Tolerance vs. Compassion

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The ideal of ‘tolerance’ is unrealistic. Society has to have standards. The standards can be arbitrary, different in each society, but some standard must exist for society to retain integrity. This is why human creatures have shame – it’s an automatic mechanism which prevents us from defecating in the streets, calling out obscenities and destroying things we don’t like.

Naturally, some people to push against the status quo, which is good – as it invites a constant evolution of standards. A healthy society welcomes this. And for this to happen, there also has to be someone upholding the standards. But claiming this is happening in the name of ‘tolerance’ is bullshit, because those pushing against the status quo are not tolerating the standards.

It would be more honest to focus on compassion on an individual level. People should not roll over and ‘tolerate’ what they see as injustice, or society would collapse. But being compassionate toward an individual despite disagreements is the key to a healthy society. Even being compassionate to criminals, while still serving justice.

Teaching children compassion is the answer, not teaching them tolerance. Because this lesson of tolerance is wrapped in a box which tells you what to tolerate and what not to tolerate. It simply is not what it claims to be. And people catch on. Compassion, however, is undeniably real – a human recognizing another human’s humanity. There is no ideology that can undercut the impact of this.

Romanticism

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“What is the most romantic thing you’ve done for your partner?”

I’m not a “high heels, makeup, vacations” girl – I don’t need makeup or heels. I live my life as Art. I’m in love with nature and the elements; songs, poems and novels write themselves through me. I strive to bring the beauty I experience inside, into the world – so the decor in my house is sensual and stimulates a certain mood; my outfits and jewelry tell my story symbolically.

To address romance with a man, I have to bring him into my world. He becomes a character in my novel, the subject of my songs and poetic words, my favorite subject to photograph.

I take my husband up mountains and into forests and waterfalls to capture his essence and allow him to capture mine. We do collages and photo montages of our love and turn each other into archetypal symbols in our own art. We explore each other to discover our innermost essence and explore the world for beautiful places to capture it artistically through the elements. If we are weighed down by obligations, then we can find beauty at home, working side by side or talking about our most passionate interests, such as archetypes, the meaning of everything and the fantasy novel of mine in which some version of him is protagonist. I also find myself waxing poetic about his beauty, as it overwhelms me every day.

In light of this, things like “vacation” seem mundane. We would have a fabulous time on vacation, but I wouldn’t want to have to set out a time slot to be romantic. Life is art and I live it that way.

Love is the most powerful way to honor the beautiful world that the universe has created for us.

The “Living in the Moment” Fallacy

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I’m not sure why some people know what they want to do from a young age, and some don’t.  I used to think people who didn’t were missing something, but then I meet people who claim they are genuinely content to try this and try that, and who believe that open-endedness is fulfilling.  I am not sure I’ve seen actual proof of anyone who is happy that way.  But really is anyone ‘happy?’  It’s a lot to ask.

My gut hunch (which may be wrong for anyone but me) is that the mistake comes in people believing they’re chasing happiness.  They pressure themselves to find something they enjoy, but joy is impossible to sustain, so it leads to inevitable disappointment.  Joy comes naturally, along the way; but it cannot be captured on purpose.

My beloved husband once asked me “do you enjoy writing?”  I stared at him blankly.  I offered some responses, like I need a sense of purpose and I love actualizing my vision.  And he said no.. . I mean do you enjoy writing.  I said, in essence, “can you rephrase the question?”

I did not understand what he was getting at.  Then I finally realized he was actually asking me if I enjoyed writing in the moment – while I’m doing it.  I told him I have no idea why it matters, but the answer is sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.  It can be grueling, obnoxious, there are many days when I want to run around outside or write something new and not read the same stupid thing for the 500th time.  But at the end of the day I feel much better having done it.

I enjoyed playing shows when I was doing music, and I enjoy writing new material; both make me feel cathartic and alive.  But do I enjoy editing, rehearsing, practicing the same few notes for the 100th time?  I don’t know if joy is the word I’d use to describe that. It’s not like it feels as good as making love (though performing or writing new material, does).  But who cares?  My overall outlook toward myself and the world is more positive and I feel overall alive.

I am just not attuned to this idea of “enjoying the moment.”  It is completely nonsensical to me.  The moment on its own is ephemeral, ever changing and passes quickly.  A person can be laughing and happy; then moments later, miserable.  So how would you qualify that experience overall?  Fun?

At any given moment, we have an idea of the past that lead up to it, and an idea of the future before us.  Our memories may be distorted and our future visions may not come to pass; but those ideas are part of EVERY moment.  We can never JUST exist NOW.  No matter how visceral, present and ‘in the flow’ we are, our state of mind is informed by our outlook on life overall. Whether or not we realize it consciously, it is always there.

I’m very visceral and present in the moment. I tune into people completely, I experience sensuality and emotion in full, I love performing, I throw my whole self into whatever I’m doing.  I love bathing, swimming or frolicking in nature; I love channeling arts.  But I don’t enjoy chasing enjoyment.  That very thought makes me feel clausterphobic.

Joy doesn’t come from seeking fun things to do.  It comes from pouring blood, sweat and tears into a challenge.  If I spend the day seeking joy, then after an hour I can no longer find any.

If my beloved would say, ‘let’s spend today having fun,’ the first thing that pops into mind, besides sensual pleasures 😉 – is photoshoots, climbing a mountain or working on the book together.

Lovemaking is wonderful, but a whole day of it doesn’t sound fun to me either.  It may be fun if I framed it as a CHALLENGE, to see how long we could last.  But in general, that sounds like sucking the juice out of an otherwise beautiful experience.  I’d much rather be working.

Huntress

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“The best women get chased, and the best men chase” – this advice was imparted to me at a young age, and I saw that it was true. Men want to chase someone and women want to be chased. Obvious, right?

The problem is, I have a willful personality. I’m not any kind of ‘warrior’ or physical beast, but I know what I want, and I figure out how to get it. In all other areas of my life, I was assertive and driven; but where men were concerned, I was afraid of rejection. I knew exactly who I wanted, but I needed to make them come after me.

Hot guys chased me all the time, but I wanted exactly who I wanted, and couldn’t settle for less. I didn’t want to demean my own worth as a woman by chasing my crushes outright, yet I was hopelessly obsessed. So I would lure them to chase me while feeling tortured over any sign of rejection, and essentially destroy myself over each one for years. This could have been resolved by simply asking them out and getting a direct answer, but I was terrified that would turn them off and I’d ruin my chance.

I fantasized about being a man so I could be more direct and woo my crushes through romantic acts. I wanted to exhibit chivalry and honor, and get down on my knees and serenade the beautiful boys who made my heart sing. I researched transgenderism, but I didn’t have body dysphoria and didn’t want to condemn myself to being a short guy with a high-pitched voice and female organs. The only place I could live out my fantasy relationships was in fiction. What a coincidence that I started writing books at age 11. 

Subtlety and coyness did not suit me, and the attempt to fit that role made me less appealing. I came to terms with this in my late 20s and began taking direct initiative when needed. Since I’m attracted to shy men, this dynamic worked out well, and I finally had good relationships.

Still, this does not mean that I want to be “in charge.” I need a guy who holds his own, who defends women, and who is strong and firm in his own mind, but who finds my willfulness sexy. It’s an absolute necessity because otherwise I’d spend my whole life pretending I’m someone else, and that is not sexy or honest. But I do not want someone that backs out of a fight, expects me to carry all the weight, or allows me to dominate him. He needs to hold his own in an argument, a decision, a fight. He needs to be a man.

In short, I need to be with someone I respect. How could I respect someone if I completely dominate him?

I did not have what it took to attract the right man when I was ‘waiting for them to make a move’ and playing games. I needed to be real about who I am, in order to attract someone equally real. And now that I found my soulmate in Kilian, I am driven to nurture and worship him. It turns me on that I cannot dominate him intellectually, emotionally or physically, and I trust that nobody can. 

I feel like a lot of these messages about ‘men and women’ miss these human, grey areas; where a woman doesn’t need to fit the ‘submissive’ mold to the T, yet there is still room to express her will in an honest, loving relationship; without being a dominant warrior who “doesn’t need a man.”

We all need to figure out what type of balance we are personally comfortable with. And there are as many shades of men as there are women; so there is always someone who fits with any woman who discovers who she is and expresses it with an open heart.

Transcendence

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Some people propose that we “transcend” by “extinguishing the fire of desire.”  Yet fire is central to our humanity. 
 
“Transcendence of desire” carries a similar message to “Original sin,” claiming that the way we’re built is fundamentally wrong.  Yet for anyone who believes in God, Natural Law, Evolution or Love – this is nonsensical.  Whether God created us or whether we evolved, we are the way we are.  Accepting the way we are and making the best of it, for ourselves and for those around us, is obviously the most we can hope to achieve. Why are people always trying to transcend their own nature? It’s absurd.
 
Animals don’t do this. Animals know more than we do.
 
We don’t look at our dog and think “Why does he crave contact with me? He should stop being so excited about me and reach nirvana.” So why would we do that to ourselves??  The idea of “Original Sin” and “Transcending desire” — is the poison that makes our love impure.  It is natural to desire, to burn with passion; to love.  It is only our shame about our feelings, and our fear of love, which ruins its beauty.
 
Some might claim that peace and clarity are more important than love.  We can avoid the ‘danger’ of heartache by forsaking romance and desire altogether.
 
But, what is the point of it all, then?  Why are we here?  If we’re just going to find ways to be above our desires, and find ‘serenity and clarity’ to avoid danger and pain….. what exactly will fulfill us?  Is it fulfilling to spend our lives depriving ourselves of things we ‘don’t really need,’ just to avoid the possibility of losing them?  Is that really living or is that just surviving?
 
 
 

Villain

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We are all the villain of our own story.
We make the choices that bind us.


If you’re true to yourself, nothing can destroy your integrity. Not even death, because your message will live on in the hearts of others.
There’s no enemy, no villain, except the mechanisms by which you tear yourself down.
We project that villain onto others, and others can serve as ‘tricksters’ or truth-revealers in our own life, to open our eyes to our own biases and push us to confront our demons.
But the only one who can confront your demons is you.
The rest is a backdrop which can only serve as a reminder for what we already know in our hearts.
Anyone who says something like “I’m not a great man, I’m just a regular guy” – wrong. Gandhi and Peterson and MLK also were just regular people.
There’s nothing about anyone that inherently makes them great, or destined for greatness.
“Privilege” may make the path easier, but in and of itself, it does not ensure greatness or mediocrity.
Those choices come only from us.

You can be a “great man” or “great woman” in the context of your own life.
Not everyone has to be world famous, to be great.
Mediocrity is a temptation that lures us. It’s easier to avoid making waves.
When you make a statement, grow and expand, you come up against boundaries, challenges and difficulties.
It’s easier to say “fuck it, I’ll just do what’s easy, what remains unchallenged.”
And the idea of a villain or an enemy is also tempting.
It’s easier, it’s the path of least resistance – to hate and fear another person, instead of delving into ourselves.
The peaceful path is not always the wrong path. Sometimes excess drama and challenge is also the path of least resistance, a projection of “war” out into the world instead of focusing on the battles inside us, which are most important.
The path of least resistance comes in many forms, and all of them are the devil’s lure.
Our character is determined by whether or not we succumb.

Freedom

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I don’t like freedom, I feel like I’m not really alive unless I know what I’m willing to die for; and what trajectory I’m on. When I hear “freedom” I hear “nothing to lose” – which is not attractive to me, especially because I’ve been there, involuntarily. All it is, is hunger.
 
I need a reason to get up in the morning, a sense of purpose that remains constant; something that runs so deep in my bones, I trust it will fuel me for several lifetimes, if only I could live that long. Music did this for me; and my fantasy series, although that has more of a ‘slow burn’ effect during some periods, whereas music is always on red-hot fire mode.
 

People seem to hold freedom as some kind of ideal. To me, freedom exists only within limits. Meaning there’s something I have to do, somewhere I have to be, some deadline I have to meet. Mortality is intrinsically a limit, so our minds are programmed to exist within it; and I’m all too aware , due to illness, that I could die at any time. To me freedom is knowing that while I was here, I lived. I did something meaningful, valuable, highly specific. Something expressed itself through me. I need to know I surrendered to a force greater than myself — the divine symmetry of music; the epic tapestry of my fictional world. The rhythm of life. 

 

Freedom is knowing that if the illness takes me from my body tomorrow, I won’t regret what I did (or didn’t do) with my life.  Freedom is knowing my purpose is strong enough that I can justify consuming plants and meat and other resources to survive. That my life was worth the sacrifice of all those other living entities. (It’s not really worth it, but at the very least, I know those sacrifices didn’t go to waste if my life has meaning .)  Without meaning, it seems more morally justifiable to take my own life. 

 
‘Freedom’ … it’s empty. It’s cold. It’s nothingness, formless.  At least in the sense of being “free of obligation, free of constraint.”  Give me something worth fighting for, something worth dying for. That’s freedom. If I die fighting for it, I’m free to die in peace.

Lust

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When it comes to lust, most people cant touch the outermost edges of my extremes.  Some people need more sex than I, but my lust still knows no bounds.

It’s not just about the body – it’s about a need to own the person completely; to conquer his soul.  To possess, rule and infiltrate every fucking inch of his mind, body, heart; even his dreams and his past.  To have him do the same with me.  I want absolutely no pebble unturned, no corner of his mind that I can’t reach, no lost memory that I haven’t ravaged for everything it’s worth.  I need to be King, Queen, Princess, Prince and people to him.  He is my dominion and I am his.

Lust is even more dangerous perhaps, for me, than those who are purely physical.  Because the physical will never approach the depths I need to infuse in order to feel even a drop of satisfaction for a mere moment and then hunger for more.  The universe is not big enough to compete with the lengths I will go to in order to reach every fucking corner of every past life and every future life; to completely own him.  Limits, boundaries, ‘good ‘ and ‘bad,’ dirty… none of this has any place in this world.  His soul will be devoured down to the last grain until there is nothing left between us but øne.

Artists

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I keep seeing slogans like, “All artists and writers feel like frauds.” Speak for yourself. I wrote my first full song at age 8 and first 400 book at age 12 – or allowed them to write themselves through me. I have shed every ounce of my blood, sweat and tears, sacrificing most else in the name of my work for as long as I have lived. Speaking in a whisper didn’t stop me from singing and chronic illness didn’t stop me – a very shitty writer – from giving everything I have to improve and do justice to this vision. I am not a fucking fraud- Earth is more shallow to me than anything related to my home planet and the work I do to impart its legends. 

That said, I do feel, very often, that I’m not enough.
I don’t have what it takes to do justice to this vision.
The vision itself is not something people will care about.
Etc.

But I would be even less if I abandoned it. The dream would eat away at me until I joined the walking dead.

The fight is still on. Battles may be lost but the war will be won. I will suck the blood from the heart of this vision and explode it back out in a fury. Erosia will be mine.

Name

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I was thinking about my name, looking at the root “ven” for venus, veins, and “hunter.”
 
I’ve gone through one incarnation already, from Erica Brand (who died with my voice) to Erica Xenne (who resurrected the ghost of my voice from the dead after being exiled from passion).  Xen means foreigner/stranger, which is what I became when I was exiled from Erosia through that loss.

Now, I feel I’ve stepped into the space of my ultimate purpose. As a child, I always saw my desire mirrored in Venus, Aphrodite and the like, though it was never quite dark and destructive enough. In this sense, Kali is perfectly in line with what I related to and the “Goddess” symbol I was looking for. I hadn’t heard of her when people started telling me they saw her mark all over my art. Her name means time/eternity and “black” (the shadow self, death). I relate to her volcanic, destructive-creative nature, and the eternity inherent in cycles of death and rebirth (phoenix). Also, the carnal-spiritual blend. “So carnal it’s spiritual.”

People often tell me I look like Botticelli Venus, but it’s too innocent and pure a depiction for what I am. I am a destructive force.. sex is transformative. And it goes beyond sex. Passion and purpose itself is what I embody. Creativity, diving deep into the darkness in oneself to come out the other side, burning alive so you transform fully – this is what I embody.

Xenne was only the beginning stage, as I was a stranger, reborn. But I need something that combines the soul-marking power of Brand with the reanimation – the self-discovering, self-actualizing and autonomous/alien nature of Xenne.

Brand was my original voice – it left a powerful mark on people and was physically strong.  Xenne was my new voice – foreigner, stranger, exiled from my power, coming to terms with my rebirth and resurrecting my voice as a ghost. Xen- (stranger) -Ne (Not). I reclaimed myself by singing through my whisper, making a powerful statement out of my loss and exile.

My new name would be the process itself; the process of branding and transforming, dying and rebirthing, destruction and creation. This unites the two. And it would also show that I am more than my singing voice and its incarnations. I am a vessel through which passion itself emerges. Desire is the force that drives all living beings, and my purpose in life is to mirror it in my work.

My given name, ‘Erica,’ suits me in meaning.  My parents did not do this on purpose, but they accidentally named me after my father.  Erica is a derivative of Richard.  By keeping Erica I’m not only preserving the name my parents gave me, my father’s name specifically (since the surname is usually the father’s name; not because I have him in some hierarchy over my mother).

I want to change my middle name to Jane, my mother’s name. My given name is Erica Kelman Brand. Kelman is my mother’s maiden name. I’d like it to be Erica Jane, since Erica carries “Richard” within it and Jane is her name. (“Jon,” my brother’s name, is also the name from which Jane is a derivative.) This would preserve the family connection in my mind. And I am very close to my family. I also like the meaning of Erica.

The given name Erika, or Erica, is a feminine form of Eric, deriving from the Old Norse name Eiríkr (or Eríkr in Eastern Scandinavia due to monophthongization). The first element, ei- is derived either from the older Proto-Norse *aina(z), meaning “one, alone, unique”,[1] as in the form Æinrikr explicitly, or from *aiwa(z) “long time, eternity”.[2] The second element -ríkr stems either from *ríks “king, ruler” (cf. Gothic reiks) or from the therefrom derived *ríkijaz “kingly, powerful, rich”.[3] The name is thus usually taken to mean “sole ruler, autocrat” or “eternal ruler, ever powerful”.[4]

Unique/one/alone, ever powerful, eternity/time, autonomous (sole ruler)…. this is me. I would not change it. I am the sole ruler of my own destiny (though I choose to do Kilian’s bidding, since he is my muse), and a powerful force behind the creation of a universe.

As for a possible surname for my current incarnation (likely my final one in this lifetime), I like the prefix “Ven.” In Sanskrit, “Desire.” In the dictionary it is associated with both Venus and Veins. I like Veins because I’m a vessel through which passion emerges.  So I may look into a second half of this name that embodies my Kali nature and also my sense of purpose: to be a vessel through which passion emerges, and ideally, to create mirrors in which others can see their true nature, bare and exposed. As I said above:  Desire is the force that drives all living beings, and my purpose in life is to mirror it in my work.  

 
This is also very Kali. Her nudity is a symbol of honesty with oneself about the soul, the forces that drive them, birth life and death, desire laid bare.
 
My final name must incorporate desire/hunger (as the force that drives all beings) desire laid bare,  naked desire –  but also, chasing or hunting.  That would tie it in with the idea that desire is what drives us to hunt.  Sort of like “passion and purpose.”  Mixed with some idea of ‘eternity,’ this would be the perfect name. So carnal it’s spiritual.