This is the first in a series of posts introducing characters from the novel Quantum Cannibals
Alex is a secondary character in Quantum Cannibals. He’s a renowned poet whose wife tells a friend “Alex likes young men and boys.” The character was inspired by the pederasty of beat poet and cultural icon Allen Ginsberg. He said:
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…”
Howl was a brilliant poem, a work of art. Not so brilliantly, Ginsberg also said
“Prepubescent boys and girls don’t have to be protected from big hairy you and me, they’ll get used to our lovemaking in two days provided the controlling adults will stop making those hysterical noises that make everything sexy sound like rape.”
I recall reading a transcript of his chat with fellow icon William Borroughs where they declared that the younger the child, the better the sex. A progressive literary magazine in the 1970’s featured a story about a man who pursued sex with prepubescent girls (I won’t use the story’s obscene term). The journal was progressive, it was cool. Not perverted.
The issue of sex with children goes back farther. There is a debate among scholars of ancient Greece and Rome whether sex with kids was considered normal. “In Athens a man would have been regarded as perverted if he sought a relationship with another person equal to him in age and status.”
Sexy cuties around the world
In Afghanistan, the sexy cuties were found in the widespread tradition of bacha bazi ‘dancing boys,’ some as young as ten. Men force these boys (no transitioning counselling) to dress like little girls, then abused them. Among the Sambia of Papua New Guinea prepubescent boys had sex with adult men. It was crucial for them to swallow the men’s semen in order to develop into warriors. I can’t find anything cute about that.
Given the wide history of sex with children, isn’t it just another cultural norm? Doesn’t progressive ideology believe that all cultures are of equal value?
If so, does ancient slavery justify contemporary slavery? How about mass murder, pillage, cannibalism? There are plenty of precedents for those throughout history. Should we remove their contemporary stigmas because someone else did it at some other time?
There is a story in ancient Jewish writings about a rabbi (352-427 CE) who vilified the Biblical King Menashe (reigned 698-642 BCE) for pursuing idolatry. Menashe appeared to the rabbi in a dream and rationalized, “If you had lived in my day, you’d have picked up the hems of your garment to run after idols!” Maybe if we’d have lived in those eras, in those places we’d have no problems with slavery or cannibalism… But we don’t live in those eras.
Is there anything you can’t do for the sake of art (and money)? Many critics have accused the Netflix series Cuties of sexualizing young girls. The creators of the show argue that they’re actually combating the sexualization of children by showing kids behaving seductively. Given all the history and culture of sexualizing children, should we really condemn Netflix’s sexy Cuties?
Better we learn from, rather than replicate the misdeeds of the past. We shouldn’t look for history or art to excuse wrong behavior in the present. There are poor rationalizations for the making of “Cuties,” but no justification.