Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Function of Psychology

The Function of Psychology in modern life is to assert, then to confirm through its operations, that we are little more than pre-determined marionettes and indistinguishable from animals. It's best given a wide berth.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

After Charlottesville

TIME TO MAKE A STAND. Inspired by the brave local politicians in Charlottesville and their decision to fell the statue of Robert E. Lee I have decided I can no longer tolerate the street names in my immediate neighbourhood. We back onto Victoria Road South (I am ashamed to say that I once owned a house on this road) named after the blood-boultered Empress of India. Running off this are Outram Road and Havelock Road named after two British Generals famed for their suppression of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 just before the American Civil War. Again, in the immediate vicinity, is the Jami Mosque and a considerable Bangladeshi community which make the perpetuation of these intolerable imperialist tropes no longer acceptable. On their behalf I demand that these offensive street names be removed and replaced with something more suitable like Unity Avenue or Brotherhood Lane. And then there's Albert Road of course..........Of course, should any unwholesome elements decide to protest these changes, the responsibility for what transpires will be wholly theirs and I will make it my business to demand that politicians of all stripes support that view unanimously. And then there are the statues of Havelock, Outram and Napier in Trafalgar Square but one step at a time........

Monday, 14 August 2017

A Problem Solved

Confronted with the existential freight
Of adult living, the disquieting weight
Of moral being in stretching time and space,
The stock, default reaction -the disgrace
Of quailing funk; poor eminence which may
Be all that, sadly, most of us display.
The hills and shelter - that for which we opt;
The fetal clasp of knees - what we adopt.
In virtual worlds we waste the Zombie hoard,
The aliens, Nazis, crims and hoes. We Lord
It over Orcs and Wraiths. The childhood version
Will not unfold in abject, bald desertion!
But waking from our childish dream to day,
The world is reconfigured to dismay;
The game’s restarted now on different terms,
And we’re exposed - no less than threshing worms.
Emerges then the chief imperative,
To seem the hero and the world deceive.
Means must be found to blind the social eye,
Irrelevant the nature of the lie.
Be the means, politics or charity
Scarce matters to the beneficiary.
Choose socialism or gender wars,
Street protest, whales or any other cause.
The content is the least important part,
What counts – the scope for storyteller’s art,
In narratives where you can be the hero,
Evading risk of being seen as zero,
And villains are with ease identified
No matter who is falsely, thus, descried.
The tale requires the raised and angry fist,
The T-shirt marked “No compromise!” - the hissed
And hapless politician made a fiend,
Our crag-jawed hero’s reputation cleaned
Of all suggestion that he dodges balls.
So, pay-off gained by stories’ wherewithals,
He feels insured against his worst unease:
Unsought exposure of the fact that he’s
Not what he seems; that he’s a yellow-belly,
His spine and constitution made of jelly.
Thus life is forced to be computer game,
A sneaky means to rescue his good name.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Does Counting Sporting Success as the Holy Grail Demean Women?

It’s fashionable now to celebrate the success of women’s sporting teams in Rugby, Football, Cricket and Athletics, for example as though this represents a new evolution in society of enormous significance. Whenever it is mentioned one feels a social pressure to join in the whole-hearted celebration of it. I certainly have no agenda for stopping this or rubbishing it – if that’s what women choose to do now then who am I to stand in their way or even think I could stand in their way? It sounds clich├ęd but we live in a free country where people can more or less do what they like within the law. Good luck to them!

The fact that I have no wish to determine how other people spend their leisure does not, however, prevent me from making observations on those choices as, in this free country, that too, is permitted so far. For many centuries men have measured a certain kind of excellence and derived great pleasure from sport. This may be because sport is a ritualized version of armed combat (something mostly, not always, prosecuted by males) and, given that it generally results in no deaths, a preferable one to the real thing. Sport tests the musculature, the endurance, the mental strength and the athleticism of males and furnishes opportunities for excellence. Like men, women, also need such physical exercise to be healthy and have developed sports of their own, some of which are the same as those practised by men. What is curious about the latest developments is that a great play is being made of women invading territory that has traditionally been that of the male. National sports of Football, Rugby and Cricket are the most obvious examples of this with new female teams on television. As I observed above, the fact of their doing this is of little moment. Women and their spectators are at perfect liberty to do what they will. What interests me is the meaning being imputed to these activities.

Moving onto territory where a certain sort of male excellence has long been measured is seen as a great triumph. I can’t help asking the question, though, is not the adoption of measures of male success by women strangely demeaning to them? Why are male measures of success – and incidentally, ones in which they will never succeed in measuring up to male performances – seen as a legitimate way to measure female worth? Are not these women, or their advocates who interpret the meanings of their undertakings, saying, in a strange way, that a woman will only have worth if she can perform against peculiarly male markers? Is this some women trying to be men because only being a man entails true worth? Such a belief or statement is curiously anti-feminist as, implicit in it, may be found the hidden intimation or suggestion that merely being a woman is, in some way insufficient in itself in terms of value. Aping men is to subjugate yourself to a purely masculine way of measuring value and feminism is supposed to be about freeing oneself from the tyranny of male value systems. A woman who has confidence in being a woman without having to imitate men is surely the greater feminist. Blinking and casually adopting a whole male value-measuring system seems an interesting mistake. In a back-handed sort of way it seems to demean women and female qualities. You would think that, in a society that, perhaps, has an over-inflated view of the importance and value of mere sportsmen women would be the first to assert other, superior values and to point this out rather than scrabbling to jump on the bandwagon.

I wonder what two very great women indeed (for, of course, women can be great too), Jane Austen and George Eliot, would have made of this.

I Resent, Therefore I Am

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Solemnity

De facto does modern poetry legislate for wall to wall solemnity?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Is Gay Marriage Necessary?

I have probably failed to explain myself properly so I will attempt to set out my views on this subject here. There are, essentially, now recognized to be two kinds of unions, heterosexual ones and homosexual ones. Such unions have certain things in common. For example, they both involve two human beings, they both involve a sexual relationship and both contain the possibility of a loving relationship. They also have differences and distinctions between them. A hetero-sexual union, by definition of the word hetero, means a union between two things that are different from each other. A homo-sexual union, also by definition, means a union between two things which are the same. Because human beings reproduce sexually a hetero-sexual union represents the whole of humankind in itself, male and female together. A homosexual union does not. For this very reason the heterosexual union also represents, in a creature that reproduces sexually, the sole possibility or likelihood of procreation occurring.

Civil Partnerships granted to gay people provided the possibility to gay people to live together in loving relationship with all of the legal protections (in terms of hospital visiting rights, kinship, inheritance etc) that married people enjoy. This being the case, one has to ask why they would want to insist on staking a claim on the institution of marriage, one that had been, for centuries an institution which denoted heterosexual unions. This claim has an effect on the institution of marriage because it seeks to make two different things equivalents erasing the differences between them, differences that are enormously significant.

I can only find a number of largely negative explanations for the wish to extend homosexual union into the institution of marriage and, thus, to dilute what marriage previously signified. It could simply be a kind of sentimentality. Then again it could be a wish to make gay people the center of attention and be no more, therefore, than childish attention-seeking, an attempt to muscle onto and displace the statistical norm from the rostrum. This explanation can be typified in the question - "Having, quite properly, achieved equality why do gay people now seem to be wanting to insist on a kind of primacy?" The final explanation might be that, after years of seeing themselves as “oppressed” some, not all, by any means, gay people feel, to a degree, slightly vindictive and want to rub the faces of, for example, the churches who uphold and have always been the place of the sacred recognition of the institution of marriage, in it. The churches have regarded marriage as sacred because it transmits life itself and, generally, in the form of the family, is the basis of human societies.

You may ask why it is so vital to protect and celebrate the institution of heterosexual marriage as a distinctive thing. Why is it that it should be viewed in terms of being on a rostrum at all? My answer would be that without this kind of union there would be no human race, no human history, no gay or heterosexual people people and no arguments, such as this one, on the subject. In other words something which is far from insignificant! That seems to me to make heterosexual union a pretty remarkable, not to say miraculous, thing worthy of celebrating in its own right for what it distinctively is without anything attempting to dilute its significance, its uniqueness and its value. These qualities may be the reasons why people have sought to elevate it to the unique status of a specially named institution – that of marriage. It is not an insignificant thing to be lost cheaply by being subsumed in what is, after all, a good but passing historical change.