And just so you know, Pat, you're giving me a heck of a lot to think about this week too! Thanks for the brain-stretching opportunities!
Pat wrote:So in the Pilot, when Vincent says he has never regretted who he was until now, or when crying over his hands in the final scene of Arabesque, these are not examples of wishing he were different?
I would say they are not examples of Vincent wishing he were different from what he is.
For that is where my interpretive priorities lead me. First, as discussed earlier, I associate Vincent's crying over his hands with the context of describing his memory of past events, things which he "had dreamed away." His tears are the present-day emotional response to a past incident recently revisited and finally resolved. Second, I accept "I've never regretted what I am...until now," as a truth about the character. Thus, Vincent's stated lack of regret in the Pilot includes his past relationship with Lisa. Third, I think in the Pilot Vincent regrets for Catherine's sake that "what he is" has so terrified this woman with whom he is building an extraordinary new relationship. Her terror hurt Catherine and his body inspired that terror. As is definitive of his unselfish character, Vincent's regret is not focused upon himself, but upon Catherine, the injured party at that moment. I don't believe Vincent wishes either of them were different from who and what they are. He gently recognizes the tragedy of the way their differences separate them both.
Pat wrote:Can we not wish we were different, while knowing it is not possible, and accepting who we are?
No. I don't believe we can.
Pat wrote:For example, women often wish they were bustier, less bustier, hippier, less hippier, or men wish they were more athletic rather than not. (not a perfect example, in that women can undergo surgery, but not speaking of it in that way).
This is actually the most pertinent of your examples because it addresses the issue of how we go about reconciling the in-born reality of our bodies with the dominant illusions of our cultures. The question is: WHY do women often wish their bodies possess different attributes? WHY do some men wish their bodies would possess the stereotypical "athletic build?"
Is it not because these women and men believe that the ideals to which they long to conform are right and good? More right and good than the factual reality that many variations in body shape exist and that various bodies function adequately without matching cultural preferences? To quote Jiddu Krishnamurti, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." If we are wishing to be what we are not in order to conform to illusory ideals which fail to value human diversity, we are not accepting who we are. We are accepting only a nonexistent delusion of what the mainstream world considers a valid identity. We are joining society in its sickness.
Pat wrote:Or a Vet wishing he/she had not gone to Iraq to avoid the PTSD, or a paraplegic wishing he/she could walk. Yet in wishing, is it a form of rejection?
Yes, these examples do indeed demonstrate rejection: a rejection of those conditions which separate these persons from mainstream life and prevent them from fitting in. Possibly even a self-rejection of the individuals involved in these situations, depending upon their personal attitudes. Especially if one wishes to return to the pursuit of conformity, these situations are exponentially traumatic beyond the inherent suffering of the specified ailments, because our culture places PTSD and paraplegia outside the realm of "normality." So people affected by these conditions get thrust out into what their culture has taught them is a wasteland of isolation and deprivation.
Unless they were already participating in a culture that does not denigrate or devalue the experiences of PTSD or paraplegia...
Pat wrote:Do we not feel the pain of rejection because inclusion is such a driving force in our psyche?
Only when we have entrusted the process of inclusion with authority over our selves and our lives.
Pat wrote:To be exiled (the community uses this as punishment, and comments on how hard it is) is very difficult.
Here I wish only to point out that there is a vast difference between using exclusion/exile as a legal consequence for illegal behavior, and using exclusion/exile as a means of rejecting psychological and/or physical deviations from cultural ideals of "normal."
Pat wrote:We put ourselves out 'there' and hope for acceptance as we are, and when not accepted, not included, does it not hurt at least a bit?
Our culture pulls such a sick bait-and-switch in this regard. It requires its participants to hope for acceptance as they are, parsing such hope in terms of maturity or even virtue...yet the same culture withholds acceptance from anyone who deviates beyond "normal" parameters. As it turns out, there are an awful lot of "abnormal" people in the world. But lack of such "acceptance" only hurts if we care what society "out there" thinks about us. Mainstream expectation tells us: "You must care about how you compare to such-and-such ideal." This is a false imperative. When outliers like the Tunnelfolk reject the standard illusions and imperatives of dominant culture, Top-Down rejection on the basis of those illusions becomes, quite simply, meaningless.
Pat wrote:It can mean that, perhaps, if we experience enough rejection that it makes us question ourselves, and if not strong in our identity, then perhaps it leads to self-rejection or self-loathing.
Does a strong identity protect someone from such a deluge of rejection as you describe? What constitutes strength or weakness in identity?
Your statement still speaks to the fear of what overculture's rejections entail and/or produce. During our respective years of adolescence, my husband and I both found tremendous freedom in discarding the conform-to-gain-acceptance-or-else-suffer-as-outcasts ultimatum. We discovered that by not conforming to the dominant cultures in our schools, communities, and in my case family, other people's rejections just didn't matter, and other people had no sway over how we felt about ourselves. Neither of us were particularly strong at that point in our lives. We just anchored our identities in healthier subcultures and decided to make our own decisions about what to value in our separate contexts. Fear left our decision-making processes.
In Vincent's case, no amount of de facto rejection from the world Above could ever cause him to reject himself or loathe himself. It's not about how strong the attack is, or how strong Vincent is. Vincent's acceptance of himself is anchored in the love he shares within the community Below.