The Gurdjieff Journal—Fourth Way Perspectives

Working in the World
The Abuse & Use of Si 12


Burqa and flesh

What's the difference between a burqa and flesh in your face? Isn't each a reaction to Si 12? One hides it, one flaunts it. Arguably, the whole history of mankind—of any time period, culture, nation or person—could be written in terms of the abuse or intelligent use of Si 12. Recalling Mr. Gurdjieff's warning that America's weakness was sex and stomach, what do the pictures at Abu Ghraib reveal about ourselves? Leering American military police, better fed and generally larger than the detainees—no, let's be real: the word is prisoners—forcing Iraqis to perform sexual acts, real or simulated, for the camera. Calling it "abuse" is to sanitize it. It's torture as defined by the 1984 Geneva Convention, to which the United States is a signatory.

Prisoner

Our power-possessing beings, political and military, neither understanding the cultures nor speaking their languages—so incredibly arrogant, ignorant, naïve and, alas, incompetent—so desperate for intelligence that they condoned torture—first in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay then at Abu Ghraib. The line of command ran from the Pentagon to military intelligence to the hapless prison guards who dutifully sexually humiliated their hooded, bound captives, "softening them up" for interrogation. Why this? Seymour Hersh, in his article "The Gray Zone" in last month's New Yorker, points to The Arab Mind, published in 1976, by Raphael Patai, a Hungarian Jew and cultural anthropologist. According to Patai, the Arab mind sees sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression.

The Neocon Bible

"The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women," Patai wrote, "...and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world." Homosexual activity, "or any indication of homosexual leanings, as with all other expressions of sexuality, is never given any publicity. These are private affairs and remain in private." An academic told Hersh that Patai's book was "the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior." In their discussions, the academic said, two themes emerged: "one, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation."

Down through the centuries Western attitudes toward Si 12, in terms of lip service at least, were not so unlike the rest of the world—that is, cautionary, fearful, rigid. Then came Freud, and later Reich, who believed that sex energy was the basis of all life and its repression was at the core of society's ills. After World War II, the pill, feminism, drugs and free love followed, all riding the back of a booming Western economy. In the 1960s it all broke loose in the West, America in the vanguard, with an "anything goes" idea of utopian freedom and equality and consumerism.

From Reformation to New Age

The origins of the West's free love lifestyle arguably began with Martin Luther's Reformation in 1511. Luther's idea that everyone was his own priest (we generalize) set off a sectarian schism within the Catholic church that ultimately came blasting into the last half of the 20th century in the form of the New Age. Spiritual materialism, acid and hedonism were great bed fellows. The New Age had a short spurt of creativity and then devolved to the level of angelology-wicca-conversations-with-God and assorted pseudo-esoteric-psychological mishmash of invention and faux esoteric teaching.

Whereas the West has no shame, organic or otherwise, the Arab world has taken "organic shame"—as we have taken "equality"—to a pathological extreme. Self-constipated with the hysterical myopia of Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam, and the ever-corroding jockeying for power by Sunnis and Shiites, the so-called Arab street is awash with ambivalent repulsion/attraction to Si 12. This keeps the sexual mind-pot brewing. It keeps its women under burqa, veil or scarf, treating them as not much more than breeding animals, ones that talk (when spoken to). Either that, or objects of erotic imagination. But let a woman give in to the bubbling sea of repressed Si 12 and she is immediately scorned and stoned.


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