What does sex tell us about life?

He did not consult us when he invented sex.

Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis.

I will start with a disclaimer that no. I do not revel or make it a habit to disagree with Lewis, who I truly think is the greatest Christian apologist that ever lived and I am not even a Christian. That should tell you something.

Just for today though, I will disagree with him.

The first phrase on this post is from his book where he discusses how we should be prepared for sex to be odd, repulsive and sometimes downright degenerate. How much of it we want, how we want to it. All of that. He advises us to welcome the oddity because rationale may be truly inadequate to explain the ins and out of the whole thing.

He says God did not consult us when he invented it so we should come prepared to deal with that.

I mean it’s true that God, the Higher Power or whatever you choose to believe didn’t consult us. I mean. he didn’t consult us about anything, but I think in that phrase Lewis was using the phrase more to mean ‘consider’ or maybe I’m just imposing my Freudian slip to his work because I really can’t stop interchanging ‘consider’ with ‘consult’ whenever I say it.

If that was the case though. I disagree.

I think God considered us particularly. So much so that he created a pocket called sexuality for us and us alone. Where our choice interacts with sex and sex interacts with our unconscious needs. Animals can’t have sexuality, in fact I think sex is the wrong word for what animals do. What they do is more or less just reproduction and what does reproduction tell us about them? That they live to die another day and further that cause.

So what does sex tell us about us? About our lives, how much we want it and why we want it at all, especially when it has nothing to do with reproduction. I mean to live to die another day is the obvious reason but that’s only part of it. What about the craving we have for it, the insatiability we have even after years of copulation. What does that tell us about our lives?

I think it tells us there is a great amount of loneliness in the world and it is as if this strange phenomenon of ‘horniness’ is the alert that we have more of it than we can handle at any one moment. By it, I mean loneliness.

In fact for me the physical desire for the act of sex is such a huge metaphor for the loneliness we feel and the true magnitude of it. The need to literally have someone hurtle into your body or you to theirs and I’m not talking about just the physical act even just kissing, it’s quite literal there too. I think in many ways sex is a comfort for the intense loneliness life has to offer us.

And I should say ‘correct sex’ that is just to mean, the kind of sex that fills the void, if only for a time. Any other kind of sex is incomplete in its goal thus more or less null and void, with the side effect of only increasing the hankering for ‘correct sex.’ The insatiability I was talking about earlier

Although, this void filling isn’t just about sex. I think sex is just a complex form of communication and more on the extreme side when you have had as much loneliness as you can take. ‘Horniness’ is not the alarm when the fire breaks out, it is the literal phone call to the firefighters when the heat is unbearable. There are plenty of remedies before we get to that level, not to say that those who do not want sex are not lonely because we all are and the physical desire has its roots in our biology too. But the desire coupled with the heightened intent to act on it usually points to the apex of loneliness.

As such this is why I think children have less inclination to want sex, usually. There is a kind of loneliness reserved only for the matured, when you no longer have your parents within that close reach.

In fact I think sex is the adult equivalent of bonding between babies and their mothers. When we are born we are truly vulnerable and saddled with our new individuality, I think we experience a profuse amount of loneliness. Enter mom. She provides the solace we need to encounter this new world we are now in away from uterine comfort.

When we want sex, we really just need to bond, badly, as the loneliness bites and thanks to our heightened awareness being adults the loneliness can be torturous. Unfortunately at that point bonding with our mothers like we used to, chest to chest, nipple to mouth is much less of an option.

I think this is why a mother dying in childbirth or a closed adoption is usually such a traumatic event. When the one person who could ease your new found loneliness is the one person you will never meet.

 

 

 

 

What does education cure?

 

Educate comes from the latin word educare or educe. It means to bring out. As if we ourselves are the libraries and the dictionaries but before education, our wonders and knowledge are sealed off. So this seems education unleashes the sleeping beast within all of us, whoever the beast may be. Which comes as such a surprise to me. This is why.

All my life I have idolized knowledge and education. When I hear the aphorism, knowledge is power, I truly do believe it. But in my head it registers as knowledge is the power to do good. A thought I have only come to criticize recently after combating the paradox of ‘evil education’ what always seemed to be quite antithetical. How can education birth evil or worse yet be the child of evil?

When I heard of the stories of the founding of Uganda and Congo. Stories encased in the Machiavellian princely mentality of how their respective erudite leaders, which counted for a lot in the days of post -independent Africa led their countries to the slaughter. I am indeed, extremely dazed. Not to say that my own Kenya and other African countries are better, in fact this is the tale of many a African nations. Putting hope and the future in the arms of the educated who in turn stab us with their corruption and malevolence. All wrapped up in glossy academic qualification and impeccable experience in leadership. But how can this be? How can education be the root of this evil because place an illiterate ignorant individual in the same position and they would not do half as much damage as that of the educated fellow.

It makes me wonder if education in its essence is rather ambivalent or possibly wholly evil in some instances?

Or worse yet is its power akin to the power of money, dragging the beast from within regardless of whether the beast is evil or beautiful.

I presumed like many others that the process of education is a self-checking mechanism. Enabling only the good to go out. Right?

I mean there must be a reason why we all believe in educating our children and why it’s a millennium development goal. If Education had the same power as money we would feed our children as much money as we do education. It would be in legislature all over that children have a right money the same way they have a right to education. But this is not the case, and I know that isn’t coincidental.

Education is a kind of cure. Education has the power akin to free will. A sword immeasurably potent but also rather dependent on the swordsman. It is the power of choice. Because education can be used to build bombs to kill innocents  or to build some beneficial structure to house the very same innocents from danger.

So it seems education isn’t at all what I thought. Education isn’t the one who breaks out the good inside. It just allows you access to the world inside and hand you the requisite tools to build its entry into the world outside. So I guess education is the cure of whatever we decide we are ailing from and the irony is we can decide that we are ailing from ‘goodness’ and use education to build ourselves bad medicine.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T find out what it means to me…

 

Jealousy is what you get when respect malfunctions.

For a long time I have wondered what the hype is about respect, these famous term that inspires every generation. What is this internal hype that everyone recognizes because it is marked with excellence.

Everyone that ever lived wanted respect and not necessarily from others but even from themselves. Disrespect had initiated divorce and even started wars, so what is this nagging emotion?

And I want to point out respect is not reverence. Reverence which is also associated with excellence. We regard God, geniuses and saints with reverence. Reverence is for the unattainable excellence, it is for those we a priori regard to be above us.

You will never match the goodness of a saint, the IQ of a genius or the potency of God so we revere them but respect is different. Respect is for our equals, we even respect people we otherwise dislike. Many at times we say, “I don’t even like so and so but I respect what they did.”

Respect is primal and automatic to another person’s good and it’s streamline even with other species. I thought of this in terms of dogs. Dogs respect us, they don’t revere us. They don’t pounce on us and kill us even though they can because they have seen something admirable in us, they’ve seen our loyalty to them, something they can aspire to themselves.

As the meaning of respect unfurled in front of me it struck just how similar it is to its malevolent counterpart, jealousy. Jealousy too is a response to another’s good a good which is perceived to be attainable by us but it goes a step further. It seeks to destroy the excellence.

Jealousy is not passive like respect. Jealousy is the woman who tries to seduce a man just to ruin his marriage. Jealousy is the rapist who recognizes purity and innocence and decides to twist it. Jealousy is the madness that can come from respect because we are only ever jealous of the things we respect.

So what contorts so that respect can morph into jealousy? Is it internal disequilibrium?  Is it trauma associated with the excellence that now glides before you?

What are the ingredients that need to mix with respect to turn into virulent jealousy?

Laughably, it is also interesting to point out that dogs’ respect hardly ever shrivels into jealousy. It never succumbs to the turmoil and instead aspires to it. A rather odd outcome because the dog’s instinct like most other animals is to survive which usually means to kill. In this case however they seem to transcend their instinct something that hardly ever happens in the alpha ‘dog eat dog’ world of animals.

You would think it would be easier for humans but it is in fact humans whose respect occasionally deforms into jealousy. Even though humans don’t have to deal with the persistence of natural instincts to propel it.  How is that?

THE ROMANCE BETWEEN INSTITUTIONS AND REVOLUTIONS.

Every revolution aspires to the institution it fights and the vice versa is true.

 

From the outset institutions and revolutions seem at odds. Enemies, set against each other to forever do battle. And yet amidst their enmity I have always found a distinct entanglement. Almost a reverence for the other, not just a simple hero/villain dichotomy but an outstanding connection such that even though one could exist without the other, they probably wouldn’t want to.

This I find very disturbing but in the ever evolving world of individualism, this conundrum is becoming more crucial.

Nowadays, life is centered on the individual as opposed to the past life that was centered on the communal. As a result, in the old world, culture and institutions were the bulwark of life, they were the templates with which life was organized. And now the opposite is true.

Now culture is a decoration, a figurehead to the real master. Me. Marriage used to be entirely about the process, how it was arranged, the role in the community taken after and the minute details of the ceremony were crucial for they were physical containers of the meanings behind it all. Now if you pay dowry it is less symbolic and more of a courtesy, a relic, in fact most do without it.

We are now living in revolutionary times where everything rests on the unique individual experience and thus everything is unique. Institutions have been thrown under the bus and all we pay credence to now is the revolution inside. The needs of the personal person within.

And many including myself have praised this shift. The age of institutions has come and gone. No more external definitions of how we must live, what we must do, who we must love even how we must love. No we are sober to our own lives. We want to write the vows to our lives not just replay those written for us by some obscure authority. It is the annihilation of institutions. The question is, is this good or even true?

Can we really ever do away with institutions? What was the problem with them to begin with and will they make a comeback?

And from that alone I understood the allure of revolutions especially in the context of the current world’s enlightenment. Revolutions are the best choice there is that is a no-brainer, because they are so simple. They are singular focused dealing with one issue at a time, generously while institutions deals with heaps of issues in a constrained manner. They are overworked but it wasn’t always like this. Institutions are revolutions, just grown up .

Think  of a recent institution say, feminism that is now properly muddled with numerous opinions and yet in the beginning when it  it was so focused and single-minded. It was either about women getting property rights or about the ability to vote or about legislation punishing violence against them. But the inevitable happens, the revolution caught fire and was embraced by many, many of whom saturated it with their individual selves and instead of it expanding in order to maintain its hold. It became obstinate to revision and extension in the face of new realities in an attempt to hold on to its uniqueness, viewing vagueness to accommodate everyone and changing needs a sell-out. Thus its members leave and go set up, revolutions. So now we have a bunch of duplicated institutions doing the same thing but for different persons.

It is this unwavering quality of institutions that make them obsolete and discarded, yet everlasting, in a constant labour because for every one of their disenfranchised member lies a revolution.

They live on but in dismay. As a retrogressive ideal with which to compare progress and lo and behold those revolutions that succeed in usurping it in a cruel twist of fate end up becoming it because like mother, like daugher. The kiswahili proverb sums this up perfectly, “mwana hutazama kichogo cha ninaye.”

So no, institutions are not going anywhere because revolutions need something to pull against. The romance between revolutions and institutions is an eternal one but not necessarily.

So the question is now that we are in a revolutionary space how do we guard against the faults of the institutions before?

Because it is clear that, the greatest dream of a revolution which is to spread and infect all,  is in an ironic twist of fate infact its downfall. How do we sieve the obsolescence from the success?

I think the answer lies in realizing that institutions and revolutions are the same thing at different times. They are not at all interdependent or independent. They are the same. This alone removes the difficulty of having to found new institutions when all we need do is reform the old one.

It is an ideal known as generous orthodoxy i recently learnt from the brilliant Malcolm Gladwell . It is learning how to manage the paradox of a wide open sieve. Letting in some new ideas contradictory to the old ones in order to perfect the old ones. It is just as difficult a paradox to live out as it sounds.

Using our earlier example the truth is, we never needed to found feminism all we needed was to reform patriarchy because as we’ve seen in certain instances feminism can be quite patriarchal. The greatest irony of them all.

The next step is the preservation of the old institutions that have very much good in them still.

And for this the structure of institutions needs to change. Elasticity must be included so that it can at once be institutional and revolutionary because we need institutions and culture. Let no one lie to you that we have evolved beyond them.

Many have reported anxiety and even depression in the worst cases at the loss of institutions, every decision becoming one we have to agonize over and research interminably sometimes at the cost of enjoying life itself. Terms such as the ‘paradox of choice’ never even existed before this shift. Sometimes we don’t need new institutions only to find our place in them. It is much more pragmatic to fix a crack that rebuild a house.

In fact I think this is a huge reason why cults, polyamory, groups and all sorts of makeshift communities are on the rise despite the individualistic milieu we find ourselves against. We still need direction and guidelines even if only to go against them. The child within never truly grows up, neither should they. This inherent inadequacy and aspiration is I think the true anchor of the concept of God. And the main reason why we must re-integrate institutions and revolutions for our own good. We are just like ships who need to remain suspended in our own revolutionary ideals but moored nonetheless to institutional anchors.

AGNOSTISICM 2.0

The first time I heard of the word agnosticism I was mostly confused and took no note, I was still on the fence as to whether I was an atheist or a selective catholic. The only two options that had framed most of my religious life until then since Catholicism was my root and atheism the only other alternative I knew at the time with a certain shock value I enjoyed.

I hopped from one to the other occasionally which seemed rather obnoxious to everyone who met me. My parents thinking I was just too curious for my own good and my peers wondering why I bothered to be so critical of such a boring, adult topic. It didn’t occur to me to ever stop in any case, the curiosity like a black hole I had to be sucked into, choiceless in the matter.

I was a catholic when I saw the good deeds done by the church, watched nuns and sisters offer themselves to their admirable life of poverty, enjoyed a perfectly toned, and logical sermon or when I realized the uncertainty of life and my precarious position in all of it, needing that extra blanket of divine providence. I was an atheist when I discovered the underlying hypocrisy of the church that itself had committed atrocities in droves, when unassailable reasoning from atheist advocates shattered the bible’s own, when I saw the myriads of injustices inherent within the Christian structure, discriminations against women and non-Christians. For me religion was a revolving door and it was exhausting. All prior to the idea that has somewhat calmed me, agnosticism.

I doubt that I have the perfect definition of it even now that I am a kind of staunch agnostic. All I can say is that the neutrality of it all is what got me. The use of the term ‘ a higher order of being’ instead of a definitive God or Noo God is what I was attracted to, the humility in that statement.

A humility that I had not encountered in my previous posts. In Catholicism in the murmur of goodness, love and humanity there is always an underlying echo of righteousness, being better than others in the only way that matters, morally. I have never been fond of that and it was a relief to finally escape. A different kind of pomposity exists in atheism, directed mostly at religions. The atheist will think himself of superior reasoning since they have arduously combed through religious logic and decided that it is all worthless and not worth following. A subtractive, tasteless kind of pride.

For one, this is not at all true since there are is as much good as there is bad in religion and the monolith principle of atheism, that there is no God. I have always found rather ignorant, only because I was exposed to the argument of order early on as a proof of the existence of God, and though I refuse to declare and describe ‘God’ with such detail as a theist would, I undoubtedly see the truth of it evident in my life every single day.

It is just inconceivable to me that you will see all the intricate landscapes of reality, hidden within them equations of nature whose surface we have only began to scratch at with our ever changing sciences and explanations and not think that there is a superior being at work there, much like ourselves in some ways that left it there for us, precisely so that we can find it and ask these kinds of questions. There is no God almost sounds like a hoax, I prefer the attenuated ‘we cannot truly know that there is a God and vice versa.’

And yet with the submissive view of pride from agnosticism, I have still felt it quite incomplete. I find it one of the more lazy religions if I may say. The agnostic seems to halt the conversation of God in an instant with their indifference and thus be freed from the conundrum only endeavoring now to be ‘good.’ This is the part of the 2.0 which I am talking about.

Agnosticism should not just sit and wait. It should now construct its own religion but not necessarily from scratch, ploughing back to the notable beliefs of theists and atheists, all with a lot of good to add and build a scripture free from the need to describe a God that we cannot but nevertheless not renouncing him just because we cannot. A labour that each one must undertake for themselves with regard to their own context because I do believe though the principles of an agnostic religion for many may converge in similitude, the rituals, the history, the context which are all key pillars to any religion will differ significantly for each and every agnostic. With agnosticism, the size never fits all even though the designs resemble each other.

Many at times I have referred to this as ‘polytheistic agnosticism’ which I now amend to simply mean agnosticism 2.0. An idea I got from a modern day philosopher Alain De Botton who founded Atheism 2.0 whereby the belief that there is no God is not the end of discussion, but the beginning, and instead of in true atheist fashion studying religion with the sole purpose to disprove it. He suggested atheists should study religion to salvage the good reasoning and effective rituals within it they can use in their own atheism. Religion for atheists, he called it, a real paradox some may say and yet it fits perfectly to me because in truth we are solving the same problems theism tried to solve with religion. Therefore it is not enough as an atheist to just disprove the dubitable parts of theism and leave the problems it wanted to solve in the first place unsolved. You might as well gather from it what you feel was not erroneous and use it as a scaffold for your new system.

Agnosticism 2.0 I feel, has the same purpose in a different direction, reconciling the goodness in theism and atheism with the neutrality of agnosticism. Or maybe I am simply just tired of new categories of religion springing up whenever someone disagrees with another. I believe already have all we need to solve the part of this problem of religion that is solvable, through a unique kind of collaboration and reorganization.

After all, there is nothing new under the sun.

 

 

THE SIN OF ASSIMILATION.

 

The first time I ever encountered the term, assimilation I think was somewhere in a Social Studies textbook when I was in Standard 5 or so. It was something the French colonialists practiced in their African colonies. In fact at the time I thought, huh, what a wonderful opportunity. It made me even regard the French as the more sympathetic of all the Europeans who colonized African nations right?

At least they gave us a chance to be ‘better’ than our primitive barbarian selves right?

The next time I heard of this strange term, assimilation, it was with regards to immigrants in The States wherever they are from be it The Middle East, South America or African and you will notice Africa will be a very recurrent feature in this article. Notice I didn’t say Europe.

This is when I got a taste of just how insidious, this ‘assimilation’ is. Because it requires you to learn a different language under the guise that you’ll be more of an ‘international citizen’ or whatever, adopt another culture’s mannerisms, sometimes even warm you up to another culture’s predominant religion or face one of the worst things a human being can encounter, disrespect.

And for sure there is no real problem in embracing another culture, even I speak really good English and I don’t necessarily hate that. The issue arises only when the embrace of the other culture comes at the expense of your own culture.

And this is the really insidious part of this ‘assimilation’ business. It just follows the theory of ‘the failure of success’ which is that if you spend all your time mastering another’s language, culture, mannerisms and modes of worship what about your own? Assimilating is always in direct competition with embracing your own culture, so who wins? Since we are in fact bound by time and space.

And with the dawn of the global community, it seems sometimes that you don’t even need to immigrate to have to assimilate. From here in Kenya I have assimilated much more than was ever necessary. And for what? Because surely I can appreciate another’s culture without having to completely embrace it in my entire being. Right?

And what assimilation really does is just to emphasize and reinforce imaginary social status quo, things like blacks are less than whites, women are less able than men, stupid social stratification that doesn’t even make any sense because you will notice the indigenous peoples of nations that tend to be richer or more powerful never need to assimilate only the minorities need to. And I’ll ask again, for what?

The really interesting thing about assimilation is that it can happen entirely without your knowledge because the world is rigged for and against some and for us who walk into it blindly after these structures were already in place it can be hard to know when it is actually happening. Things like black women constantly straightening their hair despite the fact that it is by far the farthest thing from their natural kinky locks and that the practice damages their hair too, women battling with men in the work place to do the same kind of jobs in the exact same way as if the two were competitors while in reality the two are more compliments.

Assimilation forces us to chug down the corrupt social structure embedded into the world with a smile on our faces. I mean, does it really get any crueler than that? And alas the plot thickens.

The worst effect by far that I have seen of assimilation has got to be the number of cultures that have fallen prey to it. How many things have we forgotten from our own unique cultures while busily trying to embrace these other dominant cuture? How much diversity of culture has the world been robbed of? And this seems an issue for the descendants of these so called ‘forgotten’ cultures but you would be wrong, this is an attack on everyone because culture is for everyone. This is akin to say if all of Michelangelo Carravagio’s paintings were lost all of a sudden. That is of concern to me too even though I am not the least bit Italian or even European because culture is for everyone.

The good news is though that culture doesn’t make people, people make culture and we can make more culture to replace even that which was lost.

 

What I have learnt from pornography.

 

For a long time I was utterly wrong for why I hated porn, why I was so opposed to it. I thought in my prudish innocence I hated it because of course how could anyone in their right sane humane mind be enticed by such vile perpetrations. I was wrong.

I hated it because of precisely the opposite. In fact it is only a considerable few who do not in fact enjoy pornography. By pornography here, I don’t mean all of it but alas there is a part of the poison for everyone, some parts of pornography’s body of work are truly repulsive but some are completely orgasmic depending on who you are and that is where the problem starts. Sometimes you don’t want to be associated with say child pornography and yet you prefer amateur pornography so what does that make you?

Back to the title, what I have learnt from pornography. I have learnt that if you watch it, you will respond and you will hate it but at that point it may very well be beyond you. So the next question is what to do? There are really, I think only three responses but I could be wrong.

One, accept that it is somewhat normal for a human to need to sate their libido every once in a while through this particular mechanism and accept it into your life on a somewhat regular nut not obsessive basis. Two, realize the gross poison that it is but in the same breath realize your incapacity to stop thus begrudgingly proceed onto addiction. Lastly, which is the popular choice amongst the strong-willed and religious, decide that you hate it and try very hard not to ever expose yourself to it again, which can be troublesome given you’re a libidinous human being.

All of these reactions seem incomplete in some ways either there is too much desertion of morality, submission to biology or annoying self-righteousness. This is actually very similar in form to conundrum of cheating/infidelity/adultery but I will get to that later.

The problem with pornography is the sweetness of its despicable state. I mean of course sex and sexuality in any shape or form is of interest to human beings.  And yet with pornography there is such a departure from our moral selves, as Alain De Botton aptly says with pornography our sexual and moral selves are in an eternal tug of war. On this he even goes about trying to invent a new kind of pornography, one where we can be moral and wonderful and sexual all at once. It may sound a foreign even ridiculous ideal but it is worth a thought and he delineates quite perfectly in his book, How to think more about sex.

For me rather I tend to disagree and agree with this utopic pornography since for me the issue in pornography is in the very definition of it.

Pornography is such a betrayal of sex, true sex. Not that the positions aren’t wonderful or the actors are exploited liars but because by definition, sex is private and pornography is sex made public. Sex is a secret or at least it should be, not the conversation at large but the actual act with the various humans in question. I realize that the conversation has taken a turn for the doctrinal even though I am a self-confessed agnostic, but do hear me out.

The sweetness of sex is in the secrecy of it, that is why affairs are so thrilling, and in that very secrecy is the act of love or more practically, the act of respect to safeguard that which ‘the other’ has at their own risk shared with you. In fact this view is held steadfastly in some of the colloquialisms like, a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell… And this is the case in true sex where the participants are actually participating, not regurgitating positions, mannerisms and reactions from sources I’d rather not mention. The vulnerability of sex is what makes it a secret for how can someone let you inside of their most unedited, worrisome and at times unclean (not literally, although that could also be the case) area and that not be a secret?

That is why pornography is such a violation. And the violated is not just the actors, everyone engaged in the process of pornography is violated whatever they may say. From the actors, the production team to you who ogles at it in the wee morning hours when everyone is asleep. Everyone else is violated because in the act which is the case for all evil acts, you recognize yourself in the victims and the perpetrators sometimes you don’t even need to recognize yourself because you are literally a victim or a perpetrator and this is compounded by your reaction because you probably will react. And at that point the betrayal sears.

The worst part of this I found, is that no one is to blame and everyone is to blame. The blame is on the person who invented the first camera and all the others who continued the craft, the first person who decided to film sex, all the authorities so off-puted by anything sexual that in their quest to drive libido underground they drive us straight into the arms of porn, the sexual revolution that unknowingly paved the way for the acceptance of porn, the capitalism that drives people to develop skills to join said industry, those of us who are human enough to click on the sites. I’m sure you get the drift.

It is one of those universal problems, in fact that utopian pornography of the future is starting to sound very plausible a solution now. Anyway as usual I will leave a question. The only question I could think of after the conversation of pornography. The famous, what then must we do?

Sexy?

It was rather odd how I had never thought to ever examine this very commonplace term that has so dominated my life and will continue to in many ways.
The process of examination and analysis started only after I watched one of my very beloved modern day philosophers Alain De Botton and heard his view on the colloquialism found here  .
He termed it a truly deep category involving a lot of human psychology which was jarring to say the very least. And I suppose not only to me. Not to mean that the term is a shallow one or pejorative in any way I just never thought it had much depth to it, a view which he too discusses.
In my life I have encountered the term to mean something akin to lustful and even in recent times the lust aspect of it has been re-appropriated to mean attractiveness and wholesomeness not simply a curvature of the neck or slinky dress rather a holistic adjective to describe a person. Although even with much re-appropriation ‘sexy’ may still very well mean something rather dirty or obscene. As was in Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story titled ‘sexy’, in that context it was a term used to define a woman so attractive that she leads men into adultery, a sort of siren, and so you can see that the stain on the term may never fully be washed off.
Regardless, I rather liked De Botton’s approach or if I may say so, answer to what the term truly meant, he started by mentioning that indeed on our very surface there really is much insight into who we are, who we really are inside. And it is when this insight aligns with another’s needs do we find them ‘sexy’ and apparently this insight or traits are usually things we do not possess ourselves. Say if we see that another is very patient where we are not that can make them sexier, at least in our eyes.
I found this very well-reasoned but only a little bit specious, mainly because of two points it looks at ‘sexy’ in only one instance. When it is said to another whom we admire for whatever reason.
The solution ironically rather ignores a lot of human psychology at play and other instances of the word in use.
Firstly, we don’t only ever use this term with regards to another. Sometimes we ourselves feel ‘sexy’ and in that case what does the word mean? Does it mean that we have gone a little way in achieving some of the traits we admire in others, does it mean we are satisfied with ourselves? Or is it simply just a thank you to ourselves for maintaining ourselves? What does it mean exactly?
Secondly, the earlier view seems to assert the assumption that has rolled around for many years, probably even centuries. The view that ‘opposites attract’ that we admire those who are not like us. But this isn’t the only cause for admiration now is it? We’ve seen before how we can admire something in another simply because we possess it as well? And in that case what does ‘sexy’ mean? When it is an inclination to a quality we already possess. Do we want an addition to our own quota or is it just admiration for admiration’s sake?
And finally I find myself in horrible disagreement with the view that perception and reality are one and the same. An assumption underlying the view that we find someone ‘sexy’ or ‘they turn us on’ by the deeply coded physical traits we see on them. And my reason for disagreement is simple, just because you see something doesn’t mean it is there and at times it has been placed there just to distract or misconstrue your perception of the true reality, sleight of hand, like a magician. Haven’t we all had the perception of a certain trait on someone only to later learn that it may very well have been a figment of our imagination? We hardly ever perceive reality as it is, in fact we mold the reality as we perceive it that’s why two people can read the same book, watch the same movie even go through the exact same experience and carry out of each two very differing accounts.
What I did agree on though was that ‘sexiness’ is not a totally superficial or shallow category. It has its depth that I will say. But with humans as with any pool there is always the shallow and the deep end, I do believe there is a bit of that term ‘sexy’ that may have a lot to do with just hormones and genitals and no more. But as usual that isn’t the whole story, in the same breath there is a lot about being ‘sexy’ that has to do with deep identification of positives in another and self-actualization. The issue remains I suppose in the determination of what the term means in certain contexts which may well be a question we may never truly answer or one I may not be well suited for.
The unfortunate part of this article is that it seems it has left us with more questions than answers but maybe at times the solution comes to you in the way of a question so I ask. What does the word ‘sexy’ mean to you?

What in the hell is hell?

You know all through my life my religious CV has read so many different things. Atheist, Agnostic, Idiot, Catholic and irreligious among many others as you can probably imagine. Currently I’m on polytheist agnostic. Don’t ask.
Okay fine, ( I heard your sigh) as the name suggests it means one who believes in more than one religion but of course it’s me so there’s a twist. I only believe in all religions on the things they agree on_the core principles not the superficial glossy rituals and stories about God knows who did what where. For me those are all just fairy tales I just read them to obtain the moral of the story, I’m an African so obviously I’m big on the moral of the story. Moreover, I don’t believe in any of the religions in their entirety, hence the ‘agnostic’ part because and this is important, no one knows who is right about this ‘who is the creator’ business that’s why we call it belief because we can’t prove we are right. And more importantly who cares, just believe and follow the properties of good humanness and you should be well on your way. Right!
So by now I am sure you know I’m as confused as confused gets, in fact I’ve been accused of being an atheist who just likes the wisdom in holy books and to that I’ll say. You’re half right, philosophy is my life and a lot of it is in said holy books so what did you expect, but I do believe there is a God and in the Socratic spirit of knowing that I don’t know, I’m just boobsy (‘ballsy’ the term can’t be used here for obvious reasons so this is what I could come up with) enough to admit that I know there is a God but of course I don’t know what ‘God’ is like. That’s like a computer telling a human he knows what humanity is. Please computer, go back to your binary hell! Why are we so afraid of just saying, ‘shit man I don’t know. Ask the evangelical idiot on TV, just remember to carry an extra thousand, even though the encounter will probably cost you your belief in humanity.’
There’s a saying where I come from, my corrupted take on it, ‘kutojua si ujinga.’ That’s what I mean when I say if you don’t know you don’t know,it doesn’t mean you’re not dumb you just don’t happen to know.
Anyway from the pointless story above, it’s clear to see that I have a true love hate relationship with religion. I am always trying to warm up to it even though my nature is cold to its touch and at the top of my religious kill list is ‘hell’. Every time I think about religion and how warm that makes me I remember oh there’s hell too and I snap out of it.
And the shocker is that my major objection to ‘hell’ doesn’t even stem from the fact that I’ve been reading Dante’s harrowing DC or watching ‘The Good Place’, like everything worth anything it’s from my childhood.
It’s actually from my mom although I think if she knew she’d promptly invent the time machine and return to the past and never ever mention what she mentioned to me, she is always urging me to improve my relationship with God after all and I’ll admit this I do try, even though my spirit is rigid and not really capable of doing any more than I already am. The things we do to please our parents.
Anyway a long time ago she casually mentioned to me that she doesn’t believe in hell. And of course being the curious nut I am I was like ‘why mom why?’ She gave me the most poetic answer I have ever, or will ever get form her EVER, ‘dear daughter because all suffering ends here, earth is hell and purgatory combined.’(She totally didn’t say ‘dear daughter’ i was just upping the ante, it was epic regardless.) Now you have to understand that I wasn’t a very precocious child and I blew past the answer not realizing what it would mean to me.
But the more I grew and evolved and was hit by the bullshit of life I came to unearth the memory of that tiny speech and totally embrace its idea. In fact this is why I am unusually comfortable with the idea of death. Life is good don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying that so that you don’t accuse me of being Sartre’s spirit child (I love his logic but hate his conclusions, again don’t ask, I prefer Camus anyway) but you can kind of agree life is hell and purgatory combined.
So the next question is obviously then what in the hell is hell? For what purpose does it serve exactly?
You know when I think of bad experiences I think of purification. Bad experiences purify us for the good that is to come, just how losing your virginity hurts so you can get to the wonderful orgasms later (although not all vaginas are built the same so don’t quote me) or a less erotic example how childbirth hurts so that you can get to the wonderful tiny human flailing on your breast.
Pain is always just pissing at a rest stop so that you can rid yourself of the toxins before you reached the promised destination, clean and all. And this is my issue with hell, it defies the rule that bad experiences and pain are a means, because underlying the concept of hell is the proposition that pain is an end in and of itself. I can’t reconcile this. God would never do this to us.
And it’s not that I don’t comprehend the argument that hell is what you do to you, if you live badly you deserve it. I totally get that, the thing is, that’s human logic not God logic. We are the ones who torture people who killed our families, enact death penalties, literally telling each other to ‘go to hell’. Not God. At least i think not.
God logic would never do that. (I know, pretty big statement given that I am the very same supposed agnostic from a few sentences ago who doesn’t know God’s nature, well… He lets me know little things like that sometimes, remember this is the same guy(God) who left what 99 sheep to look for one, and it wasn’t even extra fluffy or anything just a regular old dumb arse sheep that did what sheep do best, get lost. So I’m not far off, you’ll see.) To God we are never irredeemable, no matter what we are or what we do. And Christians actually say this a lot, how there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less and hell I believe it! Naive as that sounds.
I am not saying push the limit by doing all the worst stuff imaginable to test this theory, you’ll probably just feel really bad but do you see how if that is true then hell is not possible. The after-life has to be all heaven.
Pain and suffering should always be temporal not ends, Right?
And I know this is not an original idea, in fact just the other day a friend sent me a wonderful video of an atheist defending why he didn’t stay home and instead chose to defend his belief that God does not exist or that he doesn’t believe in organized religion or whatever. He cited that because almost all religions are obsessed with the idea of ‘apocalypse,’ being consumed by death and destruction eventually which is an abomination and I agree, how can you live with that proverbial cloud hanging over your head? And I will say this I loved every bit of his well-articulated coherent thought and his idea isn’t far from the above the main difference being that i am defending theism and he was not… needless to say not original.
But seriously, if there is a God. What the in the hell is hell?

modern woman?

Of all the phrases and terms I have come to know, this has remained the single most cunning one for even after a little over a year of contemplation and research it eludes me swiftly.

Further upsetting me because it is a term I pride my entire life’s existence on. But how could I be a modern woman if I don’t even know what pertains to it?

My trials with this particular definition hail not from ignorance of its substance rather from it indeterminate essential.

Let’s face it we have all at one time or the other, in flesh or by reputation encountered a modern woman of sorts, but what about all these different modern women remains the same? What ties the Rihanna to Michelle to Amanpour?

It has been suggested that a simple definition of the component parts of the term could yield some results so let us get to it. Modern which loosely means a new phenomenon or a new perspective on an old phenomenon tantamount to describing anything and everything that is not encompassed in the traditions of old, and well a woman is basically a female human being last I checked. Therefore using this approach a modern woman should either be the mannerisms of a woman who does not conform to traditions of old at any one point, fair enough, right?

The main problem with this though is that the term being defined in this way lends itself only if we speak of our current times which excludes all ‘modern women’ of the past, who though may not have been labelled as such did very well exist, and therein lies the next hurdle it appears we tend towards a paradox which is never a good way to define anything without the language’s get out of jail free card, poetic license. Lastly it also includes non-modern women because at certain times some traditions will in fact suppress women and therefore the ‘modern women’ of that era will be anti-feminist.

So it goes to show that this is just another phrase whose sum of its part is indeed lesser than its whole.

Another approach is the feminist one, whereby the eternal fight of male versus female is at play. Which is to say that the essential in a modern woman is that she aspires to equate to the male who has been favored since time immemorial, this is not half bad. Modern womanhood has always bore a love for gender equity and the comparison between conditions of the male vis a vis the female have served as an effective way to see how much feminism has grown and spread. The issue here becomes a circular one, in a bid for the girl to catch up with the boy she ends up having to ride on another boy’s back.

This definition kills the independence of women because then modern women cannot exist without men to catch up to therefore leaving them eternal rats in the rat wheel, to run forever but never to catch up which as a matter of principle I disagree with. I am of the opinion that a modern woman can exist in a non-male context because these suppressive mentalities fought by modern women do exist and even thrive without the involvement of men. Therefore again we add to our repertoire of what appertains to a modern woman but not what is essential to her.

Then comes the Madonna approach, the rebel of establishment. That the modern woman is Madonna and not a Madonna, the only woman to single handedly change the meaning of a word that meant pure, holy and chaste to the exact opposite and then some and in so doing open up an entirely new door of acceptance for women and their liberties.  Though this iconoclastic rebellion, namely suffrage, is an epitome of the modern woman’s bible. Is every modern woman a rebel?

I think not, and as quickly as that definition rose so did it collapse in on itself, the essential simply cannot exclude a single modern woman who doesn’t fit the bill.

So after all that I did put myself to task to decide on what definition I will ride on because as you can imagine it is terribly urgent seeing that this is basically the blueprint of my life.

I happen to feel that what all modern women have in common whether they are rebelling against establishment or tradition or inferiority to men is that they are not empowered to soar, to rise and be their best selves. They feel chained and pressured by traditions, rituals, male-preference as well as gender roles because in reality no one trusts them with their own lives, they fight the reality that their lives are at the behest of some other’s.

To put it simply they fight to self-actualize, that they be able to determine themselves with all the rights and respect accorded to others. This is the one similarity I have found in all the modern women I have met, because through their decisions they are freeing themselves from the bondage of foreign determination.

Therefore, for me ‘a modern woman’ is not just the mannerism but rather the infrastructure needed the community attitude and the modern woman herself to actualize herself as best she can without fear of punishment whether she is a housewife, Madonna and everything else in between.

What’s your definition of a modern woman?