terça-feira, julho 31, 2007

Epiphany, wise or otherwise

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"While male sexual arousal is linear, starting with arousal and ending at ejaculation, women's arousal is circular, ..."

     Beverly Whipple (below).

[Circular huh? That clears it all right up for me, but ... would that be a motion (like Frank Zappa, "I whipped off her bloomers'n stiffened my thumb an applied rotation on her sugar plum.") or a metaphor?]

"One important detail in poetic symbolism remains to be considered. This is the symbolic presentation of the point at which the undisplaced apocalyptic world and the cyclical world of nature come into alignment, and which we propose to call the point of epiphany."

     Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism (link below).

O-or maybe just a Cuíca? (pronounced 'queekaa').

This started out thinking about the earth as a sort-of homunculus; or rather, the opposite (having just looked up homunculus) ... it would be easier to change in Portugues - just make it homunculão (a big one-of-those).

So, the north pole is the Nth chakra, the equator is the belt-line, the south is the loins :-), and so forth; you could get into east and west, left-brain right brain, Zen and Descartes ... just as well left aside for now maybe.

But where it breaks down, f'rinstance, is Christmas Carols being played in the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere, and that in the midst of a culture in which few people have even seen snow. Analyses of astrological signs in which the seasons are assumed to be northern-hemisphere seasons ... and the like.

For another, the images of the western canon very often do not fit any objective correlative down here. And for one reason and another there is less of a literary consciousness; Africa & South America being what they are; a-and they are smaller too, etc. etc.

So, it started there ... and then went to these other places (Men are from Europe, Women are from Brazil eh?):

# One: (Top, Skip to #2) - María Angeles Bárcena, (not) a Brasilian climate change denier, Estudo: Terra já foi mais quente e teve mais CO2:

A Terra já teve épocas mais quentes e com mais dióxido de carbono (CO2) na atmosfera que a atual, como há 300 mil e 120 mil anos, "quando o Homo Sapiens já andava pela África", disse a paleontóloga María Angeles Bárcena.

Ela afirmou que o aquecimento global propriamente dito sempre existiu e "é algo natural". A novidade atual seria que o homem nunca lançou tanto CO2 à atmosfera.

A pesquisadora, membro do Comitê Científico Espanhol para a Pesquisa na Antártica, disse que existem registros de "variações climáticas" desde a época romana e da era medieval.

Os registros foram feitos a partir de colheitas, que confirmaram que as mudanças climáticas são uma constante na Terra, como as inundações e outras catástrofes.

A cientista afirma que a cada 200 anos, ocorrem mudanças na posição do Sol, para manter em órbita todos os planetas, e isto propicia fenômenos abruptos. Ela acrescentou que outros fatores também incidem na variabilidade climática, como os vulcões, a movimentação das placas tectônicas e "a própria vida".

"Vamos em direção a temperaturas baixas, pela própria geometria terrestre, e embora estejamos submersos neste processo há milhões de anos, houve períodos quentes, e alguns muito mais (quentes) que o atual, e com mais CO2 na atmosfera", disse María Angeles.

No entanto, ela afirma que "desde a revolução industrial o homem está emitindo CO2 à atmosfera" e que, antes, "isto não tinha sido feito por ninguém". Por isso, segundo ela, é bom ter precaução e "reduzir as emissões".

# Two: (Top, Back to #1, Skip to #3) - Then I happened to run into Northrop Frye's The Anatomy of Criticism on-line:

Ch 3 - Archetypal Criticism: Theory of Myths
The Mythos of Autumn: Tragedy

One important detail in poetic symbolism remains to be considered. This is the symbolic presentation of the point at which the undisplaced apocalyptic world and the cyclical world of nature come into alignment, and which we propose to call the point of epiphany. p203

At the end of this phase we reach a point of demonic epiphany, where we see or glimpse the undisplaced demonic vision, the vision of the Inferno. Its chief symbols, besides the prison and the mad house, are the instruments of a torturing death, the cross under the sunset being the antithesis of the tower under the moon. p223

     Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism.

# Three: (Top, Back to #2, Skip to #4) - A-and then someone named Lloyd Candow from Pasadena, Newfoundland with (what I call) a wonderful wit:

If things get any worse, I'll have to ask the government to stop helping me.

All creatures went on board Noah's Ark in pairs, except worms. They went on board in apples.

A C, E-Flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Sorry, but we don't serve minors.

# Four: (Top, Back to #3, Skip to #5) - Some sex research on gays:

Row as researcher claims gays can be 'straightened', Polly Curtis, Thursday October 2, 2003:

Abstract: The study of Americans who had undergone so-called "reparative therapy" claimed that 78% of men and 95% of wome reported a change to predominantly or completely heterosexual behaviour. The study's author, Professor Robert Sptizer, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, claimed it was the first study of its type. The Times Higher Education Supplement quoted him as saying: "It questions the politically correct view that once you're gay that's it and suggests that there is more flexibility than many people have assumed." Professor Spitzer, who was central to the 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders insists he is not anti-gay. But the study's methods have encountered heavy criticism. The paper was rejected by the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry, but accepted by the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, which is also well respected in academic circles. One member of the International Academy of Sex Research, which supports the journal, resigned in protest.

# Five: (Top, Back to #4, Skip to #6) - Some more sex research on possibly generic people:

The Whys of Mating: 237 Reasons and Counting, Polly Becker, John Tierney, July 31, 2007.

DjamilaScholars in antiquity began counting the ways that humans have sex, but they weren’t so diligent in cataloging the reasons humans wanted to get into all those positions. Darwin and his successors offered a few explanations of mating strategies — to find better genes, to gain status and resources — but they neglected to produce a Kama Sutra of sexual motivations.

Perhaps you didn’t lament this omission. Perhaps you thought that the motivations for sex were pretty obvious. Or maybe you never really wanted to know what was going on inside other people’s minds, in which case you should stop reading immediately.

For now, thanks to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, we can at last count the whys. After asking nearly 2,000 people why they’d had sex, the researchers have assembled and categorized a total of 237 reasons — everything from “I wanted to feel closer to God” to “I was drunk.” They even found a few people who claimed to have been motivated by the desire to have a child.

The researchers, Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss, believe their list, published in the August issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior, is the most thorough taxonomy of sexual motivation ever compiled. This seems entirely plausible.

Who knew, for instance, that a headache had any erotic significance except as an excuse for saying no? But some respondents of both sexes explained that they’d had sex “to get rid of a headache.” It’s No. 173 on the list.

Others said they did it to “help me fall asleep,” “make my partner feel powerful,” “burn calories,” “return a favor,” “keep warm,” “hurt an enemy” or “change the topic of conversation.” The lamest may have been, “It seemed like good exercise,” although there is also this: “Someone dared me.”

Dr. Buss has studied mating strategies around the world — he’s the oft-cited author of “The Evolution of Desire” and other books — but even he did not expect to find such varied and Machiavellian reasons for sex. “I was truly astonished,” he said, “by this richness of sexual psychology.”

The researchers collected the data by first asking more than 400 people to list their reasons for having sex, and then asking more than 1,500 others to rate how important each reason was to them. Although it was a fairly homogenous sample of students at the University of Texas, nearly every one of the 237 reasons was rated by at least some people as their most important motive for having sex.

The best news is that both men and women ranked the same reason most often: “I was attracted to the person.”

The rest of the top 10 for each gender were also almost all the same, including “I wanted to express my love for the person,” “I was sexually aroused and wanted the release” and “It’s fun.”

No matter what the reason, men were more likely to cite it than women, with a couple of notable exceptions. Women were more likely to say they had sex because, “I wanted to express my love for the person” and “I realized I was in love.” This jibes with conventional wisdom about women emphasizing the emotional aspects of sex, although it might also reflect the female respondents’ reluctance to admit to less lofty motives.

The results contradicted another stereotype about women: their supposed tendency to use sex to gain status or resources.

“Our findings suggest that men do these things more than women,” Dr. Buss said, alluding to the respondents who said they’d had sex to get things, like a promotion, a raise or a favor. Men were much more likely than women to say they’d had sex to “boost my social status” or because the partner was famous or “usually ‘out of my league.’ ”

Dr. Buss said, “Although I knew that having sex has consequences for reputation, it surprised me that people, notably men, would be motivated to have sex solely for social status and reputation enhancement.”

But then, men were also more likely than women to say they’d had sex because “I was slumming.” Or simply because “the opportunity presented itself,” or “the person demanded that I have sex.”

If nothing else, the results seem to be a robust confirmation of the hypothesis in the old joke: How can a woman get a man to take off his clothes? Ask him.

To make sense of the 237 reasons, Dr. Buss and Dr. Meston created a taxonomy with four general categories:

¶Physical: “The person had beautiful eyes” or “a desirable body,” or “was good kisser” or “too physically attractive to resist.” Or “I wanted to achieve an orgasm.”

¶Goal Attainment: “I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner” or “break up a rival’s relationship” or “make money” or “be popular.” Or “because of a bet.”

¶Emotional: “I wanted to communicate at a deeper level” or “lift my partner’s spirits” or “say ‘Thank you.’ ” Or just because “the person was intelligent.”

¶Insecurity: “I felt like it was my duty” or “I wanted to boost my self-esteem” or “It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.”

Having sex out of a sense of duty, Dr. Buss said, showed up in a separate study as being especially frequent among older women. But both sexes seem to practice a strategy that he calls mate-guarding, as illustrated in one of the reasons given by survey respondents: “I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t.”

That fear seems especially reasonable after you finish reading Dr. Buss’s paper and realize just how many reasons there are for infidelity. Some critics might complain that the list has some repetitions — it includes “I was curious about sex” as well as “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about” — but I’m more concerned about the reasons yet to be enumerated.

For instance, nowhere among the 237 reasons will you find the one attributed to the actress Joan Crawford: “I need sex for a clear complexion.” (The closest is “I thought it would make me feel healthy.”)Nor will you find anything about gathering rosebuds while ye may (the 17th-century exhortation to young virgins from Robert Herrick). Nor the similar hurry-before-we-die rationale (“The grave’s a fine and private place/ But none I think do there embrace”) from Andrew Marvell in “To His Coy Mistress.”

From even a cursory survey of literature or the modern mass market in sex fantasies, it seems clear that this new taxonomy may not be any more complete than the original periodic table of the elements.

When I mentioned Ms. Crawford’s complexion and the poets’ rationales to Dr. Buss, he promised to consider them and all other candidates for Reason 238.

You can nominate your own reasons at TierneyLab. You can also submit nominations for a brand new taxonomy: reasons for just saying “No way!” Somehow, though, I don’t think this list will be as long.

# Six: (Top, Back to #5, Skip to #7) - Yet more sex stuff, this time plastic surgery up the chute:

Hit me with your best shot, Hayley Mick, August 2, 2007.

DjamilaWelcome to the latest in sexual enhancement: a collagen injection to swell the elusive G spot. But does this quick fix empower women or simply fuel their feelings of inadequacy in the bedroom?

A young woman dialled Vancouver gynecologist Roy Jackson from Boston, confessing the details of her mediocre sex life: Frequent and loving, she said, but not enough orgasms.

Soon the entrepreneur, in her late 20s, lay in Dr. Jackson's clinic. Using a syringe, he pumped a small dose of collagen into her Grafenberg spot, or G spot, doubling its size to the diameter of a quarter.

Just like that, Dr. Jackson said, a fabled and elusive trigger of the female orgasm - located behind the pubic bone and accessible through the anterior wall of the vagina, according to sexologists - had become a much easier target.

The injection - called the G-Shot, or G spot amplification, and now available at clinics in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto at a cost of about $1,000 apiece - is the latest quick fix promising sexual enhancement for women. Driven by what some plastic surgeons say is increasing demand from women, doctors and pharmaceuticals companies are rushing to produce new creams, supplements, pills and vaginal surgeries to amplify female arousal.

The two-dozen women who have had the G-Shot in his office "have been very happy with the outcome," says Dr. Jackson, a provider for the past 18 months.

But if the injection sounds like the antidote to an age-old problem, some academics and sexologists are concerned that it's being administered to women without any credible evidence that it works. Others oppose the idea that great sex can be obtained with a single pill or shot.

The G-Shot was patented in 2002 by David Matlock, a gynecologist and plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. Since then he has given the shot to 300 women at his clinic on Sunset Boulevard. Most patients are in their late 20s and 30s, he says, and looking to "enhance" their sex lives.

Dr. Matlock has shipped his trademarked G-Shot kits to 36 doctors in recent years, including Dr. Jackson. In the past few months, Dr. Matlock has begun "taking it to the masses," he says, shipping his kits to 30 more doctors as far away as Japan and South Africa.

In June, a kit containing a 30-minute instructional video, collagen doses approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and brochures arrived at the Winnipeg office of Anthony Lockwood. The plastic surgeon spends most of his business week augmenting breasts. On Fridays, he operates on vaginas; three each week, he says.

So far, only two "curious" women in their 30s have received the G-Shot, but Dr. Lockwood expects demand to grow as more women hear about it.

"I think times have changed," he says. "These gals ... know what they want and expect to get it."

Dr. Lockwood is one of several plastic surgeons who say there is a growing demand for vaginal enhancement - for both appearance and function.

Surgeries that shorten or plump labias, tighten vaginal muscles, shrink the skin covering the clitoris and reconstruct hymens have all become available in Canada in recent years. Dr. Lockwood says the growth is so steep that he hopes to make gynecological services the largest portion of his practice.

While the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons does not keep statistics on what surgeries are performed, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates 793 women had surgery on their genitals in 2005, the first year the society kept track. Last year, the number rose to 1,030.

Some women seek so-called "designer vaginas." Others, whose inner labia extends beyond the outer lips, pay for labiaplasties to ease discomfort.

But desire for better sex drives most women who opt for the G-Shot or vaginal tightening procedures, often after childbirth, said Dr. Jackson.

"The women are doing it for themselves as opposed to for their partners," he said. "I don't want to feel that they have a gun to their head."

One 40-year-old mother of two underwent a $9,000 vaginal tightening procedure at Dr. Jackson's clinic in early May, plus cosmetic surgery on her outer labia.

"This was only for me," said the woman, who did not want to be named.

Her husband discouraged her, she said, asking, "Why would you want to do this to yourself?"

After giving birth to her children, now teenagers, she didn't have the same sensation during sex as she used to and wanted to feel more confident about her appearance.

Now, she says, her sex life is an eight or nine out of 10, up from a five, and she only wishes she'd had the surgery earlier.

Dr. Matlock says 87 per cent of his patients report the G-Shot enhanced their sex lives for up to four months.

However, that number comes from a 2002 pilot study based on a 20-patient sample.

No research on the G-Shot has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Using a treatment that has not been tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies is worrisome, says sexologist Beverly Whipple, an author and professor emeritus at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who has spent 40 years researching female sexual arousal.

She says by marketing products like the G-Shot to women who do not have clinically diagnosed sexual dysfunctions, healthy women "are getting the message that, 'Oh, there's something wrong with you.' "

In fact, she says, core differences between male and female sexual arousal is what makes it so difficult to find a quick-fix for women.

While male sexual arousal is linear, starting with arousal and ending at ejaculation, women's arousal is circular, and what turns women on varies from woman to woman.

The focus only on orgasms may not be the most effective route for women, Dr. Whipple says.

It puts the focus on, " 'What's wrong with me?' Instead of, 'What do I find pleasurable?' ," she adds.

(Some sexologists and noted gynecologists have disputed the G spot's very existence, arguing that studies have shown no evidence of its location or only dubious results.)

Other critics say the G-Shot is being marketed using the same powerful ingredient - insecurity - that has fuelled the meteoric rise of cosmetic and plastic surgery industries, flogging everything from deodorant to nose jobs.

"The vulva has emerged as an area for modification and insecurity creation," said Lenore Tiefer, a psychiatrist at the New York University's school of medicine.

"This market is huge and growing, because insecurity is constant and unremitting."

Dr. Tiefer, who studied the historical rise of many plastic surgery procedures, says vaginal surgeries and female sex enhancement drugs are just the latest golden goose for the cosmetic surgery business.

"It's the same arguments that have been used for the past hundred years," she says. "The demand doesn't come from women. The demand is created by society, the media, women's magazines and pornography. People see their body as a project not only to be perfected ... It's more that if I don't do something, I'm going to suffer for it. I won't be popular, I won't be sexually successful."

To gather opposition to the idea that sexuality can be enhanced through medicine and drugs, she co-founded a group of academics, health professionals and therapists in 2002 called the New View Campaign.

Membership is now in the hundreds.

# Seven: (Top, Back to #6, Skip to #8) - (Almost) finally, to bring it at least approximately in a full circle (spiral more like), the São Paulo weather report of a few days ago:

31/07/2007, São Paulo tem a madrugada mais fria do ano.

A massa de ar polar que veio do Sul do País derrubou as temperaturas na Região Sudeste. A capital paulista teve a temperatura mais baixa do ano durante a madrugada de segunda-feira (30), batendo 5,1 graus. A Somar Meteorologia informou ainda que a máxima de domingo (29) também foi a mais baixa do ano: 11 graus.

A massa de ar polar desloca-se ao longo da costa brasileira e deverá provocar recorde no Rio de Janeiro, que poderá ter a mínima do ano, entre 9 e 10 graus na madrugada de terça-feira.

O meteorologista Marcio Custódio, da Somar, informou que as lavouras de café foram preservadas do frio intenso. "O frio concentrou-se na costa do País", explicou. O sul de Minas teve mínima de 4 graus, mas não foi suficiente para provocar estragos nos cafezais. Londrina, no norte do Paraná, teve mínima de 8 graus; Presidente Prudente, no oeste de São Paulo, teve 10 graus de mínima.

Custódio acrescentou que houve chuvas no fim de semana no cerrado mineiro e no sul de Minas. Elas, no entanto, foram irregulares, oscilando entre 6 e 20 mm, em áreas isoladas. A chuva também reduziu a condição de estiagem na zona da mata de Minas, Espírito Santo e Bahia. Nessas áreas o índice pluviométrico médio foi de 5 mm.

O meteorologista informa que o frio vai continuar intenso na próxima madrugada. Em Poços de Caldas, no sul de Minas, a temperatura mínima prevista é de 2 a 3 graus. "O frio não será suficiente para provocar geadas, pois a força da massa de ar polar está concentrada na faixa leste da Região Sudeste", ressalta Custódio.

No Paraná, houve geada na semana passada, principalmente no sul e oeste do Estado, mas não foram relatados prejuízos significativos nas lavouras de milho e de trigo.

Segundo a Climatempo, uma grande massa de ar seco e frio cobre o Rio Grande do Sul nesta segunda-feira. O tempo deve continuar aberto nesta terça-feira (31), com predomínio de sol em todas as áreas.

Entre quarta, 1º de agosto, e sexta-feira (03), a umidade aumenta por conta da passagem de uma frente fria bem organizada pelo Estado. Com isso, volta a chover em todas as áreas e o acumulado de chuva pode chegar a 80 mm no centro-sul do Estado. Nas demais localidades, chove entre 10 e 40 mm.

No Paraná, a previsão foi de tempo seco na segunda-feira, mas a temperatura ficou baixa na madrugada. Pelo menos até quinta-feira (02), a Climatempo prevê que o tempo fica aberto com sol e temperatura em elevação no Estado. Entre sexta-feira e o dia 08, pelo menos duas frentes frias avançam pelo Paraná trazendo mais umidade para o centro-sul, oeste e leste paranaenses. Mas apesar do grande aumento da nebulosidade nestas áreas, quase não chove.

# Eight: (Top, Back to #7) - Chico Buarque ends the CD I bought this week (Construção) with a lovely lovely lullabye. It completes for for me a comparison of him I have been accreting in my mind with Bob Dylan - who at least once in my memory sang a lullabye at the end of a concert (May You Stay Forever Young).


Dorme minha pequena
Não vale a pena despertar
Eu vou sair por aí afora
Atrás da aurora mais serena.

Sleep my little one
It is not worth the trouble of wakening
I am going out into the world
After the dawn so serene.

Photographs by Filip Naudts, and Tonspi; Comic from Gato e Gata.

Gato e Gata
:- Ah, I'm tired.
:- Ah, that was good ...
:- Let's see what's on the next page.

Yeah ... cuíca - a drum that you play from the inside; that sure leaves me smilin' at least :-)