Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why women love fall

Dear Hannah,

I apologize that I keep talking about Solomon: it's completely unintentional.  I'm starting to feel like he's the only person I talk about.  And since I've mentioned several times that Benjamin Franklin is my personal hero and several others that Solomon is a screwup, it must seem like I don't understand myself very well at all.

If this is the case, then I would argue that there aren't many Jews and Christians who understand themselves either.  We've been quoting Solomon for centuries when nobody in Christian history should ever have wanted to be like Solomon.  If we are to take the book of Ecclesiastes seriously, even Solomon didn't want to be like Solomon.  And adding to the fact that he had too many wives to keep them all happy and treated his subjects too poorly to keep them from rebelling, he's been outclassed in poetry by Lord Byron, in wisdom by Seneca, and in every possible result whether practical or literary by Benjamin Franklin.  Solomon is quoted because he's in the Bible, not because he's a great man; and if we know Proverbs better than Poor Richard's Almanack, it's due more to our misplaced reverence than our morality or intelligence.

Solomon's virtue is that he wasn't really that virtuous: he was only a thinker.  And this is the same difference between Solomon and nearly every other Biblical author.  Nearly everyone else is busy making moral statements, and Solomon is busy breaking them and making observations.  And apparently nobody was around to censor him and say maybe this shouldn't be included in the Bible.  Paul says every word of Scripture is inspired; Solomon admits that he has no idea where the human soul goes after death (Eccl 3:21).  The Law says kings shouldn't multiply wives; Solomon writes a book about chasing someone other than his wife. Jesus says be ye perfect.  Solomon says be ye not overly righteous (Eccl 7:16).   And it seems that no matter what he says, he's taken Scripturally.  I love the man -- love him to death.  He's the only humanist the Jews ever got until the Greeks showed up (or at least, the only humanist they didn't kill).  Amongst the writers of the Old Testament, he might even be the only human.

So when he says the unsayable -- that out of a thousand men he only found a single decent one, and that he couldn't find a single decent woman out of even his thousand wives (Eccl 7:28) -- I have to pause and think.  Only a king can say something like this, because he isn't waiting for his bread from anyone else.  It's the voice of a man who says what his heart tells him, and only because his heart tells him to say it.  If we said anything like this everyone would turn on us because they don't need us, which is why Benjamin Franklin advised us never to say it*.  I wonder whether many of us in the modern world would even think it.  Solomon could say he'd never met a decent woman because he was the king.  

In a strange way his statement about women coincides nicely with our heading into fall, which happens to be the favorite time of the year for women over the age of 25.  The reason this is worth mentioning is because I can't remember a single beautiful young woman ever saying fall was her favorite season.  When I was young they all loved the summer -- which is why I loved them.

This has nothing to do with "my generation:" it's eternal.  It's because summer is hot and free and gives the greatest excuses for showing yourself off.  And as women get older, as they get fat or or wrinkly or married or have children they lose the utility in summer, and begin to prefer the seasons leading away from it.  Men, on the other hand, prefer spring and summer.  Spring because virility loves the first sensation of dawn -- the first thrills of mating season, regardless of age; and summer because men love nothing more than the days when exciting women are looking for attention.  Aging women love fall. They have less competition, and are able to live comfortably in modesty -- which they pretend is a moral decision, and not a result of practicality.

I'm not saying that modesty isn't smart or that it isn't moral.  I'm just saying it isn't women -- not generally, not if they can get away without it; and certainly not today.  A smart woman loves modesty for the reasons I've described earlier: that it helps her to attract a certain kind of man; usually a more decent man.  You have to be an idealist of sorts and a thinker to appreciate modesty on this level; and modesty is almost dead.  At least, it's dead until women stop looking for a man, which is when it suddenly becomes popular again.  Aging is having your Facebook feed change from pictures of half-naked blondes to pictures of half-eaten sandwiches.  

And modesty's popularity is pretended to be something they really "knew all along;" as if all their lives they had been living modestly and chastely.  There's immense utility to the hypocrisy too -- if we pretend we have a sudden use for modesty, then the sham is up and young women can do whatever works for them (regardless of the obvious fact that promiscuity causes all kinds of terrible problems, the least of which is disease).  The value of morality must be eternal, which everyone with a brain knows; and so we pretend that we really became moral, when we really just exchanged our interests. 

I don't mean to say that all women are faking their modesty because they have to, or even that a faked modesty isn't beneficial to the human race or our personal relationships.  I'm saying that in this particular instance women are more practical than idealistic, which leads the people who see through them to think they're immoral.  But why should we?  Our youth is passed in heart and heat, and we only learn later that value can be found in prudence and prudery in general; that the things we thought were wise were actually very stupid, and the things we thought would work were actually working to our ruin.  Children (as I've mentioned before) can be the staunchest idealists; but they can also be the easiest epicureans.

And so it seems we're caught between these two powerful forces: between the experienced reason of the increasingly wise woman, and the brash energy and attractiveness of her youthful competitors.  And we have to admit that on a certain level we need them both.  Without wisdom we would never have marriage, or a brake to the almost indomitable engine of our sexual impulses.  And yet without wildness we wonder whether the human race would be so consigned to romantic idealism, that we would be almost incapable of breeding.  If we only went for the "suitable" suitor before making children, perhaps many of us would never end up breeding**. So many of us are beyond flawed.

What I'm trying to say is that if romance is intended to do anything, it's to make us lose our minds for brief and dangerous moments, leading us to forget the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, the responsibilities of parenthood, and the forfeiture of sexual possibility for the stability and promise of marital union.  Part of the way this insanity works is through sexual attraction -- which our scientists and philosophers and people from India know makes us almost incapable of choosing our partners wisely.  But once we've crossed those lines of age and selection, our reason comes into play and guards our investments with new and necessary inventions -- which repels and cheapens rivals, which strengthens bonds, and shifts our reliance from things that are powerful and temporary to things that correspond with longevity and tranquility.  Modesty is an invention, but it's the most natural invention we could have ever invented.  It's a moral fit for all seasons, but particularly useful in later ones.  Women aren't only hypocrites, and they aren't stupid.  They grow up, and they realize their interests.  They experience life, and they change their opinions.  Which is why they love fall.

Your father,

* Praise little, dispraise less.  I'm making a habit of reading Franklin's sayings every night before bed.

**I'm not morally opposed to contraceptives, but the introduction of contraceptives has been singularly devastating for Western Civilization.  It's allowed the public to pass up the most fruitful years of childbirth in the pursuit of someone ideal; and may have saved us from some uncomfortable marriages, but has allowed us to be out-bred and overwhelmed by masses of fertile, fanatical, unindustrious, and uncivilized foreigners.   Our partial reclaiming of reason and responsibility in romance has had both positive and negative consequences -- which alongside non-judgmentalism and leftism will be the end of Western Civilization.  Contraceptives must be adpoted by the Third World before they can be enjoyed by the First. 

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