Monday, April 07, 2008

Nietzsche on Marriage

Nietzsche quoted in Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex: (Yeah I know, not really true for most marriages now but I really liked that last line about "confusion of soul")

To be hurtled by marriage as by a frightful stroke of lightning into reality and knowledge, to discover love and shame in contradiction, to have to feel in regard to a single object ravishment, sacrifice, duty, pity, and terror, because of the unexpected propinquity of God and the beast - here is created a confusion of soul which seeks in vain its equal.

The Second Sex is another mind expanding book I have been reading these days. It is actually less a book and more an encyclopedia. She has, it seems, read everything that is there to be read on the subject - literature, psychology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, history, economics, biology, sociology, sex manuals and of course philosophy too. She is really very harsh on housewives and women with overpowering maternal instincts. She thinks there is absolutely no "transcendence" to be had in housework or bringing up a baby. Actually I was a little depressed after reading her arguments. I have a regular job but there is absolutely nothing "transcendental" about it either. Just like housework it goes entirely in the maintenance of status-quo on top of that I allow myself to be treated as a fungible "resource", albeit a human resource. It is actually a running theme in her book that men have the freedom to fashion their selves by their actions in the world while women are condemned forever to live in "immanence" (at least that's how I understood these terms). I am not denying that men on the whole are in a comparatively better position but this problem of living in unfreedom i.e. being stuck in an identity is gender agnostic and universal.

4 comments:

Szerelem said...

I haven't read The Second Sex in full - bits of it really long back and even then it was as you say mind expanding. I think I should read it in full - if nothing else I could use it to argue with the misogynists and sexists I seem to keep running into. I don't know what it is but the whole experience of working and coming across such asses has been amazingly depressing.

Alok said...

Like you I prefer not to get into debates with those "Women can't do math" crowd. But even within the boundaries of feminism there are so many different things to think about. Another thing that these books show is that it is not just individual beings with their prejudices, but rather it is the institutions and traditions which are more culpable...

Manjunatha said...

It is actually a running theme in her book that men have the freedom to fashion their selves by their actions in the world while women are condemned forever to live in "immanence" (at least that's how I understood these terms).

I think I agree with Simone completely. When I was reading an anthropology book I came across stereotypes directed against females like 'thousand mustaches can live together but not four breasts'. At that time your summary of Simone's work is the precise thought I got. Her harshness is the expression of her frustration because it works at community level and not at individual level(at individual level she was completely liberated, I suppose).

Roxana said...

and men had the freedom to fashion also the language, the japanese character for "standard" is made out of two parts, "adult male" and "look" which explains us that one should look at an adult male to see what the standard should be. how interesting is that :-) ideogrammes would make the perfect battle field for feminists :-), there are many examples like that.