Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dream of BellJew Hill

from early hours of 1st January 2009

Dreamt I had an argument with Matt Kameron, a young maths teacher at the school I taught at. He was a store owner selling wallets, and I had bought a large quantity of these wallets from an assisstant and at home discovered two were blemished and was returning them, and

he was politely arguin that it was not a given that they take them back, and I was politely arguing that they should and must, and although my voice was reasonable and my arguments coded in logic in my belly stirred the fears of the irrational - that he would get onto my Jewishness and ascribe that as a possible motivation for wanting to return the wallets, which indeed he did in an oblique polite sort of way, discussing that I lived in Bellvue Hill and Highlands North (my old South African suburb, which Matt has never been to!), and the expectations that would engender in me, and then asked what shul I went to, to which I replied: " why do you assume I go to shul? Do I assume you go to church because you are nominally Christian??"

(All of this paralleled real life exchanges I'd had at one time or another in SA)

I woke up still caked in a thick muddy sleep, my eyes gummed, my head heavy, my throat dry...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today we are all Hamas

Today we are all Hamas
today we all wear kefiyot and feel we are part of something
today we all chant slogans and persecute the Bahai and Maronite and Coptic Christians
today we all blame Israel
an invisible halo of rectitude by association hovers smugly over us
like a dense and poisonous smog
today we all celebrate rockets and mortars falling on frightened
people in Sderot and the surrounding villages
today we say enough!
why must Hamas make do with makeshift missiles and bombs
remove the blockade so that they can blow up Israeli children going to school
with big missiles stamped “made in Iran”
today we are all Hamas
today we throw our political opponents of roofs
and strap explosives to donkeys
today we kidnap soldiers
and don’t allow the red cross to see them
for four or five years
today we promise to ethnically cleanse Palestine
of anyone who doesn’t think
like us
for today we are all Hamas

Monday, July 25, 2011

A question

What does a middle aged man
in the strait jacket of respectability
do with his yearnings
for bliss and oblivion?

Israeli Flotilla sails for Kurdistan

Instead of Israel apologising to Turkey, why doesn't Israel just launch its own flotilla carrying supplies to the Kurds, who have been living under Turkish oppression for decades

I will not insult Islam even if it kills me

In response to the anguish in Norway

Well I don't like the Australian govt's continued blind eye to factory farming or its xenophobia re refugees so I'm just gonna nip down the road and blow up the old ladies at the local lawn bowling club, and then I might shoot up the chinese take away shop and a few stray dogs. That'll teach someone something (but what I'm not sure, except that life is very very fragile)

New stereotypes for the 21st century

As brilliant as a black
As understanding as an englishman
As compassionate as a German
As resilient as an Israeli
As light hearted as a Moslem
As creative as a Jew

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blessing to be said

Blessing top be sid upon seeing a perfectly formed breast and/or nipple:

Baruch ata hashem, elokeynu melech haolam, Ayl shedai chayim

Israeli's living on the West Bank

I have no issue with the Israelis who have chosen to live in Hevron, Schem (which the Moslems call Nablus), or any other place on the West Bank / Yehuda veShomron. Jews have always lived in these areas. In fact Jews had lived in Hebron continuously from Abraham's time until 1929, when an Arab pogrom murdered sixty-seven Jews on 23 and 24 August 1929, and the rest of the Jewish community fled. Jewish homes and synagogues were looted.

Yet here we have a clear choice on what to focus on, those historical facts that promote a perpetrator/righteous victim discourse, or others that modify and shift this, such as the nineteen Hebron Arab families who saved 435 Jews by hiding them in their houses at great risk to themselves.

As the reknowned thinker Byron Katie has said "Victims are dangerous" And what is a victim? Anyone who believes and tells themselves they are a victim. Which is what many Israelis and Palestinians do for much of the time, feeding their "pain bodies" (Eckhart Tolle Incorporated Pty Ltd, what does the man do with all the money??), their "victimhood" with selective facts that reinforce it. With so many "victims" wondering around, no wonder the West Bank is a potentially explosive place.

So it is not the presence of Israelis in Hebron - it is the natural and perhaps G-d given right to be there as much as the Palestinians - but their way of being there that I see as gradually dispossesing me of a bold, flexible, creative, youthful open State of Israel in which I would want to live.

It is the narrative of the "returnees" in Beit El and Tekoah and Kiryat Arbah that I have an issue with. Many of them have a triumphalist "my story is the only story"approach, and their understanding of self and other does not seem to be able to accomodate others - be it equally triumphalist Palestinians, or Israelis who do not see it as useful or life enhancing to claim the real or imagined graves of ancestors. The great and oft examined irony is that settler movement claims that it does what it does in the name of an imaginary and idealised "am yisrael" - people of Israel, while loathing, delegitimising and attacking the values of 70% of the real Jews who make up the real Am Yisrael - leftists, secularists, homosexuals, pragmatists, consumers who want the golden calf of a nicer car and a ski holiday, people who insist on trying to see the other's point of view, Jews affiliated with the progressive and conservative movements, modern orthodox Jews with a more pluralist orientation, anti-Zionist Haredi Jews, indifferent Jews, and so forth.

To call someone who disagrees with you a "traitor" and to physically harass (or assassinate or lay pipe bombs at their door in the most extreme cases), or to verbally abuse them over and over again - surely this can only create cycles of reaction and reactivity, hurt and suffering?

It seems to me what threatens Israel as a robust collective more than anything else is the polarisng discourse which instead of expanding to include a broad swathe of opinion, increasingly tries to pretend the other is not there - or has no right to be there. This is as true of the extreme left as it is of the extreme right. If we cannot develop a mechanism to create an Am Yisrael which is not just in our own image, I imagine we will struggle to maintain independent peoplehood (of course I hope I am wrong in this assumption!)

Its also interesting that increasing hysterical "pro-Palestinian" voices in the West (in inverted commas because these so called activists care little for the Palestinians, it is mostly about their own quest for meaning and their own identity needs - a cause bestows meaning and purpose on the leisured class who can afford to hire boats and planes and take off time from work to attack Israeli owned chocolate shops) strangely mirror the internal delegitimising that goes on between Israelis and Jews. We delegitimise each other internally, and then "the world" amplifies this and does the same thing back to us as a collective. Mida keneged mida?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Psychology, symptomatic and systemic dysfunction

Often people seek psychological help when

a) The status quo changes, as with a death, divorce, end of life-stage, move, retrenchment or job loss, an affair or the discoverty of an affair and so forth

b) when a coping style is no longer adequate, or indeed has in itself become a problem

c) at moments of crisis - which obviously also includes the previous two categories - but could also include when the cost of an addiction has grown to great to ignore, or have been ordered into therapy, or a particular behavioural problem.

While some of these can only be dealt with when they arise and crystallise, in other instances it seems the therapist's assigned role is a token one, just as much philanthropy in Australia and much of so called "western civilization" , where problems are dealt with symptomatically rather than systemmically. We fund cancer research rather than tackling lifestyle and consumer habits which drive the production of carcinogenic fuels, foods and cleaning agents. We run anti gambolling programs rather limiting the activities of casinos. We provide no channels to ecstacy and bliss other than chemicals, no outlets for agression other than sport and hunting, no way of dealing with sexuality other than commodifying or repressing it. We educate around type II diabetes while gladly accepting massive sponsorships from the companies who help create it. We decry racism and predjudice while soaking up the reactive media which constantly recreate them/us bifurcations and fear based consciousness. We try to save biodiversity while spoending billions on, and being relentlessly brainwashed by, advertising that sells us things that damage us and our environment, and that we can well do without.

The psychologist-counsellor becomes a token solution, a pawn, a chamber maid who cleans up the mess while the source of the mess is left unchallenged and unattended to. Like Dr River's in Pat Barkers regeneration triology who patches up Siegfried Sassoon so that he is well enough again to go back and die on the Western Front, we work to get our clients well enough to go back into the insanity of daily life, where a thin veneer of civilty hides the "quiet desperation" of most ordinary people.

the assumption and expectation that incest and adult or elder sibling sexual(ised) interactions with a younger child must have deterministic outcomes in itself may set up years of “unnecessary” struggle. Ditto with the terms “abuse”, “bullying” etc which all come with their accompanying story. There are many kinds of interactions in many different circumstances, and not all of them have to be framed as trauma. The child may have had an interaction – or several -  with an adult that was fleeting and unclassifiable; which sat in them as something neither good or bad, but upon contact and sharing with other adults will take on a whole raft of frames, and suddenly graft any outrage, hurt, shame, or anger in them onto those events. Suddenly any pleasure they may have felt will become guilt and complicity which needs to be beaten away with “it is never the child’s fault”. The subtle cues to adopt certain stances in exchange for subtle and not so subtle rewards – sympathy, belonging to a victims club, power over the perpertrator, self righteousness, avoidance of all the other subsequent challenges that have arisen in their lives…all of these set to work clouding whatever happened with a swirling mass of their own and other’s affect. 

Type 4s and the tendency to collude

Some type 4s, being conflict avoidant and seeking to come in to concensus, even when it is an illusory and artificial concensus, may find themselves colluding with positions that are anathema to their way of being. (This one for example.) How to reduce the percentage of collusion? See also water-and-stone

To find the delicate place between collusion and confrontation takes skill and good luck.

In the therapeutic context, its about walking the thin line between collusion and appropriate collaboration i.e the therapeutic alliance

NB A necessary precondition for effective therapy: I am willing to loose my client (straight after this session) ie.just like the judiciary, financial and emotional independence are necessary for a therapist to be able to deliver successful therapy


What is your physical state? how is your sleep? do you get any exercise? r u on medication? do you self medicate? do you have any addictions? (More accurate: what addictions do you have?)

Where is your life working – what wouldn’t you change? (Immediately turns the client towards a realization that their dysfunction is not omnipresent)

if therapy “works” how will your life look? What’s the result you want to create?

How will you and others know you’ve achieved this? (results of therapy must be quantifiable

How important is this proposed change to you? are you willing to sacrifice or give up anything in order to have/create it (turns the client towards thnking about their own levels of motivation, reponsibility and engagement with the therapeutic process. Implicit in the question is that clent is the primary driver of change)

“in the end (and at the beginning) people have to start somewhere”

“what’s a really usefull thing we can do right now” Immediacy – all process is postponement.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is baruch?

Baruch ata hashem elokeynu melech haolam...

Al tikrah baruch, ela be roch...
With softness you are the aspect of containment and the aspect of flow wwhich rules the universe...

The morning reflection "Elohai neshama shenatata bi, tehora he" = G-d the soul you have planted in me is pure - assumes a duality: there is me(the body? the personality?), and there is the soul that is planted in this "me". But surely the enduring "me" is the soul and the body which comes and goes and is most temporary cannot be the ground of "me"? So perhaps it could be reformulated as "Elohai gufi shenatata li, ben chalof hu, aval ani nishmati nitzutz tahor shel haohr haEloki" my G-d, the body you have given me is ephemeral, but I-my soul is a pure spark of the divine light."


Culture Makers: Linguistic renewal underpins every other kind of renewal because the first step in manifestation (after thought itself) is naked thought's 'undergarments' - language:

The Israeli army as a hothouse of linguistic invention - many new Hebrew words ( a number formed from Acronyms) have their genesis in the operational necessities of a working army. What will we call this truck? This psychiatrist? This fungus growing betwen my legs because I haven't showered for two weeks?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things you definitely do NOT need

To kill 99.9% of household germs
another credit card
air freshners of any description
"solutions" for your computer / hygene/ roughage/photocopying/storage/printing/"pest"-control problems
unsolicited "amazing" offers
20% off your next overpriced meal
more vitamins than you would ever naturally consume

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why evidence based therapy is lacking

In Australia there is currently a fad for so-called evidence based therapy. The Zen masters expressed their reservations about this approach a long time ago. They said it is "like trying to catch the wind in a net."

The clear seeing Rabbis of the Talmud articulated it in a similar way: "Blessing only falls on that which is hidden from the eye." Not everything can be quantified and bro-ken into discreet analysable parts. To do so is a vain and vain attempt to control a mystery.

It is both the willingness to leap into the unknown, and detachment from results in the knowedge that we are not the doers, that leads to unexpected flowerings and new alignments. Irving Yalom says something similar in "The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy": "patients consistently emphasize the importance of the relationship and the personal human qualities of the therapist" (p. 99 4th ed.) In other words, no need to hide behind techniques, although the anxious therapist may do this for a long time. Simply being present, i.e just showinging up in the moment, is more than enough.

I root my personal resistance to over quantification and over analysis in an atavistic Jewish sensibility. The Tanach records how Israelis could not be counted directly, but needed to be counted by a coin donation they each gave - half a shekel. Yes there is something of superstition in all this, a fear of being fully seen??? but...TO BE CONT.