Friday, May 25, 2007

On Women and Romantic Love - by Email

Elberry suggested I write up here the last paragraph of the from a theological angle. I enjoy my emails to Elberry. Knowing I'm writing to him helps me organise and express my thoughts. I include the earlier sections too, though not all of the original, and I've also edited it a bit. I'm not sure why I include the earlier bits, perhaps because I'm feeling controversial.

"I know what it's like to have no desiring feelings of torment for can be peaceful. Yet then suddenly someone comes into view and you feel you'd been missing something magical. But try and reach out and touch that mystique and it won't allow itself to be touched or else will transform into something bland and banal. Someone wrote that women are sphyxes without secrets....they suggest mystery and otherness but its just an illusion..hmmmm..

Certainly it does seem that once you get them talking they are more down to earth/non-abstract than men, and like Prufrock don't seem intent or set on declaring some great matter after rolling the universe into a ball.

I sometimes wrestle with guilt feelings regarding whether or not i'm a misogynist. I suppose it doesn't matter really, just as I don't matter. I think I was brainwashed to fear making misogynist remarks in my upbringing, coming as I do from a matriarchal upbringing.

It's true that for me I have sought in romantic love something transcendent, something divine,not human, something other-worldly. Nietzsche would call me weak/escapist etc. Maybe or perhaps I just have ethereal tastes? To me Jessica was like a divine feminine incarnation that spoke of some kind of redemption / perfection of existence beyond suffering and war....and its weird how seldom I thought of her erotically..the union I sought was something soulful, and mystical.

It does seem to me that women can seem very sublime? What perhaps is sublimity but the union of matter and spirit in somekind of graceful harmony?

But now I'm pretty cynical sometimes and suspect its giggling, babies, gossip and ambition for material gain that occcupies most women's thinking. Even now I shock myself fearfully with this thought. Anyway I know I ultimately mean well to women so its ok I suppose.

I suppose what I think about romantic love from a theological perpective (I theologise in waves, like the tide, not always) is that we feel it so keenly because it reminds us of the love that should be everywhere surrounding us like oxygen..and for all people. Banished as it is from the collective world, this love when we stumble upon it with one single other seems like some incredible precious jewel shining out at us in the mud. And indeed it is. But we mistakenly associate the love we feel with that person with that person exclusively instead of seeing it as something more common and universal and which could be had from and with everyone. And so we dont use that flash of illumination we experience with that other to spread light and love universally but reflect it back only on that person in a self insulating 'egoism for 2' (if the beloved loves us back) or a self-insulated unrequited love bubble. Unfortunately, unrequited love is painful and forlorn as well as delectable, and requited love involves us loving a finite receptacle that is trying to contain an infinite feeling. So after a while the love pales and fades somewhat.

Or maybe im just feeling a bit sad."

I should say of course that many men can also be incredibly superficial, so please desist from comments to that judicious effect. Anyway, not being gay I harbour less designs and expectations upon men..and so for that reason am understandably more tolerant towards them. That I am myself a man will also no doubt be a factor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The New Jerusalem

And did those sheep in ancient times
Sing most mellifluously to me
And did those cows chomp merrily
On grass in fields surrounding me
And did those birds high in the sky
Fly round in circles most sublime
And was Jerusalem wild and free
Abundant with the finest tea.

At times I like to take famous songs and change the lyrics.

That was one verse of my new 'Jeruslam'. The words of the original were written by the poet William Blake, and the music by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. If you don't know the tune you might feel a little lost.

I like the idea that Jerusalem, if indeed it is or was or might one be the epicentre of divine-human felicity, would manifest such in gentle and familiar ways.

A challenge at least to the fundamentalist rabble rousers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saudi Arabia

I am writing this, this beginning part at least, on a train hurtling across the great Hungarian plain. My coffee is splish sploshing on its saucer to my right, just out of range of my laptop. Everything I am is vibrating. The sun slants in from the right when an orange flappy curtain doesn’t object.

I feel hot. Hot is what I’ll have to get used to if I’m to live in Saudi Arabia next year. I’m waiting for an offer I’m told I should receive. From what I hear of Saudi bureaucracy, fast and efficient is rarely on the menu. We shall see. Shortly, so I’m told.

Saudi Arabia is an eccentric choice of country to work in. I’ve been gauging peoples reactions to this idea, partially because I remain susceptible to others’ approval of my actions, but also because I’m often clueless about what I want to do with my life. I sometimes look to others to somehow illuminate what I want to do in the ‘werld of werk’. This makes me the opposite of a ‘driven’ personality- what some might want to think of as a weak and waiflike figure. Float like a leaf in the wind is what I do, as a friend recently remarked, whilst referring to “Amercian Beauty”. In a Bratislavan pub the other year an Irishman said I seemed somehow disconnected from myself- perhaps I’m supposing like an unplugged lamp. Recently the mantra of the new age movement ‘find yourself’ has twice been directed at me by two separate women, in tones of tolerable but vaguely oppressive matronisation.

Of course these women are right –well, at least that I don’t have much of a self, if perhaps not that there is any ‘self’ out there waiting to be found. Women are often kind, even when sexually they don’t want you. It seems they can be very kind, full of counsel, when addressing that probably least attractive quality in a man- aimlessness (my forte). You don’t have to be an evolutionary psychologist to realize aimlessness in a male- sublime and enraptured as its aesthetic consequences might well be- is of very little value to their reproductive needs.

Is it only I who’ve noted the inverse relationship in women between their level of matronisation and their level of sexual interest in men. Women don’t want to sleep with men they mother, and don’t mother men they want to sleep with. For example, you can be a depressed, undirected wanderer, a head in the clouds loser, and yet have loads of female friends, any number of whom might want to help you; but not one of these will want to sleep with you. Well, that’s the way its seems to me, anyway (not that I’m a loser of course..oh, no!). Unless anyway, she is that rare thing “unusual”; a rare commodity in Slovakia I find.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of a move to Saudi Arabia. As you may have noticed, every advantage has a cloud, and every disadvantage a silver lining.


I won’t even be able to talk to the local women, let alone be naughty with them (well, unless I want to commit suicide by way of execution (an interesting idea actually)).

I won’t be able to drink legally

I won't be able to go to the cinema.

Very little will be green.

It will be absurdly hot, a lot of the time.


I get to earn about 16,000 pounds tax free per year in a country in which there is very little to spend money on. I get a free flat, joining, leaving and transport allowances, free health insurance, as well as 12 weeks paid holiday a year. Apparently most teachers spend only 5% of their income while in Saudi, so after the holidays I should be able to save about 12,000 pounds a year.

Not being easily able to drink (people brew their own beer, and black markets are everywhere) I shall be able to test whether I’m actually an alcoholic. I will probably also lose weight, which might make walking and generally existing inside my body a more agreeable affair.

I’ll experience what it feels like to live in a theocratic absolutist sex segregated dictatorship. Though my Public school was relatively liberal it will still be a bit like going back in time, and I’ve always had a soft spot for nostalgia.

The teaching will be undemanding and easy, and the job will not consume too much of my time. This is good, given the fact that whilst I can tolerate language instruction as a profession I have little genuine enthusiasm for it.

Actually, I’ve basically decided to accept the job if I’m offered it. After all, I can escape after three months if necessary. On the other hand, I might forever remain and turn into a permanent sand and sun exile from western decadence and develop enthusiasms for sandcastles and camel spotting.

Friday, May 11, 2007

On God, and being God

Yet if we are all God, if only we could all open up to that fact. Then the abyss between man and God (which upholds the bridge that is religion) could be dispensed with. Then nature could be transfigured and we would live in a world of rapture and joy forever, enjoying celestial dialectics of interaction and engagement, that could dispense with the dialectics of conflict and struggle which are so central to the darwinian picture in a way that would not be boring. Most people seem to think a world without conflict would be static and dull and ive always resisted that idea.

That makes me think about the Eucharist, the mass as Catholics call it, where humans eat God. Symbolically this is a powerful idea if we contrast it with how nature operates in isolation from God, whereby living beings feed off each other in a mutually perpetuating feast of death. If we ate God instead (interiorised him intimately) we would not need to war against each other as we do at every level of human society, public and private (despite the efforts of manners, custom and law to hide this).

Recently a friend recommended that I post that on my blog. It appeared as a part of a longer email in which I traversed in a way I never have before what it might mean, and why it might have been, that over the course of the past 12 years, at various times, I have considered myself to be God. Not God in a New Agey wishy washy, amorphous, lets get hippy sense, you understand, but in an upright and definitive Abrahamic sense. Catch mi drift?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I wrote about this in the context of discussing what madness is, and whether or not mad is what I am.

Anyway, whether or not I am mad, I hope the above makes plain that I never thought I was God in a way you might conventionally understand thinking oneself to be God must mean, and that the kind of God I have understood myself to be, whilst not the impersonal, undifferentiated, everythingness of Asia, was also far distant from the judgemental, all-powerful, joyless, pompous and long bearded taskmaster of popular conception.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


In 1992 I would spend much of my time keeping a diary of my experiences and thoughts at Durham University, where I studied Theology. Here's an extract, fairly eccentric I would wager, about Jessica, a woman I was very much in love with; if love, at least, is something one can have at a distance, outside of the framework of a 'relationship'. She accused me once of 'worshipping' her. That upset me since worship, as I understand it, implies obsequious fawning, and I always felt I was her equal. Certainly, though, she was my epitome of the perfect woman and I still look back on her very fondly, even though we are not in touch. I've changed the names and remain somewhat anxious about the morality of posting this, since it concerns very real people and events. Still, I am not critical of anyone in it, and am presuming my readers will not know these people. I hope the real Jessica wouldn't mind my posting this. She knew I kept a diary and said once that she wanted to read it. I wonder if the real Jessica ever will, or this extract at least. I trust she is well and happy.

Wednesday 29th April 1992

After lunch visit Dunelm. See Jessica sitting down from the cafeteria queue so I buy her a coffee. My love and reverence for this rare, noble, beautiful, regenerate woman is increasing every day. My attitude towards her is cleaner, robuster, less debilitated and pathological. I expect less that she be something towards me, something maternal, sagacious, medicinal, self-sacrificial. I have stopped waiting for her to invite me into her intimate life, to admit me into her closest affections. More upright, more self-possessed, self-directed- it is possible for me to interact with her in a far more healthy and constructive basis than ever. I want things between us to be as they were in the Autumn of 1990. I think I will marry someone like Jessica (I've made similar remarks about Emma, haven't I?) She does not need philosophy or intellectualism -she is an incarnation of the rich, strong, fecundity and balance of healthy life, of mother nature, of the archetypal Gaia. In her person and action she allows one the beautiful and emboldening illusion that life, in its totality, lacks all the forms and traces of sickness, darkness, obscurity, which at other times seem oppressively blatant, that life itself, our life, this life, is already heavenly, i.e, ascended above the cruel cycle and decadent prisons of humanity's dark night, that the sun in all its primordial resurrecting potency, is no longer a potential dream, but a full shining unmistakable fact, towering its way up into the infinite vault of day. Jessica resembles the sun, light, bright, warming and loving....when have I heard her bitch about or scathe other people, or complain pointlessly about her own weaknesses and suffering?

To conclude- Jessica, a paragon of day worth knowing, a dear precious friend, rich in affirmation and ascending future, a promise of good health, an incarnation of peace, a "Sacred Yes".

We go to lunch at Vennel's. She eats a mushroom and onion pate salad and I drink a hot chocolate. Then we go shopping, I buy some tea bags, biscuits and sugar. We go back and watch the 80's music video and drink tea. Jessica is interested in a guy named Jimmy. She keeps praising him. She has grown bored of Richard, poor boy- though I knew that. Whenever I hear that she's bored of Richard my heart grows excited but she always mentions somebody else, Luke last term or Jimmy this. I am jealous of Jimmy. A side of me would love Jessica to want to fuck me, to have a relationship with me, to revere me as she seems to revere him. At certain moments I am very sexually attracted to Jessica. All I want to do is climb into bed with her. But I can handle reality, my illusions are comforting and beautiful, but not necessary, I can rise above them and endure their unreality.

Leave at about 4.40 and carry on reading Nietzsche. Finish at 9.40, then listen to the Lords and New creatures until James comes in for Coffee. Jessica calls me out of my study at around 11.00. She came as I expected her to, as we planned that she would. Tea and a joint downstairs. Listen to Luke's rave music.

Thursday 30th April 1992

After dinner I visit Jessica and Liz. They're both tired, having both been pissed last night. I make Jessica a tea and one for myself, using my own "FINE FLAVOUR " tea bags. Top of the pops in on the T.V. Liz opens a bottle of wine. Jessica looks beautiful, gorgeous, nothing else, as she lies languidly and to be honest seductively on the bed. They ask me how my day went...sweet, though I find in hard to scan back at once. I unthinkingly say the wine is "cheap", a shocking comment or so it turned out. Jessica then turned on me and gently scolded me for such an attitude, in view of the fact that I always drink their tea. Not on this occasion, obviously..but that doesn't matter. I feel a bit upset, though into her words I'm sure she put very little, if any weight. I leave, feel mildly angry and read "Existentialism" down at the Traveller's Rest and The Big Jug, surrounded in each case by Geordies.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

To speak or not to speak

Aware of something
Resisting mind's clasp
Wrapped on event and things
Let beauty, let possibility be defiance.

Words impose opposites to what is meant
Take us further from contact than silence

Could words open like flowers
Pollinate mindfields with mystic fecundation?

That would be nice.