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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

RETURN OF THE MASTERY MASTER PT. 4

While there are ways in which sexual partners can attempt to "assault" one another-- ways which include, but are not confined to, rape-- sex is dominantly isothymic, in that sex usually requires some modicum of cooperation. Violence, then, dominantly conforms to Fukuyma's megalothymic mode insofar as it usually involves a struggle of at least two opponents in which one will prove superior to the other, though in rare cases fighters may simply spar with no intent of proving thymotic superiority.-- VIOLENCE *AIN'T* NUTHIN' BUT SEX MISSPELLED, PART 2.

 "Movies were shown to eight- and nine-year-old boys and girls. At moments of tension, when terrible things were about to happen on screen, the little boys jumped up in agitation and thrust their arms out as if to fend off the disaster.  The little girls sank quietly back into their chairs, grew very still, and waited.  From the beginning, the female, being of the base-line genetic structuring of life, is able to flow with, bide her time, and survive.  From the beginning, the male is anxious, tries to fight against, dominate, fight against the odds. He seems born functionally separated from the life force that somehow underlies the female in unbroken flow.   As such, he cannot survive, at least not well, without the female."-- Joseph Chilton Pearce, MAGICAL CHILD, 1977, P. 256.


For sake of argument I'm going to assume that Pearce's recounting of the above experiment is accurate in all respects; that it correctly describes the responses of male and female children along the lines one would stereotypically expect of the respective genders.  The boys seek to fight, to prevail, so that their dominant response is active, and thus characteristic of competition and *megalothymia.*  The girls seek to accommodate, to endure, so that their dominant response is passive,  and thus characteristic of cooperation and *isothymia.*

Should one then assume that since I've said that the kinetic phenomena of sex and violence also line up with *isothymia* and *megalothymia* respectively, that women are all about "sex" and men are all about "violence?"

Not quite.  One should remember this incisive quote from that little old "19th-century syphilitic" Friedrich Nietzsche:

The same emotions in man and woman are, however, different in tempo: therefore man and woman never cease to misunderstand one another.-- Friedrich Nietzsche, BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, Aphorism 85.


In contrast Joseph Chilton Pearce really does incline toward the essentialist distinction of the sexes, declaring that men are "separated from the life force" while women are in touch with that force in an "unbroken flow."  Pearce devotes several pages to anecdotes which demonstrate the superiority of "endurance/persistence" as against "prevalence/glory." For instance, in Chapter 23 he relates a tale of an unnamed woman who managed to talk herself out of being raped and killed by two assailants.  She did so by showing no resistance and empathizing with the assailants' private torments, with the result that they did not injure her and even loaned her money to go home via the subway!

I am not denying that exceptional events like the above story may have happened, and that there may well be many other circumstances where women-- or men, for that matter-- can avoid violence by a show of passive endurance.

However, I believe Pearce is wrong to suggest that fighting back is an aberrational response, a manifestation of masculine *yang* that should always be avoided.  Consider as a corrective to Pearce the story of Corazon Amurao and Richard Speck.

Monday-morning quarterbacking remains a fatuous pursuit, so I am in no way critiquing the decision of the nine nurses-- eight of whom Speck killed, while Amurao escaped only by good fortune-- not to fight an armed man.  However, I suggest that Speck might not have been capable of reacting as charitably as the two assailants in Pearce's story.  Given knowledge of the ghastly crimes Speck committed when he received no resistance, it's fair to say that *in that instance,* the nine women would have been better off if they had attacked Speck en masse.  One cannot be sure that some of the nurses would have been able to "man up" (sorry) and successfully overpower the murderer even if one or two of them were shot.  But in that otherwise untenable situation, a response of *yang* might have worked better than all the *yin* in the world.

Pearce also overlooks the internal response of the females in the above experiment.  I can hypothetically believe that the girls responded to the fictive dangers in a culturally stereotypical manner: if you can't fight the danger, endure and wait for it to pass.  But did the girls involved actually *like* being put in that position? Culture, biology, or both together may have predisposed them to that response.  But does anyone of either gender really enjoy being helpless?

Even masochists want to be abused according to their own desires, not someone else's.

Clearly men and women are capable of a range of both *isothymic* and *megalothymic* responses, and, as both genders lack omniscience, no one can ever be sure which responses are appropriate to a given situation. 

Further, as I've consistently argued on this blog, *isothymia*/persistence is not in any sense more "natural" than *megalothymia*/glory, as Pearce suggests.  In real life, both responses are attempts to manage one's environment, and to the extent that they succeed, they engender thymotic validation.  In fiction it should be even clearer that "feminine persistence" is not more attuned to reality than "male glory;" that both are just vehicles for validation.  However, judging by the frequency one can find pinheads on comics forums complaining about "dumb male superheroes," I gather that the virtues of *yin* have won the battle in comics fandom-- and in a manner one might consider stereotypically feminine: by bitching about how much awful shit these poor elitists must endure.


   

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