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Labeling - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
In the various treatises on Zen theory and practice that I read, the importance of labeling feelings, rather than either acting them out or holding them in, is repeatedly underscored. I understand why. But, as I begin the process of removing the rubber suit I've been wearing for the past however many years, in order to get back in touch with my authentic responses to everyday life, I'm struggling to distinguish between the proper sort of labeling, which is directed inward, and the sort that is projected out into the world, as in, "Your selfishness brings pain to the people you purportedly wish to support," or, "You wouldn't know an original idea if it came into your tastefully appointed Southwestern kitchen and lopped the heads off of all your zoomorphic collectibles," or, "You mock others in the hopes that they will be too cowed to realize that you've made a mockery of yourself." That's why I'm writing this entry. I'm hoping that, by following the example of my LJ friends who vent their frustrations, I will be able to label my desire to label aggressively instead of indulging in it directly.

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23 comments or Leave a comment
From: batdina Date: December 10th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
ca va?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 10th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Spanish sparkling wine in the method of Champagne. . .


Just dealing with some things, as they say, whoever "they" are.
masoo From: masoo Date: December 10th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Am I a bad person if I admit that I miss the days when I would indulge in it directly?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 10th, 2007 06:48 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I don't think so. I was trying for tongue-in-cheek, but ended up straight-faced. I do try not to affix the label to the person I decide needs labeling. But sometimes my will slackens in the face of obviousness.
From: e4q Date: December 10th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 10th, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Penguins! It's true, I have a ton of zoomorphic collectibles myself. I want to behead my body doubles, perhaps.
From: e4q Date: December 11th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

that will be $100

schencka From: schencka Date: December 10th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Maybe not labeling as much as noticing and letting feelings go.

Put a "bad" in front of the noble eightfold path, and that's how to label bad thoughts, I think.

* Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā)

1. Right view
2. Right intention

* Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla)

3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood

* Mental discipline (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi)

6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 10th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The word "label" is part of the problem. "Noticing" has different connotations. I wonder if the preference for the former word has something to do with the relative Americanness of the texts I was referring to. I started reading them, after all, because I was intrigued by the heterodoxy and perhaps even heresy of American Zen.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 16th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I wonder if the preference for the former word has something to do with the relative Americanness of the texts I was referring to

I would think the preference for "labeling" rather than "noticing" has to do with the last clinging hope of the ego and I don't think I'd consider anything "zen" related that advocated labeling feelings as having anything to do with zen practice at all, and I wonder at your choice of texts. As long as you are busy "labeling" then "you" are still busy deluding yourself that you are doing/controlling/defining/directing. Being able to assign a label to something makes you Important. A Labeler. Woo! It's no wonder that doing away with labels of the type you are talking about seems anticlimactic in comparison. Most people don't want to trade drama for happiness. ::shrug::

I was amused by your reference to Nietzsche in response to my comment on E's post. Wrt that comment, I think you'd be better served by meditating on why you'd link to Nietzsche a sentiment, as the one I expressed, which predates him by 1000+ years! The answer to that may lead to the explanation of why you'd see "good" when you could see "wonder" instead!!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You think so?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've been thinking about this some more, so I'll attempt a response. Why would I link Nietzsche to a sentiment which, as he himself would have acknowledged in a heartbeat, "predates him by 1000+ years"? Because you and I are living today and not at some other point in history. I don't know how much Nietzsche you've read. But it doesn't matter much, in the end, because the manner in which you express yourself bears obvious traces of his influence. It's not simply a question of how long ideas have been around, but the manner in which they are presented. And the manner in which you present this particular idea, which I've seen you express, with slight variation, on numerous occasions, is one that reads like a paraphrase of the central argument in Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals.

That's not a criticism, obviously, since I find Nietzsche interesting to think about (and to say around the house, as you know). Since Nietzsche's day, most of the people in the West who have seriously engaged with that argument have acknowledged his importance in intellectual history. But there are also oodles of instances in which folks have unwittingly reflected his influence on modern thinking or done so consciously, but in contexts where citation would ring false, as in the Harry Potter books. Sure, you could arrive at formulations like the sort you made in your initial reply to me without ever knowing who Nietzsche was, just as you could come up with statements that echo Thoreau's Walden without ever reading any of his work. From my perspective, though, the fact that you were raised in a time and place when their ideas were in wide circulation means that it makes sense to regard them as points, if not of origin, then of concentration for the worldview you exhibit.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 17th, 2007 10:28 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've actually actually read zero Nietsche; which is one of my shortcomings in Intellectual conversations, but something wchich served me well my senior year (which was all time killing classes from my POV since I only needed .5 credits to graduate) in terms of easy material for counter debate and continues to be a source of amusement to me when I espouse things that are then credited to my "reading of" him; it's amusing to me that "the manner in which I express myself bears obvious traces of his influences." It's just amusing. Sure you can find Nietzcheian subtext in Harry Potter... high school is filled with homework assignments of exactly that "find the subtext in..." sort. But, as I've said repeatedly and tiredly, you are mistake in your impression of my interpretation of things when you think you can insert "what you yourself would think if you were in a position to think that" with what I actually think. You refer back to "oodles" of Nietsche, Charlie. And I have no doubt that serves you well enough in your current situation. And, as I have also said repeatedtdly: Good for you. You know, I'm real sorry that 7 years of your schooling life were "traumatic". But, that doesn't make your perspective any less narrow than those "traumatic" years trained it to be. ::shrug:: As you already know from IRL discussions, it matters little to me; I'd rather you be happy because I'd rather all beings be happy; but that you continue to flounder in the path you've chosen is your choice and so, to me, one that will ultimately bear you the most knowledge. I say the same thing: good for you. That you don't understand that I mean it is a shortcoming of yours, not mine. There is, I know, a wide audience for the kind of stuff you've said in the comment above. I, as you know, am not one of that audience. ::shrug:: Ultimately: namaste
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Part of the problem, I think, is that you sometimes take me seriously when I'm being ironic and that I don't take you seriously when you mean to be serious. My latest reference to your argument's resemblance to Nietzsche was intended to be funny, for you and for others. But the comment you responded to here was written in earnest, because I do think it worth considering A) why I would want to place your ideas in a historical context, however diffuse; and B) why you would think it silly to find yourself so placed.

You make reference here to the traumas of my "schooling life" here, which I have shared in public on a number of occasions. And then you write, "but that doesn't make your perspective any less narrow than those 'traumatic' years trained it to be." I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to here, but imagine that you mean high school, based on what I've shared on my journal. At any rate, I'm willing to concede the point, though I'm not sure why you are making it. I didn't read any Nietzsche in high school either, though I read about him in my history and humanities classes, as you probably did too and had a sense of what he represented, as a consequence, long before I could speak with even the tiniest authority about any of the things he actually writes.

It's my memory of that peculiar state of knowing about something without really knowing it and my interest in similar cases that motivates a lot of the thinking that I do about culture. I'm fascinated by the way in which teenagers can come out of school espousing arguments that a college student or professor can immediately recognize as influenced by some thinker's work -- Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Marx etc. -- without having the slightest inkling that they have been "influenced." The more formally educated person tries to put the teen in a box that the teen doesn't really have the training, for better or worse, to see as a box.

Obviously, you are a lot more widely read than you were as a teenager now, though you refer to your experiences at that age -- see your references to studying Silvia Plath -- as intellectually meaningful, as do I, rather than writing them off as hopelessly ill-informed. But because your life now is not one in which most of the people you encounter are steeped in intellectual history as it is inflected within the academy, the way that I relate to you and you to me plays out in a manner similar to the one I described in the preceding paragraph, with me trying to put you in a box and you finding it amusing that I would even try.

The irony for me in this is that this test of wills is complemented by its inverse, since you have repeatedly tried to place me in a different sort of box, constructed out of your interpretations of the personal material I've shared in my journal and in our private exchanges. You will quote back to me things I wrote a long time ago or paraphrase them. And I am amused or annoyed by your characterizations much of the time, just as you are amused -- not annoyed, from what you've expressed to me -- by my attempts to place your arguments within a broader intellectual context.

The difference, you might say, is that I am ascribing to you what is not "yours," whereas you are proceeding on the basis only of what I have myself conveyed. It's a valid point, though one that is complicated by the fact that, when you tell me conclusions you have reached about my character -- most of them cast in the here-is-where-you-err mode in which you are so fluent -- you are also drawing upon what you have read, even if that reading is outside the box of intellectual history as practiced in the academy. You will refer to research you have done on brain science, which, while often coming from work done at universities, is not really rooted in intellectual history per se. And you draw upon your practice of Zen or the reading you have done in philosophy -- see your "serious" blog -- that exists independently of and often in express opposition to the philosophy done in university philosophy, literature, sociology and anthropology departments.


cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

This is all as it should be, I suppose, given the different lives we lead and the different opportunities that have been made available to us over the years. You have way more time to read for yourself, as opposed to work, than I do. And I have lots of what Pierre Bourdieu calls "cultural capital" that I can deploy in debate, even when the person I'm debating with doesn't see any reason to bow down before the institutionally sanctioned knowledge that supports it.

I began this comment with the intention of explaining why I think it's important to place individuals within a broader historical context, even and precisely when they are largely ignorant of it. I do still regard that as an important task, but have written my way into reminding myself that do so in this particular moment, conversing with you, would be to resort to a power move that would probably strike you as impotent to the degree that it seeks to garb itself in the raiment of power. So instead I'll close by noting that I'm trying to understand some things that matter about the way you and I interact and, less modestly but still more modestly than before, to see whether I can learn something that will help me to make the exchanges I have with you and with others like you more productive for both of us. Peace, in other words.

_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 17th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
it's not simply a question of how long ideas have been around, but the manner in which they are presented. And the manner in which you present this particular idea, which I've seen you express, with slight variation, on numerous occasions, is one that reads like a paraphrase of the central argument in Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals.

And, do I have your permission to quote this if it comes to that? (I can't imagine it actually coming to direct quote, because my writing rarely does, but the sentiment you express *certainly* will be re-stated by me, so it'd be simpler to just use the words you've already used to the exact effect.)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Of course. You have permission to quote anything I write here, whether with a straight or crooked face. . .

::winking amiably::
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 16th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Maybe not labeling as much as noticing and letting feelings go.

This would have been my comment. I've been a daily zen practitioner for over 20 years and "labeling" is, in my opinion, missing the point of point of zen practice pretty much entirely.

Personally, I think the translation of the eightfold path as "Skillful" instead of "Right" most accurately illustrates the reality.

Edited at 2007-12-16 10:56 pm (UTC)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 17th, 2007 01:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's a struggle for me, though, to see how figuring out things like which translation is best is conceptually distinct from the practice of labeling.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: December 17th, 2007 10:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Sure, that's completely understandable, considering you still think in terms of "best".

I have no doubt, as your own entries leave none, that such ponderings give you something to stroke when the night grows dark. ::shrug:: That you can't "label" your own reactions/feelings/deliberately created metaphors so that you recognize them the next time around is .. :;shrug:: .. obviously a fault of your upbringing. That you can be 40 and such a mystery to yourself is, in my opinion, a tragedy. As you already know. But that you revel in the "struggle" is a given; you delight in it all the time. Again: ::shrug:: That you choose a different practice does not make another practice invalid or in any way a *universal* "struggle".
From: babyiwasshot Date: December 10th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
All human negativity seems to be a on outward projection of an inner self loathing. I suppose I personally am guilty of nearly everything I castigate others for (i.e. i'm a hypocrite), yet I'm hoping that an acknoweldgement of this tendency, along with a sincere (though perhaps futile) effort to change, helps me atone for it.

He/she who is without animosity is he/she who is possibly too complacent to disocver any sort of meaning....hell; I dunno.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 11th, 2007 06:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm with you. I just wish I still had the openness you demonstrate in your entries. Too much damage.
From: babyiwasshot Date: December 11th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've been conditioned by the damage because I don't "learn" from my mistakes; I've lost so many friendships over the things I say that I just consider it all a form of filtration: those who can tolerate the vicissitudes and see through the irrationality of my raw emotions are the people worth keeping around. If they stick around in spite of knowing all that's bad about my character, then I know they're genuine.

Then again, I'm also young and immature, and thus have relatively little to lose; the only people who weild a significant degree of socio-economic power over me at present are my parents, and their love obliges them not to draw my [rather paltry, petty and oftentimes rash] words out into petty battles over bruised ego/pride. Plus I've never had a lot of friends in life, anyway; when your revelations have the potential to repel a minimal amount of people, the prospect of seeing everybody's true colors isn't so intimidating.

Give it a decade; if I'm still open at that time, THEN I might be worthy of praise.
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