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While editing Secrets & Seduction, I had quite a few epiphanies. One is that I'm uncomfortable editing sex scenes. But the other is something I hadn't realized up until then: when you're subjected or immersed in something, it's no longer strange, it gets a feeling of normalcy.
I guess that's what got to me. After reviewing the book, ripping it apart and revising it for someone else, how suddenly all that I found perverse and bizarre became de facto. Let me be clear: this is a very good book about a woman who gets more than she bargains for. Unwittingly, she's exposed to a world for which she's ill prepared, hell, of which she's ignorant. It's a great story with some very interesting characters and I highly recommend reading it.
For a reader it's a one shot deal and would remain a strange story. But for me, the time spent working on it...
Several days ago, I bumped into this fellow who I know through mutual friends. We have had some interesting conversations, considering our political outlook is on the extreme from each other. Surprisingly, his outlook over the past several months has come around to reflect mine.
Just the other week, he said, "I just don't get why there's no integrity anymore."
The back of my head blew up: that's one of my FAVORITE topics. I went on and on about the devolution of integrity, accountability and pride in achievements to be replaced by stupidity, sloth and ignorance. And threw in the kicker: the removal by society of boundaries.
This guy looked at me like I was mad. "What do you mean?"
"Well," I said, "if you remove former taboos in society, that means anything goes. It's very easy to control people through hedonism."
He looked at me skeptically.
I continued. "Right now, the psychiatric industry has revised former sexual fetishes and other taboos that were equatable with mental illness. They cite the ol' chestnut that in the 1920's homosexuality was considered a mental illness and it's not. In that vein, no sexual act is deemed abnormal or an indication of any mental illness."
You can tell I spent way too much time revising this novel.
"So, if everything's acceptable and deemed normal," I said, "then anything goes. And when that happens, well, without boundaries, the constraints of a society, things go to hell, integrity's out the window."
Now, I don't mean a return to the 1920's - I'm a strong believer in equality of the sexes, women's rights and gay rights. I still believe that there's perversity, e.g., pedophilia which should NEVER be acceptable. Given that I'm ignorant of the panoply of mental illnesses that play out on the sexual arena, please forgive my inability to continue in this vein.
This time around, I showed him a pic someone sent me, a scene that could've been straight out of Secrets & Seduction: a man holding a bird in an S&M dungeon in front of a Dominatrix in full regalia and a guy wearing a pleather face mask and ball gag. All of them wore Happy Birthday hats. I thought it was the funniest picture I ever saw. Hell, I even posted it on my Facebook page and no one reacted!
Instead, they almost ripped my face off when I posted this right after: "I never imagined to hear the following statement ever in my lifetime: There are riots in Sweden!"
Eagerly, I said to this man, "Don't you find this hilarious?"
The man shrugged and said, "Well."
"Well?" I repeated.
He responded. "I almost fainted a few weeks ago when my 80 year old mother talked about watching internet porn. That's when I realized it's so much a part of society, it lost the shock value. Because of the constant exposure, it's normal."
There you have it. This reminds me of a scene in an old futuristic sci-fi film where this guy watches tv which is his living room wall and the show consists of one guy beating the shit out of the other. I guess, in a roundabout way, the only thing missing is the live action show, an arena where live people are thrown in to fend off the lions.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
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