Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gossip of love, politics and then some...

I. An apologia

Let it be stated right away that I consider this post to be in breach of an important rule of mine to never gossip.


"Tale-bearing is, essentially, any gossip. The Hebrew word for tale-bearer is "rakhil" (Reish-Kaf-Yod-Lamed), which is related to a word meaning trader or merchant. The idea is that a tale-bearer is like a merchant, but he deals in information instead of goods. In our modern "Information Age," the idea of information as a product has become more clear than ever before, yet it is present even here in the Torah.It is a violation of this mitzvah to say anything about another person, even it is true, even if it is not negative, even if it is not secret, even if it hurts no one, even if the person himself would tell the same thing if asked!

But I do deviate from it from time to time. As in this post.

Why? I'm' not perfectly sure. Maybe because the human interest in the story I talk about is just too irresistible. Cécilia María's story appealed to me for the choreography of the many cycles of identity manifested in it.

This following story appealed to me because I'm such an admirer of Martha Nussbaum, and because I am so critical (usually) of Samantha Power, and because I have been following closely Obama's evolution and one person whose writings helped me think about him positively was Cass Sunstein. So all these persons, which I have been watching and listening to quite attentively in the last few months, converge in this story, in a romance where the political merges with the personal. So I just can't resist talking about it. It's just too damn intriguing, or something.


II. Trading places

Sometime last May, Presidential increasingly- more- than- Hopeful Obama was saying "It has been 15 months since I first announced that I was running for the presidency of the United States of America and that's a long time in politics... "There are now babies who were born and are walking and talking."

Not only that. There were long happy couples who separated, the two halves (or at least one half) re-formed in a new couplehood which has by now tied the knot. With some luck, their first- born will arrive on the day President Elect Obama is sworn in...

Only last winter, there was this article celebrating the joy of the intellectual equality and reciprocity which characterized the personal partnership between Martha Nussbaum and Cass Sunstein:

Is it hard for people burdened with such intellectual candlepower to find each other? They didn’t seem to have much trouble. But it’s clear that they apply what they know (which is a lot) to making their relationship work (which it does, very well).

And here we are, in less than a year later:

Reports surfaced online in May that the 54-year-old Sunstein, the nation’s most-cited legal scholar, and Power were engaged, and that the relationship played a role in Sunstein accepting Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan’s perennial offer to leave his longtime home at the University of Chicago Law School.

Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power and their Harlequinesque "whirlwind romance" ended happily in a church wedding at seaside town of Waterville in Kerry, Ireland:

According to The Independent of Ireland, Power arrived at the evening ceremony in a champagne-colored Lexus covered in flowers. The 38-year-old author and foreign policy expert walked down the aisle in a cream, lace gown.


III. An old story

Of course the above is an old old story, and thoroughly predictable. Men prefer younger women. Given a choice between two highly intelligent and ambitious women, both exceptionally good looking and successful, the age factor will bring down the scales in favour of the younger one. It is, as someone once honestly stated in a discussion about a similar topic, a biological instinct. Younger women possess the ability to give a gift, or at least the promise of a gift, of fertility and longevity to their male partners.

The only story I ever heard of a reversed choice, where the man in question opted for an older woman was the case of Ralph Fiennes, when, 11 years ago he ditched his wife, Alex Kingston, for the (much older) Francesca Annis. But that, too, came to its predictable end.

When people are in love, they are oblivious to everything but each other in their idealized forms. But life and biology and convention cannot be defeated by mere love.

Here is an article which discusses age and love and marriage. Most comments point to the same sort of position.


Mark A.:

My guideline has always been the “half my age plus seven” rule. At 50, it has seen me through three marriages, numerous other short-lived relationships, and once again has put me in the awkward position of knowing that my 34 year old girlfriend is beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. I’m not opposed to dating women my own age; it just appears they have adopted the same rule and used it against me!

Ron W:

I am 54, my wife is 28. We have been married for 9 years. We have the same hobbies, the same interests, we like the same music, we like the same movies, and we have the same political views for the most part. Age difference is one small factor that we can live with. Many people who know us describe us as having the idea marriage.

I didn’t look for someone that young. It is just that the best woman for me was 18 when I found her. Why pass that up?

I have run into some hostility. Only from women over 40. Guess they don’t like the competition.

And so on, and so forth.


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