- Created on Thursday, 25 June 2015 08:57
- Category: BEYOND BORDERS
The feeling that they are more important to mother than father makes them feel that they are wonderful, and since they are already grown up and need not do anything to establish their greatness because - and as long as - mother loves them ... Erich Fromm
By Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
Asoka Handagama's controversial movie Aksharaya discusses one of the bitter and hidden issues of the society which is generally termed as incest. Although the movie received a major criticism and viewed via Sinhala Buddhist and Victorian moral spectacles the incestuous relations were discussed in the Jathaka Stories as well as in the Holy Bible. Incest has been documented in most civilizations. As a matter of fact its prevailing in the contemporary society hidden inside the walls. Unfortunately this topic is not discussed scientifically or otherwise and many feel uncomfortable to talk about it.
Incest refers to any sexual activity between close relatives often within the immediate family irrespective of the ages of the participants and irrespective of their consent , that is illegally or socially taboo. Incest is considered as the oldest crime.
The Jathaka stories reveals an incestuous attempt in Seggu Jathaka. As the story goes a father takes his young and beautiful daughter to the forest to check his daughter's sexual purity. The Holy Bible describes father – daughter incest in the story of Lot and how his two daughters got their father drunk on wine and engaged in sexual intercourse.
Although incest aversion is normally adduced to a specialized cognitive module which regraded as imprinting mechanism incest could be found in most of the societies. Some studies show that incest between father and daughter is the most common kind of incest.
Asoka Handagama one of the outstanding film directors of our time boldly deals with this sensitive topic. As the film narrates the female magistrate who was deeply traumatized following the tragic death of her mother and the incestuous relationship between her father franticly attached to her 12 year old son. Both father and daughter are known for their outstanding manipulative skills, which contribute to their ability to keep their relationship inside the closet but confused, and self-blaming. Eventually the father becomes emotionally numbed and sexually non reactive towards his wife / daughter.
There have been many scientific studies based on incestuous relationships and its psychological repercussions. Based on the studies done by Joseph D. LaBarbera Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee, characteristic of families in which father-daughter incest occurs to women's sex-role functioning and attitudes toward heterosexual interactions changes drastically. The results show that a sexualized father-daughter relationship was correlated with negative male traits (e.g., arrogance), low levels of positive female traits (emotionality), and negative attitudes toward male sexuality and female competitiveness. The above mentioned features could be compared with the female magistrate of Aksharaya who was unhappily trapped in a traumatic relationship with her own father.
Aksharaya describes the incestuous relationship in a semi artistic form that could be compared with Sylvia Plath’s “The Beekeeper’s Daughter. The emotional relationship between the Supreme Court Judge (father ) and the Magistrate (daughter) is somewhat different from the Electra Complex which is depicted by the American female poet Sylvia Plath’s “The Beekeeper’s Daughter. But in the mean time both families carry their tormented memories. The relationship between the daughter and a father who occupy an important position in their traumatic childhood and has a profound influence on their present life owing to the intrusion of the father image . In other words it could be described as distorted Electra complex. ( according to Freudian Psychoanalytic theory female's psycho sexual development involves a sexual attachment to her father, and is analogous to a boy's attachment to his mother that forms the basis of the Oedipus complex). Hence Aksharaya narrates the distorted Electra complex that was never discussed in the history of Sinhala Cinema.
In psychoanalytic theory, the psychosexual development of children between the ages of three and five is characterized by incestuous desires toward the parent of the opposite sex. Aksharaya touches both father / daughter , mother / son incestuous connections. The work of John Bowlby on the development of the infant's attachment to his parents in the second half of the first year reflects the fruitfulness of an integration of psychoanalytic insights. The Magistrate's 12 year old son who is psycho sexually immature highly fascinated by his mothers breasts. Mothers extended breastfeeding and over attachment creates a pathological bonding.
The Magistrate and her son posses introverted pathological attachment which could be explained by Melanie Klein's Object Relation Theory. The Object relations theory emphasizes interpersonal relations, primarily in the family and especially between mother and child. The"object-relations" refers to the self-structure that is internalized in early childhood, which functions as a blueprint for establishing and maintaining future relationships. The Magistrate's 12 year old boy was in a stage which could be expressed as relationship seeking rather than pleasure seeking. His psychological dysfunction is an expression of being stuck at a stage of development and unable to mature further evolves in to aggression.
As the theory of Object Relations explains dysfunctional and symptomatic behaviors are really an immature attempt to resolve early traumas. The child lacks emotional maturity, he is in a state of "identity diffusion" and lacks the ego strength necessary to form and maintain healthy relationships. His maladaptive relational pattern leads to a deep insecurity. In the movie the child repeatedly asks his mother's permission to play rugby. This could be an attempt to seek of masculine identity. The killing of the prostitute is the metaphor , a dramatic transformation and establishing his masculine footprint.
Freud wrote that every boy has an Oedipus Complex - every boy represses his sexual desire for his mother and his jealousy toward his father and experiences emotional conflicts. But the magistrate's son goes a few steps further. He is a victim of a condition so called “Mother fixation” and obsess about his mother ,demands devotion - not just love , shows jealousy, anxiety and insecurity and acts like a narcissist.
The infant-mother relationship is pivotal to the child's emerging personality. Freud stated that for the baby, his mother is "unique, without parallel, laid down unalterably for a whole lifetime, as the first and strongest love object and as the prototype of all later love relations for both sexes." The early care giving relationship influences the child's developing cognitive ability, shapes his capacity to modulate affect, teaches him to empathize with the feelings of others, and even determines the shape and functioning of his brain. As Dr Peter Fonagy writes (Pathological attachments and Therapeutic Action ) There is overwhelming pressure on the child to develop a representation for internal states. Within the bio-psycho-social attachment system the child seeks out aspects of the environment contingently related to his self-expressions. Failing to find his current state mirrored, the child is likely to internalize the mother’s actual state as part of his or her own self structure. The child incorporates into his nascent self-structure a representation of the other.
Mother-son incest may be involved in the pathogenesis of a particular subtype of narcissistic personality disorder. Male patients with this disorder have a grandiose view of themselves as entitled to occupy a special position with others, combined with a paranoid tendency to anticipate imminent betrayal. The enormous guilt related to perceived oedipal transgressions leads these patients to fear retaliation from an enraged, vindictive, and castrating father at any moment. (Glen O. Gabbard – The Role of Mother Son Incest in the Pathogenesis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder)
Through out the movie , Aksharaya implies the erogenous erotic component for the mother during breast-feeding. The maternal seduction which occurred through breastfeeding reverberates. A traumatized woman who was trapped in an incestuous relationship does not want to consider her son as an independent unit. A woman who was deprived of a healthy sexual relationship derives psycho sexual satisfaction via her biological unit – the son.
This caused a paradox. A dichotomy has always existed between the breast as a nourishing object and the breast as an erotic object. In 1900 Freud wrote that "at the woman's breast love and hunger meet." For the breast satisfies both the alimentary and the sexual impulses. The nipple is a sexual object throughout Freudian meta psychology. So Aksharaya is no exception.
The film portrays psycho-sexual traumas within an upper middle class Sri Lankan family who were tormented by their past present and future. Father , mother and the son are affected by the extreme experiences of victimization and are associated with maladaptive and inflexible personality traits. The family members have enduring patterns of instability in relationships, goals, values, and mood which eventually leads to a catastrophe.
Posted by Trans Sylvania at 11:21 AM
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- Created on Thursday, 25 June 2015 08:48
- Category: BEYOND BORDERS
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was one of the most profound and influential philosophers. Nietzsche, exerts a powerful and enduring influence over modern thought. Nietzsche's writings contain many ideas and concepts such as perspectivism, the will to power, master-slave morality, the death of God, the Übermensch (Overman) and eternal recurrence. He gave many insights into the human character.
Nietzsche’s work relentlessly undermines the elevation of ‘literal’ over ‘metaphorical’ truth. He argues that we cannot privilege literal or ‘pure’ truth over metaphor because truth is itself a metaphor that has been invented to lend authority to particular forms of thought and styles of living. He argues repeatedly, for example, that the ‘truths’ of religious teaching are really dominant perspectives upon the meaning of human experience employed to establish the prestige of a community’s way of life (Spinks, 2003).
Nietzsche challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He proclaimed himself as an "intellectual Nebuchadnezzar," -one who, despite his hostility to religion, serves God's purposes by the depth of his ideas. Although he was critical of a number of religions Nietzsche saw Buddhism as a more realistic religion. According to Antoine Panaïoti the author of Nietzsche and Buddhist Philosophy points out that there is a subtle relationship between Nietzsche's Philosophy and Buddhism.
Nietzsche mainly read Buddhism through Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer was influenced by Indian religious texts and later claimed that Buddhism was the "best of all possible religions. Schopenhauer's ethics which are based on universal compassion for the suffering of others can be compared to the Buddhist ethics of Karuṇā.Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Representation” made profound impact on Nietzsche.
Nietzsche recognized Buddhism as the “most mature expression of life-negation. Nietzsche called Buddha “that profound physiologist" and his teachings less a religion than a “kind of hygiene. Also he stated that Buddhism is a religion for the closing, over wearied stages of civilization.
Friedrich Nietzsche believed that nothing more than nature exists. As a Naturalists he did not believe in the supernatural. Therefore divinity is not a viable option for him. His Naturalistic world views included atheism, scientism, secular humanism, existentialism and nihilism. Nietzsche was of the view that if man is in need of salvation, he will have to save himself. Buddhism promotes this idea.
Buddhism and Nietzschean philosophy do not deny that the world is characterized by impermanence and illusion. Nietzsche declared the death of God. Nietzsche's credo "God is dead" served as a declaration for the nineteenth century, it became a theological diagnosis. He recognized Buddhism as an atheist religion. As described by Nietzsche goal of life should be to find one’s self. True maturity means discovering or creating an identity for one’s self. Overcoming feelings of guilt is an important step to mental health.As a human centered religion Buddhism does not deny these ideas.
Buddhism and Nietzschean philosophy saw emptiness in the human condition. At the center of existence there is a void. This void is the result of the insubstantial nature of life, and the aggregates (Ratanakul, 2004). According to Buddhist philosophy emptiness (Śūnyatā) is a realized achievement. Nietzsche accepthed the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna’s (ca. A.D. 150- 250) concept of śūnyatā, or "emptiness,"
The Buddha identified craving (tanha) as the cause of suffering. Nietzsche clearly rails against the pursuit of pleasure where pleasure is understood as a particular sensation marked by the absence of any pain or discomfort. He, for instance, describes Epicurus, who conceived of pleasure (ataraxia) as the absence of all physical and mental discomfort, as “representing a state in which one is neither sick nor well, neither alive nor dead. For Nietzsche, pleasure cannot be divorced from pain, rather, they are “twins” (Urstad, 2010).
The Buddha stated that "Life is Suffering". In Buddhism the word suffering (dukkha) has a deep philosophical and existential meaning. In the Buddhist perspective life is characterized by three important traits: conditionality (cause and effect), impermanence, and insubstantiality. Everything is impermanent and changeable therefore suffering exists. It is a universal phenomenon. Schopenhauer's view that "suffering is the direct and immediate object of life. We are ironically attached to suffering Nietzsche once stated. Both Nietzsche and the Buddhists take the view that suffering and happiness are inextricably linked (Priest, 2007).
Friedrich Nietzsche wanted to answer the reasons for human suffering. Nietzsche's arguments concur that human beings are supposed to undergo suffering. Does human suffering have meaning? The existential realization of the universality of suffering lies at the core of the Buddha’s teaching. He praised Buddhism for setting out to treat 'suffering as opposed to 'sin', but believed the treatment itself represented a surrender of life, and ultimately a weaker response to the human condition than his own. Nietzsche's interpretation of Buddhism is a life-negating philosophy that seeks to escape an existence dominated by suffering.
Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music, first published in German in 1872, occupies a curious position in the development of his thought (Spinks, 2003). In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche celebrated the dueling forces of reason and emotion as personified by the ancient Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus. In Greek mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of reason and the rational, while Dionysus is the god of the irrational and chaos. The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche began to grapple with the "horror of individual existence.
In his work the Gay Science (first published in 1882) Nietzsche posed a question: Has existence any meaning at all? In The Gay Science, Nietzsche experiments with the notion of power (Kaufmann, 1974). In Buddhism, the primary purpose of life is to end suffering and it has become the central meaning.
Nietzsche's Zarathustra and the Buddhist Bodhisattva concept have some similarities. Zarathustra left his home and the lake and went into the mountains.and has found contentment and enlightenment during his time alone. During this time period Zarathustra has been transformed. Zarathustra advocates a self-asserting individualism. Nietzsche’s prophet Zarathustra is intended to be a model for the modern mind, one free of superstitions inflicted by antiquated religious dogma.
Nietzsche claimed that Jesus' death on the cross symbolized the beginnings of a "Buddhistic peace movement He praised Buddhism for setting out to treat 'suffering'as opposed to 'sin. Nietzsche wrote that knowledge and strength are greater virtues than humility and submission. However he saw nihilism associated with Buddhism. Nietzsche stated that the Buddhism contains nihilistic” belief system. Nietzsche's concept such as will to power do not harmonize with Buddhism. In addition Nietzsche accepted Schopenhauer's depiction of the will to live and the need to overcome the animalistic tendencies inherent in the instincts.
The Will to Power Nietzsche describes nihilism as ‘ambiguous’ in that it can be symptomatic of either strength or weakness. Nietzsche claims that nihilism is a necessary step in the transition to a revaluation of all values. Passive nihilism is characterized by a weak will, and active nihilism by a strong will. Nietzsche emphasizes that nihilism is merely a means to an end, and not an end in itself (Vered Arnon). According to Nietzsche a nihilist is a man who judges that the real world ought not to be, and that the world as it ought to be does not exist.
Elman (1983) stated that the accusation that Buddhism is pessimistic and nihilistic has been made since Europeans-first came into contact with India. He further states that Max Miiller made this a principal theme in his studies of Buddhism, and this view is still widely held today.
The Buddha rejected both extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Buddha believed that nihilist view of existence is considered false because it is based on incomplete understanding of reality. Buddha did not teach annihilation after death. Nihilism and emptiness have two different meanings. Nihilism means that nothing really exists and emptiness means that nothing has independent existence.Nietzsche saw nihilism as the outcome of repeated frustrations in the search for meaning. He diagnosed nihilism as a latent presence within the very foundations of European culture.
Moad (2004) pointed out that Nietzsche's interpretation of Buddhism as a life-negating philosophy that seeks to escape an existence dominated by suffering. According to Nietzsche, Buddhism can be described as an effort, through restraint from action, to escape suffering and pass into absolute non-existence.both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer greatly misunderstood Buddhism by interpreting Nirvana as non-existence.
In the Pali canon, the two most famous descriptions of Nirvana both refer to "the unborn," where "neither this world nor the other, nor coming, going or standing, neither death nor birth, nor sense-objects are to be found. Nirvana, however, cannot be described as existing, not existing, both existing and not, or neither existing nor not.
Nirvana for the Buddhist is not an escape from the world, as western commentators on Nietzsche have continued to argue. In order to make it possible to experience Nirvma, one begins with an investigation into the suffering inherent in life, but the quest does not end with this important insight. The experience of Nirvma is not based on a question of pessimism or optimism. One overcomes pleasure and pain, pessimism and optimism, before beginning a mindful examination of one's self and reality as perceived by the self. Therefore Nietzsche, as well as Schopenhauer, entertained inaccurate views of Buddhism (Elman, 1983).
Friedrich Nietzsche could not identify the main essences Buddhism and also he missed the humane part of the Christianity. At the end Nietzsche said : There is perhaps nothing so admirable in Christianity and Buddhism as their art of teaching even the lowest to elevate themselves by piety to a seemingly higher order of things, and thereby to retain their satisfaction with the actual world in which they find it difficult enough to live - this very difficulty being necessary.
Baird, R.M. (1987).Nietzsche: An intellectual Nebuchadnezzar.J Relig Health. 26(3):245-50.
Elman, B. A. (1983). Nietzsche and Buddhism. Journal of the History of Ideas, 44(4). 671–686.
George, D.R. (2013).Shooting at the sun god Apollo': the Apollonian-Dionysian balance of the TimeSlips Storytelling Project. J Med Humanit. 34(3):399-403.
Hutton, K. (2014). Compassion in Schopenhauer and Śāntideva. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Vol. 21.
Kaufmann, W (1974). Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, Princeton University Press
Mate,G.(2009).In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.Vintage Canada.
Moad, O.E.(2004). Dukkha, Inaction, and Nirvana: Suffering, Weariness, and Death? A look at Nietzsche's Criticisms of Buddhist Philosophy.The Philosopher 92 (1).
Moss DM .(2010).Nietzche's echo--a dialogue with Thomas Altizer. J Relig Health. ;49(1):118-37.
Panaïoti, A.(2013).Nietzsche and Buddhist Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Priest, S. (2007). Nietzsche and Zen. Retrieved from http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/1375/Nietzsche_and_Zen.pdf
Ratanakul, P.(2004). Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 14., 141-146.
Roberts, M.(2008).Facilitating recovery by making sense of suffering: a Nietzschean perspective. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. ;15(9):743-8.
Spinks, L.(2003). Friedrich Nietzsche.Routledge.
Urstad, K.(2010).Nietzsche and Callicles on Happiness, Pleasure, and Power. KRITIKE VOLUME FOUR NUMBER TWO.133-141
Wilkes, J. (2000). The psychology of compassion. An analysis of the 100th anniversary of the death of Fredrich Nietzsche. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol.; 50(6):255-8.
- Created on Monday, 08 June 2015 21:43
- Category: BEYOND BORDERS
The Limo that JFK was riding in when he was assassinated
In 1988 I went to Minsk – the capital city of Belarus to find some facts about Lee Harvey Oswald who was believed to be the lone gunman in JFK Assassination. It had been 25 years after the President John F Kennedy‘s assassination. The Minsk had almost forgotten the American defector who lived in their city. No one talked about him. Moreover the Soviet people had no interest in the JFK saga and they had other things to worry about. Perestroika and economic changes have caused dramatic changes in their lives. People were anxious about market economy and other reforms that rapidly changed the Soviet society.
It was mid January and temperature was about minus sixteen degrees Celsius. My Polish winter coat did not fully help me to fight the Russian winter that defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Field-Marshal Friedrich Paulus. The cold wind was terrible and it was piercing through my bones.
Near the Minsk train station (Vokzal Minsk) I took a taxi cab- a black color Volga which was popularly known as the Russian Mercedes. The taxi driver was a middle aged man who knew the city of Minsk like the back of his hand. Where to? He asked in a polite manner. I immediately noticed his Belorussian accent. I did not know my destination. It was a frantic effort to look for someone who lived in this city some 26 years ago. I had no address, only had a name: Mr. Lee Harvey Oswald.
I need to find the apartment that Lee Harvey Oswald lived many years ago I told the taxi driver. Who? He asked with a surprise. I explained him again, Lee Harvey Oswald the guy who killed the president of the United States of America. The taxi driver had no clue about LeeHarvey Oswald. But he knew who JFK was. So we reached a Police Officer. I posed the same question to him. Instead of answering my question he checked my documents. I was a medical student on my winter vacation and I had obtained a visa to travel to West Germany. My documents were in proper order. So he returned my documents.
The policemen looked dumb and he had no intention of helping us. The weather was becoming bad and heavy snow fall made me nervous. I had to meet someone who knew the city’s history. Nothing came to my mind. I was about to give up the Oswald mission. But suddenly I decided to go to a museum and meet a curator or someone. I asked the diver to go to the Belarusian National Arts Museum. At the museum I met an elderly gentleman who was a journalist. He had worked for the Literaturnaya Gazeta many years ago.
When I told him about Lee Harvey Oswald he knew who he was. Da Da Amarikanez he replied. The old journalist gave us directions. Oswald had lived in an apartment building near the Svisloch River.
After driving through heavy snow blizzard we reached our destination. It was an old apartment building with a gloomy look. He lived on the 3rd floor. This was the place where that well-known Lee Harvey Oswald had once lived. The weather was bad and we saw no one on the street. There were no sign boards or plaque. The city had forgotten its ignominious adopted son. This place could have been a major tourist attraction. But the city officials wanted to maintain a low profile on Oswald. May be he was an embarrassment to the Soviet officials.
Despite heavy snow fall we spent a few minutes there. I imagined how Oswald and his Russian wife Marina walked through these streets. To me Oswald was not a hero, but an enigma. I could smell him near that old apartment building. Something was in that atmosphere which I could not explain. May be I was superstitious. Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? An unstable insignificant man who changed the modern history?
I went back to the Minsk train station to take a train to go to Kishinev – Moldavian Republic. I tried to forget Oswald completely and concentrate on my exams. But he was in my thoughts. After many years in 2002 this trip inspired me to write a book on JFK. It was the first book about JFK in Sinhala language. The book was titled John F Kennedy Jevithaya Ha Maranaya (JFK Life and Death) published by the Wijesuriya Grantha Kendraya. In 2010 I went to the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn Michigan and saw the ill fated limousine -Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible in which JFK was riding in Dallas.
Now fifty years have passed after the JFK assassination. Still we know little about the assassination and many conspiracy theories are circulating. Who killed John F Kennedy? Did Lee Harvey Oswald pull the trigger? Still there are no satisfactory answers. There are many gaps and unanswered questions.
Lee Harvey Oswald lived in the Soviet Union from October 1959 to June 1962. During this time period Nikita Khrushchev was the head of the state. After his defection to the USSR Oswald was given a job in a Radio factory in Minsk – Belorussia. There he met a Russian girl named Marina whose uncle was a KGB officer. Oswald fell in love with Marina and they got married. He lived in Minsk until 1962.
Lee Harvey Oswald
Oswald claimed that he was a Marxist -Leninist. But he knew very little about Marxism. According to Peter Savodnik- Lee Harvey Oswald biographer his defection was more psychological than ideological. The Soviets expected Lee Harvey Oswald to help in their propaganda effort against the West. But Oswald did not participate in propaganda work.
Some argue that after Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the Soviet Union the KGB found numerous secrets related to the U2 spy plane. In 1960 a Soviet surface to air missile shot down a U2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers. This incident jeopardized the peace talks between the USA and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
To Oswald life in Minsk was becoming monotonous. He was not happy with his life and he decided to come back to USA. Some reports indicate that after coming back to the United States he was involved in Free Cuba Committee which was an anti-Castro organization. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco Oswald became furious and determined to kill the President Kennedy.
Minsk apartment where Kennedy assassin Oswald lived three years
On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was killed by a sniper in Dallas, Texas. The Police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for the crime. While being escorted to the Dallas County Jail Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Oswald succumbed to his gun shot injuries. He was 24 years old. Oswald was buried in Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park Fort Worth Texas. Oswald’s mother, his wife Marina and 22 months old daughter June attend the funeral.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s remains were exhumed in October 1981 following speculations made by a group of people. They claimed that a Soviet spy was buried in place of Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave. Finally the family members gave their consent to open the grave. Oswald’s widow Marina Porter Oswald was present at the exhumation. The remains were examined by a team of Pathologists. They compared Oswald’s dental records and found a positive dental identification. The team leader Dr Linda Norton pronounced that the individual buried under the name of Lee Harvey Oswald in Rose Hill cemetery was in fact Lee Harvey Oswald.
Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
- Created on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 21:50
- Category: BEYOND BORDERS
I think we should all throw bras more often.
Let me explain:
My friend Amanda is a rock star. And I don’t just mean, “My friend Amanda is a badass” — although she is — I mean she’s the lead singer of a band. She wears little gold shorts and sings under hot stage lights and stays up way past my bedtime on a regular basis.
Back when she was talking about starting her band, I said, “Well, you’ll know you’ve made it when fans are throwing their underwear at you onstage.” That was my way of saying, “I believe in you, and I think you will be wildly successful, and I hope you remember that the most important thing is not how much money you make or if you even make money at all or if you play to a sold-out crowd or if you get famous but that you are making such awesome music that people feel the need to express their super-enthusiasm in wild and crazy ways. Because if you’re making yourself and other people that happy, then you are a bonafide rock star.”
SO… when the time came for Amanda’s first big show, I elbowed my way up to the front of the crowd, waited for just the right song (I think it was a cover of Candy by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson), and — thWHAP! — flung my bra onstage. Without missing a note, Amanda grabbed it and hung it on the mic stand, where it stayed for the rest of the show.
Fast-forward a couple of years:
A few days ago, I went to do a book signing party at an art gallery in Atlanta. It was great. Lots of old friends and new friends and Penguins with People Problems fans. And then, while I was happily scribbling my name on the cover page of someone’s book — thWHAP! — I got hit in the head with a bra.
The very same one.
My friend Amanda had saved that tacky zebra-striped thing (don’t judge me; it’s comfortable and smooth under shirts) and brought it to the gallery. “NOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR!” she yelled when I pulled it off my face.
I think most of the other people at that event thought something very weird had just happened, but I was delighted. It will always be one of the most meaningful moments in this wacky little book experience.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Brassiere
So I say unto you: Go forth and sling a bra at someone — even if only metaphorically. In fact, metaphorically might be better. It’s probably safer in most situations if you don’t launch your underthings at others, especially if you’re at work. I don’t want to get anyone fired. Can you imagine? “Hey Jim, why’d you get canned?” / “Well, I threw a bra at my boss.” / “Damn, Jim, you brainless acorn. That was a poor decision.” What a disaster. Anyway — here’s a badge you can download and share instead of your actual underwear:
Who deserves one of these today?
So how ’bout everybody find somebody who is rocking it right now and toss them some love? Show them that what they’re doing makes you so happy that you’ve turned into a crazy groupie who throws lingerie.
Maybe one day they’ll throw it back at you.
- Created on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 00:50
- Category: BEYOND BORDERS
I met Michele in January 1991 for the first time, when I came to assume duties at the Patents Office in Canberra. At the time, The Torture Rehabilitation and Network Services ACT, which was renamed Companion House in Year 2000, was located at the Griffin Centre in Civic. A mutual friend, Marina Prasad,introduced me to Michele as a Sri Lankan in exile, who sought political asylum while working in Japan. Michele and I had a little chat about the work they do and I had an instant attachment to the cause. Since then, I had a very close association with TRANSACT until I left Canberra in 2004 and Michele had become a very close family friend of ours.Read more...