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Amina Tyler and The Fear of Men

Amina Tyler

Amina Tyler and The Fear of Men

Last May Amina Tyler, a FEMEN activist in Tunisia was detained for protesting against the situation of women in her country during a demonstration of an illegal fundamentalist group. Police promptly detained her but leaved alone the demonstrators of the outlaw group. Until here, nothing new or shocking. Unfortunately we have become all too used to this kind of news. But this time, there was a difference. Amina decided to call the attention of the authorities and the media by stripping to the waist and show her young breast with words of freedom. And then is when the storm began. Infuriated fundamentalist reacted like if they have seen the devil itself, attacking her verbally and physically, until the police took her away.

So what has provoked such a disproportionate reaction is not that he was protesting about the shocking situation of women in many of islamic countries, their treatment as mere objects belonging to the male cast. She was the vinegar poured on an open wound that the world has been trying to ignore for too long.

But why, I ask myself. Why is she on the first pages of the news, not because she protest against injustice, but because she has dare to do so showing her nude breast? Why are we so afraid, we men, of a young woman that, all alone , dares to protest in front of a crowd of reactionaries ( Oh, gosh, such a courage !). Who dares dares to show her breast in a photo with the words written on it” My Body Is My Own “ ?

If you, and I talk now to the men who read this post, go one day in your town, with no shirt, with such an obscene message written on your barely haired chest, what do you think the reaction of the people would be? Would crowds of women kick you and call police, offended by your outrageous act? Or would you just provoke some smiles or curious gazes ? If you are lucky, maybe a young chineese tourist will ask you for a photo to pin it on her blog !

I can try to understand her courageous  act in three different levels : cultural, values and symbolic .

On the cultural level, I can see that in a country that keeps the body of the women completely hidden, where a bikini is a rarity, and conservatives are trying to steer the recent revolution into the domain of islamic fundamentalist, her act really goes against the mainstream behaviour and customs. But leaving apart that a protest is precisely that, an act that goes against what is normally accepted with the intention to call attention to what may my unjust, is the reaction that surprises me: aggression, condemnation and eventually jail. Why not just look to another place? Why not just to ignore her ? Or even laugh? Why such a disproportionate reaction?

What brings me to the point that maybe her brave appearance in front of the bearded male mob, has reached a deeper level. The level of values. What do I believe, what are my core values. Do I believe that women have equal rights to men, that being obviously different, their intrinsic value are not less than mine? That, as Amina and FEMEN says, their body is their own. Or would you, as a male , accept that a society of women has the right to decide on your body ? When to procreate or not, how to dress or undress, how behave in private or public ? If you won’t accept this, why you won’t support the ideas of this young strong women?

Suddenly I can feel something inside myself rebelling, and probably also inside yourself too. A muted, indescribable fear crawling slowly under my skin. And is normal, as I am much more than I consciously feel. It brings me to a last symbolic level. And there it is where our fear and theirs in Tunisia and the world comes from. The bared breast that represent the nurturing Mother Goddess, the Earth who has gave us birth and has been our cradle and our home until now, when we have become the arrogant teenager species, overconfident and wasteful, just concerned about our present enjoyment of the place. We are afraid of looking at the eyes of Nature and see our behaviour reflected, our betrayal, our lack of love.

We cannot withstand the presence of Amina Tyler and the FEMEN activist because they throw in our faces our lack of integrity, our inconsistency with the values we proclaim in public, because we are afraid of their creativity, at all levels, their primeval strength and energy. We are afraid of Amina, because we are afraid of letting women grow.

http://femen.info

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Free_Amina_Tyler

 

The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli

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Some books may not make it to the list of classics or the best books in the history of literature, but they may stay in your bedside or on your table for a long time. The Art of thinking Clearly may belong to the second group, as not only is full of useful tips and discoveries, is also a pleasure for the mind to read. The format of just a couple of pages per chapter is specially agreeable, because Rolf Dobelli takes out all of the unnecessary filling and decoration to present us with an idea, the research its is based and some good everyday examples. Enough to keep us thinking for a while !

Really recommended. Like a fresh walk on an early Sunday trough the streets of our supposedly well known town.

Who I Am ?

Who I am?

I went to bed yesterday with this question in my mind. We take for granted that we have a simple answer to the question : apart of our name, we could add our profession, our nationality, our family role and we could keep adding layers, like in an onion, but this rather obvious answer was not what originated my question.

My question came from a thought I had a few days ago. There are always two elements that conform who we are. One is the self, the conscious entity striped away of all circumstances and definitions. The second element is what we want to be. This second element is an image made of multiple elements itself. Who I would like to be physically, how I would like to behave, what I want to believe and love, which group I want to be part of, my ideals, my dreams, my possible and impossible futures. Even the materials things I desire as part of my life, my position in society or my role as a parent. All this and many more form an image of my future me. An image that is always present and that often I mistakenly take as my real Me.

How we all create this projected image has preoccupied psychologist and thinkers for many years, creating different schools and trends: our genes, our parents, our education, our environment, our experiences in early life, our evolutionary history or our perception of reality. Or possibly all of them together. And you could even add to the mix, depending on what your believes are, the Universe, God or Gods, the stars and many others to complicate matters even more.

Is beyond my knowledge and my goal here to give myself an answer to how my projected me was formed, even if I have to admit that I have dived in some of the fields in search of answers.  But my quest comes from the confronting the question from a different perspective, a more dynamic one, I could say, more of a process than a goal.

Maybe the personal answer to Who I am is more of a changing position in a continuum between two points: at one side my naked conscious nucleus, stripped of all identity circumstantial layers , my original self which I have a glimpse of it sometimes when I am lost in a place without thoughts, in meditation, in the flow or in awe. On the other side, this model of Me, this future me, formed with all the elements cited before and more. A wish,  a projected image of a possible better me, a goal to attain. And in between both of them, there is a gap, bigger or smaller, depending on many factors, and, I believe, the answer to Who I am lays somewhere in this line between this two places. I am not just the only consciousness self in one side. But I am neither the projected image of a better me on the other. I am in a point somewhere in the middle, holding the tension of this two opposites. A place between a static  and a dynamic me always evolving entity. Neither of them, both of them at the same time. The tragedy is that we can never attain, I believe, either place. We cannot return to our original self, at least while we inhabit this world, but are never capable to achieve our full potential. We are always in a precarious equilibrium point, never in the same place We can only tend, direct ourselves to a point, baring the tension of the opposites, knowing that we cannot attain our goal in a lifetime, but still keep our rudder, as firmly as we can, pointing our boat to this mystical island that we all nurture inside our hearts. Never before I have been able to see so clearly that is the journey what we are here for, not the destination. And the sum of all our personal journeys is what may be driving our evolution in this Universe.

The Collapse of Complex Societies, By Joseph A. Tainter

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Don’t panic! This is mot a new end of the world prophecy or a doom and gloom kind of pamphlet. The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph A. Tainter belongs proudly to the caves of Archeology. Is one of the most lucid studies trying to investigate the causes of collapse in past societies, like the Roman Empire, the Mayan or many others. And , even if the main actors of this drama lived hundred or thousands of years ago, as humans, we are very close to the kind of societies and the motivations that they lived in.

The main ide of his book is that societies are basically problem solving systems. This systems evolve into more complex systems in the search to resolve new problems. And complexity, while comfortable and with the capacity to solve many of our problems, is not cheap. We have to pay for it. What is very interesting is the approach of Prof. Tainter: He proves in his book that as the easier solutions are found, we need to invest more to get the more difficult energy resources, so all societies are confronted with dismissing returns for their investment in complexity. And there is a point when, the investment is not worth. The benefits we get from our complex societies doesn’t pay enough to stay inside it. And then people abandon the society and collapse happens. And because the citizens of this societies are not very much motivated to defend their societies, is easy for invaders or competitors to destroy them or invade them or colonise them, as it has been common in the past.

This is, no doubt, a brilliant book. And one that makes you think a lot when we extrapolate it to our present situation. A very lucid analysis of the fiscal problems of the deceased empires gives also a very real perspective, far away from mystical or simplistic explanations. If you are curious about our future, please read this book about our past.

Endgame, by John Mauldin

endgame

The End of the Debt Supercycle and How it Changes Everything

There are many books about the 2007 financial crisis and the mess the Western world has found itself into, but “Endgame” by John Mauldin is not only well written, fast reading and well documented: It also tells something new. When all the countries are talking about debt and what to do about it, we, the general public doesn’t know much about it. Well, we all know what is debt, but, how they countries create it? How they calculate it? What does it mean for all of us, or , more important, what does the past tell us about it. John Mauldin tries to answer this questions in plain english, based on his wide knowledge as a wealth consultant . And the news are not very good, because we have allowed our governments to accumulate immense amounts of debts not seen since the WWII and superior to that of the Great Depression.

And here it is the trick: We have been electing politicians based on the most frivolous or attractive promises that they would get them elected. No reality checks needed or responsibility. And when they have got the power, we have just handed them over our check books, with all pages signed. Brilliant. Ah, and I nearly forget, no liabilities or strings attached. “C’mon mate, you look serious, I’ve seen you in the tele, I trust you…” I can hear our collective voices…. So here they have gone ! on a shopping spree to make all our dreams come trough: What do you want, free health care? You got it ! Better roads?, easy, Universities? that’s cheap ! A few monuments in the pack? done ! Benefits? How much you need mate? And of course all this accompanied with generous doses of bureaucracy and the banquet is served ! But, has anybody thought about the bill? Well, the bad news is that the credit limit is dangerously close, and there is no way that we will get away without paying. They have our check book ! And we can pay in two ways: or we pay now, cutting expenses and rising taxes ( Nobody wants that ! ) or we can quietly send the bill to our sons. Brilliant! They don’t know much about it, and are not very worried yet, but, basically, we have spent the savings of our parents, and also we have spent the credit card of our children, that will have to pay the bill with less investment in infrastructure, less services and probably no retirement moneys. And a huge bill for the interest of our wishful shopping spree. Not bad for a generation that wanted to change the world…. Well, really we have done it !

I am not a Tea party supporter, mostly the opposite, and if I could I would have voted for Obama, but it’s time that we stop dancing to the old tunes of the 60′s and 70′s , ask for the bill and, while protecting the most disadvantaged citizens as well as the situation allow, and try to get the best education an health we can afford, face the reality of our situation, act with dignity, and do our best to pay the bill. Sorry mate, the dream is over.

 

The Great Degeneration, By Niall Ferguson

images-1How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

The Great Degeneration is one more book trying to explain the times of crisis we are going trough the last years at a global level. But it may have a prominent position in this crowded bookshelf for two reasons: One, his author, Niall Ferguson, who is an historian and not an economist. The second reason is that it avoids simplistic, short sighted explanations or witch hunting , and given his very wide historical point of view of societies, his essay is deeper in his search for the roots of our problems.

The main idea supporting “ The Great Degeneration “ is that we are living a period of degeneration of our institutions. At four levels: democracy, capitalism, the rule of law and civil society. And, after he explains that the take off of the western civilisation that we all enjoy now, was based on the institutions based in those four areas, he embarks in a sharp analysis of our current situation from this four angles perspective. You may agree or not, but many of his ideas are well worth the time of reading the book, and some of them will stay humming quietly inside you well after you finish it, I believe.

A good book to recommend to all those interested in our present political, social and economic crisis.

Antifragile, by Nassim N. Taleb

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How to live in a world we don’t understand

Antifragile is a book like no other. That I can say. Some people will love it, as I do, or other will dismiss it as vague or frivolous. But, it is indeed a very interesting book. Nassim N. Taleb, a mathematician, stock trader and thinker, who brought to the lives of common and uncommon people the concept of black swans, has based his new book, his Opus Magnum on the concept of “antifragility “ .

A champion of accepting uncertainty in a world that seems more and more scared of it, Nassim N. Taleb invites us to embrace it, and even to become antifragile. Antifragile is not robust, as he well takes care of explaining at the beginning of his book. To be robust just enable us to cope with the shocks better that others. But if you are antifragile, you benefit from the shocks. And that is the main idea behind his essay. Sipping in various rivers of thought, from economy to history, from psychology to philosophy, I found his book a pleasure to read, a beautiful exercise for the curious mind and his ideas humbling and down to earth.

For those with patient and curiosity, I highly recommend “ Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

End This Depression Now by Paul Kugman

When Paul Krugman wrote this book in early 2012 his voice was a solitary one. The moralistic voices of many european leaders were the only ones that you could hear again and again in the papers, news and web services. But the only one who said that this was not a moral problem but an economic one, becoming a social one and probably an humanitarian one was Paul Krugman. He dare to say what even the IMF is saying now: Please first focus on growth, on reducing unemployment, in keeping the industries and services afloat , and then, carefully , we can cut as much as it is necessary, but no more. Nobody denies that Europe needs a big transformation. But destroying jobs, forcing families to live in precarious ways or in poverty will not resolve the problem, will just make it worse. All that while we pour billions into the banks because they went gambling and lost too much….

Will Europe remember who are we? Will remember that the reason of the welfare state, with all its defects, was to reduce inequality, avoid the dangers of political  involution and revolution and  create the longest period of peace in our history? We all agree that the system needs reform. But the model is not the American wild corporative capitalism. The models we have them at home, in countries like Sweden or Denmark. Countries where an educated population takes better political choices, where the citizenships feel the responsibility to ask their representatives to behave responsibly or pay the price.

An interesting, articulate and well written book that is a pleasure and a honor to recommend.

 

Flourish by Martin E.P. Seligman

A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

For a few years Jungian psychology has occupied my main interest in the field, but the last book of Martin Seligman “Flourish” has been a very positive surprise. His ideas has matured since his first book on Positive Psychology and are now less self-help style and more deep. He is still a practical psychologist, focused on improving the lives of people and specially in educating healthier, happier individuals. He also traces a realistic line on what we can change in our lives and what belongs to our genes, our culture or socioeconomic origins. He holds a point of balance between those  who believe a bit naively that the sky is our limit and those who think all our lives are predetermined by birth , our parents or our society.

Seligman bases the thesis in this book in well proven research, and in the cases where it is not , he clearly states it. This is really a balm for the reasonable ma in this times of cuasi-magical self-help books and uncontrolled psychobable.

A very recommendable book !

 

Morphic Resonance by Rupert Sheldrake

The Nature of Formative Causation

If the last book I reviewed of Professor Forni on a thinking life was an small precious jewel, directed to our souls, the outstanding work of Rupert Sheldrake is a big, enormous opening to the mysteries of the Universe. You have to be ready to receive his ideas with an open mind and let yourself be guided by his enormous knowledge in biology, physics, and psychology.Doctor Sheldrake is Renaissance Man, opening our minds to new ways to view the Universe we live in .

Based in hard evidence, hundred of studies and his own research, he propose the theory of Formative Causation or the existence of Morphic Fields. And his questions directed to all of us go something like these : Is the atomistic world all it is? Is the DNA the origin, the map of life, as they try to make us think? There is something else beyond that? It is possible the existence of  a morphic field that has the “plans” of everything, from crystals to humans? Are this morphic fields the answer to the mystery of morphogenesis?

He don’t go beyond the existence of this fields because, as he says, that would impossible to know, that enters the field of metaphysics or even faith. And he is a scientist trying to discover the origins of life and forms in a scientific way. And he arrives to revolutionary conclusions that opens our minds to a much interesting and wonderful universe, one that is not just the sum of its particles, but has a sense , a direction.

Is specially interesting the last appendix, the dialogs with David Bohm, in which both find connexions between the morphic fields theory and Bohm’s theory of the Implicate Order, one of the most fascinating theories today evolving from quantum physics. The connexions and similarities they find promise a future of new developments, not only in Physics, but also in Psychology, cosmology and biology.

What can I say? Fasten your seat-belts , go through the more hard scientific passages of the book with patience and will , and allow yourself sometime at the end to digest his ideas… it may well change the way you see the world.

Recommended !

Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory.
He worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Clare College. He was then Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India. From 2005 to 2010 he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick project. , funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. ( Notes from his website )More about him at http://www.sheldrake.org/homepage.html
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