Guerre de Course

Have they ever paid for sex? And how.

I was raised very close to my mother, grandmother and sister and never had boy playmates as a child, so perhaps it was only natural that, as an adult, I maintained close and warm relations with many women, some friends and colleagues AND lovers, others only close friends and colleagues (as well as some only lovers).  I took special pride in this – that I found women familiar, easy to deal with, and more interesting than men.  I ascribed it to their natural sensitivity to the environment and the more complex – and therefore more interesting – life strategies they had to adopt.

But this year I have come to a new understanding of women.  I found myself living for three weeks in a very specific youth hostel, in a dynamically growing financial center, where many skilled, educated ambitious professional immigrants stayed while they took up their various new jobs and looked desperately for (very tight) housing.  I found myself at close quarters with young people who were attracted to my experience and willingness to share it and this way I came to have a series of very intimate conversations with young women about life and life goals.  And what I learned has astounded me.

I have found that they were all manipulative, dishonest and… stupid.  Contrary to what I have imagined, they aren’t interested in falling in love, or having a meaningful relationship with a lover, or a deep and profound experience, but in starting a family and obtaining control of a man who will make that possible; that, to a woman, all prefer an average man to a great man, because, well, the average man will be more easily controlled and manipulated;  and that they all refuse to speak honestly to prospects about what they want.  Asked why, they explain that they don’t wish to frighten the prospect with serious conversation until he is ready; what they mean is that until such a time they will dissimulate about their goals.  Their instinctive preference is to build a new relationship on the foundation of a… lie.

How different my relationship with my x-wife was.  We had an open conversation about our life goals on our third date.  It broke all ice and established the basis for total and unbreakable mutual trust which lasted through all the usual difficulties of a 25 year relationship.  And, like me, she decided to embark on the relationship not in order to secure a father for her child but in order to learn something from me and experience a great adventure with me.  The child never materialized, but we shared together several very happy lives – in 7 countries on 3 continents, lives of constant learning and adventure, lives filled with stimulation and fascination and pleasure we would never have known if we had chosen for the usual.

But then, x-wife is an extraordinary woman.  And it was she, I suppose, more than anyone else, who is responsible for my false impression of her sex and the rude awakening the discovery of women’s true nature has now given me.  Long live the x.  Down with women.

PS.  The open misogyny of the all male discussion forums which I have observed during this presidential campaign season must be, I suppose, due to the fact that all these misogynists ended up with women not like my x, but like all these other women I have met this year.  They have been exploited, manipulated, and lied to.  Have they ever paid for sex?  And how.


Honesty is always the best policy, but, as a species, we are damned stupid devious monkeys, too stupid to know how to be honest

Faith is half my age.  She fell into my arms because I wooed her.  No man seems to woo anymore.  Those whom I told the story were puzzled.  What do you get out of it?  They want sex and they know they will get it.  Not for them the pleasure of romantic conversation; not for them the argument that sex is better when the parties are in love.

So in this field I have little competition.  No wonder Faith says I have the power to make any woman fall into my arms.  She’s not actually describing me when she says that, she’s just describing what happened to her.

Eventually, the inevitable conversation happened:  am I too old to be the father of her children?  I probably am, and in case, I am quite eager to accept the argument.  I laid out  various proposals, including this:  stay with me a year or two; enjoy what I have to offer; but do not feel compelled not to look for Mr Right; by all means, look for him; if you find him, date him; if things come to a head and you must take him to bed, do so; if you then decide to leave me to be with him, I will pay you a handsome settlement based on the amount of time you have spent with me and how much pleasure you have given me; all I ask is – don’t do it behind my back; don’t surprise me; tell me when things happen and as they unfold.

I made other proposals, too; though this one was probably the most creative.

She did not accept – for whatever reason, this is not the point of this essay.

The point of this essay is that when I told this story to Hannah, she said:  you said that?  This is incredible!  You know what you want and you say it.  You talk openly about everything.

Of course she is amazed.  People don’t.

As a matter of rule, people lie in their relationships.  Lie from the beginning, from the first conversation they have.

A typical exploratory conversation between an x and a y goes like this:

What do you think about z, asks x.  In response to which,  y first thinks:  what does x what to hear?  Then y says that.  And if, as is quite likely, his answer is actually wrong and rubs x the wrong way, x will lie about it and pretend that it is OK.  For now.  Once x gets y to bed, or to love x, then it can all be renegotiated.

In this way, all relationships are found to be based on lies.  No wonder they founder.

Not to mention… no wonder they never deliver what we want.

Honesty is always the best policy, but, as a species, we are damned stupid devious monkeys, too stupid to know how to be honest; and all our life failures have their root in our deviousness.  Too smart by half is stupid.

Trump, Miss Universe

Lots of ooing and ahing on the American media today, and a fair bit of tisk tisking, that Trump “shot himself in the foot again” by tweeting personal nastiness about a woman again.  He didn’t.  His base – middle aged men – loves it, he knows what he is doing:  it only gets him more points.  The few forums I participate in happen to be male dominated and I am shocked daily by the amount of livid invective against Hillary in those conversations; these guys hate her guts; but for no reason that I can see.  The language is a clue, it is decidedly misogenic (eg. “countries will be bombed due to PMS symptoms”).  I am discovering that males are…  male chauvinist.  It seems weird to me, because I am not at all; but then I did not get roped into the slavery of a married husband and pater familias weighted with children and mortgage in exchange for way too little sex (2.3x a week, they lie, but in France they lie better:  2.4x).  Those who did get roped in – well, they sure have reasons to be angry.  They have been had.

In the last 9 months alone three single women, actively on the market, have told me they are not looking for a perfect man, or a great man, or a special man; but an average man; and one actually explained why:  a great man will do what he wants; while the point is… to get a man who will do what she wants.  Fall in love and commit to monogamy is the story, but it is just the story.  In fact, they want “fall and in love and commit to monogamy” not as a goal in and of itself – but as a means to a goal, and the goal is a suburban home, a nice car, and two kids; always two kids, boy and girl, boy first girl later, always in that order.

Faith can’t manage her time

Three weeks into my relationship with Faith, I suddenly understand the enormity of the problem.  Like many people with a busy daytime job, she crams into her free time as many social activities as she can find, with the result that she is constantly late to most of them and cancelling many.

She also does not sleep:  I keep receiving messages from her at 1.30 in the morning.  This is not because she is working overtime, this is just her extracurricular activities.  And then, predictably she complains about how tired she is during the day; and falls on her face on Thursdays and Fridays and sleeps till 2 on Saturdays.

So I wrote her this message:

It is perhaps not my business, but i can see that like most people with a busy full time job, you try to cram your limited free time with many activities. In fact, it is worse: so many that you can’t execute them all and end up constantly late and running. This has to be be really tiring and psychologically frustrating, no? If you permit an older and more experienced friend who has been through all this himself to give you a piece of his mind, here are some things I have learned:

1) Plan fewer things. Plan fewer activities but commit more time to each – we do get more pleasure out of going slower – it is not just food and love making that are better when done slowly, everything is. Fewer activities also means less time commuting between them, less time lost in cars and in traffic and more time for the activity itself.

2) Plan. This includes thinking of things like how long it will take you to change your clothes or to get there and find parking. Once you budget properly for those things, you will realize that a lot of activities which seem doable really aren’t and therefore really should be skipped. If you do 4 things on a Saturday, you are probably spending 2 hours of your day in changing, commuting and parking. Think about how much Chinese you could have learned during all those hours over the last year alone!

3) Plan downtime. I mean: plan periods of time when you actually do nothing. If it comes to that, you will find yourself relaxing, or thinking, or reading, or sitting in the garden, or enjoying your own company, or perhaps taking a nap. This is not time wasted – in fact, you will find this is the most important time of your week, when you do your best thinking, orient yourself, come to important conclusions. And if something comes up unexpectedly, or one of your activities suddenly requires more time, you will find yourself with a reserve of time you will be able to commit to this requirement without having to reschedule, apologize etc. So plan free, unscheduled time. A friend of mine is a true champion of that: she turns off the phone on Sunday and stays alone. Sundays are for her exclusively.  Perhaps she is extreme in this regard, but she is also the most self-possessed and most comfortable with herself person I know.

4) Prioritize. Doing fewer things will mean dropping some. You have to have a sense of what is more important and what is less important, what makes you happier, what makes you grow and what does not.  Then do more of those things and less of the others. And skip some of the others altogether. If an activity does not leave you with a deep sense of personal satisfaction, you probably should not waste your time on it – you really don’t have enough free time to waste on mildly amusing entertainment.

5) Finally, I come to something that really should be the first point: sleep and eat. Know how many hours you need to sleep each night and sleep those hours, come hell or high water. And eat at least something at regular times. Going to the gym has taught me that sleeping enough and eating 200 calories more or less can make a difference between a fantastic work out which makes me feel blissful and from which I recover quickly; and a nasty, gruelling labor which I do not enjoy and which leaves me broken for days. All of our life – work, love making, play – are like the gym. They require fresh mind and well fed body. You will get more out of all your activities if you are properly rested and fed.

If you can do all of this, I guarantee you that you will feel happier and more satisfied; you will find yourself achieving more (like, you will actually be able to schedule some study time for your Chinese); less tired; and have a better sense of control over your life. And you will end up with a happier boyfriend, too. And happier boyfriend is a better boyfriend; and a happier boyfriend means happier girlfriend, in the end.

Feel free to disregard everything i have written; but not without giving it some thought first. I took several hours to think about this email and almost an hour to write it because I decided it was important to talk to you about it. I am not a fool, please give me credit for my intelligence and experience and at least think about what I decided I needed to tell you.

Different heads

It’s hard not to respect the critics on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review, but, to my astonishment, they liked A Bigger Splash!  They thought the music producer played by Fienes was spellbinding (“best role of his life”, really?) and Tilda’s boyfriend sexy (??) and Fienes’ daughter “searing” (wow).  I am stunned.  How do I deal with a situation when otherwise intelligent and perspective persons, whose artistic instincts I trust, say something like that – totally, to my mind, incomprehensible?

The world is full of beautiful young girls

The world is full of beautiful young girls who are bored (and boring), hoping for a better fate than the drudgery they see coming, yet too lazy and too timid to attempt to escape it; and too boring to deserve the prince shining they secretly dream might come and save them for a better life.  There is no particular reason to choose one over another.  They are all the same.

A bigger boredom

A Bigger Splash made me laugh.  It is supposed to be a tale of sexual passion – the Ralph Fiennes’ character for Tilda Swinton’s; her live-in boyfriend for Fiennes’ daughter.  For me, it all falls flat.  I don’t find Tilda remotely sexy – perhaps it’s my fault, she is not uninteresting, just not my type; and Fiennes is quite an attractive man (he looked gorgeous in Coriolanus), it’s just that to me, with the beard looks like a goat; his film profession (a rock producer) bores me, his dancing antics are embarrassing and the story of his flash of producerly genius (use the trash can as percussion, man!) gelastic.

Swinton’s boyfriend has all the sexappeal of a six pack of Heineken – I am not sure what girl would make all that effort to woo him, and the girl who tries to seduce him is so badly made – she has no figure, no breasts, no neck, no ankles – embarrasses herself by showing her body.  The scene in which she lies naked on razor-sharp pointy rocks to clinch the seduction is laughable.

Most embarrassing of all is the scene in which Swinton and Fiennes take over a karaoke machine and end up gathering around them a dense crowd of admiring locals while they perform badly some indifferent crooner.  Come on guys.  Have you actually been to Pentelleria?  Well, let me tell you, no one there listens to Americo-English rock and roll.

Re-watching La Grande Belezza

After seeing this to the end, I went out and got every other film by Paolo Sorrentino I could lay my hands on and found that each and every one turned me off.  His last, Youth, bored me to tears and I left early.  Yet, La Grande Belezza moves me deeply every time I watch it.

There are other directors like this – who have made dozens of films, none of which interest me remotely, none except one, but that one touches me deeply.  Assaye’s Les heures d’ete are like that.

Often such films feel autobiographical. It’s as if there was in each of these film makers one story, a certain quintessence of the sum total of their reflection on the experience of life, which needed to be out and their entire cinematographic oeuvre prior to this one film, this special film, was nothing but practice, the honing in of writerly skill, like all those Joycean epiphanies before he finally set down and write Ulisses. And everything made after – just collecting the annuity.

If I am right, and LGB is indeed autobiographical, then I suspect that Jep is not Paolo Sorrentino – the psychology is too deep to be the result of introspection – we cannot see ourselves this deeply, portray ourselves with such love; rather it is someone else:  a senior figure, a friend, a mentor, perhaps, like di Lampedusa’s Il Principe,  a grandfather.

Paolo, am I right?


How Alaisdare McIntyre explains young women

Alasdair McIntyre in his After Virtue argued that modern day thinking about virtue is “broken” because it attempts to reconcile theories of virtue applicable to different ages.  His argument was that what was considered virtuous in the heroic age was not the same as the stuff that was considered virtuous in the early capitalist/bourgeois age or that is considered now; but we mix all those ideas and as a result end up mighty confused.

My own view on this is that McIntyre goes wrong is in assuming that what we consider virtue is culturally acquired; while I suspect that it is genetically encoded, just as many things that we find beautiful.  Just as good body proportions and good hair are indicative of healthy breeders; generosity, courage, grit or tolerance are all indications of fitness and appeal to us for the same reasons.  There is something visceral – not learned – about our perception of virtue.  And the fact that not all people agree on what virtue is only confirms the view that the perceptions have a genetic origin.  We are all different – the value system is as much part of evolution, and competition, as every other aspect of the human animal.

But McIntyre’s idea of a broken ideology made up of disparate elements applies rather well to young ladies’ thinking about romance.  On the one hand they have absorbed the suffragist ideas that they should be independent and self-supporting, and that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle; and on the other, they cultivate the notion of romantic love as a means to attaining personal happiness.  The result is that they are confused about what they want from a love relationship.  They seem to think that they shouldn’t want anything from it, because that would make it somehow mercenary and unclean; but when they do get nothing from it, they are hurt.  And when you explain to them that all relationships serve a purpose; are an exchange of favors; they get offended.

There is no medicine for stupid.


The Brand New Testament

The Brand New Testament is striking in its truthful portrayal of God; and beguiling in its various guesses how much better the world could be made if only we had chanced onto a better God; but its view of the potential of human life is a little tired:  happiness consists in relationships; particularly those of erotic variety.  While it is funny to see Catherine Deneuve in the embrace of an amorous gorilla, one does wish that Jean Claude’s expedition to Baffin’s Land did not end with a pretty girl at the end of it.  Surely, there has to be more to life than love.