This rant, originally written in 2007, predicts my experience with dating and sex in SoCal even more than it describes my situation in Chicago during the original writing.
If Becker’s analysis of anality and Straus’s take on the sexuality of obsessives are at all accurate (and both anecdote and intuition say they are), it is no small wonder the heterosexual American men of my generation are so pre-occupied with anal intercourse in its various forms. Such intercourse in its cultural context is the intersection of anality with the reduction of our potentially life-affirming sexual natures to nothing more than the non-unifying acts of obsessives driven by our neurotic culture to assuage (pun intended) each other’s existential lonelinesses through the pursuit of what has become just another empty marker of success, the passage of time, or a false notion of self-worth.
Anal sex is this decade’s BMW.
If you’re male or male-oriented, you’ve gotta have it if you want to be viewed in a positive light; if you want the envy of your peers; if you want to achieve that debauched, luxuriant feeling so necessary in keeping you obsessed with shame—obsessed with obsession at least—instead of free to enjoy the perfect, creative, limitless forces brought about by real, unforced, unhurried, unscripted intimacy. Of which all possible sexual behaviors are clearly a vital part, with the difference being an intangible sense of co-being, of cooperation, harmony, beauty, unity, and comfort rather than a sense of performing, of worry, of shame/guilt, of isolation even in such close quarters.
I am only at this point in my life realizing the cardinality of shame in the average American sexuality. Raised outside both religion and atheism, I was damned with neither shame nor an irresponsible amount of personal liberty, but was instead blessed with common sense and balance. Unfortunately for me, those traits are not at all valuable in this society, where one is required to be a Puritan above the table and a libertine beneath it (neither of which acts under his own volition but under pressures from above and from below). I end up feeling isolated not as a result of any incapacity for unity, but as a result of my extreme and thorough difference.
Granted, part of my blessing/curse is my lack of interest in being male-oriented/masculine and my enjoyment of my feminine identity and thought. Part is also my facility with words and thereby with certain insights, and my need to use both in (arguably) poetic forms. As Ernest Becker reminds me today, “[M]an’s utter bafflement at the sheer non-sense of creation…to take such a miracle [as feminine beauty] and put miracles again within it, deep in the mystery of eyes that peer out—the eye that gave even the dry Darwin a chill: to do all this, and to combine it with an anus that shits! It is too much.” According to him, our daily intimacy with the persistent, irreconcilable paradox of being fully human—and of knowing it—mired knee-deep in shit, nevertheless having, as Oscar Wilde put it, “a view of the stars,” is the reason “poets live in torture.” (The Denial of Death, Part I, Ch. 3.)
Thus tortured am I, and baffled that so few admit to being baffled and instead choose a sort of purposeful furious path to forgetting through getting and getting and getting. I have chosen, as have a few others before me, “to live deliberately,” neither forgetting nor regretting my humanity and all its facets.