wild speculation and psychological wankery

sorabji.com: Why I oughta...: wild speculation and psychological wankery

By Rhiannon on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 01:22 pm:

    I'm home for my mother's birthday.

    Consider this:

    During WWII, a child is born in Italy to an Italian woman and a British soldier. The soldier leaves before the baby is born. The boy is raised in poverty...in a home with no electricity or running water, no heat, so little money or resources that as a "treat" the boy gets butter on his bread once every few months. Birthday and Christmas presents are unthought of.

    The boy is raised by his mother and aunt, who are alledged to be good but cold people. All he knows of his father is his last name. He has a half-brother 9 years older than he whom he meets when he is an adult. He has one friend in his village, and the friend moves away when the boy is 7.

    When he is 10, he is sent to the seminary in Turin, hundreds of miles from his town. He is not informed that he will be moving away from home until the morning that his train is scheduled to leave. In the seminary, he and his classmates are forbidden to make friendships, read anything other than religious books, or do anything else deemed frivolous, which is most things normal children like to do.

    The boy chooses to go to Venezuela as a missionary when he is 16. There, he teaches school-aged children math and Spanish, and he enjoys this very much. When he challenges his church leaders who are claiming to help the area poor but are in reality keeping the allotted funds for themselves, he is asked to leave the seminary.

    He moves to the States, where he lives with a distant cousin. He teaches himself English and attends a local university, where he receives a degree in Spanish. He goes to grad school and meets a woman.

    He courts her and they get married. Soon after the wedding, the courtship behaviours end. He rarely speaks to her, claiming he has nothing left to say. She is unhappy but afraid to be alone, so she resigns herself to a lonely marriage. Six years after the wedding, she gives birth to a daughter. Two years later, she gives birth to a son.

    After nearly thirty years of marriage, the dynamic between the man and the woman has not changed. To their children's eyes, they are less like a husband and wife and more like business associates, or like a boss and a secretary.

    He is a good man: dependable, honest, hard-working, generous with his time and money; he makes many sacrifices for his family; he never breaks a promise. He is glad he chose to have a family rather than stay single; he says as much one night at a dinner party. He is not "loving": he never kisses his wife, he never hugs his children, he rarely has a casual conversation with any of his family members. He experiences a limited range of emotions: he is even-tempered, he is amused, and he is angry...nothing else. He is addicted to pornography. He is a very good teacher. He has child-like behaviours: he watches cartoons, he hums and talks to himself and makes funny noises when he is working or doing chores. When she is 9, he gives his daughter a birthday card that says "I love you, but only when you are good." He has no relationship to speak of with his son.

    My question is one that no one can answer, but I don't want that to stop you from speculating. I want to know if this man is capable or uncapable of experiencing or demonstrating love. Is it the case that this capability was starved out of him when he was younger? Or is it the case that the capability for love is inherent and indestructible in all humans, and that the love is there in this man and he just can't express it?

By Rhiannon on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 01:37 pm:

    Amendment: I'm not saying this man is absolutely incapable of love. I'm saying that his capability is limited. Or is it? So...is it the case that is *is* limited, or is it the case that it's there but it doesn't appear that way?

By droopy on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 02:06 pm:

    it's both. i think. my dad is like that - distant and mechanical in showing affection, more interested in his own life than in other's - but i personally think that that's what he had to do to survive. somebody else might've grown up in the same house as my dad (he was an only child) and been exaggerated in shows of love. a certain selfishness and distance is just worked for my pop.

By Cat on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 05:27 pm:

    Rhi, I want to float a theory that it comes down to the definition of actually expressing love. Often people from a depressed background express their emotion for loved ones by working hard and providing for them...because they see that as the most important thing.

    And if you never knew unconditional love as a child, then perhaps it's like being blind and trying to understand what colours are. In other words, he doesn't even know what he's missing out on.

    My grandmother was very similar. A child of the depression, she had very little room for the luxury of love. But while she seemed cold and distant, she was just unable to express her love. She wanted to be close to me, but something crucial held her back right through her life.

    She was uncomfortable with affection and awkward at important moments...but she showed her love by always being there and by never forgetting a birthday...small signs yes, but they still counted. In the final days before she died, she held onto my hand...and I somehow knew all the things she'd never said.

    I can't offer you hope that your father will change...but just try to understand that he loves you - it's just in his way.

By Rhiannon on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 06:20 pm:

    I know he loves me. I recognize all the tons of little things he does/has done for me as signs of his love. Hell, today he told me that I don't have to pay him back the $420 I owe him. And he's giving me bananas to take back to my apartment. (He has a thing about us eating right...he also gave me vitamins to take with me.) Those are ways he lets me know he loves me. Plus, I never give him any grief, unlike other family members, which leads me to:

    That's not the problem. The problem is that my mother and brother think he doesn't love them. I'm trying to convince them a) he does but just can't show it normally, and/or b) his emotional development was stunted as a child, so you just can't expect the same from him as from otherwise-normally-raised people.

    I need input as to which argument seems more plausible.

    I'm glad that the two of you (droopy and cat) recognize and are patient with the shortcomings of your father and grandmother, respectively, and that you don't hold it against them. I also believe that they and my dad don't know how to be otherwise. I also wish my relatives could do the same and would stop demanding things from my father that he doesn't have to give them. But then I understand where they're coming from, at least in my imagination: I know I would be absolutely miserable married to someone who was incapable of showing affection. And I can see how they think it's not too much to ask to be praised or complimented once in a while.

    I don't know. The whole thing makes me tired.

    I have to go now.

By Isolde on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 07:12 pm:

    sometimes people express their love in funny ways. Maybe your father is one of them. I know my father isn't very emotionally demonstrative.

By Hal on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 08:07 pm:

    Rhi, I'm going to tell you as much about this as I can without crying or realizing my own problems.

    Your father loves you, you already know that, I think that all children know that in some why if their father has that small problem with expressing their love. My father has never acctually said or written I love you, his way of showing it was a good Chistmas once every two years... My father was an ass acctually but what could I do about it be deal with it. About 5 years back I realized why when reading through a long lost diary of my fathers that he wrote when he was about 15...

    My Grandfather apperently was exactly the same way, an asshole who professed his love materialisticly. The realization I came to is: That unless there are some pretty extenuating circumstances people are only capable of expressing love twards their offspring as it has been expressed to them beforehand... An example of this is the woman who's mother does things to her and she say "I'll never be like my mother." and then 30 years later they begin to realize that the way they act is exactly like their mother did...

    I may be way off the beaten path in trying to explain how I view what is happening and what has happened... But maybe not.

By dbonepy on Sunday, September 3, 2000 - 11:21 pm:

    my dad taught me how to drink, and for that i'll always be truly gratefulllllllllll.

    as for understanding his sorry ass, i just wrote about him. not "how i feel about my dad", but using him as a character...see how he works. it makes you have to understand him. you gotta know yer characters.

    that's why i have "patience" for him. that and the fact that his love never meant that much to me, anyway.


By semillama on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 02:48 pm:

    Speaking from my anthropology background, I think that behaviours related to how love is expressed are certainly learned behaviours. From the life description of your father, Rhiannon, he never was even exposed to what we consider normal and desirable expressions of love. (As an aside, no wonder a lot of Catholic priests seem screwed up)

    I think you need to have a serious discussion with the rest of your family about this, and point out hte instances you refer to above that demonstrate how he shows his love. I think the analogy of the blind man is very appropriate to use.

    As for your dad, just because he wasn't raised to show love through physical actions, he probably still needs them. So you and your family might want to try touching him more, giving him hugs, and so on.

By Cat on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 04:16 pm:

    That's really true Sem, my Grandmother wouldn't initiate affection, but she always seemed to like it that I hugged her.

    I was the only one who did that, because the rest of the family were kinda more wary of her. But I'd give her a big warm cuddle and she'd always smile, even though she was a bit awkward about it. I'm glad I did that now she's not around any more.

By Isolde on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 04:20 pm:

    Did anyone grow up on the East Coast? I"m starting to realize that people here are more reserved. I mean, I'm not exactly Ms. Bouncy-Bubbly here, but SHEESH! These people are so....fridgid!

By agatha on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 04:56 pm:

    yep. it's different, no?

By Cat on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 05:25 pm:

    Depends which East Coast you're talking about.

By Isolde on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 07:32 pm:

    Te East Coast of the US. Sorry.

By moonit on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 10:13 pm:

    thats alright.

    just dont let it happen again.

By Isolde on Monday, September 4, 2000 - 11:56 pm:


By Hal on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - 12:51 am:

    I'm a good ole' Montana bred boy... And well shit, everyone out here is too goddamned touchy feely... I feel like smacking them sometimes... Even fucking strangers, I want to hit them the most.

By J on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - 02:19 am:

    I feel your pain.

By patrick on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - 12:34 pm:

    here is my anlysis,

    it's hard to meet folks, mentalitites in eastern cities are more closed, more private,BUT once you do, when you make a connection, they are loyal, friends for life.

    in the west, or LA anyway, i meet TONS of people, every weekend, i meet so many god damn people, whose names all blur.......but it took us a few years to actually make some solid, loyal, dependable friends.

    In LA anyway, people are constantly sizing you up, seeing who you are, and how you can help them.

    Where are you isolde?

    There is a reason, east coasters joke about all the fruits and nuts in california.

By Isolde on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - 12:36 pm:

    I'm in Vermont right now, I just moved.
    I like the openess of the West Coast. I like the people I'm starting to meet here a lot. I've mentioned geek boy a couple of times. He rocks, and has a wierd name like me. So wierd, I can't remember it right now. Damnit. Oh well. Anyway. It's a lot of fun here.

By Isolde on Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - 01:47 pm:

    Hunio. That's it. That's his name. Hunio.

By Hal on Friday, September 8, 2000 - 10:55 am:

    Well a little bit more strange than Shaw (yes thats Shawn without the N) But its not by much...

    No I have a group of coffee friends out here, we all drink pots and pots of coffee a night... Hummm lets see there's:

    Brennis ( thats the fat man )
    Mandy ( probably the only normal name and person )
    And myself, Shaw.

By Pez on Friday, September 8, 2000 - 08:02 pm:

    no, the fruits and nuts are in oregon. 'cause one of my friends works for the harry & david outlet.

    my dad was telling me the other day about how deleware has the most lawyers per capita in the us.

By Suck My Dick on Saturday, September 9, 2000 - 02:59 pm:


By Hal on Saturday, September 9, 2000 - 04:00 pm:

    Again, let us ponder the FUCKING BRILIANCE of "Suck My Dick's" words.......

By Rhiannon on Saturday, September 9, 2000 - 07:25 pm:

    By my house, there is a stop sign upon which someone has graffittied the word "sex." Every time I go through it (coasting, of course, never coming to a complete stop, because there should be no stop sign where a road splits off into a cul-de-sac, for crissakes) I think to myself, "what kind of mongoloid gets off on writing the word 'sex' on a stop sign?"

    Fucking kids.

    Last night I had a dream in which I was walking into my old house, and a little Rottweiler puppy appeared and started nipping at my ankles. At first, I calmly pushed him away with my foot, but he became increasingly aggressive, until he leapt up and sank his teeth into my hand and refused to let go. I ran into the garage, and my mother opened the door. She looked like she did when she was 30. I showed her the dog attached to my hand and asked her to help me. She tugged on the dog, but the dog wouldn't let go. Then my dad came home, only it wasn't my real dad, it was the actor Chris Noth, and he was wearing a trench coat. The three of us pulled at the dog and my hand, and the dog finally let go, and "my dad" threw him out the garage door.

    Then we went upstairs into the bathroom to clean up my bleeding hand. I bent over the sink to rinse off the blood, and in the mirror, I could see my parents kissing and teasing each other behind me. I straightened up and said to my dad, "hey, I'm glad you're home, too!"

    I tried to kiss him on his cheek, but he wouldn't let me, saying he was wearing a cologne I didn't like, but I told him I didn't care, and I threw my arms around his neck. I could see that suddenly I was a lot taller than normal, almost as tall as he was. He wouldn't let me go, and I didn't want to let him go, and my mother was no longer in the room, and I could feel the stubble of his beard against my cheek, and I thought to myself, "I shouldn't have made him my dad."

    Le roommate and our mutual friend went into the city this afternoon while I stayed here to look up health insurance policies on the web, and they were supposed to be back hours ago because we want to go to IKEA to get a stool for our bathroom and it closes at 9 and it's an hour away and now it's 7:15 and they're still not here. I feel so rejected.

    Fucking friends.

By Hal on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 12:03 am:

    I know the feeling Rhi, don't worry... Just think right now they are out having fun with some pathetic rationalization as to why what they are doing is right... So they are only fooling themselves not you, unless you belive their story... But you won't your smart...

    Fucking friends.

By Cat on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 12:39 am:

    Daniel, this seemed the most appropriate thread to leave a message for you. Every time I try to email you it comes back at me saying it couldn't deliver. And I can't find your phone number because I tidied up my mess so as not to shock the geek mate playing with my puter. And it's too far for the pigeon to fly. So I'm not being rude in not responding..just bloody can't.

    Back to our normal programming now..

By Gee on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 03:18 am:

    many a times I've wished Chris Noth were my daddy.

By Daniel ssss on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 10:49 am:

    Hey Ms Cat and others...Don't fear for my safety: I'm okay, and it's been very messy, but I remained stable and calm throughout the ordeal.

    Y2Kplus9/12ths technology. It seems that Daniel ssss had blown up his hotmail account temporarily because of greater than 2000K input.... to his normally 'empty' inbox.

    But things appear to be normal now: received this morning...four "buy this porn" messages; three "buy this great Florida land" messages, a half dozen "shamanic use of alcohol controversy" messages, and one or two "refinance at our high rates" messages...and a couple of emails from "friends." I've emptied all the pixels bits and bytes in the way of your Most Important Messages.

    If I were important or cool, Mark might give me a Daniel@sorabji thingy. Oh well, you can always get me through the www.addictions.net mailbox or //communitiesmsn.com/dlsmithsmspresscom website on integrative medicine (but the email flows through to the hotmail I think).

    And as for losing my phone number...

By semillama on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 03:01 pm:

    yeah, how does one get one of those?

    I hate my current web account and never use it.

    And I'll need something for when I move and am in transition.

    plus, I want to be cool too.

By Hal on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 04:15 pm:


    Anyway... You know I had my own y2k problem... Damned tech I got hit by a godamned car on newyears... Although both the driver of the car and myself were plastered senseless, I would have been pissed... I he wern't the pizza delivery guy we called a half hour earlier...

By Daniel ssss on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 07:43 pm:

    Well, Sem, Hotmail has its disadvantages especially when you try to cram several book length manuscripts into the inbox.

    But I like it because I can use it from any computer on line anywhere in the world. And it is free, and the most reliable when it comes to crashing. Comes with a nifty multilanguage thingy too.

By Zephyr on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 08:11 pm:

By Rhiannon on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 08:55 pm:

    Um, right. Dammit, stay on topic!

    Hi, Gee. I missed you.

By Tbone on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 09:41 pm:

    I once had tbone@sorabji.com, but I forgot how to access it, and I don't know if it still exists. Can anyone tell me how they work again?

By Sorabji on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 09:45 pm:

By Catsorabji.com on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 09:49 pm:

    You have to munch Mark's moo-ha's to get a Sorabji account.

By Isolde on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 09:55 pm:

    Wait...I'm closer to New York than you are...how did you manage to munch when I didn't?

By Zephyr on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 11:21 pm:

    Must learn how to munch "moo-ha's"...asap!

By Nelly on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 11:21 pm:

    i had one, then i lost it, somehow, and i don't miss it much. it was the prestige, mostly.

    and no i didn't do any munching. i think.

    what are moo-ha's?

By Isolde on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 11:38 pm:

    So, Mark? Do I need to come over there and munch some hoo-haw?

By Gee on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 12:21 am:

    Hi Rhiannon. :)

By Hal on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 12:30 am:

    I still use mine, its the only account I use now...

    TBone, its not that hard...

By agatha on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 02:35 am:

    did any of you try asking?

By Hal on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 06:50 am:

    I did, that is how I got mine... And its great...

    I just can't figure out what the Pop3 address is.

By Isolde on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 07:34 am:

    Wow. That's a good idea, Agatha.

By semillama on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 01:20 pm:

    I won't need one for half a year yet. I'll bug Mark about it then if I still want one.


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