I’ve been trying for some days now to think of something really romantic to recommend to people for Valentine’s Day. But it seems that many of the things I thought were romantic are, in fact, creepy. I’ve learned this since getting married and showing my husband some of my favorite films. Read More
Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. Started that love letter yet? You could be forgiven for putting it off: even Roland Barthes felt that “to try to write love is to confront the muck of language.” Luckily, The Paris Review’s archive is full of writers—more than sixty years’ worth—who have already gotten their hands dirty.
That’s why we’re offering a special Valentine’s Day box set: it features two vintage issues from our archive (you choose from five), a T-shirt, and a copy of our new anthology, The Unprofessionals—all packaged in a handsome gift box, including a card featuring William Pène du Bois’s 1953 sketch of the Place de la Concorde. (You may have seen it on the title page of the quarterly.) Your significant other will also receive a one-year subscription, starting with our Winter issue.
We’ve been given to know that this box set yields results. Just ask this satisfied customer:
— Catherine Campbell (@TheCatCampbell) January 19, 2016
You can order your box set here—purchase your gift by February 8 to guarantee delivery before Valentine’s Day.
Recently Gawker posted one of those irresistible lists of horrible celebrity encounters—tales of rudeness and jerkiness and shattered illusions and fallen idols. The moral, as ever, was: don’t meet your hero. Unless, of course, that hero is Mister Rogers.
After Fred Rogers’s death in 2003, person after person came forward with stories of the man’s kindness. Davy Rothbart’s New York Times piece showed us a man as gentle and genuine as the neighbor we watched on PBS. And when your faith in your fellow man all but falls apart, you’ve but to watch Mister Rogers’s Senate testimony, and you take heart. (Apologies to Frank Loesser.)
Sex advice from 1861.
Let me be frank: Valentine’s Day is great if you’re getting laid. But there are, among the populace, a number of the “involuntarily celibate” for whom this “holiday” exists only to remind of isolation, rejection, and missed carnal opportunities. Where, in such times, can the lovelorn singleton turn for solace? There is but one place: the annals of sexual education.
There’s no better way to kill one’s sexual desire than to remember what it was like to learn about sex. Contemporary sex-ed is effective enough in this regard—we can all summon memories of high school filmstrips—but it turns out that the sex-ed of ages past was even more clinical, pedantic, and bloodless. All of which is to say it’s perfect if you’re looking to take the joy out of sex.
Proof positive: An 1861 work by one James Ashton, M.D.—a “lecturer on sexual physiology” who invented the “Reveil Nocturne,” which Google has thus far not elucidated—called The Book of Nature; Containing Information for Young People Who Think of Getting Married, on the Philosophy of Procreation and Sexual Intercourse; Showing How to Prevent Conception and to Avoid Child-Bearing. Also, Rules for Management During Labour and Child-birth. It is, in effect, the most abundantly unsexy sex-ed guide this side of What’s Happening to Me? A Guide to Puberty. Read More
I first encountered Clancy Martin’s writing in NOON sometime in 2006 or 2007. He became one of my favorite writers. I looked forward to new work from him, wanting to add to the world he’d created in my imagination—a world I found endearingly and distinctively full of vulnerabilities, awkwardness, psychology; bleak, funny, and extreme situations; emotional, considerate, out-of-control characters; and other things I enjoy. I liked his calm, detached, careful, slightly deadpan narrators, and the stories they told—in his novel, How to Sell (2009), and his novella, Travels in Central America (2012)—were dark and moving and, in certain moods, funny on several different levels.
Martin’s new book, Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love, is moving and funny but not, in my view, dark. It’s actually very optimistic, though maybe not in the way one would expect from a book about love. “To choose to fall in love is, we might think, in some way to fabricate or even to falsify love,” Martin writes. “But that’s the very notion I’m combating. I want to challenge the idea that love forces itself upon us with all the strength of truth.” He expands his argument by examining Plato, the Kama Sutra, Nietzsche, Freud, Adrienne Rich, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, and dozens of others, as well as his memories of his personal experiences with his wife, two ex-wives, and three daughters. I asked Clancy some questions about love and lies via e-mail.
One of the quotes in your book is from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—“Love is mutual loneliness, and the deeper the loneliness, the deeper the love.”
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche recognizes that we are alone, and that the need for love is a mutual recognition that we are alone. Both the desire for and the desire to love—giving and receiving love—spring from this profound, unavoidable, so often avoided fact about human life. We are alone. I can’t get into your head and you can’t get into mine. Many of my memories and thoughts and feelings remain entirely private to me. But it is precisely this fact that informs our need for love. In some ways, the more I love you, the more urgent my need to know you and to reveal myself to you, the beloved, becomes, and so our separation becomes that much more intense. In Freudian terms, it’s as though we all desperately wish to climb back into the womb. And I don’t think we should underestimate the profundity of Freud’s insight on these questions, even though it’s the tired, tiring fashion lately to take him less seriously than we used to do. Read More
Many people hate Valentine’s Day for its commercialism and general tawdriness. And even those of us who don’t—who might, say, have invested in boxes of conversation hearts, or bedecked their apartment doors with slightly crooked foil hearts from the ninety-nine-cents store—understand that the holiday is kind of repulsive. However unironically the candy heart beats in your breast, however much you enjoy the prospect of couples sharing overpriced prix fixes or the sight of beleaguered husbands clutching bodega roses, it’s hard not to feel depressed under the weight of the sexy doubles entendres and seasonal boxers. Hallmark holiday? That alone I could handle. It’s the treacle plus a thousand leering letterpress puns that really start to break the spirit.
If you’re feeling that fatigue and happen to find yourself in New York, a good antidote is Straus Park at Broadway and 106th Street. Read More