By William Markiewicz

Odds and Ends from Here and There

Child Abuse

All abuse is the same because basically it is an act of power to the detriment of the weaker; you cannot abuse the stronger. So, if it is child abuse or adult abuse, women, men, inferior in rank, animal, you name it, it is always abuse. What makes child abuse particularly odious is the fact that it may leave a permanent scar.

Primitive or perverse people abuse when they have power; enjoy the terror they inflict. Sometimes abuse may be very subtle, not necessarily physical, but as much or more dangerous. Sometimes, in the name of good intentions, the innocent are punished and the victims are not necessarily who we think they are. Rigid law and excessive emotion sometimes create more victims than the perpetrators. So, alertness must be constant, everywhere, and we have to avoid the risk of bias.

Marriage -- Divorce

The institution of marriage has lost its power because its two main supporting pillars, tradition and religion, are very shaky these days. When marriage becomes only a matter of good will between the partners, then, as in other partnerships, self-interest often predominates over readiness to make concessions. In a free union the very fact that partners know they can leave whenever they want, keeps them together. In conclusion, marriage of today is too strong to keep a sense of freedom and too weak to impose a sense of duty. That's why it breaks down so easily.


A few months ago, "Le Monde Diplomatique" consecrated a whole issue to the problem of chronic unemployment. They maintained that technology overproduces and underemploys. They concluded that unemployment is a way of life and we had better learn how to live with it. As we don't know yet to do it, it leads to a crisis which is not really new; the Roman masses clamoured for "bread and circuses." In pre-Columbian America the rulers gave horrendous and useless duties to the masses, just to keep them busy. In an economy based on profit, who will buy when the potential consumers are not working and are penniless? We cannot predict which "new world order" will arrive as a result, because no Left and no Right are ready to give us a recipe.

Topless Women

Women's right to be topless would be self-evident if it didn't include a cultures' shock factor. I heard a story about an old East Indian woman who complained that "morality went down the hill in India because the young women don't show their breasts anymore." In the not so far past, young men were insulted on the street because of their long hair. Culture shock is always more or less dramatic and people from the both sides of the barricade have a long way to go before a modus vivendi is finally reached.

Strange "Pedophilia"

What is the relationship, if any, between the perverse pedophilia and the ageless ritualistic homosexual practices of initiation into manhood present in almost all pagan tribal societies. And why were the Cupidons, antique symbols of romantic and sexual love, pre pubescent boys, almost babies? Why, on the other hand, were the pre pubescent girls totally excluded from any sexual rites and symbolism? Only adolescent girls entered the kingdom of sex fables, but indirectly, through the black gate of magical power which they supposedly possessed but didn't control and so it was the devil's work. I've never encountered any psychological research nor philosophical speculations related to this subject, but I think there is a "catch" in it which deserves interest.

Force versus Power

Our epoch is a turning point in history. Never has so much emphasis been put on international cooperation rather than on rivalries. The word 'politics' itself is changing meaning as more and more often social issues -- environment, drugs, crime -- prevail over the classic political ones. Therefore, a multi-national movement like the 'Greens,' has been able to grow with enough power to create an embryo of a true international police task force which dared to challenge Japanese whalers or French nuclear war ships.

A new dawn doesn't necessarily kill the old devils. One journalist, whose name I unfortunately don't recall, wrote that though he totally agrees with the Green aims, he is apprehensive that once in power they may not remain immune to the illnesses that have afflicted other well-intentioned movements. It's true that, while ascending, all ideas engender martyrs and heroes and upon victory engender bureaucrats who, in their turn engender oppression and misery. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

We can name at least two reasons for this deception. First, bureaucracy means centralized power. In these circumstances many even well-intentioned decisions are made somewhere "at the top," distanced from the immediate reality of those concerned. The second reason is that bureaucracy is above any controlling power. The bureaucrats are the power. They are above the law. Even the best are corrupted in those conditions. Freedom and prosperity can only be guaranteed if there is some opposition strong enough to curb the dogmas of groups and the power hunger of individuals.

What is Reality?

"There is only one reality." I recall one letter/article in a philosophical magazine which ended with those words. I would be wary of making such a closed statement. Einsteinian, Newtonian, quantic universes deny each other, defy each other, and still are part of the whole.

Only the Newtonian universe which frames our life is accessible to our senses and reasoning. We foresee relativistic and quantic realities with the help of equations, but grasp them - never. Wasn't it Niels Bohr who once declared to the great relief of his audience: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I don't understand anything I've told you up to now."

Even in the Newtonian world we brush against phenomena that defy rationality; intuition, premonition ... Art, poetry, are at the edge of the rational. Great poetry often intoxicates more than it enlightens.

I would ponder Shakespeare's words (quoted from memory): "there are things that philosophers never dreamed about" before gliding happily on the surface of things.

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