Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blogging Question

I get the feeling from reading around that blog posts are generally supposed to be less wordy than essays. I'd sort of like to chat about these two articles:

1. A piece on Saul Bellow's novel Mr. Sammler's Planet, NYC in the 70s, and basic cultural conservative ideas, which struck me as weirdly nostalgic for the bad old days, and

2. A sort of depressing article on sexless married couples and affairs.

However, I could write essays about them. Maybe we could discuss them in chunks? Or just forget the whole thing?


Holly said...

I just got through the sex and marriage article. Man. What a disaster. It just oozes defeatism.

It's often occurred to me to wonder how much of the suffering of married men is sponsored/nurtured/engendered by the scientific fixation on how men can't possibly live comfortably within the cruel confines of monogamy? (ie, articles like this one.)

Yes, of course you're suffering, we're all suffering, boo hoo, if only the world were a better place, where I could rub my genitals on anything that catches my fancy, and the streets are paved with gold and cigarettes are the #1 source of vitamins and minerals....

I have little patience with it.

rufus said...

So, wait, they're not the number one source of vitamins?

Yeah, my response was sort of the same. It seems to me that people all do marriage differently. For me (hopefully not revealing too much here), if I'm working 60 hours a week and stressed about work or bills or whatever, the sex isn't paramount. But, people seem to compartmentalize it. Like you're either having sex or you're not and, if you're not, something must be done! (but, you know, forget about all the otehr aspects of your life)

Hiromi said...

I'm more sympathetic toward the article. The tone did seem rather self-pitying, but it raises questions that I think are worthy of exploration.

I don't think the "married for life" model works for all people, but I'm not sure there are a whole lot of options outside of that model. There's a lot of negative baggage associated with being single past a certain age. There must be something wrong with you. If you're a woman, you're an object of pity (oh, poor thing, no one wanted you?), and if you're a man, you're subject to the same pity or you're seen as a childish man unable to commit. In any case, it seems like getting married and having children are still seen as necessary rites of passage in being fully human and full members of society. People internalize these values, even though they have reservations about it, and get married despite them. And then when it doesn't work for them, *they* get the blame for not *making* it work.

Holly said...

Rufus, a lot of people seem to go into marriage with a pre-formed grudge, about how that other person owes them sex and can never deliver all of it. It's a bit baffling.

Hiromi... I didn't mean to suggest that there's a One True Life Modality, and I'm not without sympathy for people who aren't getting what they want/need out of their life/marriage. I think it's actually the self pitying tone that turned me off about that. That, and it seemed chaotic and poorly written.

Hiromi said...

a lot of people seem to go into marriage with a pre-formed grudge, about how that other person owes them sex and can never deliver all of it. It's a bit baffling.

I really think that in order for a marriage to succeed, the two people must have the same views on sex. I think that sex is a basic, fundamental human need and you can't ask someone who has a strong sex drive to go without sex. Sexuality is a part of humanity; I don't think it's dismissable as a "lesser" need, something that a lot of people who don't have strong sex drives seem to believe (I'm not saying that *you're* saying that; this is something I've heard people imply). Because *they* don't think it's a big deal, they think that other people should be able to "control themselves."

But on the other hand, can you expect someone who doesn't want to put out to put out? Mismatched sex drives is a recipe for disaster.

Holly said...

Hiromi, I agree that people should go into it with sexual compatibility, but I really perceive a bigger problem in mismatched attitudes. Suppose one person comes into a marriage thinking, "Sex is a fun thing two people can do together that will enhance their intimacy and possibly lead to children"... while the OTHER person thinks, "Sex is a thing my spouse can and will NEVER give me enough of no matter what, and might also lead to children OH GOD I'M DOOMED!!"

Even if those two people have identical biological/physical/neurochemical drive for sex, and are well-suited to each other as sex partners, they're not going to be happy in the long term.

rufus said...

I don't think the married for life, no questions asked model works for everyone either. Actually, I think I posed the question here once about husbands "on the down low" why they should have to give up marriage to suck cock, since obviously they can't do that with their wife. Why not make it an occasional hobby, something to do together? Of course, I'm not a believer in hetero or homosexuality either.

I think a few things depressed me about the article:
1. the bio psych angle- not only are these arguments circular anyway, but I feel a rush to deny any sort of individuality and reduce ourselves to chemistry sets or demographic categories.
2. The inability, or unwillingness, to discuss the situation honestly with the wives. I can't imagine being in this situation and not being able to discuss it, and as I noticed with these people, not being able to listen to my wife's thoughts on it.
3. Again, the sort of be-all end-all aspect of it. Woody Allen had the line that people place too much emphasis on the orgasm to make up for the empty parts of their lives. Again, maybe it's just me, but I have great sex when my life isn't a miserable stress-ball. But I get the feeling that people tend to treat sex like they now treat Prozac.
4. Lastly, I would say that I was also a bit depressed about the underlying idea in the article that everyone has to be married the same way. To be honest, I don't really get jealousy, so that was hard to relate to as well.

Glad to hear everyone's thoughts!

Holly said...

After re-reading all the comments, it kinda looks like we're all on the same page, just discussing it in different terms.

narrator said...

relationships are just one more way in which societal expectations straitjacket human diversity, right? I can imagine a thousand ways two people might organize themselves "romantically" or in terms of "household" - I'm sure we all could. But language and society forces a narrower set of choices on our own brains.

That said, why can't blogs be long? This is my newest question. Could we have a blogged Journal for example? I might try.

rufus said...

Holly: Yeah, that tends to happen around here I think.

Narrator: I think that's right. One of the weird things for me about being married is that, when we're hanging out with other married people, they will make these jokes about "married life" that I just can't relate to at all. The funny thing is, I think most people understand that you can be single in a million different ways, but once you get married, it's like you've crossed the threshold to an entire lifestyle that they assume is fairly black and white.

It's a good question about blogs. I don't know if they're writing or broadcasting really. Or is it a conversation? I like writing long things, but I found that when I posted them, nobody commented. Of course, that either means they had nothing to say, or no time to read 37 paragraphs. I just figured it was rude on my part- like the guy at the party who keeps talking. Claire will agree that I am talkative in daily life anyway.

Incidentally, I am planning to get the Another Sky Journal up and going again when I am at home and can update it more frequently. I'd be glad to link to your stuff there.

narrator said...

re: blogs

I'm not sure we have a definition yet. I started blogging (originally on xanga) as a microfiction outlet, and 1,000 words or less seemed perfect, but then we could run in any direction: from (140 character fiction) to... whatever. I think this is largely about teaching (and/or finding) the audience. Millions of people read New York Times Magazine articles online every weekend because they expect them to be that length. So who knows, maybe a journal/blog is a "jog."