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DigitalDjigit
15-10-2004, 04:14 PM
Anyone have any recommendation on books on the subject? Fiction or non-fiction as long as it is interesting. I am thinking along the lines of those bits in "Snowcrash" by Bruce Sterling that talk about Sumerian mythology. So I am not looking for a dry account of the beliefs of Sumerians for example but a description of a possible reality behind them.

Another book from the non-fiction realm is "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond which deals in some scientific speculation backed up by archaelogical and biological research on the reasons why some people reached civilization and conquered the world.

A book that is somewhere between fiction and non-fiction that deals with the topic is the whole "Ishmael" series by Daniel Quinn. While a bit cheesy it has some good parts. I especially enjoed the part where he speculates on the events that inspired the biblical story of Kain and Abel (Kain symbolises the pastoral semitic people while Abel is their agricultural civilized neighbours, the whole story is propaganda against the pastoral way of life. pardon me if I butchered it).

Another book is "Generation P" by Viktor Pelevin. I think it is called "Homo Zapienz" in the English translation. I haven't read it in English so I don't know how the world play and the observations it makes carry over but it also has a bit near the end about Babylon and how advertisers worship Ishtar or some such thing. I cannot remember so I am reading it again.

So please talk about any books that talk about this.

sufi
15-10-2004, 07:34 PM
The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer (http://gutenberg.net/etext/3623)

Lamplighter
19-10-2004, 05:59 AM
Snowcrash is by Neal Stephenson, innit? I read it a couple of weeks ago, thought it was pretty good., especially the Sumerian stuff. Funny, too. It's probably not really what you're after, but Maxine Sheets-Johnstone's The Roots of Thinking has some interesting stuff on Paleolithic culture. It's an attempt to fuse physical anthropology with cultural theory and hermeneutics; there's a chapter on 'The Conceptual Origin of Death', and a lot of stuff on cave art in relation to cognitive development. As far as novels go, you might want to try The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat. It doesn't really go into detail, but it conveys this amazing sense of the sheer weight of centuries of history and mythology, pressing down onto the present.

Grievous Angel
19-10-2004, 09:55 AM
On the matriarchal pre-history / patriarchal history tip, you can't beat Merlin Stone's When God Was A Woman, backed up by Monica Sjoo's The Great Cosmic Mother. Some of this material has been critiqued heavily recently -- if you see a mention of "nine million victims of the witch trials" just skip the chapter -- but not all of it is. Merlin's alright though. Also check out Max Deshu's website.

Similarly avoid Margaret Murray until you've been innoculated. It's fiction dressed up as archaeology and somewhat pernicious, but very pretty.

For a compelling half-mystical analysis of pre-historic culture and science you should check out some John Michell, At The Centre of the Word and 12 Tribe Nations, and maybe some Paul Devereux for landscape stuff, Haunted Land perhaps.

originaldrum
19-10-2004, 10:27 AM
wanna read about what the ye olde chinese were up too

Gavin Menzies - 1421: The year the Chinese discovered the world

DigitalDjigit
19-10-2004, 05:06 PM
Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling...whatever. I forget which is which. Yeah, Snowcrash is probably Neal Stephenson because Sterling is much more serious.

shaun L
19-10-2004, 10:37 PM
I reckon that there is an interesting window on prehistory thats opened by a parallell reading of Riane Estler's 'The Chalice and the Blade', Terrence McKenna's 'Food of the Gods' and erm the book of the C4 series 'Secrets of the stone age'

Any one on its own would be fine... with the exception of 'secrets...' which now suffers from the retrospective blight of the more recent 'Secrets of Barbarians' C4 banalothon.
All three of them have big narratives to wrest from the murk of the stone age... and I think reading them in paralell helped me to avoid being too heavily indoctrinated by any one perspective.... in particular Riane Estler's focus on gender related power structures gives a balance to Terrence McKenna's interest in a mushroom fuelled psychedelic utopia situated in Ice Age North Africa.

&catherine
25-10-2004, 02:11 AM
Georges Bataille is by no means a necessarily agreeable figure as far as his theory goes, but his book on the huge collection of prehistoric art (cave painting) found at Lascaux in France is just incredible to read. This is as much due to the subject matter as Bataille's style. His book on eroticism takes place on a very similar theoretical bent, but again Bataille draws on very rich subject matter (he was a librarian by training and seems to demonstrate the breadth of a librarian's interests - he was particularly 'in to' the anthropological work of Marcel Mauss and Roger Caillois, which seems to have been big in France at the time).

So, those books again:

Georges Bataille, Lascaux, or the Birth of Art
Georges Bataille, Eroticism

titan
27-10-2004, 06:03 PM
check out the wriitings on this website -

http://www.new-tradition.org

there is a very interesting chapter on egyptian horoscopes but the whole site blew me away. always wondered why the chronology of history as taught at school confused the hell out of me.

interested to know what you all think...

zhao
18-06-2009, 03:38 PM
bump

Sick Boy
18-06-2009, 04:43 PM
Edith Hamilton has done really good renditions of Ancient Greek and Roman myths. She also provides a lot of context and lineage without getting too arcane or having too strong of a theoretical agenda.

Bertrand Russell's sections on Ancient Greek Philosophy in History of Western Philosophy are also well researched and informative from a purely historical standpoint. He is also enjoyable to read and occasionally very funny. It's also a good jump off point because he references a few people who have written books on more specific aspects of ancient civilization.

I often resort to The Usbourne Book of World History that I received on my 9th birthday as well. Brief, as you'd imagine, but there are a lot of nice pictures.

Mr. Tea
19-06-2009, 12:01 AM
I often resort to The Usbourne Book of World History that I received on my 9th birthday as well. Brief, as you'd imagine

Oh come on, you're not that old... ;)

I've got Julian Cope's The Modern Antiquarian, which I really like. It just focuses on Britain, but much of what he writes in the first section of the book could probably be applied in a more general way to any pre-urban, monument-building ancient civilisation. Much of it is highly speculative, and there's no shortage of Roman-bashing and Church-bashing, but crucially it doesn't pretend to be either serious scholarship or a non-partisan analysis of clashing cultures.

The second half of the book is a gazetteer of megalithic sites throughout Britain, accompanied by photographs and charmingly hand-drawn maps. Oh, and it's got poems scattered throughout. :) Clearly a labour of love, which I quite like about it too.

Sick Boy
19-06-2009, 02:16 PM
What is a history book without pictures and maps? That's what I want to know. I think the answer is: an inferior history book.

Mr. Tea
19-06-2009, 03:18 PM
What is a history book without pictures and maps? That's what I want to know. I think the answer is: an inferior history book.

Well of course!

I was just picking up the unintended implication that there wasn't much world history back when you were 9. But yeah, I think I had that book too, Usborne was (is?) a great kids' publisher.

Sick Boy
19-06-2009, 04:00 PM
Well of course!

I was just picking up the unintended implication that there wasn't much world history back when you were 9. But yeah, I think I had that book too, Usborne was (is?) a great kids' publisher.

I learnt what fucking was from an Usbourne book. No lie.

zhao
20-06-2009, 06:38 AM
been meaning to read this for ages. going to do it this year:

http://photosynthesis.com/images-titles/V576-99.jpeg


I
n this groundbreaking book, Leonard Shlain, author of the bestselling Art & Physics, proposes that the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture. Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one. This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy's early stages, the decline of women's political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed.

Shlain contrasts the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing. The first book written in an alphabet was the Old Testament and its most important passage was the Ten Commandments. The first two reject of any goddess influence and ban any form of representative art.

The love of Mary, Chivalry, and courtly love arose during the illiterate Dark Ages and plummeted after the invention of the printing press in the Renaissance. The Protestant attack on holy images and Mary followed, as did ferocious religious wars and neurotic witch-hunts. The benefits of literacy are obvious; this gripping narrative explores its dark side, tallying previously unrecognized costs.

Shlain goes on to describe the colossal shift he calls the Iconic Revolution, that began in the 19th century. The invention of photography and the discovery of electromagnetism combined to bring us film, television, computers, and graphic advertising; all of which are based on images. Shlain foresees that increasing reliance on right brain pattern recognition instead of left brain linear sequence will move culture toward equilibrium between the two hemispheres, between masculine and feminine, between word and image. A provocative, disturbing, yet inspiring read, this book is filled with startling historical anecdotes and compelling ideas. It is a paradigm shattering work that will transform your view of history and mind.

massrock
20-06-2009, 10:32 AM
Intriguing.

Obviously Mcluhan goes on about this sort of thing, how media remake us, though with a slightly different focus. I think he saw the really big rupture as being the printing press.

Erik Davis in Techgnosis touches on those themes as well IIRC.

Mr. Tea's joke was a bit obscure but funny.

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 01:01 PM
"Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one."

Does this kind of thought still hold any water in modern psychology (edit: let alone neurology) circles, though? I can imagine nomad having a field day on this...

Edit: thanks massrock, it's nice to know someone appreciates my work. ;)

zhao
20-06-2009, 04:32 PM
"Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one."

Does this kind of thought still hold any water in modern psychology circles, though? I can imagine nomad having a field day on this...

yeah i'm not entirely sure. what IS the last word on the left brain right brain thing?

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 04:45 PM
yeah i'm not entirely sure. what IS the last word on the left brain right brain thing?

Neuroscientists have pretty much rubbished the idea, since most activities require complex engagement of both hemispheres of the brain. There's an article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-ledoux/why-the-right-brain-idea_b_206156.html

zhao
20-06-2009, 05:08 PM
Neuroscientists have pretty much rubbished the idea, since most activities require complex engagement of both hemispheres of the brain. There's an article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-ledoux/why-the-right-brain-idea_b_206156.html

i thought as much.

but if one just substitutes "left/right" with "rational and calculating faculties part / imaginative and intuitive part", it still makes sense, right?

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 05:13 PM
I write rock/pop songs about how mind and brain work, and sing these with my band The Amygdaloids, in part as a way of informing people about brain research in a novel way through music (but still striving for scientific accuracy).

Hahaha, nerdgasm!



but if one just substitutes "left/right" with "rational and calculating faculties part / imaginative and intuitive part", it still makes sense, right?

But Shlain's thesis seems to be that one of these is an inherently 'male' way of thinking, the other, inherently 'female'. Which is much more problematic (without even going into whether literacy privileges one way of thinking over the other). I know plenty of women who'd be incensed to learn that their pretty little girly brains are inherently predisposed to thinking in emotional, intuitive terms and not at all cut out for the hurly-burly of masculine rational thought.

Anyway, this male = verbal, female = visual dichotomy doesn't even stand up to a cursory examination. Don't educational experts generally agree that women tend to be better than men at verbal comprehension, just as men are better at spatial reasoning? And in terms of what men and women like in erotica, it's usually said that men prefer visual stimuli while women like stuff to read or listen to (hence: men look at porn, women read dirty novels).

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 07:25 PM
But Shlain's thesis seems to be that one of these is an inherently 'male' way of thinking, the other, inherently 'female'. Which is much more problematic (without even going into whether literacy privileges one way of thinking over the other). I know plenty of women who'd be incensed to learn that their pretty little girly brains are inherently predisposed to thinking in emotional, intuitive terms and not at all cut out for the hurly-burly of masculine rational thought.

Anyway, this male = verbal, female = visual dichotomy doesn't even stand up to a cursory examination. Don't educational experts generally agree that women tend to be better than men at verbal comprehension, just as men are better at spatial reasoning? And in terms of what men and women like in terms of erotica, it's usually said that men prefer visual stimuli while women like stuff to read or listen to (hence: men look at porn, women read dirty novels).

Yeah, and on top of this, the jury's still out on whether these traits are entirely the result of endocrinological differences between men and women, or whether cultural conditioning plays a role. There's lots of evidence to suggest that cultural conditioning factors into what we can measure as "female" and "male" traits.

Conflating "verbal" with "rational" is also quite a leap.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 07:27 PM
i thought as much.

but if one just substitutes "left/right" with "rational and calculating faculties part / imaginative and intuitive part", it still makes sense, right?

No, because these holistic faculties aren't associated with "parts" of the brain. Your entire brain is responsible for "rational" thought, but it's also at times imaginative or intuitive.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 07:32 PM
This book:

http://civilbrights.net/static/a/54/50/bicameral.jpg

is nuts.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 07:44 PM
Is that a book? Or just a website?

massrock
20-06-2009, 07:49 PM
I think j meant this.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

http://www.erikweijers.nl/pages/translations/psychology/the-origin-of-consciousness.php

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 08:14 PM
Well, Jayne has a point, from an evolutionary point of view. Jayne is also not making a strange binary opposition, he's hypothesizing about how consciousness and language probably came into being simultaneously.

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 08:15 PM
Yeah, and on top of this, the jury's still out on whether these traits are entirely the result of endocrinological differences between men and women, or whether cultural conditioning plays a role. There's lots of evidence to suggest that cultural conditioning factors into what we can measure as "female" and "male" traits.


I think this is begging the question a bit, though. Why would there be an assumption that there are "male" and "female" traits, or indeed differentiated gender roles generally, of not for some degree of inborn psychological (and therefore neurological/endocrinological) differences between men and women? I mean, human brains, or at any rate pre-human mammalian brains, have existed for millions of years before the advent of any human culture. Has there ever been a society that does not distinguish, in some way or another, between gender roles?

Note that this is a very far cry from there simply being a "linear, rational, male" way and a "holistic (whatever that means), intuitive, female" way of thinking - I think it's far more subtle and complex than that. But then, this is just my intuition, so it's probably best taken with a pinch of salt...

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:10 PM
I think this is begging the question a bit, though. Why would there be an assumption that there are "male" and "female" traits, or indeed differentiated gender roles generally, of not for some degree of inborn psychological (and therefore neurological/endocrinological) differences between men and women? I mean, human brains, or at any rate pre-human mammalian brains, have existed for millions of years before the advent of any human culture. Has there ever been a society that does not distinguish, in some way or another, between gender roles?

Note that this is a very far cry from there simply being a "linear, rational, male" way and a "holistic (whatever that means), intuitive, female" way of thinking - I think it's far more subtle and complex than that. But then, this is just my intuition, so it's probably best taken with a pinch of salt...

Right...so even the "hardwired" endocrinological-neurological differences are, ultimately, the result of the different "roles" men and women had to fulfill in order to survive. That doesn't mean these don't exist, just that they aren't handed down from God in the Garden of Eden. They are the result of millions of years of evolution and therefore subject to change/variation/variability.

Edit: So, really, a lot of our "male" and "female" traits were around before we became homo sapiens (and even before we became mammals--there are male and female bacteria ffs). And then they changed after we became homo sapiens. Our secondary sex characteristics, for example, (which includes our relative hairlessness, breasts, larger penis, etc) are very pronounced compared to those of other primates.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 09:16 PM
relative hairlessness, breasts, larger penis...

I think I saw that in a personal ad once.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:24 PM
ha

Well it's the truth. Humans have stupidly huge breasts and penises. We have sex drives that are a little out of proportion with our own ability to procreate. We're the bimbos of the animal kingdom. Except we also think we're really smart.

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 09:26 PM
Yes, it could be a continuous feedback loop, couldn't it? Phenotypical and instinctive-behavioural traits will have an influence on learned behaviour (ultimately becoming codified into 'culture'), which will influence survival and reproductive fitness, which affects the genetic make-up of a breeding population, which determines phenotypes and instinctive behaviours; meanwhile culture carries on evolving according to its own selection criteria.

I think it's really cool that 'culture' has been observed in non-human (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070323104642.htm) primates (http://www.livescience.com/animals/060228_ape_culture.html).

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:28 PM
Yes, it could be a continuous feedback loop, couldn't it? Phenotypical and instinctive-behavioural traits will have an influence on learned behaviour (ultimately becoming codified into 'culture'), which will influence survival and reproductive fitness, which affects the genetic make-up of a breeding population, which determines phenotypes and instinctive behaviours; meanwhile culture carries on evolving according to its own selection criteria.

I think it's really cool that 'culture' has been observed in non-human (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070323104642.htm) primates (http://www.livescience.com/animals/060228_ape_culture.html).

Have you read about biosemiotics yet? Basically, everything in the natural world is encoded or structured something like a language, with information flows everywhere in nature right down to DNA/RNA and all the way up to the most meta- macro levels you can imagine.

Those news items make me excited to be going into a biology program. Even though I just registered and I'll have 25 hours of class per week. With two 3 hour labs :slanted:

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 09:30 PM
ha

Well it's the truth. Humans have stupidly huge breasts and penises. We have sex drives that are a little out of proportion with our own ability to procreate. We're the bimbos of the animal kingdom. Except we also think we're really smart.

Heh, nice one Josef.

Yeah, I even heard a hypothesis to explain the apparently unique shape of the human penis, which is that it's an adaptation to scoop out the semen of a female's previous partner, thus to improve the likelihood of the (ahem) newcomer's own semen impregnating her. Which just goes to show that what utter evolutionary sluts we all are.

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 09:35 PM
Have you read about biosemiotics yet? Basically, everything in the natural world is encoded or structured something like a language, with information flows everywhere in nature right down to DNA/RNA and all the way up to the most meta- macro levels you can imagine.

Those news items make me excited to be going into a biology program. Even though I just registered and I'll have 25 hours of class per week. With two 3 hour labs :slanted:

Not in so many words, although it sounds something like Dawkins' 'memetics' hypothesis. Not in the sense of memes simply as ideas or cultural entities, but thinking of genes themselves simply as biochemical instances of memes.

Good luck with your biology classes.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:35 PM
Heh, nice one Josef.

Yeah, I even heard a hypothesis to explain the apparently unique shape of the human penis, which is that it's an adaptation to scoop out the semen of a female's previous partner, thus to improve the likelihood of the (ahem) newcomer's own semen impregnating her. Which just goes to show that what utter evolutionary sluts we all are.

Well, yes, and there are also "blocker" sperm (I can't think of the sports position name for this--) that are meant to go in, and then lie horizontally, which effectively blocks sperm from competing males.

Male sperm swim faster but die more quickly than female sperm, which swim more slowly but live longer. So if you want to have a girl, you should have sex a few days before ovulation--by the time the egg makes it down the tubes, the male sperms are mostly dead and more females are left..

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:39 PM
Good luck with your biology classes.

Thanks. I was going to ask you--which is better, calculus based physics, or the other kind? I have to choose between taking "university physics" or "college physics" next term, and university physics is apparently calculus based. I have to take calculus anyway to graduate, so I'm thinking I could take university physics. The only difference is probably that it's harder than the college section? I'm not sure.

Mr. Tea
20-06-2009, 09:49 PM
TBH, I was unaware there were two 'kinds of physics', in that sense. And TBmoreH, there's not really a great deal of meaningful physics you can do without calculus. If you have to take it anyway, I would think it's much more worthwhile taking "university physics".

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 09:52 PM
TBH, I was unaware there were two 'kinds of physics', in that sense. And TBmoreH, there's not really a great deal of meaningful physics you can do without calculus. If you have to take it anyway, I would think it's much more worthwhile taking "university physics".

Ok, that's what I thought... I'm guessing the "college physics" is just for pre-med majors who don't need to really learn physics, but who need an A on their transcript for med school admissions. Either that, or it's a course for "non-majors" who are doing a bullshit humanities Science, Technology & Society major.

Ahh, the U.S. educational system.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 09:58 PM
So if you want to have a girl, you should have sex a few days before ovulation--by the time the egg makes it down the tubes, the male sperms are mostly dead and more females are left..

That's what the creature who I met through the ad said.

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 10:03 PM
I think this is begging the question a bit, though. Why would there be an assumption that there are "male" and "female" traits, or indeed differentiated gender roles generally, of not for some degree of inborn psychological (and therefore neurological/endocrinological) differences between men and women? I mean, human brains, or at any rate pre-human mammalian brains, have existed for millions of years before the advent of any human culture. Has there ever been a society that does not distinguish, in some way or another, between gender roles?

I have a friend (who in other ways is a good Marxist) that keeps insisting to me that women are fundamentally different, and attributes to them some sort of mystical feminine 'intuition'... it's weird because he always quotes Deleuze at me: 'We don't know what a body can do' and then says stuff like that about women. It really annoys me. My point is usually the same; there are some obvious physical differences - and the major difference is obviously reproductive - but as for any differences in thought patterns, or a female subjectivity radically different from males, we simply don't know, because everything is social. As soon as you're born, there is a defined role that you're scripted towards playing out... who's to say this isn't the main difference that makes a difference as opposed to something biologically intrinsic to the female?

I also usually point out that there are often greater differences between two different men than there are between a given male and female. But then he tells me to read Schopenhauer... like a book written two hundred years ago will prove something!

What about if a guy is on a high estrogen diet? Does he become female if the mode of his thinking changes?

Also another friend that wants to become a transsexual, who keeps insisting to me that he identifies with women more than men, i.e. he thinks he thinks more like a female than a male. And I keep insisting that he can't know if he thinks like a woman, because I'm convinced there's no particular way that women think. Or if there is, how can he know it? How can a woman know if she thinks like other women?

He said that he saw femininity as a mask (of subjectivity) that he could slip on in order to forge a new identity. I've insisted that it might be a new identity, but it won't be a feminine one. The transsexual is a reification of an essentialist notion of femininity as a set of bodily signifiers/codes. She can only be a simulacrum. Hypersignification is the common bodily mode of the transgender, imitation is what it consistently states... (some gay men too).

I'm gradually talking him out of it.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:09 PM
I have a friend (who in other ways is a good Marxist) that keeps insisting to me that women are fundamentally different, and attributes to them some sort of mystical feminine 'intuition'... it's weird because he always quotes Deleuze at me: 'We don't know what a body can do' and then says stuff like that about women. It really annoys me. My point is usually the same; there are some obvious physical differences - and the major difference is obviously reproductive - but as for any differences in thought patterns, or a female subjectivity radically different from males, we simply don't know, because everything is social. As soon as you're born, there is a defined role that you're scripted towards playing out... who's to say this isn't the main difference that makes a difference as opposed to something biologically intrinsic to the female?

I also usually point out that there are often greater differences between two different men than there are between a given male and female. But then he tells me to read Schopenhauer... like a book written two hundred years ago will prove something!

What about if a guy is on a high estrogen diet? Does he become female if the mode of his thinking changes?

Also another friend that wants to become a transsexual, who keeps insisting to me that he identifies with women more than men, i.e. he thinks he thinks more like a female than a male. And I keep insisting that he can't know if he thinks like a woman, because I'm convinced there's no particular way that women think. Or if there is, how can he know it? How can a woman know if she thinks like other women?

He said that he saw femininity as a mask (of subjectivity) that he could slip on in order to forge a new identity. I've insisted that it might be a new identity, but it won't be a feminine one. The transsexual is a reification of an essentialist notion of femininity as a set of bodily signifiers/codes. She can only be a simulacrum. Hypersignification is the common bodily mode of the transgender, imitation is what it consistently states... (some gay men too).

I'm gradually talking him out of it.

For a whole bunch of reasons, I'm no fan of gender reassignment surgery, and I'm skeptical when it comes to hasty diagnoses of gender dysphoria. But as far as gender identity is concerned--who cares whether your friend decides to gender "himself" female, so long as he doesn't make serious, risky medical decisions that he can't reverse? We're all performing gender, to one extent or another.

Just because your friend was born with a penis doesn't mean that he must identify with males or masculinity as this is defined by our culture, or in others, does it? I mean, simply having a penis doesn't make him a man. I think he should do whatever he wants to do. But he should also be made aware of how wrong gender reassignment can go, how expensive it is, and how the data suggests that reassignment is no simple cure for gender dysphoria.

Transsexuality isn't a reification of essentialism, it's a careful dissection of it. It's a reification of gender constructivism. The idea is that gender and biological sex are unrelated phenomena, and that anyone can perform or identify with any gender regardless of biological sex. Current medical technologies make it possible to change the body to match these identifications.

Edit: Also, what makes you think that taking estrogen is going to change the mode of a male's thinking? Just curious...

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:12 PM
Needless to say, there is nothing in Deleuze that suggests gender or sex essentialism, so I have no idea where the hell your first friend is getting this stuff...

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 10:15 PM
I'm not against it in general at all, of course. I just think he's doing for all the wrong reasons. Contrary to what you said: it's precisely because he believes in this fantasy of masculinity and femininity that he wants to get the surgery. He's got these fixed notions of 'girlyness'... He's totally bought into the stereotypical submissive patriarchal view of femininity. I think it's no more than a pornographic invention... one that we should be totally against, not changing ourselves physically to fit within it.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:17 PM
Just because your friend was born with a penis doesn't mean that he must identify with males or masculinity as this is defined by our culture, or in others, does it? I mean, simply having a penis doesn't make him a man. I think he should do whatever he wants to do. But he should also be made aware of how wrong gender reassignment can go, how expensive it is, and how the data suggests that reassignment is no simple cure for gender dysphoria.

So my date said, as we lay in bed afterwards: "You can call me a woman, or you can call me a man. Just call me."

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 10:17 PM
Needless to say, there is nothing in Deleuze that suggests gender or sex essentialism, so I have no idea where the hell your first friend is getting this stuff...

I know. I dunno why he keeps saying it. He thinks it proves his point in some way... then agrees with me that it's exactly the converse of what he thinks it might mean. Then we get drunk again and the whole argument is repeated.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:19 PM
I'm not against it in general at all, of course. I just think he's doing for all the wrong reasons. Contrary to what you said: it's precisely because he believes in this fantasy of masculinity and femininity that he wants to get the surgery. He's got these fixed notions of 'girlyness'... He's totally bought into the stereotypical submissive patriarchal view of femininity. I think it's no more than a pornographic invention... one that we should be totally against, not changing ourselves physically to fit within it.

It's a tough subject. I question why anyone would want to live like that--he must know what kind of torture he'd be opening himself up to.

If I were him I'd start slow. Clubs first. Then try transitioning to transgender, and then I'd try coming out as a pre-op transsexual before I even consider the surgery.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:24 PM
Sounds to me that he's not "girly", he's a submissive. Two different issues right there.

I'm not sure if porn invents things so much as it parasitically lives on and amplifies things that already exist in culture.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:25 PM
Then we get drunk again...

Good idea!

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 10:26 PM
If I were him I'd start slow. Clubs first. Then try transitioning to transgender, and then I'd try coming out as a pre-op transsexual before I even consider the surgery.

That's pretty much what he's doing. He's already wearing a dress and sleeping with men and stuff (he was fully heterosexual before). I understand it's difficult to know where your 'true desire' lies... how do you find a way out of the circle of reflexivity?

In the last email he said: "I mean do I really want to be this chick or is it simply that because she's sexy and I think that's cool I want to be her? cuz its my heterosex that thinks she's sexy"

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 10:39 PM
Edit: Also, what makes you think that taking estrogen is going to change the mode of a male's thinking? Just curious...

Oh. The same friend who wants the surgery was on some really weird high estrogen diet for a while thinking it'd change the way he thinks... he thinks he was a better person while he was on it, but he really tried it because he thought it'd help him to crack the code of 'gayness'. It didn't. This was before the transsexual tip.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:47 PM
There can't be an essential transsexual, if all sexual roles are ultimately socially-constructed.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:48 PM
Wait, you already did that one.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:49 PM
Oh. The same friend who wants the surgery was on some really weird high estrogen diet for a while thinking it'd change the way he thinks... he thinks he was a better person while he was on it, but he really tried it because he thought it'd help him to crack the code of 'gayness'. It didn't. This was before the transsexual tip.

O Lord.


That's pretty much what he's doing. He's already wearing a dress and sleeping with men and stuff (he was fully heterosexual before). I understand it's difficult to know where your 'true desire' lies... how do you find a way out of the circle of reflexivity?

In the last email he said: "I mean do I really want to be this chick or is it simply that because she's sexy and I think that's cool I want to be her? cuz its my heterosex that thinks she's sexy"

He's a heterosexual bottom who is confused about his feelings. He doesn't want to be a woman, he wants to be submissive, and he wants to be in thrall to a female dom.

That's my best guess.

That'll be $150.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:49 PM
Hamlet in Hamletmachine wants to be a woman.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:50 PM
I've never wanted to be a woman. What would it even mean, to be a woman? There are none.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 10:55 PM
Did I ever tell you about the time I was suddenly transformed into a giant cockroach?

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 10:55 PM
Male submissives don't want to be "feminine" in terms of sex essentialism, although they may have no other words to describe their desires because our culture has essentialized submission as a "feminine" desire. So often part of a male sub's ritual submission will involve "sissification", but it's not actually about the being female part, it's about the submission part.

It's clear this friend of yours is sexually attracted to women physically. And this is causing him even more confusion, because it causes him to fetishize and essentialize the "femininity" of submission even further. So he thinks he can't be truly submissively hot unless he has a vagina. Bad idea.

I think his best bet would be to see a dominatrix and do some x-dressing (Edit: and maybe some strap-on play) with them.

Really not a big deal. A lot cheaper than surgery.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 11:01 PM
I've never wanted to be a woman. What would it even mean, to be a woman? There are none.

I know what it's like to be treated like one.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 11:02 PM
A fair point... I've treated women like women. In some situations, it's the right thing to do.

nomadthethird
20-06-2009, 11:08 PM
I hate the whole "return to chivalry" line of crap the market spits up every couple of months.

What women really want is romance and getting married, and someone to open the door for them. :rolleyes:

josef k.
20-06-2009, 11:10 PM
I hate the whole "return to chivalry" line of crap the market spits up every couple of months.

I meant something else.

josef k.
20-06-2009, 11:13 PM
Men need role models, though. It's just a question of which ones they choose to construct their personas. Say, you can pick two out of three:

1) Peter Stringfellow.

2) Arnold Schwarzenegger.

3) Willy Wonka.

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 11:26 PM
It's clear this friend of yours is sexually attracted to women physically. And this is causing him even more confusion, because it causes him to fetishize and essentialize the "femininity" of submission even further. So he thinks he can't be truly submissively hot unless he has a vagina. Bad idea.


Thanks. I've pasted that to him. Although he does say he has dreams where he's a woman all dressed up and stuff, and he does seem to be into men now (and women still I think). Plus some men have become transsexual lesbians haven't they?

four_five_one
20-06-2009, 11:56 PM
My role model was Humphrey Bogart. He taught me a lot about life. How to deal with my emotions and stuff. Fake it 'til you make it...

nomadthethird
21-06-2009, 12:00 AM
My role model was Humphrey Bogart. He taught me a lot about life. How to deal with my emotions and stuff. Fake it 'til you make it...

Classically butch!

What is all of this role model business about? As if women have excellent "role models"? I don't know. I think we all do what we need to do.

josef k.
21-06-2009, 12:02 AM
Anna Karina? Holly Golightly? Marlene Dietrich?

Mr. Tea
21-06-2009, 05:48 AM
Dietrich and Wonka would make the most breathtaking love any human couple has ever known.

four_five_one
22-06-2009, 06:44 PM
What is all of this role model business about? As if women have excellent "role models"? I don't know. I think we all do what we need to do.

I think people try to do what they need to do. But then there's all the stuff we don't need to do, but do anyway. And that's where you need the guiding hand of a role model...

nomadthethird
23-06-2009, 06:39 PM
I always thought that stuff about role models was conservative rhetoric that the media used to prop up racial-racist stereotypes.

You know, like the sort of thing that would be a featured story on 20/20. Columbine: why youth today need role models! or Compton: does hip-hop make kids violent?

When what they really mean is, Columbine: why gun control isn't working and our culture needs an overhaul! or Compton: why capitalism creates ghettos, widens income gaps, and necessitates violence.

josef k.
23-06-2009, 06:51 PM
I always thought that stuff about role models was conservative rhetoric...

When many people say "role models" what they really mean is: authority figures. More broadly defined, the idea of role models is closer to the idea of masks. Or "ideal egos" to use the Lacanian term. The social field is a theater: it wants characters. The relationship between the sexes is performative, and on these grounds role models are opposed maybe to stereotypes. You're not some fool whose read the Game, you're Cary Grant. Or Jesus ("What would Jesus do?"). Or Blade (instrumental in the formation of black-Goth milieus). And so on. Nobody really knows how to be a man or a woman. So you can either imitate Father or find your own source of inspiration. So I think role models are progressive in this sense.

nomadthethird
23-06-2009, 07:09 PM
When many people say "role models" what they really mean is: authority figures. More broadly defined, the idea of role models is closer to the idea of masks. Or "ideal egos" to use the Lacanian term. The social field is a theater: it wants characters. The relationship between the sexes is performative, and on these grounds role models are opposed maybe to stereotypes. You're not some fool whose read the Game, you're Cary Grant. Or Jesus ("What would Jesus do?"). Or Blade (instrumental in the formation of black-Goth milieus). And so on. Nobody really knows how to be a man or a woman. So you can either imitate Father or find your own source of inspiration. So I think role models are progressive in this sense.

Well, I think you make a good point here, but I don't know if role models are "progressive"...it seems that they prop up essentialized notions of sexual difference that do more harm than they do good. If it's all performative, and we are simply to perform gender however we like, then I don't know if going back to Cary Grant is a good idea, since from a deconstructionist perspective his persona is built on a lot of sexist cliches and ultimately on an intrusively masculinist top-heavy binary.

josef k.
23-06-2009, 07:31 PM
Well, I think you make a good point here, but I don't know if role models are "progressive"...it seems that they prop up essentialized notions of sexual difference that do more harm than they do good. If it's all performative, and we are simply to perform gender however we like, then I don't know if going back to Cary Grant is a good idea, since from a deconstructionist perspective his persona is built on a lot of sexist cliches and ultimately on an intrusively masculinist top-heavy binary.

Very true... though I do like the way he interacts with people like Rosalind Russell in the screwball comedies, which seem quite egalitarian to me... far more so than a lot of more apparently contemporary models of sex/seduction.

In general, if you want to perform as a Man, or as a Woman (even if you "are" a Man) you basically need to fake it by imitating some character. There are circumstances in which this kind of role play is desirable... in these situations some contingent "sexism" is unavoidable. When I meet female colleagues I often treat them as if I was a eunuch - shaking their hands in a totally non-sexual and almost weird way. But I wouldn't act towards someone I was attracted to, in a social situation, in the same way. I'd act like a man... whatever that means.

nomadthethird
23-06-2009, 07:45 PM
Very true... though I do like the way he interacts with people like Rosalind Russell in the screwball comedies, which seem quite egalitarian to me... far more so than a lot of more apparently contemporary models of sex/seduction.

In general, if you want to perform as a Man, or as a Woman (even if you "are" a Man) you basically need to fake it by imitating some character. There are circumstances in which this kind of role play is desirable... in these situations some contingent "sexism" is unavoidable. When I meet female colleagues I often treat them as if I was a eunuch - shaking their hands in a totally non-sexual and almost weird way. But I wouldn't act towards someone I was attracted to, in a social situation, in the same way. I'd act like a man... whatever that means.

Well isn't that just a sort of default impulse then? I don't know, I would never say you shouldn't do what seems to work for you, unless you feel conflicted about it. But I can say that having mostly male friends and listening to their relationship woes, it is clear to me that many men tend to overestimate how "manly"-- in the traditional sense-- females would prefer that they act.

When the males I know try to defend this assumption, they usually come up with some mystery archetype of the hot "girl" of today who exemplifies feminist hypocrisy, because she says she wants to be independent but then she marries a doctor/lawyer/professional. And then I explain it might not be about the money, or even the "security" (men love this idea, I've noticed), but that if a woman marries a professional maybe she actually likes him as a person? Enjoys his intelligence? It's probably not about how butch he is, either, but about the fact that he's secure in who he is, knows where he's going in life, is goal-oriented, has problem-solving skills, mature, etc. These are the same things that are attractive in a women, imo. I think part of the downside of the live-together-instead-of-getting-married thing (at least among younger people) is that the woman often ends up taking on a motherly role, or simply replacing mom-- and nobody wants that long-term.

Most of the guys I know who are luckiest in love are ambiguously straight. But this could be a demographic thing, too.

Edit: Also I would say that those screwball comedies present a model of decent and friendly cohabitation, but not really an egalitarian one. It's still based on outmoded sex-based roles.

josef k.
23-06-2009, 08:09 PM
many men tend to overestimate how "manly"-- in the traditional sense-- females would prefer that they act.

There's a distinction between "manly" - in the sense of a traditional role - and "manly" - in the sense of "the form of the man" (whatever that is). Ultimately, everyone is compelled to decide for themselves what a man (or woman) is - the kind of man they want to be, the kind of man they want. And types of men also attract types of women...

I think women still want men to be men, in some sense, though I recognize that it isn't clear what that really means. I find my personality shifts in more-or-less subtle ways depending on my partner (as it does also generally) sometimes more macho, sometimes less macho... in general, it's a negotiation between partners ("You be him and I'll be her") which go back and forth to elaborate roles. The flows of power are interesting.

"Traditional" female roles are quite boring, though I don't come across them too often... actually, I wonder what they are. I find women who also like to be butch sometimes very attractive. It seems to me sustaining the question of "what is a man" and "what is a woman" is important. But ultimately, there is a distinction... not an essential distinction, but maybe a formal distinction.

nomadthethird
23-06-2009, 09:16 PM
I think Baudrillard is good on these points. He says something about 'ego ideals' and the "opposite sex"...basically (I'm paraphrasing) that what a man thinks of as "feminine" is a set of his own qualities that he projects onto woman, and vice versa.

I think what it really means if a woman says she wants "a man to be man' is that she doesn't want to be her boyfriend's mother/parent. That would be my guess. Many males fall into this pattern in relationships where, as soon as they are comfortable with the woman, they start assigning her a role--she shops, makes the food, does the laundry, dusts, picks up after him, etc.-- all of the "taking care of" types of tasks that their mothers did when they were kids. Same is true of women with men; many women aren't looking for a partner they're replacing their father. In that sense, I think people are sort of blindly modeling roles, probably because they're not sure what they want. Guattari is good on these points.

josef k.
24-06-2009, 04:35 PM
I wonder what you make of this statement from Baudrillard:


Feminism has never influenced me a great deal (except in an abreactive sense). It is truly one of the most advanced forms of ressentiment, which consists precisely in falling back on a demand for rights, 'legitimate' and legal recrimination, whereas what is really at stake is symbolic power. And women have never lacked symbolic power.

zhao
25-06-2009, 09:10 AM
Anyway, this male = verbal, female = visual dichotomy doesn't even stand up to a cursory examination.


the jury's still out on whether these traits are entirely the result of endocrinological differences between men and women, or whether cultural conditioning plays a role. There's lots of evidence to suggest that cultural conditioning factors into what we can measure as "female" and "male" traits.

Conflating "verbal" with "rational" is also quite a leap.


these holistic faculties aren't associated with "parts" of the brain. Your entire brain is responsible for "rational" thought, but it's also at times imaginative or intuitive.

i agree with you guys on this. but despite the outdated and plainly false aspects of the book, i still think it worth reading, and might provide some interesting perspectives on our collective initiation into ritual and symbology, and the rise of patriarchy.

Mr. Tea
25-06-2009, 03:38 PM
Of course it could be something as simple as written language forming a concomitant part of a societal organisation revolving around centralised authority - which is inextricable from some form of hierarchy, and the most primitive social dichotomy (edit: other than infant/adult, perhaps) is between the sexes.

And the most primitive way to exert authority over someone is by (threat of) brute force.

And men are generally bigger and stronger than women.

nomadthethird
25-06-2009, 07:39 PM
Of course it could be something as simple as written language forming a concomitant part of a societal organisation revolving around centralised authority - which is inextricable from some form of hierarchy, and the most primitive social dichotomy is between the sexes.

And the most primitive way to exert authority over someone is by (threat of) brute force.

And men are generally bigger and stronger than women.

Yeah, but a lot of the earliest societies were matriarchal. It's really just Judeo-Christianity-Islam (mostly Christianity and Islam) that introduced patriarchy and monotheism (Judaism is NOT monotheistic, it just put its god above the others in the region), and along with it the masculine/feminine binary. Before then, and in other global regions, female deities were being worshipped.

It's funny, isn't it, that for most of human history [edit: but especially in western societies] we've spent all kinds of energy and cultural resources on socially controlling female sexuality, not male sexuality?

Mr. Tea
25-06-2009, 07:43 PM
I think there have been patriarchal societies outside of the J-C-I complex, y'know. China, Japan...?

Also, I think Judaism is monotheistic now, but yes, they acknowledged other gods (henotheism, I think it's called) in the (distant) past.

nomadthethird
25-06-2009, 07:45 PM
I think there have been patriarchal societies outside of the J-C-I complex, y'know.

Foot-binding in Imperial China, anyone?

But foot-binding in China is not evidence that they were under the influence of a patriarchal monotheism. [Although this is how people usually interpret this who can only look at it through the lens of Western binaries.]

While Asian cultures/societies have their own problems when it comes to women's rights, their forms of social and sexual repression have nothing to do with the divine right of teh mens handed down from He-Man Ceiling Cat.

nomadthethird
25-06-2009, 07:47 PM
In fact, footbinding in China is a form of extreme fetishism--fetishism being something Asian societies are uniquely progressive about-- which is simply NOT ALLOWED under Christianity, unless T&A counts as a fetish (and many would agree that it does.)

Oh yeah, and crucifixes/cruciforms/crosses.

nomadthethird
25-06-2009, 08:03 PM
Jesus was really just a Dvaitadvaita Hindu anyway, which its followers claim is 3000-5000 years old. It's kind of funny how he repackaged Eastern mysticism for the consumption of the Roman empire.

(This one's for Zhao.)

Mr. Tea
26-06-2009, 12:07 AM
(This one's for Zhao.)

You two are so made for each other.

Mr. Tea
26-06-2009, 12:14 AM
But foot-binding in China is not evidence that they were under the influence of a patriarchal monotheism. [Although this is how people usually interpret this who can only look at it through the lens of Western binaries.]

While Asian cultures/societies have their own problems when it comes to women's rights, their forms of social and sexual repression have nothing to do with the divine right of teh mens handed down from He-Man Ceiling Cat.

Sure, AFAIK it doesn't have a religious element. Sorry, I must have missed that bit in what you were saying - was looking at the patriarchy bit rather than monotheism.

Edit: I have to say, I can't really see what's so 'progressive' about gradually fucking up a young girl's feet until she can no longer walk. :confused: There's a distinct tang of Orientalism in the air from where I'm sitting...

Edit edit: the Catholic obsession with the Virgin - and her various possible antecedents (Isis, Diana...) - is a fascinating topic in its (her) own right, of course.

nomadthethird
27-06-2009, 03:33 AM
Sure, AFAIK it doesn't have a religious element. Sorry, I must have missed that bit in what you were saying - was looking at the patriarchy bit rather than monotheism.

Edit: I have to say, I can't really see what's so 'progressive' about gradually fucking up a young girl's feet until she can no longer walk. :confused: There's a distinct tang of Orientalism in the air from where I'm sitting...

Edit edit: the Catholic obsession with the Virgin - and her various possible antecedents (Isis, Diana...) - is a fascinating topic in its (her) own right, of course.

There's nothing progressive about footbinding specifically, that's obviously problematic, for very obvious reasons, but how different is binding feet until they are deformed from, say, a corset, which binds torsos until they are deformed? The difference is in degree, rather than in kind.

[When women used to wear corsets everyday, the deformity was actually quite noticeable and marked. The situation then was comparable to the one we're seeing now with breast implants. Implants have changed male expectations regarding breasts, so that what's considered "normal" sized breasts is actually much larger than what you'd see occuring in nature without surgical intervention. When women wore corsets, as it became the norm to see women represented with deformedly narrow rib cages and waists, women were pressured to wear corsets, or the normal/natural women would look freaky.]

There is also a marked difference where the patriarchal context of torso-binding is concerned; being so steeped in "naturalized" heteronorms e.g. the masculine/feminine binary, many Westerners are precluded from being able to see their own fetishism at work (as in the case of a corset, or a high heel, or trousers on men, etc.). Whereas in most Asian societies fetishism is central to sexuality, heterosexual norms, and avowedly so. Fewer Asian people have a problem admitting that their sexuality is fetishistic than Euros/Americans do. See what I mean?

nomadthethird
27-06-2009, 03:46 AM
Women wear bras now--you could say it "deforms" breasts to a certain degree. But it's a fetish, and let's face it, most of us prefer them. I do.

The idea that there's some sort of deeper, more "authentic" way to experience or engage in sexual activities, one where there is no (cultural, object-al, subjective, economic, etc.) mediation, but just "real" feelings that aren't tainted by the outside world, is a very strange and you might say uniquely Christian notion. You're right when you identify this as the place where the purity myth comes from... and of course, who is on the suffering end of that one more often than not?

nomadthethird
27-06-2009, 04:01 AM
I wonder what you make of this statement from Baudrillard:

I disagree with it, but I do understand where he's coming from. I think the sentiment behind the statement applies well to second wave feminism, where the point is that females are only "free" if they become just like men, if sexual difference is denied and negated altogether, and if a strategy of gender apartheid, where the only legitimate option they believe open to feminists is disengagment with the gender other (sex segregation) and denial of the validity of every existing form of sexual expression, is adopted.

I think there's no problem with looking for rights where you can find them. How else does society progress toward an abstract goal or ideal of justice-freedom? Black people would still be slaves in the U.S. if they hadn't been legally freed. They still have a long way to go, of course. But I don't buy into the anti-civic engagement arguments, I think they're completely bogus and lame, and run counter to their own logic/examples 9 times out of 10. If someone has a plan for total transformation of society that makes some kind of sense, I'm open to listening. Until then, the only other option available to us is to change what's here now.

Mr. Tea
27-06-2009, 02:03 PM
I was thinking about corsets (no, not in that way) while I typed that post about foot-binding - yes, both fetishistic, both severely detrimental to health, and I certainly didn't imply that one was AOK while the other was a terrible scourge. Victorian Britain was, after all, pretty much the archetypal patriarchal society. Although symbolically - if not practically - led by a woman, oddly enough.

Edit: "Fewer Asian people have a problem admitting that their sexuality is fetishistic than Euros/Americans do. See what I mean?"

Yes, I do see. That's interesting. Have you come to this conclusion from talking to Asian people about what turns them on, or from a more second-hand source?

nomadthethird
27-06-2009, 09:50 PM
I was thinking about corsets (no, not in that way) while I typed that post about foot-binding - yes, both fetishistic, both severely detrimental to health, and I certainly didn't imply that one was AOK while the other was a terrible scourge. Victorian Britain was, after all, pretty much the archetypal patriarchal society. Although symbolically - if not practically - led by a woman, oddly enough.

Edit: "Fewer Asian people have a problem admitting that their sexuality is fetishistic than Euros/Americans do. See what I mean?"

Yes, I do see. That's interesting. Have you come to this conclusion from talking to Asian people about what turns them on, or from a more second-hand source?

It's not really my observation. It's been observed many times before by anthropologists, sociologists, and others.