Tuesday, December 08, 2009

psychological self-implicature

Noelle Oxenhandler shows a lot of courage in Eros of Parenthood, 2001 (hereafter: Noelle), by candidly expressing the energies and the exuberance of parenting, but also the ambivalence and darkness. None of it has to do with sexualizing parenting. Though her courage is especially in confronting the boundary between healthy feeling and abuse, her topic is about the intensity of feeling in healthy parenting that others easily (and self-incriminatingly) sexualize, when there’s nothing “erotic” about the energized innocence of children and about being attuned to that openly (which she at times very poetically expresses).

Blurbs on the back of her book jacket, by psychologists I’m aware of, praise her. It’s a profoundly important book, in my opinion. Too bad it’s out of print. (She writes in an email to me that the publisher went out of business soon after the book was published. I’ve urged her to republish it, a decade later now, with a follow-up epilogue.)

To be fair to life and the world, it’s not enough to broadly thematize,
not enough to “deeply” thematize (which is to get highly abstract). Writing privately to a dear friend is enough for my having that fairness, and the friend—better, an intimate—gains a chance to understand a sense of the difference (thematic vis-à-vis actually lived, actually worlded), given appreciable interest in the thematics! (Unlikely.)

There are intimate letters in the world, obviously, and we’re insatiable voyeurs, because we want the psychological self-implicature—yet
at a safe distance. It’s not about you. It’s about her, and you would let yourself entwine and mentally dance through every detail of her that you can obtain—as long as it’s not about you. This is because we want
the dark, but with freedom to enter on our own terms.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t resist strange woods. My attraction to where I’m not supposed to go is a fascination with why it’s supposed. I want
to know what’s there. This became psychological. As an adult, my curiosity easily became dangerous, evidently—as if others see in my curiosity a dark center rather than a delighted, well-lit, stable and generous clearing that loves to explore the marginal or “unpermitted” because my center is secure. Persons (not I) can be easily haunted
by a darkness in themselves that my enchantment with marginality evidently “threatens” to educe, as if I unwittingly intuit the other’s fears. But it’s innocent play, frightening undeliberately. I don’t have to have great insight about the other to anyway carry an aura of “too much” marginality, too much pretense of The Mind’s self-implicature, in which we all are “at risk” of participating.

But I won’t fear the effects of authentic curiosity. I’m not diabolical, not duplicitous; just welcoming chances to appreciate unusual things.

Is it demonic to believe that of myself? Correct me, if I’m wrong.
A better standing against cold winds is made from braving bad weather. But the honest life survives most tests of its validity. So, if you don’t engage with me my apparent darkness, don’t blame me for believing
I’m innocent in educing yours.