21 May 2013: Kiss Me Kate

Descartes

Busy rainy morning. First thing supine workout with five extra minutes non-supine, dancing standing up gently on the bum leg.

Very satisfied to get to the point of doing two workouts on each weekday (when physio is available) and a first-thing workout on arising, since back when I was hale, it was hard to do first-thing workouts and impossible to do two workouts on the same day. But now it’s easy since the positive benefits are so important to me in my illness.

Of course, the workouts, with the exception of “rackety row”, aren’t as intense as my running and swimming workouts of yore, ending 26 March 2012. But a fundamental principle of my workouts ever since March 1981, when I first staggered running around the block, has been a sort of permissiveness which has allowed me to be in there for the long haul. 20 minutes of supine workout is not 20 minutes of running but the mental effort, as opposed to the physical effort, is the same, and it’s more important to preserve a continuity of effort…even as the monks of the Middle Ages preserved culture without understanding it, I need to preserve, perhaps until my dying day, the idea that I work out to wake up, that I have felt God’s presence in both intense and simple workouts.

Beef congee, fluffy hot and dark, and an Egg. Read acts 1..3 of The Taming of the Shrew, a uniquely constructed play in that it’s a play within a play in which Christopher Sly, a common drunk, is deceived into thinking his common life wasn’t real; this anticipates Descartes’ use of this fable as a thought-experiment by a few decades.

Katherine, the Shrew, is a prototype for madcap women so surprised and offended by madcap men. She doesn’t see how her hostility to men destroys her sister’s chances in the marriage meat market.

Kate’s famous speech at the end of the play is misinterpreted. It’s a highly intelligent Shakespeare with some real life experience under his belt from whatever he was doing in his “lost decade” of the 1580s showing how Kate makes a trade-off or even a social contract to obey her husband in exchange for considerable benefits.

Of course, Kate has realized that her husband is mostly hot air and has dealt with her brutally only to ensure he keeps her. Certain feminisms (where I continue to regard feminism as plural) give, as a matter of deliberate policy, absolutely no guidance to men and their avatars from Catherine MacKinnon to the ordinary women’s studies teacher, neatly inverting Confucianism, Judaism and other ancient ethical philosophies.

Womens’ desire to study Torah one would think laudable and “good for the Jews” as the saying goes, but for the darkest psycho-sexual reasons and male inferiority complexes, women studying Torah enrages some Jewish men. But…for the same general reasons, a “feminist” male is thought, at least by default and in the absence of testimony to the contrary, a fraud at best and a Ted Bundy, well spoken and well dressed only to be able to murder women, at worst. I know a real feminist guy who started out as a drinking buddy who gave me excellent advice and counsel; he likes to make crude salesmen’s jokes, some of them racist, some of them, sexist.

Confucian teachers of the old days would be offended to be even asked how their recommendations could help women lead a moral life; likewise, when I investigated feminist theory in order to ensure I was treating my ex-wife and our children justly, I was loth to take a class in a local university extension; I read books of feminist theory.

Men lack guidance in how to justly keep their wives at the intersection of sex and politics and discover that being tolerant, soft-spoken is to be “wimpy” and that their women-folk still hate wimps as of old. But now they get wimps by the carload since it takes a lot of guts to Shock and Awe a woman as does Petruchio, his Kate.

‘Tis time to realize that marriage sucks. It’s a human institution which was founded at the dark intersection of sex and property (cash and real estate) and idealists (like me, Count Tolstoy, and Prince Andrei) are best to stay clear of it or die conveniently and in the “odor of sanctity” while calling down blessings on a woman who’s made us cry, as does Prince Andrei bless Natasha at his death.

For it’s amazing, the dialectic of love. I dearly love my surviving son and will do so no matter what despite his strange (estranged?) treatment of me. Unlike Othello, and like Emily Dickinson, I can just reason, what of that? Othello thought he “knew” everything and as such, was modeled on a Renaissance “New Man” who as a magus could know all secrets: but when Othello pursued the secret, and extracted it from Iago, the secret turned to be poison, mixing, in an explosive fashion like a reactive chemical, with the still-existing love Othello continued to feel for Desdemona.

This was staged in the canonical 1980s BBC video, daringly, with Sir Anthony Hopkins literally gibbering nonsense and rolling on the floor while Bob Hoskins’ brilliant Iago, unseen by an unseeing Othello, capers with joy. Othello has seized up because he simply cannot resolve the contradiction: Desdemona is so beautiful and so nice to me, yet she betrays me. My son is so tall and smart like me yet he seems to despise me without saying so. I have, as my own Iago, persuaded myself that this is so merely because I’ve blasted out email in Peter’s direction that is probably just “too much shit”.

Ah, but I came to the same conclusion in 2009 in my long blog post “A Note on the Mercy of the Night” and this anger so stuffed may have caused this verdammte cancer. C’est une impasse and more a matter for one’s Father confessor or shrink or rebbe than anything one can solve alone.

Yes, as a baptised Catholic, who never stopped self-identifying as a baptized Catholic, I have returned, insofar as is possible in my health situation, to the actual rites of the Church including Reconciliation and the Blessed Sacrament. This is because my understanding of Kant allows me to do so, for a positive atheism or agnosticism is as self-contradictory as the reverse assertion of the truths of one’s religion. You have to know when you’re doing theology (writing, speaking, thinking, praying) since when you are it is licit, cognitively speaking, to involve theological entities, perhaps with a certain minimalism as found in the Guth version of Handel’s Messiah…about which I wrote a lot in this blog last April 2012.

Whereas different standards should guide philosophy; there’s to me, no such thing as a “Catholic philosopher” because insofar as she finds it necessary to qualify or mark “philosopher” with “Catholic”, she’s no philosopher, but instead an honorable theologian.

It’s a modern fallacy to write of “Catholic philosophers”: was Descartes one? He certainly felt so, and harbored fond hopes that his Discourse on Method would be adopted by Rome as a guide to first principles. To his surprise, his book was placed on the “Index Librorum Prohibitorum”, the charming Index of forbidden books which still was enforced in 1948 and was used to discourage Catholic students from majoring in philosophy, history, or any field where they might encounter skeptical doubt…even though for Descartes, skeptical doubt was simply the logical gesture of assuming the negation of that which you wanted to prove, and to show how it led, first to an impasse (the “evil genius” story) and then to the first proposition implied by his thought experiment: I think, therefore I am.

Well, my butt hurts as does my head.

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