52 Authors: Week 33 - Marion Montgomery
52 Authors: Week 34 - G.K. Chesterton

Stuff I'd Rather Have a Root Canal Than Do

Read Sandra Tsing Loh on Erica Jong, an opportunity presented by a recent issue of The Atlantic. If I'd had any doubt, the blurb on the Contents page would have convinced me: "In her 70s, she's as eager as ever for sex and adventure."

These old people still preaching the sexual revolution are a sad sight. Especially the women. One is less surprised by that sort of foolishness from old men.


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Yay for these old people. They've managed to make talking about sex the most boring thing in the world.


If not actually distasteful.

I was surprised to see Hugh Hefner when I clicked on your little link. Funny! He has become a rather pathetic character though; I guess he always has been, but moreso the older he gets. Yikes.

I wonder if he really believes that girl finds him attractive.

I don't know if y'all know Sandra Tsing Loh, btw--she is an important part of the awful-seeming-ness of that piece. She's one of those journalists, mostly but not all women, who seem to be basically flibbertigibbets with an intellectual veneer.

I wonder if she has a chariot.


But I must say, I doubt that what you say about the root canal is true--or at least what precedes the root canal.


Definitely the preceding, not so sure about the operation.

After several hours, I think I finally got your chariot reference. She's a witch?

Swing Lo. It was really dumb. It's that kind of day.


My first thought after hitting "Post" was, "Why did I do that?"


I think this is a demonstration of the proposition that old fools were commonly young fools. I recall my mother watching Jong's performance on a late afternoon talk show ca. 1975 and being just disgusted with her. Prior to that, she'd been given a copy of Fear of Flying; she'd gotten to one particular scene in the book (I think it involved sex in a bathtub) and thrown the book away. Jong's business then was purveyance of soft-core pornography.

My mother's contemporaries, for all their shortcomings as human beings, were generally people who behaved satisfactorily at all stages of their life and could in old age take some satisfaction in the life they had lived. Many in the next cohorts down have some 'splainin to do, and it looks like Erica Jong has elected to double-down on gross.

This isn't altogether novel. I seem to recall 35 years ago or so Gloria Swanson giving interviews on 'sex after 70'. She'd been one of Joseph Kennedy's chippies in her younger years.

I guess he always has been, but moreso the older he gets. Yikes.

My mother'd have told you 30-odd years ago that what happens as you age is that you get to be a caricature of yourself.

In My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marrriage, Elizabeth Borton de Trevino tells about her father's response when she told him she was marrying a man from Mexico. He wasn't sure she could deal with the change in culture. "Don't think he's going to change," the father said, "He'll only get more so."

This is a pretty funny book.


"Swing Low"--ha. Pronouns again--I thought "she" was Hefner's girl.

"double down on gross" Yeah, that's pretty accurate.

I read at least part of Fear of Flying when it was a best-seller. I don't think I ever finished it although I don't remember for sure. What I remember being most offended by was the way she held up certain intimate and embarrassing details about her ex-husband (Mr. Jong) for public ridicule. Yes, it was ostensibly fiction, but as they say "thinly disguised."

I guess really if the conditions are right to have a root canal there is nothing in the world you would rather do.


the way she held up certain intimate and embarrassing details about her ex-husband (Mr. Jong)

By some accounts, they were still married when the book was published. She ran through three marriages before hooking up with...a trial lawyer.

Here's her father's obituary:


And she's the issue of Columbia University. What Michael Kelly said: "We have achieved the classless society. No one has any class at all"

In Jong's case, maybe it sort of runs in the family. In this piece by Jong's daughter, for instance, we learn that one of the daughter's great aunts "was notorious for being one of the most sexually active octogenarians at The Hebrew Home for the Aged". !

The piece is titled "Being a prude in a family of libertines" and describes what it was like growing up as Jong's daughter in the 1980s in NYC, when "sex was everywhere". Some of the things talked about sound almost unbelievable, but I'm afraid they're probably all true.

Bill was a member of AARP for one year. I just couldn't get over the Planned Parenthood connection, but if that had not been enough, the articles in the magazine would have done it. It was the one where Eva Marie Saint was talking about how much she and her husband enjoyed steamy Parisian nights that I particularly remember.


Jody Bottum published something recently in Facebook where he said that Edna O'Brien wanted to break with all convention and have sex and erm that's it. Jong seemed the same. So they were just dirty books. At the time it was a novelty that a woman was writing such stuff but erm that's it.

I saw her on TV defending Clinton during the Affaire Lewinsky. So much for the feminist angle

I've been thinking about St. Therese and how after she had been cured when the Blessed Mother smiled at her said that she wouldn't tell anyone because then she would lose her joy, but she did, and she did.

And then on the day of her First Communion she said, "I would not tell you everything, even if I could, for there are certain things which lose their fragrance in the open air, certain thoughts so intimate that they cannot be translated into earthly language without losing at once their deep and heavenly meaning."

This is why all this incessant talk about sex is such a travesty. There's no fragance and no real joy.


So much for the feminist angle

If you understand feminism to mean not a body of social thought but a set of improvisations to be made use of in argument, her position is not nonsensical.

It's both. It's a body of thought but one that is completely untroubled by its own incoherence, thus able to improvise as you say.

That's very well said, Janet. I concluded a long time ago that it may be impossible to depict sex very explicitly and at the same time successfully in art, setting aside things meant to ridicule it. I can't think of an instance I consider successful.

I don't know anything about Edna O'Brien but I just looked her up on Wikipedia and thought "Oh, another one."

I wonder who the person described by Molly J-F as "MC Hammer if MC Hammer were a white lesbian" was.

"...no real joy"

If there is a single word that can sum up what the contemporary sex culture appears to me to be, it's "joyless."

"They've managed to make talking about sex the most boring thing in the world."

Grim laughter.

As Kathy Shaidle likes to say: "Hugh Hefner: not dead yet?"

"This is why all this incessant talk about sex is such a travesty. There's no fragance and no real joy."


I love the title of this post, Maclin.

Sandra Tsing Loh was the reason why we canceled our Atlantic subscription.

She was only one of several for me. Hannah Rosin (Rosen?) was another. Her essay on how great the college hook-up culture is for women, because it encourages them to learn the skills of cold-hearted ambition, was a real low point.

How could I have missed that?


My characterization of it is not generous but not unfair, either, if my memory is at all accurate.

The Atlantic does still publish Caitlin Flanagan, though, and she seems to be a sort of anti-feminist, or at least a writer who often says what feminists don't want to hear.

Yes, she is and she does. She has the virtue of looking at what actually is rather than what leftist ideas say it is.

I found the Hanna Rosin piece--here. The description indicates that I was not unfair:

"The hookup culture that has largely replaced dating on college campuses has been viewed, in many quarters, as socially corrosive and ultimately toxic to women, who seemingly have little choice but to participate. Actually, it is an engine of female progress—one being harnessed and driven by women themselves."

"Joyless" is an inadequate term for what's (apparently) going on.

My wife re-subscribed us, btw--something she saw that looked interesting, I think--anyway that's why I even know about the Jong piece.

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