Tuesday, April 6, 2010

on the difference between being a generalist and being an artist

So, there’s this myth floating around that annoys me. The myth is that to be a good lover you have to have had lots of lovers.

Now, this hits upon a truth, which is that to be a good lover you have to have had lots of experience. Much like being a musician, it’s a thing that improves vastly with practice. And exponentially with lots of practice.

But – running with the musician metaphor – who, upon advising a young person who wants to become a great cellist, would say, “Okay, so you start by learning your scales on the horn, the piano and the recorder, and don’t forget to learn how to play Aura Lee on the bassoon”? No. You’d tell him the old chestnut about how you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. And if you want to get to Carnegie Hall playing the cello, what is it you practice again? Oh yeah: the cello.

So, back to sex. (“Now back to him, now back to me.) Becoming a great lover isn’t a question of becoming a great lover of many persons. It is a question of becoming a great lover of the person to whom you are making love. It is specific, not general. (There are general principles, of course, much as there is general music theory. In both cases, may I suggest, um, books?)

If you make love to many, many people, you are sort of like the one-man band. Sure, a one-man band interesting to listen to for awhile, and sort of stunning in its multiplicity, but it’s not too long before what you really want is for all the racket to go away. The jack-of-all-trades is all too often the master of none.

So what do you want to be? The fellow who knows how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on every instrument in the band hall?  Really?

Or wouldn’t you rather be Yo-Yo Ma with his Stradivarius?

I’m just saying.

peace of Christ to you,

(the very happily married) Jessica Snell

p.s. Yes, I can pick holes in the analogy too. But I think my point about experience in the specific holds.


Sylvia said...

Oh, how I agree! Steve and I have been married 31 years, and our physical relationship just keeps getting better. :)

Tienne said...

What a great post! I think you're absolutely right, and I'd argue that you can make yourself a better lover without having sex at all, simply by cultivating those qualities that lead to deeper communication. Practice listening, practice humility, practice asking your partner what they enjoy (in any arena, not just the physical.)

Every person is different. That's part of the mystery, and joy of discovery!

Kerry said...

LOL! This is great, Jessica! I just love the comparison between someone playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on every instrument vs. Yo-Yo Ma and his virtuosity on the cello. Wonderful!

MomCO3 said...

Yes, I like this analogy.