More thoughts on pride.

“Pride” seems to me entirely appropriate when applied to accomplishments. That is, I am proud of having learned to speak Japanese.

I am proud of Gary for working hard on his comics.

But I don’t think it is right to say I’m proud of something given. That is to say, I’m VAIN about my hair, not PROUD of it.

Vanity is another matter altogether.

It can be annoying but to me it is not abhorrent. It is too clownish.

Thinking lately about how abhorrent is the notion of “ethnic pride”, regardless of the ethnicity of the people who exhibit it. “National pride” is equally objectionable. We all need to have a sufficient presence of personal dignity and self-love. But group identi-inflation makes me ill. Is this because I as a Jew am too wholly (by some people’s estimations) assimilated? Or because it is very difficult for me to think of identity as other than costume?

At the same time I can’t deny that sex and race are more or less givens.

Or that one ought to struggle for justice and fair representation for one’s group(s). Just… can we not do it out of “pride”? It’s perhaps just a question of semantics — I think I just don’t like the word.

The context I perhaps most like it in is “gay pride” — because there “pride” sounds like an ellided cockney pronunciation of “parade” — and I LOVE a parade.

From an article entitledWomen and Jewelry — the Spiritual Dimensions of Ornamentation

“The people of India have expended limitless energy and creativity in the invention of ornaments that celebrate the human body. Adorning the visible, material body, they feel, satisfies a universal longing for the embellishment of its intangible counterpart, namely the human spirit.”

Lots of pretty pictures.

Rationalization? Maybe, but…

Ornament — the act of ornamentation — is supremely meditative.

body without organs

On the phone to Marianne bemoaning my almost total regression to my self of, say, thirty years ago — to which the colored eggs and cher doll below provide a kind of testament.

Nick tells me it’s just because it’s April and I’m worn out that the last thing I want to think about (much less do) is writing, and that it’s really OK that all I wanna do is wander around looking at stuff and buying Indian jewelry on the net (for a good time check out dmiindia and shopindia for eyefuls of glitter and gorgeousness).

I keep telling myself it’s just a coping strategy.

So I says to Marianne, I says, “I should just go read Foucault. Or better yet Deleuze and Guattari. I mean, what is an egg but a body without organs?”

“The marriage of words to music, as of music to numbers by the Pythagoreans, constitutes one of the great philosophical preoccupations of ancient India. Words are the vedic yoga: they unite mind and matter. Pure, ecstatic contemplation of phonetic sound

reverberating on the ether in the sacred chant may be compared to the contemplation of geometrical forms and mathematical laws by the Pythagoreans. The Word is God, Number is God — both concepts result in a

kind of intoxication. Only the Pythagorean master can hear the music of the spheres: only the perfected Hindu sage can hear the primordial sound — NADA.

One system exalted numbers, and the other words;

the vital difference is that since words are less pure and abstract than the content-free language of mathematics,

they tend to confine the exxercise of the mental faculties within subjective processes.

….True, Indians became great mathematicians… but it was not numbers which became the key to both power and wisdom, but the Word. One consequence is the widespread tendency of Indians to use language as a form of incantation and exuberant rhetorical flourish on public occasions.

Orators rend the air with verbose declamations more for the pleasure of the sound than for the ideas and facts they may more vaguely desire to express. The audience is swayed by the cadence of sound

as by the music of the classical singer, when the latter uses only phonetic syllables with no significance other than their intrinsic physiological capacity to soothe or exalt the listener.”

— from The Speaking Tree by Richard Lannoy, Oxford Univ. Press, 1971