Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's wrong to tell lies

It's really just the proportions...

Why do people think it's OK to casually lie to children, as though they don't count as persons who deserve to hear the truth? I've said many times that I "don't like children" but this is only a shorthand way of saying that I don't like them the way so many other people seem to, as though they are toys or pets. I am deeply suspicious of the sentimentalist attitude towards children one so often sees in women. They coo and gurgle over babies because they are babies, not because they have any kind of fellow-feeling about them as people.

The "Oh isn't she cute" response that appears to be nearly universal among women is something I feel extremely wary of. I don't think it is children they like, because they so rarely treat children as though they are real people you could get to know. I think what they like is their own feelings, something I've described as the "cutness thrill". It's the same thrill one gets from looking at kitten vidoes on the internet, and when you get it from babies or small children, you are really indulging in a kind of emotional drug rush.

Humans, and particularly women, are simply neurologically wired to have that emotional rush when they see something with the right, infant-like proportions, a fact that Walt Disney understood and magnified into an entire multi-zillion dollar industry. It is exploited again and again by the various industries selling us their worthless trinkets, a brazen manipulation of bio-chemistry that we ought to be ashamed of indulging. In Japan it appears to have been elevated into an entire culture, which I find almost nauseating.

Personally, I don't get the cuteness thrill from human infants. Not enough fur. To me, a baby or a child is just another human. In some cases, I have an attachment of some kind to a child, he or she is in my family or part of my tribe in some way, and therefore becomes a person whom I would kill or die for. But I'm never going to make those stupid girly noises over him, and I'm never going to treat any infant I know in the way I treat my cat.

I think the pope lied to that little boy about animals going to heaven because he was not interacting with him as one would with a fellow human being. He was doing what many adults do and thinking of him as a toy or a pet one had to soothe emotionally, and to whom he owed no duty of truthfulness. I don't think it is at all uncommon, and I think it is something that our culture strongly encourages. We see children now as a kind of luxury commodity, appealing to a privileged (or maybe peculiar) few. They are, in effect, accessories.

I was raised by and around people who reacted to children this way, and was treated as a toy or a doll, something to dress up and play with when the mood struck, by nearly everyone. I was taught to talk and behave as a miniature adult, parroting phrases about art and history and politics with plenty of three-syllable words, as though I were a performing animal because it astonished and thrilled my mother's friends. "Oh! isn't that so CUTE! she can quote Suetonius!"

God help me if I ever treat a fellow human being that way. God forgive my mother for never, ever learning to think of me as a fellow human being and treating me like a dress-up doll, and then discarding me when I suddenly came to life and started demanding to be treated like a fellow human being.

And God forgive the pope for treating that little boy like he didn't deserve the truth.

Update: It seems now that someone has done a little digging that Pope Francis may not have said this to the kid as it was reported in the Italian press. But the point remains that people say this kind of thing to kids mainly because they don't think of children as genuinely persons deserving of the truth.



Mrs McLean said...

Perhaps you have it the wrong way around. Babies and small children are not interested in being treated like adults with charming or dull or annoying personalities. Their survival depends on a woman--any woman--caring enough to feed, clothe, shelter, touch and talk to them. Indeed, considering how many women used to die in childbirth (and how many still do), this was probably essential to the survival of humanity. If women just killed the babies of dead women as rivals to their own babies for scarce resources, we possibly would not be around. Indeed, this suggests that there may have been a version of human baby that was evolutionarily wiped out because primitive women DID feel indifferent to their plight.

A baby, the toddler and the child is a person, but he or she is not an adult person, and so adults around have a responsibility to treat them as who they are--not as toys, but also not as adults.

In Francis's case, he ought not to have lied. He could easily have told the child what my parents told me about my deceased pet, which was "IF it is necessary for your eternal happiness that your pet be in heaven, THEN your pet will be in heaven." Not a lot of adults understand the concept of a "second-order soul", so I doubt that child would have either.


Mrs McLean said...

I should add that it is very important for babies to be touched and spoken to and encouraged to speak. Repeating "Ga ga ga ga ga" seems like an odd thing to do, but we do it. Could be a linguistic reason for that.

At any rate, I am an unabashed baby-talker. Oh, and I think the reason why we like puppies and kitties is because they remind us of human babies. And babies will smile at a paper plate if you draw two dots and a smile on it. They love big smiling faces looming in.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Oh, I didn't deny the importance of the cute-reaction for the survival of the species. It's just that now we have turned it into a fetish that bears little relation to its actual purpose.

Diocesan employee said...

Please do not publish. You'd be welcome to take the comparison and use it yourself. I work in the SYSTEM and cant really be public. (Or even semi public, or even allow inferences etc).


Im saying Viva Hillary on this one, but before it goes further - what evidence do you have that Pope Francis was lying? If you think of him as Catholic princess Diana, then he could perfectly well believe this about pets.

He isnt gorbachov, trying to resurrect a dying system...
He isnt the dalai lama trying to maintain an ancient religious code under pressure of modernisation while making it palatable for a western consumerist audience...
He isnt Tony Blair, doing a modest update on the party platform cos Things Will Always Get Better!

Despite similarities, he's actually Catholicism's answer to the beautiful princess, the Queen of Hearts.

And thats it. There is no deeper level 'down there' there....

Hillary, please blog more - I enjoy your blogging and wish you'd do more of it. Or at least list the other pair gigs you are doing.

Felix M said...

So perhaps he was misreported? Then, if he had any care for his obligations as a teacher, and if he accepts the standard Catholic view, he'd clarify the matter.

GracieLou said...

There seems to be some kind of connection between "cute art" and progressivism (or maybe modernism or the culture of death) and I can't quite puzzle it out. Most of my time at a university art school between 2005 and 2009 "gross art" was the rage. Some examples displayed at my school: a gorgeous, saturated, glassy photograph of garden foliage with a butchered rabbit hidden in the lower left hand corner, a painting of a lady-part in the process of flesh ripping childbirth. A remake of VanGogh's "The Potato Eaters" titled, "The Meat Eaters" which won the Senior Show one year. Major gore meant major respect. Or you at least had to make something sad, sadistic or sexual. But toward the end "cute" crept in, critter jug band etchings, stuffed animal sculptures, lots of anime inspired things. The artists I've kept in contact with make this kind of art almost exclusively now. The puzzle for me is that it doesn't seem bad, but the same people (students and professors) who liked the gross art are equally as enthusiastic about the cute art. What is the relationship between the styles? Is one a reaction to the other or are they two sides to a coin? Does this bode well for the culture or is it the same de-humanization gone stealth?

Anonymous said...

The more we murder the unborn the more we become sentimental about children....and baby seals.

Rico S.

GracieLou said...

True, Rico. One controversial student work at the time (at a more "prestigious" school)involved a female artist who created a hideous kind of human trifle with the medically aborted remains of her monthly "encounters." I can't remember if controversy arose due to the mere existence of this monstrosity or if most of the controversy concerned the veracity of the "product." At any rate I'd almost guarantee this person is now creating sentimental big-eyed critter art. Probably, the gross skated so close to reality even the most powerful serotonin uptake inhibitors couldn't muffle the screams of conscience anymore. Far better to suppress, "Oh look! Bunnies!!"

Jeff Culbreath said...

"There seems to be some kind of connection between "cute art" and progressivism (or maybe modernism or the culture of death) and I can't quite puzzle it out." Very perceptive. I think it's part of the wholesale legitimization of sentimentality as a rationale for anything and everything, which progressives are experts at doing. Feelings-emotion-sentiment-affection-desire unchecked by reason are the indispensible tools of progressivism. Nevertheless count me as fan of baby-cuteness and baby-talk within due limits. Hard to imagine life without it.