lunadelcorvo: (Fox on Pilgrimage)
Do you know how there are iconic elements in every story of a journey? Things like the 'call to the quest;' the thing that hits the protagonist and sets him or her out on the journey. We all have it. Maybe it's the life-changing moment, the sudden realization, or the determination to fulfill a lifelong dream.

There is an element of the journey that has become pertinent to me recently. It's the 'place of safe haven.' The seeker finds himself there often by accident, unexpectedly. Maybe she is injured and seeks help from a local wise-woman, or he is forced to wait out the winter in some distant and welcoming place, or are shipwrecked on a pleasant island. Maybe it's someplace discovered by accident, without calamity, and the seeker chooses to linger for a bit. The 'hero' spends time there, rests, grows, learns.

There comes a time when he or she realizes they could stay, even that they want to. They could do good things in this place, maybe even great things. It would be a worthy life, a true path to follow. But it would mean setting aside the quest, the original destination. It's a temptation, but the seeker must bid farewell and journey on.

Well, for me, I think it's time I moved on from medieval studies. I wanted it to have been my destination, I really did. And I love it, I really do. I could do good things here, maybe even great things. It would be a worthy endeavor. But when I began, I had a different reason that drove me; a different path before me. And that path is calling me.

The thing is, it's a nutty world. There are so many things happening in the US, and elsewhere, that need to be addressed. The extreme right-wing; the ultra conservatives; the theocratic, dominionist, and militaristic Christian movements; the abomination calling itself the 'Tea Party.' And then there are the global climate issues, the ever-spiraling levels of corporate corruption and power, the inexpressibly urgent need for us to move to sustainable systems, and those that want to keep us from doing so, so they can keep their slices of power as the world collapses around them, as it will. And a lot of these things are connected, in ways that the media doesn't talk about, and the public isn't aware of. They are connected and they operate in ways that smart, educated, literate people don't get. People here, in academia, don't get it. And they need to! We all need to understand how the forces in our world work, what they want, and how they are getting it, and too many of us don't.

That's why I started this journey. I wanted to be part of that discussion, part of bringing to light the ways in which some of these seemingly disparate entities are connected and how the operate, because our futures may depend on it. My son's future may depend on it. If and when I choose to go further in academia, if I choose to go for a PhD, I've come to realize, it won't be here in the Middle Ages. I love the medieval studies, I really do. And I have learned so much here, and it has made the issues of today that much clearer; I can use what I have learned here out there, in the world as it is now.

I'd love to stay here, with heretics and saints and Dante and crusades and manuscripts. But I can't. I have work to do, and it's work that needs doing. And if I would never dare claim myself anyone's hero, still, I need to do it for myself, and for my son. So, I'll finish building the fence, help bring in the crop, wait for the pass to clear, or whatever it is that remains to be done before the journey can continue, but continue it will.

Like every traveler, I will promise to come back when the task is done. But we've all read the books, and we know it's not likely. Makes it easier to pack up and say goodbye though.....
lunadelcorvo: (Civil liberties)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Mostly, I don't. And while I'm on the subject, I love a margarita as much as anyone and more than some, but I do find the whole "Cinco de Mayo thing here in the US to be quite tacky. As if one in 100 of the loons who will get boozed up on tequila today have a clue what it's about, or care. It's a lot like St. Patrick's day, equally grotesque and equally irritating.

Vis a vis US independence? Rather than celebrating it, I often find myself wishing someone would revoke it. It's not like we've done a good job with the responsibility, after all. I think my country needs to be grounded, have its car keys taken away, the cable TV disconnected, and be sent to its room without supper. I just hope one day, I don't end up feeling I need to win my independence from it!
lunadelcorvo: (Stupidity brain hurts)
Just got into a discussion over on [livejournal.com profile] challenging_god, which soon went well beyond the original question and into silliness. Why? Because it soon became apparent that the other person (who was only to happy to pour on the condescension) simply didn't have a clue what she was talking about. I don't mean fine points of doctrine, or history or anything like that. This is the kind of 'didn't have a clue' where you discover after a few exchanges that the other person is simply operating on deeply and critically flawed premises.

And she didn't even seem to be arguing the religious side of things. Or rather than the usual fundie dogma, she had some odd ideas of religion, which she kept trying to interject into a discussion of a specific question, and then wondering why I said she kept changing definitions. But in this case it was the idea of logical inconsistency.

She could not wrap her head around the notion of logical inconsistency. Her idea of 'omnipotent' means insisting that an omnipotent being could, for example, make a square circle, or make 2 + 2 = 5. Hello? No, sorry - logical inconsistency! Come on, Aquinas put this to bed in the 12th century, folks! I remember my Aquinas professor getting SO frustrated with someone in that class who tried the same thing. He finally kicked him out for the day, telling him he was insulting not only him (the professor) but Aquinas and God himself by insisting on such a ludicrous position.

At least that fellow was trying to argue out of pure, dogged faith. This idiot was trying to say that since God created physics, he could flout its conventions. For one thing, since when does math depend upon physics? I couldn't get her to grasp that numbers are not physical things, that there are constructs, abstracts. Any way I presented it she kept insisting that logical consistency is some human construction, as though if there hadn't been humans, there would be no numbers. Well, not by the names we use, but there would be multiples of things, and then there would be numbers. And then 2 of a thing and 2 more of a thing STILL can't be 5 of a thing. And no being, no matter how powerful, could make a square circle.

This sort of thing always stops me in my tracks. OK, I'm an education junkie, I admit it. But it always amazes me how many people just don't have a grasp on basic logical principles. 'A' and 'not-A' are mutually exclusive. Basic, right? Well, not out there in the world, apparently. How is it that otherwise smart, capable people can miss this stuff? I mean, she wasn't dumb, just tragically ignorant of certain key concepts. I say tragically because her ignorance extended to her smug and unwavering certainty that there is nothing else out there that she might not get.

If rampant ignorance is growing (and it seems to be!) where did this stubborn pride in ignorance come from? Where did people who don't know how logic (or math, or whatever it may be) works get this idea that somehow they are superior in their understanding, despite essentially having none? Is this part of the cult of mediocrity, that thinks 'elite' is a pejorative, and ignorance is noble? Is it just the result of a deeply deficient education system? Are people just too damned busy getting business degrees to bother learning anything about how to, I don't know, think?

What will this mean over time? Will we, as a species, lose all that we gained in terms of thought and reason? OK, over dramatic, perhaps, but still. What happens when we have our machines to think for us, and we don't have to learn to use logic. (I wonder the same thing when I see kids told to use calculators instead of having to learn how to do basic math.) What if our machines fail? What if we can't remember how to think for ourselves? What if our leaders cannot think? (We saw how well that worked for 8 years!)

The discussion I had today is not a surprise (sadly). It is sort of depressing, though, to be reminded how ignorant people can be, and how stubbornly they can defend that ignorance.
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
Yet another borrowed link, this time from [livejournal.com profile] anahata56.

A Woman's Worth

If you don't read another linked article today, or even this whole week, read
this one.
If you are a woman, love a woman, respect a woman - read this.
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
I was inspired to post this as a comment to [livejournal.com profile] virginia_fell's excellent post regarding reproductive rights and recent legislation, so I thought I would post it here as well. Please, read, and discuss!

Why abortion MUST remain legal, and why we, as a society, have NO legal precedent to outlaw or limit access to it or to any form of birth control.


In this country, we do not mandate organ donation, we do not even mandate blood donation. Even in the case of a family member asked to donate life saving bone marrow, we do not, as a society, find it appropriate to make this compulsory, even when we can sit and talk to the person whose life hangs in the balance. Even after death, our wishes with regard to our own physical bodies determine whether our organs may or may not be used to save the lives of other human beings. And it is right that we should not. If the government tried to make these things mandatory under law, I am confident at least as many Christians and religious persons as non-religious would be having fits, and for once I would agree, though doubtless for different reasons.

Do these measures save lives? Of course. Is this a good thing? Naturally, no question. But mandatory, to be legislated and enforced by the law of the land. Absolutely not.

But to remove or restrict the right to abortion & birth control is to remove the control of one human over their body in order to sustain the life of another, something we clearly do not find appropriate. Even if you assume a fetus IS a human being from conception/implantation, if the law of the land cannot help itself to my kidneys when I am dead, nor to my blood or tissue while alive, in order to support the life of another human being, why is it that the law should be able to mandate the use of my body, against my wishes, for a period of nine months, to support the life of another human being? The answer is that it cannot, any more than it can compel organ, tissue or blood donation.

Is it better to avoid the necessity of abortion? Of course. (Better still not make sure that all women have full, complete and informed access to birth control, which will drastically remove the demand for abortion in the first place.) But to make full term carriage mandatory, to be legislated and enforced by the law of the land? Absolutely not.
lunadelcorvo: (Ecstacy by moonlight)
Long philosophical review of the film Asylum

Passion... it lies in all of us. Sleeping, waiting, and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws... and howl.

Passion... is born... And though uninvited, unwelcome, unwanted... like a cancer... it takes root. It festers... it bleeds... it scabs... only to rupture.

It speaks to us, guides us; passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have?

Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief.

It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we'd be truly dead.

- Angelus

But I can't help thinking - isn't that where the fire comes from? Can a nice, safe relationship be that intense? I know it's nuts, but.. part of me believes that real love and passion have to go hand in hand with pain and fighting.

- Buffy (Something Blue)

Just finished watching Asylum. Wow. OK, yes, lots of eye candy (yes, I am hooked, no surprise there). But beyond that, it is a disturbing film. The themes of love, passion, insanity...quite a bit to reflect on.

Stella, the wife of a doctor at an asylum, has a good, if bland marriage, and a son she adores. She finds a passionate affair with Edgar, a dangerous inmate with a history of murderous jealousy. Her affair continues after his escape, but ultimately ends with disasterous consequences, including the death of her son while she looks on, numb and motionless. Committed herself to same asylum where Edgar has also been returned, she is offered a marriage, a fine home, and a comfortable life by her doctor. After being falsely told by him that her lover (also a patient of this doctor - highly suspect, the only real plot flaw I can report) no longer desires to see her at a holiday ball, she leaps to her death from the clock tower of the asylum.

Definitely not a cheery flick. But it does make one ponder the nature of passion, obsession, and love. Obstensibly, the 'real' love in this story is Stella's husband, father of her child. But from the beginning, despite her love for her son, we can see she is unhappy, unfulfilled, and lonely.

It is tempting to see Stella's affair with Edgar as the 'real' love. It is certainly the only source of passion. He does fly into a jealous rage, and hits her, but he does not seriously harm her, despite the situation mirroring that in which he brutally beat and murdered his unfaithful wife. Yet, at every turn when we expect him to harm Stella, he does not. He trackes her from London to Wales, not for revenge, but to be reunited with her. When he learns of Stella's impending marriage to the doctor he is furious, but he says only that her husband failed her, he himself failed her, and that the doctor will fail her as well. He submits to the doctor's orders though, on the promise of the chance to see Stella at the ball, and he is almost childishly eager for the ball to begin, having painstakingly dressed up for her. As the strains of the waltzes from the ball echo through the corridors to Edgar's solitary cell, where the doctor has confined him, refusing at the last moment to let him see Stalla, we see him crumpled on the floor sobbing for her.

Then there is the doctor. Urbane, softspoken, civilized and seemingly sympathetic at the outset. However, his machinations begin at unsettling, and rapidly progress to out-and-out creepy. His offer to give her a home, arrange her release into his private care seems caring. He seems for a moment to genuinely care about her, even love her. But a few scenes previous, he visits Stella's estranged and broken husband, essentially to ask if he can have ger, since the husband is obviously finished with her. Then his manipulation of both Stella and Edgar, offering each to the other like forbidden apples, only to deny them both - whether out of fear of the consequences or to cement his control over both I can't decide....

So, the passion of a jealous murderer proves truer, more selfless, and more forgiving than either the husband or the kindly doctor. But is it love? Does Edgar find his personal redemption in Stella's love? Did Stella find passion, love, or merely obsession? Were they doomed because of thier own flaws, or the flaws of those around them? Can love spring from passion? Or are they mutually exclusive?

For me, passion is but a hair's breadth from love, but it a different thing. Both are only a slightly thicker hair's breadth from hatred, rage, despair or madness. There can be passion without love, certainly, and there can, I think, be a certain kind of love without passion. Not the kind of love I would choose...

Were I Stella, I have to say I would choose Edgar. The fiercest fire, the roughest need, the passion most primal, though brief; over the placid emptiness. To have loved and lost and all of that. (Though, I would like to think I would be smarter about it that she was, that I would certainly care better for my child, and so on. After all, Mamabear has her own passion, and a fierce and protective passion it is...) But I have ever been drawn to the lonely, the haunted, the dangerous and the forbidden. Nor have I ever been one to choose the safe path... the path of passion is that of life, after all...

Miscellanea

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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