Community, Racism, Royal Wedding

Reflection on the Definition of Modernity

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Oftentimes since I first started blogging here I spoke of the concept of “The Other”. A couple of times, I attempted to broach the subject of racism, and how, although we say it’s gone, it’s actually still quite present. I also wrote many times about how puzzling I find it that we tend to venerate celebrities. All these themes come together beautifully in this post by Heather McRobie. Again, while I don’t agree with all her points, and while I find the lack of the question of spirituality puzzling, it’s a great reflection on the state of the world today where two big headlines would be Obama’s birth certificate and Prince William’s wedding.

As Heather McRobie says:

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that we’re living in enlightened times.  Two of the major news headlines this week, echoing around the globe (…) seemed joined beneath the surface by a potent thread: blood.  In the twenty first century, heritage is still destiny. Who your parents were, who your ancestors were, whether you are part of the tribe, whether you belong in the empire: this is what matters about you.  Or at least, so the news last week seemed to say. (…)

Back to the royal wedding, and – as was endlessly noted and analysed – the parallels between the ritual on Friday and Diana and Charles’s wedding was evident, and the spectre of Diana hung over the event, from the paparazzi to the guest list to Prince William’s facial features. (…) The speculation about Diana’s affairs that dominated the tabloid press in the 1990s wasn’t just the usual prurience: it was also about blood, heritage, and the fact that – for all the rituals of Christianity and empire, and all the laws and regulations of legitimacy and primogeniture – you can’t ultimately, completely, control who a woman has sex with. You can’t completely secure the bloodline, or who inherits power.  While the wedding on Friday was in many ways a more modern marriage – Kate and William are educated to the same level and lived together before they married – the ritual of their marriage does not make sense without the idea of property and title. In this context, for all my own belief in love and two people freely choosing to spend their lives together, the comments that Kate was the “demure” and gentle “perfect princess” seemed sinister, laced with very pre-modern ideas of how women should be.

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