Saturday, January 22, 2011
Intentions and Hesitations
As I enter my seventieth and perhaps final decade, I want to articulate how the givens of my life, my genetics, the family into which I was born and what has simply happened to me have been shaped into the individual I now am. Responses to those givens, choices made, directions taken with the opportunities and limitations they've provided, shape a self that my have developed in an infinite number of different ways.
I am doing this partly for myself. To situate myself for myself at this point in my life. I don't like lecturing or being lectured to, though I have done enough of both. It is also important to me to engage in dialogue with people who share my interests. One of the choices I've made is to continue to be open to growth, change, new experiences. I've searched for those people amongst other bloggers or readers without success and hope that they'll come forward as I share myself.
One of my major concerns in undertaking this blog was privacy. Not wanting to embarrass or hurt those I care about or, as a psychotherapist, to turn away present or future clients. There is evidence that people want to see their therapists as more or less blank sheets which their projections and imaginings can colour as people who share their values, as potential friends. Social networking is bad for business. Unless, of course, what is disclosed is shared and what is shared is not viewed with shame.
However, I'm wondering if the concept of privacy as a relatively recent invention may be becoming increasingly outmoded through our experience of the net and especially of social networking. Privacy as we know it didn't exist prior to the industrial revolution and the emergence of capitalism. In the medieval period and the renaissance people were born, shat, suffered, had sex in the open, surrounded by their fellow villagers, their servants, their families. What was hidden was only what could be punished were it known. For example, at times when homosexual acts were socially accepted, usually times when societies felt confident and were at their height, debauchery was celebrated in ceramics, drawing and poetry. Shame was developed and exploited by those who wished to control the body in the name of religion, imperialism and work. The panopticon was a tool of control based upon the belief that privacy was the domain of immorality and shame. Those who wished to be saved from condemnation and exposure should retire into their individual silos and show up for work with only their public selves exposed.
The priest that was responsible for instructing me into Catholicism described the time during the twenties and thirties when he was a seminarian in Ireland and the whole village would bathe naked in the sea. He remembered the day that the parish priest first told the people that was a sin and that henceforth they must cover their nakedness. That particular edict coming not so much from religion as British Imperialism. He gave me instruction in the Church of John the Twenty Third and had a lover of many years who was a professor and a leading spokesperson of the women's liberation movement. (Where are you now Rosemary? Dead, I would imagine) He was a Joyce scholar and could quote by heart from Ulysses. Sometimes you couldn't tell is it was he who was speaking or Joyce. The catechism he gave me for instruction was the Enchoridium Symbolorum. When I would object to some practice in the Church, he replied, "The Church is like Hollywood, you don't need to see every film it puts out." (I know where he is. Buried on the top of a hill overlooking the Mojave Dessert in an unmarked monastery grave)
I've decided that I'm going to compromise. Like the liberal or social democrat I've always been accused of being. I'll disclose what is most important about my self while attempting to slyly conceal what may have a hurtful impact on others. One foot concealed in the silo and the other venturing into the future which was sometimes the past.