Devereaux, yeah, I agree with what you’re saying, men and women are NOT physically “equal” nor even mentally “equal”, but different doesn’t have to mean inferior. I think we’re saying the same thing re: women: it’s gone Too Far. BUT there was a time when women were pretty much regarded as chattels and/or even in our own heritage, when they pretty much had no rights at law, could not vote, etc. Was it an improvement, , was it “progress” in a positive sense, or was it just even fundamentally fair, when that changed? See, if you agree that it was, then how and when do you say “this far and no farther”? That was really the question I wanted to explore. And I don’t know whether I can say Eggers’ book “wrestles”:with that question—dances with it would be more accurate.
There was a time – a very long time – when men were mostly treated as serfs or slaves. But the theory that women were regarded only as chattels until Far Lefties came along to rescue them from evil men does not conform to the known facts.
It used to be that every schoolkid learned about Queen Boadicea and her bold fight against Caesar’s invasion of England; about Joan of Arc leading the French against the English occupiers; about Queen Elizabeth kick-starting the English empire; about Catherine the Great reviving the Russian empire; about Florence Nightingale and her great contributions to medicine and to the development of statistics; about Marie Curie and her major role in science. Some chattels!
The belief that women were given especially poor treatment before Leftism is part of the whole ‘Divide & Conquer’ methodology which underpins that political movement. It is the same ahistorical nonsense which underlies the New York Times 1619 Project – created by a woman, sadly. Don’t fall for it!
Come on, I never said women were “given especially poor treatment before Leftism”. But their rights at law have been expanded from what they were in the preceding centuries. Simple fact. The existence of powerful queens is another simple fact which doesn’t negate the first. Take something as uncomplicated and (I would think?) presently non controversial as suffrage. It was a change from what had been, is all, it represented movement, and in that non-loaded sense, “progress”. I am assuming you don’t think women should not be allowed to vote. So all I’m saying is, the initial shift of the movement can be an improvement, can be beneficent. That’s the case in Eggers’ book. Oh never. Mind: I reckon it’s really no more profound than the old adage: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Progress in the language of mathematics is a vector – it has magnitude (how far?) and also has direction. I would guess that most of us would agree that the direction is at least as important, probably more important, than the magnitude.
The original cell phones were progress. It greatly improved the ability to contact an individual in the West, and opened up telephony in Third World countries where laying a phone line to every dwelling was impracticable. Magnitude & Direction.
The extension from cell phone to smart phone? Definite progress in magnitude, but how about direction? Arguably, the smart phone has increased the amount of communication (good) but very severely degraded the quality of communication (bad).
The problem is that we can’t hold back progress. Things are going to develop and change, even if we try to stop them. It is up to us whether we use those changes for good or bad.
The hopeful part is that there may be an analogy to evolution in “progress”. Developments that head off in the wrong direction tend to die out. Think about Citizen Band Radio (“Convoy!”) which boomed & died because too many people were misusing it. Perhaps Twitter and FaceBook will face the same fate?
With my apologies, I have to get back to the issue of Egger’s book:
The sonogram was part of The Every’s probing of someone suspected of being a saboteur. (“Gabriel had sniffed her out on day one”. p. 573). I agree that very little use was made of this element in the book. So why include it?
The complete waste of space was the surfing death of Bailey, the non-active founder. How did that move the story forward?
Another questionable piece was the dog Hurricane. Initially, it seemed that Eggers was setting up the dog as a metaphor for humans subjected to The Every. San Fran Lefties prevented the dog from continuing to run happily on an empty beach, and the dog consequently suffered and died an unhappy death. But that theme seems to be at odds with the book showing humans willingly subjecting themselves to The Every. Again, what did Hurricane contribute to the storyline?
The late Florence King is reputed to have complained that too many authors confused writing with vomiting. It seems that Eggers threw every idea that crossed his mind into “The Every” without trying to pull them into a coherent storyline. First draft! It is unfortunate, because he is a talented writer. To return to the sonogram scene, the description is beautiful and moving. But it does not move the story forward.
In general, the reader of “The Every” is left unsatisfied. It is not really a gripping yarn, nor does it “wrestle” with an issue in the way of “1984” or “Brave New World”.
Bailey is an important, better-developed character in “The Circle” to which this book is a sequel. (But speaking of that, Mae is THE main character in The Circle—by the end of that book she’s totally sucked in, but in this book she’s a monster, a murderess! That’s also …kinda indigestible.)
I agree with you about the dog. I was kinda counting on him to save Wes. I think Hurricane is like Dorian Gray’s picture: poor Wes is actually the one gradually gnawing off his own feet…
And yes as I said above, the book dances, rather than wrestles with its themes.
The book is satire on the grand, vitriolic scale of “Candide”.
(No, no, you needn’t tell me Eggers is no Voltaire! As my title to this post indicates, I was more interested in exploring the trajectory of “progress” than in extolling its literary merit. Dave can do that himself! His first semi-autobiographical novel is titled, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”.)
I don’t mean to imply inferior; I would be more comfortable with complimentary. Women have great natural strengths men lack. They also have weaknesses.
?Were women disenfranchised. Yup! And people were slaves. We’ve corrected that in our nation, though there is still that elsewhere. But note - and it is important - that in many cultures, while the women didn’t “VOTE”, they ran things. I know, eg. among the Serbs, who were agrarian mostly, that the mother was THE most important figure. The father was usually old, worn out, rather dilapidated. He was venerated for what he represented, but it was the oldest son in conjunction with the mother who decided how the land and family would fare. Elections were much less important. Kind of like we were originally conceived - with government of less importance that men and what each could do.Social pressure regulated much, but it was the old women who lived long enough to direct social pressure, whether directly or through their families. AND it was the father and sons who went to war - while the women kept the family farm going.
The problem is that you wish to see formal recognition, which has happened, but at the expense of social standing. Was a time a guy got a girl pregnant, he married her - or he got shotgunned. Today single women pregnancies are a serious issue, as the old “protections” society provided women is now mostly gone.
So there may be gains but there are losses too.
Yes exactly. And that was my question: how can we, OR can we, prevent the slide into losses once the train is moving? “This far and no farther.”—I reckon only the Almighty can make that stick.
The train is always moving – has been for thousands of years. But things often happen too slowly for human beings to recognize where the train is going.
Since you have been talking about women, let’s step back and take the long view. Women have always been existentially important in human societies, because women produced the next generation. For most of human history, that was a lifetime task for a woman, because of high infant mortality and a significant probability of death in childbirth. Some historians have estimated that, even in civilized Roman times, a woman had to bear 10 children to ensure that at least one of them would survive to have future children.
Now we have solved many of those medical problems. Getting pregnant is not Russian Roulette for the woman, and infant mortality is thankfully very low. All women have to do now is produce on average 2.1 children to maintain the population. But women in the West, as a group, are failing to do that.
The train is going off the track. Western civilization is going away – slowly, but definitely. If we take the longer view, the decision of the average woman not to have enough children to maintain the population is a much more significant concern than anything else on the table.
It seems like a “decision”, people talk (ad nauseum) and write about it as if it were, but the destruction of the mighty reproductive drive has to come first. I studied a lot of cultures where the people just stopped breeding under the shock of cultural contact. It wasn’t that they started using birth control, nor that women wanted more physical or societal freedom. It’s just, there are certain cultural conditions under which humans don’t breed.
Every single trend, everything we “preach” now, is geared to reducing the birth rate. Prolonging infancy long after puberty. EVERYBODY, left and right, is horrified by the thought of sixteen-year olds having babies, of 18 year olds marrying,for example. Pharmaceutically delaying puberty, for God’s sake! Homosexual “marriage”. Gender fluidity and the ensuing surgical and pharmaceutical mayhem. Of course there’s the spurious existential panic over “climate change”, but in my opinion that’s the least of it: Americans bred like crazy during the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation looming over ‘em.
I totes agree: the West is dying out. There’s them who’d say: “That’s progress!”
In today’s society, there is way too much social support via government “nets”. People get to the point where they feel they will be taken care of by the government, kids will be schooled “by the government”, and order and rationality will be taken care of “by the government”. ?So what’s the point of worrying about your retirement when SS and Medicare will take care of your old age. Kids, who were both a blessing (because they worked in the houshold AND took care of mom & dad in their old age) are now just a drain on the family income, which could be used for “fun” things - like vacations, clubs, etc. Add to this the constant Lefty (false) claim there are too many people, and you get population decimation. Europe is old, Japan is old, America is getting old. ?Who will keep up the standards we are accustomed to. Today it’s hard to find a decent plumber, carpenter, handy man, mechanic who won’t charge you two arms and a leg, there being so few of them.
There was a book, The Death of Civilization I think it was called, that documents all this wonderfully. India one of THE fastest growing economies, is one of the youngest nations in the world, even with its huge population.