An Interesting Analogy

It was 43 years ago that feminist British film theorist Laura Mulvey coined the term male gaze in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”: “The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact.”

The neo-Expressionist Eric Fischl (while clarifying that “I don’t do nude, I do naked. Naked is psychological; it involves a much more complicated set of emotional relationships to physicality, to need, to desire, to pleasure”), believes that it’s important to analyze how the male gaze works in making art. But he’s also of the opinion that men looking at women is, to some extent, “a genetically engineered reflex for very particular reasons.” To try to make it somehow “an unnatural aspect of being a man” doesn’t make much sense, he says. “It would be the same as supposing the children of women who paint mothers and children said, ‘Stop the motherly gaze; it’s inappropriate, invasive, objectifying.’ What would the women do? They’d say, ‘It’s natural for me to look at this aspect of womanness,’ and the children would say, ‘No, you’re not treating me as though I’m separate and other.’ ” Fischl laughs.
Motherhood tends to be idealized because it is a form of service on which civilization depends, as soldiering is. The gaze of male attraction to women is not similarly idealized, but treated as selfish and offensive. On the other hand, without the male gaze there is no mothering; motherhood depends on male attraction to women, excepting relatively rare cases of medical intervention.

Interestingly to me, the consent we usually invoke to justify male attraction to a female is entirely absent in the mother/child relation. The child has no capacity to reject his mother's attention, or her mother's; similarly, the mother can impose either her motherhood or death upon the child at will until the child is born. The child's interests are not considered until birth, and even then they are legally subordinated. In that way the cases differ sharply.

Otherwise the analogy holds pretty well. Children are certainly objects of their mother's gaze, and her attention: hopefully, also of her love and affection. A man who loves a woman hopefully also gives her a kind of love and affection in addition to his gaze. If he doesn't, the problem is with the absence of the love; it is possible to be a bad mother (or father) by withholding those things, too.

H/t: Arts & Letters Daily.

Happy Birthday

My father died in 2016. This was his birthday. I don't think I noticed the first one when he was gone. I was too busy that year, finishing his business as well as my own. In fact I'm still finishing up some of his business even now, and lately I'm all but overwhelmed with my own. A man like him leaves a hole in the world. It's a deal of work to close such business. To fill the hole would be a life's work of its own.

I wish I had better words for the occasion, but I don't. I will refer you to the same essay I linked below by the picture of his father, my grandfather. It's a piece I'm glad to have written. I'm even more glad that the original was written in 2004. I had twelve years after that to try to make it right with him. I did my best.

America is a Philosophy

Here's a man from Yorkshire who'd have fit in at the Boston Tea Party. He'll be doing 8 months in prison, a fact the police celebrate in their message to the public. I have no printable response to them, but I hope that when he's done being a political prisoner he'll come home to America.

Old Cheese

This article is about the Viking-era cheese of that name, or Gamalost in the Norsk. There's also an Arabic dish whose name also translates as "old cheese," but it has very different qualities.

That Thing You All Knew Was True

The DOJ IG report found administration interference in investigations for political reasons.

For the Ladies

Some of you might prefer a firearm, but swords are an option too.

(Note the small print citation, giving credit to what I hope is the original artist. It's based on a sketch from our friends at The Art of Manliness, which you can see here.)

Slow Your Roll

Grouchy Farmers in the UK

A farmer fed up with ‘townies’ complaining about the noise and smells of the countryside has posted a sign outside his farm in a dig at sensitive city dwellers.

Stephen Nolan, 48, put up the notice after receiving consistent complaints for four years about noise from his animals.

‘This property is a farm. Farms have animals and animals make funny sounds, smell bad and have sex outdoors’, it reads.

‘Unless you can tolerate the above, don’t buy a property next to a farm.’

The cheeky missive, erected at Laneside Farm in Lancashire, has received a lot of love on social media from locals who described it as ‘hilarious’.

I'd be pretty grouchy about it too, especially the bit later on about neighbors threatening to sue if he builds a bigger stables for his horses. He has Shire horses and Clydesdales.

Angelo Codevilla: Living With Politics as War

Codevilla's article at American Greatness argues that it's too late to make peace with the Left and that a counter-march through the institutions would be pointless. He argues for creating a strong separate conservative culture that would replace the Left-dominated institutions. He talks about boycotts, state nullification of federal laws, replacing universities, etc. It's a good article, although I don't know how far I agree with it. In the very long run, pushing for more balance at currently-Left-dominated institutions may be productive.

There are some specific recommendations he makes that I'd like to post about later, but it's a good read whether I get around to that or not.

The Carlos Hathcock Method of Sighting in a Rifle

An excerpt just to get you started on a good story:

I didn’t know Carlos then and did not know of his exploits in NM and Sniper shooting. Ted talked to Carlos about it and Carlos stopped by the shop later that afternoon. Carlos looked at me and said, “So you want to sight in your rifle, eh? OK, thoroughly clean the bore and chamber. Dry the bore out with patches just before you come down to Range 4 tomorrow at noon on the 200 yard line. Have the sling on the rifle that you are going to use in hunting.” Then he went on about his business.

Jack T.

We're a bit past the Ides of March, which was his birthday, but today I came across a photo of my grandfather. He was called "Jack T." in the same way that John Wayne was "John T." in Rio Bravo -- short for "John T. Chance," in that case.

Here's what he looked like.

I also learned today that he was a soldier in his youth, which I'd never known. We found a picture of him in uniform at Ft. Oglethorpe, undated. His uniform included a 1911 Campaign Hat. I was told he'd been rejected for enlistment in WWII because he was a welder, and needed more at home -- he worked on the nuclear program at Oak Ridge in that capacity. It turns out, he must have been trying to reenlist.

The Clintons, then and now

I've been watching old "Larry Sanders Show" episodes, inspired by an enjoyable HBO restrospective of the career of the late Garry Shandling.  These shows roughly coincide with the 1990s Clinton Era, and I've been surprised by the number of casually biting hits on both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the fictional talk-show host's monologues.  Bill appears as a clownish lecher, Hillary as a mean, dangerous criminal.  One joke from last night concerned the hardships of a documentarist trying to interview employees at the White House in order to investigate rumors of a fascist atmosphere.  A telephone operator begged the interviewer to go away before someone saw them talking, because Hillary would "hurt him."  A typical monologue joke turns on Hillary's exposure to criminal prosecution, requiring no explanation for the audience.

Shandling was no right-winger; his jokes at the expense of the GOP were if anything more harsh.  It makes me realize the extraordinary--though unsuccessful--effort to rehabilitate Ms. Clinton during the Obama Era.

A Hoax Pointed at Starbucks

This is really an urban phenomenon. One thing I really hate about going to the city is all the locked bathrooms. We don't get this out in the country. People know that going to the bathroom is something human beings have to do once in a while, and that it can be rather urgent at times. Locks are unwelcome.

All the same, every city I ever go to has locked bathrooms everywhere.

I could use this moment to make one of the comments to which I am personally inclined about how living in the city is a less worthy life, but I won't do that. Instead I'll admit that cities offer some advantages in terms of access to wealth and trade, and the goods that those things can bring -- goods like theaters, orchestras, and the like. You don't find those out in the middle of the country either.

In return, however, you have to live with a lot more indignity. Cities have a high cost of living in terms of taxes, higher rent, and the like. They also cost more of your dignity. If you are going to live in easy proximity to those goods, you're going to pay for the privilege. Part of that cost is that you will be less free, treated with less respect, and subject to many more daily humiliations. That's true for everyone, though of course it is worse if you are poor.

Crossing the line

You may or may not be aware of a little controversy in Jacksonville FL recently.  This article summarized it nicely, and rather than do so here, I trust you will get the gist quickly.

The citation was probably accurate under the city code as written, wrongheaded, and it looks like that rule has been amended to allow for military flags.  But honestly, that wasn't particularly shocking to me, being just a poorly written and overly non-specific rule.  The code enforcer's treatment of a veteran in the store (not the business owner being cited, but just a customer who happened to be in the store) was outrageous, and while it crossed the line, that's not actually so much what I want to talk about.

Instead, it got me thinking.  This woman is a city employee.  A government official.  Can the government fire her for being rude?  Should the government be able to fire an employee for stating an unpopular opinion?  I go back and forth on this.  Sure, if she were a private employee, her employer could toss her out the door for bringing controversy to the business.  But the government is bound by the First Amendment in a way that private businesses are not.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if there is not some rule or regulation about representing the city in a negative light, or perhaps mistreatment of the public as being a fireable offense, and if such a rule exists, and it was a condition of her employment, controversy over... mostly.  If there is no such rule, then I don't know that she can legally be fired for being rude to a veteran.  And I don't know if she ought to be.

I am a veteran.  I can hardly think of a more grave insult you can pay to a wounded vet that "you did nothing for this country" (which is what was originally reported, but I will accept the article's interpretation that she actually said what the vet did overseas does not matter [in the context of the citation]).  But insults still are protected speech.  Oh, one may face social opprobrium for saying such a thing.  One may be ostracized and publicly shamed, and rightfully so.  But the government cannot punish someone for expressing an opinion, regardless of how unpopular it may be.  They are prohibited from doing so, and should be prohibited from doing so.  And I don't know that I want the government to start getting into the business of deciding what speech is protected, and what is not.  Because that is a VERY short slope towards the modern leftist desire to label all speech they do not like as unprotected "hate speech", and then using that to legally ban such speech.