Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GARBAGE IN....What happens when you let a professor of computer science write a magazine article about romantic love? If the computer science professor is David Gelernter and the magazine is the Weekly Standard, you get a sentence like this one, explaining why it's wrong to take the dangers of premarital sex lightly:

But this innocent, ignorant view defies a fundamental law of human nature: Keeping steady company with a person you adore plus not sleeping with her (or him) yields "being in love," which is a new state of mind that is more than the sum of its parts.

Decisions, decisions. Is this my new favorite example of cosmically awkward Gelernter writing? Or is this one from a couple of years ago still #1?

Via Britt Peterson, who has more to say about all this.

Kevin Drum 6:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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Comments

Having a computer science prof pontificate about love is like having a priest lecture on sex.

Posted by: Disputo on December 12, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Mmmm.
"Keeping steady company with a person you adore plus not sleeping with her (or him) yields 'being in love',"
Geez, I haven't read his article but I think he may be confusing love with horniness.

Posted by: brian lowe on December 12, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

... then descends into the spittle-flicked rant of a man who woke up constipated one morning and just started pouring his rage into his word processor..

Retrospectively, Kevin was great then! Shades of a sophisticated Atrios!

Posted by: gregor on December 12, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I posit a subset of Republicans that would never love someone who would have sex with them.

In addition to Gelernter, this explains the hypocritical gay bashing and the misogyny.

Posted by: Boronx on December 12, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nope, the banana line is still tops.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 12, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this means KD isn't a Sadly, No! reader, as they were all over this (and how could they resist?) a couple of days ago.

A genuinely smart and accomplished guy, that Gelernter, who moreover was a victim of the Unabomber. So it's as sad as it is hilarious to hear him on the subject of women, sounding not a little like another engineer maladjusted to present-day gender relations, Steven den Beste.

Posted by: kth on December 12, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I posit a subset of Republicans that would never love someone who would have sex with them.

I'll call and raise you a subset of Republicans who would love anyone...anyone at all who would have sex with them.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 12, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

love + 1 = a bad 80s song

Posted by: Jonathan E on December 12, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

When I read the paragraph from Gelernter's article I couldn't figure out what he was getting at. I read it again. Didn't help. So I violated my first rule of blog reading and read the entire article.

Did Gelernter just emerge from H.G. Wells' time machine from the 19'th century? So Victorian style romantic love is the the gold standard for human relationships? And to achieve this holy state of being what you have to do is abstain from sex? According to a computer scientist, it's as simple as that. Humans are like computers, input A produces result B. Always.

Let's go back to the 19'th century and everything will be fine. Back then every relationship was happy and fulfilling. There was no divorce, no prostitution, no abortion, no STDs. Yea, that's the ticket, it worked so well back then.

Oh, of course we're talking about a column from the Weekly Standard. According to them everything was better in the wonderful old days before the government, unions, feminists, and the Great Satan himself Franklin Roosevelt messed everything up.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on December 12, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

love + 1 = a bad 80s song Posted by: Jonathan E

Bullshit! Haircut 100 was a great pop band!

Posted by: JeffII on December 12, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

I went and read thru all of Gelerntner's piece (well the stuff that I didn't puke up at least).

JMHO but it sounds to me like this guy is going through his middle-age crisis, he wants to diddle some young female student, but can't because he knows it's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad and he could get in trouble.

That's why he's blaming the women. Why not, we're just all Jezebels aren't we?

Posted by: optical weenie on December 12, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad the comments on the 2005 post were lost with the update last winter. I remember that thread. It was hilarious. Gelertner was handed his ass in comments.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 12, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

There was no divorce, no prostitution, no abortion, no STDs. Yea, that's the ticket, it worked so well back then. Posted by: aaron aardvark

Except that because there were so many frigid and/or inexperienced wives residing on a semi-platonic pedestals, lots of middle and upper class men, particularly in London, frequented prostitutes in the late 19th Century. As far as STDs, . . .

Posted by: JeffII on December 12, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

lemmee see if i get this straight: once you get married and have sex you'll no longer be "in love."

Posted by: Texas Reader on December 12, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

How can Gelernter use a water metaphor for the power of romantic love

It is a painful but powerful state, a psychological crisis that used to be resolved (if you were lucky) by marriage--which breached the dam, released the built-up flood, and allowed a new and higher level of normality to return.

without realizing he's recapitulating Brave New World (in which monogamous relationships are likened to a hose, which BNW's society pricks in innumerable places to reduce the force)?

Posted by: RSA on December 12, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't they coexist? Because, just as green leaves transform sunlight to useful energy in a process called photosynthesis, human beings transform longing for an adored object into a heightened state of consciousness in a process called falling in love. Thwarted sexual desire is nearly as necessary to young people as food and shelter. Premarital, premature sex drains the power reserve that would have propelled them into emotional (versus mere physical) adulthood."

Shorter version:

"I could not score in high school with my own right hand. So I came up with the secret reason why the fun stuff other people got to do was bad..."

Posted by: Huck Mikabee on December 12, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Having a computer science prof pontificate about love is like having a priest lecture on sex.

Never spent any time with the Jebbies, huh?

Posted by: shortstop on December 12, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

What happens if you let Gelernter write about anything? Crazy-ass shit!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 12, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: Having a computer science prof pontificate about love is like having a priest lecture on sex.

You mean it's common but perverse?

Posted by: anandine on December 12, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

But what if you love sex? I mean, the sum of that has got to be pretty fantastic--and what if you are an exponent of sexual love? Man, talk about the parts being greater than the whole. Or the hole being greater than . . . never mind. I think I follow his profound logic and titillation (engineers snickering at back of class at that first syllable).

Gelernter really needs to get out more.

Posted by: Sparko on December 12, 2007 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

about this falling in love thing... maybe it's just that Gelernter's found it hard to fall in love with someone who's had chance to react to the sight of his member... or maybe it's something about his lovemaking (oops, wrong word) technique and the reaction that elicits...

Posted by: snicker-snack on December 12, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Gelernter has long outlived his 15 minutes of fame. The unibomber tried but missed. What a shame.

Posted by: POed Lib on December 12, 2007 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

there should be a galernter prize for writing that should never see the light of day

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 12, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

But it's just so sad thing to read this kind of stuff; for his sake I hope he just chooses to shut up on anything to do with human emotion/feeling - forever. Egads, what a poor, lost soul.

Posted by: snicker-snack on December 12, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

I took a class with him at Yale. He seemed to have ideas that he felt were profound, but to me seemed incoherent. At the time, I thought maybe it was just me, perhaps I was just missing the mans genius. Now I am delighted to report that I no longer feel it was just me.

Posted by: Fides on December 12, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Is it time yet for the David Gerlertner writing contest? Points awarded for style, substance, substance abuse, and abusive style.

Posted by: capitalistimperialistpig on December 12, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Computer geeks do "love" their computers.

Posted by: Ya Know... on December 12, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see what the editor could have done with this one:

It's naive to think otherwise. The normal mindset is this: A romantic relationship without sex is more rewarding than being alone. I call it "being in love."

(puzzle out the logical jumps if you please)

Posted by: absent observer on December 12, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Pining for old-fashioned chivalry and Victorian courtship practices as an antidote to the world of casual sex hook-ups rightwingers imagine the regular world (outside their basements) is filled with is a little like suggesting we return to the race relations of Old South so that we can see more tender interracial friendships like that between Mammie and Scarlett O'Hara .

Those old courtship rituals existed not because it did anything useful for the couple involved, or "made the heart grow fonder," but because of the power prerogatives of patriarchy and the control of women's reproductive capability and marriageability. Courtship, chaste conversation, chaperoned dates and all that were part of a complex negotiation process between a suitor, a woman and her father over whether or not the father would pass his daughter's vagina to the suitor, as the story of Laban and Jacob amply illustrates. If cultural and social conventions (or folktales) grew up around this fact to conceal it under various layers of sentimentality, and people bought into those stories to get what they wanted, it doesn't change what it functionally was. What Gelertner is really yearns for is not "love", but patriarchy.

Posted by: jonas on December 12, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Gelernter has always been a little bit off about sex and love -- remember, he's the guy who named a computer language after an abused porn star. I wonder what, if anything, the Unabomber would think about Gelernter's evolution from a proponent of the romance of the machine (and the belief that all political problems can be solved if we just have a good-enough panopticon) to a proponent of romance through sexual frustration.

Posted by: paul on December 12, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

And then there is this (from Purcell's King Arthur-libretto by John Dryden) dating from, oh, the late 17th century or so:

"Bright nymphs of Britain with graces attended,
Let not your days without pleasure expire.
Honour's but empty, and when youth is ended,
All men will praise you but none will desire.
Let not youth fly away without contenting;
Age will come time enough for your repenting."

People weren't so very different in Purcell and Dryden's time than they are today, after all.

Gelernter has apparently reached the age where "none will desire" and must be feeling a bit jealous of all that hot action the young folks are getting.

Posted by: lithiumgirl on December 12, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Gelernter is wrong, but it's undeniable that there is some emotional texture lost as courtship has sped up. Only holding hands for a month, then only kissing for another month, puts you in a qualitatively different (not to say better) emotional space than if you're having sex from the get-go.

Anyone who has ever been in love with someone unattainable, and then gradually seen that distance evaporate, sloooooowly, will know what I'm talking about.

/fell in love with roommate's girlfriend once

Posted by: shams on December 12, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have to stand up for us geeks and say your generalizations about computer science professors and by extension geeks is complete crap and you should know it.

If you have a beef with Gelertner, fine, but stop hating on the computer science geeks.

Leave the geeks alone, you're lucky they give you anything at all, much less all the toys you've come to love.

Leave the geeks alone!

Posted by: jerry on December 12, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

It'd be fun to cross the guy with David Brooks so we could hear metaphorical thought experiments concerning love in the world of rednecks at NASCAR events and love in the world of bourgeois bohemians at the Napa mustard festival.

Or not.

Posted by: asdf on December 12, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Damn. I never married. If I hadn't had premarital sex and I wouldn't have had any. I probably wouldn't died very young.

Posted by: Mazurka on December 12, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Leave the geeks alone, you're lucky they give you anything at all, much less all the toys you've come to love.

I got no beef with geeks giving me toys; it's when they want to give me that sweet, sweet geek loving that I must object.

Posted by: Disputo on December 12, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

may I never again hear the phrase "sweet, sweet geek loving".

Posted by: shams on December 12, 2007 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

The conclusion of Twelfth Night or What You Will proves that Orsino was never in love with Olivia. Rather he falls in love with Caesario, his manservant, whom Orsino only discovers in the last few lines of the play to be Viola disguised as a man.

Posted by: Cleante on December 12, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

So, I'm right to love my wife, but wrong to fuck her? Mrs. elmo love's me, I know, but she aint giving up her orgasms so I'm going to keep fucking her...

Posted by: elmo on December 12, 2007 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Closing time at the bar I find my eyes meeting those of another, and together we go home, and together we build a home, and a business, and a family, and deal with triumph and disaster, and 17 years later our love grows deeper every day, and what the hell does this Gelernter person know about love, anyway?

Posted by: rea on December 12, 2007 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, a classic thread. This gets the award. Just one more retard thinking he's got a one-size-fits-all solution.

Posted by: Aaron on December 12, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Mrs. elmo...if fucking you is wrong, then I don't wanna to be "right".

Posted by: elmo on December 12, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Handsome bananas hands down!

Posted by: treetop on December 12, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Gelernter must fancy himself the genius mathematician from the tv show "NUMB3RS".

Posted by: Fred F. on December 13, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

It either means Gelernter hasn't had sex in years, or, that computers have more meaningful love relationships than humans.

Posted by: James on December 13, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Gelernter: Experience suggests ... that a few casual, premature sexual encounters at the whorehouse level, with persons you couldn’t possibly love and never count on meeting again, can’t do much damage to your capacity for romantic love.”


TMI, David. TMI.


Posted by: kc on December 13, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

All that and he's taking up a tenure line at Yale.

Sheesh, what a waste.

Posted by: The Internet on December 13, 2007 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

"being in love," which is a new state of mind that is more than the sum of its parts."

Although less than the sum of the couple's parts . . .

(And now, thanks to the elmo-comments, I have an image of copulating fuzzy red elmos twitching and giggling spasmatically stuck in my head. Gee, thanks.)

Posted by: Dan S. on December 13, 2007 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Its very exciting to be able to comment about something more than politics on this sight. I know some young. arrogant people are going to laugh at what I have to say and call me stupid names, but based on my experience I had to comment. Take it for what it is worth.

I wouldn't trade the experience I had with my wife as we courted for all the slam bam thank-you mam one night stands in the world. When my wife and I were dating we held to what many would consider a very strict line. We did not even hold hands before engagement. Our standard was no touching of a sexual nature before we were engaged. The first time I kissed my wife was when she said, "Yes, I will marry you."

What was the effect of this commitment over our eight month courtship. We really got to know each other. Gelernter is wrong. We did not fall in love because there was so much tension and longing. We fell in love because our attraction for each other drove us to get to know each other's soul very intimately. It was not because, "...human beings transform longing for an adored object into a heightened state of consciousness in a process called falling in love..." It was because without taking the easy way of pleasing each other with sexual intamacy, we learned to please each other's soul in playfulness and conversation. If this is what Gelernter means by romantic love he may be a little bit tacky in the way he expresses himself, but he is not completely wrong.

After engagement we stuck to no sexual involvement beyond kissing and hand holding. Some may consider this torture, but I can't tell you how much they have it wrong. To this very day, I remember one car ride from her home ( we did not move in when engaged ) to Wickes' furniture. All we did was lovingly hold and caress hands the whole way. Yet we remember it even these nineteen years later as one of the supreme sexual experiences of our lives.

So here I am nineteen years later, still deeply in love with my wife watching as the world of young people remain so ignorant of what marital bliss can be. They do not know what it is like to write a poem for the one you love, they don't know the joy of just holding hands. And rather than listening to my experience and giving it some real thought. Many will lash out with stupid insults and anecdotal evidence about how I am just a nut. If only you would let yourself experience something more fulfilling than instant gratificaiton, you might learn something.

Posted by: John Hansen on December 13, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen is trapped in the closet.

Posted by: Reality Man on December 13, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, the path to love... a path it may be of slow delicate steps and willed abstinence or perchance a path entered with the immediate doffing of garments forewith to wild and passionate boffing. Or a path of boffing followed by abstinence or abstinence followed by boffing. Or even boffing followed by abstinence followed by boffing and then more boffing, then the abstinence of separation and yet more wild more frenzied boffing. Aye, many and myriad are the pathways to love and understanding. Hundreds, nay thousands of paths canst one travel. In awe and wonder should we humbly eye this plethora of routes. There is not only the Gelernter path. There is not only the Hansen path. There even be room for the path of elmo. To view one's path as the only path to truth and fulfillment... ah, in that direction lies folly. Wrest thy head away from its focus on thy own visage.

Posted by: To boff or not to boff? There truly lies a question (or not). on December 13, 2007 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

asdf: It'd be fun to cross the guy with David Brooks so we could hear metaphorical thought experiments concerning love in the world of rednecks at NASCAR events and love in the world of bourgeois bohemians at the Napa mustard festival.

Coffee, coffee everywhere
And not a rag in sight

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I have to send some love to Jonathan E's handle.

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

steady company with a person you adore plus not sleeping with her

Is this why young conservatives all want to tie people to racks and torture them?

Posted by: Laney on December 13, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, that's it. He doesn't have sex because he doesn't want to sully himself.

Mm-hmm. He could have any woman he wants...

Posted by: scarshapedstar on December 13, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Laney: Is this why young conservatives all want to tie people to racks and torture them?

scarshapedstar: Yes, that's it. He doesn't have sex because he doesn't want to sully himself. Mm-hmm. He could have any woman he wants...

Stop it, you guys! I am trying to consume my morning caffeine here, and little of it is getting in my mouth thanks to you.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Its very exciting to be able to comment about something more than politics on this sight.

If only it were as exciting to endure more of Hansen's deluded conservatism.

We did not even hold hands before engagement. Our standard was no touching of a sexual nature before we were engaged.

Holding hands is "touching of a sexual nature?! Since when?

What was the effect of this commitment over our eight month courtship. We really got to know each other.

You're simply wrong, Hansen, to suggest that having sex precludes getting to know someone.

rather than listening to my experience and giving it some real thought. Many will lash out with stupid insults and anecdotal evidence about how I am just a nut.

Here's an example of Hansen's typical intelelctual dishonesty. Contrary to this implication, it's quite possible to give Hansen's anecdote some real thought anc come to the conclusion that he's a real nut. At the very least, I'd suggest that he's quite wrong about what young people experience and committing a serious post hoc fallacy about the causal relationship between chastity and romantic love. There are lots of unsuccessful marriages that began chastely, too, Hansen. In addition, Hansen is weighing in on Gelertner's side, in which Gelertner's conflation of chastity andromantic love is getting roundly and rightly derided, and yet predicting that the criticism he predicts he will draw is reflexive and not thought out. That dog won't hunt, Hansen.

If only you would let yourself experience something more fulfilling than instant gratificaiton, you might learn something

Ah ha....like Gelertner, Hansen presumes everyone else is getting laid more than he and sniffs self-righteously. But again, Hansen, you simply can't extrapolate from your own personal experience in this case a prescription for how other people should behave -- and to do so with the bushel of self-righteousness in your post invites the kind of contemptuous treatment you predict and dishonestly attribute to closed-mindedness on others' part.

I don't mean to harsh on your choices -- they worked for you, and that's swell, really. But again, you're simply wrong to imply that "taking the easy way of pleasing each other with sexual intamacy" precludes learining "to please each other's soul in playfulness and conversation."

A real man -- or woman, for that matter -- can do both.

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I will say, though, that this is the best icky guy-authored "There's nothing wrong with me. It's teh women/culture" excuse for not getting laid since this.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

You know, just because Gelernter's a neocon fuckwad doesn't mean everyone who works (or wanks) on computers, or spent several years acquiring a degree in computer science, is a socially retarded, virgin git. So fuck you.

Betty: You're that nerd!
Lewis: Yeah.
Betty: God, you were wonderful.
Lewis: Thanks.
Betty: Are all nerds as good as you?
Lewis: Yes.
Betty: How come?
Leiws: Cos all jocks think about is sports. All we ever think about is sex.
- Revenge of the Nerds, 1984.

Posted by: Mike on December 13, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

I second shortstop's nomination of poor den Beste's rant as exceeding Gelertner and Hansen's in pathos and cluelessness.

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

....and, Mike (and the screenwriter of RotN) nails it. Er, so to speak.

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK
Holding hands is "touching of a sexual nature?! Since when?

Linear thinking is dragging you down, Gregory.
A lot depends on where the hands are held, how, and what else they're holding.
*wags eyebrows*

Posted by: kenga on December 13, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Hansen,

As long as we are having a pissing contest about who is the most virtuous, let me join in with TMI (i'm sure.)

I'm no young buck, so maybe you'll actually listen to me. Been married for over 25 years, too, as if that means something.

Anywho Mrs.Tripp and I had probably the shortest courtship you can imagine - a month until engaged, nine months until married. No, she was not pregnant, we just wanted marriage real bad and picked the earliest date.

Oh, and I have survived the spawning of four sprogs, in case that will impress you.

Back to Mrs. Tripp and I - the sex started early and was great all along. We just both knew that we had to be together, and sex didn't change that.

Sorry. There was no 'bursting dam' other than my normal rupture after two days of abstinence. Which reminds me of one of my best friends. He started sex in high school and went on to marry his HS sweetheart. Awhile before the wedding his fiance floated the idea that in order to make the wedding night 'special' maybe they should abstain for, like, a month. He agreed. Well the month became two weeks and then a week and then, well, it wouldn't suprise me if they 'did it' after the engagement dinner. My point is that they are still married, with more than 30 years under their belts!

There are a million ways to strong marriages and super-horniness is not the only one. Life is long. There will be plenty of time for abstinence later. Hansen imagines that the burst flood waters propel one to a higher level. Well, yeah, maybe, but then they recede and the raging river becomes a trickle. That has nothing to do with human relations though. It is just a bad analogy.

Posted by: Tripp on December 13, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Linear thinking is dragging you down, Gregory.

Bwa! Extra jujubes for you!

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

A lot depends on where the hands are held, how, and what else they're holding.

And how wide your stance is....

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm certainly not in any way against pre-marital sex, but I do wonder if the current young generation is as much capable of, or susceptible to, romantic love as previous generations.

I just don't have the sense that in their own talk or in, say, the movies that they identify with, romantic love plays a particularly large part. The concept of meeting someone and falling in love with them seems not to come up very often, or certainly not nearly so often as it did with previous generations. That notion was basic to the vast majority of movies before, say, the nineties or perhaps the eighties, and likewise was a dominant feature of discussions of dating and marriage.

I'm not sure how to explain this apparent change, but it does seem very real to me.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 13, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Sorry dude, but the youth of today is no different from the youth of any day. When (before the 80's) were you watching all these romantic movies?

I mean really - not the 70's and, ohmigod not the 60's.

If you really want to know what changed it was the availability of reliable birth control and then, later, the existence of AIDS.

People are the same as they always were, they simply live in a different world.

Posted by: Tripp on December 13, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

This:

Premarital, premature sex drains the power reserve...

Is only about a millimeter away from this:

General Jack D. Ripper: I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love... Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence...
I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.

General Jack D. Ripper: But I do deny them my essence.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on December 13, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry dude, but the youth of today is no different from the youth of any day.

And you would know this how?

Generations don't change in basic attitudes?

Look, obviously I'm not arguing that there's been, say, a genetic change. But attitudes and behaviors obviously do change. Obviously, for example, sexual behavior has changed from the fifties to today, right? Whether or not that has anything to do with attitudes toward romantic love I won't presume to say for sure; probably they are connected, but not in the simple-minded, moralistic way that Gelertner describes.

But take a look at the movies certainly through the fifties, and you will see a very heavy emphasis on "falling in love". Even through the sixties and seventies, that was a pretty dominant feature (perhaps because of a hangover effect?), though it was combined with far more sexually liberated material too.

What I'm pointing out is that at this stage, you just don't see "falling in love" featured nearly as much, either in popular culture, or, I think, in the way the young generation talks.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 13, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, for example, sexual behavior has changed from the fifties to today, right?

How so?

This comment brings to mind a line from the movie Reds. The film used the framing device of interviews with elderly people commenting on John Reed's life intercut with footage of Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton acting it out.

If memory serves me right, after Reed Louise Bryant got it on for the first time, an old man was shown to remark something like, "There was just as much fucking going on back then as there is now, we just didn't talk about it as much."

Posted by: Gregory on December 13, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Curse you Porrofatto! Curse you! You beat me to the General Ripper "Loss of Essence" reference!

Posted by: thalarctos on December 13, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Re "loss of essence," I am reminded of our high-school jocks solemnly informing us that "Coach" had warned them not to engage in sexual activity for 24 hours before the big game. Maybe he did say that, but since this story always seemed to get hauled out about two days prior to gametime, I always assumed it was a jock ploy for getting some right away before the blackout period kicked in.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Worked with you every time, did it?

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

LOL...doing the thumb and middle finger flick thing on your forehead...as a matter of fact, no. Jocks and I ran in two distinctly different crowds in high school.

I remained a virgin (in the true sense of the word, not the "I'm having oral and anal, but no vaginal, sex because I'm staying pure for my husband" interpretation of today's fundy teenagers), until college. Then I fell in love for the first time and wasted no time in stealing his essence.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

But take a look at the movies certainly through the fifties, and you will see a very heavy emphasis on "falling in love". Even through the sixties and seventies, that was a pretty dominant feature (perhaps because of a hangover effect?), though it was combined with far more sexually liberated material too. What I'm pointing out is that at this stage, you just don't see "falling in love" featured nearly as much, either in popular culture, or, I think, in the way the young generation talks.

What? Sure you do. Watch any popular romantic comedy or teen/tweener movie. Jesus, just think of the never-ending flood of romantic comedy movies in the last ten years with a rotating cast of Jennifer Lopez/Sarah Jessica Parker/Lindsey Lohan/Reese Witherspoon/Jennifer Garner/Keira Knightley/Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts etc. etc. The plot is always, always the same -- girl falls in love with unattainable guy, girl gets unattainable guy, they fall madly in love and live happily ever after (sometimes a guy falls in love with an unattainable girl, but otherwise it's the same). If this market didn't exist, Hollywood wouldn't be pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into these movies year after year.

Posted by: Stefan on December 13, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

If Hollywood is marketing primarily to teenagers and the average age of marriage has risen to 27 and 25 I am not surprised if there are fewer movies about falling in love and marriage.

So why is the marriage age rising? Mostly I think it is a result of stagnant wages. It takes teens longer to get financially on their feet these days, and for many of them that comes before marriage.

I think that is a reasonable response to their situation.

My father was able to leave the Navy at 20, get schooling provided by the GI bill to get a good job in the new field of computers at a growing company called IBM, and then buy a house (financed through the GI bill) at 23. Oh yeah, he was married at 20 when he left the Navy and I came along at 23, when he bought the house.

Posted by: Tripp on December 13, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

just think of the never-ending flood of romantic comedy movies in the last ten years . . .

Why Stefan, you recite that list of leading ladies so easily, so smoothly, so how long did each crush last?

Posted by: Tripp on December 13, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Right up until the restraining order.

Posted by: Stefan on December 13, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Keeping steady company with a person you adore plus not sleeping with her (or him) yields"... the biggest pair of blue balls that it's possible to imagine.

Posted by: buddy66 on December 13, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Get with the program, buddy66! Today's hipsters--okay, two funny guys I know--go with the catchier name, Deadly Sperm Buildup.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

This all reminds me of that scene in "Goodfellas" where the Joe Pesci character Tommy DeVito is being gently scolded by his mother:

Mother: You should settle down, find a nice girl.

Tommy: Ma, I find a nice girl almost every night.

Posted by: Stefan on December 13, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

The very phrase computer scientist is an oxymoron.

Computers are manufactured by people, we make every damn transistor and circuit. No science there.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on December 13, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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