I was watching a film around the same time as Michael over the weekend on the telly (which is quite rare for me to watch anything other than the news); we were watching this film, Junior; where Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fertility scientist at a university working with a practicioner gynacologist to formulate a new fertility drug; but due to lack of institutional support, they decide to test it on themselves, which is illegal by international standards of research conduct.

But, alas, they do; at first, they only test the drug on themselves to see how to establish conclusions of their research. Oh yes, did I mention that they are testing a fertility drug on a man? Oh, but that doesn’t matter because the drug was formulated to work with human cells irrespective of sex.

Anyway, what I found interesting about the film was how Schwarzenegger portrayed an academic; I was kind of hoping he would do a typical Arnie thing, like, use a dead man’s corpse as a human shield as people try to shoot him; tear a man’s arms off using an elevator; kill the devil; throw a snake woman into a fire after having sex with her; punching a camel; driving into a shop window with a truck; or have a naked fight into the snow…

Oh well, it would be just as exciting if he did something like solve the hard problem of consciousness…


Noughtie’s “English”

There are a few conventions that seem to be adopted so quickly that no one notices that they are new; but just become part of the furniture; for instance

1. The phrase “for sure”…where the hell has this come from?
2. Using “I’m sorry” as a synonym for “excuse me,….”, or calling for a stranger’s attention
3. Fashionable pop-up words that just suddenly people use; for instance “panic buy” (in light of the recent economy situation); or “sexed up”, from the phrase “sexed up dossier” referring to the Hutton Report.

I’m a bit old to really understand youth culture (sadly, I must say…); and I notice very odd conventions that seem so entrenched, so quickly into our public discourse, that only not saying them makes it to be shown.

I’ve not even started with internet informal comminiques; I was at a dinner party once and a lady said “‘lol”; not ‘laugh out loud’, but the phonetic lol.


Aphorisms (everyday life)

1. How do you know when someone is old? they do old people things, and have old people stuff. I start to become old when I wear my mother’s perfume…why? because after looking out and exploring for my own scent; I realised that the middle way is an expression of subtle extremes; oh, and that also ends up meaning I become my parents.

2. How do I know that I’m full of shit? When I start to think that the people I say are full of shit aren’t completely full of shit, and have some kind of little point to be made. That’s when I start to be full of shit. Why? because if we ever quibble on the strongest convictions that we have, we then compromise it completely. Dogmatism is security. There is no truthish mindset within one’s certainty.

3. The worst thing about big mistakes is when you believe that they are the best thing that has ever happened to you.

4. Irony is tragic when it is transparent to all, but opaque all but to one, of the inevitable damage of a decision.

5. What’s the worst thing that could happen to a child? Metamorphosis; adulthood.


beyond black and white

I have watched the Morgan Tvsangirai interview earlier today, and one of the most poignant thoughts that came up was this: when Mugabe was originally elected (as Zimbabwe ceased to be ‘Rhodesia’); the social and political climate was defined predominantly as a black and white race relations issue; an issue about colonialism vs. post colonial Africa.

Africa is now independent from its European chains (according to Tvsangirai); and now, the climate has changed. I could imagine how Mugabe, in virtue of appealing to the (black) ‘African’ mindset over that of the European past, might be appealing all those decades ago. I find it interesting how Mugabe up until even today, saw the issues as a black-white relation; or stated it to be such.

I think it is a sign of progress, when a society stops looking at things in black and white terms of ethnicity, yes, pun is intended.

As I always say, sometimes progress comes by taking away old problems, and dealing with new ones; iit is the agony of seeing one’s children grow up, and become independent.

Michael (and Destre)

Footballing soldiers

I remember hearing these various stories as I was growing up; about how (there are many variants of the story, but the message is always the same), during the great war (or WWII, some variants say); soldiers during christmas/winter, who were fighting each other on the trenches (or WWII equivalent).

The crux of the story goes something like; during exceptionally cold times, or shared religious holidays; they take time off of war to play football together, or share gifts and food. They play together of that one day, and then, on the next day, war resumes.

Those kinds of occaisions, be it, religious holiday, secular days, shared cultural events or anniversaries, or devastating tragedies; people come together to share in some kind of common humanity.

It reminds me of a bit in the film Children of Men; where the first child (Dylan) is born; and the war ends. Or, the bitter conflict of the Trojans and the Greek alliance. The death of Hector was to be respected (eventually) by both sides; by allowing the body to be dealt with in the proper fashion; with sufficient time for funerary celebrations.

There is something I am trying to articulate here, of some kind of human phenomenon or meeting of minds that occur in certain occiasions that crosss ideological boundaries, but I’m too inarticulate to point it out. Maybe someone else can….


(‘with a small ef’), femininity

What place does femininity have in a world where a section of the social body is deemed to be socially underpriviledged in virtue of their sex, and such underpriviledge is realised by means of not only social institution; but also social interaction?

We may reply to say that it is the feminine ideal which collides with the norm of masculinity; insofar as femininity in practice may go against those things deemed desirable in the contemporary age.

Financial security
Upward social mobility
Independence (how is this cashed out?; decision making; roles; hierarchical positioning)

There are various obstacles to the realisation of such ideals i-iii in the above; which address issues such as pregnancy; the role of mother; and the demonisation, rather than reification, of that all-so-sacred reproductive capacity that, beyond the social animal, the species homo sapiens seems to require to propagate.

Let me address the issue of self-expression.

Sinistre and Michael often have this discussion with me; how is it possible for a woman to be feminine anymore? Isn’t feminity an evil thing? Why not be homogeneous; to integrate elements of the female archetype into the male; and vice versa, in such a way to have a single ideal, no ‘horses for courses’, but just people?

That’s the kind of view that they have; they think it’s prejudiced to give women a priviledge of mercy in physical combat; if it is not accorded to men. Or; contrastedly, it is inappropriate for such stringent and unacceptable emotional incapcaity ascribed to (some construals of) male ideal. If we are to talk about equality, or similarity; to genuinely maintain that people are just people, don’t put up with “such bullshit” as saying ‘women should be treated different to men’ or vice versa. Likewise; why is it so unacceptable for men to be nurturing; women to be the intellectual genius and hard-nosed [like Newton] (this is where Sinistre says “Personally, I think a female Newton would be arousing…”). Lets call this perspective the homogeneity view of gender.

I shall advance a view, which I would like to call the specificity view of gender. Where, it is not the case of there being a gender divide of a taxonomic normative social ideal set (whereby we classify ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’, ‘butch’, ‘camp’, ‘effeminate’, ‘heroic’, along sex/gender lines); this is what Michael and Sinistre presuppose in order to deny. In a sense; invoking a strawman insofar as denying it to pursue their normative view of sex.

Not to say necessarily that I disagree with it; but I do think it is naive.

Instead of promoting a ‘people are people’ notion. I would like to maintain that there is still a species-genus distinction to be made within the taxonomy of personality phenotypes; but that these are asexual. The problem is, however, that these have all so often been construed on gender lines…which can, and should change.

Bravery, or the hero, is not a male ideal; but an asexual archetype which is expressed through the male. To be fierce in battle, nonpromiscuous, perhaps even virginal or chaste, to be studious in the pursuit of unjust rulers etc. can be coded as an archetype suis generis; we may have females who fit the bill; warrior princesses, revolutionaries, military or vigilante leaders; Boudicca, Joan of Arc, or Dido…

Instead of a parsimonious genus-species where at the hilt is a sex distinction; our taxonomy of archetypes may enjoy a status which entertains plenitude; we may have many combinations of archetpyes: supporting + heroic; sexual + intellectual (Abelard); boorish yet studious (Aquinas); arrogant, frail, yet calm (Kant); sentimental, effete, yet ‘hero’ (Aeneas).

Our appeal then, is not to an extra-structural social construction imposed upon agents such that they are imputed to follow it; such of the gender/sex construal. But a more self-oriented, active, rather than passive, ideal-creating, value constructing, self-conforming ideal. Individuality is forced from the self, by the matter of that outside; we melt it into something new; it is not defined from external structure; but there is structure and taxonomy nonetheless, albeit created by ourselves.

THe question arises; can we communicate these ideal taxonomies mutually? Can I communicate what I deem to be beautiful in a person or noble, or vile to you? Here, a story of the sensus communis comes in.


Exotic quaintness

After a conversation many moons go with Antisophie; she had this impression that the home counties; places like Kent, Essex, and Beckenham, were exotic, quaint places of English sentimentality.

After showing her the yokels of the home counties, she changed her tune. “What barbarism!” she exclaimed. I did also point out the irony of how sentimentality of the highest order brings about the highest barbarism.

She, characteristically, did not change her opinion after this new knowledge, but, merely enriched a point of view hitherto unrealised.