Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Circumcision Again

To look upon the act of circumcision as a pure existential act, without recourse to an unknown God element. The act of inflicting a disfiguring wound upon an infant would normally be considered a criminal and insane act. The child is an individual with legal rights, and has obviously no capacity of assenting to such an injury upon his being. Without the possibility of consent, a biologically useless, potentially dangerous, and disfiguring wound is being imposed upon him. It seems clear that on legal grounds this is a criminal action.

A more interesting avenue though is to admit of the God element in the examining of the issue. As stated in THE EXILE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES FOR JEWISH MONOTHEISM*, by Iakov Levi, "The Jews, before the First Exile, were no less polytheist than the Canaanites they came to supplant. As is richly described in the Books of Judges and Kings, the worship of Baal, Astarte and Asherah was the rule and not the exception."
So the Jewish God was an individual spiritual entity in a spiritual universe of many other deities, and the Jewish people were this particular figure's chosen people, who in turn have a chosen land which is presumably of special interest to this deity for some reason. However powerful such an entity may be, he is certainly a parochial figure who has a particular limited area of especial interest to himself.
Now to posit that the act of circumcision does actually create the bond between the individual and God- as in this particular God. Why is this so?
It cannot be construed as the act being a spiritual rites of passage, as the child is wholly uninvolved as an active conscious agent in the disfiguring ritual. If a bond is indeed forged, it must be simply on the basis of the blood ritual itself. We all know of the ancient and not so ancient human sacrifice rituals which were seen as offerings to particular deities. Again assuming in the actual existence of these deities as real spiritual entities, it would seem that they are nourished by propitiatory offerings of human blood. Perhaps it is natural to assume such deities' necessary sustenance to their life-force is precisely such offerings. The act of circumcision it would seem natural to view in similar light of a blood offering.
However, if a Jewish person is not circumscribed as an infant and has not had this ritual upon his body carried out before his adult death, then he is said to have lost his connection to the divine entity. So it is seen as more than a momentary nourishing: a channel has been opened up to this deity through the action of the ritual. Once again assuming this is all true, is it reasonable to wonder whether it is genuinely in one's interests to open up a spiritual pathway of intimate connection to an entity that is nourished by human blood through genital disfigurement of human infants?
Another apt question might be if these children are the perfect creation of an assumed perfect creator, why would he want them painfully physically altered almost immeditately upon entry into human life? Is a human armed with a sharp blade expected to work an improvement upon the art of the divine?

12 comments:

Neil Forsyth said...

It is just one (a particularly grotesque one) of an infinite number of ritualistic acts connected to religious observance. There is nothing rational about it, nothing that can justify it on empirical or even moral grounds. That said, the closer one looks at behaviours, all behaviours, the more ridiculous they seem. Work, for example? What the hell are we doing with our lives? I'm exhausted with all this 'doing' business. We are insane. I would really like to stop 'doing' so much. In fact, I'd much rather have my foreskin removed with a blunt, rusty implement than work for the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

if someone (particular if he was a perspiring excitable middle-eastern muslim) was to approach your john-thomas with a rusty implement you would probably go back to work with a renewed enthusiasm before he did any damage (hmm, would that work as a motivational practice to motivate the workforce!!!)

Neil Forsyth said...

Oddly enough, that hasn't cropped up in any of the management books I've read.

With perspicuity and wit, Bertrand Russell highlighted the absurdity and folly of working too hard based on the wrong-headed belief that work is somehow virtuous. In 'In Praise of Idleness', he makes a compelling case for the four-hour working day, and scotches the myth that if we had more leisure time we wouldn't know what to do with it.

I particularly, like his definition of work. He says "work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill-paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organised bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising."

The whole essay is written in this ironic tone and is a hoot. But he does make some serious points too. I recommend it.

Anonymous said...

sounds like an interesting piece and I will look out for it. I would see the title as being a little inappropriate and misleading, considering you say part of his arguement lies in his belief that we would know how to fill our free time pursueing other goals. "In Praise of Idleness" as a title would suggest otherwise.

The 4-hour working day would suit me just fine also and I am looking forward to a time of "comfortable retirement", something many people seem to dread. Reminds me of a point footballer Roy Keane once made "Bored People are Boring", he was meaning that if you are bored you are an idle fool who can't think of a useful way to fill your time when there are so many enjoyable pursuits to be had, if the individual is willing to get off his arse and do it (the ever expanding wasteline of the nation would suggest less people get off their arse than before)

Andrew said...

Perhaps they could offer the rusty razor meets foreskin as an aspect of a certain kind of early retirement option, Neil.

Andrew K said...

See Toast, that's the problem with ideas. They often tend to be so far above unformed minds like yours apparently is, that such minds reach for the easiest avenue to maintain their ignorance. So, the ugliness of bloodily assaulting an infant with a knife, whatever the excuse of one perpetrating the deed, means the person pointing out the ugliness is a hater of mankind. Whereas the proper response as you so obviously need poiting out, is to wonder at the action and justification of cutting an infant's genitals with a knife. I as wondering if I'd find an ignorant response like yours and there's an apt quote by Nietzsche that fits the bill:
"How could I expect fairness from you towards me. I accept your injustice as my portion."

Now why don't you tell me why you're in favour of genital mutilation as opposed to moronic accusations of being a racist hater. Or is actually defending what ever your position might be beyond you?

Andrew K said...

And also explain why you think a hypothetical spiritual entity, Jewish, Islamic, or any other might want blood rituals involving infants. See, all I've done is apply reason to an issue with my post. Whereas all you've done is completely avoid any mention of the actual issue, and instead leap towards a conclusion, which justifies avoiding discussin the issue. An argument against thought. That's what bigotry is- killing the mind's legitimate usage with the added bonus of damning the other as a vile hater.

Andrew K said...

I agree I found that perspiring Muslim post very unappealing. Hopefully if that post is what the issue is, then we might find an amicable end to this. I left it up, as that is my natural inclination. I would hope it is clear that I have given no sign of being of one with the attitude to other people that that might suggest, so I don't think I have any reason to justify myself against any inference along those lines.
I know it might be natural to assume the circumcision posts are anti-Semitic. I personally have little problem separating ideologies or belief-systems, and people, so while I know, given the world we dwell in, one does get all kind of accusations for certain very legitimate exercises of reason, that shouldn't prevent one from being true to one's reasoning capacity and shining the light of one's mind on whatever issue one sees fit, and hopefully doing justice to that issue.

Anonymous said...

toast, don't get so hsyterical, I am only a recent user of this blog, have read a limited number of posts here, but I can already assume you are lloydmintern posting under another name (or some other such spammer).

as for hate-mongering, why do you write such bullshit. Middle-eastern muslim was merely used in light of the widely publicised differences of opinion that muslims (who are mostly associated with the middle-east) and jews (who practice circumcision of the male and are also associated with the middle-east) which has often turned violent, and we can assume that if a jewish man was to be circumcised at an older age, he would feel a little more than a certain amount of apprehension if the man wielding the rusty blade happened to be a muslim from one of the neighbouring countries (which have a history of political hostility between them), and if the said individual happened to be in a state of excitement and was perspiring, hands-shaking (and also untrained in the profession of medical surgery, or circumcision) we can assume it would only add to the jewish persons apprehensions and he may fear that the man wielding the knife may chop off more than was necessary (we will assume we are talking about jewish males, considering it is they who practice male circumcision).

Andrew K said...

I do agree, Anon, that the attitude to circumcision gets a real awakening if an uncircumscribed male does consider what receiving the relevant injury might entail. If anyone has caught their whatsit in their zipper, we might start to get an inkling of the pain involved! Good to see you expound on the perspiring Muslim.

Anonymous said...

lloydmintern, you are some kind of pathetic loser. You say you never read this blog, yet here you are, as 100% proof that you not only read this blog but post here also, and you even managed to find your own name in the comments section of one of the posts. Your closeness to toast would indicate that I was close to the truth. As for me being Andrew, well the other readers will know perfectly well that I am not, and if you were miserable enough to want further evidence, then you could ask Elberry for verification, I have posted on his blog also, and I am assuming that the IP address of the posters is known to the blog owner.

And like I said earlier, you two sad twits (I will assume you are both the same person but I don't care if you are two seperate equally pathetic twist) should concentrate more on tending to the tumbleweeds blowing through your own blogs rather than making lame comments elsewhere

Andrew K said...

You see, Anon, that I was perfectly right in my understanding of LM's character. I've decided to start exercising a little of the powers of absolute ruler of this blog & delete where desired. Ican't say I bothered to read LM's post, as there is no need to await further evidence for knowing the worthlessness of his contributions. If he and Toast are the same or different persons is of no interest to me, & I will delete very quickly their inane posts probably without bothering to read what inanities they have happened to produce. It's a question of how little value they hold over time spent in their lives posting remarks that will simply vanish as soon as seen. Though whether that will be enough to dissuade remains to be seen.