Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fifty shades of sex

Ok, I have read all three volumes of E.L. James's trilogy, the "Fifty Shades of Grey", the sexy love story of delicious innocent Anastasi Steele and rich, lovely-to-look-at but not innocent Christian Grey.  Except for the fact that the pair go at it a bit too often for a 72 year old to find interesting, I think it is a good story.  Yes, the sex scenes are hot. Sure, the plot variations are predictable and typical, but all in all, I thought it was a good job.  

I first learned about the book in connection with ebooks.  I read that the book took many sellers and marketers by surprise, that it is sufficiently detailed in the physical love scenes to be labeled "mommy porn" and that it is graphic enough that it may be an example of books that women who are interested download in private.  Getting a Kindle means there is no moment when a salesperson can look at the titles of your purchases and look you questioningly in the eye.

The book's sales caught all the book markets by surprise.  Currently, it is the #1 book sold by Amazon.  I am not sure if that is true separately for both paper and for e-format.  I look at book ratings often but I don't think I have ever seen 7164 written ratings and reviews for a book before.  The total rating is about 3.5 of 5 stars but the split is interesting: 3085 people gave the book a full 5 stars and 2192 people gave it 1 star (the lowest possible rating) with the remainder sprinkled in between.

The book is the first novel written by E.L. James, a mother of two living in London.  The sales have propelled the movie rights to move quickly into a production of a movie.  She is quoted in several places as always having been interested in writing and wanted to write stories that readers would fall in love with.  I heard of a young woman who found the stories sufficiently good that she cannot now find anything else worth reading and has decided to read all three books all over again.  Several of the reviewers, on the other hand, are derisive and find the writing very much too youthful and improbable for their tastes.  

If you are looking for a combination of Cinderella and The Story of O, you may want to give it a try.  There are reports that some boys and men get way too hooked on pornography and their arousal and gravitate to such material in place of a good, live relation.  I can imagine the same thing can happen with some women so watch it.  I applaud knowing as much as you can about your own wiring and that of your partner.  It is a tricky and fascinating subject that has occupied lovers, writers, religious authorities, thinkers and scientists for centuries. We have an ongoing struggle between those who fear all sex and its many good and not-so-good consequences and those who find it one of the most important features of our lives.  

Jack Kornfield in the final chapters of "Bringing Home the Dharma" includes discussion of sex in the chapter "The Sex Lives of the Gurus".  He writes:

To start, we might pose the question "Why do people make such a big deal about sex?" To not make a "big deal" out of sexuality is to deny the force of its presence in our lives and our culture, and to overlook its potential as a ground for suffering and confusion—or, alternatively, for wisdom and spiritual growth. It may have been easier to renounce and dismiss sexual questions in the celibate monasteries and ashrams of Asia, but as Western students and householders we cannot ignore our sexuality any more than we can ignore the issues of relationship, intimacy, and emotions in a life of conscious spiritual practice. Of course, these areas of our practice are among the most difficult. But what is the purpose of spirituality if not to deal with love and desires and freedom, with the basic energies of birth and death, body and mind? The most honest and fruitful course is to recognize the power of sexuality in our lives and to explore the beliefs we hold (true and untrue) that condition how we think and act with regard to it.

Kornfield, Jack; Siegel, Dr. Daniel (2011-12-21). Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are (p. 226). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

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