Tuesday, March 21, 2006

This, pardon the phrase, is a load of baloney.

"Manliness" is the unapologetic title of a new book by Harvey C. Mansfield, a conservative professor of government at Harvard University, which makes him a species as rare as a dissenting voice in the Bush White House. Mansfield's thesis is that manliness, which he sums up as "confidence in the face of risk," is a misunderstood and unappreciated attribute.

Now, a conservative at Harvard I'd pay to see, but the idea that G.W. exhibits "manliness" is a bunch of bull. Don't get me wrong, he started out on the right foot, but as far as his war tactics go, let's just say that I think General Patton would be laughing along with me right now.

Manliness, he writes, "seeks and welcomes drama and prefers times of war, conflict, and risk." It entails assertiveness, even stubbornness, and craves power and action. It explains why men, naturally inclined to assert that "our policy, our party, our regime is superior," dominate in the political sphere.

Men hate drama. That's why they're so big into conflict resolution, not conflict for conflict's sake. (Unless, of course, they're "today's man" and prefer manicures to machine guns and enjoy the idea of wearing pantyhose in a foxhole.) No man "craves" power, either; they're just naturally inclined to take control over a situation and resolve the conflict. Assertive, yes; stubborn, well, what natural leader isn't? Claims of superiority, however, are a bit of a stretch.

...Mansfield writes that he wants to "convince skeptical readers -- above all, educated women" -- that "irrational manliness deserves to be endorsed by reason." Sorry, professor: You lose. What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

I'm an educated woman. Educated enough to know a crackpot theory when I read one. The qualities Mansfield writes about cannot possibly be attributed to "manliness" in the true sense of the word. They can, however, be attributed to hyperstereotypes made popular in liberal academia and the mainstream media. The same can be said for Marcus's concepts of "womanly qualities." Restraint and introspection cannot be claimed solely by the female sex. A "desire for consensus" is usually furthest from a woman's mind, especially in cases of conflict, and as far as self-doubt goes, well, thank you Ms. Marcus for setting the woman's movement back a good 100 years. If anything, Marcus's theories about positive female qualities do nothing less than feed into the same stereotypes perpetrated by the feminist movement-- that women are nothing but a bunch of pussies. (All puns most seriously intended.)

Please, do me a favor, academia: When it comes to sex, just shut the hell up.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Question of the Day:

Is honor dead?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Too many people are too easily offended. Chances are, if you find a colony of perturbed people, they're usually buzzing around a hive of truth. Nothing offends someone more than the truth. A lie can result in emotions ranging from amused to annoyed, but it can be discounted. (If you want a sure-fire way of figuring out who your real friends are, spread a lie about yourself and see who believes the gossip from someone else's mouth, instead of the truth from your own.) The truth cannot be discounted, nor can it be hidden, nor reversed. The truth is a high-priced commodity, especially in today's postmodern world where authority figures dictate that "truth is subjective."

One professor I've heard of taught his class that "there are three kinds of truth. There's your truth, there's my truth, and then there's the truth." I can only assume that he was later fired, once the administration caught wind of the fact that he was actually granting some level of objectivity to that most treasured of nouns. I can't say that I totally disagree with him, either. I'm a firm believer in the objective status of truth. At the same time, I understand very clearly that everyone has their own take on it. For example, I can tell you what I think is true when it comes to God, yet I know for a fact that there are several million people out there who would care to disagree with me, because my truth about God doesn't mesh with their own truth about who God is. To me, that's O.K., because I understand and accept that, in the end, truth is objective. Understanding that gives me the humility to accept that I'm not always going to be right. It also gives me the motivation to seek out the truth for what it is, and to be as objective as I can when it comes to the truth in my own life.

The problem with the subjective nature of truth comes into play when people take the right to be subjective and turn it into their right to be superior. Superiority leads to egotism, egotism leads to narcissism, narcissism leads to a monarchy of the mind, and before long you have millions of little kings running around on this earth, ready to bite each other's heads off over simple little nothings. What's more, subjectivity in truth leads people to question their own opinions, comparing their truths to the truths of others. This often leads to second-guessing, self-questioning, and eventual subjugation of one party to another.

We need truth to be objective; it puts us in our place, and keeps others in theirs. We need the humility that comes with understanding that we aren't right all the time, but we also need to couple that with the desire to be as correct as possible, to be as honest with the truth as we possibly can. If we aren't, we leave ourselves susceptible to both narcissism as well as subjugation. Moreover, we leave ourselves open to those influences in our daily lives: like minds group together. Only through embracing the objective nature of truth can we grant ourselves complete and utter independence, for even the most subjective of narcissists remains a prisoner to their own ego.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Many studies have been done on the effects of feminism on the modern woman. However, what has feminism done to today's man? You can tick off a list of the usual complaints about jobs, sex, and the illegalization of pornography, but I would argue that those are the mere effects stemming from a much deeper cause. What is really at the heart of feminism's credo regarding the modern man? I believe that we can understand this by studying some behaviors common among today's male. Of course, these behaviors are common among a group, not specific to any individual. However, science and experience have given me license to argue that at least one, if not more of them are specific to the majority.

Today's man lives at home longer.

In late 2004, CBC News published an articled titled Men living at home that listed some startling statistics when it came to grown men leaving the nest:

According to the 2001 census, 41 per cent of the 3.8 million young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 in Canada lived with their parents. But between the sexes, 64 per cent of men aged 20-24 lived with their parents, while 52 per cent of women in the same age group did.

In the 25-29 age group, 29 per cent of the guys were still sharing the TV converter with their parents, as opposed to 19 per cent of women. But here's a scary statistic – 33 per cent of unmarried men between the ages of 30 and 34 are living with their parents, while only 22 per cent of women are.

The article listed a series of possible reasons for why men are staying at home longer, ranging from the changing economy (younger workers are being paid less, yet, female contemporaries who are paid less than their male counterparts are more likely to be living on their own) to the stereotypical idea that men just don't like cleaning up after themselves. One expert even went so far as to cite the biological fact that boys mature slower than girls. This argument may work for the 18 year old with ADD or the 22 year old playing the field, but when you're near 30 and your mom's still doing your laundry, a retarded maturity rate doesn't really cut it.

The homebound trend isn't limited to our neighbors in the north. A few weeks ago, I attended a party with a group of fifty-somethings. One woman broke into the story of her three boys, ages 27, 25, and 23 respectively, all of whom are still living at home. "I just don't understand it," she commented in frustration. Her husband chimed in, "But it's the same with all of their friends-- they all still live at home!" While I can't speak for their friends, I can say for sure that these boys do more than live at home with mommy and daddy. They do not pay rent, they do not clean up after themselves; in short, outside of maintaining steady employment, they do not exhibit one tendency associated with manhood.

Some would argue that this was the fault of the parents', that if the parents would kick the boys out, independent living would force them into maturity. But, does living on your own make you "grown up," or does it just force you to spend a little less money on booze to make rent every month?

The boys reluctant to leave home reminded me of the guys with whom I went to college. Both groups of boys are obsessive about paintball, especially paintball guns; they enjoy playing with gas-powered toy cars; they're obsessed with video games; they toke up, often. Some would argue that even adults have hobbies, but how many adults that you know of spend their weekends hunting down friends in fields, only to smatter them with paint and then get high while participating in two-day long Final Fantasy marathons? All in all, these "hobbies" are reminiscent of childish behaviors exhibited to the extreme due to lack of adult supervision. The kicker: my college friends have lived on their own since their dorm days.

When I asked the ailing mother what she thought would be the best solution to her boyish conundrum, she replied, exasperated, "They need to get girlfriends!" Do women have that much power, I wonder? Or, does this mean the boys need to move from the supervision of one mother to another? One girl I knew lived with a man for years and wanted to marry him, but no matter what she did, she couldn't get him to commit. "His mother spoiled him," she once commented, "she would wake him up every morning with breakfast in bed and then clean his room while he ate." Has today's man traded in his independence for the free-as-a-bird lifestyle of nest-hopping at whim?

Today's man expects sex without commitment.

Of course, this does work both ways. Or does it? When a friend of mine started sleeping with her boyfriend in college, her parents told her, "No man buys the cow when he can get the milk for free." A familiar adage, to be sure, but worthy of attention nonetheless, because it highlights one of the major ideological faux pas of feminism: the idea that you don't have to be married to have sex or cohabit with a romantic partner.

What are the consequences of "sex without consequences"? Society isn't going to brand you with a scarlet letter, but are you marked nonetheless? I once had a guy tell me that there are two types of women: girlfriends and wives. While those can be considered somewhat amorphous terms in today's subjective society, one thing was clear in his definition: wives end up happily ever after, and girlfriends end up miserable and alone. What happens to a girl who decides that she isn't going to wait for a ring before she jumps into bed with Mr. Right Now? Internet blogger Kim writes:
I hate to waste my time dating someone knowing that it's not going to go anywhere but a girl can't just go out and have a one night stand can she? If a girl were to do that then she's a big ol' slutbag. Of course, a guy does it and he's a stud.

That sucks. Damn double standard. I want to go out and sleep with people and not have any strings attached too! Why do guys get all the fun? Why can't I be considered cool if I accumulate a bunch of notches on my bedpost?

Is this where feminism has gotten us? Having to act like we're all demure and lady-like? Pretending to find a guy interesting for 3 or 4 dates before you can allow him to take you to bed? Shouldn't it have brought us up and made us equal to men even in sexual issues?

The kicker is it's women that will be the first to call you a slut if you went out and had your one night stand. Hussy, tramp, whore. The same women the want to have equal pay and equal responsibilities don't believe in equality in the bedroom.

Bitches.

Five years later, my friend from college was ready to get married to her boyfriend she'd started sleeping with freshman year. He, however, was ready to break it off for the next hot thing that passed by. She wasn't alone. Another friend has spent six years living with her boyfriend who still isn't willing to commit for a lifetime, not even if they do it in Vegas. A coworker wasn't able to get her man to commit for a lifetime until nearly three years after their child was born; even then, she had to drag him to the altar. Does a woman lose her value once she commits to not being committed for life? What does that say about the attitudes men have towards women and commitment?

Despite the propaganda, the responsibility associated with sex goes beyond STD prevention and birth control. A lack of responsibility when it comes to sex lends itself to a lack of responsibility towards the institutions associated with sex, namely that of marriage. "All About Cohabiting Before Marriage," a Christian-based website endorsed by several marriage couselors, doctors, and religious officials, provides a wealth of statistical information and sociological argumentation regarding cohabitation and sex before marriage. Statistics show that:
Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago. (Bumpass and Lu, 2000)

Most unmarried partners who live together are 25 to 34 years old.

Nearly 50% of those in their 20's and 30's cohabit (Bumpass & Lu 1998; Bumpass & Sweet 1995; Sweet 1989).

Within five years from the beginning of a cohabitation relationship more than half of these relationships will end even if the couple had married during that time(Seltzer 2000).

57% of cohabiting couples dissolve within ten years when compared with 30% of all first marriages (VanGoethem 2005:77).

The risk of divorce after living together is 40 to 85% higher than the risk of divorce after not living together. In other words, those who live together before marriage are almost twice as likely to divorce than those who did not live together (Bumpass & Sweet 1995; Hall & Zhao 1995; Bracher, Santow, Morgan & Russell 1993; DeMaris & Rao 1992 and Glen 1990).

An indicator of commitment to partner – sexual exclusivity – is lower in cohabitors after marriage.

Cohabiting couples have an 80%+ chance that their relationship will end. (40% breakup before they marry; the other 40% divorce within 10 years of marrying.)
Among the sociological reasons to avoid cohabitation:
A Columbia University study cited in New Woman magazine found that "only 26% of women surveyed and a scant 19% of the men married the person with whom they were cohabiting."

Depending on the specific statistical methods used it was found that couples who marry after a period of cohabitation are at a 35% to 50% greater risk of separating and/or divorcing than marriages without prior cohabitation (Seltzer, 2000; Teachman, 2002; Teachman, 2003). American Sociological Review reported the findings of Yale University sociologist Neil Bennett that cohabiting women were 80% more likely to separate or divorce than were women who had not lived with their spouses before marriage (Bennett, et. al. 1988). Other studies show that those who have any type of pre-marital cohabiting experience have a 50 to 100 percent greater likelihood of divorce than those who do not cohabit premaritally (Axxinn and Thornton, 1992; Bumpass, Sweet and Cherlin, 1991; T. R. Balakrishnan, et al.1987).

In a Canadian study at the University of Western Ontario, sociologists found a direct relationship between cohabitation and divorce when investigating over 8,000 ever-married men and women (Hall and Zhoa 1995:421-427). It was determined that living in a non-marital union "has a direct negative impact on subsequent marital stability," perhaps because living in such a union "undermines the legitimacy of formal marriage" and so "reduces commitment of marriage."
Regarding Sex Alone:
If a couple abstains from sex before marriage, they are 29 to 47% more likely to enjoy sex afterward than those who cohabit . Sexual satisfaction rises considerably more after marriage (Hering 1994:4).

A study of 2,746 women in the National Survey of Family Growth performed by Dr. Kahn of the University of Maryland and Dr. London of the National Center for Health Statistics found that nonvirgin brides increase their odds of divorce by about 60%.
The most insightful argument presented on the site states:
Cohabitation involves "no public commitment, no pledge for the future, no official pronouncement of love and responsibility. Theirs is essentially a private arrangement based on an emotional bond. The ‘commitment' of living together is simply a month-to-month rental agreement. "As long as you behave yourself and keep me happy, I'll stick around." ...In this "alternative lifestyle," the aim is to have all the benefits and privileges of a mature, married person without accepting the responsibilities which maturity demands.
Essentially, cohabitation gives license to men and women to avoid claiming personal responsibility to others by eliminating the pressure to commit to a life long relationship with another person. In an article titled Cohabitation Up 85 Percent, Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization that promotes Biblical values in public life, argues that, "Americans are turning to cohabitation as security against divorce. But in doing so, they are placing their cherished relationships in even greater jeopardy." Statistics back up real life experiences: living with your partner and engaging in sexual activity before marriage nearly guarantees a lack of lifetime commitment. Why? Because each person involved isn't required to take responsibility for their actions within the relationship. Marriage is a social and religious institution with legal and financial obligations; you can't just "walk out" on a marriage without the stress of paperwork and public embarrassment. You can, however, walk out on your boyfriend when you've had a bad day, or leave your girlfriend when the sex gets old, because the commitment isn't public, so who or what is there to hold you accountable? What it boils down to is a willingness to officially and publicly commit to another person for life. No nest-hopping or notches on the bedpost allowed. It is a question of responsibility; moreover, it is a question of character.

As character goes, there are girlfriends, and there are wives. But there's also a difference between men you date and men you marry. The men you date are boys; the men you marry are gentlemen.

Today's man speaks openly with women about coarse subjects using vulgar language.

Every Gen-X chick out there has been subject to it more than once: crude sexual humor. Sure, guys can be sued in the workplace, but what about social situations? The other day, a friend of mine remarked about her dinner out with her boyfriend and four of their guy friends. Before the main course was served, the conversation turned to strip clubs. As a result, she sat through dinner, silently eating her food and staring at the wall, with absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation. Feminism preaches equality, but the thing of it is, when it comes to thinking about sex, men and women are completely different.

Internet blogger SusanWalkerGirl writes in Feminism: A Misnomer, or Let's Pretend?:
Like a lot of women every once and a while I’m forwarded an e-mail picture of some guy who is scantily clad. I’m suppose to ogle at this picture and fawn over what a hunky guy this is…as if this is evidence of my sexually liberated feminine nature.

The women that forward on these e-mails on are acting like they are liberated woman. That they can do anything a man can do…including look at pictures of “sexy” men. Just like guys will look at pictures of naked women…and share them with their buddies.

...Women on the other hand are not hard wired that way. They are not usually sexually stimulated by pictures of handsome men that they don’t know.

Men are sexually stimulated by pictures of beautiful women…women they know or women they don’t know….it doesn’t really matter.

Does that mean that women don’t find handsome men attractive? Of course they do…but the visual impact of a good looking man effects women entirely differently.

...In your attempts to be liberated and equal to men…you are merely throwing feminine nature under the bus. Instead you try and put on a man’s nature. What’s really weird about this…is that feminists hate men. But in doing this you are trying to be like them.

It’s kind of ironic… feminists try to display their liberation by ogling over pictures of naked guys. But if a guy is ogling over a picture of some scantily clad woman…that same feminist is running to human resources and crying foul. She’s making a complaint about a hostile work environment or sexual harassment. Rather hypocritical now, isn’t it?
Personally, I cannot find a man attractive unless I know him. Sure, I can say he's good-looking, but that doesn't mean anything. There are plenty of good-looking guys out there who wouldn't get the time of day from me. I just can't do it. It isn't in me to develop an attraction to a man based solely on his physical appearance, and I'm sure I'm not the only woman who thinks this way. Therefore, yes, I believe it is hypocritical for a woman to go around exhibiting male attitudes towards sex. However, I also have the firm belief that the idea of men commenting or joking frequently and excitedly about how much they love women's bodies in front of women is also hypocritical, as well as stupid and callous. It is a sure guarantee that the woman you're talking to is going to find you less and less attractive the longer you keep talking about how much you like breasts, because it sounds to her as if you think she's nothing more than another one of the guys.

I've grown to notice that the discussion of sex in mixed company often knows no bounds. From alluding to sex, to commenting on women's bodies, to delving into lewd jokes and innuendo, men from 15 to 50 and beyond have absolutely no clue when enough is enough anymore. I have known only one man in my entire life who has never once even commented on the subject, let alone attempted discussions on such things in my presence: my father, who was born in 1945. This self-censorship wasn't imposed because of our relationship to each other, but rather because the era he was born into was a time when men, real men, were gentlemen. Discussing sex in the company of ladies was not only inappropriate, it wasn't even considered; you just didn't do that sort of thing, especially not with someone you respected and valued.

The simple truth is that there is no polite way to talk about sex. Especially not with women. A real lady will make it very apparent early on that you will be having a one-sided conversation at best if you approach the topic of sex in conversation. Why? It is a universal truth that ladies cannot discuss sex, especially not in the company of men, without sounding like prudes or whores. You can try to soften the topic by using the terms "making love" instead of "sex" and "mature adults" instead of "horny men and women" but that doesn't change the fact that you're desensitizing one of the most emotionally and psychologically sensitive subjects we face as human beings. Remember the difference between girlfriends and wives? The same rules that apply to the bedroom also apply to bedroom talk. A real lady will not be comfortable talking about sex with a man, especially not a man to whom she is attracted. And, no matter how worldly she may be, a real lady subconsciously knows when to blush. Real men prove their worth by recognizing and respecting this simple, if archaic fact, and refraining from even the vaguest reference to sex while in dialogue with a lady.

The "Gentle" is gone from Gentleman.

So, what exactly is a gentleman? Over at AskMen.com you can find an article giving How To tips on being a gentleman. Irony being what it is, when I opened the page, the rotating ad to the right of the article had a picture of a woman in a string bikini, promoting some online dating service that promised to find you your "one true love." The article opens by stating:
One only needs to take a quick glance around to notice that there are very few true gentlemen remaining among us. In times past, a gentleman was much appreciated and being gentlemanly was a noble thing.

Alas, things have changed in today's society; some for the better and some for the worse. One thing that particularly irks me is the lack of good taste and etiquette most guys are guilty of at the turn of this new millennium.
Etiquette Of A Gentleman: Part II contains some integral tips, such as:
Project high moral values
Even if you know that deep down you're not, appear as if you were virtuous. A real gentleman always comes out of everything smelling like a rose. [Here's a strong warning, boys: ladies know when they're talking to a good liar. Nobody is perfect; the concept of high moral values stems from our desire for integrity and honesty. We aren't expecting you to be a god, but we would like it very much if you were godly.]

Only talk when you've been formally introduced
Which is why the phrases "Have we met?" or "Have we been introduced?" are so handy. If you feel like speaking to somebody, find a person the two of you have in common and arrange a proper introduction.

Never smoke in the presence of a lady unless invited to
In this age of political correctness it has almost become a given. While she may not ask you to, make sure you do request her permission.

Remove the cigar from your lips if a lady passes by
This one is pure common sense. It's a security measure as well as an indicator of high regard.

Offer your seat to women
Classics are always fashionable. Some feminists would certainly have a fit, but most
women will definitely value the gesture.
Part III gives one of the best tips when it comes to being chivalrous:
Walk on the outside of a sidewalk
This allows your lady to be farther from the traffic. This way, if someone is going to be splashed, it will be you, not her. I know, I know... but that's the price to pay if you want to be a gentleman.
This is my father's credo. At the start of every date I've ever been on, I hear my father's voice in my head saying, "A man always walks closest to the street." I wait and see what my date will do, if he will consciously sweep me to the inside of the sidewalk in a gentlemanly fashion. If he does, that means it'll be a good date. If not, well... let's just say that first impressions like these really do tell a lady a lot about the kind of evening she'll be having.

Conclusions

All of the behaviors and attitudes discussed are exhibited via personal choice. Feminism is a philosophy that arises from a blame culture; men have oppressed us, therefore, we suffer as women. Countering that philosophy with more blame, i.e.: Women get to act like men, therefore we get to act like boys, only gives today's men license to join in the cycle of blame. Today's men choose to act like boys. They choose to act like boys because they are told that they should not bother trying to be men, because no one trusts men, and above all, men should not trust themselves.

The most horrifying effect of feminism on today's man is the apparent lack of confidence he has in himself. All liberal ideologies seek to break down trust-- trust in the government, trust in the economy, trust in others, and trust in ourselves. Therefore, the ultimate goal of feminism is not to cause women to mistrust men, but to cause men to lose trust in themselves. For instance, feminism purports the myth that, essentially, all men are rapists. If women choose to believe this myth, they lose their trust in the men, a level of trust necessary in order to function within society and, of course, procreate to continue the species. How does this effect the man? Not only do women no longer rely on him as the provider (because they're self-sufficient career women) they suddenly do not trust him to provide for their most intimate emotional needs. If they cannot provide fiscally nor physically, what exactly is the point of their existence?

This goes beyond mere issues of self-esteem, and attacks the nucleus of a man's character. One of my former white, male students once commented in a discussion that a female professor made him feel horrible about himself in class. She did not directly attack him; rather, she attacked the male sex as a whole. "I'm a horrible person because I'm white, because I'm male-- I'm naturally a supremacist and a rapist. I didn't do anything; I'm just born evil!" His male friends sympathized with his sentiments. "It's like we're made to feel bad just because we happened to be born guys," another fellow commented. These boys were faced with accusations that they were ideologically ill-equipped to handle. Instead of debunking these claims, the majority of the girls in the classroom became the silent victims of their own internal doubts about men and about themselves. After all, if they can't trust boys not to rape them, and they can't trust their own ability to protect themselves against assailants who are naturally stronger, how can they fulfill the need to nest and procreate?

Feminism provides answers to these character trust issues by telling girls to stock up on condoms and get a career. Their answer to boys? Stock up on condoms and stay at home with your toys. In other words, and by all means, HIDE. Hide behind plastic, behind the glass ceiling, behind the office door, behind your paintball gun, heck, hide behind your mother's skirts if that's what it takes. Girls, boys are out to get you. Boys, you are biologically determined to be a criminal the minute you hit puberty. Girls, hide from the mosters that are boys. Boys, do your best to hide from the monsters you naturally are. Men are no longer gentlemen because they are no longer men, they are boys, and boy do they act like it.

My question is, when do grown boys stop allowing themselves to be infantalized and start growing up? True maturation can only happen from within, when a boy chooses to stop accepting answers and start asking questions. A real man, a real gentleman, trusts himself more than anyone else around him. He places his confidence in his character, not the opinions of others, in order to succeed in this world. Being a gentleman is about being mature and respecting women and treating them like ladies, but most of all, being a gentleman is about trusting yourself and treating yourself like a man.

**UPDATE**
For further information, see:

Best of the Web Today [WSJ]

Specifically, those who practice patriarchy--which Longman defines not in the crude feminist sense of men dominating women but as "a particular value system that not only requires men to marry but to marry a woman of proper station"--are outbreeding those who do not:

...The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will leave no genetic legacy.

...freedom--in this context meaning sex divorced from obligation--appears to be self-limiting, at least over a span of generations.

Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We're Still Single Jillian Straus

While cell phones, text messages, e-mail, BlackBerries, speed dating, and internet dating all conspire to create a sense that there are endless options, a culture of "consumer sex" and casual hook-ups make settling down feel like settling. And as the age of first marriage goes up, the level of expectation climbs right along with it, and we start subjecting prospective mates to "the checklist." From the collapse of courtship and the death of romance to the overriding media message that single life is sexy and married life is boring, we have a culture of mixed emotions about the very concept of marriage.

Is There a Good Reason to Get Married? [Israel National News]

Until they are married, a couple's commitment to each other is a human commitment, with all the limitations of being human. We can't see the future, we can't know what may change and what may eventuate, and we make mistakes. The Chuppah elevates the commitment beyond human limitations. The blessings made under the Chuppah invoke G-d's name upon the couple and bring G-d into the union as a partner. You are married not just because you chose to be, but because G-d has said so.

"Neither age nor size makes a man [or woman]... It is the willingness to accept responsibility." Louis L'Amour, The Lonesome Gods

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

--Thomas Wolfe

Look Homeward, Angel

Are we the sum total of the faces, the places, the experiences of our lives? Are we simultaneously a product of the past and a window into the future?

"...all serious work in fiction is autobiographical... Fiction is not fact, but fiction is fact selected and understood, fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose." Thomas Wolfe's assertion can be surmised by this quote, paraphrased from an episode of Remember WENN: "History is news after they took out all the things that turned out not to really matter."

Do we love fiction because it is the best we have to offer to ourselves and to time itself? Or, is life just so boring and seemingly meaningless, that we yearn for our fantasies of what life could be so bloody much that, in the end, we'd prefer fantasy to reality, or at least a decent blurring of the two?


To quote a demand from Dr. Gregory House, "Define real."

According to dictionary.com, the philosophical definition of "real" is: Existing objectively in the world regardless of subjectivity or conventions of thought or language.

If subjectivity is taken out of the equation, it can only be assumed that fiction is preferable to reality because the realm of fiction allows for ultimate subjectivity. The fiction world is the world of I, Me, Mine, or in some cases, the Royal We. Fiction is ourselves at our best for all the world to see. Fiction is how we view ourselves, and how we would like to be viewed by others. We are the gods of our own fiction, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, immortal. The legal definition of fiction? Something untrue that is intentionally represented as true by the narrator. In other words, if you are good at penning fiction, you are good at lying.


To quote George Costanza, "It isn't a lie if you believe it."

Fiction is the ultimate expression of postmodernism. Postmodern philosophy dominates our culture. Therefore, our culture views life as fiction. Consequently, the people within this culture are extremely subjective. Extreme subjectivity leads to selfishness, egotism, and narcissism, to name a few.

Selfish: concerned chiefly or only with oneself

Egotism: an inflated sense of one's own importance


Narcissism: a psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.


How can a society function if this is the ultimate mentality of its members? If, according to Dr. Gregory House, "everybody lies," then cohesion cannot possibly take place. Without cohesion, the society is lost; we become a sea of individuals treading in our own fictions. A successful society requires some degree of objectivity, some level of common logic, in order to survive and thrive.

Postmodernism, then, is a philosophy best left to fiction. Fiction, then, is best left to paper. Does the medium itself, however, work to successfully separate fiction from reality? Can it be argued that our current virtual proclivities are only serving to foster our subjective realities in much the same way films and television can, but books, newspapers and magazines cannot establish and maintain fiction? Virtual mediums are amorphous anomalies. Blogs, for example, are without formal structure; they can begin and end at any time, they do not require a set schedule of postings, they are always live and easily accessible. The Ten Commandments are set in stone; the Internet is not. I doubt Google will be hiring angry old men to loom over your conscious and guilt you into going online any time soon.

Yet, some could rightly put forth the argument that the Internet is the world's greatest database of reality's truths. Billions of people use the Internet each day to find out what's going on in the world from a bevy of resources, all of which provide varying accounts of real life events. Moreover, how could a robotic medium be held responsible for the construct of reality versus fiction? In the end, it is the individual who holds control over the medium, not vice-versa.

It is also the individual who holds control over their own self, their own life. Individuals choose to create fictions; individuals choose to lie. The real question is, in the choosing, are they electing to deceive others for the common good, or are they electing to lie solely for their own benefit?


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