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Claustrophobia as the Human Condition

The rebellion against nature, the body, and woman originates in the claustrophobic perception of being trapped within a closed and limiting system. Freedom is associated with the transcendent perceiver, while limitation is associated with the perceived: the body and the environing world. Woman (mother) was the first environment and literally what was first and foremost perceived. One’s body, therefore, is identified with her body and with nature, the body of the world. It may be perceived as prison, as constraining Other, because the desire for freedom—to be a subject, a soul, a spiritual essence not identified with the body—is in part the desire to be subject only, a fly on the wall, and no object of the limiting and controlling attention of other subjects. It is the desire to be the agent in sole control of one’s experience and fate. The corollary of this desire is the tendency to regard the world, including the body, as utterly object to be acted upon by the self. The self is in a contest to control its experience, whether the opponent is another person, one’s own body, or the cosmos at large. It seeks to win this contest either through self-mastery or by mastery of the external world. The latter way is the root of the drive for power, whose ultimate satisfaction is the subjugation or elimination of the threatening Other. The former is the spiritual quest for surrender, whose final, paradoxical satisfaction is the subjugation or elimination of the self.

RELATED TAGS: [rebellion against nature/the body/woman, transcendence, The Other, (spiritual) extinction (of self), body/nature as prison, pure subjectivity, epistemic ego, spiritual surrender]

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