Phony Strictness

I wonder what part of a person is the part where discipline resides. Is the part where rules we impose on ourselves also where rules we impose on others can be located? Is there really a place? It’s a bit of a medieval way of thinking of the body to posit that a certain humour can be found in more abundance somewhere in comparison to everywhere else. Or is it Nineteenth Century? Perhaps that’s more it: like the Craniology approach, where specific parts of the head/brain/cranium indicate criminal aptitude or kindness or intelligence, and that if there’s a lump or protrusion then the subject was obviously more inclined to being a bank robber or some other kind of misfit. After hangings in the Nineteenth Century, bodies of deceased prisoners were examined by doctors (as one might expect) and a report, something like a modern autopsy, was made. But much of the “analysis” was based on an examination of the cranium, and most of what was written would be considered quite laughable by a Twenty-First Century audience.

Maybe there’s no location in the body, or head, or heart. But I feel that discipline in me is an underdeveloped organ, if that isn’t stretching too far the medical nature of this rambling idea I’m trying like mad to form into something that at the very least makes some sort of sense. Without getting religious – it scares the horses, who may or may not go to Heaven with the sheep (a Cake song told us that, and it also told us that goats go to Hell … but the Bible told us something similar, quite a number of years before the song was written) – it seems as if the amount of discipline in my soul is less than it ought to be. It just isn’t in me.

For one, as far as personal discipline is concerned, I am lazy and need encouragement and boundaries and rules. I don’t enjoy many things about encouragement, boundaries, or rules, but I need them. At least this is something I can work on myself. Impose them on me. I’ve learnt that I can do it: the revelation was finding out how. But discipline in the secondary sense: imposing limits and punishment on others is something I’m ratshit (as we sometimes used to say at school) at. In some ways I see myself as a potentially decent to good school teacher, but I just couldn’t do it. Even if some kid has been a little smartarse and obviously needs a telling off, I doubt I’d be capable. Maybe I just want to be liked? Don’t know. I sometimes envisge a class of Year 12 kids who really want to be there and are interested in the history I teach them, but I think I’d be hurt by the one who’s constantly late and hasn’t done his homework. I wouldn’t want to know. It would be better without him. Part of teaching is dealing with the recalcitrant students. And I’d hate it.

When I got home today, I went to the back door to let in the dogs and felt it my duty to go outside and examine what naughty behaviour they might have indulged in in Laetitia’s veggie patches. They had got in. They had done some digging. I had to do something. I told them “No!” as I smacked them on the nose, after pointing at the scene of the crime. In fact, I think my very light smack for Lily was an air swing. She still flinched. I feel bed about the experience. It’s not me. Maybe I just want to be loved, which is unhelpful as your domesticated animals will never learn anything if punishment doesn’t exist in their lives as an option. But it feels phony (thanks Holden Caulfield). It’s unnatural. It’s like me on a nightclub dance floor. Even with a bucket of alcohol on board it’s still wrong. It feels like playing at being an adult somehow, knowing you aren’t, and failing.

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Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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