Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Two Seven: Place

I'm thinking tonight about the old line: location, location, location.

Everything in real estate depends on that, and in economic history, too, I suppose.

There's something to be said for applying the saying to fantasies, too.

I read an article not so very long ago by a blogger who once had a reputation as a "sex-positive" writer, a writer who'd fought in the 1990s Sex Wars against the moralizing and puritanism of the forerunners of the Social Justice Cult and the gender warriors.  Her article, though, was a long rant about how we needed to take sex out of most social settings and social encounters. We would never be truly free until sex was kept in its (very narrow) place.  Allowing desire loose in the world, she wrote, would only support...the Patriarchy. Well, one more person lost to age and the blandishments of the Social Justice Cult.

I of course am a gentleman of  a certain age and a roué by vocation. And when I walk through the world on any ordinary morning, desire is always there. I was brought up in a time and place where almost any social encounter had its tinge of flirtation.  I can't imagine a world where desire, flirtation, and the promise of adventure don't whisper through social spaces.  I can't imagine a world where there's not at least the possibility of seductions and adventures there on any ordinary day.  The possibility exists that I watched far too many episodes of "Red Shoe Diaries" back in the waning days of the last age. But I can't imagine a world without the hint of adventures and seductions in the air.

Location, location, location....

When I walk through cities, I look at the architecture and the landscapes and what I see are stage sets. I see the possibilities in location, the places where a novel, a film, a "Red Shoe Diaries" episode would focus.

Back in the middle of the last decade there was a website for people at Harvard who'd had sex in Widener Library.  I read about that and wondered why there weren't blogs for other places. Why weren't there websites for university libraries and museums and corporate towers? The post-9/11 world put an end to the Mile High Club, I suppose--- any "misbehavior" aboard an airliner now draws the attention of the security services. But there's a whole universe of architectural possibilities out there, of buildings to target, of architectural styles to match to mood and erotic preferences.

No city is ever actually yours until you've had romantic and sexual adventures there. That's always been true of apartments and houses, and it's true of cities as well.  We make a city ours by incorporating it in our fantasies, in the films in our heads.

It matters, I think, that we're able to do that. We can still see the world as a stage set, as a series of stages for the adventures we want to have, for the dreams that haunt the corners of our thoughts.

Offices and museums, bridges and libraries, fire escapes and shadowed alcoves in old-guard men's clubs... All those places are there to be sets for the stories we want to inhabit.  Place matters, I think. Places have their own magic, their own valence for adventures.

My own tastes in these matters run to libraries, I think. That shouldn't be unexpected. But if you're reading this, tell me about your own dreams of place--- and what the places mean to you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

One Two Six: Apotheosis

I've never really liked the writer Sarah Nicole Prickett. She writes for Hazlitt Magazine and The Hairpin and does her own Tumblr.  She contributes at ArtForum and Adult Mag. She's notorious (or famous) for writing scathing articles about how no one male  who's over thirty should be allowed to write any more. She dismisses male writers over thirty as "Dads" who shouldn't be allowed to write anything at all, who certainly shouldn't be allowed to have opinions  about any female writers, and who probably shouldn't be allowed to even read anything by female writers.  These days, here at year's end, I like her even less. She's taken to arguing that all sex should be "humiliating" for males.

Ms. Prickett--- "SNP", she calls herself ---seems to favor the idea that sex should be as humiliating as possible for males, that it should teach them to accept the flaws in their bodies, that it should force them to recognize that sex shouldn't make them ever feel triumphant or thrilled.

Needless to say,  most of the writers I read are male and over thirty. Many are long dead. And while I'm long past thirty, I refuse to be told that I shouldn't read novels or essays by young female writers.

As for the idea that sex should teach you to live inside a flawed and fleshly body, well...I haven't much use for that.

I've said this before, but, well...I've never taken any unmediated physical pleasure in sex. I don't have sex for the body or its needs, and I don't take any real pleasure in the body. Sex feels good; I don't deny that. But I've never felt pleasure through my body. Not during sex, and not with anything else, either.  If anything, I want sex to help me escape from my body.

I've always thought of sex as being about more abstract things, and what I want from it is all fairly abstract. Sex is a way of escaping into stories and other lives. It's never been about the flesh or about physical sensations. When I have sex, I get to leave the flesh far behind. I get to act out scenes and be part of stories, part of the films in my head. Sex is a way of stepping outside the flesh and into stories.

SNP is angry because the boy who went berserk in California last spring and killed half a dozen people left a Manifesto in which he wrote that he'd always hoped sex (and of course he died as a lifelong incel) would make him feel "like a god". I've never thought that; it's not even something I've wanted. I've always wanted sex to make me feel like a character in a film or a novel. I could act out scenes, strike poses, and be...someone who wasn't me. I've never seen sex as an apotheosis. I've only seen it as an escape, and as a chance to live out crafted story arcs. Sex has always been a way to escape the flesh and be...part of a story. I've never felt unmediated physical pleasure. Not with sex, not with food, not with wine, not with anything. Anything that gives me pleasure must be something that lets me feel like I'm inside a story.

I've never sought apotheosis. But what I do look for is a chance to be outside the flesh, to be part of something that's crafted and aesthetic and stylish. I've never liked the flesh. What I live for is being part of a story that flows,  a story that lets me escape the daily world. And as an aging roué, it matters more and more that I am able to escape this world and have at least a few hours inside stories.