Thoughts on a Down Day: Impotence

Buddhists everywhere will tell you, “Life is suffering.” If you can’t deal with suffering, you can’t deal with life. Some people believe they can’t deal with suffering, so they avoid things like: being alone with their thoughts; challenging activities; artistic expression; exercise; thinking about death; airing grievances; admitting weakness or mistakes; reconciling with someone after a disagreement…. There are myriad ways to squirm around suffering, but all of them are destructive. I guarantee that doing any of the things I just mentioned will, yes, cause suffering, but will make you happier in the long run. Refraining from them will result in growing tension, and harsher suffering in the long run.

I was just introduced to the idea of Fast Thinking vs. Slow Thinking. I have done remarkably little research on it but I’m going to talk about it anyway. How many times have you said to yourself, “Okay, no more sugar,” or something, but then when you were in front of that Chocolatine, you were like, “Well, it’s a pretty high-quality pastry, and there’s a whole plate of them, and it would be rude for me to refuse…” all in the space of a half-second, during which time the thing found its way to your mouth? Yeah, me too. That’s “Fast Thinking.” If you had been asked the day before, “Oh, I’m going to have Chocolatines after the brunch tomorrow, will you want one?” you would have said, “Oh, no thanks, I’m off sugar.” That’s your “Slow Thinking” at work.

Fast thinking is necessary for a lot of things. “Think fast!” people will tell you as they toss you a glass bottle while you weren’t even looking. Train your fast thinking, and you’ll catch that bottle. But, heeding too often your fast thinking could get you into a lot of trouble.

Here’s a common Slow thought for me: “Okay, today, when I see [insert person] I am going to bring up [insert topic] so that it can stop being an issue in my over-analysing brain.” Then when I see the person, the thing is always on my mind, but I never want to bring it up. My brain’s pain-aversion software kicks in, and I just go “Naah we’ll deal with it next time.” And the delay continues….

In the last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot about feminine mythological images. Specifically, I’ve found myself researching the influence of male-dominant religious images on female-dominant ones. The long and short of it is that for a couple hundred thousand years, we had predominantly Goddess-worship societies. Mostly, these people were agriculturalists, but even the hunting societies recognised the immense magic power of the life-bringing woman. She was like the Earth, taking seed and transforming it into Life. She also had the power of Death, for any Life carries with it its own mortality. Then, Rebirth is the idea that we came from the Earth and will find new life when our particles are repurposed. This is the crux of the Mother Goddess idea.

Then, a group of herding conquerors (the Semites, mostly), came in and, well, conquered. These people were male-dominant societies. They did not appreciate the Earth in the way the Agricultural societies did (I mean, they lived in a desert; could you blame them?). The idea of conquer was so appealing to these emasculated men that it became our whole culture. It became a great many cultures, in fact: every culture taken over by these dick tribes became a different nation of megalomaniacs. We have lived in a rape culture since Yahweh was born. But we don’t just rape women: we rape culture.

So what I’ve come to ask myself is this: why is it we feel the need to conquer? What drives this impulse? Why must I slam my dick in the face of mine enemies?

The answer is sadly simple. Insecurity, and Fast Thinking.

Men in our present-day Western world are taught not to cry. We’re told to be the breadwinners. We’re told always to be brave. We’re told to follow our dreams. We’re told not to let anything stop us. We’re told our families are counting on us. We’re given all these roles and no one ever asks us how we’re feeling. Because it’s socially unacceptable to show your emotion in public. We’re not allowed to show the world how fucking terrified we are that all our efforts are meaningless; that we don’t want all the inherited responsibility; that we have no control over our own lives, let alone that of others.

Meanwhile, women are so fucking magical. For God’s sake, they make humans. In their tummies*! Not only that, but after the birth (requiring a tolerance for pain I can hardly even imagine), she produces her own food for the kid. The baby is entirely made up of the mother’s blood and milk (early cultures observed) until it starts to eat puréed peas. Then we see how much the baby cares about Mommy, that Daddy is secondary until the kid is smart enough to know what he’s there for.

I can only imagine a buildup of tension and resentment  in one or a few societies caused the inception of Male Dominance. It has as its lynchpin the denial of the insecurity of a meaningless existence. The perpetual grabbing of some illusory idea of “power” is a short-sighted and self-destructive band-aid for our own impotence. Self-destructive is a big point here: it’s self-destructive not only individually, but globally: the society that suffers from this is, now, on a crash course with the cliff of overpopulation.

Unfortunately for us, this meme is virulent, highly contagious, and engenders the use of deadly force against non-believers. So it spread like a plague, sword-borne, horse-borne, blood-borne. I don’t need to recite any of the atrocities done to women – and the Earth, and the Goddess, which are one and the same – over the ages. There is enough feminist literature out there. This is, um, fuck I don’t know, a masculist essay. It’s an impotent attempt to discover to my fellow man the truth about male power.

We don’t have any. The illusion of power that we have clung onto like a hungry baby to a lactating tit has soured our relationships to the Earth, our Mothers, and crucially, ourselves.

You want to be manly? Weep. You want to be courageous? Admit you’re scared, feel alone, powerless. You want sex? Appeal to a woman. You want love? Ask a woman: they are unbelievable fountains of love for those of us who are humble and gentle. It doesn’t have to be an all-consuming love, capital-letter-Romantic Love. Mutual respect and real communication is enough. Tell her what is ailing you, what is eating at your soul, and watch it get better. It will hurt, like setting a bone.

It’s the fear of being powerless that has driven us to drown the female form, voice, symbol. I don’t know about you, but I feel powerless. I feel alone, and tense, and scared, and doubtful, and full of ennui.

But that’s okay.

That’s what life is all about.

Just dig it, and tomorrow will be brighter. Promise.

I love you. Stay real.


*Of course, not all women can bear children. These women are no less magical! One may personify any or all facets of the Triple Goddess – a Maiden, a Mother or a Crone – without a uterus. This is third wave feminism, baby.


A Free Radical

This seed of an idea just got watered, reading the works of Paulo Freire,
Who teaches radicalism.
At the core of this teaching is that outward change has to come from deep within ourselves
That we must awaken the thirst for knowledge and justice within the soil of our minds
And feed on the community around us
Entwine, and grow,
Cross-pollenating, growing with our neighbours.
A garden can’t be a garden without every flower
And every flower started off as a seed
Which grew roots.
But that word – radicalism. Where does it come from?
I remembered seeing the word in other contexts: chemistry. Linguistics. Politics.
How can a word apply to so many different fields with such different results?
So I dug around and found its etymology
Radix is latin for Root.
Of course! everything has roots.
We trace our lineage back to the first primates, the first mammals, the first fish, the first cells
Spreading out like a network
Looking like any old family tree
And with this new information, the seed grew into thoughts, and now in this writing, into action, as I spread the pollen of this analysis.

In Chemistry, a radical is an incomplete molecule
It’s out of balance
It’s charged
Full of electricity, ready to pounce, ready to steal an electron that another element is hogging
They are among the most volatile substances we know of.
For example, Hydroxyl, a single hydrogen and a single oxygen
Missing that tenth proton to make the water that we all need to live.
Released into the pollution in our rivers and upper atmosphere
It latches on to the toxins that we put there
Every single molecule effecting one single chemical reaction
Leaving the stuff of life in its wake
In other words
It is on these tiny particles that we rely
To clean up the mess left by industrial progress.

In Linguistics, a radical is a word with suffix and prefix removed
It’s the origin,
Ready to turn coat by reversing its meaning with an “un-” becoming “un-lawful”
Or sell out, adding “mega-” or “extra-” so it can get a little more.
We can say more with a radical than with a prefix,
And by increasing our knowledge of radicals
Not only do we understand where we come from
But what has changed us.
Rather than react to injustice, and be bemused by racists,
I will act.
I will be just.
I will be a muse,
And I will break the braces by embracing our singular race.
In other words,
By looking to the core of our vocabulary,
We can speak with care and precision.

For Freire, a radical is someone devoted to changing the system at its very base
Someone who rejects all form of domination used by the Oppressors who will henceforth be referred to as “The Man” that you all know and fear.
Someone dedicated to inspecting the system
Shaking it at its roots until its strange fruit drops
Pruning dead stalks
Pulling out weeds
And encouraging the growth of new systems which will bring us joy as a people
Instead of strife as individuals.
Radicals, when grouped together,
Released into these polluted systems,
Will cleanse
Every single person doing everything possible for one single life
Removing excess, filling gaps, simplifying solutions
Creating a new, diverse vocabulary
And in doing so, growing to the full potential of the human imagination
It’s not too late to be a radical
Every flower has to start somewhere
And we can’t make this garden without a lot of flowers.
In other words
By being radical,
We can plant ourselves in this Earth once more.