"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Guess I Was Always a Strange Little Girl; or You Know What They Say About Good Intentions

A Few Small Nips. Frida Kahlo, 1935. Oil on metal. 38 x 48.2 cm. Dolores Olmedo Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico.

Sometimes we as human beings are our own worst enemies.

Sometimes, we think that if we are only good and patient, strong and determined---if we are these things, we will prevail against conditions that are not positive or healthy.

When we make this contract with ourselves and with the condition that we find ourselves occupying, we begin the process of losing control: we've turned against ourselves.

And so it begins: we paint ourselves into a corner.
That's where violence waits.
Shame is most obliging in keeping us there.
(It's only a few small nips: who are we to say otherwise? )
(Remember that the sky isn't really blue?)

It is good at biding its time; in fact, that is what ensures its success---sure and complete.


Some of us have never been lucky.
I've grown tired of waiting. I've fashioned my own luck. Now:
I'm one of the lucky ones.
Who are you?
And what sort of world do you wish to live in?
(Let's tell it like it is and live it as if it's already here.)


The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

A few small nips at the bottle - a few small nips at the body, a few small nips of the conscience leafing to...

Pelicano said...

Damned right you are! :-D

neroli said...

Artist, my friend, you're absolutely right: and those nips on the conscience cut both ways.
My conscience suffered greatly for a long, long while---how could I have been so stupid? How could I have allowed this situation as the conditions for BG's childhood?

Perhaps even sometimes it nips deeper into those who were the nipped: I don't think the man in the Kahlo or X were ever remorseful for the violence, the control.
Shameful. That's what I felt.
It takes a leap of faith to step out of that picture.
Yet it's that leap of faith that is also the gravity that keeps one framed in: because the leap often requires more resources than one can believe is available...

Dear Pel, right back at you :-)
I count my lucky stars every day!

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Hi, That was supposed to say leading to - but leafing to is a nice metaphor (or a not so nice one really!) I think the abuser's remorse is part of what keeps us from leaving, that and the desire to believe that things can change and people can change, (They can change and we can change - it is all so convoluted and complex!)

neroli said...

Artist, oh my goodness, you're absolutely right---and thank you for bringing this point up.
I'm seeing I wasn't clear in my language...and so I'm glad for you, my friend.
I guess that I think X was remorseful---yet I don't believe that it was remorse over the violence that he firmly believed was necessary, or, at the very least, a manifestation of his circumstances much like a dislike of a food as an adult that was always forced upon one as a child...
He was remorseful that my reactions were not yielding the desired response to his communication
(and I write this with the operating basic that behavior is a form of communication: one that is that individual's best effort at a successful outcome)
But then, I've come to accept that X was particularly ill...
but the cycle of behavior still holds true---that belief that Things Will Change If I'm Only Good Enough....

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