… nothing more than feelings…

What are these strange things we call feelings?

When I’ve dabbled in Jung’s work, I enjoy his notions of Conscious and unConscious, rational and emotional. In a ying/yang sense, I think it’s fairly descriptive of our constitution. The problem is, our culture teaches us to praise the rational, and reject the emotional. Men aren’t supposed to cry, women are weak for doing so. One might even extend the rational/emotional to male/female. And then you bring in the dynamic of power, where men are strong, women are weak, men hold property, women marry the men, etc etc. But what does this lead to If those like Ayn Rand are correct, that man is a rational being, not emotional, and emotion is weakness, that means we never focus on it, never develop it, and never emotionally mature.

Words do give us power to control emotions. If you have words to describe different types of emotions, then when you feel an emotion, you can identify it, and figure out how to process it. For example, shame and guilt need to be handled quite differently. Shame is an emotion based on who you are (“I’m ashamed to be a Jew!”), whereas guilt is an emotion based on what you’ve done (“I feel guilty for robbing the bank.”) One is tied to being, the other is tied to action. If you do something wrong, you can learn to not do it again, and thus have resolution. If you are ashamed of who you are, you might be able to reflect on positive elements of yourself and gradually cheer up. This isn’t to say this isn’t difficult, but it *is* possible.

Why aren’t we taught to handle our emotions? Why can’t we embrace them, both happy and sad, and rejoice in that we are able to feel? The more we do, the more we become acquainted with ourselves, and the less harm words can do to us. “He called me a wetback, but I know that’s not true.” and so on. How can we use our self-explorative knowledge of our feelings to own ourselves, and also to contextualize things and work our way through them? Could we turn our response from “He called me a horrible name” to “Why should I care what he calls me? Do I respect his opinion?”

I believe in facing dark shadows. I do not believe it is easy, and I believe it takes a lot of courage. Racism, sexism, all these isms…. they are a product of power imbalances within human relationships. Are there ways we can explore to begin to balance these dynamics without compromising ourselves? Or should I both not give up a position simply so someone else can have it, but at the same time not take it when someone else should have it?

One of the challenges of rationalism is that it tries to recreate the world and nature in logic, in provable definable quantifies and qualities. But feelings don’t fit into that. Do I need to justify my feelings to others? No, but I can work on owning my emotions to ensure that others don’t affect my emotions in ways I do not consent.

Perhaps I’ll have more on this later.


My Dec 2012 5MoF intro video

Fair warning, the attached video may hit triggers, although no harm is intended.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYOL11IA?p=1 width=”563″ height=”410″]

This video represents a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m a big fan of dadaism related things (Andy Kaufmann rocks), and I have been really interested in the nature of words and presumptions. What kind of standards do we hold each other (and ourselves) to, and why? Why are some things ok to say, and some not ok to say? When a word scares or frightens us, where does it get that power from?

The Lenny Bruce sketch (as played by Dustin Hoffman) is, to me, a beautiful illustration of this. It’s in your face, shocking, but then he makes you ask “why did that shock me?” He’s an equal opportunity offender (my own ethnicity was not spared), and a sharp one. But it’s important to think about: why did I have that reaction to those words? Is it because of something in the word itself, or because of my feelings around it? Where do those feelings come from? Is there some external entity that gives those words the power that makes me fear, not just saying them, but even being in the presence of them being spoken? Why do I tie such meanings to them? And, as he points out, what happens if we bring the words up so much that over time it waters down their impact? If we diffuse all the words we use to hold power over someone, what happens to that power? It’s also worth noting that he did his work in the 50s and 60s, and would consistently get arrested by people who disagreed with him. I can’t imagine how many social barriers his work helped to break down, just by making people question why it was that certain words scared them.

Sister Wendy, I felt, was a fantastic closing touch. In liason with the Piss Christ (which caused its own storm of controversy), she not only makes the case for free speech and free expression, but also challenges people to think about why they have the reactions they do. If you see something that shocks you, are you correct in your reaction? How do you know? Maybe that shocking thing has more to it than what you initially saw. Maybe there are more messages than simply the ones you want to see. I also really appreciate her take on sexuality.

I am hoping this video makes at least a few people start to ask those questions and answer them for themselves.


PS: this video is special to me as it marks two years since the last intro video I made. I’m happy that 5MoF is still going, and that I can contribute to it. It’s also my first go with Final Cut Pro, so please forgive me 🙂