Relationships


Ecology and Government and Philosophy and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues13 Jun 2017 06:43 pm

The KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) is said to have been originated in the early sixties by the navy and referred to the importance and benefit of simple design. Albert Einstein was a big proponent of the idea and felt that any good theory must be simple and elegant, and that complicated formulas and solutions are both inefficient and unusable.

Here is a Wikipedia’s article on the KISS principle:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

I have stated on numerous occasions that people generally make life far more complicated that it has to be. Experiences such as joy, happiness, peace and harmony are not that complicated, let alone idealistic. The majority of people conduct the vast majority of their social interactions in a peaceful and harmonious manner. In a world of indoor plumbing, potable water, electricity, etc. we are now in a position for most societies, if not the entire globe, to live increasingly comfortable and rewarding lives.

Yet, the greedy and power hungry minority spawn fear and hatred as a means of making the good life the possession of the few by complicating life and convincing the masses that life’s simple pleasures are idealistic and unattainable. Destroying the elegance and simplicity of cooperation by presenting the easiest conflict as unresolvable and flatly stating that all realistic options and acts of diplomacy have been exhausted when nary a one has been explored.

When breaking down a rewarding life into its simplest terms I come up with a few observations. First I yearn for intimacy. I don’t just mean having an intimate relationship with other people, but an intimate relationship with myself, nature and life in general. Intimacy is just the natural process of becoming closer and more familiar with something. One can be intimate with almost any object, idea or activity. I explored this in depth in my book Exploring Intimacy which can be read here:

http://guidoworld.com/words/exploring-intimacy

The second major category is to better enjoy the integration of all aspects of our/my experience. This would mean that I enjoy the sensorial, emotional and mental aspects of my life. In other words I learn how to maximize my experience by enjoying and savoring my being a thinking and feeling sentient person which exists in a body and lives in a world. The third element is my feeling connected to the world and act in a way which improves and maintains not only my quality of life but that of all of organic life.

Applying these ideas to our shared social world we come up with the following. We can keep things simple if we focus on the following. First we should not only tolerate but encourage all to find and cultivate intimacy in their lives. Second we can protect the quality of people’s lives and experiences by not destroying the environment and endangering people’s health through dumping toxins and poisons into our air, land and water.

The third guiding principle is that the major goal and concern of all personal and social behavior is to be life affirming. Being life affirming not only has us move away from poisoning our land, water and air, but also dictates that we make peace and harmony the goal and focus of all our decisions. In a life affirming society any action which harms others or the environment would be attended to and not be allowed to become entrenched or a habit of government. No action which caused harm or impaired the quality of life would be considered an act of progress or even tolerated. Only actions which enhanced or maintained the quality of life of the majority would be considered progress.

Einstein pointed out that one needs to be as simple as one can be without becoming too simple. While intimacy and integrated experience are relatively straight forward, the concept of being life affirming will always be a work in progress. In many situations it will be easy to determine what is life affirming, yet in many areas assessing what is the most life affirming option both near and far term will be challenging.

The fact that social utopias do not exist should not be alarming nor discouraging. The fact that life is an endless process of improvement and development only adds to its preciousness, and is inherent in the concept of intimacy. Yet, do let the greedy and power hungry convince you that life’s lack of perfection means everything is too complicated and joy, peace and harmony are idealistic fictions. Joy, intimacy and harmony are real experiences and not ideals. Real experience is never perfect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be simple or elegant.

One does not have to deny the reality of pain and suffering to appreciate the reality of joy, love, intimacy and harmony.

Jim Guido

 

 

 

Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues12 Mar 2017 01:14 pm

Skin-on-skin contact is not only essential in infancy, but plays a privileged role in our physical and mental health throughout our lives. A lack of physical contact can lead to increased depression and anxiety as well as being linked to heart disease and many forms of cancer.

While nothing duplicates the biochemical benefits of a rewarding sex life, affection, exercise and social bonding all have measurable physical and psychological rewards. Moments of physical and social comfort and connection reduce one’s stress level and improve one’s view of self and the world at large.

A good deal of live in person human contact and communication has been replaced by indirect and distant forms of interaction via technologies such as the computer and phone. While the amount and frequency of human contact has stagnated or declined the amount and frequency of affection people receive from their pets has increased sharply. It would be safe to say that a great percentage of people now give and receive more affection from cats, dogs and other animals than they do from other humans.

While incredibly rewarding, human affection and interaction, is often very complicated and conflictual. Affection with animals comes easy and has very little strings attached to it. Animals rarely rebuff our attention and affections and are generally available to us at our beckoning.


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Humor and Relationships and Social Issues10 Jan 2017 02:36 pm

We have become such a devout society. No matter where I go, I see people standing and sitting with their heads slightly bowed as they scan the sacred verses and icons (text and images) on their hand held prayer books. The most devout stay focused on their prayer books while kneeling, walking and in some cases even driving their cars. As darkness approaches their pious faces become bathed in soft eternal light (or as long as their batteries stay charged).

Their eyes and minds stay transfixed on the transcendent realities evoked by what they read and what they see. They are part of a universal community far greater than the mind can comprehend. They are connected to the universe through mind and spirit without the cumbersome limitations of the body and its senses. The faithful, while in prayer, are freed from all of the blasphemous temptations of the profane world and need not fret about its impending demise, or get distracted by its imperfect and fading beauty.

The clergy (Google, Facebook, etc. protect the purity of the message through loving censorship making sure that our (power) lord’s message of the “Good News” stays intact. While we can’t totally overcome our sinful natures and our appetites for actual physical sensorial pleasure, we can remove ourselves from temptation by entering the virtual sacred world of prayer and meditation. We can at least temporarily transcend the wheel of life and its attachments which lead to all human suffering and find calm and peace in the warm embrace of our electronic prayer books and their electronic spirit world of perfection. Virtual reality for faithful is truly a virtuous reality.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues21 Nov 2016 02:34 pm

Ever since early adolescence I’ve been hormonally constituted to be fascinated, mesmerized, entranced, intoxicated, infatuated and enthralled with the female body. Yet, even before the onset of puberty I found myself drawn to girls in the arena of personal relationships and intimate connection.

When it came to the realm of physical activity comprised of running, jumping, tackling and working together as a team I totally preferred the company of boys. In adolescence, in terms of intellectual, scientific and philosophical discourse I once again preferred the company of men.

Yet, what mattered to me most was how to maximize the quality of personal experience through consistently deriving joy form both body and mind. The time and energy, care and devotion, women spent processing their thoughts and feelings regarding their relationship with others as well as themselves I found highly captivating and fulfilling. In many ways this processing of relationship became the core of my definition of intimacy, and intimacy became the center of both the way I lived in the world and how I found meaning and fulfillment in life.

My love affair with the female body and feminine personality were not relegated to a specific type or ideal. The female body and the many varied ways woman had of processing their thoughts and feelings I found endlessly stimulating and refreshing. They were the fruit that I longed to savor and desire whether they be peach, plum, watermelon, pomegranate, grape or berry.

Despite enjoying the cornucopia of the pleasures offered through their intimate company, I never had a problem being loyal and devoted to any woman willing to match my intensity and devotion to intimate sharing. Every visceral, sensual, emotional and intellectual experience of my life became richer and more fulfilling when shared with a partner. I always felt it a touching privilege to be included in the processing ritual that forms the basis of most feminine relationships.

In activities I preferred the company of men, and in conversation and relationships I preferred the company of women. Viewing and experiencing the female life style as having more options and freedoms I greatly envied the female role in society. In the early 60’s the women’s movement with its emphasis on improving the quality of life, consciousness raising, respect for all human life and maximizing one’s experience of love and intimate relationships filled me with hope. I felt that men were imprisoned by work and oppressed by bosses and gender expectations.

Life in the Sixties

I grew up in a town where the great majority of men worked in factories and/or held down two or more jobs in order to make ends meet allowing their wives to stay home and provide the children with a safe and loving environment. Though this wasn’t always the reality, it did fit most of the lower middle class and middle class homes with which I was familiar.

A man’s life, I was often told, and as it appeared to me, centered around three things, duty, sacrifice and alienation. Duty and sacrifice were often spoken of with a sense of pride and purpose. Alienation was talked about in pop psychology, talk shows, the theater and in political messages espoused by unions, marxist and socialist groups, the intelligentsia, and dramatic plays. Death of A Salesman was probably the most powerful play I saw on TV during my childhood, and my father’s frustration, anger and depression seemed to bore testament to his sense of alienation.

My dad was so often very absent and emotionally damaged by his war experience. He would occasionally wake up from nightmares wailing and speaking in Italian in very anxious tones. I have no memory of him speaking to me let alone doing an activity with me, and even when punishing us with belts and switches he never made physical contact with us.

My dad often worked two jobs during my developmental years. My mom, while a busy homemaker, was able to work according to her own schedule and found time to engage in joys during the day such as watching her favorite TV programs and visit neighborhood friends. When I was three and four years old and my brother and sister were at school I had my best times with my mother (who had her own volatility and mental health issues). I would listen to my mom talk to herself and to the TV programs, and I often accompanied her as she walked or traveled by bus to visit friends. My mom loved to cook and the aromas of childhood were dominated by the nurturing smells of food that lingered in the house for hours.

When I was eight my mom decided that she was no longer needed in the home full time and she began to work. My sister, then fourteen, was asked to help out with the cooking and cleaning. and my brother and I were expected to maintain our rooms and make our own breakfast and lunch. My dad’s only objection was that it would make him look incompetent and a failure at providing for his family. Yet, he quickly adjusted to having more free time and not having the entire financial burden placed upon himself.

Since the late 70’s and early 80’s it has been fashionable to focus on how reluctant men are to help out around the house when their spouse goes to work. While this was true in my dad’s case it was also true that when my dad worked two jobs my mom did not help out or take on any of the traditional male tasks. In addition to working anywhere from sixty to eighty hours a week, my dad took care of the lawn, cleaned the gutters, put up screens and storm windows, and did most of the strenuous outdoor activity. Though not good with his hands he fixed all broken items in the home, for we had no money to hire out for professional or trade services. In essence none of this division of labor changed no matter how many hours of work my dad did each week, or when my mom took on an outside job.

I was mot enamored with the male role which I not only experienced in my family but witnessed in pretty much every home in our factory town. While I often saw and talked to my friends mothers, their fathers were generally not present or when present they were busy doing some chore or task. It is true that the men went to clubs and belonged to social organizations, but they usually were dominated by drinking and for group protection and alliances in the labor, religious and political arenas. The handful of times I accompanied my dad to these functions I found them generally bereft of amy intimate conversation though at times there was bonding via humor, story telling and rallying against common enemies or concerns.

Intellectually stimulating conversation was difficult to come by in my youth, and I sought and established friendships with peers who were interested in and willing to engage in thoughtful and intimate conversation. Rarely was I present in a home in which the parents demonstrate a vested interest in their child’s and their child’s friends thought and feelings. The exception to this was my Jewish friends whose families engaged in interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Years of Social Change

I couldn’t relate to my mom’s sense of being bored and having too much free time which greatly influenced her decision to go to work. Shortly after my mom went to work the women’s movement became a part of the mainstream social discussion. I found the entire movement quite encouraging and it gave me hope that men, and not only women, would be able to seek a better quality of life. The early dialogue in the women’s movement focused on quality of life issues such as consciousness raising, intimate relationship, self-discovery and finding and engaging in activities which improved and fulfilled oneself infusing their life with a sense of joy and meaning.

In my junior high years a feminist mom of one of my classmates initiated monthly assemblies where we would listen and discuss important social issues such as the war, poverty, the good society, and how to find meaning in one’s life. I was convinced that the women’s movement was going to free both men and women by providing everyone with options and replacing labor and sacrifice with intimacy and personal growth.

Shortly before I graduated high school the focus of the women’s movement turned towards the economic freedom of having jobs and careers and turned away from quality of life issues. I felt betrayed as the movement abandoned self-actualization and intimacy and replaced by an obsession with joining the workforce and receive equal pay. I could not fathom why women would aspire to live in the world that so many men experienced as a repressive prison. Why would anyone who was seeking intimacy and a better quality of life make alienating labor its core goal?

In my eyes the humanist and feminist goal of creating a society fostering human fulfillment and self-actualization was being replaced by everyone being imprisoned by a life dominated by alienating and stifling labor.

Honoring Everyone’s Sexual Nature

In the fist couple of paragraphs I discussed how I was drawn to and desired to be intimate with the female body and value system. Data and conversations I had with my male friends amply demonstrated that I was not alone with this visceral, emotional and psychological attraction to women. The male sex drive is a powerful hormonal tempest that often dominates many men from puberty well on into adulthood. Sexual desire and the desire to have an intimate relationship with a woman is hard wired into the average heterosexual male.

We have come a long way in terms of understanding, accommodating and sometimes even celebrating the complex biological and hormonal feminine world. The bulk of men and women understand that the hormonal premenstrual changes in the average female influence mood, emotional tenor as well as sensual sensitivities and thought process. We also have begun to understand and accommodate the hormonal and emotional changes engendered during peri-menopause. Only a small portion of people would consider the emotional, physical and psychological changes to be a matter of choice, or a personal problem and handicap. While the hormonal changes are not experienced by everyone in the same manner and intensity, we would not say that they are fictitious or something a woman just needs to overcome.

We also have come a long way in realizing that sexual orientation, identity and sexual appetites are less about choice and more about biochemistry and genetics. One does not choose to be gay anymore than one chooses to be heterosexual.

We have much data regarding the harms caused when one suppresses, denies, or resents their sexual identity and preferences. Depression and even suicide are common reactions to sexual repression, yet often it can also lead to perversion, aggression, and physically harming self and others. There are numerous biochemical and emotional benefits for those who live a healthy and rewarding sex life. The sense of joy and connection not only benefits one’s self-esteem, but also improves one’s personal health, psychological perspective and ability to feel and express compassion.

The heterosexual sex drive is just as biological and inherent as that of gays, lesbians and transgenders. It is just as vital for heterosexual men to have their biological imperatives honored. Similar emotional, psychological and social problems emerge when the male sex drive is repressed, prohibited, suppressed and demonized and when men are told to overcome and transcend their sex drive through will power.

There is a tendency in the feminist narrative to decry the male sex drive in a host of negative frames. The male sex drive objectifies females. The male sex drive is often equated with a male need for power and control. The unrefined (non repressed) male sex drive leads towards violence and aggression. The negative bias towards the male sex drive includes feelings that for a man to be sexually healthy he need to curb his sex drive and become in touch with his feminine side.

While we have acknowledged the ill effects of long term suppression, denial and repression of one’s sexual identify, desires and appetites with the LGBT populations we have generally ignored or at least minimized the effects of repression and rejection on the emotional and psychological health of the heterosexual male. It has been rather common knowledge that from the onset of puberty through a sizable portion of adulthood the average heterosexual male’s life is frequently dominated by sexual thoughts, desires, urges and fantasies. Decades of scientific research have identified many of the hormonal and biochemical processes which render sexual intercourse a biological imperative for a great portion of adolescents and men.

The average adolescent and young adult male’s life being dominated by sexual impulses is also dominated by feelings of rejection and repression in that the goal of their daily and hourly impulses are denied and rebuffed. Is it any wonder that many men who have spent the greater portion of their adolescent and adult life being rejected and often vilified for their “preoccupation” with sex have a hard time staying emotionally invested and engaged?

One’s sexuality and sexual nature is core to both one’s self-concept and satisfaction in life. One’s sense of joy, pleasure, intimacy and meaning is highly impacted by and structured in one’s sexual sensibilities. The appreciation, understanding, compassion for an individual’s sexuality and sexual identity is just as important for heterosexual males as it is for any other sexual preference and identity.

All people and genders are negatively impacted by repression and suppression in any arena including that of sex drive and identity. The list of ways in which these repressions and suppressions manifest themselves is quite lengthy and would include various forms of active and passive aggression, inhibitions, perversions, obsessions and compulsions. Accommodating and helping people’s sexual natures find healthy expression and satiatIon benefits all and leads to better mental and physical health.

I am particularly distressed by the growing feminist perspective that many men are being labeled misogynists. The hormonal biochemistry of the heterosexual male sex drive is not based on hatred, but on attraction, intimacy, desire, passion, connection and devotion. Anger, hatred, abuse and violence are more often the products of repression, suppression, rejection, denial and desperation.

The male sex drive has been the core of all that I cherish and gives meaning to my life. It it what propels me towards finding intimate relationships with others. The biochemistry of sexual fulfillment and orgasm, is central to my experience of pleasure, beauty, passion, empathy, joy and intimacy. Yet, these marvels of being human have often come from my ability to withstand the censure and negative bias of a repressive society that tries to have me deny or transcend my sexual desires. I look about me and do not find many other males who have been able to embrace their sexual natures in a personally fulfilling manner. The road to personal happiness and social harmony is best navigated by understanding and compassion and not with anger, prohibition, and intolerance. The male sex drive is in dire need of a bit of compassion and understanding, and the potential benefits in terms of social harmony are hard to overestimate.

 

Art and Music and Relationships13 Aug 2016 09:28 am

Album Release and The Art of Living:

People attain a sense of meaning and purpose in their life through a variety of means. An abbreviated list of ways would include: tasks and accomplishments, thought and ideas, experience and emotions, faith and belief, and events and adventures. The way we derive meaning, joy and satisfaction from our lives could be referred to as the Art of Living.

I advocate for an approach which attempts to maximize the moment by integrating sensorial, visceral, emotional, conceptual and psychological elements as often as possible. Both experience and logic seem to verify that such well rounded and comprehensiveness provides our lives with much depth, richness and satisfaction.

While everyone is free to find what best works for them I must admit a sense of wariness and fear when people employ methods that emphasize mind, spirit and consciousness at the expense of dismissing, ignoring, devaluing and sometimes demonizing the body and sensorial life.

If we lived in a global community that was life affirming all personal preferences would be safe and acceptable. Yet, when our and all of organic life’s continued existence is threatened through war, intolerance, etc. the respect for and valuing of physical organic life becomes essential. The less one values and appreciates our bodies and tangible organic life, the more likely it becomes that we will engage in or tolerate actions which harm and destroy organic life. The more the body and the world is a burden, obstacle, temptation, illusion or thing to transcend the less likely we are vigilantly insure its survival.

My music and lyrics are a major way in which I personally grow and find meaning in life. It is also the means by which I try to have a positive impact on the quality of life of others as well as have a life affirming influence on the world as a whole. I, therefore, greatly appreciate your taking the time to listen to my songs, and ask that you introduce and share it with others.

So, here are 2 songs from my latest release Go!
Below for those who are interested is a little insight into how I create music and write songs.
Just tap on links immediately below and enjoy!

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/feelin…
 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/carniv…

To read lyrics and listen to songs from all currently released albums go to:

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/music

Just tap on any album cover and go from there.

Me and my music

Occasionally when writing a song I’ll start with an image, or a phrase and then find a couple of chords which fit. Yet, the vast majority of the time I start with a totally clean slate and play chords on the guitar (or piano) until they create a distinct emotional environment.

Out of this musical mood/environment a tentative vocal line emerges. After singing nonsense words for hours over a number of days, the song usually coalesces into a few distinct musical sections with their own chord patterns. Then the dance between actual words and melody lines begins to happen which shapes the length and order of each section, verse and refrain,

My entire songwriting process is extremely organic and as reflexive as speech or driving a car. I usually enter a kind of emotional trance state trusting that words will come to me which elicit and evoke what I’m feeling. In many ways I experience the bulk of the process as me listening and paying attention to my emotional and sentient body. While my ego does help in the decision process by and large my ego spends its time trying to listen and portray what I’m feeling.

Songwriting is a form of personal therapy in which I learn about me as I create. I often find that the longer I sit with my original lyrics the more comfortable I become with them making it unnecessary to make many changes or alterations. While words serve many purposes in my lyrics I find a certain hierarchy of preferences. I most often use words to evoke and elicit an experience or mood, next I prefer words that express, after that comes words that articulate and my least favorite lyrics are those that explain.
I would learn little about myself if I all that I created was managed or filtered through my self-conscious ego. The learning of myself comes after a songs completion when i reflect on and savor what I’ve created.

Ironically, I find that my music is easiest for people to enjoy if they start first by reading the lyrics and my liner notes. In this way most people find a way to appreciate the mood and intensity of the music. Most modern music is a consumable, while my songs are more art than easily digestible sound.

I seldom find music that moves me more than that which arises out of me. I feel that my music speaks and shares many aspects of myself in an intimate and powerful fashion. I invite you to viscerally enter my world and inspires you to further explore yours and maybe even motivates you to share with me some of your reactions and experiences.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships17 Feb 2016 09:06 am

The following is the introduction from my book Exploring Intimacy which can be accessed by clicking on the words tab. The entire book is available for your perusal and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

INTRODUCTION

Throughout most of my life there has been an attitudinal thread running through me. All my thoughts, actions and feelings have come together to form one unified view of life. This unified view forms the basis of my theory of intimacy.

This theory tends to all the major questions of life including, what is love, where do I find meaning, how can I be happy, and how can I derive the most from my moment to moment experiences?

The basic views outlined in this book were initially formed as early as high school but began to take shape and become organized in my early twenties. Since then I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my earliest intuitions have been validated through all I have read and experienced throughout the years.

While other people I knew created their ideal world around religious beliefs, love, faith, or psychological/philosophical schools of thought, I instead found myself drawn to a very practical way of looking at and appreciating my experiences. This attitude soon found a name, that being intimacy.

In my life intimacy has been more than a catch word or a vague feeling, for me it is a basic orientation towards life. It is what motivates and propels me towards the future. This book is an introduction to the very program of my existence.

In a society as fast paced and media oriented as ours a word or idea can become popular very quickly. The term intimacy, seldom used before the late sixties, has become quite fashionable over the last few decades. Once the sole property of poets and a gentile substitute for more direct sexual descriptions, intimacy is now a term used by almost everyone.

References to intimacy are common in magazines, novels, and self-help books. Psychiatrists, psychologists and many other therapeutic professionals refer to human intimacy in almost everything they say. Radio and television talk shows donate entire programs to the discussion of the relative merits of intimacy. Instead of talking politics, or exchanging local gossip, friends now often evaluate the amount of intimacy in their lives, or discuss the “intimate” details of their latest relationship.

Intimacy is most often described as something desired and desirable. Many individuals and therapists make intimacy a goal, something to attain which will enrich one’s life. Yet, like many popular terms, the meaning of intimacy is taken for granted. We use the term like we all know what it means. Seldom does anyone ever define the term, and if so they usually do it in a demeaning way, (as if only an insensitive moron would not know the meaning of the word).

The lack of a clear definition is occasionally recognized as a problem. Yet, instead of providing a definition of what intimacy is, people generally choose to end the confusion by stating what it is not. A common example of this would be that sexual intimacy is not just having sex.

Sex, though a popular form of intimacy, is not the only recognized area of intimacy. One often hears of people “hiding their most intimate secrets”, or sharing their “most intimate dreams”. Desire, love, religious piety, personal beliefs and dreams are all viewed as being proper arenas of intimacy.

What is the beauty of intimacy which makes it such an attractive and desired element in our lives? Why are people who claim to have found and attained intimacy in their lives envied and doubted? Why and how has intimacy become a litmus test for personal happiness, and a pre-requisite for achieving self-fulfillment?

These questions lead us to reconsider our perceptions of intimacy, and our views of someone considered to be an intimate person. Though we function under no clear definition of intimacy we do have some pretty strong ideas of the type of people leading intimate lives.

An intimate person is viewed as being open, caring and sensitive, able to see and work on the shortcomings in himself, while recognizing and openly complimenting the strengths of others. An intimate person accepts and gives love without strings being attached and is devoted to those he loves. Women are generally viewed as being more inclined towards intimacy, and often complain about the boorish nature of men and their inability to even appreciate intimacy let alone live it.

The preceding sketchy outline of an intimate person may seem a bit narrow and idealized, but that is what happens when we do not define terms we use. Love, like intimacy, is a word we have trivialized and trampled to death. Yet, the short amount of time we have abused the term intimacy allows us an opportunity to restore the dignity the word deserves.

Intimacy, like love, is much more than a word like boat which names a specific object. Intimacy is a concept articulating an entire stance towards life. Also like love, it is a force we desire to engulf our lives, a worthy goal of the human spirit.

In Exploring Intimacy, we will not only define intimacy, but explore it. We will look at how our current views of intimacy were formed and how this view could shape and be altered by our future. Most importantly we will try to become intimate with intimacy itself, we will look at it, sniff it, and devour each tasty morsel it has to offer.
We will see how our desire to be intimate pervades every aspect of our lives and potentially influences each individual thought we have or action we take. Our investigation into intimacy will involve more than a discussion of sexual relationships, or even friendships in general. Our exploration will be into all relationships we have, including those we have with ourselves, nature, spirituality, art and knowledge.

Leading an intimate life is a never ending task, complex and challenging. No one person’s life is devoid of intimacy. Nor is anyone’s life unable to be made more intimate. The more we know about a specific subject or object the more intimate we can become with that person or thing. Intimacy is infinite because there is no limit to the number of ways we can view even the most mundane object. In this book intimacy will be found to be a pervasive force and an on-going approach at the very heart of human experience.

Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Poetry and Psychology and Relationships23 Feb 2013 01:48 pm

Such are the passions
Some love some hate
Some implore others debate

We get filled and overload
We get filled and then explode
Feel the urgent in others woes
Feel our passions to the bone

Those who want distance from the fray
Deem their equanimity the highest grace
A noble heart and a safe place
The calm enlightenment of the sedate

Love throbs, joy is electric
Laughter bursts and orgasm spastic
I want to feel your skin in the game
Feel your care at sadnesses base

Stillness is the ground before we breathe
Verdant life forever teems
Prolonged stillness is a sign of death
apathy, depression that completely disconnect

I listen for the echo of my desire
Of passion matched with longing inspired
I yearn to feel the hot gusts from your fire
My face wind burned by such passion sired

Nothing lost and nothing gained
Insults precious life’s predicament
A heart invested is all I seek
Devoted to care, compassion and the intimate

Endless process is our curse
A life sentence and wet nurse
Meaning flows from her sweet breast
I’ll give it my all and suckle till my last breath

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships10 Jan 2013 01:42 pm

Much of my thought over the last year or two has been focused on articulating and exploring the wonderful world of life becoming conscious of itself. A major part of my reflections has dealt with the complementary and integrated roles of the body and self-consciousness. I refer to the body as that which lives in the world, or the habit body. I’m generally comfortable as designating the self-conscious mind as the ego.

As you many of you who visit this site frequently know, I think too much emphasis and attention is placed upon the self/ego/executive function to the disservice and lack of appreciation of the skill and wonder of the lived body. You may want to read the previous posts in order to get caught up to speed.

 http://guidoworld.com/blog/i-realize-it-…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/reflections-o…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/life-consciou…

Okay, so lets start by the simple statement that the ego is the thinking mind, which among other things observes, savors, problem solves, plans, judges, blames, etc. The ego is by definition self-conscious (conscious of itself). We refer to it as the executive function because of its primal role in planning, organizing, problem solving, etc.

While the ego is busy being self-conscious and thinking, speaking to itself, problem solving and judging, the lived body is busy participating, integrating, harmonizing, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the world. The lived body is reacting, responding, selecting, documenting, perceiving and managing our mundane existence and coexistence with the environment.

The lived body is the habit body. Based on a few important data points it learns how to effortlessly function in the real world with lightning speed. The lived body is able to act and process at a far greater speed than the self-conscious mind. While we walk our habit bodies are soaking in the environment even if we are self-consciously else where. When our conscious mind suddenly becomes aware of the smell of lilacs it is usually only because of the constant perceiving and sensing being conducted by the lived-habit body (me). Hopefully this description has you better understand or feel what I mean when I talk about our bodies being-in-the-world or taking up a world.

It is the transcendental nature of our ego (self-consciousness) which allows it to be able to reflect, observe and savor. Likewise it is the nature of the habit body to orient itself and function in the world. The habit body participates and is in the world, and the ego is that which appreciates and reflects on our being in the world. The ego’s ability to transcend and observe our body and our experience our essential for our being aware of our experience.

So in essence the habit body is aware and conscious, it just isn’t self-aware and self-conscious. The problem with most of modern psychology, science and even spiritualism is that they over exaggerate the importance and autonomy of the self-conscious mind and deny the importance if not existence of any other aspect of our humanity. In psychology there is only (self)-consciousness and unconsciousness.

Let’s take the term unconscious memory and apply it to the dynamic between ego and habit body and see if it can become understandable and not just an oxymoron. Okay, our lived body is processing and documenting a tremendous amount of data (experience, words, sensation, etc.). Much of this information is placed in short, medium and long term memory even when our conscious mind was elsewhere or focused on one or two aspects of the total experience. This is why if pressed you can recall what song was playing at a party, or what someone was wearing even while at the moment of those occurrences your ego was deeply focused on a conversation or lost deep in thought. While your habit body acts of a minimal amount of information, it still processes and remembers a huge amount of data over a small space of time.

The so called unconscious memory of psychology is more accurately described as memory that was documented and incorporated into the data base of the lived habit body and was able to be retrieved by the ego to become data for the self-conscious mind. In the rare occasion that the habit body has protected itself from the pain, discomfort or failure caused by a specific event/memory or general habit/memory than it is true that the self-conscious ego has to struggle to access this data. Yet, almost all memory is habit body catalogued, and the vast majority is organized in a manner allowing for the best and most comfortable successful functioning of being-in-the-world.

When one reflects on one’s actual experience there are many other forms of consciousness and awareness which do not fit the strict definition of ego or self-consciousness. Yet, in the dual world of consciousness and unconsciousness, the unconscious is bad and a problem. While it is true that inhibition and many bad habits originate in a the world of the habit body (me), it is ludicrous to say it only has negative attributes. The lightning quick short hand allows the lived body to move and successfully function in the world, it also allows it to sort essential from inessential material. Likewise, it is the lightning speed of its processing which allows it to perform and catalogue useful information (memory, habit, sensorial cues, etc.) at the same time.

Just think how slow and difficult it would be for us to function and learn if we were totally dependent on the ego as our only form of awareness. Even walking would be near impossible if we had to break it down into the thousands of components and compensations involved in almost every step. We probably would never learn to walk if the skill had to be imparted to us by our ego. Similarly, we could think of nothing else when walking if the general mechanics and each subtle variation of stride and terrain had to be self-consciously orchestrated and analyzed.

The habit body’s ability to adapt to a new situation is far more quick and efficient than if it were attempted by the ego. We can adapt and master a major change in a matter of moments as our body incorporates and makes the changes part of our functional body image. If I put a feather in my hat within a few minutes I move in a way honoring the existence of the feather and seldom having it bump into objects as I move about rooms I’ve never even been in before. Just imagine how long it would take if I were to have to consciously think through each new scenario.

Likewise think how quickly one adjusts to riding a bicycle or a car with radically different dimensions than the one we are accustomed to, and how impossible it would be to adjust if we had to consciously identify and analytically teach our body the modifications of the new vehicle, as we make every turn, brake and park the vehicle. A musician within minutes of being seated at a piano with keys of different size and response, can play even the most challenging piece with a smoothness and deft that defies logic.

I’ll end here and hopefully what I have chosen to write here has clarified more than it has overwhelmed in my attempt to articulate the importance of the habit body and its relation to the ego.

Jim Guido

Poetry and Relationships and sexuality25 Oct 2012 01:25 pm

She repulsed him with her kindness
if not genuine at least sincere

He needed passion more than understanding
No matter how he showed or said it
it remained doggedly unclear

She was in his head
What he wanted was to be in her body
To infuse her with his playful desire

To her love was romantic, a perfect ideal
For him passion was just a thin membrane away from complete fusion

She dreamt of a child
He yearned for intimacy
She envisioned them as parents and partners
He viewed the viscerally shared as the root of all meaning

She sought harmony, an unblemished life
A personal eden bereft of conflict
Her eternal goal was to be a still pond
No ripples to disturb its presentation

She sought beauty everywhere
In thought, word, sight, smell and touch
She found beauty everywhere
Yet, in her man, not so much

He thrived on life’s imperfections
Problems were challenges and opportunities
He loved the grit and the sweat
The joy of a challenge met

He saw intimacy as the measure of one’s life
Each new experience as a gift
Immersed in the rough and tumble of existence
Sharing with her was his bliss

In her relations:
Harmony over honesty
Ease over disease
Calm as endless balance

Beauty was the handmaiden of love
It was what made life attractive
Beauty is what drew her to others
To nature, art and the sacred

He wore each new wrinkle as a badge of honor
Sensed ardor often was born from the arduous
That one often had to provoke to be provocative
and wisdom was more about the real than the ideal

She sees life through the lens of love and beauty
He through the lens of history and experience
Beauty she fashioned into life’s ideal
Intimacy he saw as the measure of one’s life
Beauty became her life’s purpose and zeal
Intimacy was all he asked of life

Is there sufficient beauty in intimacy?
The fate of this love may be dependent on it

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