Doctor, doctor.

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.”

Posted at 10:38 am in Uncategorized |

11 responses to “Doctor, doctor.”

  1. Dorothy said on February 24, 2005 at 11:19 am

    I have to re-train myself only to read you in the evening, Nancy (sort of the opposite of your recent habits). Had to stifle a huge laugh at the “snickering twits” sentence. Sometimes it’s dangerous to read you while I’m at the office!

    I, for one, am extremely grateful for said discovery by Kinsey….

    306 chars

  2. Danny said on February 24, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Whatever are you girls nattering about? Everyone knows that a women’s pleasure is her own business. We are at the dawn of the new “ownership” society, dontcha know.

    Joking. I’m actually a cunning linguist as my faux argument belies.

    On a more serious note, Nance. Weren’t the Civil Rights adversaries a big mixture of racists of all political persuasions?

    363 chars

  3. Nance said on February 24, 2005 at 12:04 pm


    Yes. Which is why I didn’t say “Republicans.” But yes, the anti-c.r. coalition crossed party lines. Actually, it was mostly Democrats, and many of them later became Republicans, i.e. Strom Thurmond.

    209 chars

  4. Danny said on February 24, 2005 at 12:09 pm

    I think I should have said, “exhibits,” not “belies.” 😉

    57 chars

  5. alex said on February 24, 2005 at 12:22 pm

    In the ’60s, liberalism could be found in both parties as well. It’s thanks to the Nixon years that we have the EPA and consumer redress laws, both of which the right has been trying to beat back ever since. Government’s proper role is in the bedroom, I guess.

    260 chars

  6. Danny said on February 24, 2005 at 12:53 pm

    And it is because of Clinton that we have the bluedress laws, right?

    68 chars

  7. Dorothy said on February 24, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Danny, I of course I know how to conduct my “own business.” But it’s ever so much more fun with a business partner!

    116 chars

  8. juan said on February 24, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    As much as I love a good merger, an occasional hostile takeover can be pretty exciting too.

    91 chars

  9. Danny said on February 24, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Dorothy, agreed. I had my tongue firmly implanted in cheek.

    60 chars

  10. Dorothy said on February 24, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    You guys……

    14 chars

  11. basset said on February 24, 2005 at 9:24 pm

    I worked at Indiana University’s PBS station in the middle and late 70s, running the control room switcher back in the days when that was done by hand… and one night the tape room was copying some Kinsey material from 8mm film to videotape.

    I’m not going to describe it, let’s just say this stuff was positively vile, even for the most openminded of viewers; surely there was some legitimate academic use, and no doubt it was just a small part of the Institute’s huge collection, but it was so bad that one of the tape ops put newspaper over his monitor and just watched the scope. Some of the images are still with me thirty years, more or less, later.

    (for those interested in old-time tv… the film chain wouldn’t take 8mm, just 16 and slides, so the film was projected on a screen and the screen was shot with a studio camera straight to 2-inch quad tape. Anyone else who’s ever punched breaks on a Sarkes Tarzian switcher, email me offline…)

    966 chars