Polemically Expressed [A Short Story]

 

It must be facts for me; doubt is an end and not a means to understanding the limits of knowledge, of what knowledge is or could be, not what I know, but the end of all knowing. As a result, I have only things, facts as things, disconnected, more like confetti to throw into the air, the only effect being how pretty it looks as it falls in array, he says.

Facts, facts and more facts, of course only facts and the first and last fact of them all is that even facts can lie, even facts are uncertain, he says. The one overarching and singularly guiding fact is doubt–I must doubt Truth, even all truths, any truth, minuscule ‘t’ truths accumulating in reserve, he says. I only have to look at our contemporary civilization’s guiding metaphysics, look to my participation in my culture’s assault on reason, on truth, on, yes, dare I say beauty–or should I say in deference to a lost initiative Reason, Truth and Beauty? He asks.

Capital letters bear a specific morphology; yes, they carry with them a particular meaning, he insists. I reveal certain prejudices when I say Beauty–a neo-Romanticism we might conclude, but then the Romantics had more heart while yet keeping their heads, he remembers having thought said written in notebooks, journals, other blogs.

What else should he have written here? He asks. Or should have said to you or to anyone that he has not does not will not say to himself? He says, I have written over twelve-thousand pages of notebook entries over the last decade and a half alone—there is no going back to the boxes I have collected with stories, poems, journals, essays and whatever else have we in the form of entries in notebooks . . . and so you see:

I go. To the store. This morning. For milk. But the store. Is out. Of milk.

Write phrases on pieces of paper, one each. Place in a bag. Shake the bag. Take out one by one. Copy diligently. Become a writer. Write each word on a piece of paper. Do the same as done with the phrases on pieces of paper. Copy diligently. Become a poet. He had written as he wrote as he writes as he is writing was writing will be writing when he does, writes; what he will write he has not decided. He would like it to be different. He continues, I don’t have to look long to see how in love with doubt as a form of wisdom I have come to be in this culture–just reveal that you actually know something in a group of anyone you understand to have been fully formed by our systematic under-education over the last quarter of a century. Doubt, doubt and more doubt is all I ever need to know–Truth as Beauty or Beauty Truth has long been lost in the mists of Post-post Structuralist mystifications, he says. He stops. He continues, Even in politics this is the only guidance we allow. It is the one overriding reason such trash gets accepted in our political campaigning, the levels of demagoguery and semi-literacy–alphabetics, all of us, yes, able to spell our names correctly. This of the possibilities–infinite possibilities–the true profit margin, he says as he assumes you should also be able to either in words similar or completely different from these, he says. What have you he could think in the forms of what you have learned experienced understood over time . . . what? What then must we do? He would ask.

Of course, he says, it is correct to assess that political campaigns have always been comprised of that which expresses the lesser of ourselves, the lower of our impulses, the baser of our instincts, an oversimplification at best, or at worst, the grossest in the simplistic that is possible without all campaigning falling down in an avalanche of fragments, he says. What is different, though, is the lessening of the critique; moreover, the remove from which anyone tries to levy an alternative to how we elect, how we campaign, or what the media does with our politics and politicking, how they package our politicians, he says. The media rarely critiques itself; that would be too much to ask, I know, he says. The inarticulateness on our part has left us in a position where the potential for opposing politics as it gets played on the American stage is approaching impossible, he says. I, he says, who do oppose contemporary politics, he says, as it has been played in the arenas of states across the globe, he says, have also helped create a cultural weakness in itself a strength only in its power to debilitate, he says. Weakness is weakness, though, just as strength remains strength, he says. He says, The latter can only cleave to the latter, never the former. This is immutable. I should look closely at our most recent historical precedence over the last one hundred or more years, particularly the last fifty or sixty here in America, but most assuredly in France, he says, as well as here in the United States–he pauses. There is a pervading nihilism at the heart of our common Western culture, worse, at the core of our civilization, he says. Yes, Western Civilization, he insists.

He says, Again, doubt, doubt and more doubt is what we teach, what we expect, what we receive from our ideas that there is no Truth, there is nothing transcendent, there are no absolutes, there is no Absolute, and, of course, that everything is relative, itself an error a lot less than human. We have become grossly irresponsible–I have my excuses, he says. He says, The assault on Truth, the idea of Truth, and subsequently our persistent attack on the validity of truth after truth until the possibility of determining any truth has become so undermined that there is no truth and anyone can say anything because what I feel is the most important thing to express–and you do not even have to believe this to do this. It is preferably expressed in the most spontaneous speech because what is spontaneously expressed will be the most honest, we assume, and this has left me unable to mount any defense of democracy or against the assaults on democratic living here at home, while power gets more powerful and money more monied, he says.

He has written elsewhere at another time perhaps his or other thoughts . . .

The trickle down–something like cum out of her cunt when a woman stands after having been fucked–or should I say, after she fucks . . . what then is the problem—and we are still uptight about fucking or get more so in direct proportion to all the ways we fuck each other in every other way but sexually. 

Fragments from notebooks or journals—I will not as he will not go into how they are different, if they are at all. He says, Here is another way of expressing either what some call natural and others call organic–either conception has become our nightmare, the ascension of a virtual adolescent world view where there are no hierarchies of value anywhere for anything and no experts in anything, all in an attempt to more widely disseminate opinions democratically, or, for everyone to be equal in his opinions, he says. He has written:

It is a problem that we use the word fuck to mean so many other things that have nothing to do with sexual pleasure, and this has a lot to do with too many of our idiot impulses in response to the word, as if the word in itself were vulgar and not what was really vulgar was our ideas about sex—have you ever listened to how many people use words for dirt or dirty or nasty for having sex—where’s the joy if every time you fuck you afterwards feel guilt? No, we’re not idiots. 

Yes, he wrote. He says, And I do endure the inane, the hopelessly foolish, because I want people to listen to my opinions, no matter how ignorant or poorly framed they are. Without truth there are no foundations for facts, so we–so I–persist in expressing opinions based on what we feel–I feel–and I am as in love with emotion and emotionalism as everyone else seems to be in this America perpetually seeking instant fame–fifteen seconds, not minutes, Mr. Warhol. Emotion is not passion. Both passion and knowledge actually scare us, he imagines. He adds, Who’s to say became no one can say, and we all agreed with no one could say because everyone wanted to say something, and wanted even an immediate, yet temporary, validity assigned to his or her opinion, he says. The only way we could get anyone to listen to our unqualified opinions was to undermine truth, the nature of evaluation, the notion of hierarchies and the fact that opinions do have quality, he says.

He says, Without authority everyone became an expert for fifteen minutes. No one but an elite are really famous, so we took having expertise for fifteen minutes, that is, until someone else disagreed and then we had to listen to him, no matter how inane the opinion might be. Without quality for opinions there remains quantity, and that’s not quantification, but a sum totaling addition of opinions. He then says, Popularity and plurality have taken over our ethics, which is why we always defer to star actors and actresses as spokesmen or spokeswomen, he says. Truth is numerical, arithmetic, additional. Yet, this is a prelude to the will to power. This is what we suffer socially and economically today. We have no other reasons for why anyone accumulates the wealth that is accumulated by the rich and powerful; the monied elite are far too monied, he says; but we no longer have access to the reasons why this should offend us. We do not, he says, in our semi-literacy, he says, have the ability to express our position, he says. In fact, he says, we no longer are able to discern a position as a People to stand in counterweight to the State or as a corrective for power, he says. I and we are one in this as they are one in me as they must be one in you as I am we the people and you must also be we the people as everyone is we the people you must get this accept this if we are ever going to be as there are an infinite number of relative centers to the expansion of the universe there are also an infinite number of relative centers to the expansion of democratic universe the physical and metaphysical being mutual and reciprocal so beware what we make manifest in the world . . . he fades.

He says, The agents who are supposed to manage freedom or the dissemination of democratic ideas and ideals in our media are so corrupted by having become so semi-literate that they do not stand opposed to power but grateful to it the way those who served the Czar used to be grateful, he says. We do not have freedom for all, democracy for everyone, he says; but only for the oligarchic elite, he says, the powerful and the insanely monied, he says.

We do not have freedom and equality for African-Americans, we have the privilege system of affirmative action, and like all systems of privilege, they either exist in systems of inequality, or they create inequalities to perpetuate themselves as privilege systems. Privileges cannot exist where there is equality. The use of privileges for some groups is also used as a means toward a Machiavellian end. He says with conviction that power divides us and conquers us. Who does not know that? He asks. I ask myself too under my breath. Affirmative action quite ironically has lead to systematic under-education in schools in African-American neighborhoods, he says without hesitation or qualification he knows others would have. Why? He asks.

He then says, But I do not have to be concerned for this–after having been systematically undereducated, allowed to become so lowly semi-literate, I cannot see that as stupid as I have become is not smart enough to know what I should know what I need to know to live free so maybe I should just die as in the old revolutionary slogan from 18th century New England, he says, while I say nothing, pausing to re-read what he has said that I have transcribed.

More? What more? Our grandfathers are rolling over in their graves, he said a friend of a friend from Indiana had said about how we have come to a place in our politics where Donald Trump can be viable . . . but don’t let me sway you, I say he said alone, only himself now speaking about how much imbecility gets paraded in the media to convince us that  buffoonery is nothing to be ashamed of . . . but I cannot help but think that most of what I hear or read expressed in the media or on social media mimics what I imagine would be like a tribe of people somewhere who strip naked under the light of the full moon every month to then shove feather duster handles up their asses and cluck like roosters or hens; if this were done often enough by enough people, we would then follow suit?

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Nowhere Ever Again

I

To restore what had been assumed lost but saved. I wish I could say succinctly just what reading has been, has meant, has represented, has done for me. What then must I do to convey to you . . . The Unbearable Lightness of Being. When did I read it?  I recall having read it, although I do not recall the year. I recall having said something about not liking it while I was reading it but loving having read it. What was that supposed to mean? I didn’t quite  say what I was trying to say. I often fall short of saying what I intend to convey. I was attempting  to say something witty about how I felt while, and how I felt after? Wondering how words never say what they mean at, or is that the other way around? Words never mean what they say at . . . something Addy said.

Now that was how many decades ago. Decades of reading for this reader. I did not finish The Reader. I saw the film. Wondering is a large part of existence, I remember a friend’s father had said to me once, where we were I cannot see, parallel lines on the horizon, railroad tracks descending, the earth is curved became a fact. What the hell do any of us know about existence? To be, to exist, I have forgotten what the differences were between being and existence, at least for the Existentialists. I think the difference here is that this is a posture for me the author, although it is not for me the narrator or expositor, whichever one it is for you–I am all of them; each of them? Different, this all from this each, which one is not every one, every one of them not all of them together we know–how is every one of them not togetherness? I still have so many questions to ask.

What if I were a character in one of his novels? I did like reading Kundera when I was an undergraduate . . . what does it mean to say that, to think that I should say that, want to say that agin as if it meant something I was sure others knew without my being able to explicate that something . . . I do not know what this says (or that prior something says), nor do I what I have intended by saying it . . . not it, but these . . . words, yes words and more words, streams of words, flowing words, water from a faucet . . . streams over falls, rivers over falls . . . I am a character in my own writing–no? Who is this speaking to you as you read what I have written for you to read–does anyone ever completely forget he is reading when reading? Everyone is a character in his or her life–the world, the stage, they are interchangeable, we should be able to understand this, stand under, become post to another lintel and another lintel, everyone fixed on personality, all personality again maskality, person is persona is mask we know have known used to know more readily, easily, having dexterity with these in words and other words and more words extended in line after line . . .

Context is improvisation. each of us does play many, many parts. Who would I be, though? Who could I become? Who would be with me, who would I be with? She? Pronoun after pronoun, why do some people insist on proper names in references rather than pronouns . . . the mirror is a stage, on not in, no? On stage . . . in a movie, in the mirror.

 

II

The most spoken pronoun in the mirror, which is it—I or you? He and she? What about him and her? She who is with him, she who is near him, she who stays over his apartment until morning, they are having coffee when she asks what she asks how she asks it of him. He who is–I am already many as I have said elsewhere before and elsewhere afterwards. Is it courage, though, that Oedipus has? You don’t think it would take courage. Would it have to be something else before he got to the stage of doing the deed which would require this courage? There would have to be courage of convictions, a sense of duty or responsibility that would go before this cutting out of the eyes. None of us has what Oedipus had. We can’t conceive of what he does. Can you? I know I can’t, not really, what would I do? Do I think I could do what he did? No.

We talk-talk around the idea of responsibility, but so long as it is another person who needs to take it, or how we do take responsibility but in words that circle around the notion without ever penetrating to the heart of the idea—ideas have hearts and sinew and flesh and blood and we have to have blood—how many bloodless fools do we listen to?Passion is in the blood; emotion is all surface, all frantically kinetic in the head.

III

There is not, nor has there ever been, any age, any culture, any society more full of shit than this one today here in America. We stink through future ages, for all the world to smell. I’m sick. Shit shit and more shit everywhere shit, a river of shit I am floating in without a paddle, upstream in a river of shit—would it matter if down stream? I read it when I was he, another me when I was an undergraduate.

He had discovered existentialism when he was a young college student, reading Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, Gabriel Marcel, and  Albert Camus. I read the same as you might have suspected. I read them in college where and when I first contacted them, thinking to myself that I was an Existentialist, saying this I can’t imagine how many times–no one I went to school with thought of himself or herself as an Existentialist. What does it mean to say this? But I was an Existentialist–I am one now, if I were pushed to say what philosophical camp I belonged in.

Why do I think ‘in’ is more appropriate to end a sentence with than ‘to?’ This is not the same as ending a sentence with the preposition itself functioning as a preposition and not as the name of the grammatical unit, thus a noun. I do think it is okay to end a sentence with ‘in’ and not ‘to.’ Why must we bicker about idiocies? It seems so much of our lives is spent in useless activities, which are not exactly what we mean when we say how sweet it is to do nothing. I want to do nothing more in my free time than read. To read or not to read has been a forgotten question of our existence, of our civilizations survival, having forgotten just how much reading, writing, literacy, advance literacy has meant to the building of civilization that most Post-post Structuralist fools have abandoned or demolished in their heads because they assumed they were liberating us from drowning in the currents of imperialism and colonialism, but puppies out with their flea bath water?

Cows, Horses, Pigs and Women [A Short Story]

I had an idea one day and thought I should put it down as I have here. Who I am is not important, a theme my writer-father has taken up again and again, one he has me assert here as I am the inferred author; he is the implicit author. Everyone who reads understands that what they read has been written; passive voice understood and imposed. By someone; this someone here for this something-havong-been-written is me. This me, though, must not be confused with the true author–is that what we should say; should I say “true author” for my father, for I am a child of his brain as any narrator is a child of the brain of the author as much as Sancho Panza was a child of the brain of Cervantes. Even in the matter of essays, let’s say the essays of Montaigne, the essayer in any particular essay is or was a persona of the author; each expositor Montaigne created–and he did create a separate expository-mask for each essay as he did for each later and later revision of essays he had written already. All the world Montaigne understood; all men and women being players her understood. How am I the same person when I write about abortion today that I was when I wrote about it three years ago. This is why Yeats wanted the letters he had given friends back so he could revise them. He did not want any of his letters to remain as artifacts, to be parcel in a kind of archaeology he did not approve. He wanted perpetual contemporaneity for his letters. The only valid Yeats for Yeats was the Yeats of now–perhaps this is what Whitman means by there is no more time than now. I am currently in a biography of Williams (Thomas Lanier . . .) as well as one of the volumes of the collected and published journals of Jean Cocteau; I do not know which one I prefer, if I do prefer either one. I do not prefer duck to chicken; I like differently, just as I like lobster and shrimp differently; just as I like boiled lobster differently than I do broiled. The key question as of late for me is how do I appropriately–that is an ugly word although we cannot live without it in a world with so many hundreds of millions of unenlightened people–the question then, “how do I make literature out of my life?” I am actually asking if I should be asking this question–the punctuation should have been different; I should have fixed it to my syntax differently. My life is literature? Am I inadvertently pandering to the simplistic view that everything a writer writes is autobiogrpjay if not autobiographical?

All of Piece; or, What She Is

Women, cows, horses and pigs; all of them mammals, all of them breeders, the latter three when female, as is woman a female person–the etymology of the word ‘woman’ sets in motion what happens when we discuss her–she is thus in the back of our minds, a modified person. A man is person in himself a person. What then must we do better to understand more? Now, it is not simply the matter of her modification in our diction first and then perhaps lastly in how we think of her, that is prime for discussion. There is further dissatisfaction with the language we use to describe her, define her, confine her–she is confined by words. All the articulation about her, surrounding her, to her, for her, et cetera, et cetera, has been managed against her.

A woman, for a more specific instance, is, as she has been for millenia, transformed by marriage. The institution, as it has been constituted by custom, ceremony, contract and diction, has in-formed the shape women are to take or assume in society. By way of matrimony, a woman goes from person to female, from being a modified person to being other than a person, being only a sexual object or container to be filled, thus, we could assume the logic would extend to being fulfilled, no? We are really fucking idiots.

Diction is everything in our ceremonies. The word woman is from the Anglo-Saxon wif man which means, literally, female person; the Anglo-Saxon word man meant what we mean by person (the word person, from the Latin persona, translates mask, giving rise to a better understanding of the word ‘personality’). Man was person; wif man was a female person, a modified man; Adam and Eve revisited in Anglo-Saxon before their conversion. The word man subsequently came to mean what we mean by the word ‘man,’ the fruits of patriarchy extend to semantics and the ascription of meaning. Yes, a woman goes from woman to female in marriage; you could not have missed the current word wife in the Old English wif. So, before marriage, a woman is a person; once more, modified by the Old English adjective for female, wif.

Modified by patriarchy she is, but nonetheless, before marriage, she is a person, woman. After marriage, however, she becomes a wife, primarily so–if not entirely so. Thus, the modified human person woman, becomes a female without personhood. She loses her personhood for the overarching role of breeder. All females are designated as females in relation to the biological function of breeding, which is why the man becomes husband, as in animal husbandry, the manger of the breeding, the manager of the brood bred by the female. This transformation has also been the way of the world around the world for all women irrespective of culture or civilization (that word is used in its primary connotation, not what we have come to understand by the word, what new connotations we have ascribed).

Even here in these United States, a woman goes from personhood before marriage, to breeder of her brood afterwards, going from woman to wife, the bride whose ring symbolizes the bridal bit or the ring through the nose of the mare. All traditional marriages have been such: woman is wife as soon as she takes her vows–we have removed ‘obey’ from the avowals a woman speaks, but the greatest rhetorical leverage against women as persons is in the diction of the ceremony itself.

Man and wife; person and female; the etymologies are clear–we reject the study of etymology as we have the study of philology. Never mind what husband and wife might infer inside our half-baked attempts to invest new meaning into our ceremonies. This wife, now female, in this sense of her “obligation and duty to carry on,” to hold up the family, which is why she is expected in most matters that concern both husband and wife, to lie down. The once enforced missionary position was a reinforcement of woman’s subservient and submissive role. These may only be residually present today, but as I have said in other essays, words never lose former meaning, they lie dormant in a semantic collective unconscious.

Birth comes from the Old English to carry. Woman becomes pack-animal, or she subsumes in her entirety the vessel that is her womb. She becomes a womb. This has been and remains an is now in most traditional societies where woman is a lesser man, a modified man. In these societies, man is the prime being, the prototypal person. So then, let me reiterate: a woman, once a person, becomes then a wife, a female, one that is in effect, if not by design, a surrogate for breeding a man’s brood.

Now, all birth is an act of surrogacy within the marriage contract; a woman, traditionally, has been the surrogate for the man’s brood. It is not until very late in our history that we accept woman as person with rights to her brood. But just how progressive we are in the world can be noted by how a country supposedly as advanced as China has the most forced abortions in the world when the fetus is female, and has the highest incidence of sexual slavery on earth, not to mention a rate of at least 500 women a day committing suicide. This is our world today.

Infertility is still grounds for divorce. Extending this ground to stand on to women does not extract it from being embedded in patriarchy, a rule against woman’s personhood. Yes, a woman loses her personhood by the very words we use that cannot be removed from their etymology, nor can they be voided of the residue of meaning they have carried for millennia. A woman has bargained her personhood, if you will, by becoming a breeder in trade for financial security, or so the traditional arrangement went in spite of propaganda to the contrary spoken vehemently by men.

How is traditional marriage, then, not a form of prostitution as the Romantics and the Modernists both insisted it was? This could be why traditional married women are the most savage in their critiques of prostitution–traditionally, it is women who make the most vocal opponents to prostitution, and often not because prostitution is a form of oppression for women, but because it offends traditional marriage–if you can believe that.

So then, to reiterate, wife means female, as in female cow, female horse, female pig, or female dog. We do know where this is heading: female Homo-Sapiens.

We are one of many species of animals in the world, but is that what we want from our humanity? The distinction of female is in her potential or actual status as breeder; this is what is currently offensive when young men refer to women as females–and no amount of somersaults to explain ethnic, racial or class culture or heritage in America can explain away the dehumanizing referencing by young men calling women females . . . it is frequently heard among young African-American men, the word ‘female’ instead of ‘woman.’ Incidental, accidental or misogynistic?

We do not learn from language because we disrespect language, and we show our disrespect for language because we cannot honor erudition in language. However, language tells us everything, or so I have said before. We cannot escape the power of language, the influence of our etymology is present. Woman is person before marriage; after marriage she traditionally becomes just another female mammal by our very words. Do you wonder how we stall on our way to re-covering our lost humanity each time it slips? Look to how we speak. If you wonder how we continue to slip and falter on issues like abortion rights and gay marriage, look to how we speak. Look carefully at what persists in our diction, our common parlance.

Autobiography is advanced by the art of fiction; it is in effect fiction, or is it in the result, the end, fiction; in the cause, self-life-writing, in the effect, an effect, what affects me most, is the fictinality of all autobiography. I remember having heard–or was it learned–that Gibbons learned inordinately from Fielding’s narrative how to advance historiography.

A Vindication of Human Rights [a Short Story]

[The editors of The Review have accepted a letter addressed to them for publication in their on-line literary journal of ideas, particularly attentive to political and social commentary. Herein find the letter prefaced by a notice from the editors in the form of a polemic against Sharia Law, not Holy Qu’Ran or Islam, which the editors never shirk from expressing, never at a loss for words in defense of democracy or freedom, never shrinking from saying outright, that Muslims sometimes in support of Sharia Law stand in affront to Democracy. Accepting Sharia Law in a democratic society is like saying fascism is politically viable in a democratic society, says the Editor-in-Chief.]

From the Editors

of

The Review

A letter concerning the vindication of human rights with concern for a woman’s right to choose what she does with her pregnancy irrespective of what dim-witted cultures, civilizations and religions do with their socially-contextual penchants for violating human rights, especially the human rights of women, as they do for the metaphysics of other cultures or civilizations when those metaphysics at least try to stand for human rights . . . this is also a letter condemning Sharia Law and its backward and medieval way of apprehending and understanding humanity, most particularly the humanity of women. Our conclusions are what we have made of them and toward what end we use them irrespective of author intent or what the author of this text herein below denies or does say or has not said. We have no need to shake hands with the Devil to prove we are good people. Democracy is not be bartered; freedom is not to be doubted. We are not here to debate with Islam or the pretexts of or the constructs under Sharia Law, that would give credence to Sharia Law in a way and to a degree we have no intentions of offering.

“A Vindication of Human Rights”

Yes, my friends, this is a crisis in civilization that must be settled once and for all–but please, let it not be settled by tragic and gross ignorance, narrow and dim minded semi-literacy, a base alphabetics masquerading as literacy. Not nearly intelligent enough or educated enough or literate enough has paraded as good enough for too long. Media manipulation of issues targets only the sensational, only what will increase sales or maximize profits. Quantity trumps quality in every board room and every stock holder meeting. At the risk of venturing a tangent–the Orwellian Nightmare is now. How can we hope to mange a civilized society that respects a woman’s rights, when human rights have to be bartered for by the People facing Power or Money day in and day in again–the media elite support this manipulation by power and monied elites. They even instruct the monied and power elite on how best to manipulate the masses. No amount of respect for cultural diversity or religious freedom can accept as appropriate a role secured for a woman that does support her basic human rights. A society that does not fully respect and defend her basic human rights is an uncivilized society. The French are correct in fining or punishing by legal sanction any man who forces a woman to wear a niqab. Enough is enough. Religion must be reclaimed from any of the agents of darkness, and the oppression or repression of women is darkness.

To oppose pro-choice is to support pro-horror, whether one supplies the curtain rods or not. There is no room in a civilized society for backward thrusts to darker ages when women were the second sex or lesser, when an inquisition was even thought to be appropriate by the sanest and most rational minds. Witch hunts and Witch Trials were as much a means to manage or control a woman’s personhood as much as it was to curtail or chastise her sexuality. I have to accept people’s choices in a diverse democracy, but I do not have to accept misogyny masquerading as either free-will or religious freedom, as when I see Muslim women dressed as if we were living in the desert, the prime reason Arab  women dress as they do in the muddle-east is the sand, the ever present everywhere sand and sun that would peel your skin like the banana I peel for breakfast. I do not want to reach into my bag of tricks and pull out anecdotes of horror from memory or imagination.

A modified or flawed human? This has been, and remains inherent, in the status accorded to women. And don’t think that somehow, somewhere, the idea that a woman is a flawed man is not still present in the backs of people’s minds because it does persist around the world and even here in the United States. My friend Simone addresses in a highly delineated fashion how woman has been defined and categorized by her physiology and biology more than her personhood–something I have turned to expressing in essays addressing the language of roles in the marriage ceremony, rooted in the etymology of the terms we still use, those right out of medieval agrarian animal husbandry; moreover, what their echoes are–and there are echoes–the reverberations are felt. I had a crush on Simone, as any intelligent man would have to have had when he was an undergraduate and thinking himself an Existentialist, as I presumably or pretentiously did.

Woman is the second sex–second-place in a race between two is also last. A woman’s second-ness has only ever meant what last means for horses at the racetrack or swimmers in the Olympics. Yes, of course we say that just getting to the Olympics should be something to be proud of, but what are we saying–just being alive is what a woman should accept as the prime directive in her life–well, that is true for men, too, in the sense that for all people everywhere, life is the gift, but this is not the point, nor is it the end of a defense of the rights of woman. In The Second Sex, Simone addresses the ways in which a woman’s status was defined–and by defined we must read limited; that is, to be made finite in ways that amounted to a woman being always treated other than a man, other in a way that amounted to less, when rights were concerned, often having her human rights doled out as privileges; or, other as in excessive when the codes of behavior were concerned, most specifically in how to curtail a woman’s sexuality, how to restrict her nature, or how to define her nature, itself a limitation added to limitations. Everything was about yokes and bridles.

The right to choose is a fundamental human right. I hold this truth to be self-evident. It must be understood to be such and must be protected and defended as such. There is self-evidence in this assertion of a woman’s right to choose. Perpetual debate is stagnation and a surrender to ignorance. The Pro-Choice argument is a self-evident argument on the nature of freedom and basic human rights. We cannot equivocate if we want to live in a free and democratic society.  Now, if there is any pressure exerted on a woman from either side of the pro-choice issue, any extreme in the diametric of the abortion issue, then this is unacceptable in a civilized society. “Tough luck” or “too bad” might be what some of us would like to say to women who have transgressed some imagined moral law that insists sex out-of-wedlock must be punished, but it cannot be part of any social discourse on sane and ethical treatment of every individual in a society. American women do not want to live Muslim Theocracies; I am equally sure that they do not want to live in a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, nor an Orthodox Jewish one either.

Where a woman’s right to choose is pandered by a media that sells products that sponsors want to sell, how are we expected to understand that these rights are unalienable, that they are non-negotiable? MNews is entertainment in America, and that is one of the single greatest boon toward stepping backward into the darkness and shadows of our caves. Where a woman’s right to choose is made into the subject of a debate, where credence is given to the notion that a woman must barter for privileges instead of standing up for her rights as unalienable and non-negotiable, is in itself a giant step backward. If we do endlessly debate this issue, we are at best never achieving a foothold anyplace where rights can stand and be backed up–we are reverting to a world view where a woman must negotiate her rights because she is still a modified person defined and limited by her role as a breeder–and not even a role, but a pseudo-nature that excludes any other development by civilization.  There is, though, something uncivilized about a society that cannot protect a woman’s right to choose, and that is to choose to have an abortion or to choose to have the baby. This right to choose works both ways–forced abortions in China when the fetus is female is as much an affront to a woman’s right to choose as is standing in the way of her choice for an abortion. This right, we must remember, as I reiterate here, is something that precedes any law getting behind women in the assertion of this right. It is not the law that gives a woman her right to choose; it is the law that supports her right or not. The Emancipation Proclamation did not give the slaves the right to be free–a slave had an unalienable human right to be free that was blocked by slavery laws.

There was something inquisitional about abortion before Roe versus Wade, curtain rods and all that went along with back alley surgery, the word ‘surgery’ only if you are squeamish about using the word butchery. There is still something inquisitional about it today. It seems absurd to have to say, but pro-choice is all about getting behind Human Rights. How is it that anyone doubts that woman’s rights are human rights? Okay–perhaps that is easy enough for everyone to say, a little more difficult for everyone to believe, proportionately more difficult for many to understand when a woman’s rights extend to choosing to have an abortion that is medical practice and not something out of a meat market–this is not hyperbole. There are still nearly a hundred thousand women worldwide who die in the process of having an illegal and/or an unsafe abortion worldwide. Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are not safe medical procedures and this has to stop–but it is not likely when virtually enforced poverty seems to be the standard, and where the Monied elite become more powerful and the persons of power become more monied, each of course the other as well. Or where fundamentalist Muslim theocratic domination of societies where Muslims are the majority place women firmly in grips of ignorance and want.

I do not know how anyone can be against providing women with a law that upholds her right to decide for herself how she wishes to use her body, that is, if she wants to continue with her pregnancy until term or if she wants to have an abortion and thus terminate the pregnancy. Termination is the word we use, and I am not going to discuss the word or what the connotations are, or what the effects on our thinking from using the words terminate and termination might be–termination, extermination, what we do to roaches, mice and certain groups of people in one or another outcroppings of ethnic cleansing. I am not going to raise the specter of rape chambers for Bosnian Muslim women, the gasing of Kurds by Iraqi military, Nazis Death Camps for Gypsies, Jews and Slavs, nor any of the other killing fields of the world where extermination of human-beings en-masse, systematically or not, is the rule in a bizarre hyper-logic. In a world that still remembers, or at least masquerades at remembering, the Holocaust, using the word ‘terminating’ for a pregnancy has horrid echoes.

Moreover, I cannot imagine what I would have to be able to think if I were someone who easily opposed laws that ensure medicine is practiced when a woman chooses to have an abortion, and not something out of a chamber of horrors when electing to induce miscarriage is a woman’s decision. Abortion, before the law got behind women and their right to choose in the 1970s, was horrible? was grotesque? was the nightmare beyond all nightmares? There is no other way to express what illegal abortion represented then, nor what all of the ramifications were or are still. Illegal and unsafe abortions, nonetheless, are still performed everywhere in the world where access to medical facilities and qualified medical procedures is unavailable for one or another reasons, a pandemic where nearly 20 million women worldwide receive unsafe terminations of their pregnancies. Nearly all unsafe non-antiseptic procedures, of course (or so we make ourselves feel better b y saying), are in developing countries; that is, 97%. But 3% of nearly 20 million procedures is about 600,000, and this means that there are nearly 3/4 of million unsafe abortions performed annually in non-developing countries like the United States.

I am sure I can speak for you as I do for me when I say I want to live in a country prepared to take giant steps backward into religious fundamentalist intolerance and the punitive and retributive nature of its seemingly endemic misogyny. This is the world every man in America must dream of for his daughter, so let us take steps backward and adopt laws that mirror Muslim Sharia Law where we can make women virtual if not actual chattel.

“Nigger of the world” used to be acceptable to say rhetorically; it does not seem as if it can be said the same way, or would be taken the same way we used to understand it, but then we are savagely contempo-centric.

 

Archipelago Americanus [Flash Fiction]

In the Roman mind, as in the Greek, beauty was always in form, only in form could beauty exist. Yes, form is beauty, beauty form; if this, then Truth is also in form. To inform becomes a kind of bearing truth. The aesthetics of Keats aside, there is too much exchange of information today, a thing a little less than beautiful, or so we could have assumed, we are subject to far too much permeation from institutions wanting information about us, on us–always on top of us. Smothered, are the People. I am not certain today we even know what exchanging information means, where the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion should be for both public and private space. Anything akin to a philosophy of beauty would be lost on us. I could say we do not read well enough and that any highly articulate and intelligent aesthetic would require advanced literacy at a stage we have abandoned as being unnecessarily elitist, but I will not. Aesthetic philosophy has long lost its influence in the academies of learning in America; it resides somewhere now in an intellectual graveyard with philology. I am not trying to resurrect philology, nor am I insisting that we return to some Golden Age of academic learning when Aesthetics and a philosophy of Beauty guided us in perfecting our humanity.

We have given up on ever perfecting any special acumen in a philosophy of beauty–or should that always be Keats’s uppercase Beauty? The exchange of our personal facts, though, is too free and too easy, and it remains offensive by aesthetic standards of appraisal and not just ethical or jurisprudential ones. The kind of information exchanged today is the kind we used to keep close, or offered only to our kin. Now we open the book to those who are not kin and a lot less than kind. And we wonder the fate of the individual in America.

To be bourgeois is to be capitalist, even if you are a worker, and this is one of the hallmarks of American Civilization, the making of bourgeois clones from the organic material of the proletariat or the former peasant classes, a class America had seemingly put under revision before the Civil War, but certainly had to do so afterwards, and had to face the ugliness of in the form of white agrarian southerners during the last gasps of Jim Crow. I do understand that every effort toward hegemony of or by the bourgeoisie was not nefarious. To be bourgeois capitalist is to be western, even if you are Asian in Asia. In fact, to be western is also to be American, in a way, the American transfiguration of Western Civilization has been ongoing, if not in onslaught, for a hundred years or more. And yes, there is a Western Civilization, one that precedes 18th century Oxford Professors and British revisions in the name of their hegemony. The material of our civilization is not a complete fabrication, a mirroring of the emperor’s new clothes, but a wonderful and true fabric of many intricately woven threads.

The world is fast becoming one kind, even if we have yet to raise our ethical consciousness to the level where we can see clearly the oneness of our human kinship. Yet, the scariest thing I noted in Paris the last time I was there was how much like everywhere else even Paris is becoming. Every city in the world an island in the American Bourgeois Capitalist Archipelago, a chain of Post-post Modernist American Islands in a sea of everywhere else.

ALL YE KNOW ON EARTH

[Short Story.]

What is it that anyone reading needs to know other than this is a typical letter from the editor of a literary review in the traditional sense of literary reviews, the author having been educated and trained in the manner he has been–was? More questions could arise, will arise, should?  

From the Editor

What I wanted to do with this review, with its blog, its pages section I will not discuss, except to say that literary is the first and last consideration I make, thus is the first and last in the publishing of any content. I have said this many times before in references I have made about this Review elsewhere. It seems as if I have exhausted even my patience with me repeating myself–or so I posture and say. What do I mean by literary? The literary is a muse of this review?  If she is not a muse, then she should be one and we will consider her one. Yes, she. The muses are she; Beauty is she, Truth is she, Wisdom is she, Justice is she, and so on. Each to his own Gods and Goddesses; it seems as if I prefer the latter, feminine.

But again, the literary–what does it mean? Anyone writing about how the literary review that employs him as editor is literary for X and Y reasons would have to say something about what the literary is, how the literary functions in or for the editorial decisions, as well as the authorial ones. And I am too the chief–not only the chief–but the only author of the texts published in this review. Yes, the literary, how does it function here with respect to the kinds of essays that are written–I should say, that I write. Always be active. I do write everything in The Literary Review.

I understand that ‘literary’ comes from the Latin and refers to the alphabet, the magical arrangement of the letters of the alphabet–what is it that we do with the alphabet but spell, yes, all spelling is spelling, if you get what I mean (how could you not?). The idea that what is meant by literacy in this way, etymologically, might circle back to what the French call alphabetics, but not in the connotations the word literary has accumulated over time since spelling was only performed by those who were literary–or so my prejudice assumes and thus precludes any laundry lists or warehouse catalogues from consideration when considering antiquity and what was written in the earliest stages of that technology, the alphabet. I am reserving a special connotation for literary, one that it has had for as long as referring to letters was a metonymic reference for writing, and had its advent at a time when writing was reserved for writing that was other than, for examples, warehouse catalogues or laundry lists; although writing could be used for, as it has been used for, popular or mass consumption, and I do not ascent to the prejudice that orality does not have what we could call literary value, or that oral folk tales when transcribed are not literature because they are, as they have shown themselves to be, literary and/or literature.

It is not significant to go back and try to detail or delineate the bits of matter, or those of manner, that were initial in forming this review. I wanted to create a home where I could write essays in the tradition of the literary essay as employed by most of Western European civilization’s prose non-fiction practitioners since the time of Montaigne, and yes, Montaigne is the father of the form I am a practitioner of, the kind of essay writing I do, examining the subject or topic of the essay through the scientific method of the Self, a kind of trial of ideas about or on the subject refracted through the prism of subjectivity.  The Self lives in articulation. A dialogic imagination inside a dialectic of Selfhood? 

Does this tell you enough? I am not sure that it does, but why should it need to say more than it has? It should tell you everything, but might tell you nothing. Many will still need more–we suffer an information tapeworm in our minds. I will not try to draw you the pictures you might need, no matter how desperately the deaf need to be shouted at and the blind of a particular kind of lack of sight need stark and startling images drawn for them. I will, though, use the kind of diction necessary to illustrate, to illuminate, to elucidate, to explicate whenever possible–words you know or recognize may or may not be used–words you have heard or read before can be employed, perhaps, though, not quite in the way they are familiar to you. You might be familiar with most of what I have said, of what I do say and intend to say in the future; that is, if you step out of the received ideas you accept as the only ideas anyone can understand or believe . . .

The ideas you have accepted without question are ideas entrenched in the culture, ideas diffuse through every statement, every act, every response, every question, every assumption, political, social, general, interpersonal, or those inside the Self that have seeped through the geologic layers covering our interiority.  I am also referring to the received manners of reception most have accepted as the only or primary way of receiving ideas, of integrating ideas, of understanding ideas. Ideas do need an infrastructure, or some core of density for themselves to accrete around–the processes of stellar evolution and solar system formation are analogies appropriate to understanding how ideas are understood, or how they could disseminate. Use them to your advantage in understanding.  The meaning herein has been carried, we hope, I insist with confidence, by a particular literary style that in itself becomes a kind of epistemology.

What if? The question at the back of every readers mind. What if I were Hamlet? Let us say. But is that what we do? We more often subject Hamlet and thus Shakespeare to the horrors of our own prejudices. We do not ask What if I were Hamlet, how would I order a beer in a bar, how would I get in this bus, how would I ask for directions from the token booth clerk? No. We ask the inane question, what if Hamlet were I? Thus, we subject Hamlet to the critique of our own being, our own becoming, our own choices or reasons for choosing or trying to avoid choosing. We’re vain fuckers, in the least.

Gay Marriage

Prologue

The issue of Gay Marriage is not simply a social issue; it is not merely a legal one either, nor is it a complex of both, but more. Gay Marriage is a Human Rights issue; therefore, it is a philosophical issue that demands closer observation and deeper analysis. Gay Marriage does stand at the forefront of what we say about ourselves with relation to a person and his or her personhood. Personhood is more than simply one’s personality. Our socio-political philosophy is fixed, adequately or not, on a philosophy of individualism or simply an honoring of individuality, the like terms not nearly the same.

The issue of Gay Marriage brings to bear in our discussions or our debates whether or not a political philosophy of individualism is viable, or if our way of defining individuality, or explaining it, has very much to say on the issue of basic human rights. Any discussion of Gay Marriage will have to address basic human rights, and how these rights are unalienable and universal, and how laws made to oppose them do not void these fundamental human rights. Basic human rights persist in face of legal opposition or social repression of these rights. Our discussions herein will also be part of a grander metaphysical discussion concerning the universality of human rights, something we better readjust ourselves for articulating because without dexterity in metaphysical explication of our human rights, all political philosophy, even empirically based, but most specifically the epistemology of human rights ( and there is a philosophy of knowledge and knowing, an inquiry that examines the limits of what is knowable about human rights, for it is not solely an ethical question) will be weakly supported, if at all.

Human rights cannot be restricted to political philosophy alone. They must be discussed and defined metaphysically so they can keep their unilateral valence socially for all people irrespective of gender or gender identification, irrespective of sexuality or sexual preference, irrespective of economic class, race, faith, ethnicity, level of education, et cetera. The idea of universal human rights can only  maintain their social and political relevance for us now and in the future with respect for human rights and civil rights over extended periods of time if we are able to endure the rhetorical battles that must be fought, and yes, this is warfare of a kind. If we are to avoid becoming topical and situational about our support of human rights, we must articulate with rhetorical force and power their universality. This must be defended adequately so laws can be enacted that support their universality.

Gay Marriage demands a re-look at, as well as a re-examniation of, the institution of marriage, and that is not so much marriage today, although it does insist we do so; but marriage as it has been enacted in societies, more specifically the United States, or generally in the English speaking world. This will become clearer when we discuss how language–i.e, diction–affects mentality. Mentality, we must understand, is how a people and/or a culture thinks, thus the milieu within which individual psychologies are formed. Marriage–as it has been discussed by persons in various cultures, codified by laws and/or customs, ritualized in religious practices and understood by how a people anywhere define it, giving it specified and special choices in the words used–must be opened to this investigation, and this essay will attempt this fore mentioned re-definition of “Marriage,” at least with respect for and cognizance of how it has been articulated socially in English speaking countries over the past millennia or more, particularly with respect for how our language has articulated marriage. The lines need to be redrawn, not simply erased. An examination of diction concerning the institution will be helpful in understanding how mentality concerning marriage and gay marriage has been inherited from an archaic way of phrasing what marriage is and who are the players on the social stage of marriage.

Gay Marriage is an issue not for any reason intrinsic to the assertions of gay couples wanting to join in a union we have called marriage, at least openly and with sanction of law; or their desire to be included in the institution we call marriage when they so desire; but because our lack of understanding of the historical place of marriage coupled with a complete unawareness of just what we are saying when we use the diction of marriage and marrying. These confusions lead us into untenable positions in our arguments for and against Gay Marriage, which only compounds the confusion about what we are trying to say. Thus, the re-defining of marriage is paramount to furthering our American understanding of where Gay Marriage fits in the social equation of couple-unions today–and it does fit, that is, more easily than many of us on either side of this pro/con issue are likely to understand or admit.

 

I

Opinions are opinions, and facts are facts, but intelligent, rational thinking is other than tautological. The protection of everyone’s basic human rights is of supreme importance in the course of all human events, and the civil rights of homosexual couples demands that we articulate just what we mean when we say that Gay Marriage is marriage, or that Gay Marriage is marriage redefined or even when some of us say that Gay Marriage is an abomination of Marriage, the latter I have never been quite certain is as holy or sanctified as many conservative opponents to Gay Marriage suggest. I mean, if marriage as a ritual contract can be sanctified, I am not sure why it cannot also be sanctified by gay couples? Unless this is the polemical position many opponents have opted for; that is, gay men and gay women cannot be holy, they cannot enter into sanctified unions, they themselves are contrary to all things sacred, and they are therefore for-always restricted to the profane. But then if all of this is true, why are the secular avenues to gay marriage closed? I mean, I would understand better if traditional religions stood opposed to Gay Marriage and did not want to sanctify the unions based on this anathema position; but, I am puzzled by the secular avenues being shut. There is no valid reference to any religious text in shutting the doors to gay couples when it comes to marriage or marrying in one or another conventional ways. We do not shut the door to secular marriage when a couple might be professed atheists. Belief in one or another interpretation of God or gods is not a pre-requisite to marrying, nor should the presumption of man and woman uniting to legitimize their children be the sole reference for what a marriage is or should be. I do stop at a living person wanting to marry a dead person, a child, or a goat–but facetious responses aside, let us continue.

Our move toward a redefinition of marriage that would include gay marriage is not an impulse born of the desire to undermine the significance of the institution, nor would it in actuality shatter the institutional valency marriage has held for millennia. Marriage retains valency for heterosexual couples even if homosexual couples are granted legal access to marriage. In the gross and perhaps erroneous assumptions many have made for the institution of Marriage, Gay Marriage does not quite offend as it has been purported to do.

Let us now look more closely. It has been apparent to me for a long time that traditional marriage itself for a long time coming has needed a re-articulation. This re-definition has been necessary because the institution of marriage has been stuck in an archaic understanding of men and women, and has suffered the subtractive legacies of patriarchy, and the power plays politically that men have enacted over time to control women, most specifically, their bodies, their sexuality, which extends to the reproductive rights of women as well. Gay couples today suffer the legacy of this as well when lawful marriage is closed to them. Marriage, thus, has had more to do with how men can control women’s bodies than it has had to do with love, unless we are going to redefine marriage as love, which, then, if successful, will have less to do with excluding Gay Couples.

Witch trials have often been an extension of this control, even when they have been coupled with or gathered among other impulses and drives quite distinct from socio-political control and repression. All midwives would manage induced miscarriages and thus left themselves opened to the accusation of witchcraft, even if induced miscarriage could always be made to look like accidental miscarriage, and thus be a boon for a man who did not want to have another mouth to feed. The presumption is that men understood exactly what was happening, but all social masquerades mirror the masks we wear by nature in the form of personality or variegation of personality, and an extension of everyone’s many-selves Self. Women, though, have not been the only ones to suffer witch trials, the the perils of them.

The issue of Gay Marriage and the issue of a woman’s right to choose are both part of a larger human rights issue. I do  not believe we need to stress this further; it is another of those truths I hold to be self-evident. However, I do defer to reason and will continue to articulate the argument, if that is what it remains for our society.

Now, a revision of what marriage was, what the expectations were, and how it fit into the mentality of ages past, was necessary centuries ago, and had even been broached by Mary Wollestencraft in her seminal treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. It was (is) in the later treatise that Ms. Wollestencraft sought to “effect a revolution in female manners . . . and make them as a part of the human species,” for woman had been considered in her time, and for centuries prior, as a sub-species of man, a thing of modified personhood, someone sent into the world, “half made up,’ if you will. And perhaps we can better understand the associations of woman and her make-up if we pay closer attention to the ways women have been expected to present themselves socially or in the bed room; and the ways men have rhetorically carved her up. How men through hegemony have managed, defined, manipulated and controlled women, economically, socially, politically, does have everything to do with woman’s struggles for equal protection under the law, which would guarantee a protection and support of her unalienable full sovereignty of Self

The simplistic ways we have understood the primitive frame of marriage over the centuries has affected how we think of it today; how could it not. The way we have thought about many things over the last millennium that persist in our discourse affects how we think about them today. Just what the implications were for women in marriage when framed by the language of the past has left its imprint on how segments of our society define marriage today, and even residually refer to women in that institution. It certainly affects how we argue against gay marriage, and it has even left its mark on how supporters of gay mariage confound their own defense. We actually hear gay men using the term husband and lesbians using the term, wife. This just might have to change after reading this.

Words never lose their original potency, and the effects of language use are not restricted by contemporary connotations of words. More on the etymologies of the words used in the marriage ceremony, or how people talk of marriage, refer to the persons in a marriage, upcoming; but allow me to reiterate that the current absence of any astute, rational and intelligent re-imagining of marriage and the language of the ceremony and the contract—and the ritual procedures and observances at grand or formal occasions are not in themselves the written and/or spoken agreement that follows the license to marry. Moreover, how marriage is still affected by an archaic world view that was useful to reinforce patriarchy and the continued repression of women, has impeded social progress toward how Gay Marriage could be accepted and thereby permitted; that is, without any attempts through courts or legislation to impede this acceptance. Gay Marriage is inevitably bound up with Women’s Rights issues, as I have already said. Thus it is bound up with Human Rights issues as well, thus it is part of any discussion concerning the right to choose, which is the rights of self-determination, which is also the unalienable human right of sole proprietorship over body, which extends to a woman’s right to choose an abortion, as it also does to a gay man when he chooses who he loves or even just fucks; all this true for lesbians in their choices.

Perhaps Gay Marriage does not make sense to many people because they still imagine, by some collective unconscious framing, that marriage is primarily man shackling woman; that is, marriage remains a social contract between men and women whereby women give up certain rights over their bodies for the privilege (understand this in its traditional meaning) of “being taken care of” materially and monetarily, which is why both the Romantics and the Modernists later equated marriage with a form of prostitution.

Regardless of how much this thinking has changed, regardless of how we have modified or qualified our roles in marriage, much of the traditional views and expectations remain residual. Of course we have evidence to the contrary in our contemporaneity for this view, which is just the point I am making. We have already been in the process of revising our thoughts on marriage, tailoring our actions accordingly; however, we still remain confused when asked to define and articulate what we mean by the institution of marriage, and this has left us unprepared to deal with the issue of Gay Marriage. But then most of what we need to say, need to articulate, to define, in the matter and manner of our freedom, escapes too many of us, and I am talking about the educated who should be able to do so, at least those who need to support the idea that we should do so.

Now, the lack of any articulate examination of the history of marriage may run parallel with our continued absence of a healthy historical consciousness concerning everything that happens in our lives, but the way marriage has been maintained over time—that is, culturally, interpersonally, customarily and legally— has forestalled how Gay Marriage could be–should be–included in our definition of marriage today, one apart from contractual agreements on the part of woman to be a breeder. This absent consciousness of our traditions and our language has prevented us from seeing how Gay Marriage as a variegation of the accepted norm could even liberate marriage as a social institution for everyone, particularly in how the role of women could be altered from the one framed by the narrow parameters of traditional marriage, itself informed by agrarian animal husbandry. Marriage is bound to change more positively for women.

 

II

The acceptance of Gay Marriage will change how the traditional role of woman in marriage has been and continues to be defined against her personhood. Nothing as archaically constituted as traditional marriage should have endured for as long as it has without addressing the way marriage has been understood by our culture and in our language; or how it has been presented through one or another channel in our media. How the rhetoric of marriage had been articulated over the centuries has not much changed throughout those centuries—and I am focussing specifically on the English language, particularly how the etymology of the diction used in contemporary ceremonies (as well as in common parlance irrespective of social or economic class or one’s politics) has informed the rhetoric used to defend the status quo of marriage. This diction has been woven into the laws used to support the customs of marriage, and has shaped the opinions that the successive mainstreams of our society have held and have used to express their concerns about marriage that inform what we say currently. Let us now delineate the issue.

There are only two main points herein to understand: the one, marriage is a contractual and/or ritual union in love between two adult humans; or the other, that is the traditional one, and this is that marriage is a cover by law for the rights of animal husbandry. The former is a move toward greater civilization, the latter, a move toward darkness and an archaic way of conceiving human rights. And we must not miss the point that this is a human rights issue; just as we must not miss the diction of marriage, whereby a husband, as in husband and wife, is exactly the husband as in animal husbandry, the science of animal breeding. The husband is the manager of the breeder’s brood. Human marriage, as I have already said, must be taken out of the concerns for and management of animal husbandry if we are to extend the idea of marriage to include all adult humans wanting to enter the contract; just as it must be removed from any considerations formed by or in deference to any fundamentalist views on God and what God wants. The Constitution of the United States does not defer to Fundamentalist Christian Lunatics, nor should we allow anyone to even imagine  that Sharia Law is above the Constitution.

I am approaching the idea of Gay Marriage from more than the position of civil rights, which is how it wound up in the Supreme Court, which is a very good thing to have had happen. We must understand, though, that it is not the Court that gives Gay Couples the right to marry. It is not even the law that can do that. Human Rights precede the law, and Gay Marriage is a Human Right, the Human Right to choose. Yes, again, we are talking here about Human Rights (as in other essays of mine wherein the idea of universal Human Rights must be capitalized to signify its capital place in our hearts and minds). When talking about Gay Marriage, I take this to be self-evident and not a point for debate. If it is understood that we are addressing basic Human Rights when we discuss the issue of Gay Marriage, perhaps the opposition could not be as vehement, perhaps we might make better sense in its defense.

Moreover, where Human Rights are concerned, the law can uphold a right, the law can protect rights from abuse, the law can even get behind them and ensure that they are maintained in a manner that impedes future violation—and this is where the Court comes in—; but a basic Human Right is an unalienable right, and the denial of legitimacy by standing laws does not eliminate the right. The Human Rights of a slave exist and persist irrespective of the slavery. Slavery certainly disrespects and, more so, violates the Human Rights of the slave; but the slave has Human Rights in spite of the violation. The Human Rights of Gay couples exist irrespective of what the law says. This is where Gay Marriage resides–universal, absolute and transcendent Human Rights. Yes, let us proclaim liberty throughout the land for gay couples, that gay couples have unalienable Human Rights irrespective of the laws that support or impede social progress toward accepting Gay Marriage as a variegation of marriage. And it is marriage in variegation, not something outside the category of marriage.

Addressing Gay Marriage as a civil rights issue is a necessary adjunct to addressing Gay Marriage as a feminist issue, which it is, and not because lesbians are women. Gay Marriage is a feminist issue, as I have stated earlier, in as much as Gay Marriage will forever change how partners in the marriage contract are looked at, talked about, referred to; all of these apart from and forever distinct from how tradition has engaged these roles and used the terms to name them. Addressing the civil rights of homosexual couples is correlative to addressing Gay Marriage as a Human Right’s issue, so the Supreme Court was correct in addressing this case now as it has. I cannot stress this enough, though, about the Human Rights of gay couples being bound up in the legal sanctioning of Gay Marriage. We have been confused about this by believing that Gay Couples need the law to give them their rights. They need the law not to interfere with rights they already have.

We do not, in a democracy, want to live in a society that in any way resembles or mirrors a Muslim Theocracy–there is only backwardness and darkness in that and I am not even inclined to apologize for saying so. I cannot imagine any rational, intelligent, educated, historically aware, textually conversant person thinking otherwise. No one can  understand that Muslim Sharia Law does anything but support and encourage misogyny and homophobia, up to and including verbal harassment and physical violence for both women, straight and gay, and gay men. One need only examine Muslim societies around the world and their laws, their jurisprudence, the retributive and corporal nature of their punishment for women who do not submit to the status of virtual chattel and homosexuals who only express a nature that is not pathological, the latter also up to the point where the parents of homosexuals are punished with imprisonment for up to ten years when they do not out their own children. (And we, in the name of a misguided sense of diversity, think we can live side by side with the backward metaphysics of Islam.)

The interesting thing about the Supreme Court decision, though, is that it declared that any State’s attempt to block civil marriage of gay couples is unConstitutional. This shifts the focus of Gay Marriage from a Human Rights issue, universal, absolute and transcendent, to a legal matter, one where civil rights are specifically if not solely addressed, and not necessarily in conjunction with a discussion of Human Rights. This shift in focus does not eliminate–or should not be allowed to eliminate–from our view, just how much we need to keep our eye on Gay Marriage as an issue fully lodged in the fight for universal Human Rights. To say I agree with any legal decision that ends with the Constitutionality of Gay Marriage sounds silly to rational and intelligent ears, but it might not seem superfluous in the debate when we understand that sometimes in a democracy, power is numerical. I add my voice to the sum of voice, an extension of adding light to the sum of light. This then must be understood as the Court’s precedence against Sharia Law.

 

III

If marriage is a bond between two people who love each other–and we have come to say this about marriage, sometimes obliquely–then how is it that gay marriage offends anyone. It should not be offensive in the least, unless we are saying that gay men and lesbians cannot love each other. I do not know if anyone, even many opponents, would want to, or need to, argue this nearly un-winnable position. Why would anyone say that gay couples are not in-love, if homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness, mental illness still a criterium that prevents marriage today? Of course, there are still those who imagine they are being kind or progressive by opposing Gay choices in lifestyle as indicative of mental illness, but I am not here to address the profoundly ignorant.

Okay then, if gay men and lesbians are not mental defectives, then their sexuality should not be raised as a point in asserting they cannot love. If they can and do love another gay person, and this love is reciprocated, then gay couples can create a union of love, a relationship nurtured and fostered by love, a relationship that grows in love, a relationship that receives all the benefits and extensions of a loving union.

I am not joking when I say that I am sure there are people who consider homosexuality a mental illness–we are a country of three hundred million people; the world is a world of seven and half billion. But I am addressing sane, intelligent and rational people, not the lunatic fringe of American society–and those I am calling lunatics are not lunatics because they disagree with me, but because they disagree with intelligence, rationality, sobriety, facts, science, education, and anything anyone could call enlightenment. I am also sure there are those who consider homosexuality a moral illness, and I am not talking about fanatics or zealots in the cause of a fundamentalist Conservative hegemony, as scary as that sounds to me. I am sure there are still people who think homosexuality is a sin. Sin or not; moral disease or psychological malady or not–being gay is a variegation of human.

I have known many heterosexual couples, though, who were fruitful when they attempted to multiply, but did not love each other, and should not have gotten married, and were even ill-suited as parents. Heterosexuality does not have a monopoly on love, caring, compassion, adequacy in parenting, and so on in the manner in which we do parent in this society. Fifty per cent of heterosexual marriages end in divorce; what does that say about heterosexual unions? I do not know anyone who would argue that a heterosexual couple is ill suited to be maried since heterosexual couples have a 50% chance of winding up divorced. There are a number of reductio-ad-absurdum arguments the opposition of Gay Marriage has not and probably cannot address intelligently.

If love is a pan-human condition, then it is a condition that lesbians and gay men can enjoy or falter within. Unless we are saying that homosexuality is an inhuman condition? I am not certain that any opponent wants to venture into this position, although it would be interesting to hear, allowing the contemptibility of the opinion to air and not fester sub-socially. But the objections to gay marriage, I have suspected, are other than this. The objections many raise against gay marriage as not being legitimate marriage are founded on one unspoken premise, and that is that gay men and lesbians, within their sexual practices, cannot be breeders; and we must come face to face with how traditional marriage has coalesced and initially accreted around the gravitational center of husbandry, that is breeding rights, contractual and codified as such. What this points to for us is that what we call conventional marriage has been held captive by not only the traditions and contractual agreements surrounding human breeding for too long, but the residually effective diction from these arrangements made in marriage.

Heterosexual marriage needs liberating as much as gay marriage does. Homosexual unions in and of themselves do not produce children, and as such, do not qualify as rightful marriage in the mind of many objectors, the unspoken reflexes of mind we call the formative mentality of a culture over a prolonged period of time. Neither does a heterosexual union, though, produce in this way when one or both of the spouses are sterile. Furthering the assumption on my part that traditional marriage is firstly and latly about breeding is the fact that being unable to produce children is grounds for the other spouse to petition for divorce. Society recognizes as grounds for divorce the inability to produce a child. It is then safe to assume that most objections to gay marriage are a reaction, mostly unconsciously, perhaps even collectively-unconsciously, to a non-productive union.

For our society to remain consistent in this way, we would have to have enforced divorce for couples who cannot have children, and for couples who decide not to have children too, perhaps; that is, if we are going to continue to say that Gay Marriage is not marriage in the traditional sense. Do we want to annul marriages that cannot produce children–some still do in the course of finding out that one of the couple cannot help produce a child. Perhaps if one of a couple still wants a divorce under such circumstances it can become the choice in a personal argument of expectation and not a de facto decision based on marriage being primarily about breeding which most people do not even believe anymore. Is this what we want to do, walk backward into darkness and ignorance?

If it is no longer de facto that marriage entails the expectation of having children, and if one decides to divorce for the inability of the union to produce a child, then the decision for divorce must be made on the grounds of personal expectation, since the contract was between the two under consideration and not all marriages as in effect or de facto every marriage was. If this is the case, then marriage is no longer about breeding and is now about love? It may or may not be about love–it could be for economic solvency too. But breeding is no longer the prime or overriding reason for marriage, thus there is no sensible reason for gay men or lesbians to be excluded.

We are not herein discussing adoption, which is always the religious answer for a heterosexual couple that cannot have children. Adoption, though, is not breeding; and still, if one examines adoption practices we see that to breed is still a big part of marriage. But then this is just what gay unions address. Marriage is no longer ruled by the processes involved in insemination (unless we want to address the ways insemination in surrogacy could be used by homosexual couples); marriage is now and forever only about love or the choice to join in a ritual contract binding two sane adults–let us not forget that homosexuality is no longer a mental illness (and do I really have to tell you that my tongue is firmly in my cheek?).

What Gay Marrige does, as I have iterated above, is free marriage from the shackles of breeding and breeding rights and the legitimizing of the brood. A woman is not adjunct to a husband’s pigs, cows or goats. Remember that a brood mare is a female horse that is set aside for breeding. Traditional marriage sets aside women for breeding. Gay men and lesbians cannot be set aside for breeding–unless there is some form of surrogacy, which we still seem to have problems with, irrespective of there being surrogacy in the Old Testament. I suspect that this is an aspect of the Old Testament that even some fundamentalist Christians cannot abide? Or they are then horribly inconsistent. Perhaps their ethics belong in a cafeteria and not their churches.

 

IV

In traditional marriage, throughout all the English speaking world, a woman becomes a wife; a man, a husband. In English, these titles, if you will, reveal something intrinsic in the traditional mentality concerning marriage. ‘Wife’ comes from the Anglo-saxon word for female, not woman or spouse. In this context, female is equal to breeder, as the female of any mammalian species is the breeder of her brood. The distinction of female in any species is a sexual one, and that is without any of the neutral connotations we assert in our identifications with gender. Gender is a grammatical term and one of sociological reference when talking about women and men.

Male and female are the two sexes of any species, distinct for their roles in breeding, primarily. A man becomes a husband in marriage, and in effect becomes the master of the union’s breeding; he is the one that manages the brood of the breeder, the female, or the wife in this instance, the Anglo Saxon wif. The latter is also part of the compound wif man, or, ‘woman.’ Before marriage a woman is a female person (what we mean by ‘person’ is contained in the use of the Old English word ‘man;’ what we mean by ‘man’ was contained by the Old English were as in were-wolf, man-wolf or wolfman; the Old English were having nothing to do with the contemporary English past tense form of the verb ‘be’ ‘were,’ nor is it restricted to use in the former connotation). After marriage, she is only a female. Note the deletion of her personhood. Moreover, as mentioned above, the word ‘husband’ is contained in the origin of the word ‘husbandry,’ the science of animal breeding, which is exactly what traditional marriage reduced woman to, an animal, perhaps a pet, domesticated as were cows, horses and pigs.

You do also know that bride and bridal are related, and bridal is the adjectival form of the noun ‘bride,’ and ‘bridal’ is exactly the word that had been used in puns based on ‘bridle bit,’ what a horseman puts in the mouth of his horse. The husband muzzles the wife in traditional marriage. Now we know that jokes permeate the psyche; common parlance affects mentality, mentality shapes common parlance. For centuries in English speaking societies where horses were used, ridden and bred, bridle bits have been used; and in as much as homophones are often the root of puns, bridle bit gives rise to the puns about marriage, how the bridal bed is a symbolic bridling of the woman, her bridal bed is her bridle bit.

Gay men by their sexual practices cannot produce children, which underlies, as I have said, many objections to Gay Marriage. But then anal intercourse between heterosexual couples does not produce offspring. I do not doubt that many who object to Gay Marriage might also object to heterosexual anal or oral copulation because they violate what they interpret as Biblical proscriptions against sodomy, or because any sexual act that might not result in a child is perhaps demonic or simply degenerate (itself a term used to denote prurience but has its origins in actions that do not generate, and even when used to reference a metaphorical generation, as in art, for instance, that is, what does not generate is degenerate [something the Nazis had an affinity for identifying].The origin of the words used is for something that is progenerating-like, as in producing children who are our progeny).

I am not going to discuss masturbation as it is understood in these minds; masturbation being the greatest metaphor in parallel for the kind of thinking that takes place in these minds . . . I am not going to venture any psycho-analytic diagnosis. Sexuality in itself, let us say, as well as the practices therein, whether hetero- or homo-, is freed by the acceptance of Gay Marriage.

All of these points notwithstanding, we still see attacks on abortion clinics and a savage opposition to the availability and distribution of birth control, both of which run parallel to the sometimes savage and even violent reactions to the idea of Gay Marriage or homosexuality. One conclusion from this could be that sex is not for pleasure in our culture. If we examine our popular culture and its entertainment, we would see clearly that when sex is for pleasure, it must be framed as grotesquely as possible. The proliferation of pornography can tell you just what the collective unconscious of America thinks about sex. And I am not herein trying to proscribe or prescribe for anyone’s bedroom, but what we do in our bedrooms and what we see on the stage of our social interactions, the platforms we perform on as we know this world is a stage, exist in different categories, whether associatively or dissociatively.

If we are opposed to Gay Marriage because it stands outside of traditional marriage’s link with breeding and breeding rights, then we are on shaky ground. Moreover, as I have alluded above, anyone who is infertile must also be excluded from the right to marry, if we are taking the position that gay marriage is not traditional in the sense that gay couples cannot breed. If we allow infertile couples to marry and stay married then perhaps we are moving in the direction toward marriage as a bond of love and not the breeding contract it has been traditionally. This, of course, is not the fist time we have heard that marrige is a bond between two people who love one another. At least idealistically, marriage is this. Cynical attitudes about marriage being a bond in love notwithstanding. If marriage is open to contractual agreements more economic than amorous, then there is even less reason to oppose Gay Marriage.

Until we change the diction of marriage, though, the rhetoric cannot change. If we do not change the rhetorical constructs we use to refer to marriage and persons in a marriage, then the mentality about marriage will not change. If mentality does not change, individual psychologies will continue to be shaped according to an archaic framework. If this is true, though, that marriage is about love and not about breeding, then why is infertility still grounds for divorce? If marriage is exclusively adjunct to homo-sapiens animal husbandry, then gay marriage makes no sense; if marriage is a union between two humans who love one another, then gay marriage reinforces this notion by taking out of the equation of marriage once and for all the conditions of breeding. Heterosexual marriages that do not produce children for whatever reason, by choice or by biology, are as fruitful as those that are fruitful and multiplicative.

Gay marriage is therefore, and I repeat, marriage liberation. It is not only an issue of gay rights but of women’s right, in as much as it removes women from the yoke of traditional marriage or the contractural obligations in husbandry. The issue of Gay Marriage, being a Human Rights issue, in as much as it is an issue of the right to choose, fosters a broader understanding of everyone’s basic Human Rights. As fore mentioned, Gay Marriage liberates heterosexual marriage, and once and for all, as I will repeat again here, removes the definition of marriage from the legacy of breeding, although certainly not parenting, which it will thus redefine, as it has been redefining it for us in our society for the last quarter century. A redefinition of parenting will also bring about a redefinition of the roles of mother and father; it will have an impact on paternity claims, and child care, especially in places like Family Court. Could we be leaving our Puritanical reflexes behind? I would hope so.

V

I used to think that it was naive of us to expect the mainstream of our society to accept homosexuality coming our of the closet, when heterosexuality had only been out of the closet in our culture for about fifty to sixty years, and poorly received at that by the turns in how popular culture deals with or represents sexuality. You do understand that this is not hyperbole. Sexuality, in our media and popular culture is always in need of being marginalized or of marginalizing itself.

This is changing, but there is still far too many examples of sex and sexuality that point to a collective unconscioous fear of sex and sexuality. This fear in America is repressing our attudes about isues concerning gay marriage, as well as abortion rights. Our notions of personhood are also stunted by this notion of how sex and sexuality is first, fore-mostly and lastly about breeding. Issues concerning the nature of personhood and transgender persons and how they are persons first and last is confused and confounded by this inability on our part socially to deal with sex and sexaulity in a healthy way.

So then, let me then say—no,let me proclaim throughout all the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof—that Gay Marriage is Marriage.

In this way, the truth is tautological.