"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Looking For A Sexual Past –Fantasy, Procreation, And Maleness

Breton Alberts had never gotten over his love affair with Sylvia ____ a September-May relationship that he knew wouldn’t last; a union of impossible possibilities.

She was the daughter of a Midwestern farm family, a child of wheat and animal husbandry; pigs, chickens, and corn.  He was the son of New England patriarchy, descendants of the Third Earl of Marlborough who were among the first families of Massachusetts.  On the other side of the family, he was close in lineage to the Duke of Albemarle and Sir Walter Raleigh.

The affair had cinq-a-sept and K Street assignation written all over it.  A sexual liaison which had begun in the eighth floor lounge of 2230 Pennsylvania Avenue, advanced over martinis in the bar of the Mayflower, and consummated on the floor of a fifth floor walkup in Adams Morgan, had no logical future.  However she, alone and left on the curb at 34; and he, bored, dispirited, but even more sexually ambitious at 65 than he had ever been, were, despite the ragging of his friends and the cattiness of hers, a perfect couple.

The relationship was nothing less than Freudian father-desire in Sylvia’s love of Breton; and a Darwinism in Albert’s last gasp effort to spread his seed, extend himself, his being, far beyond his two legitimate, adult children; but tied up and tangled in philosophical threads as it was, their relationship made it out of the ordinary to the special, unique, and worth having regardless of its final outcome.

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What is wrong with a love affair between a young woman and a stand-in for her quondam, beloved father? Or an aging, but still virile male whose urge to procreate, to leave more behind than two predictable offspring, chips off the old block, social and cultural clones was unstoppable?  In fact, what could be better than the satisfaction of primordial urges after decades of lip service to acceptable bourgeois ones?

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Let the record be set straight and made clear.  The marriage between Breton Alberts and Marguerite Lodge was, despite its fussy arrangements (the Alberts and the Lodges had disagreed on slavery, secession, Reconstruction, the New Deal, and the Great Society; and in families where political philosophy trumped all else, marriages were never simple affairs) a good one.  Their relationship matured into a satisfying marriage, and developed into one of respect and familiarity well into its third decade.

Breton’s straying had nothing to do with any dissatisfaction or disaffection.  He loved his wife in conventional terms (i.e. indistinct from mutual satisfaction, respect, and responsibility), and although never a romantic idyll, the marriage had staying power and longevity.

Nor were his sexual vagaries some kind of retro-machismo cherchez la femme typical of his father’s and grandfather’s generation.  Great wealth was a great enabler, and Breton Pere and Breton Grandpere had had their way with any number of women, almost willy-nilly, with no consequences to bear.  Their lascivity was more of an old entitlement, a class thing relating back to le droit du seigneur, concubinage, and mistresses de rigeur , rather than any real meaningful liaison. Breton, on the other hand, sought younger women as a purposeful anodyne to his age; and the fulfillment of Darwinian determinism.  Older men, despite their failing physical powers, think about sex all the time; but only the few can consummate these desires, feel young again, and dispel the angst of approaching death.  And few men, despite harsh feminist condemnation, can resist the urge to multiply, to have many offspring of many women.  White anxiety is rooted in envy of black promiscuity.

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Never before his marriage to Marguerite had Breton been so careless about ‘protection’.  It was Sylvia who insisted that she was not ready to have a child with him or any married man – the stigma and impossibly complex consequences of childbirth while not those of Hester Prynne, were serious indeed.  But Breton wanted a child with Sylvia; and once she was pregnant would start an equally procreative affair with Lou Ann from Accounting, a girl with a similarly loose moorings, in love with her father and willing to take anyone who fit his modest bill – hardworking, loving, strict, and moral – to bed. 

Breton had no moral compunctions about his sexual intentions.  In fact, in the face of feminist opprobrium, politically correct standards of woke behavior, and the virtual castration of maleness and masculinity, he felt obligated to return to his primordial roots.  And as long as women saw pregnancy and childbirth as a validation of love, desire, and personal worth (“I want to have your baby”), he was ready to accommodate them.   it was time for him – white, upper middle class, respectful, traditional Christian, member and outstanding leader of the community – to let go of his entitlements, embrace his God-given maleness, and procreate.

Shakespeare’s sonnets were odes to procreation – a beautiful man was obligated to populate the earth with his offspring before it was to late .  Procreation was the nature and destiny of human sexuality. 
When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
     Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence (Sonnet 12)
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D.H. Lawrence, perhaps the writer who wrote most honestly and frankly about sex, had no particular interest in sex per se but the mutuality of lovers – a physical consummation and a coming together of male and female which could lead to philosophical epiphany.  Sex for Lawrence was never a simply act of desire, but an acting out of the most essential and the most primitive urges of humanity.  It was important, Lawrence said, to find the right complementary lover even if it meant disregarding social convention and traditional morality.  Lady Chatterley and Mellors found that sexual union despite the closures of class.  They were above and beyond common definitions of sexual partnership; and would reach sublimity together irrespective of their social, cultural, responsible selves.

Breton’s relationship with Sylvia went on for two years until she realized that he – quite predictably in retrospect – was never going to leave his wife; and he, equally predictably was not going to be the father of an illegitimate child born into a dysfunctional Iowa farm family.  So much for Hollywood romance and Darwinian progeny.

In his less anxious moments Breton saw that the flimsy, awkward fantasy that he had created. was nothing more than desperate male longevity.   Sylvia was neither procreatress, nor sexual salvator; but only a means to an end.  The Dean Silk character in Phillip Roth’s book, The Human Stain, says about the young woman with whom he is having an affair, “Granted she's not my first love; and granted she's not my great love; but she is sure as hell is my last love.  Doesn't that count for something?”.

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“So, it’s all about the sex”, his friend replies.

Yes and no.  Of course it is about the sex.  There is nothing more revitalizing and rejuvenating than sex with a much younger woman, something far more than youthful allure and sexual enthusiasm, something that is more validating and reassuring than anything else.  Male sexual potency is not a matter of machismo or patriarchy; it is metaphysically important. Any man can, at any moment of his life, produce enough sperm to populate the planet. Too much is made in a world of feminism and political correctness of the supposition that men are defined by their sexual aggressiveness.  Yes, they are aggressive, but for unassailably persistent and hardwired motivations.  Give a man his due.  He is irremediably sexual in his perceptions, desires, and purpose.  He thinks of sex all the time because he wants sex all the time.  Sexual consummation is not sexual satisfaction, release, or enjoyment.  It is existential, undeniable, and essential. Trimming a man’s sails and turning him into a pleasure boat cruising in and out of a safe and comfortable port is death.

By the time Breton’s affair with Sylvia had ended, he was nearing seventy, the average pull-by date for sexual potency but no where near the shelf life of sexual fantasy.  He would continue to dream about his true love to come, the mother of his many children, the aunt to many more, and the continuing concubine to others.  He knew that for the rest of his remaining years,  sex would remain a fantasy, derivative of his youth, shaped by culture, and driven by God’s worst irony.  God created men with a short life of sexual utility, but condemned them to a lifetime of sexual fantasy.

Breton, like most older men, threw in the towel, returned to his wife, home, and grandchildren; and gave in to the loss of sexual intensity.  Yet he would always have one unforgettable and unforgivable regret – only two children by one woman.

Myth, History, Human Nature, And Great Storytelling–Exodus And Other Tales

The Book of Exodus is a rip-roaring story.  A hard-hearted Pharaoh, a violent, angry, and implacably determined God, the visitation of ten horrific plagues, and the final liberation of the Israelites and their miraculous parting of the Red Sea, is a tale worthy of the greatest religious myths in history.  

The Ramayana, written between 800 BC and 600 BC tells of the battle between the Hindu god Rama and his arch-enemy Ravena, an epic struggle between good and evil.  It like the Bible provides the mythical foundation for Hinduism; and within its classic tale of military might and heroic struggle, and within the overall context of the triumph of the righteous, it contains important moral lessons.  Rama is given help by the supreme god, Brahma and the god Indra to defeat Ravena and his forces of darkness.
Still the dubious battle lasted, until Rama in his ire
Wielded BRAHMA'S deathful weapon flaming with celestial fire!
Weapon which the Saint Agastya had unto the hero given,
Winged as lightning dart of INDRA, fatal as the bolt of heaven,
Wrapped in smoke and flaming flashes, speeding from the circled bow,
Pierced the iron heart of Ravan, lain the lifeless hero low,
And a cry of pain and terror from the Raksha ranks arose,
And a shout from joying Vanars as they smote their fleeing foes!
Heavenly flowers in rain descended on the red and gory plain,
And from unseen harps and timbrels rose a soft celestial strain,
And the ocean heaved in gladness, brighter shone the sunlit sky,
Soft and cool the gentle zephyrs through the forest murmured by,
Sweetest scent and fragrant odours wafted from celestial trees,
Fell upon the earth and ocean, rode upon the laden breeze!
Voice of blessing from the bright sky fell on Raghu's valiant son,--
"Champion of the true and righteous! now thy noble task is done!" (Book X, Chapter 11)
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The Epic of Gilgamesh written in 2000 BC and considered the first great epic poem, is also a tale of man and the gods, struggles between good and evil, heroic episodes and raw exhibitions of power, and like the Ramayana and the Bible, complete with moral lessons. The epic of Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible has strikingly similar themes and narration throughout their respective storyline. Perhaps the best-known example is flood story:
With the first light of dawn a black cloud came from the horizon; it thundered within where Adad, lord of the storm was riding. In front over hill and plain Shullat and Hanish, heralds of the storm, led on. Then the gods of the abyss rose up; Nergal pulled out the dams of the nether waters, Ninurta the war-lord threw down the dykes, and the seven judges of hell, the Annunaki, raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame.
A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm turned daylight to darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup. One whole day the tempest raged, gathering fury as .it went, it poured over the people like the tides of battle; a imam could not see his brother nor the people be seen from heaven. Even the gods were terrified at the flood, they fled to the highest heaven, the firmament of Ann; they crouched against the walls, cowering like curs.
Then Ishtar the sweet-voiced Queen of Heaven cried out like a woman in travail: "Alas the days -of old are turned to dust because I commanded evil; why did I command thus evil in the council of all the gods? I commanded wars to destroy the people, but are they not my people, for I brought them forth? Now like the spawn of fish they float in the ocean." The great gods of heaven and of hell wept, they covered their mouths.
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Similarities between Mesopotamian myths (The Epic of Enuma Elish) and the Hebrew Bible are striking.
Genesis 1:5-7: And God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water’.  And God made the vault and it divided the water beneath the vault from the water above the vault, and so it was.
Enuma Elish: He (Marduk) sliced her (Tiamat) in half like a fish for drying: Half of her he put up to a roof the sky, drew a bolt across and made a guard hold it.  Her waters he arranged so they could not escape.
The Akkadian myth of Sargon II parallels the birth story of Moses:
I am Sargon, the powerful king, the king of Akkad. My mother was an Enitu priestees, I did not know any father . . . . My mother conceived me and bore me in secret. She put me in a little box made of reeds, sealing its lid with pitch. She put me in the river. . . . The river carried me away and brought me to Akki the drawer of water. Akki the drawer of water adopted me and brought me up as his son. . .
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he creation and writing of these stories reflected the confluence of history, myth, and human nature.  The story of Exodus, for example, is not recorded history, although some archeologists and linguists have found evidence which suggests to them that at least the essential story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt may be based on fact.
These specific place names recorded in the Biblical text demonstrate that the memory of the Biblical authors for these traditions predates Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period. This supports a 13th-century Exodus during the Ramesside Period because it is only during the Ramesside Period that the place names Pi-Ramesse, Pi-Atum and (Pa-)Tjuf (Red Sea or Reed Sea) are all in use.
During their excavations, the University of Chicago uncovered a house and part of another house belonging to the workers who were given the task of demolishing the {Egyptian) temple. The plan of the complete house is the same as that of the four-room house characteristic of Israelite dwellings during the Iron Age. However, unlike the Israelite models that were usually constructed of stone, the Theban house was made of wattle and daub. It is significant that this house was built in Egypt at the same time that Israelites were constructing four-room houses in Canaan. The similarities between the two have caused some to speculate that the builders of the Theban house were either proto-Israelites or a group closely related to the Israelites.
A third piece of evidence for the Exodus is the Onomasticon Amenope. The Onomasticon Amenope is a list of categorized words from Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period. Written in hieratic, the papyrus includes the Semitic place name b-r-k.t, which refers to the Lakes of Pithom. Even in Egyptian sources, the Semitic name for the Lakes of Pithom was used instead of the original Egyptian name. It is likely that a Semitic-speaking population lived in the region long enough that their name eventually supplanted the original (Biblical Archeological Society (3.28.18).
Ancient Hebrews and writers of the Old Testament never doubted a historical Jewish presence in Egypt and an eventual residence in Canaan; and created an elaborate myth to fill in the blanks - to describe both life in Egypt under the Pharaohs, the exodus, and the military march to Canaan.  While many Jews and Christians believe in the inerrancy of the Bible – that everything recorded in it is fact and received wisdom – most others understand the story of Exodus at most as extended metaphor and at least a myth.  If the Bible is derived from a well-known mythological tradition, then it must itself be myth.

The best compromise between the two positions is that of ‘derivative overlay’.  That is, while the story may be similar to older or consonant myths and in fact may be derived from them, its particularity is what counts.  The Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible is not Brahma, Gilgamesh, Zeus, or Apollo; but a unique god with a particular consistent cosmology and vision.

A more fundamental question is why are Creation myths and myths of religious evolution so strikingly similar?  The essence of Hindu cosmology is the endless cycle of creation and destruction; and the Hebrew Bible is no different.  Yahweh created the world, was unhappy with its outcome, and repeatedly destroyed it, yet giving humanity the possibility of reform.  Siva’s dance symbolizes the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction.

The Hindu Creation Myth is very similar to Genesis:
There was neither non-existence or existence.  There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. There was neither death nor immortality.  There was no distinguishing sign of day or night.  That One breathed by its own impulse. Other than hat, there was nothing beyond.
Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning.  With no disti8nguishing signs, and this was water.  The life force was covered with emptiness.  That One arose with the power of heat.
The answer to this remarkable similarity of myth was perhaps explained best by Carl Jung’s theory of ‘mythical archetypes’.  Archetypes, he suggested, were inborn tendencies that play a role in influencing human behavior. Archetypes are inborn tendencies that play a role in influencing human behavior. The collective unconscious, Jung believed, was where these archetypes exist. He believed that these models are innate, universal, and hereditary. Archetypes are unlearned and function to organize how we experience the world.

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Stated another way, these collective archetypes – myths – help us make sense of the world.  Because the world has always been perplexing, seemingly irrational, and purposeless, a consistent mythological structure is the necessary template to keep us from emotional and intellectual chaos and despair.  It was not surprising to Jung, therefore, that the same myths keep recurring, changing according to time and place but essentially the same algorithmic paradigms that have always existed.

Even more fundamental to the story of religious myth-making is human nature itself.  There is something compelling about a good story, hyperbole, and exaggeration filled with heroes and villains, good and evil, powers and superpowers.  Aside from the nature of the the myth itself, the stories are remarkably similar.  It is one thing for archetypal myths to frame a cosmology and offer answers to unanswerable questions; another thing for all the stories written to illustrate and narrate the myth to be so similar.

Yet human beings have told each other wild, heroic, unbelievable stories since the beginnings of language.  Stories that enliven, suspend the reality of Hobbes’ short, brutish, and lonely lives.  Stories that give humanity, regardless of the size or importance of community, some greatness.  Whether ancient mythology or modern superheroes, the story is the same.

The writers of Exodus, the Ramayana, and the epics of Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish all had the same very human purpose – to inspire, to excite, and to elevate.

Exodus, then, is the result of the confluence of history, myth, psychology, and human nature.  The New Testament holds up to the same scrutiny.  Although written from a very different mythological perspective – no great battles, herculean fights between good and evil, it still retains most of the elements of powerful, inspirational myth, history, and great storytelling.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Marriage Is A Political Affair, So Why Should Donald Trump Get In The Way Of A Good One?–A Modern Love Story

A former classmate once commented that no friendship can exist between people of opposing political philosophies.  One’s politics, he said, are not simply partisan affairs, but matters of outlook, principle, and moral commitment; and such politics are exclusive. Progressive salons are reserved for those who believe the world is perfectible and progress towards a better place is contingent only upon effort and desire; and conservative drawing rooms welcoming to only those who believe that human nature – aggressive, territorial, violent, and self-serving – is permanent, absolute, and ineluctable. 

No such thing, said a mutual friend who had managed many potentially contentious friendships because of his more nuanced valuation.  What counts in a friendship, he said,  is humor, warmth, sociability, jocularity even; not petty, temporal positions irrelevant to the camaraderie of old friends, family relationships and love.

Both positions were tested in the relationship between Sally Higgins and Xander Parsons.  In an earlier era students of Wellesley and Yale would have had no such conflicts, nor any such irrelevant hurdles to jump before marriage.  Had they been born a generation earlier, they would have come from the same socio-economic class, shared cultural values and social ambitions.  There would have been no question about politics or political philosophy because the world they were about to enter was one of family, predictable profession, faith, and rectitude.  To many millennials such predictability would be a curse.  The very idea of two white, privileged, young people from the wealthiest families of Philadelphia and New York married in pomp and faux-religious ceremony, and sent out to procreate and live quietly and respectfully was anathema.  Multiculturalism was not only the byword of the day but the essence of a political and moral philosophy which was suited for the end of days.  There could be no progression beyond the idea of an inclusive, diverse world of diverse race, gender, and ethnicity.  To others such a stable, moral, and traditional life was anything but anathema.  It represented the best of Christian, Western, Biblical tradition.

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So Sally, inveterate progressive daughter of a scion of Philadelphia society whose family had made their fortune long enough ago to allow the luxury of liberal thought, found herself sexually attracted to Xander, a young man of equally prestigious heritage but whose family had changed little since the days of the Founding Fathers in which they participated.  Xander’s early ancestor in fact had been a confident of Hamilton and although he refused public acknowledgement of his contributions, was well-known in Hamilton’s inner circle for his rebellious insights into the nature of democracy.  Hamilton’s concerns about Jeffersonian popular democracy came from Xander’s relatives and proudly so.

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The conservative political lineage was unbroken; and while the Parsons were never firebrands or radical agitators, they made their influence known through out the two hundred years since the days of their patron, Alexander Hamilton. So many years of unquestioning fidelity to the principles of freedom, free enterprise, free markets, individualism, and enterprise meant that Xander was the chip off the old block – a young man who felt conservativism in his bones, never questioned the principles of Adam Smith, and other economists of the Scottish Enlightenment Hayek; nor doubted Voltaire Rousseau, and Rabelais for their cynical realism; nor abjured the modern-day principles of Ronald Reagan.

One might say that two individuals, bred for intellectual enlightenment, reason, and temperate judgment regardless of political differences should have no problem accommodating each other in marriage.  If political philosophy stayed within its prescribed academic limits and never strayed from pure reason, there would have been no breaches in the marriage – none of the recriminations, vindictiveness, and hostility that always occurs without solid philosophical grounding.  It is for others – the uneducated, easily manipulated, ignorantly gullible masses – to succumb to raw partisanship; but certainly not Sally and Xander.

Yet like everything else, academic certainty and solid philosophical reasoning goes only so far.  When it hits the reality of modern-day American politics, all bets are off.  And so it was with Xander and Sally.  There was simply no way to keep the contentious issues of the day – gay marriage, immigration, free speech, LGBTQIA rights – out of sight to be dealt with personally, quietly, and individually.   When Donald Trump signed an executive order penalizing all universities who abridged the civil rights of free speech, Xander cheered while Sally dissented.  Free speech is nothing but an elitist construct, she said, quoting Freire, designed to cloture righteous anarchistic speech and stifle the aspirations of the marginalized and oppressed.  Until white, privileged society relented and understood the plight of the black man, free speech was only a luxury.

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Xander was outraged.  His great-great grandfather had assisted at the very discussions that resulted in the Bill of Rights.  How could anyone, let alone his wife challenge these absolute, hallowed principles?

The same argument on gay marriage further eroded the simple trust and affection Sally and Xander had for each other.  While Xander quoted liberally from the family Bible – in fact the one on which Hamilton had taken his oath of office – citing Romans, Ephesians, Deuteronomy, and Kings to demonstrate God’s unhappiness with homosexuality – Sally quoted equally liberally from Lacan, Derrida, and even Eco to demonstrate the meaningless of text itself, regardless of how inspired it was thought to be.  The verses cited by her husband meant nothing, written as they were within the socio-cultural context of first century Palestine.  God meant no interdiction against homosexual relationships she said; the Bible was only figurative and demonstrative suggesting how conformity was more important than non-conformity.  Aberration was only a modern, erroneous concept.

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The burdensome, onerous and impossibly discouraging high rates of taxation imposed by Democratic administrations were antithetical to the principles of a liberal economy, Xander said; and only deregulation, and the reform of all punitive financial legislation could right the economic ship of state.

The doors to America must be open to the poor, the downtrodden, the hopeless, and the despairing, said Sally reciting the words on the Statue of Liberty.  Nonsense, said Xander.  If the doors were indeed opened, there would be no room for anyone. Every Nigerian, Ethiopian, Quechua, Jivaro, and Uighur – let alone millions of Salvadorans and Venezuelans – would be here in a jiffy.

Their marriage had taken place in the old Christ Church of Irvington, Virginia – the first church to be disestablished from Anglicanism and instituted as its own American Episcopalian authority.  Marriage in this church had ancestral, social, and political weight even more so than churches colonial Boston and Philadelphia.  Marriage in the Christ Church had significance – a union of two true, very American families in the spirit of the American Revolution.

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Yet even this special sanctification, this secular-religious bonding, this special marriage of special Americans could not allay the bitter infighting that occurred after the priest had pronounced his final benediction.

At first the Parsons were fine.  They went about their family and professional business as planned – he a lawyer at a well-known K Street firm; she a financial officer in a major non-profit; and soon the parents of two children.  There were no rifts in the marriage.  He had has occasional affairs, and she her Victorian dalliances, but nothing serious; until they broke their unspoken pledge of political silence.  They both knew how opposed they were on philosophical grounds and had decided long ago to keep the street fights of partisan politics off the table.  Yet is was impossible for Sally, given her intense loyalty to liberal causes to keep quiet.  It might be OK for a conservative who believed in the ineluctability of human nature and the perennial cycle of greed and violence to be indifferent or dismissive of Trump’s indiscretions, lies, and chicanery; but for a committed progressive, she had to do her part.

At first Xander did not rise to the bait, demurred when asked his opinion, and let the topic slide; but for Sally his response was a matter of honesty and pride.  Did he or didn’t he side with Donald Trump?

Xander’s routine was ruined, his coffee spoiled, his nap interrupted.  Why did his wife persist when she knew that at best he was diffident and at worst was cynically opposed to everything she proposed?  Sally on the other hand was bemused and then angry at her husband’s evasion of responsibility.  How could he not take sides in such important affairs? Did his nihilism have no bounds?

The continued to attend apolitical gatherings at the Cosmos Club and the Society of the Cincinnati, very proper, very comme il faut for Washington society and kept up their patrician credentials; but at home, in the bedroom, there marriage had been fatally infected by politics.  “How could you?!”, she said.  “How could you?”, he replied, and they went to sleep backs turned, irreconcilable and unhappy.

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There are many marriage counselors in Washington, but none able to break the Gordian knot of political difference.  “But you love each other”, the counselor said. “Doesn’t that count for something?”

“Nothing at all”, replied Sally, angry and insulted at the Hallmark card, insipid question.

At this point one would expect divorce – irreconcilable differences, no children, equitable distribution of joint property – but the Parsons were not just any couple.  How could a lineage on his side dating back to Hamilton and hers to Sir Walter Raleigh and the heroes of Albemarle really ever split up?  It was a matter of historical pride, of legacy, and right. 

There marriage might have been consummated as a union of love, but ended as a marriage of convenience rather than the usual other way around.  Unity, family legacy, and national heritage in the final accounting mattered more than political differences.

After all, marriage has always been a political affair.  If not an exchange of wealth, a resolved question of status, or simply the right social thing to do, then what was it?  Petrarch, the creator of romantic love has had his day; the courtly love he encouraged gone by the wayside; and even the most elite marry for the same reasons as the governed – for economic stability or promise, for sons, and for funerary rites.

So Xander and Sally buried their differences and of course in so doing buried what was essential in each of them; but within the broader perspective of proper social marriage and the essentiality of family, children, and faith. little was lost.

Sally read the daily papers and shared them with no one.,  Xander read Ishiguro, Greene, Faulkner, and the Book of Exodus with nary a glance at the Washington Post, MSNBC or CNN.  And so they finally reached a compromise.  None of Trump, Brexit, Kim, May, or Maduro really mattered that much.

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In the end, if not a happy couple, they were at least not an unhappy one.