A fly, had it chanced to position itself on the wall of my palatial town house the other evening, would have observed the author of this review seated in his armchair, a book in his hands, a pucker on his brow and a bubble floating over his head, on which was inscribed a large question mark. I was attempting to puzzle out the following passage in George Leonard's "The End of Sex," and although I consider myself a pretty smart cookie, I was finding the going a bit rough. "In the process of erotic arousal, as well," Leonard had written, possibly with a quill, "we descend into a sort of chaos, to the potent formlessness from which new form can arise. And, ultimately, as we are drawn toward orgasm, our consciousness may take us toward an ultimate night: the 'event horizon,' place of no place, time of no time, where paradox reigns and from which truly novel information is continually emerging into the realm of time and space." Amazing, the things the English language can be made to say.
Gibberish may be defined in a number of ways: as a random series of words, as a coherent series of words expressing a random series of thought, or--as in Leonard's sad case--a coherent series of words expressing a coherent series of thoughts that, alas, make no sense whatever. To attempt to spin a widow's mite of insight out to book length without the intercession of what Leonard disdainfully calls "the imperial mind" (i.e., the nitpicking, cross-indexing, reflective, self-deprecating intellect) is always a perilous undertaking.
The book's thesis is a simple one, and had the author written it out on the back of a postage stamp and dispatched it to his closest friend, we would have no quarrel. It is this: that the so-called Sexual Revolution of the last two decades ignored love and trivialized sex, a circumstance most prominently on exhibit in the person of a Methodist minister Leonard encountered in San Francisco who always traveled with a Game Kit consisting of "several vibrators, artificial penises, French ticklers, leather sheets and massage oil, ostrich feathers, tape recorders with sounds, erotic books and magazines, and some game books on sexual fantasies"--just in case, presumably, he met a nice young girl at a covered-dish church supper.
So far, so good--not very far, not very good, but what the heck--the implacable Leonard cannot rest; creature of the vanished '60s that he is, he must discover what it all means. Starting with a clinical description of the act of love that rivals the films of John Carpenter in the remorseless realism of its special effects, he proceeds to a long memoir of his sister and his childhood, and a description of what is possibly the least interesting LSD trip ever written, only to conclude--at staggering length--with a theoretical homily on the true meaning of Eros that, I am forced to admit, absolutely bored the socks off me.
When it comes to the way of a man with a maid, it seems there is the electrifying theory of "holonomy."
Borrowing liberally from Einstein's Unified Field Theory and the concept of holographic photography--without bothering to explain that Einstein was never able to prove the Unified Field Theory, and that when you shine a laser beam through a human being, you get a little hole--he advances the thesis that the human body is a wave form, a sort of blip on the screen of time, containing an innate knowledge of the universe that is released in the grip of passion: "enormous clouds of darkness, exploding galaxies, matter and anti-matter, even what seems most substantial collapsing in on itself and disappering." In other words, a full-fledged grand mal seizure.
We've been here before, of course; most psychobabbleistic philosophies are big on all the keen stuff our wicked Victorian upbringing tries to keep locked away from us, in our wonderful bodies. I suppose it's no surprise that George Leonard is past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, although of surprises there is at least one. Leonard's ideal human pairing is something he calls High Monogamy, a blessed and profound state that is reserved for the, as it were, black belts of the erotic experience. High monogamy is good, old-fashioned marriage. And having attained it, or a part of it, we will end war forever, abolish poverty, gain self-awareness, create a new . . . but I perceive that the question mark in the bubble over my head is rapidly turning into a Z, and I suspect I'd better sign off before I fall into my typewriter and do myself an injury.