Words

Life

Category: Relationships

happiness is way south of Lubbock Texas

by Andrea Elizabeth

This NY Times quiz using a Harvard dialect study says that my use of colloquialisms come from Lubbock, Tx. I am not sure how this came about since the only place I’ve lived is in or near DFW metroplex, with the last half of my life in Weatherford, a little it west of there, but not near as west as Lubbock, which I’ve only drivin through twice and as an adult at that. For the quiz I chose words from my childhood where my memories are from Mesquite and Arlington. My friend, who I met in high school in the largely northern immigrated Arlington, grew up in Beaumont, but got cow-town Ft. Worth for her word origination. My parents both grew up in Louisiana, and their parents were from Mississippi and Arkansas. The only thing I can figure is that west Texas is where my heart lies. Growing up I loved westerns. I wanted a horse so bad, it was all I could think or dream of. Outdoor play was mimicking riding a horse. I suppose I mimicked cowboy language as well.

The best thing was pretending to ride about like the Lone Ranger through all that wilderness with surprises around every rock. The Big Bend area of Texas, and east of there along the Rio Grand, to the west side of the Pecos confluence, is very much like that. Judge Roy Bean, the law in those parts, is the symbol of home spun, but authoritative west Texas wisdom. East Texas is more associated with southern hierarchical formality. I’m more of a maverick and a renegade, despite my lineage.

How does this independent spirit fit in Orthodoxy? I’ll tell you it’s a struggle, and maybe why there is only one OCA mission west of I-35, which happens to be in Alpine, close to Big Bend. There are Greek and Antiochian Churches in the bigger cities however. Here’s an interesting web post from the Greek Church in San Angelo:

“An Eastern Orthodox Church may seem out-of-place in West Texas. The rough and tumble frontier heritage at first glance does not seem to fit very well with the ancient church of the east, Byzantium, and the ecumenical councils. Much about it may seem foreign and alien to Texans at first glance. But, that is only if we look at the surface.  In reality, deep down, where things matter most  they have more in common than one may realize.

The dry desert is where they both were born and where they grew up. They have passed through episodes of violence, privation and adversity which have become an integral part of their character. They hold fast to the ways of their fathers and, although they embrace new ways of doing things, they know deep down that the old ways are usually the best. They also know that the words we say do not mean nearly as much as what we do and how we live. Fiercely independent, they are also fiercely loyal and understand that they can accomplish more by working together than by working at odds with each other.

The Orthodox faith fits the West Texas character very well.”

I remember one time while I was working as a utilization review nurse for an insurance company where we had to interview patients to determine medical necessity, there was this one older gentleman from the Lubbock area who could not understand my questions, until I slipped very easily into my west Texas inflections. Where you speak in the enthusiastic twangy upper register. How y’all do-in?! This was the same natural slip I made in Boston one time working as a receptionist that caused one of the uppity principals I had transferred a call to to call me back and just say, “‘okey dokey?'”. There is no life in the speech of northerners. Life makes them uncomfortable so you have to squelch it. This is also why they mainly wear black.

Back to Orthodoxy, it is indeed the desert fathers like St. Anthony and Mother Mary of Egypt that seem like “it” to me.

the pleasure of your company

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m practically finished with Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer Adler, audible version. It’s hard to know when the author is quoting, paraphrasing, or interpreting Aristotle in a modern way. The part I find most interesting, [since I find the formal rules of formal logic irritating. I loved Geometry, so I am capable of using them, but that was then and I am in the practical time of life where applications can include shortcuts. I also found most of the points to be lessons in the obvious.] is the part about friendship and justice. Looking it up now, it appears that this came from his Nicomachean Ethics Book 8.

“when men are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.”

Friends are joined by mutual goodness, pleasure, and/or usefulness. There are many combinations and types discussed.

I suppose justice comes in when one or more of these things is withdrawn to a certain degree or maybe was over-estimated. This is why there are civil courts. He also doesn’t seem to get into loving one’s enemies.

twas blind but now i see

by Andrea Elizabeth

After seeing The Brain on PBS which profiled Mike Mays who lost his sight at age 3 and regained it at 46 to find that he has great difficulty interpreting what his new eyes are showing him, I wondered about Christ’s instant healings of the blind. Years later, Mike Mays still uses his guide dog when going to new places, mostly because of a lack of spatial interpretation.

Wikipedia’s article on Recovery from Blindness also talks about Mike Mays, and the problem called visual agnosia which William Molyneux proposed as a thought experiment to John Locke.

Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube? To which the acute and judicious proposer answers: ‘Not. For though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, and how a cube, affects his touch; yet he has not yet attained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so…’

And Wikipedia answered my question about Jesus’ healed blind people:

The following account of visual agnosia from a sudden recovery of sight is from the Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 8: “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly!”

I wonder how many other conditions require a second healing. Like someone who grows up without a father. Say they find a father figure but are surprised they still walk with a painful limp. Coping mechanisms become a hard habit to break. And maybe at some point the brain can’t restructure itself to accommodate proper functioning in this life.

 

taking a breather between genetic lines

by Andrea Elizabeth

It is amazing how many ancestors one has. If you go back 10 generations, which averages about 300 years (colonial times), you have 1024 8th great grandparents directly responsible for your existence, just as much as your parents are. Without one of them you wouldn’t be here. Before doing this research I had a more myopic point of view because I only knew a few surnames and so I assumed I had just a few direct lines. Added to that, the geneology programs on PBS only profile one or two ancestors, so you think these were solely responsible for where and when you came to be. Not so.

It works the other way too. If any given of those 8th GGF’s had only 2 kids, and most had way more, then each of them would have at least 1024 living descendants who could share information on the internet. Once you have a common ancestor, then the rest of the tree unfolds rather quickly by clicking on Ancestor Member Trees on sites such as ancestor.com. I only had to look at the provided census records for my great-grandparents to provide enough info to link to others’ trees.

According to the above article, after 10 generations there starts to be repetition of ancestors, and that’s why we don’t each have 2 trillion ancestors 40 generations back around the year 750 a.d..

what’s in a name

by Andrea Elizabeth

At the time of my last post I had traced 10 lines of my geology made up mostly of my 8 Great-grand mothers’ and fathers’ paternal lines, as those were the surnames I was familiar with. In the back of my mind through all of this I have been wondering if there was some sort of patriarchal prejudice involved both with the naming of people by their fathers’ names, and in my prioritizing the fathers’ lines in this way. Other cultures, like the Spanish, include the mothers’ names. Some cultures use only the mother’s name, but matronymic cultures are so small and rare, spellcheck thinks you could only mean patronymic.

Today I have reached the end of my four paternal great great grandmothers’ lines. I had a third brush with greatness that turns out is probably also a dubious connection. Yesterday I removed our Tomkyns-de Cantelupe connection after reading a document by a living Tompkins lawyer debunking a 1950’s Tompkins publication painstakingly connecting the two. And I already mentioned the Captain Cook mistake. Today I got my hopes up again while tracing the maternal line of the already mentioned Missouri Amazon Feagan, who married my paternal grandmother’s Grandfather Tompkins. Missouri’s paternal grandmother is Nancy Wadsworth of Georgia and Alabama. Many people have connected her line to the Hartford, Ct. Wadsworths, who came over around the same time as the 1632 Plymouth Wadsworths, of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow fame. Ancestry.com searchers have also connected Henry to a common William Wadsworth in England.

When I was still buying that William was my ancestor and trying to see if Henry could be my cousin, I was frustrated that the top, official-looking, famous author sites only listed his Longfellow geneology. I only found his mother’s Wadsworth tree fifth on the google list on a site called Wikitree. His ancestor is William, but another authentic descendent’s site said Henry’s branch from William’s son Christopher (the Plymouth Branch) is not related to William Wadsworth’s Hartford branch. I have independently decided that James Wadsworth (1740-1821) of Virginia, my ancestor, is not related to either the Hartford or the Connecticut Wadsworths because the connection has James being born in Virginia and dying in Connecticut, with all of his descendents being born and dying and getting married in the south. There is a James Wadsworth around that time who has a grave in Connecticut, but I see no evidence, and I’ve looked, that it’s the same person.

Also during all of this, while I was thinking I had another Yankee connection (besides the New Sweden/Philadelphia one in the last post), I read an interesting piece about the original settlers of New England in the mid 1600’s and the mid later 1600’s settlers of Virginia. My computer forced an update and lost the link though. But it’s probably well known – though only now to me- that the New England settlers were educated scholars, tradespeople and artisans from northeastern England, and the Virginia settlers were mostly indentured servants from southern and western England, with the latter eventually being allowed to settle their own small farms. There was a great disparity, and they didn’t mix much. This disparity explains why there was such a strong rivalry and bad feeling from the very beginning. And it explains why almost every generation of my different branches moved from southern state to southern state. Small farming was very difficult. The unrelated Hartford and Plymouth Wadsworths, as well as my Swedish Philidelphia Bankstons, and my slave-owning Baptist South Carolina Reverend stayed in one place for multiple generations.

Thinking you have a famous ancestor and finding you don’t is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It seems people see a hole in their ancestry, and then find someone of a similar name who goes back to someone famous, and stretch the connection, because a possible error with either a famous, or even just a continuing connection is better than a blank name slot that marks the end of the line.

The harsh, Puritan thinkers will say it’s just a matter of pride to want to be related to someone famous. There is that, but I think we also want to be connected to someone known. It helps us know ourselves. I was thinking when I believed these stories that that’s why I like to explore, or why I like castles, or why I like writing. But I guess exploring and castles and writing are just part of what even poor English wanderers like.

Miss Sadie Thompson 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

So many issues.

“From the 1921 theatrical adaptation of Maugham’s story through both previous films, Davidson is a figure of religious intolerance, and Sadie after her conversion is presented as a zombie, reciting by rote the religious rhetoric pounded into her by Davidson’s psychological pressure. Here, Sadie quietly and with dignity relates how she came to reassess her life. “When O’Hara walked out on me,” she says, “and I had nobody to turn to, Mr. Davidson helped me. I didn’t feel lost anymore. I’m back to myself again. Like I was, long ago.”[3] Seeing an open Bible on her dresser, Dr. Macphail, the text’s representative of “objective” modern science, nods contentedly, as if to imply, “She can’t go far wrong with the Good Book.”

After being raped by the minister (who, since a Hays Code ruling in 1928, still cannot be identified on film as a minister), Sadie’s newfound “faith” waivers. However, in the 1950s text, the tolerance Dr. Macphail urges is not of Sadie as victim but of Davidson. “You mustn’t confuse what he did with what he believed in,” he tells her. Macphail’s unprecedented defense of the lapsed theocrat is part of the text’s desperate attempt to preserve the religion already shielded by Davidson’s unofficial status. By reconstructing Davidson as an example of “abnormal” psychology (he explicitly disparages “Freud, Adler, and Jung,” the decade’s other gods), the conservative religious ideology can be upheld as being essentially correct; only individuals occasionally go wrong. As Macphail says of Davidson after the rape, “He just couldn’t practice what he preached.” Sadie closes the circle uniting the men in the text verbally as well as vocally (and politically and sexually) when she says to the doctor, “You talk just like him.” And Macphail says disingenuously, “Do I? I didn’t realize.”

As a reward for her final capitulation, the forfeiture of her anger, O’Hara miraculously returns, suddenly willing to forget Sadie’s past. He belatedly explains that there should be no double standard for B-girls and marines, putting it in acoustic terms: “Counting up all I’ve done . . . I had no right to sound off.” Reunited and reengaged, Sadie rides off, propped up on her speedboat, happily restored to spectacle status, awaiting a rosy future with O’Hara.

The most reactionary and conservative version of Maugham’s story, Miss Sadie Thompson locks the woman into spectacle on all sides. Sadie’s happiness for the first hour rests on being the prized object, prime spectacle, “the only white woman” there. In the musical numbers, she cannot capture her own voice, and when she does speak her own experience, she is either barred access (presented as “hysterically” talking to herself offscreen) or unconsciously repeats the dominant ideology, presented at every point as inevitable. According to this classical text, the woman’s submission to spectacle status in both image and voice is, finally, the only possible course.

The convulsive repressiveness we saw in response to women’s efforts to speak in the films of the forties went underground in the fifties, camouflaged by spectacle on the one hand or transmuted into hysteria and melodrama—as in Sunset Boulevard .”

One issue is that the minister expects her to return to the states to face jail. I see a problem with the legislation of morality with punitive reprisals. What else could the state do? Enforce counselling? That’s what they do in civil cases, but what hope is there in that. Ms. Lawrence doesn’t seem too fond of Jung and Freud either. It’s like the attempted stoning of the woman caught in adultery. Sadie did want to change her ways not only because of the threats of Davidson, but because of how she saw she put other people in painful situations. The men were in pain before meeting her. Her incitement gave them hope of relief. *bigger spoiler alert* Davidson commits suicide after taking it, so that didn’t work. Can Sadie change? Will O’Hara still want her once he gets her? I think the movie is pretty convincing in promoting O’Hara as her only real help as someone willing to commit himself fully to help her instead of just offering advice and referrals elsewhere.

Then there’s the issue of her zombie state vs. feeling alive when she was getting fun attention. But there are happy nuns. St. Mary of Egypt found communion in solitude. Perhaps there is a transition state of withdrawal when one quits leaning on dysfunctional fixes. Ms. Lawrence is more concerned about her being portrayed as having a dysfunctional voice. Or one that is only functional when people are allured. I was not comfortable with her submission to Davidson even though I was glad she saw her methods more critically because of him. And I found the 23rd Psalm reading pretty moving and it’s effect on her nicely portrayed. Maybe he should have just referred her to God after that instead of the reflective conversations afterward. But I’m not comfortable with committing a damaged person to solitary confinement either. Nor is everyone in this day and age ready or able to go to a monastery. I think it’s a pretty dysfunctional age and maybe God will have mercy on people’s pitiful attempts to find positive connection.

to eat or not to eat

by Andrea Elizabeth

For the aesthete, the choice is do I want physical beauty or a sensual physical experience? Compromises and deals are made in each direction. But I admire those who are committed to one or the other. Ones who are fully committed to an optimal physical appearance or to a no holds barred sell-out to food with no sacrifices. Oh, to have a whole bag of peanut (must get one’s protein) M&M’s on one side and a whole bag of Doritos on the other while sipping Dr. Pepper and looking forward to when they are done for a whole tub of Cookies and Cream. Actually I get a headache imagining that, but the lack of the exhausting struggle and deal making is attractive.

I have a similar back and forth with cleaning the house. One time I committed to keeping it clean and was not as satisfied with the result as I had imagined I would be. It wasn’t worth it. So it does not stay immaculate, but moderately neat.

I am pretty visual, but mostly touch-oriented. You’d think I’d be a touchy feely person, but I’m not. I mostly like comfortable resting places and the feeling of chewing and the taste and texture of food. Therefore the weight has slowly crept on. It would have been faster, but for mirrors and photographs. Mirrors can be tricked, however, and so can photos by someone who understands angles. Therefore one can have one’s cake and eat it too.

But I am not a committed aesthete, either. I also want what is right. It is not right to be a glutton. It is not right to be vain. It is not right to be on a roller coaster of sugar and caffeine highs and lows that exaggerate one’s negative responses to one’s family. The Fathers say irascibility is given to us to fight sin and the devil. One should not act irascible about just getting up in the morning, or to one’s family in ordering one’s house, should they? I haven’t gone into my sugar sensitivity that amplifies the above struggle.

All this to say that to avoid too much insulin production by not eating sugar, starches, or drinking caffeine or alcohol can appeal somewhat to the visual aesthete because of the weight loss, but it is a Pyrrhic victory. Male attention and female praise or envy are similar to a sugar high – fleeting and shallow.

A more stable and ramped down, calmer mood can also be seen as aesthetic as it is a pleasant feeling, but also ascetic for it puts one more in harmony with God and others. But even that is pleasant. It is inseparably mutual. Maybe I can be committed to that.

 

some thoughts about the power plant

by Andrea Elizabeth

My first impression was, how unnatural. All the concrete and metal with no organic material to be found. But then he started comparing it to organic things like certain relationships, and I could see that all the systems, the fuel, control centers, lubrication, and water, could be compared to body systems. Certain relationships in that it is so complex and delicate, that one imbalance requires that the whole plant needs to shut down and started over. That’s how I compared his explanations anyway.

But if it is to be compared to a body, it would have to be to a robot. But if compared to relationships, then it would be top down. Stronger to weaker. Man to woman, woman to child.

Crops Rotated

by Andrea Elizabeth

The last part of that section is very pessimistic! Down on marriage, friendship, and social position. This is written by A, the aesthete, so grains of salt must accompany, but still there rings some truth. Between the lines I hear someone conscious of being trapped. If one views marriage, for example, as being forever chained to someone else’s moods and persnicketyness, then that should be avoided. When people say marriage is becoming one, I don’t think it should be one or the other dominant personality. Oneness is a goal reached by two perfect people. One’s prevailing selfishness drags them both down into a false, unequally yoked unity. All that achieves is disconnecting one from the One.

what else is there?

by Andrea Elizabeth

Kierkegaard’s admiration of Scribe, who is a real playwright after all, is so cute. I’m not sure if he believes in this “in love” business. His description of it sounds like deluded, obsessive infatuation. On the woman’s part it is enabled by illusion, on the man’s by mystique. The woman can be easily drawn in by replicating her illusions, and the man upholds this illusion by not revealing his true nature.

When this is successful in the play, Kierkegaard’s conclusion is that since none of it is based on reality, that they are left with nothing, even though the right people got together. I see it more as providence protecting people from themselves. He works with what he has. Therefore it is good that people get together, even if for the wrong reasons. But what about when and if they find out? Should they despair? There must be a higher reality that can be sought after within the framework.