Erosnoxious; Or, When in Rome, do as the Romans do

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I don’t know a whole lot about the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. I do know he wrote a funny, tweaking little book called Listen, Little Man and a rather more serious one called The Mass Psychology of Fascism. He turned a good phrase and had a love for humans, not to mention humanity. As a disciple of Freud, he of course privileged the role of sexuality and the unconscious in interpreting human behavior, but at least he wasn’t a dogmatist about it.

Reich was born in Dobryzcynica, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (present day Galicia, Poland) in 1897. Reich would go on to fight in World War I on the Italian front (opposite Hemingway), eventually settling in Vienna where he spent much of his life researching and practicing. After moving to Germany, he shortly thereafter emigrated to Norway upon Hitler’s ascension in 1933. He continued his research there until moving to the United States in 1939. After teaching at the New School for Social Research in New York City, his disciples set up the today still extant Wilhelm Reich Foundation in Rangeley, Maine in 1949. After publishing more books, most notably The Murder of Christ in 1953, Reich was imprisoned for his controversial work on human sexuality in the neo-Puritanical mid-1950s. Burn the witch, in other words. He died in prison of a heart attack at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 1957.

Some of what the reader will find in this stew of pungent quotations will come off as rather imperious. Imperial times deserve imperious contempt.

“ But mistaking insolence for freedom has always been the hallmark of the slave… And now you feel free…free from cooperation and responsibility. That, little man, is why you and the world are where you are.”

“You’ll wake up from your nightmare, little man, and find yourself lying helpless on the ground, because you steal from the giver and give to the thief. You have mistaken the right of free speech and criticism for the right to shoot off your mouth and crack stupid jokes. You want to criticize but not to be criticized, and as a result you get torn to pieces and shot. You want to attack without exposing yourself to attack. That’s why you always shoot from ambush.”

“Because you have no memory for things that happened twenty years ago, you’re still mouthing the same nonsense as two thousand years ago. Worse, you cling with might and main to such absurdities as ‘race,’ ‘class’ and ‘nation,’ and the obligation to observe a religion and repress your love. You’re afraid to acknowledge the depth of your wretchedness. From time to time you lift your head out of the muck and shout Hurrah!”

“‘ How then,’ I hear you ask, ‘shall I attain my end, whether it be Christian love, socialism, or American democracy?’ Your Christian love and your socialism and your American democracy are what you do each day, your manner of thinking each hour, of embracing your life companion and loving your child; they are your attitude of social responsibility toward your work, and your determination not to become like the crushers of life you so hate. But you, little man, abuse the freedom conferred on you by democratic institutions; you do your best to destroy those institutions instead of giving them a firm root in your daily life.”

“You’ll have a good secure life when being alive means more to you than security, love more than money, your freedom more than public or partisan opinion; when the mood of Beethoven’s or Bach’s music becomes the mood of your whole life—you have it in you, little man, somewhere deep down in a corner of your being; when your thinking is in harmony, and no longer in conflict with your feelings; when you’ve learned to recognize two things in their season; your gifts and the onset of old age; when you let yourself be guided by the thoughts of great sages and no longer by the crimes of great warriors; when you cease to set more store by a marriage certificate than by love between a man and a woman; when you learn to recognize your errors promptly and not too late, as you do today; when you pay the men and women who educate your children better than politicians; when truths inspire you and empty formulas repel you; when you freely communicate with your fellow workers in foreign countries directly, and no longer through diplomats…”

[But, and there’s always a but]

“You don’t want to be an eagle, little man, and that’s why the vultures devour you. You’re afraid of eagles; that why you live in herds and are devoured in herds. Because some of your hens have hatched out vulture eggs. And the vultures have become your leaders in your fight against the eagles, who wanted to lead you to faraway, better worlds. The vultures taught you to eat carrion, to content yourselves with a few crumbs of grain, and to shout, ‘Heil, great vulture!’”

“…You [meaning Reich, according to the little man] said to them ‘go forth and fuck.’ Your mind perverts every idea. In your life my loving embrace becomes an act of pornography. You don’t know what I’m talking about, little man. That’s why you keep sinking back into the swamp.”

You can only take, you can’t give. That’s why it’s no more conceivable to you that a man might find his greatest joy in giving than it might be possible to spend three minutes with a member of the opposite sex without starting to fuck.”

“Happiness wants to be worked for and earned. But you just want to consume happiness. It runs away from you because it doesn’t want to be consumed by you.”

We're S-C-R-E-W-I-N-G, We're Screwing*

Aside from the ritual of shopping, the real, visceral contemporary “American pastime” is leveraged fucking—call it “erosnoxious,” out of politesse hereafter—the cynical sex act.

True enough, there are other pretenders to the throne. The excessive ingestion of state-sanctioned and state-forbidden drugs comes to mind. But no, it is false consciousness sex that is far more central to advertising and our most basic drives.

And so it was, when the absurd sexual strictures of fundamentalist Christianity were tossed off, shortly thereafter came the dawn of branded “have it all” capitalism. Kinda makes you think.

Now, we can of course allow that when one is young and dumb, These Things Happen. However, one might have imagined that with the ripening of age, when one recognizes the potential psychological costs more clearly, erosnoxious would begin to subside. And yet it doesn’t particularly, does it?

Erosnoxious is part and parcel of what passes these days for our uncherished “freedom.” The freedom, that is, to get over on people in most every sphere of life including the bedroom.

[For the same reason that this country got up into Iraq: because it can.]

In the end, erosnoxious ends up affecting pretty much anyone or everyone. It afflicts the “educated” and “sophisticated” city dweller every bit as easily as the restless suburbanite or the bored townie. It turns out there is something humble “flyover country” folk and the cosmopolitan crowd can get together on: a shared default placebo for the rottenness of contemporary life.

Boring disclaimer: this is not to contend that erosnoxious is “immoral” per se—people make mistakes and all of the rest of it—as the fundamentalist Sky Ghost enthusiasts maintain.

[These sad saps tremble, with a straight face, at their Imaginary Friend’s nether twin inflicting retaliatory torture for doing it without Caesar signing off on it. Go figure.]

Needless to say, we’re not particularly addressing ourselves to that lost sort here.

No, this goes out to the post-Enlightenment crew. You know, the ones who spend a lot of time preening for being secular and open-minded and sexually liberal and maybe even a little leftish and stuff. It also includes those who worship commodities and brands rather than God. The funny thing is how these smug vanguards of modernity and consumerism comport themselves once they assert their “freedom to choose.” Turns out more than a few of them act like solipsistic cowards.

Returning the Screw

Without being too longwinded about it, the societal changes that started in the late 1960s were broadly good and highly necessary. That’s obvious. The excessive drug use was, in the end, kinda reactionary as it just represented the extreme opposite of the oppressive stereotype of the "Leave it to Beaver" decade. Blowing things up and overthrowing the state in the democratic West seems similarly spurious in retrospect. But then, those were very rough times, and anyway, we’re headed that way again. Well see if our generation is any smarter soon enough.

Sexual liberation, like the drug abuse, was an understandable and necessary phase, but ended up also being reactionary, then obligatory and now nearly mandatory. Then “if it feels good, do it” was the slogan. Today it’s been shortened to “just do it.”

The Frankfurt School and Heidelberg rebels had a similarly silly saying. “Der der nur mit einem pennt, gehoert noch zum Establishment.” (He who is monogamous still belongs to the establishment) Today one can still find the pathetic, if pithy, anarchist slogan “they say don’t fuck, we say fuck you.” “They” are the straw man fundamentalists or “50’s People” that we already know to dismiss. (At least back in the 1960s, those people still had cultural hegemony; at least the ‘69ers were putatively rebelling against something instead of reinforcing the dominant user culture) “We” are the alienated sexual cynics out for a good time just like Dino was in Vegas every night.

So, please, please save the promiscuity as radical political statement trip—it’s been death warmed over for quite a while now. The right name for such feminist ass-kickers, cult stud deep-thinkers and left wing name-takers: embarrassing dinosaurs. Maybe embarrassing American dinosaurs would be more accurate. In a society where three quarters of the population are being fucked, it’s no surprise that they impotently fuck back where they can—at each other.

When Americans talk about a “relationship,” it generally means little more than a monogamous sexual arrangement prior to marriage. (Among devout religious people a relationship is even higher stakes, as it concerns something personal with God.) In the U.S. the preferred, broad categories are “friends,” “lovers” and “wives or husbands.” In Europe one will find a clear distinction between acquaintances and friends. In the U.S. every Tom, Dick and Harry is a “friend.” In Europe one can and often does have platonic “relationships” with a small and select group of friends of the opposite sex.

[One piquant anecdote should suffice here. After spending a year teaching English in Leipzig, I attended the German version of the prom at the end of the year. Students and teachers alike got trashed and down on the dance floor. I recall being whisked on a bicycle to the nearby Olympic-sized pool, where my students and I broke into the complex to go skinny dipping. It was simply considered hijinks and fun—and it was just that and nothing more. Until the night watchman showed up that is.]

In the United States, it is broadly considered ill-advised to allow the categories “friends” and “lovers” to blur. In practice, this naturally happens with some degree of frequency, and yet, like with most things involving naked bodies here, there is always a whiff of concealment and misgiving attached to it. In reality, liking another person first and foremost for qualities beyond their physical appearance is generally not an entrée into sexual intimacy. Here, generally speaking, it’s surface. [Is this self-evident?] The necessity of intimacy, which in the U.S. is essentially reducible to sex, is not generally discussed and probably not even considered by most people in a platonic context. That’s one of the reasons we live in a society of strangers. The Germans again have a useful term; they call it Gefühlstau, a feeling bottleneck. They’d know too; but then, at least they’ve thought about it some.

It is considered cachet-ridden and “in the moment” to bed strangers—from now twelve year olds right through “adults.” That this is also a matter of responsible judgment and impulse control does not often come into play in the immediate gratification / winner-take-all society. Sadly, it seems too often let up to the fundamentalists to cry foul—people who can’t have the answers because they don’t even know the questions. This course of events must be part of the famous American Romance about which such luminary-retards as Britney Spears and Ricki Lake have had so much to say. Just smile and swallow, ladies and gentlemen.

In response to the marketing carpet-bombing demands of erosnoxious—another way of saying be self-absorbed, concern yourself solely with Your Own Pleasure—we may well have to listen long and hard for a clever cultural lefty-lib retort. (The Confident Consumer doesn’t always think twice) They end up getting around to the “why, we aren’t prudish, we don’t censor anybody’s impulses” blahdy blah. It's boring. And so, a loophole opens through which hypocritical right-wingers, recycling liberals, cultural “radicals” and “bourgeois bohemians” can march through, arm in arm. It's the "Method of Modern Love."

To the extent that I’m familiar with it, the “counterculture” is fairly monoculture when it comes to sexual politics. As always, “people are people” and they’re scarcely less hypocritical here than elsewhere—something which once a disappointment was. Their one, perhaps crowning, achievement was political correctness. If we just use certain words instead of others, the massive underlying human problems which we face will somehow or other be mitigated.

If ordinary Americans put perhaps a quarter of their time into political action, which they otherwise spend chasing tail, watching sports or pursuing their myopic sub-cultural interest, we’d might have been living in a social democracy decades ago. But, they don’t. Not yet, anyway. And that’s a small part of the reason why things suck now worse than at any time in nearly four decades, if not seven.

In the microcosm of whatever social scene one might choose, status is certainly as operative in seduction as it is in the cubicle. Many screw and many work, in part or in whole, for status. They don’t always say out loud, “yeah man, I nailed her,” but you know they’re thinking it, followed by a hearty self-congratulatory guffaw. In the parallel world, they say, “yeah, I’m gonna buy this or that awesome new plasma screen TV.”

Ultimately, they fall, almost helpless, replicating in their personal lives the same user relationship (that they may even know to deplore) so operative in the workplace. A lurking rationalization somewhere in all of this is the notion that they can’t do better than sexually aggrandizing themselves with some incidental conduit. Most poignantly, they attempt to fulfill their desperate need to escape this realization in hopes of feeling wanted and connected, however fleetingly.

10:15, Every Saturday Night

You can go out in most any American town or city among the young, or those tenaciously clinging to said, and see them. They may be well pressed and dashing or perfumed and quaffed. They may be appropriately tousled and scruffy, decked out in clever thrift store duds. It doesn’t matter, for it’s more or less the same game, only the disguises are different.

One can whiff the ill-intent behind their loneliness. The not funny thing is that they not only don’t want to see it, they very often simply can’t see it. They’ve lost—if they ever had it in the first place—the capacity to expect something more from their relationships.

Whether they’re just breaking free of their parent’s attitudes, haunted by them or reminiscing about them matters little. They come into play as a guiding light or a flashpoint of rebellion. The disintegration of the family has resulted, in part, in the disintegration of the capability of young people to forge meaningful relationships, whether platonic or sexual. Increasing numbers of now successive generations know exactly what the electronic-hip hop performer Peaches means when she growls “fuck the pain away.”

What most people who went to college are faced with for most of their single lives is serial drifting through cutthroat social scenes. Most people know this much: they’re off the leash for 48 hours and god damn if they aren’t going to act out with some other superfluous soul. Worst case scenario, some might contend. Maybe.

We do know how this story ends in too many instances. Most among them eventually snap back into “conventional” 9 to 5 lives of isolation, the obligatory embrace of a doomed marriage like their parents did, or, increasingly, they imbibe fundamentalism. They want The Answer, and there are plenty of hucksters out there ready and willing to sell it to them. Where’s the surprise when “the scene” (whatever it might be) is so frequently so lame—if the measuring rod is meaningful interpersonal interaction.

This now ubiquitous erosnoxious, once called “having sex,” or, more quaintly, “making love,” was at one time or another, a “rite of passage” or a “coming of age experience,” to say nothing of a great discovery, a sometimes embarrassing and mysterious adventure of youth. It still is one or another of those things to an ever-shrinking number of partisans.

The, Abercrombie & Fitch, & Guerilla Marketing Online Bring You: A Civilization’s Decline (Thanks Again, Corporate Capitalism)

By way of anecdote, illustrating just how early this crass sexualization is pushed, we see the clothier Abercrombie & Fitch marketing “thongs” to ten-year-olds. And so, a May 23rd, 2003 San Francisco Chronicle piece by Ray Delgado bears lengthy excerpting.

“For the second time in two months, retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Inc. finds itself in trouble, this time for hawking sexually suggestive thong underwear to young girls.

The thongs are adorned with the images of cherries and candy hearts and also include the words ‘kiss me’ and ‘wink, wink.’ They are appropriate for girls as young as 10 years old, according to a company spokesman.

‘It's not appropriate for a 7-year-old, but it is appropriate for a 10-year- old,’ said spokesman Hampton Carney. ‘Once you get about 10, you start to care about your underwear, and you start to care about your clothes.’

Conservative family groups are outraged. They have launched another boycott against Abercrombie, an action that has been taken in the past to protest the retailer's catalogs featuring nudity and sexual language.

The company stirred up controversy last month when it introduced a line of T-shirts with stereotypical images of Asians, prompting protests and boycotts from many Asian Americans.

The company immediately pulled the shirts from its store shelves, while embarrassed officials said they thought Asians would like the T-shirts.

Company officials would not comment about the boycott and issued a statement saying: ‘The underwear for young girls was created with the intent to be lighthearted and cute. Any misrepresentation of that is purely in the eye of the beholder.’

Bill Johnson, president of the 2-year-old American Decency Association, based in Michigan, called the thongs pornographic and said the company had sunk to new lows.

‘The size of the under-apparel is really small enough for 7-year-olds to easily wear,’ Johnson said. ‘What [Abercrombie is] doing is sexualizing our youth and setting them up to view themselves as sexual objects or sexual toys.’

Johnson said his organization had hoped that Abercrombie was moving away from controversy by toning down its sexually suggestive catalogs. But when he saw the images of the girls' thongs, he launched another boycott.”

[Two things jump out here. One, wasn’t a feminist or consumer advocate available for comment? Is it really just left to religious kooks to denounce this garbage? Second, A & F recently had another campaign geared towards teens promising their consumers “group sex."]

Then there’s and their tittering at Abercrombie & Fuck’s (as a friend recently put it) malevolence. As of a month following Mr. Delgado’s article, their website still had this pathetic poll question up.

“Is it a Do or Is It a Don't? This week: thong underwear for preteens. Abercrombie & Fitch recently offered thong underwear for girls ages 10 to 16 decorated with slogans like 'Wink, Wink' and 'Kiss Me.' Is the company irresponsibly sexualizing young girls? Or is it OK for 10-year-olds to do something about their panty lines, just like their moms? Vote now!”

“Preteens.” Ok, that’s strike one. Strike two: I’ll wager a good number of these Glamour web gals are “tolerant” and “open minded” types. The terminal whiff comes with the brainteaser. Is it cool for a magazine that claims to represent women (I’ll bet they “empower” ‘em too) to trivialize the turning of little girls into sex objects? The cheeky, hip and ironic false society says a definitive yes.

The hands-down winner in this squalid sweepstakes is Guerrilla Marketing Online for their article by Jay Conrad Levinson entitled "Guerrilla Marketing as Sex". This article teaches you that you don't just “woo” your prospective clients, you have to “transform cold prospects into consenting partners:”

“‘When the courtship begins, guerrillas pay very close attention and prove that they care.’

(And we thought they only cared about the size of your, um... wallet.)

‘Next comes necking and petting, connecting even closer with prospects by becoming more intimate in marketing.’

(You have to kiss a lot of customers before you find your 'mark', 'Prince'.)

‘The step in marketing that most relates to foreplay is when marketers give to their partners the exact pleasure that they want... not only making them feel special but proving their devotion.’

(Oh Baby, that's it... right there... mail me that offer I can't refuse.)

‘Guerrilla marketers and their prospects achieve consummation by closing the sale with mutual consent.’

(‘yes... yes... Yes... YES... YES... YEEEESSSSS!!!!! I'LL BUY ONE!!!!!!!")

(And I'll take whatever she's having.)

‘During the afterglow, the connection is solidified. This is accomplished with assiduous follow-up -- proving in a way that the marketer still respects the prospect in the morning.’

(But only as long as you still have cash... If not, they divorce you and toss you to the curb.)

It’s all reminiscent of a dot-com era ad here in San Francisco for E*Trade: “Imagine rolling over and saying, ‘that was better than investing.’”

And they say prostitution is illegal in this country. (note: it should be legal)

How Faces can Help through Hurting

Readers of this page may have happened upon piece I wrote some time ago about the late, visionary American filmmaker John Cassavetes. His masterpiece, to my way of thinking, was entitled Faces. Among other things, the film concerned itself with the viciousness with which men and women treat each other in modern America and it dovetails perfectly with the gist of the Guerilla Marketing Online swill. Although it was first screened in 1968, it retains essentially all of its power.

Excerpted below is an early scene from the film which is fairly representative of the erosnoxious phenomenon. It involves the characters Richard Forst, (John Marley) Freddie Draper (acting under his own name) and Jeannie Rapp (Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ wife). The former two characters are big wigs in the film industry. They have picked up a woman at a bar called the Loser’s Club (still extant in LA). Both middle aged men are married and unhappy. Jeannie is unmarried and unhappy. Freddie is an old hand at adultery; Richard is just getting his feet wet.

Freddie: [leeringly leaning in on her] We met at a bar, right Jeanie?

Jeannie: Right.

F: And it was love at first sight, right Jeannie?

J: Right.

F: We were thrown out by Morrie, but we had laughs, right?

J: Right.

F: [gesturing towards Richard] Shut up, who asked you? [moving in close again] Listen, I think Forst is a holier than thou.

Richard: I am not.

F: Who asked you? Now cool it.

J: You go to a psychiatrist, don’t you Dickie?

R: No I don’t.

J: Well you look Freudian.

R: I never even met a psychiatrist.

F: He looks like Sigmund.

J: Yes he does. Listen, do you know that Freud said that if you go to the bathroom it’s supposed to be sexy or something?

F: [performatively] Oh, oh, oh! Sex, sex, sex, sex!

R: [angrily] Come on now. Wait a minute. Wait a minute! What in the hell are we talking about here?

F & J: Who cares!

J: So for a minute or two we act stupid and have a good time. Who does it hurt? I mean, who makes up the rules anyway? I mean, always play it cool; always put everybody down; standing in a corner looking out the side of your eye to see if anyone is looking at you. Listen, hell fellas I’m twenty-eigh…twenty-three years old [jeers from Freddie] and it’s time to forget myself, right?

F: Right!

R: [looks at Jeannie with a mixture of pity and contempt. He then apprehends the rules of the game and commences competing with Freddie]

[After performing for Jeannie for another ten minutes, she leaves the room to change into “something more comfortable.” The men are sitting exhaustedly on the floor.]

F: My heart is beating. I’m so excited. What are we doing on our knees!?

[He then laughingly slaps Richard in the face in a not altogether friendly way and begins dancing and humming a tune.]

F: What’s the matter with you… She’s gonna change! Oh, Dickie, remember when we didn’t have to worry about our wives? Oh God. [casting a voracious glance at Jeannie’s bedroom door.] Yeah. Mmmm. Remember when we had our own apartment and all the girls would come up to see us? They’d mix drinks for us, they’d cook us anything we wanted and then they’d give us their money and go to bed with us. Don’t you remember?

R: It never happened.

F: [exasperatedly] Oh, of course it did. Don’t you remember Connie and Julie and what the hell’s her name, the one with the…

R: I don’t know.

F: Oh my God! Dickie, you’re getting old and gray and I’m getting fat and gray… What the hell’s she doing in there? … [now singing] I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair…

[More drunken reverie ensues, with Jeannie clearly selecting the dapper Richard over the sloppy and now enraged Freddie.]

F: By the way Jeannie, what do you charge?

J: [stops slow dancing with Richard and runs over to Freddie and hugs him] Oh no, oh no Freddie, don’t spoil it. Freddie please.

F: Spoil what? Honey, I’m game for anything. I just what to know how much you charge. It’s legitimate, isn’t it? [Now raising his voice] I know I have to pay. I’m not too schooled in these things, but I know somewhere along the line your little hand’s going to find its way into my pocket… You’re shocked aren’t you old Dickie, old pal? [now screaming] What, do you think she’s some clean towel that’s never been used? So, you think you don’t pay? How often does Maria [Richard’s wife] ask you for money? Money’s a necessity and don’t you think you don’t work for it and pay for it… [downcast expressions from both Richard and Jeannie] My God, what is this? He thinks I’m insulting you, I’m offering you. Hell, look, what’s the matter? [Walking now with his arm around Jeannie] If I went to one of those fancy restaurants, I’d probably tip the head waiter, the waiter, the bus boy and a hundred bucks goes flying down the drain. And I couldn’t have more fun than I could with Jeannie.

R: [muttering and pushing Freddie] I think you better go right now.

J: [intervening] Dickie, wait, wait please. Don’t be shocked. It’s like this. Fred is a very sad man.

F: Now you…

J: No, you let me finish because you’re a man who doesn’t say what you mean very well. What you meant was that this was a wonderful evening and you enjoy my house and you like me. But like you said, you’re crude.

F: [irritated] I’m sooorrry. Honey, I was only trying to be funny.

J: I thought you said you were trying to be funny.

R: [grabbing Freddie’s arm] Come on, go.

F: You go! You go, if you’re in such a goddamn hurry. My reputation’s at stake here!

[Silence and stony stares]

F: [now finally resigned] Ahh, good night. Good night, Jeannie. I’m sorry. [Freddie leaves]

R: I don’t know how you do it.

J: I just close my eyes and see how much liquor I can swallow. [crying now] I pray that I’ll die and be martyred by the church for my service to humanity.

R: You’re a lovely girl.

J: I’m too old to be lovely. And I haven’t got a heart of gold. The night’s so long and Little Orphan Annie of Hardknocksville gets tough, you know?

R: I think I better go.

J: [runs across the room to block the door] Go ahead, get the hell out, beat it! Right?

R: Right. You’re on your own again. [They kiss and Richard leaves]

Later in the film, Richard exhibits greater cruelty (post-coital) than Freddie did. The point being, this film depicts the common cruelty between the sexes in such a harrowing way as to give pause to those who have seen it—one might dare to hope—in their own lives.

An Unexpected Suggestion? The Golden Rule

We are living in debauched times, so all this comes as little surprise perhaps. This confluence between selfishness and greed in the economic and political sphere couldn’t help but bleed into the private realm. Or was it vice versa? Think of (particularly meat market) bars as the private equivalent of the public corporate “networking” mixer. One can go further with the comparison, given the parallels. We have deception (convincing one of anonymous sex as an interpersonal form of PR, say). We see the user ethic in lovers and employees both being disposable; workers and lovers are tools for self-aggrandizement of the “boss,” whether male or female. And we find the insecurity and fear device—do you measure up in terms of sexual desirability / performance or workplace productivity?

So, here’s the upshot. Interpersonal relations are broken in this country to an extent that they wouldn’t have to if we just looked after one another a bit better. Apart from war torn and God-forsaken corners of the globe, they’re about as bad here as anywhere. So, if you’ve just got to indulge the erosnoxious urge, at least be honest and consensual about it. And if you can’t conjure conscience with respect to the other, at least consider using a selfish, if utilitarian rationale. Someday, even you will have to deal with somebody’s wreckage.

I think it’s pretty obvious what happens to a society when on an interpersonal level it becomes increasingly the norm to treat one another as a means to an end. Society corrodes, and then it implodes.

Aww hell, who knows, maybe it’s all egghead nonsense. Maybe it would help to just nail some chick and hurt her feelings so that I can feel better about myself. What’s up, bro?

*Thanks to the Pet Shop Boys for their song "Shopping"

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Text Copyright 2003 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.