This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 576 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Sexual Liberation

Making large claims based on a small knowledge base is my personal style. So why not analyse the significance of the fastest-selling fiction book in history without having read any of it? I've read plot and character descriptions, mostly from critical reviews, and it seems to me that to explore the mysterious grip a particular fictional work has on the public imagination requires only a basic knowledge of what kind of story it is. The details and the quality of the writing are irrelevant. These might be relevant to someone, such as a publisher, trying to make a decision about whether or not a book will be popular. But if a book already is popular, literary quality is irrelevant to understanding why. One would imagine that most of George Orwell's books were about equally well-written, but it was Animal Farm and 1984 which captured the public imagination because of their themes. This is equally true in the realm of pulp fiction. Nobody claims that Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are many hundreds of times better written than books which sell hundreds of times fewer copies. They are simply books which have thematically captured the public imagination. And it is quite likely that the very things for which critics attack them are a major factor in their popularity. What the sophisticate views as a crude and annoying caricature or clich√© may come across to the fan as a bold archetype free from irrelevant nuance. And it stands to reason that our response to archetypal characters will depend on our relationship to that archetype in ourselves or in those around us. What attracts one will repel another. Our ability to identify with an archetypal character depends on our own psychological struggle. A man who is insecure in his masculinity may strongly identify with Rambo, while others might find his alpha male arrogance and aggression repellant. What is relevant to analysing the cultural importance of a work of the imagination is that fans respond positively to the character archetypes it presents. And it is that positive response which we have to understand. The imagination is inescapably prophetic. This has nothing to do with talent in writing, characterisation or plotting and it is something which is as true in the world of the pulp novel and the comic book as it is in the world of high class literature, in fact often more so as, in the literary world, a book's value is not judged by how many of us it speaks to. But once we understand the psychological evolution which is taking place in our society we can see it symbolised all around us in our popular culture. The prophets are no longer self-aware individuals crying in the wilderness, they are now pulp novelists and Hollywood scriptwriters probably totally unaware of the role they are playing in showing us the way ahead.

As I understand it Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels are about a dominant/submissive relationship between a man who is handsome, rich and powerful, but filled with self-loathing, and a timid virginal woman. To me this seems a very powerful metaphor for our neurosis as a species. This neurosis takes an active or passive form. In the active form we feel the compulsion to try to control others who represent to us that which we fear in ourselves. And we strive to accumulate material wealth as a way to compensate for the poverty within, the lack of self-acceptance, the self-loathing. Fearing ourselves we come to fear and need to control others. Feeling worthless we become obsessed with physical evidence of our worth. In the passive form our neurosis is expressed in submission and conformity. Not accepting ourselves we crave acceptance from others, even at the cost of our own degradation.

Because our neurosis originated in a division of labour along gender lines when men took up the task of protecting the tribe against predators while women remained in the nurturing role which had previously been shared by both men and women, men, historically, have tended to express their neurosis in an active form and women in a passive form. This is only a tendency. There have always been many actively neurotic women and passively neurotic men, but the patriarchal society, particularly, has encouraged men to take the active role and women the passive. The current collapse of patriarchy has to some degree decreased discrimination against actively neurotic women and passively neurotic men.

But the fan base for Fifty Shades of Grey is clearly among passively neurotic heterosexual women, therefore the issue with which it deals is the need for a reconciliation with the actively neurotic man. And the method for healing is sex. It is through a sexual relationship that the man is liberated from his self-loathing and the woman from her repression.

To understand the dominant/submissive relationship we have to recognise that our society, having repressed its natural sexuality for over a million years, is deeply frightened by the erotic. The erotic is anarchic. It is subversive. And therefore those of us who seek control over ourselves or over others have much to fear from erotic desire. Our first step in taming ourselves as individuals and as a society was to repress our sexuality. Those who do not do this have historically been referred to as libertines – i.e. they have been viewed as dangerously free individuals. And one of the biggest threats to patriarchy is female sexuality. Male sexuality could be harnessed as a tool of oppression, but female sexuality can only liberate. And for the neurotic society that is something to be feared. Hence, in some cultures, little girls have their clitorises cut off. Patriarchal society is obsessed with the madonna/whore dichotomy – the idea that the pure", virginal woman (i.e. a woman who has been especially successful in repressing her natural sexuality) is the source of all things good in society while the sexually uninhibited woman is seen as a source of social sickness. Of course the truth is mixed. Breaking the oppressive rules of patriarchy could unleash violent jealousies and promiscuity could spread disease, but prostitutes brought much needed sexual healing to the very society which condemned them.

The archetype of the libertine setting women free from their sexual repression has been around for a long time. In the British underground erotic classic The Way of a Man with a Maid, which was published in about 1908, the rake hero kidnaps a woman, forcibly strips her naked, chains her up in his basement and then tickles her with a feather until she submits to him sexually. She is horrified by this rape, but through it she discovers that sex is loads of fun and so she teams up with the hero and they kidnap another woman. And so it goes as our hero adds to his band of horny bisexual women. But this was a novel of its time. The hero is not portrayed as self-loathing, and the women spend no time agonising over the process of their liberation. There is no angst, just a fantasy about undermining the sexually buttoned-down Victorian society. And the book could not reach a wide audience, but was restricted to only the most decadent among the ruling class.

Sexual dominance and submission, which may be restricted to role play or may include the use of bondage and/or the infliction of pain, is sometimes the intermediary stage of liberation from sexual repression. It is still a form of repression of the erotic, but it creates a context in which the insecure individual may feel protected while expressing or exploring erotic feelings. Those who practise this lifestyle very often explain how it makes them feel safe. In BDSM the erotic is not allowed unrestricted expression. If the erotic is a wild animal, then in BDSM we pat it while it is safely in a cage. The active neurotic still plays a dominant role and the passive neurotic still plays a submissive role. In same cases the role may the reverse of the one the individual enacts socially, but even here adherence to an agreed upon structure is what makes it feel safe.

So Fifty Shades of Grey represents an intermediary stage in our liberation from our neurosis. It is sexual liberation with the training wheels on. But what would complete liberation from sexual repression look like? I think an unleashing of female sexuality will heal the divide between the sexes. We will return to something approximating our origins as a species when men and women where nurturers and much that we associate with masculinity was unnecessary. The character armour of masculinity will be abandoned once we move beyond fear of the erotic. All that is needed is for us to feel safe. Where strength is necessary it will be the real strength which men and women have always been capable of when not divided against themselves by neurosis. The macho mentality is a hollow shield, it has never been true strength. And bisexuality is likely to gradually become the norm. Fear of same-sex eroticism is an element of the neurosis which divides us. Playfulness and sensuality not just centred in the genitals are liable to characterise the sexuality of the free state.

In recent times there has been an increasing fascination with transgender individuals. Who would have thought that we would see full-frontal transexual nudity in a major Hollywood movie? But we did in last years The Hangover II. I think that the reason for this fascination is because in the hermaphrodite we see a symbolic image of our future as a species. We see a single figure in which the masculine and the feminine are united. And we are comforted. This is part of the nature of the healing vision which is emerging. The disowned become the treasured. In the New Testament – Matthew 21:24 – it says : Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures : ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes'? Now I'm not suggesting that Jesus was talking exclusively about chicks with dicks. But it is a part of the nature of our neurosis that we have most deeply repressed and despised what we most needed for our liberation. And thus it should be no surprise if those who were considered freaks or losers or outsiders become the front riders towards a new society.

The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has struck us like lightning. Where did that come from, we ask ourselves. Why is this the fastest selling fiction book in history? Why are so many women suddenly coming out of the closet about their sexuality? Jesus said : For as the lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:27. The breakdown of the repressive neurotic patriarchal society is also a breakthrough to Paradise and it comes, as was predicted, in a rush.

You can also find this post on the How to Be Free forum here. You may find further discussion of it there.

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