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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

entry arrow1:24 AM | A Heritage of Incest

From the New York Times book review of Robert M. Polhemus's Lot's Daughters: Sex, Redemption, and Women's Quest for Authority:

Remember Lot? It's his wife we've been told to keep in mind, that pillar of salt Christ made the indelible image of failing to renounce past corruption altogether. Lot we prefer to forget. As told in Genesis 19, Lot fled the annihilation of Sodom, lost his mate because she couldn't resist a backward glance and ended up in a cave with his two daughters, who conspired to get him drunk and then seduced him.

"The Lot story is shocking," Polhemus says, "does describe offensive behavior, does probe shameful erotic secrets," which might not be so troubling were it not included in the Judeo-Christian canon. But it is; what's more, biblical genealogy traces Lot's seed through David all the way to Jesus. Ultimately, the hope of mankind, of "a new heaven and a new earth," arrives through an act of incest. The intercourse described is not iconoclastic so much as it is desperate, the price of having a future. Lot's daughters believed themselves and their father the sole survivors of universal destruction; humankind, they thought, depended on their breaking taboo by having sex with their father.

The story becomes a complex -- the Lot complex -- because its "primal interest imposes itself upon history, religion, art and individual psychology, and people in turn impose their history, experience, personal mind-sets and imaginative skills on the biblical text." Polhemus doesn't invent the Lot complex any more than Freud invented the Oedipus complex. What he does -- thoroughly and brilliantly -- is identify what has existed for millenniums of recorded history, introducing diverse examples of the archetypal transaction between a young, sometimes very young, woman and the man who, if he isn't actually her father, is old enough to substitute.

Read the rest here.

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