Shut Up, Or You’ll Kill Eros
Emily Esfahani Smith considers Speak About It, a play written by some Bowdoin College students as an aid to their rutting (or, as the play’s website puts it, to help create “an all-around healthier sexual culture for all sexualities”). She says its bluntness, its lack of artfulness, is typical of the stunted erotic imagination many younger people have today, amid our pornified culture. Excerpt:
Delicate language, as Bloom has pointed out, lies at the heart of the erotic, a memo that the writers of Speak About It must have missed.
Eros, in fact, is everything that Speak About It and the hookup culture are not. Casual sex, readily available sex, publicized sex, sloppy drunk sex, sex for the sake of self-gratification and self-discovery—this is not eros. “Sex-on-tap,” Nehring writes in A Vindication of Love, “attenuates rather than inflames passion. It is for this reason that the relentless emphasis on sexual climax that distinguishes our day from most others in historical memory has a largely depleting effect on the life of the emotions… The natural distances between people have been diminished so radically as to make romance—which depends on the retention of other-ness, tensions, and reserve—impossible.”