“To fit perfectly a man needs a woman, a woman needs a man. They are polar opposites, and that polarity is needed. It is just as if you are trying to create electricity without polar opposites, without positive and negative.”
If liberation could be attained simply by having intercourse with a śakti then all living beings in the world would be liberated just by having intercourse with women.
In the wake of some of my posts discussing approaches to gender in a variety of Indian contexts, I’ve been engaged in some thought-provoking correspondence. One correspondent recently commented – “don’t you find that traditional tantra is well, really heteronormative?” Continue reading »
All of us inherit sets of rules and scripts about how we think we should behave and who we should be in relationships. Such beliefs often have their genesis in our families of origin, the cultural trends we imbibe and the shaping provided by our own experience and emerging sense of identity. In the process of trying to make sense of the pain and dislocation that many of us experience in seeking closeness and relationship, it can be tempting to “buy into” a set of apparent certainties. Recent trends in self-help literature have tried to make of the confusion by playing “The Game”, “The Rules” or by mapping gender difference according to planetary allegiance. While I can understand the impulse of such books in trying to find a cure to what ills us, I must confess to being highly unconvinced by their over-simplicity and gender stereotyping. Continue reading »
“Energy” is one of those words which has to do a great deal of work. It has become something of a generic term that gets used in multiple contexts, sometimes to the extent where any exercise/experience which gives rise to sensations or emotions is attributed to an impersonal ‘energy’ being present, moving, flowing, or being blocked, trapped, or stored. Continue reading »
“Star and nerve-tissue are parts of the system-stellar and nervous forces are correlated. Nay more; sensation awakens thought and kindles emotion, so that this wondrous dynamic chain binds into living unity the realms of matter and mind through measureless amplitudes of space and time.”
Edward Youmans, 1869, The Correlation and Conservation of Force
This post will examine the arrival of thermodynamics in the nineteenth century and consider its wider cultural impact – in particular how it was used to reinforce gender regimes. Continue reading »
In my last post in this series I examined the relationship between spiritualism and the rapid growth of communications technology in the nineteenth century. This time round, I’m going to focus on the notion of “female passivity” in terms of Spiritualism, and its relationship to wider cultural discourses of the period. Just as spiritualism took off at the same time as the rise of the telegraph, it also was contemporaneous with the growing tensions over women’s role and influence – the so-called “Woman Question”. Continue reading »
In the early part of the nineteenth century, electricity was thought to be the force most likely to prove the existence of the elan vitale or life force of Naturalphilosophie. Schelling, at the turn of the century, for example, proposed that heat, light, magnetism and electricity were all byproducts of a single universal life force. The arising of electrical models allowed polarities to be discovered within organisms – and between discrete classes of persons. Thus maleness or masculinity was assigned to the positive pole, and femininity to the negative. The gendering of electricity and energy continued in the nineteenth century, particularly in respect to medical theories and the notion of “nervous energy”, and the rise in popularity of Spiritualism. Continue reading »
You asked about how a gay person can celebrate Beltane, as it’s about fertility.
It is such a standard image, no? Beltane being about the God and Goddess having sex or marrying. She in her long hair and coy long-legged femininity. He always tall, muscular, strong, looking conventionally masculine, holding her a loving embrace. I too attended rituals celebrating their happy union. And at midsummer, they stood together, a couple with their child, born from their Beltane coupling. Like you, I heard this described as fertility. And it did seem logical. Continue reading »
“In taste, in learning, wit or science,
Still kindred souls demand alliance:
Each in the other joys to find
The image answering to his mind.
But sparks electric only strike
On souls electrical alike;
The flash of intellect expires,
Unless it meet congenial fires.”
Hannah More, The Bas Blue 1786
For this series of posts on the theme of polarity discourse, I’m going to focus on representations of polarity which make an appeal to forces – to electricity, magnetism, etc. Continue reading »