Saturday, February 8, 2014

Prostitution as a Metaphor

There is a subtle but very important distinction between being exploited, and being complicit and compliant in that exploitation.

It matters to me because, over the years, I've seen so many people - young people, specifically - who seem to be oh so highly motivated to work unpaid overtime, on top of earning ghastly wages to start with, in some vague hope of a minimal raise in pay or a chance - somewhere out there, far away in their lives - to finally get a piece of the cake. People who seem to have embraced the system of their exploitation with all of their bodies, hearts and minds.

To me, prostitution was always a handy shortcut description for that kind of behaviour. After all, isn't that what a prostitute does - act as if s/he likes what s/he's doing for his/her customers? Put on a show of wellbeing, maybe even ecstasy?

As it turns out, this is untrue on at least two levels.

Firstly, in my very rare encounters with prostitutes, they didn't exactly put on a big show for me. It was all very matter-of-fact. Maybe that's different if you pay for high-end sex services, but at the level I was able to afford at the time, this was clearly not part of the game.

The other problem is the assumption that sex workers get exploited in some metaphysically different, probably a more frightening way, than the rest of us. While that is surely the case whenever violence is involved (and that may, sadly, be all too often), it is not inherent in prostitution itself.

Of course, one may also interject that there is a certain moral judgment involved in this. And I most certainly agree. The way I'm using the term prostitution here, in definitely contains an accusation of dishonesty.

What I'm driving at is that there is a dilemma: On one hand, if I accuse our average pencil pusher of prostituting him/herself, everybody knows instantly what I'm aiming at. On the other hand, prostitution in the literal sense, as it happens every day in real life, is a wildly different thing than this metaphoric meaning of the word implies.

So, I see two solutions: One, we stop using the word prostitution in the literal sense altogether, and start using the more neutral term sex work instead. Two, we find a new word for the metaphorical sense.

If you agree and tend to favour the latter solution, it would be nice if you could tell me the word of your choosing.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What did the Corinthians actually believe?

I'm in the process of reading up on Paulus of Tarsus again. Don't worry, I'm not getting converted, I'm just studying the thing.

I happened upon a question I can't find any answer to. Here it is:

1 Cor 15, 12f:

Quote:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
So, if some Corinthians believed there to be no resurrection - how did they make sense of the christian gospel? Do we have any information on what they actually believed? Reading 1 Cor, it seems to me like a horrid mess of inconsistent beliefs anyway, but apart from that - did they believe they would just not die, and thus there was no need for resurrection? (A belief soon doomed to fail...) Did they just not think straight? What was going on there?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vegan Food, A Beginner's Experience

My topmodel girlfriend and I recently attended a cookery course. A vegan cookery course.

All in all, it was interesting, but not exactly convincing. Ultimately, the revelation was that vegans can eat somewhat tasty food, but it pales to dark shades of grey in comparison with actual, delicious, omnivore food.

Let's start with presentation. I've been convinced for quite some time that vegans are physically incapable of making their lifestyle look good. I know that there are plenty of delicious vegan recipes out there - but the way most vegans present their cause makes it seem like a dull, new-agey, moralistic affair. If I book a cookery course at a local education center, I don't need to be proselytized. I know all the arguments already. I just want to cook, learn some fundamentals about vegan cooking, eat some good food, and generally have a good time. More specifically, I really don't need a rant against microwaves (not related to veganism in the slightest), Monsanto (somewhat related, but still not the point), dairy (the antichrist and Klassenfeind of practically every alternative ideology of nutrition).

In short, if you want to pitch your food to me, then seduce me with its delicious taste, not with various intellectual and moral reasons for why I should accept second-rate dishes.

Since we're talking about the food itself... well.

The first recipe that really stood out was a vegan "meat ball" thing. It was funny because the teacher insisted it tasted "almost like real meat balls", when in reality it had nothing whatsover to do with real meat. It's always funny when people who have not actually tasted meat in 5 years think they know how it tastes, and think they know it better than a notorious carnivore such as myself. But still, this recipe made it into our treasury. It's easy to do, (somewhat) good for your health and extremely tasty, especially if you combine it with a perfectly non-vegan, dairy-based garlic dip.

The second one is more of the "fascinating" variety. They called it "vegan mousse au chocolat". To be honest, if you served that thing to me in a restaurant under that name, I'd probably sue you for fraud, gross misconduct and crimes against humanity. It's based on avocados, chocolate (big surprise), and dates. I mean, it actually tastes just fine, I might make it for myself some day. I ate some of it this morning as a bread spread. It just doesn't have the intensely chocolate-y, fluffy, deliciously unhealthy qualities of my cream+eggs based mousse au chocolat.

You can get by on vegan food. You can survive, probably even without getting deprived of B12. If you really want it, and are prepared to put in the hours of searching, you might even find a few recipes that are genuinely great. But if you're a real connaisseure, a gourmet with a deeply rooted love of extremely delicious food - those soy and almond milk recipes just won't cut it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prescriptions are guidelines

One thing I've learned (again) this week is that practice prescriptions are mostly just guidelines.

I came across this prescription for a tantric exercise. What it said was that I should lift my legs in the air for a certain amount of time, clench the PC muscle for 30 seconds and then flutter it for 10 etc.

I have let go of most of it. Keeping track of the time makes no sense in a tantric exercise, because it is just a distraction. What does matter, though, is the essence of it: Approximate, by breathing and muscle tension, what happens during orgasm, without ever touching yourself - and you'll experience all kinds of wonderful feelings. Experiment with your rhythms, develop your own style, and don't be fooled by metaphysics.

I actually do have more energy now. I'm getting my latest narrative finished, after 2 tough years. I stand up earlier than I used to, with less problems, and I'm not so sleepy at night. Even though this is a time of rather hard job demands and a firm and tense timeline.

Definitely awesome, this.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Negative Chakra Manipulation

When reading up on chakras and other energy systems, it occurred to me that to every effect, there is usually a counter-effect. For example, if the root chakra is related to digestion, and an opened-up chakra is said to let the energy through, thereby making for good digestion, a closed-down root chakra should imply indigestion. And if there are techniques to open up those chakras, are there also techniques to close them down?

It should be very interesting and enlightening to have some energy healer try to make a subject constipated from a distance.

Additionally, there are BDSM folk out there, and there are energy healing folks. There has to be an overlap. I wonder if ever anyone has tried to incorporate "negative chakra manipulation" in their power exchange games? If you know anyone like that, please give me a heads-up!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

God Is A Bad Script Writer!

Interestingly, the gospels are written like a generic, run-off-the-mill hollywood script: There's three acts (childhood and backstory - the year(s) of ministry - passion, death and resurrection). There's tension and conflict in each. There is the obligatory plot point right before the end - Judas' betrayal, and the crisis that follows. There are obstacles to overcome, friendships to be started, there is struggle and betrayal and death. There is ultimate triumph.

The whole thing even has the "breaking of the umibilical cord" scene, when Jesus runs away to debate the clerics!

So, the question is: Is god just an unimaginative hack of a script writer?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Why People Are Negative, Pessimistic And Skeptical"!!!1111

Link to original article by Stefan Pylarinos:
http://projectlifemastery.com/why-people-are-negative-pessimistic-and-skeptical/

So, one of my favourite internet entrepegurus is at it again. Only, this time, he's addressing his critics. Me being one of those he nonchalantly banned from his youtube channel for speaking my mind, the idea of replying is just a little too seductive. So here goes...

The whole article is a rather clumsy attempt at deflecting criticism. Most of it is so ridiculously obvious, I would feel embarrassed to go into the details. Everyone who criticizes Pylarinos, has to be a negative person full of fears. Yeah, it's that primitive, and it wouldn't bear mention, except that there are two congealed pieces in all that bile that play with ideas rampant in new age and self-help circles, and so I feel they need to be addressed, time and time again.

Both are present from the very first sentence on - the article's very title, indeed: "Why People Are Negative, Pessimistic And Skeptical"

This is a very strange combination of words. Skepticism has nothing to do with the other two qualities. Skepticism is neither a character trait or a psychological disorder. It is simply the idea that claims should be supported by evidence. If you bring the case of skepticism up against me - well, here I am! Of course I am being skeptical. You can either show that your method works, point to independent, peer-reviewed research to support your claim - or chances are it simply doesn't. That's really all there is to it. Sure, you can try to show that this is not the case for this one very special extraordinary claim - but then you'd have to present the evidence for that...

Actually, if you're a self-help guru, you'd have to come up with even more evidence, since you'd not only have to show why your method works, but also why it works better than the gazillion of other methods out there.

The other point is a bit more subtle, and way more insidious: People ARE negative. Negativity is a character trait, a personal wrong - in short, a sin. Voicing criticism is a surefire sign that a person is afflicted with that sin. Because a positive person will always find something positive in everything.

It's insidious because it plays to the insecurities and vulnerabilites that are rampant in virtually all of humanity. Even more so because everybody is bound to know a few instances of things where they honestly can't find anything positive, as hard as they may seek.

And this insane idea - that criticizing someone or something is inherently bad - has been instilled in a crazy number of children by their parents, school teachers, the church, the military, politicians, and so on and so forth. It's incredibly easy to exploit, especially if you add a little group dynamics and the ever-smiling, suave and kind coach guru who - ostensibly - only does good, with all the best intentions.

In reality, as my old jewish-history prof at uni kept repeating, criticism comes from the greek krinein, which means "to separate out, to decide". Most probably, if you look at stuff methodically and with some cool distance, you will find something positive in most things - and you'll find something negative, too. And both should be voiced and addressed, accordingly.

In essence, I'm saying that criticism is a good thing. If anything, the onus to reframe it into feedback and deal with it, lies with the coach himself. Simply punching the ball back into the clients' court is ridiculous, juvenile and insane. And unproductive.

On the more cynical side, I still fail to see how the recent story of a stranded whale (that died because it picked up so much plastic in the ocean its intestines got obstructed and stopped working) has a lot of positive to it. In a lot of cases - such as a woman who survives childhood abuse, and then manages to make a career out of supporting other survivors - I suspect that a potential positive outcome does not lie within the situation itself, but "making something positive" is active, potentially very exhausting and tedious work on part of the person who made it happen. Simply reducing this to a character trait or an inherent attribute of a person, whose only display lies in the lack of criticism, is incredibly short-sighted, thoughtless and cynical. We cannot demand that a person be able to do that - at best, we can wish them the best in overcoming their specific issues, and empathize in a supportive way, realizing that we all have those points in our lives where we just don't seem to ever make any progress.

Ultimately, I think, that very last quality is what is so sadly missing from Pylarinos' videos: Empathy. It doesn't seem like he has realized that he's struggling exactly like the rest of us. I believe he thinks that he has to keep up a firm mask of success and self-assurance. I mean, we are talking about someone who runs a bunch of websites promising every kind of success - fast money, success with women, fitness, general success in life - under different names. All with the same copywritten drivel, all with the same obvious marketing tactics. It's somewhat hard to imagine that a guy like that actually has the experience to back his claims. Actual experience, in my experience, shows not in self-assured reliance on one's own grandiose life-coaching method. It shows in being able to deal with criticism elegantly, in the ability to ponder different points of view and deal with conflicting ideas without having to instantly come up with a clear-cut answer.

If you actually want to help people, developing your humility might make for a good headstart.

I'm chalking it up to his youth and relative inexperience. And that's one reason why I'm reacting this way on my blog.

See, to me this is a moment of hope. The sheer fact that Mr Pylarinos, or whatever his real name is, has seen the necessity to react to his critics - even if he did so in a rather clumsy and unconvincing way - shows me that some tiny part of the message did ultimately get through to him. Maybe the mask is showing its first cracks. Maybe, behind the sharade, behind the suave facade of success, somebody feels that maybe something is not quite right in lala-land.

I have heard of cases where opening up to criticism was the beginning of a journey back to sanity. All my best wishes go to Stefan Pylarinos for the tough trip that lies ahead of him.