Now Politics: the Political Opinions of Thomas Sarebbenonnato

A Friend of the People Opposing Elites; Social and Political Commentary of Thomas Sarebbenonnato; Publishing and Contributing Editor, Jay V. Ruvolo [Copyright (c) Jay Ruvolo 2018]

HUMANITY IS A HUMANISM

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There is a human nature,
although highly variegated,
I would say,
if I were permitted herein
what some find
as the grotesqueness
of my present entitlement.
—Anonymous me

 

If humanity were simply the total number of all the someones here on earth then arithmetic would be the primary arbiter of our ontology.  I would be human by simply having been born, by my membership in the species, homo-sapiens. The problem with this is that it is arithmetic and not being.

We have witnessed historically what happens when ethics is reduced to counting heads, on or off their bodies. We witness this numericalism again and again  around the world in our contemporaneity, just as we will again here at home where freedom wanes more increasingly year by year. I can still hear me saying what I said when I said it whatever it was I had said ethics is not a quantitative science. To say or not to say must weigh heavily on the human who needs to tell, who wants to tell; telling is what humans do, have done, will do again and again. We are the story making animal, even if we are no longer exclusively the tool-making one.

People everywhere have experienced the historical outcomes when ethics are numerical–I repeat that she had said–where would not be pertinent enough for me to try to recollect, seeing as I do not remember and seem not willing to recall. When we seek to make them quantifiable, she said, we always wind up in shit.

The quantifications of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis, of dictators like Pol Pot, she said, of the bureaucracies of super states like the United States, or other bourgeois capitalist democracies have weighed heavily on the experience of the human, she said. Inhumanity is a sport bigger than soccer, she added with a smile.

How many times, how many places, now and then, then and now, I wander every time I wonder. They’re related, you know. How could they not be . . . and I am not trying to be like Joyce . . .

If we wanted to expand our notion of humanity in the above fashion, one that leads us to the ironic outcome of constricting our humanity, she said, then we would have to include all the humans who have ever lived on earth.  This subsequent tally of humanity would include every ‘human’ in our evolutionary past; everything relevant to the estimation of the homo-sapiens nature would be valid in an estimation of our human nature.  Pithecanthropus Erectus would be as human as you or I, and you may not yet have reason to dispute this. Of course, what that means is that we have spent the greater part of the last one hundred and fifty years avoiding a definition of our humanity in such a way that has led us to over simplify just what the ethical or moral nature of the human is or could be–perish the thought of someone saying should, she said.

There are shoulds, I say as I have said, will say and know that I am willing to continue saying.

We have spent a great deal of energy perpetuating one kind of grotesque romanticism set diametrically in counterpoint to each Enlightenment humanism; and there is more than one of everything we have ever thought, made up in our minds (and that latter phrase carries I imagine more than a double meaning).

I do make assumptions on what you have read. For me, there are shoulds about what we read; yet I know too many who have not read what they should have read. I also know too many Russians who imagine they have read everything they should, but have not–why am I bringing up Russians exclusively? She is what she is and says what she says independent of the larger things she has been . . . everyone is macrocosmic to every category he or she belongs to, belongs in, participates within . . .

This is prima faciae–what is? I do not have to watch the ball I drop out the window fall to know that it has indeed fallen.

All humans, we must remember, would include Nazis, sadists, sociopaths and pedophiles, as a limited set of examples showing who or what is human; murderers too.  Having humanity then would be a simple thing to possess if everyone were human simply by having been born, by simply being classified as a member of the species Homo-sapiens. Is that enough, though?

One would qualify by living any way he chose and in our current culture’s love affair with solipsism, she said. How is it though that one can be human without being humane? The former predicates the latter, no? I might not have reason to object yet.

I would have only biology as my chief, if not my exclusive reference for my humanity, she said, if what we call human were the sole and exclusive determination of our humanity. Ethics then would not exclude appetite; thus, the ethics of male sexual appetite and how for centuries it has devoured female sexuality, or how it has directly motivated how women and their sexuality are defined by male sexuality, would have persistence, endurance.

Male sexual appetite and the male’s appetite for territory or property as an extension of pituitary sense of territoriality can be justified in this kind of ethics in spite of how strongly contemporary feminists lean toward legislating morality, she said. You know what that means, don’t you? She asked. You know what it has meant historically for women, don’t you?

Try to take food away from a hungry dog; try to take away the control men have had over the definitions of women.  But then contemporary feminists have been equally repressive of themselves, she said, all of them bearing their collective weight on the simple separate woman, everyone of them complete with her slings and arrows, she said, every overarching definition of who woman is, when she is, where, why and how she is; validating one set of determinisms after another: who she is, what she is, what she should be, must be, would be if not for . . .  every woman becomes her own Saint Sebastian.

I remembered what she said next, about how she did not debate the trinity, and how that then was her shortcoming. She did say that she accepted the dogma, as did I. There’s no point in opposing Church dogma. You are either Catholic or you are not Catholic. (Jewish is not the proper contrast for Catholic. Jewish is a contrast for Christian.) I do understand the place of dogma; the need for dogma, even.  I’m mostly in favor, though, of calling dogma what it is, by its rightful name, dogma, she said.  A load of dog shit by any other name will still smell bad; a rose is a rose is a rose.

Dogma is not changed by calling it freedom. Moreover, not to debate the secular and political boundaries of our being is absurd, more so than the pre-condition of the universe, itself absurdum qua absurdum.  I’ve been barking into the void for a long time, listening for the echo. I am Echo, she said, but then, so are you. I am also Narcissus, but then, so are you. I am every character . . . I am Gertrude and Ophelia, but I am also Hamlet and Laertes; I am Claudius and Polonius, and I am both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, she said; and so are you, she looked at me.

A long pause.

Being human would  be simplified . . .  how can you simplify humanity? I did not ask. I think she meant that in our rhetorical strategies–and they are strategies we adopt whether we are aware they are strategies or not . . . what then must we say about this thing we call humanity, this thing we call being human, and all gerund phrases are things. Loving is a thing we do, a thing we receive, a thing we engage . . . to include anything and all things directly relevant with the species homo-sapiens in our definition of humanity lessens the notion, and I am still acutely aware that I believe in hierarchies.

Our prime condition?  She asked. She paused. She looked away out the window. She turned around and spoke. What is the first and the last of our being?  How could something as common as our species, something as broadly derivative as our kingdom, mammals, be the determining factor in our humanity? She asked. It cannot! She said emphatically.  I am human not because I am Homo-sapiens, although it is only because I am Homo=sapiens and not a Chimpanzee that I can become human–God’s finger to Adam, you know. God touches the Homo-spaiens and in this way transforms the ape into Adam. Do you remember the Sistine Chapel, the pane with God reaching his finger out to Adam who reaches to receive the touch by God, and in having received this touch by God, he becomes human, no longer simply Homo-Sapiens. Creation is an interruption in evolution. Creation is a mediation.

The Homo-sapiens on its own, alone as Homo-sapiens, cannot be human or become human without humane choices. It is choice and choosing that makes us human, for better or for worse, for Good or for Evil. Evil is the result of human choices in an anti-humane way, thus becoming an anti-human. This anti-human is absent of light, absent of the humane, it is inhumane. For me, she was beyond good and evil. None of that mattered. Only we mattered. Only our time together alone in the dark when  I would come to her before she’d go to bed.

We must decide how we are going to talk about ourselves as humans; but we must define humanity as something more than simply those factors that determine our status as one of many animals on the planet.

 

Written by jvr

October 30, 2019 at 9:11 am

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