Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Sex. Drugs and Rock and Roll

with 2 comments

Or something.

I like to sound more exciting than I actually am.

Robert says that what I was talking about yesterday wasn’t sex, but love, and Cheryl says that you can’t separate the two, and I say…

Well, I say, first, that we talk about sex and love these days the way we talk about religion–as people will talk about these things who do not really experience them.

Or at least, don’t experience them in the way people like Anna Karenina experienced them.

There used to be a woman who posted here fairly frequently–and hasn’t for a long time; I think I annoyed her; I annoy almost everybody after a while–who commented at one point that she wouldn’t think much about somebody who rejected “professional ethics” for so small a reason as religion.

It occurred to me at the time that this was a good indication that, not only did she not herself believe in any religion, but that she probably didn’t know anybody who did.

Of the issue of sex and love, lust and passion, I’d say that the two are inextricable once we get to the Anna Karenina, give it all up and smash your life level of the feeling.

And that’s for two reasons.

The first is that the one feeds off the other.   For at least some people, sex is like gasoline.  If you light a match without the gasoline around, nothing much happens.  If you add the gasoline, you get an explosion.

Sex in such cases is like brooding on something that makes you explosively angry.  It takes the emotion from one level to the other until it pops out of the top like a volcano going off.

In most of the cases I referred to yesterday, the chances are not just good but damned near certain that the lovesick partner would never have done the things that landed her (or him) in jail or on death row if he hadn’t met the beloved, and would never have done them, either, if the love hadn’t led to sex.

And been reinforced by sex.

I think reinforced is the word I’m going for here.

In some cases we have what’s called a folie a dieu, where both partners do what they would not do without the other.

And it’s sex there, too.  Or at least, sex that fuels the craziness.

Love alone will not do that.

We’re dishonest about sex and about anger–dishonest about how they work–almost continually in the present era.

We say, for instance, that repression is bad for people, that if we repress our desires we will become ill, or neurotic, or compulsive or something, and that the world will be a better place if we just “express out emotions” and bring it all out into the light of day.

Then we run up against a brick wall–pedophilia, for instance, or rape, or road rage–and suddenly we’re all for “anger management” or some other form of “therapy” meant to rid the offending human beings of what we now call their “disorder,” which is the same thing the rest of the planet called their bad behavior before we decided to declare that all behavior was naturally good.

God, but I’m going around in a maze this morning.  Afternoon.  Ack.

First we say that we should not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.  Then we define sexual orientation–most people who feel X way have since childhood; the sexual preference occurs in a steady minority percentage in all populations at all times that we can check out.  Then we turn around and freak when it turns out that the definition includes kinds of sexual preference we most definitely do want to discriminate against, and should discriminate against.

And all of this in aid of the usual suspects:  the innate “goodness” of human beings, the moral superiority of the natural over the “artificial.”

The reality is that repression does not usually lead to an explosion of pent-up feelings, but just the opposite.  A consistent course of repression helps most of us to lower the temperature on such feelings and to bring them under our conscious control.

We tacitly admit that with every course of anger management and aversion therapy.

Ack.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.

Anna Karenina isn’t about how bad it is for women to have sex.  It’s about how bad it is for any of us to indulge our feelings instead of controlling them.  Sex/love/passion is a particularly strong feeling, but you can get yourself into just as much trouble with anger, resentment and revenge. 

I’m going to go have some tea so that I can think straight.

Because I’m just getting tangled up in this at the moment, and I still think I have a lot to say about a movie called Mildred Pierce.

Written by janeh

December 20th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Sex. Drugs and Rock and Roll'

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  1. I’ll go along with “reinforces,” and agree that loves with catastrophic endings often have a sexual component.

    My point was that it’s the virtue rather than the vice, if you will, that’s the dangerous element. The philanderer, given he takes basic sanitary precautions, is only in danger if he has a sex partner who loves him–or one of his bedmates is loved by someone. Either way, he could wind up stone dead, and no one would be terribly surprised. But it’s love that turns mild aerobic exercise potentially deadly.

    Every year teachers have sex with students, military men with their subordinates and mental health professionals with their patients. Married men have sex with prostitutes. We can’t tell, but it seems likely the vast majority get away scot free. It’s the ones who fall in love with the people they have sex with and want to marry them who are guaranteed to crash and burn.

    We regulate sex. We train our children. Love, though, is a GOOD thing. No discussion of unsafe, inappropriate or dangerous love. Maybe it’s because of an unspoken consensus that this is the really dangerous element–and there isn’t anything we can do about it.

    It’s not the only thing like that, though. Surely it’s occured to all of us that certain activities are only troublesome to people with consciences?

    We want our vices rather than our virtues to be dangerous to us. But in this life it is not always so.


    20 Dec 10 at 5:07 pm

  2. There is more than one virtue. Such virtues as a desire for the well-being of others (especially in the case when the obsessively adored one is a child or otherwise vulnerable), the keeping of one’s word (eg marriage vows) or the respecting of that of others, and, in extreme cases, the prohibition against murder can all help avoid the dangers of excessive love – but only if used early, to nip the impending obsessive passion in the bud, so to speak. It seems that once you pass a certain point, which is all too easy to reach if you think nothing matters in this world more than Grand Passion or your own happiness. I’m reminded of the characters in that Sawyers book about the mushroom poisoning – based, I think, on a real case.

    I know all this sounds very Victorian – self-control and cutting off relationships that look like they’re going to develop into Bad Love, right at the beginning, and developing all kinds of stern and repressive virtues. It’s way out of sync with my – our – culture, at any rate.


    21 Dec 10 at 7:47 am

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