Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Mon May 25 22:04:09 2009
Cosmic Yo-Yo

On Sunday, I braved a bus from Penn Ave back to SqHill, and was forced into adventure when said bus lied about where it was going and I hopped off near some mythical bus garage on the Northside. Said adventure took me by some pretty places, and was a lonelier version of an UrbanHajk a few weeks ago(?), made more difficult by my not having a map (but still not so bad because I kind of know how to get around most of Pittsburgh now). I made my way to somewhere near Duquesne (probably my favourite place to catch the bus downtown), and another bus finished the job the first job failed at.

Speaking of which, Pittsburgh should do two things with each and every bus stop in the city:

  1. Make sure it is clear which busses stop there. Roughly ¾ of the signs do this. The rest need to be fixed. 「Bus Stop」 is not nearly good enough.
  2. Make it clear whether a given stop is Northbound/Southbound/Eastbound/Westbound.
  3. For bonus points: place markers on the road or signs indicating when a bus route runs on the street and particularly when it turns, even if it does not stop there.
Upside: More bike lanes are being marked on the streets.

A band that many of you might like: 「Gogol Bordello」. They're like a blend of DeVotchKa and the Leningrad Cowboys. Two videos for your perusal. (Note: My opinion of their brilliance may be affected by my general impressedtude with the Gypsy-Punk genre)

Reread Freud's 「Civilisation and its Discontents」 (despite being short and having some shaky foundations, one of my favourite works broadly in the sphere of philosophy), and I came across the following passage about love: "A small minority are enabled by their constitution to find happiness, in spite of everything, along the path of love. But far-reaching mental changes in the function of love are necessary before this can happen. These people make them selves independent of their object's acquiescence by displacing what they mainly value from being loved on to loving; they protect themselves against the loss of the object by directing their love, not to single objects but to all men alike; and they avoid the uncertainties and disappointments of genital love by turning away from its sexual aims and transforming the instinct into an impulse with an inhibited aim. What they bring about in themselves in this way is a state of evenly suspended, steadfast, affectionate feeling, which has little external resemblance any more to the stormy agitations of genital love, from which it is nevertheless derived" ... ".. I should like to bring forth my two main objectrions to this (view). A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value, by doing an injustice to its object; and secondly not all men are worthy of love."

This reminds me of a few people I once knew who, after a few conversations on the topic, gave me the vague impression that they had placed some kind of emotional barrier between themselves and love. These people were all both feminist and tended towards what I would now call over-mathematical-reasoning (given the range of years between these conversations, the earliest were back when I was both over-mathematical in my reasoning and in groups where I was likely to meet others of that sort). I'm not sure if I should draw a strong inference between relevance of Freud's analysis and either or both feminism and overlogicitude - I am also tempted to think that perhaps they either had something missing or broken in their home environment that required development of mental traits that grew into this way of treating love, although that would be premature given that I didn't know most of them well enough to make such a determination (and one's relationship with one's family is naturally complex, enough so that practically any childhood could plausibly be viewed through a lens by which they might reasonably be described as either terrible or terrific (*wink*).

I pretty much agree with Freud on this - taking off the normal hat of humility and not-saying-anything, I believe that it's a defective love that does not hurt, that does not have within it struggles over posessiveness and codependence, that would not even be tempt those in it to feel primal inclinations towards violence should a partner cheat (to actually act is a bit different .. let's discuss that below). Cyndi Lauper touches on the dangers of passion in love in her song 「Hot Gets a Little Cold」, but if this is read to suggest people love in ways that don't even have the possibility of strong passion (with all the joy and pain that entails), they have a cowardly likeness of love, not the real thing. When seeing them move in and out of relationships unscathed and unaffected, the same person with no scars and no marked difference when in or out, it struck me as very odd and pretty sad (I recognise that I am in a weird position to look down at anyone on these issues, nontheless I do).

I don't fully agree with Freud's (admittedly nuanced) notion that humans would be much more polyamorous without the presence of civilisation redirecting that energy into productive labour - I find the sameness of that labour on shakey ground (at least in its stronger forms - I would not want to dismiss it entirely, I just don't think he got the dynamic or framework right). The primality of the connection between two people in love in a properly functioning relationship is something I think is precious and is worth the risk and change it places into both partners and their lives - that notion of "love with a raincoat on" deeply bothers me - perhaps not everyone remains suitable and capable of proper love, or will manage to find a suitable partner in their life (it now seems likely to me that I probably am both incapable and unlikely, but I'll hold out looking for it against all odds until there's nothing left of me or I find it), but to accept a placebo love in its place is at least a rubicon that should be acknowledged when crossed, if not spurned at all costs (even self-destruction).

(just because I mentioned feminists above, I wish to make it clear that I don't feel that women and men should differ in why or how they approach these things - I identify as a flavour of feminist, and believe that females should not take a subordinate or a separate-but-equal role in relationships or society. This does not mean that they should give up on romantic love - I suggest that both males and females can and should have these same possibilities open to them, and that further whichever of the two genders someone might prefer as a partner, this still covers them)

Also, as a general rule of thumb, people need to meet a minimum bar of being able to express complex topics in order to discuss philosophy (or even politics). If their framework cannot cover complex real-world-but-noncontroversial situations and terms, they should not even consider discussing something controversial before broadening their mind a bit. One of the things the scientologists said in my argument with them a few weeks (months?) ago sticks in my mind - they pointed out that the word psychology had the word "psyche" in it and thus the discipline should consider human spirits real. Such a hard grip on words acts as a barrier to understanding both the real world and concepts, and trivially falls over when other common words are taken back to their roots (which my webcomic, linked above, said another way). Another example: trace their family tree, ask them "is this person family?" as you move further out and back - eventually they should start saying "kind of" instead of "yes", or more ideally reveal that they have multiple overlapping concepts of family, some with fuzzy borders. If they can't do that, they're not ready to handle harder problems.