Sunday, 17 November 2013

SAWBONNA: PITTMAN MCGEHEE & US VS. THEM

On Friday evening I attended a lecture at The Calgary Jung Society, at which Episcopalian priest, Pittman McGeHee spoke about love. He shared the fact that in Sanskrit there are seventy-five words for love i.e. the love of a teacher for a student, the love of a speaker for her audience. He spoke about the four types of love which we have handed down from the Greeks: storage: affection; philia: friendship; eros: romance; and agape: unconditional love. At dinner the following evening, I found myself sharing the love that is Sawbonna's articulation with a woman sitting next to me. A love that took root in a deep sense of us both wanting to be seen, heard, witnessed, from our own very, very different experiences. Both the oppressive and oppressing notion embodying justice in an us vs. them context, surfaced. Even as she and I vehemently disagreed with what honouring voice means, I knew I was in the presence of love. I knew that the very fact that I could use my voice and she hers, we were choosing to love the fact that we had something to say. That we could listen. That we, in appearing as "us vs. them," were engaged in the love that is Sawbonna's invitation to honour voice. To embody justice in a manner that does not tell "victim" how to be, that does not tell "offender" how to be. We were participating in a covenant of consciousness, of which Pittman writes in his work, The Paradox of Love. Paradox. Process. Voice. Choice. In covenant to be more than us vs. them. Even when love might feel discordant, and bleak, it speaks. And again speaks.

4 comments:

  1. Margot,

    it's been my experience that those who talk the most about 'love' usually show very little of it in action or at most a very compromised form of it. Experts, on lecture circuits, who dice up terms like 'love' and claim to embody it on the strength of technical (academic) expertise are always suspect (in my view).

    Love happens most often when people aren't aware. In Rilkean terms, 'love' speaks always to the invisible: the unspoken and the unheard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so for your comment, Conrad. I find the deep paradox of love and loving, at times, deeply challenging. We have words, we have concepts, and we live them or into them, them into us. Pittman's articulation was deeply powerful and moving. Though a Zurich Trained Jungian Analyst, he spoke NOT from a place of "expertise," or "from the pulpit" as it were. He spoke from a place of deep honouring of his very self, and each of us. The woman with whom I shared a powerful, powerful, and passionate conversation, like me, was coming from a place of wanting to be heard and seen. To be loved. With us, what occurred, was that she chose to say that my content and way of sharing were (for her alone at the table) controversial, and inappropriate. I honour her right to say this, fully aware that if she did not speak her voice, she would be else than herself. Why should she be? Why should I be? LOVE, that vast and inclusive and pulsating ENERGY has room for all voices. And this, too, is Sawbonna. All voices. This, too, happens with "victims" and "offenders," being told how to be, how to act, how to speak. Sawbonna challenges this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps, Margot, the place "of wanting to be heard and seen" is illusory, after all. Love is not a topoi, rhetorical flourish as it seems to be in the hands of trained analysts. It seems to me (to my poet's heart) that love is the most silent gesture of all, coming always unexpectedly and in the most unlikeliest of places and times, nourished and sustained by its impetus only. St. Paul is right: we give love away since it wasn't ours really to begin with. The Jungians and all purveyors of bookish ethics don't really get this since, if they did, it would instantly undermine them. They live in the open marketplace; lovers, on the other hand, live invisibly, crying out to their invisible mates and living only in the hope of the eternal return.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was not part of the event you describe, Margot, but I had an experience once at a conference where I spoke about women and depression, and an audience member stood and said she disagreed with my approach, and that most women were depressed because we live in a patriarchal society. In that moment I felt cancelled out, and I wonder if some people, in their own need to be heard and seen, feel a need to annul other people's ideas and voices.

    ReplyDelete