The myth at the centre of Shakespeare’s Othello is that of the cuckold, the husband with horns on his head whose wife is playing elsewhere. There is a deep biological root here. A child has two parents. A woman always knows whether a child is hers. A man never knows. Okay, now with genetic testing we do. But I mean knows sether, deep down in the ideoverse knows. There is monogamy throughout the animal kingdom, but it’s never incompatible with a quicky behind a rock, uh?!, don’t know how it happened, over before I realised what was going on. Yea?
Human beings are not as lions. A male lion when it drives out the master of the pride and becomes the alpha nob will kill all extant cubs and start again. Thus its genes have a clear run. Human males are often quite happy to bring up the male offspring of their mate that they themselves have not begotten, and can do it with kindness and affection. I was brought up by such a man, sethren. When he married my mother he did not put the five year old me to the sword. So it would seem that the biological imperative, so persuasive among lions, is weak in men. What’s going on?
Dual inheritance, sethren. What breeds in the metaverse is not genetic. Isaac Newton had no children, but we are all his heirs. Now it so happens that in Isaac’s village of Woolsthorpe by Colsterworth there also lived a strapping lad called Nob the Nob. The guy was a legend. There was no virgin for miles around he did not deflower, no buxom wench he did not inseminate, no matron he did not move to transports of ecstasy behind the potting shed, no menopausal chatelaine he did not plunge into one last bout of child-bearing. Poor Isaac, on the other hand, was born so small his mother said he would fit into a quart pot, probably was on the spectrum, never married, and has no recorded offspring. Whereas, in the same way all of us are descended from Charles ll, at least one Neanderthal ancestor and Jenghis Khan, there is nobody born in Britain, unless your Mum arrived in the last year already pregnant, whose genes, or some of them, have not passed through the nob of Nob the Nob.
And yet, do we boast of poor Nob? We have never even heard of him, you say. Prove that he ever existed. Exactly. Like God, Nob’s existence or non-existence makes absolutely fuck-all (a category that must have existed long before an Indian accountant invented zero) difference to any of us. Whereas our cultural inheritance from Isaac Newton is immeasurable. And the cleverer you are (not in a Blair/Cameron sort of way, but in a Jim al-Khalili sort of way) the more you owe Sir Isaac. On the shoulders of giants. Of course we have to be aware that differential calculus, like everything else, evolved over aeons. But there’s no denying that some ideoverses bring a lot of evolution together in a fusion event that produces a flash of light to illuminate the world considerably more than the glow of Nob’s nob after a hard day’s work.
So, sethren, another paradox. The more talented (and I won’t go into meandering lucubrations about what that word might mean, think Jay-Z, Richard Dawkins) you are, the more cultural descendants you will have. Genetic descendants are often a problem, on the other hand. Think of our poor dear Queen.
Shakespeare is one of the greatest cultural ancestors of them all. Yet cuckoldry had a prominent place in his ideoverse. Why?
Culturally, cuckoldry is not about loss of genetic inheritance. It’s about scorn. And of course, sether, it is not just men who feel it, why should it be. It’s a human ill. That you are being made a fool of. That people are laughing at you, or even worse pitying you, behind your back. Impotent rage, where all that you can do is kill the one who has created this situation, is not about the chance that is not being given to your genes. It’s about metaversal humiliation.
And of course the more noble, dignified and imperious the cuckold, the greater the humiliation. But you are hungry, sethren. What we will look at tomorrow is the evolution of a micro-myth, just between Iago and Othello. Madam MeMe is absent from the layby opposite. Now her waggons, brimming with the slop of mechanically recovered carnage, go straight to the beyond-hope. They stand in line, mouths open, while the slurry is hosed along the level of their heads. Not efficient, most of it goes elsewhere than down the throats of the destitute, but they can wipe it off and smear it in in their own time; and now Madam Meme is part of the Big Society, has juicy government contracts under the cheeks of her massive arse, her concern is not nutrition, but accumulation. The rigour of the market applies. No gain without pain. But what shall we feast on today, sethren? M&S prawn and avocado is rumoured to be good. Off you fuck.