Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Divorce, Captain, But Not As We Know It!

This is one of these "only in America" stories which makes the country so beloved of all those who glory in life's rich, varied, ever-new yet strangely unchanging cavalcade. Americans, it can safely be asserted, never do anything by halves. Take ball games. Every other nation on earth divides each match into two equal time periods. In the US you gotta have four.

Even baseball takes its officially ordained break not as logic dictates in the middle of the fifth inning of nine but in the seventh! And of course patrons get an opportunity for a hefty amount of shut eye at every pitching change as well. When the best two teams in the country slug it out each Fall the winners, without the slightest hint of irony or concern for semantics, are hailed World Champions!

Nothing is authentically American until it evolves into a gigantic version of what it should be. Football, a college runabout that lasted a measly hour, only became a national obsession when wiser heads came up with idea of stopping the clock every time a fan cursed one of the officials thereby turning it into a 3 hour plus butt-punishing marathon.

Other lands have dales, vales, fissures, ravines. The Land of the Free's got the Grand Canyon, Everest turned on its head. And there's Mount Rushmore - which is to chiseling stone what the same Grand Canyon is to erosion. There's even the world's fattest ball of twine that's still agrowin' courtesy of the good people of Cawker City, Kansas. Almost as awe-inspiringly huge as the amount of free time the good people of Cawker City have on their hands.

I blame it on Manifest Destiny. After setting up governance over a 200 mile strip of a land mass 3000 miles wide it takes some chutzpah to declare within two generations that the annexation of the other 2,800 miles was merely a matter of hitching up some covered wagons and giddy-uping in a vaguely western direction until you ran out of real estate. That kind of thing tends to get passed on in the gene pool. If the notoriously sex-shy Panda bear had been naturalized to the Oregon forests during the Carter Administration they'd have overrun the West as far as Colorado by now and be happily humping their way across the Mississippi by 2025 at the latest.

The same can be said for the Sixties, the decade when Timothy Leary was appointed the new Wizard of Oz and none of us - including the residents of Cawker City - were in Kansas anymore. Or have been since. This was the period when the United States was turned into a wrecking yard where the traditional social, legal and political structures of the Western World were dismantled and melted down for souvenirs, at first chaotically and then with an increasingly emboldened totalitarian thoroughness.

Martin Luther King's civil rights agitation - a completely constitutional movement to fulfill the Constitution itself by applying it unexceptionally to black citizens - became the paradoxical blueprint for the prolonged gang rape of the Founding Document that followed. What should have been the moment the Union transcended its historical origins and achieved the universality it had at its establishment claimed - "that all men are created equal" - became instead the starting point for a philosophically fraudulent and morally repugnant descent into the rancorous exceptionalism and relativist chaos we see today.

The speed with which America went from a virtuous engagement with its fundamental principles in LBJ's Civil Rights Act to the theatre de l'absurd of the prevailing social and judicial dispensation is staggering. Never have so few badgered, bamboozled and bullied so many to acquiesce in the total destruction of so much of what is necessary to live a civilized and civilizing life.

And so the most dangerous place most citizens born since the seventies have been or are likely to be is in the cradle of our race - the mother's womb. Around it cluster the medical thugees of the New Order, honing their scalpels and oiling their cranial vacuum cleaners. A grisly crew of self-styled "reproductive rights advocates", anti-death penalty politicians, puerile media hucksters, lethal feministas and airhead Hollywood engagés look on from the bleachers ready to applaud the grand slam home run of a "partial" birth abortion - hitherto known as murder in the first degree.

Motherhood, fatherhood, childhood have all been seized and broken on the wheel. Robin Hood was spared only because of his policy of enlightened wealth distribution. Marriage is now languishing in the progressivist dungeons, being daily stretched on the rack of social engineering.

It is here we enter the dark Zone of Irrationality, that bourne where the flagging Liberal Mind goes for some chow. This is a place "where nothing is but what is not" (Macbeth I, 3). However, instead of having "function...smothered in surmise", as the horrified Macbeth puts it, any surmise, however fantastical, outlandish, macabre or just downright silly, is invested with a multitude of functions.

The issue of marriage, a concept and practice easily understood because so widely practised, perfectly illustrates the reductio ad absurdam inherent in the Liberal mindset. It also demonstrates the deadly postmodern combination of unfettered self-centered emotionalism (i.e. irrationality) and ruthlessly goal-directed logic (i.e. ideology).

It invariably starts from some basic tenet of paleo-liberalism to which virtually all of us subscribe, viz. individual freedom is a sine qua non of a civilized society. From this is derived the proposition that, for instance, homosexuality should be decriminalized and homosexuals allowed to get on doing that thing they do as long as "they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses". (Which, incidentally, is why San Francisco passed an ordinance in the eighties forbidding the presence of any equine within the city limits unless suitably blinkered.)

Homosexuality enjoyed a very brief period of simple non-illegality before irrationality kicked in. Sexual deviance became rapidly valorized. Homosexuals are not, as was initially argued, "just like the rest of us" except, ahem, for a slight dissimilarity which only the terminally rednecked tend to dwell upon. Homosexuals, repackaged as 'gays', (only group members, after the pattern of 'nigger', are permitted to utter the pejorative stereotype 'queer' ) are now discovered to be in fact superior in every significant - and umpteen trivial - ways to normal men. These latter are promptly labeled 'straight' and in this way reduced to just another competing social group rather than the biological engine room of our species.

This marks the point at which the irrational and ideological merge. In the quest to normatively reconstruct social reality, normality (heterosexual relations, gender differences, marriage properly so called) is deconstructed (i.e. rendered essentially meaningless) as a mere cultural fabrication. At the same time this same normality is ingeniously recycled as a means of legitimating the abnormal. Thus gender differences have no objective reality yet women are set up as superior to men in actuality and so legally, morally and socially privileged on the sole grounds of their gender, the same category already denounced as a mere conceptual construct alone.

Though marriage in respect of heterosexuals (the only context in which it has meaning) is similarly denounced and disprivileged, the Neo-Liberal grandly declares that it is a fundamental human right of homosexuals to be allowed to enter into it! So, while less and less of the biologically capable plight their troth, great rafts of the absolutely unmarriageable are clamoring at the altar rails to be pronounced Chuck and Larry, Linda and Sue Bob.

Any such "marriage" is an ontological and physical impossibility. It is a squalid nominalist sleight of hand, abetted by brain-addled Massachusetts's judges playing the part of conjuror's assistants, complete with drum rolls, spinning bow ties and the abbracadabra of judicial mumbo-jumbo. It is the equivalent of painting a prune yellow, declaring it a lemon and popping a slice into your gin and tonic. A veritable witch's cocktail.

But the cavalcade rolls merrily on. Well, not quite merrily as it turns out. Hoodah thunk it! The one thing Massachusets Matrimony has in common with the real thing is that ever-lurking threat in all human interaction - buyer's remorse. Queer folk, having tied the knot, are no less eager to slip their leash as square folk, it appears. Divorce causes abundant problems and not just about who gets custody of Fidel, the remaining incontinent octogenarian chihuahua, his sibling, Ché, having gone to a farm in the country long ago as a result of a brave foray against a neighboring Bolivian tiger hound.

States which haven't yet passed the New England Hitching Post Law are refusing to grant "divorces" to matrimonialized gays because their union has even less legal standing than a loving father in Family Court. And Massachusetts requires that they live a year in the commonwealth before acquiring residential rights. This is causing great gay anguish.

Yahoo News reports that Cassandra Ormiston, a lesbian from Rhode Island, "who is splitting up from her wife, Margaret Chambers," is caught in this bind. "We all know people who have gone through divorces," she laments. "At the end of that long and unhappy period, they have been able to breathe a sigh of relief...[But] I do not see that on my horizon, that sigh of relief that it's over."

So here we are aboard the starship USS Boundless XS. Having already penetrated beyond the limits of the stellar dust cloud of Absurditas Extremis, it now begins its journey into the black hole named after its discoverer, Commodore D. N. Sayne. In his last transmission before he and his crew disappeared, the doughty Commodore urged all earthlings to follow him into what he called "this brave new world" of respect, harmony and unrelieved rapture based on "a socially equitable ontology" where each one of us "can be whatever it is we want to be at the exact moment we want to be it, anytime, everywhere".

Until that great day dawns hapless homosexuals like Ms Ormiston will continue to agonise over being trapped in a marriage that does not, because it cannot, exist in the world of brute facts while pining for a divorce that cannot be granted because the union it would break cannot as a (bio)logical reality be established in the first place.

The famous poet A. N. Onimous captured perfectly the painful metaphysics of such an exquisite dilemma in these poignant line:

Yesterday upon a stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today;
Oh, how I wish he'd go away!

1 comment:

everdream said...

Why aren't you syndicated on some radio, TV or podcast? This is just good, funny, insightful stuff (a little verbose for my MTV generation, but I can live with it). You are cracking me up! I'll bite and subscribe to your RSS feed. Thanks for the humorous intellectual workout!