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You have the power
by Edna Nelson
2008-12-17 09:05:18
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Today 86% of people participating in the sex industry want to leave and feel that they can’t due to poverty and/or fear of retribution. Having sex out of fear for your life, or when you otherwise wouldn’t is usually considered rape. Following this path of logic it can be assumed that until effective steps are taken to help people out of the flesh market they will be forced to endure rape(s) on a daily basis. If this is true, why aren’t there more efforts made in order to bring these rapes to an end? Unwilling participants in the sex industry and their rapes represent bottom line of violence in the sex industry, but not the whole story.

Is the sex industry allowed to function in this way because it is okay to rape someone, but only if you do it regularly? Are the victims of this violence in some how wrong or bad as the violence against them and the lack of legal action in their defense suggests? If not, why are there date rape laws which apply to women who are too intoxicated to say “No” but none to protect women who are otherwise prohibited from saying “No”? Is there a good reason why there aren’t wide scale efforts made to assist and affirm people who are interested in leaving the sex industry? As “the world’s oldest profession” it is surprising that widely known work hazards are not more widely recognized.

Advocates of the sex industry argue that if we consider sex work in as a legitimate profession doors would open for reform and improvement in sex industry. The idea is that with unions, legal representation, a pay roll and freedom to advertise the sex industry would implement good practices and in time be transformed into relatively safe field of employment. Because problems persist in areas where sex work has been legalized advocates of the sex industry have begun to raise questions about how else sex worker might be protected. Shelters, rehabilitation resources, and protection are needed for people that are interested in leaving the sex industry. When we fail to support and protect victims of violence we actually act in support of their attackers. Basically informing rapists and abusers as to where they might find their victims.

The realities of the sex industry may not be at the top of your mind on a daily basis, but today I invite you to try and find for yourself an image of “sex work” and focus on it and try to get a solid sense of what it really means to you. Think about how you feel thinking about the term. Try going through the list of actions you imagine a sex worker to perform willingly or unwillingly, check in with how you feel again. Then imagine that you were in that position with no where to turn, and threats coming from all sides. I urge you to find out more about the conditions and legislation around sex workers in your area. You might be surprised by how much power you have to influence their situation.

  
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Emanuel Paparella2008-12-17 16:12:52
Indeed, there is much to ponder here. It is not well known that St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa treats the subject or prostitution (now called “sex work”) and without endorsing or condoning it morally says that some times it is better for the government to stay out of the business of legislating morality and one of those times it is the eradication of houses of prostitution. In effect Aquinas was saying that, independent of the morality or immorality of the act of prostitution of one’s body which goes together with that of violation of another’s body (for it takes two to have sex and when it is non consensual and forced upon, it is rape), houses of prostitution ought to be tolerated because to shut them down would create a worse situation in the community at large where women would end up being abused. I suppose what Aquinas was drawing attention to was that there is a physical prostitution to which some resort in desperation to make money, but there is also a moral and spiritual prostitution of the human rights of a woman and the latter prostitution of the spirit is by far the worst. Dostoyevsky makes the same point in Crime and Punishment where the redemption of the criminal protagonist is due to a prostitute who had never prostituted her soul.


AP2008-12-17 16:44:36
Aquinas was a really funny man.


AP2008-12-17 17:24:26
I'm afraid what Aquinas meant was that men who would go to prostitutes were so unable to control themselves that they would start abusing women in general if they would close the prostitution houses - and of course he didn't trust in the law of men to protect women, which is funny too. At the same time, he meant that if women would be defended in their human rights, there would be a retaliation. And also that women's destiny was to be abused - only a few prostitutes or all of them: you choose!! Not only this is disgusting, as it is false: never did the prostitution houses prevent abuses of women in the community at large - they are not alternative "options", but part of the same continuous problem.
I can't see prostitution of body without prostitution of soul, dignity and convictions. Sorry, these aren't separated in women, because they are complete beings too (even the prostitutes are complete common beings). If they are forced to do it, it does affect their spirit quite much and has the qualities of a repeated trauma, if they are not (which is, of course, arguable), they always create a defensive mental cleavage between body and mind, which is everything but healthy and clearly means that their experience implies an overwhelming emotional suffering. If you get to know some prostitutes, you will soon discover that they are the beings the least connected to their bodies that you can imagine - which is far from healthy and traps them in a mental dissociation between feelings and thought, with many bad consequences including denial of their own actions and a disrupted connection with... themselves. It's as if a big part of them was simply dead (this dead part includes dreams, but more than that it includes the thrust or faith they could have had in the humankind - they had contact with the darkest and most disgusting parts of human exploitation and misery, they become anesthetized and zombified, they don't believe in humans anymore). Moreover, you will discover that every prostitute once had dreams, just like you and me, common dreams, sometimes even naïve dreams - and it's very hard to resuscitate them. Even if they are supposedly doing it "because they want", the trauma aspect is always there and there's no way around it. They are easy targets and almost all have been raped one or several times and forced to do things they didn't want to (their self-esteem is very very low - though it might not look like that at first - and they generally feel that they were "damaged" or "rotten" and "aren't good"). No healthy woman would put herself in such risky position if the conditions which led to it were not extreme.


AP2008-12-17 17:34:23
The superficial and more or less cheap looks are just part of the job, the true selves are like that: "I'm rotten", "I was damaged", "I am not good", "I am not a good person", "I am evil", "I am the most despicable part of humankind, I deserve no pity or compassion", "I do things which are shameful", "I have no respect nor esteem for myself... and I should be punished/punish myself for that", "My children don't deserve me", "No man will want me", "No one will employ a former prostitute", "They will look into my eyes and they'll know what I've done in the past", "I'm not worth enough to be respected", etc etc etc...


AP2008-12-17 18:02:03
Or then just denial: "That didn't happen" (when they wish it didn't), "I didn't do that" (when they feel ashamed), "I don't remember" (when they recall it but wish they didn't), "I was never there", "I didn't act" (when they know they did but feel bad for it), "I didn't feel anything" (when they felt bad), "I wasn't forced" (when they were but feel ashamed of it), "I thought it was better for my son that he wouldn't know anything about me" (when they felt the opposite), etc etc... It's a permanent hide-and-seek from themselves because of the amounts of blame and the degradation they feel.
If you listen to the Amsterdam ones, for example, then "it was a hard night, but I'm the one in charge over here, and I'm going home to the man who loves me now, and the night will continue" which is of course still a profound lie.


AP2008-12-17 22:06:36
So generally I agree with Edna that protection, shelters and rehabilitation measures are needed. And it does not surprise me if 86% of them want to leave the industry either... After all, who wants to get inside the industry, or who wants to keep inside after going through all sorts of degrading and violent experiences??
This reminds me of an episode with Pink - she went to Moscow and was doing a private concert for Russian business men and government leaders. "I was amazed that these guys... well they all had such gorgeous wives, who danced all the time and were simply stunning, I thought they were SO lucky because they had the MOST beautiful WIVES I had ever seen... every single one of them! So you can imagine how disappointed I was when, after coming back, my manager asked me in shock: "didn't you realize that they were all prostitutes?"".


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 00:43:39
Interesting article... Unfortunately, it seems to me that the author does not quite know or understand what she is talking about. As to Mr. Paparella's comment, I believe it might be true to some extend - as the saying goes, it requires two to tango.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 00:51:46
As to the slogan as 'You have a power' - well, it is nice and dandy to repeat that from time to time. I guess it has soothing effect on people who might occasionaly to find themselves pondering on certain issues that are under normal circumstances take place outside of their backyard. I wish to ask whoever will bother to answer me - exactly what power, and how much of it, do we have (omitting a possible flow of abuse and demagogy, if you please), that's it.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 01:15:19
In Amsterdam, professional prostitutes have all the major benefits of fully employed workers, such as free health insurance, plus full protection of the law that, among other things, punishes customer’s violence and requires them to use protection at all times.
In Prague, professional prostitutes are divided by two categories - those who work in so-called ‘night clubs’ (which cater almost exclusively to the tourists from US, Britain and Germany), and those who ‘walk the street’. The latter category almost exclusively consists of national minorities – that is, illegal aliens from Rumania and Albania. I do not know what kind of treatment professional prostitutes in Czech Republic receive, but illegal ones are not protected by law at all (but quite often they are protected by local mafia, which is especially true in case of Ukrainians, since Ukrainian mafia enjoys a brick trade in seasonal workers, sex slaves and such, all too common all across Czech Republic still).


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 01:19:04
It is also curious to note that in Holland for example, those who frequent hashish coffee houses and aforementioned bordellos are mostly tourists from countries with prohibiting drug and sex laws, and not locals. I'll let you fill in the blanks what countries I mean.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 01:25:14
The last note: when the country excersises harsh laws against drug trade and sex industry, it always ends up punishing those who are the least guilty, or not guilty at all - underage prostitutes, abused women, who cannot sustain their living, drug addicts etc. Such countries, as a matter of rule, also proclaim strong moral (read - religious), family values and social equality, while in reality they promote almost medieval sexism, intolerance and religious fanaticism, which naturally gives them an opportunity to suck their citizens dry of whatever the latter could earn, and to excersise nearly an absolute power.


AP2008-12-18 01:31:49
When I talked about what they truly think of themselves, I mentioned, of course, all those false beliefs which get deeper and deeper inside them and are truly damaging for them, as time passes. They rest beneath all the appearances, charm, sexiness, the self-delusion of having the control and the power, the bragging about bed accomplishments and so on. Those false beliefs are beneath all that, sometimes they're not even very conscious, but they rule many of their actions - and the act of prostitution itself. As for the author, I don't know if she knows what she is talking about - but I have no reasons to suspect she doesn't.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 02:00:40
You are quite right. There are many young (and shamelessly young, at that) women, who are, at the very beginning of their 'career' strongly believe that they, and not their customers who possess money, have an immence power. They believe, for example, that they can manipulate some 'stupid foreign old ass' into supporting them in relative luxury, while the true case is always quite the opposite.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 02:04:53
P.S.To Ms. A. P.
Hey, maybe we can talk without fighting every time, huh? It is a rather nice thought (although I realize you blame me for all the rudenness, for which i apologise, even if I do not support the preposition fully). In any case, I think this journal will only benefit from the lack of scandalous and rude comments.


AP2008-12-18 02:25:05
"In Amsterdam, professional prostitutes have all the major benefits of fully employed workers, such as free health insurance, plus full protection of the law that, among other things, punishes customer’s violence and requires them to use protection at all times."
That doesn't impress me much, because the main purpose of those laws was to protect the society and decrease the levels of criminality, not to give them alternatives. As "sexual tourism attractions" they could bring some wealth to the city and the government, but first of all that doesn't show much humane concern for them as people, and second the idea of decreasing criminality levels didn't work. Still the business in itself is extremely violent and degrading, both physically, even using condoms (and here the prostitutes themselves and the gynecologists or family doctors can give you a tip or two about all the daily damages) and pshycologically (and here social workers or psychologists can help to clarify antecedents and consequences) - no matter how much you support it legally. Also, because the violence cases and criminality related with the legal prostitution have been rising consistently, Amsterdam recently decided to close a good number - or even most - of the prostitution places in the Old Town. I don't see any difference in this fact: Amsterdam should invest in rehabilitation as much as the Czech Republic, although the phenomenon has different origins and characteristics in those two places. I don't think this is a matter of dispute between countries either.

About the "harsh laws"... good life/integration alternatives first! Even if not punishing it and implementing at least the minimum measures for protection of prostitutes (which I think they all should), States should admit:
1. that prostitution is highly damaging for the ones who practice it - therefore they shouldn't encourage it in order to increase profits
2. that they can hardly protect or control what goes on inside the houses, in practical terms (even if the law is there to punish costumer violence... after it has happened - and this is funny, you know, because treating someone as a piece of buyable meat is a violence in itself, so the costumer violence, I think it begins in... being costumer and ends up... no one really knows or controls where!). Another thing I would be curious about is how do they define that violence and what are the limits - as I said before, I think the violence starts in being a costumer, and then it can rise in different ways.


AP2008-12-18 02:46:44
The "stupid foreign old ass" is just a way of lying for themselves and others, hiding the exploitation and humiliation beneath (because of the tremendous shame they feel), other times it is a way of bragging next of "colleagues" to improve their status as members of that group. Also common among prostitute young boys. Maybe the younger they are, the more easily they try to defend themselves like that.

To Mr. AM:
Without fighting sounds good.
"although I realize you blame me for all the rudenness, for which i apologise, even if I do not support the preposition fully"
idem here
I agree that it would only benefit Ovi.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-18 02:50:27
Of course, it is violence, but it is not always a one way street - there is a strong element of self inflicted violence as well (or at least a sense of self- degradation) on the part of the customer, who might think that he is not worth much as a man in its biological sense, if you will, or a human being therefore he is partly constious of what he is doing (no matter how hard he is trying to suppress that, though). The act of violation, inflicted towards other human beings always requires to some degree an act of self- violation as well ( in terms of - let's see,who is the most sick around here). All I am trying to say here, is that this problem is not as simple as it seems. (Besides, who, regarding himself as a normal and healthy man, would want to buy sex, anyway? Or to be able to enjoy pornography?)


AP2008-12-18 03:27:43
"on the part of the customer, who might think that he is not worth much as a man in its biological sense, if you will"
There are such cases, but... I am sorry, I don't feel pity for them (in that case, they pay to drop their frustrations on someone else). The idea of the client is much more often to feel that he/she has power over someone else - and that's what's sexy about it, for them: sex as a tool of power, power as the ultimate end, the main aphrodisiac. That's why it is so likely that the prostitutes get mistreated.

"who, regarding himself as a normal and healthy man, would want to buy sex, anyway? Or to be able to enjoy pornography?"
hummm... actually, our societies have for a long time regarded, and to some extent still do regard, these as not only the normal men, but even as "things that THE normal men are supposed to do" (not to talk about requirements to be considered a man by their parents, shame for not consuming pornography like their male friends do, etc.).


AP2008-12-18 03:29:57
errata - customer


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-18 10:28:35
Aquinas was a really funny man. Dostoyevsky too must have been a really funny man. They were both funny man and wrote funny thing.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-18 10:30:10
Errata abpve: the last word is "things".


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-18 11:11:44
To Alexander Mikhaylov: intriguing point about the possibility and the desirability to disagree without becoming rude and boorish and disagreable. You too must have taken notice that people out to save civilization with an ideology and a superior stance (to stand over, rather than to under-stand) quite often act in an uncivil way toward each other, which makes it a tremendous paradox, as Dostoyevisky well pointed out in The Possessed.


AP2008-12-18 13:36:39
Yes, sometimes funny men write funny things with not so funny implications.
...............
Nothing to do with this, but I find it strange, Mr. P., that the sentence:
"Such countries, as a matter of rule, also proclaim strong moral (read - religious), family values and social equality, while in reality they promote almost medieval sexism, intolerance and religious fanaticism"
does not deserve any comment from you this time. What do you think about it - does it cross the border of religion bashing for you?


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-18 16:38:16
Indeed, the border is crossed every time cultural philistines proclaim that anything medieval is ipso facto culturally retrograde and obscurantist and, pari passu, anything modern and post-modern is also ipso facto progressive, desirable and non plus ultra,especially if devoid of religion. Whenever that misguided assessment is proposed to me by anybody, no matter their ideology and cultural paradigm, as a serious scholarly historical fact I have no comment except to recommend a visit to any of the myriads medieval Gothic cathedrals. If they come back and tell me that they found those funny too, then I consider it the wiser choice to desist from discussing anything else with them, for it is usually non-productive, often ending in diatribes and vitriolics mistakenly parading as rational objective arguments.


AP2008-12-18 22:49:59
The sentence was not mine, Mr. P. But I praise your enthusiasm.


AP2008-12-18 22:51:54
A man who is passioned about something is not dead yet.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-19 22:03:52
Sorry, I seem to miss the half of this discussion (by being absent, alas, from my home and concequently my computer as well).
The only thing I'd like to add to whoever might bother to read this, is following- under no circumstances I equalize Medieval with Gothic. I merely use the term 'medieval' in its socio-abstract way, a negative term for anything backward, dark etc. Personally, I am always delighted with anything that relates to Gothic period proper- architecture, music, visual art, philosofy etc. A rather sad habit of our times - using words with disregard to their proper meaning


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-19 22:20:25
Indeed, indeed, Mr. Mikhaylov, for that abuse of words we may thank none other than the "enlightened" Voltaire who actually invented that perverted meaning of the word Gothic to refer to anything barbaric and retrograde. That's why I keep repeating that "the enlightenment may have shed light on everything but it has still to enlighten itself."


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-19 22:37:45
Well, since there is at least one reader still present at this discussion, I may also add, to the contrary of Ms. A.P. allusions to religios bashing and such, that supposedly trickled into my own responses - I cannot abide sectarianism only, and not the established church at all. Whenever I was referring to religion, it was sectarionism I was talking about


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-19 22:46:52
P.S. And to speak of an era of Enlightenment and its positive effect on European civilisation - I believe it is one of the outrageous fictions of the history


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-20 00:28:55
Indeed, look where all that "enlightenment" led Europe: first to 19th century Romanticism, a still ongoing experiment which has many positive features but also some not so positive ending up in the enormities and barbarism of the 20th century both of the extreme right and of the extreme left.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-20 03:00:25
I quite agree, not to mention the fact that cultural and spiritual development of Europe that had existed before the Era of Enlightnement was so rudely arrested by 'Black Death' and later on,by newer political developments. For one thing, there are still so many discussions regarding Catholic Inquisition but... where it not Protestants who championed this practise up to the 19th century? Not mentioning the fact that Inquisitors largely believed that a burning of heretics saved their souls from the Hell. To compare them with modern times killers is simply stupid


AP2008-12-20 03:05:19
Rationality is not a monster, Mr. P., it is part of ourselves just like emotion is - rejecting that can only have catastrophic consequences. I can't live without reason, can you? If you can, please explain me how you do it... wait, I think I have a clue about that... Of course, the obvious connections with the movements related with the defense of human rights and the independence of the U.S., those were conveniently(?) left aside again. The cliché of the Enlightenment as the source of all the disgraces of the 20th century is convenient like a scapegoat. Besides that, it is historically wrong.


AP2008-12-20 03:15:05
The times we live in, those are always the modern times. Killers are killers in any time. Aside from the beliefs, the burning of heretics was senseless and convenient. Any killer can have beliefs - beliefs are just beliefs, and they can be terribly distorted or contradict other beliefs... by the same person. You see why, more than reason, common sense is needed?


AP2008-12-20 03:17:16
Gute nacht.


AP2008-12-20 03:23:36
(and please keep away from any source of light, candles, lamps, chandeliers, flashlights, lighthouses or matches: we want nights tenebrous as they should be, because like that all the unknowns get much more easily mystical)


AP2008-12-20 03:25:44
(ps - mysticism and fear are, of course, the water and salt for our soup)


Alexander MIkhaylov2008-12-20 04:01:27
Gute nacht.

Guten nacht fur see also! Aber, ish ferstee nicht, warum sagen see dish


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-20 06:40:09
I suppose Mr. S.'s visiting voices have also told you that I live without reason when in fact I teach a subject called philosophy which is based exactly on reason. Oh, well; we know the tactics by now. If instead of conducting a vitriolic diatribe based on bashing and smearing religion you had determined to try to understand a score articles or so where I have attempted to explain the vichian conception of reason, you would not have been persuaded by the visiting voices. Reason is much more than mere logic and rationalism, it is also, the imaginative, the poetic, the intuitive, the emotional. When those are left out one ends up in rationalism rationalizing enormities that ought never be tolerated. Indeed, Voltaire died cursing Dante. He might have learned a thing or two from Dante on the futility of doing "light unto oneself" in a dark cave.


Sand2008-12-20 18:50:05
Voltaire (1694-1778)
"This is no time to make new enemies."
(Asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan)


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-20 23:55:38
"Now the critical spirit of every age previous to our own has been characterized by its inability to appreciate sympathetically the spirit of past and bygone times. In the seventeenth century criticism made idols of its ancient models; it acknowledged no serious imperfections in them; it set them up as exemplars for the present and all future times to copy. Let the genial Epicurean henceforth write like Horace, let the epic narrator imitate the supreme elegance of Virgil, -- that was the conspicuous idea, the conspicuous error, of seventeenth-century criticism. It overlooked the differences between one age and another. Conversely, when it brought Roman patricians and Greek oligarchs on to the stage, it made them behave like French courtiers or Castilian grandees or English peers. When it had to deal with ancient heroes, it clothed them in the garb and imputed to them the sentiments of knights-errant. Then came the revolutionary criticism of the eighteenth century, which assumed that everything old was wrong, while everything new was right. (continued below)


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-20 23:56:50
It recognized crudely the differences between one age and another, but it had a way of looking down upon all ages except the present. This intolerance shown toward the past was indeed a measure of the crudeness with which it was comprehended. Because Mohammed, if he had done what he did, in France and in the eighteenth century, would have been called an impostor, Voltaire, the great mouthpiece and representative of this style of criticism, portrays him as an impostor. Recognition of the fact that different ages are different, together with inability to perceive that they ought to be different, that their differences lie in the nature of progress, -- this was the prominent characteristic of eighteenth-century criticism. Of all the great men of that century, Lessing was perhaps the only one who outgrew this narrow critical habit."
--Longfellow (Dante translator and scholar)


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 00:03:19
To the interested reader: to better understand the philistinism described by Longfellow above see S.P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" which describes the loss of a holistic understanding of knowledge after Da Vinci and the Renaissance and the consequent philistinism of considering everything present as good and everything old as bad best consigned to a great bonfire.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 09:22:50
For Voltaire to call Dante’s poetry “bizarre” leads one at the very least four conclusions: 1) he had a poor appreciation of Dante’s form and poetics, 2) that lack of appreciation for at the very least the form of the poetry, whose author has been called the greatest poet that ever lived by various scholars, leads one to wonder if extreme rationalism devoid of the poetic leads ineluctably to that kind of cultural philistinism vis a vis great poetry, 3) Voltaire most probably had a bias against Dante the man for being fair and objective in his content, for after all three Popes are placed in hell together with all kind of scoundrels from many walks of life: the higher their cleverness, the deeper the part of hell in which they are placed, 4) Voltaire completely missed the boat on the content too since the very first line of the Divine Comedy announced to the reader that life is a journey and the roads one chooses on that journey determines to a large extent one short term and long term destiny; in other words that men are free and freely choose heaven or hell even here on earth; it is not Dante or God who places them there, but themselves who choose on or the other. DANTE AND VOLTAIRE WERE TWO FUNNY MEN. THE MEDIEVAL ERA AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT ERA WERE TWO FUNNY ERAS; ONE WONDERS WHICH WAS FUNNIER.


Sand2008-12-21 12:48:50
So here we go on another irrelevant excursion into evaluating Voltaire who, it’s quite evident, is one of Paparella’s prime demons for not being properly respectful of many of the fatuous dogmas of the Catholic Church. His sarcastic remark that Voltaire was funny is an attempt at irony to insinuate that Voltaire was not funny but anybody with a normal sense of humor who has read Candide would have a very tough time agreeing with that. I am particularly taken aback that Paparella with his minuscule mental apparatus should set himself against the mind of Voltaire who, most intelligent people must admit, had a pretty good grip on how to use a good mind.

Strangely, there is brought into this comment, the religious proposal that we all have free will, a viewpoint that is in direct contradiction to the religious acceptance that God never makes mistakes and sees everywhere into the past and the future, a concept that fails to relate to the many Biblical adventures such as the expulsion from Eden, the great flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other historic occurrences that clearly indicated that God quite simply and radically fucked up. But that discussion has gone on forever and is in no way amenable to easy solution.

I cannot comment on Voltaire’s taste in poetry and the anonymous horde of experts who declare Dante the greatest poet of all time nevertheless leave me in much doubt. I cannot read Italian and poetry is notoriously untranslatable in its total impact so, until I master the language I will withhold judgment on the matter.

The Middle Ages which so enthralls Paparella makes me wish I could send him back there to enjoy the general filth, plagues, illiteracy, ignorance, superstition, enslavement of peasants, incessant bloody battles between minor provinces led by sadistic rulers, anti-Semitism, and all the other goodies characteristic of the era.

Examination of most of Paparella’s comments is, to a large degree. Similar to a forensic inspection of the sludge at the bottom of a septic tank where all sorts of the recent contents of several diverse digestive systems are mixed in a way difficult to discern what came from where and what they might signify. Add to that that the examiner is almost totally incompetent and you have the correct perspective.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 16:25:20
Both Yale and Harvard University have endowed chairs of Dante scholarship. I have a proposal, why don't we write to their Presidents and Deans and ask them to refrain from teaching Dante till Mr. S. has had an opportunity to learn the language and assess the worth of such poetry being taught to impressionable minds. If the assessment of the Grand Inquisitor of politival correctness is positive, all is well that ends well. If on the other hand it is negative (and there are hints that such will be the final judgment in the above message...and its biased description of Medieval times) then tehy may once and for all consign all books by Dante and on Dante to a big philistine bonfire and be done with peddling second rate poetry to impressionable minds; they could replace all that fantasy stuff with hard-nosed science which yelds reality and idols the materialist positivistic Naked Ape can hold in his paw and worship.


Sand2008-12-21 17:15:11
Why Paparella! I didn't render any verdict on Dante and I explicitly said so. Why do you think I should burden your revered authorities with a suspended opinion? Or are you eager to throw Dante into your bonfire and my non-opinion frustrates your eagerness?


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 19:09:11
I still don't understand why one would insist on rummaging through what one consider garbage. On the other hand I am beginning to understand why some put the ocean between themselves and those they have smeared and slandered, for after all there are legal remedies to that kind of undesirable proclivity, some states even consider it a criminal act. That is not to put under a cloud of suspicion all expatriates, but the spectable you have made of yourself in this forum leads one to wonder, for it certainly does not enhance their standing with those they have left behind.


AP2008-12-21 19:36:33
I believe so.
"Both Yale and Harvard University have endowed chairs of Dante scholarship"
He was a great poet.
But how can one, for example, decide with no doubt which one is "better": Homer, Ovid, Sophocles, Euripides, Li Bai, Shakespeare, Whitman, Baudelaire, Khayyam, Matsuo Basho, Al-Mutanabbi, Tu Fu and Li Po, Goethe, Camões, Cervantes, Neruda, Lope de Vega, Lorca, al-Zahawi, Rilke, Gibran, Vallejo, Sappho, Angelou, Blake , Byron, Cummings, Dumas, Eliot, Octavio Paz, Wild, Victor Hugo, Celan, Brecht, Wordsworth, Mistral, Milosz, Drummond, Strindberg, Stevenson, Apollinaire, Seferis, Machado, Kochanowski, Artaud, Gumilyov, Bandeira, Slaveykov, Andersen, Blandiana, Corneille, Cendrars, Eminescu, Maeterlinck, Borges, Al Mu'Tamid, Horace, Tsvetayeva, Hellaakoski, Plath, Michaux, Éluard, Claudel, Koskenniemi, Ibsen, Avicenna, W.C. Williams, Almqvist, Fujiwara no Teika, Virgil, Embirikos, Ritsos, al-Bistami, Topelius, Akhmatova, Michizane, Darío, Gabirol, Haavio, Pessoa, Cavafy, Klaus, Panagoulis, Aristophanes, Stein, Millay, Holderlin, Yeats, Cernuda, Pasternak, Hesiod, Pushkin, As-Salami, etc.?


AP2008-12-21 19:40:04
Mr. P., those suggestions about expatriates running away from justice are absurd. It's like saying: "how can anyone decide to live anywhere but here?"


AP2008-12-21 19:44:51
I've faced that kind of attitude for leaving my country... by stupid people. It's not original and such arguments are ridicule. No one woes fidelity but to oneself. A country is a virtual thing invented by men to complicate everything.



Sand2008-12-21 20:06:25
Shame on you, Paparella, for cowering behind an ocean and falsely accusing me of slander when I am merely trying desperately to correct your childish misconceptions and occasional outright revisions of history. Where's your sense of gratitude?


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 00:59:49
There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he's crooked.
--Groucho Marx


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 01:04:29
To answer your urgent question Ms. P., As Hussein Salami wins hands down, together with Mr. S.'s chocolate cake. Ah, the wonders of name's speculation...


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 01:08:21
And they were all funny people. Voltaire pronounced Dante's poetry bizarre. Dante and Voltaire were funny men too. Which was funnier it's better left to posterity.


AP2008-12-22 05:17:20
"As Hussein Salami wins hands down, together with Mr. S.'s chocolate cake. Ah, the wonders of name's speculation..."
A well-known sport to you... :)
It is not my purpose to defend Voltaire's poetry taste, still to call him dumb/slow is maybe a little bit unreasonable.


Sand2008-12-22 07:03:37
Which indicates Mr.P. is not up to par today. Usually he's totally unreasonable.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 08:26:19
Mr. P. and Ms. P. are totally "reasonable" people. Who is the most reasonable is hard to say. I suppose it all depends on how one defines reason. Some define it as "my way or the highway." Others define it as "I always get the last word in." Others as "I am cleverer than you." Perhaps to separate two totally reasonable people to to have both of them be clever by half. Totally clever is more desirable.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 08:37:42
Regarding expatriates: the word is neutral in itself: to be out of one's country. The issue then becomes: why are you out of your country? Is it voluntary or forced? And if it is voluntary, is it because you are trying to achieve a higher Hegelian synthesis by becoming a citizen of the world? Wonderful! Why not become a citizen of the Universe; that is the ultimate synthesis, and when you achieve that you are wholly out of touch with your country, your region, your village, your family, and finally your self. That is why Dante had three realms: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, in that order...If he had begun with Paradiso he would have been out of his self, unable to continue the journey assigned to everybody...So, not all journeys end in the same place.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 08:40:28
Dante too was a really funny man.


Sand2008-12-22 08:49:38
Again we are offered overwhelmingly gross misconceptions. A citizen is a member of a community. The universe is not a community. Humanity has recently established very tentative almost non-existent relations with a few of the planets of the solar system. To assume that the universe at large is even faintly aware of the existence of all of humanity, not to speak of an individual human is to partake of that monstrous hubris so characteristic of religious belief which once placed humans at the center and which more current knowledge has reduced to their proper total unimportance.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 15:24:29
One could never tell by the importance you give yourself as if you were indeed he center of the universe. There is some kind of screw up somewhere.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 15:28:00
The bizarre logic seems to be this: everything and everybody is unimportant, but I am important for being the only one to know it and for announcing it to you.


Sand2008-12-22 15:29:39
And you, Paparella. Do you not look outward radially when you turn about or are you some personal miasma that attempts to invade all cracks and niches and fog up any discernible understanding of the universe with vague and undefinable terminology?


Emily2009-01-21 02:26:40
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