Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bronski Buzzkill

I'm reading another (old) anthology, Flashpoint: Gay Male Sexual Writing, edited by Michael Bronski. Bronski is one of my favorite gay social critics. His introduction writes about the nuances of the categories of sexual literature - smut, porn, and erotica. All have become value-laden terms, and he uses "sexual writing," instead.

Bronski focuses on sexual writing as an opening to understanding our own sexual fantasies, longings, and behavior. He challenges the reader to get beyond the jerk-off nature of the porn tale, and test how the writing resonates in our own minds and cultural context. Bronski is simply one of the best social commentators

And that's the buzzkill. I'm reading a hot story, but carefully thinking about its characters. Is that me on that bed? Am I really making a shopping list while we're having sex? Why am I enjoying this scene? And if I think about sexual writing, I lose my erection, because thought requires a lot of blood in my brain, and something in my physiology has to fail when I think and analyze my sexual behavior, played out on a page.

Sexual writing gives me a palpable thrill, until I think about it. Some of the writing is very good, and most is not. A strange paradox for me is that the trashy, steamy stuff, written simply to get me off without thinking is more satisfying than the more literary sexual writing (I do have a brain!). I want sex to take me into the realm of suspended thinking, a place of hormonally crazed action and pleasure. And if I have to think about that, I get a headache.