One reader's rave

"Thanks for the newspaper with your book review. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this terrific piece of writing. It is beautiful, complex, scholarly. Only sorry Mr. Freire cannot read it!" -- Ailene

Cassie Jaye, the day before I met her at the _Red Pill_ world premiere

Sunday, December 05, 2021

A Great Artist, and the Love of His Life

Born on this date: flamenco star Camarón de la Isla. As reported by T. Rivas:

"José Monge (or Monje) Cruz, known as Camarón de la Isla (1950-1992), was one of the greatest flamenco singers of the 20th century and he still has many followers today.

"What is less known about flamenco singer Camarón is that, in 1976, he married a gypsy girl, Dolores Montoya, whom he nicknamed La Chispa (The Spark). He had first met the girl about a decade before and he asked for her hand in marriage when she was only fourteen.

"Together they had four children. On a range of websites, La Chispa is mentioned as the love of his life and she is also mentioned as his viuda (widow).

"The Reportaje de TV del entierro de Camarón (TV report on Camarón's funeral)* consists of a video about Camarón, his funeral, and La Chispa. In it she says he 'was a very good person and a very good husband and artist.'

"According to other sites, the often deified Camarón turned out to be human after all, because he really smoked too much, which brought about the lung cancer he died from at a very young age. He also did some drugs. The most negative thing I read about him was that for some time he wanted to be a bullfighter, something which unfortunately is not all too uncommon in flamenco circles, for historical reasons.

"On a more neutral note, he could be quite capricious about expensive beautiful cars, while at the same time being callado (introverted) and raro (eccentric).

"I haven't found anything bad about his relationship with La Chispa (as such) though. I did find: 'La Chispa, que lo adoraba' (La Chispa who adored him).

La Chispa also used to visit (or still visits) his grave for years after his funeral. For four years she mourned for him ('ella estuvo cuatro años llorando') and she became so depressed that she did not eat enough. She simply did not know what to do without him and their children were being looked after by her father and sister. Dolores was saved from her depression when her children told her that if she stopped eating they would too.


See also In this show we see Camarón, La Chispa and their children."

Unfortunately, Rivas' book Positive Memories, from which this account is taken -- and which also includes nearly two hundred other such happy "March/September" stories in all gender combinations, as recounted by the younger partner -- is no longer available from the IPCE site and soon will not be available from either, because of worsening censorship laws in his home country of the Netherlands. But, for anyone who's interested, I'm in possession of a PDF copy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Quote of the Month: Marxism and Enlightenment

 "In this epoch of capitalism in advanced decay, we communists who have as our aim the proletarian conquest of state power and the reconstruction of society on a new egalitarian socialist basis are at the same time the most consistent defenders of the ideals of the Enlightenment and the gains of the bourgeois revolution: we are intransigent fighters for bourgeois-democratic liberties—for the right to bear arms; for the abolition of all monarchy and aristocratic privilege; for the separation of church and state; against the imposition of religious fundamentalism as a political program; for the defense of free speech and assembly against the encroachment of the bourgeois state; against barbaric “punishments” such as the death penalty; for juridical equality for women and minorities." -- Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program, International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist)

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The American Exchange Program

“Right now it’s far too easy for Americans to generalize about people in another state or region or walk of life. If we have each high school graduate spend time with a diverse set of graduates in different parts of the country, they would forever form a different, deeper and broader understanding of what it means to be an American. It would improve our culture and politics immeasurably over time. Plus, every 18-year old would love a road trip.” – Andrew Yang

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Quote of the Day

 “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." --Jiddu Krishnamurti

To be precise, the healthiest person is able to function even in a profoundly sick society, but uses that ability to try to change it.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Call for Papers: ICSA 2022 Annual Conference

Call for Papers: ICSA 2022 Annual Conference -- Submission deadline coming soon

Online Conference: June 24-26, 2022

Conference Theme: Exploring the Needs of People Who Leave Groups and Controlling Environments

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is conducting its 2022 Annual International Conference jointly with Info-Secte/Info-Cult of Montreal. The conference will be online and will take place from June 24-26, 2022. The conference will address the needs and interests of ICSA’s four main constituencies: former group members, families, helping professionals, and researchers.

The Committee will consider proposals on the theme of the conference as well as other aspects of the cult phenomenon, including victims’ perspectives, psychological and social manipulation, coercive control, religious fanaticism, terrorism, law enforcement, treatment, prevention, and legal, social, and public policy aspects of manipulation and victimization.

Attendees and speakers at past conferences have been diverse, including academicians, researchers, helping professionals, former and current group members, families, clergy, educators, and others. Individual sessions will be 50 minutes. It is recommended that no more than three people speak on a panel.

ICSA is firmly committed to freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. Consistent with these values, ICSA’s policy with regard to conferences has been to encourage a wide range of viewpoints. Opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of ICSA's directors, staff, or supporters.

Proposal abstracts should be in English.

Submission Deadline: October 31, 2021

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Quote of the Month

"How can a man or a people seize an immense territory and keep it from the rest of the world except by a punishable usurpation, since all others are being robbed, by such an act, of the place of habitation and the means of subsistence which nature gave them in common?"

-- Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Once -- and Future? -- Idyll


Judith Levine turns 69 today. Her best-known book is Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, and the perspective she presents there is informed by an idyllic experience she had in summer camp -- an experience no longer possible because of the ever more paranoid "age apartheid" that has come into effect over the past couple generations.

This account first appeared in the July 2, 2002 edition of The Village Voice, and is republished on pages 191-95 of Positive Memories, compiled by T. Rivas for Ipce.

"Summer of Love: The Romance a Teenage Camper Couldn't Have Today" by Judith Levine

“This is an innocent story. In 1967, the summer before my 15th birthday, I fell in love. It was my first intense erotic love, and its object was the photography counselor at camp – a lean, bearded, blue-eyed guy I'll call Jake. He was 26. Nothing sexual happened. Still, I think of those two months as the summer of my épanouissement, a French word meaning blossoming or opening, which also means glow. Jake took hundreds of pictures of me, and his affirmation and his camera opened me to myself. They helped me begin, sexually, to glow.

"If the same events had occurred in 2002, they would not be viewed as innocent. The adults around me would write my chaste romance as a perverse tale, casting Jake as a predator and me as his hapless, clueless prey.

"Had I started my sex education with good-touch-bad-touch lessons in kindergarten or listened for a decade to media reporting on a world allegedly crowded with sexual malefactors sniffing the world for young flesh, I might even have believed that my friend and mentor Jake was one of them. That sweet idyll would have been, instead, the summer of my victimization. And instead of opening me, Jake's attentions might have closed me down in fear and confusion.

"The photographs were another kid's idea. Jake and I and a few other campers were messing around in the dining room after supper early in the summer, and a boy named Ezra suggested I model for Jake. Judy would make a gas model, he said. Gas, in 1967, meant cool. And looking back, I have to say, I was a cool kid.

"I wrote poetry; I played guitar and piano pretty well. According to the adults who knew me then, I was precocious and perceptive. My friends remember me as witty and impassioned. I affected a late-beatnik-early-hippie look: skimpy tank tops worn without a bra (I didn't need one anyway), low-slung bellbottoms that revealed the curve of my belly where it dipped between my hipbones.

"Come to think of it, the clothes weren't so different from the ones today's parents (who wore them as kids!) condemn for prematurely ‘sexualizing’ their daughters. The clothes were sexy then; they are sexy now. And to this day I can almost taste how good I felt in them.

"Before that summer, I still considered myself a little ugly and plenty awkward. In my high school, girls like me, who didn't have pageboy haircuts and didn't wear mohair sweaters with matching knee socks – and worse, who were smart – were untouchable.

"At camp, though, I had suitors to spare. That summer several boys pursued me. One wore wire-rimmed glasses – avant-garde at the time. Another kept pleading with me to take my first acid trip with him. I was unmoved. I idolized the glamorous Jake, who had spent a year photographing guerrillas somewhere in Africa, who drove a battered Volkswagen, who meditated at an ashram. And he – miracle of miracles – liked me, a lot.

"He liked me, I felt, and he saw me – saw the person I was beginning to know as myself. I could read his recognition in the photographs. They are straightforward, not arty, not pushy. I posed as I wanted; he shot. My body in them is at that heartstopping stage between baby plump and adolescent fleshy. My face varies from picture to picture: Here I am a giggly kid, here a dreamy near-woman. One photo, which still hangs on my mother's wall, shows me holding Queen Anne's lace, gazing into the distance. It's a bit hokey: I'm working hard at looking soulful. But Jake's camera didn't mock. It's as if he believed I really was thinking deep thoughts.

"What I was thinking about was sex. I tried to seduce him. In the flowery fields where we often went, I struck what I thought were enticing poses, leaning back in the long, scratchy grass, arching my back to reveal a bit of belly, dropping a shoulder so that a strap would fall invitingly off. In the little hand mirror I kept in my bunk, I rehearsed sucking in my cheeks and pouting my lips. And in the evergreen-smelling nights, I fantasized the day Jake would ask me to take my shirt off, brush his lips over my nipples, then pull down the short zipper of my pants. I imagined the bristles of his beard as he kissed me there.

"He never did. In fact, he mentioned sex only once that I remember, as I sat on the counter in his darkroom, watching his red-lit face concentrate on the images emerging in the trays (the smell of developing fluid is still erotic to me).

"He said,

There are two things I know I can't do while I'm working here: smoke pot or make love to a woman. 

"Was that woman me? I closed my eyes for a second and imagined I was, pictured him stepping between my dangling legs, taking my face in his hands, and kissing me. I opened my eyes, unkissed. 

"Maybe Jake considered me a little girl, not a woman at all. But somehow, as he gazed at me through that lens, I began to see myself as a woman, at least a little.

"One hot sunny afternoon, shingling a roof with Jake and some other campers, I admired the muscles of his tan, bare back flexing with each hammer swing. The bitter-salty odor of his sweat drifted toward me on a breeze. 

Hmm, I said to myself, smiling as I noticed that I liked the smell. This must mean I'm growing up.

"Once, skinny-dipping, I felt my body go as liquid as the lake as I watched him climb onto the shore, the red-blond fuzz on his body beaded with water.

"Today, camp policy, like that at many schools and community centers, might forbid Jake and me to spend those hours alone in a dark little room. The camp director might pull him aside and ask pointedly what we were doing out in the fields. A counselor might interrogate me about his actions and insinuate that he was exploiting me. She might even persuade me it was true.

"Of the dozens of rolls he photographed, there are a few shots of me with my shirt off, folk-dancing in a downpour with some other girls. I remember stepping back toward him, breathless and ecstatic, my face hot in the cool rain. You're amazing, he said, and raised his camera again. Today those photographs could be called child pornography, and Jake could be arrested for taking them.

"He never touched me, except to drape an arm over my shoulder or sit close to me on a bench. He kissed me on the lips only once, mouth closed, on the last day of camp – and gave his boots to another girl, throwing me into paroxysms of jealousy. But he made me feel beautiful. He made me feel desirable.

"Recently, the publication of my book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex9 lit a conflagration among conservatives, who called for its suppression – and called me an apologist for, even an advocate of, ‘pedophilia’.

"Why? In one chapter, I suggest that statutory rape laws are often unjust and unrealistic. They not only criminalize consensual teen relationships and categorically deny teens the right to consent to sex, they erase the very possibility that young people might desire – or initiate – sex at all, especially with an older person. At the same time, the book says, we've come to suspect all adults as sexual con artists, cajoling kids through popular culture and advertising to want sex, or seducing or coercing them to have it, before their time. It's as if adults, should they find a young person sexually appealing, could never control their impulses.

"My book acknowledges that kids desire – and I know they do, because I did – and this apparently makes me a ‘pedophile's’ patsy. Writing the book, I often felt lucky that I came of age during the brief moment when young people's sexuality was considered lovely and good and when adults who appreciated it were not regarded as perverts.

"In the summer of '67, a man gave a girl the innocent gift of her emerging erotic self. I wonder if I could receive it with such happiness and grace were I a girl today.”