Category: asceticism

Four new state parks posts

by Andrea Elizabeth


Politically though, I wonder if some conservatives find the idea of state parks socialist. If so, then maybe I’m socialist to some extent. Some people think all land should be privately owned. And over 90% of Texas land is, making access to the prettiest parts restricted to those with better networking skills than I have, if it weren’t for state parks. True conservatives think you need to know somebody in order to get the nicer things in life. I am a bit alienated, and think networks in general make you compromise and schmooze. This is why I identify with Derrida’s marginalized people. I prefer establishments that will serve my kind, even though I don’t like wheelchair access hiking trails. Too straight and boring.

ko wu, chih chih

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Chinese philosophical terms used in the Ta-hsüeh (Great Learning) to refer to two related stages or aspects of the self-cultivation process, subsequently given different interpretations by later Confucian thinkers. ‘Ko‘ can mean ‘correct’, ‘arrive at’ or ‘oppose’; ‘wu‘ means ‘things’. The first ‘chih‘ can mean ‘expand’ or ‘reach out’; the second ‘chih‘ means ‘knowledge’. Chu Hsi (1130-1200) took ‘ko wu‘ to mean arriving at li (principle, pattern) in human affairs and ‘chih chih‘ to mean the expansion of knowledge; an important part of the self-cultivation process involves expanding one’s moral knowledge by examining daily affairs and studying classics and historical documents. Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529) took ‘ko wu‘ to mean correcting the activities of one’s hear/mind (hsin), and ‘chih chih‘ the reaching out of one’s innate knowledge (liang chih); an important part of the self-culitivation process involves making fully manifest one’s innate knowledge by constantly watching out for and eliminating distortive desires.”

from The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy randomly arrived at by letting the book open where it may and reading the first entry that came to my eye like I used to do with the Bible.

Applying this principle, today I watched the last half of a PBS documentary on Gene Robinson, Love Free or Die. The first elected openly gay bishop is cuter and more compelling that I expected. So is his significant other. The most unfortunate part is the end statistics detailing how it is illegal to be gay punishable by jail and even death in some countries. This gives them the moral high ground to appeal for justice and equal rights. The most compelling voice for keeping the tradition of homosexuality is a sin was Bishop Rowen Williams. Someone told him that to take up one’s cross is righteous, but woe to those who crucify others. He paused and agreed that ‘not committing homosexual sin does need to be a voluntary sacrifice and not coerced. If it is not agreed upon, it reflects the very damaged state of the Church.’ The least compelling where the picketers that had signs saying “God hates fags”, and the scary, beefy motorcycle guy picketing people to split from the Episcopal Church and follow the Bible. Then there was the distraught, confused lady who was sad about it all, but had to vote against gay clergy and marriage anyway. The Gay Pride Parade freak show didn’t score many points, imo, either. Except for the few normal looking ones handing out water.

The fact that some gay people are so happy to have found love, to me speaks of damaged people who can’t turn their back on love. They sincerely believe that they will die without it. Maybe God is merciful to such as those who cannot accept being a eunuch, like Matthew says. But at the same time, I sense a bit of a latent acknowledgement that maybe they should have given up more in order to have a natural family. They are not ready to move on from their childhood baggage to a more sacrificial life.

Rich Mullins’ “Divine Obsession”

by Andrea Elizabeth

speaking of Kierkegaard’s First Love in Either/Or, here’s an article comparing the ethical God to the aesthetic God. http://kidbrothers.net/release/sepoct95.html

Why women don’t like Kierkegaard

by Andrea Elizabeth

Inspired by yesterday’s article, this morning I again, after a long hiatus, picked up Either/Or Part II. Part I was from the point of view of the aesthete, and Part II is from the point of view of the ethicist. Aesthetics by nature are more interesting than ethics. Do is more interesting than don’t. Do opens the realms of possibilities, don’t closes the door. This is probably why Part I is a lot thicker than Part II. I think I must have quit reading after this: “but there is one thing for which I thank God with my whole soul, and that is that she is the only I have ever loved, the first, and there is one thing for which I pray to God with my whole heart, that he will give me the strength never to want o love any other.” (page 9)

To all who find themselves in this ideal arrangement, good for you. Preach on against those of us who did not. Club us over the head for our instability, recklessness, waywardness, dangerousness, immorality, and deservedness of being shunned. There, that was a self-indulgent pity party.

The third reason I’ve put this book at arms’ length is that Kierkegaard was never married. He courted Regina for four years, finally proposed, then dropped her immediately after she accepted. How can he preach about marriage?

But, he is a complicated fellow and deserves more query. Maybe he’s chastising himself as the aesthete? Maybe Part I is his loving himself and Part II is his hating himself? If that’s so, I can be more sympathetic. But this goal, “But now to the subject. There are two things that I must regard as my particular task: to show the esthetic meaning of marriage and to show how the esthetic in it may be retained despite life’s numerous hindrances.” (page 8) Have your cake and eat it too? Sounds like a women’s magazine cover article on keeping your marriage sparkly. So did he break off his own engagement because he didn’t think the aesthetic immediacy of attraction could really be retained? Was this next part himself?:

“You, however, actually live by plundering; unnoticed, you creep up on people, steal from them their happy moment, their most beautiful moment, stick this shadow picture in your pocket as the tall man did in Schlemiel and take it out whenever you wish. You no doubt say that those involved lose nothing by this, that often they themselves perhaps do not know which is their most beautiful moment. You believe that they should rather be indebted to you , because with your study of lighting, which magic formulas, you permitted them to stand forth transfigured in the supernatural amplitude of the rare moments…. If one dared to hope that the energy that kindles you in such moments could take shape in you, distribute itself coherently over your life, well, then something great would certainly come of you , for you yourself are transfigured in such moments.” (page 10-11)

My current theory is that Kierkegaard did try to sustain the transfigured energy – but he chose to do it through philosophical writing, not marriage. I don’t think he liked the physical as much as the intellectual, thus his decision not to marry her, but to devote himself to his work. But he did have an emotional bond to her, which he found that he could sustain without marriage. He believed in constant transfiguration, and for a while had the patience for it. But eventually he fulfilled this prophecy, “you who once wrote to me that patience to bear life’s burdens must indeed be an extraordinary virtue, that you did not even have the patience to want to live. Your life disintegrates into nothing but interesting details like these.” And this is why he died so young after getting more and more negative. Why do the brightest lights die so young? I do like Kierkegaard.


from the heart

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’ve not read that much of Stephen King, but it seems he believes in instinctual motives. I don’t see his characters doubting their own morality. They all feel justified in their goals. And sort of stuck. Like Lee Harvey Oswald hitting his wife because he couldn’t hit his invasive mother who took joy in provoking conflict in his marriage. Good people have good instincts and bad people don’t. This isn’t very stoic. Stoicism to me is distancing yourself from your own reactions to calmly evaluate them. King’s good characters, those who have instincts to help and not reactively hurt, trust their instincts to fornicate and preemptively kill killers. But at least they are true to themselves, act on their convictions, and don’t stifle themselves to the point of chronic paralysis.

hipster barbie

by Andrea Elizabeth

Hipster Barbie Instagram is popular for “perfectly mocking every annoying person on Instagram”.  I bet the people who like it could be mocked too. I remember hearing someone say about my “perfect” friend who could sing solos, was valedictorian of her class, and was beautiful, “doesn’t she make you sick?”. No, perfect people don’t make me sick. I am glad that there are accomplished people in the world. They make me aim higher and inspire me. People who make excuses depress me. And so do the type-A judgmental people. There is a time to binge-watch and a time to hike. You don’t know if it is that person’s time. Let’s assume it is, ok?

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.

Was Rochester’s questioning untoward?

by Andrea Elizabeth

He would try to bring her out and set her free with his questions and was upset when she would silently pass by “as if we were strangers”. I have heard some people decry the existence of soul mates, but people can feel a unique connection.

Perhaps something I just heard about autism applies. Autistic people don’t believe other people think or have feelings. That they are the only one. What if people like Jane and Rochester are moderately autistic and believe that each other are the only ones who think and have feelings. Special connections are felt when a person is believed to be one of the only ones who thinks and feels as you do. And perhaps narcissism added to the mix makes that connection become romantic and passionate. Someone attracted to him or herself is attracted to someone perceived to be uniquely like him or herself.

Not that this is entirely bad or to be completely avoided, but maybe it is better to acknowledge why the feelings are there so as not to exalt them so high or act on them to one and the other’s detriment.

Perhaps Rochester’s probing was healthy, and if Jane had been more self-aware, they could have come to a more angelic relationship.

According to Ashley Madison, women are obsessed with passion

by Andrea Elizabeth

I just rewatched Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. It was hard to step outside of the storm and look critically at Jane’s emotional journey. What does pain make you deserve? Rochester thought it was pleasure and escape from banal people. He said he loved Jane’s purity. But was she? Leaving him because he was technically married, conveniently to a crazy cruel woman, is supposed to prove it. But her pride had been stoked by his untoward attention to her for being above banal. She said she was just like any other governess, but when Blanche comes to visit, she is obviously very jealous of their flirting because she thinks it is owed to her alone. She does not criticize his flirtatiousness, especially when directed at her. She later calls him on being deceitful about his wife, but he was deceitful to Blanche and herself as well.

This desire for his exclusive attention is stoked by her extreme loneliness. Mrs. Reed had hated her for being of a passionate nature. This nature did seem to set her apart. She was shunned because of it by everyone she had been entrusted to. She could not take being shunned by Rochester when he insisted she watch his attention being directed elsewhere. But why was romantic attention all that could ease, or if directed elsewhere, cause her pain?

I can’t find an icon I used to use as a profile picture elsewhere of a female Saint, I thought her name was Elizabeth, but not one of the famous ones. I think it was Russian. She is in the midst of a storm, clouds and her dress swirling about her, but in the corner is Christ and that is where her attention is directed. The Church gives examples of women with such a nature who went in seclusion because all the men they encountered were attracted to it. Jane loved St. John like a brother, but he desired her and would not consent to not loving/possessing her fully. She said it would kill her to live with him like that, so she follows Rochester’s voice across the stormy moors instead. I’ve heard Charlotte Bronte originally ended the story with Jane going to India with St. John as a brother. Who knows why it was changed, but it is dissatisfying. Sort of like how relieved you are in The African Queen when Katherine Hepburn doesn’t have to live with her brother anymore and finds Humphrey Bogart. Or when C.S. Lewis finds Joy after Malcolm. But Jane’s going to India as a sister does let her keep the pure reputation, instead of the convenience of the wife being mad, murderous and at last suicidal, which Rochester nobly tries to prevent. What if she had been sweet and innocent? Maybe Rochester wouldn’t have been so needy. Or maybe he would have anyway, because saintliness, in he or his wife, is hard to come by. I bet she would have had faults. But these are not excuses for where the heart goes. The heart goes places anyway. And no one wants to kill their heart. Some women, like St. Katherine, naturally and exclusively loved Jesus more than anyone.

The three eunuchs come to mind. Matthew 19:12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Can brains save you?

by Andrea Elizabeth

“[Cabin fever] is a slang term for the claustrophobic reaction that can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time. The feeling of claustrophobia is externalized as dislike for the people you happen to be shut in with. In extreme cases it can result in hallucinations and violence—murder has been done over such minor things as a burned meal or an argument about whose turn it is to do the dishes.
[…]“He killed them, Mr. Torrance, and then committed suicide. He murdered the little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way. His leg was broken. Undoubtedly so drunk he fell downstairs.”
“Was he a high school graduate?”
“As a matter of fact, he wasn’t,” Ullman said a little stiffly. “I thought a, shall we say, less imaginative individual would be less susceptible to the rigors, the loneliness—”
“That was your mistake,” Jack said. “A stupid man is more prone to cabin fever just as he’s more prone to shoot someone over a card game or commit a spur-of-the-moment robbery. He gets bored. When the snow comes, there’s nothing to do but watch TV or play solitaire and cheat when he can’t get all the aces out. Nothing to do but bitch at his wife and nag at the kids and drink. It gets hard to sleep because there’s nothing to hear. So he drinks himself to sleep and wakes up with a hangover. He gets edgy. And maybe the telephone goes out and the TV aerial blows down and there’s nothing to do but think and cheat at solitaire and get edgier and edgier. Finally … boom, boom, boom.”
“Whereas a more educated man, such as yourself?”
“My wife and I both like to read. I have a play to work on, as Al Shockley probably told you. Danny has his puzzles, his coloring books, and his crystal radio. I plan to teach him to read, and I also want to teach him to snowshoe. Wendy would like to learn how, too. Oh yes, I think we can keep busy and out of each other’s hair if the TV goes on the fritz.” He paused. “And Al was telling the truth when he told you I no longer drink. I did once, and it got to be serious. But I haven’t had so much as a glass of beer in the last fourteen months. I don’t intend to bring any alcohol up here, and I don’t think there will be an opportunity to get any after the snow flies.” (Excerpt From: King, Stephen. “The Shining.” Anchor Books, 2013-08-27. iBooks.)

We’ll see.


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