Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Own Not-So-Private Utopia

"Yet one of the things that gets in the way of that struggle is the ingrained belief that our deep needs for loving community are actually aberrations and holdovers from childhood fantasies or immature yearnings for utopia that the mature individual will eventually overcome (175)."
--Michael Lerner, Surplus Powerlessness

When I read that, I did a double-take-- I felt like I was reading something out of my own journal. I've longed to feel a sense of community for as long as I can remember, and my interest in community-building is the main motivator behind my activities in the asexoverse. I know I'm not alone-- that most people, sexual or asexual, yearn for community too, even if they can't name the feeling (this is what Lerner writes, as well). However, it's not something that's usually spoken of. This is something I wrote in my journal on April 1st, 2006:

Ever since I read that article on Manchester in the 80's, I've been thinking about how cool it would be to be part of a minor cultural renaissance. Find my own Manchester to put on the map, you know? Living in a random town somewhere with a small group of artsy people, I'd record my friend's band, maybe play some keyboards on it, the people living next door would do the cover art and we'd sell it at the record store down the street. We'd get picked up by a small label, become a cult classic, spawn a few imitators and never be filthy rich. And of course we'd still meet at the pizza shop or whatever local place we've been frequenting since the beginning. I have no idea if this sort of life exists exists or is even possible, but if it did, I think I would be satisfied with it...I think...that what I really want is to be a part of a movement, or at least feel like a part of one. Even if it was auxiliary, or I didn't accomplish much, or I didn't realize it at the time, I guess I've always been a part of something...until now. And I wish I didn't care, but I do.

When I wrote this, I was almost about to graduate from college, and knew little of the world outside of school. I had no idea what the future might hold for me. Looking back, this entry strikes me as something that might look strange to someone who wasn't me and also a bit sad. Strange, because even though this was a vision of my future, it contained no details about where I lived, what job I had, if I was still single or not, or any of those details. Sad because I hardly wanted to rule the world. I just wanted to record an album that some people liked, a relatively minor thing, but I still had "no idea if this sort of life exists or is even possible". Even so, I gave voice to something that was a big dream for me. Today, it almost frightens me to think too much of that dream, and it definitely feels like a faraway utopia; I don't know how to connect the life I want and the life I have. Is that everyone's issue?

I know this post probably seems even more depressing than the last one, but Lerner's whole point is that this stuff shouldn't be. It should give us some hope, maybe, that other people feel the same things we do, even if those things are rarely mentioned and beaten down in our culture. Apparently, our desire for community is part of a "human essence" that even the most powerful forces can't take away. At any rate, I'm a very "solutions-focused" person and I know that my dream will never have any chance of manifesting if I keep it a secret. Sure, the chances may not be good for it now, but they're zero if I never tell anyone about it.

(Also, I did ask for "awkward" and not "highly disturbing" depictions of sex. However, I have to declare Gatto the winner of this challenge. Thanks for being a longtime reader, oh feline one. If you dare, check the original post for his winning comment.)


Isaac said...

Asexoverse? Is this the real-world counterpart of the asexosphere?

The Impossible K said...

It makes sense, this yearning for a community, because we really do need that sense of community, teamwork, comraderie, if we ever intend to realize our dreams. We can't do it alone.
I spent a lot of my life trying too hard to be independent, and ultimately just getting frustrated. All my dreams haven't been realized quite yet, but the only way I've even discovered HOW to get there is because of the relationships I've built w/ friends and coworkers. The more we reach out to others, the more we learn about ourselves and fully discover that we can achieve that "utopia" we crave, eventually.

.::STELLA*DELLA::. said...

I really loved this post. Gosh just thinking of what you have mentioned makes me want the same exact thing. I think now that people really need something to believe in, That would really help.

I think you should make a post all the books you have read each month so the readers can take a look at your reading lists. I would love to see posts like that and I would definitely check them out.

Btw, Did I mention to you that Andrea Dworkin is my new hero!


Abigail said...

One of my textbooks this semester addresses this topic, and it suggests that the lack of community and stable relationships in our lives is one of the reasons Americans so idealize and romanticize love relationships and the nuclear family. Churches, likewise, fill that gap for a lot of people. Personally, I'm all in favor of finding alternate ways to create community.

Also, I think many of us recognize these needs as genuine but justify their lack of fulfillment in another way -- the reason my life is not full of loving, long-term friendships is because I'm inadequate as a person. Shame on me for being a loser without proper social skills. It's only in recent years that I've begun to think that maybe this is not just something wrong with me, but something wrong with our society as a whole.

Ily said...

Isaac, I guess so-- I kind of just made it up. I guess asexoverse comprises all asexual worlds into one :-)
K- If you start blogging again, will it be totally awkward for you? I can understand if it would be, although I hope not. You know, building relationships with co-workers is something I've never been able to do. Maybe I've just had the wrong co-workers, I don't know. It's hard.
Della-I have a link to some books, movies etc that I recommend over on the side of the blog-- unfortunately, not everything I read is that great, so I thought that people could start with my favorite ones to begin with. But, you've reminded me that the list is pretty old and needs some kind of update.

Ily said...

Abigail, I agree with your comment 100%. This book "Surplus Powerlessness" talks about everything you mention. I also read a book a while back called "The New Single Woman" where the author talks about our obsession with romantic partners actually creating more isolation. It was really interesting. I touch on that concept in this post:

The Impossible K said...

Yeah... I've been really torn about blogging again. It would be awkward... and now that I have someone else's feelings to consider, talking about sexuality has become even more complex. I really do want to blog again though. Any advice?

Cosmia said...

Woah...Manchester in the 80s. You're not the only one to have that fantasy, even though in real life I expect it was pretty grim there.
This blog better be a warm up for the book you're about to write, because I'd read the heck out of that book.

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

sometimes i think that the world is too big of a place, so much distance and so many difficulties seem to keep like minded people from even making a solid attempt at a life of there own design. I think this is because as a people we`re stuck between that time when we struggle to survive and the future when we`ll be free of shackling tedium

Ily said...

K, I wish I could give you advice on the blog subject, but I can't. You could always write about things that aren't personal (or are less so), but that might not be what you're interested in.

You know, as long as it wasn't a warzone, I'd be willing to live in a terrible place as long as I had that community of people. I wish there was some sort of cosmic understanding in operation, like if I went somewhere as crappy as Manchester in the '80s, this community would somehow be provided. However, the cosmos doesn't seem to be in such close cahoots with me.

Cosmia, it's funny you should mention a book because I recently backed up my posts from '07 and '08 on to Word, and I had well over 200 pages of material. But then there's putting it into book form and publishing it. As far as the book goes, I guess I'm secretly waiting for some publisher to see this blog and give me a deal-- like has happened for countless blogs, from Stuff White People Like to Kittenwars to Awkward Family Photos-- but that seems unlikely to happen. So I do want to write a book, but I don't know how to go about the publication aspect. Whatever book happens will probably be a long time coming, at any rate.

NL, I feel the same way sometimes. It's like all this migration we do has only made the world bigger, not smaller. I have so many friends who live hundreds or thousands of miles away, and even though we have phone, internet, and transportation, that doesn't make the distance seem all that much smaller, at least to me.

Okay, this comment was way too long.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that old journal entry of yours! I totally relate. That's still my dream, actually. I've never really felt like a part of a community. I've been in all sorts of different groups, music scenes, and whatnot, but always ended up feeling like I didn't belong. I still hope that someday, I will feel like I am actually at the center of something instead of at the edge. I think part of me is waiting for that to happen in order to feel like my life is complete--it's what I wish for in the place of one all-consuming relationship.

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

I'd like to point out, you are responding to three separate people.

fgbdfh said...

i could have written this.
your college-self note - it's all what i'm dreaming of.
and i think, there're bound to be people with the same desire for community.
hey, i can write a song if needed, so, maybe we can make a town of our own, huh?

Ily said...

If anyone wants to further discuss utopian visions, you can always e-mail me at sanfranciscoemily [at] gmail [dot] com. I'm not saying we should run off into the sunset right now, but it could be good to bounce some ideas around!