Friday, May 19, 2006

Angel of History

I'd forgotten how much I loved this passage. So dark. So true.

This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. (W. Benjamin, On the Concept of History, Thesis IX)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Purity (Blue) Ball

Via Mark Morford I only just learned something that depresses me only because it doesn't surprise me: Purity Balls. Morford's description is better than I can offer at the moment:

Purity Balls. No, not some sort of newfangled spherical chastity device to be inserted using vacuum tubes and pulleys, but rather fancy creepy dress-up rituals taking place in towns like Colorado Springs and Tucson and Zoloft Jesusville, in which Christian dads rent a bad tux while their daughters, mostly teenagers but many as young as 6 or 7, get all dolled up in gowns from JCPenny and they all drive out to the airport Marriott and prepare to, well, lose their minds.

It begins. At some point the daughter stands up, her pale arms wrapped around her daddy, and reads aloud a formal pledge that she will remain forever pure and virginal and sex-free until she is handed over, by her dad (who is actually called the "high priest" of the home), like some sort of sad hymenic gift, to her husband, who will receive her like the sanitized and overprotected and libidinously inept servant she so very much is. Praise!

Would that I were making this up.

The dad -- er, high priest -- in turn, stands up and reads his pledge, one stating that he will work to protect his daughter's virginal purity that he has so carefully and wickedly drilled into her since birth, since she was knee-high to a disturbing dogma, that he will protect her chastity and oversee it and help enforce its boundaries, which might or might not involve great amounts of rage and confusion and secret stashes of cheap scotch, although his pledge claims it's with honor and integrity and lots of bewildering Godspeak. Which, in many households, is essentially the same thing.

Really, what can you say to something like this? I mean, it's hardly surprising, depravity with the best of intentions, but sweet Jesus, people, c'mon! I'm sorry, but NOT having sex, not even waiting until marriage, is NOT necessarily healthy sex. It's not unhealthy either, mind you. Healthy sex is that which doesn't kill you, or cause you to kill somebody else (i.e., emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc.). What about "spiritually," though, the Christian moralist squeals? Look, for one, if you want to get spiritual about it, the flesh is already dead -- sex in or out of marriage doesn't change that. It's a fleshly act that creates fleshly (& squishy) pleasure and children, mixed w/ the endorphins that make us sometimes feel out-of-body if it was especially good. There's nothing wrong this, and count me among the masses who love it ... but it certainly isn't pure, at least not in the sense implied by the intention to store your daughter's genitals, in some lame form of female circumcision, in a safety deposit box until she's married.