Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I just finished James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me and, also, William Styron's collection of essays, Havanas In Camelot. New bathroom reading will be Aesop's Fables as retold by Blanche Winder in the Airmont Publishing Company's edition.

Stopped by the Vancouver Library and picked up the Yukio Mishima novel, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, translated by Ivan Morris, and I'm on the last chapter of Light Verse From the Floating World (a collection of senryu from Japan). It was stored in the library's basement because librarians know how important Mishima's work is, but the general public doesn't. Nobody checks him out, literally. I have read several of Mishima's novels in the past and am fascinated by his work. I think I've mentioned him on this blog. His life is full of interesting contradictions, not the least of which is his open homosexuality even though he married a woman and also required her to wear western clothing. My first ever encounter with Mishima's work was seeing the movie, "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea", starring Sarah Miles and Kris Kristofferson. I think this is one of the best movies that Kristofferson was ever in. His personality somehow fitted the character's type. Then I took to reading Mishima's fiction. The bright clarity of his images which have a startling and freezing impact on the senses are a highlight of his work. I once did a study of his novels for my now defunct microzine, George and Mertie's Place. His consciousness is, I think, a wonderful example of the brittle authoritarian personality in a creative mask.


Aside from the moral issue about whether or not trying to control someone else's behavior is right or wrong, the practical problem with trying to control others is that whenever you blame, bribe, complain, criticize, punish, or threaten anyone, they'll resist, says Dr. Glasser. They'll argue. They'll fight. In fact, they'll cajole, ignore, cheat, sneak around behind your back, or do any one of a zillion things they can think of to get you to back off.

It's simply human nature. You're genetically wired to resist being coerced into doing something you don't want to do, Dr. Glasser points out. It may be more pronounced in one person than another, but unless you recognize what you're doing and learn how to get what you need in a relationship without trying to control other people, every relationship you have will disintegrate into a power struggle that will make everyone just plain miserable.

So says Ellen Michaud in an article I found on Huffpo. She was extracting her information from the work of psychiatrist William Glasser, MD, president of the William Glasser Institute in Chatsworth, CA, and author of Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom (HarperCollins, 1999).

I consider myself to have followed just such a controlling and manipulative path as a young to middle-aged husband. I will attest to the fact that it just don't work, specially when you also will not allow yourself to let anyone love you or be close to you even though you spent a lot of effort to win them to your side. Fortunately, my third marriage hurt me so badly when it ended that I decided I "never want to feel this badly again"! And after several years, back when, of personal counseling and one on one work, plus lots of weekend workshops, and a two year stint in a big old rambling farmhouse, much like a monastery, where I spent my mornings (I worked evenings) reading spiritual and inspirational literature (I even read my way through the Psalms, underlining and hi-lighting as I went) I worked my way to the ability to have a solid fourth marriage. I'm serious. If you really want it, you can work your way to it, no matter how old you are. By the way, I wouldn't make this claim if I didn't know that my wife will attest to it.

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