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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 1 November 2013
An interesting, challenging and provocative book called "In Defence of Sensuality" by John Cowper Powys has caused me to think about some of the differences between men and women. In fact the title of the book is misleading as it is as spiritual and as disdainful of nearly all that 'sensuality' signifies for the public as any new book I have read for years.
However, it seems to me that many men wear themselves out to obtain the means of physical existence, and they wear themselves out trying to 'keep fit' by dint of games and sports; and they have no time to live until they are old and safe, and then they are too tired to use either their brains or their emotions for the purpose of living. Then they die at the age of three score and fifteen, having been not alive for seventy-five years.
As for women, their case is more complicated. I have never understood them; nobody has, not even themselves. All I know about them is that they are apparently actuated by the ideal of pleasing, the means to which seems to be chiefly physical and chiefly to concern the face. They 'make up' before starting out on an evening of 'living - that is, pleasing. They ride with you for five minutes, then they vanish so that they may reconstruct the face again. Halfway through the meal they unfasten a bag of tools and reconstruct the face a third time, quite openly. It is as if they said: "Kindly note that there is no deception. My lips are not in fact vermilion. I tint them and I am honest about it." (We knew it already.) At the end of the meal they reconstruct the face a fourth time. If a theatre is visited they reconstruct a fifth and sixth time, in the entr'actes. If there is a supper or snack later, they reconstruct a seventh and an eighth time. And their last act of the day is to prepare, with the aid of revolting unguents, for pleasing the next day.
But what does this pleasing amount to? If they gave to pleasing the tenth part of the trouble which they give to the preliminary mechanics, there wouldn't be a bachelor left in the land. And, conceivably, men would be too busy being pleased to wear themselves out, not having lived. It may be that this is an over-simplified view of sex differences; but it is a view.
Additionally for November 1st., see 'Sadness'