So am I as the rich, whose blessed key,
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
Since, seldom coming in the long year set,
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special-blest,
By new unfolding his imprison'd pride.
Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope
Of course, that wasn’t really bad at all. Nor, of course, are the bits entitled “Bad sex writing” by the Prospect, the late Auberon Waugh’s brainchild. The English are a funny people – they will make bared bosoms such a tabloid standard that they become like the quilted sampler and Christmas Turkey, and at the same time complain loudly if some novelist describes the wanton flutings of fellatio, using terms that come to hand – cock, pee-slit, mouth, fingers. Of course, reading Auberon Waugh’s autobiography, one understands where the gingerly, if not psychopathically embarrassed attitude to sucking cock, or fucking, comes from.
However, the gleefulness of, say, the Guardian, who takes up the holy bad sex idea every year, can’t be explained by having Evelyn Waugh for a pater. No, this is the gleefulness of the stupid man who has had a genius inspiration: if you put the word bad before something, it will show that you are superior to it. And hence, your stupidity will be crowned as a form of taste, a certain brilliance, instead of the direct descendent of the fart sound of your giggling youth, back there on the back row. You can pretend that, well, Jane Austen, or somebody, did it better, or that it is much much better to imagine sex than to vulgarly denude the lovers at their play.
So you get things like this and then you get even worse things like this
“There's an assumption that it will involve writing the nuts and bolts, what goes where. Wrong. Try it. "His right hand slipped down her left thigh, as his left hand deftly undid the catch of her bra, and then he whispered in her ear … " – which one? Where's this guy standing? Or is he sitting? Perhaps lying? And what's she doing with her hands, right and left?
Writing about sex can be like a complicated game of Twister. You sit in front of your laptop, trying to work out where everything's going. It's worse than following the instructions for assembling flatpack furniture. Maybe there are some people who are turned on by DIY manuals, but for most of us they have the opposite effect. There are better ways for the writer to seduce the reader.”
The comfy suburban references to Twister and DIY, and the notion that there is something, oh, not so seductive when hands slide up thighs – no, we want a more elevated seduction for the “reader” – are enough to make a cat laugh. Too much, well, specificity, especially when the description of sex is supposed to seduce the reader – not, mind you, get the reader wet, hot, bothered, stiff. And yet of course, this is all utter bullshit, as we swim in currents of sex, sex as come on, in the newspaper world and in the world of the media in general.
Respectability, most rotten of moral codes, still holds sway among the twister game sets and the shopping carts. And behind it is, of course, consumer choice - for really, this is why the sex is so 'bad' - it rather makes a mash of the whole Sex and the city, sex as an accoutrement system. It is bad because it, well, makes sex so unsellable. So DIY.
Or as Rochester put it:
Unhappy cunt, oh comfortless,
From swilling plenty, fallen into distress,
Deprived of all its ornamental hair,
Fed with the empty diet of the air.
Divorced and banished from its dearest duck,
That proselyte to pagan fuck.
Assist ye powers
That bring down monthly flowers,
Come, come away, and in a trice,
Congeal these thoughts of ice.
Comfort my cunt, or give me your advice.