Mary Daly: Can I Love the Luddite and Deplore the Transphobe? by Dirk von der Horst

David’s Loves, Jonathan’s Laments by Dirk von der Horst

Mary Daly was one of the most prescient voices of her time with regard to environmental disaster.

Daly was also an explicitly transphobic thinker.

These two facts are deeply related.

What links these two directions in her thought is a radically anti-interventionist ethic.  Daly repeatedly shows how the patriarchal impulse to control everything in the world not only destroys womens’ lives but is destroying the living, natural world.  She describes boundary violation as one of the key elements of control, and her concern for the ability of nature to be on its own terms extends to such unconscious phenomena as comets.  In Quintessence: Realizing the Archaic Future, she laments scientists “harpooning a comet, just to see what’s inside,” revealing the extent of her respect for the integrity of natural processes. (3)

In contrast to the technological use of science to bend nature to human purposes, Daly advocates participation in Be-ing.  Be-ing is a natural process of unconstrained movement, in which various Selves and Elemental forces unfold.  In an unalienated state of participation in Be-ing, connection is genuine and unforced, and the relations that emerge in this process further spur the development and creativity of a natural unfolding process.  Among the many words Daly reclaims and plays with, her use of “Wild” describes women’s participation in Be-ing, and it especially brings out a sense of uncontrolled creativity.

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