a few thoughts on self love and self forgiveness

self love: Everything i have come to know and experience of the self seems fleeting; philosophy asks is what is a self, sociology shows me how a self is so deeply informed by society and history has shown me how the self is an evolving nexus of ideas rather than something fixed in time. yet we are bodies nonetheless. we feel and experience the world somatically; i think pain is actually the best reminder of this.  
So self love is just a basic affirmation of that. The basic affirmation that we are physical substance having emotional experiences. self love honors the integrity of flesh. 
self forgiveness:
this is the more difficult of the two to me because forgiveness typically always involves a relationality; a set of experiences with other human beings. And sadly I’ve found that in my life I rarely receive the closure that makes it the easiest to move on. It takes the rarest of people who can be there for that. In some cases the person shouldn’t be there because they are dangerous. Regardless of specifics – the effect pushes a nexus of experiences with other people back into our bodies alone. If they are painful or abusive experiences they are difficult or even impossible to grapple with. If they are traumatic memories they overwhelm to body’s ability to process them. and we fight and we blame and we do anything we can to look for someone to share this burden. This is only natural I think. A lot of the times it is simply not our fault. Few of us will receive this support from the source we need it. 
Or we will receive a surrogate that will allow us to survive. To move on and heal. 
To bear memories alone is difficult. I seek professional help which is wise and prudent and necessary. But it only goes so far. At some point we must grapple with these memories and experiences of our life as embodied beings. 
Being a male bodied person who feels the world deeply has not been easy on me. There is male privilege but there is also an emotional being who was traumatized early in life and are not sensitized to male emotion or even the reality that boys and men also experience abuse. Patriarchy and homophobia assures that society will not let these experiences be heard. Women as understood by society as emotional beings at least have the space to be emotional. Men not so much. My intimate relationships have all been effected by this. And my intimate partners – every single one who I have felt close to – have also been subject to traumas and abuses. And those experiences have made it extremely difficult for either of us to find a love that is safe. It is almost like the deck was stacked before we even tried. Our youth finds us impatient and reactive. 
I read a lot of Tich Nhat Hahn in my 20s. I became keen on his insight that to be alive is a miracle in and of itself. This does seem true. Given the fragmented life I’ve lived this seems especially true. To merely be alive each day seems like some minor victory. 
I hope this year has been a return to foundational work that leaves me ready to grow again with more steady ground. I want to be surprised in this life again. I want to experience rapture.


If there were something potent to say I would.
If I were under the right tree i wish I knew. It never goes right anyway yet something always happens.
There are two records playing:
one is the traffic and the other the birds.
And the wind arbitrates the narrative
But who is even listening.
Our plants are gone. I looked for them they must have died. I smell pearly everlasting instead. But i break something rank and sappy.

A man loses his wife and grieves for 10 years. Water seems exhaustible in this dry climate. But the well of grief will forever be deeper. The water of our bodies will never be exhausted.

“We Other Victorians”: The Rejection of Sexuality as Repressed and the Move Toward An Analysis Of Repression As a Production of Discourse Concerning Sexuality

foucault_sexuality_01Here are some notes on part one of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality vol. 1: An Introduction (although i understand the more accurate translation of the subtitle to be “The Will to Knowledge”). I’ve long had a fascination with this text but rarely felt like i took the time to read it carefully enough. The end goal of these notes – not necessarily where they are right now – are to come to a lucid  understanding distinct from Foucault’s beautiful and clever yet sometimes inscrutable prose. In other words, a critical summary for personal growth and understanding.

  1. Foucault articulates what he calls “the repressive hypothesis,” the notion that human sexuality between the seventeenth to ninetieth centuries can be understood as a movement of from freedom to repression and back to freedom again.
  2. The repressive hypothesis neatly corresponds with the birth of capitalism (5), which necessitated a normative form of sexuality around reproductive sex, heterosexuality, the family, and the economy. Repression was necessary to create a productive and docile labor force which would drive the economy of the future. Anything deviating from this norm (sex for pleasure, sex work, et al) were “reintegrated in the circuits of production, at least in those of profit” (4).
  3. Repression is a form of top-down power exercised by authorities, functioning on the principles of “taboo, nonexistence and silence” (5).
  4. It is tempting for progressives to understand sexuality in this manner, because it offers a clearly laid out path to liberation that involves speaking truth to power: “the mere fact that one is speaking about it has the appearance of a deliberate transgression… we are conscious of defying established power, our tone of voice shows that we know we are being subversive, and we ardently conjure away the present and appeal to the future… something that smacks of revolt, of promised freedom, of the coming age of a different law… tomorrow sex will be good again” (7). (see note)
  5. Foucault rejects the repressive hypothesis and its implied proscription for liberation as an adequate understanding of modern sexuality. His rejection is prone to misunderstanding; it cannot be understood as a simple reversal; i.e. we are not repressed, we are more free than we think – his rejection is grounded in his insistence that repression cannot be a fundamental starting point for understanding sexuality: “I do not maintain that the prohibition of sex is a ruse,” he writes. “But it is a ruse to make prohibition into a basic and a constituent element from which one would be able to write the history of what has been said concerning sex in the modern epoch” (12).
  6. Foucault is more directly interested in understanding how the repressive hypothesis is a constructed as a social fact that “sustains the discourse of human sexuality in our part of the world” (11). “Discourse” is a term so commonly used these days that it’s easy to forget how much meaning it holds in Foucault’s argument. For Foucault, discourse is linked to our understanding of the reality as such, aimed at showing how our understanding of a most intimate subject– our bodies, ourselves – are related to the development of knowledges that are never outside of power relationships. His aim is not to reject the repressive hypothesis outright, but to understand it as a significant strategy of “the way sex is ‘put into discourse.’” (11). For Foucault, speaking will not liberate us from power but is intrinsically related to power itself. This why he suggests the central issue is not to make true or false claims about sex and sexuality, but rather “account the fact that it is spoken about, to discover who does the speaking, the positions and viewpoints from which they speak, the instiutions which prompt people to speak about it and which store and distribute the things that are said.” (11). He aims not to understand reality as such, but rather explain the “regime of power-knowledge-pleasure” we live within and come to know ourselves as selves.

Note: While Foucault’s study primarily focuses on the intellectual development of sexuality from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, the publication of the text in the late 1970s clearly implicate modern political liberation movements; feminism/gay rights; when describing the temptation to understand liberation as speaking truth to power, he alludes to “decades” (6) rather than centuries.