Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Reading Mark Greif's Recent 'N+1' Piece In Real Time

LET'S DO IT LIKE THE ANIMALS DOYou weren't the only ones with lots of things to say on the topic of On Repressive Sentimentalism, in which, well….

Tom Scocca: Wow, this n+1 thing is PROFOUNDLY ARGUABLE.

Choire Sicha: Uh oh.

Tom Scocca: "No change was more momentous and utopian than that men could choose men for love objects, and women choose women, to remake the sexual household." In the 20th century, he says. No change more momentous.

Tom Scocca: * Female suffrage

Tom Scocca: * Rise and fall of Communism and Fascism

Tom Scocca: * Jet travel

Tom Scocca: * Consumer capitalism

Tom Scocca: * Widespread use of automobiles

Tom Scocca: * Computing and the Internet

Tom Scocca: * Total warfare made impracticable by invention of nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

Tom Scocca: * Antibiotics

Tom Scocca: * Television

Tom Scocca: * Abortion and hormonal birth control

Tom Scocca: Was this person even BORN in the 20th century?

Tom Scocca: What the fuck is this?

Tom Scocca: "If the household organization of three thousand years of recorded history could be altered simply in the interest of what people wanted, in the interest of desire, then anything could be changed."

Tom Scocca: Um, the very institution of anyone choosing anyone else as an individual with whom to make, let alone "remake," something that could be thought of as a "sexual household," which would be synonymous with "household organization"–he thinks that sort of thing has been around for 3,000 years?

Tom Scocca: His plural is creeping me out. "We" and "us."

Tom Scocca: Fucking swingers, man.

Tom Scocca: How old is he? His abortions-should-be-fun passage can't really be written by anyone who knows any women over the age of 30.

Choire Sicha: Mark is Harvard '97.

Tom Scocca: So the women he knows should be in their mid 30s.

Tom Scocca: The body only has X many times it's going to cooperate and make a viable baby. Sometimes X = 0!

Tom Scocca: This is the underdiscussed constraint on and flaw in the concept of "choice."

Tom Scocca: It's not like choosing to take a year off between high school and college.

Tom Scocca: It's a tricky and mostly blind risk calculation, which has much less to do with autonomy that we'd all like it to.

Tom Scocca: This guy is such a sad little SHOPPER.

Tom Scocca: Marriage is "no longer even the privileged secular space for intimate confession and support, as this modern necessity is increasingly outsourced, well down the class ladder, to therapists, gurus, and members of all the helping professions."

Tom Scocca: O RLY?!?

Tom Scocca: "We now resist atomization and anomie with the wide range of unusually warm, non-exclusive and simultaneous friendships, often verging on erotism but not compelled to it, both across and within the sexes, and among straights and gays-this extraordinary birthright the '60s gave to all those of us born, say, after 1969."

Tom Scocca: What is this CUDDLE-PUDDLE BULLSHIT?

Tom Scocca: "For better and worse (and for richer and for poorer), marriage is also almost inevitably intolerable to any post-'60s individual who counts the accumulation of strong experience and passionate feeling as the sine qua non of meaningful existence."

Tom Scocca: Jesus, are you offering to show folks your ETCHINGS?

Tom Scocca: This essay crawled down some sort of terrible time-tunnel from 1952.

Tom Scocca: Actually 1953; its original subject was not gay marriage but Playboy.

Tom Scocca: Holy shit.

Tom Scocca: This guy.

Tom Scocca: His editors.

Tom Scocca: Their planet.

Tom Scocca: "It says that your desire is not for pleasure or fun, it is for fitting in."

Tom Scocca: These are the two purposes of life, between which one must choose: pleasure, or fitting in.

Tom Scocca: I assume the purpose of this essay was the latter.

Tom Scocca: Sorry, but you are still all alone on Moist Nitwit Kidult Island.

Tom Scocca: I'm going to stop fighting "kidult."

Tom Scocca: People like him deserve a word from New York magazine to describe them, because their lives and thoughts occur on the level intelligible to New York magazine.

Tom Scocca: "Kidult" was New York, right?

Tom Scocca: Or did they confect some other word for it? Oh right. "Grup." "Grup" is still unusable.

Tom Scocca: "the sperm left in a condom or wiped on a masturbator's handkerchief."

Tom Scocca: "Wiped" on a "handkerchief"?

Tom Scocca: Diff'rent strokes!

Tom Scocca: Oh mercy, now he is going on and on and on about abortion. And he does count how many chances a woman has to make a baby. It's "a possible thirty or so." So give yourself over to pure pleasure in the moment, ladies!

Tom Scocca: "You have to defend sex because we still have no better model than the actual, concrete sexual relation for a deep intuitive process opposed to domination. We have no better model for a bodily process that, fundamentally, is free and universal. It does not produce (there is no experiential remainder but pleasure) nor consume. It is cooperative (within the relation of the lovers) and, in that relation, seems to forbid competition. It makes you love people, and accept the look and difference of their bodies."

Tom Scocca: Has this person ever HAD sex?

Tom Scocca: Again, this person and the plurals. It makes you love people, plural? It makes you accept the look of people's bodies, plural?

Tom Scocca: "Desire, the endless rising or falling feeling of desire"

Tom Scocca: Endless, but rising? Or endless, but falling?

Tom Scocca: Is it a sine wave?

Tom Scocca: He says "face-to-face relation."

Choire Sicha: Perhaps he's not sure what sex is?

Tom Scocca: He really isn't.

Tom Scocca: N plus one is to thinking as a Renaissance Festival is to warfare.

Tom Scocca: Maybe the piece works for him in person.

Tom Scocca: Why should I destroy my beautiful love by tying it down? Why should I cheat the world out of the pleasure of sex with me by restricting myself to one person?

Tom Scocca: God [wrings hands], I sometimes wish I were gay, so pure pleasure and love wouldn't be bound up in all this…this hegemonic, patriarchal structure of authority that man-woman relations are always suffocated by. [Clasps hands, stares at place wall meets ceiling.] You know? To just love a person for love's sake. Gay people, they've been cast out by society, but that's, that's like being cast out of PRISON, in some ways, really, isn't it?

Tom Scocca: Sometimes I feel like we're the ones trapped inside, looking out, and I almost wish I could be gay. But [lowers eyes, glances up] I do love women. [Holds eye contact.] I mean, look at you, look at your…your body. [Lowers eyes, raises eyes. Spreads hands.] Your body is just…so, so…beautiful. [Reaches out, touches shoulder.] It is like a temple, that's so old-fashioned to say, isn't it, God, it's so embarrassing, but, really [runs hand downward from shoulder, along outside of arm, slowly] it is, I think, as close as someone like me in this world now can get to having anything to worship. This beauty.

Previously: Less Talkin', More Townin'

68 Comments / Post A Comment

sox (#652)

dear god people i am at WORK. this is too great and too long and i have a goddamn deadline.

sox (#652)

but thanks! xoxo

mathnet (#27)

Pics of your iPhone or it didn't happen.

Ronit (#1,557)


Moff (#28)

Words fail me. I am too happy about this. Way too happy.

mathnet (#27)


maebefunke (#154)

Sounds like n+1 guy is trying to justify some Don Draper behavior on his part.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

It's hard to chose between (1) he's married and just knocked up the cute chick in the coffee shop or (2) he's married and is banging dudes.

maebefunke (#154)

It's true, I have a really hard time choosing between these excellent options.

mathnet (#27)

Until he suggested maybe Greif isn't sure what sex is, I'd forgotten about Sicha completely. WHICH NEVER HAPPENS EVER!

jolie (#16)

I found myself thinking throughout, "Move over baconpapa, there's something leanerscocca!" which, like, wow. Blasphemy from me, right??

(Also HTF do you pronounce Scocca?)

mathnet (#27) could take a page from in that area. But SKO-kuh is what I yell when his floating blond head dances sexy for me.

sox (#652)


jolie (#16)


Hez (#147)

Holy fuck, that video just changed my life. Why have I never seen it before? Every joy that came before now looks like darkness and torture by comparison. Thank you so very, very much.

mattymatt (#495)

What a pleasurable dismemberment. Thank you. I would like to gay marry Tom now plz.

Dickdogfood (#650)


If ever I meet you, Mr. Scocca, I'll treat you to a round of Tasti D-Lite fruit 'n granola parfaits.

Ted Maul (#205)

That ether, that shit that makes Mark Greif's soul burn slow.

LondonLee (#922)

I'm no expert but I'm sure women had abortions before the 20th century.

HiredGoons (#603)

I know dudes have been doin' dudes since Ancient Greece, as well.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

Ditto with gay sex. But this raises an important question: I mean, I know non-heterosexuals have been fucking since the dawn of time, but have non-homosexuals been doing the same thing? It seems like a very complicated issue worthy of more insight from some of our brightest young thinkers. Essentially, did straight ppl exist before Stonewall? Seems complex.

Rasselas (#1,797)

It's like Michel Foucault died in vain.

Mindpowered (#948)

"It’s like Michel Foucault died in vain"

I shed a post-structuralist tear at that thought.

sox (#652)

perhaps, but the life expectancy post procedure was likely nil.

They've found pebbles in the uteruses of mummies being used as a sort of crude IUD.

In fact, 20th century puritanism about abortion was based in the eons-long tradition of abortion. Like antigayness was a reaction to the perfectly normal gayness that had been going around, for, oh, 20 million years or so.

hazmathilda (#839)

*is seduced*

Spiers (#12)

I think this is my favorite edition of shadow editors so far.

drone (#1,446)

Harper's printed an even crazier anti-coupling screed in its October issue. It was an excerpt from the manifesto of a French terrorist organization, so it likely lacked a certain amount of editorial supervision, making it a poor target for The Shadow Editors(TM). But what it lacks in editing, it makes up for by labeling the couple 'autism-for-two'…

link (paying customers only, I think):

Moist Nitwit Kidult Island!
I am in love!

"God [wrings hands], I sometimes wish I were gay, so pure pleasure and love wouldn't be bound up in all this…this hegemonic, patriarchal structure of authority that man-woman relations are always suffocated by."

It's the sex part that always stymies this deal.

Rasselas (#1,797)

Has this person ever HAD sex?

This reminds me of one of the Jody-and-T.C. backup stories in Garth Ennis' Preacher.

/comics nerd

Prediction: this snags Choire the coveted Bowl of Change for Best Supporting Weblogger.

atipofthehat (#797)

"N plus one is to thinking as a Renaissance Festival is to warfare."

My new favorite quote.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

I'm putting it on a cross-stitch this weekend.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

That was one I had underlined, too.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Again, he's a penis with a thesaurus. All the attention is really too good for him.

earlydinner (#1,816)


propertius (#361)

"No change was more momentous and utopian than that men could choose men for love objects, and women choose women…"

Here we go again with objects. Did he run this by Seidel?

propertius (#361)

Greif that is, not Tom Scocca.

Moff (#28)

Wait, wait, wait, wait, WAIT:

Mark Greif? More like Mark Grief!

Can someone who has actually had actual sex with an n+1 dude please write about it? The curiosity is killing me! They're like this whole new *gender*. I mean, how do they even do it? What goes where? Our Bodies, Ourselves never prepared our lizardian cortexes or whatever for this!

You've never heard of Emily Gould?

For some reason KG doesn't count, because of Emily, probably.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

There was once a nice limerick on this subject on G-wker.

karion (#11)

The Most Important Lay Of Our Time.

sox (#652)

My guess is that as long as he can hear himself talking, he's getting off.

This is incredible. [lowers eyes, glances up] [lowers eyes, glances up][lowers eyes, glances up][lowers eyes, glances up][lowers eyes, glances up]!!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Also: That last paragraph is even better if you imagine Tom doing it to some music all "Dry Your Eyes" The Streets style…

brent_cox (#40)


NicFit (#616)

God I just spent the afternoon reading Tom Friedman-isms ("The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.") and now this?

jetztinberlin (#392)

This may be the best thing I've ever read in my life.

I have a very carefully thought out and well studied and deeply committed-to sexual ethic: Shut up and fuck.

ohgodohgodohgod this made my day.

"Jesus, are you offering to show folks your ETCHINGS?"

Also, a few decades ago, this guy would have described himself to at least one lucky woman as a troubador. Bet on it.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

[Sound of more underlining; sound of memorizing; sound of plagiarizing.]

These posts that come out everytime N+1 breaks wind make me wonder what Choire's up to. The Devil's advocate or the Devil's flack — which is he playing?

slinkimalinki (#182)


That was simply awesome.

Mark is Harvard '97.

Is it a requirement that all N+1ers be identified by their Harvard connection? (The lovers, the dreamers, and…)

gregorg (#30)

If you're talking about "Kidults," the CD where Mandy Patinkin sings The Greatest Broadway Hits He Could License For Free, Plus "A Few Of My Favorite Things," I urge you to keep fighting.

SemperBufo (#1,849)

I'll be back after lunch- I gotta go scrub out the inside of my brain with a toothbrush for three hours.

Adouble (#1,300)

Am I the only one wondering if it was awkward at that party that night?

KarenUhOh (#19)

Take my word for it. Don't try to wipe your hand on a page of N+1.

Ralphie (#1,886)

I just put this there but it was a lot of work for no eyeballs so here it is now again too:

Mark may be a little uptown about how he puts things, but his main point seems easy enough to grasp: Even with abortions on every street corner and gays raising the “slut” bar into the stratosphere, bitches STILL don’t be giving up the pussy. Take away those two hardy go-to’s and man, we are NEVER gonna stop wasting whole afternoons on porn.

I hear him. Still, in making his not un-grandpa-ish point he does fall prey to a few similarly musty traps.

For instance, he mistakes the passion with which gays fight for the RIGHT to marry with their passion for actually GETTING married. For many gay men â€" who are absolutely as promiscuous as Mark seethes â€" the fight is for equal treatment under the law; having won it they will go right back to humping each other like gay rabbits. Far more lesbians will take actual advantage of the law, as it will allow them to formalize an arrangement they have favored since the dawn of lesbianism. (By the way, one could look at the preponderance of lesbian monogamy and the virtual nonexistence of a viable porn market heterosexual women and come to some reasonable questions about whether the sexed-up utopian society Mark pines for would be utopian for all, or just all straight men. But that kind of thinking isn’t going to get anyone laid!)

Another thing: This goddamned 500-channel universe fetishizing that has been around since McLuhan. Why is it anyone’s fault that when we finally got all those channels, it turned out there just wasn’t that much good TV to make? Have you tried to watch great-in-theory “Book TV” on CSPAN? All the way through, I mean, not just til you’ve clawed your first eye out. You want 499 more channels of that? Be my guest. What people were really longing for when they were imagining a 500-channel universe was the internet, and it’s hard to argue that opportunity has been squandered because look at us all on here vibrantly responding to what in the bad old days would have been a one-way gasbaggy hector.

Still, I am sorry the author is not getting enough ass. Then again, I’m gay, so… I am!

Abe Sauer (#148)

I liked this.. even though I don't know what a gasbaggy hector is.

Cajun Boy (#132)

Harvard sucks.

Sins of Kzoo (#1,892)

Tom Scocca, Harvard '93. Out of the closet and liberated from the hegemonic, patriarchal authority structure.

I have not yet recovered from the idiocy of this sentence: "[Abortion is] a basic practical necessity of modern values, like sports medicine and hotels, but it is being sentimentalized out of existence by its opponents." I think he may be attempting to be wry. Instead he just sounds like a douche-bag. Who the fuck compares abortion to sports medicine and hotels? Someone who knows fuck all about women, abortion, sex, and the history of sex and sexuality. For starters. That's who. Harvard 97? Well that was clearly a wasted opportunity.

He could have left it at this. But no. He continues for several more increasingly cringe-inducing paragraphs about the physical and emotional sexual and reproductive lives of women — all the while using that authoritative generalizing voice of a philosopher-manque/insufferable prat.

The essay is just embarrassing. And so very very deserving of this response.

Thank you.

Post a Comment