Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love, Love, Love (and Marriage Equality)

Eros, Philios, and Agape. Those are the 3 kinds of love I learned about years back, Erotic aka Sensual, Brotherly, and Altruistic aka Idealistic Love.  Ideally a person has boundaries for people, so that Lovers get Eros, Friends and Family get Philios, and Intangibles get Agape.

When the subject of Engendering & Orientation come up I look back to the three kinds of love I mention, and I think, I love people of both genders, but have only felt Eros towards women.  It's not how I was raised, it's how I'm wired.  So are we arguing about Love or coupling?  Definitely coupling.  So my attempt to lean on the idealistic definition of Love is useless.  This is a visceral dialectic, not a metaphysical one.

So, since I spent all those thousands of dollars I didn't have studying Anthropology, we can look at the biological argument in regards to sexuality and coupling.  I'm going to dumb it down to basic Darwin: Survival of the fittest.  Adaptation that promotes survival is ideal.  What it takes to survive gets odd at times, but ultimately proliferation of the species is a prerequisite.  By most accounts homosexuality is a mutation of sorts, one that ultimately negates the urge to proliferate one's DNA.  Oddly enough, though it doesn't prosper the individual, some argue that in nature it prospers the species by slowing overpopulation.  That's the utilitarian take on it.

If Gallup's numbers are correct with 3.4% of the US population being something other than Heterosexual* then the Utilitarian take on evolutionary adaptation across the human genome seems a little presumptuous.  That number, though very real, is also within the margin of error statistically.  What does that mean?  Well, given the credence we give "facts" based on analytic interpretation, would it be fair to call this population a persistent genetic neurological anomaly?  How would it go over if a person identifying as Homosexual was classified as mentally handicapped?  It's those kind of notions that beget the Eugenics of old.  It's a dark path to the past, and with the potential onset of genetically modifying offspring, the future.  Regardless, Anthropology and Darwin render Homosexuality an evolutionary dead end, biologically.

If we deign Homosexuality an act of Free Will, and not the result of Biological Determination, the argument for equality takes on a more libertarian slant.  That seems the best path towards litigating the issue honestly.  Then the question becomes, how much freedom, and of what sort, are the people of this nation willing to accept at this point in our history?  If we are to judge by the democratic process of most of the states of the union, not a lot.  If we are to judge by the strength of advocacy receiving coverage, all but a few.  The reality is, in the marketplace of ideas, numbers don't matter as much as volume.  Those who shout the loudest, enunciate clearly, repeatedly, for the longest period of time, will be heard over the opposition if they are not equaled in those qualities.

If the argument is for equal rights for all people, then the laws as they are, are biased.  If this nation is still a proponent of majority rule, then the move to overturn laws restricting marriage to Heterosexuals through litigation instead of popular vote, is biased.  The history of the United States tends to put the government at odds with the electorate on these sorts of issues, because there are contrary ideas of what/ which Moral Authority is preeminent across cultural and generational lines.  Hypocrisy is woven into the fabric of this Country because our value for self-governance and democracy is often in conflict with how moral advocacy has to go about finding a footing in the political landscape when it finds its cause unpopular.  It's a very contentious and alienating way to go about change, and probably responsible for a great deal of the polarization and backlash manifesting in today's rhetoric.

From a religious perspective, particularly Abrahamic religion, the idea of proliferating the genome of  Abraham was a Biblical covenant, and any act by his offspring to undermine that process was considered sinful.  From that you could argue the idea/ definition of Sodomy evolved.  The Old Testament is in many ways a genealogy of the descendants of God's chosen people.  In that regard the aims of Darwin's Evolutionary Fittest and God's covenant with Abraham are similar, that their offspring be vast in number and carry on the line.  From that reasoning, aligning the United States with a Christian identity, as unconstitutional as that may be, is a logical reason to oppose marriage equality.  It's misappropriated and ill-executed logic, but it follows, given the presumption of hypocrisy.

We're entering a time where many may feel we are on the verge of maxing out our capacity to evolve in a functional way.  Our material evolution may yet continue as we tinker more and more with technology and our biology.  In a world where this is the norm, the traditional role of gender and coupling may lose meaning and value.  We may just move forward to the point where coupling is no longer the means by which children are created, and instead an actualization of sentiment between individuals exclusively.  Maybe not any time soon, but in the not too distant future.  The means are available.  It's this sort of world that will render the arguments rooted in Biological Determinism moot.  Until then, it seems the move is to future-proof our rhetoric and assert a moral authority that trumps civil authority.  Making such a move will put us in opposition with the majority of the world's population, which is made up of developing nations, most on the precipice of being 1st world nations (India, China) and the rest not necessarily as progressive in regards to cultural tolerance of non-traditional sexuality in the public sphere. This puts the US in a position of apostle to the world in matters of sexuality.  Add that to the list of things we assert over others that furthers the rendering of our nation as elitist and meddling.  Again, the hypocrisy is second nature for us.  Freedom is not the anyway street we make it out to be.

There seems to be a stalemate/ zero-sum gain at play.  If we assume that all Homosexuals in America get married that amounts to 1.7% more of the population having access to the benefits of marriage.  This would be of little significance unless a significant number of that 3.4% were EXTREMELY HIGH wage earners with EXTREMELY HIGH net wealth so that the dispersal of income would be effected in some manner I can't reasonably foresee.  That doesn't seem to be the reality.  There's no grounds for employers to claim the financial burden will cripple them, save for the possibility that the vast majority of this 3.4% are living in virtual segregation in enclaves so that their ratio to the normal population is disproportionate and thus employers in those areas would bare the brunt of the financial impact of having to provide marriage benefits.  The only real threat I can imagination, is the fear of punitive litigation against discrimination.

Ultimately, I'm ambivalent on the issue.  There's a lot of symbolic politics at play and it's a turn off for me.  I was, and still am Pro-Civil Union, and the semantic game at play here has alienated me.  If this is solely a legislative matter, then decoupling the word Marriage from our Federal Language would solve the problem, but that's not the issue.  This is a clash as much about Cultural Sovereignty as it is Politics.  If the faith community wants to think of Marriage as it's property, we can believe that, but it's a word, a concept, one the State can use as well.  The challenge becomes, if the majority of the population a State, or the Nation, are part of the Faith Community, how do you get them to accept a modern philosophical movement that doesn't align with their faith?  You can't.  The legislators of the government are only empowered to make provisions for equal access.  That seems to be what's happening, but it's not going to change the cultural rhetoric.

You can't make everyone like** you.

* http://www.gallup.com/poll/158066/special-report-adults-identify-lgbt.aspx
** meant in both common senses of the word.
Having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to: "they were like brothers".
In the same way that; as: "people who change countries like they change clothes".
  1. Used with reference to a person or thing of the same kind as another: "the quotations could be arranged to put like with like".
  2. The things one likes or prefers.
(of a person or thing) Having similar qualities or characteristics to another person or thing: "I responded in like manner".
Used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker's uncertainty about an expression just used.
Find agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

...Where I'm Not Ugly and You're Looking At Me

The blessing and curse of having so much to consume in the span of the last 17 or so years is that it's easy to forget things that were at one point extremely important to you in their era.  This song was just that.  Back before I was as into Neil Young as I would become, but still a fan of Pearl Jam, they released this single, and it struck me as the best things i'd heard from them yet.  It felt Epic, Anthemic, but retained the tension and brooding that I could relate to at that time. The title, I Got Id seemed so clever, so much so it sprung to mind when I was thinking of the subject impulses, and how a sudden immediate urge can persuade people to make choices that may last lifetimes.

I was made to feel my body was betraying me very early in life.  Maybe it was providence?  I was destined to take the acetic route to relating to the flesh, seeing it as a limitation as much as a vehicle for my existence.  The idea of Id, Ego, and Super Ego, when they were introduced to me, made good sense based on how I learned to break down my self.  My struggles with detachment in recent years are a direct reflection on that whole process.  Being sensitive in that oh so human way was my kryptonite.  Every time I succumbed to rage, envy, pride, greed, it was an impulsive response to ill considered observations.  My mind, my body, it was something more than I ever would have wanted it to be.  Sensitivity will throw you for a loop.

That being the case, the enchantment of women was especially terrifying as I grew up, because the allure of love was strong in me.  I wanted to be loved specifically, and to love specifically.  I was devoted by nature, but I felt a certain amount of rejection from the women in  my immediate family.  I usually felt like a burden or nuisance more than anything else.  I think having your sisters constantly wishing for someone to give me my comeuppance in so many words (no matter how much I deserved it), was a special kind of rejection.  It's fair to say that as a result I tried seeking the kind of warmth and nurturing you'd expect at home elsewhere, but with no grandmother around and the physical and emotional distance between the other women in my family, there was none to be found.  I relented my seeking, it didn't seem to be in the cards.

So... time passes and hormones kick in, and my need for acceptance and affinity for affection are complicated by carnal desire.  Now, this might not have been as much an issue if I hadn't had the misfortune of being in the company of unsupervised juveniles with whom being horny was their singular obsession. Sans responsible adults keeping a watchful eye on those types of kids, even the most innocent child gets exposed to the most  perverse of ideas and media.  That kind of unwanted exposure constitutes abuse, but most kids don't know that when they're living through it.  Most people have come to just write it off as children being children.  I would argue that in that case ignorance is bliss.  Kids should be allowed to come into their own in the context of an empathetic education, not misguided happenstance under the influence of maladjusted  influence.

Anyway,  my opposition to my Id and my Ego starts around that time.  I rebelled against my Id in response to the influence others hand on it, the hand perversion played in corrupting those folk who then, for their own reasons, wanted to share the "goods" with me, because, well you share your secrets with your friends right?  The saying "Knowledge is power." is particularly true with children because of their naivete, innocence, and or ignorance depending on your take on the situation and your take on things. Enlightenment is always around the corner in youth, an ever-expanding experience of illumination.  People are like living reels of film that use that light to project whatever images and impressions they've captured onto the unexposed. People how the power to completely alter a child's existence intellectually by simply planting the seed of an idea.  It's truly like Inception.  I know because I've been subject to it and witnessed it time and time again.

Having a Gnostic bent lends a person to being prideful.  Having the steadfast conviction that you were a born leader when you are 5 or 6 years old, for no other reason than a innate sense of destiny, well that's a recipe for being a wise acre.  Ironically, at 6 I distinctly remember identifying with the Owl as an animal because it was supposedly wise.  So, I was already on a similar path to many of the great leaders who were notorious for good judgement in most affairs sans those of the heart and libido.  By the time I was 10 years old I was actively trying to let go of my desire to assert myself as a leader, and just be a part of groups, a contributor.  I was already extremely self-conscious after years of brow-beating from my sisters for getting on their nerves.  I tried to get over myself, and the process is what brought me to look to God.  I also did my fair share or reading Time Life books on astrology and mythology for what that was worth.

What it all amounts to is a combination of  intellectual and biological restraint reigning over me in my conscious and unconscious worlds.  What some look at as repression, for me is an expression of self-control.  All things in moderation is a common adage, but seldom have I heard anyone establishing a fair definition of just what moderation is.  Rather than try to figure that out, I tried to confront any feelings that had me reducing a person to my own personal interest in, and not thinking of them as a complete human being.  It's fair to say that this was a manifestation of faith as much as a bit of  logically derived humanism, largely as a result of a lack study of the one text my faith was based on.  I was basically making it up as I went.  As a result I allowed myself a certain amount of flexibility with my indulgences, which left me open to hypocrisy.  My penchant for egoism couldn't live with that.  I was good at keeping myself out of trouble so long as I didn't get emotionally involved with things, but I had a problem with emotions.

By and large, because of that, I made small goals, like not making a fool out of myself.  Seems easy enough right? If only.  I remember being particularly happy when I was in committed relationship because it meant I could disregard all  those awkward moments of attraction or infatuation that would come to pass, but had no place in my life.  Having a love to focus on gave me an "out" that was worthwhile.  For someone who identified with the loyalty of dogs, having a love in my life was liberating, when the relationship was healthy.  Selflessness came with the territory and I saw that as a means to undermine my self-centered egoism.  I could focus my hormonal energies on my love, but doing so was fruitless if I didn't invest and express my interest in her in all the other ways she valued.  Unfortunately, I failed to do those things to her satisfaction, just as much as I failed to show the best judgement in choosing a relationship in the first place.  So when Katie and I broke up for the last time, the one lingering concern above all that I lost regarding the pursuit of a lasting, enriching love, was a skepticism about my ability to pick out the foundation of a good relationship from a bad one.  Was I naturally attracted to self-destruction or conflict?  Did I attract unstable people?  Was the chemistry I got caught up in hormones and  opportunity at work, or the byproduct of some deep seeded emotional needs or deficiencies possessed by myself and the people I connected to in that way?

All of those concerns  had me second guessing my intentions in interpersonal interactions with porous boundaries.  Like I mentioned before, having very clear cut boundaries is a Godsend for me, because of all the confusion I see with them as a part of modern relationships, and aspects of my own personal history.  Those who don't learn from their past are doomed to repeat it.  It's insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, and it's nihilistic to do the same thing over and over again and willingly accept negative consequences.  There are a multitude of proverbs and folk wisdom I can apply to keeping myself from getting myself into trouble, but that would be a waste of time when the real issue is how I feel about myself carrying on as I do these days.

I feel as if I'm a participant-observer in my own life.  Instead of just feeling things, I'm making note of the fact that I'm feeling things.  I've used this blog to write about the particular way my interactions with a few women in my life have made me feel. This is all outside of the realm of physical or emotional intimacy, because I'm simply just not that close to anyone in my life right now.  But still, in the absence of the wind, the lightest breeze is noticeable.  In a world full of beautiful women of varying degrees of confidence and emotional or romantic attachment, recognizing beauty is a natural reaction.  Being particularly attracted or captivated by one individual, that is a more unique experience for me.  It's such a curious thing, that I'm more inclined to ponder it than actively pursue it, mainly because of my track record with attraction.  I don't make things easy for myself in that department for whatever reason, and thus far it's only ended well when I spared myself the indignity of the foregone conclusions I chose to disbelieve to invest the ways I have in the past.  Those losses had consequences I can't live in denial of.  Anyway, I find myself mesmerized by the power a person can have when you are undeniably attracted to them.  At the same time, I'm fascinated by the thought process attractive people have when they are aware of their ability to do so, and how they choose to make use of it for whatever purposes, or are unaware of it, in denial of it, or try to overcome or suppress it to have social interactions unburdened by furtiveness of one sort or another.  It's the heady stuff of life we try to underplay or minimize as routine.  In reality it's actually overwhelming stuff and responsible for a lot of psychosis in this day and age or modern culture.

All that said, feeling like a raw nerve, sensitive to every nuance of communication, every potential opportunity to express desire and intention through inference, is all the more reason to take a step back.  At least, that's how I have been approaching it, because of my poor judgement.  Getting caught up in the moment when you have a desire for some semblance of sustainability with the positive things in your life is surefire way to undermine your best intentions.  I can't afford to justify my flight of fancy by having a devil may care attitude. Sometimes you have to step up and make the right choices ahead of time instead of trying to mill lessons out of the wreckage of  foolhardy whims pursued.  And yet, I want to build a rich life and share it with someone of like mind and spirit.  But this life we live gets all the more complicated with each choice we make along the way with lasting ramifications that carry forward even if those relationships don't.  It's in those moments where the Id just wants the Ego to check out completely.  That's exactly why I refuse to let it.  My Id is relentless, and because of that, my Ego and Super Ego have to be as well, to keep the "Me" I know in check.  Balance is key.  I don't have a lot going for me beyond the comfort I create for others when I'm projecting an even keeled, well adjusted vibe.  Then again, what's that got me in the long haul?