Rejecting Apology II

Well, we just received two comments (click here and here)  on this blog of a kind I’m sure is nauseatingly and yawningly familiar to everyone who runs a Lewis Carroll website. We all get them by the ton, and mostly we just trash them. But these two so perfectly exemplify everything Contrariwise has been saying about this subject recently that, queasy (and horrendously spelled) as they are, we’re not trashing them this time. We’re letting them stand. As a kind of monument. Or  waymarker.

Because Mr Porlaverdad3 (don’t you just have to hope he isn’t really anyone’s dad?!) didn’t arrive at his ideas in an intellectual vacuum. He got there in the same way millions of others have, by reading what’s been written, and by assuming stuff from the silences where rebuttal should have been. His drooling and dishonest image of Lewis Carroll as the proud emblem of a whole fraternity of ‘child-lovers’ channeling their desire to have sex with kids into a beautiful expression of ‘love’ and enchantment is not really very far removed from the picture the Apologists have painted, and, sadly, continue, in some circles, to paint.

That’s really why Carroll’s sexuality matters so much. Because it’s been adopted as a symbol for a group of very dangerous and deluded people. And when we dodge the issues about him, when Derek Hudson squeamishly begged for understanding of the guy’s weaknesses, because he was a genius, and when other authors whine that  ‘yes he was weird about little girls, but he can’t have done any harm because the kids all loved him too much’ (as if predatory pedophiles are never adored by their victims), we’re handing over the man’s reputation to these people.

We contend there is simply no evidence to show Lewis Carroll was pedophilic in desire or action, and that his relationship with children  has been distorted and simplified by legend to appear a lot ‘weirder’ than it actually was.  But if you think that’s not true. If you think Carroll ‘loved’ children even slightly inappropriately, then you can’t dodge what that means. You have to go with the corollary, that when he sought their unchaperoned company, photographed their naked bodies, he was behaving like a predatory and dangerous sexual pervert. Avoiding that obvious and stark choice, being coy and fluffy about it, using special pleading to argue he was somehow above such questions, sanctified by magic and joy, is something we can’t afford to do, because it plays straight into the hands of the too numerous people like Porlaverdad3, who want to believe they can be ‘innocent’ pedos, just like Mr Carroll, frolicking happily in a rainbow Eden with the children they ‘love’.

We think Lewis Carroll would probably have deplored being associated with such individuals, and deplored possibly even more, the false logic and queasy special pleading that puts him in such company.

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~ by Contrariwise on May 23, 2010.

11 Responses to “Rejecting Apology II”

  1. If I thought there was any shred of hard evidence that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile, whether latent or active, the I would take a box of matches and burn every last book by or about the man.
    Alledging that Carroll was a pedophile is NOT the same as alledging that he was gay or a drug user, it is saying that he was a serial abuser of children and their families. Such a person should not be held up as a champion or regarded as great. He should be left to rot with all the other rock spiders and and slimy things that inhabit cesspools.
    There is only one creature lower than a pedophile, and that is someone who approves and applauds what they do. I could not believe
    that post when I read it. People like that make me sick.

  2. Please excuse the venting…but that post made me feel so angry.

    • No aplogy needed. It should get anyone angry. And yes, I agree with you, the ones who glorify or excuse ‘child-love’ are almost worse than the ones doing it themselves. Often they’re both at the same time of course.

  3. Agreed. The posts in reference point to how very desperately scholarship–not speculation–is needed in this regard. The thought that I can’t seem to outrun is that most respondents are not adequately contextualizing Carroll. The Western mind seems to have a propensity for seeing all of history as if it were happening in its own particular period. This is the ultimate delusion: a rather unpleasant trick of the human ego. The Victorian period in England–Carroll’s contextual framework–was alive to currents to which our psycho-historical period no longer have access nor understanding. As I have pointed out in _Behind the Looking Glass_ (Cambridge Scholars, 2008), the 19th century British (specifically, Oxford) Platonic Revival, and its reintroduction of ancient mystery school teachings (including variations upon the Cult of the Child), give adequate explanation for Carroll’s interest in children (particularly girls). Benjamin Jowett did Plato no favors. His translation, which has become the singular contemporary reading of _The Dialogues_, de-mystified Plato–turning him (and the ensuing Western mind) into Flatland. 19th century Oxford came alive with Thomas Taylor’s translation of Plato–a very different voice. In Taylor, we find Plato contextualized: set into a mystical chain of ideas initiated with Orpheus. Not mental-rational–but more mystical. Less literal, more symbolic. This is the Plato who enlivened Carroll and his contemporaries. It was at the very heart of Carroll’s spirituality. His purported Anglicanism got traded, like it or not, for mysticism about mid-life. He kept the outer garments, but the inner landscape was radically transformed. He looked out at the world differently than those who chose, instead, the limitations of empiricism.

    Most Carrollian commentators try to analyze Carroll through an empirical lens. This analysis, while necessary, isn’t sufficient. We have to understand the intellectual undercurrents of his environment, setting and period. Take a thoughtful look at his library, his diary, his correspondence, his activities and his artwork. It’s right there: in our faces. And, most continue to either miss–or deny–it because of the Western mind’s love affair with its own ideas.

    • Hi Sherry,
      perhaps this is just not the place for such a discussion. I think that in any discussion we do not only present our views, we also present ourselves. Thus discussions are not only about what we assume to be facts, but the duscussion also is more or less strongly influenced by our assumptions regarding the perceptions and assumptions of the audience we are facing. In a public discussion in this environment (an open Internet forum) we even are not “facing” an audience: There is no immediate feedback (e.g. by body language) from the partners we are “talking” to, and moreover, there are many listening partners, whom we don’t know at all. Therefore a discussion in such an environment is likely to yield results, which are different from the outcome of a discussion between (as an example) scientists, who know each other and who face each other in direct round-table talks.

  4. “Alledging that Carroll was a pedophile is NOT the same as alledging that he was gay or a drug user, it is saying that he was a serial abuser of children and their families.”

    I think that that is your mistkae. Saying that he was a pedophile is NOT the same as saying that he was an abuser. You are confusing child molester with pedophile… If he was a pedophile and didn’t rape anybody, then what is wrong? That is my point. ->IF<- he didnt molest anybody, then what is wrong? He falled in love with a little girl. So what. He kept his thought to himself. He should be respected for that, not shunned.

    Cohen in his book made a great point about that. Read it. Then respect him for what he was.

  5. Karoline Leach is responsible for making an issue out of this, just to try and sell a few books. Carroll was a paedophile. He didn’t abuse children, he was a gift to them.

  6. All this fuss, if he liked children and didnt hurt them what is the harm. I dont see it as an issue.All men like young girls but they dont all act on it, that’s the difference.

  7. Is pedophilia wrong if no physical abuse occurs?Is antisematism wrong even if one did not run a concentration camp? Is racism wrong even if you don’t go around in a white hood with KKK on it? One’s actions and words are a reflection of thoughts and attitudes, if your concience kicks in and tells you that to act on a thought would be wrong that is a pretty good indicator that the thought was wrong in the first place. But that would assume such people have a conscience.

  8. Because it’s been adopted as a symbol for a group of very dangerous and deluded people.

    That’s completely false.

    http://www.b4uact.org/facts.htm

    “Studies of personality characteristics on average find low levels of aggression among pedophiles. Other than the attraction to minors itself, studies fail to find any abnormal or pathological characteristics. In particular, people attracted to minors have not been found to exhibit narcissism, psychosexual immaturity, low intelligence, aversion to adults, psychopathology, neurosis, or any personality disorder any more than people attracted to adults. The presence of these characteristics have been assumed, rather than being tested scientifically (Bradford et al., 1988; Langevin, 1983; Okami & Goldberg, 1992; Wilson & Cox, 1983).”

    Pedophiles are not any more dangerous than anyone else. Pedophiles don’t have some kind of mental problem or are delusional. That’s only bias. There is simply no scientifical evidence to support your claim. But I think that making a broad and insulting generalization is easier than to actually try to invetigate and think for yourself.

    And as I already said, if he’s an example, then god damn he is a good one!

    And I think that Dodgson would have idiots who make generalizations and talk about things they don’t know.

    You are the only one who delusional thinking that all pedophiles are rapists or child molesters. You are just too far away from the truth, maybe you have watched too much L&O:SVU or too much television in general, I don’t know, but you are the one who is completely blind preaching a stereotype as the ultimate truth. Bcecause that’s what it is: an stereotype

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype

    http://www.b4uact.org/facts.htm

    But I won’t waste time with a person who is obviously too stupid to realize that saying that all pedophiles are bad is complete bullshit.

  9. You have just cemented yourself as a total bastard. You are as bad as those who deny, or worse, defend the Jewish Holocaust. That you even think yourself in the same sentence as Charles Dodgson is abhorrant. That you can repeatedly defend and even champion what you do makes me sick. It is inhuman.

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