A Stairway, A Sketch
This decision supposedly places me directly in opposition to the wishes about/from the body, and it is now literally (at times) as I had always imagined (projected?) my main conflicts to be: staring at my body across the table, or in a mirror, eyeing its desires, its potentials, what it claims to be its destiny and its main purpose in its life. What of my life? What of the life of the will, the personality, the mind, the parts of the body that are free from these desires? Are we (they) to have no part in the decision? Are we to just bow before the "lesser" (baser) will of the body because we are told (by the body, by the world, by the way the body interacts with the world and its own desires...most of all by the way the world seems to reflect its desires, the way that the world fits into its desires like interlocking puzzle pieces) that this is the way it must be? With the despair of not reproducing, of feeling like I am missing something in my life that not only should be but which is almost a divine (or natural) mandate, comes into conflict the opposite despair (fear) that to reproduce is to miss what I consider my destiny (yes, illusion), something that I will not achieve if I have to care for children or, what's worse, I have the responsibility for other lives, a responsibility I could not take lightly and which would change my life forever: changing my character, my goals in life, my pleasures and pains. Is the fear of fatherhood a fear of change?
What change could possibly be more painful than your present state?
There is the fear of finding satisfaction in the mundane. In the prosaic, the common, the biology of the everyday. There is the fear of losing my connection to the extramundane then, the outside, the other, the view I have from outside the entire "normal" run of humanity. With this is there also a fear that I will "descend" (irony) into this prosaic sphere and lose an aristocratic status? At the root of all these fears is my relation to my own body and that body's relation to the world, the desires that the world inspires in it, and the ways in which that world seeks to control my body.
Your pride was your only friend.
Would I commit to reproduction if I didn't have to care for a child or the mother? Yes. I know I would. So it is the responsibility that I do not want. Would I "naturally" feel responsible for a child I had fathered even if society (immediately: those around me, the mother, my friends, and then my conscience) did not claim anything from me based just on parentage - on pure reproduction? I don't know. Would I feel a natural affinity for a child just because I had fathered it? Again, I don't know. I try to imagine this circumstance but I am simply do not have the necessary experiences to draw on. The fear of responsibility - what is it? It is a fear of losing my freedom, or at least the life that I have now, whether it is truly free or not. The inability to define my current freedom and my ironic detachment causes me to cast suspicion on that freedom, only in order at times to not seem completely naive or gullible. Yet beneath the ironic poise the beliefs and desires for that indefinable freedom still exist. This much is clear: I do not want a child to depend on me, because that limits my options in life. It limits my decisions in any given situation, my actions, and my decision-making capacities. So is this relatively unlimited (or more open, in any case) decision-making ability that I enjoy now the definition of freedom?
You are afraid of freedom. True freedom exists in releasing yourself from all ambitions and embracing the status quo.
I wonder now whether my attitudes towards reproduction, parentage, fatherhood, and the responsibilities I would have are completely conditioned by society. Am I reacting against "natural" feelings that I would have regarding the children or child, or am I reacting against what I have been taught to believe are my responsibilities and duties? And so...is my antipathy towards these responsibilities just a reaction against compulsion from without?
Is my aversion for fatherhood then mainly a reaction against compulsion? A reaction against the "authority" of the responsibilities I am assuming would come into play? Are these responsibilities not just other kinds of laws for conditioning my behavior in socially-accepted (benefiting society as a whole as well) ways? Am I reacting against what I am projecting to be their assumed power because the compulsion I often feel from society as an individual is less than what I know I will feel when that society's authority is represented as my own child? Can I refuse society where I can not refuse my own blood? In anticipating this weakness, do I then...seek to avoid the entire crisis by never giving birth to my own blood, and the future authority? Are there parts of myself I know I can not refuse? Am I afraid of my own inability to handle certain responsibilities in a profitable, positive manner?
You are completely incapable of handling responsibility anyway. Good riddance.
On the Outside
I know this: when one makes the decision not to reproduce it immediately removes you from the common run/race of humanity. It frees up a tremendous amount of energy and desire that had been allocated to pursuing this aim and all of its attendant material and emotional needs. One immediately needs less of everything. It frees you from the idea of timeliness as well, of racing a biological clock. Your time is your own, for the rest of your life. It frees you from the necessity of building up resources in order to provide for future dependents. It allows for greater flexibility in a choice of careers: no longer must you chase the traditional spur of highest wages despite the price you pay in "reducing" (ignoring, destroying) other parts of your life. The reduction in stress is tremendous. The greatest benefit, however, is the decision to stop seeking out members of the opposite sex. No more psychological games, no more lies, no more futile wishes, no more emotional turmoil, no more frustrated desires, no more confusion, no more disillusionment. No more loneliness in the midst of what is supposed to be a blessed state of intimacy. No more compromises.
You were doomed from the beginning. And no one would want you anyway.
Completion and Regret
Why have children? Do I have to rationalize my basic biological urge to reproduce (there is the void of the desire, we go back to it and we can not go any further) and create emotional needs that point to children in my life? Other people say that I am not "complete" if I do not father children, that I am "missing out on an essential part of life" if I do not reproduce, as if life was an amusement park and I would be leaving it without visiting a certain ride. As far as being a "complete" person, I think (hope) I was born that way, I do not feel like a child will add something to my character which I can not gain in some other way - and if it could, the other experiences I will have while not being burdened by fatherhood will, I assume, make up for it and might even create a surplus on my side. Isn't this a terribly solipsistic, selfish way to regard parenthood? "What can parenthood do for me?" For the questionable satisfaction of feeling "complete" (an emotion which most people can not even describe - maybe because it does not exist?) I am supposed to trade eighteen years of my life, egregious amounts of money (which equals time, effort, energy, pain), peace and quiet, and relative independence? All to what end? To avoid regret? What about the regret that no one speaks of: that of having children? If one is bound to end in regret either way, which regret would one rather have? The regret of missed opportunities or the regret of missing potential children?
Either way it ends in death and you will not know the results of your strivings. How foolish are the ones who work their entire lives for something they can not enjoy? Is this not another kind of compulsion?
"Yes," say the ones who want to argue, "but if you are acting morally and in a socially beneficial fashion, should you not act in such a way that you wish everyone else would act in the same way? So that your decision would be a universal law? And if you did this, what would happen to the human race? What if everyone felt the same way and decided to stop having children? What would this mean to society?"
I have many complaints about this kind of logic and these assumptions, but let me avoid those by answering along the lines that this logic seeks to deny me: it is not my intention to act morally. My decision is aligned against morality, against the will of the society that I find myself within, and the future maintenance of my neighbors. My decision is to seek to withdraw all support in totality from this society, this world, and the future. I will not live now to support a future I will never see. I will not create new flesh that this society will use to maintain its structure, its laws, its lies. I will not give it future (potential) bodies and minds to devour. It has already corrupted, poisoned, and destroyed me. I will not replace myself with my own flesh in the future. I have already denied its powers in my own mind, I will now completely deny it power over my body, and what my body can produce. I want to be free, you see...not only from the past, present, and future, but from the definition of freedom. I want to escape all the well-traveled paths of escape and denial that this society has created for those who will not follow its laws. By refusing to have children I am freeing my future and the ones who could be from the laws of existence, I am letting them stay in potentiality. Never having existed, they will never know the disappointments of desire, they will always be free to dream. To me this is a much more satisfying creation than the nauseating reproduction of human life. I create nothing. I cause nothingness to come into being, to bloom, to exist always on the periphery of incarnation, to be immortal, to never know disillusionment and death. What greater gift could I give my children?
They will say: these are all rationalizations to protect myself from the rejection of the world...U. Amtey
28 February 2004