August 15, 2013

That book about celibacy is "slim, chic and humorless, that is, a sophisticated bagatelle of a volume..."

"... filled with detours to exotic locales: the Sahara, Goa in India, the Greek island of Hydra. It’s also gauzy and episodic and not particularly well written, yet it drifts along on a kind of existential bearnaise of its own secreting."

From the NYT review of "The Art of Sleeping Alone," which we were just talking about here.  The review makes the author's celibacy seem like a reaction to negative sexual experiences, not a positive pursuit (which is the aspect of celibacy that interests me).

15 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Is she sealed for freshness?

David said...

"The review makes me the author's celibacy seem like a reaction to negative sexual experiences, not a positive pursuit (which is the aspect of celibacy that interests me)."

There is an untrustworthy tone to this review. A saucy bernaise of contempt, incredulity and superiority.

Of course it is the New York Times.

rcommal said...

.

rcommal said...

bagatelle

bearnaise

secreting

--

What a sloppy separation of trifle, no?

rcommal said...

The opposite of experience is innocence, of course,

That "of course" aside, should that premise be taken at face value? Why not. Why so.

rcommal said...

“Their contents served no purpose,” she says. “All they did was tell stories.” She refers to them as “the fortune I hadn’t known how to make use of.”

As opposed to what, I think people should ask of themselves. The stories Fontanel tells in her memoir. The stories Baker tells in his novel.

What, the hell, ask I.

rcommal said...

"Whether or not they themselves produce memorable or lasting works of contemporary art, they may very possibly suggest something usable in the making or understanding of such works.

Or not. Or something, whatever.



rcommal said...

So long, sail in, so long, sale

; )

By the way, my favorite part of this version is the percussion section's little "Big-Wows," inserted a couple of times into the text.

: )

Carl said...

My favorite interesting depictions of the deliberate conversion of eros to agape are fictional, Umberto Eco in several works and Mark Helprin in "Soldier of the Great War." All pretty much from the male perspective.

Anyway, I would say a book that dwells on not having sex isn't likely to touch on the positive aspects anyway. That's like looking for wonderful cooking inspiration in a book on calorie counting and weight loss. A work that genuinely captures the ancient art of sexual asceticism -- assuming it can even be written in these mindlessly hedonistic days -- is going to have to start with attempting to convey the Platonic ideal of which the spiritually-driven celibate feels fucking is the shadow on the back wall of the cave.

Kevin said...

I read that half a dozen times since it's been near the top of the page for a while, but just put together the concept of secreting a bearnaise.

That's one of the most disgusting things I've ever read in the whole history of the internet. And I've read more disgusting things than most.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Sex is rarely a meeting of equals in “The Art of Sleeping Alone.” It is a platform for male dominion."

-- Remember when that was Common Wisdom?

Unknown said...

"...yet it drifts along on a kind of existential bearnaise of its own secreting."

Just try making a living as a parodist when big time newspapers publish stuff like that for real.

Sam L. said...

Well, of course! The NYT is "sex-positive".

William said...

Being slim, chic, and humorless gives you a leg up (if that's the right figure of speech to use) in your pursuit of celibacy. You can be plump, slovenly, and good humored in pursuit of celibacy, but people don't regard your celibacy as such an achievement. They just think you've invented a pathetic euphemism for striking out.

YoungHegelian said...

I guess it's too late for Mademoiselle Fontenel to have a long heart to heart with Harriet Tubman, isn't it?