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Dualism I

The Tiger – Wikipedia

This is not actually a book review, but I put up the book which has dominated my week because of the dualism study it contains.   HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY is a novel written by Audrey Niffinegger, who also wrote the TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE   – another favorite read – and was our book group read for this month.

I am not an expert on dualism, though if I had completed a doctoral program I probably would have used dualism, education, and counseling theories as the main part of my dissertation.  I have been fascinated by the subject ever since my Father and Uncle tried explaining it to me when I was about 8 years old.  My Uncle felt that dualism and it’s rigidity was what was wrong with religion and my Father felt that it only limited the possibilities of more dimensional thinking and outcomes, when someone was not able to think and be creative – it just created artificial boundaries in all of life.  The spark of this idea took hold as I watched these two men who loved each other have a full afternoon, friendly, competitive discussion at the lake.  It changed my life and my thinking forever.

I true miss those great discussions I had in college and at slumber parties, do you?

The title, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, is from the William Blake poem THE TIGER published in 1795 and which is the most anthologized poem in the English language.   Tiger is but a metaphor for the manipulative, controlling forces of evil (or Satan) and the corresponding poem the LAMB thought to be goodness or maybe even JESUS.

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of then eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And What shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer?  what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I spent several hours reading the book HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, spent two hours at book group and then dedicated another 6 hours of study to dualism this week.  The novel is a fictional work about twins who are the daughters of twins.  I am not being too specific here because that is part of the plot would muddy the waters, but the twins of both generations are caught in a dualistic experience and they are rigid in their adherence to the dimensions, as though it were a religious doctrine, and they only find separation when they discover new dimensions and possibilities.  One twin in the story exploits and manipulates these discoveries.

If one is captured in a rigid dualism continuum then it is nearly impossible to discuss or change or think in any format but a hierarchical pattern of good and evil with only wavy lines of deviation within the spectrum.   Whereas, if one can free their thinking to see the dualistic points of extreme on a horizontal continuum then the thinking is only limited by how far one can visualize the end points of possibility and move it towards  infinity and the ultimate creativity – the big bang- AH HA – of thinking!

It is fascinating that in the 1700’s and earlier, folks had already figured this out – even though many of them still believed that the world was a hierarchical dualism.  And yet, even as more and more people reject the hierarchy of dualism it is still what is holding us back from manifesting our greatest authentic selves.  We are limited and controlled.

A current example of constipated dualism which we can witness right now – is the present Congress of the USA.  Or the Traditional Medical folks working against the Alternative Medicine folks and Money winning / people losing.  All we are left with is the growing dimension of FEAR – which defines it’s presence through VIOLENCE.

A discussion about violence is what began our book group experience and concern about how prolific it is right now in our society/culture.  Folks were asking WHY?  And here we held some answers to that question right in the book we were discussing.

What have you done recently to move yourself forward and away from fear?  How do you change your thinking?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations welcome.

Related Reading to Enjoy:
Making Change: An Often Overlooked Step
Courage: Overcoming fear and igniting self confidence
Search Inside Yourself
 How We Make Decisions and Changes

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12 Responses to “Dualism I”

  1. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    I’ve been stomping down on my fears since last fall as I move forward into a new location and new life by myself. Talk about change! And change doesn’t happen if you are in a casserole of fears.

    Love that poem – a fondness of William Blake! :)
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    Patricia Reply:

    oh Susan – I love your phrase casserole of fears…

    Yes those change moments allow us to see and let go …and sometimes make huge jumps…

    Yes, I do like this poem and had to memorize it in middle school…

    Interesting things to contemplate

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – I, too, love SuZen’s term, “casserole of fears.” I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I expect to enjoy Her Fearful Symmetry as well.

    What do I do with fear?
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    Patricia Reply:

    The Fearful Symmetry book is just loaded with interesting ideas and then they all pivot around this dualism, which Niffinegger is constantly toying with and tickling our thinking outwards. I would love to discuss this book with a number of different book groups, because it is so expansive with ideas…

    Yes, if you liked the Time Travelers Wife, the book, I certainly think you would like this one. The author seems to be from Chicago, which I also found interesting.

  3. Talon Says:

    Patricia, what a fascinating post. Yes, I miss round-the-table discussions with my parents and children. My parents (both deceased) were great debaters and my father always taught us children to be open and to listen, because he said listening was a form of learning.

    I do love when all three of my children are home (happens so infrequently now) because we run the gamut in our conversations and the discussions are priceless.

    Thank you for this…for bringing back great memories.

    Patricia Reply:

    My father and mother were great at holding discussions, and my mother always announced when we were done – on her desire, but my father and I would often continue for weeks and I miss his open heart, mind and sharing.

    One of my children is a good discussion person…but they all take after my mother and often too soon announce the end of the discussion.

    When I stopped teaching on the college level, it was because the students stopped discussion anything. One or two a year would stay after class but most just wanted answers – quick and easy.

    Good discussions are priceless and create a depth of meaning

  4. Davina Haisell Says:

    I remember those kinds of deep discussions, Patricia. I’m generally not a talkative person, but when I connect with someone in that way, you can’t get me to shut up :)

    How do I move forward/change my thinking with regards to fear…? I would have say that I go into a feeling mode (like putting blinders on or hitting the mute button to shut out the mental chatter) and I cruise on. It’s not always a smooth ride, but in the end, I can look back and know I’ve gained ground. I guess you could say that I don’t change my thinking, I silence it.

    Patricia Reply:

    I something hunger for those deep discussions.

    I am often on the edge of discussions now…I remember coming into a room and the group of Graduate students per practicing defending their thesis material and arguments. Except most had been smoking pot – so many thought they were having deep, resonating discussions and I as the observer just had to laugh out loud because they were all talking around each other – not pressing the meaning. After wards I just thought it sad because they could have loosened the bounds of fear and really dug deep and learned something.

    I dive into fear within myself just as I dive into most situations and then work myself out of it
    Thanks for dropping by
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  5. Alien Ghost Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    To be honest, it is the first time I hear about Dualism, and now I have lots of homework to investigate it. LOL

    Moving away from fear? One interesting experiment I did some time ago (Halloween night) was to go walking in the woods after midnight when there was full moon and the temperature about 20 degrees. Obviously I was alone, and with it, the opportunity to observe my ancestral fears to darkness, sudden sounds around and shadows moving behind the trees. Not only it allowed me to analyze the instinctive fears we all have and translate to our everyday life, but also had the opportunity to challenge them with logic and reasoning, which allowed me to change the perception of different situation in life, making it a lot less fearful than before.

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    Patricia Reply:

    I think confronting fears is good – I know that it works very well for people who are afraid of flying – it is a vital therapy.

    I just watched a movie called Silver Lining Playbook and the fears within it were those tricky little sneaky ones and as someone with bi-polar disorder was trying to control his behavior those fears could get stimulated into violence very quickly…it was an interesting to see him work on control with someone else

    I think learning about dualism has helped me make some of my most important decisions in life – good to be knowledgeable
    Conservative Christianity keeps it close and often explodes into violence in their ignorance – I think William Blake was addressing that in the 1750s

  6. Sara Says:

    Like Raul, I need to learn more about dualism before I can feel comfortable commenting on that subject.

    Regarding fear, my approach is usually to thoroughly investigate it, if I can. For example, if I have a scary medical test. I go online and learn everything I can. Oddly, for me this calms me. I can’t quite explain why because sometimes the information I get is scary or even inaccurate, but it works for me.

    This was an interesting post. Thanks:~)

    Patricia Reply:

    Took me awhile to get here and respond to Raul and find your reply today. My old computer is giving me fits and starts and IT Girl worked on it last night. Working off my cell phone was quite a time consuming workout!

    I too investigate the big things right away…and that always helps to put me at ease. It also helps me see other things…such as the last big blood test I had – the Drs were looking at big things and I am the one the saw that I was vitamin B deficient – and wow what difference that has made in the last six months of my life. And I would rather hear about cancer early when I can take action and remove it…heal it…

    Dualism is subtle too and that is where I have to keep my investigations these days….I see it often in parents of 2 children – one is the gem and one has lots of problems or troubles….even when there are 3 children there are two that form a dualism pattern …. My brother and sister both had reading problems – I was a gifted reader and idea integrator… they never looked to see that my siblings were gifted in math and I had dyscalcula ( not just being a stupid girl)
    I am being violent towards them even as I write this – I am ignoring them – you see dualism deeply permeates and can be extremely destructive.