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’