Xeni on the road in West Africa: Ritually Stolen Penises and Vaginas - Not a Joke Here.

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66 Responses to “Xeni on the road in West Africa: Ritually Stolen Penises and Vaginas - Not a Joke Here.”

  1. buddy66 says:

    @30,

    Ooh. Direct hit.

    Still, I wish I’d had the ”penis thief” argument a few years ago; but knowing my ex-wife, a natural skeptic, she wouldn’t have bought it.

  2. kaosdevice says:

    It seems to me this is more of an excuse to take out people/peoples you don’t like through mob mentality manipulation than any actual belief.

    Call someone you don’t like in the states a terrorist in an airport and see what happens.

  3. Takuan says:

    so, is it true that a Korean made fan is a certain amulet?

  4. buddy66 says:

    Paging Dr. Freud… Paging Dr. Freud…
    Of course, none of this is about penises.

    Of course not. As Freud himself said, ”Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

    Witchcraft…

    Here’s one for you, MORIARITY. Witch persecutions didn’t become a gruesome mania in the West until AFTER the Renaissance! Mostly it was a non-issue during the Middle Ages. During the 16th and 17th centuries Europe was a slaughterhouse for strange old ladies and their cats. (And no doubt cranky old men like me.) So the flowering of Science heralds an hysterical madness?

    WTF?

  5. JoshuaZ says:

    Takuan, yeah, now my penis is receding because I went to sleep in a room with a fan on and the door closed.

  6. Ceronomus says:

    I’ve always had a hard time really grasping this issue. I mean, how can the men NOT know that their penis is still there and hasn’t been “stolen?” I just cannot grasp this.

  7. Takuan says:

    no one living in Africa`reading this?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Stupidity multiplies in large groups.

  9. noen says:

    Dragonfrog
    “now you’re outraged that we should have the cultural chutzpah to come down hard on xenophobic witch hunt violence.”

    I’m not outraged hun, I made a joke lampooning a certain narrow minded cultural imperialism that is sometimes heard on teh internets. I thought it was funny.

    “If condoning the murder of foreigners when it’s committed by black Africans against other black Africans isn’t cultural relativism, I don’t know what is.”

    1) I did no such thing and 2) yes, you are correct, you don’t know what it is.

    AGF
    “I see you missed my comment. Was it perhaps too rational for you?”

    Your manly reason was indeed too much for me so I used my witchy powers to steal your… ahem… “rationality”. Behave yourself and I just might give it back. I have a bunch of them in a nest up in a tree and I feed them oats and corn.

    “Are you just being a troll? Honestly?”

    Honestly, no, I’m not. This is a blog where sometimes I post my opinion. My opinions are not yours. This difference sometimes causes a lot of conflict. A troll is only interested in the conflict. I’m not, but I’m not going to change my opinions just to avoid conflict either.

    It is my honest opinion that one should not make moral judgments of other cultures based on the standards of one’s own culture. Cultures, like people, are neither good nor bad, they simply are. That doesn’t mean we can’t make other kinds of judgments. So yes, your examples definitely make my list of “very bad things”. Where I would draw the line is at proclaiming cultures that practice such things as inherently inferior. I don’t believe in moral hierarchies. That was pretty much my one and only point and I tried to make it funny too. Sorry if that didn’t come across.

    I think where we can pass judgments though would be on purely pragmatic lines. How does such and such cultural practice “work” or function within the society. Is it more or less effective than others? Does it help or hinder members of that society to function effectively or not?

    90 percent of the time disagreements like these are not real disagreements. They are just simple misunderstandings. More talk is usually what is needed. I hope that is the case here.

  10. AGF says:

    Noen. I see you missed my comment. Was it perhaps too rational for you?

    Here is the thing, I totally believe that a person could be harmed if they believed in curses and believe someone cursed them. That’s totally fair and I don’t judge them for that. Where I begin judging is the reaction. A mob – setting people on fire and murdering them? That’s wrong. Your freedom ends where it begins to impose on others freedom.

    As far as this case – The could have taken the so called witches to trial. The could have had a court doctor ‘check’ on the vanishing penises. The fact that the missing penis guys were paraded around with their junk exposed – tells you that even their own culture thinks these guys were full of shit. They were using witch craft as an excuse to kill some foreigners.

    Are you just being a troll? Honestly? Or do you really believe that if something is someone’s ‘culture’ it’s ok? What about female genital mutilation? What about lashing a woman for being the victim of rape? what about raping a woman as punishment for infidelity? what about people who beat there children and wives because according to their religion (aka – Culture) it’s right? I mean hey – maybe we should just say imperialism was part of European culture – hell – so was slavery. All these people who suffered can just stuff it. Fair?

  11. noen says:

    “@#4 noen, i presume you’re being silly here”

    Yes, I was being silly and all ironic-y ‘n stuff. But it is interesting that baronsamedi ?@ 30 is the first to at least try to challenge his received cultural POV. And I’d never call them savages either. That wasn’t my voice speaking, it was stolen by someone.

    “how can the men NOT know that their penis is still there and hasn’t been “stolen?””

    Because his culture tells him so. We humans are not born ready to participate fully in society. We have to be installed into the symbolic order. We do not perceive the world directly, our eyes are not windows. Our culture, our ideology, structures our perceptions for us. Nor is there a final, absolute position from which all cultural ideologies can be judged. You can no more get outside of your own culture and look around than a fish can survive outside of the ocean.

  12. robulus says:

    Noen said:

    If one’s culture says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” is a moral good then one cannot really judge it a moral evil except from outside that culture.

    So your cool with female circumcision then. And Aztec ritual sacrifice. And the Holocaust.

    I mean, your statement is logically true, but trivial. So I’m extrapolting that you hold that moral judgements from outside the culture are meaningless. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, and you’re just offering a platitude.

    I agree that we can make sense of their reality by understanding their received cultural beliefs, but I disagree that I have to accept their morality is a sacred and inviolable aspect of their culture, and that intervention from outside their culture is wrong.

    I would support diplomatic efforts to change these practices, as I would diplomatic efforts to stop female circumcision, wife burning in India and other basic human rights violations.

  13. Moriarty says:

    #4: You don’t think maybe the mobs burning “penis thieves” alive could benefit from a tad more scientific worldview? I don’t think they themselves are “inferior” and I know nothing of their religious beliefs, but yeah, I think a culture in which that kind of thing is commonplace is inferior (gasp!) to one with modernist-enough sensibilities that it is not. I also think America has improved by getting rid of witch trials, lynchings, etc. What an imperialist I am!

  14. jjasper says:

    I also think America has improved by getting rid of witch trials, lynchings, etc. What an imperialist I am!

    Improved?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I bet the problem here is cultural misunderstanding — if you believe in a sex magick that the translators don’t understand, the original meanings of abstract concepts like virility or potency may not come through, especially if the translator is squeamish about the topic. So my best guess is that the word translated as ‘penis’ is understood to mean ‘male sexual power and strength’, which is *obviously* capable of theft with black magick!

  16. Takuan says:

    some of us are amphibious.

  17. Takuan says:

    ah ha! best immediately buy Bear Stearns!

  18. fltndboat says:

    I question the date that starts Christianity. I suspect the Christian roots go back much further than the Churches Biblical version, as I suspect Islam to be much older than the Koran. How many of us are willing to relax into the notion that our indigenous Brain is the best fit for living here? The first power a church grabs from you is Death. The second power is control of your Gonads. The third is to control your Mind. None of this was operating in pre-Christ Christian Africa. It used to be about Love and Service. Putting a hex on a prick of misery is a public service. Our local collection of hate mongers would be wise to check the mirror. They are mostly too fat to check the member by looking down. Thank you Xeni.

  19. robulus says:

    @Noen

    I think we can make the call that burning people alive for witch craft is morally wrong, and accept cultural relativism at the same time.

  20. catbeller says:

    Parading their naked and intact tonkers on TV ain’t enough. Parade their bits on TV, and THEN amputate their allegedly stolen wangs. They claim they don’t have them anymore, so no harm, no foul.

    Then execute the bastards. Call it drawing down the superstitious knumbnut population. Should cut down the problem in a generation or two.

    Well, even if you don’t execute them, QED they won’t reproduce themselves and their idiot, murderous view of the universe.

  21. noen says:

    Robulus
    “So your cool with female circumcision then. And Aztec ritual sacrifice. And the Holocaust.”

    No, I’m not cool with them. I just don’t believe that there exists an absolute frame from which all cultures can be judged. But I cannot help but judge specific acts from my own point of view within the culture I am currently embedded.

    About the Holocaust, obviously that was unique and a horror and I would even say evil, small ‘e’. I would not say it was Evil though. I don’t believe there is such a “thing” as Evil.

    “I disagree that I have to accept their morality”

    I look at it from the standpoint of Pragmatism. So I don’t see how it’s useful to accept or reject. I don’t think morality is useful at all, but I think ethics is. To that end I would also support diplomacy and would add that the first step in diplomacy, between cultures or between persons, is to stop judging and see things from the others’ point of view.

  22. dainel says:

    What is the thought process of a person in the lynch mob? “Let’s strip this guy naked and see if he really does not have a penis anymore” vs “Hey, a great excuse to beat up / kill a random stranger”.

  23. dragonfrog says:

    Because his culture tells him so. We humans are not born ready to participate fully in society. We have to be installed into the symbolic order. We do not perceive the world directly, our eyes are not windows. Our culture, our ideology, structures our perceptions for us. Nor is there a final, absolute position from which all cultural ideologies can be judged. You can no more get outside of your own culture and look around than a fish can survive outside of the ocean.

    Our penises, however, are immovably installed, ideology or no. There is a final, absolute position from which it can be verified whether a man has a penis.

    Show me a culture in which a man with his hand down the front of his pants isn’t a comic subject, and maybe I’ll buy your theory of culturally relative penile mobility.

  24. AGF says:

    Noen. I think you may find here Universal Declaration of Human Rights where cultural relativism ends and ‘Hey your murdering, mutilating otherwise harming people – Stop!’ begins. I think this is pretty agreed upon. You know the whole – universal – thing.

  25. noen says:

    Robulus
    “I think we can make the call that burning people alive for witch craft is morally wrong, and accept cultural relativism at the same time.”

    No, you can’t. If one’s culture says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” is a moral good then one cannot really judge it a moral evil except from outside that culture. I think that one could come at it from another direction though and say that pragmatically, such moral statements are more (or less) useful.

    Dragonfrog
    “Our penises, however, are immovably installed, ideology or no. There is a final, absolute position from which it can be verified whether a man has a penis.”

    You don’t have a lot of experience in human sexuality huh? I know lots of men without penis’s. Some never had them and other have newly acquired a penis. I’ve also known men with vaginas. In addition there are plenty of humans born with neither a penis nor vagina or both or every possible variation in between.

    It isn’t much of an absolute if one’s proposed absolute is merely an arbitrarily chosen point on a very broad continuum. The same goes for cultures. Proposed value statements can really only be judged as morally worthy or not from within the culture. Moral absolutists attempt to formulate universal rules that must apply to any possible situation. The universe being what it is they will always fail.

    BTW, I’m not a relativist, I’m a pragmatist.

  26. blueworld says:

    @30
    Yup, anorexia is sometimes classified by psychologists along with penis theft panics as a “culture-bound syndrome.”

  27. Anonymous says:

    @NANUQ,

    Yeah, cultural genocide seems linked to the virility / potency / fertility dynamic

  28. TroofSeeker says:

    Ya know, both you guys are making a great point. Really.

  29. Brainspore says:

    Between this and the horrific cost of the AIDS pandemic I think it’s high time the wealthier nations of the world do what they can to support basic science education in rural Africa. Ignorance is killing even more Africans than malice and poverty put together, and that’s really saying something.

  30. buddy66 says:

    Cultural relativism…

    As an old style culturologist I’ve been accused of cultural relativism. Such is not strictly the case. For there are cultures that better meet human needs than certain other cultures. Those needs are simple and life specific: FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, SAFETY, AND SEXUAL PROCREATION. All else is gravy.

    When cultures, for whatever reason, fail to meet those specifics they die. They can survive almost anything else: plagues, wars, volcanoes, small meteor strikes, drought, flood, famine, and $cientology. We’re a tough, adaptive bunch of animals. None of our mammalian relatives could live both at the Arctic Circle and the Amazon.

    All human cultures struggle, to a greater or lesser degree, to secure those basic needs; I call certain cultures *better* than others to the degree that they succeed in doing so. Everything else is relative. In that sense I am, admittedly, a cultural relativist. Thermodynamically speaking, which is the most accurate way to speak of biological life, we are eating our way through the world and spilling gravy everywhere.

    It’s a mess.

  31. buddy66 says:

    Waaay back up this thread #17 offered a way out of what seems to be an absurdity. It’s not physical emasculation being claimed; it’s the theft of male libido. This is an ancient fear numerously ascribed in many cultures to witches and witchcraft. As one of the *victims* said, “Well, it was a lot larger before.” Clearly something was lost in translating “penis theft.”

    It reeks of racism to assume that if the actual loss of a penis is claimed, people wouldn’t demand easily verifiable on-the-spot proof. Or does Darkest Africa booga-booga you too much? You ought to be ashamed.

  32. mypalmike says:

    It’s like — Christians in general versus insane evangelical suicide cults. Yes, they have something in common, but one is totally batshit murder, and rightfully considered so by the general population.

    Dare I ask, which is which?

  33. dragonfrog says:

    Noen

    You don’t have a lot of experience in human sexuality huh? I know lots of men without penis’s. Some never had them and other have newly acquired a penis. I’ve also known men with vaginas. In addition there are plenty of humans born with neither a penis nor vagina or both or every possible variation in between.

    You don’t have a lot of experience of my experience, huh?

    I understand perfectly well that not everyone who now has a penis was born with one, and not everyone born with one still has one.

    But a man who had a penis this morning can check whether it is still installed with ease. Even if he speaks, dresses, eats, and prays differently from you and I. Wrapping your hand around your junk is a universal behaviour that transcends not only culture, but species. Everything that has opposable thumbs and a penis, wanks.

    Also, Noen, you have some nerve. You get all absolutist and shirty when people disagree with your opinion on a sculpture, and now you’re outraged that we should have the cultural chutzpah to come down hard on xenophobic witch hunt violence.

    If condoning the murder of foreigners when it’s committed by black Africans against other black Africans isn’t cultural relativism, I don’t know what is.

  34. Moriarty says:

    @#15: Yeah, I get that. I’m not going to try to dismiss entire cultures I have little understanding of, even based on stuff like this. I’m just arguing against the idea that it’s impossible to criticize anything that could be considered a “cultural oddity.” I mean, I could Godwin the hell out of that argument. I also call BS on the implication that naturalistic science is no different or in any way better than any of various superstitions. If nothing else, it’s the only one that keeps the lights on.

    @#16: Yes, improved. Are you implying that the end of widespread lynchings led to barbaric treatment of “enemy combatants?” If not, what’s your point?

  35. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    This explains Madonna’s looks lately. She’s spent a lot of time in Malawi.

  36. robulus says:

    Noen

    Yeah I don’t want to dwell on the holocaust because we all know what happens to a discussion once Hitler gets involved.

    I understand that defining an absolute morality is fraught with danger, but I do think we see plenty of examples, such as these, of cultural practice that is clearly beyond what is morally acceptable for any human being.

    People get caught up in the idea that culture must be preserved and can’t be externally influenced. No culture is static, all culture is constantly being transformed by interaction with external cultures, among other things, and always has been.

    I don’t get your argument that your position is pragmatic. As far as I can see you are logically crippled from making any moral judgement about any other cultural practice, no matter how abhorrent.

    Xeni noted that not all Beninese buy into this stuff, so clearly the hermetic seal on their culture has already been compromised. These people have changed their perspective from within their cultural reality, I think that’s for the better and I’d be happy to see witch burning and the belief structures that support it disappear with ritual human sacrifice.

  37. nanuq says:

    This has been going on for quite a while in parts of Africa. It usually seems to be mixed in with rumours of tribal genocide (only males of a certain tribal groups are having their penises stolen) and often mixed in with anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism. Of course, someone really could be giving out penis-melting cyborg combs.

    http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2007/08/the-shrinking-p.html

  38. Moriarty says:

    @#55: Sorry to mislabel. Anyway, you might refuse to believe it, but that doesn’t make it not the case. Yes, it really is a claim of physical disappearance.* No, I don’t claim to understand it. It’s not a casual acceptance of stupidity in a certain culture, it’s a dumbfounded, reluctant acceptance of a baffling phenomenon that pops up all over the world. I can only guess that it’s likely to happen roughly in inverse proportion to a culture’s respect for empiricism and naturalism, but that’s just a guess.

    Oh, and post #17 was discussed, briefly. 18 and 25 directly reference it.

    *Unless, of course, every article I’ve seen written about it has gotten the very basic facts wrong, which I guess is a remote possibility, but one for which I’d say the burden of proof is on you.

  39. Sea Daddy says:

    Ahh, Xeni. A beautifully worded piece of journalism. I especially like the use of the word “schlong”. You have indeed outdone yourself. I doff my hat to you.

  40. Moriarty says:

    #51: No, if you look into it (such as reading the Harper’s article), it’s clear that they believe or pretend to believe the penis has literally, physically disappeared. Don’t be so quick with calling people racists who ought to be ashamed of themselves. (If it helps your liberal angst any, the same or similar phenomena have apparently popped up in other parts of the world, too. See the Wikipedia article on “genital retraction syndrome.”) Calling crazy superstititions crazy superstititons doesn’t make a person racist just because of where those crazy superstitions are common.

    As for why people don’t immediately demand proof like you or I undoubtably would, I don’t know. Why don’t the followers of televengelists immediately demand proof of faith healing? Well, to state the obvious:

    a) In their beliefs such a thing is possible (so it’s not such an outrageous claim).
    b) There are large percentages of people everywhere who are very gullible.
    and c) People do crazy things as members of excited mobs that they would never do individually under calm reflection. This, too, is pretty much universal.

  41. TroofSeeker says:

    Yesterday’s corruptive witches are today’s terrorists. We don’t burn them at the stake anymore; we lock ‘em up in Gitmo, conveniently located offshore in Cuba where our ‘Rights of the Accused’ don’t apply, so we can torture and humiliate them.
    I’m not soft of terrorists. But I wonder how many guys in Gitmo are there because they look like someone else, or have the same name- not unusual in the Middle East.
    As to bazaar customs and superstitions in remote 3rd world countries, Christian missionaries have done more to stop that crap than all other groups combined. Bash them if it makes you feel better, but they’re out there trying to help. Are you?
    (Of course you are, Xeni- I’m talking to the Bible bashers.)

  42. Takuan says:

    tribe still controls all in Africa.

  43. GregLondon says:

    “Well, it was a lot larger before.”

    that’s what they all say.

  44. nach0s says:

    There’s a Harper’s article about this:

    http://harpers.org/archive/2008/06/0082063

  45. ill lich says:

    Fools, kidneys go for a lot more on the black market.

  46. baronsamedi says:

    What is the difference between a male convinced that his penis is shrinking and a young female convinced that she is fat, even though she weights 40 kg?

  47. noen says:

    Obviously these are inferior savages who have not seen the True Light of Reason and have rejected our superior culture. Let them wallow in their dark ways praying to their strange pagan gods.

    It is for their own good that we must conquer and subjugate them so that we may turn them away from their unholy ways and teach them the One Truth that is Science.

  48. GTMoogle says:

    @17 & 18, There’s a danger in making up justifications for really stupid arguments. You not only make out your opponent to be smarter than yourself, you also trick yourself into buying into their insanity* (not that I expect penis theft riots in the US).

    Don’t forget that it wasn’t us westerners who put them on stage and said “So! What do you have to say for yourself! Obviously it’s still there!”. Do they misunderstand their own culture? And it was a culprit himself that replied “Well, it was a lot larger before.” Was he just joking around for us western audiences? Sure doesn’t sound like he’s referring to his ‘potency’.

    *: Several psych classes I had went over how the best way to convince someone of your argument is to trick them into coming up with justifications for it. On the flip side, the WORST thing you can do for your side is give a weak argument. The other side will reassure themselves they’re right as they rip you to shreds.

  49. Matt Staggs says:

    “Turned you into a newt!?!”

    “Well, I got better…”

  50. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Commenters engaging in dick-wagging: priceless.

  51. stuhfoo says:

    reminiscent of stories told to youngsters about the “peepee” monster.

    In this case, it ends in being hacked to death…

  52. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#4 noen, i presume you’re being silly here, but i am also compelled to add — not all Beninese buy into this stuff. Many people who believe in traditional voudun religion (which I respect and would never characterize as “savage”) consider this to be totally nuts. It’s like — Christians in general versus insane evangelical suicide cults. Yes, they have something in common, but one is totally batshit murder, and rightfully considered so by the general population.

  53. JoshuaZ says:

    Noen, your sarcasm aside, this is a superstition which is killing people. People are dieing because of this superstition. It isn’t just a harmless cultural belief. There’s no issue with people “praying to their strange pagan gods” and I moreover suspect that many of the people involved in these issues are likely Christian anyways.

    Defending cultural practices that result in innocent deaths isn’t justified. Implicitly accusing people who discuss or criticize those beliefs with cultural imperialism is simply post modernism taken to a disgusting extreme.

  54. apoxia says:

    #Ceronomus

    In clinical psyc training my class was taught about this genital-stealing phenomenon and it was described as a culturally bound mental illness (which ones aren’t?). Perhaps it is akin to the western understanding of delusion when presented in this way.

    Obviously any mental illness can be exploited, as by the men described in the article – akin to someone claiming insanity as a legal defence.

  55. noen says:

    You know, none of this is new. In the West witches were accused of the very same thing.

    Malleus Maleficarum
    Authorities quoted in Malleus Maleficarum disagree as to whether the organ is truly gone or the bewitched individual is simply under the sway of a perceptual illusion that causes him to believe it’s gone. The author quotes an unnamed venerable Dominican father who, during a confession, hears a parishioner confide that he has “lost his member” to withcraft. The priest relates that he asked the lad to remove his clothes, so that he might, likely story, check for the missing part.
    The author of Malleus brings up the strange matter of penises stockpiled in bird’s nests, which he presents as proof of a literal disappearance. “What then is to be thought of those witches who…sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn…

    Paging Dr. Freud… Paging Dr. Freud…

    Of course, none of this is about penises.

  56. buddy66 says:

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  57. buddy66 says:

    @#52,
    Don’t be too quick to label my disgust as ”liberal angst.” Where I’m coming from, ”liberal” is a fighting word. I left liberalism somewhere on the road from Selma to Montgomery.

    Insofar as mob mentality goes, I’m a believer in mass hysteria and madness; I’ve seen it in action. But even if a literal translation is “penis theft”, I refuse to believe that they believe in the absolute physical theft of the organ. it’s too easy to say, Show us the hole where it used to be! No, they accept the metaphor—which is just as real an attack on the victim’s sexuality as snatching his dick and running off with it.

    What I detected in some of the comments was the casual acceptance of savage ignorance as nothing less than what is to be expected. Why was #17′s point not discussed, but was instead ignored?

  58. buddy66 says:

    I’ll accept that the belief in the actual disappearance of genitalia is often the case, significantly in present-day Nigeria, but I’d strongly suggest that for most it’s strongly metaphoric and dramatically exaggerated. (“No, mine didn’t actually disappear, but Mahoud’s cousin’s did!”) But of course we don’t have the numbers… so I’ll just drop it and move on.

    I am, however, aware of the universal practice of ”putting on” reporters and/or anthropologists, having functioned as both, however briefly, and having been led down many a garden path by the local gossips and wise-guys. Some of that, I suspect, confounded the ”Harper’s Magazine” reporter. His biggest worry, however, seems to be that he was in danger of being ”witched.” The literature of ethnography is full of examples of otherwise sane field workers going over to the dark side.

    I was too touchy about the perceived racism in some comments. I should know better. No such blight could ever creep into the garden of delights that is BB.

  59. error404 says:

    saying….nothing

  60. yri says:

    #4, you’re speaking ironically, but things like this are where I draw the line beyond which cultural relativism is no excuse.

    I don’t care if it’s part of their culture, it’s wrong and should be stopped. I’ll say the same thing about female genital mutilation, honor killings, and acid attacks.

  61. Takuan says:

    I seem to remember Koro “victims” would sometimes have a trusted family member hold one end of a piece of string, the other firmly tied to that which was in danger of magically receding.

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