Christianity and Psychoanalysis

“Freud created psychoanalysis to liberate his contemporaries from two oppressive forces: the practice of psychiatry and the practice of Christianity,” I say. “Take for instance the enjoinment to honor thy father and mother. Any analysis begins with a critical evaluation of the role of one’s parents in one’s life.”

“No,” N responds. “Honoring thy father and mother is crucial for the success of individual analysis. You need to honor them to make sure they are alive and in good health at the time when you finally manage to find the strength for analysis. Because a critical evaluation of a dead parent is next to impossible compared to that of a healthy, vigorous parent.”

Real Music

I’ve lost touch with the young generation’s tastes in music and it was kind of shocking to discover that my students believe this is the best Spanish-language music video EVER:

They are now fighting a fierce battle to determine who will get to play it during their oral presentation.

So I put on this one to show them what good music videos are really like:

My video at least allows to start a discussion based on the images. And what is there to discuss about the mellifluous mewling in the first video?

Non-Transferable Teaching Methods

Here is an example of why teaching methods are not transferable. I’m teaching very basic language courses this semester because I needed to be assigned something where I can be substituted by part-time instructors after I go on maternity leave. I’m using the syllabi prepared by these instructors because it wouldn’t be right to force them to spend the entire semester following my syllabus.

The syllabi are very well-prepared and meticulous but I have never had a harder time teaching than I do now. I’m struggling with Spanish 101 like I never struggled with teaching any graduate seminar. My colleagues placed activities and projects on their syllabi that work perfectly well for them but that are driving me to distraction. These are very experienced colleagues, and students love their activities and projects. But only when the projects are administered by the teachers who created them. For me, this is pure undiluted suffering.

If I were less experienced, I’d blame my colleagues for sticking me with clunky, confusing, unmanageable activities. I know, however, that the problem here resides entirely with me. This is not my teaching style, and nobody is really to blame.

Credibility Boost

From an NYTimes article:

United Nations weapons inspectors left Syria for Lebanon on Saturday as the Obama administration made an aggressive and coordinated push to justify a military intervention on the grounds that American credibility was at stake.

American . . . what was at stake? And since when do you improve your credibility by bombing people?

This isn’t foreign policy. This is a completely irresponsible and stupid approach that will cost us all very dearly. At this point, it feels like Obama is simply laughing in our faces.

Capitalism Fails in Madison County

In Madison County, IL, the system of public transportation defeats the private cab companies utterly and completely every single day. Buses run with Germanic punctuality while private cabs manage to arrive within the promised time frame in about 20% of cases, if that. On those extremely rare occasions when a bus runs 5 minutes late, a car or a minivan comes by to deliver the passengers to their destination on time. When this happens, you don’t have to pay for the ride.

This is the first time in my life that I see a very cheap governmental service leave much more expensive capitalist enterprises behind in the dust so completely. There are 3 of these cab companies in the area, and in every single aspect of their work they lose out completely to the public bus service.

I don’t have an explanation, I’m just observing what for me is a very strange phenomenon.

You Can Always Blame the Immigrants

What I find really fascinating is observing people struggle with feelings they find unacceptable. One often experiences emotions one knows are wrong and shameful yet these feelings refuse to go away. In order to make them more tolerable, people attribute these unacceptable beliefs to others and argue with them passionately.

“So are you saying XXX?” they bellow in the face of an unsuspecting bystander who has no idea what they are on about. “You are a vicious animal! How can you be so cruel!”

The vituperation is not really meant for the bystander. It is the dark hateful part of themselves they are trying to repudiate in this way.

See the fascinating discussion we’ve been having in the most recent post in the How We’ll Do You Know series. Several people have erupted in passionate rants against those who want the minimum wage to be abolished. Their need to distance themselves from those who exploit the poorest members of our society was so intense that they projected the discomfort they feel around the barely surviving minimum wage workers onto me. As an immigrant, I’m always the most convenient target of blame for the poverty of the most dispossessed people in society.

The powerful urge to find a scapegoat for the disturbing images of US poverty makes people search for the extraneous, foreign body within their society that can be blamed for all of the existing ills.

“We cannot possibly be the ones who messed this up so badly,” they tell themselves. “We are good and virtuous and we don’t even believe in social classes. There must be an alien presence here that is causing all this.” Once this facile explanation is found, one can rest comfortably in the knowledge that one has fulfilled one’s duty by revealing who the real enemy is.

This is a neat mental trick American Liberals love and practice in a way no Conservative ever does. If we had more militant Liberals who are unapologetic about their beliefs, this wouldn’t happen. But instead Liberalism often gets reduced to the blabby privilege- scratching exploration of vague feelings of guilt.

I’m so used to this that this isn’t even annoying any more. It is simply funny. I’ve seen people stretch their imagination to the limits to convince themselves that the spoiled entitled brats they so hate can be found in the mirror a lot easier than on my blog.

“Just Slap Him!”

So after yesterday’s debacle when a student suggested that Pedro should slap Catalina for cheating on him, I changed the exercise for my second section of the same course to have Pedro cheat on Catalina.

“What can we recommend to Catalina?” I asked.

“She should just slap him!” a male student exclaimed. The rest of the group seemed as unruffled by the suggestion as yesterday’s section had been. What is it with this casual acceptance of domestic violence? My classes are turning into lectures on how it is wrong to beat people and how we can solve conflicts in civilized, non-criminal ways.

The Very Last Riddle in the How Well Do You Know Me Series

I just remembered that I never announced the winner of the “How well do you know Clarissa?” series. I never wanted to become one of those sad cases of “Mommy Brain” people but it seems that I didn’t manage to escape the curse completely. So let’s do the very very last riddle in the series and then discover who our winners are, OK?

As I was scrolling down my blogroll, I discovered an article titled “Support Striking Fast Food Workers.” As a former union organizer, I will always stop and read anything related to strikes, so I started reading this piece. However, there was something in the very first paragraph of the article that made me realize I would not be able to continue reading it. Here is the paragraph in question:

Today, fast food workers across the United States are striking for higher pay. Paltry minimum wages mean that workers are paid as little as $7.25 an hour — not nearly enough to live off of, let alone raise a family. More than 13 percent of fast food workers rely on food stamps to make ends meet, and a disproportionate number of fast food employees are women of color.

Now, who knows me well enough to guess what is it that I saw in the article that made me stop reading it?

I can’t wait to try this out on my family members.

People Are Weird

Is there a reason why people love telling me that I might go into labor before my due date? The possibility that I will go over the due date is just as – or more, since it’s the first baby – great, yet nobody ever mentions it. Literally, every single person I talk to points out that labor might start early. People’s eyes seem to glaze over in enjoyment as they share this insight. Some have already mentioned this a bunch of times.

And they find really strange ways of wording it, too. “Just so you know,” people say conspiratorially, “it might start before your due date.” And they giggle. Because it’s totally likely that at my age I somehow managed not to acquire this bit of trivia.

Israeli Soldiers Party with Palestinians

I’m back to recovering my faith in humanity and in Israel, too. See this great video of Israeli soldiers partying Gangnam style with Palestinians:

This is the great power of art. Or what young people see as art. Here is what happened:

The soldiers entered the club while on patrol on Monday, after hearing the song Gangnam Style by Psy coming from the building.

So they heard the music and simply couldn’t resist joining the fun. These soldiers are just kids who should be dancing and partying together instead of waging a fratricidal war that serves somebody else’s interests.

Of course, the soldiers’ behavior was not appreciated by the army:

The army has suspended the soldiers from duty until the end of the investigation, the television station said, quoting the IDF as saying that it views the incident with utmost gravity.

The army is terrified that the soldiers will not be able to shoot at the people with whom they have managed to share a human experience instead of seeing them as vicious enemies.

Here is a comment from the linked article that makes a lot of sense:

it proves one thing that underneath the fake identities we are assigned from birth , like religion, nationalism, ethinicities, and politics, everyone enjoys a good party and proximity to people makes them build trust.

Yes. Let’s forget all this collective identities crap and just have ourselves a grand old time.