It is also incredible, the amount of fatigue that PMS is capable of inflicting on me. On Monday, I went to the law faculty to print (I have printing credit there, but not in the college library) and to do some work. I was so tired that I couldn't focus at all. I was also so bloated from PMS that it was painful. I had dinner with Ivan, Josh, Pablo and John; towards the end, the bloating was so bad that I couldn't help but grimace, such that both John and Ivan noticed. I guess PMS also explains why I was so inordinately hungry that day. Ugh, I hate these biological side effects of being a woman.
Anyway, here are the three things that I want to write about before I go back to devouring The Children's Book.
1. My Paper
How long has it been since I wrote the first draft of this paper? Four months? It would not only be a stretch, but also wildly inaccurate, to say that I have been working on it for four months, because I have not; but I might as well have been, given how sick I am of it. It I am sick of it in the sense that I want to finalise it and send it off and move on to my PhD, but I find myself getting sucked into pointless arguments and making pedantic points 'for the sake of completeness'. Tonight, after dinner, I went back to the library to try and finish section 3 where I question whether 377A satisfies the 'goodness' criterion of the common good (which is essentially a question of whether homosexuality is immoral). I tried to make a positive case for the moral permissiblity of homosexuality based on Michael Sandel's argument that we should advance such moral arguments (as opposed to bracketing the morality of it a la liberal neutrality and arguing that it is up to the individual to decide) based on the basic human goods that homosexual sexual relations share with heterosexual ones.
So I wrote this, and of course, there was no escaping bringing up John Finnis' frankly bizarre argument against the morality of all sexual intercouse except that between a married couple for the purpose of procreation, for he would deny Sandel's claim that these homo and hetero couples are partaking in any basic human goods at all. I wrote something about how sex, in its most ideal form, is a communication of love, commitment and trust between a couple in a committed relationship, and so it expresses the human goods of love, commitment and trust. But these are not goods that Finnis counts as part of his eight basic goods. They could maybe be accommodated under the Finnisian good of friendship, but friendship is not the same as romantic love. It could be romantic love, when a married couple shares in the good of friendship; but Finnis' explication of it - mutual concern between A and B that springs from genuine affection for the other as individuals as such - does not readily lend itself to the notion of romantic love. There is surely a conceptual difference between a married couple who are friends, who have affection for one another, and a married couple who are lovers, who share romantic love for one another.
So I wrote all that, all the while wondering at the back of my mind what the fucking point was. Then it came to the part where I had to say why Finnis' argument is unconvincing. My argument is essentially that we have no reason to accept the premises of his argument because they are too far removed from how real people live their lives. But the obvious counter to this is that whether a moral argument comports with empirical facts is neither here nor there; that a moral argument has to judged according to its internal coherence; and that, like Josh said, these real people could simply be mistaken, that they are all acting immorally without knowing it. (This latter point is indeed what Finnis says in his article about the immorality of homosexuality.)
I wanted to counter that. But I didn't know how. All I could think of was that the onus is on Finnis to convince us why we are wrong, and that I didn't find his premises (premisses) convincing. Great argument, innit? Fuck me, why do I keep getting sucked into Finnis and his neo-Catholic weirdness? He claims this argument to be a secular one and even roots it in Platonic thought, but the root of his mora conviction can hardly be kept separate from his Catholicism, I think. Why else is his argument so close to the Catholic one, to the extent that I know what it is? At the same time, he is a great philosopher. His argument's internal logic is airtight, which is why it is so hard to challenge it without saying that it's simply not how most people think of what is morally permissible sexual intercouse. I am the biggest fan of saying 'so what?' to such arguments, for I am a true believer in the position that the mere fact that many, even most, people think that x is moral or immoral, does not by itself make x moral or immoral.
Ugh, Finnis. Ugh, Finnis. So I was stuck doing that, and I shared the law section of the library with two Chinese students who kept whispering to each other, and I was stressed and annoyed, so I told them to be quiet (but in a polite way, of course). They were quiet after that, and then I felt bad, so I apologised and explained that I was stressed before I left, and thanked them for not talking.
I didn't really finish section 3. I added a new bit about why a religiously motivated belief that homosexuality is immoral cannot count as a true moral belief because the fact that we need to have recourse to religion to ascertain its truth shows that it is not objectively true. I don't even think that this makes sense. How can something be subjectively true? It is either true or it is not. So maybe I should say 'objectively correct'. I don't know. And then I thought maybe I need to show that my Sandelian argument for the moral permissibility of homosexuality is objectively correct, but 1) I ran out of steam; and 2) I struggle really hard with determining what this means, what 'true morality' means.
I think I am just going to ditch 'true morality' and stick with a less strict standard, i.e. some objectively correct moral standard. Or whatever. Fuck, this is so hard. I tried to avoid committing to one position in the original draft by saying that a controversial moral belief is unlikely to meet the criterion of goodness because blah (too lazy to recount my shitty explanation), but it's too much of a cop-out such that it is intellectually dishonest, and both John and Josh objected to it. So I should just bite the bullet and take a position. I should just say outright that homosexuality is not immoral instead of semi-bracketing it and letting my reduced claim that it is unclear whether it is immoral bear the moral burden of my arguments, for I'm not sure if it's good enough. And so I said outright that homosexuality is morally permissible.
All the while, though, I couldn't help but think how bloody silly this whole debate is. Saying that homosexuality is moral is like saying heterosexuality is moral, but what the hell is moral or immoral about this? It is just biology, isn't it? It's like saying it's moral to drink water, but immoral to drink iced water (putting aside extraneous considerations relating to the source of the water, how much energy is used to produce ice, etc, that may influence the moral permissibility of these actions without impacting on their intrinsic moral worthiness); or it's moral to eat a cucumber, but immoral to eat a carrot; or it's moral to pee standing up, but immoral to pee sitting down. It's so stupid. Maybe I am being too reductive here, but why does it matter whether someone wishes to fuck (or be fucked by) a person of the same or opposite gender? Who cares? The frivolity of this whole issue fully dawned on me when I was thinking about whether I can say that homosexuality is moral based on Sandel's argument - not because it's debatable, but because that would entail me saying that heterosexuality is moral. This, to me, is bloody absurd, because it is just what it is. It is neither moral nor immoral. And if heterosexuality is a sexual attraction, why should homosexuality, which is also a sexual attraction, be moral or immoral?
I blame this hang-up on this issue on religion, especially Judaeo-Christian religions. Isn't it curious that, according to Wikipedia, pre-colonial Singapore didn't give a shit about whether gay people are immoral people? Isn't it curious, too, that China barely has a history of criminalising homosexuality, and when it did criminalise it many centuries ago, it wasn't because the emperor of the time thought it was immoral, but because of some reason relating to the social status of gay people in China? Isn't it curious, too, that those who claim that homosexuality is immoral tend to be religious people of the Judaeo-Christian sort - Christians, Catholics, Muslims? Other non-religious people tend to say that homosexuality is disgusting or unnatural - which are less intractable than the claim that it is immoral.
Anyway, what was supposed to be a short complaint about my paper has turned into...that. I will move on.
The funniest thing happened on my daily coffee run. It wasn't funny at all as an isolated incident, but it was fucking hilarious when put in a specific context.
Basically, while I was talking to Matt about why I was feeling shitty that afternoon, he suddenly spilled water all over the floor. I don't even know what happened; one second I was talking and asking him how he was, and the next he said, 'Whoa!' and there was apparently water everywhere. 'Everything was in tip-top condition until now,' he said.
This was the funniest thing, not because he spilled water on the floor - or rather, precisely because he spilled water everywhere. I burst out laughing because I immediately contextualised it - and the context here is Barry's on-going joke about Matt 'spilling coffee everywhere' (his exact words) when he talks to me, the implication being that he's so nervous/excited when talking to me that, well, that he spills coffee everywhere.
Barry is utterly ridiculous. He even sent me a voice message, completely at random, one night, saying how he was thinking about Matt spilling coffee everywhere (I'm laughing so hard to myself right now as I am writing this). He'd never done that, of course, so Barry's on-going joke is just a silly joke.
That is, until Matt spilled water everywhere today. After laughing at him, I had to stop laughing because it would have been obvious that I was laughing at something else if I had gone on laughing, but it was so hard to contain myself. When I left, I was pretty much laughing all the way back to the library, where I promptly told Barry about what happened.
Apart from that, I wore my glasses today, as I have been for the past few days, thanks to this annoying thing in my right eye that makes wearing contacts uncomfortable. After spilling water everywhere, he asked me when I started wearing glasses. 'Forever,' I replied. 'I can't wear contacts because of this thing in my eye.'
Then, I asked cheekily, 'Do you like it?'
His 'yeah' was super insincere, but he redeemed himself when he said, 'There's nothing wrong with wearing glasses. It's quite cute.'
I genuinely didn't catch the last bit of what he said, so I asked him to repeat. As he repeated 'it's quite cute', he looked down, as if shyly.
Aww! I was terrible at receiving the compliment though (if it was one); I was like, quite cute? That's not what I would want to go for but thanks, or something lame along those lines. But isn't he cute? He's such a sweetheart.
3. English Lit Academic
Lastly, ELA - he suggested meeting on Tuesday. He texted me about 4pm, but I didn't see it until about 6, at which time I was too busy making dinner and eating to reply, and after dinner I went back to the library without my phone, and so I didn't see his follow-up message until about 10.30pm.
He said, 'I really like you. X'
To say that I was surprised would be a bit of an understatement. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I responded with a joke: 'Wait till you see me in glasses. That might be a game-changer!' (Or is it 'may'? Oh my god, texting someone who reads and writes English literature for a living is so hard! I am more conscious about my grammar than I would be normally!) Then I said Tuesday works; what time?
He said, 'Would you like to come to mine? I'll cook dinner.'
It seems a bit soon, but well, why not? I am also super curious about his 1000 books. I mentioned that I am vegetarian, and he replied, 'Great. Me too. I am very excited by you.'
In all honesty, I read the last line and laughed out loud. On the one hand, I like directness like this; I like it when a man tells me what his intentions are. On the other hand, however, this seems to have come out of nowhere. He cancels on me last weekend, citing illness which seemed related to his decision to go back to Wales, doesn't mention that we should reschedule; then resurfaces a few days later, suggesting that we met up, and then suddenly, on the basis of a grand total of 3 hours spent with me, tells me that he really likes me? Surely I am not just cynical for being rather sceptical about this.
Something seems to have happened during the time he was away. I'm just wondering if he has some issues; but if it's genuine, then I need more time because I don't know him that well. Of course, the fact that he's vegetarian is amazing and checks another box on my essential checklist of six items (what are they again? Reads English literature; vegetarian; makes me laugh; is atheist; not fat; and...I can't remember the last one), so I'm definitely not averse at all. But I feel like I've finally got to a point where my dating has no power to affect me emotionally, and I am loathe to give it up and make myself vulnerable to someone, because it turned out so bloody well the last time it happened, did it not?
So let's see what happens. If he cancels on me again, then all of this is moot. But despite my scepticism, I am rather looking forward to it. He's interesting. He even has tattoos. He may be someone who's up for a David Lynch film, but alas, I have already bought my ticket.
I know I said three things, but anyway:
- I've heard nothing from K since the failed dinner date. So much for 'I'm quite keen' and blah.
- Bouncer Dude texted me back asking me where I live. I replied more than 12 hours later. Have not heard back. Hahaha.