February 9, 2007

Too sad to watch?



We talk about Anna Nicole at the beginning of today's radio show -- listen here -- and I say I watched her reality show. I recommend it.

52 comments:

Seven Machos said...

I was at a bar at a bachelor party when I heard that Princess Diana had died. I made some remark, along the lines of "why is this a big deal?" The waitress laid into me and, of course, for what seemed like years millions mourned.

It was roughly the same thing with John Kennedy, Jr. And with Kurt Cobain. I didn't get it then, either.

The connection I see is celebrity deaths that don't strike me as earth-shattering yet, obviously, they are a Big Deal for many people. Why?

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

This just keeps getting weirder.
Zsa Zsa's Hubby

Simon said...

Hmm. From that pic, looks like some extra weight suited her quite well.

Birdie Bob said...

"The connection I see is celebrity deaths that don't strike me as earth-shattering yet, obviously, they are a Big Deal for many people. Why?"

Here's a possible explanation, which Rush Limbaugh explored when the racehorse Barbaro died; parasocial relationship theory. People can invest emotions in someone without being rejected.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasocial_interaction

vbspurs said...

The connection I see is celebrity deaths that don't strike me as earth-shattering yet, obviously, they are a Big Deal for many people. Why?

Some personalise the lives of the famous, since they are ubiquitous in our everyday life by virtue of the media fascination with "celebrity".

Some love life styles and attitudes they wish they had themselves, and see in those larger-than-life personalities as kindred spirits.

Some, due to reading or in-depth knowledge of the general topics (e.g., Kurt Cobain/music), naturally are affected by yet another light gone out from the firmament of the world.

It's hard to say really.

Me, I'm an historian, and the living have never held more fascination to me, than the dead.

In many ways, those people's attitudes make more sense than mine, and seem more appealing because of it.

I guess John Donne said it best when he opined that "no man is an island":

That human interconnectivity, not isolation and emotional distance, is what makes us truly human.

Cheers,
Victoria

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Victoria,

No man is an island, but every man has a pennisula.

-Anonymous

Birdie Bob said...

Victoria,

It seems we're on the same track. So I'm going to invoke the "great minds think alike" argument and declare the question to be answered. Of course, you have to admit that my offering was more "pithy" :-)

Jennifer said...

I think most people would express sympathy and condolence about the death of anyone whose story and details were known to them. It's human nature. Celebrities' stories and details are known to most of us, and our reactions to their deaths are made publicly so you are aware of them. For the most part, I don't think it's any deeper than that.

Jeremy said...

Why?

One idea is that we've always invested interest in the lives of those around us, but as individuals have become less connected to their cities/neighborhoods/communities we've lost common reference points which include commonly known people.

Celebraties kind of take their place. That is, folks in Anytown, USA used to all know Tom the Meat Man and could all talk about him and gossip about him and cheer him on when his wife had a baby, etc. Now nobody knows Tom and so our commonly known references are celebraties: Barbaro, Di, TomKat, etc.

vbspurs said...

It seems we're on the same track. So I'm going to invoke the "great minds think alike" argument and declare the question to be answered.

As they say, Birdie Bob, great minds think alike, and fools never disagree. :)

Of course, you have to admit that my offering was more "pithy" :-)

Yes it was! I had to put on my pith helmet to read it.

I'll get me hat and coat.

Cheers,
Victoria

Birdie Bob said...

Victoria,

As long as I didn't "pith" you off with the comment -- wow, that's a long way to go for an homage to our mutual friend and punster, Ruth Anne!

vbspurs said...

punster

Punster schmunster!

Where was Ruth Anne during Ann's radio show, when she could have called in to call Duerst-Lahti, "Der Slutty"?

Oh, sure, as if doing important legal stuff is any excuse.

Now excuse me, but I need to take a pith.

Cheers,
Victoria

Wurly said...

Prince Frederick von Anhalt claims to be the father of Anna's daughter! Anhalt? Sounds like a shortened anagram of Ann Althouse. A Prince? Didn't Ann recently blog about Prince? The coincidences just pile up.

If you read von Anhalt's biography, he married Zsa Zsa when he was 39 and she was 70. He seems to have been well-matched with Anna Nicole.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Victoria:
Oh, sure, as if doing important legal stuff is any excuse.

At that moment, I happened to be knee-deep in my mother/laundress role. The law clock starts at 1 p.m. EDT.

OctaneBoy said...

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

No man is an island, but every man has a pennisula.


Marlon Brando was an island.

Cat said...

I was a huge Diana fan from 11-16 years old. I read everything and new everything. I am embarrassed to say I can still see a picture of her and tell you what year it was taken and where (Canadia Tour 1983!).

When Diana died, I was on vacation with friends and we came down to breakfast to see the news. I had to excuse myself to cry like a baby. I was so surprised - I was way out of my Diana phase and no longer held her in esteem - that I was overcome, and embarrased because I was sure that my sophisticated friends would think I was nuts.

Totally irrational and very embarrassing, but she was my idol when I was tween/teen. I can only compare it to my friend's moms crying when John Lennon died (they played the Double Fantasy album so much, I still remember the odd Yoko lyrics, "Don't stick your finger in a pie!"). I otherwise can't explain my feelings on that day.

I had no such feelings about JFK Jr. (or anyone else) and it didn't upset me at all. Just that distant, "Oh, how sad."

Simon said...

Molon -
There's a great Peter Gabriel song that satirizes those ghastly tv talk shows, the lyrics to which (IIRC) observe that -- "no man is an island, but no man is a sea; this overwrought display of emotion is all but drowning me."

Birdie bob - that's an interesting link, not least because it sums up my "relationship" with Our Hero.

ModNewt said...

...they are a Big Deal for many people. Why?

I'm not so perplexed. I think it has to do with why we get attached to anyone who is a public figure, be they alive or dead.

I was very saddened when Phil Hartman was killed. I liked him, thought his humor was funny. I wasn't so sad when Chris Farley died. He wasn't very funny and I didn't like him much.

Obviously people are far too invested in their sports teams. When Darrent Williams (Denver Bronco's CB) died in a gang slaying on New Years day, people in Denver literally mourned... a shrine with flowers, posted notes, memorabilia, etc. My guess is none of that went on in Kansas City.

I feel much worse for her 5 month old daughter, less so for Anna Nicole. Mostly because I didn't give a crap about her one way or the other when she was alive.

LoafingOaf said...

A lot of women seem to follow Anna Nicole's life so closely because she was such an extreme gold-digger. Is that because it plays into female fantasies?

In any case, it's too bad she died and I hope the other greedy people from her life don't ruin the baby's life. Zsa Zsa's husband must be a real scumbucket, trying to get his hands on the baby just for the money.

vbspurs said...

I had no such feelings about JFK Jr. (or anyone else) and it didn't upset me at all. Just that distant, "Oh, how sad."

Hey, whaddayaknow.

Maybe because I'm British, and Princess Diana had a reputation for being rather a loose cannon in my circles, and I thought her rather American in her attitudes, I didn't much like her. Not to say I wished her badly, and I was even one of the ones who laid a bunch of flower outside of Kensington Palace, but I didn't cry. Felt very sad for the boys, though.

But JFK, Jr...

When I woke up to find out his plane had gone missing, it was like someone had punched me in the stomach.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

This just keeps getting weirder.
Zsa Zsa's Hubby


Holy crap!

I grant you, not road trip diaper weird, but VERY weird, all the same.

And ugh, Frederick "von Anhalt". A total bounder and poseur. He was adopted by a legitimate Princess of Anhalt (one of the many ebenb├╝rtig mediatised princely Houses in Germany).

Where I come from, that's the equivalent of an American saying he went to Harvard, and finding out he only finished grade school.

Mind you, Johann Strauss Jr. wasn't content with just having composed the GREATEST waltz of all time, no.

He actively sought to be adopted by an aging Baroness, so that he could call himself a "Baron".

For some reason, that makes me smile, but Zsa-Zsa's hubby, well, he's a step above kitty litter.

Cheers,
Victoria

Maxine Weiss said...

Why would the Marshall family be responsible for Anna's child?

If Anna's gone, the Marshall family is not on the hook for paying her alimony out of the Marshall estate.

Anna's daughter has no claim on the Marshall fortune. Although it would be nice to see the child taken care of....it's hard, now, to make a case that the Marshall estate is obligated to care for the child.

Cedarford said...

birdie bob - Here's a possible explanation, which Rush Limbaugh explored when the racehorse Barbaro died; parasocial relationship theory. People can invest emotions in someone without being rejected.

Great mention, not the least because one lady at work became "emotionally shattered" when word passed that Barbaro had to be put down. It took a couple of her friends to help the worker get a grip, and the rest of us were "WTF???This can't be about a horse! She never met the horse....Is she really upset about something else? A work situation, a lover?? Anything??? Her friends said, no, it's about the horse..."

I suppose people do get an emotional bond to someone they can relate to, or something that triggers rescue instincts and it varies by individual. A friend of a friend had a friend who I only met once but had a lot in common with me and was badly injured in an accident. I really rooted for him. I was emotionally invested in his fate. Doctors and nurses also admit they get invested in certain patients outcome, not others, and there is no "rule" or "rationalization" why. It doesn't actually fall to young, cute, telegenic, unusually tragic indicators.

I am an emotional sucker for "rescue" tales, like trapped miners or the Korean-American man who died trying to save his family. But 2.2 million Americans and 200 million people die globally from a variety of causes. I daresay that even celebrity deaths more or less leave me cold as like most humans, I have a limited store of pity and grief. Barbaro and Anna Nicole Smith's drug overdose did not deplete my pity&grief reserves in any way.

Simon said...

Maxine - I know jack about inheritance law, but my common-sense understanding is that the daughter inherits her mother's estate, and if her mother's estate includes whatever she was due on the death of her late husband, then surely Smith's Executor would be remiss if s/he failed to continue working to get Smith's due, which would then be inherited by her daughter as part of Smith's estate?

Anthony said...

modnewt: I'm not so perplexed. I think it has to do with why we get attached to anyone who is a public figure, be they alive or dead.

Yeah, that's how I feel, but it's not even really public figures. I had a department chairperson who was a typical liberal feminist professor. Never did like her. I had the basic human empathy of sadness that she died (relatively young, of cancer), but it's not like I miss her or anything.

For me, it's a combination of how well I know someone, whether they provide something I like (e.g., music), and if I think they're a "good person" what the circumstances were, blah blah blah. It's a continuum.

I feel really bad for any abused kid that dies whether I knew they existed or not because they're generally innocent people in bad circumstances. I felt pretty bad when Stevie Ray Vaughn died largely because I liked his music and he was turning his life around at the time. Cobain. . .well, I liked his music, but I didn't think much of him, so that's a wash.

Celebrities are just like everyone else except more people are aware of them.

Kirby Olson said...

I saw her as a threat to Lutheranism.

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vbspurs said...

Uhh, Ann. Spammers are back...

vbspurs said...

I saw her as a threat to Lutheranism.

Explain it to me, Kirbs, like I'm a 5 year-old.

Cheers,
Victoria

Cat said...

Victoria - That's funny.

Diana was a loose cannon and a little nuts, but I didn't realize that when I was a tween girl. I accepted the storyline and was captivated.

Speaking of JFK Jr. and Diana - she told many she wanted to become like Jackie, but Jackie never bad mouthed her husband's (and her children's) family, cooperated with the press and planting stories, and she never did an interviews like Panorama (none since JFK died). When she demanded a "role" I thought, I can't bad mouth my boss publicly and demand a job, why should she? I was so over my little girl idol.

However, I still cried when I heard she died. Some critic reviewing, "The Queen," said he remembered the hysteria surrounding her death and nearly 10 years on could say, "What the hell happened to us that week? We went mad." I can't explain it myself.

I didn't have a "history" with JFK Jr. other than seeing his picture and thinking, "Hubba hubba!" The man was gorgeous.

Peter Palladas said...

parasocial relationship theory

...not bad.

I have a parasexual relationship with Ann. It keeps me off the streets at night, yet saves her the hassle of having to make breakfast for two.

Win-win. Viva parasexualism!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Speaking of JFK Jr. and Diana - she told many she wanted to become like Jackie, but Jackie never bad mouthed her husband's (and her children's) family, cooperated with the press and planting stories, and she never did an interviews like Panorama (none since JFK died). When she demanded a "role" I thought, I can't bad mouth my boss publicly and demand a job, why should she?

My thoughts exactly.

Incidentally, I did find out that JBKO did give two interviews to print journalists, but merely to do with her NY building conservation activism and editorship at Doubleday. She's one of the main reasons NYers still have Grand Central Station, and that it looks so wonderful again.

Lastly, she had an almost unrepeatable sense of occasion, which allowed her to see the big sweep of history, and how you should act when the cameras were on you.

Hypocritical to some, especially her fellow Americans. But important.

I was so over my little girl idol.

JFK was my idol growing up. Even today I refuse to believe he was more style than substance.

But as I grew up, and became more mature, the revelations about his character faults, were fairly depressing to me. Interestingly, as I grow older myself, and more aware of my own clay feet, I don't care so much anymore.

Wonder if that will happen to you about the late PoW, at all, Cat?

P.S.: That JFK aura transfered itself to his son, I suppose. I've even blogged just this week about his nephew, Jack Schlossberg, and was stunned to see, that the kid (still with pudgy tweenie fat on him), is beginning to resemble his uncle a lot.

So the historical saga continues.

Cheers,
Victoria

Kirby Olson said...

Victoria, the idea of marriage is the basis of the three major Christian orders. Marriage is the most important. The other two are the government and the church. They are gifts from God that stretch between man and God and are meant to provide a semblance of the divine in the midst of the chaos of being fallen.

Marriage is the only order that is superlapsarian which means that it preexisted the fall and continues with us today (Adam & Eve were married).

This might also provide a glimpse why many Christians are up in arms over gay marriage.

Anna Nicole Smith is a threat to Lutheranism because she seemed to exist in a pagan universe where the divine was nowhere present. It scared me to death to watch her reality show. It seemed that Satan ruled that program and that everyone present had simply gone to hell. I couldn't believe it. I felt sorry for her, and felt sorry for the punishment that she would receive, because I felt that no one had clued her in ever as to how to act.

Her pseudo-marriage to the octogenarian was the worst kind of betrayal of the covenant. I just couldn't believe that she would try to live like that -- utterly flouting the rules of time.

I also felt nervous because of the way in which her act might be followed by hundreds or thousands of other young women who might follow a similar track.

Basically, I am hoping that a certain kind of peace is still possible between men and women in marriage. I know that many feminists gave up on that covenant. But I feel sorry for them, because I believe that they do have a point (pagan men in the sixties and seventies also betrayed the covenant), but now their lives are pointless.

I am hoping for a revival of the covenant.

At any rate, that's the short answer, but I'll assume it's sufficient unless I hear otherwise. I hope it doesn't come off as too crazy.

At present marriage is considered some kind of deal: as long as it's good for me, I stay in it, is what most think.

It's much more than that. It's a promise before God without which life is meaningless chaos. People like Anna who commit to marriage while simply laughing all the way to the bank bankrupt the meaning of the institution.

But like I said, I think she was clueless. She arrived at this notion somehow -- and I am afraid that much of the culture thinks she was clever to do so.

Wisdom is humility.

vbspurs said...

Anna Nicole Smith is a threat to Lutheranism because she seemed to exist in a pagan universe where the divine was nowhere present. It scared me to death to watch her reality show. It seemed that Satan ruled that program and that everyone present had simply gone to hell. I couldn't believe it. I felt sorry for her, and felt sorry for the punishment that she would receive, because I felt that no one had clued her in ever as to how to act.

Wow. Kirby, first, I thank you for the explanation.

Perhaps it's a little esoteric for me, but nonetheless, it goes to show the many influences that exist in this world, to make us come to our conclusions, right?

When the personal meets the doctrinal, it creates a bit of an uncomfortable reaction in some people, because they look at this as inflexible.

Me, I didn't take her flouting of religious laws that seriously because I know that Hollywood is make-believe -- people who are attracted to that world, often find it difficult to separate fantasy from reality.

That was ANS in a nutshell.

What I do, given my Christian identity, however, is another story.

Anyway, thanks Kirbs.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Psst, folks.

Separated at birth?

Frederick von Anhalt

AND

Nigel Hawthorne

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Kirby:
"Her pseudo-marriage to the octogenarian was the worst kind of betrayal of the covenant. I just couldn't believe that she would try to live like that -- utterly flouting the rules of time."

I have little interest in or knowledge of the Anna Nicole story, but I'm hoping that you have some stronger basis than a mere age difference on which to rest your dismissal of their marriage as "pseudo" and a "betrayal of the covenant."

Simon said...

Victoria -
"You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment." No; damnit, that was Francis Urquart. Um... "yes, minister" will have to do, and it's lame. Sure, they resemble.

(I have no idea if Yes Minister ever made it across the pond, but it's indispensable viewing for all).

vbspurs said...

(I have no idea if Yes Minister ever made it across the pond, but it's indispensable viewing for all).

Speaking of Nigel Hawthorne...

IMO, the greatest sitcom EVER, next to Fawlty Towers. Third, Open all Hours (though Dad's Army and Only Fools and Horses are close).

I am staring at "The Complete Yes Minister" book, which JUST TODAY arrived via eBay! Talk about coincidences, Simon.

Okay, I'm outtie for the night. See you Althousians!

Cheers,
Victoria

AJ Lynch said...

Seven Machos said:
"I was at a bar at a bachelor party when I heard that Princess Diana had died. I made some remark, along the lines of "why is this a big deal?" The waitress laid into me and, of course, for what seemed like years millions mourned."

I did not get it either and in fact was astounded by Diana outpouring. I did get it later that year (or so) when the old Phils Hall of Famer and longtime announcer, Whitey Ashburn, died suddenly. It's all about who you relate to/ JFK Jr was pretty big to me but never much cared for Cobain.

Peter Palladas said...

No; damnit, that was Francis Urquart.

...and by unhappy chance we have also lost dear Ian Richardson who died suddenly aged 72 on Friday.

I am sure though he can use the occasion to put in a good word for the lady, should one be needed.

Peter Palladas said...

Her pseudo-marriage to the octogenarian was the worst kind of betrayal of the covenant.

There is a potentially interesting Catlick angle on this - some core teaching on the significance of basic hydraulics.

If it could be assumed even in these Viagra-fuelled days that the old fellow would not ever have been in the position, as it were, to consummate the marriage, then Catlick teaching would have ruled that the marriage was null and void, an absolute niet-niente, as there was what we grandly call a 'diriment impediment'.

No chance of nookie = no marriage.

Fortunately for the ageing among us the impediment only has effect at the time of the union and not subsequently.

Bit of a delicate one this and not well received by disabled Catlick men and women, but thems the rules.

dougjnn said...

[As I said in another thread below that didn't get many comments]

Oh come on.

She's a gorgeous but apparently rather dim gold digger to the max. Or she was gorgeous when in her early twenties but soon after achieving her gold digger goal she became a bloated, blousy, idiotic sex for money pure and simple and proud of it exemplar.


Yeah the senile coot who's money was earned long, long ago she managed to marry, obviously entirely for reasons far removed from romantic love, might be worse, but that's the standard of elevating her to some pantheon of admiration?

Maybe he was a bit more impressive while still in possession of most of his brain cells? I don't know, but do know that her method of upward mobility and the American Dream does not fill me with inspiration.

A certain amount of early slutty rule breaking in beautiful sexy women may be exciting, but Anna Nicole seems to me to have proved herself a thorough going basely manipulative slatern through and through. If your politics are to strip all Texas (or perhaps more generally all American male) plutocrats by any means available, then she may be some sort of paragon, but otherwise I rather fail to see it.

Bleack.

TMink said...

Simon wrote: "I have little interest in or knowledge of the Anna Nicole story, but I'm hoping that you have some stronger basis than a mere age difference on which to rest your dismissal of their marriage as "pseudo" and a "betrayal of the covenant."

Hey Simon, why? Why is it necessary to have something "stronger" than centuries of tradition and obviously informed, complex religious thought?

I mean, Kirby's post was impressive, was it not? It is coherent and thoughtful. What makes it easy to dismiss it because it is based on religious philosophy instead of secular philosophy?

Now I know, Islam has given us the Jihad, Christianity all sorts of problems (I am a believer, so I feel comfortable with that accurate criticism) but secularism gave us eugenics and Hitler et al. I call it a draw!

But I appreciate your posts and ask this as a serious question in that your answer and thoughts are of interest to me. Why is it a problem that spirituality and religious thought is used as a foundation for social criticism?

Trey

dougjnn said...

Simon--

(I have no idea if Yes Minister ever made it across the pond, but it's indispensable viewing for all).

It did, about five years ago or so I think, on PBS of course. It might well have been only on our secondary and more Anglophile PBS station here in NYC, the channel 21 Long Island station.

I caught a few episode there and some others on DVD.

Netflix can supply. I agree, recommended. At least for those who are at least partly Anglophile.

Though the political cynicism has universal appeal.

dougjnn said...

Maxine Weiss—

Anna's daughter has no claim on the Marshall fortune.

I very much doubt that’s true. She’s the natural heir under most or virtually all state intestate inheritance laws, and most likely the heir under any will Anna Nicole may have had. That is she succeeds to Anna Nicole’s fortune, or rights to receive fortune.

It is likely true that she has no alimony claim.

I would not be a sympathetic juror re: Anne Nicole’s rights in the further legal wrangling that lies ahead. Details matter but from a distance the old coot sure looks like he was senile and manipulated to me. Which leads to voiding the changes to his will giving it all to the bombshell.

Though I’d like to see some decent settlement provide for the kid. It’s highly likely to be offered by the Texas family, I would think. Not as highly likely to be accepted by whoever the kids guardian turns out to be, who may instead be going for having substantial bits of the “main chance” rub off on themselves. Which could lead to zero, zip, nada for the toddler.

vbspurs said...

It did, about five years ago or so I think, on PBS of course.

Considerably longer than that, I've been told (tho' it hasn't been on my local PBS for YEARS).

20 years or more.

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Trey,
I think you're maybe misunderstanding the aspect of Kirby's post that's bothering me. To be sure, I'm not dismissing Kirby's post, which I think is just fine, as long as one assumes that the problem he was critiquing was Smith's pseudo-marriage, duly established as such, rather than the age gap leading Kirby to conclude that it must thus be a pseudo marriage. What bothered me was the implication that Kirby was asserting that the marriage was a sham purely because of the age gap, something that seems completely irrational to me. People fall in love, and it is not a rational process; it's not always with someone that the rest of us, looking rationally at it, would say "well, that makes sense." Ceteris paribus, I would wouldn't infer from an age gap any defficiency in sincerity.

Now, the traditional understanding of marriage is a concept that has a lot of play with me; it's the reason that I find myself feeling deeply ambivalent about homosexual marriage (or more specifically, my problem with that is that in order to extend the bounds of marriage to reach same-sex couples, one would have to throw out the role of tradition in defining marriage, which would essentially destroy marriage as an institution - it would instead become something defined by the whims of society or individual couples, something that I am emphatically against). I'm a fairly conservative guy, I'm influenced a great deal by Burke and Oakeshott, and so an appeal to tradition is not something I dismiss (indeed, I resent it being classed as a fallacy). With all that having been said, I think the traditional definition of marriage has extended to one man and one woman, but I don't accept that there is a traditional prerequisite (within or outside of the traditional understanding of marriage) that says that the man and the woman shall be of approximately the same age, and both capable of and willing to bring forth children. It has never been the case that marriage licenses have been refused to sterile couples. I'm willing to accept the authority of a tradition, even (in some cases) to the point of prevailing over reason, but not a mere passive norm.

Thus, if that is Kirby's argument, and I'm not sure it is, it bothers me because it is supported by neither tradition nor reason.

And in fact, I absolutely reject the positiono that spirituality and religious thought cannot be used as a foundation for social criticism. It seems to me that there's this weird idea out there on the left that religion is just fine as long as it's done privately in the confines of someone's own home, and doesn't affect anything about the way they interact with the world as a social and political actor. And even as an agnostic, I find that position absurd. If your religious views don't affect the way you look at the world, if they don't affect your priorities and your views, if you carry on living the way that you were living before you were saved, you have profoundly missed the point. Jesus did not come to tell us that whatever we're down with, that's just peachy with him. So I have no objection at all to people criticizing society and politics on the basis of religion or tradition, and I have a problem with people who do find that objectionable, but who think it's just fine for other belief systems - be it marxism or free markets - to serve as a foundation for social criticism.

Kirby Olson said...

Simon, I suppose I may have assumed that Anna N. Smith married Marshall primarily for his money rather than for companionship. He was 89 when he married her and died a year later. She never lived with him.

I also assume that marriage is a foundation for having and raising children together. I think a child deserves a mother and a father, and deserves to know the mother and father. I assume at least that that is the ideal.

In the case of Marshall had he still been able to father children (I think I read once that Picasso did have a child in his late 80s so it is possible) he would not have been able to raise the child.

Of course, someone could say -- well, the children are PROVIDED for, and there will be nannies et al. But I think a child deserves to know his or her own parents.

Of course there are orphans, neglected children, crazypants parents who are unfit to raise their own children, but I still hold out as the ideal: a man and a woman married and raising their own children together.

I'm not sure if there is any Biblical tradition for this. There is a kind of unwritten tradition at least? But just think about it rationally -- your own children will understand you and you will understand them better than probalby almost anybody else because we inherit (at least to some extent) our temperament.

Misunderstandings occur between families even as it stands.

I've read that the majority of criminals are orphans. I'm not sure that that is true (the website was VERY conservative and it's been years since I read that) but to me it would make sense that children who grew up without a clear sense of attachment to their parents (I believe in William Sears' notion of Attachment Parenting) would be the most likely to commit antisocial crimes.

Even among elephants it has been determined that those elephants most likely to turn into anti-social monsters are those who are for whatever reason unattached to their parents (elephants whose parents have been shot by poachers go mad, and rarely get back to normal -- and elephants who lose their own children are known to mourn for years...)

Somehow the idea of an 89 year old man marrying a young woman seems likely to bring about or cause social disruption. Even if they did have children I doubt if the child could have been happy.

I think our laws and our sense of tradition should largely help not to create our own sense of happiness (which doesn't matter so much) but should be about creating stability and a sense of attachment and continuation and hope for the next generation. Everything our laws concoct should be about making sure that the next generation (which doesn't yet have a voice) is safe from our own selfish whims.

Perhaps she should have had the right to marry and mate with MArshall, but I don't see it as wise. I saw her show a couple of times and was terrified. She appeared to me to be completely mad, and in need of incarceration and psychiatric care.

That probably sounds extreme, but I really felt that she had gone rogue, and desperately needed intervention.

Simon said...

Kirby,
I should start by noting that this is a small area of disagreement, and that I don't want to suggest that I disagree with the overall thrust of your argument. However.... ;)

If they never lived together, I guess I would take that as an independent (and probably sufficient) rationale that it was a sham. But I can't buy the age point. While I'll concede that a 26 year old marrying an 89 year old is an extreme case, I'm bothered by the absence of a limiting rationale. Suppose we stipulate that 63 years is too much, but that, say, two years is peachy. Where's the line? Is fifty? thiry? Ten? Five? What is the criterion for determining how many years is too many?

Moreover, What about couples who don't (or, indeed, can't) have children? What about people who get married after the woman is after child-bearing age? What about a situation where a single parent marries someone other than the other biological parent and the new family decides that the existing kid is enough? Nor does it seem healthy - when so many children need to be adopted - to stress biological families over families.

I certainly agree with you that marriage is the best environment in which to raise children, but that isn't the only purpose of marriage, it seems to me, and a relationships or marriages between people of disparate ages, or one in which having and raising children is not the purpose isn't invalid.

vbspurs said...

only purpose of marriage

I don't know, Simon. I think it is.

I agree that marriage is many things to many people.

But has it been many things to society, in general?

At heart, the marriage contract evolved due to the need to legitimise an union so that its progeny would be worthy of respect, honour, and latterly, but no less importantly, inheritence.

There are subtexts to this marriage contract, like the man (later father) is a good provider and protector, the woman (later) mother isn't a whore, which throws a bloodline into confusion.

Further, and its so inherent in the idea that it goes unremarked, marriage is a precursor to conceiving and bearing children.

That a man or woman can be childless still doesn't take away from the basic fact that marriage's purpose was an attempt to procreate lawfully, so that our species survived.

Since men can technically father children even into their dotage, whereas women's reproduction was cut short, it's only normal that these May-December marriages should have been common enough in the past.

I personally am not bothered by age discrepancies, although I reserve the right to make fun of them, just the same. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

Kirby Olson said...

Simon and Victoria,

Marriage has a lot of loopholes and has been taken for granted until recently. I have to run to take my four children to Happy Feet in about five minutes so cannot indulge a longer thought-piece having to do with supporting Victoria's side of this contention.

But as you say Simon these are minor disagreements.

Ideas, as well as the institutions in which they are supported, have consequences. I think all three of us agree on that. It's a big agreement.

I want to write about Bachofen, but can't write just now. Perhaps Ann will post something else about ANS or some other lost soul, and we can rebegin the thread. Right now it's off to see Happy Feet!