"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Trial Of Brett Kavanaugh - Andy Warhol, Saturnalia, And Today's Censorious Puritanism

Anders Piggott was a righteous man, and had been his entire life.  He was a model of rectitude, propriety, respect and good taste.  Of course there had been delinquencies when he was young.  He had gone wobbly around some ethical corners, but never went off the rails.  Unlike his classmates who seemed to be on no track whatsoever, sent to _____ as legatees, happy enough with a Gentleman’s C which allowed more time to spend tailgating, drinking, and carousing, Anders was never tempted.  If there was ever a time to be a libertine, said his St. Grottlesex friends, this was it.

Fetters and traces awaited as sure as sundown.  Investment banks, law firms, and industry had no time nor patience for the uncertain.  College was a time to bond with one’s class, to get all extraneous bits extruded from character, to pick up some savoir-faire, and have a damned good time doing it.
Anders Piggott had come from a solid, honored New England family whose ancestors in England were viscounts and earls, and who had come to the New World not out of necessity but for profit and adventure

The Fourth Earl of Ponsonby , a forbear on his mother’s side had owned half of Barbados, half the slaves, and a goodly number of slave ships which plied the Three Corner Trade out of New Bedford. His more recent ancestors had become industrialists in New England, made wealthy thanks to the demand for armaments in the latter part of the Revolutionary War and most importantly the Civil War.   Anders was born and brought up in New Brighton, at one time one of the largest and most important cities in America thanks in large part to his family which had built it from a Connecticut Valley byway to the major producer of tools, ball bearings, and rolled steel.

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By the time Anders came of age, his personal, social, and financial future was assured.  He would go to ______ as his grandfather and his father had, do an apprenticeship on Wall Street, then join the family firm of Piggott, Peabody, and Wilkins on the stock exchange from almost its inception.  He would marry well,  live on Park Avenue, but never give up either the old homestead in the West End of New Brighton, the house on Martha’s Vineyard, or the bungalow on St. Bart’s. 

Such a pedigree would have been more than enough to keep him well, prosperous, and happy during his adult years; but his moral sobriety and confirmed sense of right and responsibility would lead him farther than his equally privileged peers.  Anders had nobility; and so not only would he be a  captain of industry, and a leader of his community, but a  national figure.  His parents and friends with no trace of presumptuousness or irony even envisaged him as the next Hamilton or Jefferson.

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For three years at ____, Anders never deviated from his path of probity and good sense; but by his fourth and last year, something went wrong.  He began to question the destiny that had been charted out for him without his say.  Perhaps his classmates were right – character is formed by the time one is five, and only solidified and strengthened by parental and institutional influences.  in other words, no amount of carousing could possibly twist one’s genetic fibers into someone else.

One fraternity in particular was well-known for such carousing.  In fact, despite the university’s conservative and well-heeled reputation, some of the grossest behavior ever seen on any campus occurred there. Alpha Beta Gamma’s Saturday night parties were more than bacchanals and more than orgies.  They were at the very avant-garde of sexual libertinage. La Dolce Vita was passe, Andy Warhol’s Factory a passing show, and Kubrick’s latter day Eyes Wide Shut an academic, art house chimera.  Knowing that character was innate, that their privilege shielded them from any social opprobrium and legal difficulties, and most of all because of a sense of absolute entitlement, the young men at Alpha Beta Gamma took their libertinage seriously.

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It would be a mistake to assume that only the men of the coming-of-age generation, the first to enter the modern era, were sexually liberated.  It takes two to tango, and men-only saturnalia would be as boring and lame as the all-men choruses in WWII films about the Navy.  No, of course girls from Vassar, Smith, Holyoke, and Radcliffe joined in.  These were not sweet young things from Midwestern farms, innocent, virginal, and trusting.  They were the daughters of bohemian, European, adulterous fathers and bored, sexually active mothers.  They were as strong, determined, savvy, circumspect, and capable as the women of Shakespeare, Ibsen, or Strindberg.  They, like boys at _____had innate character, breeding, and respectability; and also like them wanted to take advantage of this unique moment in their personal history.

“What do women want?”, Anders had asked his father.  “Exactly what you do, my boy”.  That simple, simplistic homily never made any sense until transposed to Alpha Beta Gamma.  While most women were indeed prim, and protective of their virginity and their sex, those  women who accepted invitations to Saturday nights at Alpha Beta Gamma were not.  They were as adventurous, sexually daring, and unafraid of exposing what their sisters would never even consider.

So, Anders’ final year was like any other.  Thanks to the aforementioned genetic cast and anointed breeding, he was able to keep his bearings, graduate with honors, and go on to a successful if predictable life.  He had no need to revisit those final days at Alpha Beta Gamma, nor long for their return.  He had ‘gotten it out of his system’, and had received perhaps the best lesson that ______could have given him.

All of which made Anders quizzical at the bevy of accusations reported in the early 2000s about sexual ‘abuse’ that allegedly occurred while he was partying at Alpha Beta Gamma.  Had all the women of the Factory disappeared? And all their descendants?  Where were International Velvet, Viva, Ondine, and Ingrid Superstar? Had sex returned so completely and irretrievably to the Puritan Age? How had women become so timid, so politically outraged but so sexually timid?

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One recent accusation was that a woman accused a high-profile nominee to high office of exposing his genitals at Alpha Beta Gamma, and hoped to help bring him down by forcing him to admit to such licentious, misogynous behavior.  Of course the accusation was nonsense, not because it never happened, but because it always happened.  What else to expect from a Dionysian, Factory, Eyes Wide Shut bacchanal?  The price of admission guarantees exposed genitals and a lot more.

Anders a Wall Street legend and the rest of the boys of Alpha Beta Gamma were successful in their own right, some even in the politics.  None of them so far have been accused of misbehavior during their _____days; but their turn in this censorious age, might well come.

There is no evidence that well-heeled, patrician, responsible young men of probity and rectitude – because of a short year or two at Alpha Beta Gamma – would become insatiable Lotharios, misogynists, or sexual deviates.  It was never an issue of ‘boys will be boys’, but that boys must become men; and there is no predicting how, in what form, or where.  Sexual ‘abuse’ was never an issue at Alpha, for the young men wanted willing, equally adventurous partners.  Forced sexual relations were crude, low-class, and totally unacceptable.  It wasn’t done.

This severe, uncompromising time will pass.  Most Americans would never give the sexual antics of Alpha Beta Gamma any consideration whatsoever, living out their lives as they do in the tens of millions as good husbands and wives with only occasional lovers; and so the accusations coming from questioning, uncertain women concern only a tiny fraction of men – and many of them  crude, undisciplined, and low-class as  the elite members of Alpha correctly characterized them deserve calling out. But for the sexually unique, those men and women always at the sexual margins, those for whom a different standard of sexual propriety must be assigned, there are no established rules of behavior.  Perhaps most importantly, like at the Factory, men and women are exploring together.

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