Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Brahmacharya of a Hedonist.

This statement, although seemingly paradoxical, reflects of what seems to be going through my being most of the time of late.  Ascetism is far too strong an expression, hence Brahmacharya seemed more in keeping.  It's a good way to excuse the current repression I am feeling at the moment, and for the most part, keeping to.  This, however is no bad thing, even if at times it leads to insurmountable frustration on my part at times, it is better than simply "making do" and selling oneself short, an easy way out or escape for most.

Despite feeling that my emotional intelligence is somewhat sapped of its lifeblood at the moment, it is not easy to determine whether this is due to external forces bearing down or whether it is internal.  It feels almost like a Trappist existence at times, yet there is little or no need to be loquacious at the moment, or if there is, there has to be some raison d'être behind such a state.  Admittedly, I used to be the first to feel the need to talk to cover up awkward silences rather than sit there contemplation and reflection when in the company of others, or another.  I feel that my mindset has changed, I enjoy conversation with like-minded individuals, verbal foreplay if you will, rather than have to listen and/or reply.  I have become more and more accustomed to my own company, no longer prepared to settle for mere mediocrity to fill in a void.  Abstinence and a Johannite lifestyle admittedly would probably be rather harsh; my skin would be too sensitive for camel hair (I can't even wear black cotton), and I don't feel especially partial to the haute cuisine diet of locusts and honey.  I also need my books around me to escape into, be it to read or to discover something new.  Would I be allowed a library in my desert cave?  Which leads on to the hedonism of my being.

People probably wouldn't see me as being a hedonist, certainly not in the obtuse manner that is screamingly evident in the conduct of others.  In some ways, I guess, I would be seen as far too sensible for such an attitude.  Yet deep within me there does lurk that inner need and the ribald pleasure one can derive from such moments.  Most of the time, I believe, such pleasure is not obvious nor evident.  For me, trivial though it might seem, simple delights can seem like hedonism when compared to the rest of my rather mundane being.  It can be seeing new books on or in my shelves, it can appreciating the taste of something delicious, or it can lying in bed on a sunny afternoon and touching, caressing, savoring the company and intimacy with someone one can appreciate, enjoy for their company and all that it entails as much as their being.  Yet for me, such hedonism is rare, yet perhaps, when it happens, that is what makes it all the more exquisite.  From time to time the apple of temptation is offered my way, more often than not I do not bite into it, simply because I know that were I to bite into it, it would have a bitter, vile taste, or I would end up munching upon a mouthful of maggots, more than sweet pulpy apple, beneath its shiny surface.  Either that or Temptation simply presents herself in the most undesirable of forms, and either makes my insides feel revulsion, abhorrence, or disdain.
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Temptation: Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Boethius has his heroine, Lady Philosophy explain hedonism:- 

"Some men believe that the highest good is to lack nothing, and so they are at pains to possess abundant riches. Others consider the true good to be that which is most worthy of admiration, and so they strive to attain to places of honour, and to be held by their fellow-citizens in honour thereby. Some determine that the highest good lies in the highest power; and so they either desire to reign themselves, or try to cleave to those who do reign. Others think that renown is the greatest good, and they therefore hasten to make a famous name by the arts of peace or of war. But more than all measure the fruit of good by pleasure and enjoyment, and these think that the happiest man is abandoned to pleasure."

Though Lady Philosophy is ultimately condemning such sentiment, one cannot help but turn the condemnation on its head and see the point behind such thoughts.  We are not talking a Utopian ideal here, espoused by Thomas More and which, to the modern man might seem to almost communist in nature.

"There is no reason for giving a denial to any person, since there is such plenty of everything among them; and there is no danger of a man's asking for more than he needs; they have no inducements to do this, since they are sure that they shall always be supplied.  It is the fear of want that makes any of the whole race of animals either greedy or ravenous; but besides fear, there is in man a pride that makes him fancy it a particular glory to excel others in pomp and excess. But by the laws of the Utopians, there is no room for this."

My current and previous frustrations, I guess, lie from a yearning or internal desire to be decadent yet to neither act upon it nor be willing to accept the consequences thereof.  So as a result such thoughts, fantasies and their ilk remain for the most part lodged within my head and tend to mutate and be released as frustration, implicit or explicit, evident or hidden.  These took on many different kinds, shapes, forms - yet generally they remain internalized and I allow them to build up; yet it is the obvious frustrations, mostly over and at the inadequacies or misconduct of others, certainly over and above those of my desires and yearnings, that when they are let loose, take the shape and form of pent up anger and rage.  Fortunately, owing to my pacific personality these displays are rare, but they have been known to surface from time to time when the screaming in my head has got too much.  This was most evident in 2010-11 when my frustration manifested itself as stress and that caused more harm to me than those to blame or those in my immediate environment.  Yet when it did manifest itself as rage, it was greeted with disbelief and/or condemnation by those concerned, for the fact that until then I had not expressed my thoughts and feelings sooner and more vocally!!  

As a result of becoming so internalized in how I feel, it means that most everything else has become remote, seemingly elsewhere and hidden from view.  Not just the negativity, the pain, the angst and the frustration but also most of that which is positive.  Being inherently rather introverted has only accentuated this and made more reluctant, partially out of diplomacy, to express such thoughts and feelings.  These thoughts and feelings include love, desire, affection and in certain cases reflect positive self worth and qualities.  This is not an emotional hijab.  Part of it is fear of being misunderstood and rejection, but, in addition it is because everything has become so entrenched in my being, it feels like pulling a screaming mandrake from the deep soil, each and every time.  So why make my ears, as well as those of others, suffer each and every time?

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