Do more men need to get naked to get into the Museum?
I’m currently in Ljubljana on my research trip. In my rented apartment there is an art book with the cover picture of a painting showing Saint Catherine of Alexandria. I am reading that she is actually an invented figure who can be traced back to the Greek female philosopher Hypatia. She taught mathematics, astronomy and philosophy in Alexandria in the 400th century CE, and belonged to the Pagan minority in Alexandria, which was then predominantly Christian. Indeed, a fascinating figure, she surpassed her father in her teaching and her knowledge, her unconventional life of free sexuality disrupted the patriarchally structured society imposed by the Church. We assume that this history could not repeat itself in Europe anymore nowadays and we live in a so called emancipated society, and yet it does. The word patriarchy, contains the Greek word árchein, which means to rule. Thus both, men and women, can contribute to maintaining patriarchal structures. Ruling stays in contrast to the concept of letting flow – apart from talking about exterior happening of the outside world, it starts already with our own body. The principle of flowing, however, does not mean, as a clichéd assumption, a passive posture, but on the contrary, it is an active life that is in harmony with oneself and the body.
I attended the online workshop organized by the University of Edinburgh „Instituting, Care, and Feminist Politics in the 21st Century“, topics like “exhaustion” and “burnout” were mentioned repeatedly. Women who work in caring professions are often underpaid and pull at their own strength – they have become victims of the neoliberal system. I am currently reading the book Un-Dinge by Byung-Chul Han, and I have to think about how the world of relationships, starting with our own body, becomes a thing that has to work, that has to adapt to the system, which also extends to the relationship level with the outside world. Even the term care cannot change that, altruistic as it sounds, but taking care of someone is another form of control. Because one sees the outside world as something that needs to be fixed, that needs to be put in order – a patriarchal pattern. It ignores the harmonious course of life that consists of change, and of becoming and passing away. There is a form of taking care which is not thing oriented, when we find access to it, we draw from an inexhaustible source of energy that brings our own body back into balance and I also believe impacts our surroundings.
Referring back to the example of Catherine of Alexandria, one can find different ancient techniques as for example in the pagan culture. Within the practice of pagan healing rituals different fertility deities have been celebrated. The rituals focused on the energy flow especially related to the spine to release tension. A driving force for this is the sexual energy, but one that is not object oriented, because then it returns to the principle of owning and dominating. It is simple, beautiful in its essence and pure existence. Sexual practices are seen in many cultures as forms of spiritual enlightenment. I do not use the word enlightenment in an abstract, transcendent sense, but in a very practical one – of becoming lighter. Since illnesses like burnout, depression and exhaustion are nothing more than the feeling of the environment as something heavy and strenuous.
In reducing conversations on a visible level of politics, such as the post-Marxist concepts of labor, and tabooing the invisible aspects of this discourse such as rejected sexuality and the disconnection of the human being to nature, follows a patriarchal structure. What if we for example we imagine a world that is not dominated by exhaustion and women have the energy to go along their own path and speak out their voice, beyond anger and fear? I believe it would have a political dimension. As from the perspective of quantum physics, the existence of life comes from a pulsation, from an interlocking of waves, from a fusion of the inside with the outside – that lies beyond a rational control. The psychologist Brigitte Görtz and her husband the physicist Thomas analyzed the meaning of processing information in this context. Their observations investigate how living beings, including humans, collect, store and evaluate information from their environment. From a physical point of view, living things are thermodynamic open non-equilibrium systems. They maintain their existence (homeostasis) through a continuous exchange of energy with the environment and other living beings. Thus the theory assumes an always entangled state and rejects the distinction into individual parts. This exchange and evaluation of information provides access to the “information core” described by J. Pierrakos: “The core represents the whole life potential of a person, a glowing, living mass, which is at the same time the source and the consciousness of the life force.”(Pierrakos 1987, p. 25)
From this perspective of mutual constant exchange, a counterpart is need – that, is so to speak, the movement of one‘s own energy potential, which is not bodily, but happens more subtly. For each individual, this trigger takes a different form – and it goes beyond a binary understanding in terms of gender, as well as the nature-culture dichotomy. What if, for example, we re-imagine the discussion about mother earth in regard to her/his personification? For me she takes shape in a male form who inspires through his delicate mixture of wildness and sensitivity; his sole presence reminds me about my own vitality and sensuality.
Görnitz, T. u. B. (2002): Der kreative Kosmos: Geist und Materie aus Information. Heidelberg, Berlin: Spektrum Akad. Verlag.
Han, Byung-Chul (2021): Undinge. Umbrüche der Lebenswelt. Ullstein Verlag GmbH.
Meyer, W.A. (1886): Hypatia von Alexandria. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Neuplatonismus. Heidelberg: Weiss.
Pierrakos, J. (1987): Core Energetik. Essen: Synthesis Verlag.
Sannella, L. (1989): Kundalini Erfahrung und die neuen Wissenschaften. Essen: Synthesis.