(Mostly about sexuality/sex, rather than language.)
[TMI Warning: The following posting contains information, opinion, or reflection that some readers might find uncomfortably or unwelcomely personal, private, or intimate in topic or content: too much information, as the saying goes. As a general observation, I’m willing to go almost anywhere in my postings, including some places that some readers don’t want to go.]
From the NYT Magazine “The Lives They Lived” section of 12/30/12, on Paul Fussell (born 1924), by Dwight Garner:
The most profound tectonic shift in our literary culture in 2012 was one that, by and large, no one noticed. The last of our great curmudgeonly essayists — Gore Vidal, the art critic Robert Hughes and the historian and social critic Paul Fussell — died this year. Add to this list of punishing, witty and literate writers Christopher Hitchens, who died at the end of 2011, and it begins to seem as if the Mayan calendar, which predicted global ruin, took aim instead at our stinging public intellectuals, our necessary horseflies.
… In 1987, the inspired editors of GQ magazine sent Fussell to a far-flung nudist colony, and the resulting essay, “Taking It All Off in the Balkans,” is something to behold. It contains dozens of memorable observations. Among them: “Fat people look far less offensive naked than clothed. Clothes, you realize, have the effect of sausage casings.” About penis size, Fussell said: “You will learn that every man looks roughly the same — quite small, that is, and that heroic fixtures are not just extremely rare, they are deformities.”
All true. But there’s a a whole complex world in which this deformity, this abnormality, is celebrated and venerated: the world of gay male fantasy, especially as represented in gay porn imagery. A place where the gigantic and grotesque are worshiped. Case in point: the pornstar Ken Ryker.