Axis Evil featuring Napalm Fatale @ the Che Café – 24 January 2019

My performance with special guest Queen Mab playing the Kaossilator Pro. I’m using a seven-string guitar and trying new embellishments in the guitar parts, especially in the song “Voice in the Distance”:

an allegory of affection from a Hindu goddess

I experienced the following dream:

Walking through wilderness, I came upon a female tiger. She considered me, and I considered her—I calculated my next move through my fear, she simply calculated. Rapidly concluded that if I ran she’d chase me down and eat me.

So I held my head up and approached her gently. Reached out my hand and scratched between her ears. Petted her. This continued for hours despite my terror. She rolled over and cuddled with me.

She then protected me from the other tigers occupying the distance.

This relationship stood way out of my league; as I shared affection with a beautiful animal that could kill me in an instant. Yet I knew the correct path forward was to deliver genuine care to my new friend, rather than back away in fear.

The tiger then transformed into a powerful, beautiful, and wealthy woman. Beyond out of my league. But we became friends. We became lovers. She simply liked me for the courage I demonstrated when I approached and gave affection to her tiger.

When I woke up, I realized that the Hindu goddess Durga associates with tigers. Durga rides a tiger into battle to destroy demons associated with ignorance and discord. She’s badass: When she takes the form of Kali she drinks the blood of demons to prevent that blood from springing forth new demons as it splatters the ground.

Anyway, a goddess who rides a tiger into battle carrying six weapons and who drinks the blood of evil spirits is one to be feared, just like the tiger evokes fear.

Yet my constant bravery in life earned her respect and affection, and she therefore visited me in this dream.

Image source:  https://blog.sivanaspirit.com/true-things-durga-never-knew/

here is my other cheek

An open letter, because direct contact is shut off:

———,

Here is my other cheek:  Threaten me again if you must.

You have my complete forgiveness and infinite compassion.

You and your family will always remain in my prayers.

There are few bridges you can burn that I am unwilling to mend.

You are better than this.

Emily

 

why we still need cyberpunk

William Gibson penned Neuromancer over thirty years ago, and the 1990’s ended viciously on 9/11. With the exception of cyberfeminism, I wrote off “cyberpunk” as an ethic once we as a society stopped saying “cyber” and replaced the word with “online”.

Yesterday I traced partial assets of an individual I distrusted—and needed the straight dope from—from my laptop. Dating while transgender proves dangerous and a girl must protect herself!

In between I persistently beleaguered Microsoft as a career-long Linux hacker.

Once declared squatter’s rights on a piece of land I identified though data mining.

I walk with the Big Data devils to broadcast my signal, a means to an end. Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Facebook receive my data, and in exchange they amplify my cultural imperative.

And they know where the real value in data lies: Not in the records themselves but in the interconnections between them.

Emergent properties steered by unholy gods.

“Cyber”: Greek for “to steer”.

Steering a boat requires connecting the data: Position, velocity, acceleration, time. State variables alone won’t suffice.

When we get burned by Cambridge Analytica or the Russian Federation, we realize our individual technological vulnerability.

Propaganda is hacking: Implant bias, implant ideas, grow emergent outcomes. Seduction is a system intrusion.

Technological warfare and psychological warfare forever link.

Class war must proceed asymmetrically.

I only trust the Prophets, not the Church, not the State, not the Oligarchs.

And we can be prophets in cyberspace. We can create technology that liberates the world.

We can steer toward our own emergent outcomes.

We can end material scarcity.

Love forward. Program. Network. Build enterprise. Produce art. Write. Love forward.

Jam the system, and prepare to be jammed by the punks that follow you.

The 1990’s are dust, but the “system” still remains cybernetic control. Therefore resistance remains cyberpunk.

why I didn’t suicide this morning

I’m publishing this strategy because maybe it will help someone else survive in the future:

I feel an intense psychiatric compulsion to suicide every time I experience romantic heartbreak. It’s simply part of my bipolar disorder (which I improve management of everyday). Usually I’m well adept at handling these situations and moving quickly out of them.

However, this morning’s heartbreak incident proved much more difficult to manage; I moved beyond psychiatric compulsion and actually considered offing myself. It’s not that the woman involved is any more awesome than previous situations (she is), it’s just that I feel beaten down from years of serial heartbreak. I always get back up again after getting knocked down. Won’t ever stop doing that. But sometimes one just needs a break.

To survive, I constructed the following two-part argument, built entirely on the deep love I have for this woman. I reframed survival as an expression of this love:

First, and less importantly, she asked me not to contact her in the future, which I intend to honor. I realized that if I took my life she would certainly find out—which be a form of contact—a message somewhere between “I love you” and “fuck you”.

This first reason isn’t particularly rational, but the second reason carries tremendous clarity and precision:

Taking my life in response to her rejection would likely traumatize her, even though my action wouldn’t be her fault by any stretch of the imagination! I could not do this to her. She’d spend a lifetime second-guessing her decisions, and potentially years on unnecessary guilt. She’d perhaps require therapeutic intervention. It would disrupt her life in significant ways. I cannot do this to someone I love, who’s well-being I care so much about. So better for me to endure the pain which will pass in time.

The interesting thing about this last reason is that, while I constructed the argument expressed above based on concern for her well-being, I was even more concerned about her son’s well-being (who doesn’t know me). Here is my logic: If my beloved withdrew into trauma due to a suicide on my part, she would be less able to provide emotionally for her son. This of course would do great damage. Again, I cannot do this to someone I care about, so I’ll endure the pain.

So instead of killing myself I went shopping.

my spinning moral compass

I’ve discovered a complete willingness to manipulate men into one-night stands purely to stroke my ego. (The trick is to let men feel like their own ego is in charge).

However, I experience complete moral repulsion at the idea of treating women this way.

I think my reason comes from evolutionary psychology: Women may become pregnant and therefore require support during their “down time”, the period when hunting and gathering would be difficult due to carrying a child—consequently they learned to highly value relationship stability across an evolutionary timeframe.

However, men can deliver sperm without such risk to their livelihood. Therefore they experienced less evolutionary pressure to value relationships than women. Given that I don’t want to hurt anyone, I provide far more ongoing commitment to my romantic relationships with women than men, due to the difference in evolutionary psychology between the sexes illuminated above.

Men do love, and greatly. I certainly did when I identified as one.

Moreover, I’ve realized that the manner in which I love IS very masculine (culturally), and that that is extremely unlikely to change. For example, I carry a strong “hero instinct”–want to solve problems for my beloved. I delight in the role of “pursuer”: Will combine culturally masculine flirtation technique to make my intention clear no matter how impeccably feminine I appear. I would feel shame if I couldn’t economically provide for a partner, despite the fact that times have supposedly evolved beyond that. Most significantly, I want to provide a constant beacon of (inner) strength.

Certainly, I have love-traits we could label as culturally feminine (commitment to radical kindness and collaboration). But the sum total of how I love leans strongly masculine.

And that is where things get interesting. Evokes my moral crisis:

I am a complete predator when I pursue women. Calculating. Shrewd. Persistent. Experimental. Adaptive. Creative. Subtle. Patient.

My motives prove decent but never pure. I operate by gaining the trust of women through my innate femininity (even did so back when I was “Dan”), and then later strike at opportune moment. My metaphor for this activity is “moving through the back door” when most suiters only show the wit to try the front. I suppose the redeeming feature of this maneuver is that the trust I establish is 100% genuine—as my intent always is to create a successful long term relationship (which relies firmly on trust).

So I demonstrate capacity for commitment during my pursuit. I only act this way when I’m prepared to deliver.

The other redeeming feature in this approach is that I only practice it when I’m completely besotted. Therefore the woman involved holds all the power!

The moral crisis lies in the fact that I do not like the idea of being a “predator”. But that is the correct word, so I’ve accepted it. More to the point, I’ve accepted the duality of being simultaneously predatory and noble in my pursuit, of delivering both genuine trust and absolute danger.

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

We occasionally find ourselves in the situation where someone we love deeply refuses to communicate with us. In this video I present six strategies for transmitting validation across the divide. (A text version of this content is available here).

I sincerely hope you find this material useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

Update 27 February 2017

I’m happy to have touched someone with this video! Received the following comment through Facebook today:

Thank you JoAnna!

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

on love

the pedagogy of love

the currency of love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you (text version)

(A video version of this content is available here).

In my post “on love“, I describe active validation of one’s beloved as a key tactic for transmitting constructive love. I further discuss how that validation must express in terms of things eternal, rather than in terms of the one sending the validation. In other words, while stating your beloved’s value to you proves important, I encourage the communication of your beloved’s value in terms of the universe or the divine.

But how do you do this when your beloved won’t talk to you (or let you write, etc.)? The mandate remains, the vitality of this action remains, and you will feel pain at the disconnect. And this scenario occurs all too frequently in our lives, so prudence dictates the formation of a plan for dealing with it.

Here I offer six strategies for successfully delivering that validation when the receiver will not communicate with you. Granted these fail to match the satisfaction of a requited in-person transmission, but they help nonetheless. By help, I mean these tactics salve your pain a bit—provide a bit of meaning and purpose. But more importantly they actually validate and uplift the other person in very real social and spiritual terms.

These six strategies, plus a bonus strategy and then two examples, follow:



Give Them Space

Learned this lesson the hard way: If a person expresses a clear wish for no communication with you, they generally mean it. Therefore the only direct way to validate them requires validation of their request by complying with it.

Again I stress that I learned this lesson the most difficult way possible, by repeatedly failing to respect my beloved’s request. This only made the situation worse—it further accentuated the distance between us. Counterproductive when working to validate.

So leave them alone!

An exception to this injunction exists, which I discuss below in the “Keep the Door Open” section of this article.

Validate and Uplift Those Around Them

If you regularly interact with folks in your beloved’s sphere of influence, work to validate them too. This accomplishes two things: First, it sets an example that those in the sphere might follow to transmit their own validation of your beloved, thereby contributing to your goal. Second, it enriches the climate your beloved lives and/or works among, as experiencing validation generally improves happiness, and happiness moves socially.

Build a Better World

Taking the last strategy to its logical next step, work to make the world a better place. Not just for your beloved, but for everyone. This validates your beloved by producing slightly better world for their children to inherit, thereby contributing to their ease and peace. One person makes a difference when they choose to.

Of course we talk about “validation” as an abstract action in this case; I argue that indirectly improving someone’s life demonstrates valuation of their life. They will likely never know. But you will know. And the divine will know. And this will aid your sleep at night.

Pray for Their Well-Being

For spiritual readers, I highly recommend regular prayer for your beloved’s and their family’s well-being. I regard this as the most powerful thing one can do for a person, provided you back it up with action if provided a chance to deliver.

Prayer for someone’s well-being declares to the divine their value to you. And (at least in my faith) the divine values the person as well, so you stand in alignment. You form a team. The divine may never employ you as a vehicle for further transmission of love for that person, but prayer sets in motion action on the part of the divine to validate and enrich your beloved’s life. (See my post “the currency of love” for further discussion of this concept).

Keep the Door Open

If you can, keep the door open for reconciliation on the transmission of radical forgiveness. Smile at your beloved. Say “hi” or wave to them if permitted. Basically, acknowledge their existence in a friendly, welcoming way.

I don’t have these option with someone I particularly love and cannot talk to right now. So I’m simply going to send her a Christmas card next December (it’s now February). I’ll address it to “Jane Doe, Attn: Peace on Earth and Goodwill Department, 123 X Street, etc.” and I’ll say little other than what comes written on the card. Hopefully that will shatter a portion of the wall between us.

Yes, by doing this I will violate her request that I not contact her, but almost a year will have passed and Christmas cards are kind. In my book a nice way to promote validation. So I’ll risk her wrath to deliver this message.



Produce Art

If inclined, produce art inspired by your beloved, or inspired by the pain of not connecting with them. Furthermore, I recommend making this art public. I write and publish songs for this purpose. I write and publish prose for this purpose.

Keep your beloved’s identity anonymous when you do this! Respect demands it!

Public delivery of such art declares to the world that someone touched your life. The individual will likely know who they are. Validation!

And whether kept public or private, I think of my process of producing art as prayer in action, as per the strategy discussed above.

Bonus Strategy: Know Your Purpose and Intent

It occurs to me that I need to write an article explaining the meaning of validation, as this article simply assumes you know. But I digress…

To validate effectively, you must know and trust your intent. If you merely desire your beloved’s attention and affection, you miss the point and will fail. One must not confuse desire with validation, though I find it “validating” to some degree when others desire me. But here I mean something far more outreaching and spiritual than romantic desire.

Intend to validate them for their value in the universe, for their value to themselves, to the divine. Only then should you validate your beloved with respect to you. Know your purpose. Know your heart!

Example

To walk the talk I now offer two examples from my own life.

In the first example, my beloved worked for the same company as myself, though in different departments. So I built relationships with individuals in her department and threw myself into projects that interacted with her department—usually offering them novel ideas on how to build their business (this was an R&D environment). By building up the individuals around her I hoped they would in turn validate her. More importantly though, I worked so hard on the projects and the business proposals to strengthen her job security. This activity served as prayer in motion. Served as indirect validation of her importance because I didn’t want her to suffer job loss.

As another example, I wrote the following song about two women at once:

While it includes expression of romantic longing, it mostly states my commitment to them as a friend, in spite of the fact that they won’t have anything to do with me. When I published this song I basically declared this commitment to the world! As I work to deliver integrity at all times, this public declaration means something to me. To others. To the divine. Expressed validation. Prayer.

Conclusion

I hope you find these strategies useful in your own life! But please do not limit these strategies’ underlying spirit to those who won’t communicate to you. Please apply them to everyone you value! Also, please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post below or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

on love

radical forgiveness

(A text version of this video is available here).

Forgiveness is radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

The following video introduces the concept, and then discusses the rationale, the joys, and the challenges of radical forgiveness’ practice:

Aside

This video also demonstrates my significant progress to date toward developing a feminine voice and feminine body language. Much work remains on these fronts, but I’m proud of what this video portrays!

Closing Remarks

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

radical forgiveness (text version)

(A video version of this post may be found here).

Forgiveness proves radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

We all get hurt. Doesn’t matter if an offense is personal, such as someone berating you for a mistake, or institutional, such as experiencing a subtle, unconscious bias from a coworker that hinders you in the workforce due to your gender or sex.

Radical forgiveness combines several key actions: You must understand why forgiveness proves valuable, make the choice to forgive a person or institution, understand the process and pitfalls of forgiveness, continually repeat your choice to forgive that person or institution as necessary, and if possible communicate your forgiveness to the person or institution that harmed you. Moreover, you must treat forgiveness as a skill that requires practice and commitment to excel at. Finally, you must remember that humility must stand at the core of all these actions to succeed.

One might casually call one or two of these items alone “forgiveness”, but by employing the term “radical forgiveness” I assert a more comprehensive and effective mode of dealing with offenses than the mere casualty of the word “forgiveness” implies. We speak here of something more substantial than a flippant “I forgive you” or “I can’t stay mad at you”. Rather, we refer to a context of forgiving significant pain, like divorce pain or business-partner-screws-you pain.



So why forgive in the first place? Primarily, the process heals you, and enhances the chances of healing the other party and a relationship. Forgiving helps you “let go”, to use a colloquial phrase. You surrender, sort of. Basically you acknowledge the pain, and declare that it will no longer impact your relationship with the other party. You declare that it will no longer weigh you down. The act of forgiving claims power over emotional angst. Not complete power, but it provides significant relief. Note that by forgiving you still recognize guilt, and you still must take steps to remedy the problem. Forgiving merely leaps far beyond forcing the other party to remain mired in that guilt.

Moreover, your particular deity might demand that you practice forgiveness. We won’t name names.

One must make an actual “choice” to forgive, as forgiveness starts with a choice. And one must often continually repeat that choice for a given hurt, since anger and pain well up so easily. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, clinicians talk about “turning the mind”. That is, injecting your presence into a runaway thought to turn your think toward more productive thoughts. Similarly, when a hurt wells up inside you that you have already delivered forgiveness for, “turn the mind” away back toward a spirit of forgiveness. Again and again and again. I guarantee you that this process heals.

And that’s just it, remember that radical forgiveness serves as a process, not just a destination. You wrestle with it along the way. You start out unhappy and end with greater peace, but don’t expect an easy ride. For instance, you might have to objectively face your role in a situation, to determine how actions you took that may have put fuel on the fire. Unpleasant, I know. For encouragement, just remember that this process enriches your spirit.

One can liken the process of committing and recommitting to forgiveness to the experience of the mythical Sisyphus as described by the post-war philosopher Camus. The gods condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of pushing a large boulder up a hill by day, only to watch it crash back down the hill every night. Sounds meaningless, right? But Camus declared that Sisyphus found existential meaning in the task itself. Similarly, I claim that you will find meaning in the radical forgiveness process despite its often two steps forward, one step back nature.

The sweetest spot in the process of forgiveness is letting the other party know about your decision, because it generates the most opportunity for reconciliation. But understand that sometimes one cannot do this due to safety or other considerations—use your brain here before you act! And know that the other party may simply not be able to receive your words, may not even find themselves in a place to comprehend them. This hurts, but don’t let it derail your journey to peace over a matter.

Basically, don’t think of this action as “offering” forgiveness. Think of it as “transmitting” forgiveness. Offers feel incomplete if not received, but a transmission projects whether anyone proves receptive or not. In other words, you will have done all you can, so don’t sweat over it.

Humility drives the process. Forgiveness serves as recognition that you yourself exhibit flaws, that you could easily make the same mistakes. It recognizes that you will perform actions in the future that will require forgiveness from others. To forgive effectively you must empathize with and love the imperfect humanity in the one you choose to forgive, which can only emit from empathizing with and loving the imperfect humanity in yourself.

The last point I want to make is that radical forgiveness is a skill, like tennis or playing a musical instrument. It takes practice and sometimes years to develop competency. But if you make a habit out of choosing to forgive, and nurture the habit as you go, I assure you the skill will blossom inside you! I recommend initiating the forgiveness process the instant someone hurts you, rather than wait until you are “ready” to forgive. This strengthens the habit and prepares you for rapid closure once you achieve that readiness. And this practice increases the chance of salvaging relationships due to its proactive nature.

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

the currency of love

Merriam-Webster provides the following definition (among others) of “currency”:

“circulation as a medium of exchange”

Digging deeper, we find the root word “current” which I’ll define as the flow of something, for example electrons or water. We can even link these two definitions through the word “circulation” by considering that electricity flows in a circuit and the global ocean currents cycle.

Love as Medium of Exchange

Think of a contract: It serves as a commitment—a “medium” if you will—for the exchange of services or goods. This implies circulation in that the fulfillment of the contract requires each party complete the following steps: 1. Agree to start. 2. Do the tasks. 3. Agree that the tasks are complete. Basically, it all starts and ends with agreement. A cycle.

Healthy, mutual love works the same way. The commitment involved serves as a platform—a “medium” if you will—that promotes the exchange of caring, forgiving, cooperation, and responsible sacrifice. The cycle works slightly differently, but a cycle exists in that in a good relationship feedback occurs: 1. Agree to love. 2. Act out loving behavior. 3. Ensure one’s beloved’s needs are met by that behavior and adjust as necessary. 4. Agree to keep loving.



Love as Current (Flow)

I go nuts if I love someone and can’t express it regularly in some manner. This statement applies for both friendship and Romantic love. In other words, for me, the love needs to “flow”. When experiencing fits of unrequited love I visualize a damn holding back a reservoir of constructive passion and yearn desperately for that damn to gain the freedom to release a measured amount.

When the passion just sits there in that reservoir it becomes stagnant and toxic. Ever noticed how flowing water appears cleaner than sitting water? Lovesickness is stagnant water. Sludge.

I assume the principle I describe here for my life actually proves universal. (Not entirely sure though—I’m humble enough to second guess). Perhaps love only exists in the experience of its traversal, the giving and receiving of it. The current. The flow.

Conduit

Now I’ll take a highly spiritual turn. We won’t name deities or anything, we’ll just refer to the “divine” in lowercase:

When I love someone, I desire (and ask the divine for) a role as a conduit of the divine’s love for that person.

Simple as that. Humble. I lose myself to a greater cause—knowing full well that the divine may choose not to employ my services in that particular case. This act doesn’t diminish the pain of unrequited passion, but I find meaning in it. Offering myself as a conduit for divine love opens me up to experiencing a much bigger flow than my passions alone can create—the ultimate currency of love.

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

the pedagogy of love

on love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

 

the pedagogy of love

We don’t teach teenagers and young adults what romantic love actually is.

And we sure as Hell can’t leave it up to parents, who often lack the knowledge themselves.

In my recent post, “on love”, I deconstructed and then worked to enrich the concept of romantic love. I discuss mistakes I’ve made and promote keys to success. Primarily I distinguish between romantic love as a “brain chemical high” vs. romantic love as verb (i.e., something one does, something one acts on, a choice). We need, as a society, to teach this distinction. We need to teach best practices in light of this distinction. The resulting improvement in understanding will lead to more effective relationships and more stable families.



But who can teach this? I propose the following non-exhaustive list:

  • Schools
  • Scouting programs
  • Religious youth groups
  • Teen fiction and teen media

I’ll think of others.

See Also

the currency of love

radical forgiveness (video)

on love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

 

transgender people love

Lost in the ongoing ecclesiastical debate about whether transgender identities hold validity in the eyes of God [1] are interactions between (cisgender) Christian thinkers and transgender individuals themselves, particularly those of faith.

Many faith-leaders and Christian scholars intellectualize us into sub-humanity:  Their idea is that God made humans male and female strictly in God’s own image and that to be fully human therefore requires full embrace of one or the other polarity, the polarity matching one’s genitals. (We are ignoring the intersex population in this argument for convenience–however the body of Christ will have to come to terms with intersex individuals’ existence too). Because transgender individuals cannot live healthy lives under the constraint of this particular sex/gender model—a model believed quintessential to the construction of a human by many Christian thinkers, we are regarded as having rejected God’s gift of humanity.



However, one knows a tree by its fruit [2]:

God gave humans the ability to love. And transgender people love. We love deeply. We love just as much as as cisgender people.

The fruit therefore is the love produced, and only a human can produce it.

It follows then that we fully received the gift of humanity.

References

  1. https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/transgender-issues-next-battle-culture-wars
  2. Matthew 12:33 (NIV)

on love

Thought it time to write an essay (of sorts) on the nature of love:

Here I specifically mean Romantic love, partnership love; not other kinds. I won’t throw Greek words at you to differentiate between the types of love as many writers do (e.g. C.S. Lewis), except I thought I’d decide to use the term “eros” at some point, but didn’t. I’m going to use the imprecise English word and we’ll make its meaning clear from deconstruction and context. We are talking about the love that drives madness and rock songs. We are also talking about the love that, when steered wisely, channels into successful marriages.

Why am I writing this? Not entirely sure. I’ve spent much of my non-child life in a state of unrequited love and, being rather introspective, have consequently thought about the subject a good deal. Moreover, I remained in an abusive relationship for 14 years (seven of which in marriage) and stayed primarily due to my choice to continue loving, rather than out of fear or insecurity. Naturally, I’ve thought deeply about that choice, both during those years and after the divorce.

Furthermore, roughly 2.5 years ago I publicly became a woman (I’m biologically male) and having been living and loving as such since then. Among the intelligentsia where gender is considered a social construction this matter may not seem to pertain much to a discussion of love, but I can now tell you from personal encounters that an individual’s experience of romantic love is shaped by patriarchy and heterosexism, no matter what that individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

I’ve also written seven love songs in the last two years. So take the intellectual out of me and I’ll still sing about the matter.

Two Basics

When I tell someone I love them for the first or second or tenth time, I really mean two things:

  • I love them.
  • I’m in love with them.

Note the difference: The second is a state of the brain caused by heightened dopamine receptor activity. It is transitory. It fades. This is why couples often complain about the “spark” disappearing in their relationships (if they don’t nurture the first item on the above list).

The first uses love as a verb. It is something you do. It is a choice you make. It is a gift that you give. But you have to commit and continually recommit to this verb form of romantic love to achieve benefit from it. And of course in this form of partnership love, unlike the dopamine receptor form, both parties share the benefit and pain, where as the psychological state of being “in love” is actually quite selfish—driven by the lover’s desire for benefit and, for lack of a better word, acquisition.

The verb form leans altruistic. Consider lyrics from my song “Waste”:

This hope seeks recognition, connection, resolution.
And its more about the love I wanted to give,
than that I wanted to receive

Admittedly the first line could apply to either form, but the second two lines clearly apply to a desire to give love. An activity. A decision. A verb. Not entirely altruistic though, because one hopes to receive the verb form of love just as much as they might desire to give it.

Madness and Estrogen

Here we return to a discussion of romantic love as elevated dopamine receptor activity. All feels well and good until the rejection or the breakup. Then one’s brain chemistry walks through the depths of Hell. In my case, due to bipolar disorder, I go just plain “mad”—engage in reckless behavior and become dangerously suicidal. This condition might last years over one incident of heartbreak. Not a good thing.

I’d even call it addictive. Idolatry.

Estrogen made this experience far worse for me soon after I started taking it. Before then I could channel my reckless behavior into socially acceptable activities. But I lost this ability (for a considerable period of time) once I started taking the hormone, as the hormone drove my emotions to far wider extremes than anything I’d ever experienced before.

Fortunately, I’ve now become accustomed to estrogen’s impact on my emotions, and now make better decisions.

What I’m trying to say though is:  We should never underestimate the damage long-term unrequited love can inflict on one’s spirit.

Back to the Good Stuff

And now back to discussing love as a verb:

When I love someone I do everything I can to ensure they know their intrinsic value. Not their value to me as a lover or potential lover, but their value in the universe, their value for simply being human. To be clear, I also express their value to me, especially when a rich friendship underlies whatever else we might create, but that is a secondary activity. Its their intrinsic value that matters, not my valuation. Another way of saying this: I’m fleeting—we must promote valuation in light of things eternal.

Currently, there are three women in my life I would take a bullet for. Two have been cruel to me (one extremely so)—and neither of these two will have anything to do with me. But I still actively love them (verb form) in the only ways I can, through radical forgiveness and continued prayer for their well-being. Furthermore I keep the door open to them at all times.

Authenticity and Self-Expression

Anyone who knows me knows that concern for authenticity in all things drives me. That explains why I present romantic love divided into the two distinct forms discussed above. Doing so enables clarity—allows me to demonstrate to a partner or potential partner exactly what they are getting when I say I love them. Authenticity resides in the understanding transmitted—my beloved realizes that I’ve thought deeply about the meaning of love and therefore am trustworthy with regard to that dangerous word.

Self-expression matters too. I can’t be anyone other than the stylish femme I project to the world. One has to live according to their soul to love successfully. Sure one can suppress themselves to pay for the short-term dopamine high, but to sustain the commitment of verb-form love throughout all the challenges it brings one must practice alignment (and continual realignment) with their core identity. In other words, the strength generated by a quality relationship flows both from the genuine within and from the genuine in the beloved.

This mandate plays out too for one’s treatment of their beloved: One commits to loving them for who they are, knowing they will evolve and, if nurtured, grow. While conflict comes inevitably and must be worked through faithfully, trying to fundamentally change one’s beloved is a fool’s errand. Besides, their spirit holds intrinsic value as it is and one can easily lose good love by neglecting that truth. The exception of course regards abusive situations, where change on both sides proves necessary. (Not just the abuser must change, the other party must learn not to participate in the dynamic).

Control

A lot of this comes down to control, and the choice to cede it to positive vulnerability. Note that we are not talking about ceding discernment here.

As my narrative above indicates, the dopamine high-driven form of romantic love often involves perilous loss of self-control. I frankly become a slave to my passions. Bitch owns my heart.

But the verb form of love retains control; the decision to give love, to support and promote a quality relationship, is exactly that: A decision. Good decisions only emit from a position of self-control.

And good, well-grounded decisions to love actively enable wholehearted surrender to positive vulnerability, the state where things really blossom in a relationship.

Patriarchy and Heterosexism

Now that I’m a woman, I feel a pressure to date men that I can’t put my finger on. I do like men, and occasionally engage in romantic behavior with them, but I don’t like the subtle nagging feeling that that is the way things are “supposed” to be.

I watched “Sex and the City, the Movie” last night, which I absolutely loved for the fashions presented. But the story made me feel inadequate for not being in a heterosexual relationship (or any relationship for that matter!). It made me feel that my excitement for highly expressive dresses and my bisexuality stand at odds, as if a stylish girl like me should be guy crazy and exclusively so. The movie also reinforced the patriarchal model that a woman’s path to economic prosperity is through a relationship with a man.

Now I’ve experienced a few nights of passion with men, and enjoyed them thoroughly, but these experiences lived out the most base of the dopamine-high form of romantic love. If pressed by social expectation to only commit to verb-form love with men, I leave out a whole segment of the population that I resonate highly with. This is intolerable. To give love one must stand free to give love.

To give love one must stand free to give love.

Heterosexism and the patriarchy constrain that requisite freedom.

Giving God the “Finger”

When unrequited love drove me to madness roughly 1.5 years ago, I wrote a song about giving God the “finger” to express my angst. No regrets! Here is the song, titled “Prayer (Say Nothing Again)”:

See Also

the currency of love

radical forgiveness (video)

the pedagogy of love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

two years and seven love songs (with lyrics)

Axis Evil, the musical arm of this outreach effort, turns two years old this Valentine’s Day. As the project music started out of romantic frustration (with the song “Talk”), I thought I’d post the seven love songs I have written in the last two years. Also, I intend to reference these as a group in later posts.

Recordings

Lyrics

Stunt Double (You Will Always Be My Friend)

A stunt-double in your epic tragedy
Driven by this deep, vacant irony
Walking that thin line
Between faith and absurdity
Between a vision and a thousand exits
But I’ll keep running alongside you
I’ll keep running alongside you
And you will always be my friend

Please read my letters
Please understand

You can drive from your fortress
You can drive from your distance
but just drive
please just drive
because you already drive my heart
and I’ll keep up alongside you
I’ll keep running alongside you
And you will always be my friend

Please read my letters
Please understand
Hold me accountable
Maybe even hold my hand

Please hold me accountable
and maybe even hold my hand

Nice Girl

I’m not in love, but I like the idea
Not infatuated, but I’ve got that feeling
Just enough to keep me in pursuit
Just enough to keep me in pursuit

I’m not in love, but I like the idea
It’s a relief, and a new anxiety
She’s a nice girl, and I want to find out who she is
She’s a nice girl, and I want to find out who she is

She’s a nice girl, and I want to find out who she is
She’s a nice girl, and I wonder what secrets she keeps
She’s a nice girl, and I want to find out who she is
She’s a nice girl, and I want to find out what’s in it for me

You Can Drive the World

I’m a gentle discontent
Ready for poise
Ready to please
Ready to gain advantage

I’m bold discontentment
Ready to light something big
And this world is not enough
So let’s make a new one

My agenda is to fuck you
My agenda is to drive you
Decent and kind
Loving and responsible
And you can drive the world

I’m gentle release
Disguised as pressure
Disguised as peace
Ready to gain advantage

I’m bold release
With no loss of composure
No loss of grace
And this world is not enough
So let’s make a new one

My agenda is to fuck you
My agenda is to drive you
Decent and kind
Loving and responsible
And you can drive the world

With no loss of grace
No loss of composure
You can drive the world

Talk

If I’m loving and kind, then why am I so pissed?
Acceptance would be much more noble
Moving on so much more mature
But instead I’m gonna throw… throw a lyrical fit:

You say I’m brave and nice
Why won’t you talk with me?
You say I’m honest
So why won’t you talk with me?

If I’m loving and kind, then why not make amends?
I tried to reconnect
Tried to reach your point of view
But now I just don’t get it
Now I just don’t get it

You say I’m brave and nice
Why won’t you talk with me?
You say I’m honest
So why won’t you talk with me?

What is the point of love that goes nowhere?
What is the point of love that goes nowhere?

I just want to talk with you…
I just want to talk with you…
I just want to talk with you…
I just want to talk with you…

Waste

I’ve had better days
This one went completely apeshit
In shock about how much was wasted
In shock about how much was lost
I’ve had better days

Trying to turn the page
Turn the mind
Turn my imagination
Trying to turn the page and walk on by
But I can’t turn my heart

This hope seeks recognition
Connection, resolution
And it’s more about the love I want to give
Than that I want to receive

I’ve had better days

It’s when you pray for a better resolution
But don’t care what it is
And you’re appalled at how much was wasted
And desperate for what was lost
I’ve had better days

Trying to turn the tide
Turn the mind
Turn the outcome
Trying to turn this thing around
But I can’t turn my heart

This hope seeks recognition
Connection, resolution
And it’s more about the love I want to give
Than that I want to receive

Unrequited love is such a waste
Unrequited love is such a waste

I’ve had better days

Prayer (Say Nothing Again)

I just want to say nothing again
I just want to say everything again
But you won’t listen anyway
But you won’t get it anyway
So I’ll just say nothing again

I can’t let her go right now
So what the fuck do I do?
Trying to find a way to leave the situation
Trying to think of every way to get her attention

‘Cause I just want her to stop ignoring me
And if she’s not going to talk with me
I need you to explain what’s up
I need you to explain what’s up

I just want to say nothing again
I just want to say everything again
But you won’t listen anyway
But you won’t get it anyway
So I’ll just say nothing again

Maybe it’s slightly obsessive
But its probably real love
And I just want to share it with her
And I just want to spend time with her

So I’ll just give you the finger
And say nothing again
But I really want something new to happen
Really want you to explain it to me
Really want you to explain it to me

I just want to say everything again
I just want to say everything again
But will you listen? I know you get it
But will you listen? I know you get it

So I’ll just give you the finger
And say nothing again

Pearls To Swine

I gave you kindness and respect
You threw it back in my face
I cast you my pearls
You ground them into the floor
Now I just want to stop wasting time on you
Now I just want to stop loving you

But how can I walk away from how I feel?
How can I choose not to care?
How can love go so badly?
How can love go so badly?

This is not who I want to be
Stuck with feelings that go nowhere
Stuck in a tired pattern
Casting my pearls to swine
Now I just want to stop wasting time on you
Now I just want to stop loving you

But how can I walk away from how I feel?
How can I choose not to care?
How can love go so badly?
How can love go so badly?

This is not who I want to be
This is not who I want to be