Wednesday, March 28, 2012

As Ancient as Eden

We all know that after gay marriage, polygamy and pet-owner weddings will be next. Think that's an extreme statement? They are already happening. And it's not just about sister wives, shih tzus, and shar peis any more: apparently it's possible nowadays to marry oneself.

The 36-year-old divorced mom of three wore blue satin and clutched a bouquet of white roses as she walked down the aisle ... She vowed to "to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self," ... After the ring was exchanged with the bride and her inner-groom, guests were encouraged to "blow kisses at the world," and later, eat cake. ... "I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy," she told reporter Tammy Swift . "At some point, a friend said, 'Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself.'"

Not everyone was in agreement. Some of Schweigert's friends ... thought she was going a little far with the single pride thing. Schweigert's 11-year-old son was her biggest critic: "He said, 'I love you, but I'm embarrassed for you right now.'"

Amen, Master Schweigert! Out of the mouths of babes ... But for how long? Because child-adult marriage will be next. After all, who are we to say that the children aren't asking for it?

Of course we are all shocked by this sort of thing, simultaneously shocked and fascinated by the novelness of the perversity. But neither the novel nature of the SelfWedding—which is not so novel, really; that kind of avant-gardism is older than Hatshepsut's beard—nor its perversity struck me. What struck me about the SelfWedding was how utterly and completely boring it must be to be married to oneself. It's bad enough when two people who've been married twenty years complete each other's sentences. SelfBride (can we call her the IBride?) was probably finishing her own sentences by the end of Day 1, provided she took it easy on the champagne. I wonder, when she fed herself cake, did she get it on her face by accident? Did she hop over the doorstep to avoid treading on it? When she kissed herself, what did she kiss? her knee? her elbow? I can only imagine how hard it must have been to gaze into her other half's eye.

This runs parallel to my claim that atheism must be, on the whole, rather a dull business (no pun intended). Sin is constitutionally dull because sin is at heart a solitary activity, and, as any kid can tell you, it's no fun to be alone.

It seems very liberating initially—to be able to do anything we want, not to be bound by existing relationships and obligations—yet it is precisely those relationships and obligations that make us who we are: John and Mary's son, Susan's husband, Fred's father; the town's dentist, a citizen of a certain country; ultimately, a child of God. We can reject the manifold definition of ourselves that reality places on our shoulders—we can betray our family, our friends, and Our Father—but then, when we have set ourselves up as a Law unto ourselves, and built for ourselves a country with unlimited freedom, what will we do there? to whom will we speak? with whom will we work and recreate ourselves?

It is not only that it is not good for man to be alone, but also that man alone ceases to be man, because it is part of the what-it-is-to-be of a human nature to be in relation to others.

I am aware that all of this is persuasive only if one already acknowledges the existence of natures, and of human nature in particular, to begin with. No one holding a Hegelian or Darwinian or progressive or Transhumanist view of Man would be swayed by this kind of reasoning. But I think it is important for us who do accept the natures of things to realize, or to remember, that the fact of our doing so does not make our lives empty, dull, or insipid. We may be reactionary or conservative; but there is nothing boring about conserving Otherness.

Tolstoy once wrote that all happy families were alike, while unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way. There is a sense in which the statement is true, and I will not bother to quarrel with it. But there are some truths which though true are nonetheless spoken inadvisedly; and this is one of them, because it makes sin sound unique. I am sorry, but there is nothing in the least unique about Anna and Alexei; unfaithfulness and seduction are as ancient as Eden.

No comments:

Post a Comment