Sunday 9 July 2017

Chester Brown: Diogenes & Prostitution

Chester Brown, 2016 (via Montreal Gazette)
Diogenes & Prostitution
by Chester Brown
(first posted on Patreon, 8 July 2017)

My June 14th analysis of A Fake Name's reasons for thinking sex-work is morally wrong has been reposted on A Moment Of Cerebus. I have a bit of a follow-up to something I wrote in that post. I had written that some men, who have difficulty relating to women, are, "through their interactions with sex-workers [,...] able to learn how to be with women, and, as a result, [are] then able to attract girlfriends.” I just read an article about this. From the article:
“'I had one client who was probably in his forties and he had never had a sexual experience with another person because he had such severe social anxiety,’ [sex-worker Carmen Shakti] told VICE. After working with Shakti, he e-mailed her with positive news. He had met a woman whom he cared about and started his own sexual exploration."
It shouldn’t be a surprise that sex-workers can help this sort of guy. Sex, whether you pay for it or not, can be a healing experience if you’re having it with someone who’s understanding and compassionate, and many sex-workers are understanding and compassionate.

A-M-O-C regulars made comments that I could respond to, but I’d be quibbling. I think we’ve gotten as far in the debate as we can go without getting a bit repetitious. I’ll let A Fake Name and Erick and Tony Dunlop have the last word, at least for now. (They could probably draw me back in if they wanted to by writing something outrageous, but I suspect they’ll resist doing so.) Thanks again to Barry Deutsch for his contributions to the discussion. I had the pleasure of meeting Barry at T-C-A-F, and he gave me a copy of his How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil, which I enjoyed.

There’s some old A-M-O-C-related business that I’ve been meaning to get around to, so I can finally do so now. Back on March 14th, in response to something Carson Grubaugh wrote, I noted:
“I seem to remember that there are stories of Diogenes visiting brothels, although, flipping through my books on the Cynics, I can’t locate them at this moment.”
As I’m sure most of you know, Diogenes was an Athenian philosopher who lived from around 404 to 323 B-C. Since March 14th I’ve browsed through Robin Hard's Diogenes The Cynic: Sayings And Anecdotes with a bit more care and found this:
“One day […] when he had arranged for a courtesan to visit him and she was slow to arrive, he grasped his sexual organ in his hand and contrived an emission through masturbation; and afterwards, when the woman arrived, he sent her on her way, saying that he had already sung the marriage-song with his hand.”
(The marriage-song — that’s an interesting euphemism for sex.)

According to Hard:
“The Cynics were hostile to [courtesans] not because they had any moral objection to mercenary sex, but because [courtesans] were associated with luxury, expense, and refined sensuality."
Diogenes stood outside a brothel, shouting, "A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey! A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey! A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey!" Men entering the house threw him a coin or two to shut him up. Eventually Diogenes had collected enough money, and he too went into the brothel.
From the recently-published Book Of Greek And Roman Folktales, Legends, And Myths, edited by William Hansen:
“When someone was chiding Diogenes the Cynic philosopher, saying that he saw Diogenes coming out of a brothel, Diogenes said, 'Why, should I have been coming out of your house instead?’"
It would seem that Diogenes’ sex-life was confined to prostitutes, although he didn’t necessarily always pay for sex; there is an anecdote about how a famous courtesan had so much respect for him that she slept with him for free. (Which courtesan it was varies from account to account.)

I can’t resist returning to Hard’s book for two more Diogenes lines:
“Love is the occupation of the unoccupied.”

“When asked what is the right time to marry, he replied, ‘For those who are young, not yet, for those who are older, never at all.’"

Chester Brown has been writing and drawing comics and graphic novels since the 1980s: Yummy Fur, Ed The Happy Clown, I Never Liked You, Louis Riel, Paying For It, Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus. You can help provide him with a stable source of income while he works on his next graphic novel by donating at Patreon.


Lee Bentley said...

Regarding Mr. Brown's statement that Cerebus becomes more interesting as it progresses (with which I agree); it has seemed to me for a long time that there are many, many stories that start out with a wonderful, interesting premise and proceed to a gripping conclusion, only to fall short in the closing moments. "Endings are hard" is the principle that seems to apply. The Cerebus series, however, in this as in so many other areas, breaks the pattern. Dave Sim's work never failed to be both entertaining and thought-provoking, and I can still remember the sensation of the end of the series in issue 300 landing on me like a gut-punch. (If you've read issue 300, you know what I'm talking about.) I can think of few creative works that had such an impact.

Jake said...

So controversial...yawn.

Carson Grubaugh said...

"Why, should I have been coming out of your house instead?" LMAO!!!

Diogenes was fucking beast-mode with one liners!

Jimmy Gownley said...

My God. Can we get through ONE conversation on the internet without someone bringing up Diogenes? This is why I stopped visiting 4chan.


Culpa Direct said...

Am I in the right place this time? :)

So what's the LP? I still can't make it out.

Jeff Seiler said...

C. D. (get it?)--Took me a while to find the LP in the photo. I'm guessing Greg Allman or maybe Jackson Browne. Definitely a 1970s long-haired hippie type. I think Chester is trying to mimic the photo on the LP with his pose in this picture.

Sean R said...

A Toronto woman's experience as a victim of sex trafficking. Compelling, vivid, and (not surprising) extremely depressing.