6.14.2009

possessive

A property claim like no other--Lockean, perhaps, as your work improves on nature--part of me will always belong to you, in the same way that your life belongs to you. "To own" is to possess not only the object but also "the consequences of producing or earning that object." Of course, no one holds claim to a man's life insofar as that man maintains his ability to choose freely his thoughts and actions. To own something in the manner I'm addressing is not a form of slavery but a path to achieving freedom and "spirituality" and love in its most selfish sense.

To be possessive of something requires an interest, and that interest, if it is a genuinely desired pleasure, comes by productive means--a recognition of your values in conjunction with the effort put forth. Kelley might call possessiveness of humans "selfish benevolence," (and it is) but it isn't. I appears much closer to love than benevolence--which has a standoffish element. But, if I may, I'd like to suggest for purely theoretical purposes, that there might be a semi-emotion different/beyond love or perhaps a subcategory thereof--a feeling of completeness that integrates, differently, the recognition of value and the virtue of production.

(Randians may stop reading this point as I will just go farther and farther away from the Objectivist mythos--a term used ironically, in this instance--into a realm of possible contradiction--not because I find some truth in the illogical but merely as a way to begin structuring my thoughts. Foucault, the obnoxious bastard, did make a brilliant, metaphorical point about new knowledge flowing much easier from the poetic--though unlike Sprig's Phaedrus, I'm not afraid of the eventual "classical" interpretation and classification of my current "romantic" offering. It is, for me, a necessary next step.)

Some basis for my thoughts:

"Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character."

and

"Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live—that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values—that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others..."

Since the moment you said that you felt possessive of me in some way, I've been working the idea over in my head--perhaps to a fault. All relationships are unique. Some are just more unique than others. And our interactions--however I choose or not choose to define them--are something I doubt I will ever experience with another human being. (It's to be seen whether or not that's a good thing, bad thing, indifferent thing, interesting thing, or otherwise.)

I first thought that it might be a matter of familial association--much like an older sibling helps in the raising of a younger brother or sister and feels a sense of pride and accomplishment when he or she achieves. And certainly this may be a form, sub-category, or other relationship-to-be-determined-later of the "semi-emotion" to which I'm referring. But I don't think it fully satisfies all the criteria of "sameness." (Though if it does, and I'm simply over thinking, mis-thinking, or evading, then I'll kick myself in the shin.)

I'm thinking more of an integration of the Objectivist concepts of love and production, recognizing the brilliance of someone's virtues and, at the same time, actually making that person a better human being--more so than even the best "standard" friendship. Think of actively putting work into another human because you recognize their potential and because you love them for their character--and because you learn as well during the entire process.

Perhaps there was a time when this pseudo-definition best described the relationship between teacher and student--but I fear that time has long past in most instances. Nevertheless, I don't want to abandon the idea just yet.

It seems improbable that even the best teachers feel this way about all their students, but I will consider a "top-notch" educator and his relationship to a brilliant student. In this instance, the teacher loves the student for his ideals--an active pursuit of a healthy mind, dedication to the subject, hard work, etc. Additionally, the teacher puts his own effort into the student during lectures, conferences, feedback on papers, etc. Certainly the teacher takes pride in the student and may even feel a bit possessive of the student when he accomplishes something wonderful.

In a lot of ways, this scenario satisfies the criteria of the "semi-emotion." But consider that the professional relationship of the student and teacher necessarily separate them no matter how strong the teacher's possessive and/or loving feelings. Assuming a normal, appropriate relationship between the two, the student will eventually depart, make his own way in life, and the teacher, though always possessive of the student, teaches new pupils and seldom makes contact. (I realize this is not always the case, especially in higher levels of education. Nonetheless, it's necessary to point out for the purposes of my rambling.)

So, begin with this sort of student/teacher relationship--an integration of love and production--but change it by substituting the professional nature of the interaction with the more relaxed atmosphere of a close friendship. As best I can tell, this sort of possessiveness in this relationship requires a sort of "The Price is Right" effect. It is as close to a romantic love as the parties allow without going over. (Sidenote for the Freudians who might be reading this post: I have no doubt that this sort of experience can happen in friendships between two men or two women without implying that they could ever cross the sexuality line. Even as they approach the peak of this type of interaction, the ledge before "going over" might be blocked by a cement wall with reinforced steel. Unlike a lot of feminist or new "bromance" scholars, I do not mean to imply in any way that heterosexual friends have some sort of underlying, sub-conscious sexual desire for each other. Close does not mean romantic.)

Often the spectrum of love runs on a single axis from "Friendship" to "Romance." Even when a y-axis is added, it often merely represents intensity. Perhaps another way to think about the semi-emotion to which I'm referring is a third axis, a z-axis that represents the extent to which we've influenced someone's life by actively helping them to become a better person.

Why is any of this important to me?

Perhaps its because I still don't fully understand exactly how I feel--more so why my feelings often conflict with the actions I want to take in a given situation versus the actions I plan to take. It's certainly a self-esteem issue, but I'm still trying to identify its source. Many of my close friends swear it's an evasion, and if I ever conclude that they're right, I have a lot of apologizing to do. But right now, even as I reevaluate everything, I conclude that I'm not wrong and that my non-actions are illogical and that the ultimate barrier to my achievements is myself.

I don't want it to be easy. Otherwise there would be no point in my success. Conversely, I don't want it to be impossible. Otherwise there would be no point my trying.

No signs. No hints. No cheat codes. No Game Shark. No clues. No secret passages. No short cuts. No easy buttons. No map. No Virgil. No peaking. No crystal ball. And especially no following when I'm supposed to be leading.

I want to struggle. I want to overcome it. To achieve and make it mine. How primal. And beautifully moral. And beautifully difficult.

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