Top critical review
A tall story from a short man: what’s new?
on 28 March 2018
I would bet good money that the Pope, supposedly the most sex-proof male in the whole of Christendom, couldn’t read this book without getting a few stiffys along the way....
This doesn’t preclude the fact that the story is about trying to find heaven on earth or at least some sort of Salvation... only the preferred route to reach the goal is one where no Pope wants to go: that of intense sex and obsessive sex.
The story is about the human condition as seen through the deeply mysterious and compelling force of sexuality. Because intense sex takes us beyond morality and blurs the lines of all categories - and then lands us where the essential and raw nature of our human condition can be uncovered or, at the very least, tested - sex is the ideal litmus test for The Ultimate Truth: this is what the story is about. Oh, and the money... the story is also about the power of money and how it plays the game of sex, away from morality, and how people use it to intensify their experiences. Money plays its crucial part right to the end of the story, when Sabbath, the main character, is buying his plot at the Jewish cemetery. To him, the whole world is made up of deals, most of them and the most enticing, profoundly dubious.... the whole world is a whore or should be. So let’s make the most of it; that is Sabbath’s philosophy of life. As long as he can shed his ‘civilized’ cover, he’s on the right track. He loves sex more than anything else. It is his modus operandi... Until he gets old and finds that dead brother Morty has an enormous emotional grip on him, as does Mum, Dad and the Jewish traditions into which he was born and raised.
Because society has chosen Freud as a passport for meaning and complexity, and because Roth has (wants?) to please his (male) readership, Sabbath gets the Freudian treatment. In comes to the couch his Mum, Dad, Brother, lovers and whores, love and death, all and everyone a props to His need for self justification. Strangely though, Sabbath never fantasizes about what his mother might have been like in bed... She is the exception to his rule. Freud contends that it must be men’ s tragedy that they cannot fancy the one they truly love...
Sabbath fancies himself a philosopher of the absurd à la Camus, a rebel who thrives on illicit sex. But his rebellion stalls when he takes the decision to be buried in a Jewish cemetery: he sticks to his familial and cultural traditions here. Suddenly, he feels nostalgic about traditions, forgetting his rebellious manifesto. Extraordinarily, we find him at the end of the book wrapped up in his dead brother’s American flag... Sabbath’s rebellion doesn’t burn anything....
Here is a comment from a woman escort in today’s UK (2018): ‘While the financial goal keeps me doing escorting, I worry about the effect on my emotional health. I planned to quit if I met someone I wanted to commit to, but the more I earn, the harder it is to do that. I haven’t even come close so far and that can’t be a coincidence. I regularly have sex with guys who aren’t paying, but when I’m with them, I’ll often think, “I could be making £400 right now.” Separating work and play is hard. It’s also physically exhausting as I rarely give myself a night off. I worry I’m starting to forget what genuine intimacy feels like, since I’m so good at simulating it, but feeling nothing.’ (As related in The Guardian on the 26/03/2018).
Let’s hope that the new AI life-sized dolls recently launched on the market save real women from fake sex and fake love. Let’s sort the sheep from the wolves. I am going to buy some shares in this promising business.