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Post 20

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 5:38pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Cass,

That was an interesting response. I like examples like the one at the end of your response.

I think I may not have made myself clear. You said, "Also, I do see that you are wrestling with the concept of whether homosexuality or indeed any character/ personality / sexuality traits are genetic or 100% volitional and therefor freely chosen."

Actually our, "traits," are 100% genetic, modified by our experience, learning, and choices. But "traits" are only raw material. Some people have very sanguine traits, for example, others might be easily angered or upset. The sanguine fellow might be tempted to let things slide when he knows something ought to be done about them, for his own selfish interest. His feelings, he thinks, say, "I'm happy, aw, it can wait, I don't feel like doing it now," and if he is a SOLOist, since that is the trait he is born with, he will say he will be going against what he is to "repress" that lazy feeling and make himself do what his own reason tells him will be better for him.

We are all born with a unique set of characteristics, talents, inclinations, and emotions, all of which we must learn about and how to use. None of them, in themselves tell us anything about how to use them or react to them. No feeling, desire, or passion ever made anyone do anything. If any did, we would not be volitional beings. Please excuse my laziness, but here is what I mean by volition. It's from one of the permanent articles on The Autonomist, and I've posted here on SOLO before:

Before we go any further, let's get something out of the way. As soon as you mention choice, someone will bring up the question of, "free will." Don't ever get caught in that trap. The meaning of that expression is hopelessly muddled and has nothing to do with this matter of choice.

"Do you really believe people have free will?" you will be asked. "You can't do just anything you want," it will be argued. "People's behavior is determined by many things, their heredity, their subconscious, their environment, their education, their economic status....blah, blah, blah."  

All of that has nothing to do with the fact that to do anything, you must choose to do it. You do not have to study psychology and philosophy for a million years to know this is true. You can test it for yourself, once and for all, and never have to worry about this question again.  

Sit down in a chair somewhere. (You'll have to choose to do it.)

Now make one more choice. Choose not to choose anything else. Just sit there and let your heredity, or your subconscious, or environmental influences, or your education, or your money determine your actions.  

What happens when you do that? Nothing!   If you never choose anything again, you will never do anything again; but notice, even to not choose you must choose.  

The ability to choose, which we call volition, is not about what can be chosen, or how one chooses, or why one chooses, but the fact that a human being not only can choose, but must choose, and that this necessity of choice cannot be avoided or bypassed so long as one is fully conscious.


One choice everyone must make is whether they will be in rational conscious control of their life, or whether they will be ruled, partly or completely, by their whims, desires, and passions. Most individuals make the latter choice. It is not at all unexpected that those who make that choice will exhibit behavior similar to those they are related to, because, in those people, it will be inherited characteristics that dominate their behavior. It is so, because they have chosen to allow their irrational feelings to determine their choices.

I am sometimes asked, "well why do people choose not to be in rational control of their lives?" The fact is, if there were an answer to that question, if there was something that could be pointed as the reason (or cause) for a person's choice, it wouldn't be a choice, would it?

Regi



Post 21

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 12:33amSanction this postReply
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Regi, most of what I wanted to respond to in your post to me has been discussed by others. But I do want to raise one issue.

You wrote: "You cannot get to the argument, 'it is normal,' without getting to the argument, 'they are born that way.'"

Regi, if you are convinced that your sexual preference, that is, heterosexuality, is what you have called "normal," then, by your own statement, you "are born that way." If so, then you did not choose heterosexuality. And by the same reasoning, since sexual preferences are, you say, innate ("normal"), then homosexuals must also be "born that way."

If I understand you, you have defeated your own argument.


Barbara

Post 22

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 12:46amSanction this postReply
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Regi, that's twice now, and in less than a year.

Less than a year ago, you created and provided the clearest exposition of "Existence exists" which I had ever seen. And now look what you've done - you've done the same damn thing with "volition."

I don't know where you get it - it's like you have a secret bottle of "philosophical window-cleaner" that you use to remove smudges, so that you can present things with unprecedented clarity.

Damn praiseworthy exposition, Regi.

Ed

Post 23

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 5:29amSanction this postReply
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Barbara,

Yes, I think most of the issues have been discussed, and I must say, I admire the people on this forum for their self-control and intelligence in discussing this issue which is so potentially emotional. Your question/reasoning is typical of that good discussion.

Regi, if you are convinced that your sexual preference, that is, heterosexuality, is what you have called "normal," then, by your own statement, you "are born that way." If so, then you did not choose heterosexuality. And by the same reasoning, since sexual preferences are, you say, innate ("normal"), then homosexuals must also be "born that way."

I was not born a heterosexual anymore than someone is born a piano player. What we are, we have to choose to be. Within the field of choices, we have to learn which are appropriate to the requirements of our nature, what is "normal" for a human being to do (by which I mean consistent with human nature in all its aspects) and what is not normal (is, in any way, inconsistent with human nature in all its aspects).

We are born with basic desires and urges, but must learn and develop desires for particular things. At birth, all of the passions, feelings, and desires, are undifferentiated and general. As Ayn Rand says, like the  mind, the ability to have emotions, at birth is tabula rasa.

The sexual desires are no different than any others. No one is born with a desire to fulfill the potential of sex in any particular way, what one eventually desires and finds fulfilling has to be learned. How this works wold require a very long discussion, which I am now working on, but most people can figure it out for themselves.

Here is a question. If one had no sexual desires at all, but at some point in their life, they had to decided to be a heterosexual or homosexual, and immediately after choosing, all the the desires appropriate to that choice would be turned on, how would one go about determining which to choose? What possible sound reason would there be for a person to choose to be a homosexual?

In real life, that is exactly what happens, except it is not a single choice, but a multitude of them, and it does not happen in a moment, but from the moment one first begins to think and "feel" about sex until they become adults. The choice is all those choices one makes about what to think when thinking about sex, and how they evaluate the influences and feelings they experience. By the time we become adults, most of us forget all of the choices, all of the things we thought and did in developing those habits of thought and action that now come, "naturally," to us.

Regi


Post 24

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 5:48amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

Your ability to embarrass me knows no bounds. But I do thank you for those kind words.

it's like you have a secret bottle of "philosophical window-cleaner" that you use to remove smudges
 
What an interesting metaphor. If  it were only so. It's not some secret cleaner, its mental elbow grease, I'm afraid.

Less than a year ago, you created and provided the clearest exposition of "Existence exists" which I had ever seen.
 
Do you happen to have a link to it. It sounds really good. I'd like to read it.

Thanks again, Ed!

Regi


Post 25

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 12:24pmSanction this postReply
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Regi, you're welcome. By the way, your clear and concise exposition of Existence Exists is found right here on SOLOHQ: Q & A section; "Problem of Existence Exists" thread; post #4.

http://www.solohq.com/Forum/ObjectivismQ&A/0050.shtml

Ed
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 9/15, 2:16pm)


Post 26

Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 9:33amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

Thanks for the link.

That guy sure writes hard stuff. I had to read it twice to understand it.

Regi


Post 27

Friday, September 17, 2004 - 1:10pmSanction this postReply
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Regi asks:

"Here is a question. If one had no sexual desires at all, but at some point in their life, they had to decided to be a heterosexual or homosexual, and immediately after choosing, all the the desires appropriate to that choice would be turned on, how would one go about determining which to
choose? What possible sound reason would there be for a person to choose to be a homosexual?

Interesting question. In this debate there are two standard views:

1) Sexual orientation is the result of our genes.(Btw, Richard Dawkins has an fascinating take on this view).

2) Sexual orientation is the result of our choices at an early age.

But if we introspect, I think we can see that a percentage of "Homosexuals" could've made these choices because of psychological issues that stunted their sexual nature.

I'm Heterosexual. But suppose I never developed an emotional bond with any women, e.g. mother, friends that are girls, etc. Suppose further, that I was ridiculed by girls of my own age. And then out of fear of dealing with the opposite sex on a sexual level (let alone a non-sexual level)-- where you leave yourself even more open emotionally -- I turn to men. This habit becomes internalized to the point where it's far too difficult and painful to "cure".



Post 28

Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 5:37amSanction this postReply
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Wayne,

Thank you for your reply. I am glad someone noticed this question because I think it is a way at getting to the real nature of the case.

You said:

I'm Heterosexual. But suppose I never developed an emotional bond with any women, e.g. mother, friends that are girls, etc. Suppose further, that I was ridiculed by girls of my own age. And then out of fear of dealing with the opposite sex on a sexual level (let alone a non-sexual level)-- where you leave yourself even more open emotionally -- I turn to men. This habit becomes internalized to the point where it's far too difficult and painful to "cure".
I agree, and happen to know of at least one case which is very similar to that. I do not think that is the only way it comes about, everyone develops and learns along different paths.

I also think that given two different children in the exact same situation, some might, "turn to men," but some would make a different choice. Part of the reason for the difference in their choices would be the differences in their temperaments, those things to which they are sensitive and which do or do not interest them. In that sense, genetics plays a part. It does not cause the choice, but makes it possible for some to make the choice. Others would never be tempted to make that choice in any circumstance.

Thanks again for you interesting comment.

Regi



 




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Post 29

Saturday, October 2, 2004 - 12:06pmSanction this postReply
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One is that at the time I spent in two Australian universities I had to become somewhat closer that I would like with the feminism issue, and I did see women - in two cases who had been in very happy heterosexual relationships, "become" lesbians because they perceived it to be more politically correct in terms of their feminism, ie man-hating philosophy.

In one case, as the woman grew away from feminism she went "back" to a heterosexual relationship. I have observed this to happen quite a bit among certain women, and their homosexual behaviour is very much a matter of choice.

Cass-

As much as I dislike the attitude of the kind of 'women-identified-women' lesbian feminists you describe (who hate me on at least five different grounds), I wouldn't rule out all cases of political sexuality as inauthentic or valueless.

One implication of a volitional theory of sexuality such as supported by Msr. Firehammer is that it's entertainable that erotic responses to aspects of life other than human bodies are possible.  In ordinary sexual encounters, set and setting, diction, clothing, etc. are inextricable from valuation of the human body in the strict sense.  Sexual fantasies are commonly typed by social patterns- from "Favio" romance scripts to Cinderella myths to mainstream porn formulae (sigh), to 'daddy', 'cop, and 'miltary' roles in the gay leather community, to lesbian butch/dyke role playing, etc.  In the BDSM scene, sexual response is focused on relations of power, and physical attractiveness is in distant second place as a focus of sexual arousal to the drama of relation and sensation.  And it's no accident that people go out on dates to the theatre and the cinema!  In all of these cases, some more familiar than others, sexuality is not reducible to a 'natural' focus of human seuxality

The same with poltics.  I think it is quite concievable that a poltical lesbian may experience intense sexual arousal as part of a commitment to athrilling political experience, and I see nothing wrong with the integration fo sexuality and politics in such a case.  It's been often noted- by critics, nonetheless- that leftist protests are often more an excuse for artistic and erotic posturing than responsible poltical action; I agree, but I think this is partially a point in favor of the left.  Modern rock music hasn't quite reached the point of sex on stage, but both the rhythm of the music and the dynamics of star and audience are patterned wholecloth from ancient Pagan sex rituals- see Nietzsche's _Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music_ or attend Burning Man out here on the West Coast.  I myself have been sexually aroused by the passionate delivery of philosophical speeches on completely nonsexual issues- this was at a seminar sponsored by the libertarian Institute for Humane Studies a few years ago.

In sum, I think that our culture's reduction of eroticism to a matter of physical bodies commanding some innate quota of attraction is a myth; I think that sexuality is potentially diffuse, investable in any kind of physically present excitement, and I think we should cultivate this human potential.  If you've ever seen an original manuscript of Blake's _Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience_ you should be familiar with this kind of aesthos, which has been advocated as figures as diverse as Walt Whitman and the early Plato.  Although a great deal of lesbian political sexuality is undoubtably quite inauthentic and evasive posing, it does not follow that all of it is so.  And Adrienne Rich, the primary recent exponent of the "sleeping with the enemy" thesis, may be a nun in search of a convent, but she has a point when she attacks 'compulsory heterosexuality" as a central power structure in a society that demands individuals conform to a certain family structure whether or not that furthers their pursuit of happiness.  I think it's possible, paraphrasing Marx, to separate the empowering kernel in lesbian feminism from its enervating shell.

with my regards,

 - from a feminist, romantic femme, and hardly a man-hater
Jeanine Ring  {))(*)((}
stand forth!

"All you pretty pretenders, negligent vendors,
'Aren't you precious inside?'
I have no need for anger with intimate strangers
'cause, I have nothing to hide."

 - Indigo Girls, alternative musicians,
   who happen to be lesbian feminists.

P.S.  I'm not in love with the main currents of Australian feminism myself, believe me... a bunch of those are currently crashed in Berkeley doing their best to keep life miserable for myself and my colleagues.  And they are *ugly* girls, and their language foul beyond belief- made me feel sick, literally.
Yick!


Post 30

Saturday, October 2, 2004 - 4:12pmSanction this postReply
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Wayne Simmons wrote:

"I'm Heterosexual. But suppose I never developed an emotional bond with any women, e.g. mother, friends that are girls, etc. Suppose further, that I was ridiculed by girls of my own age. And then out of fear of dealing with the opposite sex on a sexual level (let alone a non-sexual level)-- where you leave yourself even more open emotionally -- I turn to men. This habit becomes internalized to the point where it's far too difficult and painful to "cure"."

For this theory of volitional homosexuality to hold water, you'd have to show me some pretty strong correlation between sexual preference and woman-aversion. Anecdotally, I know gay men who love their sisters, have great relationships with their mothers, and lots of female friends. I know some gay men who dated, had sex with, and even married women. This theory cannot explain these common facts, so while it might be intersting supposition, I do not think it holds up.

Post 31

Saturday, October 2, 2004 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
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"I think it's possible, paraphrasing Marx, to separate the empowering kernel in lesbian feminism from its enervating shell."

I do not think that there is anything truly empowering in feminism. Sure, it can gtive a person a false esteem. The problem with feminism generally is that it is tribalism, attempting to assign rights to 'women' when there is no such unified group. It's a context problem, too. Fighting for ~human~ rights and ~individual~ freedom and autonomy takes care of all 'feminist' issues. Lesbianism has nothing to do with feminism. But I would agree that women are more likely to have sex with other women when called on to do so socially than men. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that no social situation could ever persuade me to have sex with, or make out with, a man. (Unless he was really cute, he had a nice car, or there wer esubstantialy sums of money involved) But I have dated more than a couple women that could not say the same. ;>)

Post 32

Sunday, October 3, 2004 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
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I apologize for posting a comment in this thread but I canít resist and least one observation:

None of you sound like you have ever been passionately, sexually and profoundly in love; one that your self-esteem glories in.

Sorry, two points. By some I am known as Michael"Fuck Objectivism" Newberry, that title came about by a young guy trying to rationally deduct which girl he should go for: the one which he was passionately and emotionally connected to who was not an Objectivist or the one who was an Objectivist but which he a luke-warm connection to. In that context I posted that he should "fuck Objectivism" and go for the girl he was passionate about. But I thought he was making a mistake anyway for asking what anyone thought.

There is a huge category of important choices we face that are not philosophically deducted: what would I love to do for living? what art do I like? who do I love? All of the things that are your personal desires, likes, and loves.

Objectivism is a great tool to achieve your ends; but it will not supply you with those ends.

Which brings me back to your posts; I don't hear, in the tone or style, the significance of exalted love. That alone doesn't make me want fuck with any of you!

 

MFON



Post 33

Sunday, October 3, 2004 - 7:18pmSanction this postReply
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Hey Scott! you wrote: "In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that no social situation could ever persuade me to have sex with, or make out with, a man."

But what about all the other non-social situations?

;)

Michael


Post 34

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 12:23amSanction this postReply
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> do not think that there is anything truly empowering in feminism. Sure, it can gtive a person a false esteem. The problem with feminism generally is that it is tribalism, attempting to assign rights to 'women' when there is no such unified group. It's a context problem, too. Fighting for ~human~ rights and ~individual~ freedom and autonomy takes care of all 'feminist' issues.

Scott-

With all do respect, I believe this is a misundersding of feminism.  Feminism is not essentially about the proper functions of the state,but about what are just and valuable social relation.  Feminists in general believe that today's social structures create injustice to women, and this should be changed.  Assigning rights to "women" as such is not somethign I endorse as a feminist,and poltically Iam a libertarian who would gladly sign the U.S. LP platform into law tomorrow.

Feminism don't hold any one set up political views- there are feminists who are anarchists, libertarians, moderates, liberals, socialists, and apoltical- and feminism contains many philsophical strains within it.  Personally, my version of feminsim is the support for a society which promotes the view that people are first and foremost people, and that sex is a fact which people may make of what they will.  That is certainly compatible witha classical liberal, universal "human rights" position.  But just as Objectivists want a society that is more than free; they wish a society that promotes ratioanlity, independence, and romanticism- so I want a society not dominated by the myths and institutions of patriarchy.  There is nothing tribal about it; indeed, my whole view is that we should destroy the tribal indentities of "man" and "woman".  Male and female exist, but the rest is social convention- as Simone de Beavoiur said, "one is not born a woman, one becomes one."  This view is extremely individualist, but it means vast change to a society which still endorses "family values" and accepts the latest muscle-mysticism of social Darwinism as gospel... or for that matter where a significant portion of the young are still taught that their destiny lies in marriage in traditional sex roles.

Proper feminism should be individualist; proper individualism should be feminist.  But this means trying to change the bad ideas reigning around us, and far more that just legal equality.

As for empowerment and self-esteem, to me feminism gane me the weapons to wage a war for my own self-esteem.  Just as Randian egoism gave me the armor to shrug off demands for guilty altruism, so feminism allowed me to see a lifetime of torturous gender role demands as an evil to be fought in the world and rejected in one's soul.  I then found the courage to come out as transgender and actually become a girl, but that's another story.

> Lesbianism has nothing to do with feminism. But I would agree that women are more likely to have sex with other women when called on to do so socially than men. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that no social situation could ever persuade me to have sex with, or make out with, a man. (Unless he was really cute, he had a nice car, or there wer esubstantialy sums of money involved) But I have dated more than a couple women that could not say the same. ;>)

Thinking of going gay-for-pay, are we?  (amused)  Well, if you ever want to make some tax-free money, I know a male escort here in S.F. who might be able to hook you up with someone... of course, I'd take my standard referral fee.

But seriousuly, your post above shows why feminism has historically both attracted lesbians and encouraged lesbianism.  Most males take their perfect heterosexuality as a basis of self-esteem, the result of which is that eho and image get in the way of sex.  When females become politicized as feminists against a society where so many issues of ego and status become invested in heterosexual relations, many decide to explore lesbian options.

As for saying no situation could encourage you to a homosexual affair... well, there's nothing wrong with being a guy who only likes girls.. but I'd be careful at tempting Eros, mon amie!  Wonders are many, but none is more wonderful than man.

BTW, I'm not claiming lesbian culture is a picnic free of power arrangements.  Anything but.  The lesbian matriarchy are a bunch of sex-hating, self-hating Lilian Reardens to make the skin crawl who do their best to use guilt and manipualtion to push newcomers to the community into party lines.  Fortunately, the pro-sex wing of feminism has recently challenged them successfully enough that there are alternate currents within lesbian culture, which I'ma part of, as sex-worker radicalism and pro-sex feminism have an extreme degree of overlap.

It might help also to keep in mind that lesbianism, like gayness, means botha sexual orientation and a certain subculture.  Andrew Sullivan is certainly a gay man, but he's not part of gay culture.  And there are people who are part of gay culture who aren't even men!

Life in complicated and varied, and always has been.

Jeanine Rinf {))(*)((}
stand forth!


Post 35

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 12:45amSanction this postReply
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Newberry-

>None of you sound like you have ever been passionately, sexually and profoundly in love; one that your self-esteem glories in.

No apologies neccesary.  Call 'em like you see 'em.

But you are in fact wrong.  I was a guy at the time; she was a socialist philosophy student who was the first equal I had ever known.  We teased each other about politics while wrapped about each other on the roofs of college dormitories.  I remember what it was like, living with time slowed.  The passion gave me the courage to seek by freedom from my family; I wrote poetry to her, we slept together breifly... then she,who had been terribly hurt by men in the past, panicked at the intamacy and slammed the door.  I screamed at her and wanted to die; now, having read feminist theory and experienced life as a woman, I understand her and shudder at my completely well-intended actions.

I know what love is, and have had other loves not as strong but real, before and after transitioning.  I've had a great deal of nonromantic sex too, and I don't pretend they're the same thing... they definitely are not.

Actually, I am in love wrong now; I am in fact engaged to someone I love badly enough to die for.  But I absolutely refuse to say more on this, as it is a very nonstandard situation I do not expect anyone here to understand.  Of the more common variants of romantic love, I do not expect to find it in this world; as a transgender woman in a world where persons I can really respect are rare, and TG-friendly lesbians (or very androgynous males) worthy of respect are far rarer, it's a hopeless proposition.  Nor is my life one which makes romantic love easy.  But I have a wonderful life rich in other values; it's not a choice I regret, just part of the Price.

Just because I deal with erotic attraction per se in the above writing does not mean I don't value romantic love, which is erotic attraction integrated with admiration and friendship. It just wasn't what I was talking about at the time.  Of course, everything I say about erotic attraction allows romantic love in the same respect where admiring friendshipis present.  Romance=philia+eros.

Jeanine RIng {))(*)((}
stand forth!


Post 36

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 7:39amSanction this postReply
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Mistah Newberry:

I have been in love a few times. In fact, I fall in love all over again every time I see Angelina Jolie. I may fall in love with Jennifer Iannolo when I see her in the FreeRad.

That attracted to men stuff was for humor value only. Believe me, I think bi-sexuals are probably the luckiest people in the world--you can score with ~everybody~! Woo-hoo!

Jeanine Ring:

Women and men are different in obvious and not so obvious ways. It's my position that folks would notice the obvious differences whether indoctrinated into a 'patriarchal system' or not. Defining the issues and problems first and foremost as gender issues misses the point. Individual freedom is what its about. Whatever legitimate beefs feminists have are addressed by making individual freedom a priority. The feminists crap (which I suspect is probably fringe-feminist rhetoric, anyway)--like eliminating masculine pronouns, etc., is pointless. It accentuates (and defines its membership by) the very differences that feminism demonizes 'patriarchal institutions' for paying attention to in the first place.

Post 37

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 12:34pmSanction this postReply
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Ahhhhhh...come on Scott your cheating. Actresses, nudes in paintings, people in novels don't count...

Post 38

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 2:35pmSanction this postReply
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I love someone.

I love someone the way you love someone with no doubt. Like ten million years ago we were dust on the same leaf. I feel like our souls are twin.

When he talks, his face is golden and sparkling, he is radiant! Ethereal! His eyes are like a life force that I can't look away from and I want to laugh and laugh. I hold on to his hands like they are my connection to the real world.

I finally understand what was meant by hero worship.

Post 39

Monday, October 4, 2004 - 3:11pmSanction this postReply
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In response to Ashley's last post: YES!!!

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