Thursday, August 19, 2021

Ishtar Rising Week Nine: In Defense of Melting Pearls

from Robert Crumb's The Book of Genesis (2009) A true masterpiece. Recommended. 

 Ishtar Rising Chapter Five: The Return of the Repressed

My reading experience of this chapter was mostly Wilson preaching to the Choir. Even Wilson's specifically anti-Catholic stance echoed my current concerns about papist morality in what-should-be a secular society. 

Do you want to know why I have such an animus against Christians? 

The reasons are far too numerous and subjective to go into at any length. Suffice to say, for now, that it's Christians' attitudes towards sex and the fact that they are incredibly, bafflingly bad at reading. When I was a child I was embarrassed and irritated by the "waiting for marriage" crowd, even as a virgin. When I started having sex, and realized that, to me, it was a profound, lovely and intoxicating mode of existence, I grew to hate the minions of the pulpit even more. While many people find it funny, I would be driven into a rage anytime I heard a Christian friend or acquaintance argue that mutual masturbation, oral or anal sex didn't break "God's" commandments. Foul and ridiculously silly hypocrisy. I was disgusted when I found out a Christian friend tortured himself for months trying not to masturbate (but he still found time to talk about it incessantly). I wanted to vomit every time I heard someone who was obviously gay preach the foul drivel they'd been taught. I didn't feel pity. I felt revulsion. 

That isn't very compassionate. And in my more sentimental, calm or enlightened states of mind I can feel empathy for the psycho-sexual torture these people have experienced or continue to subject themselves to- so why the anger? Christians are fucking stupid. Jesus Christ, they are dumb. 

Wilson talks at length about the late-nineteenth and twentieth century obsession with masturbation as if was something new. While many people years before didn't go so far as to produce male chastity belts...oh wait, they mutilated their genitals to reduce sexual pleasure so they could think about "God" more a thousand-or-so years before that. The Abrahamic dislike of one of the few, almost-entirely-pleasurable bodily functions is derived from the story of Onan in Genesis. While I'm not going to go into the details at the moment (you're more than welcome to consult your Gideon's Bible) it is a hyper-specific story about God wanting a guy (ole' Onan) to father a child with his brother's widow. He pulls out and "spills his seed." God waxes sorely pissed and kills him. 

And somehow that means that touching yourself is evil and that every sperm is sacred. Now, I'll confess that I've only read a little bit of the theological justifications for this leap pole-vault of logic but they were as, if not more, empty than I expected. The gullibility and the idiocy have never ceased to astound. 

While I dislike Christianity, I do love the dubious collection of late-antiquarian myths dubbed The Holy Bible. I think it is brilliant, disturbing and fulfilling in a way that at least justifies its popularity. And so as I was nodding along with Wilson I was jarred and annoyed to find myself disagreeing strongly with him. 

It's a small passage, but since this post has already become a rant, I'll persist. Wilson claims that adultery can be "beneficial" in some circumstances. I'm willing to say: this is untrue. In a speech from the last ten years, the poet and farmer Wendell Berry discussed his belief that, as a Christian, homosexuality was a non-issue. As an almost passing remark, Berry makes the observation that if Christianity should be obsessed with any sexual behavior, the one most reviled in their holy book, adultery should always take center stage. This is correct from a reading comprehension point of view. (I will grant the only translation of the Bible I've read continually has been the King James.) In this case, I agree strongly with the Bible. As someone who has cheated and been cheated on, only poison fruits come from roots fed on betrayal. (Please understand that I'm not advocating stoning, and I do believe that the bibble also says something about revenge belonging to the Lord anyways, and I admire many people who had their foibles. I am not perfect, by any stretch.) 

Anyhow, the point of all this is to say I like tits and touching myself and it's my hot body I do what I want, except cheat. 

Perhaps the Matter Above Should Be the Stray Thoughts

I have always been baffled at the idea that there is such a thing as "breast fetishism." I personally agree with Wilson and Brown that the biological-evolutionary evidence points towards the homo sapiens' breasts as being erogenous zones. I've always been of the opinion that I am not a legs, tits or ass "man," I truly hate those terms, but rather, if I have to play the shitty game I'm a "face" man. I have to think someone is pretty to find them attractive. We all have our switches. 

The Hayes Code was a bit of historical madness of which I wish I had a better grasp. In The Celluloid Closet, Gore Vidal states that Will Hayes' most distinguished achievement aside from the Motion Picture Production Code was looking strikingly like Mickey Mouse

(Typing this next sentence felt like a MadLibs.) I guess Larry David got into a pissing match with Alan Dershowitz in Martha's Vineyard. Here's a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry's natural response to Sophia Loren turns tragic: 

I really love Lenny Bruce. However, aside from passages in books and listening to his albums on YouTube, I have very few resources to engage with someone who might have been one of the greatest comedians of all time. If anyone has any biographical recommendations or other resources, I'd be most grateful. 


  1. Thank you for your post. I hope to finish reading the chapter this weekend. After our slow pace with Prometheus Rising, I felt surprised last night when I realized we would finish Ishtar Rising soon.

  2. My parents raised us kids as Roman Catholics, they dragged us to church every Sunday and I went through all the sacraments. I went to a "Catholic" high school. The only difference from the public high school meant a required Religious Studies class. It was generally acknowledged amongst my peers that we had better psychedelic drugs. Somehow, I didn't pay attention to the whole sex = sin thing. It surprised me years later, going to R.C. confession as part of a Crowley experiment, to find out they consider most sex = sin. After confessing all my "sins" the priest wished to hear more but I couldn't think of any so he asked, "what about sins of the flesh?" That's when I got it. I said, "probably yes." This priest guy looked my age (24) or younger, seemed very uptight and perspiring. He then asked, "with boys or with girls?" I had to suppress a very strong desire to laugh in his face and said "girls." Noticeably relieved, he said something like, "oh that's not so bad." I guess they have degrees of sexual sin, maybe for the different gradations of Hell?

    Page 159 shows a photo of Raquel Welch, a classic pin-up picture from the '60's. She became the main "sex symbol" of the day after Marilyn died. I saw her perform on Broadway in a musical play called "Woman of the Year" my first trip to New York in the summer of '82. I found her extremely talented in every respect, singing, dancing, acting. She screwed up a line one time but recovered well making it an endearing human moment. Welch's talent may have been overshadowed by her breasts in popular reckoning.

    Really enjoying the opening chapter quotes RAW chose. Chapter 5 gives an excerpt from Aha! a lengthy poem about the path of Initiation by Crowley. This fossil poem fragment along with the Equinox citation numbers and the Leary Psychology Today citation numbers that follows communicates something cabalistically. This communication has nothing to do with repression, yet both Crowley and Leary got repressed by mainstream society for essentially attempting to communicate the same thing.

  3. Starring Debbie Harry as Ishtar:

  4. "It's a small passage, but since this post has already become a rant, I'll persist." What a great sentence. I guess when I read Wilson's sentence, I wondered he meant and what sort of "circumstances" he had in mind for "beneficial" adultery. Maybe someone has a citation from somewhere else that would explain what RAW meant?

    I had a poster of the Raquel Welch photo Oz talks about in my bedroom as a teenager. (I would describe it as a "scene from a movie.") I saw a TV special she starred in many years ago,and I thought she did pretty well.

    I find different features in different women attractive so I don't know that I necessarily favor a particular body part, but I always kind of assume that most men like breasts. Will Rogers used to say, "I never met a man I didn't like," and I guess I never met a pair...


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