Sunday, October 08, 2006

From the comfort of a Whangamata mansion...

I was going to post up about the election overspend and all that entails. Brady (Auditor General and Controller is due to present his report to Parliament on Tuesday and the commentary is thick and fast.

There are, as it happens similar and equally as sinful events which I have not touched upon.

Rather than rehash the whole sorry story start to finish, here is Rosemary McLeod's commentary. Very very well done Rosemary...

The orgasm, the whole world knows, is an elusive creature.

A friend once glimpsed one in her kitchen, but it bolted behind the fridge, leaving nothing behind but a couple of tail feathers. She says that what little she saw was scary, and she wouldn't advise anyone else to approach one. She said it had a mad look in its glittering eye, and fangs.

Well, we always assumed they were orgasm tail feathers. That's why she put them in a jam jar, and screwed the lid on tight. But now an Auckland University academic has raised the troubling issue of whether she glimpsed the genuine article, or a phony. It turns out that there are fake orgasms on the loose in this country. The implications are distressing.

Annamarie Jagose, an associate professor of media studies, and an acclaimed fiction writer, has been granted $50,000 to help her investigate the fake orgasm situation. That sum comes on top of $465,000 she's been allocated, with two colleagues, to inquire into the cultural history of sex. Only half the $50,000 will go directly to the crucial fake orgasm work, which is not nearly enough. The rest will be allocated to "Twentieth Century Orgasm", a more general topic with less specific application.

Orgasm study is obviously vital, fake or otherwise, and surely the job's too big for one little Auckland woman specializing in gay topics. It will take teams of them, toiling around the clock in attic bedrooms and science labs, to carry out the experiments needed, and we should not fund such labours half-heartedly. We should dig deep, surely, and fling her another half mill to be going on with.

Be prepared for the outcome of Jagose's research to be devastating. It could rock the country to its foundations. Many of us could have been deceived for years, a cruelly undermining thought, and we need to know one way or another now that she's flagged it as a real possibility.

Think of the questions the work raises. How do any of us really know whether we've encountered a real orgasm, or a fake one? What exactly is a fake orgasm, how do you describe it, precisely, and how can you be certain of that description? They say the earth moves, but this is a land of earthquakes.

Nobody can afford to be smug, now that she's identified the problem, of their precise orgasm status. You could have chased after a fake in all honesty, and never known. You could have cornered several of them and been taken in by appearances. The shadow of doubt hangs over the whole upsetting business until the results come in.

Maybe it's like passive smoking: you could be suffering from the effects of the experience without having experienced it. It could be like headaches: if you were born with a headache, you'd never know if you really had one because you'd never not had one, if you see what I mean.

But why should research stop at the elusive shoreline of the 20th century orgasm, and fakery of that kind? Work is crying out to be done on phony intellectuals, who dominate so many universities and dinner parties. How can you confidently tell a phony intellectual from a real one? Are black berets, as I have always believed, invariably evidence of the bogus? Do the French still have a stranglehold here? Are Jean-Paul Gaultier wire spectacle frames a clue? Does speaking French still count? And is reading French post-modernist philosophers still compulsory?

Jagose's work seems to connect neatly with that of Michel Foucault, who died of Aids-related illness while writing a history of sexuality. Maybe there are post-modern fake orgasms. Maybe they are a cultural construct. They are quite possibly a health hazard. Thank goodness someone disinterested is prepared to sacrifice years of their life to this basically mundane, but worthwhile and necessary topic, and that someone could actually read Foucault without falling asleep.

Dr Jacose is not the only creative writer in the country whose intellect is currently publicly drawn to matters of a sexual nature. Last week Wi Huata, husband of Donna Awatere Huata, revealed an unsuspected talent - and hinted at an unsuspected asset - in verse he dictated outside a courtroom after appealing a fraud conviction.

"Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise?

Because I dance like I've got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs" he asked, in two of his more poignant lines.

I don't have an answer to those questions. The thought of all that sparkle has quite distracted me. But I feel I know just the person to undertake the necessary field work.

Quite apart from the direction of Jagose's "research", one really has to wonder at the workings of research funding or the parallel of the funding of art work when grants like this are made.

Or perhaps not!!

Perhaps the much criticised "art work" that was submitted to a European Biennalle was far closer to great art than the critics imagined.

Who were the braying donkeys in the old outhouse? Perhaps Jagose might come up with a similar "great truth".

Perhaps a conclusion that "science research grant allocation in New Zealand is nothing more than a full monty glorious fake dildo up.

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