Naked Apes Again!

Naked Apes Again! (Reductionism (science) Versus Metasticism (religion))

            In that both science and religion depart from human reality, historical, cultural, and linguistic, they are each in error regarding our shared ontology. Haidt’s recent book, The Anxious Generation, attempts to make an argument for the necessity of play for healthy persons, but bases it upon strained sociobiological figments that even as analogies are weak. Animals ‘play’ by instinct; it only looks recreative due to their offspring’s smaller size and limited capabilities. Animals do not play in any human sense of the term, even if we too are gradually preparing ourselves for adult roles as lensed through the imagination of the child. The key difference is that our roles are wholly social and historical in scope, and not based upon inherited traits or instincts. There is no single or singular ‘human nature’; the phrase, much-touted by the lazy or the ignorant, is a contradiction in terms.

            While decorated with what at first glance appear to be pedagogically sound indictments upon the virtual generation, the reduction of human personality and human health to animalian nature is not only wrong-headed, it is also morally wrong. To suggest that the base fact we are mammals and that this is the ultimate source of our sensibilities and needs is to aver any ethics, as well as to disavow any morality, no matter in what culture it originated. Yes, it is debilitating to sociality to exist in a virtual space overlong. But it is also cowardly, and this is the ethically more profound critique that needs be in place if we are going to mount a counteroffensive against the ubiquity of cyberspace and the so-called social media. We need not ask, ‘do animals use the internet?’ The very premise is ridiculous. Just so, we need not look to our distant mammalian cousins for inspiration regarding alternatives. We humans have created both virtual reality and social reality, and the former is a part of the latter. Only in a mythical ‘matrix’ are their roles reversed.

            Haidt sidesteps the fact that virtual life has in part been invented to increase control over children – even though he expressly states that children should not have ‘smart-phones’ before age 14, and makes numerous other social control statements, as if he is the newly self-proclaimed neo-conservative scientist, perhaps hoping that the sciences can belatedly compete with the parent-pandering mastery of the evangelicals – especially regarding both their nascent sexuality and how they interact with information in general. The latter funnels specific ideas to today’s young minds, narrowing them, much in the same manner as did television do to their predecessors’. The internet screen is a child of the television’s after all. The former, ‘cybersex’, ‘sexting’, or virtual sex, is the epitome of a chaste cowardice combined with a vicarious voyeurism, and indeed, if one is going to argue for children’s play and its theatrical realities, such also must include the play of sexuality, something sociobiological proponents often seem to neglect. The authentic critique of virtual space is not that it is ‘unnatural’, or even ‘unreal’, but rather that it presents a far too easy way around the challenge of both becoming a selfhood as an individual person, and joining the human species as a member of an historically mutable and culturally constructed consciousness.

            Beyond this, proposing scientific arguments over against those religious is a complete waste of time, for the acolytes of Godhead do not respect the data or, more importantly, the methods, of science in the first place. Science itself might as well be the devil’s pet bait, for all they are concerned. The ‘culture wars’, apologies to Susan Sontag once again, occupy the center stage in many political regions mostly due to media interest and stoking. Haidt’s recent appearance on ‘Good Morning America’ is merely one case of thousands, hailing from both science and religion, wherein the same tired statement is made: Nature versus God. The Secular against the Sacred. The World contra the Spirit. Ho hum, dear reader, ho hum. The reality of our human condition cannot be discovered by either the reductionism of the sciences – how far are we expected to regress? Does the quantum frequency by which the microtubules in our neurons vibrate contain the essence of being human? – or the metasticism of religion – how closely to we resemble the Imago Dei? Does the merely human view of the cosmos generate the objectively divine? – simply due to the presence of finitude as our universally shared lot. Finitude is itself an existential outcome of a being who at once is in history and who makes their own history.

            Consider once again that we are born without our choice, and we die outside of all the weight of our personal and human agency. Even choosing the timing of our demise by suicide, state-sponsored or no, does not obviate the essential facticity that we must die, at least in our current state of evolution. Just as virtuality is an ongoing evolution of the projection of human imagination into the world – the arts, photography, sound recording, radio, film, TV and so on – so too is science, the source of all of this projective technology, an ongoing process which begins with religion. Calling to mind Freud’s comment that Judaism is the religion of the father, Christianity that of the son, one can simply add that religion itself is the projection of the premodern, as James alluded, and science that of the modern. That one metastasizes humanity and the other reduces it merely introduces an inauthentic discreteness between them. We are in reality no more a God than we are an animal, and Nietzsche’s sly comment to this regard is well-taken. Note though that he only includes the ‘intelligent man’ in his acerbic ace.

            The APA, the US Surgeon-General, Desmond Morris and all the King’s horses to boot can’t put this simulacrum of Humpty Humanity back together. Why so? Because it was never either a divinely created or a scientifically evolved whole in the first place. We have many guiding images of what a human being might be like, but for each puzzle box-top several key pieces are missing. Creation involves an infinite regress, evolution an ironic leap of faith. God transcends His own cosmic cycle, the fossil record brushes aside its own gaps, and everyone is happy. Historicism ignores transhistorical concepts, notably that of the sacred itself, whilst historical materialism ignores the perduring power of ideas from and dwelling within the creative ambit of the human imagination. But the bevy of philosophical positions can at least be argued; they are, by definition, open to their own errors. Not so science, not so religion. Even within the former’s self-correcting method, one must work from the outside-in to force a change of perspective. Science does have an advantage over religion in that it is, with time and test, sometimes able to shrug off its self-created dross. Ironically, sociobiology, the bastard child of eugenics and Victorian evolutionary theory, appears healthy enough.

            The mainstream media celebrate a Haidt, or correspondingly, the lesser media of Canada tout one Mae Martin – again, making a ‘natural’ case for gender diversity is going to get you nowhere; the entire scientific discourse is voided by your opponents before any specific installment of it airs, that aside from it being just one more feeble-minded exemplification of reductionism, the scientific version of the ‘devil made me do it!’ – while studiously ignoring any serious philosophical effort to engage in discursive dialogue. Shall we then all herald the ascension of the neofascist whose avatar is either an authoritarian God or a narrow nasty Nature? Far better sources would include Huizinga’s Homo Ludens, Erikson’s Identity and the Life Cycle, and Ricoeur’s Oneself as Another. The considered responses, the serious efforts at understanding, the august confluences of human reason and imagination do exist, so why let media, which profits from artificial conflict and unreasoned artifice alike, why let politicians, who prostrate themselves before any base sensitivity in order not to lose franchise, or why let ambulance-chasing authors promoted in the name of publishers’ avarice direct your research?

            An appropriate image has Francis Galton and Bernard of Clairvaux turning aside in their graves, only to discover each is masturbating vociferously to the clamor and claxon of our inauthenticities. If we the living turn aside from the entire history of consciousness, either by giving it up to an abstract and ever-distanciated Godhead, or throwing it down into some primordial soup that lies bubbling at the bottom of an evolutionary pit, then we shall surely and wholly avoid the most essential questions of our shared humanity. And in this, any criticism of an alternate reality, be it virtual or gendered or monastic or yet Gileadic is also but a decoy, a competition amongst avoidance behaviors, a manner by which to reject anything of the human essence, and also, perhaps more fatally, to regress in the face of our overwhelming present need to make that essence more humane.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 59 books in ethics, education, health, social theory, religion and aesthetics, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over twenty years.

The Work of Warning

The Work of Warning (the question of critique)

            What elevates mere criticism into the realm of critique? We hear the latter term used in the day-to-day within contexts such as literature and art. In a life-drawing class, for instance, there is a kind of climax which is simply called ‘critique’, wherein one views the efforts of one’s peers and reacts aloud to them. It is meant as a learning experience of course, but its pedagogy is rather direct, even approaching the stentorian pending the tone. ‘Criticism’, as referred to in literary circles is actually meant to be critique as well, with a similar sense of outcome for those involved, though often at a distance from one another and keeping the still recent idea that authorial intent is no longer part of the equation. In fashion also, critique is leveled at the designer first and foremost, and more abstractly, editors will offer their opinions about trends and market alike. But all of this is quite quotidian and none approaches the more substantive sensibility that critique, thought of philosophically but also even ethically, brings forth.

            Criticism is to opinion what critique is to belief. The one may be had by anyone, as an individual, and can be offered up with a grain of proverbial salt. At the end of the day, no one is going to be overly dismayed by one person’s criticism. Criticism, like opinion, is also seldom well-researched, nor is it eloquently proffered either in rhetorical terms or within the ambit of the higher passions. It is far more spontaneous and reactive than is critique proper, and its subject matter is kindred with the baser values to which it itself appears to lend merit. Critique, by contrast, is the result of analysis and interpretation; it is the dialectic which emerges from the dialogue. Not yet in itself fact, of course, for critique works to an agenda within which factuality may be discovered or uncovered as the case may be, critique nevertheless is a paved road to the world as it is, rather than the muddy and overgrown verge of criticism; which at best can call our attention to the lesser fact that some people are unhappy with this or that, and that this may well be a clue to deeper meaningfulness. In a word, critique is the discursive plateau upon which one can observe the essential peaks, however afar they may yet be.

            Engaging in critique means both stepping back from the given premises while at once diving beneath them. A simple example: ‘critical race theory’ looks at symptoms, whereas the unheralded and perhaps unknown ‘critical puritanism theory’ might offer deeper insights into a wider panorama of inequities and iniquities both. A recent column in the golf news had it that for the first time in over a third of a century, an amateur golfer won a professional tour event. This is in itself an admirable feat, but we are told, at the opening of the column, that the golfer’s girlfriend flew some thousands of miles to see him play and enjoy a steak dinner while also catching up on some homework, since both are still college students. There is nothing in this at first, but of course, young lovers do not fly to one another simply to eat steak and study. Of course we do not need to know, here and ere on, about the intimacies of athletes as they may be – pace what the tabloids might imagine – but the clue here is that sex is always an ellipsis, for we equally do not need to know about the couple’s repast nor about their study habits. The fact that we are told with some banality about these other activities, quite irrelevant to the essence of a loving union let alone golf, points to the deeper presence of the vanishing absence of any public discourse about sex and sexuality which is not heavily politicized or appearing as part of an underground judged as vulgar, such as pornography. A trivial example, but I think a telling one. What is ubiquitous in our society is not racism or kindred insults, but rather a puritanism born of a neurosis regarding both intimacy of all kinds, and sexual union most specifically. It is the ultimate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, the deepest taboo of our time, no different than in Freud’s own. Beyond this, as Freud himself analyzed, the manner in which decoy figures are reported – steak dinners and homework, in this case, but the reader can fill in any blank with almost anything else – presents a second clue for an authentic critique. We are led to believe, somewhat summarily and with no indigestion, that young people are somehow always noble and chaste, chivalrous and honorable in their desire to be close to one another. This too presumes that such virtues only attach themselves to certain kinds of activities, all of which are present to use up the time together which could otherwise have ‘degenerated’ into lust. Finally, that such reportage merits press at all is a testament to what the consumer himself values about his own relations, such as they may be.

            Puritanism is propagandized everywhere one looks, but this is not a commentary about cultural neurosis. The analytic edge of critique proper reveals the extant of both ideology and propaganda in our society, its politics, its entertainment and recreation, its education, its culture. Critique seeks the essence of the condition, not merely its symptoms. Race theory, queer theory, gender studies and the like, have more in common with criticism than critique, since they halt their work when they have met with their favored dispositions; be this racism or sexism or what-have-you. It is exceedingly rare for someone loyal to those fields and others, including sometimes the older academic discourses – there are famous analytic differences between G.H. Mead and John Watson, Marx and Spencer, Malinowski and Leach, to name a few examples – to be able to delve more deeply into the abyss of historical meaning and the unconsciousness of norms and customs. Indeed, such thinkers who have done so in all of their efforts are often now shunned, displaced more simply due to their sometimes overweening previous influence rather than for any methodological failures. Academic fashion by itself can never generate critique, only criticism. It is intellectualized opinion only; the irony here is that only the patent enemies of thought in general have recognized this, and from the outside in. Thus another value of critique is that it performs the necessary vivisection of discourse before the lay-person can encounter it and offer their criticisms.

            The other chief aspect which distinguishes criticism and critique that does not by itself require an hermeneutic arc is that while the first seeks to insult or aggrieve the criticized in some petty manner, or at best, stops its incipient critique when it has revealed what is symptomatic alone, critique proper produces the work of warning. This result, and the value it places upon it, are the main reasons why it is so seldom engaged in. Critique gets at the very core of our cares, the pith of all that is pitiable, the germ of the germane. It wields a visionary sword but must first cast this weapon in an unforgiving forge. For critique, like thought more generally, nothing is to be considered sacred, nothing taboo. It is usually ill-humored, which is why it is oft mistaken for mere criticism, but unlike its weaker sibling, it is never petty nor rash. Its point is not to preen nor to pretend that the critic has it all over the object of disdain, but rather, and in radical contrast to such reactionary rips, critique indicts all of us in just and equal manner. And though it may provide a glossary of who is most indictable and who the least, this is not its profound point, once again, unlike the critics who focus on race, gender, and like structural variables. Instead, the outcome of critique is not simply a more well-rounded understanding of the human condition, but a veritable call to arms to alter our existence in some essential way, in order to further the humane calling of its object’s noblest values. Critique is not sidetracked by the symptom, not decoyed by the distraction, neither allayed nor assuaged by the ambient and aleatory alliance of critics themselves. Cutting through all of these and many more, critique, in its dialogue and through its dialectic, reaches into the heart of the matter. In turn, we feel that our own hearts have been disembedded from their too-comfortable hearths, and our consciousness now stares disembodied at the world which, in our torpor, in our stupor, once seemed so somnolently sans souci in the face of our blind bidding and dire doing.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, religion, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

Te Deum Tedium

Te Deum Tedium (Godforsaken Talk)

            The objective factors in the ascendancy of neo-fascism in our times are well known. The demographics of biopower, the two-income earning family as a general necessity, the marginalization of male labor, the public appearance of alternative family and community due to technological advances in logistics and the military, and so on. But none of these, either alone or together, should be enough to convince a human being that their world is coming to an end. Change, certainly, but not apocalypse. So if more macro and historical factors have been exhausted without resolving explanation at this human level, what other variables might be present that would turn this specifically difficult trick?

            I am going to suggest here that there is one such stressor in particular, which in turn contributes to an existential anxiety; the kind of concern that leads a person to believe in the coming void, and not merely become frustrated that the world has left one behind. For the Calvinists, it was their earthly or material conditions which were taken to be a sign that they themselves were to be saved, that they were of the elect. The Reformation had brought with it a renewed interest in the sense that one could not know of one’s fate until and unless the day of judgment arrived. One’s Christian destiny was predetermined, true enough, but one lived on in ignorance of the final result of this prejudgment. Originally adopted and thence adapted from the Egyptian scales of judgment, with Horus asking the shade if it had struck a balance between its potential and its acts in life – the few who punched above their ethical weight class were honored in the afterlife, but woe to those who did not rise even to their own gifts, no matter how slight – the Christian version of evaluation eventually did not need to ask, per se, but rather one was simply informed of one’s record upon death. So a person, thence a culture, for the apocalypse, a personal judgment writ large and an historical one completing the narrative in the ‘end of all history’, was to evaluate an entire species’ accomplishments and its deficits alike. To be found wanting as a soul within the arc of the Oversoul was to determine one’s final fate.

            And for all eternity. How could there then be a more stimulating motive to make one’s earthly existence into a paragon of the good? The Reformation sectarians who invented the Protestant Work Ethic could in no way find fulfilling the idea that one could not, in principle know anything at all about one’s destiny. Just as there had been signs of God’s presence in the world, the narrative of the Medieval period suggestive in the sense of the authorship, the creation, of that world as being autographed by a divine hand, so there must be similar signage which pointed to, in an individuated sense this time, a greater meaning for one’s life. This sensibility, originally regionally Dutch alone, rapidly spread, through the Anabaptists and into North America with the Puritans and by the early 18th century, the Baptists themselves. It should be recalled that this American church, now associated with the historic South and Mid-West, had its origins squarely in the Yankee mindset, with the very first Baptist church, which is still standing in Providence. This is not insignificant, for it was the unique amalgam of faith and works which animates much Christian orientation in today’s America, that could only have been forged in the revitalized region of Puritanism and its work ethic. Indeed, part of the Salem effect, perhaps its largest part, was the sense that those who worked through uncanny means were simply cheaters to the general ethic, whilst most others slaved away in the duller light of the day to day.

            So then as now. The alternative genders, the wealthy urban professionals, the intellectuals, the leisure and vice of the inheritors and the like, all these are the contemporary witches. They have attained such numbers and power that surely this too is a sign, this time of the end times; the day of judgment must be nigh. Puritanism may have lost its purity, but it has maintained both its faith and its works, or better, it has fostered a faith in works while at the same time a working faith. And if divine judgment seems distant and even a trifle aloof in our modernity, earthly judgment can itself provide a sign, a way to winnow those who might yet be saved from those who have given up salvation for the salacious salivations of this world alone. In order to make that evaluation, of course, the remaining Puritans have to wrest power from those accursed, as well as those who may well have cursed themselves; those who were never Christian certainly, but also those who had been, but then had let their mortal desires overtake their better sense of self. This is the political aspect of sectarianism: a way to prove that evaluation still exists.

            But in order to vouchsafe its efficacy one must go a step further, and it is this I will suggest is the motivating leitmotif of Evangelicalism today. If for half a millennium Protestants could rest something of their living soul, their conscience, upon the pillow of earthly wealth and success, and thus correspondingly, of a relative lack of material impoverishment and failure, the loss of these worldly props would prompt a crisis, not just in culture, but rather in existence. If one loses the signs of one’s elect status, this is no mean historical shift. It is not a question of demographics, technology, economics or politics, but rather one of ontology itself. I am no longer amongst the elect, or I am in danger of losing that status. There could be nothing more devastating, to the point of its appearance as a patent and potent evil in one’s life, the very worst thing that could ever even be imagined. I mock them not, but am rather attempting to convey some of the emotion that must be present in any heart which has witnessed the very promise and premise of its eternal existence suddenly vanish.

            Any one of us can surely empathize with such a tragedy. The loss of a loved one would come the closest, but even here, while it calls into question one’s own life and one’s future, one indeed lives on, even perhaps with the solace that we might at some point ‘meet again’, as the old song has it. But to be told, even in indirect terms, that one’s eternity is now annulled, that one is at least as liable to find oneself in hell as in heaven, overtakes even the most intimate of losses. So too then does the kind of mourning involved overtake any personal grief. For such faithful, no matter that this intuitive belief has been muted by both the day to day and its distractions as well as the simple passage of time blunting the edge of its soteriological suasion, such a loss has to be reckoned with before the time in question, if there could be any possibility that salvation was still an option.

            Enter leaders who are either cynical opportunists, narcissists, or perhaps even a few authentically concernful persons who, like their needy followers, also see their souls awry, and thus the faithful must risk choosing a political Anti-Christ of Revelations in order to make a meaningful choice at all. This only adds to their burden, which the rest of us may witness if we care to do so; tragic, solemn, and desperate as it is. For at its deepest level, sectarianism and neo-fascism in today’s society rest upon the sense that those involved within its ambulatory aura are trying to save themselves and for all time. In doing so, they have asked, nay, begged us to join them. That we refuse to do so, that we indeed mock them instead, is only the further proof that we are the damned after all, and that God would forgive His faithful of even our outright murders, since we had the same choice they themselves did, and rejected it out of hand.

            And so this is our current scene: a large minority of the once-elect searching with all due diligence and desire, desperation and doxa for any possible sign that their eternal souls will not suffer the dismal dirge of a devil’s drag. That the rest of us are blind to both the metaphysics, and much more importantly, the social reality of this ultimate motivation, truly is a sign that we are in for a coming hell on earth.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, religion, aesthetics, social theory and health, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

La Crème de la Crematoria

La Crème de la Crematoria (The Shoah must not go on)

            “Follies seem these thoughts to others, and to philosophy, in truth, they are so.” Said Rienzi; “but all my life long, omen and type and shadow have linked themselves to action and event: and the atmosphere of other men hath not been mine. Life itself is a riddle, why should riddles amaze us?” (Bulwer Lytton, 1840:364).

            In the darker humors of a post-Pythonesque imagination, Malibu Barbie is supplanted by Klaus. One can envisage a MAD-TV sketch, with a Margot Robbie lookalike donning Hugo Boss’s menacing red and black, belting out ‘Under the Double Eagle’ with Ken as they pop-top tour the streets of Lyons. Now Robbie is herself no Nazi, of course, but a good actor should be able to play almost any role. And Mattel’s ubiquitous doll is, after all, ‘very Aryan’, to borrow from Chaplin. She’s a tall lanky blue-eyed blond who epitomizes the ideal whiteness of commercially defined glamor. That the somewhat sartorial film ambushes various clichés which abound in the toy itself is a rather different attempt at a demythology than say, Bruno Ganz’s stellar portrayal of the great dictator in ‘Downfall’. There, we must agree with Ganz’s own assessment, which shocked and dismayed his Jewish friends and colleagues, which can be summed as: ‘I feel I now more truly understand Hitler; I know why he did the things he did, and indeed, my overwhelming reaction to him is one of pity, sympathy and a sense of the tragic.’. But ‘Barbie’ rests its case on popular fiction, and that directed to children to boot. ‘Downfall’ is a dramatization of historical events, as related intimately by Hitler’s personal secretary. It is a memoir writ large, and thus accesses an aspect of the authentically historical. ‘Barbie’ is also a memoir of sorts, but one recessing anything historical into the timeless space of childhood play.

            If only Hitler’s own imagination had remained in that same space. If only he had viewed Rienzi at the tender age of fifteen, and shrugged it off as a reasonable allegory of the political confrontation between the people and the elites, discarding any sense that Wagner – or Lytton for that matter – were somehow in the know about what actually occurred during the republican period of the Roman Empire. Instead, he himself relates that ‘this is where it all began’. Much later, he declares, with his usual rhetorical unction, that, ‘our state is that which rests upon the people’s deep sense of the irrational, and thus it is art which must lead society, and to which we must bend our collective will.’ I am both translating and paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. What he meant was, of course, not the ‘irrational’, but rather the non-rational, as in those feelings and beliefs associated with a religion. He was aware that people were moved more by their hearts than their minds, and as well, that those same non-rational hearts suffered in a way that the rational mind cannot. The Reich arose from such misery, and then trebled its misery by projecting it around the globe, where it resonates to this day.

            In its propaganda, in its diaries, and in its policies, one encounters the leitmotif of ressentiment above all others. This is the same emotion – malicious existential envy – that is the source of the neo-conservative movement and its evangelical vanguard. This is the emotion which Trump has tapped into and channeled, though he as an individual likely feels little of it. Yes, he has been consistently mocked, by none other than Jewish entertainers for the most part, such as David Letterman. Hitler felt himself to be cheated out of a position at the Vienna school of art by the majority Jewish entrance committee, and the fact that the painter Oskar Kokoschka was the 20th and final successful applicant of 1908 and Hitler came in 21st could not have helped. Kokoschka much later suggested in interview that if their positions had been reversed, ‘he would have gone on to become a mediocre painter and I a benign dictator.’ Perhaps not quite benign, as he once created a life-size BDSM doll of Alma Mahler after she had dumped him. But my point is simply this: ressentiment is widespread in any society that markets heavily unattainable ideals, and then also appears to limit certain people’s access to the very resources that would foster gaining such ideals. The phenomenologist Max Scheler is owed the greatest debt in analyzing this dangerous condition, first understood more fully by Nietzsche. The neo-conservatives are those who, in general, have been marginalized by modernity and by modernism, and have, since about 1980, reacted to this growing erosion of their beliefs and individual rights by adopting a chopped-down version of personhood set into a mockery of Christian ethics. In this simplistic sensibility, they have attained a strength of numbers which is politically formidable. If all of the nuances of both Burkean conservatism and authentic Christianity had been maintained, such numbers and their apparent agreement would not have been possible.

            What this means for the rest of us is that we must make a choice between a regression into the same kind of social motion that animated the NSDAP and got them elected, and the usual gang of idiots, to make a second nod to MAD, who populate the corridors of power in so-called liberal democracies. These latter may be incompetent and irresponsible but they are not generally dangerous, so the choice seems clear enough. All the while, those who are most at risk, arguably people of Jewish descent and Black Americans, must together continue their uneasy partnership purveying low-culture (over the) counter-propaganda. If there is even a hint that the entertainment industry has an ethnic-enclave gatekeeping mechanism about it, then it is surely one of utter desperation, even outright fear. The Goyim must be kept distracted, made to laugh, to swoon, to sentimentalize their otherwise barbaric and cruel passions, and in spite of a Black leader’s epithet regarding New York and the case of Bernhard Goetz, amongst many other tensions, these two social groups, through sports and fiction, feel compelled to continue to concoct what is essentially a minstrel’s dire duet.

            It is not a stretch to imagine another Shoah. Hamas and Hezbollah have neither the firepower nor the allies to construct it, but the American neo-conservatives very much do. And for the same reasons that Hitler was enormously popular, seen as a savior, not unlike the recently fetishized Trump, all those who suffer from the ignominy of ressentiment are capable of any act. Scheler makes it clear by distinguishing resentment, which gives way to simple envy, from its more extreme sibling. Resentment tells me I should be like her, have what she has, youth, beauty, admiration, wealth, or what-have-you. But ressentiment tells me that I should be her, which implies that she herself should be dead and I have replaced her with myself. In all those breasts which have been sidelined by science, by art, by education, and by the economy, malicious existential envy rages, and rages on. And it is the arrogance of cultural – though not necessarily actually cultured – elites which performs the final straw on such a social stage. A common plaintiff of Goebbels’s films is that ‘the Jews’ have ‘passed their arrogant judgments’ upon art and life alike. Art history itself is not at issue. Even the long-suffering Red Army shrugged it off, sending some 200 Hitler Youth fighters back home to their surviving parents and their leader, a professor of art history, back to his academic position, after their ludicrous attempt at defending the Olympic stadium in Berlin. But the neo-conservatives, unlike the Nazis, have interest in neither art nor culture. Imagine then, in a yet darker humor, a sheer simple madness this time and not the great Al Jaffee’s crew, a Reich in which there is no art, no culture, and no thought. For after all, no less than Heidegger himself, arguably the world’s greatest living thinker, was invited to become state philosopher, a posting he toyed with for several months before wisely turning it down. Richard Strauss, one of the world’s two greatest living composers, became the Reich’s arts director. For all of their ressentiment, the Nazis still knew who was good.

            Not so this reprise movement. There is not the faintest sign or signage that culture of any sort is present in its minions. Michelangelo’s ‘David’ is naked, my blushes. Judy Blume talks teen sex, how disgusting. And uh, no Margaret, I’m actually dead, remember? Quit your bitching and leave me in peace. Give me the Nazis any day of the year, one is tempted to say. They not only celebrated the naked form – well, if you looked like Margot Robbie at least – they avidly listened to Bruckner. They disdained swing music, as do I. Of course, their ‘taste’ in such things was incorrectly sourced in the idea of authorship. The big bands were often helmed by Jewish musicians, and after all, Mahler himself was born a Jew. Speaking of Gustav this time and not his wife, Mahler gave the Nazis conniptions, with many listening to him discreetly, since they loved his art but publicly had to hate his person. And while I wouldn’t have turned the Tchaikovsky Museum into a motorcycle repair shop, as the SS did whilst temporarily in the neighborhood, I do think Bruckner is the superior composer, as did they. It is sage to recall Putin’s recent comment about there being ‘no gays in Russia’. Maybe not now, but then there was Peter Ilyich. To extend our satire, the SS may have been taken aback to know that Tchaikovsky might well have admired men on motorbikes.

            All of this would be anathema to the neo-cons, and thus none, including any sense of humor, would be present in the Fourth Reich. Let’s not fool ourselves into hoping that such desires shall pass, and without a fight. Ressentiment is present in all of us. Our hearts feel its minor fuel each time we are denied something we had been promised, that we knew we had earned, that we are owed by another, by a social institution, by government, or perhaps even by life itself. And though it may be true that ‘deserves got nothing to do with it’, our basic will to that very life can conflate chance and destiny, belief and opinion, even fact and fiction. When it does, go look in the mirror and tell yourself that you would never, ever, be a death camp guard.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

Writing as a Vocation

Writing as a Vocation (a personalist accounting II)

            I never imagined I would become a writer. Even after my twentieth book was published, I thought of myself as an educator, a professor, and a pedagogue, but not a writer. I was simply a thinker who happened to enjoy writing. After I had finished with my administrative role and found that the vast majority of time had been taken up with its duties, divers and sundry as they were, the sheer amount of freed-up time lent itself to that very imagination. A well-known Canadian novelist was my first victim. His delicate indelicacy, ‘its quite a bit better than I thought it was going to be’, encouraged me to take at least the idea of writing more seriously. Almost forty books later, I have thought of myself as both a thinker and a writer now for some years. But what does it actually mean to be a writer? What does it mean to write?

            Writing as a means of communication:

            Writing is the greatest legacy of the first agrarian period. Other aspects of culture and civilization bequeathed to us from that antique epoch include mass warfare, caste slavery, and steep social hierarchies, as well as abstracted religious systems and gender inequality, all quite dubious historical gifts. Even monumental architecture might be seen as something of an unnecessary luxury. But the ability to record one’s thoughts, or simply describe the facts at hand, has made humanity a much more conscious, as well as self-conscious, species than it ever would have become without it. The first two ‘genres’ of written text exemplify the contrast between the senses and the imagination. The former is expressed as records of warehouse holdings, in the earliest of cuneiform, the latter, in the great mythic narratives, such as Gilgamesh, which orally is far older than even its first recorded rendition. Myth and fact divided the mind of antiquity and they are with us still, though both in somewhat muted form. The mythic has been personalized in a sense beyond belief, which in fact must be shared as part of culture to be truly authentic to itself. Fact has become a signpost for the absence of imagination, which is both ironic and ultimately impoverished. Throughout their conjoined career, myth and fact, fantasy and reality, continue to attract us in spite of their now stilted quality.

            They are able to do so because they continue to communicate things which are of the essence to our kind. On the one hand, writing allows one person to share their vision with another, no matter how outlandish are its contents or premises. With it written down, any reader can judge for themselves whether or not to take it with a pinch of salt or a drop of strychnine. We are able to read of distant places, exotic sources, crazed witness and unexpected encounter. We no longer need to presume it is some version of ‘Livingstone’ whom we meet in the heart of darkness or elsewhere, nor do we presume upon ourselves that we are always and utterly sane if only we manage to shun the irreal or the irruptive. On the other hand, the entire cosmic order is made more accessible to each of us through writing. These need not be the facts of a Gradgrind or for that matter, a Tyler, and the fact that one is, fortunately, a fictional educator and the other, perhaps regrettably, was not, impinges not a jot upon the reader’s sensibilities. Our question immediately becomes, ‘is this fact of merit, does it possess any value other than its descriptive presence?’. The judgment we carry into fiction is not entirely distinct from that which we carry unto fact.

            And it is writing that gives us this more sophisticated grace. We can discriminate between reality and fantasy after all, if only more of us would do so in our own time. Writing is both the stringent gatekeeper of any who would sully fact with fiction, but as well, and sometimes in direct contrast to this function, writing is also the means by which fact merges into fiction, and something of the fictional, in its ludic veridicity, appeals to us as if it were the thing itself. Writing represences the world as it is, and it makes present to us other possible worlds. In doing so, we find ourselves in the possession of a naked sword, visionary and keen, which, in a singular cut, can tear away the veils we tend to place over both our social normativity and our global inequity the both. At every level, from the most personal to the utterly dispassionate, writing reveals our truths to ourselves. Been molested? Write about it; let everyone know. Free others to communicate and come together to halt injustice. Fallen in love? Tell us all about it, for we too have such yearnings. Allow us to dream together in a waking state, overly conscious of our singularity, overtly impassioned by our desire for community. An undiscovered world awaits all readers of both astronomy and history, fantasy and science fiction. In a sense, writing does not discriminate such fields so distinctly as does discourse, and this is one of the chief differences between writing in that Derridean sense and the ‘tracing’ of nature through language in that Saussurean.

            Either way, writing as a means of communication remains its primary role in culture, whether or not the intention of the author recurs in their works, and without respect to the reader’s own intentions, whether it is to be simply entertained, informed, or enlightened. To each her own epiphany, one might respond to the text in hand, and from each their own experience. For writing has one further sidereal quality; that it becomes part of the reader’s world and his experiences thereof and therein, forgetting its ‘original’ source-point and reaching over any differences in biography and even history that once lay between writer and reader. In this, writing cannot in itself ever be parochial. For we living beings, this status provides for us an egress from our own rather sheltered perspectives and oft-shuttered imaginations.

            Writing as a personal experience:

            Non-fiction writing is an exercise in waking from what Schutz has framed as the ‘wide-awake consciousness’. This may at first seem redundant: how does one awake from the already waking life? Social reality provides for us a seldom penetrable insulation of norms, rituals, symbolic forms, and abstract beliefs within which no thought is necessary. As long as I run on my cultural and historical rails I need not blink at the world. But upon writing about this oft otherwise mute witness, I am compelled to reflect upon my sense of that same world, and what had been predictable and routine becomes much more experiential and even beckons an incipient adventure. Writing about the world as it is, insofar as each one of us can grasp it, is to awake from the day-to-day of the waking life. It is to simply become conscious, rather than to ‘raise consciousness’, for consciousness is always already with us and we are consciousness embodied. This awakening is also not a specific moral direct, such as ‘becoming woke’ or even ‘waking up’. It is a phenomenological disposition that pauses when it encounters the ‘of course’ statements associated with any automatic, or even automated, defense of society in the majority view. This is the hallmark of non-fiction: that it at once describes how things actually are and asks the reader to reflect upon, and question after, such truths. Non-fiction explicates to us that things are not quite as they seem to be, without suggesting how such things might be or might have been in the same way that fiction does.

            By contrast, fiction is thus less limited by the world. It may present different worlds, more or less plausible, and thence judged in terms of how recognizable to the unthought norms of the day they may be. If non-fiction writing awakens us to the subtext of life and living-on, writing fiction is to experience a waking dream. When we read the fiction of others, we note that our own perceptions are enlarged, but not in reference to the world per se, but rather to our own respective psyches. That the collective unconscious of humanity may also prove to be within our reach, at least once in a while, is testament to the function of the mythic as it plays within a reality itself bereft of myth. The latitude of interpretation associated with reading fiction is also wider than that of non-fiction, as readers may feel more free to bring their own experience into the text. Similarly, writing fiction sources itself in the author’s own experience, and those experiences which have been related to him by others he has known, sometimes intimately, sometimes vicariously. A commonplace projective trope thus begins with such rhetorical questions, ‘what if I had known her better?’, or, ‘what if we had never met?” and the like. In fiction, we are able to step outside of the facts at hand and imagine something else, indeed, almost anything else. This is why the creative character of fiction cannot be entirely divorced from the ‘discoverable’ sensibility associated with facts. If it is, then the world would lose its historical essence and humanity would be forever stunted in its species-maturity.

            My own experience with writing has fully participated in both major realms. For myself, scholarly non-fiction is shot through with the dialectic, as is appropriate for a hermeneutic phenomenologist. My more general non-fiction works are attempts to communicate difficult analyses to literate lay-people no matter their own backgrounds. It is the latter which is much more challenging for the writer to accomplish with any aplomb, and my originally mediocre assays have, over the years, given way to more modest, and thus more effective, offerings. At the same time, I take some satisfaction in making nominal contributions to aesthetics, ethics, education, and psychology, all emanating from my philosophical base. It would be past vain to enumerate such titles, but two examples, from both ends of the writerly spectrum, so far stand out: Aesthetic Subjectivity: glimpsing the shared soul (2011), is my major statement about art and its attendant discourses. The title is mine, the subtitle, the publisher’s, denoting a sudden and apt insight on their part. This book received a number of interdisciplinary reviews and was an unqualified success. But scholarly books are, by definition, elusive, and this work is now sadly out of print. In contrast, The Penumbra of Personhood: ‘anti-humanism’ reconsidered (2020),was a nightmare to write and no doubt the worse to read. I vowed to never write another large-scale scholarly work and to this day I have not, though I am planning one for 2024 in spite of this cherished interregnum. ‘Penumbra’ nearly finished me as a non-fiction writer, and was a reminder of how the vocation of writing can take over one’s life, sacrificing it in the service of the almighty text.

            As a belated writer of fiction, I have experienced similar distensions of ability and result. I am, first of all, sometimes taken aback by my waking dreams and how certain aspects of my unconscious life have found their way on to the page for all to peruse. Do I really have a penchant for grotesque violence? Have I never moved beyond adolescence in my desires? Though many would agree, life lived as an adult can be frustrating and sometimes even the coach of despair, but even so, at the end of any reads, I would hope no one would wish a life like any of my characters have been given and thus have had to live out. And just as art and life remain distinct, where there is no art one can yet suggest there is also a distinctive absence of life. So my fiction has within it a semblance of both at once. Since for the most part I write agenda fiction, by definition it cannot be art, no matter what kind of literary sophistication it may be said to have, and I make no claims to this regard. I write verse, not poetry, and I write books, not novels. I have never considered myself to be, or to yet become, either a poet or a novelist, but I have penned seventeen novels nonetheless, along with a novella, two short story collections, and an arc of folktales. This last, Raven Today, has been called my most ‘beautiful’ work by readers apparently in the know, and perhaps amusingly, is the only work of fiction I have produced which contains no bad language.        

            As with the non-fiction, I may be forgiven in citing just two books here. About the Others was my first adult mainstream title, and this failed art novel was meant as a tribute to my favorite author, H.G. Wells, who himself had quite a number of them. It has some autobiographical elements, and as such is the only work of fiction I have written that relies on what is this commonplace source material. But if my first mainline attempt was much-flawed, if still a tolerable page-turner, my second was, in my own view, perfect. That The Understudies remains unpublished reminds the author that his view of perfection may not at all be understood by others. This too is the common lot for writers of all sorts, and one must inhale that displeasing atmosphere as best one can, expelling it in new directions and perhaps relieving oneself of this or that delusion in the process. Writing fiction is about the literary sleight of hand, so to move from a pleasant illusion to a sometimes unsavory disillusion reworks the story from the outside in. And of course there is a world of difference between writing and publishing, especially in the fiction industry where, because of at least the potential for profit – unlike, and especially, scholarly works – editors and presses become agitated if ‘fit’ for catalogue is at all transgressed.

            Writing fiction is not a thankless vocation. Its task is to step into worlds hitherto unknown and uncharted, but its gift is that you are the one who becomes the first to know, the first to map, and these new worlds come to love you as much as you have given them the reciprocal gift of life.

            Writing as a Discursive Activity:

            All writers contribute to discourse, the conversation of the history of consciousness. If ‘dialogue is what we are’, as Gadamer has declared, discourse is that dialogue written down, a record of thought itself, and not merely thoughts, which any person may have, and in the most fleeting of fashions. Discourses come in many forms, and one need not be dismayed if philosophy is not on one’s writerly menu. Few read it, for one, and fewer understand it. And though it is not economics, the ‘dismal science’, philosophical discourse is often discouraging, as it leaves nothing sacred and unmasks even the sweetest of sentiment for what it may be or contain within. It is, in a word, not for the faint of heart, and if one has any hint of the Pollyanna, it will leave that fake Sophia naked and utterly at risk for her estranged sister’s truth.

            Given this, it is no holiday to write either. Perhaps it is this slough-filled pilgrimage which is the truer source of the action in my fictional works! I do find myself alternating between non-fiction and fiction, sometimes writing both at once, as I am currently doing. But discourse is immune to authorial sentiment. And if the author is himself dead, as Barthes famously reminded us, perhaps the writer lives yet. I have stated that we today dwell in the period of the afterlife of God, so it is not a stretch to imagine as well an afterlife of the author as a kind of remanential writer. This figure is itself discursive, and is made up, if you will, of all those who continue to author works in spite of that particular literary function being surpassed or superceded. That there is no autograph which can contain the text, that there can be no signature which vouchsafes it, is, even so, not to say that the reader can do more than rewrite the read in the light of her own experience and sensibilities. Penetrating non-fiction, as well as reflective fiction, in fact disallows complacency of any kind on the part of the reader, and tells us instead that discourse is alive and well, fully matriculated from its birth, divine or no, and fully accepting, and acting upon, its birthright.

            Hence writing is to experience the presence of discourse in one’s life. It is creative, in its guise as fictional, constructive as factual, but either way, it remains a wholly discursive act. That I became a writer tells me in turn that the vocation of writing adopted me as its own child, as it has done for countless others and, one would hope, will continue to do as long as there exists a human consciousness worthy of its precious record.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

On the Ubiquity of Child Pornography

On the Ubiquity of Child Pornography (a Christmas Day gift for a ‘naughty’ society)

            In the burlesque of passion, ‘naughty’ is nice. In the grotesque of desire, ‘naughty’ is simply nasty. If pornography is more deeply and precisely defined as the narrowing of one’s humanity through objectification, suppression and the sabotage of agency, child pornography appears ubiquitous in our society. Its sexual aspect is but one instance of the confluence of these three forces, and in no way should an ethical understanding of pornography be limited to an examination of what is in fact a mere skewed symptom. For sexuality in itself is an essential part of the human experience, and from a very early age, as Freud and many others have correctly demonstrated. By reducing our inhumanity as directed upon others to what is indeed an authenticity of being only compounds the evil, which is itself in turn sourced in ressentiment. It is inevitable that an adult will feel a compulsion to absorb the wider childhood of which he was himself robbed when a child; whether this theft is repeated against his own children or those utterly unknown to him. This repetition of a criminal act may be witnessed in a myriad of examples hailing from a variety of sectors in today’s society, and specifically in its institutional cultures, wherein objectification, suppression and the denial of human agency and will occurs together and in a calculated manner.

            Private schools emblazon public transit with rows of smiling uniformed girls, well-behaved and no doubt well-disciplined and yet apparently so happy to be forced into the same clothing and the same personality as their desk-bound neighbors who, before being crammed into such places by parents eager to both dispense with their care and ensure that their wealth stay in strictly monitored courtship circles, were complete strangers to them. No matter, as all will shortly become the same thing, and this thinghood is of the utmost: not a person, but a set of objectified roles; dutiful child, chaste daughter, model student, submissive spouse et al. That the ‘schoolgirl’ is an altogether perennially popular staple of the porn industry tells all: it has borrowed from the stilted life of the child the sexualized thinghood already utterly present within its pleats and tights. Just as art mimics the very highest of and in life itself, so does porn mimic the very lowest.

            Such schools spend much space on their respective websites outlining with a salacious delicacy their uniforms, including ‘modesty shorts’ for girls. At once this official apparel, from which there may be no deviation whatsoever pending punishment – much anticipated by the adults involved, and the very reason why uniform codes are so picayune in the first place – suppresses any hint of natural sexuality by objectifying youthful charm in a lockstep repetition, not unlike ballet or team sports, two other parental favorites, in which youth appear as part nymph part storm-trooper. Such schools rely on supportive and presumably equally neo-fascist families for ‘discipline’, also reiterative, and in even more authoritarian circles, often still of the physical variety. And yet the malingering presence of corporal punishment in some political regions is completely consistent with other aspects of the suppression and objectification of the child, for it is nothing other than surrogate sex.

            The child and the youth become the institutional playthings of adults, chaste yet charming chattel, objects and not persons. Their human rights are denied them, their own nascent wills crushed, their narrowed paths set before them and predefined as the same road to ressentiment. In this dynamic, the relations of an alienated subsistence are reproduced. The child will become the avid consumer, the beleaguered producer, entertained by a sullen mean-spiritedness. They will watch television ads wherein even a teenager’s first kiss is denied by mocking parents, and these latter will chuckle to themselves and glance over with menace at their own adolescent children. We’re not selling you a vehicle, but rather a warning. Those who script such ad campaigns are pornographers, the companies which contract them porn merchants. Buy their products and support child pornography, but that is what you desire above all else. For the truncated adulthood of our mass culture only moves us when we can enact violence, either symbolic or physical or both, upon others. Children are the safest mark, for other adults will generally fight back or have friends who will fight for them. But the uniformed disciplined loveless child is the perfect daughter, the perfect son. And to have one or the other makes you the perfect parent.

            We can also rely upon far more than the schools and the laws to support our perfection. All that is sold to children fosters within them an auto-pornography. Shop anywhere, and though you may be of any age group, you are forced to listen to the voices of insipidly ten-year-old sounding pop stars who, in highly sexualized whispers or ululations, sing of youthful desire alone. This the basest most perverse version of any possible Reich, for at least the Nazis had good taste in music. In all else regarding our children, we mirror many of their own desires. The Orwellian character of general child pornography is certainly also indisputable. The children’s athletic apparel designed to provide a source of endless voyeurism for audiences; the television ratings for the competitions that reveal much or most of young women always the most popular attractions. Those few with acrobatic skills and perfect hebephilic figures have graduated from the sexual school uniform to that of theatrical sporting performances, in the process having also been unsurprisingly regressed from a mere pupil to a circus animal.

            Children are mocked in entertainment scripts intended for adults, while youths are often violently suppressed and yet objectified, seen as a threat to society but at the same time as being the original source of desire, resented mightily and yet relentlessly pursued, just as we orient ourselves to our own lost youth. And it matters not whether the scriptwriters are simply good old Nazi or fashionable Feminazi; compare ‘Bosch’ with ‘Scott and Bailey’, for instance. In both, teens are berated, threatened with violence, cast as the source of social problems or the bane of parental existences. And these are but two of the more egregious offerings out of hundreds and in all genres. And by contrast, scripts directed at youth themselves are in their vast majority pure fantasy, stating to young people that in order for them to have an agency at all, they must dwell alone in the worldcraft of our adult imagination, formulaic and utterly reactionary as it is. The creators of such fantasies are child pornographers, the young actors sex industry starlets, and the parents who approve of their viewing do so with the low cunning of a holocaust architect. Objectification, suppression, denial of agency: the trinity for the mass murder of all that children authentically embody.

            Children who play with one another unencumbered by social role device, who create their own worldcraft bereft of the constant and ubiquitous harping of corporate CGI campaigns, and youths who love one another far outside of parental control and oversight, and who explore their shared world wide-eyed with one another far beyond the panting grunt of the molester’s narrow gaze, these are the experiences authentic to the young human being and which we, as those older and supposedly so much wiser, need to nurture in every child. One stares round in vain for such contexts wherein this utmost task is even attempted, let alone accomplished. And if the apparently enchanted premodernity hung its collective hat upon revelation, we today, disenchanted and modern are compelled to consider revolution as the advent of human freedom. But in murdering our young, we avoid the confrontation with our own culture’s self-imposed slavery. We prefer pornography to authenticity, child porn to mature intimacy. In that, we impale ourselves. But to suffer this same fate upon a child is to move from simple ethical error to evil, as patent and as vacant as are our own embittered hearts.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor if the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

The Wider War on Personhood

The Wider War on Personhood (is a form of auto-genocide)

            “You will not forget that the stress laid on the writer’s memories of his childhood, which perhaps seems so strange, is ultimately derived from the hypothesis that imaginative creation, like day-dreaming, is a continuation of and substitute for the play of childhood.” (Freud, 1957:182 [1908]).

            The last poet and the last human are one and the same. This, Freud notes at the beginning of his essay ‘The relation of the poet to daydreaming’, is what the writers try to assure the rest of us. In the writer, however, the heart of the child remains active. A child’s beloved is his playing selfhood, what an adult would call a persona. But a child is not yet a person in any holistic sense. Under a just law, she must be treated as if she were a fully cognizant person with all of the attendant rights such a legal entity possesses. But in day-to-day life, the fuller responsibilities of being and adult must be treated rather as a becoming; as something that is gradually developed and introduced, just as we adults become inured to the sense that death will at some point complete our own being. This ‘ownmost death’ is the culmination of the self as a thrown project, as a being-in-the-world, but it also represents the end of personhood and indeed, the return of a kind of persona. Each of us traverses the space between childhood, wherein the self is not easily distinguished from other selves and personae rule the child’s fantasy worlds, and dying, wherein the self experiences a diminution; in short, a regression.

            Kindred with the oft logistical dependence and loss of autonomy aging and dying promote, various aspects of our being retreat into what by then are the murkiest memories of authentic existence as dependent. This is one of the crucial differences between actuality and authenticity that a human being can know, and this kind of knowing is quite intimate, and ironically perhaps quite personal, even if it is that very person who is failing. The aged are not children, but they generally must be cared for as if they are, and are so once again. So, there is in fact a double regression at work: that occurring to the person in question as she ages, and that happening to those around her, the caregivers, family members, friends and lovers alike. This community is regressed into the much more-narrow role of parenthood, whether as a paid professional health-care worker or as an intimate. The latter ‘sign up’ for such a role more or less tacitly, taking the vow of ‘sickness and health’ either formally or informally. The former expect that their vocation, at once noble and degrading, will include such caregiving and perhaps see themselves as heroic, even though their quest is routine, even otiose. What these others share, those both intimate and professional, is the experience of the objectification of being – the self brought low by failing mechanism – and thus also the foreknowledge that they too will one day be similarly regressed. All the care for others matters not, counts for nought, in this knowing.

            If we have in the human arc a kind of faux circle, moving from the authentic pre-personhood of the child to the very much non-personhood of the dead, it is more understandable that vestiges, charades, trysts, and echoes of this existential frame resonate throughout the rest of our life, that in which we are more or less fully functioning adults with the usual suite of obligations and perhaps even some status here and there. The juvenile role-play of sexual burlesques, the desperate bullying of the authoritarian parent, the desire to repeat experiences first had in youth, which can easily become a compulsion, and the fantasy of projection even adults may indulge in – though with different avatars and icons than has the child; the thirteen-year old whose heroine is Swift may well become the thirty-year-old whose hero is Trump, for instance – all attest to the powerful force the imagination has over the worldly selfhood. Yes, the self is in, and thus is in possession of, the world as it is. But the imagination transcends this ‘isness’, and places before the willing senses another world, the world as it might be, even the world as it could be. This is the world of fantasy and projection, and that it often occurs to us as partaking of the visionary, rather than merely in the imaginary, constitutes its tantalizing hook.

            Thus regression, even if the hallmark of aging and dying, is always available to us as a kind of auto-homicide, for it involves, at least for the moment, the death of the self. But what if entire cultures engage in this kind of regression? And further, what if such a culture, as expressed in a society or in a politics, willingly compels itself to undergo mass regression? This is, we will suggest here, what is occurring, and in a global fashion, in our own day. Freud recognized the incipience of such a crisis when he comments that it is the nation-state that takes the lead in regressing adults into children; nations and their leaders treat citizens as menial, mediocre, and misbehaved. This is so, we can add, because not only does the state represent the religion of modernity, it does so by way of ancient mythological themes. The state possesses the pantheon of godhead, in its various ‘ministries’ – and why else would such departments carry this hold-over nomenclature hailing from the premodern period of pastoral care and missions? – and performs the same function, and as often as not, with the same unction, as did the religious institution. And if it is the case that only in a theocracy are women and children enslaved by violence, in our pseudo-theocratic politics, we nonetheless enslave ourselves.

            But the state is hardly the only regressive force present in modern culture. The vast popularity of fantasy fiction based upon both narrative and media targeted at children is also a case in point. We behold a regression in literacy of all forms; cultural, historical, textual, psychological. The comic-book legends, the cartoon heroes, the cardboard cut-out live action characters, mimic and mirror the manner in which we ourselves play out our oft-conflicted social roles. Can the mother and the professional co-exist in one person? Can the father and the recently marginalized male do the same? What of the dutiful daughter and Electraic lover? And speaking of such, what is our duty? To one another, to society, to the state, to culture? It does appear that any kind of authentic and autonomous selfhood could not bear any such burden. But instead of asserting all the more prodigiously, and with a truer heroic courage, that very selfhood, what we observe is a personalist retreat from personhood in imaginatively constructing new forms of gender and even divisions of the person in what the psychoanalyst would surely have called mild psychosis. It is somewhat reasonable to argue in return that the sovereign self of the Enlightenment is itself a fantasy, and thus all attempts at shoring it up, including those psychoanalytic, are in their own way, creations of the imagination alone. I would suggest in response that the purpose of such a self-conception rests in its service to that very imagination; its freedom, its creativity, its curiosity, even its nobility. Most of all, the authenticity of selfhood, in the face of forces of regression arranged against it, speaks to both myth and reality in a unique manner. It does so by bringing legend into life, fantasy into reality.

            Instead of constructing persona, foisting upon the mature self a premature regression or, for some purposeless souls, never exiting childhood at all; instead of acceding to the state or to the low-culture industry alike what is most precious about human existence by becoming only what these institutions demand of their overlapping but so seldom competing markets; instead of puerile attempts to avoid the existential narrative of happenstance birth and unknowing death, both of which occur to mine ownmost self and for my experience, to no other, rather we must resist the wider war against personhood by reasserting, if not the sovereignty – a term deliberately used in the 18th century as an antidote to the regent who, in the Ancien Regime was the only ‘person’ who existed in such a social form – then both the autonomy and the authenticity of singular selfhood, undivided by either social role performances externally or made schism by self-inflicted role-playing internally. It is a feature of successful propaganda that its audience take on the work of ideology as part of their own life-vocations. This ‘internalization’ is made possible by the simple and basic processes of child socialization. All of us are ripe, as it were, for indoctrinations anew. But the very fact that such efforts are made, and at such cost, in desire of compelling each of us to regress ourselves in the face of our ownmost humanity tells us that the default setting, if you will, of that selfsame human being is not regression but rather progression; we evolve ourselves through phases of life, we are beings who are forward-looking and future-seeking.

            Adults made children once again are easier to control politically, easier to vend to as consumers, easier to manipulate psychologically, easier to ignore. Children made adults present grave challenges to both market and state, for they understand the difference between fantasy and reality, between myth and world, between self and other. If we like to say to ourselves, ‘well, no adult wants to be treated like a mere child’, then it is high time to make that aspiration into a wider ethic, instead of paying it personal lip-service in the effort to assuage our conscience – which cannot be regressed if and once formed at all – that our personhood is not truly at risk, and it is all fun and games after all. That conscience will, over time, find it unacceptable to be masked over by a mélange of role, phantasmagorical and social at once, and the murder of selfhood will attain its own wider form in the auto-genocide of culture itself.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, social theory, health and aesthetics, as well as fiction. He was a professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

Bite, Bleed, Die

Bite, Bleed, Die (Love accomplishes all three with aplomb)

            The experience of love defies any modest analytic. ‘We are more in love with love itself’, said Nietzsche, which is likely true in many cases wherein we know little of the other’s life and corresponding experiences but have been thrown together by the modernist fates of work or school, class or status etc., and thence have in unison upshifted this kind of commonplace happenstance into an exemplar of antique destiny. But in so doing, we the newly two-in-one depart from the world in order to create our own. For Plato, being in love was a form of madness, its peregrinatory career charted in the Phaedrus, and for Aristotle, understanding romantic and erotic love to have no wider conscience, ranked it lower than the love of friendship, in which the other is taken solely for herself and not for the object of desire. Filial love, though it too had its strings – the dependency of the younger upon the older, for instance – yet had a wider consciousness of itself than did Eros alone, for it was aware of its key role in social reproduction. Authentic lovers depart not only from the world at large, but more seriously, also from the social world. The one in order to be of their own nature, the other simply to forget that any other person requires their care and attention. This new world, the one in which I am in love and am beloved in turn and at every turn, is brighter in color and sharper in focus than any other heretofore. It is so precisely because of the absence of the call of conscience.

            Kindred with any singular calling, love is the human version of the vision. We seek to indwell in its uncanny embrace, hence Nietzsche’s caution, more than we can perhaps even know the other over time. Yes, she must be present, as I must be for her, but much of ourselves as we have come to know them must also be left behind. Love in fact, contrary to the sentimentality surrounding it from the outside, brooks no departure from itself, and thus the disappointment we feel when too much of our own fuller selves is revealed to the other, forcing us both out of the visionary ambit. Irving Singer, in his astonishingly masterful three volume The Nature of Love, tells us that we should be aware that the love relationship proceeds in phases, and that the distinctions among ‘falling’ ‘being’ and ‘staying’ in love are of great import. For we moderns, he reminds us that the fullest autonomy of both partners is of the essence for lasting love, and indeed that the most authentic love frees the other from her past but also from my very presence, and that furthermore, this in fact must be its highest aim. Singer’s trifecta of historical and literary analyses are unmatched, I feel, in any discourse, simply because they have taken on a topic so dear to the human heart, and thus must together defy any possible sentiment that has overlain it, and that across the millennia. Overtaking Mircea Eliade’s History of Religious Ideas, Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative, and even Georges Bataille’s The Accursed Share, let alone my own triptych study of the phenomenology of cross-temporal presence, Singer’s work remains for now the final word on an experience which is itself like no other in human life.

            At the same time, for contemporary lovers who owe nothing to either the antique notion of filiation, the medieval courtly romances, or yet the romanticist notions of love as a form of art, being in love today presents its own set of challenges, unique and unquiet as is the world in which such acts take place. What does it mean for different generations to be in love? How do people from vastly different cultures fall in love with one another? And how does love sometimes gain its staying power, which yet is the object of desire and admiration of all those seemingly without it? There is no subject so littered with self-help manuals as is that of intimate relationships. Parents and children, youthful romance, marriage and like dynamics, and even less lingering liaisons, all are overfull with lengthy advice columns which are themselves as unending as those of a giant army fed by an indefinite population. Does becoming a parent solidify the bonds of love, or does it alter their trajectory, even distanciating them? Does coming to know the many rather than the one allow love itself to gain a certain maturity? Is the gigolo after all wiser than is the high school sweetheart?

            For myself, I certainly would not have the character insight to write convincing fiction if I had not had the honor, as well as the pleasure and the pain, of knowing and loving many others over time. That said, the overwhelming reaction I have to my marriage, currently in its twentieth year, is one of relief, not even pride. Sowing one’s seeds really is the pursuit of youth alone, I suggest, and one can indeed settle down without simply settling. I am aware of just how fortunate I am, and in this survives a good deal of the admiration and respect I have for my life mate. The question of ‘how much time is enough time?’ is perhaps unanswerable, and the traditional line in the stock marriage vows ‘in sickness and in health’ contains much more than a nod to the vicissitudes of one’s bodily well-being. What is at least clear to me, speaking again solely of my own experience in contrast to Singer, who regularly gives the impression that he has not only loved a few or even many, but rather as with a God on earth, all, is that falling and being in love are more likely to occur together and just as likely to occur without ever moving on to the staying. The ‘second crystallization’ of Stendhal is of an entirely different quality than is the first. The biting and bleeding, so desired by nascent lovers as to almost be a blissful masochism, must overcome their own powerful presence in order to avoid the dying. But because these are some of the essential characters of love itself, and nothing specific to any set of lovers, their presence too must be lived and experienced to the utmost before they can either be discarded or succumbed to.

            With this in mind, I am going to take a seat on Bryan Padrick’s ‘Bus’ this once, and include here a musical link; Def Leppard’s ‘Love Bites’, (1987) my favorite power ballad of the 1980s: Def Leppard – Love Bites – YouTube It is a commentary on the delicate character of an Eros that has no intention of staying around. Its cut scenes portray womanhood as both glamorous and desirable, but also disdainful and utterly aloof to entreaty. Having been in love, and been loved by, a commercially beautiful woman in my salad days, I know this version of Eros well enough, and given that the song was a Billboard number 1 hit in 1988, I would hardly be the only one. I yet dimly recall its halcyon heights, but in the end, she bit, I bled, and love died. Here’s to it, then, and here’s also, in contrast, to its staying.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 57 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health, religion, and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

Anti-Demographic Thought(s)

Anti-Demographic Thought(s) (historicality not historicism)

            The most insignificant generation of the twentieth century I call my own. Popularly known as ‘Generation X’, was, and perhaps yet is, aside from Tiger Woods, unnoticeable. Its meager size alone speaks volumes. How was it that I myself became its foremost thinker, with more breadth and mass than any other kindred author? Only due to the paucity of available talent between the years 1963 and 1981 could this unlikely event have occurred, and more this than whatever I may have brought to the discursive table. But the key for me, as a writer hailing from this demographic group, was the compelling need to think outside of generational thought and even experience. History has traditionally been the venue of all who seek perspective. History is the antidote to parochiality, the slayer of morality, the pinion of modernity. And just as travel geographically remains a fair measure of one’s own customary attitudes towards all things, this spatial dislocation has its temporal sibling in historical journey.

            Unlike preceding and successive generations, there was no way for mine to dominate, either in culture high or low, in commerce or the labor market, or yet in celebrity. The pop bands we listened to were staffed by baby-boomers, our ‘big event’ the assassination of a boomer icon. Though Lennon’s needless death moved me, even haunted me for a while, in the end, it was nothing of my own. I do recall to this day exactly what I was doing at the moment the news broke in over CBC radio in that evening. Playing guitar in the front room with my parents listening in fits and snatches to both audio sources; odd, looking back upon it. I had just lost my first serious girlfriend, and was about to lose my mother, and thence my family, within months. Lennon’s death was thus felt as an ominous omen, a sign of losses to come. It took a full quarter-century of nonsense on my part to recover from this wakeful interregnum, a chasm between the bliss of childhood and the remaining rationality of more mature being.

            Even so, none of these crises were specific to anyone in my generation, let alone myself. The nearest to us is shared by all, the farthest from us by none. What do we know of the vast bulk of human history? Our generational memories are overshadowed by those personal, and these latter are what link us across demographic groups, and mostly those ethno-cultural as well. None choose to be born; none choose to die. The work I have done to date connects me with, and within, the 2500-year-old tradition of consciousness, and my nominal contribution to the history of thought can only be judged in that wider context. I have no generational peers; I have few living sources of inspiration. The only response is to conjure a form of anti-demographic thinking, which at once participates in what Gadamer called ‘historical consciousness’, while avoiding historicism per se. Historicity is a term that has been used, even historicality, which I personally prefer. The keenly felt query, ‘what is it that links me with these others?’, ‘what can I possibly achieve without them, let alone outside of their ambit?’.

            And I am more discursively dim-witted than I used to be, mirroring the general trend I suppose. Not having taught a class for eight years might do that, but more than this, reading sparsely due to eyesight, engaging in no serious long-term dialogue, and forsaking the company of ‘the intellectuals’ who are obsessed with fashion refashioned into a tepid tempest of pseudo-ideology. From the villains who proffer the censored book lists, which ironically reflect their defenders’ equally shallow concerns for what amounts to window-dressing – genders, ethnicities – or very much passing phases of life – childhood and adolescence – to the ‘concerned’ parents groups, shockingly populated by those younger than myself – where did the much vaunted revolution of values vanish, I wonder from time to time – my demographic viewpoint is disarmed by their sheer frenzy of frenetic fractiousness. Framing this ‘value’ conflict is an effort at once of a compulsive ennui – Edmund Leach would chide us, for at least butterflies are beautiful – as well as self-gratification; ‘look at all those poor fools’, which at least sounds like a British social anthropologist.

            Utterly ignored, X’ers oft like to claim for themselves a kind of holier-than-thou status in relation to their observations. I noted this when I was but fifteen, for goodness’ sake, another, this time sanctimonious, sign of things to come. The smirk of the girls, the smite of the boys, the sense that all was already lost, we had no idea that our minor fin de siècle was but a repeat of 1900, or a retake of 1950 – David Riesman’s ‘The Lonely Crowd’ might as well have been written for Gen-X, for instance – or indeed a distant echo of Goethe’s Werther. Nothing, in other words, genuine about our whine. We fought amongst ourselves, we mended our own fences, we together built smallish walls to blot out the overweening views of the boomers, all the while listening intently to their own sages:

            Get away old man, you don’t fool me.

            You and your history won’t rule me.

            You might have been a fighter but admit you’ve failed.

            I’m not affected by your blackmail;

            You won’t blackmail, me.

            Pete Townsend wrote these lyrics in 1975, when I was but nine years old. And certainly, he wrote them against the Churchillian generations, but it was our tune too. And I also recall, almost as vividly as with the Lennon moment, in that same year of 1975 when the Viet Nam War ended, I came to school full of the news to be greeted by a surly ‘who cares!’ from my playground peers. World historical events were snubbed because world history had passed us by. We never believed in a future – the day-long debriefing at all the schools the morning after ‘The Day After’ had aired on television was considered at best, unconvincing, at worst, more propaganda – and so we doomed ourselves to inaction from the beginning. My campus student union boasted of a store of cyanide pills in case the made-for-TV film became all the more real. Placards and strikes and demonstrations and critique in general were nowhere to be seen. Shamefully, even though the ‘big chill’ had already hobbled the boomers, it was we who truly institutionalized the neo-conservative retreat. And that is exactly what it was, and remains to this day; a retreat from reality, from the world, from the other and from otherness, from compassion, from consciousness historical and cultural, and most dismally, from conscience.

            And thus our paltry legacy. Thus the ease by which almost sixty books, but that’s all, sails the undersea ocean of discourse, breathing its own closed atmosphere and heard by the pilgrim as perhaps a series of broken sirens, faint and amorphic. And so, I have adopted another life, prompted by the digital revolution, that is, the one that mattered after all. I haven’t given up, but I have given in. Look for my shadow on any horizon which warns of lands unknown. Look for me there and you’ll see a silhouette unidentified, then a chiaroscuro undertaking itself, that is, before the current plague of sickened yet fastidious youth finishes me for good.

            Social philosopher G.V. Loewen is currently hard at work on his 58th book, a major health and wellness digital app, an RPG gaming series, and the odd essay in banality. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.

The Dreams of the Perpetrators

The Dreams of the Perpetrators (A deathless Arcadia in Ego)

            “We do not know the dreams of the enthusiasts, the victors…” Koselleck intones in his Holocaust study ‘Terror and Dream’. And we are immediately reminded of the deepest of connections; that all humans, no matter their worldly merits or deficits, sleep and dream, as Whitman declaimed. The content of such dreams must differ, pending the dreamer, we might assuage ourselves. But it is not so much the character which is at stake but rather the conditions in which I might find myself, now sleeping peacefully, now fitfully, now lethargic and thence insomniacal. “…they dreamed as well, but hardly anyone knows how the content of their dreams related to the visions of those that were crushed by the temporary victors.” Koselleck finishes. If the murderer sleeps and dreams as well as does his victim, what then characterizes the difference which we feel must be present?

            In the dreamscape, I am not free to master the otherhood of the self. How often have I seen the looks of reproach, even revulsion, on the faces of the young women I encounter in this dream or that. As often those willing, lustful, playful. Why does the lover turn to the one who hates? Mostly, we do not ask such questions, preferring to dwell on the ‘how’ of it all, which in such cases might be able to be explicated by an advanced neuroscience. And what drives the compunction of my dreaming self, along with its compulsions, so that dreaming content is so often conflicted, even if the act of dreaming and its attendant Traumdeutung occur precisely so I can ‘process’ the real-time conflicts of the day to day? I once hauled a girl in full Blytonesque school kit into a specific room to beat her. I equally foreswore having sex with a young woman who, after we kissed somewhat diffidently, told me she ‘could not do this’. I ‘decided’ to assault another in an office but her look of absolute disgust stopped me cold. I was myself accosted by many, but since I am male, I took it in my supposedly so-masculine stride and allowed ‘nature’ to take its burlesque course. All these were but dreams, at once the playing out of suppressed desires, so we are told, but at the same time, themselves hermeneutic commentaries on those same desires. And why are there scenes which we know so well that are never replicated in the dreamscape? I have never been a death camp guard, that I recall. I have never been the pope. I have only once or twice been emplaced as another gender. I seem to be stuck on myself, in myself.

            It is commonplace to acknowledge a kind of gatekeeping mechanism between one’s desires and one’s sociality. This ‘superego’ style of boundary maintenance keeps the extremities of the ‘id’ from becoming too real in the world of both the ego and its fellows. Koselleck notes that “It is a characteristic common to all camp dreams that the actual terror could no longer be dreamed. Phantasy of horror was here surpassed by actuality.” When indeed the extremes of human intent turn to action in the world, as they do all too often, it appears, we no longer have the ability to separate the unreal from reality. The very unreality of human horror is suggestive that those who perpetrate it have themselves lost the means of dreaming it. What can no longer be processed by the unconscious aspect of my mind breaks forth into the open space of other minds. Is it a mere case of bad manners, wherein we can no longer keep our hands to ourselves, as it were? A case of being a child in an adult’s body, having a childish mind but the capabilities and resources of a mature being? Certainly, cognitively disabled persons who are violent manifest this kind of admixture, attacking their caregivers with willing wantonness and yet somehow also knowing that they are, for whatever rationale, exempt from any serious consequence, unlike the rest of us. There are, however, darker disabilities than those which prevent maturational growth. Such a list would include the lack of compassion, absence of empathy, ignorance of otherness, and the like, which we observe as being regularly present in much politics of our time. There seem to be few enough public figures who do not express such disabilities, at least in their rhetoric. Anyone who stakes their own claim to existence through annulling the other’s equal claim seems the willing vehicle for a desire so vain as to be bereft of self-recognition. There is a certain solipsism in political life which strides bodily over the claims of others to exist at all.

            Are these then some of the monstrous forms that the ‘dream of reason’ has produced for us moderns? Have we been regressed to the inferior forms of pre-modernity, recreating a world in which the other is automatically an enemy, and at best, a passingly dormant threat? Is youth the assassin of adulthood, or is it the other way round? In my vain desire to be ever youthful, my dreams speak to me not so much of desire alone, but of slaying the process of aging before it can itself do me in. I no longer want to possess the young female; I want to be her. To live again from the point of optimal departure, to have not a care for health and fitness, to be the envy of all who are called to witness my outward beauty, to have the market pander to my every whim. Surely there is a link between the industry-contrived charisma of a Taylor Swift and the very much self-constructed charisma of an Adolf Hitler. Practicing endlessly in front of the mirror, the latter, cast into an autonomic obloquy by his social anxiety, could not rely on himself to stand and deliver in any spontaneous manner. This contraption, so calculated yet never cool with itself, unlike Swift’s, is mimicked in the death camps. The rationalized precision of mass murder makes the desireful sprees of splayed-open recent nightmares look amateurish. The terrorist of today can only ever dream of being the Fourth Reich. As well the politician?

            Yet the chief character of human reason is that it does not dream. Reason is the tool of the waking mind alone, conscious of itself without becoming self-conscious. This may be a key: that we are capable of compassion only in forgetting the self. When we proffer our desires unto others with the expectancy they will comply, we are lost. The parent who demands obedient children is the living archetype of this fascist fantasy. The lawmaker who expresses only his own druthers is their child, along with the barking coach, the banal teacher, the masturbating school administrator, the self-serving civil servant, the insolent official. Even the best of reason, held within its mortal coil, does not necessarily escape its own monsters. Aristotle’s exclusion of the female, his xenophobic hatred of barbarians, Russell’s disdain of women, Foucault’s reckless abandon. And then what of my own dreams? We know that violent sexual imagery, a leitmotif of Wagnerian proportions in the libidinal world, is so commonplace within the dreamscape as to not excite comment. Yes, analytically, perhaps. The psychoanalyst’s guild, a new priesthood born at the height of modernity but actually practicing a postmodern art, one which we have of late suppressed, perhaps inevitably but certainly ironically, allots our confessional and thence allows our confession. If unreason is demonic, then reason has become the new religion, its ‘spirit’, if you will, the ghost in our shared mechanization; what we might have called ‘conscience’ if it weren’t for our collective disenchantment.

            Mostly, we are jaded with ourselves. How can it be that my mere dreams are more exciting, and assuredly also more immoral, than my waking life? Would I trade the one for the other? It has been done before: “The compulsion to de-realize oneself in order to become paralyzed at the final stage of existence led also to an inversion of temporal experience. Past, present, and future cased to be a framework for orienting behavior.” Koselleck is aware that both memory and anticipation, dual phenomenological forces that act as a bulwark against absolute desire, have no place in the camp, just as dreams are themselves taken outside of human and historical time, instituting their own vapid irreality in its stead. Oddly, there are living spaces which seek to mimic such primordial experiences, including the casino and the church service, the vacation and the spectacle. It is as if we remain possessed, not by the collective unconscious and its memory of the visionary, the creation of all things and their destruction as well, but rather the pressing absence of vision in our current and very much conscious condition. Is it also then the case, that along with compassion, we must bid final farewell to futurity itself?

            In dreaming desire, there are no real consequences. In order to make such fantasies real, we must disarm and thence dismiss no less than history along with biography. The perpetrators dream awake. This is how they can commit the impassioned acts of horror upon the others who now appear to them as mere projections, in their way or submissive, it matters not. It is not a case of decorum managing desire, or even compassion trumping the passions. It is rather that the vision of primordial Man has been reconstructed, and at cost, in the picayune and rationalized manner which modernity requires of it. No less costly than the first murder, the most recent one is yet less authentic since it is so seldom necessary. I am no longer an endangered species. In my fullest presence, I have become the one who endangers, and mine ownmost death can only be owned in life by the killing of others. This is the unreasoned monstrosity of a faux-phenomenological phantasy: that there are no unwilling victims, that I no longer dream alone.

            G.V. Loewen is the author of 57 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor of the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.