Words

Life

Bleh

by Andrea Elizabeth

King’s description of the women in Ft Worth in 11-23-63 has left me too cold for the past couple of days to pick it back up. Dallas was a little harshly depicted too, but I don’t like it very much either. Cowtown however is awesome and polite and you can’t smell Midland from there. Cows yes, oil no. Now that I’ve vented I can listen again.

A third on changing the past from 11-23-63

by Andrea Elizabeth

After the first attempt, Jake calls one of the would have been victims who recognizes him all those years later as her brother’s guardian angel, which he had called himself at the time. She then gets upset and asks him where he was when that brother was later killed in Vietnam. It’s a good question. If you can go back in time, which is what eternity does for you according to C.S. Lewis’ Great Divorce, where people living in heaven can direct things that happened in the past, then you are responsible for everything. What if our prayers can change things that even happened in the past. Perhaps this is what forgiveness and freedom from oppression is in a way. I think King is right that the past is obdurate and in harmony with itself and the future, which is why it is so hard to break free from these events. Even the would have been victims live similar lives when it didn’t happen as it had. This is why working miracles takes such intense concentration and years in prayer to perform. Guns are the quick and easy solution.

Another on going back and changing things

by Andrea Elizabeth

In 11-23-63 Jake goes back in time to prevent a man from murdering most of his family and maming the only survivor. At first he tries to stop him at the scene of the crime. When this is only partially successful, he goes back again and seeks to take him out well before the fateful day. He had said he believed he could kill during a hot moment, but wondered if he could when things were calm. It does make all the difference. I wonder if guns are the easy, lazy, cowardly way out. But if someone is hell-bent on their course and is not seeking repentence, only manipulation and control, then why waste your time and resources trying to convince or control them? But deciding that when things are calm, before the deed is committed, and to off someone is a step I don’t think I could take. He found out that there had been a previous offence, so maybe he should have tried to stick him on that with the authorities instead. It’s sad if vigilantism is all you have left.

This reminds me of Judge Roy Bean, “the law west of the Pecos”. Wow, he was shadier than I expected.

11-23-63 timey wimeyness

by Andrea Elizabeth

On going back in time to change things:

“Did I know what he was going to say next? No. I’m not that prescient. Was I surprised? No again. Because the past isn’t just obdurate; it’s in harmony with both itself and the future.”

– Stephen King

Crates seems polite

by Andrea Elizabeth

from the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy

Diogenes’ most famous successor was Crates (c.328-325 b.c.). He was a Boeotian, from Thebes, and renounced his wealth to become a Cynic. He seems to have been more pleasant than Diogenes; according to some reports, every Athenian house was open to him, and he was even regarded by them as a household god. Perhaps the most famous incident involving Crates is his marriage to Hipparchia, who took up the Cynic way of life despite her family’s opposition and insisted that educating herself was preferable to working a loom. Like Diogenes, Crates emphasized that happiness is self-sufficiency, and claimed that asceticism is required for self-sufficiency; e.g., he advises that no one is happy if happiness is measured by the balance of pleasure and pain, since in each period of our lives there is more pain than pleasure.

This description of weaving connects to another book I’ve begun, The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell. In the second chapter she writes,

The idea of the mistress and her maidens spinning at the great wheels while the master was abroad, ploughing his fields, or seeing after his flocks on the purple moors, is very poetical to look back upon; but when such life actually touches on our own days, and we can hear particulars from the lips of those now living, details of coarseness – of the uncouthness of the rustic mingled with the sharpness of the tradesman – of irregularity and fierce lawlessness – come out, that rather mar the vision of pastoral innocence and simplicity. Still, as it is the exceptional and exaggerated characteristics of any period that leave the most vivid memory behind them, it would be wrong, and in my opinion faithless, to conclude that such and such forms of society and modes of living were not best for the period when they prevailed, although the abuses they may have led into, and the gradual progress of the world, have made it well that such ways and manners should pass away for ever, and as preposterous to attempt to return to them, as it would be for a man to return to the clothes of his childhood.

Gaskell is obviously sold on civilized society, but this scathing review of the biography is more cynical in the vein of Diogenes. Though again, I wish it were more polite and did not reduce everything to sexual lust. This uncivilized place produced the Brontë sisters! Haworth was my absolute favorite part of the U.K.

In the above I learned of Charlotte’s dramatic seeking the attention of the headmaster of the school where she taught English and music. Here’s a sample of the nature of her letters. In them I hear her intense loneliness and the scarcity of finding someone, who she calls friend, that she respects. Both the above reviewers should cut her some slack. As did the headmaster’s wife; thank you, dear lady.

Since Ender’s Game I’ve been wanting to look up Diogenes

by Andrea Elizabeth

I wonder if it is possible to share Diogenes’s cynicism about civilization but keep manners. Manners is usually held as synonymous with civilization, civility, and polite society. I don’t think that is right because civilization can be corrupt and primitive people can be polite. Polite politics? Bah. You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

after reading the entry on dialectical arguments

by Andrea Elizabeth

Good dialectical arguments result in both parties discounting each other’s premise and ending up with nothing.

I don’t agree.

You have to have a counter.

They may end up agreeing to disagree.

Then they both walk away with nothing.

They can keep their original premises.

But if they were intellectually honest, and equally good at debate, then they would both have to back down from their premises.

Unless one or both thought that absence of further argument doesn’t mean there isn’t a better answer. They could agree to wait for a better answer.

But some people are ready to test the argument and act on the conclusion if they believe in the process. Used to be, people believed answers were more available and if it couldn’t be seen, it didn’t exist. Nowadays people are ready to resign without a conclusion.

So I’ll agree with the moderns and you can agree with the traditionalists. That’s not nothing, is it?

It depends on the goal. If you believe in human rationality, then both should be able to agree. Disagreement can result in one person thinking the other person is less than human. If you like and respect the other person, you don’t want to think of them that way. If you can’t agree, you may end up disbelieving in rationality. Then it seems degenerative chaos is the only answer.

Some people don’t mind chaos. They like random variety.

That gives me a sick feeling.

So feelings triumph over rationality?

Maybe so.

abduction

by Andrea Elizabeth

Reading dictionaries may be fun after all. From the first page of the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy that my family got me for my birthday a few years ago:

Abduction: canons of reasoning for the discovery, as opposed to the justification, of scientific hypotheses or theories.

Reichenbach distinguished the context of justification and the context of discovery, arguing that philosophy legitimately is concerned only with the former, which concerns verification and confirmation, whereas the latter is a matter for psychology….

I like discovery and psychology better than justification.

Today few regard the search for rigorous formal logics of discovery as promising.

Keeping things informal is fine with me.

The intolerable and fight, flight, or acceptance

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the Bedroom, whose title refers to lobsters turning on each other in a pot/cage, is a movie based on a short story by Andre Dubus about a couple dealing with their son’s relationship with a not yet divorced woman. The father shares his son’s enthusiasm and the mother tries to convince the son to end it, especially when the estranged husband starts getting violent. May want to watch before reading further. Late in the film the couple finally air their feelings to each other. He says she’s too critical, controlling, and scary after she says he was too lenient, passive, and compliant in raising their son. The father did spoil the son, but did the mother alienate him too much? The son felt comfortable blowing her off because his father did not agree with her. Is this because he was the head of the house? She felt unsupported and she disrespected her husband’s passivity. Indeed the husband did not seem to get a backbone until he decided on his own to go confront the estranged husband. His new course of action also involved initiating the conversation with his wife, which he had been avoiding. Major spoiler alert. But his new activism/fight mode leads him too far in deciding to execute the estranged husband for killing his son. He did not want to hear the ex’s side because it involved criticizing the son’s affair with his wife. In the ex’s house it is when the father notices a picture of the woman with her ex that shows her happy, that his ideal of her starts to crack. She is happy with a violent jerk. But he’s stoked enough on revenge to keep going without the fuel of the knight in shining armor rescuing her.

I bet that if she could bring her son back from the dead she would be more tolerant and accepting about his quitting school and his relationship with the woman. But if she had it to do over again would she be the one to call the police if the dad didn’t? She and the son had a habit of letting the dad have the last word. I think she would still want him to be the one to do it, but would he? Surely. So the fix in the story is the dad having backbone and better insight into his son’s girlfriends and their exes. Even though the mother was angry at her husband, she would freak out if he was gone. She did not want to be the front person standing against wrong things. She desperately wanted him to be the activist who agreed with what she felt was intolerable. She could not tolerate intoleration on her own. I wonder what the feminists would say to that. They would definitely want her to be the one to call the police even if her husband didn’t agree. And he was a flee-er. She probably liked his acceptance of her all those years, and since she was such a perfectionist, she needed that balance. But that was because she was also critical of herself. But when an accepter accepts the unacceptable, that’s when it’s bad. He needed her critique. Until he quit fleeing and learned it on his own.

I am starting to think that intolerance is not the answer. Ultimatums, murder, or completely dissing someone seem like hyper-control measures to get someone to change against their will. This is how the ex acted, then the father followed suit with the support of his wife. Not that we can or should tolerate proximity with evil, not erect barriers, nor withhold talking about our convictions, but being obsessed with controlling others’ behavior is the wrong focus. Many family members of murdered people become obsessed with the killer. It almost seems like Stockholm Syndrome where you lose your identity and adopt the killer’s because they were the ones who had ultimate control of the loved one. People cave to dominant control.

So what to do if something evil or wrong or intolerable is controlling your loved one? Pray. Be honest. Maybe call the police. Eventually accept that you cannot control their either willful compliance or situation after they have left your home. On crime documentaries families seem held hostage by murderers who take the focus away from their dead loved ones. I believe the deceased want others to know what happened, and who did it, and maybe protection for others, but not obsessive revenge or stalking. It would be very difficult if the murderer went free in your community, but I think it’s healthier to let them go than to become a vigilante. That’s more about wanting compensation. You can’t be compensated for the life of a child. Nothing will help except someday seeing them in heaven after you’ve lived and died well. And maybe a sense of their presence now. That is why nothing is intolerable. Death has been destroyed.

The movie did not idealize anything that happened. Well done. I want to read more of Andre Dubus‘ stuff.

Love all men equally

by Andrea Elizabeth

How does Jane fit with the following?

From St. Maximus’ 400 Chapters on Love

13. The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is in­describable and knows no bounds”.

14. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified.

15. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.

16. He who loves Me, says the Lord, will keep My commandments (cf. John 14: 15, 23); and ‘this is My commandment, that you love one another’ (John 15:12). Thus he who does not love his neighbour fails to keep the commandment, and so cannot love the Lord.

17. Blessed is he who can love all men equally.

18. Blessed is he who is not attached to anything transitory or corruptible.

19. Blessed is the intellect that transcends all sensible objects and ceaselessly delights in divine beauty.

Besides the criticisms in the previous posts, she does wait for Rochester to repent of his flirtation with Blanche and his deception and rule-breaking with his wife. She also works very hard to forgive and not hate Mrs. Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst and to see Lowood school as part of the shaping her character. She does resist Rochester’s sensual advances. I think she still has a ways to go in loving all equally and delighting in divine beauty. But there are developmental steps it seems where one does need to love and be loved uniquely by a parent or a spouse or perhaps someone else so that they can progress to loving others correctly and dispassionately. Until then it is hard not to vilify those who seem to stand in the way of this love. Hence Blanche is banal and Mrs. Rochester is crazy and cruel.

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