Giving a speech at a conference on sexual abuse, I was asked if prepubescent girls and boys can, especially after a sexual assault, masturbate to orgasm, alone, independently.
The penis always hangs in a balance, physically, metaphorically and mentally. The penis is every man’s glory and shame as well as both his driving and failing force. The penis is an arrow (in shape as well as function) equipped for some potential target. How has it come to seem more than it is?Continue Reading
That’s what Hitler wanted to know, as the Nazis began their retreat from occupied Paris. That question exemplifies the division, now rapidly growing, between authoritarianism and democracy, between bounded fascism and unfettered freedom. Hitler abhorred the idea of the phoenix of democracy rising back from the ashes of Nazism.
Does anyone forget the first time they saw the sea? I had seen lakes as a small boy growing up in Michigan, even the big lakes that stretched to the horizon. But oceans rumble and heave with a darker, stronger texture. My first ocean was the Atlantic, off the eastern coast of Florida. I was seven and I remember being tossed and pulled by the huge waves that even knocked my father off his feet.
The earth’s ocean – the famous seven seas – are powerful, probably the major force of nature. And they are the most important key to our survival.
Humans are the great despoilers of the earth. Ever since we migrated out of Africa and we slowly, over the next 60,00 to 100,000 years, spread ourselves across the planet, we have been driving indigenous animals (and later peoples) into extinction. We have deforested huge tracts of land, poisoned water, dirtied the air all creatures breathe.
The Parkland high school children, leaders of the MarchForOurLives movement are exemplars of the many children who, having suffered some catastrophe, performed spectacularly heroic deeds. Like the Parkland students they then went forth to help save many others. Now the internet and social media are empowering today’s children (as in the many resist movements) to move beyond boundaries that might have silenced them.
During my two children’s years at the School of American Ballet I became familiar with two young ballet prodigies: Katherine Healy and Peter Boal. At age ten Katherine performed in Superskates, choreographed by Olympic champion skater John Curry, who described her performance as “the most exciting experience of my life.” She went on to become a world-class professional ballet dancer and later returned to professional skating, coaching and teaching. Peter Boal, who is now the artistic director of the Northwest Pacific Ballet, was already a stunning virtuoso in a student workshop performance at age twelve. He became a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet.
Such child prodigies, which must include Mozart, Ann Frank and Louis Braille (among many) demonstrate the special endowment that potentially endow all children, some called forth under special circumstances such as their school shootings.
What is special about children, even seemingly children of average intelligence and average creative talent?
That mystery lies in the brain development process that is typically viewed as immature and, correlatively, to some degree incapable. In a New York Times article about a contemporary musical prodigy, Matthew Aucoin, his parents related an example of his amazing genius: at age eleven he sat down at a piano and played the entire score of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro without having ever seen the score. That is an outstanding example of a capacity shared by all children: the lack of inhibition about making an attempt, of following an impulse to adventure, of conceiving something new, of simple daring.
Child heroes abound. Google will pull out at least twenty-five examples of children like Iqbal Masih. At age four he was bound to work, chained for twelve hours seven days a week, to payoff a family debt. At age ten he escaped, attended a school for former child bonded slaves and ultimately helped free 3,000 child slaves. Interviewed in other countries, he was shot and killed at age twelve on his return from the U.S.
Like the Parkland students Emma González, David Hogg and Cameron Kasky, among others, Iqbal took his own experience and, with the level of courage only a child could muster, brought that experience to protect and save others. Iqbal would accept nor endure obstacles that might have stopped adults. These children face risks that would deter most adults. Their fierce humanitarian drive is unbounded, untrammeled by doubts, fears, self- or social consciousnesses, the shame of failure—the qualities that inhibit and hold back adults.
We can remember that childhood seemed a time of freedom. Even Iqbal, lashed to work from as early as he could remember, somehow had a child’s awareness of the possibility of freedom, of spontaneity, of action without much consequence.
And what must have sustained Iqbal in his efforts to free other child slaves is what provides the Parkland students with the drive to demand and obtain gun control: the sense of success. Again, only children can look forward to success without undercutting it with the adult’s uncertainty.
In Mrch I wrote a post
marchforourlives fjund-raising, consider a donation
lord of the flies
I was four years old shopping with my mother in Hudson’s Department Store in downtown Detroit. At that age my eyes tended to swivel and dart as I tried to absorb the visual tumult of glass exhibit cases, ceiling lights as big as dirigibles, the meandering aisles streaming with strange ungainly people —a cacophonous optical dazzle. I somehow wandered into that heaving mass. Suddenly I was alone, all alone. Then I panicked. Separation anxiety grabbed me by my throat, my chest, my heart. Terror charged in.
Moments later my mother grabbed me, took my hand and off we went.
But I never forgot that instant of terror.