Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Scourge of Fundamentalists Everywhere

It is the time of year when fundamentalists of various sorts get their (Brit.) knickers in a twist over Valentine's Day.

In India, said knickers will be pink, thanks to an ingenious counter-protest.

Aphrodite will not be denied.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Surrealist Hymn to Aphrodite

Blogger like to write about the weird search terms that bring in readers.

Similarly Sannion turned the subject lines of messages caught in his email spam filter into what amounts to a hymn to Aphrodite Pandemos -- through the Surrealist technique of random assemblage.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mars and Venus Are in Love

Ich bin ein siegreicher Unterwasserkommandant.

The July issue of the popular military history magazine Armchair Generalhas my name in it. Two other readers and I were named winners of the "You Command" contest in the March issue, involving a U-boat attack on an Atlantic convoy in 1943.

It's a sort of essay question: You are given a scenario with three tactical options, and you must pick one and justify it in writing. They print excerpts from the winning entries.

So I decided to try, and I won. Everything I know about commanding submarines I learned by reading and by playing Gato and Harpoon -- computer games.

Ensign William Thomas BaileyIt felt odd to write my entry. The man in the photo popped into my head, which was a bit creepy. His name was Ensign William Thomas Bailey. In March 1942 he married the woman who would become my stepmother, and in September 1942 his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk with all hands. She waited in New Orleans for three more months until it was obvious no miracle was going to bring him back, then eventually went to work for the Army in Honolulu where she led an active social life involving beaches, restaurants, high-ranking officers, and drinks with umbrellas in them.

Mars and Venus are in love.

Armchair General's publisher, Eric Weider, tries to make that point in his July editorial, answering critics who claim that study of military history is "odd or even morbid." The trappings of war are beautiful (airplanes, uniforms, music, etc.), and war is an activity that brings out not just the worst but the best in its participants.

The psychologist James Hillman, whose "polytheistic psychology" has changed my thinking quite a bit, threw himself against the same problem in his recent book A Terrible Love of War. He takes the combat-as-ecstasy (literally being outside your everyday self) line, but also refuses to think that war can be wished away with perfect social engineering.

Notes from a 2002 conference about the book, by someone wrestling with Hillman's message:

What if Aphrodite were akin to Pan? What if she valued, not war, but Ares himself, a man-god, a relationship, a lover, yes, a lover, not a warrior?

• A reviewer at GlobalSecurity.org contemplates Hillman's connection between ideological wars and monotheism:

Being reveals itself as "War" in the West not because of Homer's glorification of it, but because it is nourished by the extreme monotheism of Christianity, an "Old Testamament'warrior' God of Jaweh, tacked onto a New Testament without War ("Turn the other cheek, and give your enemy your cloak). . . . Now war has become "Apollonic" because "It was Apollo who chases, but fails to consummate his relations in closeness." Here Hillman does not hesitate to draw the inevitable conclusions from the fact that Ares always lies down with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. From ancient Sumner to present day Iraq the story is the same: the thrill, the glory, and the 'erotics" of war pass every other experience in intensity and delight. The hold of war is as powerful as Eros, indeed, IS Eros: "There is no beauty like it, because its beauty is evil" said one soldier, echoing Baudelaire. Can anyone be so foolish as to blieve that this violence is only incidental, only or purely contextual? The much touted "Sex AND violence" of the so called "conservatives"? Do we think that television generates it?

• It has even made it to YouTube.

It's a book that I will need to re-read one day, trying to understand how the energies of the gods show themselves in our lives and our culture.

And I am waiting for a stronger connection to be made between polytheistic psychology and religious polytheism. Too many people who espouse the latter still conduct their mental lives within a more agnostic psychology (think of behaviorism, for instance). The gods, as the poets tell us, have their own agendas, which sometimes rip our lives apart. How do you give them enough, but not too much? Is Ares satiated with computer-game slaughters?

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Aphrodite Will Not Be Denied (2)

On the heels of the "cartoon jihad," singer Deeyah's new video may be the next excuse for rioting.Deeyah

Muslim pop singer Deeyah has irked the Muslim world with her provocative new music video that shows her stripping off a burka to reveal her bikini-clad body.

In the clash of civilizations, "fight fire with hotness," says one quoted blogger.

But the video's not all about booty-shaking your way to freedom of expression. The video reportedly features other Muslim and Middle Eastern women who have fought for women's rights. There are women, throughout the video, pictured removing strips of tape from their mouths.

She was born in Norway, but that country's radical Muslim community made life so uncomfortable for her that she moved to the United Kingdom. Death threats continue.

As I once wrote, "Aphrodite will not be denied." You either acknowledge the powers of the gods, or they will assert themselves in uncontrollable ways.

I had thought that Haifa Wehbe was "the Muslim Madonna." But I can't keep up with American pop stars, let alone those from elsewhere.

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Aphrodite Bats Last

A New York Times report by a Columbia University sociologist on the virginity pledges promoted by some Christian groups such as True Love Waits finds that pledge-takers do delay the onset of sexual activity, yet tend to contract sexually transmitted diseases at about the same rate as their peers, suggesting that they do not get additional education on STDs.

Key paragraphs:

By age 23, half the teenagers who had made virginity pledges were married, compared with 25 percent of those who had not pledged, the study found. Dr. Bearman said he did not know whether the teenagers who had broken their pledges did so initially with their fianc�s or with others, because the data had not yet been analyzed.

But he said, "After they break their pledge, the gates are open, and they catch up," having more partners in a shorter time.

Link courtesy of Religion News Blog.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Haifa Wehbe Watch

Ever since my original post about Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe
(or Wahbi), this blog has been receiving sporadic hits from the Middle East: Israel, Syria, Egypt, Dubai . . .

Apparently she and some of her peers have really undermined traditional Arab ideas of beauty.

But I say this to her fans:

"Some would say an army of cavalry, others of infantry, others of ships, is the fairest thing on the dark earth, but I say it's whatever you're in love with."

Those lines are from the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Read Sappho, and understand.

Where the weekend went

To the detriment of my students, I spent most of the past weekend editing the first issue of the "new" Pomegranate: The Journal of Pagan Studies. To help the process go faster, I asked the aid of my old friend Michael McNierney, who not only teaches but has written for The Pom in the past, as well as possessing strong editorial skills. Peer-reviewers of academic journals are normally paid in the coin of glory, but I was happy to share food, drink, and some of the old .45 ACP ammunition that I inherited from my late father.

Bang bang, you're legal, Part 2

Certificate from my mostly redundant pistol-handling class of 10 January in hand, I drove on Monday up to the county seat to apply for my concealed-carry permit, which is issued by your friendly local county sheriff.

Entering the sheriff's office, I immediately saw a notice posted by the receptionist/dispatcher's counter: Concealed-weapon permit applications will be accepted only between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday-Friday. Obviously I am about the last person in the county to get his!

Paperwork. Fingerprints. Oh gods, I've been fingerprinted. Having lived a blameless [unapprehended] life until this point, I have never been fingerprinted. But now I have, "nail bed to nail bed." (Note to self: stock all vehicles with latex gloves.) I did not mention my marriage to M___ C____, notorious deep ecologist, advocate of jury nullification, and all-around subversive. Stay cool, act normal. All I have to swear is that I'm not a felon, alcoholic, wife-beater, habitual drug user, illegal alien, or close personal friend of Osama Bin Ladin.

And I paid some more: a fee to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation so that I might have the privilege of being investigated, plus a fee to the sheriff's office.

Afterwards, Michael and I drove to the shooting range and burned up some of the aforementioned .45 ACP ammo, plus others.

Am I gaining an additional layer of legal protection, or putting myself into a bureaucratic noose? M.C. would say the latter, of course.


Thursday, December 18, 2003

Aphrodite Will Not Be Denied

. . . as evidenced by this story from an Associated Press contributor in Beirut.

In an incisive bit of analysis, Lebanese sociologist Dala el-Bizri, a resident of Cairo, says male-dominated societies are to blame for making women cover up. "When the condition of women on the street is unnatural, the demand for vulgarity and nudity increases," she says.

"Come to me once more, and abate my torment;
Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me
All I long for; Lady, in all my battles
Fight as my comrade."

That's not one of singer Haifa Wehbe's lyrics (that's Haifa on the right), but rather the last verse of the ancient Greek poet Sappho's invocation to the goddess Aphrodite, as translated by Elizabeth Vandiver. Is the imagery too warlike? Well, one Muslim critic called such performers "weapons of singing destruction."

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