ON SILENCE

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Being silenced by anyone on some level is experienced as intrusive, offensive, an affront. It’s not only that abstractly, theoretically, if you will, that authorial freedom of speech is a basic and fundamental form of autonomy, it is that I experience myself as overridden. This is why there is some truth to Epictetus when he claims that ‘we are disturbed not by men and their actions but rather by our own view of them’. When I care not for the subject for which I have been silenced, or the person who silences me, I do not experience myself as unfree. It is relational then. It is in a modality of care that dominion can, however slight, take possession of me. My freedom is usurped because his silence is not silent at all. The language of silence is only a language at all when it is communicable, communicative. Vulnerability is the penultimate form of trust where one transcends all inhibitions, and is both absolutely free and yet at once unfree as one is totally at the mercy of the other. Cowardice? Diseased? An affront? Perhaps. It is left to me to be both voice and interpreter. It is left to me to delicately abandon my own comportment and delve into the psychical world of the other in search of motifs. Shall I be both counselee and counsellor enriching understanding as I go? And yet what a turbulent parade of voices that fight for the protagonistic role. And here is the essence of my disturbance: I am abandoned, my vulnerability betrayed, to that state of unknowing. Freedom is stretched so extravagantly that I find myself ricocheted back against an elastic band. Struggling to gain my footing, the experience of unfreedom becomes ever more pronounced, ever more deeply embedded, so that like a beggar I ask for his voice to give me rest; restitution. To the test, then. It is often said that “the truth shall set you free” and yet driven by the pursuit of truth is my very undoing; it is indeed, the form of dominion over me, where the other is sought to emancipate me from the burden of the unknown. Recalibration wants not to be in the know, but to accept that freedom rests in letting go. For truth is not in the asking for the why, but only in the how. To the Stoics then: habituated exercises inspecting the formulation of questions that guide me in my daily inquisitions shall work to recalibrate and destabilize that insidious paradigm that unbeknownst to me took hold of my comportment and unravelled me. As to justice….  It is not “the high road” I seek; for none is to be found. It is my road; a road of endless tribulation. Suffering is not anyone’s delight, but alas a life short of suffering in the delicate, messy, attachments I am intimately bound, is no life at all!  Existential flight is not the cure; it is a curse. It is not therein where freedom shall be recalibrated. Who shall speak for “me”, then? To the self, then! A self-reflective exercise such as this finds internal voices in dialogue as the hidden is sought out by that audible, often out-spoken voice, who poses for my-self. An authenticating process shall rip the episodic foundation from beneath my feet, and in the process, for now, help to resist those ‘projections which have changed the world into the replica of my own unknown face’.

*Thankful to my colleague and girlfriend who insisted on tuning this once personalised engagement with the issue into a philosophical endeavour that transcends the personal.

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Age-ism?

I’d be a millionaire umpteen times over if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked my age! It’s partly in exasperation, and partly to avenge myself of the implicit ageism (perhaps intermingled with a bit of sexism) that I’ve bothered to publicly address the issue.

People say, age is only a number. But that’s far from true. I am every bit my age. I’m 54. That’s 54 years of grappling with the complexities of living life. Transformative years from girlhood to womanhood. Years of seeking a proper footing, only to discover there are no footholds strong enough to endure any inquiry into truth, beauty, and justice. Years toiling with that inescapable abyss which has made me every bit the person I am. Years of compromise, and later years finding out that I need not subsequently compromise myself.

Mostly, now 54, my ego sits not full-faced across from you; but gently in my lap. There’s no voice that speaks to me that does not lead me away from my own obscurity; the cacophony of sounds are but rumbling noises of no measure. I hear you not; I permit you not. But I’m also not an island; we are lead out from the darkness of obscurity only through the eyes of the other. This most acutely realised when I am the cynosure in your eyes! I could not have fully been there to be seen thusly, were I not 54!

I’m every bit my age!!!! ❤ 51658206_2171413296451907_3319252907915739136_n

December 18th, 1999

My first born, my son, is 19 years old today! He was born with a happy disposition. Truly; he never complained. Never seemed hungry, ill or wanting for anything. Indeed, to this day, he is not desirous of things. Rarely will you hear him ask for anything at all. So when he does, I stand to attention!!! Always compassionate; I’d witness this first when he’d wrap is little arms around my legs looking up at me with tears rolling down his face whenever he’d find his mother had been ill treated! I’d also seen this when systematically he aligned himself with the “weaker,” the “bullied,” the underdog.

As a young man, he is conscientiously caring, loyal and considerate, albeit more aloof, and undivided in the more hedonic preoccupations typical of his age. Adventurous and still seeking to dive into that which will give him a sense of purpose, that will move him with a compulsion that he desperately awaits. Still, emotionally he stays close to home…no one seems to occupy that space that his most immediate family does. Indeed, it baffles him that I should imagine that this could ever be otherwise.

Happy birthday, Θωμά μου! I love you more than you could possibly imagine! ❤ ❤

Still My Little Girl…

16 years old today! She was in a hurry to get here, headstrong since birth and quite resilient. Funny she doesn’t seem to know this now. She’s attune to her fragility and often overtaken by a sense of vulnerability. Like most girls her age she’s wrestling with her sense of identity. Kierkegaard understood how women move into womanhood in a manner quite unlike boys.

“A young girl does not develop in the sense that a boy does; she does not grow, she is born. …a girl takes a long time to be born and is born fully grown up. In this lies her infinite richness; the moment she is born, she is full-grown, but this moment of birth comes late. …she does not awaken gradually, but all at once; on the other hand, she dreams that much longer, that is, if people are not so unreasonable to awaken her too soon. But this dreaming is an infinite richness.”

As a mother of a daughter, my daughter, it is a wonder to behold…the birthing into womanhood. My daughter has this elegance, this grace, this adventurous spirit, of infinite magnitude that when she walks into a room you cannot help but turn your head to see her. She doesn’t know this yet, making it all the more charming to witness. She’s preoccupied for now with the more clinical annunciation of that which I perceive. She is, as girls her age, brought to contend with standards – patriarchal for the most part – of beauty ….a body just so, eyes ..nose…lips…just so…. And so lost are these girls until they hunker down and allow this birthing to take full possession of them. Where, as a flower in bloom…red, white, purple…lilac, rose, or sunflower, the fragrance, the radiance is, when left undisturbed, formidable. Lord…lord…please just let her be…let her beauty come forth undisturbed!

That girl of mine is walking the walk of her talk. Self-possessed when she does so. Confident, assertive, and yet timorous at times also. She’s not so much a contradiction as she is young. As a mother I toil over her suffering but know that she has already acquired such depth, such fortitude, and a beauty I’ve never seen before, that leaves me feeling so God damn proud!

Happy birthday Kalianna mou. I love you more than you can possibly fathom! ❤ ❤

 

 

Check The Back Seat

We’re all after the truth. It’s programmatic to any inquiry. But it can often take a back seat to alter-narratives. Self-preservation is a basic instinct; inciting action often through a paralysis of comportment. This has become intrusively put to me as circumstance challenges my default mode…ad infinitum….

All is Truth.

 

O ME, man of slack faith so long!
Standing aloof—denying portions so long;
Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth;
Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and
can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself
as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production
of the earth does.
(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately
—But it must be realized;
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with
the rest,
And that the universe does.)
Where has fail’d a perfect return, indifferent of lies or
the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the
spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?
Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into
myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies
after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return—And that
what are called lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what
has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as
much as space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of
the truth—but that all is truth without excep-
tion;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or
am,
And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.
– Walt Whitman

Bye Mummy

It’s funny how language conjures emotions quite unexpectedly. I say “mummy,” and my eyes swell with tears, and yet “mom,” “mother,” sit in chambers of detachment, leaving me quite prepared to deal with loss.

August, 13, 2018 10:45 am mom passed. She had been ill for quite some time, and I’d hoped for her suffering to end sooner rather than later. Ratiocinated comportment never prepares you for loss, however. One simply learns to live with it.

 

 

 

Mom had her demons, and not always the easiest life. She did, however, teach my brother and I compassion, especially for the “underdog.” She was an exceptionally beautiful woman – turquoise eyes, deep black hair, and a figure to die for (she was often confused for Elizabeth Taylor, in fact). Strangely, she never owned it. Like most things mom had an air of confidence somehow intermingled with a palpable sense of self-doubt. She was the greatest mom for a teen, for though she had a rather parochial and conservative upbringing, she pushed the envelope and was …well, counter-cultural!!!! She was especially sensitive to the plight of women and the first to introduce me to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. My mom, as most women in Greece of her generation, didn’t finish high school, so I was especially proud when she returned to university to complete her Bachelor’s in Music at Concordia Univeristy and her MA in teaching at McGill University. Later we’d relocate to Greece where she opened her own Music School and later acquired her certification in Music Therapy. She volunteered for decades at the Dafni Psychiatric ward in Athens and worked with addicts, and Down’s children whose lives were significantly altered. I’d, in fact, witnessed the results of a number of so-called “lost cases” she treated privately over many years, and again, I was left in a state of awe. She had an uncanny way of being able to enter the psychic world of intra-personal anguish and translate that musically. It was remarkable to witness.

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My best memories are of mom with a guitar in her hands, and me sitting on the floor in front of her, listening and singing along. She’d teach me to sing the second voice to a song, and we’d practice, joyously, hours at a time. Often the convo turned cerebral and mom would play a classical piece, or one of her own, and she’d ask me to affix a narrative that matched the mood. We’d analyze the meaning and consider the human condition through music. It was a wonderful introspective exercise that brought us close.

Bogus Stoicism

The proliferation of ideas since the invention of the printer has aided the task of informing and moving people to action, but we are only now beginning to see the infectious dangers of bogus and hateful distortions of current affairs, philosophical ideas and the history of human understanding that the world-wide-web has brought.

There are thousands of websites on or related to Stoicism today, but not all are created equal. One in particular was brought to my attention by Pharos, Stoicschool.org (see Stoic School), which deploys Stoicism to insidiously moralize some of the most questionable views related to White Supremacy. My issue, Pharos’s issue, is not (at least not today) with White Supremacy per se, but with the exploitation, and distorted application of Stoic philosophy to support their agenda.

But you make up your own minds.

Here’s a link to Pharos’ post Stoic Philosophy Masking Hate

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