Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hauksberg And Persis on Starkad

(This is the cover of the copy that I am reading.)

I say, that Hauksberg is a dashed decent chap, forgiving his concubine, Persis d'Io, for her fling with Flandry, even while she and Flandry tie him up so that they can make their escape - although, in my opinion, there is nothing to forgive. The married Hauksberg is a monogamist, rather than a bigamist or polygamist, but he is not "faithful" since he has a concubine.

However, in any case, human beings are not naturally monogamous. Anderson imagined a naturally monogamous race in "The Ways of Love" and that race's behavior indeed differed from ours. Among human beings, patriarchal monogamy was imposed by property-owning men who wanted to bequeath their property to identifiable, preferably "legitimate," male heirs. We remain able to love different people at different times or more than one person at the same time and to enjoy sex with more than one person. There is nothing natural about exclusive monogamy. It has not always existed and need not continue to exist into an indefinite future although it would still be around in a set-up like the Terran Empire.

My main problem with Hauksberg is his refusal, even when Flandry has fully exposed the Merseian plot on Starkad, to acknowledge that the Merseians would have continued to withhold information about the infalling rogue planet until it had detonated Saxo and destroyed the Terran fleet. What universe is the guy living in? If the Merseians had revealed any sign of goodwill, then Abrams and Flandry would have been able to re-assess their attitude to the gatortails in the light of this new evidence. If those on the other side of the argument are incapable of making a similar re-assessment when appropriate, then dialogue is impossible.

Meanwhile, however, Persis is intelligent, perceptive and observant. Watching Ondine, a ballet about a mermaid, reminds her of how far they are from home. And Flandry, visiting a city of genuine Starkadian sea-dwellers, thinks, "...what a place to stage that ballet!" (Poul Anderson, Ensign Flandry, London, 1976, p. 81)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I agree Lord Hauksberg is a reasonably decent chap, never mind his philandering.

Unfortunately, Hauksberg's inability or unwillingness to face hard facts about the Merseians is not a new phenomenon. Simply recall how, during the Cold War, there were plenty of people in the West who were just as blind to the ambitions of the late, unlamented USSR. The kind of people Lenin called "useful idiots."

Fortunately, after Brezhnev died, the USSR fell under increasingly ineffectual leaders who were more and more unable or unwilling to be as ruthlessly determined as was Brezhnev. But, the problem is, we now face a similiar problem from fanatical jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and any states they manage to take over.

As for monogamy, I'm araid I'll have to disagree with you again. As a Catholic I believe and take seriously what Christ and the Church says about marriage.


Paul Shackley said...

Do you know the context of that Lenin remark?
Of course you were bound to disagree on monogamy but I think the evidence is that the first stage was unrestricted sexuality within the tribe, 2nd increasing incest taboos for sound biological reasons, 3rd pairing marriage, an equal partnership terminable by either partner but they had to be of different matrilineally descended "gens", 4th accumulation of herds and slaves by some men and their overthrow of matrilineal descent in order to have male heirs, 6th different forms of the family throughout history, 7th things are changing now.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Apologies, I no longer clearly recall where I read about Lenin calling blind apologists for Soviet tyranny "useful idiots." It was very long ago, but I MIGHT have seen these words of Lenin to his Politburo in one of the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Possibly in Volume 1 of THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, because of the many quotes from Lenin's works in that book.

Oh, of course I agree the historical evidence shows men and women practicing many variants or forms of marriage or laws of marriage thru time. I simply believe the form of marriage God wishes as best for us is found in the teachings of Christ and His Church. I know you don't agree!