I want to discuss a common thread that I am noticing when I look back in retrospect to my life, from my early years in Jordan (2000) up to now in France, this common thread is domination. I noticed a long the path both subconsciously and consciously domination in almost every aspect concerning my relationships with my self, others, and the environment. I will try to share few thoughts with you and again, I hope to make you relate with your own stories and maybe share some with me as well.
I would like to mention that writing about these ideas is difficult, and with no time to research some of these, it really boils down to just my personal thoughts. I will be talking about video games, football, relationships, music, and mountains.
From my early video gaming years, I was obsessed with RPG games. I had to spend long hours raising my character to a very high level, I was also obsessed with finding every single weapon and item there is and fighting every single hidden boss in the game. if I didn't, I would feel a void and a sense of disappointment with my self. This can be connected to desire to experience a piece of art fully, and a strong sense of ambition, I agree. I also think it can be connected to a strong sense of me wanting to "dominate" the object which I am interacting with.
This became clear recently when I played a game with Claire called Don't Starve. The open world concept gave me difficulty because in an open world game you can't dominate the game since there is no end (by definition it is open!). Claire was experimenting the game for what it is, she enjoyed the animation, the concept, the cute characters, and exploring things as she walks along. She also experimented a lot with the game asking questions that I would think are stupid (to my surprise the game confirmed most of her questions). she was also having A LOT of fun.
On the other hand, I spent long hours researching the best strategy to win, tested all of them out, then came up with mine, and played etc etc. I felt a strong desire to dominate the game and get on with it. My enjoyment came from me dominating all the tricks of the game, rather than "interacting" with the game.
This concept of interacting doesn't get much clearer than Call of duty games, and GTA. I dislike these games now because the game is built around the concept of "dominating" others. Watch any video of people playing these games online and you'll notice it right away. You get awarded by having quick head shots on the spot. you play online with teammates but actually it is all about you dominating everybody. people don't enjoy the game, they're enjoying dominating others without the actual blood and crime involved. I used to be a huge fan of COD games because I had the ideal I would be playing online with teammates who are smart enough to understand what "capture the flag" is. Almost always though, I was repeatedly frustrated with people who just don't play. This was confusing at first, but after much observation and conversations with my students, I can say that the point is not to interact with the game, but to dominate opponents.
To finish up, I have decided to replay Final Fantasy 9 and 10, plus Kingdom hearts series. I am also playing Pokemon and Golden sun. I started with Pokemon, and I have to say it is very difficult to change my "gaming" mentality. However, the more I think about it, the more I am determined.
The same can be said about football. Last Wednesday I watched UEFA Champions league match between PSG and Chelsea, when PSG scored their goals, all the PSG fans where jumping with their middle fingers in the air. Now, just ask your self, why would bunch of people (together, unanimously at the same time) middle finger other bunch of people because a group of 11 players managed to score a goal against another group of 11 players. I think there are many answers, but one of them is the desire of domination.
we are always dominated by our boss, our work, our environment, our unnatural relation to the world, relationships with others, and stress. I think we want to redirect some of this negativity. Logically, we have experience the most with domination because we are DOMINATED all the time. Thus it is the first method we refer to when dealing with others. Being an audience member in a football game is an example of our primal domination instincts in competing with other "hostile" beings. stories of violence, racism and domination are endless when it comes to sports.
Notice how in less competitive games, like curling, marathons, and so on, people don't tend to middle finger each other ! Maybe it is due to lack of intensity, or perhaps less competitive sport.
Domination and football hurt me personally in the sense that I don't have people to play with. every time I engage in a football game, people are not interested in passing the ball and playing the "beautiful" game. instead, they stupidly always show off their skills of 1 against 5, fail, yell, make a fight, and game over. Also, race always plays a part, if you don't like a person the easiest thing to do is to say is "pass me the ball Asian". Again, sense of domination. I am better than you in skills, race, and so on, therefore I am going to dominate you, ruin your experience of the game and make sure it is about me.
notice how illogical and destructive this mentality is!
Relationships are a whole different story, but this is more of me dominating rather than observing it. I have to admit my horrible record when it comes to relationships. However, every time I analyze a failure, I keep noticing it was "me" who failed due to my desire to dominate.
in my early teen aging years it was the standard "I want to date the prettiest girl so I can show her off to my friends". Prime example of domination for the sake of me obtaining an object rather than "interacting" with my partner. result: fail.
later one, my domination made a maneuver towards the mysterious. In Early Canada years I had a strong "crush" on a certain girl, looking back at it now it is properly the worst decision (it was not really a decision, it was complete free fall) ever. She told me it won't work, I ignored her. Really though, I just wanted to dominate (by dominate I mean successfully acquire her heart) a girl from a different culture, and background as me. I did not understand her, her music, her food, her clothes, her habits, her language, and her thoughts.
Same happened with another girl who liked Heavy metal and looked like a cool punk-emo-gothic hybrid. another with purple hair highlights, loves drama, music, and helping others while internally suffering. another who was mysterious with "deep" thoughts and long hair. and one who was from abroad studying at the university, deep thoughts and dreams and again, internal suffering.
in all my crushes and "fall" in love (I did not mention all btw!), I failed miserably because at the core of the relationship, I think I was more obsessed with dominating the unknown, the mysterious, and their "suffering. I felt like if I can make them happy, and understand them, then maybe it validates who I am and makes me a happy person. I think now though, this was more of me wanting to dominate a being to feel good about my self rather than "share" my self. I am glad these relationships failed at early stages, something so unnatural cannot survive for a very long time, and if it did, it will either fail eventually with a lot of pain. Or, I have to sacrifice so much in order to maintain it.
I want to start talking about how I managed to subconsciously defeat my dominating nature. First step was to be aware of it, and there is nothing I would give credit to more than Erich Fromm's Art of Love. It changed my life and I believe it is must read for all.
Fromm goes in deep lengths talking about how we love things to fill voids in us, and how we create artificial symbols that satisfy what we think is what we need, and end up depressed. Then, he talks about positive love, which is when we love things for what they are, not because they are the best, but because they are just what is. Example: life, I love life with all its negativity. I love my self, with all my inabilities and sadness, I love my enemy because they are humans (I still can oppose them, and fight them, my love is manifested in respecting them, and their rights).
After forming the concept, second step is to assimilate it into my life. The two prime methods for me were Music (my primary life passion, also my profession), and Mountains (my second passion, and Hobby). Both my profession and my hobby(ies) have to work hand in hand to share similar learning experiences. If they are both in sync, then I am exposed to long hours of acquiring the same life skills.
In my early years, I was so obsessed with learning a piece of music the quickest way possible, the coolest way possible. I did not learn essential things such as patience, phrasing, and technical mastery. It was thanks to my professional training and rigorous 5 years with my teacher Ralph Maier (and every single piece I played in that period) that I was forced (more like voluntarily and absolutely loving it) to interact with an object rather than dominate it.
Dominating a piece prevented me from performing it naturally, and it also prevented me from appreciating it, and from accessing my "mental zone" before performing. On the other hand, the pieces I was able to fully integrate into my body, I can perform them easier than their counterparts, and I enjoy the process a lot more.
Studying music, art, and philosophy, with the help of Fromm, have also increased my sensitivity to my surroundings with the added bonus of truly absorbing the "emotional" qualities of pieces I resonate with. I am confident to say that my ability to relate in such a way with music was very natural from the start (maybe why I picked music as profession), but now it is much more mature, and sophisticated, and it developed to the point where my attention span have expanded to allow me to listen to works I thought inaccessible before.
I can draw similar analogies to mountains and nature. Mountains are very difficult, and require a lot of effort to hike. in my beginnings, the objective was the summit and the summit photo. I truly felt a strong desire to dominate the mountain, even my dialogue after the hike was about me dominating the mountain. slowly though, through practice, hiking even more difficult mountains, and through interacting with different people, mountains, weathers, and a little bit of humility, I was able to change my experience of the mountains to that of love and appreciation rather than negative domination.
It is this experience that I try to share through my mountain videos, and my students. Positive domination of your fears, goals and ambitions, while experiencing the now, and truly appreciating the intrinsic qualities of the object/person you are dealing with.
this might be the first step to happiness, for me? I was able to meet Claire, and every day we share each others joy and sorrow. the times we fight have only been moments where one of us wanted to dominate the other.
what about you?
post blog comment: I want you to scroll up now, watch the video, and look at the picture from Jordanian hikes in Wadi Rum, and see if you can decipher a bit on your own :).
- Keep in mind that Domination has links to biology, economy, politics, evolution, sex, long history in arts of all mediums, and much much more. This is just an overly simplistic discussion of domination to get you to think of the concept in simple day to day life.
These are short comments I post as I navigate through waters.