A Human Movement
Monday, September 15, 2003
Thom has posted some remarkable material on circumcision (read: male genital mutilation!) and the nature of medical cultdom, iatrogenic style. Those fuckers have no right! I'm familiar with the view that male genital mutilation is unnecessary and a wildly irrational 20th century medical tradition, but I can't remember ever reading an enumeration and advocation of the benefits of foreskin.

This choice bit of historical information was of particular interest:
One thousand years ago, the Jewish sage Maimonides said that the effect of circumcision was "to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate...for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment; the organ necessarily becomes weak when ... deprived of its covering from the beginning. Our sages say distinctly: it is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised [man] had sexual intercourse, to separate from him."

Goodness! I'm not mutilated, so I'm unable to remark personally on the above, but the quote is heady stuff regardless. Considering the cultural history of circumcision as a Jewish rite, I'm curious about how male genital mutilation institutionalized itself in American culture. I'm not an inflammatory character, and am careful with what I say, but could this have something to do with the Islamist view that America is "controlled by Jews"? I agree that it is a bit much to say that, but the question of whether male genital mutilation strengthens the international bond between the men of the United States and Israel through this chin-strokingly odd practice remains.

Culturally and religiously, my stance on the matter is of the tolerant to each his own variety. But for the sake of man don't force it on people! That was the creepiest thing about the "white paper", that the practice was being forced on children and parents alike. That's just gross.

Thom, a thought just occurred to me and I hoped you could clarify it. I've been thinking about our recent conversations and your long-held views on art, specifically music and the visual arts, namely that they subdue the soul, hindering its growth and development, and confuse the sensibilities. These ideas recur often when you speak.... yet your views, pertaining specifically to the visual arts (photography, film, etc) find different form on this blog, where your expressions are more graphic and pictorial than they are textual.

In this arena you applaud the use of the "symbol" and its splendid array of significances. As you put it below: "images are symbols, much like words, representing meaning in the minds of growing man." But I wonder how we might reconcile that view with the view that the visual arts degrade the soul and sensibility. No representations! remember? I'm not giving you shit, this is a working-through that could potentially yield profound insight.

And meanwhile....:
Ages ago I forwarded to you and Nick, in a spirit of neutrality and curiosity, an interesting (I thought) history of women shaving their legs. This, too, is an odd cultural "tradition" that goes only as far back as the early 20th century, institutionalizing itself in advertisements in Harper's magazine and the impact they and the new fashions had on the grooming habits of our nation's women. At the time, you flat out dismissed the mere bringing up of this subject, writing to me, "I likes it shaved," and suggesting I had ulterior discursive motives behind raising the topic. Now, in light of the issue of circumcision, I wonder if you would yield to a more thoughtful engagement of these enfant traditions and the manner in which they have insinuated themselves into the very fabric of our culture.

I believe that this latter subject connects with circumcision on the level of odd cultural "tradition", as well as with the impact -- positive or negative -- of the visual arts, especially in regards to fashion and advertising, upon the soul and practices of man. In today's conception and apprehension, I posit the question: what image seen today by our eyes is not in some vital capacity a commercial image?
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