Beyond Abortion: Gosnell and a New Dark Age

My sister delivered a healthy baby boy the day before yesterday. When I called to congratulate her, I asked to be spared from the details. When my wife gave birth to our second son, I was the one about pass out during the epidural.

This past November, when I saw the headlines about Savita, I tried to ignore it because I have no stomach for delivery room gore. When I did read the stories a day later, my response was angry and indignant. I was pissed. Pissed, but hopeful. I thought we could move ahead, somehow.

Newtown came and passed and the anniversary of the Iraq War (which I didn’t write about) and so on.

I avoided the Gosnell story, too, initially. The headlines seemed too fantastic to be the wholly true and the details I gleaned made my stomach turn. I tend to monitor stories like these from a distance to see if they stick. This one stuck, thanks to Twitter and Facebook. I’ve only been able to read two articles — from the Atlantic and Slate — on this gruesome crime, and I read them hastily, with a sense of disgust and despair. I also found this article from 2011 about Gosnell in the New York Times, which I scanned.

There has been some media coverage out there all along, it turns out, but it is the question of degree and quality — and volume — that is highly suspect. Salon seems to think that we just don’t read enough alternative media, which is true, but that doesn’t address the primary concern.

This event is different, but strangely related to Savita for me. What got me so worked up about Savita now has me depressed and despondent, senseless and void. Numb.

Let me be clear: cultural despair is not the same thing, I think (I hope?), as theological despair. Hope against hope.

Welcome to the dark ages. An age where darkness is not the result of widespread ignorance or circumstance or feudal folklore. No. This is a time of intentional darkness. The Enlightenment is over. The grand experiment of it all, the United States of America, has failed, miserably. We have nothing left but a futuristic fantasy that propels us into techno-economic nihilism.

We’ll forget Gosnell soon enough. Just as we forgot about the last person who told us that we’re headed for cultural suicide.

No one gives a shit.

The press that didn’t forget and buried the story, for whatever reason, is perhaps more laudable. At least they did the work. At least they remembered to forget. The rest seems fine with the forgetting whatever it needs to continue the business of distracting and forgetting and, slowly, killing memory and feeling.

Flesh without blood. No life.

There is utility in selective memory: the only reason to remember Gosnell will be to forget about what happened and, instead, advance the cause of the tribal interests we all have to play with at some point. As “Flight of the Concords” remind us, it’s all about the issues.

The issue here is not just abortion. I know many Catholics who scoff at the naive and impractical “whole cloth” approach to questions of life and human dignity, but without a holistic view of the matter, we miss the real scope of this particular atrocity. It is a spectacular ecology of perversity and filth. This an “issue” of race, poverty, abortion, women, infants, fatherhood, and even capital punishment (depending on the sentencing of Gosnell).

It is also a simple case of cold blooded murder. It doesn’t require as much nuance as other cases. It is closer kin to Newtown than Savita, in this regard.

If we wanted to remember, we’d have to do a lot of serious work. Blogging, grabbing headlines, and pushing topics on Twitter is easy. But the hard work is memory work. Without memory there is no healing or forgiveness or proper war and melancholy.

Nothing lingers anymore. We are beyond abortion, we are on our way to nowhere.

Freud was right: we are unconscious. But we sleep without dreaming, we only snore, droning on and on. Noise.

As I’ve said before, the culture wars are over. They are not resolved so much as they are too much work. Thinking in America has become a lost art. This is a post-Cartesian place.

Platitudes and melodrama don’t set a very good example, but that’s the point: I feel it too. I’m as lazy as you are.

Don’t take this as anything but a reminder that everything is lost and the details are too tedious to remember. We can’t keep track of news headlines, much less history and ancestry and the Divine.

We’ve transcended transcendence through a crude reversal, an inversion that has opened up the future to nothing.

I guess I’ll see you all in hell. Only God can save us now, I hope we forgot to kill him properly.

 

 


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