Just a brief comment on Rod’s post on Marc Ambinder’s post on “dignified promiscuity.” It was this passage that caught my eye:

But I also think that society will become more tolerant of what might be called dignified promiscuity: open relationships and marriages, where the negative externalities of promiscuity are dealt with at their source, and where safe sex is respected, even within an ethic that allows for a more interesting sex life. I’d guess that straights will be come more promiscuous and gays will become less promiscuous, and some middle ground will be carved out.

Ambinder assumes two points here without, I suspect, even realizing it, so obviously true are those assumptions to him: first, that it’s important for one’s sex life to be “interesting”; and second, that “interest” derives from variety and novelty of partners.

The category of the “interesting” is an aesthetic category — indeed, if Kierkegaard and Auden are right, it is the aesthetic category — but what if sexual experience is misconceived by being interpreted aesthetically? What if an aesthetic understanding of sex is an impoverished one?

And even if one does think about sex in such aesthetic terms, why assume that novelty and variety are the only things that interest us? Art is about repetition as much as variation, after all. There comes a point when novelty becomes not exciting but arithmetical: ask Don Giovanni, after you’ve fed him a few drinks, about his “thousand-and-third in Spain.” And perhaps the long-faithful couple know a few things about what’s truly interesting that the promiscuous could never guess.