"The condom is…in its essence, a compromise: at the moment of greatest potential pleasure, it interferes. It requires that the rush of desire be interrupted, its course modified, its sensation diminished. At the moment of being consumed by the present, a concern with the future intrudes. The condom is a declaration of sacrifice in the midst of indulgence. It is evidence of civilization and its discontents."
— Edwad Rothsein, in a review of a museum exhibit of condoms.
It is very, very sad that the Catholic church refuses to endorse the condom — in fact it proactively speaks out against the effectiveness of condoms — even as AIDS ravages the continent of Africa.
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- Grant McCracken on the problem of "forced fun" in corporations — authenticity trumps all.
- David Foster Wallace's posthumous Dec '09 short story in the New Yorker is excellent, especially the bits about the cruelty of parents when they knowingly lie to their kids about "magic" and toys and the like.
10 comments on “The Condom and Other Links”
Reminds me of an old post about how condoms are “The Single Most Important Environmental Innovation.”
Ben, I forced myself to read all of David Foster Wallace’s story, “All That” (I failed to make it through the first time).
Wallace was utterly screwed up in the head.
He says, “I will mention these voices only in passing” (the inner voices he heard as a child), yet he mentions them twenty-one times in this very short sad little tale.
I’ve heard voices too, and still hear them. They always tell me I’m Jesus Christ. I just tell them to shut the fuck up.
I find it very revealing also that Wallace refers repeatedly to his ‘real’ parents (the ones who raised him to be so fucked up), as his ‘biological’ parents, implying that there must be some other entities he regards as his ‘other’ parents.
I’d like to know who those surrogate parents were.
My surrogate parents were hippies who gave me LSD, and I found them much kinder than the parental units who didn’t use birth control and forced me to waste the emotional energy of my short life in servitude listening to them argue.
It’s too bad that I never met David. I would have given him some ‘shock’ therapy– I’d have forced him to go to Arizona with me where we’d have milked some Sonoran Desert Toads for their venom and smoked it.
If he’d done that, I don’t believe he’d have wasted his time writing such mastubatory ‘think’ pieces as this.
I do believe a meeting between you and DFW would have been epic.
I am keen on learning more about your own childhood, someday.
On condoms: vasectomy is far better. No “sacrifice in the midst of indulgence,” no changing your mind on the decision, and no listening to whining about “why do I have to take care of birth control?” It only solves half the problem in cases of promiscuity, though.
On the DFW piece, it felt a bit voyeuristic to read, and in the end I got bored and didn’t finish it. I did not get the impression that he intended it for publication.
Ben, I wonder where might you have gotten these stories from? What inspires you to look for them?
It’s articles that come to me via my RSS reader: http://american.com/archive/2009/june/rssted-development
It’s counter intuitive but the Catholic Church is right in how they are handling the HIV crisis in Africa. Condoms are only useful for specific populations that are already engaged in risky sexual behaviors (prostitution, so called alpha males with hundreds of partners). These high risk populations are unlikely to listen or care what the Pope has to say. Condoms given to people who are not engaged in risky sexual behaviors lead to risk compensation which makes the situation worse.*
The best strategy to reduce HIV is to reduce the number of partners people have. Best way to do this is through marriage and to make risky sexual behaviors taboo. This is what the Catholic Church is doing. It would not make sense for the Church to teach that risky sexual behaviors were sinful and hurt your relationship with God and then turn around and collaborate in the sinful behavior by handing out condoms.
The Catholic Church has taken a lot of heat for it position on condoms. Where is the condemnation for those institutions that promote promiscuous cultures which is the real force behind the aids epidemic?
What is "risky sexual behavior"? Is 5-10 sexual partners in a lifetime too
risky for you?
Sure, one marriage, and one sexual partner would be ideal in terms of AIDS
prevention, but that's not practical IMHO.
“What is “risky sexual behavior”?”
I was thinking along the lines of prostitution, swinging, one night stands, and anal sex.
“Is 5-10 sexual partners in a lifetime too risky for you?”
It depends. How many people did those 5-10 people sleep with and were they all relationships that were married at the time of sex? Or were they all one night stands with people they didn’t know and didn’t have commitment too? There are lots of variables. For me personally, I would say yes.
“Sure, one marriage, and one sexual partner would be ideal in terms of AIDS
prevention, but that’s not practical…”
Neither is strapping a piece of latex on every time you have sex. I have experience with condoms and I’m not a fan. For me personally, using a condom every time I have sex is a lot more difficult / frustrating over the long term than being monogamous.