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Culture & Religion

Lewis Lapham Says, Tiger, Consider Mark Antony

Finally, someone has taken the (necessary) contrarian view: Tiger’s nothing new. Furthermore, his public “shaming” and highly planned apologies are products, like tennis shoes–ones we might consider feeling shame ourselves for consuming. Why do we need them? What do they do for us? On the eve of the Masters, Lewis Lapham considers not only the long history of infidelity’s relative acceptability but also the cheap capitalistic trick our media makes now of the sex/shame cycle. It’s a process, one for which we are willing to pay.

Every line of Lapham is worth reading. Here’s the crux vis a vis Tiger:

But why not taste the fruits of victory? They ask to be appreciated; they’d made an effort, arranged the flowers and the mirrors, and it would be both ungenerous and unkind to refuse their hospitality. If not as “irresponsible and selfish,” how else to characterize the behavior of Julius Caesar and Henry VIII, of Presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy? Why else do men seek wealth and power if not to seize the love of women? For as long as historians have been keeping score, the spoils of war and stock-market killings include the objects of affection plumped on the cushions in the other hero’s tent, wearing feathered hats in Paris, perched on bar stools in Las Vegas. The wrath of Achilles in Homer’s Iliad springs from Agamemnon’s taking from him the trophy of a captive concubine; Genghis Khan was of the opinion that “the greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies” and “to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.” Bear in mind the seventy-two dark-eyed virgins awaiting martyred warriors in the Mohammedan paradise; examine the lives of victorious generals and famous poets, of leading statesmen and robust financiers (King Solomon, Mark Antony, Emperor Yang Ti, Pope Alexander VI, Suleiman the Magnificent, Louis XV, Lord Byron, J. Pierpont Morgan, Jackson Pollock), and nowhere is it written that they abstained from the enjoyment of the ladies of the morning, noon, or night.

The early MTV line is apt: too much is never enough. Namaste, Tiger. You are the sound of one hand clapping. Ratings will rise, and a new cycle starts.


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