The man without qualities

By Robert Musil

Is a novel whose main character is Ulrich- he without qualities- and the parallel campaign whose meeting place is his cousin’s house. First, the parallel campaign achieves nothing. In fact, at the end, one really can’t be certain what the parallel campaign or the whole novel is all about.

But there are many interesting things, some which question some of the myths we hold regarding sex. For example, Diotima says

Quite often a man can’t make love even when he wants to.

In another place, still continuing with the same line of argument, she says

In contrast with a woman’s constant readiness for sex, a man- well, in a word, a man’s manliest part is easily discouraged.

And ends the discussion by saying, which will leave many a man shaking their heads or reflecting, that

He only feels sexually secure if he doesn’t have to be afraid of a woman being in some way or other spiritually superior, and that’s why men hardly ever have the courage to try a relationship with a woman who’s their equal as a human being.

Thoughts which I find all quite interesting.

I think there has been progress

In how society views women but maybe not. I am reading this book and I came across this statement

The economic value of a girl to society is gauged by the extent to which a man maybe excused his debts on the ground that after his daughter’s marriage he will be able to pay them.

Whenever I have argued, like Solon before me and others, that bride price is an exchange between males, I have gotten push back that it is tradition or that the groom is showing his appreciation to the parents of the girl for bringing her up. I think in actual fact, it creates a power imbalance.

Monday reads

Concern about sexualization of children misses the point

Mark Greif has something about this. As I wrote a while back he argues

the sex revolution of the 60s and 70s did not liberate sex but led to a liberalization of sex. He argues we will be able to talk about sex liberation only when it is thought of as we would a coffee date. On the subject of pedophilia he asks why the allure in youth when all the adults who engage in it were once youth?

His book Against Everything is quite a good read

On women

It’s a shock that these brilliant minds of the enlightenment period did not see the link between denying women opportunities for leadership and their absence from those posts. Almost all of them argue women are not fit for leadership because there have been no women leaders. I however believe had they lived long enough to see that when given opportunities, women can and have made good leaders.

With that, we can listen to Spinoza

But, perhaps, someone will ask, whether women are under men’s authority by nature or institution? For if it has been by mere institution, then we had no reason compelling us to exclude women from government. But if we consult experience itself, we shall find that the origin of it is in their weakness. For there has never been a case of men and women reigning together, but wherever on the earth men are found, there we see that men rule, and women are ruled, and that on this plan, both sexes live in harmony. But on the other hand, the Amazons, who are reported to have held rule of old, did not suffer men to stop in their country, but reared only their female children, killing the males to whom they gave birth. But if by nature women were equal to men, and were equally distinguished by force of character and ability, in which human power and therefore human right chiefly consist; surely among nations so many and different some would be found, where both sexes rule alike, and others, where men are ruled by women, and so brought up, that they can make less use of their abilities. And since this is nowhere the case, one may assert with perfect propriety, that women have not by nature equal right with men: but that they necessarily give way to men, and that thus it cannot happen, that both sexes should rule alike, much less that men should be ruled by women. But if we further reflect upon human passions, how men, in fact, generally love women merely from the passion of lust, and esteem their cleverness and wisdom in proportion to the excellence of their beauty, and also how very ill-disposed men are to suffer the women they love to show any sort of favour to others, and other facts of this kind, we shall easily see that men and women cannot rule alike without great hurt to peace. But of this enough.

on men and brains

Someone tell me how H. L Mencken got away with such all gloves off war on men? Writing about intuition, he finishes that chapter by writing

Men, too, sometimes have brains. But that is a rare,rare man, I venture, who is as steadily intelligent, as constantly sound in judgement, as little put off by appearances as the average women of forty-eight.

H. L Mencken in his book In defense of women

Has this question been answered

when men contend for their freedom, and to be allowed to judge for themselves respecting their own happiness, it be not inconsistent and unjust to subjugate women, even though you firmly believe that you are acting in the manner best calculated to promote their happiness? Who made man the exclusive judge, if woman partake with him the gift of reason?

Maria Wollstonecraft to M. Talleyrand-Perigord