Author Archives: Birgit

About Birgit

I work as professional artist / photographer, German language instructor and content creator for a small creative business. I am bilingually fluent in German & English, I speak, write, translate and teach both. As a sort of professional hobby I studied both Traditional Thai Massage (since 2011) & Yoga (since 1997). I offer massage treatments and private yoga classes, each tailored to my clients/students. I enjoy helping you heal yourself.

information finding addict

ARE WE HUMAN?

DIANA:

to begin with a quote:

“The world capital of rape is eastern Congo. Militias have discovered that the most cost-effective way to terrorize civilian populations is to conduct rapes of stunning brutality. Dina was 17 years old, one of six children living with her parents in the town of Kindu. One day, Dina cut short her work in the bean field and headed back to town well before sunset. As she was walking home, five Hutu militia members surrounded her with guns and knives, and forced her to the ground. One was carrying a stick. They all raped her, then held her down as someone drove the stick inside her. Her family came looking for her and found her half-dead in the grass. A foreign-funded hospital that could cure her was hundreds of miles away…”(source: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/stories , Half the Sky)

So this is the  kind of event that I try and keep in mind when I read for example Judith Butler’s article in Hanna Arendt and the Banality of evil. I try and think of the above example or any of the millions just like it to try and keep a perspective of REALITY to what I am trying to follow and understand philosophically, conceptually. It is hard enough to read a text and understand what it means, follow each sentence and understand enough to be alert to the moments when I should have an opinion, not missing the opportunities to affirm, agree or disagree. But if I am not careful I can easily get drawn into a very soft understanding rather than the understanding that goes deeper and hits reality on the head. The reality written about, thought about, which is cruel, brutal and disturbs the image one has of being human.
Judith Butler’s article: http://www.thenewsignificance.com/2011/08/31/judith-butler-hannah-arendts-challenge-to-adolf-eichmann/

below some passages chosen because I related, or felt I understood something:

I had thought of notion of dehumanizing primarily in relation to direct and visible violence, a conversation with a friend just reminded me that of course principally dehumanization is a tool to control and to make people compliant. This in Japan expresses itself in the docile, uniform wearing daily routine of uniform life. She observes that Japan this dehumanized compliance of the population means that people do not demonstrate against nuclear power-stations and for their radioactive free environment when they should.

Dehumanizing is not just the experience of being a recipient of welfare benefits but also being the office clerk, cog in the wheel, with no real expertise, real say, real authority or autonomy to make a decision. The decade of ‘I am not responsible, someone else is’ is sucking the voice out of people, sucking the thinking out of them. The more cloned, uniform and compliant the better. So much so that this appears to have become an engrained culture of non-responsibility, of unquestioning acceptance of the statements made by the propaganda/media/government oracles.

I am not sure I am writing in the ‘right’ way, I think I may be writing more of an option piece than an academic article, but maybe it’s a necessary rant about the state of things that I know from experience to be my truth and I think everyone would not just talk about but yell at the top of their voices just like the soap box preachers do as they announce the will of god (although my personal interpretation of god would not go down very well with any of them and I do think if there was a god as they imagine then that god might do a good service to the remaining members of society to give the soap-box preachers a sore throat and some loss of voice to experience the truly divine bliss of silence…).. Instead people who should speak and yell ARE silent listening to the wrong soap boxes, primarily the ones placed by their sofas, defending this ‘right of proximity to the soap box’ with more adamance than any common sense should allow. But then it is exactly this common sense that I am worried about.

The common sense that would be free thinking and that would prevent the ‘uniformizing’, the dehumanizing of swathes of societies..

It’s when we lose the fully human that is not a natural right but a right earned that we really should worry. What worries me is that the common sense is missing that would allow people to see their loss and respond accordingly. Instead life becomes a kind of farce, at times comical in it’s ridiculousness at other times distressing and ranging to the cruel and brutal. I realize that much more rigorous thought here would be appropriate, but I’ll continue my train of thought for now:

The absence of common sense is the gateway to human disaster. Nothing less than that. Referring to Hannah Arendt as written about by Judith Butler I am quoting from the web article by Judith Butler: ”

So if a crime against humanity had become in some sense “banal” it was precisely because it was committed in a daily way, systematically, without being adequately named and opposed.

….What had become banal – and astonishingly so – was the failure to think

….Indeed, her indictment of Eichmann reached beyond the man to the historical world in which true thinking was vanishing and, as a result, crimes against humanity became increasingly “thinkable”. The degradation of thinking worked hand in hand with the systematic destruction of populations. 

…./..but for Arendt the consequence of non-thinking is genocidal, or certainly can be.

….Kant (…) to him every man was a legislator the moment he started to act; by using his ‘practical reason’ man found the principles that could and should be the principles of law.”

All this refers of course to the Eichman trial in Israel and to Germany, the Nazis and the Holocaust. But you can see that I am equating common sense with ‘thinking’ with critical thought, with the notion that it is every human’s responsibility to ‘think’ and to act responsibly.
I understand that I have a problem in this line of my thinking, to think is not necessarily to make choices that are non-oppressive, non-violent, non-conformist.. In fact the result of that thinking can be the conclusion that it is indeed profitable to be a swine or violator or cog in the machine, for reasons of comfort, wealth and power.
How can I direct my argument and thinking towards a middle way? A path of responsible and frugal living within means, living that does not exploit the natural resources, wildlife or human life? Can I make my arguments on this precipice at the edge of the safe world? Humanitarian? Maybe we need a new term to describe the holistic living on the planet among each other.
Am I a complete hypocrite? Even my poverty is relative wealth, in fact it is incredible wealth. And this is afforded because of others who have none as well as because of others who make an incredible amount of profit.
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It is hard forming an understanding of the world and the many issues that we face when “we have moved from a solid to a fluid phase of modernity, in which nothing keeps its shape, and social forms are constantly changing at great speed, radically transforming the experience of being human.” (Zygmunt Bauman’s thesis in Liquid Modernity) [http://www.culturewars.org.uk/2004-02/identity.htm] The motions of dehumanization might be easier described initially as devaluation of humans. In a similar sense to how a woman is not fully human (quote all the big thinkers from my notes) and may need her womb coaxing into place to calm her, in a similar way as ‘Others’ are not fully human, Others have always been also those of the lower classes, the lower the less fully realized human. Today broad swathes of society fall off the wagon (as Zygmunt Bauman) says, and as ‘progess’ increases speed, jumping back on becomes night impossible. People once unemployed are easily rendered redundant in the full meaning of the word that resigns them to the same heap of Waste as our collective consumer goods packaging and half eating weekly grocery purchases.. (pick a corresponding quote from Wasted Lives, Zygmunt Bauman)

dissertation notes

Experts said: ‘just a defoliant’

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http://www.chemistry-inthinking.co.uk/blog-post/10648/bodyscanners.htm

“The violence thing: I am continuously bewildered at the absolute stupidity of man. In man’s far too abundant procreating, Man’s idea that economic growth can be ongoing (try expanding a balloon indefinitely… were these people never children? balloons explode eventually, nothing NOT even the universe can accommodate eternal growth) ” –

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/11/vintage-shoe-fitting-x-ray-machines-will-zap-your-feet/

“Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope”

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/09/01/1958204/EPIC-Uncovers-Mobile-Scanners-Not-Certified-People-Scanners

Rapiscan by Rapiscan

Bodyscanners : (from http://www.chemistry-inthinking.co.uk/blog-post/10648/bodyscanners.htm)

In topic 2.3 the Assessment statement is “Describe the electromagnetic spectrum”. To make this more relevant to students you could describe briefly how body scanners work as there are in fact two main methods in use which use very different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. One uses ‘back scatter X-rays’. These provide a two-dimensional image by detecting the scatter patterns of the ionising radiation reflected from the body. In airport scanners one image is taken of the front of the passenger and one of the back. The use of image enhancing software enables airport security staff to see a virtual image of the passenger beneath their clothing with the hope that objects such as weapons, explosives and drugs are revealed. Although X-rays are used it is claimed that the dose received by the passenger is less than that received during two minutes of flying and is virtually harmless.

The second type of body scanner uses even less harmful rays. These are known as millimetre wavescanners and may be passive or active. Both use radiation in the radio frequency (just below the tetrahertz region where the wavelength is between 0.10 mm and 1.0 mm). Passive scanners record only the raw energy that is emitted from the body (or concealed objects) and direct no energy at the passenger. In active scanners the radiation is transmitted from two antennae as they rotate around the body. This is the system in use at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam and some other EU airports. Like the back scatter X-ray system it allows screeners to see the surface of the skin beneath the clothing. Some individuals and organisations have complained that it is a breach of privacy and in the case of passengers under the age of 18 there is concern that it could contravening the UK Children’s Act by producing indecent images of minors.

beginning a journey

I like to read a little before I go, but in a non-commited way. I did read Alan’s blog on Ashtanga and life in Mysore. http://www.alanlittle.org/yoga/mysorediary.html

Now I feel nostalgic about those days where you could just arrive and that was ok.

I did just that, perhaps in the last few months when that was possible. My plane touched down in Chennai, I had NO idea how I was going to get to Mysore except I did see a rail line on a map, so I igured: if there’s a train then I’ll just get on it. NOTHING is as easy as one might think and it was very interesting how incredibly difficult buying a train ticket can be and how many windows and offices I had to go to, and stairs needed climbing with a phenomenal amount of luggage. Traveling light? Not me.. It was like moving a mountain each time I had to go to another window, and they sent me back and forth and my did I need the toilet…

Eventually I got my ticket (just as I thought perhaps I should book into a hotel and try with an emptier bladder and lighter load). I sat among a crowd of people who found me blowing my nose incredibly fascinating. I have never been watched so intently, for 3 hours. If the cow really stood among the crowd I can not say with certainty now, but I think it did.

India.

As soon as I found my spot on the train a second or 3rd tier bunk, inches from the ceiling I had just about enough time to marvel at the ‘air conditioning system’ (a flock of metal ventilators attached at all angles to the ceiling) before falling into a very deep slumber.

When I woke we were barely 2 hours from arriving in Mysore. I still had all my luggage which I had chained with the cheapest little lock to something and then fell asleep on top of it. The view outside disappointed me, so many plastic bags.. how could that be? The scent of Mysore Train station met me unprepared. I got out of there as fast as I could.

Then a rickshaw, to Gokulam. With no idea whatsoever if we were driving in circles or going straight there. In retrospect I now know the rickshaw driver was super helpful and drove the most direct route. He drove me up and down streets and I was tired and weary. And eventually I was dropped at Tina’s breakfast place. About which I had read in the not so high brow ‘Yoga School Dropout’. It didn’t take 6 hours and I had been taken under the wings by Agnius, who passed on his scooter, introduced me to Shiva, who arranged a place for me for less than I expected to pay.

In the afternoon I went to the shala, told Sharath that I spoke to Guruji on the phone and he had said “you come” and that was that.

By the end of the first day I had friends, a bed and was enrolled at the shala.

Overall I like to have a rough idea, but I do like to arrive and just trust that everything will be just right. I frequently show up in cities and countries without the faintest idea where I will sleep. I like it that way, but one does need to be prepared to be very tired, too. I once arrived in London and just trusted the world. It was 4am before someone took me in. On reflection THAT was not the very best idea..

But it worked fine and well in Morocco, Thailand, Spain, Cambodia and India.

interesting guy, am sometimes not sure if I agree or disagree (various you tube clips)  but feel I can get my teeth into this, follow his arguments sufficiently to have thoughts in response or against.

I feel like this dissertation is like a puzzle for which I haven’t got the picture to work with and to add to the difficulty there are pieces missing, a lot of pieces..

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democracy- kind of idol. .. torture to defend … principle to be invoked.. doesn’t matter if invoked on behalf of democracy or religion = wrong

democracy, diplomacy…..  ‘most people are neither good nor bad, they try and survive..’

 Immigrants as Scapegoats / Alain Touraine.   Anti-immigrant attitude was equal before the war etc… ~3.00

memories of night-time

a scene for a play, and a drama was had all the way.. When I look back now 3-4 years later I am aware of my incredible luck. This and any number of places could have been the scene of murder. But that night, when I took this photographs I was fighting with my reality and someone else’s. I was lucky to keep hold of mine; only just. [sept 3rd 2011]