The burning man

Check out this video.

This is a good song, I rather like it. But there is also something else to ponder: the role of fire, men, and women.

The male is burning and yearning for the female.

I’m burnin’
‘cos you set my soul on fire
Girl, I dont know what I’ll do
‘Cos I’m burnin’
I’m burnin’
I’m burnin’ with desire

This is a romantic, well established picture, Werther all over again, only in a lesser degree.

Of course there are aspects of power as well, and competition.

The runner is fast so that he can win the prize. Men try to “run” in so many ways to win the woman-prize. Woman is attractive, that is magnetic. She draws the man to herself, as a lodestone. This is training and tradition: Of course we men turn around after her in the street , and of course she doesn’t turn around after us.

But if woman is a magnet, what then is man? Maybe electric. He does not draw; he emits, radiates. But in these times with confused and mixed-up gender roles the Electric Man cannot be taken for granted.

It is noteworthy that there is much talk about the Strong Woman, but not much or anything about the Strong Man. Yes, we have the cliche of the strong silent type, but it seems to be mostly something literary or cinematographic.

The man, if he is to embody Yang or at least have a fair share of Yang (masculinity) balancing Yin, needs electricity. There are many kinds. One man is electric in practical matters, or he is a “doer” or a “thinker”. Or a knight (not necessarily errant).

The knights around King Arthur seem to me to embody a rare and valuable Yin-Yang balance.

But is the electric man a “burning man”, as in the song?

Many romantically inclined men (“stupid men” some call them) are burning and yearning. The imbalance is that while generally men have retained a lot of romantic images about politeness (paying the check, holding up doors, letting women and children take the lifeboats, etc.) and courtship, few women are fair damsels nowadays. My impression is that after a certain age only a very small number of women are romantic, “burning”: they get rid of these tendencies and quickly turn practical and pragmatic.

Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men. (G.K. Chesterton)

Women have moved on. Women’s Lib has changed the picture radically. I would say that women in the West are living in the present much more than men, who hold on to older images and patterns of behavior. Some men even tramp around in the swamp of Courtly Love.

This, women don’t necessarily mind, because it gives them advantages. They can be at the same time emancipated à la Spice Girls AND be treated as frail porcelain figures.

So the temptation for many women is the ethical part. Can they admit that they hold lots of power — more or less (in)visible — over men? And that this also counts in the balance, not only equal pay and other materialistic matters? Men are materialistic enough, don’t imitate us in that respect, ladies.

Men have admitted to countless faults and sins, among them (according to some feminists) having destroyed nature, the environment and generally created all the problems and mayhem in the world. That’s some burden on our shoulders.

The problem in a way boils down to the following questions: Do we work as a team, support each other and share the responsibility? Are we in this together, or are we opponents? In short: Peace or war?

The burning man (burning for women) is not very balanced or peaceful. It can be called “dynamic”, but it is so in an old-fashioned, out-of-sync way. Tactical, invisible female control over men (emotionally and sexually) is not peaceful either.

The battle of the sexes — an unbalanced “balance of power” — is still in the air. Even more so after the finger-pointing, polarizing tension and social media war declaration of #MeToo. #MeToo has led to a couple of male suicides, which is hardly a sign of a progressing peace process.

My Christmas Video

I have just uploaded a video to YouTube. It should have been posted earlier (recorded already on 1-st of December).

It is a reflection if not encompassing then at least touching on many aspects of my peace research.

  • The movement from neutral Agon (which, it now seems, can also be tied to the cosmic Lila) to Antagonism and Agony.
  • Our enjoyment of conflict and war seeds. (This factor is an enormous hurdle and obstacle to peace. What we enjoy seems benign; why should we give it up…?)
  • The problematic nature of feminism and the nowadays taken for granted, more or less totally accepted role of anger, aggression and verbal violence in it.
  • That wondrous event in WWI, the Christmas Truce that now looks like a gift, given to us who were not even born then as an example of Possible Peace in the midst of Actual War.
  • The role or Air and Music in relation to peace. This is easy to nod “yes” to, but harder to really comprehend. Music moving from one trench to the enemy trench can help to visualize the dynamic.
  • The need for gender peace in the picture of (inter)national peace.  I hear nothing about gender in peace discussions, apart from the common clichés, often couched in feminist terminology. This is hard to swallow, but the peaceful aspiration of some/many (not all) forms of feminism is in question.
  • The concept of “enemism” presented here is imperfect but can help to clarify at least certain things. Namely that our thinking, actions, and not least ideologies often rely on a polarization where the Enemy (Antagonist, Adversary, Foe) is the most important figure. Without him, the war, animosity and aggression would stop. There is thus an actual (but seldom admitted) NEED for an enemy, who is almost our raison d’être.

Actually quite a lot of threads to follow and think through.

I hope the video reaches peace walkers, folks  who really put peace above “rights”. You can be a fighter for rights (not least your own) and still be stuck in, work in, feel in and think inside an egoistical, blaming, win-lose, Your loss-My gain (&v.v.) paradigm.

Peace needs to be win-win (as music making in essence is). That’s why we have so much to learn about peace by studying music.

Merry Christmas all!

War seeds: bones of contention

So what is it that hinders peace between men and women?

One answer is that deep down, if we dare to admit it, we rather enjoy fighting. It’s FUN to water war seeds, to quarrel, debate, criticize, accuse, shout and point finger!

A more detailed answer would be that we have a number of sensitive points on which we disagree, bones of contention.

Bone of contention: a subject or issue over which there is continuing disagreement.

I will list a number of these points, these gender disharmonies, if you will. (The Male Gaze, Structural Oppression, etc.) Maybe we can dissolve them in a balanced manner with some musical harmonielehre.

The Christmas Truce

In 1914, in the Big War (WWI), around Christmas, something wondrous happened.

Soldiers in enemy camps very close to each other put down their weapons. For a few moments the war stopped and peace reigned. Enemy soldiers shook hands, joked, played football, exchanged Christmas presents, as if to say “This is not really OUR war…”

And what started this? Music! Christmas carols. Another sign that music, in contrast to economy, religion, politics and even philosophy, is an agent of peace.

If I would have been a soldier there and then I would have thought: WE are not each others enemies. War comes from the inability of politicians to joke, play football and exchange presents. And the best present to anyone is to really listen to them.

Here a most touching video about the Christmas truce. I hold that it contains higher energy of a rare, peaceful kind. Some people feel it, and cry.

All that was in 1914.

Now it is soon Christmas 2017. The viral campaign of #MeToo is part of our current gender war. Is it possible to have a gender truce as well? To lay down our weapons (our very harsh words) and to play football, exchange kind thoughts with each other, to converse, not debate, quarrel and accuse? Maybe even give each other presents?

It is my hope that we can. If German and British soldiers who’s job it was to kill each other could, maybe men and women also can.

Merry Christmas!

Our shadows

By “shadow” I here mean our dark side, what Stevenson portrayed as Mr Hyde, as distinct from Dr Jekyll.

Everybody casts a different shadow, as individuals and as groups.

We men have been invited to look at our shadow for a long time now. Many of us have accepted the invitation, sometimes even too much, resulting in a self-destructive self-image, unjustly negative. Some men have internalized the accusations of being potential rapists and potential pedophiles even though they have absolutely no leanings in that direction.

This could be called male dis-empowerment. However, such word are too oppositional and polarizing. They don’t lead to peace.

What I think is important now is to share, not the limelight but the cellar darkness. The shadow needs to be looked at, by both sexes. Both sex’s shadows.

So I will write a few texts about the female shadow, the dark, unethical side of womankind. Not as a way to get even, to be as hateful as Solanas or other “radical” (violent) feminists. But because it takes two to tango, because we are in this together. Peace is not the job of just one party.

The difficulty of this undertaking should not be (and probably isn’t) underestimated. The courageous Esther Vilar talked a lot about shadows in her book The Manipulated Man, with the result that she was physical assaulted by “sisters”.

That is of course very sad, but to an extent understandable if not forgivable. She expressed herself very directly in a way that almost invited kneejerk reflexes. Still she needs to be read.

So, with all the love, tolerance and paxosophical good-will I can muster, I will soon write about Mrs Hyde.


The (im)possibility of it all

Norah Vincent lived one and a half year pretending to be a man (Ned), in order to understand the world of men.

During this time she/he, among other things, dated women. Here’s a quote from her book “Self-made man”.

My excruciating dates … were often alienating and grating enough to make me wonder whether getting men and women together amicably on a permanent basis wasn’t at times like brokering Middle East peace.

I believe we are that different in agenda, in expression, in outlook, in nature, so much so that I can’t help almost believing after having been Ned, that we live in parallel worlds, that there is at bottom really no such thing as that mystical unifying creature we call a human being, but only male human beings and female human beings, as separate as sects.

This is sad. At the same time it is heartening that somebody “infiltrated” the male camp to see how life tastes over here.

Maybe peace and understanding is not possible, but that is a poor reason not to aim for it. Failure can be a noble thing. At least it shows that you have tried.