Making use of the closet

Most people will automatically assume a reference to ‘The Closet’ is about sexuality. However there is another group queuing up for the privilege of ‘coming out’ and I think it’s time we started asking whether the closet has served it’s usefulness. A walk/roll in wardrobe might be more appropriate these days at the very least. Anyway – I am referring to spirituality or probably more accurately, people who have a sense that their spirituality is marginalised by religion or other belief structures.

I’m not sure I want to compare but perhaps there are some parallel experiences of power and notions of normativity and identity that fit. I’d like to explore some of the assumptions that are limiting and what these mean for people experiencing a genuine sense of un-ease.

1: Lets start with language, particularly dualistic structures of language that inform thinking and more importantly understanding. Basically things are either ‘this or that’, you are either religious or Not. Most of the time this is framed in creation versus evolution – people have to pick a side. And it’s more than awkward to try and say ‘neither.’

2: Throwing in ‘other options’ outside the well established dualisms like above is seen as ‘too politically correct’ it sometimes sounds like ‘stop including/pandering/indulging all these minorities!’ We’ve worked so hard to make some things invisible and constructed almost an Orwellian Ministry of Truth like certainty that ‘it always has been this way.’

3: Change and fluidity are definite no-no’s. Identity is assumed to be fixed – whether it be via ‘nature or nurture’ we are supposed to have done all that figuring out by the time we are in our 20’s (more or less) and then it’s locked in!

4: When it comes to declaring you are of a different ‘persuasion’ there can be intense scrutiny and general sense of ‘fair game’ for others inquisitive questioning. Some people have a sense of entitlement and see ‘curiosity’ as a form of inclusion or acceptance. However – questions that start with ‘Do all…’ should be met with an equal ‘Do all…’ and wait for the eyebrows to raise.

5: Linking in with 2 is the quintessential ‘it’s a phase!’ You just need ‘convincing’ – or an exorcism. Panic and freaking out with references to cults, mental illness or some level coercion are implied.

6: A sense of ‘betrayal’ from others who think they ‘know the person better than anyone’ often (but not always) family and friends or close associates. The idea of the ‘essential true self’ affords people the right to ‘know someone’ so the change is assumed to be about ‘hiding’ or ‘pretending to be someone’ an ‘imposter’ – “I don’t know who you are anymore” hurts because it supports this unhelpful view of self.

7: Catastrophising the future sometimes follows 6. Fear tactics are employed via creative exaggerations of how bad/hard/unfulfilling etc life will be for you if are going to be ‘this.’ Large doses of guilt and shame are sometimes included by referring to people or connections that might be lost, broken. If that doesn’t work then full scale ‘interventions’ could be next.

For those who have never been on the margins this might seem a little perplexing. So another way to look at it is through the lens of loss and grief. It doesn’t have to be about death. But any radical change in life suddenly exposes a lot of things we might have taken for granted and the vulnerability while working through ‘what it all means’ might require some form refuge or sense of security.

Human beings need to belong or more accurately to feel, experience and believe they are accepted, valued and respected. Ostracism, exclusion, rejection and isolation undermine all of this. I think The Closet is a realm of consciousness that allows for risk assessment or discerning in the moment what will work best for providing for those important needs. So perhaps The Closet is more like a Green Room, where we see through the curtain at the audience and decide who to put out on the stage.

Spirituality is a deeply personal, intimate experience and is as unique to people as sexuality. Our relationship with life is infused with the delights of both aspects but isn’t always simple. Having a ‘place’ that serves as a form of protection is wise, not weakness. It’s nice to be able to step out of the ‘lime light or spot light’ and while in ‘The Green Room’ embrace, integrate and become comfortable with ourselves.

So get out there and ‘break a leg.’


Running on nothing so my feet feel free

Guitar solo by Mark Knopfler – anyone feeling it? Well…clearly you missed the 80’s – Money for Nothing is a classic and is the nominated backtrack to this piece (perhaps minus the ever so blatant homophobic reference in the middle of the song).

So I am ditching the running shoes in favour of going bare foot (now that title should make more sense) because quite frankly I trust my body. ‘Barefoot’ running is not quite accurate – a thin piece of rubber is strapped to your foot providing protection from sharp bits. This is where we get the interesting tension and polarity between our ‘natural design’ and the belief that technology improves on this ‘design’ (not here to argue who or what or where we were manufactured). But it is interesting that human beings have been around for ‘quite a while’ and shoes ….not so long.

It’s no mean feat (ha – pun intended) to take on the might of the scientific and medical industry that relies on our ‘design faults’ to keep a multitude of professionals and manufacturers busily providing us with salvation from all sorts of biomechanically induced ailments. There is a whole language of pathology and treatment regimes and shiny new shoes with go faster stripes are often the solution.

I’m not convinced anymore as I feel the drive for profit and marketing has captured the technological advancements in sport science leaving me with a distinct case of Iatrogenesis The challenge of those going ‘back to basics’ is to navigate the plethora of rhetoric pushing the cause of ‘improvement’ as we instantly assume that science advances things.

The fact that people can make their own shoes (I know a guy who made his out of old go-cart tyres! – bit of DIY kiwi style) is a frightening prospect to a multinational corporation and their profit margins. Eventually they will relent and find some way to say ‘natural is best’ – put their logo on and claim it as their idea and everyone will rush out and pay exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege.

So – if the shoe fits – you can still go barefoot.

The Gene Genie

Jeannie here, talking about the ‘gene genie’, that is the mystery of the genetic code and many feel that the person who cracks it would be – well – a ‘genius’.

There is a little bit of my previous tongue in cheek swipe at people preferring to be ‘right’ rather than the truth re-entering via the never ending dualistic dance that science does around ‘why we are the way we are’. That is all arguments still boil down to ‘nature vrs nurture’. The ability to control what is seen as ‘true’ is the ultimate form of power. Science and Religion have battled this out for long enough in my opinion.

So it was with great delight that all of a sudden – geneticists were thrown a curve ball with Schizophrenia – its never good when genes don’t fit.

Have you ever been at a dinner party where politics, science or religion comes up? Watch perfectly reasonable people suddenly become feral and feel yourself slipping slowly under the table to escape (or wish you had a magic lamp!).

What is lost in the zealous disparaging remarks about the validity of either argument is the possibility that neither might have a firm grasp on the ‘truth’. But the investment in being ‘right’ by sociologists, biologists (the scientists – who argue with each other) and godologists – leaves a damaging ripple throughout the collective consciousness of humanity. That is – you have to ‘pick a side’ – its worse than English football fans! (football fans anywhere in the world actually). Loyalty to one side is absolutely required.

So as a genuine Jeannie/Genie – I would like to grant humanity 3 wishes (I have made them on its behalf – because I can).
1: That science be divorced from its forced marriage with the pharmaceutical industry – stop the invention of ‘dis-ease’.
2: We reintegrate our curriculum – bold but necessary – the separation of subjects is fundamentally flawed and doomed to maintain the current fallacy of ‘knowledge’.
3: That there be no more Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals generated by the Psychiatric ‘industry’.

Time to get back in the lamp – but keep the light on.

Fruit for thought

People could have been forgiven last week for thinking we were in a remake of Orson Welles famous radio drama broadcast in 1938 of H G Wells’s “War Of The Worlds” that caused widespread panic as people believed there to be an alien invasion going on. Perhaps not the same level of panic over a single male fruit fly found jumping the ditch on board a yacht (hope he earned his keep), but enough biosecurity people, people in funny suits, and checkpoints to give the impression that there was some sort of outbreak.

The alternative was that the fruit fly was the threat as in the 1950’s B Grade movies portrayed giant bugs terrorising hapless humans…tarantulas are big enough thank you. But no, it was a single male fruit fly who probably didn’t intend coming to NZ! I’m not na├»ve or denying the genuine ‘worry’ that was portrayed – or for that matter ‘real’, but I’d like to examine the notion of ‘threat’ here just a little bit for the sake of shifting awareness around how our perceptions are intimately linked with particular invisible and taken for granted institutions. Still with me? Time to take the ‘red pill’ (you can the blue one later if you really want to stick with ‘ignor-ance is bliss’).

Lets be clear then – fruit is not food in this framework of understanding. Nor is it a biological entity vibrating with life-force. It is a ‘product to be consumed’. It has a monetary value to the economy. The fear, grief, angst, worry, concern and panic had nothing to do with concern for the fruit – but the potential for the industry to suffer and the ripples this would have for our ‘economy’ (which ironically has nothing to do with economising –

When there is an experience of threat we naturally jump to idea of protection. So fruit quarantine measures are put in place – to protect the industry – not the fruit – there is a difference.

Mass graves might be dug for fruit (don’t think cremation would work – perhaps mummification?) but people were not conducting any ceremonies about the loss of life. In fact the call of ‘bring out your dead’ could possibly fit – people happily handing over quite good fruit or made to hand it over just in case it might become part of the potential spread of ‘loss of GDP’. Food is not food people! Wake up and smell the monetary system.

I’m all for biosecurity – but it reveals the startling reality of how meaning is created by systems we see as almost natural but are most definitely constructed. The Monetary system is perhaps the most powerful and pervasive.

Actually the real worry is that there would be a FEMALE fruit fly – with egg laying ability…females…always defined in terms of their ability to reproduce no matter what the species. Thankfully he was a lone traveller – absolutely peachy.