Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Implications of Chaos and Order – Political, Psychological and Otherwise

Albert Einstein with moustache and unkempt hair
Albert Einstein

There are various types of personalities out there and each of them tends to have their own approach toward organization. There are those who are messy, whose rooms look like the aftermath of a tropical storm, whose hair is generally disheveled and whose shirts are ironed only on very rare occasions. They have a distraught and sometimes lost look on their face; they may temporarily forget on which planet they live. They can be found among the creative professions, such as the field of poetry and / or higher education.

Then there are those who are spotlessly clean and kempt from head to toe. In fact, every single hair is taken into account and is accounted for. Aside from the fact, they never seem to have had a bad hair day in their whole life (not even in childhood!); their shirts are ironed and starched and their color-coded clothes match perfectly. Everything about their demeanor shows deliberately calculated order. These people are meticulous in their plans and hate events that are unpredictable, such as weather or traffic, something that, in fact, may drive them mad.

Most of us will find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the two, but we do have a certain tendency or proclivity toward one or the other. Now let us call the first one Chaos and the second one Order and see how they have different implications.

Of the two, Chaos is the more dangerous one. He is unpredictable and actually does well in vague and uncertain circumstances as he relies mostly on his creativity to solve problems. The Second Law of Thermodynamics does not affect him; Chaos is not really afraid of falling into further chaos as this is already his element and surrounding, but it is Order who fears and dreads the decay and falls into disorder, his avowed nemesis.

Politically, Order will find more joy and relaxation in clearly defined maxims. Hence his outlook is more conservative, which often promises a more stable basis due its reliance on clearly defined rules and concepts. In the ideal world of Order, there will be no acts of vandalism, no social manifestation but a constant assurance of a status quo that provides a safety net. Anyone who breaks this person's idyll will have to deal with the stabilizing (police) force, which is the “magical” group that tries to maintain order in strict logical defiance to the natural laws of thermodynamics.

Chaos, however, is not fazed by revolutionary movements. In fact, change is not something he fears but rather something that he embraces. Chaos is instinctively against order because he feels that the latter will keep him in a stranglehold. Chaos insists on his own rights and those of others. They are the strong supporters of human rights at the cost of creating revolutions or anarchy so that the world may become a more just place. Chaos and police are often in conflict especially when it comes to ideology because police uphold the status quo and order through the means of authority. Chaos does not believe in authority, which he believes, limits his creative powers, conscience, and freedom.

When it comes to control, Chaos is the more easy-going. Chaos believes in letting be, going with the flow, of taking one day at a time. Chaos does not plan his day, let alone his life. Order, however, is driven toward future success, and it is also why he values money as a safeguard and measuring stick of success. Order believes one ought not to waste a single moment in life. Order is also thrilled by self-improvement and perfection, and he will not give up until he reaches his set goals. Many of these people may turn to religion, which promises and advocates a harmonious balance between this world and the next.

The political world is run more by Order than Chaos. Government per se cannot exist as Chaos or else it will self-implode. Bureaucracy is Order's best friend as it helps organize and classify people, providing a clear overview for Order and aiding him for control and even manipulation.

The capitalist world is made for the ambitious and relentlessly hungry like Order. They thrive under it more than Chaos. Chaos may like its reliance on freedom, but he soon finds out that laziness equates death in such a rapidly progressing world, where material success defines who you are and what you can do. As a result, Chaos may become a socialist; however, he is often disenchanted with communist forms of government, which is, in fact, nothing but Order in disguise.

Of course, these are the extremes. Every artist will need structure amid the chaotic and creative energy within. Structure is necessary for a good work of art as much as ideas. The only exception would be perhaps Surrealism. Yet then again, the moment a manifesto was written about the Surrealist movement, Order gained the upper hand.

I am definitely not advocating that people should become lazy or have no dreams. I am myself enough Order to be disenchanted with any form of anarchy. Revolutions have brought up more of the same old, sometimes even more Order and less freedom. But what I am hoping is that those who are Order will loosen up a little and let some Chaos leap into and seep through their mindset. Chaos is loyal to playfulness and a little play, as the saying goes, will not be bad for Jack's (mental or otherwise) health.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Insecurity behind Macho Behavior and the Sensitive Man

Macho Sylvester Stallone as Rambo with machine gun

Man is obsessed with manhood. The idea of the supermacho, be it Rambo, GI Joe or its android equivalent of Terminator is a source of fascination for the testosterone-driven, fast and furious macho-macho man. And this idea has somehow managed to skip and hop across borders and cultures making us wonder if it is a case of really well-executed marketing or -- God forbid -- a DNA defect on the Y-chromosome.

Unfortunately, the Judeo-Christian tradition has also given the “benefit of the doubt” to women, both sexualizing, i.e. demonizing woman, while at the same time making her an eternal symbol of impossible purity, the case of virginity even beyond childbirth. This comes from a tradition that sees adultery as a man-given privilege, one of the first recorded instances of a double standard. A man could have intercourse with any unmarried woman but he was not allowed to have sex with another man's wife, which was considered a sin. On the other hand, a woman was not allowed to have sex with any man, married or not, save her husband. 

All this I claim has pumped up the macho ego. By being allowed to act out his fantasies and by being encouraged by peers and society to state and assert his manhood, man has come to not only strive toward an unhealthy image of himself, but also project what he is not. Any type of weakness -- and feeling has been labeled so in that twisted mind -- is to be strangled to protect the false image of manhood.

This may explain highly damaging behavior like shaking hands of sons instead of hugging or kissing them goodnight, a concept that the psychologist Watson once proposed to ensure a “manly” upbringing. Men are not supposed to cry and must always suck it up, while anything else is considered effeminate and gay. By stifling each other emotionally, man has created his own version of hell and suffering.

Yet that image of the macho is of course only intended for men. If women adopt that kind of attitude, such as a “boyish” (out)look or aggressive behavior, then these women are shunned since they are perceived as a threat and as an unwelcome rival to masculinity. Indeed the Victorian era tried its best to instill women with a fake sense of honor and sets of so-called lady-like behavior and occupation. As such, men are supposed to wear the pants and when they do not do so, they become the laughing stock of their peers.

But I am not meaning to point the finger nor lay blame on something that has gone wrong over various centuries. In fact, I am going to show us -- of the male persuasion -- how we would benefit much more from accepting our feminine side and to reiterate what women have been reproaching us for eons.

In fact, those gun-swinging, steak-slinging cowboys at heart are full of insecurity. They are limited not only in their perspective (and sometimes alas intelligence), but they are constantly afraid and feel always threatened by any one who does not fall into the same trap. If a man decides to stay home and take care of the kids, while his wife is bringing home the proverbial bacon, then the macho man sees it as a personal threat to his macho prison.

Likewise, this explains why gay men so much terrify them because they embody the feminine aspects that the macho would like to embrace but dares not to do so. Not to mention that this life-long steroid ambition has made him infatuated with all things masculine and has inadvertently created a homosexual -- but deeply frowned upon -- fascination for other men.

Yet the “sensitive” man who is in tune with his female nature, who embodies both yin and yang within is more at peace with himself and in fact more confident in his wide range of talents. He can fully accept and develop any talents that are considered feminine to begin with, anything creative, educational or health-oriented. Yes, that includes male nursing.

This sense of freedom creates more opportunities and diminishes fear and paranoia. The man who is not insecure in his personality can also have homosexual friends without the fear of being accidentally converted or subverted, as some claim. 

The sensitive man has no need to prove his manhood by taking on or watching aggressive sports, nor by getting into fights or pushing wives and girlfriends around. The sensitive man can also cry whenever it suits him and show compassion and empathy toward others, not because he is weak, but because he is much stronger than any macho man can dream of.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The God Factor: Using the Almighty as Pretext for Death and Mayhem

Dexter Season 6 Poster: Dexter's face surrounded by blood and milk

Now that we are entering what is deemed the last year according to (certain morbid interpretations of) the end of the Mayan calendar, I decided to post less on the fact that Doomsday is near (it is and has always been near since time immemorial or like the truck in your side-view mirror, it is nearer than you may think) but more on the fact that God has been used for many inexcusable and shameful acts since the existence or invention of religion.

It is most interesting that the sixth season of Dexter dealt with a Doomsday killer who, as the serial-killing protagonist Dexter Morgan himself proclaims, used God for killing people rather than what in the Doomsday killer's perturbed mind was mandated by God Himself. Although this particular season offered alas one of the sloppier writings in the history of the series, this conclusion is worth taking note of.

Now let us backtrack for a moment and take a look at Abraham. He was told by God to sacrifice his only begotten son. And let us do what is considered a serious case of anachronism and keep Dexter's comment in mind. Suddenly we are appalled. What if it was not God who commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son but rather the twisted mind of a religiously intoxicated father who then, thank God, sees reason in the last possible moment.

What if we look at the crusades less as rescuing religion and killing in the name of God but as a calculated act of bloody business as wars happen to fill up the bloated pockets of certain scrupulous people. Yes, bloodshed unfortunately makes profits and no sense.

And let us speculate more along religion's dark passageway of memory lane tour and revisit the Spanish Inquisition with Dexter's voice in the back of our minds. The medieval religious frame of mind was that torture was all right. They devised the most horrid and sadistic tools of prolonged and painful torture to make the wicked souls confess and repent of their deeds. They even built thicker walls in the monastery so that the ear-deafening wailing did not penetrate to the outside world.

I once had the opportunity to ask a young lad dressed up as a monk why the monks of old were so seemingly cruel. I had been given a tour of the premises that had brought about a lot of suffering to people during the darkest of ages where human rights had been a costly privilege of the chosen few. This monkish lad told me that the actual monks of the past believed that the more the sinners suffered, the more chances they had to get to the gates of heaven. That meant that torture was actually good for them, purifying their souls. Again what if there was dark sadistic pleasure involved and that the brutal destruction of people was just another case of misreading God's word.

In fact, the Bible itself comes with a caveat to the readers and interpreters. There is always the possibility of the devil's reach. The hand of the devil may be at play and both preachers and common folk alike need to be careful about the voice they are hearing. Martin Luther, himself a founder of the Protestant religion, was often riddled and befuddled with the same question. Are these ideas inspired by God the Almighty or the equally forceful and beguiling and convincing Evil One? Or what if the gnostics observed the truth while mainstream religion has taken the wrong turn down the road?

Although most of this here may sound anti-religious, I believe it is not. It is more about the God factor, the image and attributions to God that are often equated with fear and punishment. It is the thundering voice of Thou Shalt echoed with the pending threat of Or Else ... This type of thinking has more often benefited people in positions of authority, anywhere from religious leaders to politicians to business people, or sometimes even the combination of all three in one. So much has been done in the name of God that if God were dead, as Nietzsche claimed, then He would turn in His grave. And if not, as I claim, there should be some kind of equalizing force that would create a form of cosmic justice.

In any case, I have a hard time believing that any war or bloodshed can be justified in the name of God regardless of religion or creed. Some of those who claim that God has spoken to them may be listening to their own dark “passenger” or nature. However, those who truly subscribe to God's will are not Machiavellian and do not think that the good will justify any end, including torture, death or the end of the world.