Although the title implies that the book will take you on a seedy tour of the S&M scene, the homosexual underground and the secret lives of perverts you perhaps never even suspected exist, I admit I was a little disappointed to learn it was basically a history of erotic literature occasionally spiced up here and there with descriptions of these writers’ unorthodox sexual fixations and obsessions. Also it espouses the same theories that he put forward in his “Criminal History of Mankind, sans all the Julian Jaynes split-brain conjecture.
Most of what he says can be summed up by saying that “some people do weird things to heighten their sense of reality”. Also, as he does in “The Criminal History of Mankind”, he claims that people started to do increasingly strange sexual things once the habit of reading novels became established. In his book on crime he stated that the popular habit of reading fiction was what was inspiring people to commit stranger and stranger, as well as progressively more brutal, crimes (and not just sex crimes). These books make the case that once escaping through one’s imagination became common, people’s fantasy lives naturally grew more complex, and there comes a point when imagination alone becomes unsatisfying, so some people will attempt to bring their fantasies to life.
He starts by sharing his history with an extremely unorthodox individual he developed a sort of professional acquaintanceship with named Charlotte Bach, who was a very masculine looking woman from Hungary who had developed an odd theory that she was obsessed with which claimed that all men have a varying degree of the feminine in their make up and all women have a certain amount of masculine qualities as well, and that this is the driving force behind human evolution. It’s actually far more complicated than that, but trust me, its all nonsense anyway. Of course her mad ideas were passionately taken up by England’s LGBT community during the 1970s.
I don’t suppose it should surprise anyone that after “her” death it was discovered that “she” was actually a man who was only dressing up in women’s clothes. His real name was Karoly Hajdu. Colin found ‘her’ theory interesting and even publicized it occasionally in his work, but even he saw that ‘she’ was wrong. It did, however, get him thinking more deeply on the subject of atypical sexual habits.
After “her” death her lawyer sent Mr. Wilson a lot of xeroxes of her unpublished works that she wished him to see. There was lots of autobiographical stuff included, which gave him an intimate look into ‘her’ personal history.
Charlotte was originally a bit of a lady’s man. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the popular theory that excessive womanizing indicates that a man may be running from the realization that he is actually homosexual. He began his transvestite practises when a woman friend canceled a date with him. He had bought her a pair of silk stockings as a gift earlier that day. He thought they felt nice, so nice that he suddenly found himself possessed by a perverse notion to try them on. Well, needless to say that was the inauspicious start of the long and twisted road that lead to his eventually becoming a full time transvestite. Although Colin made it a point to mention that just because a man likes dressing up in women’s clothes it doesn’t mean he’s homosexual (Remember Ed Wood?) he does later admit that one evening after he and a colleague took Charlotte out to coffee he and his associate kissed “her” good night and “she” slipped them both a taste of tongue.
|A very rare and very “normal” picture of Wilson with his children.|
Colin then goes on the talk about the Marquis de Sade who as an adult had an adolescent mania for sex. Not content to merely possess someone through the sex act, he wanted nothing less than to suck them down to the dregs then crumple them up and toss their empty husk on to his rubbish heap. His extraordinary excesses eventually earned him a very long stay in the Bastille. Denied the ability to orchestrate the wild orgies he had come to live for he had to resort to creating them in writing. Not only was his writing deplorable (it is only the outdated use of language that lends it any charm at all), his tales come off as merely the frenzied fantasies of a sex starved teenager. He was freed a little early by an amazing stroke of luck called “The French Revolution”. It was his publication of these prison manuscripts that launched his literary career, such as it was.
De Sade was insatiable because he could never achieve complete satisfaction. Most well balanced adults know that sex is nice, but it’s not the only thing in life, certainly not the most important. The high peaks one ascends through bizarre sexual activity tend to bring with them disastrous side effects that only brings one down, lower and lower each time. De Sade was an extreme case, but his obsessions with perversions caused him to suffer an extreme loss of social status. If he wasn’t a nobleman he’d very likely been executed early on.
He was constantly trying to outdo himself, but he was, of course, subject to the law of ever diminishing returns, much like a cocaine addict.
On page 92 in the 5th chapter entitled, “Rebel Angle” he talks about Byron, who became an early 19th century rock star after the publication of the first two cantos of his epic poem, “Childe Harold”, where he talks about a world weary individual who went out of control, immersing himself in the pleasures of the flesh trying to nurse his broken heart. This work heralded what has come to be known as the Romantic movement.
All in all I didn’t enjoy the book anywhere near as much as I thought I would, but don’t take this as a bad review, it’s probably because I read two of his books just previous so I was a little burned out on him. Reading authors is a lot like conversing with someone you know, even if they are highly intelligent, if you talk to them long enough they tend to get kind of repetitive.
Plainly the media actively encourages us to engage in all these hitherto taboo sex acts and other behaviors. As soon as one becomes passé we are encouraged to delve even deeper into the abnormal. Remember back when being gay was a big deal? Well, now you’re nothing unless you are a transsexual. Now that everybody is reasonably comfortable with that we can see that prepubescent drag queens have been much in the news lately. Based on that I feel the next big thing they will be pushing will be pedophilia.
The thing with sex is it never delivers quite what it promises. Like chasing a mirage it invariably leads to disappointment. In fact, indulging in all these weird fetishes often leads to dire consequences. Nothing has changed since the days of de Sade. I thought we would have learned that lesson by now.