Saturday, July 22, 2006

Men And Sex

Men who treat women with great respect, men who recognise talents in women, men who acknowledge the minds of women rather than their curves -- they are men who can never stick to one woman. It is impossible for them to wake up with the same woman every morning and come back to her every evening -- day after day, year after year -- without a secret afternoon here or a clandestine night there.
S, my closest friend, keeps saying: "I think you suffer from some disease. How can someone be so obsessed with sex?!" He said that to me even last night. Maybe he doesn't want to acknowledge that everyone -- and that includes him as well -- is obsessed with sex. According to me, there are only two things that move the world -- fear and sex. The fear is about survival, about doing well in life, about doing better than others, about being comfortable in old age, and so on. And amid these fears, there is the perpetual need for physical gratification, and that's where sex comes in.

If there was no fear, human beings would be sitting at home, doing nothing. And if there were no sexual urges, they would still be sitting home, doing nothing. But fear stalks us every moment, and the sexual urge grips us every other moment.

Right now I am talking as a man. I do not know what women will have to say about it. Most women I know say sex is not a priority. But then.

Now coming to my point that men who look beyond the breasts by going across the rib-cage and peeping into the mind are the men who can't stick to one woman. During my childhood in Kanpur, I have seen plenty of tongas or tangas -- horse-driven carts. I have never travelled in them, but I always noticed the horse -- he would have leather flaps on the sides of his eyes. The idea is to let the horse focus straight on the road and not get distracted by anything on the sides.

An average man, who does not seek much from life, dons these flaps the moment he get into a steady relationship -- marriage or otherwise. But a thinking man, while focusing ahead, also wants to know what's going on on the sides. On his front is Mrs Wife or Ms Girlfriend -- people he takes for granted; but the temptresses are on the sides. It would be a sin to miss them. There is Ms A, who is into your kind of music. There is Ms B, who punctures your ego by picking holes in your writing. Then Ms C, with a piercing gaze and a pointed nose and so aloof that you badly want to reach out to her. And of course, the Ms D -- the moment you see her you feel you have known her for ages and you even tell her so. Ms E, who turns you on because she is intelligent and has got the best butt in town... There are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, but that should be a sufficient number for a thinking man.

What is, then, the difference between a thinking man and a truck driver who stops by the brothel every night? There is a huge difference. The truck driver's quest for sex ends with ejaculation, whereas the thinking man can have multiple orgasms even without actual intercourse.

I don't know what spurred me to write this. Is it because I am happy that the blogs are unblocked? Or is it because I happened to read the following article in London's Telegraph?

Brilliant men always betray their wives

Einstein's affairs should surprise no one, says Desmond Morris. It is all in the genius's genes

So Albert Einstein did not, after all, spend all his waking hours chalking up complex symbols on a blackboard. According to letters newly released this week, he devoted quite a bit of it to chasing the ladies. And with considerable success.

To many, the idea of Einstein having 10 mistresses does not fit the classical image of the great, remote genius. Why was he wasting his valuable time with the exhausting business of conducting a string of illicit affairs - affairs that would cause havoc with his family life, damaging especially his relationship with his sons?

The answer is that he, like many other intensely creative men, was over-endowed with one of the human male's most characteristic qualities: the joy of risk-taking.
Every creative act, every new formula, every ground-breaking innovation, is an act of rebellion that may - if successful - destroy an old, existing concept. So every time a brilliant mind sees a new possibility, it is faced with a moment of supreme risk-taking.

The new formula, the new invention, may not work. It may turn out to be a disaster. But the man of genius - such as Einstein - has the courage to plough ahead, despite the dangers, both on and off the intellectual field.

Not that Einstein is by any means an isolated instance. Indeed, far from being the exception he is closer to the norm where great men and sex are concerned.
During a presidential visit to Britain, John F. Kennedy once shocked an elderly Harold Macmillan when he complained to him that if he didn't have sex with a woman every day he suffered from severe headaches.

Kennedy was insatiable and impatient. He was reported to make love with one eye on the clock and to be through with a girl as soon as he had had sex with her in three different ways. If possible, he preferred two girls at once and seduced almost every young woman he met, from starlets to socialites, secretaries to stewardesses. Oh yes, and not forgetting strippers.
But then the compulsion in dominant males to take the highest of risks - a compulsion that seems to be innate - is one that dates back to prehistoric times.

Our arboreal relatives, the monkeys, simply fled up into the high branches when danger threatened and, while feeding, all they had to confront was a fruit or a berry. But when our early ancestors came down to live on the ground, they had to give up scampering aloft to escape and also had to face dangerous competitors and prey when turning to meat-eating as a new way of life.

To become successful hunters required a new personality trait - bravery. If the primeval hunters were to survive as carnivores they had to be courageous and take serious risks. The females of the tribe were too important to expose to these dangers - their vital reproductive role ruled them out. But the males were expendable. If, inevitably, a few of them were killed, the others could easily maintain the reproductive rate of the still very small tribes. So it was the males who evolved into the pack-hunters who would become genetically programmed as risk-takers and whose job it was to bring home the bacon.

Today, going to the office or the factory, or working on the farm - the modern equivalents of the ancient hunt - are far less hazardous, but the deeply ingrained urge to take risks still remains. Proof of this comes from the fact that men today are much more accident-prone than women. Throughout life women are less likely than men to die of a violent accident. By the age of 30, males are 15 times more likely to die of an accident than females.

For special males - the most adventurous ones - there are two choices. Either they can engage in risk-taking of the physical kind - join the SAS, get launched into space, or trek to the South Pole -or they can explore new ideas, create new art forms or invent new technologies and thereby change the way we all live.

Men with brilliant minds, whose creativity brings them enormous success, sometimes find themselves in a curious situation. They are so highly rewarded by society for their achievements that they are unable to limit their curiosity to new problems in their special fields. It starts to spill over into other areas.

Novel sexual experiences, for instance, suddenly seem irresistible. It is not the mating act itself that is so important - that varies very little. It is the thrill of the chase and the excitement of a new conquest that drives them on. Once the conquest has been made, the novelty of the affair soon wears off and another chase is begun. Each illicit episode involves stealth and secrecy, tactics and strategy, and the terrifying risk of discovery, making it the perfect metaphor for the primeval hunt.

Aiding and abetting these erotic adventures is the fact that the fame, power and wealth that these especially brilliant men have received as rewards for their achievements make them very attractive figures to the opposite sex. They may have a face like an angry hippopotamus but, thanks to their high status, they somehow manage to ooze sex appeal, much to the disbelief and dismay of the handsome failures who carry out menial tasks for them.

The great philosopher Bertrand Russell, who for all his undeniable intellectual brilliance could never have bedded a woman on looks alone, was described as suffering from ''galloping satyriasis". He claimed he could not see a sexual partner as sexually attractive for more than a few years, after which he had to make a new conquest.

He had affairs with a long line of women, a few of whom he later married. They included a young secretary, an MP's wife, the daughter of a Chicago surgeon, a researcher, an actress, a suffragette, several teachers, the wife of a Cambridge lecturer and his children's governess.
His private life was described by one biographer as ''a chaos of serious affairs, secret trysts and emotional tightrope acts that constantly threatened... ruinous scandal''. This was risk-taking of the highest order.

Picasso was also a sexual glutton, described by a friend as being obsessed with sex. There was a long procession of women in and out of his life: Fernande and Eva, Olga and Marie-Therese, Dora and Fran├žoise, Alice and Jacqueline, and many more. He was quoted as saying: ''There's nothing so similar to one poodle dog as another poodle dog, and that goes for women, too.''
Similarly, his great friend, Gauguin, abandoned his family and moved to Tahiti where he was able to indulge in his passion for sexual adventures by welcoming a different local girl into his hut each night. Sometimes, he had as many as three in one night. And he continued his sexual odyssey even after his body was visibly disintegrating from the syphilis that killed him.

That genius of the cinema, Charlie Chaplin, was an even more active sex addict, capable, he said, of ''six bouts a night''. Whenever he was bored he would set about seducing a girl. He had four wives (three of them teenagers) and an endless procession of mistresses, some of them alarmingly young. His greatest thrill was the prospect of deflowering a virgin. When one of his virgins became pregnant at 16 he was forced to marry her. That marriage lasted only two years, during which time he enjoyed the company of five mistresses.
As a young man he visited brothels, but later was attracted to talented and important women and managed to seduce a cousin of Winston Churchill's, the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, actresses Paulette Goddard, Mabel Normand and Pola Negri, and William Hearst's girl-friend Marion Davies. However, his sexual risk-taking eventually led to his downfall and he was driven out of America as a ''debaucher'', his legacy forever tarnished.

But then men with great talent or power, from Elvis Presley to Bill Clinton, Toulouse-Lautrec to John Prescott, will, it seems, more often than not put their careers or family lives in jeopardy in order to satisfy the primeval hunter's thrill. It is, sadly, simply a by-product of the human exploratory urge, and one of the prices we - and wives the world over - have to pay for being the most innovative species on the planet.
(Desmond Morris is author of 'Watching - Encounters with Humans and other Animals' )


Deepa Bhasthi said...

much as i hate to say this, i think you and morris have a point here

Paresh Palicha said...

Thank God!! You're back to being your own self.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Deepa: Your comment was encouraging. Thanks.

Paresh: Yes, it feels great!

Hawkeye said...

ah desmond morris! have you read 'the tribe' its one of his best

Anonymous said...

Too good.... Good u are back in the mood to write again. btw ...this should have been on the sunday page , not some boring stuff about bloggers!!

Anonymous said...

Hope to listen to the other side of the story too - in the same context.

kammommy said...

This is just a male version of the nyphomaniac.......The thinking man part though was right....somebody whose thought process begins and ends with the dick.....Excuse me there are intelligent creative men
who dont fuck around and are happy with their Ms Girlfriend and Mrs Wife...Ever heard of them?

Anonymous said...

Very nice justification of conscious would need more of it.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Hawkeye: I now plan to read more of Morris.

Anon 1: Well...

Anon 2: I am not fully qualified to write the other side of the story in the same context. Expect a woman blogger to do that one of these days.

Anon 3: Call it justification if you may, but I find it very difficult to disagree with Morris.

Kammommy: Haven't heard about intelligent creative men who don't fuck around though heard about such men who are happy with their wives/girlfriends. :( :)

Anonymous said...

As a woman, I endorse this opinion, though it's not morally correct. Women who are succesful and brilliant stray too. But then, for women, it's not as much the sex as the intimacy leading to and following sex that they crave. Unfulfilling marriages that have to be continued for the sake of family and children, a thirst for stimuating company and conversation, and the thrill of doing something new, these are a few reasons why women cross the "lakshman rekha" of marriage. Is it wrong? Maybe, but there are things that are worse.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Anon 4: "The intimacy leading to and following sex" -- that holds true for thinking men as well and that's the point I was trying to make in the post.

Very well-crafted comment, whoever you are. Thanks!

Anu Russell said...

ok I wrote this yesterday but google would just not publish here I go again...

I always felt that men who are very romantic can never stay in one relationship for so long because they love the idea of "falling in love" that they want to do it over and over again...

But your angle of including power is certainly a very different approach...

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Annie: I left a message for you in the 'comments' section of my post, Five Reasons to Blog. Please see it.

Anu: I did not include power, Desmond Morris did.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm old-fashioned.. but I would prefer to stay dumb ;-)

Anonymous said...

What a thought provoking blog....simply amazed by this analysis...

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Averagedrinker: Does the second half ever succeed? ;)

Anonymous said...

All this about brainy men made me think about Woody Allen's short story "The Client" from his 1975 collection"without feathers". I have pasted it here. In this story an ordinary bloke is in trouble because he was looking for an intellectual experience with a woman. enjoy..


One thing about being a private investigator, you´ve got to learn to go with your hunches. That´s why when a quivering pat of butter named Word Babcock walked into my office and laid his cards on the table, I should have trusted the cold chill that shot up my spine.

"Kaiser?" he said. "Kaiser Lupowitz?"

"That´s what it says on my license," I owned up.

"You´ve got to help me. I´m being blackmailed. Please!" He was shaking like the lead singer in a rumba band. I pushed a glass across the desk top and a bottle of rye I keep handy for nonmedicinal purposes.

"Suppose you relax and tell me all about it."

"You ... you won´t tell my wife?"

"Level with me, Word. I can´t make any promises." He tried pouring a drink, but you could hear the clicking sound across the street, and most of the stuff wound up in his shoes.

"I´m a working guy," he said. "Mechanical maintenance. I build and service joy buzzers. You know - those little fun gimmicks that give people a shock when they shake hands?"


"A lot of your executives like ´em. Particularly down on Wall Street."

"Get to the point."

"I´m on the road a lot. You know how it is - lonely. Oh, not what you´re thinking. See, Kaiser, I´m basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women - they´re not so easy to find on short notice."

"Keep talking."

"Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A Yassar student. For a price, she´ll come over and discuss any subject - Proust, Yeats, anthropology. Exchange of ideas. You see what I´m driving at?"

"Not exactly."

"I mean my wife is great, don´t get me wrong. But she won´t discuss Pound with me. Or Eliot. I didn´t know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who´s mentally stimulating, Kaiser. And I´m willing to pay for it. I don´t want an involvement - I want a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Kaiser, I´m a happily married man."

"How long has this been going on?"

"Six months. Whenever I have that craving, I call Flossie. She´s a madam, with a Master´s in Comparative Lit. She sends me over an intellectual, see?"

So he was one of those guys whose weakness was really bright women. I felt sorry for the poor sap. I figured there must be a lot of jokers in his position, who were starved for a little intellectual communication with the opposite sex and would pay through the nose for it.

"Now she´s threatening to tell my wife," he said.

"Who is?"

"Flossie. They bugged the motel room. They got tapes of me discussing The Waste Land and Styles of Radical Will, and, well, really getting into some issues. They want ten grand or they go to Carla. Kaiser, you´ve got to help me! Carla would die if she knew she didn´t turn me on up here." The old call-girl racket. I had heard rumors that the boys at headquarters were on to something involving a group of educated women, but so far they were stymied.

"Get Flossie on the phone for me."


"I´ll take your case, Word. But I get fifty dollars a day, plus expenses. You´ll have to repair a lot of joy buzzers." "It won´t be ten G´s worth, I´m sure of that," he said with a grin, and picked up the phone and dialed a number. I took it from him and winked. I was beginning to like him.


Seconds later, a silky voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. "I understand you can help me set up an hour of good chat," I said.

"Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?"

"I´d like to discuss Melville."

"Moby Dick or shorter novels?"

"What´s the difference?"

"The price. That´s all. Symbolism´s extra."

"What´ll it run me?"

"Fifty, maybe a hundred for Moby Dick. You want a comparative discussion - Melville and Hawthorne? That could be arranged for a hundred."

"The dough´s fine," I told her and gave her the number of a room at the Plaza.

"You want a blonde or a brunette?"

"Surprise me," I said, and hung up.

"I shaved and grabbed some black coffee while I checked over the Monarch College Outline series. Hardly an hour had passed before there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and standing there was a young redhead who was packed into her slacks like two big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

"Hi, I´m Sherry." They really knew how to appeal to your fantasies. Long, straight hair, leather bag, silver earrings, no make-up.

"I´m surprised you weren´t stopped, walking into the hotel dressed like that," I said. "The house dick can usually spot an intellectual."

"A five-spot cools him."

"Shall we begin?" I said, motioning her to the couch. She lit a cigarette and got right to it. "I think we could start by approaching Billy Budd as Melville´s justification of the ways of God to man, n´est-ce pas?"

"Interestingly, though, not in a Miltonian sense." I was bluffing. I wanted to see if she´d go for it.

"No. Paradise Lost lacked the substructure of pessimism." She did.
"Right, right. God, you´re right," I murmured.

"I think Melville reaffirmed the virtues of innocence in a naive yet sophisticated sense - don´t you agree?" I let her go on. She was barely nineteen years old, but already she had developed the hardened facility of the pseudo-intellectual. She rattled off her ideas glibly, but it was all mechanical. Whenever I offered an insight, she faked a response: "Oh yes, Kaiser. Yes, baby, that´s deep. A platonic comprehension of Christianity - why didn´t I see it before?" We talked for about an hour and then she said she had to go. She stood up and I laid a C-note on her.

"Thanks, honey."

"There´s plenty more where that came from."

"What are you trying to say?" I had piqued her curiosity. She sat down again.

"Suppose I wanted to have a party?" I said.

"Like, what kind of a party?"

"Suppose I wanted Noam Chomsky explained to me by two girls?"

"Oh, wow."

"If you´d rather forget it..."

"You´d have to speak with Flossie," she said. "It´s cost you." Now was the time to tighten the screws. I flashed my private- investigator´s badge and informed her it was a bust.


"I´m fuzz, sugar, and discussing Melville for money is an 802. You can do time."

"You louse!"

"Better come clean, baby. Unless you want to tell your story down at Alfred Kazin´s office, and I don´t think he´d be too happy to hear it."

She began to cry. "Don´t turn me in, Kaiser," she said. "I needed the money to complete my Master´s. I´ve been turned down for a grant. Twice. Oh, Christ."

It all poured out - the whole story. Central Park West upbringing, Socialist summer camps, Brandeis. She was every dame you saw waiting in line at the Elgin or the Thalia, or penciling the words ´Yes, very true´ into the margin of some book on Kant. Only somewhere along the line she had made a wrong turn.

"I needed cash. A girl friend said she knew a married guy whose wife wasn´t very profound. He was into Blake. She couldn´t hack it. I said sure, for a price I´d talk Blake with him. I was nervous at first. I faked a lot of it. He didn´t care. My friend said there were others. Oh, I´ve been busted before. I got caught reading Commentary in a parked car, and I was once stopped and frisked at Tanglewood. Once more and I´m a three time loser."

"Then take me to Flossie."

She bit her lip and said, "The Hunter College Book Store is a front."


"Like those bookie joints that have barbershops outside for show. You´ll see."

I made a quick call to headquarters and then said to her, "Okay, sugar. You´re off the hook. But don´t leave town."

"She tilted her face up toward mine gratefully. "I can get you photographs of Dwight Macdonald reading," she said.

"Some other time." FLOSSIE´S

I walked into the Hunter College Book Store. The salesman, a young man with sensitive eyes, came up to me. "Can I help you?" he said.

"I´m looking for a special edition of Advertisements for Myself. I understand the author had several thousand gold-leaf copies printed up for friends."

"I´ll have to check," he said. "We have a WATS line to Mailer´s house."

I fixed him with a look. "Sherry sent me," I said.

"Oh, in that case, go on back." he said. He pressed a button. A wall of books opened, and I walked like a lamb into that bustling pleasure palace known as Flossie´s. Red flocked wallpaper and a Victorian decor set the tone. Pale, nervous girls with black-rimmed glasses and blunt-cut hair lolled around on sofas, riffling Penguin Classics provocatively. A blonde with a big smile winked at me, nodded toward a room upstairs, and said, "Wallace Stevens, eh?" But it wasn´t just intellectual experiences. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For fifty bucks, I learned, you could "relate without getting close." For a hundred, a girl would lend you her Bartok records, have dinner, and then let you watch while she had an anxiety attack. For one-fifty, you could listen to FM radio with twins. For three bills, you got the works: A thin Jewish brunette would pretend to pick you up at the Museum of Modern Art, let you read her master´s, get you involved in a screaming quarrel at Elaine´s over Freud´s conception of women, and then fake a suicide of your choosing - the perfect evening, for some guys. Nice racket. Great town, New York.

"Like what you see?" a voice said behind me. I turned and suddenly found myself standing face to face with the business end of a .38. I´m a guy with a strong stomach, but this time it did a back flip. It was Flossie, all right. The voice was the same, but Flossie was a man. His face was hidden by a mask.

"You´ll never believe this," he said, "but I don´t even have a college degree. I was thrown out for low grades."

"Is that why you wear that mask?"

"I devised a complicated scheme to take over The New York Review of Books, but it meant I had to pass for Lionel Trilling. I went to Mexico for an operation. There´s a doctor in Juarez who gives people Trilling´s features - for a price. Something went wrong. I came out looking like Auden, with Mary McCarthy´s voice. That´s when I started working the other side of the law."

"Quickly, before he could tighten his finger on the trigger, I went into action. Heaving forward, I snapped my elbow across his jaw and grabbed the gun as he fell back. He hit the ground like a ton of bricks. He was still whimpering when the police showed up.

"Nice work, Kaiser," Sergeant Holmes said. "When we´re through with this guy, the F.B.I. wants to have a talk with him. A little matter involving some gamblers and an annotated copy of Dante´s Inferno. Take him away, boys." Later that night, I looked up an old account of mine named Gloria. She was blond. She had graduated cum laude. The difference was she majored in physical education. It felt good.

wildflower said...

n wot if u start having "thinking women"?"