Thursday, April 18, 2002

For my mom; for moms everywhere.
Today, my mother was talking about how Poland was betrayed by the West as they struggled to refuse Hitler's tyranny.
Today, Marek blogs:
There are still people in Poland who lived during the War who are bitter and angry that Western Coalition, mainly France and Great Britain didn't do anything when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Polish people said NO to Hitler. Great Britain and France promised to attack Nazis, they didn't. They didn't stand up for freedom. They didn't stand up for us. And now in Warsaw there are thousands of places marked by plaques where people were killed because somebody didn't stand up for them.

What about the Palestinians? Is somebody standing up for them? I know some of them blow themselves up and murder people but what about Palestinians who love their children? What about Israelis? Is somebody standing up for them? I know some of them just want to kill all Palestinians but what about Israelis who love their children?

Maybe, instead of talking cease-fire, Palestinians and Israelis could start talking about how much they love their children
It’s time for some Camille.
I don’t remember where I first heard Camille Paglia speak. I think it was on the old Phil Donahue show. What I do remember is being totally enthralled by her perspectives on just about everything. Hated by both radical feminists as well as right-wing “fascinating womanhood” females, dismissed by most men because of her intense, confrontational, opinionated style, and shunned by many of her peers because of her controversial convictions about sexuality and morality, Camille is just the kind of woman that gets my attention.

As a bi-sexual, a serious scholar of contemporary culture, and a pretty much humorless conversationalist, Paglia is my opposite. Where my mind crosses hers, however, is in the belief that it is our chthonian natures that truly rule our actions, however much we have consciously or unconsciously tried to deny them. That is the “darkness” that we must acknowledge and learn to both embrace and “enlighten” if we, as a species, are to move beyond the periodic inclination toward mutual murder – both physical and psychological.

Here, for example, are some random quotes from her book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. I have never been able to finish reading the whole book: it’s just too dense and too scholarly. However, I periodically go back and re-read her first chapter, which is where she articulates her larger perspective. She pushes the envelope in how we view ourselves in relation to the world we live in. Some quotes:

We cannot hope to understand sex and gender until we clarify our attitude toward nature. Sex is a subset to nature. Sex is the natural in man.

Society is an artificial construction, a defense against nature’s power.

Human life began in flight and fear. Religion rose from the ritual of propitiation, spells to lull the punishing elements.

Civilized life requires a state of illusion. The idea of the ultimate benevolence of nature and God is the most potent of man’s survival mechanisms. Without it, culture would revert to fear and despair.

Aggression comes from nature; it is what Nietzsche is to call the will-to-power….society is not the criminal but the force which keeps crime in check.

Sex is power. Identity is power. In western culture, there are no nonexploitative relationships…. Each generation drives its plow over the bones of the dead.

Sex is a far darker power than the feminist has admitted. Behaviorist sex therapies believe guiltless, no-fault sex is possible. But sex had always been girt round with taboo, irrespective of culture. Sex is the point of contact between man and nature, where morality and good intentions fall to primitive urges. I called it an intersection. This intersection is the uncanny crossroads of Hecate, where all things return in the night. Eroticism is a realm stalked by ghosts. It is the place beyond the pale, both cursed and enchanted.

Sex is daemonic. This term....derives from the Greek "daimon"..... meaning a spirit of lower divinity than the Olympian gods.... The word came to mean a man's guardian shadow. Christianity turned the daemonic into the demonic. The Greek daemons were not evil – or rather they were both good and evil, like nature itself, in which they dwelled. Freud’s unconscious is a daemonic realm.

The daemonism of chthonian nature is the west’s dirty secret.

The identification of woman with nature was universal in prehistory. In hunting or agrarian societies dependent upon nature, femaleness was honored as an immanent principle of fertility.

Judeo-Christianity, like Greek worship of the Olympian gods, is a sky-cult. It is an advanced stage in the history of religion, which everywhere began as earth-cult, veneration of fruitful nature.

In every premenstrual woman struggling to govern her temper, sky-cult wars again with earth-cult.

Daemonic archtypes of woman, filling world mythology, represent the uncontrollable nearness of nature.

Evenutally Paglia posits that if women ruled the world, we'd still be living in grass huts. That's where my mind takes a left turn as hers takes a right. I don't think we would disregard the accomplishments of men (to Camille, those sky-cult skyscrapers, power grids, space shuttles, fast cars, are both the actual results as well as the metaphorical symbols of the accomplishments of the male gender). Rather, I think we would so a better job of integrating the sky-cult mentality with the earth-cult heart, soul, and shadow. But that's just my un-scholarly, heterosexual, female chauvinist opinion.
Or maybe I'll just keep linking to Rushkoff
Thanks to AKMA, I've discovered the newly minted blog of David Rushkoff, who according to his bio, analyzes the way people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other's values. He sees "media" as the landscape where this interaction takes place, and "literacy" as the ability to participate consciously in it.

From I've been able to read so far, he articulates what I perceive and believe in the way that I wish I could.

So, please link here for the best I've read so far on the Middle East situation, where he concludes with a paragraph that I wish with all my heart I had written:
In my reality tunnel, the Palestinians and Israelis are basically looking in the mirror. The religions are quite quite similar, and the false notions of state-hood imported from Europe have the people acting out insanely unfounded mythologies of national identity. These people don't have national identities, because nations aren't real. And God certainly has no idea what they are.