Ευγενική Ψυχή

An expression my mother used when she first met my son. He was all of 2 hours old. There was something about him. It was unmistakable. My mother was not the only one to notice. Upon leaving the hospital, now 3 days old, we were stopped by a stranger who said “for this gentile soul,” and he offered us a bill for “goyri” – good luck. At day care, later in school, at the park, other moms, it was always the same. “He’s such a good kid.” Not, he is well behaved. Not, he is caring. Not, he is courteous, amicable. No. He is a good kid. He exudes goodness. It has always been thus. Later in life, I might even comment: son, you’re such a wonderful young man. To which often he’d disparagingly respond, “I know, mummy.” It was not a declarative, gregarious or boastful, ‘I know.’ It was an exasperated, “I know.” As in, F*ck, I know! As if he’d wish he could shed this goodness. He wanted to be more! He wanted to be complex, maybe. He wanted to be his own person uninhibited, free to simply express his will, and be as others are: sheer will.

Even Kant would think less of my son for not laying claims to his will as an expression of reason, unthwarted by circumstance or nature, or disposition!!! For Kant the true expression of goodness is that which is the outreached determination of reason – the seat of deliberative free agency! It is in fighting against the impulses that drive natures, dispositions, historicity and contingencies of spirit, that a character worthy of applaud, or inspiration, of gratitude, or pride is to be reckoned with.

Am I to favour instead those twisted, wretched beings who wear their existential grievances taunted by the (so-called) ephemeral, sensational, and psychical instead? Shall I embrace those who in battling their demons as exhibitionists flaunt their genitalia??!!! Internal struggle need not be so crude. A Narcissios awakening. Both emancipatory and subservient but always desperate.

Neither/nor!

“F*ck, I know,” he says in exasperation! An assault on the personification of self as other!

MY SON

My true North. My son. It has always been thus. He is the embodiment of Kant’s moral law within. This continues ‘to fill my mind with ever increasing wonder and awe!’ December 18th, 1999 marks his entry into this world. Today, now 21, he remains as ever a child of ethereal goodness. Not pretentious or showy; not self-congratulatory; not unlike Doubting Thomas whose name he bears. Poised, self-contained – except when eruptions of rage find him – skeptical of the factical and grandiose whether in testimony to the truth or in manner. Inauthenticity, in all its forms, tends to ignite those eruptions of spirit, as he loosely also seeks to exorcise from himself. My North: steadfast, he glows brightly, like an anchor in the sky, burning with unassuming force. Happy birthday, my son, my Thomas

Combative

Sexism isn’t dead. In a lot of ways my generation and that of my mother were lucky to have been part of the feminist movement for despite our struggles and the more overtly patriarchal structures of society, we were united as women with a sense of purpose. We were sisters and that kinship was deeply felt. Our self-conscious awareness of battling our plight together empowered us to both problematize those structured arrangements that would have us be naturalized in the eyes of men, and assist in the renegotiation of ourselves, our bodies and our relations with men, be they our fathers, brothers, lovers, and/or bosses. The 1st and 2nd waves of feminism revamped much of our sociopolitical lives, but little seems to have been accomplished in the insidious and hyper-complicated web of inter-sexual relations especially where these include men. Tales of old sit at our front door mocking us as we find resolve in sexual licentiousness. Aghast!

Obscurantists: A new breed

Though normativity is ubiquitous, wretched Cyclopean (See?!!! 😉) scholars and self-proclaimed thinkers alike, were amongst the more feeble whom Kant had in mind when saying: ‘…the chief end of all academic life is to promote right opinions, and to inculcate fixed principles in minds of natural excellence in order to afford the only direction to the development of talent.’ And that scholars ‘all require practical wisdom; that is the capacity to recognise the true value of all knowledge from its relation to human ends. Science has a real and true value only as an instrument of practical wisdom (echoing the ancient Greeks). As such an instrument it is indeed indispensable. But without practical wisdom it is a dangerous possession, and has the tendency to make one conceited, rude and inhuman.’

Interpretation is quite seriously everything! Which is not to suggest a free-for-all, but the requirement that we become conversant in the discursive notation of engagement. The combatant modality – him vs. her, pro vs con, republican vs democrat, liberal vs conservative, truth vs falsehood, right vs wrong, good vs bad, etc. – snuffs nuance and kicks the interpretative modality to the curb.

Fazing out

I’ve had a long struggle, oscillating over the years, with social media and what I experience as the demise of genuine human(e) interaction. Data mining is a real threat to the fabric of social live, lived amongst those who experience themselves as autonomous beings, what Kant took to be the fundamental (perhaps primordial) presupposition for a (rich) moral life. The irony of a faceless platform calling itself Facebook, is not lost on me. Indeed, it has long irked me. And weighing, as I do, the promise of staying connected with family and friends abroad, I’ve found most presume connectivity and yet rarely reach out to have a real conversation or pick up the phone anymore. And though one might – as I had long deluded myself – envisage a platform of diversity where negotiation in a spirit of good faith might contribute to advancing my own understanding of human interest issues, the hegemony of most posts overwhelms. Deleting “friends” by the 1000s over the last couple of days evades the real issue: social media feeds, but does not nourish, our “negotiation” of the world. It boxes us into a paradigm of feeds posing for the truth, algorithmized for our delight (to sustain attention, and release of dopamine). Cornered most beast’s fight-or-flight response would turn on; but so oblivious are we that the threat remains ever elusive, and unconsciously we make our bed, tucked in all cozy-like with our “friends!” Deleting Instagram, and Whatsup and now Facebook (takes care of Zuckerberg!) is hopefully a practice that I shall have the temperance and fortitude to maintain over the long stretch (Tristan Harris has compared the addictive force to slot machines.) For any real friends I may have made along the way, even unwittingly, communication is not the ownership of social media.Roger McNamee was quoted saying: “The way to think about it is as 2.5 billion Truman Shows. Each person has their own reality with their own facts. Over time you have the false sense that everyone agrees with you because everyone in your news feed sounds just like you. Once you’re in that state, it turns out you’re easily manipulated.” (Roger McNamee, Early investor venture capitalist in Facebook)

MY DAUGHTER

Kalianna mou, another year and still unrest is visibly your adversary. A bedfellow who permits you not sleep, and in the daylight hours seeks you out like a gadfly. Only tis not Socrates that would have you awaken to the slumbers of a herd-like existence. The curvatures of your being are too complex for the innocence of your sensibilities that whisper: “Mommy?”

“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.” Simone de Beauvoir might have known you just a little. Her words often fall from your lips. Though not emancipatory when spoken by you. 18 never was so old! A plague of the Gen Zs who have it easier than us baby boomers, but for all that, the baggage that has been hurled your way has amassed fears and an alarming sense of exposure. Things just don’t roll off your back; everything is an issue; everything is complicated; everything is an affront on you. When Epictetus’s words finally find a foothold you might better take charge in a manner that designs a life of quietude. For as he has famously said in his Enchiridion: “It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them.”

Happy birthday, my precious girl!

Wisdom (abridged version)

Wisdom, it seems to me, cannot be imparted; though it can be inspired. It comes not with experience but from partaking in the process of lived life. Its truths stand not eternal, for they are not final, and sometimes appear as a shooting star, both beautiful and unraveling. Wisdom is not the privilege of the educated. Though she may bring a bed upon which to rest, tis not quite a state of Stoic quietude. Disquietude of mind, of spirit, remains sceptical, vibrant, alive to all that might seek her silence. Wisdom: she is a doubter, troubled, and sometimes trouble. But totally worth it!

Home

Vouliagmeni – My little spot in the world

My little spot in the world! Home. Finally. I’d long thought that I would not plant roots anywhere. I felt more like branches in constant reach. Often thinking I might just severe all ties to the ground and fly off.

There are some that say that home is where the heart is. But my heart permanently resides with my children. And they will find flight soon enough. They are not mine to detain.

Home is a little spot in the world wherein you feel whole, and always just a little breathless. It is that space not occupied, but of extracted being. It is not so much a place as it is time.

Home is familiarity, just not familiar.

The route; my route; our route. It is my, our daily (now) chit chat with the dog walkers, our resident disc jokey, Marina and her youngin Oresti, Manoli, Giorgo and Mihali at the taxi park, Dimitri at the kioski and Matina at the pharmacy until we make our way to the mountain terrain! OMG!

Passerby’s salut, share intimate stories, or …are making intimate stories. But it is all behind the closed doors of the parameters of this very public space.

Home is found when you wake each morning and are happy …for no reason.

Cause

Music can be alot like people. It doesn’t happen often, but suddenly you’re enrapture and you know not why. And just like that, you’re spun.

Overlooking the Mediterranean blue, Rodriguez interrupts my philosophical musings like a spoiled puppy pulling at my pant leg. I sit shaking my leg to free myself from his grip, inwardly knowing that if he should let go I might feel abandoned.

The bluesy throwback feel wants you sitting on a porch swing overlooking fields and water in the far off distance. And there, amidst barren richness cheery-eyed tears wash your face from the muck of unflattering toils. A shout out to Jesus finds the Pope extolling the proverbial rhetoric of humanoids occupying pathways built of sweat and blood. And you, at the bottom of a bottle of Vodka, grin the sleeper’s smile cause…cause you know the way of the world.

Loss

Our loss was years before her actual demise: August 13, 2018. I missed her then, as I miss her now. A reminder that often we miss what is truly meaningful focused on people and matters that are utterly insignificant. Mom had this uncanny penetrating eye which at the time provoked and maimed our relations, but which today I alert myself to in the hopes that she might hold my hand as I gather the courage to walk my path.

She was complex; she was taxing. She was caring; she was generous. She was somber; she was angst. She was passionate; she was ecstatic. She was love. She was mom.

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