Your Sexts are Shit: Older Better Letters
- Gareth K Vile
- 25 August 2019
This article is from 2019
A dip into the well of sex
Juxtaposing the letters of famous people against the blunt messages of contemporary social media, Rachel Mars explores the relationship between word and sexual desire. Kicking off with James Joyce in full filth, and visiting Eleanor Roosevelt's lesbian love and Mozart's surreal communications with his cousin, Mars discovers a wealth of scatological enthusiasms and poetic expressions, which inevitably provide a stark contrast with the more direct texts of the twenty-first century.
Even the secret letters of literary greats become predictable – Bukowski presents his usual boorish machismo, and only Georgia O'Keefe manages to consistently illuminate her needs with elegance and finesse – but Mars' charisma and ironic asides keep the energy high and offers a few sardonic comments. The absence of Nora Barnacle's replies to Joyce become a symbol of the lost letters of women, and her recollections on her own sexual history introduces a necessary humanity between the relentless and urgent demands of the love letters.
Mars is content to let the letters speak for themselves, but the lack of connection evidenced in the sex texts is echoed in many of the male letters: despite the authors love of language, they seem concerned with their own pleasure, drunk on the extremity of their need or their overpowering personalities. While the investigation begins in an attempt to discover an alternative to the crude online request, Sexts humbles the great authors by revealing their foibles, even as it provides a recognition of the complexity of sexual passion, and the commonality of need that drives its elaborate or simple expressions.
Summerhall, run ended.