Friday, August 7, 2009

All Libraries are Petri Dishes of Sexual Tension

Or so claims this article about lustful goings-on at libraries in general and the British Library in particular.

I get a kick out of the metaphor. The books are the agar! Lust flowers like a particularly virulent species of mold!

But I'm unsure of the veracity of the claim. I tend to find that the physical presence of books -their weight, their mustiness, their whiff of authority- deadens ardor. What could dampen lust more quickly than the threat of the transmission of culture? What's less sexy than being shushed?

Then again, as the article's author points out, silence can be alluring:
Let’s face it, human beings are animals, there is potential for sexual tension everywhere, even in parts of West Bromwich, but normally people’s attractiveness is counteracted by the noises that they make — the grunts, groans and conversation that might reveal they are married, stupid, have an unattractive accent, an obnoxious personality or, very simply, do not fancy you in return. But when everyone is sitting around in silence, you can project what you like on to them and everyone remains a sexual possibility.
I confess to having played this game. Hasn't everyone lusted after that shy boy in high school who sits in the back row and scribbles furiously in his notebook? My friends called this the Silent Boy Trap: he turns out, of course, to be an irritable neo-Objectivist who plays Super Mario Brothers for six hours every day ever school. But before you get to know him, before that dolorous day he opens his mouth to discourse not on Kantian ethics, but on how super hot The Princess looks at the end of Level Eight -before all that: O golden, silent haze of days!

Silence: important to sex, important to reading. Why reach out to another person, be he three-dimensional or sandwiched between the covers of a book, if not to chase the lure of possibility, of the charged and tremulous future? Silence is a juicy worm. Just watch out for the hook.

No comments: