Salvete, quicumque –
I find academics so often geared up only for discrimination and deprecation, expressing a kind of breezy intolerance for the rest of mankind, a disdain and contempt animated by an anti-human Crusading spirit. Not all of them, of course, but for me it seems there are just too many, too often. Of course, to be fair, our vices are our virtues, and this is the kind of intolerant preaching that these particular academics are good at.
Here’s an example from a news item. Although I allow that the woman in question’s words would have been selected for their scandalousness (ie, newsworthiness) by the reporter, still the bits quoted support the experience I’ve described:
HAMILTON, N.Y., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Be mine. Yours forever. You hold the key to my heart. Hamilton College Classics Professor Barbara Gold can’t help but notice the difference between modern Valentine’s Day cards filled with sentimental sayings and ancient Romans’ wrenching expressions of love.Today’s valentines focus on sharing, caring, love and friendship. The beloved is portrayed as gentle, sensitive, tender and compassionate, says Gold. The ancient Romans had quite a different take on love."Love for them was interesting, both to live and to write about, because it was painful, like a disease," Gold says. Roman lovers described themselves as "’wounded, wretched, enslaved by their lovers, having their bone marrow on fire and suffering from double vision.""They melded coarse obscenities with deepest expressions of sexual, erotic longing," she says. "Above all there was no sharing or caring and no real idea of a friendship of equals."For example, the love poet Catullus writes to his lady love,
"I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do that? I don’t know but I feel it happening and I am tormented."
Gold notes, "The dream couples of ancient love poetry are hardly the stuff of today’s romantic. They inhabit a world of playful and elegant poetry far removed from the false sincerity of contemporary Hallmark romance. But the depth of the feelings expressed by the ancients is also far removed from the superficial and hyperbolic lovebites found in contemporary commercial expressions of love."
Now, this is the implicit message I take away from that report:
The ancients were better because for them sex was violent and raw and at the same time playful and elegant; modern people are bad because they struggle to be nice, making them weak, second-rate and superficial. The modern qualities of love, the desire to share and care and the attempt to give your lover consideration or respect, are qualities the superior ancients had no use for, and which are therefore defective and laughable. By implication, the Christian heritage has made us weak, foolish, convention-ridden hypocrites instead of strong, raw, canny, cunning, brilliant, ferocious, hungry, out-of-control super-men that we should be.
Am I mis-reading it? What Nietschean mother’s-milk was imbibed by these people? Why are they radicalized in the direction of hatred for humanity? Is it truly innate or is it a result of personal defects and intellectual in-breeding, as the conservatives often claim?
Whatever it is, it’s a sad business to me – perhaps sadder than Right-Wing America’s own myopia and intolerance, since I would have hoped that academics would be wiser than the angry talk-show pundits and rabble-rousing crusaders for intolerance and war. But, once again, this is the Earth, this is Life, and it is not governed very much by niceties.