Category: A Mon Seul Desir

Ariel’s song

by Andrea Elizabeth

Kubla Khan had Xanadu, Coleridge had German idealism. Did they both have the truth? The truth of another country? Apparently Hegel was a German idealist, which brings us to the dialectic method. Wikipedia says

“The purpose of the dialectic method of reasoning is resolution of disagreement through rational discussion, and, ultimately, the search for truth.[5][6] One way to proceed—theSocratic method—is to show that a given hypothesis (with other admissions) leads to a contradiction; thus, forcing the withdrawal of the hypothesis as a candidate for truth (see reductio ad absurdum).

Another dialectical resolution of disagreement is by denying a presupposition of the contending thesis and antithesis; thereby, proceeding to sublation(transcendence) to synthesis, a third thesis.

It is also possible that the rejection of the participants’ presuppositions is resisted, which then might generate a second-order controversy.[7]

Fichtean Dialectics (Hegelian Dialectics) is based upon four concepts:

  1. Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time.
  2. Everything is composed of contradictions (opposing forces).
  3. Gradual changes lead to crises, turning points when one force overcomes its opponent force (quantitative change leads to qualitative change).
  4. Change is helical (spiral), not circular (negation of the negation).[8]

The concept of dialectic existed in the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, who proposed that everything is in constant change, as a result of inner strife and opposition. Hence, the history of the dialectical method is the history of philosophy.”

Back to Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and Coleridge’s violently dialectical relationship to paradise (also from Wikipedia),

“Although the Tartars are barbarians from China, they are connected to ideas within the Judaeo Christian tradition, including the idea of Original Sin and Eden.[77] The account of Cublai Can in Purchas’s work, discussed in Coleridge’s Preface, connects the idea of paradise with luxury and sensual pleasure. The place was described in negative terms and seen as an inferior representation of paradise, and Coleridge’s ethical system did not connect pleasure with joy or the divine.

“… The narrator introduces a character he once dreamed about, an Abyssinian maid who sings of another land. She is a figure of imaginary power within the poem who can inspire within the narrator his own ability to craft poetry.[84] When she sings, she is able to inspire and mesmerise the poet by describing a false paradise.[75] The woman herself is similar to the way Coleridge describes Lewti in another poem he wrote around the same time Lewti. The connection between Lewti and the Abyssinian maid makes it possible that the maid was intended as a disguised version of Mary Evans, who appears as a love interest since Coleridge’s 1794 poem The Sigh. Evans, in the poems, appears as an object of sexual desire and a source of inspiration.[85] She is also similar to the later subject of many of Coleridge’s poems, Asra, based on Sara Hutchinson, whom Coleridge wanted but was not his wife and experienced opium induced dreams of being with her.[86]

The figure is related to Heliodurus‘s work, Aethiopian History with its description of “a young Lady, sitting upon a Rock, of so rare and perfect a Beauty, as one would have taken her for a Goddess, and though her present misery opprest her with extreamest grief, yet in the greatness of her afflection, they might easily perceive the greatness of her Courage: A Laurel crown’d her Head, an a Quiver in a Scarf hanged at her back”.[87] Her description in the poem is also related to Isis of Apuleius’s Metamorphoses, but Isis was a figure of redemption and the Abyssinian maid cries out for her demon-lover. She is similar to John Keats’s Indian woman in Endymion who is revealed to be the moon goddess, but in Kubla Khan she is also related to the sun and the sun as an image of divine truth.[88]

In addition to real life counterparts of the Abyssinian maid, Milton’s Paradise Lost describes Abyssinian kings keeping their children guarded at Mount Amara and a false paradise, which is echoed in Kubla Khan.”

It seems to me that Coleridge and Milton hate loving earthly, temporal, muse-inspired paradise. They can’t seem to get over it. I am wondering if there is a way that they are “fearing fear where there is no fear”. C.S. Lewis seemed to make peace with the Abyssinian maids in his Space Trilogy and The Great Divorce. Let them sing, I say.

Merry and Mockingjay

by Andrea Elizabeth

Merry’s gotten her bounce back since accompanying us to horse lessons twice this week. She’s up on her console perch more in the car, bounding bunny-like across the backyard of the Denton house, hopping around when she wants something at home, and only going in my closet when she’s sleeping. She’s snuggling more with me too. She was always Pippin’s dog, but now I guess she’s mine. Chaining her to my wheelbarrow Monday seemed to establish the new connection. It felt like I was splinting both our broken hearts together.

Rebecca and I finished the third book of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, yesterday in the car. I guess the first two movies softened me up to the series to want to finish the third book before the third movie comes out. Our son, Jeremy, drove to Atlanta twice this spring to be an extra in it. He helps storm the Capital. I forget which district he’s dressed up as, but he has a sort of Arabian outfit. They told him not to wear his veil, so maybe we’ll get a peek at his face.

Back to the book. I liked the ending. And the description of someone near the end of their rope. One observation. She is very passive in her relationships to her two love interests and is pretty much up for grabs. Her sister, Prim, is usually the one she will fight for, but not so much to be with, but to save. She wants to be with the one who will chase her down. She doesn’t have the energy to chase anyone else down in order to stick with them. Maybe that’s how she’s not male. She chases in order to kill, whether it’s an animal or the biggest villain. The thought struck me that her pursuit of the villain is almost erotic in nature. Her response to Snow’s sickening roses is described negatively, but there is attraction all the same. She is completely and irresistibly drawn to destroy them, and the scent haunts her. She can’t rest until she’s consummated the kill. But neither can she rest until she has been won. And then that person has to convince her to bring life into the world. Her redemption.

Meryl and Maks

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have heard several ice skating commentors lament Charlie’s lack of emotional connection to Meryl. I don’t know how Charlie is with his girlfriend, Olympic silver medalist Tanith Belbin, who also seemed to break Ben Agosto’s heart, but Charlie appears to have only two facial expressions: happy and intensely concentrating. Meryl has a wide range, including unrequited love-lorn. Despite this, Davis and White are able to tell romantic stories with their skating. Somehow Meryl’s face tells that part, while their body language transcends their personal lives to bring us up to the the essence of truth about men and women. Something only dance can tell us.

Enter Meryl’s new Dancing with the Stars partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. They have emotional chemistry that is freely expressed in both their faces. Is it true love? I love Maksim’s answer to Glamour Magazine:

Glamour:”OK, I’m just going to come right out and say it. I want you and Meryl to date. You guys are just so cute!”

Maks: “Aww. Thank you.”

Glamour: “Does she have a boyfriend?”

Maks: “You’ll have to ask her.”

Glamour: “Seriously though, you’re just so good together and complement one another so well.”

Maks: “She’s definitely good for me. Getting Meryl this season really opened up my eyes of how important it is to have that chemistry with your partner on this show. I just want it on the record that most people don’t know who I am. If you’re watching me on TV for two hours, I may not like that person either. So you pass judgment on who you see on television. Everybody has a character. I’m not that guy. Meryl brings out the best in me, and I’m glad people see that.”

Glamour: “The chemistry that you were just talking about…it was obviously so evident on the dance floor tonight, but what is it like when you’re practicing?”

Maks: “She’s brilliant, and I tell her, ‘We have to stay in character.’ The first time we [practiced this dance], I’m a guy and she’s a girl. Whether we’re single or not is irrelevant. It wasn’t awkward at all. That’s what makes her so amazing to work with. I’ve never had a partner like this. I’ve had brilliant people [in the past], including Erin [Andrews], but we never had that. We had that moment with Erin in the freestyle, but she only let me that close on that week. For Meryl and I, we both know exactly what we are.”

Glamour: “And what is that?”

Maks: “She’s my perfect partner. Perfect woman? That’s not for public knowledge, but she’s definitely an amazing person.”

Dear Reader

by Andrea Elizabeth

After watching Dancing with the Stars with my favorite performers, ice dancers Davis and White, I am pondering also about Elise posing for this portrait in Somewhere in Time,

and advice I heard about taking a good selfie: think of someone you love.

But should we invite such public voyeurism? Yet aren’t we also supposed to look our best?

One of the current contestants in Dancing with the Stars has a lot of Christian hangups about some of the dances, but she can’t help compromising herself somewhat because dancing is a very personal, intimate thing. She comes across as stiff, and holding back. The problem is that the alternative seems to be to “let it all hang out” in a seductive way. But what I like about Davis and White is that what they have to show us is love, humility, and excellence. The song Meryl Davis chose to dance to was “All of Me”. Yes, the love is very personal, but her fearless expression is such a blessing to watch. Does the public deserve it if it is inspired by someone else?

Here’s a bit of trivia I found from IMDB about Somewhere in Time, “There were problems with the original footage of Elise performing on stage, so the scenes of her had to be re-shot. The second time around, Jane Seymour delivered the speech to the author and screenwriter Richard Matheson instead of Christopher Reeve. Matheson was supposedly so moved and upset by the experience, he had to call his wife and return home immediately.”

Why are we so subject to vicarious effects? Could it be that we are meant for another country, and some people inspire us to seek it? Dangerous territory indeed.

What a stitch can say

by Andrea Elizabeth

Today I made a wrong stitch that went through a right one so that it could not easily be unstitched nor untangled. One of the fibers of the right stitch was hopelessly entwined. Therefore I had to snip its little fibrous attachment instead of trying to find the exact path through which the wrong one had gone, which would most likely have made a permanent knot.

Here comes the deep thought of the day. When we are passionately attached to the wrong thing, we tend to think it is a major artery that has to be severed; that we will die like a conjoined twin who shares a single heart. But the passion isn’t a vital part of us. It is a foreign object that needs to be removed. Yes, we’ve grown an attachment to it, but it is just a little fiber that, even if too damaged to reattach, will lay back down next to the right thing, and live just as well.

focus on the mind before the heart?

by Andrea Elizabeth

from Orthodox Interventions

“Practicing virtues is not enough unless Christ-centered watchfulness over the thoughts is also practiced.

‘Many monks are not aware of how the demons deceive the intellect. Being naive and undeveloped, they tend to give all their attention to the practice of the virtues and do not bother about the intellect. They move through life, I fear, without having tasted purity of heart, and are totally ignorant of the darkness of the passions within. Such people, unaware of the battle about which Paul speaks [c.f. Eph 6:12] and not embued with personal experience of true goodness, regard as lapses only those sins which are actually put into effect. They do not take into account the defeats and victories that occur on the plane of thought, for these, being internal, cannot be seen by natural sight and are known only to God our judge, and to the conscience of the spiritual contestant… But for those who have a divine desire to cleanse the vision of the soul there is another form of activity in Christ and another mystery. (St. Nikodimos and St. Makarios, 1983, p. 30)’

Interventions to deal with how the individuals utilize self-talk and thinking with reference to external provocations are also addressed (Bouton, 2004). St. Philotheos (in St. Nikodimos & St. Makarios, 1983) encourages avoiding provocation to be turned into a harmful or sinful action. He emphasizes the use of watchfulness over the thoughts using both the goal of becoming one with God and the wisdom drawn from the life of Christ and the Holy Scriptures as the measure by which judgments are made (Bouton, 2004).” p. 67

The third post on cultural relations

by Andrea Elizabeth

It seems that cultural relations historically start out with the need to acquire goods or land. In the case of Greece and Troy, it was the need to acquire a woman, which can be the same thing. This is also what caused The Fall. So if relations are initiated by a feeling, justified or not, of deprivation, and sustained by certain laws to prevent murder and promote fairness or by the need to be loved in return, which can also be viewed as a result of deprivation, we must have been created with a vacuum. Appetite is not necessarily bad, though I do not understand how Eve could have felt deprived, except by just having the command not to eat of the one tree. That, incited by the devil, was probably enough. His suggestions were logoi that we should not listen to. Therefore perhaps our feelings of deprivation are not real, but warped deceptions.

But we cannot totally escape our need for food and a family or monastic community. Paradise is partaking of them in obedience.

It’s about time

by Andrea Elizabeth

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the passing of my much loved Mother-in-law. I didn’t have her death in mind as the reason for my coincidental sabbatical to a new blog, but perhaps it is fitting that the anniversary signals the time to return.

I have noticed with other people that major life decisions can follow the passing of a loved one, even if one is not conscious of the timing. I have wondered if it is a result of stress, but maybe we take more stock in what is truly important when we become more acquainted with death.

Today is also the first Monday of the Nativity Fast for Orthodox Christians. The Scripture reading for today from Colosians 2:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations –
Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,
which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The first thing that comes to mind is the Protestant criticism of our Church calendar with its feasts and fasts and veneration of angels. But to reject them totally would be to deny the Scripture, “when you fast” and would tend towards gnostic denial of material things, and thus the Incarnation. So I suppose we read this as a reminder that Christ is the goal of the observances, and not an independent adherence to rules.

A blessed fast to us all.

Why were the greatest works accomplished in the 1860’s?

by Andrea Elizabeth

Now that I’ve read the synopses of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung, I have more context. I still want to watch the whole Ring Cycle for the leitmotifs, spectacle, and text. I don’t really appreciate classical opera’s orchestration of narrative texts, however. I prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s more melodic style of emoting.

Which brings us to 19th century romanticism. Das Rheingold opens the story with the very interesting question of what to desire. Love or power? Given the timing of the opera, could this be what 1860’s man faced in the industrial revolution? Perhaps he had had both before, and was forced to choose. Choosing technical power left men without chests, as Lewis famously characterized 20th century man.

This question could also be spun in a Christian context. Marriage or monasticism? Pleasure, or the power of God, albeit more humbly, but still forcefully begotten?

The Ring signifies the end of the gods. Paganism for atheism? Both of these choices, the desire for worldly power and atheism leave us in a colder and darker world. I want to listen to the music more attentively to see how Wagner orchestrates these developments. I believe it ends triumphantly, nevertheless. Not because the Gods are burned up,  but because what a magnificent blaze of glory it was. Does that glorify death too much? Maybe that’s why Hitler liked it.

Another post about amputations

by Andrea Elizabeth

We went to an Orthodox wedding over the weekend in which something occurred that I don’t remember witnessing our other Priest doing. Our current Priest prayerfully touched each ring to the couple’s foreheads before giving them to the attendants. I wonder what the significance of this could be.

Wikipedia says this about the frontal lobe:


The executive functions of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events.

The frontal lobes also play an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain’s limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms.

Psychological tests that measure frontal lobe function include finger tapping, Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, and measures of verbal and figural fluency.[4]


In the early 20th century, a medical treatment for mental illness, first developed by Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz, involved damaging the pathways connecting the frontal lobe to the limbic system. Frontal lobotomy (sometimes called frontal leucotomy) successfully reduced distress but at the cost of often blunting the subject’s emotions, volition and personality. The indiscriminate use of this psychosurgical procedure, combined with its severe side effects and dangerous nature, gained it a bad reputation. The frontal lobotomy has largely died out as a psychiatric treatment. More precise psychosurgical procedures are still used, although rarely. They may include anterior capsulotomy (bilateral thermal lesions of the anterior limbs of the internal capsule) or the bilateral cingulotomy (involving lesions of the anterior cingulate gyri) and might be used to treat otherwise untreatable obsessional disorders or clinical depression.

Now it makes more sense.