Sex Books, Day 2: Venus in Furs, and Delta of Venus.

Tonight we continue with two more books, Nin’s Delta of Venus, and Sachar-Masoch’s Venus in Furs. Prepare for a miserable and old-fashioned discussion of the sexes. Apologies in advance.

Venus in Furs

Venus in Furs leads us immediately to a comparison between it and The Story of O, the main difference initially being that of narrators and sympathies. The book opens with one of the narrators, what I assume will be a framing of the main narration, in a painfully pseudo-intellectual discussion about love between men and women. In the Story of O, the woman is being subjugated by horrid beasts of men and you wonder “who could possibly do this to another person?” The lesson being that a woman will do anything for secure love.

Sounds sexist, I know, but in real life I was recently having a discussion with an ex-prostitute on this very subject. She said to me, “listen…here’s the secret, every woman, whether she’ll admit it or not, whether she acts like it or not, even if she says or does otherwise, craves stability in love above all else.”

My own opinion for years has been that everyone keeps a careful balance of what quantities of love and abuse he or she is willing to receive, and that based on our projection of that, that’s how we are treated in turn. In Story of O, O is willing to receive a great deal of abuse, but does so because she’s wants a great deal of love as well. In Venus, however, the narrators dish out the abuse because they feel it’s the only way to keep the love coming–that love is how a woman keeps a man, and abuse is how a man keeps a woman’s love. This sounds simply awful, but how quickly can you come up with the names of 25 or so women whose relationships function just like this? Let the man’s cruelty slip, and the woman’s cruelty takes over. Always lopsided abuse.

The “Venus in Furs” refers to the idea that erotic love has no place in Christendom. I think it was part of Wagner’s Tannhauser that I learned about this idea of reconciling religions, that Jesus came and banished all the pagan gods and goddesses into mountains, one being Venusburg or something like that. We carry the pagan notions of love into our modern Christian world, but one cannot exist beside the other, and those of us of cold stock, Northern European heritage, are unable to swim through love as those people of the Mediterranean, the people who invented love in the first place.

And I’m apt to agree. 0/10…particularly because this makes me feel utterly hopeless.

Delta of Venus – “The Hungarian Adventurer”

Of course the book opens with a tale of sex with children, and incest…incest, of course was just part of a day’s work for Anais Nin and her daddy. But for the rest of us…

Of course she’s laughing, she knows precisely what she’s up to. You want to read something erotic? Go on then, read this, sex with your own daughter. But here’s part of the trick: it’s uncomfortable because when I read it, I naturally role-play as the man since a great deal of erotica is role-playing. And the man’s doing things that aren’t okay. Which makes me uneasy. Which makes role-playing not much fun. The crucial detail that’s missing is that this is not a book for men. It’s a book for women. The role-playing you’re supposed to be doing is that of the women being cast aside, of the girls unknowingly being taken advantage of, raped, and molested. And it’s supposed to turn you on.

The concept is that women prefer narratives in their fantasies, whereas men prefer facts-on-the-ground, i.e., t&a. Do women like fantasy stories like this? Hell if I know. That’s something JStor probably won’t tell me. What I can assure you, though, is that Nin’s other book of erotica begins with a similar story.

And…we’re going with a 1/10, since everything before the child-sex made it seem like it would all turn out okay.

Fail, fail, fail.

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