Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Ten: (vernacular for intercourse)

 

Cardinal Spellman (1946) and Lana Turner (1955): Which would you rather get stuck in an elevator with? 

It's been a long week everyone, first week back in the classroom amidst the continuing COVID chaos. All sorts of contradictory directions and goals- it's good to be back. 

Ishtar Rising Chapter 6: The Breast Expressed and the Breast Possessed 

This is an interesting chapter with a few eyebrow raising ideas; while for the most part I generally find Wilson's anthropological theories in Ishtar Rising compelling, I find myself questioning many of his biological propositions. From the perspective of 2021 it is hard to imagine that there is any weight to the idea that breastfeeding "even helps the vagina return to natural size after childbirth" or that is is statistically likely that there is a real correlation between conventional attractiveness/unattractiveness and intelligence/lack thereof. 

Moreover, this chapter is all about contradictions (as indicated by the chapter's title). The contradictory adulation of female archetypes in patriarchal institutions, the role of sexuality in public and the clash of cultural attitudes are laid out by Wilson as a spin-cycle view of the world. We read about Origen who derided women as "sacks of dung," and who castrated himself, but that mad fool was much gentler in his theology than Augustine or that maniac Clement. Wilson explains how the Athenians, progenitors of democracy, were the first society to make insane sexism a social norm and shows how a few centuries later prudery was alive and well in the satirical poetry of Juvenal- Wilson later portrays the "cheerful Greeks and sentimental Romans" favorably in comparison with Christian societies. We read about how Catholicism kept the Cult of Mary, and therefore the mother-goddess, alive while the Protestants violently rejected her, and yet the Catholic Church is the great malefactor throughout this narrative. 

Furthermore, Blake's philosophy, which Wilson cheekily endorses at the beginning of the chapter, could be accurately described as ultra-Protestantism. I have encountered this paradox before as having grown up primarily with Protestants, and "non-denominational" ultra-Protestants at that, and as a child I developed a hearty distaste for Luther's spawn. And yet I agree with many of the early Protestants in their critiques of the church and even their draconian theology. While I loathe Calvin and believe he cast a black shadow over humanity that is still unassuaged, I find myself implicitly agreeing with predestination. I do believe that if either "God" is omnipotent and omniscient or if Einsteinian space-time is in fact a different dimension than the one we perceive, it is a given that our ends are writ. I adore the fiery visions of Bunyan but disagree with his Christian bigotry; I adore the idea of a Nation of Saints and shudder when I read about Cromwell. But I digress... 

Wilson's musings on Lazarus' poem and his addendum "And we'll send them right back where they came from" is especially timely as we are faced with yet another refugee crises of our own making. The United States is founded on such lofty ideals and we fail them so very often. Reading Wilson agonize over the, at the time of publication, still-fresh Vietnam war while watching in horror at the immediate legacy of our occupation of Afghanistan is all the more poignant. We really don't learn much and we ping-pong our cultural consciousness between a childish desire to be admirable (our "City on a Hill") and our natural selfish, small-minded true selves. Looking again at Afghanistan, where we should never have been in the first place, and the reimplementation of oppression by the Taliban we can see yet another form of godawful patriarchy reasserting itself with a fury that Jack the Ripper could only envy. What little good we've done, unraveled in days. 

Cycles. Having gone to brunch earlier today I was able to make some contemporary observations. (My observations were helped by a new found inability to not look around at other people while dining. I hate it but it seems to have developed over the pandemic.) I saw very little repression in anyone's state of dress, male or female. People's dress ranged from looking as if they had rolled out of bed to looking ready for a day about town. There was plenty of skin, which makes sense considering the ninety-degree weather. Our society is as contradictory as ever--witness the recent OnlyFans debacle--but clothing freedom seems to continue apace. 

So I end this chapter with a lot of questions. What are we to make of cultural breast modifications? Is it a good thing or merely another way women's bodies are controlled by societal pressures? Should breasts be exposed to venom and stinging nettles? How conscious was Eleanor of Aquitaine of the symbolic significance of her ride through Jerusalem? How consciously has any of this shadow war been fought through the ages? Are we marionettes controlled by our own preconceptions, conditions and unconsciousness? Whose doing what? Was Ovid kicked out of Rome for vegetarianism? Was the heart chakra truly repressed? Are women with breast-implants "plasticized" and unnatural? 

At certain points Wilson seems to be just as confused as I was- his discussion of discrimination and sexism seems like it wouldn't be out of place in a contemporary "intersectional" model until he throws up his hands in frustration with the Woman's Liberationists. The colors are beginning to run together. 

Stray Thoughts 

To answer Wilson's question: Blake's trees, in comparison to Van Gogh's, would have been populated by choirs of angels if his childhood vision at Peckham Rye is anything to go by. 

While I think I somewhat understand what Wilson was hitting at at the lack of accurate terminology for describing breasts, I'm not sure how much actual use Max Bartels' 48 types would actually be. Considering my wife's response was "Jesus Christ" when I read the classification system to her, I'm not sure she sees any point to it either. 

After I read the quote by Lord McCauley, I am now certain there will be a gravity denialism movement soon. We don't seem to even need a financial interest to discredit reality today.  

I agree with Wilson and have always insisted that the aphorism "in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" to be incredibly fatuous. The one-eyed man is going slowly insane. The one-eyed monster reigns supreme. 

3 comments:

  1. "So I end this chapter with a lot of questions." I'll play by making some guesses. "

    "What are we to make of cultural breast modifications?" DNA likes to keep things interesting by changing the particulars of our mating rituals. Novelty attracts interest, interest brings attention, focused attention can manifest new information. In DNA's case this information comes from new humans and their varieties of different Intelligences and creations. Cultural breast modifications attempts to increase procreation/evolution, it seems.

    "Is it a good thing or merely another way women's bodies are controlled by societal pressures?" Yes and no. It can be good as a natural expression of difference. No, when controlled by external pressures which often appear economic.

    "Should breasts be exposed to venom and stinging nettles?" Nothing should get exposed to that. Venom and stinging nettles seems to comprise a high percentage of political rhetoric. That appears related to breasts in the broader sense of C2 territorial posturing.

    "How conscious was Eleanor of Aquitaine of the symbolic significance of her ride through Jerusalem?" Possibly not at all, but it doesn't matter. A passion may have possessed her to do that without thought involved. What engendered the force of that passion? If sentient, did that force have any consciousness of symbolic significance?

    "How consciously has any of this shadow war been fought through the ages?" Are we marionettes controlled by our own preconceptions, conditions and unconsciousness?" We appear marionettes or robots or asleep to the extent of our identification (largely or completely total in most cases) with C1 to C4 programming. From that perspective this shadow war seems unconscious to and by humans.

    "Was the heart chakra truly repressed?" This could get reframed as do creative artists get repressed? Not directly in Western culture, no. Anyone can paint a picture or make music. Creative repression in our society often comes from the economic slavery 99% of us get subjected to. You can write, record and release a song but the percentage of a penny you earn whenever that song gets streamed won't pay the bills. Artists struggle to get supported, yet that struggle can produce great art. "Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues and you know it don't come easy" as Ringo Starr sang at the "Concert for Bangladesh." So that repression doesn't always have to appear bad. Gurdjieff called it a "denying force" and called it necessary for any manifestation. It gets known as resistance in an electrical circuit without any emotional connotation.

    "Are women with breast-implants "plasticized" and unnatural?" No. As Bucky Fuller and others have pointed out, humans comprise a part of Nature, therefore anything they do appears natural, if not always intelligent.

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  2. Thank you for your post. I hope school goes well.

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  3. This chapter was very much a mixed bag for me. All of the pseudoscientific stuff about good-looking people being smarter than bad-looking people and "bad thoughts" making penises and breasts smaller seem unconvincing to me, and I didn't need the 48 classifications for breasts, either. But Wilson's comments about the sexism of the Athenians and the irrationality of Catholic bishops in Italy blaming earthquakes on female dress are among his best sentences.

    Wilson's anecdote about the novel "Fraulein Else" by Arthur Schnitzler and how it relates to "the 'magic' of disrobing before a chosen individual" reminded me of a much older story, from Herodotus, about the bad end that came to a king indulging his sexual fetish (this is from an older translation by G. C. Macaulay at Project Gutenberg, from early in Book One):

    8. This Candaules then of whom I speak had become passionately in love with his own wife; and having become so, he deemed that his wife was fairer by far than all other women; and thus deeming, to Gyges the son of Daskylos (for he of all his spearmen was the most pleasing to him), to this Gyges, I say, he used to impart as well the more weighty of his affairs as also the beauty of his wife, praising it above measure: and after no long time, since it was destined that evil should happen to Candaules, he said to Gyges as follows: "Gyges, I think that thou dost not believe me when I tell thee of the beauty of my wife, for it happens that men's ears are less apt of belief than their eyes: contrive therefore means by which thou mayest look upon her naked." But he cried aloud and said: "Master, what word of unwisdom is this which thou dost utter, bidding me look upon my mistress naked? When a woman puts off her tunic she puts off her modesty also. Moreover of old time those fair sayings have been found out by men, from which we ought to learn wisdom; and of these one is this,—that each man should look on his own: but I believe indeed that she is of all women the fairest and I entreat thee not to ask of me that which it is not lawful for me to do."

    9. With such words as these he resisted, fearing lest some evil might come to him from this; but the king answered him thus: "Be of good courage, Gyges, and have no fear, either of me, that I am saying these words to try thee, or of my wife, lest any harm may happen to thee from her. For I will contrive it so from the first that she shall not even perceive that she has been seen by thee. I will place thee in the room where we sleep, behind the open door; 7 and after I have gone in, my wife also will come to lie down. Now there is a seat near the entrance of the room, and upon this she will lay her garments as she takes them off one by one; and so thou wilt be able to gaze upon her at full leisure. And when she goes from the chair to the bed and thou shalt be behind her back, then let it be thy part to take care that she sees thee not as thou goest through the door."

    10. He then, since he might not avoid it, gave consent: and Candaules, when he considered that it was time to rest, led Gyges to the chamber; and straightway after this the woman also appeared: and Gyges looked upon her after she came in and as she laid down her garments; and when she had her back turned towards him, as she went to the bed, then he slipped away from his hiding-place and was going forth. And as he went out, the woman caught sight of him, and perceiving that which had been done by her husband she did not cry out, though struck with shame, 8 but she made as though she had not perceived the matter, meaning to avenge herself upon Candaules: for among the Lydians as also among most other Barbarians it is a shame even for a man to be seen naked.

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