Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Scandal of Two-ness

In his Perennial Philosophy, published in 1946, Aldous Huxley examines the “Reality,” the Oneness of Being, shared by all mystics, East and West.  And he makes the stunning observation that Two -ness indicates a Fall from Grace, its spoiling  character embedded in language. As I remember, of some hundreds of words in English that have the Greek pre-fix di, meaning two, Huxley observes that almost all are disagreeable, disgusting, disturbing, disorienting, dismaying, causing disappointment and distress such as when disinheritance leaves one distraught and disbelieving.

So what is brother Aldous saying? Very simply, Sex is a spoiler! The “coupling” business wrecks the Oneness of Being, and the Mystics in every religion share in their quest for that Oneness.

The Catholic Church is in Huxley’s camp. Celibacy is a higher calling than participating in a sexual relationship. Mary, of course, was a virgin. When Adam and Eve fell from bliss and got booted out of The Garden, the very first observation they made was of their nakedness. They recognized their different genitalia were designed as a coupling device. It hit them like a bolt of lightning. They were fated, for better or for worse, to live together. Two-ness, not the Oneness of Being, is man and woman’s destiny, interdependency, not omnipotence.

“They flattered me like a dog,” said Lear, once every inch a king. “To say ‘ay’ and ‘no’ to everything that I said. ‘Ay’ and ‘No’ was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I found ’em out, there I smelt ’em out. Go to! They are not men of their words. They told me I was everything. ‘Tis a lie.”

It’s a whopper of a lie. Whenever Republicans talk about pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, I want to scream! “Look to the elephant! you dodoes! After all, your Party identifies itself with the great beast. For the first five years of its life, an elephant stays in physical touch with its mother, or no farther than a trunk’s length away.” That’s a ten thousand pound bootstrap.

Didn’t President Obama get started as a community organizer? Does anyone chatter more about our interdependence? Is any wife better husbanded than Michelle? Any husband better wived than Barack? It’s a mystery. Sometimes, not often, Twoness somehow manages to contain the mysterious power of Sex. Does the rarity of this event surprise anyone? Sex drove the Cambrian explosion.  It quadrupled the human skull  in the short span of the Pleistocene? It is not only as ubiquitous as Dark Matter, but as awesome as Dark Energy. As one would predict, it’s far more often than not a Third Rail.

Tina Packer, in her profound Women of Will, states that “Shakespeare’s most committed attempt is to see what the possibility of the world could be if we had real equality between men and women, if both had power in the political and social world, and if their highest spiritual calling was their sexual passion for each other.”

Spiritual life is not found in Oneness with a god, but in the sexual passion of Twoness.

(For the record, Shakespeare would vote Democratic.)

The Mystery of Sex

Sex didn’t begin with life. For over two bilion years, prokaryotic bacteria reproduced asexually – as quickly as every 20 minutes. For two billion years! And nothing changed. Then, two billion years ago, came the eukaryotic cell, bearing in its nucleus a power unimaginable – Sex. It took a while for Sex to find the right combination, maybe another billion years when, for reasons unknown, there emerged multi-cellular organisms. Now Sex revealed its unimaginable powers. Not immediately. For another half billion years it gathered itself. Then, with the  the Cambrian explosion, in a mere ten million years, sex created the vast diversity of life.

So, Sex has been around for two billion years, but it didn’t unleash its full powers until the last half billion years.

Now what does all this have to do with Michelle Obama and Nancy Reagan? Or with you and me? My mentor, Wilfred Bion, made the observation that Sex is an unknown. It is like “dark matter.”

“Dark matter is a hypothetical kind of matter that cannot be seen with telescopes but accounts for most of the matter in the universe. The existence and properties of dark matter are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, on radiation, and on the large-scale structure of the universe. Dark matter has not been detected directly, making it one of the greatest mysteries in astrophysics.”

Physicists don’t know what it is but recognize it by what it does. Same for Sex.

This much is certain. When Sex is given a new field to plow, like multicellularity, its workings are limitless. Its authority matchless. It commands expression in 99% of all living things.

I submit a new field opened to Sex with the evolution of the human brain. During the mere two million years of the Pleistocene, our cranial capacity went from 450 cc’s to 1400 cc’s. In the last 40,000 years we exploded from Cave Art to computers that in a device no larger than a hand make accessible all of history.

This great unknown, Sex, shapes human life beyond belief. Every play, every novel, every sit-com puts it front and center. Sex shapes every relationship. It shadows every work-place. It bullies aside reason. It undermines judgment. It makes conscience an instrument of wrath. And all the while, it makes life worth living. Without it, life is meaningless. When its power becomes inaccessible, what’s the point!

The transition from the prokaryotic to the eukaryotic cell heralded what Percy Bysse Shelley recognized two billion years later,

“Nothing in this world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle,
Why not I with thine.”

The power, the glory, the madness of Sex begins with the couple.. For two billion years, there was no coupling in those ancient seas. And nothing changed.

And then came Sex!

 

Michelle and Nancy

In the seventh year of his presidency, Reagan got involved with the Iran-Contra madness.

In the seventh year of his presidency, Obama had positioned the world to pass the Iran Nuclear Agreement and had led and inspired the coalition of 188 countries to deal with the planet-threatening problem of Climate Change.

Why had one president gone crazy, and the other acted with supreme competence?

Answer: One was married to Nancy, the other to Michelle.

Reagan had an adoring wife, Obama a sexual partner.

In her brilliant analysis of Gertrude, mother of Hamlet, Tina Packer describes how Gertrude’s first husband, the now deceased King Hamlet, Senior, “loved Gertrude in a particular way. He put her on a pedestal. ‘…so loving to my mother’ said son Hamlet/’That he might not beteem the winds of heaven/Visit her face too roughly.’ If you are a woman,” continues Tina, “you know that a pedestal is lonely and drafty. Where you want to be is in a bed, knowing someone is mad about you and you about him. And that is where Gertrude has finally gotten herself, after about twenty five years of being on the pedestal. Hamlet’s description of Claudius (the new husband) and Gertrude’s lovemaking is powerfully erotic ‘…Nay, but to live/In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,/Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love/Over the nasty sty…'”

Tina goes on, “Sex is not the only reason Gertrude is in love with Claudius: he values her judgment and makes her his co-ruler. “Therefore, our sometime sister (in-law), now our queen,/Th’imperial jointress of this warlike state…”

Obama is not being coy when he tells the world that he had the great good fortune to marry UP. When he courted Michelle, he recognized he was dealing with a powerful woman, very much his equal. She wouldn’t get on a pedestal for a moment, and she wouldn’t have her husband on a pedestal. They are equals, but SEXUAL equals, that is, Michelle brings the full enfranchisement of woman to the relationship. She flings to the scattering winds any patriarchal presumptions. She is a full partner to her husband, even though he is the President. She’s not in awe, not mooning in adoration, as Nancy with Ronnie. She recognizes the infinite powers of her sex and conjoins them with her man.

Sex drives Hamlet mad; its physicality, grounded in the body, obsesses him. “Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed/Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse/And let him for a pair of reechy kisses/Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers….”

Sex drives Republicans mad. Obama’s weak. He’s a pussy, not a man, not a man’s man. Putin, now there’s a leader. Obama’s not one of us.

No, Obama is not. He is an avis rara. He relates to his woman as an equal. He is awed by the immense powers of her sexuality. He is humbled by it. She protects him from arrogance. The huffing and puffing we saw last night in Las Vegas is unthinkable for a man protected by a woman’s sexuality.  Can you name one Republican man who doesn’t think he is superior to woman?

Michelle is not on a pedestal. She is in Barack’s bed. That he recognizes his blessings flow from this center is a mystery. But there it is. He happens to be President, so the entire world benefits.

Obama’s recognition of this deep truth made these seven years a great joy for me.

 

 

Annus mirabilis

In 1905, Albert Einstein. 26 years of age, published three short game-changing papers.  The year is known as Albert’s  Annus mirabilis, his achievement bordering on the miraculous. It happens from time to time. Out of the blue,  a member of our race  ignites in breath-taking incandescence an aspect of our world.

Consider the fall of 1605 to the fall of 1606. During these twelve months, Shakespeare, age 42,  wrote three plays, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. In that succession. All three. The greatest tragedies in world literature. Annus mirabilis, indeed! I don’t really understand the photoelectric effect, or Special Relativity, or Brownian motion, but I understand Shakespeare. I just read these three tragedies in succession. They are beyond praise. Beyond singing.

And now, mirabile dictu,  we have another Annus mirabilis. How sweet it is! After his victory speech at the Iowa primary on January 4, 2008,  I recognized greatness had come  to our land. Twice elected President, Obama grew year after year. Wonderful years. I savored every moment. This year, however, President Barack Hussein Obama, age 54,  did in politics what Shakespeare did in World Literature and Einstein in physics. He created an Annus mirabilis.

I am so pleased I didn’t miss the wonder of it.  You see, when I was growing up during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I was told he was a monster, a threat to civilization, a rogue, a non-pareil rascal. And, god forbid, don’t ever speak of his wife, Eleanor. So I missed out on the incomparable joy of experiencing greatness first-hand in real time.

Not this time.  This year, this year of our Lord, 2015, this is Obama’s Annus mirabilis.

On July 14th, 2015, the major world powers, including Russia and China, signed the Iran Nuclear Treaty. President Obama had spearheaded the negotiations, through John Kerry, for two years. Then last Saturday, December 12, 2015, the nations of the world, led by President Obama,  probably saved the planet with the Climate Agreement,

And his third achievment in 2015 – keeping boots out of the Middle East.

In 1950, William Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.”

Barack, William, Albert.

 

Keeping Us Safe

President Obama has the responsibility to keep America safe. Obviously, that means safe in a physical sense. He addressed the nation tonight on the threat of harm that in fact has become a reality in such “terrorist” violence as occurred in San Bernadino last week.

That is not the gravest threat to the safety of our country. What the President recognizes, in my judgment, is  that for too long we’ve been thinking crazy as a nation. The  crazier Trump rants the higher his appeal. Down the line, we are victimized by disturbed thinking, such as  rejection of science, an implacable congress, conspiracy theories, fear-mongering.

Tonight, Obama’s real work as commander-in-chief was to get us to think as Americans  – POLITICALLY! That is fundamental to keeping us safe.

That in fact is the basis of our “exceptionalism,” and is the term used by the President tonight. Our country is not a product of the gods, but of men and women thinking straight. That’s exceptional!

That is what the President kept safe tonight. It’s a never-ending work for the nation, never more so than election time.