April 24, 2010

Aphelion is Imminent Too

Can one really understand how fear acts on the motion of belief?

One NASA scientist who is tasked with answering the public's questions about the 2012 Doomsday end-of-the-world hoopla has named this unique fear; he calls it "cosmophobia." Every day he hears from people who are actually fearful that an invisible planet (possibly guided by aliens) is on a collision course with the earth right now. Or that solar storms will cause a polarity shift in the sun and cause an earth-wide electromagentic pulse to wipe out all electronics in about two years. They fear the event, they fear for their lives, and they fear "the government" is covering up the truth.

Sure, people claim that they are scared of imminent death, but is that the root cause of the force that is fear? I see people react with fear to passive, non-threatening things all the time -- particularly to "challenging" works of art, and, of course, to abstraction. And anything in the cosmos is also an abstract idea, in the sense that it is out of the realm of our immediate experience. But why does it follow that the response is fear?

Is it that all fearful people think communication of any sort is an expression of a belief system, and therefore an inherent challenge?

This morning I encountered a man who challenged me on my "belief" that we are all made up of atoms. "Don't believe it" he said, "you are made of the spirit!" I honestly had no idea what to say. It is tempting to dismiss his challenge as evidence of his ignorance, but if he does not regard himself as ignorant, what point is there in me claiming so? What is more interesting to me it the idea that he is threatened somehow (or his belief system is destabilized somehow) by...atoms.

If you want to change motion, you need a force which will act on an object and cause acceleration. But if you want to maintain the status of a belief, is a forcefield of fear required?

I wonder about that as the Catholic Church sex-abuse story grows globally, and as the impact of Arizona's new immigration status law plays out here...and as veil-wearing women in Yemen protest in favor of the practice of granting men child brides. The same atom-fearer mentioned above also believes that rape is "not always bad" since it is God's prerogative that sperm is destined for a unique egg, and man must follow God's law without question.

What is it like to live a life of submission? And if you submit to life within that forcefield of fear which is required to maintain your beliefs about weird art, or African American Presidents, or alien-guided killer planets...can you really ever view yourself as a free human being, as free as any of the rest of us?

April 9, 2010

Lip Liner is Extra Credit

Watching the new trailer for the "Sex and the City" sequel (does it really count as a sequel?) confirmed for me that I know absolutely nothing about being female today. The same goes for watching clips from the recent Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin rally...and every episode ever of any tv show with "housewives" in the title.

This is a shame, because I think all I need is some immersion training (well, maybe a lot of immersion training) and I really could get there. Some serious training on how to be a real 21st century American female, based on what all the ladies in tv-land and movie-land do...what would that look like?

The starting point seems to be external: to be female now, one must be aware at all times of one's hair and of fashion, and it is ok to let these things help define your inside world. In fact, they can serve in lieu of an inside world! The next step seems to be, at least in a hetero female universe, that you should be aware that men are looking at you at all times (which connects right back to point one, which is very nice) no matter your age, but most especially when you are in heels. In fact, that is the purpose of high heels. And the purpose of fake boobs, and stripper poles, and hair extensions, and so very many other things...but, we have to move on.

The next step would be to develop flirting skills and to utilize these skills as often as possible to attain whatever you require. Don't waste time on developing a work ethic or intellectual acumen or creative skills or the funny, because flirting (again, in hetero world at least) is way way better -- it is easy to learn, and it again involves men, which seems to be a constant element in female-ness training. A sub-category of this step would be teaching your female children flirting skills from an early age. But that step kind of overlaps with the next step, which would be: compete with other female, male-attention-focused flirters as often as is necessary.

Another step in the training curriculum would be about thinking things -- namely that, if you HAVE to think things, and you do so out loud, make sure those things are in alignment with what the men around you (or the men paying you at Fox News) are likely thinking themselves. Work to develop your ability to see things from a not-beneficial-to-females point of view, like being seriously anti-abortion, or rabidly pro-Catholic Church, or concurring that having 18 children is a blessing and that all men will cheat.

In fact, the best rule of thumb in this part of the training might be just don't think about what is beneficial to women (outside of the context of men) ever, because you'd be wasting your time thinking about an imaginary place. Plus you always need new shoes, so think about designer shoes and how great it is to have them instead. Also, always be thinking about providing the world with more people, and recognize that you are not a whole female person unless you have done so. And, as mentioned above, train the female offspring early and often on flirting, the male gaze, becoming mothers, hair maintenance, and fashion.

I am sure there are many more components to the training, and I blame my mother entirely for not completing mine. She really screwed up -- she taught me through example to cherish having an inner life, to love learning and expanding my brain, to define myself, to speak my own mind even at the risk of conflict, to be a loving partner and enjoy the mystery of maleness, to support and care about what impacts women in our society, and that high heels really really hurt your toes.

Worst of all, she never told me that I had to have kids in order to exist. She never said I had to do any particular thing, or focus on any particular thing, in order to be here and real and happy and female.

But eh, what did she know?