Tag Archives: spoilt rotten

“Sanctified” Exhibitionism

facepalm_stencil_by_killingspr-d4ngb9nThe other day I happened upon a Christian blogger who felt led to share an erotic poem he had written for and about his wife. I’ll refrain from linking to the thing; all considerations of taste and discretion aside, the poetry itself is really rather bad, and sounds like fifth- or sixth-rate Chaucer. The most interesting part, in my opinion, is that when challenged as to the wisdom of sharing his poem with the world, the author responded by saying that “my marriage, like all marriages, is a public sexual relationship.”

[clears throat]

And now it’s time for Silly Songs with Larry, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a Silly Song.

Marriage as a public sexual relationship. Gotcha. I can honestly say I’ve never heard that one before, but as Josip from Island of the World would observe, “you learn something new every day.” You learn, for example, that some people are chowderheads, and ought not to be taken seriously about much of anything – sex least of all.

We are the pirates who don’t do anything/We just stay at home and lie around…

Public sexual relationship. Public sexual relationship. Pray, what crazy hermeneutical gymnastics does one have to perform for this to be a viable statement? Has irony crawled off somewhere and died, or is he just asleep? Can someone please wake him up? My word, people. Some things really should not be said with a straight face. The man who combines “public” and “sexual” in this way and for this purpose clearly has a doubtful grasp of the true meaning of either.

And I’ve never bathed in yogurt/And I don’t look good in leggings…

Let’s not kid ourselves: if escaping the ditch of Victorian prudery tumbles us into the ditch of “sanctified” exhibitionism – all in the name of Christian liberty – we still have not found the road yet.

But what is harmless in private is not necessarily harmless, let alone beneficial, in public; and those who think that their private and public behavior should always be the same, for fear of introducing hypocrisy into it, have a view of human existence that lacks subtlety, irony and above all realism. (Theodore Dalrymple, Spoilt Rotten)

Book Review: Spoilt Rotten

Spoilt_Rotten_Dalrymple_coverTo begin with, Heaven help the man, woman, or Yeti responsible for the – yes, I’ll say it – rotten cover design on display here. What kitsch.

Thankfully, that is the last negative thing I have to say about this book, because the rest of it is pure gold – gold with a British accent, which makes it even shinier. I encourage you to buy a copy for yourself, several for your friends, and a few dozen extra to pass out at the local college campus. Trust me: our colleges need it even more than you do.

As anyone with half a brain can tell, Dalrymple is not into pulling his punches. If you pick up Our Culture, What’s Left of It, it’s rather like scrambling into the ring with Joe Louis, only much better for your health. If you enjoyed that book, as I did, then you will absolutely love Spoilt Rotten. With his typical eloquence and Johnsonian wit, Dalrymple examines the way sentimentality has usurped the public sphere, with disastrous (though frequently unacknowledged) results.

When sentimentality becomes a mass public phenomenon, it becomes manipulative in an aggressive way: it demands of everyone that he join in. A man who refuses to do so, on the grounds that he does not believe that the purported object of sentiment is worthy of demonstrative display, puts himself outside the pale of the virtuous and becomes almost an enemy of the people. His fault is a political one, a refusal to recognize the truth of the old saw, vox populi, vox dei – the voice of the people is the voice of God…

Sentimentality is the expression of emotion without judgment. Perhaps it is worse than that: it is the expression of emotion without an acknowledgment that judgment should enter into how we should react to what we see and hear.

Like I said, buy one or twenty copies. Consider it an investment. In high explosives. With stentorian returns. I bid you all, in the immortal words of that great philosopher Samuel Jackson, to “hold onto your butts.”