Ask Clarissa

Please use the comment thread of this page to ask me any questions. I will either answer them here or, if your question is especially interesting, write a separate post in response.

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377 comments on “Ask Clarissa

  1. Pingback: New Page « Clarissa's Blog

    • hey clarissa my name is ryan price i am commenting on chidren of broken homes my child was takeing away from me 2 years ago and i want to know how can i get him back. the girl that has him has custody but i did not sign no papers you can email me with your advice at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. I want to begin this thread with a recommendation. Since you complained about the dearth of current good Russian lit, want to share a promising book I loaned yesterday and immediately loved yet in the library, which rarely happens. Published in 2010, so it’s very current:

    Даниил Гранин – “Всё было не совсем так”

    It’s not really autobiography. He writes about FSU (I think you’ll agree with him), being in WW2, life in general.

    Here are some excerpts:

    http://magazines.russ.ru/zvezda/2010/4/gr3.html

    Аннотация к книге “Все было не совсем так..”

    Даниил Александрович Гранин – лауреат Государственной премии, Герой Социалистического Труда, участник Великой Отечественной войны, кавалер многих орденов и медалей. Его имя давно уже стало символом не только Санкт-Петербурга, но и всей России. Это писатель с потрясающей судьбой, наряду с талантом обладающий еще и набором лучших человеческих качеств.

    Новая книга Даниила Гранина удивит читателя. В ней нет конкретного сюжета и главного героя, намеренно нарушена хронология, рассказы сменяются краткими заметками и воспоминаниями автора, смешное перемежается с трагическим, сложное – с простым. Нарушены все общепринятые нормы, но читать текст при этом – безумно интересно. Потому что из отдельных историй, мыслей и эмоций автора сложилась яркая картинка, противоречивая и неоднозначная, как сама жизнь.

    • Кстати, одна из заметок:

      “Вторая книга после Библии – это “Дон-Кихот”, она переведена на все языки.”

      And I immediately thought about you. :}

      More such short excerpts from his book:

      http://l-eriksson.livejournal.com/319443.html

      Also loved:

      Наполеон умел терпеливо выслушивать возражения. Но до определенного предела. Одного спорщика он спросил:
      - Видите ли вы эту звезду?
      - Нет.
      - А я ее вижу отчетливо. Так что до свидания. Доверьтесь тем, кто видит дальше, чем вы.
      Чем талантливей шахматист, тем дальше он видит ход партии. То же касается и полководца, и политика, и экономиста. Многих касается. Наполеон сумел это выразить великолепно.

      • In general, l-eriksson livejournal (in Russian) seems interesting. She writes short stories about herself and has LOTS of book reviews (she reads in Russian). When I have more time soon, I’ll definitely check them 1 by 1. Now I only glanced (just now discovered her lj, when looking for excerpts!) and saw:

        Елена Катишонок. Жили-были старик со старухой. М.: Время, 2011

        http://l-eriksson.livejournal.com/465676.html#cutid1

        I haven’t read it myself yet, but loaned for my mother. Seems to be a good book.

        This I loved (read in English, it’s called “In cold blood” by Truman Capote):

        http://l-eriksson.livejournal.com/463644.html#cutid1

        Also I’ve already recommended a Russian book I read & absolutely loved:
        “Господи, сделай так…” Автор: Наум Ним
        Autobiographical. About life of 4 friends (from childhood till adulthood) in post WW2 USSR.

      • When I said “from childhood till adulthood” I meant in adulthood too: army service, after it trying to succeed in capitalistic economy post USSR, etc.

      • Hello Clarissa my name is Kelsey Vang from Fresno CA. I’m here because I’m writing a speech on how people lived during the cold war for my Communication class and i would love to have your permission to use some of your blogs as a credible resource to my speech. oh and sorry i replied to you like this i did not know how to use the comment section.

  3. Yesterday I watched the 3rd part of Дом образцового содержания. Looked fine.

    Сериал снят по роману Григория Ряжского “Дом образцового содержания”.
    История, повествующая о судьбе знаменитого московского архитектора Дмитрия Мирского, создателя одного из жилых домов в Двухпрудном переулке, и его жены Розы. Драматические события разворачиваются с 20-х годов прошлого века до наших дней.

    http://tushkan.net/news/dom_obrazcovogo_soderzhanija_2012_smotret_serial_onlajn_1_2_serija/2012-07-11-3885

    Though one of reviews is very negative:
    “После третьей серии можно точно сказать – сериал скатился к простой уголовщине – убийства, насилие, грабежи. Семейная сага, обещанная ранее, закончилась, едва начавшись. Грустно. Я на сём просмотр заканчиваю, достаточно”

    Have you read the novel or the author in general?

    I’ve watched (fully) 1 Russian TV series that I and my mother liked recently:
    Жизнь и приключения Мишки Япончика (Однажды в Одессе) Btw, he was a Jew.

    Сюжет:
    Мишку Япончика – командира полка Красной Армии расстреляли, когда ему было всего 27 лет. Это фильм о том, как за такую короткую жизнь Моше Винницкий смог пройти путь от сына обыкновенного биндюжника до короля криминального мира Одессы, легенды о котором вдохновляли и вдохновляют именитых писателей, драматургов, поэтов и композиторов.

    Lots of Odesskiy humor too. At least, from pov of somebody, who has never been there. All series can be viewed here:

    http://webteleradio.com/movies/archives/6938

  4. To make you feel better about reading Trollope, see this from “100 novels everyone should read” :

    37 The Warden by Anthony Trollope

    “Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money,” said W.H Auden.

    Auden was a wonderful poet. I studied his “Musee des Beaux Arts” at school, you liked once his short poem ‘The Tyrant” I posted.

  5. I would love to hear your comments on bullfighting. My wife and I considered attending a bullfight in Mexico, but it was not possible. It is so different from anything in our own culture that we wanted to experience it. We learned that Mexico is in the process of outlawing bullfighting. I think it still exists in Spain, however.

    • And how, if at all, it’s different from dog fighting, which is illegal in US, but still happens in gambling, crime circles. Usually pitbull breed is used.

    • I meant that I wanted to ask Clarissa – if bullfighting should stay legal, why not legalize dog fighting in US too? Because of different cultural heritage, associated with both activities?

      • You are asking me as if I’m the person who made dogfighting illegal. :-) I see no reason not to legalize it but Americans are hugely weird about dogs.

      • Should animal abuse be legal? Fighting dogs are abused in all sorts of ways and often die in tortures.

        If somebody decides to skin any animal alive, should it be legal too? What is the limit in your opinion?

      • Those of us who eat meat seem to have no problem with animals being kept in horrible conditions and slaughtered. I don’t see any reason to be a hypocrite about it.

  6. //Those of us who eat meat seem to have no problem with animals being kept in horrible conditions and slaughtered. I don’t see any reason to be a hypocrite about it.

    Not always. F.e. Temple Grandin thinks that “animals can be property and still have many laws and other protections to insure their welfare” . Here:

    http://www.grandin.com/welfare/animals.are.not.things.html

    I am OK with killing animals for food, as happens in nature too, but think that as people with brains, and as many think souls, we shouldn’t cross some limits. As Grandin says: “Cows feel pain and screwdrivers do not”. If a cow isn’t tortured during life and is killed quickly (and it can be done so), then I think raising for meat is OK.

    Btw, aren’t many religions against abusing animals? F.e. cutting a piece of meat out of alive animal? Or putting on a mule more than it can carry? I thought it’s in all 3 religions.

    • ” If a cow isn’t tortured during life and is killed quickly (and it can be done so), then I think raising for meat is OK.”

      - But it is tortured. I have seen documentaries on how animals used for food are treated in the US. This did not deter me from eating them. Why will I know get all drama queenish on the animal suffering when I easily consume a lot of meat? People who really care are all vegans. Why don´t we take this discussion to the bullfighting thread?

      http://clarissasblog.com/2010/03/21/bullfighting/

  7. I have a friend who always lives in the fear of some impending disaster at work. There’s no reason for her to think that as she’s quite competent at what she does, but still, that’s her constant worry.

    Is there any way to deal with this? Short of getting professional help, that is.

  8. Is this something new in her mind or has this being a constant feeling?. Dealing with it would depend on one or the other.

    • One needs to go far back into one ‘s past to discover the roots of this issue. If it only happens in ones professional life and in no other area, then one needs to look at the professional trajectory of the same -sex parent. Was s/he consistently successful professionally? In what way was work discussed by one’s parents?

      • Both her parents are high achievers. She jokes that she’s the black sheep of the family. I think they’re very close, so I’m sure she gets a lot of emotional support from her parents and siblings.

  9. SB, these are my thoughts ( maybe other people can give you more practical ideas)

    1. If, early in her professional experience, she was fired for reasons she did not expect and/or seem fair, that event might have “marked” her with a sense that the unexpected and the unfair can take place at any time no matter how competent one might be. It would appear as a reasonable and protective self-defense mechanism to provide for preparedness. It would seem like a positive feeling, if it is not experienced as a constant threat causing anxiety and affecting her performance negatively.

    2. If 1 is not the case, I wonder whether as a child or youngster she might have had some sort of sensorial experience (visual, auditive..etc) having left her consciousness excessively oversensitive to performance. I personally believe that children and young people are very “impressionable” and certain experiences might leave them marked for their entire lives. I am just thinking about a friend who in her teens happened to watch a movie with a very violent sexual scene: a stepfather raping a stepdaughter (11-12 yrs old). My friend can’t forget that girl grabbing the headboard bars of the bed, screaming in pain, with a disgusting 150 pounds man on top of her. My friend told me that she was her age when she saw that movie. Since then, the idea of using tampax during her periods, the idea of a vaginal birth, intercourse etc causes her a lot of physical pain. It has not affected her sexual desire later on but it still is an impediment in her relationships. This is just to emphasize that there are experiences in children/youngsters that are very difficult to erase totally and might require very specialized professional help.

  10. Thanks Kelly. These could be possibilities but I don’t think I’m close enough with her at this point to ask her.

  11. >This is not an analysis you can do for another person, mind you. My own psychic truth is >available only to me.

    Of course. I was asking for general advice for coping mechanisms for someone who suffers from chronic anxiety. You’re right, this is probably not a problem that can be solved superficially.

    • I have it and should post about it. I was raised by anxious parents and as a result became very calm, good at diffusing anxiety; this was in part a skill I needed and in part a way to rebel against family custom and develop a character of my own. My parents focus on the possibility of disaster. I became very realistic about actual possibilities and very philosophical when problems do come.

      But my root traumas are about not having enough privacy or space, and about being told my own perceptions and instincts are inaccurate. In situations where there is a lot of boundary invasion, and/or where people argue a lot about what reality is, I suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety.

      The antidote is to remember that in fact I do have good judgement and do deserve space. Just remembering these things does a lot to send away the feeling of being closed in, unable to act, and so on. It is very simple, but the hard part was figuring out what the issues were, and also learning to identify the signs of anxiety when it starts.

      • I had the same problem in one regard. I was reflecting on this last night. My problem has been the absolutely constant mindf*k that is left wing and right wing identity politics. This has the same meaning for me as people arguing about what reality is. Above all, I kept thinking that I was saying or doing something offensive, something wildly off-base or insensitive, because of the way people kept playing out their identity politics issues with me. It has taken me literally years to realize that this had nothing to do with me as an individual, but was psychological projection right from the start. If only I had realized this earlier, I wouldn’t have kept doubting my sense of reality, to the point where I became completely traumatized by my sense that what I had to say was completely unintelligible to others, or turned out to have the opposite meaning to what I’d intended. It has become safer not to speak, or at least to avoid speaking when identity politics issues are involved.

      • I also had absolutely no privacy when growing up. We had a huge apartment by Soviet standards, yet I didn’t even have a tiny place to put my things the way I wanted to. And our bedroom (mine and my sister’s) had glass doors. Which made changing clothes and underwear super fun when we were adolescents. :-(

      • @musteryou – being projected into is very anxiety producing. Sometimes I can feel it when people do it, sort of like catching an arrow in the back, which probably really means I do something strange with my breath when it happens. It is *such* a violation, projection is, and the perpetrator has such deniability. A nearly perfect crime, really.

      • I’ve been projected into all my adult life, Z. People have assumed certain things about my character structure because of my origins in a colony. Above and beyond that, when I have fought against the injustice of it all, I’ve been slapped with another layer of interpretation of a highly negative sort. It’s as if people are insisting, “We will do and say whatever we want in relation to you, and if you struggle or show disagreement, we will make it that much worse.”

  12. Hi! I’ve taken a year of intensive Spanish, and I’m looking for online news or blogs in Spanish to read and improve my skills. I’m also looking for books in Spanish that aren’t too difficult. I just read Charlotte’s web in Spanish and it was a bit too easy, but many books originally written in Spanish are a bit too difficult. Any Suggestions would be much appreciated, thank you!

  13. I am a big fan of your posts about life in the FSU and would like to know more!

    Particularly, what was math and science education like in the FSU? You have said earlier that education in general was quite crappy. But scientific hearsay is that a lot of good physics and mathematics was done in the USSR, take sending humans to space for example. If the science education was also crappy, what would you say is the reason for this success?

  14. I hope you don’t a mind a very personal question about autism, but could you give some advice about coping with the negative aspects of asperger’s syndrome? I’m a very recent diagnosis, was told by my psychologist two weeks ago. From most of what I’ve read about asperger’s syndrome, aspies in general object to the idea of an “autism cure” because they feel autism is part of what makes them who they are. But I feel like if I had the option of “curing” my autism, I’d go for it.

    I’ve had people difficulties my entire life, and I know I feel isolated socially but can’t open new social boundaries because I cope those kinds of situations at all, which utterly ruins my confidence. I feel trapped by it. Now that I have a name for my problems, I feel especially anxious to get rid of them. Is this normal for newly diagnosed aspies? Will I naturally learn to accept it, or is it something I’ll have to work towards? I hope none of this offends you, but I’m kinda desperate for advice.

  15. I think you should, indeed, blog about this article http://profacero.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/on-choosing-a-job/#comment-38185 … the one in the CHE, about choosing a job, which is still irritating me today. I think I have figured out why, even though its ostensible point, that there are places you might not want to reject out of hand, is valid enough. It’s not just that its real point seems to be that you should realize that what you want is a very standard middle class American life. It’s that it’s a thought stopper — it has answers to any objections one might have, i.e. you don’t realize that soon you will find that what you think you want, isn’t, and that the older professor always knows you better.

    It’s my main beef with academia: one can learn the standard answers to everything quite fast, but then when one has a question at the next step, a refining question, a doubt, more often than not what one gets is a repetition of the standard advice, as though one hadn’t already gotten that.

    • The post about it is coming up tomorrow. I feel like this article is addressed to me personally and I HATE this kind of condescending tone that reminds me of how adults tried to lure me to the dentist’s when I was 5.

      “Of course, it might hurt now, but afterwards you can have an ice-cream!”

      But I always hated ice-cream. And I hated these condescending voices that thought they could manipulate me so easily even more.

      • Oh, good, I am excited. I also feel as though the post were addressed to me personally. I have to remember to write a post of my own about how to define what kind of job you want.

        I also need to write a post about how much exhortation and outright abuse graduate students and early assistant professors take, under the guise of orientation and help. The person is imagined to be immature, irrational, incompetent and uninformed, and gets yelled at about that while the boludeces más rampantes are spouted at them and called advice. There are of course grains of truth in said advice, i.e. you may well have to take a job in another state, etc., just enough grains of truth to mask what is really happening.

        And, people justify this by saying it is “just hazing” and that part of our job is to recognize and withstand hazing. I strongly disagree.

  16. Ah, I meant to say — the things it says aren’t even true, you say — which aren’t true, and how and why from your point of view, interests me.

  17. I wanted to ask whether “LA MALA HORA” by Gabriel Marquez is a good book. Whether to read it. I know he wrote many longer books, but want to try something short at first.

      • It was translated into Russian by “AST Publishers” only in 2012. (At least, the book I lent from a library). He wrote it in 1962. I lent since found the basic idea interesting:

        Аннотация к книге “Проклятое время”
        Макондо – маленький городок, ставший в произведениях Маркеса символом латиноамериканской провинции. Здесь чудеса и необъяснимые события так же привычны, как ссоры и примирения между супругами, измены и тайные страсти. Здесь все обитатели одновременно любят и ненавидят друг друга. Здесь каждый день случается многое – и в то же время не происходит ничего.
        Но однажды все меняется. Кто-то снова и снова развешивает на стенах домов листовки, где в живописных подробностях рассказывает о грехах и пороках горожан.
        Теперь тайное и впрямь становится явным. И ход событий уже не остановить…

        May be, you’ll read and enjoy it now. Another reviewer said:

        Можно, сказать, « Проклятое время», по тематике и персонажам, служит некоей прелюдией к «Сто лет одиночества».

        http://www.knigograd.com.ua/index.php?dispatch=news.view&news_id=147

  18. Do you remember how there was a discussion on Libertarianism and somebody said the service’s quality could be checked on Internet easily & for free?
    From “the Weekly Sift”, who reported:

    You can hire people to post good reviews of your book on Amazon. If you totally sell out, reviewing is way more lucrative than writing.

    And he may be right! The money is very good

    In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, GettingBookReviews.com. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

    There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&hp

  19. What do you think about cultural appropriation? The blogger at womanist musings is strongly against it. Stuff like wearing native american garb at halloween, using sacred or otherwise meaningful ethnic symbols to sell cute tshirts, and so on.

  20. Clarissa, I was reading something recently about gold mining in Kolyma during the Gulag era. Apparently tons of gold were extracted and apparently there’s never been a public explanation for what happened to it. Do you know if this is true, and if so do you have any suspicions about this?

    • Yes, many prisoners died there because they worked in inhuman conditions. These were among the most terrifying camps. And it is no secret where the money went: to feed people. The USSR had to import corn during the 1930s, 1940, 1950s and then again in late 1970s and 1980s. Collective farming doesn’t work but people needed to eat. :-(

      • Thanks for responding, but II thought Kolyma closed long before the 1970′s. Also I thought the problem was that they couldn’t trace where the gold went. If it went to feed people, couldn’t they trace it?

      • “Thanks for responding, but II thought Kolyma closed long before the 1970′s.”

        - In the 1970s there were different sources of income to buy food.

        ” Also I thought the problem was that they couldn’t trace where the gold went. If it went to feed people, couldn’t they trace it?”

        - Who are “they” in this case? The Communist party? This is one entity that never held itself accountable to anybody.

  21. First, Happy Jewish New Year, which began in Israel yesterday evening. Now a question:

    Obama’s favorability numbers in Europe, though not at sky-high 2008 levels, are still at a level most politicians can only dream of: 82 percent of Europeans surveyed by the fund said they held a favorable view of the president, while 11 percent did not. If Europeans were voting in the U.S. presidential election, 75 percent would support Obama, according to the survey, while 8 percent would back Romney.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81093_Page2.html#ixzz26iO3elFF

    As I read, only in Israel Romney got more support than Obama.

    Why do you think many Israelis view Romney as more friendly to Israeli interests president?

    • // Why do you think many Israelis view Romney as more friendly to Israeli interests president?

      And whether they’re right about this.
      Won’t it hurt Israel if its’ support is now a political point between 2 parties rather than a general issue?

      • Romney is planning a war. This has now become completely clear. He wants to go down the Bush direction and start another war. It isn’t accidental that his budget offers to give the Pentagon $300,000,000,000 MORE than what they are even asking for. Other than an attack with Iran, I don’t see where this war can go. For now, of course.

        Of course, the American voters are congenitally incapable of caring how the candidate is viewed overseas because most of them are convinced that overseas is a myth. :-) So this will not have any impact on the election.

        And happy Jewish New Year to you, too!

    • This is a painful and complicated issue, indeed. On the one hand, the number of abandoned children in Russia is terrifying. Now that Putin is offering money for every child born, their number will grow, unfortunately. On the other hand, it is way too easy for any nasty person, criminal or pedophile to pay a few bribes and adopt a child in Russia. There are known cases of children from Russia who were abused and hurt.

      However, it is very curious that only US adoptions are being so scrutinized right now and are causing so much scandal in Russia. I think the Russian government is taking a legitimate issue and using it as a tool in its anti-US campaign.

      • I’m glad I asked! I am very skeptical of trans-national adoptions, because most of the ones I’ve seen have involved extremely unhealthy evangelical Christian families who take in foreign children with developmental and emotional difficulties and abuse them, and this added to my suspicion of them, but you made me realize that it is interesting that only the Russia-to-US adoptions are the ones being given such scrutiny and press in Russia.

      • So even if the thing inside of a person could be shown with absolute certainty to be a human being, you would still advocate the right to abortion? And if so what is the difference between killing a person inside as opposed to outside of another?
        Thanks!

      • Why discuss weird hypotheticals? Body parts and human beings are entirely different. I suggest that people should have the right to manage their own body parts without governmental intrusion. If you disasgree, please list your own body parts you consent to be managed by the government. Do remember that your kidney, lung and liver could be used today to save the life of an actual existing human being whose status as a person is not in dispute anywhere and does not need to be “shown”. Do you agree that the government should be entitled to cut you open and excise part of your liver to save lives? I expect an answer to this question.

      • “So even if the thing inside of a person could be shown with absolute certainty to be a human being,…”

        So, even if your breakfast, lunch and dinner were shown, with absolute certainty, to be a human being, would you still eat them?

      • The commenter right now has in his body millions of spermatozoa that have a potentiality to become human beings. I wonder how he’d feel if the government grabbed him, pumped the sperm out and “saved” it from never getting a chance to become a human being.

      • Body parts and human beings are different things. But if a human being is what is inside a person, doesn’t that make all the difference? If it is just a body part, than of course I think the person should be able to do whatever they want. I am saying what if it is in fact a person? Maybe you still think the pregnant person should be able to do whatever they want to this person inside them. That is fine, but then the difference between this thing being inside or outside of them seems fairly arbitrary, see what I mean? I think it would be fairly easy to justify infanticide, for example.
        I don’t mean to be mean or anything. I just enjoy discussing topics like these, thanks for taking the time to respond.

      • Daniel Andrews: please respond to my questions if you want me to respond to yours. I will now repeat them:

        Do remember that your kidney, lung and liver could be used today to save the life of an actual existing human being whose status as a person is not in dispute anywhere and does not need to be “shown”. Do you agree that the government should be entitled to cut you open and excise part of your liver to save lives? I expect an answer to this question.

        Your position should have at least some logic and consistency to it. If you believe that the government should have the right to invade people’s bodies to save lives, should it be allowed to cut your open and remove parts of your self-regenerating liver to save lives of human beings?

      • Of course, it’s easy to blab and feel all noble about wanting to sacrifice the rights of others for a noble cause. But why not start with oneself and sacrifice one’s own rights for this purpose first?

        Not a single anti-choice male has had the courage to answer these simple questions that Mr. Andrews is pretending not to notice.

      • I fear you will not answer my question, but I will answer this one because it is an interesting one. My response is no. I do not want anyone taking my organs against my will to save lives. I think the government should not have the right to cause harm to me unless I am causing harm to another person.

      • “My response is no. I do not want anyone taking my organs against my will to save lives.”

        - If you agree that the government shouldn’t have the right to invade your body to save actually existing lives who personhood is not in dispute, then why should the government be able to invade other people’s bodies to save fetuses whose personhood is very much in dispute? Where is the logic?

      • I’m sorry I pre-judged you. Normally, they run away immediately. :-) But as we can see, there are always exceptions. I congratulate you on being more courageous than the people I normally have come by the blog.

      • “You really are being mean. I was thinking, not ignoring. I apologize for the lateness of my response.”

        We’re also thinking about the lack of spermatozoa that would create decent factory workers in third world conditions. When will these workers be forthcoming, Daniel Andrews?

      • I think the government should not have the right to cause harm to me unless I am causing harm to another person.
        That is my justification. Abortion is someone causing harm to another (potentially if it is even a person). Me not giving up all my organs is not me directly killing or harming anyone. It is a failure to provide them a benefit.

      • “I think the government should not have the right to cause harm to me unless I am causing harm to another person.”

        - You totally are causing harm! people are dying right now. Living breathing human beings are dying because you are too greedy to give them a part of your self-regenerating liver. You are effectively killing them by your inaction.

        “Me not giving up all my organs is not me directly killing or harming anyone.”

        - Please respond to the text you are given. Nobody spoke about “all’organs. Once again, a human liver regenerates itself.

        ” It is a failure to provide them a benefit.”

        - And women refuse to provide the benefit of their bodies to fetuses. Whose personhood, unlike the one of those people dying this second for lack of a liver, is in debate and has not been effectively demonstrated by anybody anywhere. So why should you be allowed to provide the benefit of your body and women shouldn’t?

      • Musteryou, I am sorry, but what does that even mean? I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t seem to be contributing in any meaningful way to the discussion. I would love to hear you actual thoughts on the matter if you have them.

      • For example,
        I don’t think murder is the same as not saving someone from murder. I don’t think the murderer and the “not-saver” share equal guilt. I am not killing these people, I am watching them die. And perhaps that is true of fetuses. Maybe this concept applies there. But from what I understand about abortion, you are killing the thing, right? Earlier you called me a “anti-choice” man, which is not really true. I am unsure what I think, but I do think that no issue is as simple as it is made out to be. There are complications, downsides to every argument, so for me I like to examine and really think about all the ideas before arriving at a conclusion. And even then my conclusion can be altered if sufficient evidence is provided the other way.

      • “But from what I understand about abortion, you are killing the thing, right?”

        - You cannot kill a thing. A fetus at the time when abortion is legal in this country is a collection of cells that is normally too tiny for a naked eye to see. One has to live in a world of one’s own to see this tiny bit of tissue as a person.

        In Canada, where abortion is legal at any term, 99% of abortions happen at the same stage (before 3 months) where a fetus is a tiny blob of tissue.

      • “Right, but would you advocate the legalization of abortion at any stage of pregnancy?”

        - I am a citizen of Canada where it is legal at any stage. And as I just said, 99% of all abortions happen before 3 months. The rest are done for life and death indications. So, obviously, I support the Canadian laws. They work, they are great, and they have demonstrated that the big Fundamentalist lie that all women will rush to abort “1 minute before giving birth” is nothing but a lie concocted by vicious woman-haters.

      • Ah. Well darn those women-haters spreading lies.
        Well it has been nice talking, I think at this point I would agree that abortion should certainly be legal. I just struggle with certain implications of its legality and I think the issue of when a bundle of cells actually becomes a person is an interesting one. If a unborn late-stage child in the womb is not a person, than a newborn child certainly isn’t. Is self-awareness a good guideline for when people obtain rights? I’m not sure, but it is all interesting to think about.
        Have a good evening/morning!

      • ‘I think the issue of when a bundle of cells actually becomes a person is an interesting one”

        - When it takes its first breath. Just as it stops being one with its last breath.

        “If a unborn late-stage child in the womb is not a person, than a newborn child certainly isn’t.”

        - In what bizarro universe, exactly? And what the hell is “unborn late-stage child”? What a weird verbal concoction. Is an unborn child something akin to an undead corpse?

    • “Musteryou, I am sorry, but what does that even mean? I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t seem to be contributing in any meaningful way to the discussion. I would love to hear you actual thoughts on the matter if you have them.”

      Damn, I hate people who lack irony or who don’t connect the dots, lacking education and logical capacity overall. They’re always rude, whether or not they mean it. Consider this: ” I would love to hear you actual thoughts on the matter if you have them.”

      Who would address anybody in this way?

      • “Who would address anybody in this way?”

        - On another person’s blog, mind you. You an I have been exchanging comments for quite a while, we have established a communication system between the two of us, we are both happy with it. Then a newcomer arrives and decides to moderate the existing relationships in a new space. Strange.

      • Certainly. But the assumption I was born yesterday, with water behind my ears, is naive. I’m the next generation of Internet users, who has seen this tactic of “what does it even mean?” used to death. And I do mean that the patriarchal entity who uses it ends up using it to his own inward, emotional death.

        You can’t go around implying that women are hysterical, that is that their words have no real meaning, without condemning oneself to inner, intellectual sterility.

        I’ve never seen reality work in any other way.

      • Alright, so I am supposed to respond to you?
        You hate people who lack irony. Why? Hate, really doesn’t that seem a bit strong? What about people who have intellectual disabilities, they probably lack irony right? They’re always rude. Really, always? You can’t think of a single situation in which someone lacking irony is polite?
        Who would address anybody in this way: “I would love to hear your actual thoughts on the matter if you have them.” Someone who was interested in someone else’s thoughts on a matter.
        Cheers!

      • Yes, well I am sorry for your disability, but maybe if you read the thoughts of Mrs Mitt Romney, you may be able to persuade yourself that they are my actual thoughts on the matter. Apart from that, I have nothing left to say to you.

    • hello, I am Mariano Jose Sampaño from Argentina. well, i am not going to talk about the legality of abortion (please Daniel forgive me i am going to talk about the corruption in higher education who has destroyed all societies and also destroy the genius , the talent man, who must sabe our society). well, in Argentina ( as in many countries after post 1960) but Argentina is sometimes particular, they dont respect intelligent and hardworking people. maybe italian culture (or spanish culture, although my hispanic name reject the corporative culture of latins) they prefer the type of family ethnocentrism (maybe this , before the 1960, could be advanced by a deductive antropologist system). well you know that most Argentina is catholic ( not me i am atheist) but this type of catholic corporative culture, and the lower type of productive forces who Argentina is ( we are a still a country with a great land concentration, we dont approach much the Pampas, who are one of the most fértiles soils in earth (with the Corn Belt and the Vistula , in Ucrania, Poland and Russia). yes, you see soviet agricultura exports, this visión of in Argentina is the same, and sometimes i understand how Eastern europeans come to rural villages. well, is the same that this old places in the rich geogaphry situtations. well now i going back. i have made a lot of mistakes, maybe because i am tired and also because i want to go out. well, this, universities have become corrupt around over the world. maybe it could be the explosión of university entrance ( sometimes, for example, in Imperial Germany, although discrimination against jews in fraternities and full professors was rampant), the quality was so good, the gymnasium you learn Greek, Hebrew, latin, French, English and classics ( it was a gymnasium humanistic oriented) or maybe you could go to the scientific oriented schools. and after you could have great professors like Max Planck, James Franck, Einstein, Walter Nesrts. etc. but this have all died. of course not many germans go to secondary ( it was a jewish victory that 64 percent of jewish children go to secondary school, against 9 percent of prussian ethnic children). but this has dissapeared. society has became corrupt and disorganized. i want a reform in education system. you see, it is a technological society, a mechanistic society ( it we can regret to Descartes philosophy) but colleges and universities are not doing well their job. university has two options for me: to train people for the capitalist oriented market ( who is almost to collapse because the new technologies who has appeared the last century ( informatics especially) are approaching a market saturated, like the automóviles, before the collapse in the dark Tuesday in 1929). China will stop their economic growth, i and must say it the best country in economic terms (their are attacking with an agrarian reform,a nd they are going to go to the earth satellite, Luna, to have natural resources), although corruption and censorship in China is ramptant. well this is that, i know it have not been a great analysis now, maybe i want to say that. the corruption of real science, (i borrowed from Bruce Chalrton). this is times all people are saying ” i am good at english, not at maths” or ” i am good at science and physics, and i dont like humanities”. well, both are wrong. both humanities and science, although their growing was different since natural philosophy emerged as modern science, and the other ( who was the training of old aristocratic elites, and some petite bourgoisie and rich men) like prussian conservatives, have breaken up, but nobody remembers that David Hume, Adam Smith and Kant, all say that the newtonian world was the system that their applicated in their humanistic investigations. well, many profesores appeared no. social sciences, although more inexact because the variables are to random to measure ( difference with chemistry and physics, in some parts, you dont attakc me with the probabilistic physics) it used the same empirisr-newtonian system when Newton invented (although it must say that Newton was a product of the thinking of the time, he seek inspiration in Francis Bacon), and recognize the differences, ther still using the same methods. but now university has broken with a place with high quality standards and where geniuses, akward people could happily spend the rest of their life changes the world ( many of them in the retarded workplace today, when many people control these) to an affirmative, collective,a nd of course antiintellectual society, where is most important your rance and ethnicity ( but not in the same of nativism Anglo Saxon America, or pan Slavinism , or Pan Germanism, but in the same of “multicuturalism” ). the “new discrimination ” is class, race does not matter anymore ( although it can be appeared, nobody interested at shit at all)- so it the quality o the university is in the average of the Bell Curve, and this means that more people is mediocre ( maybe i am mediocre also, i dont know, individualistc people cannot make good decisitions at all) this means, homewer, that they must lower academic standards, and this also means that after, when they are going to work, they make so mistakes that they can go to prison , because medical schools replace old system of education ( sometimes because of “racist” this is was the opinión after Núremberg , when finally nazis were defeated, that hygienism medical school and eugenics were confused with racial higiene). so they say that eugenics ( although have many parts of pseudoscience, was a part of genetics, after Galton who read the Theory of Evolution, say that the same systems that today we use to inbreed animals like cows, sheep, of course could be used in humans). the same Mendelian genetics and nature lawa applied us. me must say “thanks” to our mutation in DNA, who could make us a great brain compared to animals, although for my stupid ignorant amateur biological opinión, natural selection dont need a big brain ( it consumed 25% of brain energy). well this is Clarice. my thinking are too disorganized, i am going to explain, i have a litlte stressed ( in eight days i am going to come bakc to stupid Buenos Aires University). i am rest in my house ( with thinkings who recogniz<e my parasistic living up today) but relax me that my parasistic behavior now in eight days would change, in an upward intelectual mobile system, so i am using capitalism logic ( now i am destroyed, but in some days i will recuperated all my strenght). this is logic who can make me a good person, in my parasistic life. i am tired, because i am not doing nothing, and this make a man lazy and inferior, and now i am feeling thaty way, you realice when you see this stupid email and stupid gramar mistakes from stupid 20 year old boy. now i am going out. i need fresh air. although my neurons are in the lowest levels, and this is time sometimes i thinki am going to deteriorated with "goebbelian emotional thinking" but prior knowledge, realices how the "BIG LIE" "who of course was a lie and the same Hitler recognize that target jews and slavs was an useful revolutionary expediente, in other means, they could reach their goal, and Wall Street and German industrialists could make a stop to the strong communist party in Weimar Germany. Hitler, was like Peron in my country, he finished "class strugle" so finally capitalists could take alll the control. fascism has been called "extreme capitalist" but the same perverted minds of their leaders, although trained scientifically (Hitler, Himmler, goebbels were not stupid man) for americans, they recuperated the German economy even faster that the New Deal of Roosevelt (although as Keynes has said, the keynesian economics Works better from centralized countries, where all the means of production are in the sate control. in many , ther were similarities between nazism and communism, even Hitler recognize the influence or marxist propaganda where they could , with a pscyhological impression, the stupid masses of the country. and this is real nazism, not a German, Volkisk ideology, but, in stric marxist social terms, who explained all in the terms of productive forces, it was the supraestrucutre where their economic system could be implemented, and they started the war because Price control (although finished the great depression and the long suffering of the Hyperinflation) andf the lack of natural resources ( Germany, like Japan, has always characterized with por natural resources, he is not even an agricultural exporter (Only 0.9% percent of GPD belong to primary economy) he has not oil and gas resources ( 45 percent come from Russia( ) and not many coal (only seven percent of world reserves in the world,a gainst 27 percent of United States) not many mining, well in this times they have the Ruhb, ans ome mining in North Germany, but nothing more. Japan is even worse. so this explain the real causes of world war 2 , the lyings in strict propaganda terms, and the same people who financed Hitler they founded the welfare state because they were still afraid of communist. and now my fellows you have seen that your histopry profesores dont understansd the real enfrentation between Russia and United States in Cold war. they said that it was an ideology enfrentation , atheist , collective communist Soviet Unión against Christian western society. how wrong they wer

  22. I’d like to ask a question about ethics and responsibility. I don’t generally think in these terms that I will introduce, since I tend to do what seems good and right to me, without formulaic guidance.

    Anyway, somebody has organised a “reclaim the night” march and gathering, after a woman was murdered in Melbourne on her way home from a nightclub, recently.

    I am going to teach self defense at this meeting.

    Anyway, somebody said that a group of local University students had gone on an orientation camp recently, and there the male students had molested the female students. Whose responsibility is that?

    Should the professors in charge have given better guidance and care? Alternatively, is is logical and meaningful to look around for someone to blame?

    Also is there any link between an issue such as this, and self-defense?

    • This is a very interesting set of questions.

      “a group of local University students had gone on an orientation camp recently, and there the male students had molested the female students. Whose responsibility is that?”

      - It’s the responsibility of the male students who molested women. I really don’t see any other options since we are talking about adults.

      “Should the professors in charge have given better guidance and care?”

      - I hope we don’t yet live in a world where a university professor gets blamed for a bunch of adults molesting another bunch of adults outside of the professor’s presence.

      “Alternatively, is is logical and meaningful to look around for someone to blame?”

      - Why is it problematic to blame those who actually molested people?

      “Also is there any link between an issue such as this, and self-defense?”

      - Self-defense never hurts, of course.

      • Ta. I think some people have the idea that the profs ought to have supervised better, and others have the view that encouraging women to learn self defense creates a victim blaming attitude. I’m not inclined to those perspectives myself, which seem to make up the atmosphere of a suffocating modernity.

        Good answers.

      • “I think some people have the idea that the profs ought to have supervised better”

        - And maybe even breastfed the babies and changed their diapers.

        “others have the view that encouraging women to learn self defense creates a victim blaming attitude”

        - Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. Insanity is powerful.

      • It’s very strange, but I think people are genuinely confused about boundaries — where they are, and who should be policing them.

        This issue could also relate to self-defence, but obviously can’t be taught in one or even many lessons. You need to learn it for yourself.

  23. After reading

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/10/11/halloween-isnt-supposed-to-be-scary-like-this/

    and seeing the link in that post to this

    http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/05/06/consequences-of-the-sexualization-of-young-girls/

    I wanted to ask whether you think there is sexualization of young girls in the media and / or in society, and, if yes, what are the reasons for it.
    Do you think those Halloween costumes really are unhealthy “sexy”?

    • What people forget is that teenagers is hypersexual. And for girls, puberty strikes earlier than for boys. When girls have access to good, healthy food, puberty begins as early as 9. The explosion of interest towards sex between girls of 8-11 has very simple physiological causes. Trying to blame the media or society for basic human physiology is just weird.

      If girls start this process between 8-12, for boys it begins when they are 12-16. One should worry when puberty and the attendant hypersexuality do NOt strike during these ages. In the super-puritanical US culture, however, healthy sexuality is always a pathology.

  24. I wanted to ask your pov about the legal limits of free speech, nudged by this case:

    Internet troll behind Reddit ‘Creepshot’ forum where users post sexual pictures of unsuspecting girls fired from his job after his identity is revealed

    Reddit message board ‘CreepShots’ came under fire for photos of women taken without their permission; around 40 per cent were underage

    User who moderated board now identified as Michael Brutsch, 49
    Branded ‘the biggest troll on the web’ for offensive posts

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2218204/Michael-Brutsch-Internet-troll-Reddit-Creepshot-forum-fired.html#ixzz29sIs74l5

    Should such stuff be legal? After all, none of women and children agreed to post their pics on the hate site, and many (most?) pictures were even taken without their knowledge, to give those haters a power trip. Sure, now the leader gets some consequences (though most of his friends go 100% unhurt), but it doesn’t mean the women & children in pictures won’t be hurt by them. Hurt in their careers at work, f.e. In the worst cases, teens kill themselves after being cyber bullied because of topless photos or the like.

    • The victims can now sue this guy out of every penny he has, which is a fitting punishment. The guy is a freak and I hope these people get good lawyers to represent them. Of course, I would be too lazy to do that but I hope other people are more responsible. :-)

      However, there is no need to be too dramatic about this either. Nobody commits suicide because of somebody else posting photos. A suicidal mentality forms in early childhood and exists completely independently from external stimuli.

      • This provokes me to try a question about psychoanalysis. I’m very interested in this as a cultural practice, which is to say, I have no doubt that in theory and under the right circumstances, psychoanalysis could be very effective. As you know, though, my background is in cultural studies, so I study everything in terms of predominant cultural understandings and mores.

        From this perspective of regarding psychoanalysis as a cultural practice, I see that the element of inner psychology, what Freud calls the “psychical” dimension, is considered to be a fundamental force concerning mental health. As I have noticed, this clinical expectation concerning the predominance of determination by “psychical” forces fits very well with a view that society is already organized just as it should be; that there are no systematic or indeed more localized injustices. Rather, the client is how they are because of events that happened a long time ago, before anything occurred in the present that could have upset them.

        One can see the problem with this way of structuring reality right away, since it can be used to excuse any form of abuse that may happen in the present by making it seem to exist entirely in the client’s head, or to have happened a long time ago in a merely symbolic or unsubstantial way, such as when a child perceived something about its parents that necessarily turns out to be untrue, since a child’s perspectives are distorted.

        So, my question is to what degree does psychoanalysis as a cultural practice allow that there can be significant problems in the here-and-now, that would be traumatic to an individual on their own terms? Is it possible that nearly all humans, no matter what their childhoods had been like, would find some things like bullying or inexplicable aggression to be deeply disturbing, especially if they persist for very long?

        My view is that it’s all too easy to say, “Oh, well, that girl committed suicide because there was a seed of suicidal tendency already in her!” One could use the same form of reasoning for rape. “Oh well, that women was raped because she developed masochistic tendencies as a child. She had it coming, but we’ve only just found out that she was defective, thanks to an enlightened rapist.” This attribution of problems in later life to an earlier stage in childhood development has the same quality of attribution of original sin to humanity — a theological trope. Of course, if one is “born in sin”, one is likely to attract all sorts of negative consequences from those around one, who pick up on one’s innate defectiveness.

        To what degree is there actual reality that somehow stands apart from attributions of inner, psychical states, to the degree that we can take the present day reality seriously?

      • “As I have noticed, this clinical expectation concerning the predominance of determination by “psychical” forces fits very well with a view that society is already organized just as it should be”

        - Just like dentistry, psychoanalysis does not aim to help society. It aims to alleviate the pain of an individual.

        “Rather, the client is how they are because of events that happened a long time ago, before anything occurred in the present that could have upset them.”

        - This is up to a client to decide.

        “One can see the problem with this way of structuring reality right away, since it can be used to excuse”

        - Used by whom?

        “To what degree is there actual reality that somehow stands apart from attributions of inner, psychical states”

        - This is an important question but it pertains to the realm of individual worldviews. Everybody decides this for themselves.

        “Is it possible that nearly all humans, no matter what their childhoods had been like, would find some things like bullying or inexplicable aggression to be deeply disturbing, especially if they persist for very long?”

        - Some people get bullied and some don’t. I fully respect everybody who wants to believe that this is a matter of pure chance or luck or the position of the stars. This, however, is not my worldview.

        “My view is that it’s all too easy to say, “Oh, well, that girl committed suicide because there was a seed of suicidal tendency already in her!” ”

        - How is it any easier than seeing people as eternal victims of uncontrollable external forces? In the worldview outlined by el (sorry for using the 3rd person, el), one can sit there peacefully and then suddenly end up dead because somebody posted a photo of them somewhere. There is nothing you can do about this. Your helplessness is complete. I like my worldview more because this vision of myself as a perennial and completely helpless victim does not suit me.

      • As I said before, I am interested in psychoanalysis in terms of its cultural context, so that means that it does have some relationship or connectivity to the society.

        It may be that it also aims to alleviate the pain of the individual, but it does so in a social context, where social assumptions abound, and in which theological assumptions may already be embedded.

        On the point of victim-hood, I think the notion that there are in fact “perennial victims” is a cultural one. It has the force of right-wing rhetoric, and I don’t buy it. I severely doubt there are perennial victims, who would remain victims no matter where they went, or what their circumstances were.

        Also, I asked you to what degree a person has their innate defectiveness AKA “psychical” issues to blame for their demise and to what degree a problem may be actually “out there”, in reality, as it were.

        Your answer was to create a dichotomy, where one either was a completely helpless victim or one believed only in psychical forces and put all the emphasis (and perhaps blame) on them.

        I don’t agree that this is a useful dichotomy. I think it is a very interesting question to determine where psychical forces and social forces meet, and which ones are more determinant for mental health outcomes. Even the way I have formulated the problem here is vastly oversimplified, since psychical forces and social forces are not isolated entities, but synergistic.

      • “As I said before, I am interested in psychoanalysis in terms of its cultural context, so that means that it does have some relationship or connectivity to the society.”

        - It has the exact same connection to society as dentistry. Neither more nor less.

        “It may be that it also aims to alleviate the pain of the individual, but it does so in a social context, where social assumptions abound, and in which theological assumptions may already be embedded.”

        - Again, just like dentistry. :-)

        “On the point of victim-hood, I think the notion that there are in fact “perennial victims” is a cultural one. It has the force of right-wing rhetoric, and I don’t buy it.”

        - You are absolutely entitled to your worldview and I in no way dispute that right. We should remember that I come from a culture where “right-wing” means something entirely different. It makes no sense to look for the formative influences of my worldview in a culture I encountered quite late in life.

        “I severely doubt there are perennial victims, who would remain victims no matter where they went, or what their circumstances were.”

        - I believe that people make their own circumstances. But everybody else should feel very free to believe otherwise. :-)

        “Also, I asked you to what degree a person has their innate defectiveness AKA “psychical” issues to blame for their demise and to what degree a problem may be actually “out there”, in reality, as it were.”

        - Let’s agree not to assign weird terms like “defectiveness” to me, OK? I’m in psychoanalysis and I in no way consider myself defective. As for the question about the degree, I can only repeat that this is something everybody figures out for themselves as part of elaborating their worldview.

        “Your answer was to create a dichotomy, where one either was a completely helpless victim or one believed only in psychical forces and put all the emphasis (and perhaps blame) on them.”

        - What is your explanation for why some people get bullied and other don’t? Let’s take the specific situation discussed here. A person kills herself because a topless photo of her appeared online. Do you think this can happen to a completely balanced and happy individual? Or isn’t it more likely that something was already going on in that person’s psyche to make this trivial event seem like the end of the world to them?

      • I still disagree that culture has any strong similarity to the hard sciences. Psychoanalysis is a cultural product in my view. Culture is more like the water we move through than like sitting in a dentist’s chair when you’ve already been told what the dentist is about to do. Culture is far more unknown, far less controllable. In a sense, it forms part of our unconscious states of being. One might well do a meta-analysis on psychoanalysis, which is what I have been doing.

        As for why a teenager commits suicide, I can only guess, but I have already suggested a view that takes into account the degree to which theology is deeply embedded in society. She may have felt like male gods were toying with her, gods of immense power in relation to her small femininity.

        If one wonders why someone may commit suicide when the waters one is swimming through go bad, one might also question the purpose of having any human relationships at all. Humans are just emotional creatures who shouldn’t be allowed to affect us. We should ignore them. Ignore the emotion. Don’t have any. This makes as much sense as committing suicide more slowly. On the other hand, you could reason that social relationships do matter, and that for cultural and emotional reasons, some events may be more triggering for some people than for others.

        That seems to me a more logical view than trying to make out that psychoanalysis has nothing to do with cultural experiences, because it is hard and unemotional like a dentist.

      • I actually have the experience of being driven to suicidal thoughts by a methodical protracted bullying by a person who had a lot of power over my life. Of course, I’m more than capable of engaging in the analysis of how wrong it is that everything I value in life should depend on the whims of a single individual. But that analysis did not help. Just like it wouldn’t help a person suffering from a toothache to engage in a very necessary and undoubtedly correct analysis of the failings of the healthcare system.

        “We should ignore them. Ignore the emotion. Don’t have any. ”

        - And end up with a stroke at the age of 40. No, the repression of emotions is not the way.

        “She may have felt like male gods were toying with her, gods of immense power in relation to her small femininity.”

        - And where did she get the idea of “her small femininity”? Especially if crowds of other women in that same culture have no idea what it is like to see their femininity as small?

        “On the other hand, you could reason that social relationships do matter, and that for cultural and emotional reasons, some events may be more triggering for some people than for others.”

        - This is precisely what psychoanalysis does. It looks at what these emotional reasons are for an individual who is asking for help. That bully I told about at the beginning of this comment had quite a few other victims. None of them were as shattered by the experience as I was.

      • I have to teach in two minutes but will come back to this. Basically, I think your idea of psychoanalysis may be idealised, in terms of what it ought to do, rather than what it “does”.

      • I could give a much better account from my own experiences…

        As you know already, I was brought up in a patriarchal culture and had internalized some patriarchal values, which facilitated patriarchal men to project their worse qualities onto me. I have written about this extensively on my blogs.

        I eventually was able to pinpoint the nature of the projections from my father, which had kept me struggling in a state of being divided against myself for so long. I was using every amount of my psychic force to fight against this internalization of patriarchy.

        Then I visited a therapist whose response effectively conveyed to me, “No, no, your father’s projections onto you are actually correct estimations.”

        To me, that was like a knock out punch. I have recovered gradually, but this takes time.

        There are some things that devastate us because the attack is so unexpected, from a direction we had hoped might be friendly, and because they reinforce another’s determination to keep projecting, in a pathological way, onto us.

        When a war is going on inside one’s head, a war that came about through a culture, and continues via cultural ideas and means, one needs assistance to push against what is pathological. One doesn’t need to be pushed over and forced to accept other’s pathological states.

        Otherwise, one loses one’s energy and one may die a little, inwardly.

      • “Then I visited a therapist whose response effectively conveyed to me, “No, no, your father’s projections onto you are actually correct estimations.””

        - I’m guessing that this was not a psychoanalyst who works with supervision. It would go against any actual psychoanalyst’s nature to say, ” Your father is right about something.” :-)

        “There are some things that devastate us because the attack is so unexpected, from a direction we had hoped might be friendly, and because they reinforce another’s determination to keep projecting, in a pathological way, onto us.”

        - Supervision helps analysts work with counter-transference.

        “When a war is going on inside one’s head, a war that came about through a culture, and continues via cultural ideas and means, one needs assistance to push against what is pathological. One doesn’t need to be pushed over and forced to accept other’s pathological states.”

        - I agree.

      • Ok, so what I concluded from my experience is that therapy is a very fraught and dangerous enterprise, which is best avoided. Moral support is much superior to therapy, if that can be obtained, because one is then encouraged to push against what is pathological and one’s healthy tendencies are reinforced.

        Even better than moral support would have been the practical support and cultural logic of my original society. Since my father’s madness originated in that other culture and society, under a specific set of historical and cultural circumstances, there would have been people who could have read his behavior much better. My original culture also had a counterbalancing matriarchal side to the warlike and crazy masculine side of the culture. The older women in the society kept the men in check when they were acting up, and the men accepted this and perhaps felt reassured by it.

        I am fully aware that my father’s madness could have been kept in check early on by some firm words from a stern matriarch.

        But no. He had to go on acting out, and everybody had to go into an extremely passive mode around me, as if we were dealing with something burnt into ‘human nature’, that could never be changed so there was no point trying.

        So I have genuine, not merely ideological or (god forbid) “psychical” reasons for feeling resentful of Judeo-Christian culture.

        The implicit injunction to ‘sort oneself out’, when something could have been done more readily at a community level, and certainly would have been done had my whole society not fallen apart, gets my goat.

      • “I am fully aware that my father’s madness could have been kept in check early on by some firm words from a stern matriarch.”

        - As somebody who comes from a culture of stern matriarchs, I can testify that it is not a solution for anything. Last night I watched this TV show where a 16-year-old girl was raped by a bunch of adult women. Another bunch of adult women who commented on the program said the girl was a rabid bitch who had to be put down because she dared to speak out and seek justice for what was done to her. According to the women, it was all done for her good. This is what my culture is like. And you can only imagine how much I hate it.

        Please don’t take this as an attempt to diminish your personal suffering. I think you are a hero because of what you managed to vanquish in your own life.

      • Yes, yes, I understand — but I wasn’t lauding matriarchal culture in the abstract, but rather in the particular manifestation that it had when I was growing up. The women were the moral authorities of the society and the fundamental guardians of order. Actually, if you view a TV series like the British 1960s hospital drama, The Royal, the matron in that series is of this particular type. She keeps order over the realm of women (the nurses), but by extension, she has a high degree of moral authority over the running of the whole hospital.

        My earlier point was not intended to laud matriarchy, then, but to indicate how it was necessary in my previous culture to counterbalance an extremely macho ethic. You have men going to war and becoming unraveled by their experiences, and unless there is some solid, ethical core to the society, the whole society dissolves. The wilder and more emotional the men are, the more this stoical inner core of ethical resolve is necessitated.

        This should indicate how much “psychological issues” are actually cultural ones, as base.

        Take my father out of his original context, and there is no counterbalancing measure to his extreme tendencies. There is no Australian matriarchy. There is nothing here that could act to restrict or dampen his enthusiasm for imposing patriarchal mores.

      • //I believe that people make their own circumstances.

        People, who believe patriarchy / racism / antisemitism / etc. 100% don’t exist anymore, would say this sentence too.

        Imo, it’s neither 100% here nor there, but depends on the circumstances. Especially, when we talk about teenagers, who are more vulnerable physically and mentally than adults. I mentioned case of 15-year-old Amanda Todd, where it wasn’t only 1 photo, but the following situation:

        He threatened that if she didn’t give him a live show, he would send the naked pictures of her to everyone. She didn’t give him what he wanted, and he made good on his threat.

        Thus began a spiral of cruelty and bullying which ended in this young girl committing suicide. This girl changed schools, but every time she tried to have a fresh start, this photo followed her. The cruelty from her female classmates is unbelievable. She was not only emotionally and verbally abused by these girls, but at one of the schools she went to, she was actually physically beaten by a bunch of them. These are the kinds of people that were everywhere she tried to go, and nobody tried to reach out to this girl. Eventually, the pain got to be too much, and she killed herself.

        http://lucien0maverick.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/amanda-todd-a-victim-of-a-species-i-hate/

        Most would suffer life-long scars from this, even if not kill themselves. Don’t you remember how in teen years lots of stupid stuff seemed extremely significant? And this social ostracism is truly horrible even for adults.

        Just because you want something to be true, you can’t always change society’s reactions. I doubt she could not become a paria in the society of those girls, who attacked her. Had I seen my child in such a situation, homeschooling would seem as an only option.

      • “People, who believe patriarchy / racism / antisemitism / etc. 100% don’t exist anymore, would say this sentence too.”

        - They would also say, “Hi, how are you?” So what?

        “Don’t you remember how in teen years lots of stupid stuff seemed extremely significant? And this social ostracism is truly horrible even for adults.”

        - I was a very miserable teenager in an extremely unhappy home with a very unhappy childhood.

        ‘Just because you want something to be true, you can’t always change society’s reactions. ”

        - You can change your reaction to those reactions, though.

        ” I doubt she could not become a paria in the society of those girls, who attacked her. Had I seen my child in such a situation, homeschooling would seem as an only option.”

        - Yes, the temptation to eat the child all by yourself is always strong. The alternative of analyzing what it was in your way of bringing her up that created a victim is much harder. Instead of teaching her how to live in society, let’s exclude her from society altogether and make her exclusively Mommy’s toy. Lazy parenting rules.

        “Thus began a spiral of cruelty and bullying which ended in this young girl committing suicide. This girl changed schools, but every time she tried to have a fresh start, this photo followed her. The cruelty from her female classmates is unbelievable. She was not only emotionally and verbally abused by these girls, but at one of the schools she went to, she was actually physically beaten by a bunch of them.”

        - I can only repeat for the 15th time: look at the parents. This was obviously an abused child. Abused at home and from a very early age.

    • Clarissa: “- I can only repeat for the 15th time: look at the parents. This was obviously an abused child. Abused at home and from a very early age.”

      Nobody knows if the child was abused deliberately or not, but I suspect that given her strong feelings, there may well have been two negative circumstances in her upbringing. I suspect one of these might have been neglect — which led to her seeking attention online. Another might have been rather typical for our Western culture. It may have been that her parents were very god fearing believers who taught their daughter that males represent the positive polarity of human nature. They are benevolent, helpful and lift us upward toward grace. Supposing one had internalized those values, very negative treatment by a male would have seemed like the ultimate condemnation from on high.

      If there was any abuse at all, I am betting it consisted of those precise components of abuse, which I have witnessed and at times also experienced.

  25. Btw, from wiki

    Internet hacking and activist group Anonymous has identified a 32-year-old man as Todd’s alleged blackmailer and main tormentor. The group published the Vancouver-area man’s name and address on the Internet. The man has since received online threats of vigilante justice.

    The Canadian national organization Cybertip.ca reports having received a tip about Todd nearly one year ago. The anti-child-exploitation group stated that in November 2011, a concerned citizen reported that images of Todd were in circulation on the Internet. That information was provided to law enforcement as well as child welfare agencies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Amanda_Todd

    “online threats of vigilante justice”? Why isn’t this man tried in a criminal court? Isn’t pedophilia illegal? Isn’t having materials of nude underage children illegal? Let alone stalking & threatening them to obtain those pics? Is stalking legal now?

    I think it should be in a criminal court, if an adult gets stalked like that, let alone a child. Otherwise, those criminals know nothing really serious will happen to them.

      • I read the linked article and it says that Amanda was assaulted at school for reasons that had nothing to do with this photo. From the article, she seems like a very lonely, desperate, sad child who’d do anything to get some attention.

      • Oh great. Blame the parents. Whatever evil happens to your child, it’s the mother’s fault.
        Bullies seem to look for children who can be bullied, and the bullied seem to be children who don’t know how to respond. Children can be taught how to respond so they are not so not so appealing as targets. It doesn’t have to be a matter of poor parenting, it can just be a matter of poor social skills. If children can be taught how to respond to bullies, maybe their original problem was not some deep psychological trauma caused by their mother.
        And as for having sex with a boy while his girlfriend was away, this is the sort of stuff that teenagers do. Amanda was bullied for this: was the boy? I’m betting not. She “stole” someone’s boyfriend, because in our culture men are not credited with any willpower when it comes to sex.
        It seems to me this was a case of a vulnerable child, an evil predator, and a culture that can’t cope with female sexuality.

      • When the child is in daycare from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. five days a week from the time it is a few months old, then for better or worse the parents are going to have a limited role in the development of the child’s social skills.

      • “When the child is in daycare from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. five days a week from the time it is a few months old, then for better or worse the parents are going to have a limited role in the development of the child’s social skills.”

        - This is absolutely not true.

    • The guy they targeted turned out to be the wrong one. He is under investigation for pedophilia, but he is not the younger guy who was staying at that address more recently. He claims that he has had engagement with Amanda Todd, though.

    • It would be very nice if the post’s author did us all the favor of mentioning that s/he was using the word “Christians” to refer only to American evangelicals. In my country, there is a variety of Christian denominations. Some are completely unhinged. Others are even worse. But I don’t recognize any of them in this description.

      I’ve met a few religious fanatics of the kind this author describes. They are extremely obnoxious. The most obnoxious thing about them is their desire to extrapolate their own experiences onto everybody. “I perceived my baby as a human being since conception, ergo everybody should.” “I see sex before marriage as wrong, so should you.”

      This attitude is very similar to that of the post’s author. “The few dozen American fundamentalists I met are this way, so all Christians on the planet have to be this way, too.” That’s not true, though. Christians are all very different. To give just one example, my mother’s priest said that it doesn’t matter in the least that my sister and her partner are not married. All that matters, he says, is that they live and bring up their child in an environment of love. This is the kind of non-judgmental Christianity that I like.

      I have no idea why I’m not writing this as a separate post. I’m all over the place today.

  26. One of my guilty pleasures is novels by Arturo Perez-Reverte. I suppose I don’t take them seriously because they are historical adventures with dashing heroes and beautiful women. What do you think of his novels?

  27. I accidentally entered my email in the name section in a comment on the grading on a curve post. Do you think you could edit/delete it? I don’t want to drown in spam.

    Thanks.

  28. Dear Clarissa

    If you do not mind I would like to discuss our inalienable rights and how liberty is truthfully inalienable. Here are my questions and if you do not mind will you and others please answer them?

    When it is said that one has the inalienable right to liberty I see what is called two sets of conditions which are conflicting. http://www.onegoodmove.org/fallacy/conflict.htm

    These are the definitions of the word liberty:

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/liberty?region=us&q=liberty

    This is the definition of the term inalienable:

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/inalienable?region=us&q=inalienable

    If liberty is truthfully an inalienable right and liberty can’t be given away or taken away from the possessor then how is it logically possible, using the definition of inalienable, that due process can take away a person’s liberty?

    By the logical definition of inalienable how is it logically correct to put a person in prison?

    If a person must be placed in prison as punishment for his crimes and to protect others in society then how is the right to liberty logically derived to be inalienable when this exception must exist and exists today?

    How does one derive that liberty is an inalienable right if morality and due process are exceptions to the condition of inalienable?

    I do not logically understand this whatsoever.

    Sincerely,

    cubeangel

  29. Here’s something you could address as regards USApes. http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/is-your-girlfriend-or-wife-a-professional-victim/

    From where I stand, it seems USA gender relations are very pathological, and feminism is just a disguise for more pathology. From your blog, I’m starting to understand that most Americans are pretty affluent, even if they happen to have jobs that aren’t the best. So to claim extreme victimhood at the hands of men seems justified only in the most extreme of situations, where the female partner is unable to stand on her own for very good reasons.

    I, myself, have been mistaken for a USA feminist at times, but my cultural background and expectations are entirely different. The opposite cultural conditioning may have been applied. I had a very rigid, militaristic upbringing, but with all the space I needed to explore, take risks and enjoy myself. USA people of the present generation seem to have had the opposite conditions: a very permissive upbringing, but overprotected, denied freedom in play and not allowed to take a risk.

    Therefore, my incentive for being a feminist seems to come from the opposite place of much of USA feminism.

    • I have a person like the linked article describes in my life. The only problem is that this person is neither my wife or my girlfriend or I would have gotten a divorce a long time ago. :-)

      “So to claim extreme victimhood at the hands of men seems justified only in the most extreme of situations, where the female partner is unable to stand on her own for very good reasons.”

      - Both men and women enjoy doing this. My ex-husband claimed to be totally victimized by me. Years after I left him he was still bugging me to come back and victimize him some more. :-)

      “USA people of the present generation seem to have had the opposite conditions: a very permissive upbringing, but overprotected, denied freedom in play and not allowed to take a risk.”

      - I agree completely. This is how it looks to me, too.

      • I see. Anyway, I’m not going to participate in USA feminism debates or even Australian debates, since they and I are necessarily going to end up talking at cross purposes. Much of the time I really don’t know what people are requiring from me. They want protection from danger, but then more protection. I want exploration and risk.

        But the very fact of there being such a giant Western culture, with a different organisation of values and experience than mine, means my own communication is thwarted. For instance, I’m not afraid of using emotion, but when I use it, it is misunderstood as some signal for desiring attention. I have to deliberately make an effort to understand it in that way, because to my mind it is not something outlandish; a special way of signalling that applies specifically to women. I was brought up not to express very much emotion at all, so to my mind, I enter the mainstream when I express emotion. I’m just as comfortable not to, in fact it takes a lot of energy for me to emote, much like if I had to suddenly start to master Italian and communicate via this medium.

        So–when people say, “Ah! You expressed yourself emotionally, and therefore you’re a crybaby,” it has the same impact on me as, “Ah! You tried to learn Italian suddenly, and therefore you are crying out to us!”

        I have no idea what that very common response means. I’m stymied by it.

        I’d prefer not to have to communicate at all, if using a lot of energy produces this result.

        This depicts my main confusion with Western society and why I wish to distinguish myself from it.

      • For instance, I wanted to say to a lot of people, “You know, my father is behaving to me in a very destructive and strange way! ” (This was before he had his stroke, which made him normal, even amiable.)

        All the responses I got were, “Wow. Look at her emoting. Boy, she can emote.”

        Actually, it took me a long time to get the words together, and even then I thought, ” I have to keep repeating myself. Somehow I’m not getting through…”

        It was stranger than strange.

        And then came the verdict: “Since she repeats her assertion, it is necessarily untrue. Nobody repeats a true assertion.”

        So I became mystified, and now I have retreated.

  30. This isn’t feminist but it is about some layers of US culture: you are supposed to express emotion to prove genuineness, sincerity, capability of compassion, and so on, but on the other hand not, because at the same time it is most socially correct to remain superficial. You have to find the right proportions of these two contradictory imperatives and mix them together. If you get the right mixture, you will be an appropriate woman, but only a woman. If you do not, you will be an inappropriate woman which is technically still worse.

    • I see.

      Not.

      But, yes what is required is a token gesture that it not too much and not too little.

      I think what I’m picking up on is the idea that emotions are the provenance of women, that they are easily expressed and easily deferred to, and that they are only expressed for manipulative reasons.

      To me, emotions are the fabric of humanity and both men and women have them. To express them in either case takes a lot of courage.

      • There is this idea that emotions are only expressed for manipulative reasons. It is interesting since at the same time, not to express the correctly conventional emotion at the right time is considered suspect. Which, I suppose, validates the assumption that emotions are only expressed for manipulative reasons!

      • Reading Simone de Beauvoir’s memoir, I see Camus and I have a lot in common. The idea that l’etranger not crying at his mother’s funeral made him suspect … Camus seems to be celebrating stoicism among other qualities. Beauvoir is suspicious of him, because he seems to identify, at times, as a colonial, rather than as a true leftist. Beauvoir especially doesn’t like the pied noirs, which of course she is right to dislike. They are naturally opposed to her feminism. I have experienced similar opposition. She is sufficiently detached from their cultural milieu to find the obnoxious behavior amusing, whereas I was never so detached.

        I think the reason why emotions are considered manipulative is because in a setting of relative affluence and not much objective hardship, emotions are cheaply expressed. Perhaps one does stand to risk much, objectively, by giving full rein to one’s emotions.

        In my case, there was much more at stake. The colonial order is very rigid, and is kept in place by an embargo on emotions, male and female. To express an emotion is to destroy the whole social order — if not externally, then at least in one’s head. I had learned to keep it all inside and walk around rigid and stiff.

        Because of this, I can’t understand the relationship Western people have with their emotions. Certainly, I would love them tone it down rather than create unnecessary disputes. I take communication very seriously and never dismiss anything as “merely an outburst of emotion”.

        At the same time, I also wonder how much of what I’ve said over the years has been to various degrees misinterpreted because of Western (not just American) norms. If emotions are cheap, and the more so the more they are expressed, perhaps my increasing assertions about the urgency of my situation were ignored the more I turned the volume up.

        It seems everything works in the reverse way to how one would expect. Communication rarely works at all, but different sorts of gesture, if already part of the cultural milieu, can be effective.

  31. It varies. The way to be be heard in my venues in California is, you say one clear sentence, calmly. This indicates seriousness plus restraint: you are indicating more can be said if required. I find this does not work in my present part of Louisiana. It is not taken seriously. If you take that tactic you have to try three times, spacing these out. If you want quicker recognition of your issue, you have to throw a fit that shows both reason and strong emotion; you have a 50% chance of being heard.

    • Hahaha. It is seriously not worth it. Seriously. Not.

      Better to rely on one’s own resources. I’m no longer prepared to throw the dice, and I have enough knowledge, now, that I do not have to. I have a whole philosophy of life, which I didn’t have before. I was still trying to work it out.

      I’ve reverted to just being myself, rather than engaging with the practice of adapting. This means I no longer feel obliged to express the requisite amount of emotion in order to prove myself authentic — the one you mention here: “It is interesting since at the same time, not to express the correctly conventional emotion at the right time is considered suspect.”

      In short, I no longer care whether I appear suspect. I’m sure I’m very, very suspect, but, oddly enough, not trying to adapt makes me feel less suspect, and in all it seems to come across much better than when I do try to adapt to something I don’t fully understand nor have any natural feeling for.

      If one thing has become very clear to me over the years, it’s that I can’t guess at the correct amount of conventional emotion to express in conventional settings. Under-doing it is my natural inclination, but I also tend to be too effusive if I’m impressed with someone. So long as the setting isn’t politicized by workplace competitive haggling, nobody gives me a hard time about any of this. I’m not playing any kind of weird game in an unconventional way; I have nothing hidden up my sleeve.

      No longer trying is the best solution also in terms of firming one’s instincts. If someone cries or belly-aches and I don’t know what it means, I’ll just do whatever makes me feel comfortable. After all, isn’t that what they are doing? They are perfectly comfortable within their own culture and they are belly-aching and it’s supposed to mean something. I don’t like it; and I also don’t know what it means. I’m in a poor position to figure it out. In any case, the meaning isn’t for me, but for someone who understands it.

      I’ve found the worst mistake I’ve made in my life is to assume that I’m responsible for understanding everything that takes place around me. To draw too close to people who have fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world makes them believe that you need something from them, which has probably been true only in a limited sense, in the past. I’ve needed to confirm my own efficacy through understanding them. However, I haven’t needed anything from them emotionally. A foreign emotional organization makes me cringe, and I don’t like it at all. Not to get too close to it is my natural instinct.

      Then you get too close, and these people blame you for everything wrong in their lives. I’m duplicitous; I’m manipulative, blah-blah. This is all because I don’t experience a genuine emotional resonance with those whose emotions are organized differently from mine. I don’t feel reality in the same way. The assumption some people have drawn, that I want to feel it in that way, but cannot, is untrue. I’ve actually never wanted to adapt to a Western way of feeling things. I’ve tried to do so out of duty, but I’ve never liked the feel of it.

      So, definitely, definitely, I’m not what I appear to be to Western people. Whereas they seem to be hard on the outside, but are liquid caramel inside, I can appear to be effusive on the outside, but my emotions are sometimes very hard to get hold of, even for me. I employ various strategies so that I do not crack internally. Kickboxing is my main means to keep myself emotionally supple.

      Avoiding Westerners and their confusing back-to-front natures also keeps my stress levels down. And not trying to solve their puzzle. They are alien, and I will leave it that way.

  32. I study foreign languages, so it is a professional deformation to feel I must understand everything that goes on around me, particularly if it is foreign. I’ve also been called duplicitous for getting too close, although not by actual members of other countries, only by people here I’ve struggled to understand.

  33. I wondered whether you would like to write about the differences between Victorian, modernist and post-modernist (especially about the last two, which may sound as a Chinese to non-professional) literature, and which one you like best & why.

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