Not All Roads Lead Home

 

In truth, all through the haunted forest there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown.

Beside the Technicolor fantasy of a quartet of characters leaving their homes and going into a foreboding forest to gain what they think they are lacking from a wizard (see my previous post), there is another tale of a young man doing just the same. And though there is no wizard or fear of lions and tigers and bears in this tale, there is, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!”. Both stories, it seems to me, are about journeys into the dark side, the nocturnal forest in this tale, looking for an esoteric mystical experience that will supply what they are missing out on. But those who covenant to journey into the forest, and the deepest darkest part of it, end up disillusioned and faithless.

Often, especially in our youth, we begin to question the religious beliefs and worldviews of our families, of our mentors and of those around us. We see hypocrisy around us and despise it and yet become two-faced in our own sought out experiences wrought in the dark. We then begin to take on ambivalence about evil, giving ourselves the ‘grace’ to operate in both good and evil ways. Moral relativism is that form of grace.

We tell ourselves that there are people who are restrictive, conservative and Puritanical. We tell ourselves that we have become too worldly-wise to be like them: “I have Jesus so I am above all that out-of-date fundamentalism”. So, we journey in the dark forest and into the deepest darkest part of the forest and think ourselves to be impervious to its ills.

We give ourselves permission to investigate the dark side. We say to ourselves “I will do it just one time. Why be left out?  Why not join the “communion of our race””? Thus, we journey into the night and encounter evil. And like Goodman Brown, we come home disillusioned, our faith destroyed.

Young Goodman Brown sets out one night to gain existential insight into who (or what) is good and evil in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1835 short story by the same name. The story, set in 17th century Puritan New England, operates within the Puritan context of sin, grace and unconditional salvific election. I consider the tale an allegory, as it employs symbols starting with the names Goodman and Faith.

In the tale before us, Goodman Brown leaves his saintly wife Faith at the threshold of their home. She is wearing a pink ribbon on her cap. The pink ribbon, mentioned throughout, I read as a symbol of the admixture of purity (white) and sin (red). The color speaks to Goodman Brown’s spiritual understanding based on his Puritan beliefs and also to his rose-colored romance-based naiveté about the nature of evil.

“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; ‘t would kill her to think it. Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.”

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

As Goodman sets out, he does so under the cover of night and the cover of assumption: as a Puritan, Goodman Brown considers himself one of the elect. He carries with him a Puritan/Calvinist ‘good hands’ insurance card – the doctrine of predestination. He doesn’t leave home without it. And, as you read above, Goodman assumes that his association with the right people – his wife Faith in particular and the town’s good church folk in general – that he will follow them to the heavenly home. Goodman Brown goes out into the portentous night feeling safe and secure from all alarms. But his predetermined confidence quickly melts away as soon as he steps into the mysterious dark woods.

He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

Goodman’s first encounter in the woods is an old man who reminds him of his goodly grandfather. The old man appears to be waiting for Goodman. He says, “You are late, Goodman Brown.” Goodman replies “Faith kept me back awhile”.

Though the old man appears similar to Brown in many pedestrian ways the old man also appears to have “an indescribable air of one who knew the world”. And there’s something else Goodman notices and tries to explain away.

But the only thing about him that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.

It is clear to the reader that the old man is the devil who is supported by the serpent staff, He does his best to entice Goodman Brown down the road to what is later called “the communion of your race” where he will learn of the “secret deeds” of his fellow townsfolk and see hypocrisy countenanced.

Goodman balks, claiming to be one of a breed of men who is above the riff-raff.

“Too far! too far!” exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. “My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs; and shall I be the first of the name of Brown that ever took this path and kept—”

Goodman’s journey away from faith is stop and go as wrestles with the temptation of going on. He encounters something he initially resists and uses the honor of his good name and of those before him as a reason to rethink things before giving on to going on. But, he doesn’t use his faith as a shield and so bends in to temptation. He continues his journey with the old man’s urging.

The old man tries to persuade Goodman to get up and continue. He does so by using Goodman’s own argument. The old man conjures up a kinship with men like Goodman. He lies about having personal knowledge and acquaintance of Goodman’s family. He then speaks of townsfolk – deacons and those in power – as personal references. He cajoles Goodman to continue their ‘association’ by journeying on.

Goodman Brown once considered himself impervious to all the devil’s wiles. After all he was one of the elect and associated with the right people. But each step he took in the wrong direction away from faith weakened his resolve. His compromises were reinforced by his inordinate curiosity. He continues his journey into the deepest darkest part of the forest and sees what the “communion of our race” so desires, “that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were sinners abashed”.

 

There are several interpretations and critiques of the story. Some will say that Hawthorne is pointing out the hypocrisy of a society that prides itself on its high moral and civic standing and makes outcasts of those who do not live up to its standards. Other interpreters go out on a dark forest limb with their construal:

Modern critics have interpreted “Young Goodman Brown” in many ways. The story as a critique of society stands out to some. To psychologically inclined readers, Brown journeys into the psyche. The village represents the superego, whereas the forest and darkness become equivalents of the Freudian id. The entire story becomes a portrait of one human mind that discovers the usually suppressed and disquieting reality of animal instinct

The story’s symbols lend its meaning to a wide audience and to many interpretations. As you read it you will have your own takeaway. I consider it an allegory or parable about assumptions, hypocrisy and the lure of evil to pull one away from one’s home base of faith toward the “reality of animal instincts”.

The story doesn’t tell us Brown’s motives other than “present evil purpose” Conjecture would lead us to think that young Goodman Brown had become questioning about evil and the devil even though he lived surrounded by strict warnings against both in Puritan village. One gets the sense that Brown goes out by himself to just stick his nose in on evil for the sake of understanding the world he lives in and perhaps the fear of evil inculcated in him by his upbringing.

 

I have provided some of my take on Young Goodman Brown and some excerpts from the story with the hope that you will read the short story (it should take about fifteen minutes). I invite you to consider what road you are taking when you want to stick your nose in on evil. Consider where it leads and what you will encounter. And, where it will lead you. This road does not lead home.

We are told in Scripture to “test the spirits” so that we may know what is good and true and from God. That is not what is going on in Young Goodman Brown. Rather, this a young man who leaves faith behind and takes a walk on the wild side and ends up at a satanic ritual. His road did not lead back home to faith. It led to nihilism and despair and the resolve to no longer exist.

In truth, all through the haunted forest there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown. On he flew among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man. Thus sped the demoniac on his course, until…

 

 

 

Here is a link to the story: Young Goodman Brown

Ritual Meet Entropy: A Father’s Story

Andre Dubus

Ritual. During my train rides to and from work, I will read non-fiction on my way in to work and fiction on the way home. That has been my habit for the past seven years.

 For example:  Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading from N.T. Wright’s Kingdom New Testament and Leon Lederman’s & Christopher Hill’s Beyond the God Particle (Higgs boson, particle physics ‘stuff’) during the morning ride into work ~ it is a long haul. I am a ‘morning’ person so I can handle ‘deep thinking’ right out of the gate.

 During the same work days but on the flip side, and breaking with habit, I am reading an autobiography:  Taking the Stand, My Life in the Law, by Alan Dershowitz.  I’m doing this to catch up with all my recent book purchases.  More than this, though, Dershowitz’s life ~ “in the Law” was of special interest to me.  There are a lot of important legal issues being dealt with currently.

 Alan Dershowitz has impacted some of the court’s rulings over the course of his life’s passion ~ freedom of speech.  Much of his knowledge of the law was earned as a law clerk under some ‘heavy-weight’ judges and then later from working with the legal problems of various ‘famous’ or ‘infamous’ clients.

 But getting to the point of this post, ritual and law, the moral Truth of the New Testament and even the constants and space-time events of physics all play a part in a short story I want to recommend to you. The confluence of these interests coming from different directions goaded my desire to share it with you.

  The short story can be found in a compilation of short stories written by Andre Dubus.  The book’s simple and direct title:  Andre Dubus, Selected Stories.

I like the fact that Dubus writes with a definite masculine voice. His is not a macho voice but a male point of view you would get from a down-to-earth kind of guy. 

 On the other side of the aisle, another short story writer and a Nobel Prize winner in literature, Jill Munro, pens stories with a distinctly female voice.  I am reading her Dear Life collection of short stories on the weekends. But let’s get back to Dubus and the short story at hand.

When I read Andre Dubus’ A Father’s Story, I immediately empathized with the narrator, Luke Ripley. 

 Luke is divorced, single, and an empty nester with three sons and a daughter off somewhere else. Viscerally and literally Luke and I have a lot in common.

 His solitary life is lived in a ritual.  We soon learn of Luke’s morning habit of prayer while making his bed and then feeding his horses.  His evening ritual is that of sitting alone in the dark after dinner, smoking cigarettes and listening to operas.

  His morning habits also include seeing a priest ~ Father Paul Leboeuf, his best friend. Most mornings Luke rides one of his horses (he has a riding stable) over to church where Father Paul’s officiates.  There Luke hears the Mass and receives the Eucharist.  During the week the two men get together for a dinner meal.  With Father LeBeoeuf present and a can of beer in hand Luke verbally grieves his despair over losing his wife and his family.

 He talks about living through the difficult days after the divorce and what he believed ritual could have done for his marriage:

 “It is not hard to live through a day, if you can live through a moment.  What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand.  That is what Father Paul told me in those first two years, on some bad nights when I believed I could not bear what I had to:  the most painful loss was my children, then the loss of Gloria, whom I still loved despite or maybe because of our long periods of sadness that rendered us helpless, so neither of us could break out of it to give a hand to the other.  Twelve years later I believe ritual would have healed us more quickly than the repetitious talks we had, perhaps even kept us healed. Marriages have lost that, and I wish I had known then what I what I know now, and we had performed certain acts together every day, no matter how we felt, and perhaps then we could have subordinated feeling to action, for surely that is the essence of love.  I know this from my distractions during Mass, and during everything else I do, so that my actions and my feelings are seldom one.  It does happen every day, but in proportion to everything else in the day, it is rare, like joy.

 At one point Luke tell us about the importance of ritual, having already told us that he is basically lazy person:

 “Do not think of me as a spiritual man whose every thought during those twenty-five minutes is at one with the words of the mass.  Each morning I try, each morning I fail, and I know that always I will be a creature who, looking at Father Paul and the altar, and uttering prayers, will be distracted by scrambled eggs, horses, the weather, and memories and daydreams that have nothing to do with the sacrament I am about to receive.  I can receive, though:  the Eucharist, and also, at Mass and at other times, moments and even minutes of contemplation. But I cannot achieve contemplation, as some can; and so, having to face and forgive my own failures, I have learned from them both the necessity and wonder of ritual.  For ritual allows those who cannot will themselves out of the secular to perform the spiritual, as dancing allows the tongue-tied man a ceremony of love.”

 We also learn intimate details about Luke’s ethics when he ‘privately’ tells us what he thinks about giving to the church. And then later, even more specifically, we hear him talk to Father Paul about sex with Gloria, about his “actual physical and spiritual plan of practicing rhythm: nights of striking the mattress with a fist…”

 Later, Luke’s only daughter Jennifer is brought into the story.  It is at this point that Luke speaks about coming to terms with change: “It is Jennifer’s womanhood that renders me awkward.” 

 Jennifer has grown up.  He recounts how her ‘change’ affected the ‘ritual’ of memories he kept of her as his sheltered little girl at home. Jennifer has become an ‘unsheltered’ on-her-own twenty-one year old girl with a purse full of adult symbols including a driver’s license.

More change: the story then drives us off the road of ritual and into a deadly serious situation.  Luke, a father of a daughter, has to make a life-altering decision.  After his decision is made we find out if Luke returns to ritual, perhaps a ritual without the peace of mind that ritual had always supplied in the past?

 This is all I will share of A Father’s Story. It is best that you read it for yourself.  The story is here in PDF form so, you can read it on-line or you can print it out and read it…on the train.

***

After reading the story, come back here:

Along with empathizing with Luke on many levels and experiencing some of the same grief and despair that he experienced, I also reflected on the situation ethics that you meet head-on in the story.

 So, as an Anglican who practices ritual every week of my life and as a parent of three sons and a daughter and as a law-abiding citizen, after having read the story I had to ask myself serious questions, questions that you may ask yourself:

 -As a parent what would you do in this situation?

 -Ritual?  Can it lull and mollify us into a state of lethargy, into a ‘safe’ self-righteousness or even become a retreat that we run to from the ‘fear’ of doing what we know is right? Can ritual handle change, reality? Or, can ritual lead us to a higher contemplation of the Sovereign God, of love, of justice, to understand iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere “(translated: the precepts of law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, [and] to give to each his own“.)

 -Jennifer:  was it cruel and unjust to everyone involved to let things ‘go on’ by not doing the ‘right thing’?

 -Would the scenario played out be as if were God testing Luke as he tested Abraham about using his son Isaac as a sacrifice?

 -In the end did Luke really just act out of laziness (laziness being the opposite of love) in order to maintain ritual ~ life as he knew it and wanted it to go on being ~ at all costs?

 “Ethics demands an infinite movement, it demands disclosure.  The aesthetic hero, then, can speak but will not.” Soren Kiergaard, Fear and trembling.  (The world of ethics demands disclosure and punishes hiddenness …)

 Please give me your feedback in comment section. Now where did I put that other book…?

Saving Leonardo and Modern Man From Himself

dual mindHave you read Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010?  

It has been a while, 2010 actually, since I read this Christian-perspective-of-culture concordance. A certain blog post triggered a memory redux of Saving Leonardo.

The Christian author Nancy Pearcey writes about the dualism behind modern man’s worldview.  Her book informs us as to how secularism emerged to be a prominent worldview. She also tells us how she sees that worldview affecting us, destroying our culture.  Her desire in writing this book is to make every Christian knowledgeable and aware, prepared to take on the current secular worldview:

“A worldview approach enables Christians to move beyond merely denouncing social ills such as abortion, which can sound harsh, angry and judgmental.  And, it equips them to demonstrate positively that biblical wisdom leads to a just and humane society.  Protests and placards are not enough.  To be strategically effective in protecting human dignity, we need to get behind the slogans and uncover the secular worldviews that shape people’s thinking.”

For starters there is this curious quote at the front of the book and the only reference to book’s title reference, Leonard da Vinci, that I could find aside from a section titled “Da Vinici versus Degas” (regrettably, there is no index at the back of the book):

Leonardo da Vinci

Hence the anguish and the innermost tragedy of this universal man, divided between his irreconcilable worlds.

(Giovanni Gentile, Leonardo’s Thought)

I’m not sure why Pearcey chose Giovanni Gentile’s quote to provide the “Forward” for her book about modern man’s dualistic thinking.  Giovanni Gentile was known at one time as the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy.  His theories contained rejection of individualism, acceptance of collectivism, with the state as the ultimate location of authority and loyalty to which the individual found in the conception of individuality no meaning outside the state (which in turn justified totalitarianism). Wow! In essence Giovanni Gentile didn’t believe a person could have a thought of his own apart from the state. 

In any case, as a student of art, music, literature and science as well as some philosophy and a good bit of theology and being something of a Leonardo da Vinci/Sherlock Holmes type that I am, this book, found on a table in a local book store, caught my eye.

Nancy Pearcey studied under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. She begins her book by referring to a simile Schaeffer used to describe modern manShe writes:

“Using the metaphor of a building, he (Schaeffer) warned that truth had been split into two stories.  The lower story consists of scientific facts, which are held to be empirically testable and universally valid. The upper story includes things like morality, theology, and aesthetics, which are now regarded as subjective and culturally relative. Essentially the upper story became a convenient dumping ground for anything that the empiricist world view did not recognize as real.  Schaeffer used a simple graphic, which we can adapt like this:

The two-story concept of truth

Values

Private, subjective, relative

Facts

Public, objective, universal

This dichotomy has grown so pervasive that most people do not even recognize they hold it.  It has become part of the cultural air we breathe. Consider two prominent examples:

Martin Luther King Jr. ~ “Science deal mainly with facts; religion deals with mainly values.”

Albert Einstein ~ “Science yields facts but not “value judgments”; religion expresses values but cannot “speak of facts.””

As you are well aware by the verbal sparks flying everywhere around us, the dichotomy within our own honed thinking as it engages with others with their hardened dichotomy is like steel striking a flint rock. Truly, the fact/value split has inflicted great damage to our culture.  It clearly affects the worlds of politics, education, religion and societal norms such as marriage.  Saving Leonardo is a good place to begin your research into how we as a culture came to be this way.

Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview of the history behind modern man’s fact/value split (shown above as the “lower story” and the “upper story.”).  The book presents the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s culture via art, music, literature, movies, politics, education, law, sexual mores, societal institutions and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following descriptive dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) or in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

In discussing the Continental worldview Pearcey notes that there are the schools of idealism, Marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionism.

The Analytic worldview stream, she says, holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis.

In comparing the two worldviews John Stuart Mill is quoted: “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.”

Pearcey notes that culture has reflected the dueling mindsets since their inception during the age of Enlightenment. Artists, composers, writers, dramatists and producers have portrayed the philosophies of their day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of those creative forces that have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

In brief, you will encounter Hemingway, London, Huxley, Hegel, Duchamp, Picasso, Kandinsky, Darwin, Nihilism, Abstract expressionism, Christian realism, John Cage and a host of others – philosophers, painters, composers and writers who influenced culture from where they stood in the house: the upper story or the lower story.

As an example of the constant interplay between dueling mindsets, the split in thinking, as shown below, shows how those of the Romantic period tried to view their ‘art’ as separate and above the newly arrived scientific fact proposed by Darwinism:

The Romantics’ two-story of truth

Imaginative truth

Creative World (Art)

Rational truth

Deterministic world (Science)

Within a Christian worldview there is no need whatsoever to divide man’s thinking into separate spheres such as spiritual fact versus science or materialism.  A Christian man or woman who is whole is a romantic-rationalist.  One very good example of such a person would be the Christian apologist and fantasy writer C.S. Lewis. Lewis, as revealed by his writing and talks, had integrated the upper and lower stories.

 Pearcey, in the section C.S. Lewis: We Can’t All Be Right, quotes Lewis:

“The Christian and the Materialist hold different views about the universe.  They can’t be both right.  The one who is wrong will act in a way which simply doesn’t fit the real universe.”

(Little wonder that homosexuality is given credence in our culture.)

Saving Leonardo is good starting point for further research.  It will certainly pique your interest when the dots start to connect to form our deformed culture right before your eyes.

End thoughts:  Unlike Pearcey I do not have an issue with modern music or with modern art.  I find them both to be revealing and stimulating each in their own way. 

Jazz is not mentioned in this book, as best I can recall.  This is a shame. I hear jazz as a very human and creative outlet within our world. I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz. I love Bach and Shostakovich and Henryk Górecki. But I also listen to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk and Wynton Marsalis.

I also listen to the Blues:  Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, et al. My tastes in music, art and literature run eclectic.

I certainly don’t agree with the author that art has to have unifying narrative to be of value.  One of the earliest painters I connected with was Jackson Pollack.  I remember seeing a painting of his in a Life magazine article and then later at the Art Institute in Chicago. This was a time back in my junior high school days. 

Jackson’s drip paintings reminded me of a brain’s neural network being charged with emotion. Perhaps, his paintings are a one-nanosecond glimpse of a much larger narrative. In any case, art is something you can take or leave as you see fit based on your own life narrative.

There will be places in the book where you will take issue with her opinions, just I did (see below).  This is good.  Find out why you agree or disagree with her. I urge you to become knowledgeable about the current world view encircling you by reading this book. Form your own Christian-romantic-rationalist worldview to withstand secularism’s pressures.

Nancy Peacey pushes for there to be narrative and a teleological basis to paintings, music and literature.  Again, I disagree about the need for narratives.

There will be times of narrative and Newtonian Classical Physics and Bach and Norman Rockwell and Shakespeare and Charlotte Brontë where cause and effect and resolution are clearly known.  There will also be times of seeming disarray and unknowns and lack of resolution as in Quantum Physics and the music of György Ligeti, John Cage and Schoenberg and the paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock and the poems of Jack Kerouac.  We need both. As creators, though, we are all teleologically dependent whether we like it or not.  Intelligent design is baked into the pottery.

Jackson Pollock No 28

Jackson Pollock – No.28, 1950. Enamel on canvas

 In the final words of the book Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children.

Like the “Forward” quote source I find this curious. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her word “revolutionary”.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist, composer or writer.  Apparently she hasn’t read Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

 *******

Point of contention with the book:

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a side note I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In this section of Chapter Three “Hooking up, Feeling Down” Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgenderism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative.

Because of her shotgun approach of scoping transgenderism in the same sights as homosexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate transgenderism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that transgenderism by definition is not about acting out sexually. Transgenderism is not equal to homosexuality whether as a sexual issue or a gender issue. It IS about gender identity/gender dysphoria and seeking to become a whole person ~ a romantic rationalist.  Or, to describe it using her term, it’s being “revolutionary.”

Further information about transgenderism:

 The Transgender Moment

A ‘Naturalized’ Woman

The Church and Gender

Other ‘related’ dichotomies: Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Pirsig’s distinction between the “classical” and the “romantic” view is conceptually analogous to Thomas Sowell’s distinction between the constrained and unconstrained visions in “A Conflict of Visions”

Nobel Prize in Literature 2010: Mario Vargas Llosa

“We would be worse than we are without the good books we read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist.  Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life.  When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute – the foundation of the human condition – and should be better.  We invent fictions in order to live somehow the many lives we would like to lead when we barely have one at our disposal.” [emphasis mine]

Quote from:

Mario Vargas Llosa’s Nobel Lecture, given December 7th, 2010.

Langston Hughes – Being Old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Old

It’s because you are young–
You do not understand.
But we are old
As the jungle trees
That bloomed forever,
Old as the forgotten rivers
That flowed into the earth.

Surely we know what you do not know;
Joy of living,
Uselessness of things.

You are too young to understand yet.
Build another skyscraper
Touching the stars.

We sit with our backs against the tree
And watch skyscrapers tumble
And stars forget.
Solomon built a temple
And it must have fallen down.
It isn’t here now.

We know some things, being old,
You do not understand.

Langston Hughes