Almost through Oliver Twist. Nancy has been getting to me - she's got some good lines, that poor stupid girl in love with Bill Sikes. What a delicate sort of game Charles Dickens played to make such tales readable to a Victorian audience. But I have a feeling Victorian puritanism was more about snobbery than about prostletyzing, and it's fascinating to me his audience would have accepted the idea quite happily that a degraded, friendless girl like Nancy was living with her man with no thought of marriage one way or another in either of their heads.
This is part of what tickles me, if being punched in the gut can tickle, about the fuss over gay marriage. People act like marriage is this big, marvellous, ancient, romantic, spiritual institution that seperates us from the monkeys, and to a certain extent that's true, though it doesn't seperate us from the geese or the sleepy lizards. But all our ideas about it as Westerners are shaped by the Victorians, who were socially perverse enough to make Marx and Engels think that the world needed a Communist revolution because their workers' lives were so shitty, and socially perverse enough to put social pressure on every class to beggar themselves over a white-dress wedding . . .
When before, marriage (if you were lucky enough to not be Catholic and hence subject to a hocus-pocus sacrament, but Catholics have ignorance programmed into their fucking religion, so it neither surprises nor disappoints me they're so down on the gays - fuck them) had just been an announcement of exclusivity, a public promise that you would keep to one and only one partner as long as you both should live, but no farther - just to keep all the inheritance processes straight, all the sharing of resources within your own chromosomal pool, just like a fucking goose or sleepy lizard. Hence, it being okay for Dicken's Victorian readers if a man and a woman with zero-to-negative assets, like Bill and Nancy, were shacking up without dreaming of getting married.
Anyways, I do get the feeling deep down that's all marriage is, because love and emotional loyalty are things that exist in themselves, and no matter how homophobic someone is, they'll never be able to prevent gays from loving and being loyal to each other. So why people are thick enough to want to deny them some stupid fucking contract is absolutely beyond me, and why they imagine letting them have some stupid fucking contract would weaken the institution of the stupid fucking contract . . . ah, fuck it.