Let me never fell into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted, wrote Ralph W. Emerson in the 19th century. I wonder why did he call this mistake vulgar? Vulgar comes from the Latin word vulgus, the people. However it refers to the people in a very pejorative way, attributing the people with what is common and ordinary.
So in order to understand better what Emerson meant, let us maybe liberate the word vulgar from its connotation with the people. Let us start the other way round by asking, what does Emerson understand under the word vulgar? What is happening when someone mistakes a contradiction for a persecution? This someone short-circuits difference with attack. Instead of saying he is different or he might have a point, the contradicted gets paranoid thinking if he is not my friend he must be my enemy. Vulgar in this sense means that someone is behaving vulgar when he cannot respect the other. His formular of life is: Either me, or the other.
Vulgar then means not to accept the multiplicity and diversity of the world, not to accept that people are a plural entity.
Unfortunately life does not have an undo button like many computer programs do. I am sure we would undo many decisions and things we produced, so many that we might end up sitting in a prehistoric cave. And then, what would we do then? Start all over again. In the cave we will notice that life unfortunately neither has a do button and it will take many hardships to organize a more pleasant life and this again might produce unvoluntarily or voluntarily side effects that we would prefer to undo.
So we might better reconcile with what we did and of course try to do better.
When I go to bed tired and frustrated after a 100% mum’s day I wonder what I did all day that I feel so exhausted, but don’t find a satisfying answer. I ask myself whether I am brainwashed by capitalism’s ideology so that I am unable to enjoy unproductive work. Hold on calling a mum’s work unproductive is of course highly questionable: It is splitting productive work from love work as if the latter was no real work. What a commodity oriented understanding of productive work underlies this separation from love work! Giving love should be more productive than any product can be without becoming a commodity!
Not enough, the problematic of my frustration takes another twist: Not only am I supposed to not feel frustrated even though I cannot sell my labour power as a mother. I should even feel more satisfied than someone who holds a regular employment. Giving love is a sacred activity.
But the feeling of frustration remains even though I cannot say that I do no receive love from my children. Would it be different had I been paid for the work? I don’t know I would not feel entitled to take such money as I do this work because of love. A vicious circle opens up that only confirms our current labour division. And I am an agent of it … whether I complain about it or not.
This is supposed to be an eloge on therapy as I think it is extremely important to cure minds and hearts and not only bodies. Yet, thinking about therapy brings in many aspects that suggest the topic to be more ambivalent than I would love it to be. It all began with popularizing Freud, Oedipus, the Penis Envy and the Unconscious. And it continued with Woody Allen, I quote: “I had a shrink then, I have a shrink now. I had three wives down the line and I still love whores…” His public testimonials of therapy experiences are another step towards a trend that culminated in the establishment of reality TV therapy (RTVT), in other words reality shows with life therapy sessions. We can say that these developments are a logical feature of the current society having grown exhibitionist. Public therapy is part of a society that likes to portray itself in all sorts of formerly private moments in selfies and reality shows and with it introduces competition and pressure of having to perform outstandingly in all realms of our private life. But why do we cure our minds and hearts publicly and not our bodies? Apparently there is nothing to discuss about our bodies, but there is about our minds and hearts. I am not so sure about this in either way. Maybe there is more to discuss about our bodies and less about our minds and hearts.
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty wrote Thomas Jefferson some hundreds of years ago. This might have been true for his times, but today it is worth to rescue the reputation of timid people. What would we call a characteristic that is opposed to being timid, self-assured, extraverted, expansive, outgoing, bold. Those who are not timid might be social beasts who need a stage such as television and social media, but do they necessarily have a sense of freedom. The surveillance and control features of such media do not scare or serve as a warn signal to most of the adherents of these public platforms.
Timidity instead can allow to step back and to observe where and through which measures our in the past so hardly fought for gains of freedom are vanishing so that regulations become a subtle companion of our extraverted egos.