So you can read my books

Saturday, August 31, 2013




You have to come out of "left field" with something that catches everyone by surprise.

One of the big success stories of the summer has been best-selling nonfiction author Simon Winchester's piercing and heartbreaking memoir The Man with the Electrified Brain.

 The story details his brush with near-madness more than 40 years ago until several months worth of electro-convulsive therapy helped restore his sanity.

Best-selling fiction author Dave Snow Falling on Cedars Guterson must have been paying attention. His short memoir about depression - Descent - will be published September 10. Expect this Kindle Single to also climb the best-seller lists.

Miley Cyrus has been the target of outrage for days.  Guess what?  Her single and album sales are going through the roof.


E-book single publishers are hooked on stories with a S&M themes. Need proof?

Veteran author Roni Loren produced an eight-part e-book single series Not Until You, which featured strong bondage scenes.  Another erotic e-book single series from the summer of 2013 is Marina Anderson's Dining Club.

Author Nikki Duncan just published the e-book single with the Miley Cyrus title: Handcuffed in Housewares.

It's about a man who has a wild blind date and winds up naked, chained to a toilet in a housewares store.


E. L. James was named the world's third highest earning celebrity by FORBES magazine.

Fifty Shades Freed, the third novel of E.L. James' Fifty Shades erotic romance novels, was the book most often left behind in the U.K. chain of hotels in the last year, with a total of 1,209 abandoned copies.

Sure, your work will be tossed away. 


Who wants to be remembered by PROSTERITY when it will cost you PROSPERITY?

Miley Cyrus's performance and 50 SHADES OF GREY are glaring glamorizations of violence against women.

Christian Grey, the copper-headed business tycoon for whom James' book is named, controls his young conquest, Anastasia Steele, through stalking, intimidation, isolation and humiliation.

In response, Steele begins to manage her behavior to keep peace in the relationship, which is something seen in abused women. Over time, Anastasia loses her identity and becomes disempowered and entrapped.


Who needs to pander to good mental health when you can get rich?


 My concern is whether the popularity of performances like Miley's and a text like 50 Shades of Grey reflects a more pressing psychological matter regarding sexuality.

Does it really reconnect readers with their desire to be physically intimate?

Or does it merely point out how easy it can be for us to lose touch with our own sexuality?

How much are we drawn to real romance, connection, passion, and affection with a partner?

And how much are we drawn to fantasy, to using people as THINGS without regard for them as human beings?

Are our actions and entertainments moving us toward or away from having a close and fulfilling sexual relationship?


What do physical closeness and intimacy mean to us?

Are we making an effort to maintain a personal experience?

What critical inner voices might be getting in our way?

When we challenge our defenses, we stay close to our real feelings of love and attraction.

We find a way to keep passion alive, to have fun, to relax, and to enjoy our sexuality at a deeper and more sustainable level. We learn that “sweet sex” doesn’t mean dull, routine, or “vanilla.”

In fact, it can mean just the opposite. So the question about sex isn’t just what do we really want?

But once we’ve gotten what we want, can we tolerate it?
{Just to touch magic again}


  1. Heavy questions, Roland, which require heavy thought. Respect for a partner doesn't include using them as a hostage in any sense of the word. When a person seeks titillation, rather than seeking a person who is compatible, they really don't want any long term commitments.

    Because of the 'use and discard' attitude toward women (or men in some cases) we encourage stalking, depression and manic behavior (retaliation for being dumped by a partner). It's not good.

    What has fueled this? Greed and the need to succeed at any cost. Who needs to make a deal with Faustus anymore? Anyone who buys these books encourages the trend. Sad but true.

  2. D.G.:
    Yes, no deals with DayStar necessary these days. Members of the opposite sex have become Kleenex - disposable: to be used and thrown away (along with a little piece of ourselves - which is why so many "players" end up feeling hollow after a time.)

    When we buy books we feel are dysfunctional and corosive, we positively reinforce those authors and others to continue in the trend, making the world just a little bit darker than it was before.

    We make light of bondage and violence against sexual partners but it is gallows humor - fitting the state the world is in these days.

    Thoughtful response. Thanks. :-)

  3. I've always thought it a sad commentary on life and the human race that these kinds of things (both Miley and 50 shades etc) have become the standard by which all else is measured. I think the people buying into all of it - for the most part - are those who are desperately missing something in their own lives. What they see and read satisfies some deep down repressed side of them that they could never admit to. I'm more concerned about what 50 Shades has done to an industry that already strives to grab the next cookie out of the cutter. Good writing/talent is seldom rewarded. It's more about the "shock and awe", to borrow a phrase!

  4. I could not bring mysely to buy or read the said books even when I was given for free. I don't think I'm a sexual bore but grossly erotic scenes have never been some been a point of attraction for me. Sure we have fantasies but I believe they should be ones that promote intimacy and empowerment of both parties than the opposite.

  5. First off, I think if the media, both social and news, hadn't milked Miley's performance for everything it was worth, twenty four hours after the VMAs, it would have been all but forgotten. Instead, the performance was waived as a red flag, inviting anyone willing to enter the ring the right to judge her. Oh how we love to judge. And Apparently we like to put our money where our righteous indignation is. Miley played the audience admirably and won the round. That's not on her shoulders, it's on ours. The real fool here is any misguided dolt who thinks she didn't mean her performance to come off exactly as it did.

    Second, Society is malleable. We tend to like what we're told to like and have a perverse interest in what we're told is "naughty." Had 50 Shades been marketed as dark, evil S&M, instead of light, fluffy fan-fic S&M, the sales probably would have been negligible. Readers got the message loud and clear 50: Shades was titillating and erotic, but acceptable (BRILLIANT marketing). We are essentially a society of lemmings, becoming more so as the influence of television and the internet homogenizes us. We forfeit our own natural responses, and therefore our decision-making responsibility, in order to match the rest of society.

    If the media starts pushing fidelity, intimacy, and romance tomorrow, I predict you'd begin to see a big swing in how society responds to these issues. The problem here isn't the death of love and intimacy, and the perpetuation of sexism, it's the death of personal responsibility. It takes courage to take a stand against the status quo.

    As far as sexual equality and respect, women have always been and continue to be their own worst enemy, brandishing stereotypes freely while judging other women behind their backs. At least Miley & EL James are making some money off the deal. Kudos to them.

    Now, ask me what I really think. ;)

    VR Barkowski

  6. VR:
    Miley's performance was so extreme and over the top that, of course, the media was going to react. And yes, Miley consciously sought the attention to drive up sales and out-do Laqy Gaga -- who came out wearing a block on her head (the pun here is too obvious to use!)

    I do not judge Miley. I evaluate the culture that allows Miley to get away with it. There was a time when she would have been jerked off the stage for such antics.

    And it is on her shoulders -- she chose her actions so the repercussions are hers to own. Frankly, I believe she has Daddy Issues which is sad. Sadder that her mother was egging her on in the aisles, taking video of her daughter.

    I cannot blame an entity such as society, the media, or the entertainment industry. The audience, made of individuals, choose to reinforce actions with their dollars. If people in droves ignored Miley's and attended classical concerts by the hundreds of thousands -- the Mileys would soon disappear and classical concerts would come out in waves. We, the people, decide the entertainment we get by our attendance or our purchasing books, CD's, or DVD's.

    I cannot applaud Ms. James for making money selling S&M any more than I could applaud meth sellers.

    Of course this is my opinion. And I know both Miley and Ms. James are laughing all the way to the bank. Ms. James, however, is keeping her tongue in her mouth! :-)

    As always a thought-provoking response. Thanks, VR.

  7. I don't disagree with you, Roland. I'm a sociologist, I believe all behavior is determined by society even when it is not. lol.

    Granted, I saw Miley's performance as more cartoonish than extreme, but certainly it was the sexually charged nature that the Media grabbed hold of. But isn't that why viewers turn into the VMAs, to be shocked? To point a finger and judge?

    Miley is not the first to choose this path, and she certainly won't be the last. And we are indeed judging her—for her choices if nothing else. If we weren't, we wouldn't be having this discussion, and as you say, the Mileys of the world would disappear.

    The problem is, we can't change society, we can only take responsibly for ourselves and act according to our own conscience, and as long as we choose follow a culture dictated by the Media, we will remain under their power; they are the ultimate scapegoat.

    I would add, there is a crucial difference between Ms. James, Miley, and sellers of meth. Miley and Ms. James are working within societal bounds, meth dealers are not. Does legality make their product worthwhile? Hell no. I find James's books far more of a travesty than Miley's performance and not because of subject matter. I'm so appalled by the writing, the subject is moot.

    One of the reasons I admired Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy was that she captured this aspect of society and the importance of the individual to rail against it rather than play into it. The real lesson came in her ending, which I won't share here, obviously, but which many readers screamed and complained about. Yet she provided the the one true answer to a media dictated culture: don't allow an outside entity to dictate your personal choices. In other words, take responsibly and don't believe the hype.

    VR Barkowski

  8. You're looking at it from a moralistic point of view (I'm not saying it's wrong) in a morally ambivalent world. Maybe Mylie Cyrus enjoys the S&M world and wants to share it with others. The coming out of the "kinky" world is nothing short of a tidal wave. It's always been here, just not on public display. Now it's on public display (thanks to mass media and our truly prurient interests), and we don't know how to handle it. We don't know how to handle what's inside all of us, to some degree, if we were honest about it. And, to be honest, I'm about as confused as anyone.

  9. I was so exhausted last night that I did not even see Wendy Tyler Ryan's and Wendy Ewurum's replies in my email. Sigh. I answered from my email. Sorry.

    Wendy Tyler Ryan:
    Yes, "Shock and Awe" tends to sell. Those whose inner lives are flawed will always gravitate to things like Miley's performance or 50 Shades. As Victor says, "Everyone seems normal until they take off their clothes." Of course, he could have been talking about werewolves!

    Wendy Ewurum:
    Like you, I have never been attracted to cruelty to another person. But movies such as HOSTEL and SAW and PURGE do great box office.

    I'm more psychologically minded than sociologically -- our degrees are in different fields, right? :-)

    Like Ghandi wrote, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

    Society does shape our environment. Our choices to that environment shape us. What we tell ourselves about our environment is extremely important.

    I've never been a fan of "The Devil or Society Made Me Do It" rationalization.

    Viktor Frankel wrote of twins in the German Concentration Camp in which he was imprisoned. One became a beacon of strength and kindness, the other degenerated into an animal betraying, even with lies, all those around him even if there was no immediate advantage to him.

    We become what we repeatedly do.

    Brittney Spears did a similar "Adult Shock" at the MTV awards when she was trying to break free from her Disney past. But she did it with more dancer grace and style.

    Was it Miley's graceless execution then? Partly. But her gestures to her black dancers were grotesque and demeaning -- to them.

    Meth dealers do break the law in their aiding others to destroy themselves. Yet Miley and James pander to drives that will destroy the emotional lives of those who seek to follow the implied paths they praise. And it is looking like Pot will soon be legal -- and the deterioration of drive and alertness in a growing segment of our society gives me pause.

    And wasn't Ms. James' prose atrocious? How it got past editors is a mystery.

    Basically, I have unplugged from TV. I watch HULU infrequently, AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO of programs that intrigue me, and season DVD's that are priced affordably.

    Sandra says I could end up culturally-challenged like that!

    Again, VR, you never fail but to reply intelligently and with humor.

    I understand I am a man of conscience in a world increasingly without one. Still, I like to think I am looking at it from a psychological POV. Demeaning yourself in public and demeaning others as well on stage seems unhealthy emotionally. But society is growing increasingly dysfunctional. It is not new. The ancient Roman gladiator games were merely one of the symptoms of the collapse of their empire and culture. Thanks for such an insightful discussion.