mr. yang, you have my dream job

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New York magazine did a sort of retrospective on their ‘Sex Diaries’ feature, and asked Wesley Yang to sit down, read all of the 800 or so entries, and pontificate. And pontificate he did — the result is marvelous. (Even David Brooks of the Times applauded — then, being David Brooks, riffed politely but boringly on those themes.)

Over the course of the Sex Diaries’ 132-week run, we have seen the city through the eyes of cuckolds and cheaters, sluts and prudes, victimizers and victims, starry-eyed lovers and detached pleasure seekers. We have followed aging women on dismal Craigslist dates, lonely gay men in pursuit of ostensibly curious straight guys, happily polyamorous couples, and co-dependent serial monogamists. We’ve watched some Diarists terrified of succumbing to their feelings and others unable to feel much of anything at all. We’ve watched a black man fly to meet a white couple at a T.G.I. Friday’s in the Midwest and have sex with the wife as the husband watched.

The Diaries can be arousing, a little. But in aggregate, they wound up doing something more interesting: They cracked open a window into the changing structure, rhythm, and rhetoric of sex in New York. The Diarists are a self-selecting group, of course: bizarrely oversharing New Yorkers motivated by the impulse to brag or, as often, the urge to fling their terrible abjection in the face of the world. But as we watched them struggle with the peculiar hazards of mating in New York today (failing spectacularly, or succeeding all too well), we saw that their hassles were everyone’s writ large, and their stories posed a question: Are the digital tools that make it easier to find sex compounding the confusion that accompanies it?

This guy Wesley is great. Get your hands on his essay on the University of Virginia shootings. And — go figure — he’s a staff writer at Tablet. And he recently penned a review in n + 1 on what might be the most conversation-provoking book of the past decade. (I’m having a helluva time getting my hands on a copy of the magazine, though…) But bravo, Mr. Yang.

Written by menachemkaiser

5 November at 02:01

Posted in rants

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