“The motive for the crime remained unknown, investigators said. Local media in Kansas City reported that Montgomery had suffered an earlier miscarriage.” This blog does not (and should not, of course) descend to tabloid journalism, but even in that fatuous world doesn’t this remark have a certain unreality.
We want babies. That desire remains one of our great passions. Biology doesn’t excuse (our laws are generally and correctly meant to corral our biological instincts not to honor them), but it does explain. And when we remember Henry Adams’ powerful argument:
Neither of them [St. Gaudens & Arnold] felt goddesses as power–only as reflected emotion, human expression, beauty, purity, taste, scarcely even as sympathy. They felt a railway train as power; yet they, and all other artists, constantly complained that the power embodied in a railway train could never be embodied in art. All the steam in the world could not, like the Virgin, build Chartres.
Adams’ assumed the Virgin Mary “was goddess because of her force; she was the animated dynamo; she was reproduction–the great and most mysterious of all energies; all she needed was to be fecund.” We need not go into the quirky and even irritatingly cynical nature of Adams’ beliefs nor the tragedy of his own life that led him to such an abstract approach to the biological to see in his statements an extreme – but an extreme with truth. This AP story shows the further triumph by the end of the twentieth century in America’s battle with biology. Or, as Adams again noted,
“American art, like the American language and American education, was as far as possible sexless. Society regarded this victory over sex as its greatest triumph, and the historian readily admitted it, since the moral issue, for the moment did not concern who was studying the relations of unmoral force.”
While the threat of that power and its complications probably lead to the last lines, might we also think of what an astounding statement that might have been a hundred years ago, two hundred? (Human nature has probably not become more violent — a hundred a year doesn’t seem that extreme in a population our size – but, rather, that childbirth has become dramatically safer.)
“Using state data and other sources, the newspaper documents the killings of 1,367 pregnant women and new mothers since 1990. It said there were undoubtedly more deaths, and that 13 states said they had no way of knowing how many such deaths occurred.
The Post said several statewide studies have found pregnant women more likely to die of homicide than of any natural cause, and that the deaths cut across racial and ethnic groups.