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Posts tagged "Sex"


Incurvatus in Se(x)

Another quote from Mark Greif’s essay, “Afternoon of the Sex Children”, taken from the collection Against Everything. While he may put a few more eggs in the cultural agency basket than I would, the core observation, when considered alongside an incurvatus in se-/AA-derived estimation of human libido, can’t help but illuminate our moment. You have to ask, in other words, are today’s headlines the awful yet inevitable fallout of decades of rephrasing/selling sex as self-fulfillment? Or is the everything/nothing-ness of our sexual schizophrenia an expression of a deeper bind? You tell me. Ghastly either way:

The reason it seems a sex of pure politeness and equal access does not work is that the constant preparation to imagine any and every other person as a sexual object (something our culture already encourages) proves to be ruthlessly egocentric and antisocial, making every other living body a tool of self-pleasure or gain. At times I wonder if we are witnessing a sexualization of the life process itself, in which all pleasure is canalized into the sexual, and the function of warm, living flesh in any form is to allow us access to autoerotism through the circuit of an other. This is echoed at the intellectual level in the discourse of “self-discovery.” The real underlying question of sexual encounter today may not be “What is he like in bed?” (heard often enough…) but “What am I like in bed?” (never spoken). That is to say, at the deepest level, one says: “Whom do I discover myself to be in sex?”–so that sex becomes the special province of self-discovery.

Meanwhile, the more traditional way of de-emphasizing sex, by subordinating it to overwhelming romantic love, has diminished as an option as the focus on self-discovery has increasingly devitalized romantic love. Self-discovery puts a reflecting wall between the self and attention to the other, so that all energy supposedly exerted in fascination, attraction, and love just bounces back, even when it appears to go out as love for the other.

One of the Cruel Betrayals of Sexual Liberation

Merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fascinating observations about inverted “little l law” in n+1 co-founder Mark Greif’s masterful collection, Against Everything:

Liberation implies freedom to do what you have already been doing or meant to do… But a test of liberation, as distinct from liberalization, must be whether you have also been freed to be free from sex, too–to ignore it, or to be asexual, without consequent social opprobrium or imputation of deficiency… One of the cruel betrayals of sexual liberation, in liberalization, was the illusion that the person can be free only if he holds sex as all-important and exposes it endlessly to others–providing it, proving it, enjoying it.

This was a new kind of unfreedom… sinfulness redefined as the unconditioned, unexercised and unaroused body, and a new shamefulness for anyone who manifests a nonsexuality or, worst of all, willful sexlessness. (pg 26-27)

Sex Is Nothing, Until It Isn't

Sex Is Nothing, Until It Isn’t

This one comes to us from Scott Larousse.

Last spring I was sitting in on a seminar on marriage at a prominent California university. The professor put forth a hypothetical about whether the state should recognize an intimate relationship based on a shared love of muscle-cars (rather than sex). Like a sort of intimate muscle-car form of romance. Although the bulk of students would’ve likely described themselves as liberal, it seemed like the hypothetical stretched them some. The appreciation in the room was palpable, like when you’ve been looking at a rabbit for several seconds but finally, you see the duck.

It’s strange…

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Never Lost Again: Tinder, Porn and the Dying Art of Falling in Love

Never Lost Again: Tinder, Porn and the Dying Art of Falling in Love

In our upcoming sixth installment of The Mockingbird, the Technology Issue, we had the opportunity to interview the sensei on the subject, Nicholas Carr. Carr was a Pulitzer finalist for his 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, and his recent book, The Glass Cage, deals with the growing presence of automation in our lives. Part of the book deals with Google Maps, and the difference between what he calls “wayfaring” versus “transport.”

Wayfaring is messier and less efficient than transport, which is why it has become a target for automation. “If you have a mobile phone…

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Fifty Shades of Something

Fifty Shades of Something

It’s a Fifty Shades world this week, and we just live in it. Not sure how close attention you’ve been paying to the ‘debate’ surrounding the film, but it’s a fascinating one, touching as it does on a number of our current hot potatoes, most notably sex and gender. Everyone seems to agree that the astronomical number of books (and tickets) sold indicates something larger going on, though no one seems to agree on what that is.

Some say the success of the franchise reveals a deep faultline in 21st century bedrooms between Should and Is, between what’s acceptable to want and what is actually wanted, the ideal of egalitarian…

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Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

There’s a line toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (above – 2:15 mark) where the protagonist, Ted Boynton, admits to having “a real romantic illusion problem”. He is frustrated that he seems to fall for women based almost exclusively on physical appearance, when what he really wants is “to see the real person, maybe even look into her eyes and see her soul.” He says these words with a completely straight face, and his cousin Fred responds incredulously. It’s a funny interchange, not the least because Ted sounds convinced that this phenomenon, of sexual attraction overwhelming better judgment, is peculiar to him…

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The Priesthood of All Couples Counselors

Building on last week’s Fargo post, some food for thought from pages 119-120 of writer-philosopher-‘religious atheist’ Alain de Botton’s provocative How to Think More About Sex (other brave portions of which we excerpted here):

treeoftrust

“In a perfect world, all couples would be visited by a psychotherapist on a weekly basis, without even having to put themselves forward for the service. The session would simply be a regular feature of a good, ordinary life, as the Friday evening meal is for Jews, and would offer some of the same cathartic function as this ritual. Above all, neither party would be made to feel by society that he or she was crazy for having therapy–which is currently the main reason people neglect to see therapists and therefore slowly go crazy.

This ideal therapist would take a history of a relationship, explore its current tensions and try to serve as a catalyst for the sort of change that the couple themselves were too weak, busy or confused to bring about on their own. She would remind her clients that every exchange, however minor, had meaning and could set off a chain of recriminations and resentments that would prevent them from wanting to have sex. She would teach them to treat the complicated business of being in a relationship with extraordinary care. She would ask them both to arrive at every session with a list of issues that had arisen during the previous week, and insist that they each listen to the other’s complaints compassionately, without resorting to angry self-justification or injured self-pity… She would review their individual psychological histories and endeavor to help make the couple aware of some of the ways in which, because of their particular pasts, they might both be likely to distort or misread reality. And when arguments did flare up, she would urge each of them to see the other as being wounded and sad rather than malicious or spiteful.

This therapist would belong to a new kind of priesthood, designed for an age that no longer believes in religious forgiveness and understanding in the afterlife but that is still very much in need of those same qualities in the here and now.”

That's What She Said: Women and Campus "Hookup Culture"

That’s What She Said: Women and Campus “Hookup Culture”

It’s hard to figure out exactly what is going on with the college “hookup culture” these days—even for me, and I’m in college. There are so many publications and divergent opinions on the topic that you almost need a degree to keep track of what the problem is and “who is to blame.” For a while, the general consensus seemed to be that young men were the ones promoting the no-strings-attached hookup, turning the dark basements of frat houses into a debauched game of musical chairs—take home whoever you’re dancing with when the dubstep stops—while the girls are forced to…

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Sex Is Bigger Than You and Me (and Everyone We Know)

Sex Is Bigger Than You and Me (and Everyone We Know)

Two remarkable articles about sex–you know, coitus–have come across my screen in the past couple weeks, both of them refreshingly offbeat. The first comes from Alain De Botton, he of Religion for Atheists fame and the new How to Think More About Sex. It appeared in The Wall Street Journal under the suitably provocative title, “Why Most Men Aren’t Man Enough to Handle Web Porn”.

De Botton is interested in exposing, pun intended, the strange double-bind of what passes for discourse about sex in our culture, namely, that you can talk about it in terms of enjoyment or empowerment, but not…

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Can a Gorgeous Olympian Find Love...Please?

Can a Gorgeous Olympian Find Love…Please?

Lolo Jones, owner of a beautiful face, sculpted physique, one of sports’ coolest names and the American record in the 60 meter hurdles, can’t find a boyfriend.  Why?  She won’t sleep with any of her suitors.  Male depravity has never been in more glaring display than when, as Jones reports, a man told her that having sex with him would “make her run faster.”

Jones is perhaps the first person I’ve ever heard make this admission without talking about their Christian faith. A saved celebrity virginity is almost always presented as a testament to the celebrity’s faith in God, and their…

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Another Week Ends: Brooks on Empathy, more Quiet Beatle, American Commandments, Kaling on Chick Flicks, Meth to Master, Pre-Marital Hanky Panky, Psycho Congress, Tweedy & Ryan Adams

Another Week Ends: Brooks on Empathy, more Quiet Beatle, American Commandments, Kaling on Chick Flicks, Meth to Master, Pre-Marital Hanky Panky, Psycho Congress, Tweedy & Ryan Adams

1. David Brooks continues with his one-man campaign for a more realistic conception of human nature, and the implications it might have on ethical behavior, in his new column, “The Limits of Empathy.” This time he focuses on the question of motivation, exploring how easily/frequently something as ‘good’ as empathy is subordinated to self-interest (and laziness), ht TB:

People who are empathetic are more sensitive to the perspectives and sufferings of others. They are more likely to make compassionate moral judgments. The problem comes when we try to turn feeling into action. Empathy makes you more aware of other people’s suffering, but it’s not…

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PZ's Podcast: Sex Isn't Everything

PZ’s Podcast: Sex Isn’t Everything

EPISODE 61

Or is it?

One thing sex apparently is, is Christianity’s nightmare.

Whatever one thinks about sex or issues related to sex, it seems to represent a credibility problem these days for the “faith once and for all deliver’d”.

In this podcast I don’t argue against or in favor of any specific attitude or position. Rather, I affirm the significance of the bodily, instinctual, and sexual aspect of life, for the way we live, for everyday grace in practice. Sex, however you understand it, is a deal breaker in human relationships. It animates, often unacknowledged, a host of decisions people make.

You could say…

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