What’s Wrong with the World

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Reducto ad absurdum alert

Courtesy of my friend, Steve Thomas, I bring to your attention two items of interest. The first is a piece in Discover Magazine about people marrying inanimate objects. You can find that here. Apparently, the slogan, "whatever floats your boat," may not be a metaphor in every case. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer is married to the Berlin Wall. Like any couple, they’ve had their ups and downs, but over the years, they’ve been able to meet each other’s spiritual and emotional needs. “We even made it through the terrible disaster of 9 November 1989, when my husband was subjected to frenzied attacks by a mob. But we are still as much in love as the day we met,” Berliner-Mauer said last year. Berliner-Mauer (the German name for the Berlin Wall, which she has taken as her last name) has since defined her love under the term “objectum sexual,” or OS—in other words, a person who falls in love with inanimate objects. As an animist, she, along with a growing group of others, believe that inanimate objects are sentient, intelligent beings.

Take Erika Eiffel, who is married to the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel says she recalls being attracted to objects even as a child, and realized she was different only when she saw other people at school dating each other, while she was dating a bridge....

According to certified sexologist Amy Marsh, however, it could be a new sexual orientation. Marsh has surveyed a community of people with OS and said, “What I’m finding is not much history of sexual abuse, and actually not much in the way of psychiatric diagnoses either. I’m finding they’re very happy, and they don’t want to change. I am also finding out that quite a few of them have a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome or autism, but not everybody.”

Eiffel, for example, said she doesn’t have Asperger’s, a syndrome in which people have a difficult time forming relationships with other humans. For her, the tower fulfills her needs. “I know love is being reciprocated,” she said. “I’m not being held back. I love my life.”

Steve Thomas makes the astute observation:

Can we go any further in the error of giving priority to feelings over metaphysics? We ought not to be heartened by the woman's apparent felicity, but more troubled that we find her in this profound state of ignorance about human and sexual relationships, and that she may be at risk for never realizing, herself, the goods of human marriage.

I'm not much of a fan of J.S. Mill, but this quote seems relevant:

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. and if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.
Similarly, it is better to be married to a human being and dissatisfied, than to the Eiffel Tower satisfied.

And then there are those who believe they are amputees trapped in whole bodies. (Perhaps we can call them "abridged persons"). You can read about these folks in The Atlantic essay, "A New Way to Be Mad." The author points out that this is not much different than the case of those transsexuals who believe they ought to have one less appendage than with which they were born. He writes:

Yet what exactly does it mean to be stuck in the wrong body? For the past several years I have been working with a research group interested in problems surrounding the use of medical interventions for personal enhancement. One of the issues we have struggled with is how to understand people who use the language of self and identity to explain why they want these interventions: a man who says he is "not himself" unless he is on Prozac; a woman who gets breast-reduction surgery because she is "not the large-breasted type"; a bodybuilder who says he took anabolic steroids because he wants to look on the outside the way he feels on the inside; and—perhaps most common—transsexuals whose experience is described as "being trapped in the wrong body." The image is striking, and more than a little odd. In each case the true self is the one produced by medical science.


Comments (4)

I wonder if they'd allow polygamy in such instances. I mean, the Eiffel Tower's awfully big for just one woman. And how do we know the Tower's even a male? There are tall girls . . .

Are we to take it that the dudette who considers herself "married" to the Berlin Wall and who was so sad when it got "attacked" in 1989 is pro-communist? This sort of thing is so confusing. I mean, if the Berlin Wall really were an embodied person with mental states, I think most of us would assume that it would be a _bad_ person.

At least Erika Eiffel married a phallic symbol. She'll be all right as long as she doesn't try to consummate the relationship.

In the attached story, Erika Eiffel refers to the tower as "she."

I get the sense that this story is just going to keep getting weirder the further you get into it. Personally, I'm bailing out now.

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