If only one wish of all the wishes I wish were to come true, it is the wish that on every street and dirt road, in every hamlet, village, town, city, state, country, and principality in the world, there would be a library. And in every one of all the billions of libraries, my wish would be that there would be found in them all the books that have ever been condemned, banned, or burned in the past, the books currently condemned, banned, or burned, and all the books that will be condemned, banned, or burned in the future would be found.
And in all the billions of libraries of my wish, all the books never condemned, banned, or burned in the past, currently not condemned, or burned, and will not in the future be condemned, banned, or burned will no longer exist.
For any book that has never been condemned, banned, or burned, is currently not condemned, banned, or burned, or will in the future not be condemned, banned, or burned would not in the least be of any value at all to humankind in knowing what its true nature is or know the true nature of immortality.
Since only all books condemned, banned, or burned reveal the true nature about human nature and immortality, they are the only books worthy of being made available to every human being existing at any moment in time for as long as time exists.
And only condemned, banned, or burned books ought to be read to every child, woman, and man who is illiterate. Such reading to the illiterate of all books condemned, banned, and burned would possibly inspire them to learn to read one day when reading will ultimately be taught to them; that is until such time, however far into the future, all the human beings in theworld will be literate. Until then, let each illiterate human being of whatever age choose to memorize a book of their own choice among the condemned, banned, or burned books read to them.
Finally, once the whole world eventually becomes literate, by then there will no longer be any book published that will not to be condemned, banned, or burned, and the human race will have arrived at the truth of truths and attain immortality.
Then, and only then, will there no longer be wars, famines, disease, and death. For only then will every human being realize in perpetuity the truth of truths about human nature since only books condemned, banned, or burned contain the true truths about humanity and the ulitmate truth about the truth truths about the nature of immortality--at least until human life, such as it is, exists on planet earth, such as it will be, until both are extinguished when the sun burns itself out and swallows up of the planets in the solar system that will become a black hole one day drawing all the planets into the black hole and with it, of course, all the humans and all the libraries around the enlightened no-longer existing human race and no-longer existing libraries!
When that time comes, the world and all its inhabitants will not go out with a whimper, but with a cry of the joy over no longer having books condemned, banned, or burned!
(Si je suis toujours vivant dans dix ans,
je dédie ce sonnet à tous les amants ingrats)*
Edward C. Paolella
Moi, Edward Paolella, je suis né le 11 octobre 1941. Maintenant nous somme le 7 juin 2007. Ça fait que j’aurai 66 au mois d’octobre prochain. J’ai été élevé dans une famille de classe moyenne inférieure. Ma mère, juive, était femme au foyer; mon père, catholique, était photographe-portraitiste à son compte. Je suis le cadet de trois enfants: une soeur qui aura 73 ans le 14 juin; un frère qui aura 71 ans le 17 août. Qui sait si je serai en vie dans dix ans?
Mais si je suis toujours vivant dans dix ans, je suis certain–toutes autres choses étant égales–que je continuerai à faire ce que j’aime faire le plus, c’est d’étudier surtout la langue et la littérature anglaises et françaises–et si j’ai le temps, je poursuivrai, comme je faisais dans le passé, les langues et les littératures espagnoles, italiennes, et allemandes.
Inspiré des sonnets de Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), particulièrement le sonnet si célèbre qui s’appelle "Quand vous serez bien vieille" (Sonnets pour Hélène, II, xliii), écrit dans la tradition du "carpe diem" ("cueille le jour") d’Horace, ancien poète romain, et des sonnets de poète irlandais William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), spécialement "When You Are Old and Grey" (c. 1892), influencé par le sonnet de Ronsard (vous trouverez ci-joint tous les deux sonnets), les deux poèmes m’ont donné l’idée de prévenir en imitation de Ronard ainsi que Yeats, mais à la mode burlesque, ce que j’écrirai pour mes "admirateurs" pour qu’ils se souviennent de moi et qu’ils me citent un jour à leurs amants ingrats:
Quand je serai bien vieux et ridé
Quand je serai bien vieux et ridé, mon petit gars,
Inclinant ma tête vers le clavier de mon ordinateur,
Car, sommeillant, je trouve que de ta vie j’en ai marre,
Choisiras-tu de lire ce poème inconnu écrit par un amateur?
Liras-tu ces mots d’amour que j’aurai écrits pour toi, mon tare,
Pour que tu saches les ennuis desquels j’aurai toujours peur?
Car, mon mignon, tous tes baisers que tu m’a donnés dans le bar
J’espère que tu ne diras pas au monde qu’ils n’étaient que des canards!
Je t’aimerai à jamais, je le sais, même si toujours tu me dédaigneras
Bien que j’aie essayé de te revêtir de mon amour que
A rejeter. En vain j’ai prié que tu acceptes ma vie de corps
Mais nos amis plus jeunes que toi et moi surtout te feront souvenir
Des maintes fois que je t’ai offert mon amour si sincPre pour devenir
Digne de tes cruautés que j’ai transformées chaque fois de rigueur.
Ce sont les deux sonnets de Ronsard et de Yeats, respectivement, ci-joints:
Pierre de Ronsard
Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant:
"Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle!"
Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de Ronsard ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.
Je serai sous la terre, et, fantôme sans os,
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos:
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,
Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain:
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.
William Butler Yeats
When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the flowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
*Je remercie Professeur Cherry d’avoir fait quelques corrections nécessaires. Mais toutes les fautes en français qui restent sont les miennes.
Edward C. Paolella
"In meeting the Buddha along the Way,
It is found in one’s own arms, arms encircling the heart and providing
it with the only true home it ever does inhabit.
the fulfillment of our desires.
Edward C. Paolella
21 juin 2007
"L’homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du contrat social (1762)
Au cinquième siècle avant notre ère, Socrate, le philosophe par excellence dans le monde occidental, quand ces disciples voulaient qu’il devienne sénateur de l’état-ville d’Athènes, a refusé la proposition. Pourquoi? Parce que, revendiquait Socrate, c’était impossible pour un homme comme lui-même. Lui, le politicien cherchait à gagner la victoire en mentant au peuple. Lui, Socrate, cherchait à gagner la sagesse en poursuivant la vérité et qu'il voulait donner à ses disciples les outils pour qu'ils puissent y arriver eux-mêmes.
Et je remercie beaucoup Professeur Nicole Cherry de ses corrections de grammaire, de vocabulaire, et de style. Toutes les fautes qui restent sont les miennes.
Bush has a block of wood for a head, an empty paint can for a brain, and a stone heart the size of Mount Rushmore. For a Jesus Freak, he is also deaf, dumb, and blind for someone who supposedly holds discourse with the main-man, man-made, man-God Yeshua and professes to live by Jesus' example of poverty, obedience, self-sacrifice, and martydom to save the "souls" of "unredeemed" mankind.
There is no doubt whatsoever that, to date, Bush will go down in history as the most destructive and incompetant mismanager of the American presidency than any of all the worst presidents put together in American history and the possible cause of World War III.
If only I believed in the existence of an All-Loving God and of an All-Consuming Hell, I would pray morning, noon, and night--in Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Greek, and Qur'anic Arabic--that, as Dante treated the world's betrayers at the very bottom of the Nineth Circle of Hell named Judecca, where such traitors as Brutus, Judas Iscariot, and Cassius are to be found, Bush should be placed in the one-headed, but three-mouthed Demonic Beast Satan to gnaw on Bush and jerk him around in fits and starts in the throws of eternal pain and suffering. Amen.
There is no human suffering good enough for Dubya. Perhaps it is his true Karma to be, in fact, without a conscience or a so-called "soul" waiting to be judged on the Final Day of Judgment by Jesus the so-called "Christ" himself.
He sold his Satanic "soul" to corporate America and the neo-con, neo-fascist Christian Fundamentalists for their financial support and votes. He is a heartless warmonger and profiteer. He cares absolutely nothing for the sick, the hungry, and the poor in America. He is a rattle snake in the guise of a human being.
An opportunist and liar of Gargantuan proportions, he has betrayed not only all decent hardworking Americans--creating more less-paying jobs without pension plans and medical benefits than nearly all Americans who have ever benefitted from the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt--but he has also abandoned nearly every American who has ever needed a leg up--including, most recently, the dead victims and all the victims of devastating hurrican Katrina during his tenure as the most demented president America has ever had.
He flushed democracy down the toilet with his fascist-like usurpation of power with the "Patriot Act," his non-Congressionally approved used of illegal phone, wire, email, and public "library-card" tapping as well as his paying foreign countries to torture and maim so-called prisoners of war or suspected terrorists, of which he himself is one, incarcerated in foreign prisons or at Guantamano Bay detaining and torturing men for years without any right to legal council.
His "Faith-Based" initiatives have destroyed the separation of church and state in America. He is "Pro-Life" but will not support vital stem-cell research to find cures for the worst diseases that scourge the dying in America as he makes war that has already taken tens of thousands of lives of soldiers here and abroad leaving as many as 60,000 American soldiers mutilated for life and nearly 3,000 dead so far in endless wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which countries Dubya's presidency has helped to thrust into virtual civil wars and the creation of more religious extremists as well as secular ones than the world ever possessed in toto before Dubya became president of the United States.
He supports the highest tax reductions to the richest one percent of Americans. He gives American and foreign companies mammoth financial tax benefits and financial gains through government contracts for the industrical-military complex to destroy once thriving cities; then he provides for the creation of similar contracts to the same voracious American companies to rebuild the cities that he has paid the same and similar companies, with American tax dollars, to rase to the ground.
But he prays to Jesus ever day and night. He professes belief in a man-God who preached that "the meek shall inherit the earth" and for so-called Christians to love their enemies while Dubya pronounces to the world that Iraq, North Korea, and Iran as the "Axis Powers of Evil" in the world. While he proclaims other countries to be "evil," he pretends to have the most ignorant and ill-informed and brain-washed Americans believe in American's innocent mission to bring freedom and democracy to the world while he works daily to rape and to erode the very same freedom and democracy upon which the American dream was supposed to be built.
I am so, so sorry that there does not exist any God to torture Dubya's "sick soul" any further than it is already psychologically tormented both while on earth, and I am so, so sorry that there exists no hell for that same "sick soul" to be continued to be tormented for all eternity after Dubya dies.
Oh, to you non-existant God, please hear my prayer to prove to the world that you are truly All Just and All Good. Oh, non-existant God, please, please, I beg you, please hear my prayer and the prayers of the millions upon millions of other Americans--and even foreigners around the world-- praying the same prayers I am praying to you, oh, non-existant God, to put America and the world out of its misery because of George "Dubya" Bush.
And again, I say, Amen!
Boring Is as Boring Perceives: Who Is More Boring--Boring Students or Boring Teachers Who Perceive One Another as Boring?
Edward C. Paolella
Bordom, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
There is nothing on earth–animal, vegetable, mineral, or inorganic–or in the universe that is inherently boring.
Teachers who perceive their students as boring are, in fact, themselves the truly boring and are not truly teachers–not in the sense in which Plato portrays Socrates in his dialogues.
The students who appear to be boring are really in hiding from themselves and others–as are the boring teachers. Such students (and teachers) inhabit a cave of ignorance and fear of themselves and others (Plato, The Republic (514A–520A):
Imagine prisoners who have been chained since childhood deep inside
a cave. Not only are their limbs immobilized by the chains; their
heads are chained as well so that their eyes are fixed on a wall. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which shapes of various animals, plants, and other things are carried. The shapes cast shadows on the wall, which occupy the prisoners' attention. When one of the shape-carriers speaks, an echo against the wall causes the prisoners to believe that the words come from the shadows. The prisoners engage in what appears to us to be a game--naming the shapes as they come by. This, however, is the only reality that they know, even though they are seeing merely shadows of images.
Suppose a prisoner is released and compelled to stand up and
turn around. His eyes will be blinded by the firelight, and the shapes
passing will appear less real than their shadows. Similarly, if he is dragged up out of the cave into the sunlight, his eyes will be so blinded that he will not be able to see anything.
At first, he will be able to see darker shapes such as shadows and, only later, brighter and brighter objects. The last object he would be able to see is the sun, which, in time, he would learn to see as that object which provides the seasons and the courses of the year, presides over all things in the visible region, and is in some way the
cause of all these things that he has seen.
Once enlightened, so to speak, the freed prisoner would no doubt
want to return to the cave to free "his fellow bondsmen". The problem, however,
lies in the other prisoners' not wanting to be freed: descending back into the
cave would require that the freed prisoner's eyes adjust again, and for a time,
he would be one of the identifying shapes on the wall. This would make his
fellow prisoners murderous toward anyone who attempted to free them.
(The Republic bk. VII, 516b-c; trans. Paul Shorey)
The teachers are what they see. The students perceive that their teachers are boring as a result of the teachers’ perceiving that their students as boring.
Boring teachers reenforce the boredom that is a reflection of their own state of boredom that becomes the tragic expectation that the teachers have of their students.
True teachers see the excitement of life deep within the being of each of their students. True teachers provide the students, by whatever means necessary, with the tools to transcend their ignorance and fear so as to have as many of their students make their way out off the darkness of the cave.
True teachers provide the students with the inspiration that helps to light up the dark cave so as to dispel or, at least, diminish, the student’s ignorance and fear. True teachers are willing to stand naked and vulnerable before their students to show them that very excitement within themselves that is at the very depths of the inspired and inspiring teachers’ being.
It is the herculean task of the inspired and inspiring teachers to inspire their students who, in turn, re-inspire their teachers. Inspired and inspiring students are often put down and rejected by boring teachers, for unconsciously the boring teachers perceive such students as threats to their own emotional shallowness.
Who is not rendered excited and inspired by true nakedness and true vulnerability?
Teachers who see their students as boring are encouraging them to either become boring or remain boring hidden behind their boredom. Just as teachers who have low intellectual expectations of their students foster low expectations in their students, so too does it work the very same way when teachers perceive their students as boring.
If students come to school uninspired to want to learn, it is the primary task of the inspired and inspiring teacher to turn those students around–not just complain about them and "dump" them in an arid intellectual desert or the "dung heap" of humanity.
If most inspired students came to school to learn, most boring teachers would be out of a job.
As far as the boring teachers are concerned, boring is as boring perceives.
Boring teachers are a threat to themselves, their students, and society.
Thoughts for Reflection on Self-Love and Self-Liberation: "The Child Is Father to the Man"--"The Rainbow," William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION ON SELF-LOVE AND SELF-LIBERATION:
DEDICATED TO BARTHOLOMEW T. COSGROVE, JR.*
EDWARD C. PAOLELLA
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create....
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"....
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
---T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1914)
"...I tell you...let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects
INTRODUCTION: Insecure relationships in childhood influence negative emotional and social functioning. Unhealthy relationships are among the most destructive of experiences of the young child. Bad relationships have a strong negative influence on social and emotional functioning. children learn to manage their emotional responses to people and events from the behavior of their parents and other care givers. When a child does not feel safe and secure, he cannot rely on his care givers to help him develop a healthy self-image to learn how to effectively regulate his own behavior.
What makes the psychoanalytic process "unavailable" to the vast majority of neurotic human beings is that they are petrified of emotionally reliving the experience(s) that caused the formation of the neurosis in the first place, understanding that a neurosis is a flight from reality into the domain of wishful-thinking, illusion, and/or delusion.
For as Freud explains, ""The neurotic turns away from reality because he finds it unbearable--either the whole or parts of it" (Formulations regarding the two Principles in Mental Functioning," Collected Papers, Vol. IV). Reminding oneself of the fact that one is intellectually no longer six years old is valuable, but such conscious awareness of an idea is not the necessary equivalent of reliving emotionally an actual experience from the past as captured and fossilized in one's memory that lies at the seat of the neurosis.
My mother, whenever she was frustrated with my behavior, in addition to often using physical punishment, would also repeat time and again, "Edward, you are no good, you never were any good, and you will never be any good!"
That "mantra" of my mother's, that I internalized and that became an indelible part of my identify and self-image--at least by the age of seven or eight years old and most definitely quite consciously by the age of ten--proved to be disastrous in the formation of my behavior as an adult, especially when it came to my being gay and my choosing love-objects during the course of the first half of my life.The choice of love-object--as either life-partner or friend--is based upon the nature of the relationships one develops early on with one's parents or their surrogates.
Freud discovered that in working with his patients who had dysfunctional relationships with either a mother or a father or both determined whom they chose as friends and possible life-partners. He demonstrated through his case studies, and sought to have the patient recognize, that whatever neurotic elements constituted the relationship with one's parents were carried over into one's substitute relationships with all other significant others in one's life.
For, as Freud clinically observed, husbands and wives or life-partners, called by whatever name, are "refound" mothers and fathers with whom the social conventions of civilized society now allow the children-turned- adults to consummate the sexual relationship as two adults, which the same social conventions, because of their tabooed incestuous nature, whether heterosexual or homosexual, disallowed in one's relationships between children and their parents.
(As an important, but passing aside, one does well to remember that the "Oedipus" and "castration" complexes are operative in both homosexual and heterosexual child development. However, there are two differences to note for the homosexual child: 1) the homosexual child falls in love with the parent of the same sex, desires to consummate the relationship with the parent of the same sex, and to do so, wishes to efface, by whatever means necessary, the physical existence of the parent of the opposite sex, which desire, in turn, causes the feelings of fear of "castration" and 2) the homosexual child must face a double "castration": one resulting from the fear of wanting to destroy the parent of the opposite sex and another resulting from the fear of the society that wants to efface him for "falling in love" with the parent of the same sex.
Lesbians suffer even worse feelings of "castration," for to their double "castration" is added a third: the initial "castration" the girl child experiences when she discovers that, unlike little boys, she has no penis because she has already been "castrated," a "castration" that results in "penis envy," a concept much misunderstood by most feminists of usually all persuasions, but especially by most lesbian feminists. (<http://www.blogger.com/; Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, ed. and introd. Freud on Women: A Reader. London: Hogarth, 1990)
What neurotic elements in the parent-child relationship that never get resolved in childhood never fail to show up in all future intimate relationships with friends and life-partners.In my early adult life, up until the time I was about thirty-five years old, I never failed to choose partners who were certain to let me know that I was fundamentally "no good"--that is, men who were the wrong, unhealthy love-objects for me to choose, but whom I chose, nonetheless, because it was certain that they would reject my love, not only because of their own unresolved neurotic conflicts stemming from their early childhood, but also because I could keep fulfilling my mother's prophecy that I "was no good and would never be any good" to anyone whom I chose to love or whose love I sought and consciously wanted reciprocated.
One of the major causes of my mother's frustration with me was my uncanny intelligence. She told me over and over again that I was too smart, that my being smart made her feel inadequate because she did not know how to handle not only what I did, but also what I said by way of an explanation of why I did what I did--although when I was twenty-six years old, two years before her death, she acknowledged to me that while I was the most difficult of her three children to raise, it was from me that she learned the most. She simply did not understand me, and the only way she knew how to control my behavior was to physically punish me and verbally abuse me by telling me that I was "no good."
Young children do not have the appropriate defense mechanisms to deal with such profound conflicts with a parent. In the child's mind, the parent is always right and the only authority of the "truth" that the child knows. So what the parent says "must be true" because the child believes the parent to be the "all-knowing" individual in the child's life. (One can see here also the etiology of the origins of religion with the "All-Knowing God offering unconditional love" who is but a projection of the "castrated" child-parent relationship. This is a gross over-simplification of a profoundly complex subject that needs its own basis for discussion at another time and in another separate essay.)
Whenever my mother got frustrated with my behavior, physical and verbal, she heaped her own physical and verbal abuse on me, and, worst of all for a child, she threatened me with the withdrawal of her love and proceeded to do so, temporarily at least. But "temporarily" as a child feels like "forever." I became, for as long as her anger lasted, a "persona non-grata," a human being fully unacceptable and unworthy of living! And that is exactly, as an adult, how I came to feel and act--unacceptable and unworthy of being loved and of even living.
Just as my mother felt threatened by my intelligence, expressed through behaviors she (and my elementary school teachers) did not understand and did not know how to cope with for lack of her (their) own self-awareness and self-enlightenment, I became the "victim" and continued to "victimize" myself because "I deserved it," for, remember, buried within me was the belief in the deepest part of my being that "I was no good," unworthy of any kind of love from anyone, let alone from myself." How could I love myself, for I had never adequately learned how from my parents?
Such deeply-seated feelings of unworthiness led to a life tormented by clinical depression, fantasies and near-attempts at suicide, mental hospitalizations, and electro-shock therapy.The deeply-seated feelings of unworthiness are at the very hub of the psychological matter: someone who does not love himself is bound to choose others in his quest to love and to be loved who will also ultimately choose not to love him--more often than not out of their own fears and neuroses having absolutely nothing to do with the self-rejecting human being. And for me, the cause was always the same as a result of the pattern having been set in childhood: "I am not worthy of loving myself or being loved by anyone else. What I am worthy of is verbal and physical abuse both from myself and from others."
My intelligence made me an extremely curious child and adult man who wanted to know "about everything about everything" that caught my fancy and to say whatever I really felt and thought, and I challenged others to be as honest as I was trying to be--often a chief cause of a fear of what was lurking in their own deeply repressed unconscious. What a set-up for a life of rejection and pain, for most people run away from either asking themselves profound questions, asking others such questions, and they certainly do no want anyone around who is asking them the very same questions despite what sexual attraction that they may feel for one another.What took me years and years and much pain and suffering to realize is that it was not I alone whom they disliked but themselves as well.
Moreover, they did not like that I asked either myself the "overwhelming" questions that the vast majority of human beings spend their entire lives avoiding, let alone anyone else insisting on asking them the same "overwhelming" questions because only by getting their answers to my questions would I find out if they truly loved me for who I was. But how could they love me for who I truly was?--not even my parents did that (that job is relegated to a man-created God to do)--nor were they capable of loving me for myself, for like myself, they did not love their true selves much more than I loved my own true self.
Often, life-partners who do share genuine feelings of love for one another choose one another out of a tacit unconscious agreement not to "disturb" one another's inner "universe." I learned this to be so from my own mother who, when I lived away from home for about eight years--and even when I was a child--she often, having no one else she felt that she could turn to, would discuss with me what caused her unhappiness in her own relationship with my father, who for ten years while we three children were growing up, was having an affair with another woman.
Some neurotic adults turn to sex to "drug" their pain, while others turn to the bottle, domestic violence, or equally self-destructive means of struggling with the contradictory and terrifying battle between Eros, the desire to live, and Thanatos, the desire to die. Freud says of such neurotic symptoms that they "are exclusively...either a substitutive satisfaction of some sexual impulse or measures to prevent such a satisfaction, and are as a rule compromises between the two, of the kind that arise according to the laws operating between contraries in the unconscious" (An Outline of Psychoanalysis, Ch. 7).
One day I was talking to my psychiatrist at the time--an excellent one--asking him why it was that I recognized that he loved me more than I loved myself--for such was quite clearly the case that I eventually had to ask him why. I received his answer as if I had been struck by a bolt of lightening that cracked open the inner-most core of my being. He said to me: "You deserve to be loved, Edward, simply because you exist!"
I had never heard any human being make such an unqualified and absolutely truthful statement in my entire life--but one that I had all my life longed to hear. Originally, it was from my parents that I was expecting to hear such a statement of such love as well as demonstrated to me through their actions and not just their words. Yes, my parents gave me much to be grateful for to this day, as I came to realize years later, but they did not help to instill in me sufficient strong and supportive feelings of self-love. For one only learns to love oneself by first feeling loved for who one is by one's parents or parent surrogates.
Once I left home at the age of eighteen, I eventually hoped to find another man, since I was homosexual from as far back almost as I had conscious memory of myself and my sexual feelings toward my father, from whom I wanted to feel coming from him--some of which did come through, but all to scantily--that same kind of love for me and a man who would tell me that I was "lovable" to him as he wished me to feel for him.
And as an adult, when I did think I had found a man for whom I had such feelings, because I thought that that man with whom I had chosen to share my life felt that same way about me, those very feelings caused me to fall in love with him in the first place.
Unfortunately, too often, I mistook wishful thinking for reality! In spite of all the signs, I just "had" to believe that he loved me for me. But in my twenties and thirties, I chose men who both were incapable of loving me, and for that reason I wanted them all the more to continue to perpetuate the feelings I unconsciously had about myself as not being "lovable."
The "only" problem was that not only did the men I chose not love me for me--and my intelligence played no small part as well in their rejecting me, for they felt intimidated by my seemingly inexhaustible probing spirit and acute, analytical mind that perceived connections among apparently disparate ideas where other minds did not--but not even I loved me for me. even though I had reason more and more to recognize what intellectual abilities I did possess, for I was graduated from New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, at the age of seventeen as co-editor of the senior year book, as valedictorian privileged to deliver the commencement address to my graduating class, and as the winner of two additional medals with my name added in gold on both the Scholarship and Leadership Boards on public display (which are still up to this day, I believe) in the main corridor of the high school.
My "smarts" led me to pursue an academic career, studying first at Brooklyn College, then the Sorbonne in Paris, and finally at Columbia University. My most brilliant professors with whom I studied and who recognized my passion for learning slowly encouraged me to prepare myself for teaching English and Comparative Literature and wrote letters of recommendation for me to have me be considered, at first, for part-time teaching at Brooklyn College in 1965 just about the time I was to turn twenty-four years old, and eventually full-time teaching starting in 1969 at the age of twenty-eight leading to becoming tenured in 1974 at the age of thirty-one.
For the next thirty five years, I devoted myself to my career as both teacher and scholar--a career for which I felt nothing but absolute good fortune and inordinate gratitude. There were very few times during all the years spent in the classroom teaching and in libraries doing research and in writing articles that did not prove to be among the major loves of my life. Now I was the parent-surrogate who got to probe the minds of my students with the profound questions and soul-searching probing of myself and the ideas of some of the world's giants in literature and philosophy. What had been denied me while growing up--free thought and free expression of thoughts, feelings, and ideas--became the hallmark of my professional career. It never ceased to amaze me to see both my students growing in self-awareness and knowledge at the same time that I myself was growing. I was as much the student being the teacher as I was a teacher to the students. It was, indeed, a "marriage made in heaven."
But all along the way, there were periodic episodes of deep depression and clinical emotional despair and feelings of hopelessness in my private life that fed off of my extremely low self-esteem as a human being, in general, and as a gay man, in particular. What compounded the problem further was that the very men I chose to seek to develop a permanent mutually loving relationship with did not love themselves sufficiently either and did not want to be with anyone who caused them to examine their own inner worlds as I had begun doing on my own as a child and then with a psychiatrist-psychoanalyst starting at the age of eighteen or nineteen.
One day many years later, yet at another of my sessions with a different loving psychiatrist, I mentioned the story of the "mantra" my mother repeated each time she got frustrated with and angry at me: "Edward, you are no good, you never were any good, and you will never be any good." For some mysterious reason as I tarted to repeat the refrain, at that moment I completely broke down and cried and sobbed and saw myself standing in front of my mother listening to her repeat those horrific words.
I cried in my doctor's office until I had no more tears left in me and no more pain to expunge. When I looked at my doctor eye-to-eye, he said to me, with a warm, loving smile on his face, "Now you know, Edward, that that is simply not true."In that instant, what I realized emotionally--not just intellectually, for realizing it intellectually alone is not purgative enough--is that what my mother said in frustration and anger simply was not the "whole" truth.
There were any number of men and women over the years, younger, older, or my own age who, as fellow students, friends of mine or even students of mine as I began teaching part-time at twenty-three years old in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Brooklyn College, who perceived me quite differently. Some of the former students I still communicate with until today.
And there have been, as well, some "boyfriends" along the way who have loved me and thought of my intelligence and sensitivity as incredible gifts, who respected me and embraced me, and were grateful to me for what part of the gifts I possessed that they wanted me to share with them because they found them so helpful.
For they were and are men and women on their own life's journey of self-discovery--of the profound kind--a journey that is reflected in the Socratic teaching that "the unexamined life is not worth living," recorded by the most influential ancient Greek philosopher of the western world and the most brilliant of all of Socrates' students, Plato, in his dialogue on the trial and condemnation to death of Socrates, in The Apology [Defense] of Socrates, passed on to the world some 2,500 years ago, continuing to be read and studied in nearly every required course in classical civilization taught throughout Europe, America, and parts of the Middle East.
But the most important realization of all is that I did not have to change anything about myself and my personality to have others like, and some few, deeply love me, for I discovered that I have reason enough to love myself "simply because I exist."
My loving myself is in no way contingent upon pleasing anyone else. I no longer need anyone's approval, as I once needed my mother's approval and my father's, as a condition that has to be met before I let myself love myself--"with warts and all," as the saying goes.
For, to be sure, loving oneself, obviously, does not in the least mean that one is without faults. What it does mean is that one loves oneself even with one's shortcomings, ever mindful that practice does not make perfect--one of many harmful myths perpetuated by society--but that practice makes for the possibility of deep-seated, long-lasting changes for the better in one's life.
I had to sever ties with any number of men and women as my life progressed, including a few men I truly loved, but who did not love themselves sufficiently to let themselves be honest with themselves to accept and love themselves so as to be able to accept and love me for who I was and I love them for who they were.
To be at peace and content with oneself--which is tantamount in my mind to the closest one comes to being able to experience joy and happiness--the only person whose love is truly necessary in one's life is one's very own, and no one else's, for who one is. For no matter how much one person may love another, if the individual does not love himself, the love of others simply has no constructive lasting effect whatsoever on his life--unless he has the kinds of break- throughs that took years for me to experience--and will continue to
And anyone who feels, thinks, or believes otherwise is someone continuing to live still with illusions and who does not truly love himself and is only deluding himself that he is "in love" with another or is in a relationship with someone who is "in love" with him.
There is no such "animal" as "being in love." There is only the reality of loving oneself and sharing that part of oneself with some few others who may wish to receive it with as few strings attached as humanly possible, for loving is in itself its own reward. What most men and women call "true love" is just another name for narcissism.
I have known any number of men and women who call "love" what is really an underlying, overwhelming fear of loneliness and a profound fear of death and an equally deep-seated need to attempt to satisfy feelings of co-dependence. It is also often a mutually unspoken, because mostly unconscious, agreement not to challenge one another to grow and, by so doing, to mutually avoid one another's true inner natures and profoundest gifts and talents. It may also be an adoption of a mutual fantasy of "true love," and/or a financial arrangement that proves economically beneficial to one another to acquire more and more of what, in reality, they truly need less and less of.
Love is that most unique and precious gift such that the more of it one gives away freely, including of course to oneself, with the least number of accompanying expectations or demands, the more of it one has to give to others as well--with learning to give it to oneself, and not just harbor the mere illusion of possessing it.
*This piece is dedicated to Bart, the only man I have ever truly loved from the very top of my head to the very bottoms of my feet--and will ever do so, for there is no way for me to undo or want to undo what he in his life has found and calls "true love." Edward
The Cosmological Argument Yet Once More: The Flaw in the "Cause and Effect" or "Unmoved Mover" Argument to Prove the Existence of God
Edward C. Paolella
The "Cause and Effect" or "Unmoved Mover" argument to prove the existence of God is a patently flawed one.
Why can one not ask, "Where did God come from?"?
If it is fair to ask who created the universe, and believe that God did, why is it not equally fair to ask who made God? It is only by someone's definition or, in the case of Moses, a "personal revelation," that "God" means "that Being Who has no beginning and no end," or, to express it slightly differently, that God is the "Unmoved Mover" of the universe.
In his article "The Cosmological Argument," Charles W. Johnson makes a similar point and justifies the logic of it:
The logical implications of asserting that the Universe must have an
explanatory entity are also theologically troublesome: the belligerent atheist can respond by asking why the Universe needs a Cause but God doesn't. While at first such a question seems insipid and stupid due to the conception of eternal God, it is not stupid in the context of the Universe: for no apparent reason, the Universe is assumed to not be self-sufficient, while God is assumed to be so, which simply shifts the locus of the Uncaused Cause rather than resolving it. Thus, such a superficially trivial question in fact forges an important argument by analogy; the atheist is as justified in demanding, "What caused God?" as the theist is in demanding, "What caused the Universe?" (http://www.eskimo.com/~cwj2/atheism/cosmo.html
Furthermore, theologians and philosophers who believe in a God as "Prime Mover" do not make a distinction before the existence of the universe and the existence of time--they are not co-relatives. Before the Big Bang, the almost totally accepted scientific explanation of the origins of time as it exists in the universe in its current cosmological state of being, there was a universe without time. As Johnson notes, there was a time when the universe existed before the "Big Bang." when before time as it is understood since the Big Bang there was a cosmos that existed, but time did not:
The dimensional nature of time has been a fundamental part of physics since
Einstein, and its expansion in the Big Bang is one of the least controversial notions in cosmology today. Further,...[it is necessary to] realize the vast importance of the idea that the beginning of the Universe is the beginning of time. Yes, there is some finite distance into the past before which the Universe did not exist. But that is because time is part and parcel of the Universe, not some disjoint phenomenon in which the Universe exists. The Universe did not non-exist for a period of time and
then suddenly wink into existence; at the moment of the Big Bang, the
Universe simply was, and time only existed after that moment. The ultimate
cause cannot be traced back further because there is no frame of reference
in which to trace.
In the Hindu scriptures of the Rig Veda, "The Hymn of Creation" (Nasadiya Sukta 10.129:6-7) expresses the notion that even before the Gods existed there was a universe that always was:
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? When was it [the universe]
produced? When is this creation? the gods came afterwards, with the creation of
this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whence this creation has arisen--perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did
not--the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows--or
perhaps he does not know.
(The Rig Veda: An Anthology. Sel., trans., and annot. by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. London: Penguin, 1981, pp. 25-26; see also http://www.boloji.com/hinduism/112htm)
With regard to the Hindus, their take on the origin of the universe is that of the ceptical position of a Montaigne--"Que sais-je?" ("What do I know").
If one buys the definition or another human being's "personal revelation" that God exists, then God exists. How can one argue against a definition or another human being's "personal revelation"? A definition is a given, and another human being's "personal revelation" is unverifiable.
Logic demands that if one has the right to ask who made the universe, then one also has the right to ask who made the Maker of the universe. But that kind of reasoning goes nowhere.
Why does the proverbial "buck" as to the origins of the universe stop at God? Why is it that only an assumed incorporal being--God--has an eternal nature? Why can't the universe, having corporeal being, have not always existed?
If one demands a logical answer to where the universe came from, then one also has the logical right to demand where God came from.
And even if a God created the universe, what proof does one have that He still exists? Because one "feels" His mysterious presence from within oneself? He may have created the universe, then He himself may have gone out of existence at some point thereafter. Why does one assume that the supposed Being that made the universe still has to exist (Paul Edwards, "The Cosmological Argument" in Critiques of God [Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1976], p. 46)?
Again--it is only by a definition created by theologians--human beings--or by the "personal revelation" of another human being that God has always existed and always will exist. What rational proof does one have of either? What makes the theologians' definition of God or another human being's "personal revelation" necessarily true?
All one can do is choose to believe that the definition or that the "personal revelation" is true--and that is called "faith"--or reject the definition or another's "personal revelation" makes the existence of God a reality.
However, neither the definition nor the "personal revelation" is provable or objectively verifiable. What the whole issue comes down to is a question of faith.
For what is faith? Faith is, after all, what St. Paul says it is: “Now faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the certitude of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Simply because it says in a book--the Bible--who some choose to believe is a "personal revelation" from God to one man named Moses, that "I am that I am"--is proof of God's existence because God supposedly said it to Moses does not necessarily make it so. One has the equal right to say that that "personal revelation" to Moses is a "revelation" to him and to him alone and only "hearsay evidence" to every other human being who choses to believe that God said that He, God, is eternal (Thomas Paine, "Age of Reason" [1774-75], Collected Writings, New York: Library of America, 1995, pp. 667-68):
I am that I am (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה,
pronounced Ehyeh asher ehyeh) is the sole response God used in the Bible when Moses asked for his name (Exodus
3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Old Testament. Hayah means
"existed" or "was" in Hebrew; "ehyeh" is the first person singular
present/future form. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean I am
that I am (King James Bible and
others). The word Ehyeh is used in many other places in the Old Testament. The Tetragrammaton itself may
derive from the same verbal root. [The Tetragrammaton (Greek: τετραγράμματον;
"word with four letters") is the usual reference to the Hebrew name for God, which is spelled (in
the Hebrew alphabet): י (yodh) ה (heh) ו
(vav) ה (heh) or
יהוה (YHWH). It is the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel.] It
stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism
that God exists within each and everyone and by himself, the uncreated Creator
who does not depend on anything or anyone; therefore I am who I am ( "I am that
I am," from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia).
And as for the "Cause and Effect" or "Unmoved Mover" argument for the existence of God, it is only logical to argue that if the universe has a cause, then the cause of the effect must have a cause also. Something does not exist merely because by definition or by personal "revelation" someone says it exists. What rational basis is there to say something exists because by definition it exists or by an unprovable "personal revelation" to one man it exists?
The claim that God exists must be scientifically provable; otherwise, it is merely an assumption based upon an arbitary definition or an unverafiable, supposedly "divine," revelation to one man, but "hearsay" to everyone else who choses to believe it. It may be a matter of faith, but faith, it must be remembered, is not based upon what is empirically known to be true. Faith is surely a belief, but a belief is surely not an assertable scientific fact.
Until there is scientifically verifiable evidence for the existence of God, there is no reason to believe that a God exists because someone argues that for every effect there must be a cause, but that the cause of the effect does not also have to have a cause.
What is equally arguable is that that God, who is supposedly eternal and the Creator or the "Unmoved Mover" of the universe, is a creation of man, not man or the universe in which man lives is the objectively, that is, empirically provable creation of an eternally existing God.
Roumanie, Dracula banni
Les responsables catholiques et orthodoxes de Roumanie ont accueilli avec satisfaction la décision du gouvernement de renoncer à un parc de loisirs à la gloire de Dracula le vampire.
Depuis que le projet avait été annoncé en 2001, les Églises faisaient assaut de critiques contre un « parc qui sera, à n'en pas douter, le royaume du mal » et donnera une « image fausse » du pays.
Aux voix des Églises s'étaient jointes celles d'historiens affirmant que « le mythe de Dracula n'a rien à voir avec l'histoire de la Roumanie. » Et pourtant. Si l'écrivain anglais Bram Stocker « inventa » en 1897 le personnage de Dracula ( diable en roumain), archétype du vampire, c'est bien Vlad Tepes, gouverneur de la Valachie au XVe siècle et connu sous le doux nom de « Vlad l'Empaleur », qui est à l'origine du mythe. Et la Valachie est roumaine depuis le XVIIIe siècle!
posted by Gilles et Claudine [Castelnau] http://protestants.blogspot.com
Rumanian Catholic and Orthodox Christian policy makers have welcomed with satisfaction the government's decision to forgo a theme park in honor of the vampire Dracula.
Since the project had been announced in 2001, the churches launched a critical assault against a "park that will be, without any doubt, the kingdom of evil" and will give a "false image" of the country.
To the voices of the Churches were joined those of historians affirming that "the myth of Dracula has nothing whatsoever to do with the history of Rumania." And moreover, if the English writer Bram Stocker "invented" in 1897 the character of Dracula (the Rumanian devil), archetype of the vampire, it is indeed "Governor-Prince" Vlad Tepes of Valachia in the 15th century [the title, during the Ottoman Empire, of the head of the Rumanian provinces conquered by the Turks] and known under the "sweet" name of "Vlad the Impaler," who is at the origin of the myth. Besides, Valachia has only been Rumanian since the 18th century!
Translated by Edward Paolella (May 16, 2006):
A Freudian Perspective
Edward C. Paolella
(April Fool's Day 2006)
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried:
HE DESCENDED INTO HELL:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God
the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
Included in the Apostles' Creed is the belief that Jesus descended into hell before ascending on the third day into heaven. According to certain Christian traditions, he supposedly took Moses, David, Solomon, and all the Jewish Prophets with him to heaven. Psychologically speaking, the point is that before we are able to attain "paradise" or "liberation"–that is, psychological health and creative freedom--"ascending into heaven"--we must first make the descent into the deepest, the most frightening part of ourselves, our unconscious--"hell." The purpose of the "descent into hell" is necessary to make the unconscious conscious so as to learn of, as many as possible, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRUTHS ABOUT OURSELVES--good, bad, or indifferent--accept them, and deal with them in an as mature and as rational a manner as possible so as to be freed from our neurotic behaviors, that is, to be freed from our unnecessary suffering.
As one female patient in psychoanalysis put it in Jerry Adler’s Newsweek article "Freud in Our Midst": "I decided I have a good life, but it could be better....[Psychoanalysis] makes you examine your life, retell your life, to understand where your attitudes, your beliefs and behaviors come from....I'm so much happier now. It's not something I could do alone. You have to confront the parts of yourself that are painful and shameful and difficult to face. Dr. Moritz [her psychoanalyst] asks the questions that cause me to dig deeper into myself" (March 26, 2006, p. 46).
The problem is that very few of us are willing to make the "descent"--to bring the unconscious desires into consciousness--so as to learn what caused our neuroses in the first place, neuroses that determine our conscious choices, and with the aid of adult reason and with being in touch with our current reality do what we have to to heal ourselves. In doing so, we learn to cut our neurotic ties from the past that have been governing our behavior ever since the desires emanating from the id were repressed in the first place during childhood. Our repressed desires, or the impulses to satisfy all our desires, however self-contradictory they may be, CREATED our damaged self-images or beleaguered ego with the help of the work of the super-ego, that is, the internalized system of values of right and wrong, good and evil, that act as judge, jury, and executioner that are the basis for our low self-esteem and the sabotaging of our own happiness.
Instead, we repeat the same neurotic patterns over and over again with our unconscious repressed feelings controlling our conscious choices. The question is: why do we continue to act self-destructively in spite of the fact that our rational, conscious minds are often even aware of our self-destructive behaviors, but not aware of their unconscious motivations? The answer is that we only have the illusion of being free based upon what our conscious minds tell us about ourselves without realizing or accepting that it is our repressed unconscious desires that determine our conscious choices based upon repressed childhood feelings of shame and guilt. Those unconscious feelings of childhood of shame and guilt that we carry around with us inside our heads are the bases for the religious concept of "sin."
All three Abrahamic religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--are founded upon the notion that we are all "sinners" incapable of redeeming ourselves. Hence, we get such theological ideas as "The Fall of Man," "Original Sin," and such remarks, as in the Book of Isaiah that "our righteousness is but as filthy rages before God," and in the Gospels that our "salvation comes only through the death and resurrection" of Jesus the Christ, whose crucifixion was necessary to "cleanse" all of us who "believe on Him" from our sins. Or as the opening lines of the hymn "Amazing Grace" expresses the concept of the unforgiving, unrelenting super-ego:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
The word "wretch," one of the oldest and the ugliest words in the English language, with an equally ugly meaning, is derived from the Old English verb wrecan, meaning "to drive, drive out," and in turn form the Old English noun wrecca, meaning "outcast, exile, fugitive," and "a base, despicable, or vile person."
Jesus is correct, psychologically speaking, that is it only "the truth that sets us free," but not "the truth" that Jesus is "The Truth" and that to be saved we must believe in Him, but rather that "the truth" that we learn about ourselves in bringing the unconscious repressed feelings of shame and guilt into consciousness and in liberating ourselves from such repressed shame and guilt that we become free to dispel what others originally predetermined for us was shameful and worthy of guilty feelings and of the punishment we must suffer for our shame and guilt.
In religious terms that is the idea of the Fall and God as Everlasting Judge who punishes us for our sins and, whom Jesus, "sitteth at the right hand of the Father," in the "last days" will "judge the living and the dead" to determine who will go to heaven to live in bliss with and in God and who to hell to suffer punishment, for all eternity, at the hands of Satan, the former Lucifer, the "Angel of Light," now turned the "Prince of Darkness."
Jesus' notion that "the truth will set you free" existed long before he did. In ancient Greek religion, what ignorant "religious" moderns condescendingly call Greek "mythology," not the religion of the ancient Greeks to be found expressed in Homer and other ancient writers, especially the ancient tragedians, but at worst legendary, fictional untruths, and at best allegorical spiritual and psychological truths, but certainly not as sacred or "Holy Scriptures," in the modern sense, to the ancient Greeks and later the ancient Romans in their variations on the Greek Homeric tradition in the writings of Vergil and Ovid and Seneca as the equal of the divinely inspired writings whether the TANAKH for the Jews, the New Testament for the Christians, the Qur'an for the Muslims, and the various other scriptures for the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, BahB'ís, and so on of all the other world's sacred religious writings.
Among the ancient Greeks the idea that "the truth will set you free" is expressed as the religious principle of "Know Thyself," espoused in the Greek temples of worship, especially in the city-state of Athens and in the Temple at Delphi dedicated to the God Apollo, the God of the sun, medicine, and poetry. Athens is named for Athena, the virgin Goddess of Wisdom, the daughter of the Father of the Olympian Gods Zeus, born full-grown from his head (just one example of Zeus, a male god, giving birth to children, as Jesus, the Creator-God aspect of the Father God of the Trinity, was also a male who "begot" everything and everyone in the universe, including his own mother the Virgin Mary, for it was through Jesus "that all things were made").
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She sprang full grown in armour from his forehead and thus has no mother. She is fierce and brave in battle in wars defend the state and home from outside enemies. She is the Goddess of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She invented the bridle, which permitted man to tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She is the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity. She was Zeus's favorite child and was allowed to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. Her favorite city is Athens. Her tree is the olive. The owl is her bird. She is an ever-virgin Goddess as, according to Roman Catholic dogma, Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, is the Ever-Virgin Mary, conceived immaculately, that is, without the taint of "original sin," for how could Jesus, God Incarnate, be born of a woman stained with sin?
In his "First Lecture" to his work A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Freud himself says, in so many words, that self-knowledge, the essence of wisdom, springs from our own heads as did Athena, the Virgin Goddess of Wisdom, did from Zeus' own head:
"...[H]ow is it possible to study it [psychoanalysis] at all or to convince oneself of its truth? The study of it is indeed not an easy matter, nor are there many people who have thoroughly learned it; still, there is, of course, some way of learning it. Psychoanalysis is learned first of all on oneself, through the study of one's own personality [emphasis mine]. This is not exactly what is meant by introspection, but it may be so described for want of a better word. There is a whole series of very common and well-known mental phenomena which can be taken as material for self-analysis when one has acquired some knowledge of the method. In this way one may obtain the required conviction of the reality of its conceptions, although progress on these lines is not without its limitations. One gets much further by submitting oneself to analysis by a skilled analyst, undergoing the working of the analysis in one's own person and using the opportunity to observe the finer details of the technique which the analyst employs (Joan Riviere, tr., New York: Perma Books, 1953, pp. 23-24).
The point of taking this round-about journey is to show the fantastic connections in thought between the insights of the ancient Greeks, Jews, Christians, and Freud (an atheist) about the nature of the human mind, how it works, how we are frightened by the necessary descent into our own unconscious minds ("hell) in order to "ascend" into "heaven" or into higher consciousness freed from the unconscious childhood feelings of shame and guilt that keep us from truly knowing ourselves and from deriving deeper enjoyment of our lives and the best possible uses of our creative talents.
Before the common era, what the Buddha in ancient India in the 6th century and Socrates in the 5th century in ancient Greece experienced and taught their disciples--Socrates remarking that "the unexamined life is not worth living" in Plato's The Trial of Socrates--is that years of deeply painful "introspection" are necessary so as to attain the state of "Nirvana" or "Rebirth" or "Enlightenment" (that is, revelation of the self experienced from within the mind) devoid of neurotic suffering, being freed from the so-called "endless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth" and freedom from repetitious compulsive neurotic behavior. In his paper "Formations regarding the Two Principles in Mental Function" (1911), as Freud notes, "We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality....The neurotic turns away from reality because he finds it unbearable–either in whole or parts of it." The neurotic’s "alienation from reality" has as its aim "denying the existence of the particular event that occasioned the outbreak..." (Collected Papers, V. 4, tr. Joan Riviere, London: 1953, p. 13).
Every "truly realized" master thinker, philosopher, musician, artist, sculptor, teacher, and any other deeply introspective human being, whether literate or illiterate, remembered or forgotten by history, having attained true self-knowledge grows in compassion, understanding, and love of self and others, but not without each individual knowing "hell" before experiencing "heaven" on earth--to whatever degree it is possible for each one of us to accomplish such a rebirth who is willing to make the journey that Dante describes in his epic trilogy of the "Inferno," "Purgatorio'" and "Paradiso," all three parts of which he named La Comedia and his readers soon after his death, The Divine Comedy. For as Shakespeare puts it, a "comedy" is, after all, "all's well that ends well"!
The goal of psychoanalysis, Freud points out time and again, is the uncovering and resolution of the patient's internal conflicts so as to have the "old" neurotic suffering self ("ich") die and the "new" healthy self ("ich") be born based, not upon fantasies and wishes--the "pleasure principle"--but upon being in touch with reality, past and present, and making conscious decisions based upon the "reality principle" so as to diminish human suffering as much as the human condition and reality will allow.From a Freudian psychoanalytic perspective, such is the true meaning of being born once of the flesh and then again of the "spirit." The word Freud (an atheist) uses is "Seele," to mean a human being's innermost being, what in Greek is "psyche" and in Latin "animus" and in English "soul," but carrying no transcendental or "other-worldly" significance whatsoever.
For Freud, to be "born again" was to be as free from neurotic behavior and its attendant suffering as humanly possible through a discovery of and a being in touch with the reality of one's own inner-most being on a conscious level to make choices on the basis of the individual's own reality.As Freud used the terms, the Ego (das Ich) is the mediator between the impulsive-compulsive demands of the Id (das Es) and the tyrannical threats and judgments of the Superego (das Überich). The Ego is only free to choose what is in its own best interest when it is consciously aware that to surrender to either the chaotic and contradictory wishes of the Id or the Kafkaesque policing and prosecutorial nature of the Superego is to cave into the forces of the unbridled indulgence of desire and the unrelenting punishment of blood-stabbing guilt and biting remorse.
To be "born again," to be truly free, is to "know thyself" and to make choices on the basis of the reality principle of our present circumstances--not out of irrational compulsive impulses and beseiging guilt--but out of enlightened self-interest. It is neither a "God" nor a "Holy Spirit" who causes us to be "born again" and set free, but we ourselves through the difficult and painful, but courageous "descent into hell" as the essential part of the journey toward self-revelation and self-actualization: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings" (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, I:2:134).
In his New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933), Freud expresses what is meant psychoanalytically by being "born again"--being freed from the chaotic compulsive impulses of the id and the knife-stabbing guilt and back-biting remorse of the superego, or in Freud's own words: "Where id was, there shall ego be" (Wo Es war, soll Ich werden, literally "Where it was, I shall come to be").
Set free from the unrelenting repressed drives of the id and the threating judgments and punishments of the superego, the ego mediates between these two powerful psychic forces based, not upon either the "pleasure principle" or the tyranny of deeply ingrained, impossible-to-live-by standards of religious, sexual, and moral perfection, but by the "reality principle" based upon self-knowledge and the realities of the present now guided by adult reasoning abilities and healthy defense mechanisms.
Now the ego, self-empowered and in touch with its own creative and intuitive talents and perceptions, has an enhanced ability to make choices out of enlightened self-interest no longer dictated by repressed inscrutible psycho-sexual and aggressive instincts and unyielding threats of self-recrimination and "self-bashing" and acquired self-destructive patterns of behavior, but by the prevailing power of rational thinking and of decision-making that take into account the whole human being: the emotions, the values, and the needs of the individual's ever-changing internal realities and the ever-changing vicissitudes of the external world.Thus human begins become the masters of their own constantly evolving individual destinies created within the parameters to which all human beings are subject--those of the human condition and the laws of nature. Being so psychologically "born again," that is, psychologically aware and empowered, does not free the individual from suffering--for Freud, like the Buddha, argues that life is suffering.
As Mark Edmundson of the Department of English at the University of Virginia so illuminatingly reveals in his essay "Freud and the Fundamentalist Urge," on the 150th anniversary of Freud’s birth:
At the center of Freud's work lies a fundamental perception: human beings are
not generally unified creatures. Our psyches are not whole, but divided into
parts, and those parts are usually in conflict with one another [much of the
source of our psychological suffering]. The id, or the 'it,' is an agent of pure
desire: it wants and wants and does not readily take no for an answer. The
superego, or over-I, is the internal agent of authority. It often looks harshly
upon the id and its manifold wants. The superego, in fact, frequently punishes
the self simply for wishing for forbidden things, even if the self does not act
on those wishes at all. Then there is the ego, trying to broker between the it
and the over-I, and doing so with the greatest of difficulty, in part because
both agencies tend to operate outside the circle of the ego's awareness. The
over I and the it often function unconsciously. Add to this problem the fact
that 'the poor ego,' as Freud often calls it, must navigate a frequently hostile
outside world, and it is easy to see how, for Freud, life is best defined as
ongoing conflict" (New York Times Magazine, April 30, 2006, p. 16).
But our lives need not be just about suffering. Set free psychologically, each human being has the potential to experience periods of heightened awareness, creative living, and contented fulfillment. The individual's psychologically enlightened self gives each healthily raised child, each woman, and each man the "unalienable Rights [but not guarantees]...to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" (Thomas Jefferson, "The Declaration of Independence").
To be "endowed" by ONE'S OWN TRUE SELF with such "certain unalienable Rights" is, psychoanalytically speaking, to be "born again" to make enlightened choices, and to make enlightened choices is, by psychoanalytic definition, to be as free as it is humanly possible to be free psychologically.
Le vrai croyant : penser c'est croire
THE TRUE BELIEVER: OR, THINKING IS BELIEVING
Edward C. Paolella
24 janvier 2006
Dieu - qui n'existe pas - m'a parlé l'autre jour. Il m'a dit :
- C'est incompréhensible. Je n'existe pas et pourtant des milliards d'êtres humains ne cessent de me prier. Des enfants, des femmes, des hommes, chacun à sa manière :
. Guéris mon mari de son cancer.
. Fais tomber la pluie.
. Fais-moi gagner les 260 millions de dollars de la loterie.
. Mon impuissance sexuelle est-elle punition de mes péchés ?
. Fais que papa arrête de battre maman et moi quand il a bu.
. Efface tous les Juifs de la surface de la terre.
. Nourris mes enfants affamés.
. Fais que Pat Robertson et Jerry Falwell meurent du sida dans la souffrance.
. Continue a nous bénir, nous les vrais croyants, dans notre jihad contre le Satan américain.
J'ai demandé :
- Mon Dieu si tu n'existes pas, comment se fait-il que presque toute l'humanité croie que tu existes? Qu'on torture en ton saint Nom, qu'on mutile et qu'on tue dans le monde entier des millions d'incroyants ou d'infidèles, parce qu'ils disent que tu n'existes pas ou parce qu'ils croient différemment ? Qu'on continue à croire que tu exauces les prières et que tu fais des miracles ?
Dieu a répondu :
- Bien que je n'existe pas, sinon comme une illusion de leur esprit à leur propre image, ils se refusent à prendre eux-mêmes la responsabilité de leur propre vie. Ils se tournent vers moi, ils attendent de moi que je pense à leur place et que je fasse leur sale travail.
J'ai dit respectueusement :
- Merci, mon Dieu pour ton explication. Cette explication toute simple de la raison pour laquelle, d'une manière ou d'une autre, presque toute l'humanité croit en toi plutôt que de croire en elle-même, me semble tout à fait convaincante.
Et j'ai poursuivi :
- Puisque tu n'existes pas et que tu n'as jamais existé, ce n'est donc pas toi qui m'a parlé.
J'ai longuement réfléchi à cette conversation que j'ai eue avec Dieu. Et j'ai finalement pris conscience que c'était moi qui pensais tout seul et qui me parlais à moi-même. Ce n'était pas Dieu qui me parlait, c'était moi qui cherchais à résoudre les problèmes qui sont, pour la plupart des hommes tout à fait insolubles. Moi qui, ce faisant, osais troubler l'ordre universel et... devenir sage.