• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Logic And Sex Changes

December 2020

Though I’m struck, nearly to the point of a paralysis induced by shame, in having to admit it, logic is the one field of study with which I’m embarrassingly uncomfortable and only distantly acquainted. It’s that one among many subjects—the enduring fascination of Medieval academics and pedantic Christian scholars—on which I’ve but the feeblest grasp, and I fear, without the forthcoming aid of some divine instruction or, less preferably, the jarring blow of a Damascene fit, it’ll remain one in which I’m destined to be unschooled.

Incriminate not, however, the many valiant professors by whom I was once instructed, or those countless teachers from whom, in so many other ways, I took such practical wisdom and useful guidance. The party responsible for the gaps in my understanding, for the depth of my deficiency as it pertains to this particular field, is not theirs, but my own. It was not the weakness of their lessons or the incomprehensibility of their chalkboard scribblings that led me to this regrettable state, but the impotence of my own brain. This lump of anatomy, with great frustration I’ve learned, is nothing better than an obstinate mass of white and grey, a bundle of stubborn neurons through which their every effort failed to penetrate, around which a billowing cloud of dust still swirls.

I’ve come to the honest conclusion, so may years removed from the fruitless efforts of their craft, that I’m more poetical than logical, more aesthete than Schoolman, more beauty than science. In this regard, and perhaps in many others, I’m a follower, if I might be so bold as to reveal the nature of my allegiance, of Plato rather than Aristotle. Of course, I voice this proud affinity with the fragile, and perhaps misplaced assumption that either man would warmly embrace me into the ranks of his respective school. Into the olive-strewn grove of the Academy, or the musty den of the Lyceum, I might as easily by stopped at the door and brusquely removed. Should so devastating an event befall me, I might become, at least in the modern sense, a road-weary, unaccompanied peripatetic—not the type who bears with honor a capitalized “P” in acknowledgement of the pacing Aristotle as his leader, but an unwelcomed wanderer to whom every house of genius is closed.

And though Plato, student of Socrates, sought to ban from his imagined republic every poet of whom an infallible and sage-like group of censors disapproved, he couldn’t himself avoid being that for which he professed to have no tolerance. In his bones, as in his youth, Plato was a poet, forever crafting dialogues with Homer as his muse. And though he might openly profess a desire for his utopia to be cleansed of this particular class of artists, a class, mind you, into whose elegant and lofty membership, he—in the creative vigor and blossoming spring of his adolescence—tried so strenuously to gain admittance, he’s hardly to be believed. Plato, the poet, is only thinly-veiled by Plato the puritan. The latter was a mask, the former, his true self.

For me, Aristotle’s logic is a vast and lonesome desert, a land inhospitable to creativity, intrigue, art, and mirth. If, alongside the Stagirite, it’s a landscape that need be traversed, I’d nominate for the task someone unsusceptible to fun. It is, maybe purposefully, dreadfully academic and fatally dry. As Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. said of his famous son’s pursuit of the law as his chosen field, logic, for my taste, is like eating cardboard for breakfast without the redeeming accompaniment of milk. On so dense and bland a substance, one can literally chew all day, though never, sadly, with the distant guarantee of satiation. Despite the heavy totalitarianism of Plato’s frightful Republic, one’s at least assured that the circulation of certain poetic samizdat would not only be available in his streets, but quietly encouraged in home and forum alike. While undemocratic, the town wouldn’t be so insufferably dry as to fully replace Ovid with the Organon, or Aeschylus with Aquinas, as Aristotle’s logicians might press him to do.

Syllogisms, fallacies, corollaries, scholia–all these things, and quite a few more, escape the humble capacity of my mind. As I said, I’m highly unaccomplished when it comes to grasping logic and understanding all it tries to convey. It’s for this reason, then, that I haven’t a clue as to what to make of the actress Ellen Page’s recent announcement that she is, henceforth, to be considered a man. Her metamorphosis, we’re told, is complete. In a flash, she’s shed one sex for another, as a snake would his skin, opting instead to continue her marvelous flight not as a female, but as a newly-established man.

It’s my enduring hope that, in the days ahead, or the first months of an enlightened political administration to come, someone better schooled in the subtleties of logic, or a distinguished reader of the tracts of Aristotle, will come to my aid and relieve me of this terrible ignorance by which I’m presently burdened. I read this account of Page and think it illogical, but I know I must be wrong.

Last week, the Oscar-nominated actress, to whose earlier work in such films as Juno and Inception, every theater-goer’s plaudit is due, announced to a curious world the amendment to her biological sex. Having lived her young adult life with what appears to have been, at least so far as her announcement might lead one to believe, incomplete sincerity and profound unease, she declared her transition from female to male. With the mere utterance of this claim, despite the quiet protestation of her many startled genes, she exchanged her membership to the gentler sex, for that which is barbarous and bearded.

No longer would she be known as “Ellen” Page, that celebrated name upon which so many cinematic accolades once were poured. Now, she’s to be called “Elliot” Page, and the failure to observe this change is to be considered a damnable sin upon which all enlightened members of society will frown. If one’s so incautious as to lapse and err in calling her by a name now deemed dead, she’s to risk excommunication from the church of the woke. Her talk of science, among these congregants, is to be shouted down and labeled “heresy”. She’s to become persona non grata in this oddly-religious worldview in which, frankly, so very many things have lately become non grata.

Innocent of logic, in my attempt to understand this situation, I admit to being in need of help. Ellen Page, if all the empirical evidence with which I’ve come into contact hasn’t wholly betrayed me, was, for almost all of her life, a homosexual white woman. She currently has a wife, a professional dancer and choreographer, to whom she’s faithfully wed, and a career that’s likely profited by their shared progressive credentials. She’s now declared herself a man and said wife, admirably, has nodded in agreement and stood by her side. It seems, though, that some of Page’s attributes have undergone an unlikely transmutation beyond which the ever-logical woke crowd continue to look.

The attribute of being white, much to her misfortune and intersectional-Hollywood’s scorn, persists. This, unfortunately, has proven itself an attribute of which even the most unscrupulous racial-chameleons (i.e., Rachel Dolezal) can’t so easily disrobe oneself. Despite the culture’s rather offensive disdain for a color by which, if I’m made to confess, my own skin is so copiously suffused, white she shall remain.

But what are we to make of her characterization as a homosexual woman? Assuming there’s no forthcoming breach in her marital relations, by which, should so undesirable an outcome come to pass, I’d be terribly saddened, we’re led to the conclusion that Page is now, what, a heterosexual white man? Does this mean, contrary to what we’ve been repeatedly told, one’s sexual orientation is not at all fixed, but perfectly mutable with the changing of the wind? Is it now prone, under the influence of the vagaries of life, to so drastic and permanent a change as this? Might we then be inclined to say that one’s sexual orientation has the markings less of an ineffaceable biologic truth, by which the very marrow of one’s bones is marked, but of a fleeting preference?

Were we not recently scolded for our use of the word preference, as it pertained to the individual to whom one’s love is directed?

It seems to me that either sexual orientation is biologically predetermined, or gender is. There isn’t yet a world, so far as one can be imagined, in which both can make that claim. One can’t simultaneously state that Page, consistent with her recently professed identity, was since the time of her birth, always a male, however masterfully concealed, and that she was able to change her sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. We’re told you’re either one or the other, and, despite the pious efforts of the conversion therapist, this simply cannot change. Likewise, it can’t be maintained that she was always truly a homosexual, if there was no time that she wasn’t a male. Boring though it may be, a predetermined male in love with and married to a female is just about as traditional a relationship as there can be.

Obviously, I’m ill-equipped to confront the intricacies of so delicate and entangled a web of logic. Aristotle, on this point, is unavailing, and I’ve already passed too much time with Plato. If I might recruit one further teacher to my cause, one to whom my meandering thoughts aren’t utterly repugnant, I might yet acquire the trophy of logic. Until then, I’ll trudge along this desert of gender incomprehensibility.

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