnchainedThe Butler and 12 Years A Slave were all blockbusters released during the Obama administration…which begs the question, is Hollywood exploring the history of the African-American experience or exploiting it to remind Blacks of “their place”?

(328)

Chopin, Liszt, Gould and Wu-Tang: Masters in the subtle textures of the pianoforte. (Only those who really listen to music will grasp my meaning here…)

(329)

There is no lonelier or sadder figure than the un-Queered, pathologically segregative, sexist Fundamentalist. I am of the self-same (progressive) sentiment as Rabbi Hillel…certain outdated modes of being deserve extinction.

(330)

<après William A. Henry III> Snobbery = Bigotry … Elitism = [Bigotry+Enlightenment]

(331)

When we stop and consider how many mistakes each of us has made in life that were left to fester and become willy-nilly what they will, it is much easier to reason that (G)od does exist AND the universe (and everything in it) was still an accident. Mankind may just be one of the many skeletons in (G)od’s closet.

(332)

Music for the sake of making music is not art, rather some form of muzak and like muzak U2’s Songs Of Innocence is reference to a greater past but in itself is the most forgettable fire.

(333)

<Never mind the closet, here’s Queer Spirit!> I only secretly indulge Pansy Division’s music…Gay Grunge still treats homosexual identity as something derivative of a heterosexist paradigm…perhaps even more…

(334)

<listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad> The holiest trinity of Modern American verse is comprised of the Blacks, the Beats, and the Boss–Bard in the USA…

(335)

I like to think of listening to the talk-radio show Coast To Coast AM as slumming in the Land of KNYE. I can understand that Bigfoot, ol’ Nessie and chupacabras being mere beasts will randomly appear before whoever happens by…with or without a camera… I don’t expect animals to be savvy publicity opportunists anticipating some tourist herd or paparazzi glaring. Demonic possession and alien abduction are more touch-and-go considering these showy, Kodak-moment exhibitions are only granted to lower middle income White Midwesterners…who apparently cannot afford camera-phones… (“You didn’t get a shot of that?”) Extraterrestrials travel light years and devils cross multi-dimensional expanses in search of poor White trash, so I bet they keep mementos. (Intentional downward mobility is suspect on all worlds…in all dimensions…)

(336)

Even beyond referencing Jacobean playwrights the music of Echo & the Bunnymen is very literary…it is what literature sounds like. The tunes chime with epic tones and invoke isolated moods. The lyrics, always mischievous…chanting and teasing…like naughty boys waiting to spring from shadows and deliver a scare… In other words, good British verse–not unlike Tennyson or Coleridge or Byron. Their music had greater impact on my literacy than all the required reading for English Lit 101. It also convinced me that every Brit is a natural born writer.

(337)

<thinking on Mahler’s Andante Moderato from Symphony No. 6 in A Minor, Tragische.> Das Ist Eine Liebeslied! The tenor of love is necessary to every tragedy…for an event to be truly tragic it must whisper of some love lost. Despite any previous tumult there is always a calm soundtrack when the heart is breaking…a lush, restrained soundtrack of shimmering strings…pining and pensive horns…moody woodwinds…at times, seemingly aimless notes…all finally collapsed into rhapsodic grief. The instruments sing a torch song no human voice ever could…

(338)

“The most unfortunate feature of oppression is its most enduring characteristic–it is universal. All people everywhere encounter some form of oppression… No one has never not been held back by The Man….including The Man…”

(339)

What should intrigue my listener/reader most is not that I am intelligent (“smart”) but that I am comfortable in my intelligence…both in what I do and do not know. Those few keen enough to get beyond my Gayness and Blackness, suggestive language and innuendo, and stop listening for the Oscar Wilde moment begin to hear in me instead the naked voice of G.K. Chesterton–although I am not an Apostle of Common Sense, merely an interpreter. Those few are the ones who understand me most…who really get the gist of my efforts…for everyone else I am merely a token of something incomprehensible.

(340)

Scientists only go back to the last theory that may or may not have been proven… Philosophers always have to go back beyond that last thought that may or may not have made sense…

(341)

Forgetfulness is a species of cognitive cowardice…there is nothing I hold more in abhorrence than a bad memory. (I am not thinking here of neurological disorders or traumatic shock…just average folk who forget… I always find myself wondering how they were ever able to learn…ANYTHING!)

(342)

Although the Dave Matthews Band is a collective of undeniably talented musicians, the trick to really appreciating their music is to first sleep with fratboys and/or jocks that want to be thought of as deep and sensitive…it’s a special taste, like one has for truffles…

(343)

Surely the most deplorable kind of Racist is the one who discovers quite late in life that he’s been an idiot and spends the rest of his life pointing out this failing in everyone…as though that somehow makes up for having already led a life of poor judgement… (I uphold this same argument for the Sexist, the Homophobe and ironically the Homosexual–I often find that individuals who are openly homosexually oriented since childhood are less prone to running around outing everything in a pink shirt.)

(344)

Whenever I encounter an individual who speaks about sexuality (homo/hetero/bi) and attempts to justify the comments with “in my opinion”, I immediately know this individual has no real understanding of what sexuality is nor what constitutes an opinion.

(345)

What is always misunderstood about my aversion to being referred to as “smart” is I only detest hearing it when my flatterer is gauging me as encyclopedic or by the limits of their own knowledge…it is the sweetest compliment if one is regarding my scholarly intuition or intellectual stamina.

(346)

There are volumes written lamenting all manner of crises in modern thought and academia, especially Philosophy and Theology…but it is easily summed up, at some point after Medieval Christianity the marriage of how one thought and how one lived became so estranged to the point of divorce.

(347)

The first 3 minutes and 25 seconds of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda experience (video+song) can be so beautifully dismantled it is almost a Structuralist excess. The musical texture is obviously Sir Mix-a-Lot, narrative styled from Li’l Kim…then there is the voice characterization which opens in a pitch of L’Trimm (Cars That Go Boom) and performativity throughout resonant of Kelis’ Milkshake video–among others. And, of course, all female Rappers who “spit” in themes praising a certain prodigiousness and street-savvy do so as collective homage to West Coast proto-gangstress Yo-Yo. This only skims the surface of Minaj’s Anaconda epistemology and its anxiety of influence…all before we can even begin to analyze the politics of the video’s mise en scene and history of her sexuality…  I don’t care for anything she’s done up to now and may not like anything after, but I do enjoy her in this moment…for if nothing else Anaconda reminds me how well I read Foucault.

(348)

There are two types of people who do not fear the ‘N’ word–those who are secure in their Blackness and those who read Mark Twain (well). It is smart to be of either camp…wiser to have a foot in both (if possible)…

(349)

“People who give up too easily too soon always miss the magic that’s just about to happen.”

(350)

I often meet Atheists who put on airs of being far better educated, enlightened thinkers than their more devout brethren yet feel no personal duty toward being properly schooled on the evolution of Religion–the history of its influence on humanity, humanity’s on it–merely because they do not believe in gods. To be so willfully ignorant of the world’s oldest confession isn’t a rebellion against the faithful, it makes one no better than the fundamentalist. If all one can say is “I don’t believe in gods” how is that any different from another who can only say “I believe in (G)od”? Both have said nothing…

(351)

The recordings of Wagner’s operas made during the Holocaust and World War II possess a more chilling sound of urgency in their tone…but I’m sure it’s just history…

(352)

Realheldenlust for Jonas Kaufmann: I tell people you are the dreamiest Heldentenor like some teeny-bopper talking up her latest crush, bragging to girlfriends with a pretense to connoisseurship thinking such a title more impressive than calling you simply the latest tenor I adore. What do I know? Perhaps you are not a hero at all and just sing Wagner beautifully…there is a difference… But when all is said and done, what comes directly from within you is splendid. That voice could make any Übermensch drop trou for Parzival. (Poor fools sing sweetly as they venture beyond the angels’ turf. Supermen merely whistle.)

(353)

<listening to Mercyful Fate’s album Melissa> King Diamond comes to us at one moment demonic cantor, then the whole of a dark Gospel choir… This music is holier than Stryper’s “heaven metal” Glam, more existential Christian Rock than Creed or Evanescence…even U2… It is undoubtedly music for worship. (We forget that Satanism is also a Christian schism and the inverted crucifix was an iconic symbol of St. Peter’s saintly integrity before it was ever appropriated for Satanic excess…and all Abrahamic sects are inherently faiths of revolt…)

(354)

From time to time I find myself thinking that Bertolt Brecht–as a playwright–was Germany’s George Bernard Shaw. (Why do I think this? Politics?)

(355)

Like philosophy prepares one for death, creativity prepares one for loneliness…it is solitude’s tonic.

(356)

The only thing that sells more than sex is lies…

(357)

Hipsters are to Mods what Zombies are to Vampires.

(358)

If you cannot be poetry, then write poetry…if you cannot write poetry, then read poetry…if you cannot read poetry, then see it…everywhere… (If you cannot see it…?)

(359)

Smashing inanimate objects that merely deliver the news that facilitates your displeasure is tantamount to “killing the messenger”…it solves nothing and you will have to buy a new phone…

(360)

“And if it’s the last thing I ever do I’m gonna get you. Crash into my arms.” Many music artists have tried their hand at the Jack The Ripper metaphor–Screaming Lord Sutch, Judas Priest, Motorhead, LL Cool J, Nick Cave et al.–but in light of Russell Edwards findings suggesting that Jack the Ripper was a Polish hairdresser who died in an asylum it seems that Morrissey, the maladjusted hairdresser on fire himself, nailed it with his moody rapist-romancer…

 (361)

<Monkees and Myth> One night back in the mid ’90s while drinking with some friends one put forth this elaborate story of censorship that The Monkees’ famous song about groupies, Star Collector, was originally titled Star Fucker. I was never able to verify any truth to his tale and in retrospect it seems foolish to think that a personality as artistically refined as Carole King–the song’s co-lyricist–would use language so colorfully brutal, especially when “collector” is more charmingly nuanced. Some years later–1999–Nine Inch Nails released the song Starfuckers, Inc. Foregoing subtlety this title fit not only the artist’s musical aesthetic (Davy Jones could have never pulled off “FUCKER”) but also the casual parlance of our era when speaking on the not dissimilar subject of fame and the Other. My friend’s lie became some manifestation of truth elsewhere, however coincidental (surely he and Trent Reznor never met to exchange notes on the matter)… Myths germinate in like fashion–the greater truth of the story (in this case how fame is socialized pathologically) outweighs the trivia of which hero brought it forth however, for if it is a truth it will indeed prevail…and blossom again and again… (Of course this in no way absolves my friend of telling such lies for he was no mythmaker but merely a cliche of a liar.)

(362)

<contra ZEITGEIST> I am not someone who indulges conspiracy theories. Conspiracy Theory is the Rapture thinking of global politics. I don’t believe in the capital ‘C’ conspiracy…although it is inarguable that there are select groups of people who operate clandestinely with access to privileged information. But there is no charm in the paranoia of potential New World Orders. (On the other hand, I do love a good panic and mass hysteria.)

(363)

“Greek is the eternal language of philosophy so it is incumbent upon any student of the New Testament to know more Plato than Pentateuch as the latter is in origin Torah. The Holy Bible is a complete story as a literary project, but the Old and New Testaments are two completely different schools of thought…even historically Jesus was culturally closer to Socrates than he was to Moses.”

(364)

When I encounter the lackluster–but honorable–efforts of Gay Country Music (cf. Steve Grand) or Gay Grunge (cf. Pansy Division), I’m reminded how so necessarily fixed is the sexism and gender bias of these genres that homosexual subject matter can be nothing more than pun or pathology… (Of course all Country Music is already pathological…)

(365)

“Anyone who knows me well knows well that I am not a man given to making or taking offenses… I don’t even harbor offensive thoughts, just offensive perspectives…”

 (366)

<on being one of the immeasurable numbers of unique “miracles” the cosmos boasts> If there is only one universe how amazing that it chanced to be suitable enough to sustain a life form that could develop to realize that there is only one universe hosting no other comparable intelligent self-awareness. If there is only one god how amazing that (I)t took a chance on creating a life form that could evolve into a being that would one day realize there is only one god who performed this one act but once. Either way, being alone is still being alone.

(367)

It is not the ability to Reason that sets us apart in the animal kingdom but the ability to make magic, mystify and be mystified–the will to (un)Reason.

(368)

In portraiture the “ugliness” of Picasso’s Gertrude Stein or Lucien Freud’s Queen Elizabeth II has the same truth found in the “beauty” of Keira Knightley in a Chanel ad or any of Beyonce’s videos…they really don’t look like that… (Picasso prophetically proclaimed about his Stein, “Everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will”)

(369)

“Sometimes my emotions seem to me like Pollock paintings, always in danger of peeling ‘cuz they were stretched after the fact.”

(370)

The wabi-sabi in Stevie Wonder’s Rocket Love: “Your body moved with grace and song/Like symphonies by Bach or Brahms”…unless Wonder is referencing Bach’s descendants or considering sinfonia rather than fully orchestrated modern symphony, Bach’s comparable composition form was ‘concerto’…yet all artistic and lyrical integrity would be lost in the correction…

(371)

Devout Atheist Richard Dawkins recently declared himself a secular Christian, “I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies”–whistling that tiresome Christian hymn of Anything-Jews-Can-Do-We-Can-Do-Better… Yet even with such excellent examples like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, secular Christianity is something of dialectical anecdote and doesn’t resonate with the same theological impact as secular Judaism largely because Judaism is a religion steeped in orthopraxy–it is irrelevant whether or not G-d exists, it is a religion about its people…Christianity is a faith of orthodoxy–it is imperative that one believe in (G)od, it’s the damn creed…Christianity does not allow for an intellectual space where gods do AND don’t govern, which is why it developed an Atheism loophole… (Christianity is quite Levitical in sentiment, there is a sacred and a secular world and ne’er should the twain meet.)

(372)

Watching THREADS–the Project Runway spinoff, featuring children competing in the fashion design arena–gives one the impression there are couturier prodigies waiting to be unearthed, tailoring-Mozarts suffocating somewhere in America’s Bible Belt or along the Bayou…hosted by the further suggestion that Christian Siriano is also such an embodiment, that he is heir to wunderkinds like Yves Saint Laurent or Zac Posen… This is misleading entertainment–most registered adult designers are hardly deserving of the title and prodigies in any discipline are what they are because of their gem-like rarity. I find it hard to believe a reality-show franchise that can barely produce a new Perry Ellis or Tommy Hilfiger will root out some baby Bill Blass… (The show’s intent would fare better scouting the sweatshops of Thailand, where children go straight from the womb right into counterfeiting Gucci…surely they possess some innate talent for craftsmanship at a more profound level…)

(373)

<prelude to my thinking on the Phallic guilt of Tannhäuser>The Bugs Bunny cartoon ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ came out in 1957, anyone born after 1960 who claims they got into Wagnerian opera by any other avenue is a LIAR–excepting, of course, Wagner’s own descendants. My truth: the cartoon was how I eventually came to love the opera Tannhäuser in particular–the music from which scores some of the cartoon’s more poignant moments–and later understand Elmer Fudd as exemplar of Phallic guilt… (Bald, weapon-wielding, predatory males are the very personification of φαλλός energy.)

(374)

The subtle charm of zombie storylines is one found peculiar to Frankenstein–there is no name for Dr. Frankenstein’s monster other than ‘daemon’, zombies are not referred to as such but given other names like ‘undead’… Respective of their tales these monsters exist in cultures that do not possess a language to conceptualize and name such monstrosities…like Grendel in Beowulf… This is very different with mummy, vampire and werewolf storylines where the characters are well seasoned in the historical background of the creatures and there is an a priori guideline for engagement… How much greater the horror when you have to fight and fear something you are unable to classify–even ‘evil’ falls short as that implies some manner of will and artfulness, which zombies lack by definition…

(375)

<the sinister Gay cabal in music> Despite their outrageous flaunting of “alternative sexualities” the subtlety with which the groups Village People and Judas Priest introduced 70’s Gay subculture into more popular arenas is one of masterful finesse. Although it is quite obvious that Macho Man is a song about homosexual hedonism (like most of their catalog) what most listeners miss is this moment that happens during the closing choruses when the lead vocalist (Victor Willis) says in his background rap, “Dig the hair on my chest, dig my big-dick mustache”… This moment is invariably missed by all…even when played on the radio it slips under the radar. (NOTE: A ‘big-dick mustache’ is most iconically linked to the Hulk Hogan horseshoe style–also known as the Trucker, with aesthetic roots in the handlebar fashion. Famed NYC Leatherbar, The Eagle, used to hold Mr. Big-Dick Mustache contests in the 70s and 80s.) Rob Halford is perhaps the only Gay member of Judas Priest but obviously the band’s strongest creative force. He brought with him from the 1970s S&M Bondage culture a stylized look that became the quintessential Heavy Metal aesthetic (all other Metal style icons are mere caricatures of Sir Rob). What less savvy listeners miss in JP’s earlier lyricism are the references to such Gay Meccas as Fire Island and Washington Square in NYC’s West Greenwich Village. Further the sexual target of JP’s predatory lyrics doesn’t appear gender specific until the mid-80s, when it is feminized…but even this attempt at heteronormativity is sparse. (We just assume he is talking about a woman because that is often the matter when phallic Rock music discusses sex. It’s a safe assumption.) Judas Priest have capitalized on this “infiltration” in leaps and bounds. The Village People are iconic in music but because coupling Disco culture with Homosexuality so easily lapses into farcical fitness soundtracks we hold them in sentiment that’s locked in a particular time, place and humor. Judas Priest have transcended not only time and place but as well produced new music over the passing of decades with marginal shift musically and aesthetically, all the while maintaining a significant (and largely heterocentric) fanbase. Hats off to them both.

(376)

Minds that are easily overwhelmed should avoid Philosophy at all costs…

(377)

It should never be about who you are but always about how you think. (Who do you think you are?)

(378)

 The Chainsmokers’ #SELFIE is Frank (and Moon Unit) Zappa’s Valley Girl for Millennials.

(379)

alex-from-target

(380)

When people lament particular artists lacking originality it seems to me they are of the mindset that there is this utopian creative consciousness that exists apart from suffering the anxiety of influence…this is not so…creative people who are original are no one much like utopia is a place that exists nowhere…

(381)

Actress Rose McGowan has publicly expressed an unpopular opinion my own mother has held for decades, that Gay men are misogynist queers. Nothing could be truer…as collective bodies of protest Gay men turn out for Women’s Rights causes less frequently (and earnestly) than women do for Gay Rights issues…in Gay culture Drag parodies and caricatures Straight womanhood but it is a badge of honor to be a Gay man who’s Straight acting…Gay intellectualism is anchored ideally in an Ancient Greek worldview, which is also a staunchly misogynistic worldview… I wager this disposition of ours is not because as men we are just naturally sexist and hate women (as Naomi Wolf might surmise) nor do I think some Freudian pathology is amiss…both may be very true but I think the bolder truth is during puberty Gay young boys growing into their sexuality are often bested for the heart of some other boy by Straight young girls growing into their sexuality. (And if you think scorned women are hellish, remember that it was probably a Gay Greek who mused the Furies in the first place.) As a caveat to Miss McGowan I would recommend Gay misogyny over Straight sexism if one had to choose between the evils…Gay men have no intention of disenfranchising women politically…in fact, we revel women in power…women in power dress better…women in power wear Chanel pumps…

(382)

<Roe v Wade: The Musical> “…there’s someone down there waiting who’s only goal in life is making you sure you’re always going to be alright…” I was originally put off by the Garth Brooks song, Mom, with its subtle pro-life message interpolated within the narrative… I thought to myself, “Oh Garth, it’s not like anyone’s writing songs about having abortions…” And then I remembered the Sex Pistols’ Bodies“She don’t wanna baby that looks like that…I don’t wanna baby that looks like that…”

(383)

Do I as a Gay man resent women? Absolutely not. Is homosexuality pathologically rooted in the hatred of women? Absolutely not. Is the personality of socialized (male) homosexuality characteristically misogynist? Absolutely–the hag/Diva divide is merely derivative of virgin/whore (hetero)sexism. Being Gay is a sexuality of maleness and as such is prone to excessive gender polarization and binarism…but women can trust at lower levels of consciousness that Gay men will not rape them and this absence of fear and internalization of potential victimization profoundly impacts the intimacy in friendship between genders…cf. the Dworkin/Stoltenberg relationship, rather the success of it…John Stoltenberg was a 100% no meat by-product homosexual but the argument could easily be made that Dworkin’s Lesbianism was a direct result of her hatred of men and not the reverse… (Okay, some instances of homosexuality can be pathological…) Their relationship outlasted many arranged marriages.

(384)

People often flatter me as someone who exhibits a charming sense of personal style and sometimes even seek my advice on matters of dress…I only ever have the same vague sagacity to impart about my own adventures in daily attire–I dress well for the same reasons I am still alive, the outside world can be hostile and my wardrobe is a metaphorical armor of sorts so I choose my outfits like I choose my battles…very wisely… The art of war and the art of dress follow the same laws of engagement…

(385)

The greatest folly of LGBTQ taxonomy is that Transgender is misunderstood as a variant of Homosexuality when in reality its desiring functions via Heterosexual impulses…think how problematic it would be for a Transgendered individual to seek out a Same-Sex relationship… Transgendered and transvestic identities are the orphans of a Heterosexist psyche. (Note that identities and personalities are not mutually exclusive but still very different psychological phenomena.)

(386)

That LIVING WITH OTHERS is HELL becomes more apparent when we gauge how much of our personality and sense of self is micro-managed by their mundane bullshit.

 (387)

I am of the selfsame heart that fueled DH Lawrence’s writing–we two spirits knit in simultaneous fascination and disgust with our own gender. But I have always thought DH was fearfully Straight for the same reasons I am courageously Gay, however profound a man’s character may be or great his achievements sex is inevitably part of the package…it is how we are built, head to head. (All men at heart quip Thickean rhetoric, “What rhymes with hug me?”) And it takes a formidable spirit to contend with suffering the intimacies inflicted by men. Not all men can withstand being taken to such task…just ask any woman… (I imagine that is why there are more Straight men in general…cowardice…)

(388)

Fashion is about the body clothed…pornography is about the body unclothed (stripped)…when the naked body is used in fashion editorial then it is about the body that wears clothes, which is not pornographic…this is how we begin to understand the naked body beyond the artistic nude, as itself a broader aesthetic.

(389)

 I should live the rest of my life as though I woke every day knowing the exact date of my death. (cf. The Holy Trinity of Life’s Brevity–Seneca, Diderot, Kundera)

(390)

It is common for us laymen to admonish that most despicable of legal praxis, to construct believable truths from probable falsehoods. We fail to ever acknowledge this perversion of communication as prevalent in our own day-to-day consciousness… One evening while stewing in that petri dish of social networking, Facebook, I became acutely aware of this folly in my own thinking; I posted a joke I couldn’t seem to reason–“The other day my friend was telling me that I didn’t understand what irony meant. Which is ironic, because we were standing at a bus stop.” I damn near begged for input and soon a small band of friends began to comment ideas. At one point I convinced myself (with not just a little Googling) that I came to fully understand the joke–that it was about posturing and all manner of far reaching ideas ranging from transportation to phonetics. EVERYONE participating either remained in silent or confrontational opposition to this misreading, I was undoubtedly the minority in this circumstance. The joke itself is so simple yet I over-analyzed the possibilities with merciless abandon. I concentrated on the SOUND of the word ‘irony’ which aroused a comparable auditory experience received as “iron knee”–which I discovered IS a thing, yet one not related to the concerns of the joke. Because I found some manner of correlative truth (however false contextually) to construct viable arguments this became my kernel of protest, standing my “justified” truth up against popular opinion…only to realize that sometimes there is truth to be found in the crowd (cf. Kierkegaard). But surely I am not alone–whether we call it cognitive dissonance, ignorance or old fashioned pigheadedness, one need only sit for a spell, have a clear think and realize this is how we all think about gender, sexuality, race, politics…and worst of all, religion… It is the conditioning of the human condition.

(391)

People who say “I don’t believe in (G)od” and people who say “I don’t believe in global warming” seem to me to be uttering the same species of un-statement…I always wonder if they really know what it is they mean to disbelieve.

(392)

Tarzan’s heroically savage sexuality only works in the Edwardian era coming down off the high of Victorian morality, when Western culture was still preoccupied with “civilizing”…in the 21st century people who think of the world in such a manner are considered primitive. Today’s comparable heroic male archetype as a guiding force through an unruly and merciless jungle is the Nerd/Geek–apropos of technology as a metaphorical jungle in need of taming, he is the modern Tarzan par excellence.

(393)

People only seek out the security of love because they can never secure being eternally desired…which is what everyone truly wants…

(394)

They fail as enjoyable pieces of music but succeed as excellent commentaries on the philosophy of Beethoven’s composition style, much like Nietzsche’s piano pieces fail as music but if one listens in the right way they make for really interesting aphorisms concerning the aesthetics of making sounds.

(395)

I’m always irked when people invoke that absolute dismissal “Nothing’s perfect”…I think to myself “Have they never heard of a wheel? Concept and design still not exhausted into obsolescence thousands of years later…”

(396)

I, Robot> The allure of Will Smith is undoubtedly founded in his body of work as an actor rather than the charm of his acting. Other than Nichelle Nichols, I know of no other Black actor who has such a profound resume of Sci-Fi/Fantasy work and Smith has a wider range–I, RobotMIBHancock…that lame movie with his son…the other lame one with the dog. And because it is a Black actor the character he portrays requires some believability in a background narrative, which ups the ante on how many more Black actors are visibly introduced into the story…therefore the film, the genre. When Martin Luther King urged Nichelle Nichols to remain with the Star Trek cast even though it would pigeonhole her acting career, he was not only thinking about her influencing the media image of African-Americans at that time but the potentialities for influential African-American faces in all (space-)times. Today one of the most sought after male actors for Sci-Fi/Fantasy is African-American, the leading mind in Astrophysics is Neil deGrasse Tyson, also African-American. I cannot tell you who the most sought after Sci-Fi actor was when Carl Sagan was vogue in Astrophysics…but I can tell you he was probably White…

(397)

The latest vogue in broadening the horizon of what is socially acceptable as beautiful by embracing ‘plus sizes’, ethnic beauty and handicaps/amputees has done very little to influence how the public views beauty. Amputee veterans that are super ripped, overweight women who are glammed up and Black women wearing designer frocks but sporting ‘natural hair” are compensatory images, these bodies are still being presented in a fashion palatable to the aesthetics of what marks something as visibly beautiful for public scrutiny.

 (398)

The pornographic arts as POP culture plateaued in the early 90s when filming sex became something everyone could do…even famous people. To date I believe I have seen every publicly available sex video or porno that has featured someone famous or who went on to become famous and I’m inclined to echo Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 claim regarding pornographic and obscene imagery, “I know it when I see it”, with the caveat that these films are not it despite the obvious sex; famous faces upset the pornographic experience. In this age dominated by online Amateur class pornography that is largely anonymous a familiar face that seduces our consciousness via other media (e.g. Music, Cinema) makes the experience too surreal to be sexual. (Even when faces in Amateur porn become familiar it is only by means of beholding that visage in other works in only that art form. We never encounter faces from GotGayPorn or Xtube walking red carpets at the Oscars.) We embrace famous breasts and butts but there is still something of a cognitive disconnect regarding the fame of peni and vaginas. When I see the penis of R. Kelly or Colin Farrell or Tommy Lee, or spend a night in Chyna or Paris there is a sense that this experience is less about watching sex and more about me watching an “artist” flex their creative muscle…similar in kind to seeing Shaquille O’Neal in a Hollywood movie or reading a novel by Naomi Campbell, such efforts I am unable to take seriously (even a professional crossover like Naughty By Nature’s Treach I still read as a Rapper not a pornstar). And as it is something of a quiet consolation that there are things famous people cannot do–like act or write–it is likewise a relief that they also suck at sex just like the rest of us.

(399)

There’s a moment in The Boy Next Door for which the film will live on in infamy, when a high school student–Noah (Ryan Guzman)–hands a copy of Homer’s Iliad to a teacher of classic literature–Claire (Jennifer Lopez)–and she suspects it’s a first edition. This moment has become the subject of articles, critiques and the new punchline in J-Lo’s cinematic career (now Gigli can finally get some rest). It seems so absurd a moment given all the dynamics involved in the subject that one has to think it irony, yet a reading of the film’s synopsis betrays that suggestion–the storyline is not about touting blatant ironies. So perhaps they mean first edition of that translation…hmmm… There are some significant historical translations that differ in later editions and others that have set standards for translating the text. Maybe they were just being too vague in their dialogue. There is no solid way for me to prove my thesis other than approaching the screenwriter, who could just as easily lie on the matter, so I researched some background information on the writer and director. The director, Rob Cohen, doesn’t do high-art (or very smart) cinema but he did attend Harvard, I imagine he has something of an idea of the epic’s origin and I’m certain they teach about the Venetus A codex in undergrad. The screenplay was written by Barbara Curry who holds an MFA from UCLA and a JD (Juris Doctor) from Northwestern–apparently another mind of sound intellectual ability. Perhaps the fault lies with the American audience not being “intellectual” enough to deduce that ONLY Classicists read Homer in the ancient Greek while the rest of us schmucks tackle it in translation… Should Curry and Cohen have spelled this out for us?

(400)

<the phenomenological experience of listening to Can’t Get Used To Losing You> Pomus and Shuman wrote a perfect song for Andy Williams. I love it by everyone who sings it…it almost defies being performed badly. There is a difference between being a standard-performed and a song-covered, a difference found within the song itself and Andy Williams’ hit song rides that fine line…even when it wants to be a cover–cf. The [English] Beat–it is a standard performed brilliantly, however blandly (cf. Patti Page) or awkwardly (Renegade Soundwave) and works wonderfully in French (Je Ne Veux Pas Toublier by Paul Leland).

(401)

As an artist Kanye West mistakes in himself what most people mistake in talent and genius, that it is a sign of depth. Have we learned nothing from Mozart?

(402)

Bach’s Double> I want that harmonious intercourse of those two violins in my romance.

(403)

Twain famously said that Wagner’s music is better than it sounds…to piggyback on that thinking, the only experience more beautiful than hearing Wagner’s music is watching it performed.

(404)

I write with the same impediment I suffer during sex–finishing is always an afterthought…except with sex I have to stop to write about it.

(405)

During a conversation with two friends at the nearby seminary one imparted that he used to be Gay, from his teens through most of his adult life–and then babbled some generic bullshit rhetoric on sexual conversion and grace. After he left, the other gentleman felt the need to apologize and further call foul on his friend’s confession…charging that the guy is probably still secretly homosexual. I asked him if he knew of any heterosexual men or women who discovered late in life, after marriage and children and mortgage, that they were Gay. He answered yes, several in fact. I suggested then that to dismiss the possibility for the reverse effect or think it ludicrous to even consider is to subtly declare heterosexuality a more authentic sexuality than homosexuality, that the latter is but a sexual anxiety evolved only to reconcile or justify a genuine heterosexualized psyche…and we know that’s not true. There are no genuinely Straight or Gay individuals. Thinking that people cannot change their sexual orientation at all only has trapdoors that open to thinking people can change their sexual orientation at whim or with intensive therapy. Human sexual absolutism is unnatural.

(406)

<listening/watching Yuja Wang play Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto> Sometimes I listen with my eyes to Yuja Wang playing on YouTube, other times I close them…I am not able to discern how much I like her playing from how cool she is to watch play. I suffered the same confusion years ago over violinist Nigel Kennedy.

(407)

It is surprising to some that I’m not an advocate of the contemporary Men’s Rights movements, given how steeped I am academically in Phallolatry, Phallicism and related interests. (And how much I adore men.) But this movement is political, not poetical–an irony that should be noted as it’s just a few meters short of Robert Bly’s mythopoetic efforts, metaphorically speaking… A politicized male movement as a collective force is called Patriarchy, and either ends up as a fascist initiative or a scathing anecdote in Feminism 101. There is no enlightenment in such ideology, unless it’s focused on bringing marginalized males to share center stage…like Straight men standing side-by-side with their Gay brothers in the struggle for Equality, or men of color actually being judged on the content of their character. Otherwise this is just another Angry White Men Movement…and Right Wing America’s already carved out that niche.

(408)

Blurred Lines controversy and the anxiety of influence> But one type of question need be asked following the lawsuit won by Marvin Gaye’s family/estate against Pharrell and Robin Thicke (and other such dubious cases): Would Homer have sued James Joyce over Ulysses? Or Dante over Inferno? Should Shakespeare’s heirs have sued Akira Kurosawa for RAN? Should someone subpoena the Ancient Greeks on behalf of the Ancient Egyptians regarding the kouros?

(409)

The two notes separating the prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde from the opening of act 1 is how ‘quiet’ is exalted over ‘silence’. Because real love does happen quietly, but rarely passes in silence.

(410)

When Shakespeare has melancholy Jacques wax on in Act II of As You Like It“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances”–it is interesting that no mention is made of the stagehands, the work that goes on offstage…the ones that don’t have the luxury of pretense but keep the machine functioning so others can continue their farce. I am at heart this stagehand.

(411)

I had been shopping online for Patrick Nagel prints (particularly of men) when I realized it is virtually impossible after 1982 to look at any of his artwork without mentally soundtracking the imagery with Duran Duran’s RIO, the cover of which boasts his iconic touch. I went back and listened to the original UK release of RIO–which features an extended version of Hungry Like The Wolf that was only released as a 12″ stateside–and began to think that perhaps this was something of a concept album, a musical ekphrasis on the work of Patrick Nagel. This would not be too outlandish to consider, there’s Moussurgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, Mark Anthony Turnage’s Three Screaming Popes after the Francis Bacon paintings…even King Crimson’s The Night Watch from Starless And Bible Black is about Rembrandt’s De Nachtwacht. (If such was not the band’s intention, the videos from that album made the matter inarguably so…)

(412)

Whenever non-Blacks accuse Blacks of “playing the race card” the first question that comes to mind is “Isn’t being a Racist also playing the race card?”

(413)

When dashing Cary Grant level actors like Rupert Everett lose leading man appeal in Hollywood because they came out publicly as Gay, it makes me think that the entertainment machine hasn’t fully evolved into titillating all the dynamics involved in how humans fantasize…American audiences were savvy on Jody Foster’s sexual orientation long before she “came out” and that in no wise hindered the Straight male audience accepting (fantasizing) her as a leading lady–perhaps even enhanced it…certainly Gays and Lesbians have to develop conversion fantasies about their favorite film stars…are we then to understand that Straight women do not fantasize about converting Gay men, that such a pathology does not measure in the sexual psyche of the human female?

(414)

<Lady Gaga vs Cher> Clothes may not make the man but men do make the clothes that make some women famous… Cher’s career survived Bob Mackie no longer being en vogue, Lady Gaga’s career is having a tough run surviving the death of Alexander McQueen.

(415)

<Lady Gaga vs Björk> I was not able to see the Björk retrospective at MOMA but it was not critically well received. Nevertheless this event still speaks multitudes on her importance as an Artist (most musicians are not granted midlife retrospectives at such august institutions)… There is something eternal always being tapped into even in her eccentricities. When Björk is being weird we still get Leda and the Swan…when Lady Gaga is being weird we get meat.

(416)

<more about that Bass> Flatchested “skinny bitches” have only been vogue since the 1920s and that’s only commercially, which differs aesthetically from other ideas of beauty–it’s meant to conjure a particular appeal solely for marketable purposes that unites craftsman and retailer and consumer in a single vision. When making clothes became more about creating fashion then designers became more concerned over which bodies best exploit the form and cut of the clothing, but this phenomenon has barely seen a century pass. Commercial beauty is not about permanence nor is it meant to be profound or socially magnanimous, and it is to our discredit that we mistake brief instances when it possesses depth for that being the rule. To properly examine real human beauty (G)od gave us Art, mankind’s visual historical record of the beautiful–and from the 30,000 year old Venus of Willendorf to Lucien Freud’s nude portraits the female form has generally been rendered breathtakingly robust. There is NOT a fine line between voluptuous elegance and sloppy obesity…there is a vast canyon.

(417)

<the art of winning pissing contests> I was having drinks with friends and someone made the empty statement (declaration!) that Beethoven’s Ode To Joy anticipates Mahlerian symphony…it was one of those empty cocktail party sound bites that people make to appear intellectual and culturally savvy, but it’s all only smoke and rhetoric. He looked at me while stating this claim (which is how other men assure me that it is my turn next to flash the size of my brain). So as not to disappoint I leaned in and quietly said that Beethoven’s 9th is called the ‘choral symphony’, Goethe’s Ode To Joy is merely used in the choral movement…adding also that next time he might consider a more provocative and probing notion, “…perhaps how everything Mahler wrote is reconciled in the first movement of Penderecki’s 7th…”

(418)

The enduring charm of the Noah tale lies for me in the après-deluge…when naked drunken Noah is encountered by Ham, and perhaps molested. How can we know this is the case? All Bible stories are justified by a similar telling in another of the books–e.g. the story of Sodom in Genesis 19 is balanced with a comparable tale in Judges 19–and we also find the same “afterparty” experience in Noah’s situation as we do with Lot after the fall of Sodom: a drunken patriarch vulnerable, at the mercy of his pubescent offspring who all believe the world has ended with them left to repopulate. The Bible clearly states that Lot’s daughters rape him so might we assume that Ham did something “unseemly” to incur a father’s curse? Most scholars range in analyses from something borderline Oedipal–that Ham castrated/emasculated Noah so as to have at his wife–to simply citing Levitical prohibitions against seeing one another’s nudity… But these are shortsighted and seem to assume that pubescent children can simply watch animal coupling and suddenly be sexually savvy, calculating and particular. (Evidently they’ve forgotten what puberty was like…it’s a free-for-all.) The adaptations from the 1928 silent film to Evan Almighty to NOAH rarely even touch the subject with any measure of profundity or insight, which mirrors how unthinkable society finds the idea of father/son incest–more deplorable even than heterosexualized incest. No one touches the subject–Freud relegates any idea on the matter to an Oedipal struggle, de Sade offers over 600 perversions and nary a mention, nor do any of the 20th Century pioneering sexologists, and it’s not a properly specified Levitical prohibition–how amazing for a text to offer up a scenario that it won’t even touch… Remember, the myth has Ham “blessed” in the beginning…merely seeing nudity hardly justifies being cursed…even in the Bible.

(419)

Being literate is not just about knowing how to read, it’s about knowing what to read.

(420)

Americans need to stop dialoging “reverse racism” as though it were Racism proper…it’s not…it is racist but not Racism. There has never been in history a systemic denouncing of Whiteness. The charge of reverse racism, like the Men’s Rights Movement, is merely a bandaid to soothe the wounded ego of a declining paradigm.

(421)

It is good to be creative. It is better to have a talent for such endeavors. It is best to have a vision…

(422)

I once asked a friend who was a Marxist if he ever read any thinkers he disagreed with, to which he smugly answered “No.” “Well, that explains why you don’t know anything.” We find ourselves at an interesting point in modern history when believing in Marxism and believing in a (G)od that interacts with the world is the same naivete.

(423)

Karl Marx and Jesus hit high but finish low on the same note…there will always be oppression. That is all.

(424)

Michelangelo’s David is itself a kind of sculptural exegesis on Christian scripture–Jewish heroism done in the Greek style…that’s the New Testament.

(425)

No prattle irritates my ears more than hearing people say “Well nothing’s perfect.” Actually, the wheel was the perfect invention… Bizet composed the perfect opera, Tchaikovsky the perfect concerti and easily 5 of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies are LITERAL perfection. In religion Jesus embodies the perfection of faith’s hero. Socrates was the perfect thinker. Shakespeare wrote perfect sonnets… Truth be told, when you break it down there’s a lot of perfect shit out there. I think to say “nothing’s perfect” is neither apologetic nor an excuse, rather a confession that one is comfortable never exceeding expectation.

(426)

We forget to our discredit that in the history of religious consciousness moral attitudes are comparatively modern ideas. Religion was first about worshiping gods, morality and golden rules were afterthoughts applied to Western anthropomorphic divinities–when gods became more like men they became moral abstractions. Greco-Roman pantheons had manlike gods marked by immoral impulses, who demanded worship. Yahweh was still more concerned with being worshiped–the morality of the Holiness code in Leviticus is really a guideline for the state of purity a priest has to maintain in order to perform ritualistic acts of worship. The human religious impulse didn’t get truly moral until we crucified the guy next door, Jesus.

(427)

I was asked recently what I believed to be the best thing about being Christian. It is Fucking. Adherents in no other faith bring as much of their soul to the act of sex as Christians. The whole of Christian ethos is anchored in desiring and every sex act harks back to Original Sin–all Christians are sexually (orgiastically?) bound one to another in this guilt. Christian sex is the most existential because it is never about the potentiality of the human form but the history of that form’s soul. Sex is always a Heaven/Hell divide and accompanying verbalization often invokes a sense of divinity–which is not even found in Greek and Roman sex practices and they had no restrictions against calling on the names of gods. Horny Christians are self-seducing mechanisms often torn between wanting control of their own orgasm but never taking responsibility for their own desiring. Such anxiety might seem too daunting but remember that ALL passion is about suffering and yearning and fulfillment. (It is of little wonder that the most intriguing sexual icon is a Christian priest or nun fallen from grace.) Catechesis in its own way is as much a lesson exploring the dubious joys of sexual desire as the Kama Sutra.

(428)

It seems we have to start viewing modern boxing with the same raised eyebrow we hoist over WWF bouts…not as a sport but ‘sports entertainment’…much like buying a cup o’ joe at Starbucks is not really about drinking coffee but ‘coffee drinks’…

(429)

<the post-analog mind of a collector> Collecting music during the era of analog was always more about the art of music production–not just the sound of music but also the album cover art, rare and special editions… In the digital age music is produced with a grander vision–box sets, bonus tracks… A single individual can now possess the entire catalogue of Mozart or Sinatra, which is less about minutia or a retrospective of best hits and more about a complete vision of the artist… Think on the value of hearing a studio outtake of a popular tune and how that influences not only how the tune is again heard but how the artist is heard as well…you can’t get outtakes on vinyl, it almost goes against the grain of how analog music was meant to be presented… A collector of vinyl in the digital age is tantamount to viewing the private collection someone in the artworld who only collects Renaissance paintings, every piece they own is a masterpiece–78s, 45s, picture discs, colored vinyl…

(430)

The endurance of Depeche Mode and Judas Priest is marked by that rarefied occurrence of genius coupled with perfect mouthpiece for genius–i.e. Martin Gore/Dave Gahan, Glenn Tipton/Rob Halford–which also explains their ability to consistently release substantial music over multiple decades. If the bands’ other members had early fallen off we would still have those iconic Depeche Mode and Judas Priest sounds… (The same holds true for The Beatles and the Rolling Stones with the significant difference being that Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards couplings shared positions of genius.)

(431)

It is crass pseudo-analysis to accuse homophobes and opponents of LGBT rights of suffering repressed homosexual tendencies…even when it is true (and often) it is nevertheless an insult to the collective homosexual consciousness, in the same sense that it is morally reprehensible to saturate a Hitler biography with conjectures of his possible Jewish ancestry as root cause of the Holocaust stemming from an underlying self-hatred, when simply declaring him a fucked-up asshole paints the character clear enough.

(432)

“…the best proselytizing is performative not presumptuous…first LEARN then SHOW people how best to be a Christian…”

(433)

It is no secret that Chet Baker’s voice left much to be desired technically but it excels in character and emotional ambition…this is why we love his voice as much as his horn playing… Emotional ambition more than talent is what truly makes an artist… (The added caveat is that one must have a talent for something.)

(434)

When asked why something appeals to your taste it is not enough to say “because I like it”, and people who think that sufficient were taught wrong–I blame parents who tell their kids “of course you’re the prettiest/handsomest/smartest”. (It is not even sufficient consolation because it is always suspect given the source.) Surely it is not wrong to encourage people to THINK of themselves as beautiful and smart but it is better to encourage people to BE beautiful and smart.

(435)

I heard someone say today that he believed some people are just born with good Christian hearts…nothing irritates me more than someone who doesn’t understand the core teachings of their own faith–IT IS THEOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO BE BORN A GOOD CHRISTIAN. The suggestion of goodness from birth flies in the face of what Christianity is all about…which is ‘becoming’…

(436)

Paganism is not a faith but a classification of a faith dynamic, it is folly for anyone to declare themselves Pagan–“Well what kind of Pagan are you?”… This is characteristic of Christianity (“What kind of Christian am I?) but when all is said and done there is a core Christian theology to which all Christians can subscribe and must to be considered Christian. Paradoxically, although it is laughable for individuals to be religiously Pagan–orthodoxy/orthopraxis–it is comparatively deeper for one to be spiritually Pagan… I would dare say deeper and more spiritually adventurous than most of the prevailing major world religions.

(437)

James Bond films (as opposed to the original Fleming tales) turn Shakespearean characterization on its head…whereas Shakespeare makes of foreigners truly likable and (tragically) heroic figures contrasting with his own countrymen cast as buffoons, Bond films tend to treat foreigners as buffoons…Englishmen, noble and likable… (I’m always hard pressed to call Brits heroic…)

(438)

Because Creationists are those religionists furthest exiled from the Isle of Reason they cannot fathom that a watch implying a watchmaker or a symphony speaking of a composer as an argument for Intelligent Design has no bearing as a defense against a dissenter who is adamant that the Great Weaver of the fabric of our universe is a fabrication…

(439)

There was something noble about Bruce Jenner’s transitioning until the name reveal. The ancient folk roots and mythos of naming are as powerful today as ever. Naming a child, a possession or self-renaming is always rife with subtext. That he did not choose to use ‘Kaitlyn’ is an irrelevant nuance, Bruce Jenner confesses with his name change not a man who has long suffered gender-identity crises but rather a man succumbing to Kardashian feminism–that the largest most powerful penis one can wield in contemporary media is a Vagina…especially one that begins with a ‘K’ sound… (Notice how much quieter Kanye has become since ‘Kimye’…)

(440)

That one person cannot truly tap into the feeling of continuum that is another person’s life is the inherent loneliness of personhood…the built-in isolation of beingness…

(441)

It was Tyra Banks’ booty that made it possible for Tess Holliday’s beauty to be recognized by the modeling world…but where does that leave the clothing if modeling is now fully about the body? The unapologetic anorexia in the fashion world is a necessity of art–thin models are referred to as walking/moving hangers because what matters is the aesthetic concerns surrounding lines, shapes and movement of the clothing… When the matter surrounds the body then we are no longer engaging the art of fashion but fine art…and should be wary of confounding this body politic…

(442)

Eminem is often the non-Black Rapper most lionized with Shakespearean esteem but he is a bit too bratty in sentiment and the comparison is only about clever enunciation. For what Shakespearean poesy is really about–creating a language to suit a character–we should look to B-Real from Cypress Hill. The track Break ‘Em Off Some opens with a kind of exhalation that hints of a subtle exhaustion not fully realized on the listener’s part until the line “A pig in a plain brown wrapper, he wanna bring me down”–this urban poetic way of expressing being hunted by an undercover cop helps the narrative become Shakespearean in scope, B-Real creates a language only his circumstances can justify…it could be have been uttered by the likes of Hamlet…

(443)

It is better to be a diverse society but offense is the price we pay for diversity. I am fond of telling people that Political Correctness was created for me not for me to use…in other words for the benefit of my beingness. I am free to use the ‘N’ word and pronounce something as ‘That’s so gay!’ because I am invoking the language that forces discourse on MY beingness in a bigoted society–on both conscious and unconscious levels. (Canadians are right, ALL Americans are Racists at some level… Germany is devoutly apologetic for the Holocaust because to be German does not automatically translate into being Anti-Semitic, but America as a nation has never apologized for Slavery–rather glorifies it–because at root to be American means to be Racist, and by extension generally bigoted or prejudiced.) Political Correct speech is a very noble but flimsy bandage for a very deep wound, a folly more pronounced when we see it in other contexts…using code words like ‘traditional’ instead of ‘racist’, or saying “the good ol’ days” instead of ‘when niggers knew their place and faggots kept their mouths shut’.

(444)

I am off-put by this surge in transgender concerns not because of any aversion to transgendered identities but because said identities are taken as species of homosexuality, when all of the data points to a heterosexualized psychosocial dynamic. No male-to-female transgendered individual with a healthy sexual appetite is transitioning to be sexually enticing to Gay men, since as a rule Gay men are attracted to male forms. Nor have I ever met one transitioning to become Lesbian. Transgendered identities transition to adjust physically within a heterosexist–not homosexist–binary construct that corresponds to their emotional/intimate needs. (Of course all sexual identities need a spring board, look how long Homosexuality was considered a deviant subsex of Heterosexuality…and both still deny that Bisexuality is the umbrella of all human sexuality…)

(445)

If I were to pretend that Ayn Rand’s philosophy possessed even the most subtle charm it would be found in its systematic nihilism–not the systematic rejection of all value (nihilism), but a philosophical system developed to ensure (however accidentally) that no real value ever results… Rand’s Objectivism is best suited for Corporate America where it indeed flourishes because at the end of the day the one core value that justifies corporate greed never results, money never ever exchanges hands…whether Wall Street or Silicon Valley money is the trusted god of essence and never form…

(446)

“…if my writing survives and people condescend to read it they will wonder if I’m a hack or a genius…but that the clear answer to this mystery is kept obscured behind using esoteric styles like philosophical fragments and writing in haikai forms, this makes me something of a genius…”

(447)

There is something vulgar, ignorant and un-humble about people who thank Jesus for every little joy in their lives, and invoke “(G)od’s will” in answer to every tragedy. It’s a sign that do they not fully understand the Christian trinity–if JC is blessing you, so is (G)od and if (G)od is fucking you over, Jesus is too…but worse is the apparent cognitive dissonance of believing oneself small and insignificant in the grand scheme yet at the same time so important that (G)od and the Christ single you out like heroes in Greek tragedies.

(448)

Let us invest in Derridian philosophical capital and begin to consider willful illiteracy as much an intellectual drain on society as willful ignorance–and by this charge I am not merely criticizing the banality of people who do not read “the classics” or books in general but those souls who sadly choose not to read meaning in the world they encounter.

(449)

“We really don’t have liberties in how we see, rather what we choose to look at…”

(450)

“There is only one crisis of identity and it’s not the struggle to become who/what you wish but mustering the courage to face the overwhelming possibilities of everyone and everything you’re never going to be…this is why Tolstoy wrote [books]…this is why people commit suicide…”

(451)

Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman deepens the character of Atticus Finch rather than destroys him, as most naive “fans” of To Kill A Mockingbird have suggested. We can now truly understand him in that first novel in the broader context of American Racism, bigotry and the judicial system…and this Atticus Finch will be familiar to us if we think about Denzel Washington’s character in Philadelphia, attorney Joe Miller–mysophobia notwithstanding, the attorney was not necessarily keen on homosexuality in general but it was a matter of doing what’s right and what’s just, irrelevant was one’s personal ideology. (And doesn’t Henry Drummond in Inherit The Wind actually believe in God?) The backlash that American readers are aghast at this more genuine idea of Atticus Finch reminds me of Annie Wilkes kidnapping Paul Sheldon in Stephen King’s Misery, demanding that he write Misery Chastain back to life… Is that how we have to reconcile the angst of the America’s literary retardation, tie Miss Lee to a bed and smash her ankles with a sledgehammer unless she makes Atticus nice again…?

(452)

 <Confederate symbolism and Rock music> Unlike The Dukes of Hazzard, Kid Rock is a private entertainment–something one elects to experience rather than a nationally syndicated TV show meant for family viewing–ergo Kid is something of an artist, so it is rather trite for even his own fanbase to demand he too “lower” his Confederate symbolism…and even more ludicrous if that contagion spreads to classic rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd. When the Southern cross is flying over a capitol building or emblazoned across a heroic morality, a very serious negative statement is being made about the mindset and politic of a collective…but Rock-n-Roll does not generally produce collectives and heroes, it produces individuals and anti-heroes who we expect to appropriate fringe language/imagery/ideas as symbolic of their consciousness as artists/musicians; for example, we expect Black Rappers to use the ‘N’ word but not Black politicians nor do we expect to hear it on The Cosby Show. Considering Kid Rock debuted as a Rap artist there is also a rather clever irony being overlooked in his artistic pretense… In a backwards way it’s the same species of irony we find in British Skinhead bands like Skrewdriver who appropriated Nazi symbolism in their logos and iconography… (Did they not learn about the Blitzkrieg in public schools?)

(453)

“One does not just write words in a meter and call it POETRY…”

(454)

It was recommended by several viewers that I not sit through the Director’s Cut of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac I & II…having done otherwise I discovered that to watch any other version is counterintuitive to the artistic integrity and theme of this cinematic adventure…like watching the R rated version of Tinto Brass’ Caligula or editing out all of the feces scenes in Pasolini’s Salo…however tedious certain interpretative measures are necessary to the film’s content…capturing the mood of the tale… Driving the point home as it were… (I don’t think I could stomach sitting through another version of Nymphomaniac but I am left wondering what the more palatable version comprises…or misses for that matter… Much like I’m always wondering what the original Dresden version of Wagner’s Tannhäuser sounded like…)

(455)

At the first moment Stellan Skarsgard references the “fly” on the wall, one realizes that Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac is not a film about female insatiability but about the phallus. The film blatantly confesses this over and over in its visual content, the main character’s vagina is but a vehicle to examine the variant sameness all men possess, the Penis. (As a religion scholar whose primary interest involves the rise of the Abrahamic faiths from  more phallocentric roots this discovery in no wise disappointed me, even if the film was wanting…but I’ll leave such film analysis to the likes of Slavoj Zizek…) In keeping with this phallic awareness, what intrigued most me was the Hollywood male bodies. Hollywood actors of both genders who are contracted to studios often have contractual restrictions limiting how much of their real body is to be seen in any given work, even in films for another studio. For male actors full-frontals often require body doubles (‘dick doubles’, to be a vulgarian). I am not certain if this restriction carries over into the Indie and Foreign genres. It was Shia LaBoeuf’s penis that brought these ‘dick doubles’ to mind. I am not convinced the penis closeups were genuinely Shia; his character, Jerome, has a foreskin but Shia’s real life mother is Jewish (father, Creole/Cajun descent)…he wouldn’t have a foreskin… No Jewish boy has ever been Bar Mitzvah’d uncircumcised.

(456)

<lamenting Rachel Dolezal> …there’s no simply saying “Oh it’s okay, this is a free country. BE whatever you want.” It was not okay when Jim Crow era light-skinned Blacks tried it, and added the Civil rights era aversion to Blackface entertainment, why would anyone think this okay. Pretend to be from a different class, that’s fine, but Race is not just about how you personally identify yourself, it’s also about the RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS OF EVERYONE AROUND YOU. Whenever I invoke this idea of being racially responsible I am not just speaking about showing up at police brutality protests with fried chicken and waffles, I am talking about being responsible TO (not FOR) how people will embrace you as a Black woman or Latino man or White transgender or Asian intersex… Racial identity matters because there are other people…same and different… Race is not something in a vacuum, and pretending that it is actually betrays everything about Civil Rights and Equal Rights enlightenment.

(457)

“…always have more questions than opinions…”

(458)

When human beings rush to take offense it is a sign of intellectual arrest…when the mind has stopped thinking…

(459)

…the crucifixion is the inverse salvation found originally in the Noahine narrative, but it is still the saved one saving…we have to remember that Abraham’s debate with (G)od over Sodom resonates later in the New Testament passions resulting in “Peradventure there be ONE righteous soul, wilt thou spare humanity for one soul’s sake?” This critical twist leans not toward finding a messiah but being messianic… <excerpt from a 1992 essay on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship>

(460)

The English language rule still being taught in American schools is one of Tongue-envy. The British strain of English is as dated as Latin, Koine Greek or the Egyptian hieroglyph. Richard Wright, the Beats and Gloria Anzaldua have tread the frontiers of American language and articulated vistas grander than any Oxford rule ever promised.

(461)

Rather than confront their own conscience and tackle head-on the virulent Racism that still pervades American consciousness, Americans find it much easier to just pretend they are not privately racist anymore and all social disenfranchisements will merely iron themselves out…this is like the thinking of a dysfunctional pregnant woman who suddenly decides she doesn’t want to bear a child but cannot bear the thought of having an abortion, so she just pretends she’s not pregnant… What happens when her water breaks? Well, to drive a metaphor home, that’s the levee breaking…

(462)

If Bill Cosby is truly guilty of serial rape this will crystallize America’s already deep-seeded fear of Black male sexuality…Black men will never shake off that stain of sexual predation…and like OJ in the end was found out as nothing more than a common animal, Cosby will be found out as nothing more than the lowest common denominator of male cowardice, a pill-dropping-date-raper who couldn’t take no for an answer. Cosby spoke so semi-eloquently in the past on the responsibility Black people have in this country to represent ‘our kind’ in the best light at all times…perhaps he should have heeded his own advice because the legacy he and OJ have left Black men has set us back 100 years, when we were thought of as the Scourge of White Womanhood.

(463)

Country music’s image/sound in the age of Taylor Swift’s leggy red lips and Florida Georgia Line’s grungy tattooed hipness is almost unrecognizable as Country… Blues had to give birth to R&B and Punk Rock had to spawn post-Punk, perhaps Country music after Shania Twain and Garth Brooks needs to be re-heard as PoCo…

(464)

We accept that professional basketball demands players of a certain height, that ballerinas have to be of a certain weight, why then are we so affronted by the idea that professional fashion modeling has body type demands? Because we want to believe that unlike being a baller or ballerina anyone can wield the talent of being beautiful–any size or height or weight…because we misunderstand the difference between conveying beauty and being beautiful… Modeling is often about the former not the latter–professional beauty is not one of those finer Kantian experiences, it’s not even real beauty…

(465)

What separates Bach, Beethoven and Wagner from other German composers as being specifically “Germanic” is their music clearly voices its hard worked determination…yet seems as though the hard worked determination came as natural as breathing…

(466)

<the curious case of being free in two Germanic languages> “Freedom” in English denotes that being free is a realm of active existence, like a kingdom (dom = state/condition)…a shared state… (Democracy?) In German, “freiheit” seems to consider being free a matter of essence (heit = ness)…not necessarily a shared state… (…nicht so demokratisch?)

(467)

When one speaks of such a thing as Germanic opera essentially one is speaking in a Wagnerian bombast. There is German opera and there is Wagnerian opera, which is the height of that musical aesthetic one might deem Germanic. Listen to non-German composers indulge those tones (cf. Busoni’s Doktor Faust) and all you’ll hear is a caricature of Wagner’s sound…

(468)

<listening to Soft Cell> Tainted Love is one of those interesting pieces of music where all later considerations reference not the original but the first successful cover version–like Jimi Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower creatively trumps Bob Dylan’s original…even for Bob Dylan. Later cover versions of TL are always based on Soft Cell’s arrangement and not the original Gloria Jones version. Whether it is Coil’s manipulation of the tempo to a haunting knell or Marilyn Manson’s techno shock-Goth or The Pussycat Dolls’ unimaginative and uninspired pop flop, all renditions of the tune are in some way a response to Soft Cell. This same manner of creative appropriation can be heard in a piece like Edward Elgar’s 1919 Cello Concerto in E minor…everyone after Jacqueline du Pre tries their damnedest to play it in a different fashion, but all subsequent performances of the concerto after du Pre inevitably sound like du Pre…

(469)

“…whether poet or philosopher or prostitute, every talent or profession boasts two camps of individuals–those who revolutionize their fields and those who merely sustain the discipline…I walked away from the academy because I will never be a revolutionary thinker in philosophy or religion, just some paltry mind suffocated under piles of unpublished papers misunderstanding bolder thinkers… Admittedly I have no natural talent for the arts but I’m highly intuitive and a little clever, so even if I cannot contribute anything of lasting value to the art world my personal profit on such an endeavor will be learning to revolutionize myself…philosophy and religion have already taught me how to think and live…” <excerpt from an ongoing email exchange>

(470)

Although Anthony Burgess saturates A Clockwork Orange in Beethovenism he is a Mozart scholar. Burgess says that Mozart is essentially a Germanic composer because Salzburg was an independent city-state during Mozart’s career and that somehow imbues his music with a spirit of (political) Germanism…well, (Jewish) Mahler–another Austrian music genius–converted to Catholicism as an appeal Richard Wagner’s wife Cosima, that he might conduct at the Bayreuth opera house…surely such an existential and socio-political annihilation of his resident Jewry to appease a staunch anti-Semitic faction (Cosima was worse than Richard) should make him Austria’s most Germanic of composers.

(471)

If the internet is the “information highway” I guess libraries were the original depots.

(472)

I often here people confess their “belief” in the unconscious or science or gods…I tend to think these are all the same species of intellectual morons…one does not “believe in” science or psychology but rather what these disciplines evidence…and as for religious matters “faith” is NOT about belief because belief is about WILL.

(473)

Rather than crassly tell ignorant people to shut up I have adopted a more diplomatic approach, now I explain that no one has “a right to an opinion”…in America one has the right to be properly informed, then form an opinion…one also has the right to not like something and/or have no interest in understanding what that thing might be about, but then all that can be said is “I just don’t like it” and that is not sufficient to opine…that is merely an utterance, an inanity, which one has rights to expressing…but that means nothing, so one has a right to nothing… To speak of rights in defense of opinions is to imply that ALL opinions have validity…and that is simply not true…

(474)

When letters like ‘E’ and ‘H’ are silent it is not an absence of sound per se but silence adapted as a provisional quality that serves to heighten the potential of the surrounding letters…can you think of a better metaphor for being in the world with others?

How To Stop Believing In (G)od Without Really Trying…A Philosophical Farce Saturday, May 24 2014 

Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning… (C.S. Lewis)

(1)

One evening over drinks and not a little cocaine, a friend asked if I could teach him to be an Atheist. I first thought it a farcical request until learning that he just finished Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Anti-Christ and what he was really asking is how to think about Christianity–primarily as an institution of oppression, as well as a socially and spiritually destructive force. (An exercise for which one does not have to be a trained Atheist.) Needless to say I declined, having no confirmed atheistic leanings. (I do call myself a Christian, but that is a purely sentimental consideration…it is far more intriguing for me to ruminate on the gods of others rather than teach others to reason mine. The existence or non of any particular divinity is irrelevant in my strain of religious scholarship.) In addition, most pro or con religious influence tantamount to proselytizing, which I am adamantly against. “Teaching” someone to be an Atheist is hardly different in spirit and intent from the indoctrination of converts one faith to another.

Robert Louis Stevenson charges his “brother go to the devil in his own way.” I charge mine get to (or away from) their gods in the same fashion.

(1a)

I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist. (Albert Camus)

Although I do not subscribe to atheisms–nor am I quite the rapscallion Pascalian gambler either, hellbent on behaving just in case (G)od exists…and judges–I do fancy myself a sympathist. Even when I make the theistic proclamation that ‘(G)od exists’, I do so as a philosophical counter to Nietzsche’s ‘(G)od is dead’. We both are considering the matter as an issue of cultural and political import rather than some ontological possibility. It would be misleading then to say that the subject of Atheism does not titillate me intellectually, yet all I can do is meditate implications on the matter in a manner akin to Atheism. What I like to call a state of suspension of belief.

All thinking men are atheists. (Ernest Hemingway)

(2)

Atheism is a rejection that there are gods or supernatural agencies in the world of any kind…including the rejection that there might have ever been such entities at some point in the Universe’s history…which is what Deism posits.

(3)

Does (G)od exist? According to the intellectual evidence, one cannot take an absolute stance on such an unanswerable question.

That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. (Christopher Hitchens)

Saint Paul suggests religious belief is a matter of faith and that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Unfortunately he fails to recognize that evidence is largely a cognitive concern and as such relates not to the heart (hope) but to the mind, which craves substantiated order. I smell a Cartesian trap. I have these thoughts about gods and related entities that Descartes posits would not exist in me without some outside force seeding my consciousness…because mankind’s historical record has always leaned in this direction–EVERY CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHES A CREATION MYTH–some supernatural force must have instilled them.

(3a)

But this order my mind craves is comprised of Reason + Understanding…and no earthly entity–grouped or individual–can acquire complete understanding or function under pure reason as these only operate developmentally at cognizant levels.

(3b)

Reason is often mistaken for Excuse, which is always grounded in biased self-interest. Think about how an employee responds to his boss’ question “Why are you late?”; invariably the tardy begin their answer with, “The reason I am late is… because…” What is being offered is an excuse, whereas a reason would concern probing ALL the evidence availed involving the matter at hand, the myriad angles AND sequential events that led to the outcome, which might also expose the lateness as having been preventable. (If I go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before, not hit the snooze button 6 times before committing to getting out of bed in the morning and listen to the regional traffic report while getting dressed, a 16-car pile-up would prove a matter of sheer irrelevancy.) Now think on how people have responded historically to human suffering as resulting from a god’s wrath. What I now know of global poverty, greed and the history of human diseases–the socio-politics of wealth and health–do not necessarily dispel the idea that gods exist or get angry, but do render the notion of angry gods as the cause of human plight an impotent concern. If reasoned properly, I will undoubtedly find that the terms I have accepted for why gods would be angry with mankind are human excuses rather than matters of divine import or every sinful city and disagreeable despot the world over would be wiped out unconscionably and this is certainly not the case.

(3b)

For example, take the big flood that all the ancients record in their scriptures and myths. It was THE ONE… Mesopotamian or Hebraic, it was the same deluge. And considering the comparatively limited understanding and moral aptitude early civilizations had regarding such natural occurrences, surely divine wrath seemed a perfectly feasible explanation. The flood (though seen and experienced) evidenced their faith. We live in an age now when it is clearer why floods happen and also how they are preventable…and neither the rage of Poseidon or Yahweh ever seems afoot in the matter.

(4)

It seems that naturalist is a far more appropriate term for such (non-) belief and call to Reason. Atheism implies that there is something worth denying the existence of…this is its underlying anxiety. A naturalist is someone who takes in the world–the universe–as guided by natural laws. A realm where the concepts of Physics and Chemistry really apply.

(4a)

This differs in kind from Agnosticism, the view that because you can never know whether or not (G)od exists it seems pointless to even consider the conjecture. GK Chesterton called this view cowardly and I am inclined to agree that it is something of a fanciful wishy-washy position to take. A theo-philosophical out, as it were.

Agnostics are just atheists without balls. (Stephen Colbert)

(4b)

The question at stake here–Is there a Prime Mover god?–is one of rationality.

(5)

The intellectual respectability of a claim that there are gods…whether on Mount Olympus or Mount Sinai…could be considered on par with the intellectual respectability that there are fairies in one’s garden. Belief in fairies was very widespread and attested well into the 19th century. Many people believed fairies were more present in their life than (G)od was…as it was more common that when little things happened or went missing, this was the work of fairies or perhaps poltergeists. These figures are most likely inherited from the household deities of the ancient Greeks and Romans that are often anonymously referred to in their writings (but we have yet to uncover any sound relative theologies) and ancient religious trickster figures…most of whom gave birth to that figure we regard as Satan.

(5a)

This comparison of gods to fairies is not a jerky one because all supernatural agencies evolve from notions of the divine. If your reasons for not believing in fairies is because it is irrational to do so then it is likewise that all divinity thinking is faulty or at the very least frivolous.

(5b)

Agnostics who think that there is as much chance gods exist as not intellectually fall foul to this irrationality.

(6)

Fundamentalists and Creationists claim that the world is so perfectly designed that some intelligent force must have set the wheels in motion…a Deus ex machina… They adopt the moniker Intelligent Design…but that is just a fig leaf covering the protrusion of Creationism. This movement wants to arouse intelligibility and rationality in the idea that there might be a conscious purpose behind the way things are run in the universe. There are very profound and powerful theories regarding how the appearance of design and organization in the universe emerges. In biology for example we have Darwinian theory.

(6a)

If it turns out that there is a God…the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever. (Woody Allen)

If we took seriously that there was a designer then we would have to concede that said designer was rather incompetent. There are myriad ways in which this universe could be better organized. Even the human body is a mess of questionable design features. A civil case could easily be levied against (G)od for manufacturing and dispensing such a shoddy system.

(7)

Let’s consider then the charge that (G)od moves in mysterious ways. This is the easiest argument for a Creationist to invoke…the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, eternal being–the standardized idea of (G)od. Anything that follows this thinking is absolute and can never serve as counter-evidence to an existence of a god. Well if we think on Karl Popper’s famous dictum that if a theory or claim explains everything and all is consistent with the truth of the claim then it is indeed empty and explains nothing at all.

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. (Karl Popper)

(7a)

Opponents of Popper’s view will argue that such consideration is not dissimilar to scientific thought. Science purports to explain everything and that which is as yet inexplicable will one day be explained by such methods. Contrarily, science doesn’t hold such power.

(7b)

Science at its normative best is a publicly contestable and challengeable discipline.  It continually maintains its respectability by positing what can count as evidence against its findings. When people put forth views in science they publish them with both the intent to inform and to invite questioning and testing hypotheses and so on…whereas theological thought is solely for the purpose of defending or establishing dogma.

(7c)

Science is the model of how epistemology should proceed, open and inviting the toughest responses from colleagues and laymen.

(7d)

Science premises extra-theoretically that the universe is a place that can be understood and fundamentally intelligible. It is but a matter of musing the right concepts, developing the right procedures, procuring the appropriate instruments so we might increase our understanding of the cosmic machine. In the methodological ideal, achieve a complete understanding. (This is admittedly peculiar thinking as what is being considered is a vastness that is ever evolving and expanding.)

(8)

What of morality? Can there be morality without (G)od?

(8a)

In classical antiquity (a very theo-conscious stage in human social evolution) there are deep and rich thoughts about the nature of morality, the foundation of ethics and what constitutes the good life that make no appeal whatsoever to divine forces. A judgmental monarch in the sky was of little consequence when gauging how Man should engage Mankind. Axial age thinkers like Confucius and the Greeks reasoned away the necessity of believing that a Cosmic Big Brother watching over your every move was the core impetus behind such notions as good will.

(8b)

However a peculiar Jewish joke betrays an interesting nod toward this thinking even among the “chosen” and pathologically devout:

Two Rabbis argued late into the night about the existence of God, and, using strong arguments from the scriptures, ended up indisputably disproving His existence. The next day, one Rabbi was surprised to see the other walking into the Shul for morning services.

“I thought we had agreed there was no God,” he said.

“Yes, what does that have to do with it?” replied the other.

This joke has been rendered in many forms, including a pending minyan (10 worshipers) in dialogue concluding that (G)od indeed does not exist and when the tenth arrives they enter the synagogue for service. What is expressed here is the notion that whether or not (G)od exists, one still performs as one morally should…orthopraxis. This is a very unique way of thinking in the (mono)theistic/deistic faiths…estranged from orthodoxy which is about adhering to dogma, orthopraxis is about the performative aspect of “faith”. So, even if there is no (G)od everything is still NOT permissable.

Actions speak louder than words…louder even than the words of (G)od.

(8c)

Most profound thinking on ethics evolved from longstanding religious traditions but to suggest that one cannot have an ethical or moral outlook in life that is not lorded over by some divine punisher/rewarder boasts a logical fallacy that it is right to do something because someone will beat you up if you do not. The idea that we need an enforcer for morality is a kind of calumny on all those individuals whose reasons for behaving as they do to others–the desire to respect others, be collegial and foster the project of cooperation in society–is premised solely on a liking and sympathy for fellow human beings.

(8d)

Much worse than any heresy, it is slanderous to say that a person’s genuine goodness is undermined merely because they do not believe in (G)od.

(8e)

There are those who purchase their branded morality from that Supermarket of Ideas–a 2-liter of Marx, a 6-pack of Catholicism, a pound of sliced Islam and so on–and there are those who independently meditate on the idea of morality and realize they have to inspect the reasons for treating others as they do, examine the choices they make and why they live as they do. (“Why do I stubbornly insist on being a good guy?”) It is the latter that seem the most honorable and admirable.

(8f)

And ironic exemplar might be Mother Theresa, who in her posthumously published diaries confessed she did not believe in transubstantiation–that moment when the Eucharist wafer becomes the Corpus Christi, uniting Catholics with their Savior, thereby bringing all into union with that divine triad–the Holy Trinity–which is (G)od (H)imself. The Eucharist is the core ritual of Catholicism…the holiest communion. To doubt any part of this miraculous tradition is to call the whole schematic into question…including whether or not one can ever be united with (G)od…and perhaps if (H)e even exists at all. ‘Tis the most slippery of theological slopes.

Sliding as she did, Mother Theresa never waivered from the moral imperative set perhaps first by notions of (G)od but refined by the passions in her heart for mankind. All the while still calling her faith into question. Such an attitude is not the privilege of theists, but the property of humanity.

(9)

Atheists are in no way obliged to believe that death is final, but any who do adhere to some manner of life after death may find themselves paradoxically lapsing into faith. For example, if there is such an energy that is transposed or transported after that Derridian step that negates itself–DEATH–then musing questions regarding human essences and souls inevitably follow…as will questions concerning who or what is orchestrating this metaphysical symphony.

“Who decides I return in the form of a cockroach or do eternal penance in some underground fiery grotto? And if it is a matter of Karma, what consul or board sits in charge of gauging this dispensation?”

(9a)

Perhaps the greatest relief in atheism is the belief that death is final. It is a state not dissimilar to the one before we were conceived by our parents. It is absurd to think we had concerns before birth, so why arouse post-mortem anxieties, when death thrusts us back into this same state of indifference?

(9b)

Even to live one hundred years is still something of a short life span when we consider fully everything we wish to achieve. Hence, thinkers like Seneca and Diderot encourage us to “live, live, live” (as Auntie Mame might put it) our lives to the fullest, waste no time and work while there is still breath in our lungs. There is plenty of time to rest when one is dead.

(9c)

Naturalistically speaking, Science and Scripture both charge that all death does foster some measure of continuance…we all return to “dust” and as such contribute to the grand cycle of life.

(9d)

These arguments lean more toward why the finality of death can be seen as good–death being more palatable when we can attach some positive outlook–but do not really tackle the question of death as final. We can wax anecdotally about ghosts and spirits and past lives, but there is no solid evidence about what happens after one dies other than the process of rigor mortis setting in followed by an extended period of rot.

(9e)

Fears of a post-mortem consciousness plague sacred and secular realms. Ranging in kind from suddenly waking up in a coffin or the furnace of a crematorium to being greeted by supernatural creatures and guides from the other side… But most popular is when people talk of having died and come back, they invariably invoke this image of white light and tunnels. It doesn’t take an optician with a PhD in Theology to surmise that death and dying affect all of our senses. If your body is fading into a permanent stillness and darkness, well logic (and perhaps not a little Physics) dictates that usually the last occurrence before darkness is light. Just turning off your light switch proves that hypothesis.

(10)

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. (Karl Marx)

Should I begrudge the faithful the comforts and solace they have found through their belief in gods? The only properly philosophical answer to that is Yes…and No. It is perfectly understandable that people of faith find some measure of peace in religion during hardship and times of suffering. It would be the height of cruelty to deny someone this attachment when they are most desperate…especially adherents to the Abrahamic faiths, who are conditioned to accept the premise that (G)od prefers suffering souls.

Their so-called religion acts merely as an opiate: irritating, numbing, calming their pain out of weakness. (Novalis)

The ironic cruelty is that religion embodied by the Church has also been as much persecutor as savior. The record of organized religion in human history has been a pretty dismal one on the whole. Every religion has been the cause of some great tragedy in history… Belief in (G)od/gods has often served as the penultimate excuse for dividing, persecuting and even murdering those who do not fit the mold of whatever dogma is being encouraged.

This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. (Marquis de Sade)

(10a)

On the public front, the Christian church also has a history of promulgating very significant cultural advancements like literacy and the arts and however sincere or not were the efforts on the part of the institution and commissioned artisans it is an undeniable truth that the world has not only been enriched by these efforts but also that many brilliant minds would have been lost to us otherwise.

(10b)

The institutionalized belief in (G)od has built beautiful churches and temples…and multiplied graves. Where does a thinking man draw the line?

If (G)od exists, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion. (Edmond de Goncourt)

(11)

The last decade has been saturated with a hardcore bend toward secularity…though any rational thinker would be hardpressed to think of it as a Golden Age of Atheism. This leaning seems a reaction to a perceived resurgence of religious idealism and fanaticism–enlisting scripture to justify homophobia and misogyny, Jihadic terrorism, et al.–but what is more likely the case is that religious institutions have simply pumped up the volume in the face of a waning need for religiosity. It is a symptom of the institution feeling pressured, which we have encountered at different times in the history of the Church. During the Crusades, Inquisition and Reformation, Catholicism proved a most bloodthirsty body of faith…literally and figuratively. In the modern era Islam has certainly felt pressured by the spread of what may appear to them as an awful morality on the back of Westernized globalization. In addition, the cultural evolution of mankind progresses at greater speeds with each generation, and on larger and larger scales. Civilization is finding it harder to stomach that small pockets of individuals are allowed to make blanket decisions for all human beings…in matters private and public…in the face of mass inclusion and based on purely subjective considerations. There are less and less people the world over that attend church or engage religious idealism (even if they still “believe in [G]od”) and for those who still embrace these practices it is largely a matter of routine rather than conviction, and perhaps always has been…so it is of little wonder that the religious hierarchy is on attack mode. It is the clergy and not some god who needs congregants to maintain job security. But I would not yet go as far as to think that atheism was more culturally prevalent now than before…more vocal, yes. DOUBT has been part and parcel of religious fervor and the human condition from time immemorial… I think it is a numbers game. There are more minds in existence to engage doubt…there are also more hearts in existence to defend faith. We just need to find the proper body to house both.

(12)

I have never bought into that war mythos between Science and Religion, and understood more deeply Sacred/Secular are degrees of presence not opposing political factions, so Atheism (Scientific and arbitrary) curiously belongs to religiosity and has always been rooted in the Abrahamic agenda. Atheism is just another mere Christianity…without the (G)od. It is a Faith of Doubt. The Patriarchs for example ACT in faith, but every time one opened his mouth his tongue was rife with questions. The beautiful irony of the Judeo-Christian Eden myth is that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil exemplifies man’s “(G)od-given gift” of Free Will. We are free to exercise blind faith AND doubt. This has to be the best of all possible gods to believe in if one is to do so. We are damned if we do…damned if we don’t…but at least we don’t have to…

Für den zweihundertsten Geburtstag… Wednesday, May 22 2013 

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Music In the Key of Eros Monday, Apr 22 2013 

If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it (William Shakespeare)

(1)

Among the art forms music is the most sensual.

(2)

Sex and music are curious bedfellows in that both involve repeated performances of similar movements and are a bit different each time performed.

(3)

Music engages our emotions most directly… It flows, moves and evolves in a way that is similar to that sensual absorption familiar to people in love.

Eros and the Apollonides are the quintessential kissing cousins…

(4)

To appreciate any art work or art form one certainly must experience it–you actually have to see the painting, read the poem–and in hearing a tune there is phenomenon of the experiential unlike with any other art form. We have secondary literature about pieces of art and writings lost to history and with just a little imagination can surmise what this or that work conveyed. But we can never really know from mere description what the greatest heldentenor of the late 19th Century sounded like… Listening to music–bad or good–is the experience in itself.

In this same way the act of sex is wholly different from any other form of human engagement. It has knowledge and sensations in itself that CANNOT be known through any other fashion…

Even in the softcore/simulated “porn” of SKIN-EMAX fame what is being presented are sexual ideas, not sex.

(5)

If people ain’t fucking, it ain’t sex…but can be sexual… If sound ain’t being manipulated in some fashion, it ain’t music…

But is all sound musical?

(6)

Sound is an enigma…

The proverbial fallen tree has done nothing but fall if no ears are around to hear. Composer John Cage time-framed silence so as to make it audible…even deafening… And from Richard Strauss’ rute beaten on the ‘side’ of a bass drum to German Industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten’s fashioning the sounds of construction sites–like Hillbillies with washboards–into dance airs it appears that the experience of music, unlike the experience of physical beauty, is not at the mercy of the beholder but rather to the whims of the manipulator.

(7)

Is music the experience or the stimulus to experience?

(8)

Transmitters of musical information–cds, records, written compositions–are akin to paintings being transmitters of visions and architecture being an expression of symbiosis…but music itself is clearly not an object.

It is not altogether clear what music truly is…

(9)

Some say music is a particular kind of sound…others argue it is not sound at all but the experience we have of sounds when they are organized in such a way as to produce a compelling, cogent and flowing experience within us that is often emotional. In either case, this differs in kind from the experience with paintings, which are undeniably objects.

Objects exist apart from our experience with them.

(10)

A similar charge can be levied against sexuality which at base exists in experience.

(11)

There may be a danger to thinking that sexuality is like art.

I pose the question: Should one have an aesthetic experience of one’s partner during the act of sex?

(12)

It is quite possible to have fulfilling aesthetic experiences of the erotic…but it is just that, erotic. The very act of sex-qua-intercourse would be otherwise focused rather than a detached attention to form and detail that would normally be the characteristic target for aesthetes.

Something beautiful is happening inside of me…something sensual, it’s full of fire and mystery… (Depeche Mode)

If you’re tending to the form of your partner and taking some detached look on the overall elements–formal, essential, tactile–you are not having sex in the normative sense where one is given to abandon. The degree of absorption by participant in the act goes beyond what allows for an aesthetic response or relationship.

(13)

The only normative act of sex is when consensual partners are enthralled with a sense of losing themselves.

It’s only when I lose myself in someone else that I find myself … (Depeche Mode)

(14)

Music slightly ups the seductive ante because one can be absorbed in the sensuality of the harmonies AND still attend to the form and the way in which expression and meaning emerge out of the form. There are then degrees of losing oneself.

(15)

Music and sexuality both arouse emotional responses.

(16)

As far back as the ancient Greek modes there have been theories regarding emotional or characterological properties inherent in the pattern of intervals.

Many modern composers, musicologists and philosophers–such as Susanne Langer and Schopenhauer–have taken up this view.

(17)

A popular idea is that the shape and flow and profile of music has something in common with the same elements of emotion… Either in their inner aspect–how they feel and evolve in a psychological space–or in terms of their outward expression–the particular behavior, stance, gait or posture of someone experiencing those emotions will exhibit.

(18)

Music resembles emotions and is adept at doing so because it is inherently a flow or process that is most like our emotional structure…our moods and feelings…indeed, most like the course of our lives.

(19)

Music has an inside edge for capturing and hooking into the most emotional side of human existence.

(20)

A concern in the philosophy of music is how to analyze expressiveness in music. Is there a being or existing resemblance between emotions and the shape of the music?

(21)

The resemblance is the basis for the expressiveness, but the expressiveness must be rooted in the idea that resemblances make people hear in a certain way–a la Wittgenstein–that they have a specific kind of audible experience almost as if it were that actual emotion or a person or agent caught up in that experience…

(22)

A good example of this is in Isolde’s Liebestod aria from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. When the soprano reaches the lines “ertrinken, versinken” (to drown, to founder) the orchestration creates an audible ebb and flow effect simulating a drowning…in this instance, under the weight of one’s emotions. Such a fine tuning of composition is when music is its most expressive.

(23)

When we hear longing or joy in a tune it gives rise to an empathy that inspires us to take music personably…to embrace it as though a person.

This is the charm of musical gesture.

(24)

There are three levels of musical gesture.

a–The literal level of gesture…the performance of the music…

b–What we hear the music as doing…striving, building… This is where we get to experience music as something emotional… We can imagine the sounds as a person expressing states.

c–This takes us to the normal behavioral gesture of how someone would express emotional states. A musician’s musical gestures are not necessarily identical to this but we are led to think of those as well and then it is easy to surmise that such and such a feeling is longing or joy or anger.

(25)

This trinity of gesture is best exemplified by either watching Jacqueline du Pre ecstatically perform Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor or hearing Glenn Gould’s recorded Wagner transcriptions for piano where you can actually hear him humming the tune as he plays. In both instances the audience becomes as swept away in the experience of the musician’s experience with the music, as with the music itself.

(26)

This audible experience is a stronger intravenous metaphor when the human voice is involved.

Consider the rawness of a Bessie Smith or the savagery of Nina Simone…or the emotive capacity of Bono…

(27)

From animal to man, voice is the most primal and immediate form of music.

(28)

Voice is the original outlet for conveying and evoking emotion through sound. I’m reminded here of Sergei Rachmaninov’s very moving Vocalise–a vocal exercise built merely on vowel sounds–as well, Psychic TV’s rare recording of howling, growling wolves which has an effect upon the listener comparable to chills and goosebumps.

(29)

Many argue that instrumentation is a secondary–almost parasitic–borrowing from voice…an allusion to the vocal… In Baroque music it is common to hear a cello or violin rendered as a kind of human sighing…operatic aria is often dueted with the lead violin…even an harmonica passage by Stevie Wonder on Debarge’s Love Me In A Special Way is fashioned in a manner that replicates an almost verbal expression of longing. Certainly there is a measure of instrumentation that is quasi-vocal gesturing.

But instrumentation goes a bit beyond merely echoing vocalization…a defense of which might be secured in the live recording of the Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. He manipulates the electric guitar in such a way as to create all manner of sounds only referenced by the lyrics… It is of little wonder that the Hendrix performance is titled by its original composition name rather than as the National Anthem. It is literally a transcription of Francis Scott Keys’ poetic masterpiece rather than another rendition of a national theme song.

(30)

The roots of instrumentation are founded in vocal expression, yet not limited or wholly subject replicating the voice.

(31)

Music has a tendency to be heard as a vehicle of meaning or significance of some kind. Certain genres lend themselves to producing music that is definitely more emotional or affective–more private–such as Classical genres, R&B, Blues et al. Still others produce music that have more social agenda–like Rap, Folk, Punk and Marches.

But all music must indeed be heard…and being heard, thereby felt.

(32)

So what is the relationship between Music and Eros?

They are both absorbing, sensuous, transportive, transfigurative…they take the participant out of a day-to-day, 9-to-5 self. The both have kinetic and dynamic aspects…

Both have this tendency to short circuit or sidestep–even undermine–reason and reflection. Each takes you out of yourself in a way that is welcomed but the downside is that one may be found at times in extreme risk. Here I am largely thinking on stagediving or moshing at a punk concert or being caught up in the heat of a sexual moment and succumbing to unprotected sex.

Each possesses its participant to such a degree as to preclude the solving of mathematical theorems or curing of cancers…judicial reasoning.

(33)

It is something of a longstanding cultural myth that listening to Mozart’s music will make one smarter. Listening to Mozart is definitely enculturating and perhaps taking a date to a Mozart opera will even get one laid, but in no wise will listening to Mozart open any mind to the elegance of spherical trigonometry unless that mind is already seasoned for such excesses.

The very effect of Mozart’s music–and music overall–upon the human soul is counterintuitive to such thinking.

(34)

Music and sexuality are both very difficult experiences to explain… Why do I love this or that person? Why am I moved by Richard Wagner but not Milli Vanilli? A mere analysis of types and aesthetics rarely uncovers the why of this root mystery.

(35)

The appreciation of both are of corporeal physical import. This is inarguably true for sex, but also for music. It is most evident with techno or dance music and the primal energies that are excavated when slamdancing or headbanging at heavy metal and punk concerts, but also very true when listening to the refined, delicate keyboard music of Rameau or Couperin…there is something that enters into your body that you feel like moving or dancing with… The body is involved however subliminally or overtly charged.

(36)

Music and sex are both present focused. What is going on in and of the moment is the issue at hand. In matters of sex this is generally agreed upon but with music opinions of musicologists and theorists vary. Many believe that what is important is tracing the architectural flow of composition in small increments.

This thinking is appropriate for regarding form and structure but does little justice for thinking on the immediate experience of a listener. It also hinders a potential listener’s foray into classical genres as it implies that there is some esoteric knowledge one must have of musical construction in order to be moved by the sounds.

Truth is, if it is good and to your taste, you will like it regardless of your knowledge of composition.

(37)

Music and Eros both involve the whole person…body and soul. They speak to us in a wholly integrated way.

(38)

In all this sameness there does exist a stark asymmetry betwixt the twain. Hector Berlioz once noted that music can evoke the moods and phases of love–in this case, love-making–but love cannot give you an idea of music. Why the asymmetry?

Music is a man-made communicative medium in which we naturally hear or look for significance and meaning… Music strikes us as being about something.

Love, too, is about something…but that something is largely itself…

Love is the ultimate self-referential.

(39)

Love calls us by name, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen… Music speaks to us about naming…signifying…

(40)

Music is about the world and things of the world… It is about our lives and emotions and desires…

It is a vehicle of communication that invites us to our inner selves…whereas love is our inner self, and we rarely hear a deeper call. But that music can call us to recognize these deeper modes within ourselves keeps this couple forever intertwined in romantic bliss.

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