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Archive for the ‘Love and Romance’ Category

Relationships and Fidelity

Posted by Jerry on July 15, 2006

Over at The Objectivist Center website, William Thomas recently answered the question: What is the Objectivist view on infidelity/cheating in a relationship, be it either dating or marriage?

Reading his answer to the question, I feel like I’m re-reading one of my own posts on the topic! Thomas and I have come so close in our responses that it appears as if we even use the same words in the same way! For example:

Thomas says:

The commitment to a relationship is…worth no more than the relationship itself. As value-oriented ethic, Objectivism as such is neither for or against exclusivity in relationships; it does not prescribe a form of dating; it does not favor or oppose marriage as an institution. It favors serious commitment to one’s values, and honesty toward oneself and toward others in one’s relationships.

said:

Monogamy is not intrinsically moral as such. The morality of a relationship – regardless of their design – is an attribute of the integrity of the individuals involved in that relationship. Thus, two people involved in a monogamous relationship are not necessarily involved in a de facto “moral” relationship – nor would three people involved in a relationship be in a de facto “immoral” or lascivious relationship.

Thomas says:

Love is premised on knowledge: what the lover does not know, he cannot love.

I said:

The very idea of being in “love” with someone presumes that you know what loving someone means. Thus, inorder to say to someone, “I love you”, and be honest about it, you have to keep salient in your mind all the processes of thought and choices and values that brought you up to that point of saying, “I love you.”

Thomas says:

Objectivism holds that honesty is one of the major virtues. In the end, one gains nothing by dishonesty; it leaves one trapped in a web of fakery, which makes reality one’s enemy and reason a threat to be feared in anybody one knows. [I]n relationships Objectivism holds that one should be honest, especially with a lover. “Cheating,” as it is normally thought of, involves hiding what one is doing or sneaking about. Objectivist principles imply that if one is (or is going to be) involved with someone besides one’s committed partner, one should be honest with all parties concerned.

I said:

Personal integrity should be the hallmark of one’s character. Integrity subsumes honesty, and honesty means never faking reality. In relationships, as in other areas of life, there is no room for wilfull, deliberate and/or pernicious deceit. This connects with honesty, in that if there is any form of uncertainty, it should be brought out into the open. Any instance of wilful repression of doubt or faking of certainty is an instance of being deceitful and is compromising on your integrity.
 

Posted in Ayn Rand, General Work/Life, Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Dissecting the Gay Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

India is quite arguably a very androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; Indian men are fairly well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy.

It is not rare to see men walking around the city hand-in-hand or arms over their shoulders, displaying signs of very intimate affection towards each other. Once I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed to me like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation amongst themselves.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for actual gay men to figure out who’s in who’s “camp.” It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay or that someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and overt displays of intimacy.

I suppose this type of a cultural acceptance of homosocial behavior could lead to psychological burial or repression of a gay man’s proper homosexual expression. By that I mean, a gay man may not express his sexuality as much as he may express his homosociality.  The ambiguous sexual nature of the behavior he observes among the men around him may convince him that he can act likewise and be safe and find homosocial encounters as a satisfactory outlet to his gay expression. 

Since one can never be sure of the sexual intentions or persuasions of another man, it becomes incredibly risky to just assume the other’s sexual orientation and make an unsolicited or unwanted move–particularly given the paradoxical fact that while Indian men are notoriously homosocial, they are equally homophobic

At the same time, the sexual ambiguity in orientation also may lead a gay man to believe that he could effectively “convert” any straight man and convince them into being sexually intimate. While this may work for some, it also leads to disastrous consequences, such as homophobic backlashes.

Moreover, ambiguity in sexual behavior leads Indian gay men to try and seek the fulfillment of their desire to be intimate with another man in such homosocial–but non-sexual–relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men); the result of this disguised approach to homoerotic intimacy thereby represses a full-blown expression of proper gay male sexuality with other gay men. Some gay men might even end up convincing themselves of the delusion that they are not really homosexual, that they merely have strong affections for other men just like other genuinely straight men do for each other.

All of that (and possibly other socio-psychological factors) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bisexual or maybe even straight!–not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned auto-suggestion upon their own minds–undoubtedly with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they share intimate relationships contact with, like their wives or romantic partners.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Political Issues, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Dissecting the Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

[Refer to this post for a more formal treatment of this issue: Disecting the Gay Indian Male.] 

So, at work, I sit beside this handsome, Indian boy; he’s tall, has broad shoulders, a sharp face, and wears rectangular, thick-framed glasses. As I said, he’s quite handsome.

Anyway, the point of my writing this post, however, is not to explore the details of his attractiveness, but to consider his non-verbal interactions with me in light of the larger attitude of masculinity and collectivist mentality in India.

This handsome bloke (yes, we speak British here) has this habit of nonchalantly placing his hand on my thighs while talking to me; or holding my hands in his and looking directly into my eyes when he’s asking me for some help or advice (typically, in matters of editing and studying).

Needless to say, being that I have the “hots” for men, or in other words, being that I fancy young blokes, his non-verbal style of communicating with me is only slightly uncomfortable – oh, but I’m NOT complaining! Just merely stating the fact that it’s a wee bit uncomfortable – especially the hands-on-my-thighs part.

And no, he is not gay – that is a fact. I’m certain of it. In all other matters, he displays the kind of typical straight boy goofiness that young, straight American males tend to display – a kind of hollow excitement of being perpetually at the cusp of puberty, only just becoming aware of their raging testosterone, and consequently going berserk!

His physical frankness with me is not unusual as a manner of behavior among Indian men. One could argue quite persuasively that India is an androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; its men are very well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy (I wonder if Bollywood has a big role in shaping the Indian male psyche as such).

It is not rare to see men walking around the city-streets hand-in-hand, or arms over their shoulders, or displaying other signs of very intimate affection towards each other. This one time at the train station, I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation among each other.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for *actual* gay men like to me to figure out who’s in who’s “camp” – if you know what I mean. It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay, or someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and displays of intimacy.

I suppose this could possibly lead to a further psychological burial of a gay man’s homosexual expression because of the ambiguous nature of homosocial behavior he observers among the men around him. Moreover, this ambiguity probably leads Indian gay men to try and seek satisfaction and fulfillment of their psychological desires to be intimate with another man in such homosocial relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men) thereby repressing a full-blown expression of their proper sexuality with other gay men.

All of that (and other socio-psychological causes) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bi-sexual, or maybe even straight! And not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned force upon their own minds – undoubtedly, with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they come in close contact with.

The collectivistic influence:

The collectivist expression in all of this is the apparent lack of any notion of individual space and personal privacy. It is deemed rude and disrespectful for one to insist on privacy among friends, colleagues, co-workers, relatives, or family members. In fact, insisting on privacy on any matter is also looked upon with suspicion.

For example, if I insisted on closing the door to my bedroom, certainly it must be because I have something to hide! What is it that I do that cannot be shared by others?

In fact, at work, I am routinely subjected to all kinds of questions about my personal and professional life that I find quite intrusive and unnecessary for them to know about. One of my co-workers insisted on finding out my middle name and my official signature – and I barely know the guy!
Yet, insisting on privacy or declining to answer such questions casts you in a suspicious light; you are considered as possibly dishonest, or at least obnoxiously conceited.

It is also regarded as offensive to maintain personal space between yourself and another person. Why would you want to maintain such a distance (a distance that Indians would find inordinately greater than necessary)? Is it because the person has foul odor? Do you not like being next to the person? Maintaining personal distance also could be construed as your unwillingness to be friendly with the person.

Thus, everybody wants to be in everyone else’s business and everyone else’s personal space. That is the culture. It is a clear expression of its collectivist influence. The psychological mentality of collectivism and the physical reality of a highly over-populated country exacerbate the rampant disregard for and stifling of individualistic notions.

This collectivistic influence probably plays a fueling factor in the kind of social, non-verbal behavior Indians exhibit among themselves. Even when they are being hospitable towards each other, the manner of their hospitality borders on force, coercion, and then even suspicion. It’s too much to get into right now.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, On Collectivism, Personal, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

Expounding on My Concept of Love and Relationships

Posted by Jerry on October 22, 2005

As I sit here past midnight, in my little cubicle space at work, I decided to resurrect my blog from the dead for this special note I wanted to make (as I was thinking) about the moral basis for my view of relationships.

There is a very crucial difference between what I wish to advocate as my view of romantic relationships and what gets passed out as “polyamory” or “open” relationships.

The moral necessities of romantic relationships, in my opinion, are as follows:

1) Personal integrity is a requisite virtue, withouth which no proper, healthy, and lasting relationship can be built. Integrity subsumes honesty, which means never faking reality.

2) In relationships, as in other areas of life, there is no room for wilfull, deliberate and/or pernicious deceit. This is related with honesty in that if there is any form of uncertainty with regard to the partner or the relationship, it should be brought out into the open–identified clearly as a fact of one’s experience. Any instance of wilful repression of doubt or faking certainty is an instance of being deceitful and is compromising on your integrity and the relationship.

3) In my theory of relationships, it is immoral to demand from the other any actions, deeds, services, emotions, feelings, etc. that is not earned, deserved, does not arise voluntarily and independently, or that which is not covered under the domain of mutual exchange.

4) Flowing from the above idea of no unearned and forced obligations, all relationships should involve individuals who consciously and freely CHOOSE to enter into the relationship of their choice without any coercion or obligations, they should NOT be expected or obligated to remain in a relationship against their will, and no promises to that effect should be extracted from them.

5) Free individuals are independent individuals. They are an end in themselves. All their pursuits should eventually lead to their own personal goals. No one should be in pursuit of the goals of another individual, nor should they expect another person to pursue their goals for them. Independence and equal companionship — not dependence — are the signs of a healthy relationship. Goals and values can be shared but not be forced or accepted in exchange for a sacrifice; and the hierarchical importance of personal and mutual goals and values should be assessed together.

6) No relationship can be moral without the moral integrity of the people involved in that relationship. The concept “morality” applies to people, not to the kind or structure of a relationship (i.e., monogamy, polyamory, open relationships, etc). Regardless of the number of individuals in a relationship or regardless of the number of relationships one is involved in, the moral integrity of the individual is not compromised. For example, an individual could be involved in any number of relationships as long as there is a clear assessment of mutual goals and values that are communicated openly with all persons involved, they all maintain perfect honesty and integrity in the matter, they commit no wilful act of deceit against any person, and they do not obligate anyone in any way to assent or refuse to any act whatsoever.

I feel marriage, vows, enforced monogamy, etc. are all simply meaningless. In fact, if one really thinks about it, surveying all the cultures of the world today, the marriages that have a higher incidence of ending in divorce typically arise in cultures and societies that also have a higher/healthier sense of human rights, values, dignity, and responsibility. It seems like societies that in fact have lower divorce rates are the ones that are mostly culpable for the grossest violations of human rights in ethics and morality. Their societies are typically unhealthy and repressive of individuals.
Examples of low divorce-high ethical violations and civil indecencies: India, China, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, etc.
Examples of high divorce-low human rights violations: United States of America.

P.S. I am now done. So, this blog is AGAIN officially dead until further notice.

Posted in General Work/Life, Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif | 4 Comments »

A Synthesis of Life, Love, Values, and Relationships

Posted by Jerry on September 29, 2005

Since every virtuous act has to be deliberate and chosen before it can be considered a virtue, the act of choosing, the choice and the process of deliberation then becomes paramount in an understanding of the morality/virtuousness of one’s acts. NOT ALL CHOSEN ACTS are necessarily virtuous or moral.
The way we can differentiate certain chosen acts as moral and others as immoral or amoral is by judging it against the standard of human life as the most fundamental and basic value. Life is a value without the existence of which no other values are possible or attainable. Thus, all acts consistent with the protection, sustenance, and enhancement of human life and the condition of human living are moral acts.
However, as I said earlier, all moral acts should be DELIBERATE and CHOSEN acts, as there can be no morality if there can be no choice.

I hold that NOT every living human being actually CHOOSES to live. Yet, they keep on living. The property of life is a default to every living being. But the act of living is NOT a default for all human beings.
I draw my distinction between the two groups of living human beings based upon the act of choosing: the Rational Human and the Irrational Human.

The rational human chooses life with the clarity and salience of what it means to live. The rational human deliberates upon his/her choice of living and consistently makes the choice to keep on living. Therefore, the rational human pursues all possible avenues to make his/her choice of living, the best possible choice.
Now, since the act of choosing to live is made so deliberately by a rational human, the act of living itself becomes an act of great virtue and moral worth for this rational human. Now, since life (living) itself has become an act of virtue because it was deliberately chosen, and morality is only applicable to living beings, all acts committed by this rational human that remains in consistency with his/her fundamental moral choice to live is also fully and consistently MORAL.
Self-sustenance, production, and creation are actions MOST DIRECTLY and POSITIVELY impacting upon the choice to live. Since these actions come at the most direct and immediate hierarchy of deliberate acts after having chosen to live, they hold such significant moral worth that is second only the act of living.
Since living is a deliberate and salient CHOICE, the rational human is faced with the alternative of life or death EVERY SINGLE moment, and CONTINUES TO CHOOSE TO LIVE at every single moment. This act of choice being made at every living moment is what truly renders that choice and that life so significantly valuable and virtuous. His or her own life becomes the MOST PRECIOUS possession for this human being because he/she chooses to have life at every single moment keeping in mind clearly that they can CHOOSE TO DIE the very moment that they find this life NOT WORTH possessing.

In exact opposite, the irrational human is oblivious to such salience of the life-death alternative. The irrational human never fully or clearly considers the fact that life is a self-generating, self-sustaining act, and that he/she can choose to die just as easily as he/she can choose to continue living from one moment to the next.
The irrational human merely goes through the motions of living because life for this irrational being is merely a default of reality, NOT AN ACT CHOSEN CONSCIOUSLY at every single moment. Hence, this irrational being’s life is NOT MORAL and NOT virtuous, because it has no precedence of self-deliberated, chosen act of sustenance.
All their acts of escaping death is merely that: acts to avoid death – they are not acts to choose to live. The irrational human reacts to the external stimuli of their default state of living to guide their actions and show them how to live. Their actions are often arbitrary and contradictory because their state of existence is based on whim, chance, and fate, NOT on deliberate choice.
Thus, an irrational being pursues acts and values that ARE NOT ALWAYS consistent with their act of living because their own life does not have any significant value to them. Hence, their actions are not selfish – in fact, they consider any selfish, self-sustaining, self-generating, self-pursuing acts as IMMORAL because their MOST FUNDAMENTAL context of morality lies OUTSIDE of themselves, lies outside of their own lives. Their own life is not thing of virtue or morality. At best, for them life is a default and so it is amoral.
Hence, martyrdom, self-sacrifice, altruism, self-negation, self-deprivation, self-pity, etc. are in fact considered virtuous and moral, because the primary goal of their actions are NOT their own selves, NOT their own lives, but someone or something OUTSIDE of themselves. That is only consistent with their belief systems.

The rational human is a selfish and moral human. The rational human loves his/her own self and his/her own life to highest degree above everything/everyone else. The rational human hold immense pride and joy in living. The rational human knows that the moment life becomes NOT what life should be, he/she will CHOOSE TO DIE, because death is as real an alternative and as real a choice as living is. Life is a default, LIVING is not.

Just like my theory of relationships says that if every morning you do not wake up next to your lover and say with full, deliberate salience that “I wish to be your lover and love you today” – if you feel you cannot say that with honesty even one moment, then you should not be with that person. Love can be of value and loving can be of virtue ONLY when it is a choice CHOSEN at EVERY SINGLE MOMENT, NOT arbitrarily declared one day as a promise at the altar to hold till the end of a vague and uncertain eternity.

You can only truly experience love for someone else, if you have first experienced it for YOUR OWN SELF. So, every one who declares self-loathing, self-hatred, self-pity, self-sacrifice, self-negation, self-denial, self-deprivation, self-degradation as a virtue are ones who truly feel the same way about everyone else (and they also demand that from others).
Thus, morality, ethics, behavior, love, relationships, etc. are all intricately connected with each other and are based on a hierarchy of objective propositions with LIFE as its most fundamental standard of all values. If this hierarchy of Objective value is broken at any level, it will not lead to a rational living experience. This is the absolutism of Reason. One cannot hold a position contrary to any of this and still claim Reason as their guide.

Posted in Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, The Best of Leitmotif | 1 Comment »

A Change of Mind — and Heart.

Posted by Jerry on February 21, 2005

I have always believed in the sanctity of love between people. I don’t have much respect for marriage, either instituted by the society or by some church. Love may or may not exist in both, the married state or the unmarried state. I used to believe that romantic love, the highest form of eros, can only be shared between two people. I believed that in order for love to be at its highest form, only one person by definition could be the object of such intense desire and profound, passionate admiration; one loves another and is immersed in the beauty and passion of that bond. One partakes in the mutual beauty shared by that relationship, and thus they are together called lovers.

However, if one loved more than one person at the same time, or felt some resemblance of love for more than one person, then I suppose that love has not reached its pinnacle in any of the partakers. Love, it seems to me, is in this situation distrubuted among the partakers of the relationship, thus effectively reducing each individual’s capacity to experience romantic love fully. Each person involved in such a relationship, then, is unable to give or receive entirely from their full capacity to love.

I believed that only two people can share entirely from their mutual capacity to love, and be able to love each other to their fullest extent. I believed this was possible and achievable. I believed that one can, and sometimes does, find that one special person who becomes the receptor of their entire capacity to love.

Obviously then, such thinking lent great credence to the concept of monogamous relationships. Again, I have no care for the context within which these monogamous relationships arise, only that they do.

Then, the implications of the nature of love as described above reveals that monogamy can be the only system within which a claim to morality in romance can be made. Since true love, the highest and purest form of love can only be achieved between two individuals, to call anything else that might exist romantically between more than two persons as love would be akin to emotional and intellectual embezzlment. However, a proper moral code does not make room for willful dishonesty or deception. Thus, when an individual claims to experience a deep and profound sense of romantic love for another, it can only be pure and honest love if it is felt exclusively for that one person. In other words, experiencing a kind of romantic interest for more than one person at the same time cannot be seen as an experience of the highest form of love that one can offer another. Similarly, making claims to an experience of profound, romantic love for more than one person is purely dishonest.

Moreover, I believed that maintaining a semblance of a monogamous relationship while engaging in strictly sexual encounters without any emotional involvement is also a breach of committment in the relationship. Romantic love is not only cerebral or emotional; it cannot be divorced from its manifestation in the body. Sex is the proper expression of love just as love is properly and fully expressed in sex. Therefore, romantic love cannot be constrained to the platonic realm. That is a default on the holistic expression of love. The true achievement of passionate love requires, by definition, the amalgamation of the physical, the emotional, and the cerebral. Taking any one of these parts out of the experience of love diminishes the quality of that love, reducing it to nothing more than infatuation, fascination, admiration, or lust.

Having said all of the above, I have now decided that I would like to change my mind.

I realize that my analysis of the concept of monogamy, and it’s moral implications, are logically sound and appear to parallel mainstream thinking in society. However, recently I re-evaluated my ideas and came to realize that I may have accepted some faulty premises while constructing my moral argument for monogamy. Thus, now I believe that humans can and often do indulge in romantic love (whether deliberately or unwittingly) with more than one person at the same time. I now believe that monogamy is purely one of the myriad of relationship choices that humans can choose to engage in. I also believe that like monogamy, all of the other relationship choices involving consenting adults, have fully consistent moral legitimacy.

Posted in General Work/Life, Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

 
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