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Existentialism acknowledges soft things too

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  • Mary
    Bill, Although slightly offended that you suffer no softies here, I nonetheless find your assessment that an existentialist requires courage quite on the mark.
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 14, 2011
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      Bill,

      Although slightly offended that you suffer no softies here, I nonetheless find your assessment that an existentialist requires courage quite on the mark. I accede to your insistence that competition is necessary, though for different reasons.

      Survival of the fittest is for the benefit of the group, not just the individual. As a naturalist, I recognize the struggle to survive also includes the essential components of nurture and play. Intellect has evolved to aid competition, and normally, predators don't eat one another. They are selected because they develop new strategies for finding sustenance shelter, not by relying on previous unsuccessful ones. There is a tipping point at which destruction of habitat and inhabitant destroys the destroyers.

      Sporting is more properly a vestigial function between persons who recognize the potential to earn a living, the sheer joy of movement, and yes, even competitive spirit. (This week, for example, I'm watching films The Hurricane, Ali, and Million Dollar Baby.) There are rules of engagement for fair sporting, but in life there generally are none. Competition between ideas is surely in a no holds barred venue, but one where skills like reason, finesse, and gentle strokes likewise ensure victory.

      To find truth, to achieve freedom, to attain culture, all require a "stern strife" against our immediate and arbitrary passions. Our planet is capricious enough without the need to maim and slaughter one another. The uncertainty of the first doesn't automatically determine the second. What it should determine is philosophy in earnest, whether fierce or gentle. Existentialism, like sports, is unique in uniting personal and cooperative aspects. Like the hero quest, it requires a courage which ultimately serves the whole.

      Mary

      COURAGE
      by Anne Sexton

      It is in the small things we see it.
      The child's first step,
      as awesome as an earthquake.
      The first time you rode a bike,
      wallowing up the sidewalk.
      The first spanking when your heart
      went on a journey all alone.
      When they called you crybaby
      or poor or fatty or crazy
      and made you into an alien,
      you drank their acid
      and concealed it.

      Later,
      if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
      you did not do it with a banner,
      you did it with only a hat to
      cover your heart.
      You did not fondle the weakness inside you
      though it was there.
      Your courage was a small coal
      that you kept swallowing.
      If your buddy saved you
      and died himself in so doing,
      then his courage was not courage,
      it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

      Later,
      if you have endured a great despair,
      then you did it alone,
      getting a transfusion from the fire,
      picking the scabs off your heart,
      then wringing it out like a sock.
      Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
      you gave it a back rub
      and then covered it with a blanket
      and after it had slept a while
      it woke to the wings of the roses
      and was transformed.

      Later,
      when you face old age and its natural conclusion
      your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
      each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
      those you love will live in a fever of love,
      and you'll bargain with the calendar
      and at the last moment
      when death opens the back door
      you'll put on your carpet slippers
      and stride out.
    • William
      ... Mary, I am encouraged to see you acknowledge soft existentialism. I know it exists as I have been listening to it for years. For those so inclined it is
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 15, 2011
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        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
        >
        > Bill,
        >
        > Although slightly offended that you suffer no softies here, I nonetheless find your assessment that an existentialist requires courage quite on the mark. I accede to your insistence that competition is necessary, though for different reasons.
        >
        > Survival of the fittest is for the benefit of the group, not just the individual. As a naturalist, I recognize the struggle to survive also includes the essential components of nurture and play. Intellect has evolved to aid competition, and normally, predators don't eat one another. They are selected because they develop new strategies for finding sustenance shelter, not by relying on previous unsuccessful ones. There is a tipping point at which destruction of habitat and inhabitant destroys the destroyers.
        >
        > Sporting is more properly a vestigial function between persons who recognize the potential to earn a living, the sheer joy of movement, and yes, even competitive spirit. (This week, for example, I'm watching films The Hurricane, Ali, and Million Dollar Baby.) There are rules of engagement for fair sporting, but in life there generally are none. Competition between ideas is surely in a no holds barred venue, but one where skills like reason, finesse, and gentle strokes likewise ensure victory.
        >
        > To find truth, to achieve freedom, to attain culture, all require a "stern strife" against our immediate and arbitrary passions. Our planet is capricious enough without the need to maim and slaughter one another. The uncertainty of the first doesn't automatically determine the second. What it should determine is philosophy in earnest, whether fierce or gentle. Existentialism, like sports, is unique in uniting personal and cooperative aspects. Like the hero quest, it requires a courage which ultimately serves the whole.
        >
        > Mary
        >
        > COURAGE
        > by Anne Sexton
        >
        > It is in the small things we see it.
        > The child's first step,
        > as awesome as an earthquake.
        > The first time you rode a bike,
        > wallowing up the sidewalk.
        > The first spanking when your heart
        > went on a journey all alone.
        > When they called you crybaby
        > or poor or fatty or crazy
        > and made you into an alien,
        > you drank their acid
        > and concealed it.
        >
        > Later,
        > if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
        > you did not do it with a banner,
        > you did it with only a hat to
        > cover your heart.
        > You did not fondle the weakness inside you
        > though it was there.
        > Your courage was a small coal
        > that you kept swallowing.
        > If your buddy saved you
        > and died himself in so doing,
        > then his courage was not courage,
        > it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
        >
        > Later,
        > if you have endured a great despair,
        > then you did it alone,
        > getting a transfusion from the fire,
        > picking the scabs off your heart,
        > then wringing it out like a sock.
        > Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
        > you gave it a back rub
        > and then covered it with a blanket
        > and after it had slept a while
        > it woke to the wings of the roses
        > and was transformed.
        >
        > Later,
        > when you face old age and its natural conclusion
        > your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
        > each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
        > those you love will live in a fever of love,
        > and you'll bargain with the calendar
        > and at the last moment
        > when death opens the back door
        > you'll put on your carpet slippers
        > and stride out.
        >
        Mary, I am encouraged to see you acknowledge soft existentialism. I know it exists as I have been listening to it for years. For those so inclined it is better than theism but when infused with corrupt humanism it can be as corrosive as communism or militant socialism.
        Ali was and is a fierce competitor. I saw him confront a student heckler and it was a lesson in physical prowess. The student was harranging him and Ali invited him to the stage. While the student yelled Ali danced around him ,throwing short punches. It reinforced my fear and respect for professionel boxers. I draw a line at professional boxing as the terminal goal of the contest is to cause a concussion. I am suprised you are interested in boxing and ask what you are learning from the study.
        I rewatched Wallstreet,Money never sleeps. Not much there but some interesting characters. The era of lasse fare capitalism we are exiting needs regulation. It is an constant chore to control the competative greed of business men and when locked in with conservative politicians they endanger our prosperity. I may be a little right of center from you but am not a trogladite cross burner. As to poetry it is a specialised language that only ocassionally has appeal to me. I find greater aesthetics in reading stock quotes. But then again I have never had a poem make me any money. Bill
      • Mary
        ... Bill, I was primarily drawn to the film artistry of Michael Mann, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Tom Stern. But there is something very honest in a purely violent
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 19, 2011
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          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "William" <v.valleywestdental@...> wrote:
          > I am suprised you are interested in boxing and ask what you are learning from the study.

          Bill,

          I was primarily drawn to the film artistry of Michael Mann, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Tom Stern. But there is something very honest in a purely violent yet fair, skillful, and consensual duel, one which is generally not motivated by capricious or cruel domination. As in other sports, an opponent may symbolize forces beyond one's control, and vicariously, spectators feel safe in releasing their own aggression. In this sense I see competitive sports as healthy and not at all gratuitous.

          I've not followed prize fighters since Roy Jones retired, but remain fascinated by their ability to absorb such intense physical abuse. As a thirteen year old verbally defending my little sister, I was punched in the nose, not hard enough to draw blood, but was surprised by how much it hurt! That anyone chooses such a profession boggles my mind. But of course, the three fighters in these films--one was fictitious--did exactly that, because they were poor and/or African-American. I became interested in Ali during his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for Conscientious Objector status during the Vietnam war draft. The result was an 8-0 decision in his favor. However I was then unfamiliar with Rubin Carter's story, one of egregiously direct racism and injustice.

          All three of these stories exemplify rare courage, and those who supported them had strong character as well. I suppose you were right about viewing some athletes' struggles as an apt metaphor, though not strictly regarding competition. Rather, they risk their lives in pursuit of life itself, and competitive boxing is their vehicle. Their admirers and committed supporters were likewise challenged and rewarded. The woman boxer in Millionaire Dollar Baby asked for assisted suicide from the very men responsible for training and befriending her; the Hurricane was unjustly imprisoned for 20 years but released through the persistence of Canadian activists; and Ali, now suffering with Parkinson's, dedicated his life to also fighting poverty and racism.

          I'm not sure what you mean by corrupt humanism, but for these fighters, powerfully corrupt individuals and institutions created circumstances which were ameliorated with the help of other individuals who also showed exceptonal courage.

          Mary
        • William
          ... Mary, the brain concussion is beginning to encroach upon the blood sports. I think lawyers will increasingly reduce the acess to boxing and football by
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 20, 2011
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            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "William" <v.valleywestdental@> wrote:
            > > I am suprised you are interested in boxing and ask what you are learning from the study.
            >
            > Bill,
            >
            > I was primarily drawn to the film artistry of Michael Mann, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Tom Stern. But there is something very honest in a purely violent yet fair, skillful, and consensual duel, one which is generally not motivated by capricious or cruel domination. As in other sports, an opponent may symbolize forces beyond one's control, and vicariously, spectators feel safe in releasing their own aggression. In this sense I see competitive sports as healthy and not at all gratuitous.
            >
            > I've not followed prize fighters since Roy Jones retired, but remain fascinated by their ability to absorb such intense physical abuse. As a thirteen year old verbally defending my little sister, I was punched in the nose, not hard enough to draw blood, but was surprised by how much it hurt! That anyone chooses such a profession boggles my mind. But of course, the three fighters in these films--one was fictitious--did exactly that, because they were poor and/or African-American. I became interested in Ali during his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for Conscientious Objector status during the Vietnam war draft. The result was an 8-0 decision in his favor. However I was then unfamiliar with Rubin Carter's story, one of egregiously direct racism and injustice.
            >
            > All three of these stories exemplify rare courage, and those who supported them had strong character as well. I suppose you were right about viewing some athletes' struggles as an apt metaphor, though not strictly regarding competition. Rather, they risk their lives in pursuit of life itself, and competitive boxing is their vehicle. Their admirers and committed supporters were likewise challenged and rewarded. The woman boxer in Millionaire Dollar Baby asked for assisted suicide from the very men responsible for training and befriending her; the Hurricane was unjustly imprisoned for 20 years but released through the persistence of Canadian activists; and Ali, now suffering with Parkinson's, dedicated his life to also fighting poverty and racism.
            >
            > I'm not sure what you mean by corrupt humanism, but for these fighters, powerfully corrupt individuals and institutions created circumstances which were ameliorated with the help of other individuals who also showed exceptonal courage.
            >
            > Mary
            >
            Mary, the brain concussion is beginning to encroach upon the blood sports. I think lawyers will increasingly reduce the acess to boxing and football by sewing those responsible for the activities. Rydell,which makes football helmets and the NFL are examples of defendants in liability suits. It is difficult to ignore the many serious injuries in boxing and football . The recent suicide of Dave Duerson with his request that his brain be studied after his death is stark as his post mortem showed extensive damage to his brain. If they are banned I would miss the games but cannot justify supporting the most dangerous of sports. Sports in which you hit with your head or are hit in the head should probably be restricted. Yet the big money associated with these exciting spectacles will fight to keep the activities. I doubt there will be total restriction in the immediate future. The risk/reward arguments are impressive from both sides. The NFL has supressed studies from as long ago as 1920 that showed frequent severe brain damage. In the generation before mine it was not rare to see "Punchy" guys that were severly handicapped from boxing but I see them less and less. Skiing and mountaneering still hide the greater number of their casualities but ask ski directors of mountain rangers and you will hear of a great many more injuries and fatalities than are widely reported. Read a lift ticket and see all the rights you sign away with purchase of the ticket. Climbing has remained very difficult to regulate as guarding all the mountains seems impossible. Ask search and rescue how many bodies they retrieve . Many do not show up until the snow melts in the spring.I am over the hill for all of these activities but have numerous aches and pains that act up during cold and damp times. For me the memories are worth the pain but I do not think the young should be pushed into high risk sports. If you are drawn to them then the risks should be explained . For some common sense is lacking and they are often the first to be injured. I wonder where Herman comes down on this as his concept of personal freedom would seem to come into play.Then again there is the issue of memory loss and rage from concussions. Bill
          • Herman
            Hi Bill, ... I agree with your description of boxing and football as being very dangerous pursuits. From memory, since Queensberry rules some 500 boxers have
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 20, 2011
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              Hi Bill,

              On 21 July 2011 04:35, William <v.valleywestdental@...> wrote:

              > **
              >
              > >
              > Mary, the brain concussion is beginning to encroach upon the blood sports.
              > I think lawyers will increasingly reduce the acess to boxing and football by
              > sewing those responsible for the activities. Rydell,which makes football
              > helmets and the NFL are examples of defendants in liability suits. It is
              > difficult to ignore the many serious injuries in boxing and football . The
              > recent suicide of Dave Duerson with his request that his brain be studied
              > after his death is stark as his post mortem showed extensive damage to his
              > brain. If they are banned I would miss the games but cannot justify
              > supporting the most dangerous of sports. Sports in which you hit with your
              > head or are hit in the head should probably be restricted. Yet the big money
              > associated with these exciting spectacles will fight to keep the activities.
              > I doubt there will be total restriction in the immediate future. The
              > risk/reward arguments are impressive from both sides. The NFL has supressed
              > studies from as long ago as 1920 that showed frequent severe brain damage.
              > In the generation before mine it was not rare to see "Punchy" guys that were
              > severly handicapped from boxing but I see them less and less. Skiing and
              > mountaneering still hide the greater number of their casualities but ask ski
              > directors of mountain rangers and you will hear of a great many more
              > injuries and fatalities than are widely reported. Read a lift ticket and see
              > all the rights you sign away with purchase of the ticket. Climbing has
              > remained very difficult to regulate as guarding all the mountains seems
              > impossible. Ask search and rescue how many bodies they retrieve . Many do
              > not show up until the snow melts in the spring.I am over the hill for all of
              > these activities but have numerous aches and pains that act up during cold
              > and damp times. For me the memories are worth the pain but I do not think
              > the young should be pushed into high risk sports. If you are drawn to them
              > then the risks should be explained . For some common sense is lacking and
              > they are often the first to be injured. I wonder where Herman comes down on
              > this as his concept of personal freedom would seem to come into play.Then
              > again there is the issue of memory loss and rage from concussions. Bill
              >
              >
              I agree with your description of boxing and football as being very dangerous
              pursuits.

              From memory, since Queensberry rules some 500 boxers have died or become
              permanently disabled shortly after stepping out of the ring the last time.
              Now, I have no problems with anyone's freedom to chose to die, but I doubt
              that anyone of those 500 went into their last bout with that ambition.

              At best, then, we have 500 men who gambled to gain exactly I don't know what
              and instead lost everything, literally. Now, for Mary, this gratuitous
              violent dying is somehow a courageous and skillful pursuit of life, and the
              witnessing of it cathartic. To me, it is perverse.

              Cheers


              Herman


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