Saturday, 28 April 2007

What is beautiful?

I recently decided to put a post on an MSN discussion forum to do with the low self-esteem of young women and whether beauty polls were linked to it.

Here's the post:

"As we're discussing FHM, I'll ignore the men side of the argument (just so any feminists out there make themselves look like idiots if they go nuts at this). Beauty lost its innocence with the dawn of the "skin age". Old beliefs about celibacy and what women should and should not show, were challenged simultaneously with the dawn of the avant garde age of the 20th century.

The furthering of the rights of women gave not only the power for women to vote, but for those of a more feminist streak to challenge the will of man. Such challenging coupled with the desire for avant garde led to the inevitable shedding of layers. How? Well there is the practical aspect of not being in a very hot dress in the middle of summer, which meant that women could for the first time 'strip off'. But also the desire for the new; the shedding off of old ways.

Beauty used to be about a nice face, a gentle smile and perhaps the less desirable corset thin waist. What men got to see was limited and therefore what men could judge physically about a woman was also limited. The man didn't know what he'd be getting into bed with. He only knew the face that he'd be staring at for the rest of his life if he married the woman.

With the showing of legs, or a little bit of shoulder, sexual beauty began to become a matter for consideration. We judge what we perceive, and when showing legs, men inevitably will judge that. Women will also consider it, and that is what establishes competitive beauty.

After the war, French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim developed the bikini, first displayed in 1946 at a fashion show. This showed shoulders, stomach and legs. Put simply, it showed "skin"! The top half of the bikini is fitted around the breasts much like a bra, and the lower half covering the groin. Why mention this? Because all that hides the complete nakedness of the woman is a thin piece of fabric, which is hugging the body in such a way that the imagination need not go too far to destroy the purpose of the fabric being there in the first place.

The imagination also need not go too far because pornography and nudity of other descriptions has become common place through media types that are available to all of us. In the 1970s the first publicly shown porno movie, Deep Throat, was released in America. Several cinemas banned the showing of the movie, but it represented an industry that was taking off and pandering to the sexual desires of the average man. Later on, the female side of the industry was discovered and tapped into. It was this industry that has "informed" us of the nakedness of the other gender, which previously wasn't common knowledge until after marriage.

Further decades have shown the spread of sexual beauty to the younger generations. As with women in the late 19th and early 20th century, the youth have been "set free" and previous methods of control removed. The youth have found their voice and have established their identity. It is no surprise that it has stemmed from the ways of the adult world. No teenager wants to be like a toddler, so the only other age group to mimic is that of the older generation.

Some of the youth want to be beautiful, and they do that by following the rules of sexual beauty, established by models and celebrities. This is because a large part of what makes a celebrity famous is their sexual beauty and escapades. Overpowering sexual beauty is only to be found from the demonstrations by celebrities.

Some elder women (although saying that to a 20 year old could be taken as a snipe at their beauty) are as much concerned about their sexual beauty. Their concern over the matter is arguably insane. Any remarks, looks or perceivable actions against their beauty upset them. Even actions not targeted at their beauty can be taken to be targeted at their beauty because of paranoia. And that is partly why there is low self-esteem. It's a vicious cycle of paranoia and despair.

If the young women (<18) of this country are really copying everything the older women (18<) do, then they are also copying their low self-esteem. In my opinion, sexual beauty has become too much of a concern and wrongfully the accepted standard by which everyone should be physically judged.

In summary, the idea of beauty has become one of sexual beauty. The idea of simply appreciating a pretty face or the delicate skin of the hands is an archaic one. The modern generation want more skin than that of the hands. What can we do to change that but strive to humble ourselves and appreciate delicate beauty?"

I've left more than enough holes for you intelligent lot to fill in, so please share your thoughts with me on the matter.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Is intolerance the path to loneliness?

I was talking with my Dad about disputes in society and I have also spoken to Phil about it at some point, and I suddenly realised that I couldn't call Hitler wrong, unless, like Phil, I accept that there is an absolute truth and that good is not relative, but written into the very fabric of our being.

Alright, so I can call Hitler wrong, but only by my own beliefs. If I accept that killing people is bad, then I accept that Hitler was wrong to kill people (directly or indirectly). But to accept that killing people is wrong, one must appreciate that life is sacred and that it is indeed a sin to kill (Need I remind us of 'Thou shalt not kill'?). So by believing I am right, and that it is wrong to kill, I am to disagree with anyone who should think or do otherwise. I must be intolerant of anything that contradicts my belief.

So to have absolute confidence in your beliefs is to say that you are right and anyone with a view to the contrary is wrong. First point: Do you agree with that statement?

Thus assuming Hitler acted in the way that he thought was right, we can only say that he was wrong based on our difference in belief. Now right about here, some people might say, "Ahhh yes, but I am assuming the position that MY beliefs are right. Therefore Hitler was wrong, and that is indisputable". Fair enough. So lets do a little role reversal. Assume the role of Hitler, but do not assume his actions. You have acted in a way that has angered many people. To them you are a monster and you have done an evil thing. Because it is now you in that position, is it now right? In your eyes, yes. But in everyone else's eyes, no.

Now consider this: Is it possible to be identical in every opinion on every matter with another person? I'm going to assume that it is very unlikely. You would have to be born at exactly the same time, to the same family and experience the same things (that's where identical twins fails as a representation - that and one is usually left-handed and the other right-handed). So lets assume it is totally impossible to have identical opinions on every matter in your lifetime with someone else. Your view of right is unique. Second point: Do you agree with that statement?

If you are to assume that your view is the right one, and that everyone else's is wrong, and that your view is unique in all the world, then you are stating that before you, there was no one with the right view. That is not to say that there wasn't any 'right' because some views overlap. Curiously, that means that Jesus couldn't have the right opinion because his views might not have been the same. I can't pretend to have any evidence proving that your views are different, but if we keep to the assumption that your view is unique, then Jesus Christ had it wrong. So that is blasphemy. Third point: Do you think that's an extremely brash remark and if so, why so (do remember that it is based on an assumption)?

Let us now try to picture ourselves in the position of an intolerant person, who doesn't disagree with killing. The person assumes the stance that they are right and thus act accordingly, aiming to prevent anyone acting against their views. Assuming they act on what they think is right, they are right in their eyes. If they show absolute intolerance for anyone against them, they kill them. Let us assume that is a constant; disagree and die.

If their view is unique in all the world, then everyone will disagree with them on some matter, thus everyone, but them, will die. As such, that leaves them alone in the world. Everything they then do, assuming they do what they believe is right, is right. There is no evil in the world, according to their views. Fourth point: Is that the case assuming they act on what they think is right always?

This need not be as extreme as killing others, but if you ignore people who disagree, or show any negative emotions/actions to someone who disagrees, then are you not in effect always disagreeing with everyone on something? Now you think about it, it's obvious. Of course we disagree with others on something at some point. But let us refer to the title. Is intolerance the path to loneliness?

We must understand that our views are unique and will differ in some respects with others. We must not allow one difference to overshadow every other view that we share in common, for if we show absolute intolerance to any difference, then we are to confine ourselves to ourselves and thus be alone. If you believe being alone is right, then there's nothing stopping you being intolerant. But for what I'd like to think is most of us, absolute intolerance would result in an undesirable isolation.

Thus to a degree, we must tolerate difference if we wish to avoid being alone. You can find agreement in everything you say by combining all of the beliefs of your neighbours (not in the next door sense). Unless you are the proud owner of a completely unique belief, you will find someone who agrees with you in some way. Thus, you avoid loneliness by finding companionship in your fellow man (sounds very nice and kind of cool, but on a serious note, there's a lot of truth behind that). Fifth point: Do you agree with such a conclusion?

I believe there may be an argument that can show that absolute tolerance is a bad way to go too. I'd like to see someone else try and write about it :D

Sunday, 8 April 2007

How does this look?

I dislike complaining about things because I always have this profound sense of guilt after complaining. I feel that it would perhaps be better to just accept the problems that I want to complain about and get on with life. But if you just accept the problems, the problems are never challenged and so they never go away.

What I wish to complain about now may never go away, because it's a characteristic that seems to be built into us, and I suppose some people would argue it's a necessity for us to possess this trait if we wish to survive. By saying that I dislike complaining, it could appear to others that I wish to prevent anyone viewing me as a whiner, and I have gone about this by associating my contempt for complaining to some other reason. Furthermore, people could see my analysis of other people's opinions of my complaining as further evidence of my insane attention to detail involving the considerations of others, and thus further accuse me of undue attempts to foresee and manipulate the opinions of others so as not to be considered a whiner.

What am I and will continue to be identifying here? I am identifying this unique ability of ours to try and see into the minds of others by their actions and their words. But it is not this that I wish to complain about. I find foresight to be an admirable thing. It takes incredible awareness of oneself and others around to conclude the future before it happens, or rather, before it escapes the mental realms of those around you. What I wish to complain about is vanity.

Why do we care so damn much about how we are perceived by others? Lets take this as two arguments because how we are perceived mentally is quite different from how we are perceived physically. My current problem lies with the physical aspect, although I don't doubt that I'll eventually be irritated enough by mental vanity to wish to write about it.

"I'm so fat. I need to lose weight", "My nose is horrible. I'm thinking of getting cosmetic surgery when I'm older." and "Is this picture ok?" are phrases I have been the victim of hearing, and all of them have annoyed me. If it were unreasonable annoyance, I wouldn't write about this because it would be unreasonable. In this instance, I am not concerned about whether everyone else thinks it is reasonable to moan about it, I am judging myself and asking whether it is reasonable to moan about it. Some people may consider silently exclaiming to themselves, "Yeah Tom, keep thinking that. It's so obvious you've only said that to try and manipulate our opinions into agreeing that it's reasonable to moan about it." In all honesty, I expect it, but I don't let it affect what I say and do. Take it to be manipulation if you wish. I know it's not, and that's all I need to know.

What is it that makes people so concerned about their appearance? Before I even consider answering this, I'm sure someone already is thinking "Oh you can't understand. You're just a different person." or "You're as guilty of this as anyone else." or "Some people have poor self-esteem and it's not their fault". To be fair and not simply show I'm aware of the negative approach of others, I'm sure some others are thinking about the question and some are waiting eagerly to hear what I have to say. This is actually quite interesting because as you can see, I'm trying to anticipate reactions before they occur. What do I base my guesses on? Experience and logic. I always enjoy it when someone gives me a response that I don't see coming, assuming it is a coherent response and is well thought out, rather than random babbling and placing a fairy on my shoulder. I guess given that I just wrote about it, I accept the possibility of random babbling and a fairy being placed on my shoulder, but in all honesty, I really don't expect it to happen. Probability dictates that unless someone merely wishes to fulfil my uncommitted prophecy, it is unlikely that anyone shall place a fairy on my shoulder. I don't deny the random babbling; that's more than likely :)

I've been told more often that not that I'm too analytical of others. No one has ever said why, only that they find it discomforting, and no one has ever said why they've found it discomforting. Bit of a bugger really because if no one can tell me why, I can't do anything about it. If I were concerned about the opinions of others, I'd cease my analyses as rapidly as I could. I don't want people to think negatively of me. However, I'm not exercising any vanity and the only reason I'd stop analysing others is to stop giving them undue comfort. Although saying that, I find the discomfort interesting because I call it undue, but for all I know, it's self-inflicted based on some fantastic desire to have privacy, and feeling unsafe having their deepest thoughts perused by someone else. Well if anyone can give me a good reason to not look into people so much, I'd be more than happy to hear it.

But enough apparent defence of myself. Quite a few people will take the content of this post to be proof enough of some kind of defence against being vain. Who knows? You might be right. But regardless of what you think, lets get onto this physical vanity (a lot of what I've said is related to mental vanity).

Bigorexia and anorexia are two psychological disorders that revolve around the concern of the individual about their appearance to others. It's a bit like one peacock being jealous of another peacock because the other peacock's feathers are more colourful, thus making it apparently more attractive to females. Bigorexia is not associated with men for a sexist reason. Perhaps the reason it is more thought of as a male problem is because society still dictates that men are the hunters (physically at least), while women are there to look pretty (again physically).

You're watching TV (oh no, he's linked it to TV) and you see a muscly man surrounded by gorgeous women. Instinctively your brain and your body are saying, "wow, I'd really love to be him. Being surrounded by gorgeous women is a great life." It's not necessarily wrong; it's instinctive. We're meant to be attracted to the opposite sex, or rather, we're meant to be attracted sexually to someone or something. Preferably you should be attracted to the opposite sex because otherwise you can wave goodbye to the gene pool. But if you're a man who likes other men and you don't care about your 23 pairs of chromosomes going on, and you're not accepting other methods of conception, then who cares about preference. I'd love a religious debate on homosexuality, but lets not have one right now. Lets just take the point that if you're sexually attracted (or even just attracted) to someone or something, you attempt to follow a strict code that you observe arouses excitement and "liking" from that someone or something.

So going back to seeing this muscle man. Lets just say for this example, you're straight (P.C. can take a hike) and you're a man. Your natural tendency is towards females. Part of your brain (I believe the limbic system), leads you to "want" women. So this is a challenge. Your goal is to get women. How do you achieve that? Well you could go for trial and error, but why not learn from your predecessors? Look at that muscle man, he's surrounded by women (alright, so they're not the brightest specimens, but they look good). What does he have that's noticeable (because simple analysis is sooo much easier than complex analysis. The lazy man's way to get an idea of the world)? He has muscles! Right, well if I want women (2+2=4 mentality), I need muscles too! And so you end up with this association between happiness and muscles.

Your goal is women. Your happiness comes from attaining your goal (or so you believe). Muscles help you attain your goal. Therefore, happiness comes from getting muscles. And so bigorexia occurs. Call that a harsh, over-simplified analysis if you will. Simplicity is not always indicative of laziness.

When I say "get women", I mean get the approval of women. Lets then take anorexia. A woman, ignoring the other cases of lesbianism and other tangents, naturally is attracted to men. Lets take the same scene. Stereotypical hot man is surrounded by stereotypical hot women. Look at those women. Big boobs and really thin. That guy has muscles, he's pretty hot. I wish I had a guy like that standing next to me. I clearly need big boobs and must be really thin. Cosmetic surgery for breasts happens A LOT! But I'm only considering anorexia.

So the same happens. Their goal is men. Their happiness comes from achieving that goal. Being thin helps them attain their goal. Therefore being thin makes them happy. And that's anorexia in a nutshell. It is the belief that being thin is going to make you be accepted, and thus bring you happiness.

That's us. So many of us are wrapped up in that kind of mentality. It may not be bigorexia or anorexia, but other things like breast size, or penis length, or whatever. We care so damn much about what people see when they look at us, and yet we forget that the real reason we should be thin is so that we don't have a cardiac arrest, or high blood pressure, or increased risk of bowel cancer. And even then, if you don't care about the consequences, you don't HAVE to be thin. A lot of people are silly and just act as if they don't care, then when they're laying on their death bed, have an "oh shit" moment and realise they've been a bit stupid, but it's a bit too late to turn back then.

I am having the greatest difficulty persuading someone that they should quit worrying about their size (and it's not necessarily weight, it's about looking thin). I won't conceal it, it definitely plays a part in inspiring me to write this post. The person is convinced that not eating and losing a few pounds will make them feel better. Given their situation in life, I do pity them because they could do with all the happiness they can get. But happiness should not come from starving yourself to get the approval of others. Two things perplex me though. Firstly, THEY ARE THIN!!! I know what thin is, believe me. I am grossly underweight, and I weigh a stone more than I used to! But it would perplex me, because only anorexics see the fat. Secondly, the person, upon receiving the approval of boys complains about it. I am having to restrain myself because I could write another thousand words in reference to the absurdity of this mentality, but that is entering the realms of mental vanity, and I don't wish to go there just yet.

I'm not sure what it is that I feel. Irritation? Despair? All I know is that a part of me really dislikes the transparency of our attitude towards others on a physical level. It is to be understood and accepted, yes. It is instinctive and I don't dispute that. I encourage us to understand and embrace our instincts. But people don't understand their instincts. They are controlled by them without any kind of awareness. It almost sounds like a conspiracy theory; the ultimate manipulation. We accept that we view people with a certain degree of prejudice, but we do not reflect upon it, and as such it goes unchecked.

Laughing at people with disabilities because it makes you feel better, worrying about whether your bum looks big, wishing to jump off a bridge because you got a zit on prom night; all of it is so petty and wrong. It's natural to be concerned, but you don't even know why you're concerned. You don't think about it, you just worry about it. And in the case of disabled people, you're laughing and feeling joy because they're worse off than you! That's a terrible thing. We're so relaxed about vanity. So what if it works? It's almost silly to care so much about your physical appearance. It certainly doesn't do those with bigorexia or anorexia any good.

Just a final thought: Do you even realise that all of your judgements about how we look aren't really your own? You've been brought up with them and you've probably never even challenged them. You've probably never tried to see the beauty of everyone. Fat or thin, big or small, unafflicted or retarded (and it's used in the correct context, so nobody even dare try to moan about it being P.I.), we are all amazingly beautiful. It is just that we are not all "sexually beautiful" as we have been brought up to judge by. Try to detach this stigma from telling someone that they're beautiful. You don't have to mean, "I want to shag you" when you say it, just that you recognise that that someone is a wonderful being.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Upon further reflection...A Social Observation (2) : More love?

Well I shall begin this with my springboard as I said I would. The question I came across was "why was Charlotte's marriage to Mr Collins a bad thing?" I really don't like these leading questions, so allow me to rephrase it; "was Charlotte's marriage to Mr Collins a bad thing?"

Now for those of you familiar with Pride and Prejudice, you'll not only be aware of these two characters, but undoubtedly have your own opinions of what they are like and whether their marriage is right or not; it is inescapable.

I am trying to decide whether to answer the question or to continue with my thoughts from where I left off in the previous article. I feel it most wise to utilise my springboard to its utmost and by doing so return to the rapidity with which I realised my previous article.

I have the good fortune to know a keen Pride and Prejudice fan, whose depth of knowledge of the book allows me to discuss any point of my choosing. I suppose that good fortune is actually not what it is. Rather it is a believable eventuality from what actually was a stroke of good fortune, which would be knowing this person who actually inspired me to read the book.

Upon putting the question to her, we made seemingly obvious conclusions. I quote from our conversation (apologies for repeats from last article):

- In our 'lovey dovey' modern view, it's totally shallow and a marriage not based on love.
- In their social class and social trends, it is entirely sensible for her to marry Mr Collins. She is married to a man due to inherit Longbourn upon the death of Mr Bennet. He is familiar with Lady Catherine and thus improves her potential social standing because of his aquaintances.
- In the eyes of many it eases the loss of the Longbourn estate from the Bennets to their cousin as Charlotte is a close friend of both Eliza and the family, so there's a plus.
- There must be an intrinsic desire to want to love, otherwise why should anyone pursue it? He has no need for love. He has his acquaintances, he has his house and now he has his wife. What need hath he for love? (referring to Mr Collins)

There were more subtle points, but the art of summary can sometimes mean leaving out the small remarks. I suppose one could think of it as breaking down a wall of text into bricks of key points. It is up to the reader of the summary to reassemble the wall with his or her mortar. I may remember that analogy later because I can see how that leads to people misinterpreting others who paraphrase.

I suppose what we touched upon was that despite the apparent relationship established between love and marriage, it may be better to assume them as separate entities (for those that know the song, taking apart the horse and carriage :)).

I feel that although I have used the springboard, it is perhaps better for me to take the relationship between love and marriage as a separate article. Referring back to the horse and carriage may be useful.

I'll finish marriage for now with a humorous quote that friend of mine shared with me:

"I never knew what real happiness was until I got married; by then it was too late."

Now returning to the topic of fallback partners. I believe I mentioned retracing one's steps on a pathway that had proven to take you nowhere. When we have made such a bold (and perhaps foolish) decision as choosing who to love, there are those doubts that I mentioned. And so it is of no real surprise that the fallen chooser should soon afterwards be asking themselves "where did I go wrong?" The decision of love is clearly a huge decision in their past and, depending upon the intermittent events of their life between that decision and the present day, it could prove to be the prevailing turning point in their life thus far.

Here the could bes that they turned away when doing likewise to their second partner (in both the ordinal and cardinal sense) haunt them. Given the present situation of the realisation of a misplaced love and dreams unrealised, it is no wonder that they should so quickly turn to the other person who had shown to be capable of providing love in a nearly equal manner. I find it hard to say misplaced love because true love would be unfaltered, but as can be seen, I have avoided using the word 'true' previously because obviously the love was like an ore, impure though capable of becoming something quite brilliant.

Now begins the near impossible task of analysing both the position of the one who was rejected and the one that rejected.

Who should I begin with? Perhaps as I have dedicated so much time to the chooser, it is only fair that I now spend some time on the poor soul whose heart was broken. What is his/her story between being rejected and learning that the ex wishes to resume a relationship as was?

Well the ex has learnt something. For the purposes of simplicity, I'll refer to the ex as a he and the chooser as a she. You may argue about gender specifics if it entertains you so. The ex has fallen in supposed love and been rejected. To have had love and to have been loved is an amazing thing. It is no surprise then that when the ex lost that, he felt terrible. Terrible is an unashamedly incapable word for describing the feelings that the ex will have experienced. I suppose it would have felt like having the pillars knocked out from your mental temple.

Part of love is dedicating a part of yourself to someone else. It's an understanding of that person, it's an appreciation of that person and the love they give you gives you a dependency on that person. It sound pathetic to become dependent on someone and it sounds obssesive. But if we are not enslaved by love wholly, what power does it have over us?

It is impossible for me to summarise the emotions of anyone that has been rejected. The future has direction and meaning when you are in love. Some say it is an illusion and I suppose if the love doesn't last, then that is what it is. Your future had meaning, but only so long as you were in love. But illusion or not, to believe you have direction and meaning, is to give you hope and happiness unlike anything else. You have a purpose and that purpose is to love and care for a person.

It is not just direction though. To have felt like you were understood and to have felt like you weren't alone, a mass of grey and white matter encased in bone, is so powerful. You cannot draw confidence from nothing. You must feel that your views are sane and reasonable to wish to act on them, and if you are the only one to think about something in a certain way, who is their to confirm the sanity of your mind?

When you are rejected, you no longer have that direction or feeling of being understood. You lose that meaning and that certainty of a bright future. You come tumbling back down to earth and the illusion is no more. You see the situation for what it is and what it was. You see your mistakes and you see your foolishness. And it takes a brave and a wise man to bite his lip and carry on with life when there seems to be no direction to go in and no one to go with. You must admit your loss and you must learn to carry on. To wallow in self-pity is to damn all chance of happiness. Only the sympathisers of the world will give you any attention, and even then, they only encourage you to wallow more. All they will ever be to you is a sympathiser and nothing more. And to pity and be pitied is to truly feel the opposite end of the spectrum from love. In short, and I cannot apologise enough for paraphrasing, you feel like crap.

So one must press on. One must pick a direction, even if it means going in circles for a while. Surely it is better to travel in a circle a million times than sit still, if it means finding your path. And so we find our ex. He has travelled in his circles, but he has progressed. He has found some direction without the girl. He's not necessarily happy because he is alone, but he is content with life. And the girl now returns to feed the addiction for the love he once gave her.

She has had a different experience. I have just realised the HUGE psychological depths to which I could explore the girl's mind having broken up with Boyfriend 1 and found herself without a partner. I suppose it's smarter to dedicate yet another post to her mind.

Let us analyse however the consequence of all of her thoughts in the meeting with Boyfriend 2. What does Boyfriend 2 do now that she has returned? He can say no and be alone but content, or he can risk his contentness for happiness in love and dreams of purpose. But that is exactly what they will be: dreams of purpose.

It is so difficult to analyse the workings of this next part. Let us say for the moment that the girl is incapable of change. This makes the situation easy to analyse. For Boyfriend 2, the picture is clear. The direction he had before with her is an unstable and unclear one. A new factor enters into it. She chose another guy over him and so what is to stop her from doing that again? Clearly their love is not so perfect that she should choose him over the other guy. But here arises our problem in observing this. We have assumed she is incapable of change, but that is to restrain the girl to a robotic existence. In reality, she is capable of change and so the problem arises: what is Boyfriend 2 supposed to assume. Should he assume a stance of hope, not knowing whether it is foolish hope or not, and assume that she has changed and that her love can be improved to perfection, or should he assume that she hasn't changed and cannot change and prevent the love from ever being able to happen?

And so we unmask the risks of love. Is Boyfriend 2 a gambling man? Is love worth the risk for him?

Well I could try to answer that, but it gives me yet more chance for other posts. One is the analysis of the value of love in a person's mind based upon experience and/or upbringing (arguably the same thing). Another is the results of not choosing to love (e.g. backlash from girl telling all her friends about how much of an ass you are) or choosing to love (problems in paradise or perfection attained?).

This post has been a long time coming, and to a degree, concluding it is partly rushed. But I am sick of leaving this as an unfinished article in the draft section. Besides, it has left me with some routes to follow for future posts. I hope you find the analyses interesting, and although it means you have to have experienced a lot of pain, I hope you can relate to the observations.

Plenty of holes in this for people to contribute. We could discuss love forever and still be no closer to a conclusion. But we can certainly document our experiences and draw wisdom from them.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Maybe it's better to be left...

...because sometimes it really sucks to be right.

No, it is not a reference to my political stance. Once again I have managed to give my vanity an ego trip by successfully predicting the outcome of a relationship. I won't say whose because that's their own affair and they'll suffer enough natural embarassment and despair without my assistance in rallying up more people to pass comment.

Why should I write about it then? Well the subject matter is not the important part of what I wish to discuss. However, it does put this post neatly in context.

Far too often I entertain the cute idea that you can tell a lot from someone's eyes. As far as I'm aware, there is no scientific proof for being able to tell anything from someone's eyes (except their genes, and only then to a degree). There was something on furrows in the iris being associated with particular personality traits, but that was an early stage observation without any significant evidence to make it plausible or useful.

I'll meet new people, I'll look them in the eye and I'll know something about them in an instant. I don't know what it is I know. It takes a stimulus to provoke the knowledge into not only being useful but noticeable. You understand why I think this is a silly concept. It all sounds very wonderful, but very much dreamed up. Still, it would seem to work for the moment, so I'll entertain the idea as being possible.

With this relationship, one of the couple was a very close friend of mine. I knew their character, but was interested to find out about this other person who they'd "got together" with. I looked them in the eye, and I knew that it'd run quite smoothly for a while, but that something would break them up eventually. 4 months later, it happened. Alright, so that's not amazing because break ups happen all the time, but this isn't about an amazing ability to read people and know their actions (besides I can't do that). This is about seeing the same thing over and over again. I look at couples and get to know them and I always see the same problem.

People expect too much from a relationship. You are more than welcome to argue that we do too little for a relationship in this day and age, but I'm going to go for expecting too much (the latter may simply be a consequence of the first, after all thoughts come before actions...generally :)). The idea seems to have sunk into people's minds that a relationship is meant to be perfect. Furthermore, people's ideas of perfect seem to have become this fantasy where you must think alike, act alike and speak alike. If you have any disagreements on matters, that's it. You're clearly "far too different" to be with them. And this is the problem.

We have tackled racism and sexism, but opinionism (as I have randomly chosen to refer to it as) is absolutely thriving. We find it hard to accept different opinions.

We all think differently about things. If we didn't, we wouldn't be individuals. For some reason that I haven't yet figured out (and a historian may enjoy trying to find the point where it all changed or if it "changed" at all), we have become a society clinging to similarity in opinions and thoughts. Appreciation of differences seems to have been destroyed for the most part. So it is no wonder that relationships don't work and that I keep seeing the same thing. People are different, and the moment that becomes apparent (in other words, reality checks) that's the problem. People can't take difference. Perhaps the racism and sexism fights have inspired it, I don't know. All I can say is that I've observed the destruction of our appreciation for our individuality and the result is the gradual destruction of community spirit.

It's obvious why people are part of a group who all dress alike and act alike when they're teenagers. The concept of just being in a group of friends who are all different is alien to us. It is no surprise that I should continually ask myself, "why can I get on with so many people while others refuse to speak outside of their circle?"

I now apologise for generalising grossly. I don't "know" everything about us and our many societies. However, from experience of my own society (whatever that is) I have noticed this problem in nearly everyone. Many claim to be accepting and put on a worthy façade to try and support that notion (besides they want to appear like good, balanced people), but in reality the truth is inside their head, and it is a completely different world in there.

We are all different. Our opinions are concluded by various means, unique to our own journey through life. I have always chosen to refer to life as a book, and now is another good opportunity to draw a comparison. What may have been 16 chapters in my book, leading to my conclusions on life, could've been 16 entirely different chapters in someone else's book, leading them to their different conclusions. Who is to say which book is more right? I take the stance that they're both good books, for what greater author is their than life? What could be 1984 for one person could be Pride and Prejudice for another. Both books I recommend thoroughly, yet while accepting their similarities, they are different books.

I ran this by my dad a few minutes ago and we ended up chatting about it while sitting in the sun under the window in my room. We got onto global warming eventually, but that's for another day. He said this:

"Back when we were small tribal societies, we were cohesive because that was paramount to the survival of the tribe. Everyone had their part to play. You wouldn't do a misdeed to your neighbour because that neighbour wouldn't wish to help you later, thus destroying the cohesiveness of the society. Eventually, a strain factor, such as a drought, would occur and the tribe would be left trying to find a way to make the rains come. For some reason, dancing around may have seemed to work on one occasion (I suggested by coincidence or amazingly actually working). This would be remembered by the tribe and the accepted idea would be that dancing around in a particular way would bring the rains (this is a rather short explanation for what could be far more complicated if desired)."

The obvious consequence of dance causing rain is that someone would suggest that for the dance to achieve something, there must be a sentient force that was watching them and responding to the dance by bringing the rains. Kapow, you have a rain God.

Now I have the opportunity to be infinitely controversial. I'll be interested if anyone takes offence from my next conclusions. It could well prove my point about not appreciating individuality and difference of opinion. THIS MAY NOT BE RIGHT, BUT IT IS AN IDEA NONETHELESS!

So you dance for rain, you get rain, you conclude there is a rain God. You dance for sun, you get sun, there is a sun God. Pretty soon a few coincidences of "dancing and raining" lead people to conclude that there is a God for everything. You want a disease to go, you pray to the God of health. You want a child, you pray to the God of fertility. Praying is not necessarily hands together, eyes closed. It could be dancing as I have suggested, or wearing asparagus around you legs. The method isn't important, just the concept (very Romanesque belief system).

So then what? Well there's a hell of a lot of Gods. Why not just have one God for all of it? That's so much easier than having to speak to different Gods. I am not aiming to be patronising, I'm merely identifying a possible human trail of thought. Again, if anyone takes offence and gives me a rather nasty reply and/or tries to cleverly conceal it, but while fuming, I will be disappointed, but I'll accept it happens.

But I'm being sidetracked, this is another discussion. My point is that different tribes established different beliefs with or without different Gods. Eventually tribes meet other tribes and beliefs meet other beliefs. And so ensued the argument; which one of us is right?

"Well we danced for rain and we got rain.
Oh, well we sacrificed a lamb and got rain.
Sacrificed a lamb for rain? That's crazy. Lambs are the sacred creature of our God. You cannot kill a lamb!
Look we shall show you.
You dare to anger our God!? You insult us. We shall destroy you and your heathen religion.
Oh you will will you? Stupid bunch of rain dancers."

And so we have a lovely confrontation showing humanity in all its glory; controlled by what started out as a coincidence.

Again I apologise for generalising grossly. And AGAIN I say, this is just an idea, a trail of thought. It should not be offensive, and anyone who is offended is unnecessarily sensitive. But that is my "lamb for rain". Who knows, being open with my thoughts might insult someone's God.

Linking back to the start of this post, we are all different. Our conclusions, be it as an individual or a group, are different. When we try to discuss our opinions, some people get overly defensive about it and throw a tantrum. People don't like difference. The idea of disagreement is a scary one. When we come across someone "killing sacred lambs", our response is to stop that injustice, because in our minds, it IS an injustice. There's so much more resulting from this idea because I'm sure someone will say "Well does that mean we should accept people who kill, cheat and steal?" I can't answer that question. I am merely observing a human quality. If I had an answer I'd give it to you. All I can say is that I only exercise my moral fist when I feel that someone is doing something wrong to another person. I don't care about "dancing for rain", I care about people to people relationships. The abstract is interesting, but it shouldn't dictate your reality.

Anyway, enough of a random trail of thought. As ever I'm open to comments, arguments, etc. Even if they're laughable, I'll still read them with great interest. We're all individuals and we all have our opinions. Please share them with me.

PS Apologies for a post a while back on love. I said "I myself am not contemplating whether I am in love." Surely I am always contemplating whether I am in love. I simply don't believe myself in love at the moment, although I accept the possibility of a seed.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Becoming lost in time

As Phil could testify, often one requires provocation to tease out thoughts and feelings on a matter. Today I was provoked by something.

My grandmother (whoI refer to as Nan) has gone into hospital with breathing difficulties. She is looking better than she did 24 hours ago so I'm not despairing. However, while visiting her, I was overcome with several different feelings. My initial feeling was that of my usual feeling for hospitals; a feeling of warmth and appreciation for the ingenuity and excellence of the hospital. But there was something quite painful that was caused to resurface while I was in there.

Many of the occupants in the ward were elderly (it would seem that they were all being kept together). Across from my Nan was a lady whom, having had her possessions put in a locker, had led herself to believe that she has misplaced them in various locations around the room. Down the end of the ward was a woman constantly squeaking for help. "Help! Please!" she would exclaim over and over. And there was a woman who didn't even belong in the ward, but with her mind elsewhere, she wandered aimlessly, perhaps guided by the loneliness of the hospital ward.

These were sad sights and they inspired great pain in what I can only imagine is one's heart. And it got me thinking about something that has been bugging me for a few weeks.

Recently there has been a report on an expected increase in the number of cases of dementia for the next generation. By 2050, there will be a million more people in the UK alone with dementia, predominantly by alzheimers. I had said to my sister that I wish never to be left to lose my mind, for to lose my mind is to have myself rubbed from the canvas of reality. I considered briefly that losing one's mind is comparable to nurturing one's mind in that we change as a person, but quickly dismissed this, as the loss of one's mind is the loss of one's identity, rather than the refinement of one's identity.

This was one thing that crossed my mind, that I would not wish to slip into nothingness, while leaving behind an empty shell of a body. But this was not my only problem.

The BBC had shown one of their "distressing" clips on dementia, and for once the word "distressing" genuinely applied; I was very nearly moved to tears. A man, whose name I forget, described the progression of his wife's dementia. He said that he began to get this aching feeling in his heart, and he soon realised that this aching was loneliness. His wife, who for so long had been the missing piece of the jigsaw that made him complete, was slowly being cut with a pair of scissors so that that piece did not fit anymore. Eventually dementia had totally disfigured her mind, leaving a confused being, unable to speak clearly, blind and disabled. He mentioned how she lapsed into and out of making sense as the dementia progressed. On one occasion, she said "We've had fun together haven't we?" and he supposedly broke down and cried.

Now this lead me to consider the more painful side of what I witnessed in that hospital ward. For me, the prospect of losing my mind is terrible so far as I would only know my suffering before it happened. Once my mind begins to go, I'd lose the ability to recognise that. But the more painful side is that there are people who will have to witness you lose your mind, with all the awareness that you once possessed. They would see your charms, your talents and your spirit dying in front of them, like a wilting flower. The person they loved would slowly become a memory, and yet they'd still be there, or at least, their body would make them appear to be there.

Perhaps if I were to ignore my emotions, I would accept the loss of one's mind by dementia as another unfortunate ailment that happens all the time. This school of thought extends to believing all of medicine to be a pointless attempt to delay the inevitable (and not just delaying death of a single lifetime. I refer to the greater life of humanity as a whole).

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have my emotions and seeing those ladies, still semi-aware, but so clearly not the beautiful roses they once were, inspired pain. There was no positive way to look at the deconstruction of a person's mind.

Monday, 12 February 2007


You may ask why this post is titled plastering. What better way is there to fill a gap?

I'm currently in the middle of writing a rather long post on an interesting topic. Depending upon it's length after completion, I shall either post it as instalments or one big blog entry.

I gave blood this Sunday. Mr Brockington-Hill and his lady also came along and did the good deed. For those of you who may have been busy and unable to attend this weeks session, there are plenty more. If you're interested in giving blood, give me a buzz. I have a calendar with sessions in locations all around Southend. Come on, you know you want to ;)

For those of you who "don't like" needles, get over it. Nobody, except for people with an aim to harm themselves, likes needles. For those of you who have a "fear" of needles, I'm sorry that you suffer from this debilitating phobia. I don't think anyone could expect you to give blood.

Alright, I've finished being an arse...yeah right :D