I’ve mentioned a few times my idea to write a sex therapy manual, for the inadequate reason that I got one as a gift from the friend of its author. The crassness of its style and content infected me with “book rage”. Like the proverbial man in the street with an abstract painting, I cried “I could do better than that!”
It made me think, but I didn't get far. Sex therapy’s based on the premise that someone has a problem with sex. Using the lens of “I” and its personal memories, I determined that the biggest sex problem is not getting enough, or not getting any. What kind of book could help with that? “How to make yourself more presentable”? Or perhaps a lengthy exposition of “Ebbry hoe ha dem tick a bush”. This is a Jamaican proverb meaning “For every hoe, there’s a stick somewhere in the bush which fits it”. There’s somebody for everybody.
Above: real female stickleback
Below: as imagined by the sex-starved male
Click illustration for source and more inf.
Fantasy, like animated cartoons, depends on images which distil a vision of reality, and press particular buttons in our psyches. Musing on whether pornography has a basis deep in our animal inheritance, I remembered the work of Konrad Lorenz, the celebrated Austrian ethologist who joined Niklaas Tinbergen in researching the love-life of the stickleback, a fish commonly found in ponds and streams. If you make a crude model of a male stickleback, emphasising its red belly, you will excite the female, when she is in the mood, and attract the wrath of rival males. Likewise the male will find a model with a grey belly swollen with eggs most interesting. They are more attracted to the pornographic image than the real thing.
To the boy growing up, the unassisted imagination yields erotic treasures long before he knows how to approach a real girl, or so it was in my case. Indeed I pity the others, who learned promiscuity at an early age. I’m suddenly reminded of John Cowper Powys’ novelistic creation of Larry Zed, a half-witted gypsy boy. Let me quote:
“She’s like me ‘Nothing Girl’,” he said to himself, “who do cuddle I to sleep! If only she’d let poor Larry do it, how he’d hold she close!”
Never had young Zed made love to anyone in his life; and only with that presence at night, when his limbs were relaxed and the labours of the day released him, had he ever really known, even in his imagination, what a girl’s body can do to drive away pain and suffering and anger and misery from the mind of mortal man.