Friday, February 17, 2006

meme-ry 1

In the New Yorker about the Shakers, their aesthetics and their politics...
As Downing documents, its latest incarnation has been the Zen experience—which is uncannily like the Shaker experience, and which also involved the implantation of a slightly misunderstood alien dogma, and an immense outpouring of American spiritual yearning, a taste for commercial prosperity on the part of its leaders, and an inability to figure out what the hell to do about sex. As the Shakers made a revolution in American objects, American Zen made a revolution in American cooking, giving vegetarian food dignity. And, when the communities went into crisis, first the plates, and then the food, were what was left.

There she had a vision that she was the second coming of Christ; she also began to believe that sex was the root of all evil. The idea had a genuine edge not so much of feminist rage as of women’s pain: she had lost her four children to illness, and came of age in a working-class world in which constant pregnancy was a prime source of suffering. Her anti-sexual ethic was not so much anti-pleasure as anti-pregnancy.

fodder for thought!!


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