Sunday, November 05, 2006
Now I am not against development; but I am mystified at change that totally negates the reason for it in the first place. Why move into a leafy area only to chop down all the trees? As far as I can tell, the area I live in has a degree of social status and people are moving in for that reason.
It’s the old problem: boorish but wealthy people think that they can buy class.
In other words these boorish people would spend a fortune to live in a slum if they felt that I would confer on it social status. They are insensitive to the amenity and lack the aesthetic sense to preserve it. Unfortunately they tend to bring their aesthetic choices with them. The car parked out on the lawn, chopping down age old trees while forgetting to mow the grass, the boat in the driveway and the motorbike hooning down the street.
Now before anyone thinks that I am a snob, I would like to reply that I am a snob; but a democratic snob. My exclusive club is open to all who satisfy my moral and aesthetic code: Money or race is irrelevant.
I feel we need to re introduce a certain degree of snobbery back into society if only to reign in those aspirational types without any aesthetic sense. A boor with a chainsaw can totally wreck a suburb. A cultivated man may improve it. However the cultural norms of our society severely punish those who judge by higher aesthetic or moral code. Till we change our societal values our attractive suburbs will be at the mercy of those with cash and not necessarily taste. Several “For Sale” signs have sprung up on My street.
I have a sense of foreboding.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Every so often I get a visit from Ivan. Ivan is one of my patients who has had a long and arduous life working as a labourer. Years of manual work have worn away at his hips and knees and now he is the proud recipient of three prosthetic joints. Unlike most of my “disabled” patients, Ivan likes the vigorous life. With his savings he bought himself a small farm, and now in his gentle and measured pace tends his cows, pigs and ducks.
Coming from Eastern European peasant stock he seemed the type that always looked out of place in the city; always more at home on the land
I would see Ivan on a regular basis: repeat scripts of his medications, blood pressure checks and the general medical concerns of a man of his age. During his visits, he would keep me informed of the circle of life on his farm. He would bring his grandchildren with him on the farm and they would have the honour of naming the piglets. He would get up at night on cold winters to make sure all the cows were properly housed and warm. He would fret over sick animals and always ensure that if required; the vet would be summoned. He tended his pastures so that his animals would be fat and happy
A few months ago he was late for his appointment and visibly distressed. One of his calves had wandered off. As he lived close to a rail line, he was concerned that it was a risk of being hit by a train. He searched over his farm without avail for hours till finally the sounds of the anguished beast drew him to a small gully. The animal had fallen down the crevice and was unable to get itself up. Foxes had torn pieces of flesh from its hindquarters and udder. Ivan scared off the foxes; distressed and seeing that the beast was beyond help, got his gun form the farmhouse, and taking great care to get a clean shot, put the animal out of its misery. You see, Ivan cared for his animals.
All his calves had names. One day I enquired of a certain “Daisy” of whom he had talked so fondly about.
“How’s Daisy?” I asked.
“I slaughtered her this morning for meat”, He replied.
“I thought you liked Daisy?”, I asked surprised.
“Yes, I did”
“I could never kill an animal I developed feelings for”, I said.
“Nonsense, that’s what they’re there for”
And with that he uttered a great metaphysical truth: The animals exist for the benefit of man.
Ivan was bought up “old school”. He believed that man stood at the apex of creation and that all other living things served him. However Ivan never took this to mean that it was a one way street. Ivan also believed that it was the obligation of man to look after the living things. Cruelty to his animals was as unimaginable as infanticide; one had the obligation to treat animals well. Unlike Peter Singer, Ivan did not believe that the animals had rights; rather Human beings had obligations. The concept of comparing animals with humans was ridiculous; Ivan’s grandchild was worth infinitely more than any piglet. Ivan wouldn’t have argued with Peter Singer, he would have punched him in the nose. Ivan hated animal rights activists not because they were pro-animal, but anti-human. Equating the animal with the human did not make the animal more human but provided a philosophical justification for the human behave like an animal.
Ivan felt that this was all some sort of intellectual sophistry; a denial of common sense. He felt that that the animal rights activists were “sick”, a diagnosis with which I whole heartedly agree. It seemed to me that one could get a better grasp on metaphysics working on the farm than in a prestigious university. Peter Singer please take note.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
You see, In Australia the overseas holiday seems to be a bit of a birthright. Anything which impairs that birthright is obviously a moral wrong. Flicking through our newspapers one see the story prolonged hospital waiting lists due to a shortage of funds juxtaposed to the soaring monetary value of building renovations. Obviously Australians are happier putting money into their granite kitchen benchtops than they are into the health system. More on this at a later post.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Fair enough, but in my experience militant secularists take the next step in stating that as metaphysical truths are unverifiable they do not exist. Their line of reasoning goes along as such. As I cannot prove that metaphysical truths exist, therefore they do not exist. It’s a big call.
Suppose we take a silly example. I have never been to China nor do I read Chinese. Suppose a traveler tells me that there is a book in a library in Beijing that deals with ancient Chinese plumbing. Unless I learn Chinese and go to the library in Beijing there is no way I can verify this. Is it right for me then to dismiss the existence of this book just because I have never seen it? Or should I believe it, even knowing that my traveling friend occasionally makes up tall stories? The point is that the existence of this book is unverifiable by until I take the time an effort to go to the Chinese library.
However clearly the book either does or does not exist. One may be wrong either way but until the question is proved it's fair to have an opinion on the matter.
Clearly we have no way of verifying metaphysical truths via the scientific method, but why a secularist’s view of the metaphysical should take precedence over mine is beyond me. Indeed, a mans religion IS his belief about the metaphysical.
When I make a statement about the metaphysical, i.e. there is a God, I am being religious, when the secularist makes a statement about the metaphysical, i.e. there is no God, why is that not considered religous?
The fundamental difference between the militant secularists and religious is an opposing opinion on the existence of a metaphysical reality. The religious believes that the metaphysical exists while the secularist believes that it does not. The negation of belief in the metaphysical is just as much a statement of faith as an assertion.
So what’s the point of all this? Right now in the West we are in the throws of a good old religious war. Between the Secularists and the Religious, and at the moment the Secularists are winning.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Saturday, July 22, 2006
With the acceptance of divorce by the Church of England the line of reasoning changed. Now a marriage could be broken if a reason was good enough, and good enough was the product of social consensus. The illusion of Divine blessing was acted out in the ceremony but the logical imperative of Gods participation was sophisted away. As one old wag said “Adultery may be bad morals but divorce was bad metaphysics”. What the King wanted is what the King got. “What God has joined let no man set asunder” was set asunder by the King and his compliant clergy. Marriage was changed from a sacrament to a governmentally recognized living arrangement. It was secularized.
Now clearly under the cultural momentum of The Medieval Church the old definition of a man and woman making up a marriage was not going to change, however as the Church lost its influence on society and other sophistries exerted their effect it was only a matter of time till even this concept was challenged. The Mormons tried by justifying polygamy till it was stamped out by sanction. But the men who challenged the Mormons were governed by the memory of ancient Christian Metaphysics. Secular Metaphysics hold sway now and were the Mormons to revert to the life of the harem I wonder if they could be stopped now.
Herein lays the whole problem of marriage, its theoretical conception. To a secularist marriage is a governmentally sanctioned living arrangement. It is irrelevant whether it is between two people of the opposite or the same sex or even different species. In fact whole communities could be “married” provided they satisfied the requirements of the State. There is no limit on whom or what could be “married”. In a representative democracy the limits will be set on social custom. If polygamy becomes the custom then the demand for it to be recognized as a legal marriage will be demanded.
The Christian response to this state of affairs was that marriage was a metaphysical union under certain conditions. One man, one woman till death do us part. Hence the objection is a metaphysical one. Two men or two women don’t satisfy the criteria. Just as calling your foot a hand does not make it a hand; to Christians legalizing gay marriage does not a marriage make. It doesn’t satisfy the metaphysical criteria.
As usual the social pathology of today is rooted in the metaphysical errors of yesterday. The demand for Gay marriage is really the result of secularization of our society. If we want to get tough with Gay marriage we have got to get tough with divorce and restore the original idea of marriage.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
As she had been extensively investigated previously, there was usually no need for additional tests or examinations. However upon further questioning a certain pattern began to emerge.
Most of these women were by modern western standards, successful. They had a career, money and real freedom. They did not seem repressed in terms of their identity or sexuality and were independent. They were living the western women’s dream, yet were unhappy. Profoundly unhappy. When questioning them about their unhappiness, a litany of loathing and tears, more sincere than any self penitent would erupt. They were fat, they were unintelligent and they couldn't find a partner. They were ugly.
They were unlovable.
At first I was quite shocked at this complete disconnect between reality and self perception. As a young man, I would not have hesitated at once to try to make an acquaintance with any of these women. Indeed, they usually did not have a problem with meeting men at all. What they did have was a problem of meeting men who would treat them like a person instead of a means of sexual satisfaction. They were lonely and depressed; their symptoms were psychosomatic.
The pattern of their personal lives seemed to be the same. They usually had a string of liaisons more than relationships. The male leaving them after he became sexually bored, lured away by a more attractive mate or when “demands” were placed on the man. These “demands” usually usually took the form of a promise of commitment or exclusivity. It was interesting to observe that the many a woman would delay making “demands” on her partner for as long as possible as she was fearful of loosing her mate. The imperative however was the biological clock, demanding that a stable relationship be entered for the good of the offspring. It was at this point that the relationship broke down. Time to start again: all men are Bastards.
Indeed their inability to “keep” a man was interpreted by themselves as a failure of attraction or, in a psychologically negative sense, proof of their ugliness. As the cycle repeated, the ideation was verified. A course of anti-depressant medication usually improved their symptoms if not their mental state. They were sad, not mad. They were suffering from a reactive depression with the consequential psychosomatic symptoms. Their existential situation was the cause of their problems . With these girls, a bit of sympathy and understanding went a long way. Explaining to them that this was a ‘widespread’ phenomenon usually helped. Loneliness is terrible when every one else is paired up, easier when there are ‘fellow travelers’. They left lonely, but feeling symptomatically better. I had helped in a small way.
The more I pondered the phenomena, the more convinced I was that there was something seriously wrong. According to current statistics approximately twenty five percent of single people will not marry. Most of these people will live alone, most of them probably involuntarily so. There has been a boom in online dating and introduction agencies, a commercial industry to satisfy the need to be loved, but no evidence of more marriages. The epidemic of loneliness and hence depression is gigantic. This inability to form permanent relationships seems to be a modern phenomenon and from my observations, I believe its roots lie in modern social mores.
Prior to the sexual revolution of the Sixties courtship was a quite straightforward process. Friendship was easy, physical intimacy was very strictly regulated. Getting sex was difficult. Virginity was held in esteem, sex outside marriage frowned upon and rape until recent times a capital offence. The social mores dictated that a woman was expected to resist till after marriage. Any woman who was sexually permissive was ostracized and regarded as “loose” or “wanton”;a social inferior, a public disgrace.
Consequentially a man would have to invest both time and effort with a woman before things proceeded to a more intimate level. Having to spend more time meant that it was more likely that a relationship would develop. Sex when it did occur was likely to be an act between lovers rather than strangers. The more a time a man invested in a woman the greater the price of leaving and starting again, this in itself was a definite disincentive to leave. Because sex was hard to get, it was worth more. Sex was the carrot, erotic love the eventual glue.
More importantly this system of beliefs actually empowered a woman in the sense that she was the one who dictated the terms upon which intimacy occurred. A man was expected to be considerate and committed to her before he got anywhere. The fact that he didn’t wander off even though he wasn’t getting any sex made it more likely that he would stay for other reasons. When she was secure in the relationship she could be intimate, she held all the cards.
This is not to say that prior to the sexual revolution all was right in that sphere of human relations. Although equality was proclaimed women were still treated as inferiors.
Opportunities for intellectual or business development were socially limited. Strong social pressure demanded that women be homemakers no matter how suited or unsuited to the task they were. A woman could work until she was a mother and then it was her proper place to be at home. This kept the woman economically dependent no matter how unwise or capricious her partner. Aspirations outside of this model were socially frowned upon.
Prudery was practiced as a virtue. Many an older surgeon could recount tales of female patients who would not present until a breast tumor or uterine cancer was inoperable due to excessive modesty. Death was, quite literally, preferred to sexual shame. Good women did not think about sex. The good woman was also seen as there for the sexual satisfaction of her husband, her relationship with sexual pleasure ambivalent. A dysfunctional Puritanism, which thought sex “dirty” had the unique effect of driving the joy out of chaste marriages and raising the pleasure of illicit liaisons. Like the Volstead Act, its consequences honored its intentions in the breach.
Into this climate of repressed sexuality and warped conception of female identity came the sexual revolution. The groundwork had been laid by Kinsey who suddenly made it respectable to talk about sex. Meanwhile, Freud who told us it was wrong to feel any guilt with regard to our sexual actions gave legitimacy to any sexual practice. As the societal sexual repression lifted, the pendulum swung the other way. Sexual liberation meant to be “modern”, not “reactionary”. Copulo ergo sum.
Spotting the double standard with regard to men in matters sexual, feminists, such as Greer, demanded equality. Instead of raising the bar on male behavior, they demanded that the standard be lowered for women. If men can be promiscuous so can we, indeed aggressively so they argued. No longer would the woman resist, she would lead the way. Promiscuity and license would become the sexual morals of the modern era. Apart from the churches, there was certainly very little complaint from men.
However the theory was not well thought out since it shifted the locus of power in the relationship from the female to the male. How ironic then, that it was the feminists who took the lead role in its transformation. Whereas previously a man gave relationship and then woman gave sex, now a woman gave sex hoping the man will give her a relationship. Where previously she dangled the carrot of sex he now dangled the carrot of commitment. The spoils of the sexual revolution were clearly not going to be divided equally.
As predicted men have been the principal beneficiaries of the revolution. This certainly seems the case in my practice. Most of the young men that I see today seem to have no problem finding sex and avoiding permanent relationships. Indeed the more attractive they appear; the more they seem to have an endless supply of sexual relationships. Several of my patients cannot even place a number on their sexual partners. Their relationships are casual and transient. When I ask them do they want to settle down, most don’t see the point. What is there to be gained that they do not have now except a restriction on their freedom and a possible forfeiture of their assets? There is plenty of time, things to do, experiences to have. Until then who wants to settle with one woman when the next one may be more fun. When the time is right he will find someone to settle down with. Men don’t fear commitment, men don’t want commitment. Things are fine the way they are. Men seem quite content.
The situation for women on the other hand seems to be different. While they are quite happy to dabble in the sexual revolution, most eventually want to settle with a permanent partner, get married and have children. These aspirations are present in most women from quite early on, even amongst the professionally educated (much to the chagrin of modern radical feminists). Princess Mary is hugely popular amongst young women because she represents the ideal, a happily married feminine princess with child. Romanticism is still hugely popular. Bridgette Jones, a roaring success.
There however remains a sticky problem.
With virginity and sexual reserve now attracting social opprobrium, the pressure is on to engage in sexual activity from the outset of a relationship. As Roger Scruton so elegantly put it, women have been shamed into being shameful. Everyone else is doing the same and no one wants to be a social leper. Not following the norms increases the chances that her more permissive compatriots are going to attract her mate, and she ages her sexual allure fades and the competition increases. The pressure is on. From the outset, the relationship is a sexual relationship. Indeed sometimes it is only a sexual relationship. As one of my patients succinctly if callously, described his girlfriend, “She is my regular root.”
Such a climate tends to foster the imperative in superficial attraction as opposed to the more lasting and non obvious virtues, which are the foundation of any lasting relationship. Patience and self-denial are scorned, satisfaction of impulse the ideal. Lots of ‘fun’, but ultimately the triumph of short term urge over long term need. A relationship based on appetite is a relationship that is unwanted when the appetite is satiated. As many a sobbing woman has quite rightly put it, “He was only after one thing”.
As I see it, it is this redefinition of the sexual relationship which is at the bottom of my patients' problems. My female patients see sex as a physical and emotional act, an act within a relationship. In the thinking of my patients, these two concepts are intertwined . While sex may be fun, being loved by someone is much more important (more often than not the sex is mediocre but they still enjoy being in a relationship). Indeed this need for being loved leads to women placing themselves in truly terrible and abusive relationships rather than being alone.
In men generally, the sex is an act on its own. It is why a man can have sex with a prostitute but still say he loves his wife, an idea foreign to most women. In the man’s mind, sex is an act separate to the relationship.
The old moral climate was conducive to the development of friendship between man and a woman, the new way, more to the masculine way of thinking. A man does not need to work on the relationship at all in order to get sex, as all the benefits are there already. Indeed our society seems to laud the liaison and not the relationship. There is no need to stick it out when the situation gets tough, as real friends do.
This is not to say that in today’s day and age that people do not meet and fall in love. Extending the length of education, a culture of obligatory self-gratification and economic factors, have all played a role in delaying a stable commitment. Sex is not the only motivator in relationships and good relationships sometimes start with early sexual liaisons. The problem seems to be that it is more difficult and the cultural environment is not conducive to the formation of permanent relationships. A whole genre of literature has developed on the subject of the male who won’t commit. Articles in women’s magazines speak of men’s fear of commitment and have sought to analyse the problem. Movies have regularly showed our heroine passing through useless relationships only to finally meet her mate. Sex in the City was as much about unsatisfactory personal relationships as it was about satisfactory sex.
The feminist movement in the sixties sought to liberate women through a changing the conception of female sexuality essentially by adopting the male standard as the ideal, in effect “masculinising” it. For many of my patients this ideology encourages them to act in a manner that they are not comfortable with. While the traditional conception of womanhood limited women through repression, the current feminist notions essentially mutilates her by trying to change her nature. The perceptive feminists have realized that in order for a woman to be truly liberated she must renounce her need to be loved by a man. By ridding herself of that need she would then be truly independent. The only problem: she would not be herself. The feminist way to happiness is through excision of a woman's heart: a change in her nature. Such is the idiocy of the preached gospel.
Therein lays the paradox of the feminist movement. Sexually in order to be happy, a woman must adopt the behaviors of a man. Imitation of men is the path to Nirvana. In Feminism’s victory, it’s total defeat.
Perhaps this is the reason why modern feminism is loosing its appeal to younger women. The women I see don’t want to be men. They don’t want to be feminists either. They want to be women. They want to be themselves. They want to be desired and cared for. They want the house, the kids, the marriage and if necessary the career. However the feminist program has succeeded and the separation of sex and commitment is now complete: The sisters are doing it to themselves.
Curiously both the Traditionalists and the Feminists are united in the view that a woman’s need to be desired is a weakness. The traditionalists want to exploit the situation; the feminists want to cut off the need. Both views are wrong and both do injury to women. A women’s need for a stable relationship is a virtue, in many ways it is the motive force for people to form the stable unions--families-- which are the fundamental unit of our society. This need to be loved is the glue of our civilization. Until sex outside the context of a permanent commitment is preached as a vice it will be practiced as a virtue.
Even Germaine Greer, who lived the Feminist philosophy with gusto has re examined her Bohemian days in the Sydney Push and come to the conclusion that her early sexual permissiveness served her partners more than herself. She and her colleagues were not equal; her sexual partners the clear beneficiaries. In that dawn of the sexual revolution, the social pathology of the present.
In her later years, Germaine Greer (The ideology of Feminism incarnate.) attempted to have a child without success, due in part, to the medical legacy of her sexual abandon. One is tempted to think of St Thomas Aquinas who thought the good fruitful and evil sterile. Though in a way she was not barren. Germaine Greer as one of the flag bearers of the sexual revolution and her ilk, bequeathed a social legacy that modern women are indeed products of. As they sit opposite to me anxious, fatigued, lonely and miserable I cannot but feel that their pain is, in the main, a product of the current sexual mores. They are the children of the revolution; they have become Germaine’s Daughters.
The Sunday 6.30 pm Mass is a treat. Choristers sang exquisite Motets and Chants accompanied by some pretty impressive Organ music. The church is three quarters empty. What a waste. Were Britney Spears or the The Sugar Babes there, the place would have been packed. Yet the music which probably represents the peak of Western Culture goes unlistened to. Still having so few listening to something so beautiful makes one feel as if one is alone in the Church with God.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
My business is Social Pathology.
Modern society is a fascinating laboratory for the student of applied philosophy. For thousands of years philosophers have debated the best way to live, dreaming up perfect societies and utopias based upon rational systems of thought. Most of their theories came to naught as years of ignorance, superstition (religion) and tradition conspired to limit their plans.
Now in these early years of the 21st century, with religion and tradition effectively quashed, men and women are free to live in whichever way they please. Any idiot theory can have its way, protected by the modern western philosophy of radical liberalism and the welfare state. The supporting edifice of this laboratory is the theory of liberalism. No man, prince, sage or church should compel a man to do or think anything. As the captain of his destiny and the master of his soul, each man his own moral philosopher, the choices and actions of his life his own. This glorious vision was to liberate man from misery imposed from above to the beatific vision of unlimited freedom and hence happiness.
Unfortunately it hasn't worked out that way. The man is the street is no more able to choose a path to happiness than he able to fix his own television. In my consulting room I deal daily with the consequences of applied philosophic theory. Depression and lifestyle illnesses are endemic and I ask why? In the U.S, supposedly the richest country on earth why are 30% of people going to take anti depressants at some stage in their life? Why is it when people can choose whom they want to marry, at least 50% end in divorce? Divorce was meant to liberate women but how come so many of them are miserable? Why is contraception so freely available and the abortion rate so high? Ever met a happy feminist?
The answer, stupid philosophy or more importantly pathological ideas. By pathological ideas I mean ideas which followed to their conclusion lead to misery. Their misery leads to depression and their depression leads to me. Some men suffer depression from external causes, Death, tragedy or illness but a greater portion of men suffer because they live their life stupidly. They have a pathological weltschauung. It's my job to fix it if I can. However some ideas are so malign that there effect is similar to cancer on the body, slowly spreading to every healthy thought. Strong medicine is needed.
Time to call the Social Pathologist.