Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bad sex and DIY sex

And now for some bad sex writing:

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.

8 comments:

northanger said...

honestly, been trying to post a comment here for days!

roger said...

Why didn't it let you comment, North? Hmm, I'm still on holiday in Atlanta, and have been mean to this blog. But I want to return and be a good blogowner, take it for walksies, feed it blogchow, and make sure its comment section works.

Did you have a good thanks????

northanger said...

aha! i knew it wasn't me! just to give you a taste of what your sad neglect is missing...

AQ 981 = MR. BROCKLEHURST TRULY KNEW HOW TO FLOG A BUM IN STYLE = IT IS FOR SLAVES TO LIE, AND FOR THE FREE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH.

northanger said...

AQ 543 = UNHAPPY CUNT, OH COMFORTLESS = DIDACTIC, PRESCRIPTIVE APPROACH (AQ-364 ANTOINE-HENRI JOMINI) = HYBRID ALTERNATIVE CALLED "GO DEEP" = SPECIAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY = TAOISM AND MILITARY STRATEGY = THE CHOGO RI EXPEDITION HAD BEGUN = THE FIRST OF HIS WORKS FROM AZ = THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

northanger said...

AQ 2483 = UNHAPPY CUNT, OH COMFORTLESS, / FROM SWILLING PLENTY, FALLEN INTO DISTRESS, / DEPRIVED OF ALL ITS ORNAMENTAL HAIR, / FED WITH THE EMPTY DIET OF THE AIR = …CAPTAINS OF THANG TIMES FOLLOWED CLOSELY THE COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES EMBODIED IN THAT ANCESTOR OF THE MAGNETIC COMPASS, THE SHIH OR DIVINER'S BOARD.

AQ 2543 = THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE 'WIND-ROSE' OF THE SEA-CAPTAINS OF THANG TIMES FOLLOWED CLOSELY THE COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES EMBODIED IN THAT ANCESTOR OF THE… = WE PRAY YOU TO PROCEED / AND JUSTLY AND RELIGIOUSLY UNFOLD / WHY THE LAW SALIQUE THAT THEY HAVE IN FRANCE / OR SHOULD, OR SHOULD NOT, BAR US IN OUR CLAIM.

roger said...

North, you are getting more and more like Ezra Pound! I hope you are using the Cantos as your periplum.

northanger said...

apparently i am.

AQ 3985 = MS. WANG'S PROVISIONAL MUSE WAS PEGGY GUGGENHEIM, AN UGLY WOMAN WHO EMBRACED WILDE'S MAXIM THAT, "ONE SHOULD EITHER BE A WORK OF ART OR WEAR A WORK OF ART." SHE SEWED COCTEAU'S PUBIC HAIRS TO A BEDSHEET. MS. WANG DID NOT PURSUE MOTIFS OF THAT KIND" = A BOOK THAT NO ONE AWAITS, THAT DOES NOT RESPOND TO ANY FORMULATED QUESTION, THAT THE AUTHOR WOULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN IF HE HAD FOLLOWED ITS LESSON TO THE LETTER, HERE IS THE PECULIARITY [BIZARRERIE] THAT I PROPOSE TO THE READER TODAY (AQ-508 THE THIRST FOR ANNIHILATION) = O FORTUNA IS A MEDIEVAL LATIN GOLIARDIC POEM COMPOSED EARLY IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, PART OF THE COLLECTION KNOWN AS THE CARMINA BURANA. IT IS A COMPLAINT ABOUT FATE, AND FORTUNA, A GODDESS IN ROMAN MYTHOLOGY, IS A PERSONIFICATION OF LUCK (AQ-182 O FORTUNA).

northanger said...

AQ-3325

AQ 2616 = THE NUMBERS WHICH GIVE THESE PROPORTIONS ARE IN FACT SPRING 6, AUTUMN 8, WINTER 9, AND SUMMER 12, THE NUMBERS USED BY PYTHAGORAS FOR THE MUSICAL CONSONANCES (AQ-538 SCIENCE AND CIVILISATION IN CHINA) = JOHN WILMOT, THE SECOND EARL OF ROCHESTER, WHOSE CAREER AS IT WAS POPULARLY RECORDED IS THE MODEL… UNDERLYING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MR. ROCHESTER'S CHARACTER.

AQ 4299 = EZEKIEL MAKES IT CLEAR THAT THE OPHANIM ONLY MOVE ACCORDING TO HOW THE CHERUBIM MOVE. THIS WOULD INDICATE SOMETHING OF A "CHAIN OF COMMAND," WHEREBY THE CHERUBIM RECEIVE MORE DIRECT INSTRUCTION THAN DO THE OPHANIM, ALTHOUGH THE DIVINE PURPOSE RESIDES IN BOTH = REMEMBER, THE ORIGINAL HEARTH OR FIREPLACE WAS ONE WHERE "THE FAMILY", THE CLAN, THE GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO "BELONGED" TOGETHER GATHERED. NOT STRANGERS OR "OUTSIDERS". MY FAMILY, MY HOME, MY PROPERTY, MY BLOCK, CITY, MY STATE, MY COUNTRY. PAROCHIALISM, NATIONALISM (AQ-183 ELEANOR BACH, AQ-234 JEAN SIBELIUS).