Arts & Culture

Primal Scream Therapy with Tortured Authors, Part 1: Allow me to Freudian slip inside you

To: Matthue Roth From: Marty Beckerman Subject: Allow me to Freudian slip inside you Matthue,  Writers are not exactly well-adjusted people. Posters of Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson used to hang over my desk, but one day I realized with … Read More

By / September 29, 2008

To: Matthue Roth From: Marty Beckerman Subject: Allow me to Freudian slip inside you

Matthue, 

Writers are not exactly well-adjusted people. Posters of Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson used to hang over my desk, but one day I realized with sudden discomfort that two suicides constantly looked down at me as I worked. I’ve never read anything by David Foster Wallace — the Internet and Jack Daniel’s have ruined me for any book longer than three hundred pages, let alone a thousand — but he’s another writer who bailed on existence.

And yet, even though we’re writers, neither one of us will commit suicide anytime soon. We have different reasons for this — you’re an Orthodox Jew who believes that suicide is murder, and I’m an egomaniac who would never selfishly deprive the human race of his boundless and necessary wisdom, roguish good looks, etc. — but even well-adjusted writers need to analyze ourselves sometimes. We can’t afford psychologists to guide us on our reflective journeys, of course, but at least we have each other.

Despite our aversion to self-destruction, we are pretty goddamned fascinating people. (At least I am; what’s your name again?) Nobody understands an author quite like another author, and the public deserves to know the motivations and psychologies of its most gifted citizens. Therefore, Matthue (oh yes, that’s your name), it’s time for us to explore each other, probe each other… I just want to get inside of you and dig.

You are a self-described religious zealot, although quite different than most. You seem non-judgmental, and lacking in palpable sexual neuroses. Call me a snide coastal elitist, but I immediately associate religious extremism with sexual perversion; it seems as if every week another conservative preacher or politician gets in trouble for allegedly being a totally creepy pervert. I would make a list of all the prominent "people of faith" who have recently landed in hot water — or, as the case may be, lukewarm lubricant — for their peculiar interpretations of family values, but we only have a few hundred words per day for this discussion, not a few (hundred) thousand.

It seems like common sense that if you repress and vilify normal human sexuality, it’s going to emerge in a warped or self-loathing form. Are ferocious gay-bashers who happen to love peen (Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, etc.) aware of their own hypocrisy, or is it a purely unconscious phenomenon? Are they sucked (get it?) into religious fundamentalism because they fear their true selves, or do they become fascinated by the "forbidden fruit" (get it?) after demonizing the behavior? In other words, which came first: the chicken, the egg or the giant heathen cock, which might or might not refer to the aforementioned chicken?

Am I oversimplifying? Am I wrong to presume a direct link between the degree of a person’s religiosity — especially the condemnatory, "shame on everyone but me" variety — and the degree of his or her (but probably his) sexual weirdness? You are a passionate believer — you base your entire life around religion — and yet you strike me as a shockingly well-adjusted person… I mean, I’ve visited your house and didn’t find a hidden dungeon or anything… so are you the exception or the rule? Or did I simply forget to look underneath the rug?

Full disclosure: I probably have a reputation as a "totally creepy pervert" who loves to say "shame on everyone but me" thanks to my past writings, but A) my girlfriend has completely domesticated me — I’m less edgy these days than a Gillette Venus Vibrance Soothing Vibrations Razor for Women — and B) I’m a humorist, not a moralist, and I’m obviously not a cleric or spiritual advisor. God help anyone who asks me for advice about… uh… God.

Marty Beckerman, author of Dumbocracy, and Matthue Roth, author of Losers, are blogging together on Jewcy, and they’ll be here all week.  Stay tuned.