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 611 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 8

Idealism vs. The Erotic

Griffith believes that the reason we like sex is that it is a way that we can attack “innocence”. He believes that we began using it that way back in the time of Homo Erectus when men invented rape as a way of getting revenge for women’s lack of understanding of their departure from ideality.

When he finally does get around to addressing the concept that Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple, he asks why, if sex only became a way of attacking innocence after the beginning of the human condition, why does Moses (Griffith takes it as read that Moses actually wrote the book of Genesis) put this apparent reference to lust into the story of the origin of that condition.

“The answer can only be that an account of the emergence of the human condition, which is what is being provided by Moses, should include reference to the immense role sex has played in the life of upset humans…”

I don’t look at it that way.

The erotic is innocent. The erotic is the desire for physical pleasure which is natural to the human organism. And erotic love is the sharing of physical pleasure. It has little to do with any genetic drive to perpetuate our genes. We want it because it feels good. That’s why we masturbate and why many other animals masturbate. Why would it be essentially corrupting to enjoy the feel of erogenous zones being stroked any more than it is corrupting to enjoy the feel of the sun on our skin or the wind in our hair?

That is not to deny that our sexual behaviour can take dark forms.

Sex is like language. It is a way of communicating something. We can use words to tell someone how much we love them, or we can use words to express hatred. Sex is the same. It’s not the medium which is at fault, it’s the message.

Griffith himself uses the bonobos as an example of what our proto-human ancestors may have been like, yet he evades the erotic nature of their behaviour. They spend a lot of their time rubbing genitals with other members of the troop, irrespective of gender, age or, in most cases, relatedness. To me this suggests that the erotic played a major part in our ancestor’s lives and may have been inseparable from their social integrativeness. The pleasure principle is at the root of our behaviour. Why would we not live lovingly and cooperatively in a society which, in return, delivered a steady diet of sexual pleasure?

So what changed things? I’ve already talked about the origin of idealism and how it opened a psychological divide between men and women.

Women would initially have tried to use sex, which had always been a binding force in the group, to pacify and re-socialise the increasingly aggressive men. But eventually, as the men became more competitive and egotistical in response to the newly growing idealism’s criticism of them, the sexual favours of the women would have been a source of conflict. To keep the peace, pair-bonding was initiated, and thus began the need for sexual repression.

This process increased as societies tended to become more and more patriarchal and hierarchical. The most armoured men, thus those most addicted to controlling others, rose to the top of the hierarchies. These individuals would often make sure their own sexual desires were satisfied, but they recognised that, without sexual repression (and particularly the repression of female sexuality), their hierarchical power structures could be undermined. The erotic is anarchic.

Lust is the increase in sexual desire which occurs because of repression. So the argument that repression is needed to combat lust just doesn't add up.

What is “fucked” during sex? If we are angry, what are we angry at? It isn’t “innocence” as Griffith claims. It is the ideology of repression. We’ve been told that sex is inherently “sinful”. It is that against which we rebel.

It’s important to consider cultural context when sorting out the wheat from the chaff of philosophical texts. Plato and the writers of the Old Testament were members of patriarchal hierarchical societies. Ancient Greece was less sexually repressed than the culture which gave rise to the Blble, which may be related to the fact that it was such a rich artistic and intellectual society. You can’t repress sexuality without impeding your ability to think and imagine freely. But Plato and the authors of The Old Testament were also idealists. They were virulent purveyors of that disease.

As Wilhelm Reich pointed out, character armour blocks and perverts the natural health-giving erotic impulses, and the armoured individual is afraid of those impulses which threaten to undermine that protective armour. Of course, sex can be used against someone else - rape and sexual exploitation - but these are not expressions of the erotic. Neither is the sex object armour an expression of the erotic. Like non-sexual forms of love, the erotic is something we can surrender to when we feel safe enough to put aside our armour.

Read Part 9

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