Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Blue Collar Interpretation of a 90 Million Dollar Painting

Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)
Image Credit:

I have always found David Hockney’s art visually interesting.  Eye catching.   Striking.  He has a paradoxical simplicity that seems to obscure a deeper complexity.  To me, more of an admirer of realism, Hockney’s paintings are borderline cartoony, yet with an implication of something deeper.  They seem to ask a question, but not answer it.  I always find myself wondering what am I missing in this painting.  But that has not been the case with his painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which just was auctioned at Christie’s for $90.3 million on November 15, 2018. 

Wow!  Ninety million for a painting of the prelude of a rich 70’s Hollywood executive about to counsel his teenage son about off roading in the Mercedes and leaving a roach in the ashtray.  “And furthermore, young man, I did not appreciate the beer cans on the floor, the melted Sugar Daddy stuck to the console, and the soiled condom under the seat.  You are grounded for a week.…”

This is why blue collar slobs are never art critics.  The real meaning behind this painting involves love and loss that totally evades me even after reading two articles about the painting:

Nope, sorry, I just see a teenager about to get his ass chewed.  Maybe I should stick to Normal Rockwell.  

I do have a favorite Hockney,  Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy. 

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy
Image Credit:

I like this this painting.  It reminds me of when I was young, not that I was ever as seemingly wealthy as Mr. and Mrs. Clark, but I can identify with the time period.  I like the interplay of light from the window.  The notes on this painting tell us that we are in the Clark’s bedroom.  They also tell us that both Mr. and Mrs. Clark are looking at the viewer of the painting.   Does that put me in the Clark’s marital bed, perhaps with their house sitter?   They don’t look very happy with we viewers.  If indeed, we are nothing more than just viewer in a gallery, they seem to be saying “Do you mind!  We are trying to have a conversation here.  Move along to the next painting.”

The last piece of Hockney’s art that I would like to mention  is Pearblossom  Highway #2. 

Pearblossom Highway #2
Image Credit:

This is not a painting but a collage of hundreds of chunks of photographs that Hockney took in Antelope Valley, California.   I spent two and half years in the Air Force near here and Hockney captured the essence of the Mojave although for me in a somewhat irritating fashion.  Its a weird piece.  It almost shimmers mirage like.  I find myself thinking, this would be a lot better if it stopped jiggling.  Again, blue collar slobs should never be art critics.   

Friday, September 14, 2018

Sensate Focus

Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated ManualSensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual by Linda Weiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was both delighted and dourly disappointed with this book. The delight? At last someone has taken Master’s and Johnson’s Sensate Focus seriously and written up a comprehensive procedure for it. You no longer have to rely on M & Js poor description of it spread across several books or look for some article on the internet that is either blocked by a professional pay wall, or be bamboozled by a self proclaimed sexperts that have little real knowledge of how Sensate Focus really works. Here is a comprehensive set of procedures that will benefit both clinicians and their patients. The book separates the various dysfunctions and provides detailed instructions for each. It also contains treatment plans geared for diverse populations such as LGBTQ clients, the elderly, those who suffer from substance abuse, the disabled, clients with serious psychological problems, and clients on the autism spectrum.

Image Credit: Institute for Sexual & Relationship Therapy & Training .

The book has tasteful illustrations that are based on the idea that Hellen Singer Kaplan incorporated in her The Illustrated Manual of Sex Therapy from four decades ago. The authors quoted Kaplan's thoughts on the illustrations in her book:

The drawings will, apart from merely illustrating specific positions, also, I hope, convey the beauty and humanity of sex, fundamentals to successful sex therapy.

Weiner, Linda. Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual (p. 3). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

All in all for clinicians and their clients this is an excellent book. Five well deserved stars

For the do it yourself couple that maybe just wants to tune up their sex life…not so much. Hence my disappointment. Quite early in the book the authors make it a point to define two types of Sensate Focus:

Although we have been using the general term Sensate Focus to identify the hierarchical touching suggestions, we make a distinction between two phases of Sensate Focus, as we have suggested. What we have been describing thus far is more accurately referred to as Sensate Focus 1. However, there is also another phase that we call Sensate Focus 2. This is because just as there is more to sex than natural responses, so there is more to Sensate Focus than touching for your interest. While we will be discussing Sensate Focus 2 in more detail at the end of this manual, we are emphasizing the components of Sensate Focus 1 in order to underscore the importance of mastering sex as a natural function, and mastering its attitudinal and practical applications of touching for your own interest, before moving on to Sensate Focus 2. Sensate Focus 1 involves mastering skills for people who are having sexual difficulties. Sensate Focus 2 is for people who are not having difficulties, or who have resolved their difficulties, and who want to enhance sexual satisfaction.

Weiner, Linda. Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual (p. 14). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

OK great! I lick my chops in anticipation of reading about Sensate Focus 2 which will take may wife and I to a transcendental state of sexual satisfaction. So I wade through 9 chapters of dysfunctions and diverse populations. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot but for the most part it doesn't really apply to me. So finally I get to Chapter 10 Sensate Focus 1 and 2. There are some basic definitions and then we get to this paragraph:

However, there is one additional characteristic of Sensate Focus 2 that is perhaps even more important than these relationship enhancements. Clients do not talk about it directly, perhaps because it crosses over into the realm of indescribable experience. However, over the years we have come to appreciate it as the ultimate, if unspoken, goal of those who come in for sex therapy. Kleinplatz refers to this as transcendence. It goes by many names, none of which do it justice: “‘peak experience,’ … ‘magical experiences,’ and ‘spirituality’ … ‘a portal to an alternate reality’ … ‘expansive and enlightening’ … ‘it leaves you bigger than you were before’ … ‘flashes of illumination’ … ‘It [is] revelatory – an epiphany’” (Kleinplatz & Ménard, 2007, pp. 75–76). Noted analyst James Hollis refers to it as “the god to be found in sexuality” and suggests that clients who want to enrich their sexual lives “follow what [the poet] Rilke called the dark ‘river god of the blood’ … The higher power are powers, indeed, but so are the lower ones … [and] sexuality, the dark river god of the blood, is sacred” (1998, pp. 91–92). This spiritual or transcendent dimension of sexuality requires entering into the radically self-focused mindset of Sensate Focus 1 but this time through a deeply sensorial, sensual, and emotional relationship with the partner that characterizes Sensate Focus 2. This is when absorption in the sensations moves into absorption by the sensations and ultimately into an altered state of consciousness that is transcendent sexual responsiveness to which we refer in Chapter 2 (Why is Sensate Focus Based on Touch?). This sensorial, sensual, sexual, emotional, and relational integration leads not only to the enlargement of each partner but also to the enlarged intimate connection between the partners.

Weiner, Linda. Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual (pp. 122-123). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

I had to stop reading. I clasped my Kindle to my pitter pattering heart, stared off into the distance, and sighed. At last, at last! After years of being confused by tantra, failing to give up our addictions to orgasm induced dopamine through the use of karezza, of never knowing the mystical energy flow between Divine Lovers, at last we will follow “the dark river god of the blood” to the sacred transcendent dimension of sexuality through Sensate Focus 2! As tears of joy for soon to be found portals of alternate reality flow down my cheek, I lower the Kindle from my beating heart and with trembling hands begin to read the next paragraph:

Suggestions to enhance sexual satisfaction and enrich intimate communication will be the subject of subsequent publications.

Weiner, Linda. Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual (p. 123). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

What? Subsequent publications? I have to wait for the next book? What the hell is this the The Game of Thrones? Emphasis, obviously mine.

Hence my dour disappointment. For me the book was still worth while because I have an interest in sexuality like some people have in astronomy or model railroading. But for the average couple that is finding the magic of those first years are slipping away and they would like to tune up things a bit, I am not sure I can recommended this book. I hope in the future to be able to recommend the “subsequent publications,” but for now, I think it would require an extremely devoted couple to benefit from this book without the aid of a professional sex therapist.

As such I do have a concern about Sensate Focus. Will it ever be available for the average do it yourself couple? The thing I like about Sensate Focus is that it is simple and it can be done by the couple seemingly without a sex therapist looking over their shoulder. I really love execises that a couple can do together and build a deeper intimacy. But somebody has to write the book that couple can use for themselves. For a devoted couple, I believe they could sit down, wade through this book, and come up with a program, but why can’t there be a book on Sensate Focus for just that couple? All sorts of arguments can be made that without a sex therapist, Sensate Focus won’t work…and I believe that is true for the couple that are plagued with the dysfunctions described in this book. But what about the functional couple that is trying to avoid getting to the point of dysfunction? Many couples don’t have the financial resources or the time to be heading off to a sex therapist. There are a ton of books on the market about improving orgasms and trying some fantastic positions, but I am not aware of any that give a concise program for Sensate Focus. Rather than adding to the anxieties that a couple’s orgasms are not good enough or in the right spot or that they are having enough of them, why not show a couple how to get lost in sensation and all that other stuff will take care of itself? My personal belief is that Sensate Focus should be a lot of fun to do in its own right and that it could easily be adapted for couples who are not dysfunctional and just want a reliable program to find that “river god of the blood.”

So while my rating remains at 5 stars, because the book is an excellent resource for clinicians and their clients, for the average couple I can only rate it at 3 stars. It can be useful especially for describing what Sensate Focus is and what it can do for you, but it will take some work on the couple’s part to figure out their own program and how they want to implement it. I sincerely hope that the subsequent publications will have have a program of Sensate Focus 1 and 2 for our functional couple that is looking for more out of sex, love and life.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review, Night Thoughts, Reflections of a Sex Therapist, Dr. Avodah K. Offit

Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1)Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist by Avodah K. Offit
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first thing I enjoyed about this book is its title. "Night thoughts" bring to my mind a romanticized vision, perhaps fitting for a Edward Hopper painting. I see the author sitting in an over stuffed chair in the library of her Upper East Side brownstone home. Dark paneled walls and lovely floor to ceiling book shelves are dimly lit from a banker’s desk lamp with traditional green glass shade from across the room. Barber’s Adagio for Strings softly plays on the stereo. Dr. Offit holds a Perrier in her hand, while outside a gentle autumn rain lightly taps on the window. She stares off into the dimly lit room, while thoughts of the larger meaning of her work goes through her mind:

At night, questions become more abstract. I try not to let them get out of hand. I know I can’t answer the larger ones. I simply ask why we behave as we do. Why, for example, do some people thrash about miserably in the chains of their unreleased passion while others feel grateful to be undisturbed by any sexual emotion? What accounts for the patterns of difference I detect between the desires and expectations of men and those of women? Are the differences chemical or cultural? How can people change their sexual attitudes --and should they be asked to?

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 64-68). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

Cover Image:  Henri Rousseau,  The Snake Charmer, 1907
Image Credit: 
To get a better understanding of what this book is about, one should read the sub-title Reflections of A Sex Therapist. Reflections is key. This book is not a how to manual, there are no plumbing diagrams, no descriptions of positions, no technique for mind blowing orgasms, or 10 steps to better sex in one week. There are no discussions on avoiding STDs, how to date better, or contraceptive methods. Nor is it a listing of sexual dysfunctions or the specific cures for them. No, there is none of that, nor does there need to be, there are a zillion books that tell us the basics of the birds and the bees, how to have better orgasms, and the dysfunctions and their cures. Rather, these are her reflections of Dr. Offit’s experience practicing the art and science of sex therapy. Offit provides a standalone essay on a specific topic. For most part, you can read these in any order, or skip those in which you have no interest and it would really not affect your overall understanding of the book. You don’t have to read the first four essays to understand the fifth. The topics are varied and not necessarily what you would expect…Morning sex, Menstruation and Sex, Nymphomania Reconsidered, The Matter of Smell, Postcoital Feelings, to name a few.

The essays often don’t go the way you would expect. For instance she starts the essay Morning Sex:

I ASSOCIATE MORNING sex with camping. Although I have never gone camping, I own a pair of new summer hiking shoes. I fantasize backpacking as a romantic experience the way some people dream of New York: gourmet restaurants, vintage e me wines, a box at the opera, a carriage ride through Central Park have at midnight, and love between silken sheets at the St. Regis. The best part of camping must be to open your eyes in the morning, that. see the sunrise, the sky, and the trees--and feel the warmth of a lover there with you in your double sleeping bag.

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 92-96). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

Offit then discusses her observations of her patients reactions to morning sex, it's like it, women often don't...exceptions abound.
Image Credit: Sidney Offit and The Avodah K. Offit Papers, 
Archives & Special Collections, Hunter College Libraries, 
Hunter College of The City University of New York.

I was happy to see that Offit did not continue the extensive cataloguing of the various personality types and the particular sexual neurosis that each type exhibited with each of the other types as she did in The Sexual Self: How Character Shapes Sexual Experience. This smacked too much of a Viennese purple velvet analytical chaise with Freud stroking his goatee while asking me questions regarding my mother's emotional rejection of every girl in which I had showed any interest, strongly paralleled to questions regarding premature ejaculation. While I take a certain level of pride in being a somewhat neurotic INFJ, or a Negotiator/Director in Helen Fisher's personality types, and even a Mature Soul in the Scholar role in my unicorn riding, New Age flakery, for the life of me I couldn't determine if I was a passive, a passive aggressive, schizoid, paranoid, or a compulsive. I was pretty sure that I was neither a histrionic or narcissist. Blue collar slob, didn't seem to be one of the personality types.

One area she discussed that I was quite taken with was Postcoital Feelings. Most books I have read on sex have a few sentences on the afterglow or a paragraph on postcoital pillow talk. Dr. Offit devotes an entire essay to the subject and she mentions the difference between men and women. She offered this observation with a bit of humor:

The troubles people have during sex cause them to flounder about the bed after sex in various degrees of unrest. Many couples fail to discuss their immediate reactions to sexual dilemmas. While these need not be dissected immediately like a cadaver on the postcoital bed, they can be touched on delicately. In any case, it's well to discuss them sometime between one lovemaking experience and the next.

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2662-2665). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

Also in Postcoital Feeling Offit discusses a phenomena that I have never heard of and yet have suffered in a minor way. So it was with great interest that I read the following passage:

After sex, women more than men tend to be in touch with "postcoital tristesse, " feeling sad without precisely assigning a reason. In therapy, women most often trace this sadness to feelings of loss and separation. The closeness of intercourse is over. When a person feels sad about one parting, all other separations and losses seem to join the procession. People who have lost a significant relative, friend, teacher, or even another lover often mourn this loss after sexual intimacy. The reduction of boundaries when naked bodies merge may release conscious or unconscious memories. Some people are perfectly aware that they are remembering a grandmother's caress or a parent's tenderness; others are bewildered by the mystery and do not know what they are lamenting. The French expression for orgasm is "the little death." And after such a death we have the opportunity to mourn at our own gravesites. Resentment or depression can result when a lover ignores these feelings, runs away from them, negates them as "irrational," or tries to be cheery in the face of our penchant for grief.

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2764-2772). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

Never one to miss an opportunity to feel a lovely dose of melancholy, I have over the years often felt, while entwined with my wife in a postcoital bliss, the cool wind of mortality blow across my bare and sweat beaded behind. “One day, all this will be taken from you. Either you or she will survive the parting of the other, and lie in this bed alone.” To counter this postcoital tristesse I at times have a fantasy of the furnace exploding right at the moment of a mutual orgasm when she is 100, and I am 104, our bodies melted together and orgasm faces forever branded on to our countenances.

Dr. Offit strikes me as though she was a very private person, most likely an introvert. That coupled with a non-emotional professional air of stoic impassivity while discussing topics highly fraught with emotional and cultural expectations and norms, one could expect a certain level of clinical detachment to her writing. Yet I found a high level of warmth and humanity to her writing. She at times would give us an entertaining overt glimpse of Avodah (verses Dr. Offit) such as this description of one of her patient's perfume:

A third [patient] wears a preparation whose molecules are so arranged that they inspire me to want to don the high heels that I never wear except as a sexual indulgence. I haven't asked her the name of her mixture. It might be dangerous.

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 1882-1884). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

Another time she tells us of a postcoital dispute that she and her husband had when they were first married:

He would sometimes accuse me of being heartless. "You actually roll over and go to sleep!" he would say. "Just like the legendary man." Imagine--I, who had been with him for the past forty-eight hours, and doing unspeakable female things! "I need to close my eyes and think for a while, that's all," I would reply. "Besides, I like to be held while I'm sleeping. That's not like a man.”

Offit, Avodah K. Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist (Avodah Offit Memorial Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2653-2656). Beckham Publications Group. Kindle Edition.

I immediately thought of the narrator’s wish in the The Grapes of Wrath regarding the sins alluded to in a revival meeting, “Wisht I knowed what all the ‘unspeakable female things’ was, so I could ask for ’em" (adapted from quote on page 388).

At other times, her revelations are more covert. Every now and again I would detect a certain wistfulness in her more explicit descriptions. I could almost hear her sigh, rub her eyes, and long to set down the pen, wake her husband, and gloriously do what she had just been writing about.

There are three negative things which I think should be mentioned regarding this book. The first is that the Kindle edition does have some formatting and typographical errors. You can see some in the quotes I provided. I don’t get my knickers in knot over such errors but if you do, you may find it better to buy a paperback copy of the book (although I can't vouch for the fact they may not have the same errors). The second thing is that one must remember that books are always victims of the culture and social norms of the era in which they are published. When reading this book if you find ideas that may seem dated or a little less enlightened than current thought, think back to how you felt in 1981 when the book was first published or when she revised it in 1995. Almost a quarter century has passed since Offit expressed her “night thoughts,” as such one may have to exercise some tolerance when reading this. The last thought that occurs to me is that I don’t imagine the Dr. Offit found many plumbers or waitresses from Queens among her patients. If there is a certain “first world” aspect to some of her patient’s problems, I think it may be in the nature of the type of people who are inclined and can afford to go see a sex therapist.

I immensely enjoyed this book and as such, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Stephen Snyder who mentioned and quoted Avodah Offit's books in his excellent book Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship. Had I not read Snyder's book, I may very well had never heard about Offit's books. Both Snyder and Offit have done much to enrich my understanding of love and sex.

In probably what amounts to a classic case of therapist/reader transference, when I completed this book several days ago, I fell into a bit of a depression. I finished Night Thoughts, now what? I could read her third book, the novel Virtual Love. But no I wanted more Night Thoughts. I felt like I had lost a friend. I moped about the house and found myself being dragged back to reread certain passages. Years ago a reviewer in the The New Republic called her the Montaigne of human sexuality. I agree but to me Avodah Offit is something far beyond an accomplished essayist. I have read that sex is God's joke on humanity. Perhaps Avodah Offit through not only her work but also her writing was something of a Divine Comedian. Knowledge and understanding are the underpinnings of wisdom. Perhaps Offit was able through that wisdom and her faith in love, in some small way, turn that joke back around on God. I imagine them now, God and Avodah, having a drink in some Bohemian dive out on the seedier edge of Heaven, well away from the righteous, laughing like hell about male frustration over multiple female orgasm. Then God in an unusual display of humility asks with a glint in his eye "So Avodah, what were those unspeakable female things?"

View all my reviews

Dr. Avodah K. Offit passed away in January of 2015, here is her obituary that appeared in the New York Times:

Image URLs:

Cover Image:Óleo_sobre_lienzo%2C_169_x_189.5_cm%29.jpg

Dr. Avodah K. Offit:   

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review, Love and Trouble, A Midlife Reckoning, By Claire Dederer

Love and Trouble: A Midlife ReckoningLove and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning by Claire Dederer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the frank discussion of her past and her struggle with mid-life crisis. I also liked her struggle with what she felt was the cause of her youthful promiscuity. But the part I found most compelling was chapter 21 On Victimhood, where she provides a short albeit brutally honest analysis of her desires, her discomfort at being a woman, and her deep need for sex:

But there’s a deeper truth as well: I’m still freaked out (still!) simply by being a woman. I dress butch; I can barely stand to put on a skirt. It makes me feel like I’m in drag. The trappings of womanhood embarrass me utterly. At the same time I’m riven by my outsize sex drive. I hate being a woman, and yet I yearn to be fucked as a woman. I yearn to be dominated by a figure of incontestable authority, who will make me become what I never wanted to be: a woman. I don’t know how make myself a woman; you do it for me.

Dederer, Claire. Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning (p. 222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I have by comparison had a rather tame and by modern standards a rather boring sexual life. Prior to marriage I had rare, unsatisfying, and mostly drunken sexual encounters, which I would now prefer never happened...even rare as they were. With my wife I found a deeply satisfying sexual relationship that is tightly intertwined with our love for each other like the snakes on a caduceus. We have been together for 43 years and married for almost 41 so boring or not I think we did something right. Yet I take none of this for granted. Sex is something that I contemplate a great deal about and I have often thought about this notion of the dominant male and submissive female, and as such, it is what I found so compelling in the above quote. Always fearing a lack of sexual equality, I prefer to think of this in softer terms than dominant and submissive, although good words seem to evade me. Yin and yang I think is closer to the truth. Perhaps penetrative and receptive. But my observation especially in our younger and more spry days, is that love making may have started out with me dominating her but it ended with the roles reversed where I was hanging on for dear life, having my back pounded and scratched, and often trying to keep from descending into helpless giggles over the pure fury of it. While my orgasms have always been paltry affairs, my wife's are these Wagnerian throes of gotterdammerung where the skies roar with thunder and lightening and the Earth rends and threatens to swallow us live. It is a magnificent gift from a Divine Feminine Goddess to mortal man. Boring? I don't think so.

The other aspect that I have observed, especially in long sessions of afternoon delight is that there comes a point where the borders of male and female, dominant and submissive, and even lust falls away and we become innocent genderless children involved in a very serious form of play.

So I enjoyed Dederer's thoughts and her ability to put them into meaningful words. It made me think of my own life and what sex has meant to my wife and I. All that said though, I am a bit disappointed with the book. Sex seems to be something that is removed from love for Dederer. I am sure she loves her husband and she acknowledges they have sex. But they seem to be two separate functions, or maybe I missed something. But for my wife and I, we make love, we don't fuck. It is just a matter of semantics? The sentimentality of old age? Perhaps, but while I can objectively call it sex, coitus, copulation, fucking...emotionally when I think of her and not so much of the act, no, it is love making. Sweet and perhaps a bit violent--but wonderfully so.

I also enjoyed Dederer's prelude to this book, an article she wrote in The Atlantic:

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Now is not the time...BULLSHIT!

Emma Gonzalez was just a high school kid like a lot of other high school kids but not any more.  This fiery young woman gave an emotion filled speech that has gone viral, and she intends to change the gun control conversation in America.

I am sure that that the various pro-gun lobbies have an army of experts picking over her speech looking for technical inaccuracies, questionable data, and the imprecise use of words.  They will make great hay about how she has her facts wrong, and the usual pious dog faces will get on television and remind us how they are sending their "thoughts and prayers" and "now is not the time to discuss gun control."  Emma and her fellow students call that bullshit.  

Here are a few incontrovertible facts:

This young woman and her peers are pissed off.

She and her peers do not believe that mass shootings have no solutions. 

She and many of her peers are old enough to vote.

Young people are quite adept at using social media. 

Beware hand wringing, platitude offering, do nothing, bags of hot air, these kids have your number and they are coming after you. 

Ms Gonzalez, you have made more sense to me than any of the bullshit that has come out Washington in a very long time.  You called it right...BULLSHIT.   You have restored my faith in humanity.  

Is it not ironic that high school students have more common sense than our elected leaders?  Is it not sad that they can't be just high school kids, with no worries?   


CNN, YouTube video:  Florida student to NRA and Trump: 'We call BS'

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review, The Joy of Sex, by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised EditionThe Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading this book, which has been a strange oversight on my part due to my interest and love for the subject. I really enjoyed this book and I must caution that my rating is based more on my enjoyment of it rather than the value of the content. I think some modern readers may find the book a bit too fuddy duddy, too heteronormative, too monogamous, too vanilla, too romantic, too quaint and sentimental, and perhaps even a bit too love oriented, all things that I love because I am a 68 year old heteronormative, monogamous, vanilla, romantic, old fuddy duddy who is too quaint and too sentimental, and very much in love with the woman that I make love to, my wife of 40 years.

This is not a beginner’s guide, it is billed as “gourmet love making.” As such the book assumes the reader or preferably readers are experienced with sex and are in a committed loving relationship:

“ we take some things for granted – having intercourse naked and spending time over it; being able and willing to make it last, up to a whole afternoon on occasion; having privacy; not being scared of things like genital kisses; not being obsessed with one sexual trick to the exclusion of all others; and, of course, loving each other. As the title implies, this book is about love as well as sex: you don’t get high-quality sex on any other basis – either you love each other before you come to want it, or, if you happen to get it, you love each other because of it, or both.”

Comfort, Alex. The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 244-249). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

For those who may be concerned with love or “the feelings” as they seem to be called these days, the book does not dwell excessively on love but it is mentioned in first, and last chapters, and a three page chapter titled Love.  One thing I was pleased with was that the parallels to a cook book were rather minimal.  It didn’t get overly cute with cook book analogies.

The other thing that should be noted is that this edition was revised in 2008 by Susan Quilliam. As such it has been updated so the book recognizes that the Internet exists and has had some of the more recent research applied to the techniques, but the book is not going to give you tips on how to use Tindr or other dating sites nor is it going to explain the latest trends in the statistics on sexual demographics. One is not overwhelmed in modernity. Other than a few technological and cultural mentions, this book would still fly back in 1972.

There are no plumbing diagrams or descriptions on how the plumbing works. You are supposed to know all that and basically have experience with sex. The original drawings of the hirsute 70’s couple (based on a real couple) have been replaced (some, but not I, would say to its detriment) with tasteful color and sepia photos of an average attractive young couple in various states of undress and embrace. The explicit illustrations are water color paintings of what appears to be the same couple. All the illustrations are in good taste and get across the point without wallowing in it. The couple seems to demonstrate intimacy, tenderness, and indeed joy instead of lust.

The ideas presented in this book are for the most part just that, idea suggestions giving a framework for an activity rather than a detailed set of instructions…“put this here for three counts and stroke that for seven seconds” type of thing. The reader uses their own imagination to build an activity on the framework. Entries are relatively short, some only a page long. Cautions are provided where appropriate but for the most part the book relies on the couple having experience and common sense.

The book is not hierarchical. You don’t have to read chapter one before you read chapter two. Actually the chapters are not numbered, and they are really not chapters but rather I suppose the sexual equivalent to recipes. To me they were more like articles or encyclopedia entries…although not to imply they are boring. Again the book relies on the reader’s experience. For the most part you can read any section you wish in any order and have no difficulty understanding the concept. There are some articles that some readers may find kinky or well beyond things that they want to try. No big deal, just don't read those sections. It won't affect the rest of the book. Where appropriate, the book (Kindle edition) has hot links contained in the text that will take one to other articles of similar interest. The book has a hot linked index and a section listing resources.

The book had a section on tenderness. I have never seen that in a sexual book before. I found the section intriguing:

Tenderness is shown fully in the way you touch each other. What it implies at root is a constant awareness of what your partner is feeling, plus the knowledge of how to heighten that feeling, gently, toughly, slowly, or fast, and this can only come from an inner state of mind between the two of you. No really tender person can simply turn over and go to sleep afterwards.

Comfort, Alex. The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 335-338). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

Of course, I have seen this concept before perhaps not stated as succinctly, but I have never seen it labeled tenderness. But I also found the section in want. It sort of teased me with the concept of tenderness but didn’t satisfy me. There is this feeling I get for my wife often during or after love making, but other times too, where I feel this tingling in the center of my chest. It is a craving for union, a desire to engulf her and be engulfed by her, extreme affection for her. It is an overwhelming lust of my heart to become one with her. Tenderness seems like a good word this feeling.

Another concept I liked in this book was that sex is a form of play:

It is only recently, as ethology has replaced psychoanalytic theory, that counselors have come to realize that sex, besides being a serious interpersonal matter, is a deeply rewarding form of play.... One of the most important uses of play is in expressing a healthy awareness of sexual equality. This involves letting both sexes take turns in controlling the game; sex is no longer what men do to women and women are supposed to enjoy. Sexual interaction is sometimes a loving fusion, sometimes a situation where each is a “sex object” – maturity in sexual relationships involves balancing, rather than denying, the personal and impersonal aspects of arousal. Both are essential and built-in to humans. For anyone who is short on either of these elements, play is the way to learn: men learn to stop domineering and trying to perform; women discover that they can take control in the give-and-take of the game rather than by nay-saying. If they achieve this, Man and Woman are one another’s best friends in the very sparks they strike from one another.

Comfort, Alex. The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 136-145). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

More than anything else though what I liked about this book and especially having it in a Kindle version is that it inspired a lot of fond memories for things that my wife and I have tried and sometimes failed at during our love life of the past 42 years. I highlighted many passages and wrote many steamy and loving recollections and of some of the awkward foibles in the form of Kindle notes that are now embedded in my copy of the book. I could have never done that with a paper copy. All in all I had a wonderful time reading and writing notes in this book. In some ways I have personalized the book in such a way that it is now almost a private journal. I really regret that I had never read it sooner.

View all my reviews