Thursday, August 14, 2008

The obscene

Am I allowed to explore the meaning of obscene? I Present examples of some things filthy, offensive to decency or the senses. "Without an element of the obscene there can be no true and deep aesthetic or moral conception of life," Havelock Ellis, writer and psychologist, wrote a century ago. "It is only the great men who are truly obscene. If they had not dared to be obscene they could never have dared to be great." True enough, but what about Americans who choose to please themselves regardless of the cost? Who do not forego vacations, especially in RV’s when the price of gas remains high? Recreating does not, however, keep them from complaining about the cost of driving. What seems to me to be obscene is their sense of earned privilege, warranted hedonism, entitlement. Also offensive to my senses and the hierarchical rules of natural law are pet owners who choose to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for veterinary care. Guilty of obscene spending is a man whose personal decision led him to an expenditure of $18,000 on a 14 yr. old dog to prolong its life a year. Guilty too would be the writer who characterizes this man’s expression of dogged devotion and justified substitution for a recently deceased wife, as "eloquent." Would human beings pay as much or more for other humans who are ill or dying if they did not have medical insurance to cover the expenses? Do I sound heartless, cruel, skeptical or rational? The irrational behavior of chain smoking might be obscene, but it is not characterized as obscene by individuals who excuse and justify Barack Obama’s addiction to tobacco. Ditto for Obama’s hedonistic lifestyle and obscene self-centeredness. Havelock Ellis obviously knew that obscene hypocrisy was a requisite for greatness. Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher, also wrote that great minds would have nothing to do if they were consistent. I know obscenity when I see it.


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