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06/24/2013

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"What do conservatives want to conserve?"

Well, how about pregnancy and childbirth? just for starters.

Sheesh!

Feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organization of culture itself, and further, even the very organization of nature.

wow.

Even good Catholics can go mad, as I've discovered, but to rail against Reality - now there's a sure recipe for insanity.

Yep, that about sums it up.

Commenting on Firestone's crazed vision of a "techno-feminist-communist society" in which "genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally," you wrote:

"I remember thinking 'This person is completely deranged.' And I think any reasonable person would agree."

I certainly agree, and evidently the arc of her life has proved your assessment correct.

I really dislike that tired, so-called definition of insanity: "repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results" (or something to that effect), which strikes me more as one characteristic of stupidity or obstinacy or possibly mental illness--though certainly not the definition of insanity. IMHO, a better definition would include "a furious, intransigent refusal to accept immutable facts of nature and reality." This appears to have been Firestone's most prominent trait.


Firestone's life might simply have been a sad tale, but unfortunately she and others of her ilk continue to "wield an influence out of proportion to their numbers"--and their collective sanity.

I'm very happy to hear your complaint about that spurious definition. It's frequently credited to Einstein, but I'd be very surprised if he actually said it. I find it very annoying. In many contexts "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" is called "practice."

But yes, your "furious, intransigent refusal" does seem to describe SF's initial neurosis, which apparently deteriorated further.

That Atlantic piece that I linked to thinks her proposals were really pretty good ideas, too bad we aren't there yet, etc etc

"That Atlantic piece that I linked to thinks her proposals were really pretty good ideas, too bad we aren't there yet, etc etc"

This is what I meant by the last sentence in my comment above. Much of the worst junk from 70s and 80s feminism has been mainstreamed into the media, the arts, the university, the classroom, the workplace and society generally. Now even the demented rantings of a crackpot like Firestone are given a respectful hearing--if not actually honored--by the allegedly thoughtful writers at The Atlantic.

So the sad tale of Firestone's life is not just her personal tragedy. Feminism was the springboard that enabled her psychological demons to bedevil us all.

Shulamith Firestone and a lot of others. "Her psychological demons"--from what I've read it seems that a high percentage of those then-famous '70s feminist came from pretty messed-up family backgrounds, and made the whole society a stage for dealing with their problems. Or in the case of Firestone, reality in toto.

Re that annoying cliche on insanity:

1) Good point that in many contexts it "is called 'practice'." Or persistence. Keep practicing that musical instrument until different results happen--you start to get good at it.

2) I quickly found several sites that claim Einstein never said it. Not that it really matters. It's still tired and stupid even if a scientific genius first said it. Being brilliant in physics does not make you a brilliant observer of human nature. And BTW, I believe Einstein said some pretty dumb things when he ventured outside science and spoke about international politics, war and peace, etc.

3) Almost invariably, people trot out this platitude as if it's a trump card, so clever that it's the final word in any argument.

La Rochefoucauld is a much better source of aphorisms on human nature. Here are two favorites (among many):

"Everyone complains about his memory, and no one complains about his judgment."

"We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves."

Einstein unfortunately became sort of an all-purpose guru for a certain kind of person. People tend to do that with artists and scientists, especially the former, despite the complete lack of logic in the assumption.

I think at this point the correct reaction to the "definition of insanity" bit is to scoff openly, and point out a few situations where it's obviously wrong. Or maybe just quote "If at first you don't succeed...".

For some reason this bit from Swift (or was it Johnson? or Pope?) has stuck in my mind for many years:

As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew
From nature, I believe 'em true.

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