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Moody Blues. [Nov. 4th, 2007|12:17 am]
[Current Location |Lakeland]
[Current Mood |contemplative.]
[Current Music |Damien Rice - 9 Crimes]

I'm going to circumvent the poll limitation on my free account with this very ghetto creation of my own. I have allowed anonymous comments for this, and they'll be screened, in case you're not comfortable with publicly displaying these things. You can post anonymously if you want.

1. How often do you find yourself in "bad moods" for at least an hour, sometimes more, for things or situations that do not seem to merit such intensely negative feelings? i.e., feeling sullen, angry, irritable, depressed, etc. over a perceived injustice that occurred long ago.

1 - I don't experience such moods enough to have noticed any kind of pattern.
2 - I only experience such moods every couple of weeks or so.
3 - I experience such moods at least once a week.
4 - I experience such moods once every other day or so.
5 - I experience these moods daily.

2. How do you feel about erotic desire and its potential to both satisfy and frustrate?

1 - I wouldn't trade my sex drive for anything.
2 - Erotic desire can be a pain, but it's entirely worth it.
3 - I experience distress about sexuality probably more than most people, but I enjoy it a lot too.
4 - I am very frequently frustrated regarding sexuality and enjoy it only during or shortly after sexual activity.
5 - Sexuality is a source of almost constant misery for me and would rather be rid of it.

3. How do you feel about your body?

1 - I love my body, as everyone should.
2 - My body has its blemishes like everyone else, but I'm mostly satisfied with it.
3 - I am uncomfortable with my body probably more than most people, but it doesn't usually interfere with intimacy or social interaction.
4 - My discomfort with my body is unusually severe and this discomfort would probably not be alleviated even if I fixed perceived blemishes, though I recognize these feelings as irrational and can occasionally overcome them to still function socially and experience sexual gratification.
5 - I strongly dislike my body to the point of receiving psychiatric treatment for my feelings, as my discomfort would otherwise be severe enough to make it impossible for me to function socially or sexually.

4. To what extent do you perceive fantasy operating in your life? Fantasy is here defined as deriving pleasure from imagined, ideal sexual scenarios, masturbation, imagining humiliating or seriously injuring an enemy, imagining scenarios of unparalleled success, wealth, intelligence, admiration, sexual attractiveness or prowess, "they'll be sorry when I'm dead!" scenarios", etc.

1 - I do not fantasize in such a way frequently enough to be able to answer such a question, i.e., such a question seems strange to me.
2 - I only fantasize in this way in cases of extreme boredom or after having had my ego severely wounded.
3 - I have such fantasies with relative frequency, though I definitely prefer and enjoy interpersonal, sensuous and material pleasure.
4 - I rely mostly on such fantasizing for my enjoyment and only occasionally enjoy interpersonal, sensuous and material pleasure.
5 - I rely almost entirely on such fantasy for my enjoyment, and find it abnormally difficult to enjoy the interpersonal, sensuous and material pleasures that other people enjoy.

5. How do you feel about life and the possibility of attaining satisfaction

1 - I love life and wouldn't change a thing.
2 - I experience depression and dissatisfaction less than most people and mostly enjoy life.
3 - I experience about the same pleasure and pain as most people and don't think about the question much.
4 - My outlook on life is unusually pessimistic and except for isolated moments of satisfaction, I feel like life is mostly pointless.
5 - I experience feelings of sadness and frustration almost constantly and feel like I will never be satisfied.
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"Man goes constantly in fear of himself. His erotic urges terrify him." [Oct. 28th, 2007|07:58 pm]
[Current Location |Lakeland]
[Current Mood |contemplative]
[Current Music |Rolling Stones - Sister Morphine]

After an extremely rigorous couple of months studying some of my favorite theorists, I'm totally burnt out on academia, at least for the time being. I've spent a long while in solitude, contemplating solitude, and I've come to a couple possible insights that I thought I'd share.

My preference for solitude is a symptom: As Lacan points out, the obsessive attempts above all else to neutralize the other. That is to say, the obsessive, in pursuing his state of idyllic satisfaction, dreams of attaining such a state by his lonesome, without having anyone else on his back, weighing him down. This is what he demands. Of course, one of Lacan's central theses was that what one demands is not what one desires; indeed, the two are often completely opposite. In this case, the obsessive only thinks that he does not need the other. Of course, the only subject capable of reaching this tragically exalted state is the psychotic. Such a person, if happy, lives, in the words of Bertrand Russell, with a "happiness which no sane man would envy."

It ought to be remembered that the way "symptom" is used here does not have the entirely negative connotation it typically does, in emphasizing its pathological excess (not that it is devoid of such). It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that it is not the symptom per se which causes suffering, but its inadequacy in keeping one occupied lately, the belts and gears of its mechanism possibly having been exhausted by overtime.

It is not that the symptom causes misery, but that the symptom cannot be completely depended upon for satisfaction. It is not because of the symptom that one suffers; it is precisely where the symptom does not provide satisfaction that misery is found. As Lacan points out, the subject does not go to therapy to get rid of his symptom, but to repair it in order to return it to its optimal functioning as a mode of attaining jouissance, that tincture of an ambrosia whose consumption forever evades us. Of course, were we to reach such a state, it would not be we who would consume it, but it which would consume us.

What is it that I want? I dunno. But this is the central question of Lacanian theory. Freud famously asked "What does Woman want?" Lacan was more interested in the nature of desire itself, and framed the central question of psychoanalysis as discerning the cause of the subject's desire. Lacan would later answer Freud's question: To be wanted! What woman wants is to be wanted! And I guess, deep down, she is what the obsessive wants. The obsessive wants Woman and Woman wants to be wanted (but not attained!)

Satisfaction is impossible! Lacan infamously argued that "there is no sex thing as a sexual relationship." What he means is this: Neither the obsessive(man) nor the hysteric(woman) really wants to be satisfied. Lacan tells us that the hysteric desires an unsatisfied desire, whereas the obsessive desires an impossible desire. The obsessive sets himself up for defeat any way he can, and the hysteric keeps the desire of the obsessive alive by keeping the obsessive from getting too close, thus preventing his own satisfaction, and maintaining her desire for an unsatisfied desire.

Bruce Fink paints a bleak yet comical picture of Lacan's lack of a sexual relationship by imagining the obsessive having sex with the hysteric. The obsessive isolates a part of the woman, (let's say, the breast) viewing it as a representative of complete and infinite satisfaction to which he aspires, but can never attain. The hysteric, terrified that she might satisfy him, pretends she's having sex with someone else. The obsessive fantasizes about a fantasmatic object as the hysteric fantasizes about another man. It should come as no surprise that not only did Lacan deny the existence of a sexual relationship in this way, but viewed sexuality as fundamentally masturbatory.

In more extreme cases, the hysteric maintains her desire for an unsatisfied desire through anorexia, a disturbance which Lacanian psychoanalysts see as the hysterical illness par excellence. The hysteric is always hungry, and food disgusts her because it moves her toward a satisfaction which the neurotic subject finds terrifying. Bruce Fink, in his Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis, argues that the psychosomatic obsessive illness typically consists of gastrointestinal problems.

This functions as a substitute satisfaction which the obsessive enjoys, whether or not he chooses to believe it, in lieu of real sexual satisfaction from which he is barred by his excessive inhibitions. As the fellow waiting room patient tells the main character regarding his intestinal problems in Kurosawa's Ikiru, "What I have his "chronic." I don't even feel alive anymore unless my stomach hurts." In the words of the vocalist of that awful band Three Days Grace, man would "rather feel pain than nothing at all."

What is there to desire in a society in which everyone is always satisfied all the time? No wonder the predominant form of mental illness complained of today involves symptoms of hollowness, numbness, and meaninglessness, rather than excessive guilt, anxiety, or other "superegoic" symptoms. While Bertrand Russell acknowledged the agony of a subject in narcissistic oblivion, it seems ironic that he argued for 4 hour workdays. We desiring subjects would be at even more of a loss as to how or what to desire. (this does not stop me from lobbying for such a labor state of course; even though the neurotic psyche is structured in such a way as to preclude attaining satisfaction, one still phenomenologically experiences oneself as pursuing such)
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(no subject) [Jul. 20th, 2007|12:44 am]
Another day of agonizing myself over a religion's universal validity (or lack thereof) and the consequences thereof. Do they all possess a piece of the truth? Comparative religion. Sociology. Maybe if I just keep on repeating myself the answer will become obvious.

An earthy, 'post'-Christianity is the only thing that seems to me to escape the twin barrels of myth and superstition.

I like how nationelectric phrased the problem of philosophizing: To paraphrase it, keep developing the question until the answer becomes obvious.

Spent the day watching A&E biographies of serial killers. What a perfect topic. Who isn't the target audience? Ed Gein and Ted Bundy are, I think deservedly, typically considered the most fascinating. The obvious appeal of Bundy is the mask of sanity and amiability. What fascinates me about Gein, though, is that he didn't even seem like a mean guy. Bundy was just pure dag-nasty evil, but Gein had sort of a hypnotized, autistic drive about him.

I got my Orthodox Study Bible in the mail. It is excellent.
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(no subject) [Jun. 10th, 2007|09:08 pm]
Joseph Chilton Pearce is visiting Fort Lauderdale. This is very exciting to me. Not because I enjoy his work; on the contrary, now I would probably dismiss his stuff as suspicious New Age crap and toss it aside with a snort. However, I read The Biology of Transcendence in 10th grade, and I haven't been able to stop thinking since. It's the book that made me the way I am today (Yes, it's his fault). I can't believe that, out of all the exotic locales he's visiting, Fort Lauderdale is among them. Whether you love me, hate me, or just think I'm okay, (by far the most offensive sentiment) you have Mr. Pearce to thank.
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(no subject) [May. 7th, 2007|12:05 am]
So it's finally summer. I'm not sure what to think. I shook the dust off my feet at the outskirts of Tampa and now I'm living with my mom in Lakeland for a couple months. I'll be working at the USF bookstore for the majority of the break, and then I'm taking a math class the last month before Fall semester begins.

I recently received a letter from the Lakeland library inviting me to an exam which will determine whether or not I have the skills necessary to become a library page. I'm not sure exactly what the position entails, but the word has a medieval flavor to it, which kicks ass. Chances are that I'll end up working at the library full-time rather than becoming a philosophy professor.

The information and archival sciences have interested me for a while, and such an occupation would afford me front-row seats to the whirlwind of chaos and entropy that is the information explosion. I'm still going for my philosophy degree, my PhD even, you know, for street cred, but I'm afraid that my impatience with the classroom setting just won't diminish enough to allow me to teach.

I'm almost done with my theology studies. It's been a pretty ethnocentric syllabus. There's no denying that. Intense concentration on Christianity and Judaism with a side glance at Islam (I plan on returning to it later). The Christian Life - that is, the gestalt that makes up its philosophy and theology, its praxis and poesis, is starting to make more and more sense to me.

essius has recently pointed out that the bulk of American Christianity is alternately tragic and comedic. I find this statement virtually beyond dispute. I was driving today and saw the lettering on a church billboard that said "always forgive your enemies." What an uncharacteristically Christian sentiment for a Christian Church to express! Then I looked below it where it continued "...it messes with their heads." Aside from being an obvious rip from an Oscar Wilde quote, I don't know how compatible "forgiveness" is with such a vindictive mentality.

Ghandi referred to Christ's death on the cross as a "perfect act" and I couldn't agree more. Though having expressed my contempt for the conservative Christian contingent, I'm reluctant to associate myself with the "Jesus-as-philosopher" liberals. It's not that the notion is unappealing to me; far from it! It's all too attractive. But accompanying such an 'historical' rendering of Jesus is all too often that unbearable, condescending, liberal panegyric that goes something like this: "Oh, I don't think Jesus was the Son of God, but what an incredibly insightful and brilliant spiritual mentor!"

I think that pisses off most Christians more than Richard Dawkins does. Nonetheless, there's something very compelling in the view taken by Boehme and Hegel; namely, that Man and the Universe are evolving with one another until there will a great ineffable "Oneness." It has a Gnostic ring to it, and I'm pretty sure it originated with them, having a congeniality with certain forms of Neoplatonism. Schelling appropriated both of the latter in his philosophy, and I think it's a tendency that's hard to resist.

The only thing I still find myself grappling with is the archaic literality of the tradition. Creationism is obviously out of the question, regardless of whether or not I convert. Were I to believe that, I would have to believe that the heart is the seat of consciousness, the kidneys the source of deepest emotion, and the Earth a flat disk resting on four pillars.

So you see my problem. What am I to make of this religion? The Bible contains numerous historical inaccuracies, scientific errors, internal contradictions, etc., and yet, does it matter? Scripture writers didn't conform to the modes and methods of modern historiography, which means they didn't really care about every little painstaking detail. They weren't stupid. They saw the contradictions. Your typical contemporary American Christian protests in shrill outrage, "YOU'RE JUST TAKING IT OUT OF CONTEXT!" This is sometimes the case. Proof-texting is a common and frequently justified grievance.

However, putting apparent contradictions into context does not mean completely resolving the contradiction, but rather, allowing the two to coexist and noting that both writings occurred in extremely different historical circumstances. Sorry, but if you put every writer who contributed to the Bible in one room, they would definitely not agree on everything anymore than Pat Robertson would get along with a South American Marxist liberation theologian.

I see the death of Christ as a sort of regulative principle in the Kantian sense. That is, even if it's not true, it is a perfect model to follow, knowing that you can never reach such a state of perfection. Christ stressed love of the other: A death-to-oneself inseparable from a life-for-the-other. That is, imperfect people attempting perfect acts, empathizing and suffering with the other as much as possible. Christ represented the ultimate example of this.

 Rather than a normal human turning the other cheek when slapped and allowing his coat to be taken from him, it's a Perfect Being turning the other cheek when murdered, and doing it for the existence of all sin. The idea that he who preseves his life will lose it and he who loses his life will preserve it struck a particularly strong chord with me. The paranoid jealousy of modern man in particular, trying to preserve his psychic integrity through a retreat of the self into his or her shell contrasts sharply with the tender altruist whose sense of self is decidedly more healthy. One can imagine pathological individualism as the most depraved sort of psychosis, whereas, while a normal altruism might foster a healthy sense of self, taking it to its Christ-like extreme effects an ecstatic obliteration of self; the kind discussed by Bernard of Clairveaux, for example, while also stressing the importance of empathy and regard for otherness.

I have a natural disdain for the Catholic Church's tendency to rely on the Pope, and while I admire the bold self-reliant interpretive tradition of Protestantism, I'm put off by the actual people who claim to be Protestants. Few movements end up being more ideological than those which profess a denial of ideological status. I find myself attracted more and more to the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Its unique, somewhat paradoxical blend of emphasis on community and introverted spiritual perfection and contemplation suit me perfectly.

I definitely haven't studied enough Hegel. His theology, however, from what I've seen of it, makes the most sense to me. A bare, honest Christianity, stripped of its mythological adornments and formulated into a powerful life philosophy and teleology.
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There is nothing new under the sun. [Apr. 22nd, 2007|03:53 pm]

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(no subject) [Feb. 16th, 2007|07:57 pm]
Hey, it's signicure. The assholes suspended my journal for some reason. I'll be using this from now on.
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