Sunday, 14 March 2010

When Wilhelm get's that feeling...

And so Brian stood at the front of the room and gaily announced in his Irish lilt
‘you cannot be truly happy until you are having proper orgasms’ to which we inevitably laughed and waited for him to attribute his statement, which he did.
They were the words of Wilhelm Reich an Austrian psychoanalyst who followed Freud’s path of psychiatric discovery even deeper into the woods.

Reich concurred with much of what Freud deduced about the mind, he particularly bought into the idea that we are mentally made up of our ID (our instinctive impulses), our Ego (Our civilised self), and our Super Ego (our prohibitive self which controls our ID).
Freud believed we could aid behavioural or mental problems through talking, he practiced a lot of free association; letting his patients speak in a stream of conciousness until at some point they spewed up something which had a deeper significance, something which could explain all their hang ups and complexes (Freudian word).
Reich on the other hand thought that focusing on the mind had it’s constraints, he believed we should focus on our bodies, that we should self medicate our depression or insecurity with a lot of sex, whenever we feel like it, with whomever we fancy. The simple act of fornication would free us of what he called ‘Orgone Energy’, essentially a sexual tension which we accumulated day to day.
He believed that we were constantly absorbing this ‘Orgone Energy’ like a gas, and a build up of this gas would result in tension and stress, the only means of releasing this gas was through having an orgasm.

Reich thought our sexual desires, which were subdued by our Super-Ego were legitimate and one should satisfy them. He then began to consider the ID and whether our instinctive impulses were destructive, if not why should they be concealed? Why does society fulminate against sexual promiscuity?
Why were we so repressed and who was repressing us?
These were all questions that could only be answered by history, tradition and anthropology.
The 1960’s saw a resurgence in Reich’s philosophy, the idea that ‘free love’ was not only acceptable but ‘good for your soul’ dominated young culture.
Much was born from Reichian ideas but it he still present today?
We certainly have popularised a one-night stand culture and though men are often admired for sexual prowess, women are still berated and condemned.
Will Reich’s ideals ever become social norm? Would we be happier and healthier if we were just a little more focused on our pursuit for an orgasm and a little less on the latest episode of Eastenders?

Was Marvin Gaye was right all along? And we are just all in need of some ‘sexual healing’?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams’

And so we were introduced to Existentialism, the interest in human existence.
Who we are and how we function. It brought me back to my A-level drama, which was a 2 year course in existentialism, explored through Samuel Backett and Franz Kafka. Having studied ‘The Trail’ and crawled around stage in ‘The Metamorphosis’ I was encouraged to think about it what it means to live, day-to-day.
‘The Metamorphosis’ follows the reaction of a young man, waking up to find he has taken the form of insect. On this discovery, his main concern is how he will attend work, how he will converse with his parents and sister, essentially how he will continue to function as he had done before.
Kafka suggests through his novella that all humans are drawn to a life of routine, of ritualistic behaviour which we hold as our reason d’etre.
We wake in the morning to complete the tasks we have set ourselves for that day.
Gregor Samsa, leads a banal life of habit and although he appears a loving son and someone of a good nature he is not missed by his family when an infection eventually leads to his physical demise.
This story presents the idea that we live to function which is emulated in ‘The outsider’ by Albert Camus.
This novel presents Merasult, an unconscious nihilist who sees life with little perspective and no purpose. He lives in a scary world of calm observation which alienates/dislocates him from his peers. His extreme indifference hinders his ability to feel any emotion other than the physical feelings of hunger or tiredness. When he murders an Arab with no malice or antipathy he fails to emotively conceive what he has done.
Condemned for his lack of remorse and apparent nonchalance he is sentenced to death, which he waits for with fear only for the physical anquish.
During his last days in prison he is visited by a priest, who implores him to repent his sin. Mersault consistently shows disdain for the priest and for the religion he preaches ‘I hadn’t the time to work up an interest for something that didn’t interest me’ and is not concerned with any ‘after-life’ that might exist ‘Do you really think that when you die, you die outright, and nothing remains?’ ‘I said: yes’.

Merauslt’s disregard for morality contrasts to ‘The Fall’s’ protagonist Jean-Baptiste Clamence who is unequivocally quixotic in his pursuit of moral sanctity.
His endless yearning to succeed in everything in hidden by an apparent moral crusade which he eventually finds hollow. Clamence tells his story of realisation to a passing acquaintance, to whom he admits ‘I lived consequently without any other continuity than, from day to day, I, I, I.’

Existentialism is said to have been instigated by an incursion of atheism.
The increasingly popular idea that ‘God is Dead’ lead to a crisis of purpose.
No longer did people convince themselves they were born to ‘serve god’ or to fulfil some higher moral purpose. This gave way to the question ‘why are we here?’.