Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sex--In All Its Glory

In checking the statistics provided by Site Meter, I learned recently that someone visiting my blog was looking for entries about sex. As a married person, I haven’t had much of a reason to address sex here in these entries apart from the few references to my sexual inexperience when I was young and the references to sex in my poems. Women, when married, are seemingly more open about their sex lives than men in this blogging environment. Look at the following links, for example: here and here .

One book of poetry that addresses love and lust is Robert Wallace’s Girlfriends and Wives (1984). It’s a collection of poems about the women the speaker has known intimately, including his three wives. No table of contents appears in the book. The poems are arranged chronologically and use the woman’s name as title. One of my teachers once said this book is a risky one because of the amount of disclosure. Such a statement assumes that the details are true and haven't been altered because of the passage of time. What seems confessional may still be a fiction of sorts, particularly if the event occurred ten or twenty years ago.

Back in the 1970’s, I read Henry Miller’s Sexus, an account of his sexual exploits in New York before he left for Paris. In desiring to present the whole man, that is, the sexual, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of himself, Henry Miller has gained a lot of notoriety for his willingness to embrace the full range of human experience in his writing. Although it has been years since I read Sexus, I remember it being less misogynistic than Tropic of Cancer. Miller in his own way was creating literary nonfiction long before it became fashionable.

My favorite book that contains long passages devoted to sex is D.H. Lawrence’s John Thomas and Lady Jane, an earlier version of his Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It’s the book that I read and reread when I was young and discovering sexual relations. Oliver and Constance’s lovemaking emphasizes their mutual regard for each other’s pleasure; sex is depicted as that intimate act that bonds a man and a woman. Sex isn't made ugly or a matter of plumbing; it's also not used as a means of exerting power over another person. The novel shows how sex allows a couple to grow together and to explore the depth of their feelings for each other. Call me romantic if you like.