‘The Anti-Social Family’

slowly, slowly attempting to push the stone of intellectual engagement back up the hill. in the meantime, here are two related quotes, in regards to certain conversations in the twitterverse on ‘abolishing the family’- one from a socialist-feminist text on the family, one from a highly underrated record of unconscious queer despair. i will here argue this counts as a continuation of pride month. 

“So there is constructed a curious house of cards in which the myth and the reality of the family alternatively provide support for ever more ramshackle and unsatisfactory excrescences, each of which in turn serves to shore up the myth and keep the reality more or less intact. The world around the family is not a pre-existing harsh climate against which the family offers protection and warmth. It is as if the family had drawn comfort and security into itself and left the outside world bereft. As a bastion against a bleak society it has made that society bleak. It is indeed a major agency for caring, but in monopolizing care it has made it harder to undertake other forms of care. It is indeed a unit of sharing, but in demanding sharing within it has made other relations tend to become more mercenary. It is indeed a place of intimacy, but in privileging the intimacy of close kin it has made the outside world cold and friendless, and made it harder to sustain relations of security and trust except with kin. Caring, sharing, and loving would be more widespread if the family did not claim them for its own.”

-michèle barrett and mary mcintosh, ‘the anti-social family’, conclusion to chapter 2

“He had forgotten his sandwiches, and went back to get them.

Gerald and Agnes were locked in each other’s arms.

He only looked for a moment, but the sight burnt into his brain. The man’s grip was the stronger. He had drawn the woman on to his knee, was pressing her, with all his strength, against him. Already her hands slipped off him, and she whispered, “Don’t you hurt-” Her face had no expression. It stared at the intruder and never saw him. Then her lover kissed it, and immediately it shown with mysterious beauty, like some star.

Rickie limped away without the sandwiches, crimson and afraid. He thought, ‘Do such things actually happen?’ and he seemed to be looking down coloured valleys. Brighter they glowed, till gods of pure flame were born in them, and then he was looking at pinnacles of virgin snow. While Mr. Pembroke talked, the riot of fair images increased.

They invaded his being and lit lamps in unsuspected shrines. Their orchestra commenced in that suburban house, where he had to stand aside for the maid to carry in the luncheon. Music flowed past him like a river. He stood at the springs of creation and heard the primeval monotony. Then an obscure instrument gave out a little phrase.

The river continued unheeding. The phrase was repeated and a listener might know it was a fragment of the Tune of tunes. Nobler instruments accepted it, the clarionet protected, the brass encouraged, and it rose to the surface to the whisper of violins. In full unison was Love born, flame of the flame, flushing the dark river beneath him and the virgin snows above. His wings were infinite, his youth eternal; the sun was a jewel on his finger as he passed it in benediction over the world. Creation, no longer monotonous, acclaimed him, in widening melody, in brighter radiances. Was Love a column of fire? Was he a torrent of song? Was he greater than either- the touch of a man on a woman?

It was the merest accident that Rickie had not been disgusted. But this he could not know.

-e. m. forster, ‘the longest journey’





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