Lust has a “Headlong Fury”

Last month, I posed the question, “What to Do When There is Perfection in Collapse?”  My answer was that we should do nothing at all, since it is not good to conserve a thing that is not good to begin with.  I illustrated this principle with the story of my visit to an art exhibit where the wretched and ridiculous “work” on display collapsed into a heap of sticks and wires.  As this collapse improved (in my opinion) the artistic tone of the exhibit, standing to one side with my hands in my pockets was, I maintained, the correct response.  I then went on to draw an analogy between the sexual mores of college students and that pre-collapse assemblage of sticks and wires, as both are rickety, unattractive, and yet officially valorized as a thing that we should defend.

If those sticks and wires had been, say, a stack of broken box springs at the city dump, their collapse would have occasioned no anxious glances, no wrung hands, no solicitous condolences.  A creak, a crash, a cloud of dust, and that would have been that.  But those sticks and wires whose only difference from a stack of broken box springs was that they were housed in an art gallery were different.  They were valorized.  They were art!

The sexual antics of young adults have caused a fracas since Adam first chased Eve round the Tree of Knowledge.  Sober men therefore devised sexual mores to tame this fracas and channel its erotic energy into the necessary work of family formation.  Their aim was to maximize the number of good citizens, while minimizing the number of bastards and broken hearts.  That was, rather, what men did until fifty years ago, when they suddenly announced that sexual fracas is fun, and that everyone ought to overcome their prejudices against bastards and broken hearts.

In fact, it isn’t only fun—it is holy and therefore not to be touched by profane hands.  It is valorized.  It is sex! 

But when something goes wrong in the sexual fracas, it is “all hands on deck” (be those hands profane or sanctified), since if this rickety contraption were to collapse, The Revolution will have been in vain.

This all came to mind as I read a report that our University Police Department sent out this morning, as required by law.  In the wee hours of last Sunday morning, it tells us, a young woman was sexually assaulted by a “slender white male, 18 years of age.”  How she fell into his paws is what William Dean Howells might have styled “a modern instance.”

“The victim met the suspect at a Northgate entertainment district bar.”

The Northgate entertainment district is a string of alcohol dispensaries adjacent to campus, the entertainment on offer being essentially intoxication and whatever amusements may or may not follow in its wake.

“The victim and another friend were invited by the suspect and another male to a party off campus.”

We may suppose this to have been of those glamorous and exclusive “afterhours parties” where the real hangovers (and other shame-making mistakes) are made.

“After attending the party, the two males, the victim and the other female friend returned to the residence of one of the males at a Park West Apartment.”

“Whatever gets you through the night, ‘salright, ‘salright. (Thanks, John.)

“The two females later went to sleep on a bed while the suspect insisted on sleeping in the same room.”

Might that have been because it was his room, indeed his bed?  Or I suppose the three of them might have passed out together amidst the musty towels and dirty underwear of some other complete stranger who happened to be away for the weekend.  (Note how, in this age of sexual equality, the two weary princesses help themselves to the bed.)

“The victim was woken in the early morning hours when the suspect started fondling her.”

Over to you, Bill.

“Imagine her as one in dead of night
From forth dull sleep by dreadful fancy waking,
That thinks she hath beheld some ghastly sprite,
Whose grim aspect sets every joint a-shaking;

His hand, that yet remains upon her breast, —

Rude ram, to batter such an ivory wall! —
May feel her heart—poor citizen! —distress’d,
Wounding itself to death, rise up and fall . . .”

Poor citizen, indeed—and rude ram.  But our victim did not take her pounding heart as a sign that she had strayed into a bad place, and that she and her friend really ought to go home.  No,

“She rebuffed him and went back to sleep.”

What do you suppose that rebuff was?  “Unhand me, you cad!”

Whatever it was, it did not damp the kindling ardor of that “slender white male.”  No, it appears he sat on the floor brooding, amidst those musty towels and that dirty underwear, like foul Tarquin in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece (1594), until at last he resolved on a course of action

“I have debated, even in my soul,
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed;
But nothing can affection’s course control,
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.”

And thus it was that:

“The victim was later woken up with the suspect sexually assaulting her.”

It will be said, I know, that the dignity of woman requires that she be allowed to pass out drunk in the company of virtual strangers, and that she be suffered to snore with her ivory walls unprofaned by the rude rams of ghastly sprites .  It will be said, I know, that the equality of women requires that that any slender young male who may pass out with her content himself with cuddling a musty towel, down on the floor.

But this is all nonsense, as every sentient adult understood only fifty years ago.

Tarquin was certainly rationalizing his own crime when he said that “nothing can affection’s course control,” but what he said is not altogether inapplicable to the case of a slender white male who has been, of late, reveling in the Northgate entertainment district and at an afterhours party.  Indeed, dastardly Tarquin could have taught our “victim” a thing or two that no modern adult was, apparently, prepared to tell her.  Lust does have a “headlong furry,” alcohol is an accelerant, and there is a point well before the door of a strange bedroom when even clear foreknowledge of “repentant tears” availeth naught.

10 thoughts on “Lust has a “Headlong Fury”

  1. Pingback: Lust has a “Headlong Furry” | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: Lust has a “Headlong Furry” | Reaction Times

  3. Back in June, 2016, the blog What’s Wrong With The World had the following thread on an incident where a very drunk boy molested a very drunk girl:

    Below is a cut and paste of selected comments, mostly mine.

    Two drunks wallow like pigs. One revels in her martyrdom. One gets
    Most valiant Lucretia! O vile Sextus Tarquinius!
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 12:27 PM

    If both are blind drunk, one is not guiltier than the other.
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 1:17 PM

    Roger G., that’s not what I’m asserting, myself, and I’m inclined to
    disagree. I would assert the more moderate claim, that the drunkenness of
    the man is a factor in the situation as is the drunkenness of the woman. As
    others have (correctly) pointed out, he was obviously not as drunk as she
    was, because he never lost consciousness. He was even able to run away.
    Moreover, by his own admission, he initiated and continued the encounter.
    So he certainly has some not-insignificant degree of moral responsibility.
    However, his own degree of drunkenness could have impaired his judgement
    about things like, e.g., what the woman’s state of mind was, what her
    apparent cooperation meant, and even when she ceased to be conscious. Not
    to mention making him more likely to run away when the two Good Samaritans showed up, without that meaning that he was raping someone.
    Posted by Lydia | June 9, 2016 2:39 PM

    Lydia, no offense, but I think you’ve been too tentative all along on this
    sordid mess. I don’t subscribe to all this balancing and factoring with the
    criminal justice system. I want guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Though your points are valid. And now that I see Patrick’s input at 3:54
    PM, I’m having second thoughts. I guess I’m prejudiced by her mounting a
    pedestal and perorating 12 meticulously crafted pages of violated
    beatitude, while we genuflect in reverent awe.

    Didn’t she profess to strong womanhood, somewhere in all that dreck?
    Several times, in fact? But they all do:

    My God! Harvard and Yale compete at everything!!

    Sozzled to oblivion and mounted by crocked colleagues. Veritable Boudiceas!

    Augh. It’s too much for me.
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 5:35 PM

    Andy Hardy, call your RA.
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 6:08 PM

    Isn’t anyone here amazed by that Harvard/Yale thing (June 9, 2016 5:35 PM
    above)? Talk about Frank Merriwell and Dink Stover!
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 9:23 PM

    Roger, the second of your links about “no grey area” definitely describes a
    situation where the woman is expressing all the craziest views and where
    there is genuine ambiguity. (Though she explicitly denies any such
    ambiguity.) That post is precisely the kind of thing I’m trying to counter:
    “You have a right to get as drunk as you want. If the person agreed *ahead
    of time* with you to have sex and there was consent before you were blind
    drunk, then it’s okay, even if the person is a stranger.” “There are no
    grey areas. The fact that a person voluntarily got drunk has nothing to do
    with anything.” Insanity. And, of course, it’s too idealistic to try to end
    the hookup culture, so let’s just elevate consent through education.

    The other linked story is different because she is claiming coercion and
    real violence despite her refusal and struggles. A horrific story. Of
    course it was extremely foolish of her to make herself drunken and
    vulnerable (as it was in the other story), but if her story is true, there
    was no ambiguity about what happened and could have been no doubt in the
    man’s mind. He behaved as a monster. The term “rape” can be applied
    unambiguously to a monstrous act of that kind carried out with
    premeditation, intent, force, etc. This qualified.
    Posted by Lydia | June 9, 2016 10:32 PM

    Oy oy, Lydia. What, of course, I was getting at, you know, Harvard and
    Yale have this storied, celebrated century and a half rivalry. It’s a
    catchword, for God’s sake. So juxtapose that with the two articles. Jeez.
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 11:16 PM

    All this drunken stupefaction. Handcuffs. Whips. Human sacrifice. It’s just
    so completely outside my own sheltered experience.

    Ask a woman out. Go wherever she wants. Do whatever she wants. Pay all the bills. Head back to her place. Get rejected. Go home.

    That’s how I roll.
    Posted by Roger G. | June 9, 2016 11:49 PM

  4. Dear J.M.: A colleague-acquaintance who is faculty resident in one of my campus’s dormitories affirms the existence of the perpetual low-level, soused orgy. (Subsidized by parental fee-payers and those living in the state who are actually on the tax rolls.) My perception and intuition, on the other hand, register a general marked sexlessness in the undergraduate population, which I find difficult to square with the “dorm brothel” image of the contemporary state-college campus although I am not denying that the “dorm brothel” is, as reported. The general sexlessness is precisely the ground on which I would expect sexual confusion and delusion to grow, supposing that grow were the word, and it so grows. It’s neurotic and perverse, but I’m not sure that I’d describe it as furious. Maybe it is. Somehow sexlessness and the torpid, would-be Playboy Party go together, but just how, I cannot say. (Yours, T.)

  5. I’d guess that the “dorm brothel” is limited to the relatively small group of “players,” male and female, just as it has been through the ages. Lust has a “headlong fury” once it begins to roll, but there are plenty of people who don’t roll so easily. The episode I describe here is not a case of Hugh Hefner jr. romping with some Playmates on his waterbed. It’s sordid, fugitive, and pathetic. I have a strong impression that neither the slender lad nor his victim has any real understanding of sex. She is obviously clueless about the madness that is Eros. He seems to think that sexual intercourse is not ontologically different than a quick indulgence in some solitary vice. Both of them are, just as you say, sexless. It is pretty much what you would expect the Devil to make of human sex: all the hurt with none of the pleasure.

    • The undergraduates come to class in their pajamas, weighed down by those deforming great backpacks which are apparently an obligatory penance, and have sexless sex furtively in someone’s dorm-room. The faculties squabble over infinitesimal degrees of comparative mediocrity, seeking status and promotion. Administrators live in the box called the Administration Building. “All hurt — no pleasure” covers all three sides of the academic coin. Well coined, my friend.

      I puzzle myself what kind of sex sexless sex might be, given that one hand may never leave go of the cell phone! (Two hands are required for the mandatory perpetual texting, so how does either John or Mary get Mary out of her bra?)

      P.S. The backpacks would definitely make it hard to roll.

  6. Pingback: Indecent Proposals – The Orthosphere

  7. Pingback: Faulted as a Fool – The Orthosphere

  8. Pingback: Tussling on a Tuffet: A Tale of Our Times – The Orthosphere


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.