Jan 2, 2011
Didn't mean to leave you hanging . . . .
So, first and foremost, Brenda, BobG, Farmchick, Pierre, Ken, Jeff M, Susan, anonymous, Barbaro—and others?—I think I have found, posted, and tried to respond to your comments from the last three weeks or so. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I think see how to prevent it in the future. Thank you for your patience, and please don’t hesitate to email me at “firstname.lastname@example.org” if I ever seem to be ignoring you again.
Now back to everyone’s favorite topic, One’s Way of Being in the World. One more reason it fascinates me, I think, is that we presume for ourselves a lot of free will, maybe more in the U.S. than in other parts of the world. We are the children of Sartre; some of us even believe we chose to be born. With the notable exception of religious fundamentalists, it’s been awhile since it was fashionable to speak of destiny or fatalism.
Compared to most other parts of the world, we have political freedom, and we figure, apparently, that this translates into psychological or philosophical freedom, or freedom in planning a business, or personal finances, or diet and exercise, or selection of a career, or selection of a mate. “Billy, you can be anything you want to be. This is America.”
Evidence accumulates concerning brain chemistry, genetics and DNA; it seems to support the notion that “biology is destiny,” but we don’t like accepting limits on what we can do or become (or spend). We are 21st century Americans, still saving the world for democracy and Walmart, still living the dream.
The lady in purple is “The Communicant,” by Gari Melchers, around 1900.
A quarter-century earlier, Renoir gives us “Woman in an Armchair” (below, left). I’m imagining Lady Purple telling her shrink about her dyspepsia, insomnia, headaches, and anxiety attacks. Dr. Frood hands her an 8 x 10 postcard of Renoir’s woman in an armchair and says, “Here, be her. If you'll just change everything, your symptoms will vanish, and you will be happy.”
Can she do it? Should she try?
How much change can she impose upon her current Way of Being in the World? How would you guide and support her, step by step in the process of her transfiguration?