19 March 2007

Art and Sex (de la Heinlein)

Also known as "today's installment of Notable Quotables" - in this case from Stranger In A Strange Land... which was kind of a good thing to read. I'm a little aggravated with all the dystopic science fiction out there with post-apocalyptic whachamajiggers. SIASL isn't exactly utopia, but there's a utopian imagining to it.

On Art:

"Because the world has gone nutty and art always paints the spirit of the time. Rodin died about the time the world started flipping its lid. His successors... failed to see was that the master [Rodin] told stories that laid bare the human heart. They became contemptuous of painting of sculpture that told stories - they dubbed such work 'literary'. The went for all out abstractions."

Jubal shrugged. "Abstract design is all right - for wallpaper or linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity or terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience. These laddies who won't deign to do that - or can't - lost the public. The ordinary bloke will not buy 'art' that leaves him unmoved. If he does pay, the money is conned out of him, by taxes or such."

"Jubal, I've always wondered why I didn't give a hoot for art. I thought it was something missing in me."

"Mmm, one does have to learn to look at art. But it's up to the artist to use language that can be understood. Most of these jokers don't want to use language you and I can learn; they would rather sneer because we 'fail' to see what they are driving at. If anything, Obscurity is the refuge of incompetence."
On Sex:
"...the ethics of sex is a thorny problem. Each of us is forced to grope for a solution he can live with - in the face of a preposterous, unworkable, and evil code of so-called 'Morals.' Most of us know the code is wrong, almost everybody breaks it. But we pay Danegeld by feeling guilty and giving lip service. Willy-nilly, the code rides us, dead and stinking, an albatross around the neck."

"You too, Ben. You fancy yourself a free soul - and break that evil code. But faced with a problem in sexual ethics new to you, you tested it against that same Judeo-Christian code... so automatically your stomach did flip-flops... and you think that proves you're right and they're wrong... Sex should be a means of happiness. Ben, the worst thing about sex is that we use it to hurt each other. It ought never to hurt; it should bring happiness, or at least, pleasure."

"The code says, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.' The result? Reluctant chastity, adultery, jealousy, bitterness, blows and sometimes murder, broken homes and twisted children - and furtive little passes degrading to woman and man. Is this Commandment ever obeyed? If a man swore on his own Bible that he refrained from coveting his neighbor's wife because the code forbade it, I would suspect either self-deception or subnormal sexuality. Any male virile enough to sire a child has coveted many women, whether he acts or not."

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