Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nuance

First off, those last two posts (which I just deleted) were me drinking. I still do that.  I make no apologies: it remains a needed tonic.

I have gotten through and reached the primal texture of my pain.  I am not depressed, or anxious. I am in pain.  It is the pain of a decisive disconnection from my mother and the possibility of nurturance that happened many years ago.

This is the sequence: intellectualism, then behind that numbness (which can and does lead periodically to depression), then behind that anxiety and anger (with the expression of anger an excellent way to disperse anxiety, with of course many negatives in train), then behind that the main show: pain.

Being able to confront and feel this pain is a major step.  It is the only way to dissolve it.

The point I wanted to make though is that I think the capacity for nuance is the most important marker of social and emotional health.  Either/or is driven by a primitive part of the brain.  Our social brains are capable of so much more.

And specifically I was contemplating a notion I will call "social distance", which is the idea that your human relations, the people you know, should exist on a continuum for you, consciously.  Immediate family should be closest, followed by close friends, followed by long term acquaintances, followed by people who think and act like you, followed by your community,  followed by your fellow countrymen and women, followed by everyone else.

And within all these categories degrees of connection are possible.

The point I would make is that if all social connections must first be run through an abstract filter of political correctness, then the possibility of spontaneous and open intimacy is lost or greatly reduced.  It is affected, certainly.  And the original political correctness was Christianity itself, which classified everyone into saved and sinner.

The Germans kept Du and Sie.  The French, tu and vous.  The English did not.  They use the formal You for everyone.

To a great extent, I think human beings are wired for chimpanzee like social connections, with instinctual capacities for understanding relations on an extended basis: family, friends, rival clans, etc.

The singular contribution of the English (I am no student of philosophical history, nor do I want to be, but I have in mind the English Parliamentary system and Locke's "life, liberty and property")  was to make human beings abstractions, and to grant them all the same rights in principle.  This is logical, and I think salutary, but I think it also is a root of that academic condition they like to call modernity.

I look out my window and I see homes and apartments with TV's, with nuclear families, with nothing like the connection to extended family that most humans have experiences for most of our history.  There are many exceptions of course, but most American families are very split up: husband and wife, and children and parents and grandparents.

I think abstraction has conquered the landscape.  The ostensible rallying cries are freedom and economic prosperity, but I wonder what we have lost.  I say this as someone who often feels lonely, but who carries the maddening burden of being unable to imagine connection the way other people do.  This is something I will figure out--AM figuring out--with my body, with my instincts, with what arises naturally and spontaneously, but I cannot resist the comfort of framing it intellectually.

Again, this is a sort of pendulation for me.  Now, time to go back into silence.

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