Possibly the worst part of this whole Anthony Weiner situation is that his sexts are just not that good. And I'm not talking about the sexually explicit parts (which, for all of our sakes, I'm not even going to quote here). No, I'm talking about how he uses terms like "make love" and admits that he's "deeply flawed" and wonders if she was ever turned on when he was on TV. Those things are not sexy. Not at all. But sexting really isn't as easy as it appears. I mean, on the one hand it's intuitive because the desires expressed are ones that are pretty universal. But on the other hand, you don't want to sound like a fool.
And so I started thinking about some well-known writers and whether or not they would have been any good at sexting and it was interesting who got dismissed off the bat. Updike? Once described by David Foster Wallace as a "penis with a thesaurus," Updike wrote the kind of uncomfortable sexual metaphors (breasts are "the two smoothest scoops of vanilla I had ever known" and a character who was not Phyllis had a cunt whose "wetness [was] less thick, less of a sauce, more of a glaze") that might seem ok in theory, but never quite work in practice. And sexting is all about practice. Nabokov? No. This is tough because Nabokov wrote some beautiful things, and yet it would be hard not to read his elegant turns of phrase without thinking of the fact that he probably saved his most beautiful words for the narrative voice of a pedophile. And once I read in a Stephen King novella (which, I must have blocked out the title) a description of a woman that evoked what looked like "an open roast beef sandwich" between her legs. So. Not all authors would be any good at sexting. But the following authors? If they'd been around for the age of sexting? They would have done all right.
Let's just start off right, with Brooklyn's own Walt Whitman. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would have been AMAZING at sexting. You've read Leaves of Grass, right? In high school or something? I've recommended this before, but I'll do it again—read it. You might pick up some ideas for your own sexts, gaining inspiration from lines like, "And your flesh shall be a very great poem," and "I act as the tongue of you...tied within your mouth." Or even just the simple, "Resist much, obey little." Whitman knew what he was doing. As did, of course, Bill Clinton when he gave Monica Lewinsky Leaves of Grass so many years ago. Slick Willie indeed.
Russians know how to write about passion and doom and so they'd be perfect at sexting. And, yes, I think all sexts should be colored by their own intrinsic ephemerality, and the knowledge that all burning hot love eventually burns out. Sexts should be dirty, yes, but also maybe maudlin. And Turgenev would have been great at that. Here is a choice quote from First Love, which ably demonstrates how much Turgenev would have mastered the art of the tortured text: "I burnt as in a fire in her presence...but what did I care to know what the fire was in which I burned and melted—it was enough that it was sweet to burn and melt.” Yes! Fire! That's what you want in a sext. Side note, I bet Vladimir Putin is big on sending dick pics. He really seems the type, doesn't he? Anyway. Moving on!
Well, so obviously. I don't even need to explain why Colette would have been good at sexting, do I? She'd be a natural. Colette observed things about people like, "When she raises her eyelids, it's as if she were taking off all her clothes.” She would have been absolutely great at the form. Even just philosophically, she would have had the proper attitude about sexting, having said, "You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm!” That's all a good sext is, anyway, a foolish thing done with enthusiasm. And a great sext? Well, a great sext just might involve some sort of quote from Gigi, particularly one that involves Aunt Alicia going through her jewelry. Not because it's explicitly sexual, that scene of lively, faceted gems being plucked from the folds of velvety boxes, no. Just because it's a really beautifully rendered moment that I've wanted to get lost in since I first read it.
Are we sure that Henry Miller never sexted? I guess, unless ghosts are real—which they're not—then he couldn't have sexted. I mean, Miller's whole thing was saying stuff like, "Do anything, but let it produce joy. Do anything, but let it yield ecstasy.” And you know what potentially produces joy and ecstasy? A sext. There are so many quotes from him that are good to just use directly (credit him of course, never plagiarize a sext—gross) like, “All I ask of life is a bunch of books, a bunch of dreams, and a bunch of cunt.” And they weren't all so sexually blunt, some things Miller wrote were just lovely and romantic, like “To have her here in bed with me, breathing on me, her hair in my mouth—I count that something of a miracle.” Because who said sexts can't be romantic? No one. Things can be lovely and warped all at once. Beauty is distortion, someone once told me, and he was absolutely right. As Miller also said, “Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war.”
Again, obviously. Yes. Anaïs Nin would have been wonderful—perfect—at sexting. And she would have known that a sext isn't just about the implied physicality, it's about the freedom of words. Nin wrote, "There are two ways to reach me: by way of kisses or by way of the imagination. But there is a hierarchy: the kisses alone don't work.” A good sext requires a good imagination. Also, it requires the ability to write things like this, "The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” So true.
And sometimes you don't want delicate sexts. You just want crude. Bukowski would have given the crudeness required by writing things like, "You boys can keep your virgins give me hot old women in high heels with asses that forgot to get old." But Bukowski would still know that sexts—all acts of courtship, really—require finesse, once having said, "Any asshole can chase a skirt, art takes discipline." And what would he have thought about Weiner? Hard to say exactly, but personally, I think this Bukowski quote would have applied, "People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love."
"Is it dirty/does it look dirty...does it just seem dirty." Frank O'Hara wrote that. That? Is a fucking perfect sext. Accompanied by a picture? It moves beyond perfection (I think things can do that?) and into the sublime.
The poem "Lethe" from Baudelaire's Fleurs de Mal is full of things that, if sexted, would drive a person wild. It's also about a really specific, dark kind of love, but isn't that the best kind? No, probably not. Even so, here are some good Baudelaire sexts, "I would for a long time plunge my trembling fingers into the heavy tresses of your hair; and in your garments that exhale your perfume I would bury my aching head," and "I shall suck, to drown my rancour, Nepenthe, hemlock, an opiate, at the charming tips of this pointed breast that has never imprisoned a heart." Finally, who wouldn't want to get this sext from someone? "Nothing equals your bed's abyss." I love that.
I mean, Plath wrote, "Kiss me and you will see how important I am." I never thought I would say this, but Anthony Weiner kind of has the same style as Sylvia Plath. Do you need further proof? She also wrote the words, "I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don't ask me who I am." Which, probably Plath didn't go by Carlita Danger or anything, but that's also something I can see Weiner having written. Her poem "Elm" opens with this line, "I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root." Uh, that? Is an amazing sext.
And, so finally, one more Russian who is also a poet. Mayakovsky would have been a master of the form, as evidenced in such lines as "“If you like I'll be furious flesh elemental, or—changing to tones that the sunset arouses—if you like—I'll be extraordinary gentle, not a man but—a cloud in trousers.” A CLOUD IN TROUSERS. Yes! There's also this: "can you turn yourselves inside out, like me and become just two lips entirely?” I mean, yes! I hope so. Mayakovsky would have been the best at sexts. At least we have his poems. At least there's that.
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