Long ago, in a Kalilily Time far away, I mentioned something about how AKMA — even though I’m not partial to clerics — always leads my thinking down pathways I haven’t felt inclined to explore before. Last night, after I made the post below and went to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t let go of the question I kept asking myself about why, after all of these years of ‘experience,’ I still get confrontational with authority figures. Of course, it has to do with my anger (yes, ANGER) at patriarchal systems of any kind. But, since I don’t do it with all authority figures, there has to be something else. I think it has something to do with style — not with the essence, but with the accidents. (Those are words I have never forgotten from some Philosohy of Religions course I took in college that interpreted the Catholic belief in the transubstatiation of the wafer and wine into the body and blood of Christ as a metamorphosis of the essence of the objects but not their accidents [physical properties]. Stay with me; I’m getting to point.)
I don’t learn well from text books or lectures — something about the scholarly language, the absence of passion, emotion, opinion. I’m a hands-on, conversational learner. And I’m an emotional listener. I hear better when I sense the feelings of the presenter, when I get a sense of the passion behind personal opinions. (I’m still getting there. This is as much process of discovery for me as it is for you.)
So, there are people I encounter and weblogs that I read, determined to absorb the essence of what they are communicating, even though the accidents of style make me want to take a poke at the author, make me want to reach in and grab his heart and hear his gut cry. (It’s just about always a ‘he.’) As I’ve said before; it’s a flaw in my character. And last night, as I tossed and turned and yearned for sleep, I tried to figure out where or when it originated. Not with my Dad. He wasn’t really an authority figure at home. It probably started with my experiences as a childhood Catholic. Certainly, it stirred under the skin as I rose up in various male-dominated and de-humanizing bureaucracies, and I know that it really bloomed as my marriage was ending and my then-husband retreated behind un-emotional, intellectual, detached verbal communication. I hated it. It made me really, really angry.
And so there’s something about intellectual discourse about ideas and issues about which I get very emotional that makes me resort to saying something that sounds condescending. It’s something about my feeling condescended TO by dispassionate intellectual discourse. Because, in my experience, that’s how many male authority figures tried to assert their authority over me. Hah. There it is. I finally figured it out. I am now self-shrived. I hope that the guys who unintentionally trigger my condescension forgive me as well.
I like this observation, both of yourself, and of something I’ve noticed among blogs.
I have a great tendency myself to do the cold, intellecutal “thing.” But I find its important to me, at least recently, to also discuss matters not as abstract concepts or grains of insoluble truth or logic, but rather as products of human nature, desires, fears etc. And I think part of what I’m trying to do with the things I discuss is not to go too far in either direction. Just as I’d hate to listen and respond to absolute pronouncements from the high throne of “irrefutable truth,” I have equal trouble with the blind and sloppy submission to a great uncontrolled morass of human emotions. Except of course, in the hands of the gifted who, in their own way, don’t simply submit to it, but use their own gifts, talents, and yes, genius, to turn these things into the most profound expressions of the human condition.
And you know, now that I think about it, this really has quite a lot to do with what I was trying to get at with this whole issue of strength versus feeling. The strength in this case being the logic, the “truth.” And the feeling being, well, the feeling. 🙂
Sigh. So much to discuss, and so little free time.
Tom, the reason that I check you weblog every day is just because you seem to be able to merge intelligent observations with personal responses. You not only describe your experiences, you share how you feel about them. And the experiences that you choose to share are rich with meaning and feeling. I hope that you continue to do that. We learn from each other — how we respond to the experiences life brings us.