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About Power

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Zum
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Zum
#76 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/20/09 - 11:57 AM:

How indeed?

Many of us have been in all of the spaces--or in more of them than it is comfortable to admit.

About the spaces: they seem, hermetic.

To look at "hermetic":

Each region has its own landscape, sky, ambiance, perceptions, colors, regional insects...

Dante knew about this. Each of the circles of his hell is "a reality" in every way--except for the fact of suffering--distinct from all others.

In different spaces there are different weather patterns. From some, specific climates are excluded entirely.

Each space has its hierarchies regarding what is mandatory and what is desirable.

For example, in the flaming rage space, or, to use Lib's term, the space of the bully, the first commandment is, At all costs, think and behave in such a way that you will be able to indicate to yourself and to others that you are powerful. (When chained hand and foot, snarl.) The thing seen as most desirable is to humiliate another being.

Each space carries, as part of its ambiance, the conviction that it is the only possible space. .

Therefore, to contemplate departure from a given space is already, in a sense, to have deserted it. To THINK about moving from the space of flaming rage to that of amusement or love suggests that a kind of treason has occurred already.
Zum
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#77 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/22/09 - 8:40 AM:

Each space evaluates life and the self in a distinctive way. In the Space of the Bully, for example, graffiti is written across the sky in brilliant colors. Two sentences always appear. One says, "Life ________s." I've decided not to type the second word in because the sentence itself has a kind of demonic power. It is interesting that, in that space, that sentence tells the truth. The other sentence characterizes the individual in a way that creates in him or her an ambition to destroy and to hurt.

Zum
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#78 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/22/09 - 9:35 AM:

Yeah, and...

Dante's hell describes a descending order of spaces where people go after death; bad things happen to them; their punishments ape their vices during life.

The Space of the Bully is a space whose total environment encourages meanness and hatred. The "punishment"--if you wish to call it that--is the enhanced tendency to become more and more deeply invested in meanness and hatred.

For Dante, Divine mercy had definite limits: Dante's system of values, and perhaps life around Florence back then, required a system of eternal punishment...

The spaces imagined in these posts only SEEM hermetic, as stated above. This allows for the intervention of a compassionate universe.
Zum
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#79 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/22/09 - 7:22 PM:

When I talk about hermetic spaces, I just mean this: when a person is in a rage, she can't--for the moment, at least--imagine another emotional state. If a person SUCCUMBS TO ANGER--which is a different thing, as I see it, involving the enlistment of anger as a permanent companion, always present though sometimes subdued--she can become oriented to a world of anger and find for anger many uses. Starter fuel. Provider of sense of power. Reliable way of frightening others. Reliable way of distancing others and keeping them so distant.
Source of emotional stimulation. Way to make nonsensical beliefs seem valid. Way to become apparently impregnable. We've all seen this.

She becomes dependent on anger as on a drug. She does mean things: they seem amusing and clever.
Zum
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#80 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/22/09 - 9:43 PM:

I used the female pronoun, above, only as a grammatical convenience...

Q. You've been describing one of the dismal spaces. What would a higher, better, space be like?

A. Actually, I think such a space might have attributes like those suggested by rENOIR9. Love, harmony, cooperation, conversation, exchange of information, unity in diversity.

Like other spaces, this one, while one is in it, feels hermetic.

As I imaginatively look at the higher space--I can see that it is MUCH LARGER than the other; it is as though the loving person expands as he
extends part of his being to other creatures. In the anger space it was all about dealing with the anger to which he had succumbed, preventing the flame from burning him, yet keeping the fires stoked, giving himself satisfaction in small doses (since surely he could not expect it from others), staying out of jail. Attention always on the self...
Zum
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#81 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/23/09 - 3:08 PM:

Seems likely that those who occupy the higher realm--if anyone does--think that real power emanates only from there, and that all other "power" is self-canceling.

One more thing. It also looks like--if the foregoing is so--a quest for this power would be solitary, and therefore would not involve getting "power" over others. Maybe the process would not have to do with others at all. If any progress were made, though, one's relations with others would be greatly altered.

Zum
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#82 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/24/09 - 8:33 AM:

For Hegel's two men in the primitive state and for rENOIR9's mystic, one is the preferred number, although the "one" referred to differs in each case, and so does its relation to multiplicity and diversity.

For Hegel's men, one of whom becomes the master, the other the slave, diversity is obnoxious because it intolerably threatens to introduce a second "I" into the world. The other, the rival, the enemy, must be repressed and made to become a function of the one.

For rENOIR9's mystic--I guess--unity does not destroy or subject diversity. Love is about seeing, knowing, harmonizing and preserving. Since the principle of unity, in this case, is love, difference is cherished; only alienation is abolished.
Zum
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#83 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/24/09 - 11:47 AM:

So as the two men face each other (the ones in Hegel's analogy), each resembles a boy who has just acquired a younger brother arguably cuter than he is.

The mystic's vision is like the human family of one's wildest (most outrageous, most hallucinatory) dreams.

(Not saying that the mystic's vision cannot come about. Don't know. Just that, as a dream of a human family, it might lead to disappointment.:laughingsmiling face
Zum
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#84 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/29/09 - 9:17 PM:

Possibly power is best understood in its true nature by those who have been subjected to it.

What is it like to be subjected to power?

Hm. Well, sometimes the laws are rational and, on the whole beneficial, sometimes the demands are given for the improvement of one's education and character, or for the general good. Tolerable.

Okay. What is it like to be subjected to unjust and unscrupulous power--power brought to bear for the sake of limiting, restricting, marginalizing and using those upon whom it is exercised?
Zum
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#85 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/31/09 - 11:11 PM:

What do you think it's like to be under oppression?
,
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#86 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/31/09 - 11:30 PM:

for me, feeling oppressed by someone who is abusing power (such as a bully) has always made me very angry. seeing people get bullied also makes me angry. i feel fortunate that in recent years i've been able to escape oppression for the most part, not everyone is so lucky.

how about you, zum, what have been your experiences and feelings on oppression?
Zum
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#87 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/01/09 - 10:46 AM:

Lib, when I was a kid growing up, there was still a lot of misogyny around. I'd say there was enough to make all encounters with unknown persons psychologically unsafe.

I think that when the public ambiance harbors prejudice against a group, it operates the way an individual psyche does. Know how a person can tuck away his or her attitudes and affects, carefully remaining unaware of their existence? Well, it seems as though the public can do that, too. In the case of public prejudice, disparaging terms gradually become commonplace, then they become okay, then they merge, in the public mind, with the persons designated. For the deeply prejudiced, it become very difficult mentally to separate the individuals and the traits associated with them.

A kid growing up in this atmosphere absorbs a lot of diminishing stereotypes. The kid can then accept them and despise herself, or she can fight against them.

Both courses of action cost her. The second, it seems to me, operates in this way. By choosing to fight, she alienates herself from the stereotype (which is now part of her self conception) and the public, or a part of it. She accepts the disadvantages becoming a fighter... That's what I did.

That's a brief summary of my experience of oppression.

There's a big upside to this experience. When you observe others being publicly diminished, humiliated or otherwise oppressed, you become REALLY uncomfortable. smiling face
Thinker13
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#88 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/02/09 - 5:13 AM:

Being highly sensitive is one of the causes. Such persons make swift spiritual advancement provided they survive. Lack of base ego is main cause. Being able to dissolve with each and everyone,in your earlyhood due to lack of individuality,or say due to the 'more vibrations of universal consciousness' is a cause for being oppressed.
Zum
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#89 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/03/09 - 10:25 AM:

wink
Thinker, can you clarify? I know that what you have to say is valuable, as always.

I understand the first sentence: "Being highly sensitive . . ." I guess you mean that sensitivity is one of the causes, not of being oppressed, but of feeling the oppression keenly. Agreed.

I don't get the second sentence. Do sensitive persons that survive always make swift spiritual advancement? confused That can't be what you mean. Or at least, it seems that some highly sensitive persons get into deep trouble... Maybe the key word is "survive."

Then you say that a lack of base ego is the main cause. Help! Is it the cause of oppression? Is it the oppressor or the oppressed who lacks a base ego? Does "base" in that sentence mean "basic" in the sense of "fundamental," or in the sense of "low," "degraded"?

I also need help with the last part. It seems to say that those who can, in youth, dissolve (and become unified with others) because they lack individuality or because (in their case) more vibrations of universal consciousness (are available) somehow invite or attract oppression. Maybe that's true, but how so? zen
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#90 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/03/09 - 2:19 PM:

Sometimes it seems that power is to the psyche as essential as air is to the body. I see people who have worked on their characters snitching power from others without noticing what they are doing. I notice myself doing so. If my first sentence is true, then the ethical principle isn't "Don't seek power," but rather "Find a way to accumulate power without doing harm."

In the Christian story, Jesus, busted for saying what he has been saying and for being a nuisance to the authorities, does not resist or permit the disciples to defend him. He allows himself to be taken, tortured and killed. He surrenders all power as we know it.

Postulate: Whether true or fictional, the story relates to humans in some way. That is, if it is true, it is interesting and perplexing that someone would do that. If it is fictional, it is interesting that some human could imagine such an action and applaud it.
Zum
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#91 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/03/09 - 2:22 PM:

Thinker: feel free to ignore my questions about your post if you want to. I just read mine over. It creates more confusion. laughing
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#92 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/04/09 - 4:09 AM:

Zum wrote:
wink
Thinker, can you clarify?


May give it a try.hmm


I know that what you have to say is valuable, as always.



Welcome.

I understand the first sentence: "Being highly sensitive . . ." I guess you mean that sensitivity is one of the causes, not of being oppressed, but of feeling the oppression keenly. Agreed.


If I may be allowed a bit of generalization. Acute awareness of 'oppression',or in general sensitivity towards pain,is essentially related to 'suffering' or say 'oppression' it seems. If you have read about Buddha,you may recall that those were very slightest of discomforts,not even problems(from the viewpoint of normal youths),which caused,firstly his 'vairagya',and secondly his awakening. It seems to be consistently the case. There may be an event but not both of us would perceive it similarly,as far as degree of emotional sensitivity is concerned. Acute consciousness,heightened sensitivity,increases amount of suffering(as perceived by the agent himself) but tends to decrease amount of suffering,for the agent,as perceived by the other agents.


I don't get the second sentence. Do sensitive persons that survive always make swift spiritual advancement? confused



It should be elaborated. Sensitivity creates 'existential nightmare'. Survival seems difficult. If they have to survive,they have to use some sort of 'power'(this thread is 'all about power'). Provided they take help of spiritual sort of tools. They can survive due to some other random reasons too. If they do prayer,meditate and use natural healing etc. ,it seems they make a much more advanced progress,compared to 'not so sensitive' folks. It is a must for their survival,it seems.






Then you say that a lack of base ego is the main cause. Help! Is it the cause of oppression? Is it the oppressor or the oppressed who lacks a base ego? Does "base" in that sentence mean "basic" in the sense of "fundamental," or in the sense of "low," "degraded"?


Oh my bad Englishsticking out tongue . 'Base' means 'basic',not 'low' or 'mean' here. It seems that due to lack of defensive individuality,sensitive ones have to suffer. Others who need not be having a weak ego,take extreme pleasure in exploiting them. And hence lack of balance. And hence 'suffering' borne out of bullying etc...




Thank you.
Zum
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#93 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/04/09 - 9:35 AM:

Thank you, thinker. It's clear now, and I agree. zen
Zum
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#94 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/06/09 - 11:49 AM:

Last week in my area a big abduction was brought to light. I've heard talk about what should be done to the abductor. I hope that at least equal attention will be given to assisting the woman involved and her children.

Zum
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#95 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/07/09 - 3:48 PM:

Once I worked in a high school; more than half the students were African American. A gentlemen--quite the speaker!--visited us and spoke to us. Jawanza Kunjufu. He was African American himself; his field of interest was the effects on the psyche of power-as-oppression; he had sons; he was concerned with oppression and negative identity as experienced by African American men and boys.
He gave talks. He had also written several books.

His thesis was this. Oppression creates hatred within the oppressed for the oppressor. The effect of this hatred is that the oppressor and all his pomps and works are encapsulated within the psyche of the oppressed. Everything within the capsule is experienced as tainted and evil. It smells of the enemy. Thus everything belonging to the oppressor is in principle unavailable to the oppressed: he may not permit himself to have it.

If anyone of the race approaches the forbidden material, he may be denigrated and ostracized by the others. There are unflattering names for his kind.

The system is costly if the oppressor is believed to own mathematics, science, literature, classical music, much of the tradition of dance, advanced scholarship of all sorts, extreme discipline, certain religious traditions, travel and affluence.

A lot of people break the rules and take the punishment...

The system probably helps those with a bent for creativity. ("Well, If that's out of reach, I'll make something else.")





Thinker13
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#96 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/10/09 - 4:00 AM:

Zum wrote:

His thesis was this. Oppression creates hatred within the oppressed for the oppressor. The effect of this hatred is that the oppressor and all his pomps and works are encapsulated within the psyche of the oppressed. Everything within the capsule is experienced as tainted and evil. It smells of the enemy. Thus everything belonging to the oppressor is in principle unavailable to the oppressed: he may not permit himself to have it.


Interesting. Is it an inference based on some genuine research or it is merely a conjecture based on his own musings?




Thank you.
Zum
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#97 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/10/09 - 10:33 AM:

Cool question, thinker.

I don't know. I read the book a few years back. I don't remember if any research was cited.

This is what I think is probable. Being African American, Kunjufu grew up in the ambiance he describes, and was himself called "Uncle Tom" by his peers because he studied and read books. High school kids have a style of interconnection that, I swear, is almost psychic. They use slang terms that name or allude to inner states and psychic predicaments. (Slang is really a very sophisticated covert language...) So he got to know his contemporaries well. And he observed and was subjected to the mechanism that he describes in his book.

So, even if there was no research, I don't think that the word "musings" is exact...

When I worked in the high school as a teacher, I also observed it. It forced the young men to choose between their present and their future. I gave Kunjufu's book to a kid who had talent but sulked in class all the time and would not participate. The kid volunteered for an oral report and explained Kunjufu's thesis to the class, and stated that Kunjufu had it just right.
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#98 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/12/09 - 1:56 AM:

Zum wrote:



So, even if there was no research, I don't think that the word "musings" is exact...




Agreed.
Zum
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#99 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/13/09 - 8:32 AM:

Hegel's paradigm fable seems basic to human relations; it raises the question, What to do about the other? and the question: What to do when one is the other?

The unknown other has the potential to become the enemy. Say he is equal to oneself--as strong as oneself, carrying weapons on a par with one's own, as intelligent, as perceptive as oneself. I'm using the male paradigm; it is the same for women, or analogous. Given the above, he can do physical harm. He can also choose to look at one's shadow self, one's awkward, unintegrated self; he can focus on the qualities one does not wish to show. He can correspondingly overlook the brilliant, agreeable self one wants to believe one is. This obverse, perverse seeing is, in its way, as violent as is the potential of his weapons. Much of human civility, insomuch as humans are civil, has, as one of its purposes, defense against the other's negative potential. The one confronting the other has options. Considering Hegel's story, I picture a road: standing upon it, two men, dissimilar in attire, color, features and basic understanding face each other. I am one of them, and as I look at him, I am struck by the uncanniness of our duplication. He is another. A copy? How dare have my form? (At once I look for flaws in him; seeing none, I invent some.) At the same time, I am struck by our differences. How dare he vary my form and make it relative, questionable, merely possible and not necessary? As I look at him, he is looking at me. His gaze at me makes my own view of myself relative, partial, incomplete, corrigible.

What are my options?

I can fight him and possibly take away some of his power. Maybe I can take away those sharp-edged gadgets he carries. Maybe I can get him to lower his gaze.
Perhaps I can get him to go away. (But he will still exist somewhere.)
Maybe we can make a coexistence agreement. To do that I will have to negotiate with him, assuming he is willing to negotiate with me. (Notice that, conceptually, the possibility of making a coexistent agreement already implies the existence of a "we.")
Theoretically, I can love him. This is the option suggested by Christianity. But to love this wild man I have just met, I would need already to have established a practice of loving others, which, within the scope of Hegel's paradigm, is not the case.
But it seems that if I were to love the wild guy with his pendant earrings and horizontal hair, I, with my blue face paint, no shoes and virtual lack of garments, would be doing something amazing.
Zum
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#100 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 09/24/09 - 11:22 AM:

The previous political administration in my country responded to 9/11 with a posture that is traditional here in time of war. It adopted a bellicose stance and quickly began to scuttle ethical restrictions. Correction: the abandonment of ethical restrictions publicly and overtly may not be precisely traditional. That is not to say that it was, in this case, unprecedented.

The speed with which these restrictions were abandoned and the enthusiasm with which the bellicose stance was adopted were rather impressive, though.

The president did not dislike his political and personal power. He was fond of saying things like "I am the decider." "When you are the President's son, you . . ." Arbitrarily and carelessly (it seems to me) he labeled other countries. In eight years of office, through his attitude and behavior, he helped create an unequivocal power context. By this I mean a context marked by a continuous display of power on the one hand and resentment and resistance on the other.

Power in this context becomes the summum bonum, the highest good, for everyone concerned. The resentment of the less powerful engenders in them an enormous thirst for power; they begin adopting means--any means necessary--to acquire it.

They hate the bully--as they see him--and rejoice in any failure or misfortune that comes to him.

But, in accord with our system, the former president had to step down after eight years. Everything about the new president suggests the possibility of an altered context.

But the power context is the one that now exists; by now the resentful are committed to it, and their revenge operations are well under way.

Thus the new president needs the skills of an equilibrist. He must attempt to alter the ambiance, introducing elements of cooperation in a context already conditioned to regard them with distrust. At the same time, in the power context that has been created, any abandonment of the privileges of power will automatically be defined by the context as weakness.



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