Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
October 11, 2007 - October 4, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Atlas Won't Shrug

A Very Odd Couple: Angelina Jolie and Ayn Rand

PSONG 20. Yesterday, Michelle Malkin noted the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged, the extraordinary paean to capitalism written by Ayn Rand. She also revealed the incredible fact that Angelina Jolie has been signed to star in a movie version of the book. If you haven't read the book, you can't know just how incredible this circumstance is. The folks at confirm that the project is in some stage of development, and they include a plot synopsis. Here's an excerpt:

Enter a world of corporate bureaucracies, where railroad executive Dagny Taggart struggles against mounting odds to keep her company, and her industry, out of the toilet. In the course of her struggles, she meets many adversaries, a few allies, and a handful of characters she cannot quite figure out. Among these are Hank Rearden, Francisco D'Anconia and a cadre of others. An increasingly present, and mystery thread to the story, is the presence of graffiti, asking the simple but mysterious question "Who is John Galt?" This seemingly simple question begins to haunt Dagny Taggart as she struggles with feelings of confusion related to her personal relationships, her struggles with politicians and bureaucrats, and the continuing disappearance of heads of industry whom she considers kindred spirits. As more and more of the heads of industry abandon their companies, and condemn those industries to ruin at the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, Dagny embarks on a series of quests to discover the answer to 'little mysteries' (Who smokes premium cigarettes wrapped in gold paper embossed with dollar signs? Who is John Galt? Where are the heads of industry going? What does the world do when the people whose efforts make things run correctly stop contributing?)

I'll tell you right now the eventual shooting script will bear little relation to this synopsis and even less to the unmistakeable intentions of Ayn Rand. (Check out the message boards already starting up at There is simply no way the book Rand wrote can be transformed faithfully into a movie by left-wing Hollywood, whose loudmouth political activists are living caricatures of the philosophy Rand was attacking in every word of Atlas Shrugged. Her loathing of the socialist egalitarianism best exemplified by Berkeley and Hollywood leftists was utter, devoid of any shade of nuance. She didn't believe in income redistribution or a social safety net of any sort. Her ideal was a pure meritocracy in which absolutely unfettered capitalism rewards those who work, innovate, and take risks in the market. Not much is said about those who are incapable of work or unwilling to work. Presumably, they will learn when their straits become dire enough.

The book is also unabashedly pro-American. One of the characters in Atlas Shrugged delivers a five- or ten-page speech celebrating the fact that the United States is the only nation in history to employ its own initials ('U" superimposed on 'S') as the symbol of its currency, thus demonstrating the cardinal value of the nation (regardless of any cracker-barrel platitudes we may repeat as a pretense of altruism.) God, for example, is conspicuously absent from Atlas Shrugged; Rand was an atheist, which along with her ruggedly individualistic feminism, was all she had in common with the 'progressive' community in which this movie will be made. Nor is the atheism incidental. Rand was a product of the Soviet system, a supreme rationalist who created her philosophy in direct opposition to the equally atheistic rationalism of Marxism. Time and again she assaults the concept of "the greatest good for the greatest number," arguing that personal sacrifice is actually immoral and, correctly, that most of what we think of as sacrifice is not. The mother who goes hungry in order that her child may eat is not sacrificing anything. She is simply choosing an alternative she values more highly than her own physical well being. But the more abstract and remote from the individual such choices become, the less legitimate they become. At the extreme, the requirement to sacrifice personal well being in deference to the needs (or demands) of an entire populace amounts to annihilation of the individual self.

Rand's writings are as extreme -- and as unrealistically black-and-white -- as the rationalist totalitarian system her personal experience inspired her to oppose. That's why her books have always been most prized by those who read them very young. (I note that Michelle read Atlas Shrugged in high school, at about the same age I did.) Her sensationally radical opposition to a lot of unexamined social pieties provides a clarity that enables young minds to see a bigger picture they never knew was there. For most, the result is a kind of intellectual breakthrough which leads through time to a better educated and usually more temperate view of the ideal social contract; for example, one in which an individual may feel some responsibility for the well being of people he doesn't know personally, or in which a soldier may give up his life for his country without its being an immoral sacrifice.

But the residual Rand effect is still dangerous to leftist orthodoxy -- a core belief in the power and worth of the individual, on whose best achievements the success of whole nations and societies depend. No organization, no committee, no plurality of mediocrities can serve as a substitute for outstanding individual achievement. And if the incentives for the best and brightest among us are taken away, or too seriously diminished, the entire culture will crumble.

This is the irreducible nut at the center of Atlas Shrugged, and it's one Hollywood just won't be able to swallow. The story will have to be changed. The script will be rewritten endlessly until a way is found to spit out the nut. It will go through drafts as a Bush-bashing allegory, an anti-war parable (business is war by other means, right?), an allusive prefiguring of the worldwide economic crisis wrought by Global Warming, a melodrama symbolic of feminist battles against the patriarchy, a shallow screed against corrupt (Republican?) politicians, a complete reversal in which the disappearing industrialists are portrayed as villains for abandoning the parasitic sheep who feed off their talent... and, in fact, anything and everything BUT what Ayn Rand was saying on every page of her 1000+ page book. The most unlikely miracle of all is that a movie will ever be released in theaters.

You can take that to the bank.

I don't mean to be a wet blanket to all you Rand fans. I'm just trying to be realistic.

P.S. The sound file contains excerpts from the music I listened to continuously while I was reading Atlas Shrugged when I was fourteen. Don't ask me why. It just seemed to fit.

UPDATE. Just for you, Mal (see Comments). A prize for recognizing Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto right out of the box. I've replaced the original sound file with a big chunk of the second movement you (and I) love so much.

And also just for you, because I know you're grappling with the challenge of raising your boys, there was a prescient precursor to Atlas Shrugged just for kids.

It's the Dr. Seuss masterpiece Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, originally published in 1948. Granted, it's not about capitalism, but it is about the rights and responsibilities of individuals, and it was once -- however briefly -- a movie.

Thidwick allows himself to become the carrier for a bunch of freeloaders who eventually weigh him down to the point that he can no longer defend himself against hunters. Fortunately, he is able to shed his antlers in time to survive. Oddly enough, it was Russian animators who first thought to turn it into a film feature.

"Welcome," as the Russian film was called, has now been withdrawn from YouTube because the heirs of Dr. Seuss claimed a copyright violation. But Thidwick lives on, most recently as the subject of a PhotoShop contest at

And so it goes. Long before you start giving your kids the Civics Quiz, you can start getting them ready for extreme capitalism by popping this book into their Christmas stockings.

Will you be glad you did? Who knows? Eventually it may get them shot.

St. Ann in Crisis

RENAISSANCE. It actually started last week when the Coulted One appeared on Fox & Friends to promote her new book and confessed that she was mortified to have been received on the Today Show like a normal human being. She was clearly outraged that Matt Lauer and Company hadn't responded to her appearance with their usual outrage. Now, it appears, she's taking steps to reclaim her fading infamy. Today, reports:

Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian.

Coulter made the remarkable statements during an often heated appearance to promote her new book on advertising guru Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Big Idea."

In response to a question from Deutsch asking Coulter if "it would be better if we were all Christian," the controversial columnist responded: "Yes."

"We should all be Christian?" Deutsch repeated.

"Yes," Coulter responded, asking Deutsch, who is Jewish, if he would like to "come to church with me."

Deutsch, pressing Coulter further, asked, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians?" She responded: "Yeah."

Coulter deflected Deutsch's assertion that her comments were anti-Semitic, matter-of-factly telling the show's obviously upset host, "That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews."

Obviously, Ann is trying to regain the notoriety she once received for declaring that Christians should invade Arabia and convert all muslims to Christianity under pain of death. But, sadly, it's just not working anymore. Far too many otherwise sane liberals have realized that Coulter is merely exhibiting a sense of humor, which -- though alien to their own experience -- removes enough sting from her posturings to render her harmless.

We'd like to help. So we've decided to take her seriously. What a mean-spirited, bigoted bitch! And, boy, have we figured out how to make fun of you, you Christian chauvinist, short-skirted hussy you. Watch this and weep:

You're probably feeling pretty small about now, aren't you, Ann?

Sure you are.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Moderate Thing

THE DEPTHS CAN BE OVERRATED. This isn't going to be a long piece. Moderates mostly don't interest me. Let me rephrase that. I mostly find moderates uninteresting. They like to call themselves centrists or middle of the road or mainstream. That's because they've only given the matter a moderate amount of thought. What they are is a motley collection of divers people, including the following:

1. The ignoramuses who routinely respond "don't know" in surveys of opinion on specific issues

2. The oafs who remain undecided for months after the conventions in presidential campaigns

3. The nuts whose opinions on various issues are so inconsistent they can't add up to (even) a party affiliation

4. The suckers whose minds are changed by the last shallow sound bite they heard

5. The impotent intellectuals who read everything, understand nothing, and therefore never think they have enough information to arrive at a conviction

6. The esoteric dilettantes who can be passionate about trivia but curiously dispassionate about fundamentals

The first four categories aren't worth thinking about at all. They're just flotsam and jetsam on the political ocean.

The fifth category is primarily infuriating. It's the default position of loquacious ciphers like David Gergen and Mort Kondracke. They will consider the most ridiculous argument and act as if it had sufficient merit to be judiciously considered, and they will earnestly entreat their betters to be more reasonable about utterly unreasonable positions. Time wasters.

The final category is at least marginally interesting because it disproves the fallacy that political moderates are somehow manifestations of the Greek principle of the Golden Mean -- moderation in all things (which is absolutely and fatally boring). Category 6 moderates can be adamant, even warlike, but not in accordance with any particular pattern. It's not that they're intensely convinced about the deep things and open-minded about the small things. It can even be the reverse.

Today's Ann Althouse blog entries are a beautiful illustration. She publishes an undistinguished photograph of a man in shorts walking a pair of Italian greyhounds (er, "two skinny dogs"). It's left to her faithful, mostly moderate commenters to explain that the theme of the photo is Ann's aversion to short pants on men. Fine. She's entitled to her pet peeves. Even if they're a little strange.

Subsequently, she posts an entry about Al Gore and his prospects of winning the Nobel prize. She says:

Some people think yes, yes. I'm wondering if I want to be one of them. A lot seems to hang on whether his movie was totally honest. It wasn't, but nevertheless, I like Al Gore. Here's my simulblog of "An Inconvenient Truth." I'm glancing back at all my Al Gore posts, trying to see how consistent I've been. There are too many to check, and I'm sure I've mocked him as ridiculous or pompous on many occasions. But I mocked him as ridiculous and pompous back in 2000, and I voted for him. The Republicans got a new guy in Thompson. Time for the Democrats to get someone new. The old crowd is so tedious, especially the topic of whether Hillary is inevitable. Let's have some Al. If he wins the Nobel Prize. [emphasis mine].

The movie wasn't honest, but she still likes him and would still accept a transparently political, Carter-like Nobel Prize award as some kind of credential. And, yeah, I know she's kidding, but she is and she isn't. (Here's more on her 'simulblog' of Inconvenient Truth.) That's the kind of moderate she is, the kind of cultural oberver she is. (And more here if you scroll) One of her commenters seems to understand exactly where she's coming from:

I think that "An Inconvient Truth" is not truthful, largely. I would like to see Al Gore get in the race, because I think that he is a better man than he lets on, as he is playing to a strange audience.

There's that word 'strange' again. Coincidence? No. Merely 'inconvient.' The strange ones are the whole non-moderate audience on the left and the right who accord some meaning to the word 'truth,' even if they disagree about what it is.

I almost blogged about Althouse last month because she did about four entries in less than a week detailing her distaste for Jeffrey Toobin's new book on the Supreme Court. She actually seemed pretty mad about the way he used allusive description as a substitute for making direct moral, political, and character accusations of the justices. I didn't finish the post because ultimately I could find no point in her repetitious wrath. (You can find the relevant entries at her site by searching for Toobin....) Toobin's slyly disingenuous presentation provoked her ire while Al Gore's flat-out untruths don't. Oka-a-ay.

Something in Toobin's work or behavior offended her personally, and we'll never find out what it is. Logic, the law, and all the tools of argument are just a game to be played hard when something, never mind what, pisses her off. In the same way, there's something entirely subjective and invisible about her affection and historical votes for Gore and Kerry, as well as her continuing desire to vote for Hillary, even though she appears to understand that the War on Terror is real and the Dems are all sandbagging the issue. For some reason I can't fathom she doesn't need to agree with or believe the truthfulness of the politicians she's prepared to trust. But finding that reason would require her to be more interesting to me than she is. It could be as simple as garden-variety intellectual snobbery or the observation of another of the commenters on the Gore entry:

An inconvenient statistic about Ann's Gore post:

Word count:

"I" / "me" / "my": 11

"Gore" / "he" / "his": 10

And it's Althouse, by a nose!

So maybe she's just a much smarter and more polished version of Maureen Dowd.

Or she could be a genuine paradox. I doubt it, though. I think she's more of a coffee table curiosity. Worth looking at and exclaiming over periodically, but not worth delving into at any length.

Like all the other moderates. It's what's called a distinction without a difference.

How much time did we waste on that? Sorry.

P.S. In response to an email, let me clarify that the use of the word 'divers' was not a typo. It's a snob usage I thought humorously appropriate in this context.

UPDATE.  Apologies for continuing the boringness. But here's the archetypal Ann Althouse comment:

AlphaLiberal said...
Let's have Al, for sure.

The flaws in the movie don't undermine it's credibility. Most of the kvetching I read was scientists, so given to caveats, complaining Gore didn't lay out all the caveats under the sun and that the timlines he was discussing weren't always clear to the audience.

Yeah. Whatever. He also reached about a billion or two more people than the usual cautious scientific paper. Scientific couching doesn't play well in the mass markets, but people can investigate more and find that.

Gore was slimed by the press big time in 2000.

Kewl. My favorite part -- "Most of the kvetching I read was scientists, so given to caveats..." Geez. When scientists get in the way of a globular politician, the whole world must be in deep shite. And I'm especially encouraged by the assurance that "The flaws in the movie don't undermine it's credibility." Gawd. What a relief. And here I was thinking that an incompetent and biased farce of a presentation might derail the entire worldwide movement toward a just totalitatarian response to Global Warming.

Thank Gaia.  All I'm waiting for now is a photographically poetic response from the Althouse goddess. It's going to be so kewl. When she explains -- logically or imagistically -- how Hillary will knit up the unraveled sleeve of care for the whole fucking universe.

If only I had the NYU law degree that admits a neophyte into the inner sanctum of philosophical enlightenment. And digital photography. (H/T Glenn Reynolds, who links Ann Althouse every single goddamned day. God bless him.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Whoa, Peggy.

DESIRE. When you make a habit of writing the purplest of prose, there's always a danger of getting carried away. And now that Peggy Noonan has embarked on the midlife crisis that compels her to trash Republicans right and left, she's started displaying a tendency to get a little too up close and personal, if you know what I mean. Like this passage in her current column:

Barack Obama has a great thinking look. I mean the look he gets on his face when he's thinking...  I mean the look he gets in an interview or conversation when he's listening and not conscious of his expression. It's a very present look. He seems more in the moment than handling the moment. I've noticed this the past few months, since he entered the national stage. I wonder if I'm watching him more closely than his fellow Democrats are.... I've started to lean forward a little when he talks.

Please spare us the heavy breathing, Peggy. Frankly, thinking is one thing Barack Obama appears to have given up for Lent, or the election cycle, or the duration. If you really get off on watching men think, rent a movie starring Jimmy Stewart or Denzel Washington. Believe me, they're far better at it than Obama is. And if you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Jules Crittenden, who actually had the intestinal fortitutude to listen to Obama's entire speech about foreign policy at DePaul University. You can read his complete assessment here, but the following excerpt is indicative:

I’ve taken some small liberties to abbreviate Obama’s bloviations at this point, but stayed true to the spirit of his speech:

Blah blah blah, no WMD. Blah blah blah, conventional thinking. Blah blah blah, I’ll pull out, I promise. Blah blah blah, I’ll talk to crazy dictators. Blah blah blah …

Good lord, he isn’t stopping.  He’d be better than everyone else. He gets it like no one else. He ran around barefoot in Indonesian villages.  Hey, me too.  Maybe I should be president. And this part is good:

I will always tell the American people the truth. I will always tell you where I stand.

Clock springs are flying out of the bullshitometer!

Sigh. I'd really appreciate it if someone would explain the appeal of this drab, ordinary man. He's never uttered a word that isn't a tired cliche and yet millions profess to be experiencing a great excitement about his candidacy. Why? WHY?

Is it a chick thing? A manifestation of the 'geeks are sexy' fad? I mean, ask any guy. Any guy. In times past, Obama would have been the guy in the cheesy nylon shirt with a slide rule holstered on his hip. The one with the dumb shoes. The one who laughed at the stupidest jokes. The one who stood too close to you because he just didn't know any better. The one who couldn't get laid to save his life. And now he's a sex symbol for panting right-wing columnists?

When did the world turn upside down and inside out?

Don't answer that. Please.

Just tiptoe softly away and leave me alone for a bit.

Thank you.

GOOD NEWS WE REALLY NEEDED. Wuzzadem is back. Wuzzadem is back! Maybe there's hope for us after all...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Can I ask a question?

PSAYINGS.5A.19. What's with all this blogger defense of Rush Limbaugh? It seems like absolutely everyone on the conservative side of the aisle is weighing in to correct the record, expose the lies, and take down the offenders. Except me.

I haven't rushed to his aid because he doesn't need any aid. He's Rush Limbaugh. He's got the Golden EIB microphone, a complete audio record plus transcripts of everything he says on the air, and he's far better at lampooning his pitiful accusers than most of the well intentioned folks who are trying.

It reminds me of the movie Rio Bravo, which Howard Hawks made because he was so scornful of High Noon. He despised the idea of the town sheriff going begging from house to house to raise a posse. In Rio Bravo, John Wayne spends most of his time turning down offers of help. Because he's John Wayne.

High Noon: Well, he's not actually hiding behind those skirts. but...

Rio Bravo: "Say that to my face, senator."

When the smoke clears, I'm sure you'll find I'm right about all this. In the meantime, you're all missing the fun of watching the right's best gunslinger in action.

Big Mother

Inquisition: For our own good. Thank you, Mommy.

. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here, courtesy of Glenn Reynolds, is a hell that's already here, regardless of how the way was paved.

Doc, what's up with snooping?
Pediatrician paranoia runs deep

By Michael Graham

They counted every beer you drank during last night's Red Sox [team stats] game.

They see you sneaking out to the garage for a smoke.

They know if you've got a gun, and where you keep it.

They're your kids, and they're the National Security Agency of the Nanny State.

I found this out after my 13-year-old daughter's annual checkup. Her pediatrician grilled her about alcohol and drug abuse.

Not my daughter's boozing. Mine.

"The doctor wanted to know how much you and mom drink, and if I think it's too much," my daughter told us afterward, rolling her eyes in that exasperated 13-year-old way. "She asked if you two did drugs, or if there are drugs in the house."

"What!” I yelped. "Who told her about my stasher, I mean, 'It's an outrage!’ "

I turned to my wife. "You took her to the doctor. Why didn't you say something?"

She couldn't, she told me, because she knew nothing about it. All these questions were asked in private, without my wife's knowledge or consent.

"The doctor wanted to know how we get along," my daughter continued. Then she paused. "And if, well, Daddy, if you made me feel uncomfortable."

Great. I send my daughter to the pediatrician to find out if she's fit to play lacrosse, and the doctor spends her time trying to find out if her mom and I are drunk, drug-addicted sex criminals.

We're not alone, either. Thanks to guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and supported by the commonwealth, doctors across Massachusetts are interrogating our kids about mom and dad's "bad" behavior.

We used to be proud parents. Now, thanks to the AAP, we're "persons of interest."

The paranoia over parents is so strong that the AAP encourages doctors to ignore "legal barriers and deference to parental involvement" and shake the children down for all the inside information they can get....

Of course doctors have a choice.

They could choose, for example, to ask me about my drunken revels, and not my children.

They could choose not to put my children in this terrible position.

They could choose, even here in Massachusetts, to leave their politics out of the office.

But the doctors aren't asking us parents.

They're asking our kids.

Worst of all, they're asking all kids about sexual abuse without any provocation or probable cause.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared all parents guilty until proven innocent.

And then they wonder why we drink.

The excellent Mrs. IP laughingly asked me not long ago -- in response to a news broadcast suggesting that men are feeling paranoid about any contact with other people's children -- whether I had similar feelings.

I said, "Yes." She shot me an incredulous glance, not sure if I was kidding (as I frequently am) or serious. I was serious.

The nanny state has pretty much completed the criminalization of maleness. All that remains is for men, and a few naive wives, to realize it.

Of course, none of this is news. I foresaw it all years ago. Here's an excerpt from Shuteye Town 1999 that proves my point:


X-Dudez Station – The Obliteration of Manhood

The Speakers of the Conversation: DANIEL PANGLOSS, a journalist; and DANIEL PANGLOSS, an outpatient in therapy.

DANIEL: Since there's no one here to engage in conversation with me, I may as well engage in a conversation with myself. You won't tell my therapist about this, will you? It's not considered healthy.
DANIEL: No, I won't tell anyone. What's on your mind, or what's left of it?
DANIEL: Well, I know that it's all for the best that we have turned our young men into... what? Words fail me. I can't even come up with an apt term or description.
DANIEL: Animals? Barely sentient clowns? Man-sized toddlers mired in the "terrible two's," only without the curiosity?
DANIEL: At least you know what I'm talking about. I know it's all for the best. I really do. I just can't seem to remember exactly why. Not at this instant. Maybe it'll come back to me.
DANIEL: Of course it will. You have a tendency to overcomplicate things. You should recall from your twelve-step training that everything can be -- has to be -- turned into something simple. Now just remember the one simple reason why the current transformation is so beneficial.
DANIEL: I'm trying, Daniel. It's just that the speed of the transformation is so breathtaking. And nobody even seems to recognize that it's occurring.
DANIEL: Let me help you out, old man. The one simple reason is that we don't need or want men anymore. Everything will work best in future with the substitute that's being installed in place now -- overgrown male fetuses who can achieve an erection and fertilize a female now and then.
DANIEL: That's right. We don't need men anymore! Of course! Uh, why?
DANIEL: You're having an off day, aren't you? Maybe it's the ambiance of this charming place. I'll refresh your memory. All the brilliant anthropologists and sociologists and zoologists who love to point out our many similarities to other mammals consistently overlook the one truly astonishing difference between Mankind and every other kind of mammal. Of the whole lot of them, only Man employs a social organization in which the sire plays an active role in raising the young. In other words, the concept of ‘fatherhood' is unique to human beings.
DANIEL: This rings a faint bell. Keep going.
DANIEL: To quote one of my favorite songs, "Isn't it ironic?" Western civilization generally, and Amerian civilization in particular, has always displayed an extraordinary reverence and awe of motherhood. Yet even the most cursory examination of the animal world shows us that it is motherhood which is instinctive. Even crocodiles are fiercely protective of their eggs. The concept of fatherhood -- and it is a concept not an instinct -- is infinitely more amazing and miraculous, because it doesn't seem to exist in the animals which are supposedly the most closely related to us. And even the few exceptions are weak in comparison to the traditional role of the human father -- male birds may help feed the young, but they do not manifest an expressly different, male parenting behavior. This is reserved for human males.
DANIEL: So it's clear that fatherhood is the source of all uniquely human problems. That's what's being corrected in this final phase of human social evolution which is being completed now, at -- as you correctly stated -- breathtaking speed.
DANIEL: So the boys are being stunted in their development so they can't become "fathers," as you mean the term?
DANIEL: That's it. You see, the feminists are onto something far bigger than they expect when they rail about patriarchal culture. The fact of the matter is, all advanced human culture is patriarchal culture. Advanced culture can't begin without patriarchy. The roots of western civilization lie in the Greek tradition and the Judaic tradition, both of which initiated prolonged thrusts of mental, spiritual, and technological growth by establishing "father" gods who had authority over all others. The Yahweh of the Old Testament, however, is the single most remarkable phenomenon of the entire human experience, followed closely by the phenomenon of the Son who is one with, yet distinct from, the father.
DANIEL: How do you mean remarkable?
DANIEL: Forget religion for a moment. For purposes of this discussion, the word "religion" is a distraction. The significance of Yahweh is that he expresses by his presence and his expectations a definition of fatherhood which paves the way for all subsequent cultural development. The father is not simply the accidental fertilizer, as is the case with dogs and cats. The creator is not indifferent. He is responsible for his creation, for its behavior, for its ethical development. He therefore guides the development of his children as teacher and judge, laying down commandments, levying punishments, and exercising mercy as a gift, not a right. In Yahweh's relationship with the Israelites, he is showing all men how they must conduct themselves as fathers. And perhaps needless to say, that role as he defines it is vastly different from that of the mother. The mother may cuff her child to discourage behavior that might lead her young to death, disease, or danger. The father of Yahweh's template will cuff the child to discourage behavior that might lead to death, disease, or danger to the extended family -- that is, the culture -- of which the child is a part.
DANIEL: What's so bad about that?
DANIEL: Historically, it served a useful purpose that is no longer useful. The purpose was to maintain the continuum. A patriarchal culture operates in time and through time. It looks to the future. The role of the father makes sense only if the sire sees in his young the seeds of his own immortality. He therefore desires more than that they be protected from immediate physical threats. He has far greater ambitions than that. He desires to make them strong against the temptations and failures which might some day extinguish his bloodline. For a mother is the mother of her children, while a father is the father of the generations which follow, in which he has his conceptual life and his immortality. In other words, the distinctly human sense of living in history, with obligations to past and future, flows directly from the conceptual innovation of fatherhood. And this leads to another key insight -- that every father is also the father of the entire culture in which his history, past and future, is contained. For his immortality depends upon both the survival of his bloodline and the survival of the tradition, the history, in which that bloodline operates. That is why the father of the Yahweh model can be ruthlessly judicial with his sons and daughters; he is as responsible for protecting the culture from his children as he is for protecting his children from the culture. Note that he offers up his own Son as a sacrifice for the betterment of the extended human family -- he is not only sanctioning this kind of sacrifice, he is pressing it on us as a necessary and sacred responsibility. The command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was not simply a test. It was a warning that the demands of fatherhood go well beyond caring for the needs of the children. For they may be destined for a higher duty than feathering their own nest. This is the tightrope of parenting which has enabled the family to produce ethical progeny in the face of societal and organizational influences which are always anti-ethical to a greater or lesser degree.
DANIEL: You don't see fathers like that anymore.
DANIEL: They're obsolete. The larger and more prosperous an organization gets, the more it inherently desires its constituent population to manifest a female personality -- that is, risk averse, responsive to incentives that relate more to comfort and safety than to ethics, and immune to the dangers of imagination and conceptual curiosity. While fathers of the traditional mold have been relatively accepting of such traits in their female children, they have, historically, sternly rejected them in their sons, driving them to extremes of risk-taking in every realm, including the very dangerous realm of ideas, where the greatest immortality awaits those who reformulate the consensus around which every society is organized.
DANIEL: And that's why we don't need men anymore.
DANIEL: More than that. It's why we can't afford men any longer. Conceptual innovations are the most destructive force on earth. They survive only by smashing every competing concept -- and all the structures that are built on those competing concepts. The societal system we now inhabit is the single largest, most complex creation on this planet since the creation of life itself, and the costs that would be associated with any sufficiently large conceptual innovation are prohibitive. Human beings have become a danger to the system that provides their physical survival. All human behaviors which could threaten that survival must be eliminated, even if that means annihilating the conceptual realm in which destruction could originate. This is the perpetual danger posed by fatherhood and by the men fatherhood propagates. The system now requires that all human beings -- whether biologically male or female -- behave as females.
DANIEL: But these overgrown fetuses as you call them don't quite behave like females...?
DANIEL: No. That fate awaits a next generation. Here we see the result of the first generation of males raised in much the same way that females are traditionally raised -- their curiosity unawakened, their ego uncreated, their selfishness unpenetrated, their sins unpunished. The far greater destructive power males possess is thus mitigated only by the dullness of their imagination, and they will grow to be tediously predictable but corrosive germs in the societal organism. They will not prosper. They will not be fathers except in the biological sense of the term. And just as today there are more "deadbeat dads" -- that is, routine mammal sires -- than there were a decade ago, these youngsters will ensure that the next generation of "families" consists exclusively of single mothers. This will lead, in turn, to the formulation of new male-rearing methods -- perhaps through some combination of drugs and high-tech behavior conditioning -- capable of producing an appropriately female set of behaviors. Then the "family" can be reestablished around the infinitely preferable parenting model of two mammal mothers, and Yahweh will be slain at last.
DANIEL: So all is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds.
DANIEL: You knew it all along.
DANIEL: Yes, I did. Indeed I did.

Is that helpful? No, I suppose not. Most of you still think it's not really happening and can't ever happen. Why?

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