Yours Indifferently, The Fence

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance. – G.K. Chesterton

It cannot be stressed enough that action is better than inaction, that having a passion for something is better than being apathetic and indifferent to everything. Like Weber counsels, we must seize on particularizations and make them our own, to make our lives meaningful in the modern world. It is reminiscent of those Elections Canada commercials in the last election campaign, where the point was that if you didn’t vote, you allowed others to speak for you, you allowed others to ignore you. Failure to reassert your existence through the pursuit of some ideal, some teleology, tramples then on your right to exist at all and your right to a meaningful existence despite your potential as a human being. We may also cite the case of a boy pursuing a girl with hopes of courting her; yet in his blindness, he cannot see her indifference to  him. She treats him as a friend with kindness, however this kindness is interpreted as a coded encouragement to the boy’s efforts to win her. Thus, they reach an impasse: the boy persists and the girl retreats ad infinitum at the cost of time and effort to both. Indifference profits no one and in such cases, even an Islamic fundamentalist or a Christian crusader makes a louder statement than the fence-sitting agnostic.

Hath not a woman eyes? Hath not she  hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a man is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
(The Merchant of Venice, Act III, scene I)

-Worse than the injury of betrayal is the indifference to the existence of her whom you loved. -NG

The ideal of celibacy still exists for me. As time goes on, I’ll come closer and closer to consolidating it. It’s not that I don’t feel desire. It’s that I hope to reach a point, spiritually, that makes the struggle meaningful.

Emilio Sandoz in “The Sparrow” (Mary Doria Russell)

New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I resolved to just live my life and seize the moment: encapsulated in that latin phrase CARPE DIEM! Resolution fulfilled, but I think I lived my life to its fullest a little too well. This year, it feels like I’m trying to regain something that I’ve lost, that all too familiar grasp at redemption. I rarely share my personal aims, but I think this year I will resolve to “stick to my guns”, that is, hold to my ideals/practice what I preach/be a virtuous woman in the Aristotelian sense. Perhaps such a goal is beyond my frail powers, but in a sense, I’m not bettering myself  (which the majority of resolutions tend to be) , but recovering lost moral ground in my case. Self-redemption is extremely rare, if existent at all. Last year, I had a lion’s heart. This year, I will allow myself to have the wings of an eagle, to see all my actions with a true eye and rise above the baseness within myself to climb the heights of ambition, honour, justice, and integrity to be who I once was, perhaps more.

You’re All Crazy

Reading Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault (strangely reminiscent of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents), where he documents the place of madness in human society, with particular comparison between the present day and the Middle Ages. Fascinating read so far, as are all of Foucault’s works.

In any case, it’s interesting to note how madness has come to be the leprosy of our age. Like prisoners, the mentally ill person is removed from society and exists in a space that is still controlled by it, but in a state of exception where they feel the brunt of the law as expressed through the orderlies. Foucault talks about how in the 1600s, hospitals for the mad are beginning to be built and the asylum becomes a societal institution where mentally ill persons can be placed (strangely around the time when the nation-state was in its infancy and political power was beginning to centralize and evolve into its modern form). Now, to a certain extent, those who cannot live in a community without physically injuring anyone should be removed to this space such as psychopaths, as well as those who are not in control of their own existence, such as in extreme cases of suicidal depression and schizophrenia.  However, it is interesting to note those 1970s psychology studies that drew up a list of symptoms for the mentally ill and diagnosed the population, only to find that everyone seemed to qualify.

Like Freud says, we do have a lizard brain that apparently has violent erotic appetites, which are suppressed by societal norms and our faculty of reason. Everyone has their moments of insanity, but it is generally accepted that the dominance of reason in society is perhaps what is best for it (although modern society appears to have compromised and catered to the lizard brain “desires” for the sake of consumerism over the lizard brain “aggression”). However, my own thoughts discern that true madness is a permanent imbalance that subverts reason and modularity entirely and does not strike that usual balance of our appetites, emotions, and reason. Therefore, I dare distinguish between the psychopath and the mentally imbalance. Is the latter something to be feared? Should we remove such persons by force from society? I wonder sometimes if they are removed because we fear the madness within ourselves, like a disease that will spread if everyone is allowed to let their lizard brain takeover. After all, we have come so far.

As for myself, I am not willing to relinquish my distinction from animal life just yet. There is a certain amount of satisfaction to be found in revelling in the intellectual capacities, if one is willing to carry the heavy burden of truth and stare its depressing facts full in the face. For truth may be harsh, but there is still beauty to be found within it and the truth of madness is that we must steel ourselves against those facts of life which utterly baffle and unman us.