Here recently, a radio DJ played Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, Marilyn Monroe's voice super sultry and dripping over the materialistic perspective on relationships. Marilyn was gorgeous, and that song and her voice -- wow, so expressive. It might have been the first time I've made it through that entire song. I'm typically taken aback by how empty the lyrics portray human companionship to be. But Marilyn singing it was a pretty big draw, so after the DJ announced it, I stayed on to listen. A former friend once told me that Marilyn was super concerned with appearance, that she exercised constantly to keep a figure, that she thought she was fat. Marilyn and her symbolism raise a lot of questions about ethnicity, feminism, and a need to belong within a culture.
She is this symbol of sexy and beauty and such, and at the same time it's such a conflict because is that really what feminine means? In order to be female, do we need to style our hair, be born with huge breasts, white skin, and forever emit this childlike voice that infantilizes itself? It's kind of gross that our culture and its media display this dynamic, perpetuate it. I watched a couple of movies from the 60s earlier this summer, and sheez. The young women acted completely dependent on men -- male authority figures, male siblings, male whatever. Part of this has to do with how the media are largely written, produced, and led by men. The same goes with technology of most kinds, science, and video games. This is mostly a man's world in many ways. Centuries of control from the dominant physical figure take time to balance.
In the meantime, what we have is existence exaggerated with excess and the sweat of tears. The puritan work ethic permeates. Work harder, longer! Show up with money and fame. Basically, be Jesus or a guru of some kind or your views aren't really that important. It's twisted. This tiresome doom and gloom mentality muddies the spiritual realm. Kobutsu Malone calls it part of spiritual materialism in this interesting article. There is a huge market for feeding off needs from those who feel subpar, depressed, downtrodden. Charlatans masquerading as healers plaster fliers on bulletin boards, divine harmony on the Internet. They're pros with their crafts -- scam artists who tweak and prune their acts with extensive effort and time. The kindhearted and trusting among us get taken for rides here and there until we learn the ropes and try and fail many times as we practice with confidence.
There's a lot of expectation for life. As humans, a percentage of us may go to the moon these days, become multimillionaires, twinkle on a movie screen. People talk about making a buck, getting ahead, staying ahead, dying young while still beautiful and radiant. This generation, like many others, urges life to acquire and desire. It's like the opening to Le Plaisir, a 1952 French film, which goes something like "every generation thinks it's so achingly modern." Likewise, many generations of media tend to label younger generations as out of control or spoiled beyond belief. (Elspeth Reeve wrote a hilarious timeline review that goes into detail on the topic.) There are certain elements of life that often repeat themselves when thought is superficial. Decades in and decades out, philosophers, poets, and other romantics write and tell stories about this human tragedy, human drama. Daoists discuss it as yin and yang. The Dao is both yin and yang as well as the circle that contains them, aka the observer, the watcher, the whole.
We are all of this stuff, you know: racism, sexism, abuse, conqueror, confident, vulnerable, conquered, ignored, exalted, materialistic, mindful. Let us love our naughty bits and upright selves alike. May we act with compassion, motivate with kind spirit, and rest protected and nourished in simplicity.
Well hello there.