Friday, December 7, 2018

Pornosophy: Seven Dirty Words

George Carlin had a famous routine, "Seven Dirty Words," that was based on then forbidden language. It would be informative to see how these would go over in this day and age, were the comedian here to deliver them. The era out of which Carlin came was one in which speech reflected a relaxation in sexual mores.The pendulum has now begin to shift in the opposite direction. A recent cover of The Atlanticfor instance, featured a story on "The Sexual Recession," in which it was argued that young people are statistically experiencing a decline in the frequency in which they have sex on a weekly basis. At least one of the items on Carlin’s list is the dreaded "c" word whose use today can result in a good verbal flogging, ostracization or worse. Others like “cocksucker” and “motherfucker” are a little like our public lands, which are still protected, but in imminent danger. The world over which Carlin reigned along with other comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mel Brooks now itself almost seems like an extinct universe; it’s probably true to say that some of the transgressions that the #MeToo movement has rightly fought to curb emanate from a time in which the exuberance of freedom led to its own excesses. Freedom is nice, but not when it is exercised in a unilateral manner. Still seminal texts like J.P. Dunleavy’s The Ginger Man and of course the two Tropics, of Cancer and Capricorn, which were Henry Miller’s contribution to both sex and literature have now become outliers. You remember it, right? The sexual revolution. Talk about paradigms shifting, it’s hard to conjure what that phrase means in a world where university students are more concerned about being "triggered" than “tuned in, turned on and dropped out,” to quote Timothy Leary.

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