Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Monotheism Brandon Benson Section 8 Installment 1

        Gore Vidal, an American playwright, novelist, and polymathic intellectual, is well-renowned for his literary work and publishing of many popular screenplays, plays and novels, as well as other literary works. He wrote and published more than 200 essays and 24 novels throughout his career; Among Vidal's most famous works are the 1960s books Julian and Myra Breckinridge; the 1984 novel Lincoln; his 1993 political work United States: Essays 1952-1992, for which he won the National Book Award; and his 1995 memoir, Palimpsest. Vidal also acted as a political commentator from the staunch left and a harsh critic of the right. His prominence led him to be the Democratic party’s commentating figurehead at the 1968 Republican and Democratic conventions, in which he and conservative pundit William F. Buckley dueled verbally (and nearly physically) in some of the greatest intellectual combat ever witnessed on television. Vidal’s career also consisted of some acting, talk-show hosting, and even a brief run for office in New York state. Vidal is perhaps best known for being an iconoclast and an apostate, tirelessly writing and working against the grain -- common American conceptualities. Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge explored the world of gender-fluidity and transgenderism in the 1960’s, for example, and later in his life, he seemingly took particular interest in not only political and terroristic attacks on America, but why they happened, and usually explaining why America was the initial action that caused the attacks (the reaction).
Vidal’s apostasy, which is deeply-rooted in a coinciding following of both atheism and humanism, stems from a simple belief and quote of his: “Monotheism is the worst thing to befall the human race.” "(The Great Unmentionable) Monotheism and its Discontents," one of Vidal’s 24 essays, contemplates why our public discourse has become so monotonous, and why the lack of progress is not so stunning after all. “Unfortunately,” he says, “there are two subjects that we are never permitted to discuss with any seriousness: race and religion, and how our attitudes toward the first are rooted in the second. Thanks to this sternly — correctly? — enforced taboo, we are never able to get to the root of our problems.” Vidal does not see this as any happy accident, either, saying that American people are left in the dark to the truth: “That Opinion the Few create in order to control the Many has seen to it that we are kept in permanent ignorance of our actual estate.” Vidal, who in his later years became honorary president of the American Humanist Association, firmly believed in the lack of efficacy in religions over ethical systems, and believes that this misplacement of trust and values is at the root of the world’s, let alone America’s, greatest tragedy: “The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved — Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal — God is the omnipotent father — hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is in place not for just one tribe but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and that of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family home.”
What fascinates me is the truth behind both of Vidal’s assessments of the roots of the matter, the matter itself and the fact that, as a society, we can not even discuss these matters because of the legacy of prejudice within American people. While a lack of logic behind blindly following a sky-God is blatant cause for grave concern, what is even more concerning is that unintellectual ideas are coddled in order to avoid discomfort and challenging of prejudice.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I wasn't familiar with the Vidal quote, so was wondering how you were going to connect the Vidal and monotheism dots.

    But thinking of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, it doesn't seem that we come out all that great when construed in polytheistic terms either.

    And, with all the mentions of "sky-god" it needs mentioning that many theists reject that conception in favor of something less literal (and tangible).

    Still, Vidal is one of those indispensable gadflies our culture needs more of. William F. Buckley got away with too much for too long, in the presence of people too easily cowed by a large (and often errant) vocabulary and affected patrician pseudo-sophistication. Vidal punctured his pretensions like no one else.