i’m not lonely

i’m not lonely
sleeping all alone
you think i’m scared
but i’m a big girl
i don’t cry or anything

i have a great
big bed to roll around
in and lots of space
and i don’t dream
bad dreams like i used
to have that you
were leaving me
anymore

now that you’re gone
i don’t dream
and no matter
what you think
i’m not lonely
sleeping
all alone

From The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1995 (public library)

Published on September 28, 2021 at 6:00 by

The Caldron

40. Hsieh / Deliverance

above CHêN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
below K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER

Here the movement goes out of the sphere of danger. The obstacle has been removed, the difficulties are being resolved. Deliverance is not yet achieved; it is just in its beginning, and the hexagram represents its various stages.

THE JUDGMENT

DELIVERANCE. The southwest furthers.
If there is no longer anything where one has to go,
Return brings good fortune.
If there is still something where one has to go,
Hastening brings good fortune.

This refers to a time in which tensions and complications begin to be eased. At such times we ought to make our way back to ordinary conditions as soon as possible; this is the meaning of “the southwest.” These periods of sudden change have great importance. Just as rain relieves atmospheric tension, making all the buds burst open, so a time of deliverance from burdensome pressure has a liberating and stimulating effect on life. One thing is important, however: in such times we must not overdo our triumph. The point is not to push on farther than is necessary. Returning to the regular order of life as soon as deliverance is achieved brings good fortune. If there are any residual matters that ought to be attended to, it should be done as quickly as possible, so that a clean sweep is made and no retardations occur.

THE IMAGE

Thunder and rain set in:
The image of DELIVERANCE.
Thus the superior man pardons mistakes
And forgives misdeeds.

A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing the air; the superior man produces a similar effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men that induce a condition of tension. Through clarity he brings deliverance. However, when failings come to light, he does not dwell on them; he simply passes over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions, just as thunder dies away. He forgives misdeeds, the intentional transgressions, just as water washes everything clean.

Six in the third place means:
If a man carries a burden on his back
And nonetheless rides in a carriage,
He thereby encourages robbers to draw near.
Perseverance leads to humiliation.

This refers to a man who has come out of needy circumstances in to comfort and freedom from want. If now, in the manner of an upstart, he tries to take his ease in comfortable surroundings that do not suit his nature, he thereby attracts robbers. If he goes on thus he is sure to bring disgrace upon himself.
Confucius says about this line:

Carrying a burden on the back is the business of common man; a carriage is the appurtenance of a man of rank. Now, when a common man uses the appurtenance of man of rank, robbers plot to take it away from him. If a man is insolent toward those above him and hard toward those below him, robbers plot to attack him. Carelessness in guarding things tempts thieves to steal. Sumptuous ornaments worn by a maiden are an enticement to rob her of her virtue.

Six at the top means:
The prince shoots at a hawk on a high wall.
He kills it. Everything serves to further.

The hawk on a high wall is the symbol of a powerful inferior in a high position who is hindering the deliverance. He withstands the force of inner influences, because he is hardened in his wickedness. He must be forcibly removed, and this requires appropriate means. Confucius says about this line:

The hawk is the object of the hunt; bow and arrow are the tools and means.
The marksman is man (who must make proper use of the means to his end).
The superior man contains the means in his own person. He bides his time
and then acts. Why then should not everything go well? He acts and is free.
Therefore all he has to do is to go forth, and he takes his quarry.
This is how a man fares who acts after he has made ready the means.

50. Ting / The Caldron

above LI THE CLINGING, FIRE
below SUN THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD

The six lines construct the image of Ting, THE CALDRON; at the bottom are the legs, over them the belly, then come the ears (handles), and at the top the carrying rings. At the same time, the image suggests the idea of nourishment. The ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked viands in the temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The heads of the family served the food from the ting into the bowls of the guests.
THE WELL (48) likewise has the secondary meaning of giving nourishment, but rather more in relation to the people. The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilization, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state.
This hexagram and THE WELL are the only two in the Book of Changes that represent concrete, men-made objects. Yet here too the thought has its abstract connotation.
Sun, below, is wood and wind; Li, above, is flame. Thus together they stand for the flame kindled by wood and wind, which likewise suggests the idea of preparing food.

THE JUDGMENT

THE CALDRON. Supreme good fortune.
Success.

While THE WELL relates to the social foundation of our life, and this foundation is likened to the water that serves to nourish growing wood, the present hexagram refers to the cultural superstructure of society. Here it is the wood that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit. All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order.
Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be sacrificed to the divine. But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart from man. The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads to great good fortune and success.

THE IMAGE

Fire over wood:
The image of THE CALDRON.
Thus the superior man consolidates his fate
By making his position correct.

The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the fire burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.

Published on September 27, 2021 at 6:00 by

Tinder

Over the past few years i had advice from people around me to go on Tinder. This was in reply to my confession i still wanted a boyfriend, above all things. Tinder seemed to be an easy way to get one fast.

My middle sister told me around four years ago. ‘Go on Tinder’ she said one evening. My eldest sister actually replied to her that it was not necessary to be on Tinder to find a proper boyfriend. I’m glad to say. The house boss a year ago advised me the same thing. ‘Go on Tinder, you’ll find someone in no time!’ No i said. I don’t want to. A friend from the garden told me this year that he had found a nice girlfriend on Tinder. I should do the same! No i said. But i would think about it. I said.

I am not saying all the people go on Tinder for one reason only (sex for the uninformed). I’m sure many people are trying their best to look for the love of their life. I would be such a person. I would be careful in how i would profile myself, who i would like. Of course. It is just, i am not looking for one specific person. Not right now.

I would really like to have my life in order, have something to earn money with, have a place to live. I would really like to be able to talk with people of all different kinds about all sorts of things: how to best feed yourself, how to farm, how to garden, how to work in this world, how to preserve this world for the future. I would love to make money with my drawings, with my walks, my gardening, cooking, writings. My singing even, my making videos.

I would really like to be with somebody of course. But just not right now.

Well, at least i keep telling myself 🙂

Published on September 24, 2021 at 6:00 by

The Monarchy of Fear

Naked and Afraid
By Martha Nussbaum

By Martha Nussbaum, from The Monarchy of Fear, which was published last month by Simon and Schuster. Nussbaum is a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago and the author of more than twenty books. Source

You are lying on your back in the dark. You see, you hear, you feel, but you can’t act. You are completely, simply, helpless.

This is the stuff of nightmares. Most of us have nightmares of helplessness, in which we feel a terrible fear of inescapable demons pursuing us—and perhaps an even greater fear of our own powerlessness. But this horror story is also the condition of every human baby. Calves, foals, chicks, puppies, baby elephants and dolphins—­almost all other animals learn to move very quickly, more or less right after birth. Only human beings remain helpless for years, and only we survive that helpless condition. As Lucretius, the Roman poet of the first century bc, wrote,

the baby, like a sailor cast forth from the fierce waves, lies naked on the ground, unable to speak, in need of every sort of help to stay alive, when first nature casts it forth with birth contractions from its mother’s womb into the shores of light. And it fills the whole place with mournful weeping, as is fitting for one to whom such trouble remains in life.

Politics begins where we begin. Most political philosophers have been male, and even if they had children they did not typically spend time with them or observe them closely. Lucretius’ poetic imagination led him to places where his life probably did not. But philosophy made big strides when one of democracy’s great early theorists, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a major intellectual architect of the revolutionary anti-monarchical politics of the eighteenth century, wrote about the education of children with a deep understanding of the psychology of infancy. Rousseau was the opposite of a loving parent: he sent his children to a foundling hospital, without even recording their dates of birth. Somehow, though, through his various experiments in teaching other people’s young children, through conversations with women, through memories of his childhood, through his close reading of Lucretius and other Roman philosophers, and through his own poetic imagination, he understood that early need creates problems for the type of political order he sought. He understood the dangers this condition posed for the democratic project.

Human life, Rousseau understood, begins not in democracy but in monarchy. The baby has no way of surviving except through reliance on caretakers—and so it makes slaves of others. Babies must either rule or die. Incapable of shared work or reciprocity, they receive what they need only by commands and threats, and by exploiting the worshipful love given them by others. (In letters, Rousseau made it clear that this was why he abandoned his children: he didn’t have time to be at a baby’s beck and call.)

We come into a world with which we are not ready to cope. The discrepancy between the very slow physical development of the human infant and its rapid cognitive development makes fear the defining emotion of infancy. Adults are amused by the baby’s futile kicking and undisturbed by its crying because they know they are going to feed, clothe, protect, and nurture it. The infant, however, knows nothing of trust, regularity, or security. Its limited experience and short time horizons mean that only the present torment is fully real, and moments of reassurance, fleeting and unstable, quickly lead back to insufficiency and terror. Even joy is tainted by anxiety, since to the infant it seems all too likely to slip away.

We usually survive this condition. We do not survive it without being formed, and deformed, by it. Neurological research on fear has shown that the scars of early fright stimuli endure and become a continuing influence on daily life.

Fear is not only the earliest emotion in human life; it is also the most broadly shared within the animal kingdom. To experience other emotions, such as compassion, you need a sophisticated set of thoughts: that someone else is suffering, that the suffering is bad, that it would be good for it to be relieved. But to have fear, all you need is an awareness of danger looming. The thoughts involved don’t require language, only perception and some vague sense of one’s own good or ill.

Fear is not just primitive; it is also asocial. When we feel compassion, we are turned outward: we think of what is happening to others and what is causing it. But you don’t need society to have fear; you need only yourself and a threatening world. Indeed, fear is intensely narcissistic. An infant’s fear is entirely focused on its own body. Even when, later on, we become capable of concern for others, fear often drives that concern away, returning us to infantile solipsism.

Marcel Proust, in In Search of Lost Time, imagines a child, his narrator, who remains unusually prone to fear, especially at bedtime. Young Marcel’s terror compels him to demand that his mother come to his room and stay as late as possible. His fear inspires in him a need to control others. He has no interest in what would make his mother happy. Dominated by fear, he needs her to be at his command. This pattern marks all his subsequent relationships, particularly that with Albertine, his great love. He cannot stand Albertine’s independence. It makes him too anxious. Lack of full control makes him crazy with fear and jealousy. The unfortunate result, which he narrates with great self-knowledge, is that he feels secure with Albertine only when she is asleep. He never really loves her as she is, because as she is she is not his own.

Proust supports Rousseau’s point that fear is the emotion of an absolute monarch who cares about nothing and nobody else. This is not the case for other animals, which are capable of acting independently almost as soon as they are capable of feeling fear. Their fear in infancy, so far as we can tell, remains within bounds and doesn’t impede concern for and cooperation with others. Elephants, for example, which are famously communal and altruistic, act reciprocally with their herd almost from birth. Young elephants may run to adult females for comfort, but they also play games with others and gradually learn a rich emotional vocabulary. The powerless human baby, on the other hand, can only terrorize others.

In childhood, concern, love, and reciprocity are staggering achievements, won against fierce opposition. Donald Winnicott, a great psychoanalyst and pediatrician, invented a concept for what children need if they are to develop concern for others. He called these conditions the facilitating environment. Applying this idea to the family, he showed that the home must have a core of basic loving stability and must be free from sadism and child abuse. But the facilitating environment has economic and social preconditions as well: there must be basic freedom from violence and chaos, from fear of ethnic persecution and terror; there must be enough to eat and basic health care. Working with children who were evacuated from war zones, he understood the psychic costs of external chaos. He recognized that an individual’s ability to reach outward is inflected by political concerns, that the personal and the political are inseparable. Win­nicott kept returning to political questions throughout his career. What should we be striving for as a nation if we want children to become capable of reciprocity and happiness?

Winnicott thought that people could attain “mature interdependence” if they had a facilitating environment. His focus was on attaining such an environment in the individual child’s life in the family. But his wartime work led him to speculate about the larger question: What would it be like for society as a whole to be a facilitating environment for the cultivation of its people and their human relationships?

Such a society, he thought (as the Cold War advanced), would have to be a freedom–protecting democracy, since only that form of society fully and equally nourished people’s capacities to grow, play, act, and express themselves. Win­nicott thought that a key job of government was to support families. Families cannot make children secure and balanced, capable of withstanding onslaughts of fear, if they are hungry or if they lack medical care, if they lack good schools and a safe neighborhood environment. He repeatedly connected democracy with psychic health: to live with others on terms of mutual interdependence and equality, people have to transcend the narcissism in which we all start life. We have to renounce the wish to enslave others, substituting concern, goodwill, and the acceptance of limits for infantile aggression.

But how? It’s an urgent question, and the stakes are high. Fear always simmers beneath the surface of moral concern, and it threatens to destabilize democracy. Right now, fear is running rampant in our nation: fear of declining living standards, of unemployment, of the absence of health care in times of need; fear of an end to the American dream, in which you can be confident that hard work brings a decent and stable life and that your children will do better than you did if they, too, work hard.

Our narrative of fear tells us that very bad things can happen. Citizens may become indifferent to truth and prefer the comfort of an insulating group of peers who repeat one another’s falsehoods. They may become afraid of speaking out, preferring the comfort of a leader who gives them a womblike feeling of safety. And they may become aggressive against others, blaming them for the pain of fear.

When the underlying facts are right, fear can be a useful guide in many areas of democratic life. Fear of terrorism, fear of unsafe highways and bridges, fear of the loss of freedom itself: all of these can prompt useful protective action. But directed to the very future of the democratic project itself, a fearful approach is likely to be dangerous, leading people to seek autocratic control or the protection of someone who will control outcomes for them. Martin Luther King Jr. understood that a fearful approach to the future of race relations would play straight into the hands of those who sought to manage things by violence, a kind of preemptive strike. His emphasis on hope was an attempt to flip the switch, getting people to dwell mentally on good outcomes that could come about through peaceful work and cooperation.

Hope is the inverse of fear. Both react to uncertainty, but in opposing ways. Hope expands and surges forward, fear shrinks back. Hope is vulnerable, fear is self-protective. This is the difference.

The Guardian review

Published on September 23, 2021 at 6:00 by

Harvest Moon

Autumn 2021
Start September Equinox
22 Sep 21:21 Central European Time

The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon nearest the September equinox, which occurs around September 22.

Published on September 21, 2021 at 6:00 by

Thinking about stuff

Early in the afternoon i went out for a short walk. Quite suddenly really, i hadn’t thought about doing this at all during the morning. I went to the bench curving around the tree in the park behind my current house. I made a photo of the view, as i have done quite a few times before. Then i made a photo of myself. I sat there only for five minutes or so. Then i walked on.

It is almost seven years now since i decided to live my own life, sell of my house, live of the money i made of that, do whatever to try to get something out of myself. It is hard. For the past six months i have been living in my current house. In a month i will be moving to another house, from friends of friends who will be moving away for six months. I am looking forward to that. My own little place.

I don’t know how i will continue. Well, apart from this blog of course. Drawings, photographs, writings mostly. Onward.

Published on September 17, 2021 at 6:00 by