Most of you probably don’t know this, but my birthday is coming up in exactly two weeks, on May 13th. Now, I bet you’re thinking “Oh man! I haven’t gotten Jason anything yet!” Well, fear not. There is still plenty of time and I have some ideas for you.
1. You could head on over to my Amazon Wishlist and pick something from there.
2. You could send me money via PayPal to Jason(at)JasonStotts.com
3. You could send me an e-mail about how my work has affected you, if it has. Actually, I’d like this one the best as knowing that my work is having an impact is very motivating for me.
So, feel free to go with any of the above options. If you have other ideas, feel free to e-mail me at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com.
Compersion is a word commonly used in polyamorist and swinger circles. It means, roughly, the ability to derive pleasure from your partner’s pleasure. However, from an etymological standpoint, the word is absolute nonsense – an utter abomination of a word. The prefix “com-” mean “with” or “together,” the prefix “per-” means “through,” and the suffix “-sion” is used to form nouns and means something like “the state of X,” where X is what comes before the -sion. So, “compersion” means something like “the state of together through.” Yeah, it should make you cognitively shudder. This is what happens when hippies living in a commune make up words.
Anyway, the thing that the word is trying to point to is a real phenomenon and is an important ability for those engaged in polysexual lifestyles. After all, you should gain pleasure from your partner’s pleasure if your partner is a value to you. That is, if your parter is a value to you, then that which is good for him or her is also good for you, since his or her good is also your good, by virtue of your partner being a value to you. In case that’s not clear, the point is that those things which further your values are values to you (as a consequence of this) and your values being furthered improves your own lot. In the case of your partner, if you truly value them and place them highly on your hierarchy of values, then that which is good for your partner is, for that reason, good for you.
Thus, for the rational man or woman who highly values their partner, their partner’s pleasure should be pleasant to them. This fact is not limited to any one realm, but is true of all the things that your partner values: even if the same thing would not be a direct value to you. If, for example, your partner loves to play chess and you do not, but your partner derives great pleasure from playing chess, then even though you wouldn’t want to play chess, you should be glad that your partner does enjoy it and you should enjoy the fact of their enjoyment. (Lest it is thought that I am about to deal with polysexuality without first addressing whether or not it can be moral, let me refer you to my essay “On Polysexuality” where I address this question.) Now, in the sexual realm, this fact holds true as well. However, this doesn’t mean that a rational man or woman cannot, or will not, still feel jealousy. On the contrary, being raised in our culture, tainted by the christian hatred of all things sexual, it would be hard not to feel jealous at first.
Jealousy is an emotion that is a response to fear of loss. In contrast with envy, which is desiring that which another has, jealousy is a fear that a value one has in danger. When your partner spends time with someone else or engages in sexual activities with another person, it is common in our culture to feel jealous, which is to worry that the value you have in your partner is in danger of being lost to this other person. This is to be expected, since we live in a culture that says that you can only have sex with the person who you intend to die with and that this sex can’t be for pleasure, but only for reproduction. Further, our culture says that love is a zero-sum game and that any attention that your partner gives to another person must, necessarily, diminish his or her affection for you, since your partner’s love is a finite quantity. Note that not all cultures share these assumptions and that showing jealousy is shameful in some cultures, because it shows a lack of trust or a sense of ownership (depending on the culture).
In a good and healthy relationship, there should not be any reason for jealousy, because both partners should be on the same page and should be communicating openly and honestly about their needs and feelings. Furthermore, since their relationship is based on real values and their love on each others character and because they have a shared past and shared identity, there should be no cause for concern that one’s partner might leave. This kind of relationship is stable and can handle nearly anything. Further, the knowledge that one’s partner will be completely honest and upfront about any issue removes the need to be suspicious of them and makes it possible to trust them in a way that isn’t possible without this complete honesty. Not only that, but knowledge of your partner’s integrity means you need never doubt them or whether they will keep your interests as their own. In short, in a good and healthy relationship you need not fear that your partner will leave you and thus jealousy is unwarranted.
However, just because jealousy is unwarranted does not mean that you will not experience it. The question you need to ask yourself is whether the cause of the jealousy is ideas you’ve accepted by osmosis through the culture or whether it is because there is actually a serious problem in your relationship. Remember, your emotions are not impenetrable things that just happen to beset you from time to time, but, rather, are an automatic response to antecedent value judgments. If your value judgements are well formed and consistent with your conscious ideas, then your emotions will be in line with your reason and they will serve your life. If, on the other hand, your value judgments are a random assortment of half formed ideas, then your emotions will give you contradictory responses and they will seem to be alien to you, since they are not in line with your conscious ideas.
Ultimately, the thing that “compersion” is trying to point to is real and it is quite valuable for those who want to engage in a polyamorous or polysexual lifestyle. However, the name has got to go and we shall need a new name for the concept. I’m not sure that I have come up with the perfect name yet, but I’m considering two options: erotic resonance or empathetic pleasure response. Either one would be better than “compersion.”
According to christian mythology, today is the day in which the son of their imaginary god rose up from the grave as a zombie, mounted his giant zombie rabbit that shit colored eggs, and rode around eating brains. At least, I think that’s what happened, I’m fuzzy on my christian mythology.
In all seriousness, though, I think it’s funny how many christians don’t know the origins of most of the easter symbols. Why, for example, are bunnies and eggs associated with zombies? The answer, of course, is the early christians adopted the pagan symbols for fertility: rabbits that multiply quickly and eggs that are the symbol of life about to begin. This is because the pagans respected nature and tried to stay in tune with it and in the Spring, animals begin to reproduce so that their young can be born under conditions that make it much more likely their young will survive and be ready to face the winter. The christians, however, perverted these natural symbols and stripped them of all meaning, such that now there are bunnies, eggs, and zombies, but no apparent connection between them. Thus, does christianity pervert all that it touches.
I think that this Spring we should forget about the zombies and celebrate fertility by reflecting on the role of sexuality in our lives. I think we should celebrate reproduction by thanking our parents and grandparents, if they’re still alive, and appreciating our children, if we have any. I think that we should remember that we are animals, a very special kind, to be sure, but animals nonetheless and we should not rail against this fact of nature, but embrace it and our animality. In short, we should do away with christian mythology and celebrate our lives and our sexuality.
I just found out that a new version of the classic guide to all things anal, Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack Morin, came out with a new edition on the first of this month! I’m excited to see what the changes were and I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn about anal play, for men or women, and even for those who think they know a thing or two about the butt. Trust me, you’ll learn something.
I remember a song from when I was growing up that said: “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, take an ugly girl for your wife.” Although I always thought the song was funny, it’s not particularly realistic. But, is there anything you can do to be happy for the rest of your life? Yes. You can become a good communicator.
Good communication will help you in all aspects of your life, but it is particularly important for sex. Even people who are excellent communicators in most aspects of their lives can have trouble communicating about their sexual needs and desires. Let’s face it, it can be scary to open yourself up to your partner and reveal the deepest, darkest, parts of yourself. But, that is precisely what you have to do if you want to have a fulfilling sex life. If you never ask, you’ll never receive.
One thing to remember, as you ponder how to tell your parter that you might be bi, or that you like cross-dressing, or that you’re into BDSM now, or whatever, is that your partner is with you because they love you. The two of you freely chose to be together and that means something. While not all partners are going to be open to hearing any kinky thing you can think of, many partners are willing to at least listen to you. If nothing else, you can be honest with your partner and gain a completeness of self that you lack when you’re systematically deceiving someone you love by omitting something important about yourself. Ideally, even if you partner is surprised at first, they may come around and at least be willing to talk to you about your desires. Who knows? Maybe your partner shares some of your kinks and is fearing what you’ll think about them!
The only way to get your desires satisfied is to be honest with your partner and clearly communicate what it is that you want.
The Objective Standard (TOS) is once again offering an essay contest on Atlas Shrugged this year. Details of which can be found at http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/essay/. I encourage anyone who’s read the book and enjoys it and who might not mind a little extra money, to submit an essay.
In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand dramatizes the principle that “there are no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned . . . men who neither make sacrifices nor accept them.” Elucidate and concretize this principle using examples from both Atlas and real life.
First place: $2,000 cash plus publication in TOS
Second place: $750 cash
Third place: $300 cash
The contest is open to anyone aged 18 years or older.
Submission Deadline and Announcement of Winners
Essays must be received by August 15, 2011. Winners will be announced on October 15, 2011.
Last night I went to see the Atlas Shrugged movie for myself, to see whether it was as bad as everyone is saying. In some ways I’ve been looking forward to seeing the movie for some time and in others I’ve been dreading it. However, as an Objectivist, I basically had a duty to go and see it (irony). Realistically, my great curiosity about things would have never allowed me not so see it and so I went with low expectations, but with a glimmer of hope.
We went to a late showing and the theatre I went to could hardly be called “packed.” Indeed, we nearly had a private showing, as there were only a few other people in attendance at the showing. There was no applause at the beginning and none at the end. While it was playing, one couple even walked out about midway through. But, we persevered and watched it from beginning to end. When I left the theatre, I wasn’t sure what to think of the movie. In some ways I hated it. Absolutely, vehemently, and with unreserved passion: hated it. It was like watching your favorite book being made into a movie by high schoolers and knowing that this travesty was how many people would be introduced to the ideas of Atlas Shrugged. On the other hand, there was much to like about the movie. Not love, but like. And so, I was conflicted.
The first good thing I thought of the movie, and this is more of a meta-thought about the movie, was that it would increase sales of Atlas Shrugged the book. This is certainly happening and, as of this writing, the book is up to #4 in overall book sales on Amazon, which is amazing for a book of its complexity, length, and age. As a consequence of the increased book sales, more people will be introduced to the philosophy of Objectivism and, as that happens, it will become more mainstream and accepted.
The second thing that struck me about the movie is that they captured the tone of Atlas Shrugged well. Atlas Shrugged has a certain tone and feel throughout the book. In the first part, that tone is of desperate helplessness as society sinks further and further into crisis in servitude to its altruist ideals. The protagonists see it happening, but don’t understand it’s ultimate causes and focus only on trying to keep it alive as long as they can. The movie captures this tone well and you, as the viewer, feel this collapse and the feeling of “what can be done?”. Or, as they say in the book, “Who is John Galt?” Of course, the feeling is perhaps all the more poignant as the US economy seems be following Atlas Shrugged almost prophetically.
Third, the sets of Atlas Shrugged were very well done. The Taggart Building looked very nice and the interior sets of it were well done. The Rearden Mills very well done and the fact that they showed the steel being poured and worked on increased the reality of the set for me and it made it much more plausible for it being a place that Rearden would create for himself. Also, Rearden’s house was very well done as a manifestation of Lillian’s taste and you could tell that Rearden himself did not fit in with the style of the house, although it was obvious that he was master of the Mills.
Fourth, speaking of Rearden, I think he was the one good cast in the entire movie. I thought Grant Bowler did a good job of capturing Rearden’s subtle mixture of passion for his work and (to him) curious detachment from his personal life.
Fifth, the musical score worked well to emphasize the high and low dramatic points. Although it wasn’t of the caliber of a Hans Zimmer or John Williams, it was good for the movie.
Sixth, I thought that the movie did a good job, a very good job, of showing some of the points of Objectivist philosophy through action. The one example that I want to highlight is that Ayn Rand thought, and I agree with her, that benevolence was a characteristic only open to the independent and selfish man. She thought that altruism, by chaining everyone to everyone else in a zero sum game, destroyed the natural benevolence of men and set them against each other. The movie highlighted this by having the protagonists be exceptionally courteous to everyone, including the servants, whereas the altruists, those out to “help the people” were rude to everyone but other members of their elite.
Finally, I thought that the set up to the movie was well done. As the movie started, I saw that it was set in the future and I was immediately worried about it: it is, after all, a movie about trains! However, the writers did a good job of showing that the failing economy and rising gas prices necessitated rail transport due to its lower transport costs. This made the entire movie more plausible and set up why Taggart Transcontinental was so important.
First, the acting, or perhaps the directing, in Atlas Shrugged was atrociously bad. Not just a little bad, but “this is my first drama class and I don’t really have emotions, or know how to convey them, but I thought it might be fun to be in a movie” bad. Taylor Schilling, who played Dagny Taggart, seemed perfectly incapable of expressing emotion with her face. In fact, I think she might have overdone botox on her forehead, because I never saw it move once. I think perhaps she’s going for a modus operandi of “blank stare” as her signature acting credential. Maybe she accidentally thought the movie was about Stoicism? She certainly wasn’t the only poorly played character; Eddie was also like a robot. The seond worst cast, though, was clearly Francisco D’Anconia, played by Jsu Garcia. Francisco is supposed to be a very intelligent man who’s living life as a great charade for a very particular purpose. However, in Garcia’s eyes, you don’t see that spark of intelligence, but just the bland look of a man who doesn’t even look the part of a playboy.
Second, the dialogue was pretty bad in a lot of places. A lot of places. It felt like the actors were trying very hard to just talk like a normal person. I’m not sure if it was the writers, which I think much of it was, or another failure of the actors, but the dialogue throughout the movie absolutely grated on me. Further, the dialogue and acting leading up to the sex scene was positively…unsexy. If there’s one thing I know about Ayn Rand’s heroes and sex, they don’t ask permission to kiss the women and they don’t act like middle-schoolers approaching them.
Third, the editing was poorly done. The movie didn’t have that “polished” feel that you get from a good editing job. Or, perhaps, it was an amazing editing job on material that was horrible to make it into something decent. It’s hard to tell.
Overall, I thought the movie was worth seeing. If you don’t go in with high expectations, then you should have a pretty decent time. There is something nice about just getting to see a book as good as Atlas Shrugged being made into a movie, even if it’s made into a movie in the early 90′s way, where it was fun to see, but the book was so much better it’s hard to even compare them. I do think that some of the criticisms of the movie are overblown and given the low budget of the movie and the short time in which it was made, it actually turned out pretty well.
I give it a 3/5.
Caveat Emptor: If you purchase Atlas Shrugged via one of the Amazon links, I will make some small amount of money. So, if you’re going to purchase Atlas Shrugged through Amazon, use my link and help fund Erosophia.