Friday, August 6, 2010


In my lonely single life, I find myself loving children more and more--especially in their impertinence. Children require adults to provide the loving guidance and education that only we adults can give them as they become themselves despite our best efforts. In the redundancy of the ordinary day to day life that we present, children are a blessing in their sheer newness.

It is true that we live in the present with our enlightened morality of free choice and individual self creation, and we are attempting to make the next generation so free that choice becomes an end in itself. We love something called autonomy. However, let's hope that "nature" will reassert itself and have nothing to do with our contemporary cleverness. The '60s and '70s and '80s were all about "rock 'n roll" and "punk rock" and thinking that one can make it alone. This thinking that one can make it alone leaves one thrown back on oneself, and in a strange Tocquevillian move leads one to follow what everyone else does. One's own self creation becomes conformity--how else to explain the ubiquity of tattoos these days?

You may say, "Presnall, you're full of shit. I've got a job, and it's important. I do (or even make) things, and in my activity (or productivity) I do something at least useful to myself. At least I make a paycheck." Let me suggest that your work is simply the flip side of the coin to your rock 'n roll autonomy. Your job is probably an abstraction--like most jobs these days. You can measure your life according to what television or other credentialized agencies consider to be rigorous self assessment. You and your company may even claim to "bring good things to light." However, what do you presently hold in custodianship that is worth holding for all time? What have you inherited that is worthwhile? What do you have to pass on--other than the skills which you yourself admit are damned for the planned obsolescence that you yourself have set up?

So, outside of theology or philosophy, children become the key to happiness in our time as it has been always. As one gets older--if there are no young ones around (especially young ones of one's own)--life becomes a meaningless game and one might as well commit suicide. Let me make a caveat for priests who find God, philosophers who find truth, and tyrants who find rule. The rest is pale pragmatism calculating the best way to stay alive for no other reason than that one fears death--it's a perfectly ordinary Hobbesianism.

Children--on the other hand--are by definition impertinent, and as a consequence they are a rebuke to any so-called postmodern self-creation. They're beyond the grandiosity of autonomy and production.

Children are fecundity too, and when they are one's own they provide an impermeable barrier to the seemingly inevitable growth of what Alexandre Kojeve called the Universal and Homogeneous State where each is recognized equally in his autonomy and productivity--a condition that Leo Strauss said had the potential of becoming a universal tyranny. So get philosophy, God, or children now! Fight the inevitable tyranny and defend one's own. Besides, with our aging population, who will care for us when we're elderly (i.e., dependent and unproductive) if not those impertinent children--whether or not they are our own?

Otherwise we're lucky if our fate becomes something similar to Sol's (Edward G. Robinson's) in Soylent Green. And this is a fate, despite its expressions of love, that is worthwhile avoiding.

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