Ruptured Rhapsody

A different kind of "blog," consisting of selections from my scribblings over many years. The date of each post is the date I originally wrote that piece. So, the top post is usually not the latest post, because I continually add writings from different years to the blog. If you have visited here before, you are likely to find new posts anywhere on the page. I'll continue to add "new" posts as my time allows.

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Location: Toronto, Canada

21 May 1983

The origin of politics

People turn to the bringing forth of politics and political systems only when they can no longer tolerate life with their fellow beings -- and in this case "can't" means "ought not to," but inertia keeps people from bringing the latter fact to the level of consciousness. Politics, then, comes into being as a means of restraining beings whose instincts urge them to find a few like-minded individuals, and go away to found a new community. Hobbes was right in his view of the nature of politics, but not in his view of the need for it -- at least as far as manageably small, harmonious communities are concerned -- though, on the other hand, he was talking, after all, about the Leviathan.

18 May 1983

The poverty of poverty

Poverty is depressing -- to its "sufferers" that is -- not because of anything in poverty itself, but rather because of the way it is interpreted -- I am of course talking about the case where the basic survival and the basic happiness requirements are available. The reason poverty is depressing is that it is perceived as the lack of something one should have; more exactly, it is perceived as the lack of something that would supply part of the purpose of one's life. If the purpose of one's life, therefore, were defined so as not to include those "extras," their lack would of course be, at the very least, no cause for the downheartedness -- in fact, such a "lack" would not be felt at all -- an Indian farmer does not in any sense feel his life has not achieved its purpose as he doesn't own a Rolls Royce. Now as far as the genealogy (or "archaeology") of the need for these extras -- it doesn't just happen. As one begins to realize that society does not automatically provide one with the means to satisfy ones psychical needs, such as companionship of the right kind, "love," and so on -- and that even one's physical survival could possibly be endangered by a lack of food or proper shelter -- a surge of animal fear, very similar to the exultation of religious "salvation" from the dread of existence, pours forth, and crystallizes in a grasping for anything that would relieve this fear of deprivation. To summarize, the need for the extras originates in one's realization of the precariousness of one's psychical and physical survival -- that is, the first semi-conscious clue to the role of the law of the jungle in a society where economics, rather than ethics, is the basis of individual and mass conduct.

17 May 1983

Poverty and student life

The poverty of the student life was originally an essential part of being a student, and a source of distinction, if not pride, for students. The student, as he [or very rarely she] joined the academic world, say a monastery or ancient university or college, assumed poverty as a symbol of having renounced the world, and of being in pursuit of higher aims than the accumulation of material wealth. Eventually, the concepts of “student” and “poverty” were firmly associated with each other in the popular mind – though, originally, the poverty was understood to be simply an assumed state – it was understood that the student had chosen of his own free will to lead the life of a poor man; later, however, this part of the equation was forgotten – ideas are easier to forget than appearances. The former conception was therefore replaced by the picture of the student as just another poor man – and what does a poor man want the most, if not wealth? Thus originated the picture of the student as a man who had temporarily abandoned the pursuit of wealth, in order to get ready to pursue much greater wealth…

14 May 1983

The commodification of beauty

Admiration of female beauty may gradually be supplanted by admiration of female makeup: “Look at the makeup on that woman!!” “Doesn’t that chick have great hair-dye?” “She certainly knows how to fix her face!” – the latter exclamation perhaps suggesting a further progress of democracy, in that natural beauty, being a cause of envy and division, will be replaced by quantified makeup appeal, that anyone can partake of – beauty as a possession, rather than an indefinable, ephemeral, “I know not what.” Concomitant with the above, beauty will become active rather than passive – one makes oneself beautiful, rather than simply sit and wait to be admired for something that is already there – this adding a masculine dimension to feminine beauty. As the “classical” forms of female beauty are forgotten, and a new kind of beauty is invented to fit each particular face, the idea that there is something intangible called female beauty – that there is a form of female beauty – will gradually be forgotten. The ironical result of all this may be that the universal beautification of women will end in depreciation and abandonment of the value and meaning attached to female beauty. As was hinted above, by this time beauty may be perceived as an ability. Hence, there may be a return to the classical Greek idea that a strong and well-proportioned man, with a mind as powerful and well-organized as his body, is the most beautiful creature there is.

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