A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History: Division Two
An Archaeology of the American Feminist Intraworldly Messianism

CHAPTER 11: A Genealogy of Feminism

11.4. The Gnosticism of Mary Daly
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I have planned to write this chapter but have never got to it. Below are the preliminary comments to begin the chapter -- Lawrence Chin, 2004.

Mary Daly, the feminist theologian, is the paradigmatic expression of the gnostic structure of cultural feminism. All of the previously noted characteristics of this gnostic structure are expressed by her in the most succinct and best formulated way: (1) world-history in terms of an original Fall due to the eruption of Evil for no reason other than Evil's being such as it is (the murder of the Goddess: the subjugation of woman, the divine, by man, the evil, who does so motivated by the denial of the divine feminine, for no reason other than his need to do so); a process of suffering in illusion (the "gynocidal" sado-rituals); and a final redemption (woman becoming Goddess again through overcoming the illusion of the gynocidal Gynecologists); (2) female (divine) gnosis being adopted from the thought pattern ("culture") of pre-industrialized cultures or in general formed in reaction against the analytical rationalism of the Enlightenment era on which formative capitalism is founded; (3) the state of redemption being merely an earthly paradise, a community of living, metabolizing, still mortal beings whose only specialness is their mutually nurturing respect founded on nurturing self-respect (not the non-metabolizing eternal salvation as in the traditional salvational traditions): it saves from "bad living" and restores to "happy living".1 It would thus not only be fitting to summarize her ideas to conclude the exposition of the gnostic structure of cultural feminism -- the logical conclusion of feminism -- but such summary would also provide the clearest illustration of the thesis of the "feminist ethic and the spirit of consumerism", that feminism is really just a secular religion (specifically, substitute Christianity) centered around (having as its object of worship) production and consumption (i.e. organismic and supraorganismic metabolism) and which thus fits into, promotes, is promoted by, and on some meta-ethical level produced by, consumerism.

Hesitation might cut in in the consideration of Mary Daly. Despite her immense reputation -- which is well earned, considering the high quality of her writing -- it is doubtful that her theoretical and esoterical writings, e.g. Gyn/Ecology (to be reviewed below), would have exerted much influence on the "liberation of women" (i.e. the changing roles of women in American society from reproducers to producers) since most women who changed their roles probably had never even heard of Mary Daly -- nor heard of most of the feminist theorists. What did influence them was, apart from Betty Friedan, the spirit of the work ethic of vulgar feminism and the gnostic attitude trickled down from cultural feminist messianism. But I decided that Daly would be worth the effort insofar as she was the most developed instance of the second, gnostic attitude, which has been embodied in less clear and precise form but universally by the white female population of America. This however marks the point that not only are most feminist theorists (high-level and academic) not interested and furthermore not engaged in the "real" purpose of feminism (economic production), but they are actually spending their life constructing esoteric theories that only they themselves care about but which most people ignore. They are essentially "artists", in Heidegger's sense, ushering in the spirit of the age without participating in the actualization of the spirit. "[Art] makes the community, or that epoch in the community's Being, become manifest to itself. The epoch grows into the space prefigured for it by art. It has no other options (although, presumably, it may fail to grow, to achieve this knowledge of itself [this seems indeed the case for the cultural feminists of the first wave])." (Julian Roberts, German Philosophy, p. 266.) Their usefulness is for the genealogist to discern in their work the clearest definition of the age, but not to discover the exhortations that have motivated actual people to certain types of action. They are not "revolutionaries".


1. This is borne out in Bonnie Mann's appendix to the introduction to Gyn/Ecology, "Gyn/Ecology in the lives of women in the real world":