You may have noticed the evening update is now the morning update. I guess that’s how it’s going to be for a while, as the household rhythms at NN.C central settle into a groove. Morning — it’s the new evening. Tell all your friends.
One reason I’ve been shutting the laptop at dinnertime, though, is my rediscovery of my old friend, analog media, i.e., books. Read “The Inner Circle” last week, T.C. Boyle’s novelization of the Kinsey years back in the Hoosier state, and I can say it didn’t disappoint. (Boyle never disappoints, if you ask me.) One of my biggest regrets of my time there is this: I never got into the Kinsey Institute, not that I tried very hard, but I always hoped they’d have a media event and I’d have a chance to wander through the library. A friend and colleague penetrated that inner sanctum (it’s only open to researchers, and he was working on a paper about premarital cohabitation), and his account of it was fascinating — a vast holding tank for everything from rank porno to scholarly papers on the physiology of erections, all shelved together, cheek-to-cheek, so to speak.
“There’d be someone’s PhD thesis right next to ‘Doctor’s Naughty Nurse,'” he said.
But even better was the art, everything from ninth-century Japanese erotica to X-rated doodles by famous American artists. He described one by, I believe, Thomas Hart Benton, featuring an artist at an easel in an office somewhere, the door opening as the boss enters, while a naked lady slips out the window, trailing a line that connects to the artist’s pencil.
And all this at Indiana University, in the heart of Bible-belt Hoosierdom. Amazing.
Boyle tells the experience of a fictional member of Kinsey’s research team, the men who combed the country with him throughout the ’40s and ’50s, taking “sex histories,” his famous 350-question survey that produced the two Kinsey reports and — you know the rest of it.
Dr. Kinsey was the focus of the usual right-wing attack when the movie about him came out last fall, a little pop-cult palate cleanser between the Swift Boats and the election. This is typical, a sneering dismissal that manages that famous right-wing trick of assuming a certain historical rewrite: Let�s face it: Alfred C. Kinsey was a weirdo. And what made me laugh–I agree with TOC that “Kinsey” was the funniest flick I�ve seen all year–was director/screenwriter Bill Condon�s lugubrious efforts to persuade us in the audience that this was not so, that the sex- and cooked-statistics-obsessed Kinsey was actually a martyr to American midcentury prudery.
Conservatives got away with this with civil rights, too — once the issue was settled, their opposition was simply forgotten, at least by them. The debts were forgiven; of course they always supported racial equality, they were just misunderstood and misrepresented. Boyle’s book does a good job of capturing the sexual confusion of the era, when the messages were dirty-dirty-dirty and leave-the-light-off and good-girls-don’t-do-that. Those snickering twits at the IWF should be thanking Kinsey’s ghosts that their husbands know where their clitorises are, but…no. Of course.
This week, “The Chrysanthemum Palace.”