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Passions in Poetry

If you label me, you negate me

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Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 03-24-2000 05:20 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

"If you label me,
            you negate me."
               Kierkgaard

I can't go into detail yet but I was wondering if it  is possible not to label others?
Tony Di Bart
Member
since 01-26-2000
Posts 163
Toronto, Canada


1 posted 03-24-2000 10:00 PM       View Profile for Tony Di Bart   Email Tony Di Bart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tony Di Bart

Hey Brad.  

I am constantly looking out for you thought provoking question.

I think that to answer this philosphically one must look at this from two diffrent view points.  The short of it is yes.  The long of it is no.  

The long one first.  We, as humans use language to communicate.  Language is because of it's nature, dependent on labels. Each word actually represents an infinite amount of labels or pictures for a particular thing. So if we are hunmans and we are and we use language to communicte and we are then we must label.  

However, to live with out labels is to live without meaning.  Is that possible yes. But I think it takes a lot of work.  I would venture to say  that one must be enlightened. Such as the person who's quote you have used.

I bet you have a mental picture tof who I am.   I certainly have one of you.

That's it for now.  What do you think?

warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


2 posted 03-25-2000 01:14 AM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

I agree, Tony, that we do need to have some labels, defined as "a descriptive term, an epithet", or "to identify or classify" persons, schools of thought, etc.

I think both definitions often apply as one, as in the term "mentally-ill". There is no place on an anatomical chart that one could find the mind. There is a brain, however,and if there must be a label, then it sould be " brain illness", because that's what it is...a genetic, physiological illness, just as heart disease and diabetes(and other chronic physical illnesses) are labeled.

The label of "mental illness" can be more devastating than the illness itself at times, because of the stigma attached to it. One woman I spoke with said that she felt that she had the words "mentally ill" emblazoned across her forehead, as she had faced so much rejection after her diagnosis.
This also enables insurance companies to allot less insurance dollars for a mental, rather than a physical illness. Most "mental" illnesses have been proven to be physical, as I said above, so how is it that these companies can continue to afford different coverage? It's all in the labels attached, classifying one group as different from another.

Other labels are equally harmful. Children put in special education, and separated from their peers suffer tremendously. They are teased, taunted, and called, "dummy". They rarely reach their potential. Those children who are mainstreamed, but just pulled out of the class two or three hours a week for special treatment do much better. So that's an answer for that situation.

The above are negated by the labels attached to them, and there are many more situations in which the labels placed upon people override who they are.

We all have a multitude of labels. For example, I am a Finnish American, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a Democrat, a college-graduate, a therapist, a driver, over-forty, a poet, a writer, a gardener, a reader, a romantic, a traveler, a type of perfectionist, a caregiver, artistic, creative, patient, a smoker, often late, a worrier,...I could go on and on. These types of labels are usually benign (except smoker). Do they negate me? I don't think so...they are putting me into groups, but they are also descriptive. It doesn't mean that's exactly or all I am. They do not put me in a box, and restrict my growth, nor allow for changes

It is the harmful labels that negate people, box them in...most often the slang terms for groups of people.

A quote from Kierkegaard:
"Since earliest childhood an arrow of grief has been buried in my heart. As long as it stays there I am ironic—if it is drawn out, I'll die" (from the Journals, VII 1 A 205).

His father was thought to be "insane", and I suspect that Kierkegaard inherited a bit of his father's propensity toward an absurdity in thought patterns. He also says that his "depression has been the most faithful mistress I have known..."  

The statement about labels might be applied to his multiple pseudonimity of authorship, believing that the writings should be judged for what they were, not by who wrote them. Yet, he applied many labels to himself in his writings. It seems he believed that this statement about labels also meant only those labels which he believed harmful.

Of poets, he says, "What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music."  Though his description is, in itself, poetic...he is, essentially, applying a label.

So, I think that we cannot escape labels, but only try to change those that are misleading or harmful, and that is a giant undertaking.

JMHO........(those are for Trev)   Kris

[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 03-25-2000).]
Stephen Jones
Member
since 02-26-2000
Posts 58


3 posted 03-25-2000 02:02 AM       View Profile for Stephen Jones   Email Stephen Jones   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Stephen Jones

My thoughts on labels?

They are inescapable and unavoidable.  But some things must be remembered about them.  When is a label wrong in real life?  When it is false (like false advertising or deception about a product or negative slander about a person), when it is not changed when the product itself changes (ie ingredients, or updated appropriate packaging etc... or refusal to believe that people can change so we say that's just the way they are, forever!), when it is too general (like plain boxes labeled "shoes" without brand, size, style or anything else indicated, or like stereotyping people not recognizing individuality, worth, etc...)or even when it is misapplied mistakenly (oops that doesn't cost .99 it costs $99!, or when ideas about certain kinds of people are applied without malice but mistakenly).  
To me these are the negative sides to labeling.
However it is a vain thought to escape labeling for it is a means to identification.  People label people like it or not!  They always have and always will.  Even you do and so do I.  The question to me is are we willing to recognize labels for what they are, which is 1)possibly wrong, 2)temporary, and 3) not the product itself.  It is the proper use of labels which is needed in my opinion, not the negation of them.  I don't want to judge what anyone has quoted especially if I am unfamiliar with the context in which it was stated, but to me if one labeling me "negates" me, then I am weak.  If I know I am more than a label then how am I ultimately negated?  The desire to be without any sort of label or identity seems akin to the hinduistic concept of ultimate spiritual arrival which is nothingness ... dissolution into the cosmic sea.  Pantheistic religion where every separate part is engulfed again into a whole which lacks identity or any individual awareness.  This to me tips the scale into what I think of as "too spiritual", or pseudo-spiritual.  Are we to become so "Nirvana" that we cease to be ourselves?  I do believe in an afterlife, but feel strongly that it is more accurately described by Judeo-Christian terms.  God is Transcendent, yet he also had a name, or many names by which he revealed himself.  If he should not be so super spiritual as to reject labels, should we?  Many negate God by denying his own self determined labels.  Some say any name for deity refers ultimately to God (whether Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Christ, Micky Mouse, etc...).  We would be appalled for people to refer to us as just any old name in our daily lives would we not?  What confusion that would be!  I believe it is the same with the divine Person.  So in my final analysis labels aren't always bad, they just need to be rightly applied, and recognized which are of God and which are the flimsy paper labels of man (which aren't always bad but are often misapplied and have to be changed and renewed.)
Besides all of this show me one person who isn't labeled by someone, somehow.  


 
Ryan
Member
since 06-10-99
Posts 318
Kansas


4 posted 03-25-2000 12:41 PM       View Profile for Ryan   Email Ryan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ryan

If someone labels you, are you truly negated, or just negated in that person's mind?  And in that case, which matters, his opinion of you or your opinion of you?

Ryan


 I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
—Jack Kerouac

Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


5 posted 03-25-2000 05:39 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I certainly agree with most of what has been said. I also agree that labels are unavoidable and am intrigued by the modifications of negative/positive/nuetral and accurate/inaccurate modifications.  Just curious but who would be the one to make these distinctions?  People judge, no way to get around that but what I'm struck by is the indeterminate nature of most labels in an attempt to determine something -- in how little they really say. On the other hand, how nuetral is nuetral? If we apply an apparently innocuous label of someone or something, aren't we still getting caught up in any particual society's prejudices and conventions?

Combined with labels, I am also intrigued by the seeming 'permanence' that so many people associate with labeling. It's as if once someone makes a judgement, that judgement is accurate for all time (I also see a certain self-satisfaction in half smiles after the judgement has been made).  I was thinking of an article I read a while back concerning an old teacher and student. The student wanted to explain how much she had changed and the teacher said that she still saw the same person she had taught in kindergarten. Were there similarities? No doubt. Still, I think the teacher was looking for aspects that she remembered, found them, and looked no further. She had already made up her mind so to speak. The article continued to describe the tension between permanent identity and change and yet nowhere was the teacher's judgement suspect. I think we, to a large extent, see what we expect to see; it saves us the effort and time of actually seeing more, actually thinking more.

This also works its way around to the 'essence' of a person as the imporant part with everything else as superfluous.

Anyway, we have to use labels but why do they have to be permanent? Okay, that's the wrong way to say that. Why do we think these labels are permanent and not tentative grasps at dealing with the world?

Ryan,
What about the other way around? What about your opinion of him?  What if you want to influence this person and he consistently puts you into a category that he dismisses?  Also, where does that opinion of yourself come from?

I don't have any easy answers,
Brad  
Tony Di Bart
Member
since 01-26-2000
Posts 163
Toronto, Canada


6 posted 03-25-2000 07:15 PM       View Profile for Tony Di Bart   Email Tony Di Bart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tony Di Bart

Brad

Labels ar emuch like opions.  Most of the  time they are personal and made up by the labeler.  So I consider labels like opions.

Also, with regards to  the pemenance of labels and why we behave that they are. I think that it helps define who we are. Labels are a saftey net.  They give us a permance in an uncertain world.  " I am such"

That's my opinion or label of the whole situation.

See ya
Ryan
Member
since 06-10-99
Posts 318
Kansas


7 posted 03-26-2000 12:11 PM       View Profile for Ryan   Email Ryan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ryan

You're right, Brad, no easy answers.  In a perfect world, your opinion of you would come from only you.  You would also not be trying to influence someone else's opinion on you because your opinion of you is all that matters.  Also, my opinion of someone else (still, in a perfect world) shouldn't negate him because his opinion of himself should be all that matters to him.  Of course, this isn't a perfect world, and we all know that none of what I've just said occurs very often.  Of course, if it did, I guess we would have a very self-centered society, which could be scary.  Everybody thinks that they're right and no one else's opinion matters.  Maybe in that way, we do need labels, so that we can relate to others and see that their opinions are equally as important as ours.  Just a thought.

Ryan


 I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
—Jack Kerouac

Mellon Collie
Junior Member
since 03-25-2000
Posts 49
united states of america


8 posted 03-26-2000 03:59 PM       View Profile for Mellon Collie   Email Mellon Collie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mellon Collie's Home Page   View IP for Mellon Collie

i dont think that labels themselves are a bad thing.  as was already noted, language in its nature necessitates them.  i have always believed that it is when labels are applied to a person or to a group of people with haste or ignorance that problems occur.  no one person will conform completely to any stereotype, and i would hold that when mankind understands this then labels will no longer be an absolutist system of categorization (such as they seem to be now: whites, blacks, jews, christians) but rather a system of the identification of an individual along certain limited lines with another group with similar characteristics in that specific area.  for example, many might believe that because i am female that i am over-emotional and sensitive, when in fact i may be neither of those things.  i may simply be physiologically female.  in conlusion to my ramble, i dont believe that labels are bad, i believe that the stereotyping mindset many of us have is what causes the problems.

sincerely,
the beautiful freak
jbouder
Member Elite
since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


9 posted 03-27-2000 11:01 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hey Guys:

Good question here, Brad.  I can't say I disagree with much that has already been said.  I, personally, have had to consider the possible negative consequences of my son being labeled "autistic" when, before he was formally diagnosed, I resisted the label until the developmental psychologists and other professionals could defend their application of that particular label.  I suppose it is this kind of labeling that our Swedish buddy had in mind when he coined that quote.  He is dubbed the "Father of Existentialism", btw, isn't he? lol.  Poor guy couldn't escape the labels, could he?

I think labels become damaging when they become prescriptive rather than descriptive.  I've noticed that many people I've worked with in the past have been quite title-happy and pretty sensitive about the application of certain titles.  The secretary took offense to people calling themselves secretaries if they were "merely" administrative assistants and people with paralegal certificates got upset when those without certificates called themselves paralegals even when the non-certified were doing the exact same jobs as the certified paralegals.  Certified idiocy, if you ask me.  

In the case of my son, the label of autism becomes particularly damaging if it becomes separated from the conditions that are associated with autism.  If my son begins talking and interacting like normal children and no longer shows the symptoms that are commonly associated with autistic spectrum disorder is he still autistic?  

This is not an easy question to answer.  The way I have handled it in the past was to try to choose my battles wisely.  I forced the professionals to convince me why autism spectrum disorder was an appropriate label for my son because I thought a misapplied label could be detrimental to my son's future happiness.  The job-title thing ... well ... I chose to make fun of those petty people in private because I knew that an complete alphabet of letters behind someone's name does not make someone a better worker and I had better things to do than to fret over something so minor ... like spending time at PIP, for example.  

Gotta go now.

Jim

warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


10 posted 03-27-2000 12:48 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Jim,

I wondered when you were going to show up. I knew that your son would be brought to mind by this question. I hope he is doing well.

I totally agree with you about the job titles...they mean nothing. What matters is if you can do the job, and do it right. But our society is built upon labels (sadly), not only descriptive, as job titles would supposedly be, but these labels are placed in a hierarchy, or graded rank...and that is often negating.

Kris

P.S.
I was searching for something you'd written, so I could reply...notice the number of posts I've had, and remember your 500th? I was the lucky recipient then, and I wanted you, who has taught me so much, and been a good friend, to be the recipient of my milestone reply. Thank you for everything, JB...Does this mean I've graduated?????  

jbouder
Member Elite
since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


11 posted 03-27-2000 01:04 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Welcome to Senior Membership, Kris.  Sorry, you don't get a pen with you name engraved on it or a Passions in Poetry pin (although maybe you should ... I'll ask Ron).

Jim

P.S. I think you've graduated once you make the Top 50 Posters list under "Members" on the index page.    Actually, I hope none of us graduate.  It seems those who stop being students have a curious tendency to stop being learners too.  Congrats again, Kris.  
 
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