The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, July 27, 2012

What We Know That Ain't So

What We Know That Ain't So

Apparently, (and somewhat to my surprise) there is a very popular idea that men think about sex every seven seconds. The article above rebuffs this notion, taking that to a more reasonable estimate of a little more than once per hour. I have no idea why anyone would ever have believed that nonsense in the first place, unless one defines "sex" so broadly that it barely has any meaning at all.

Think about the misunderstandings between men and women who have such absurd, irrational and unfounded beliefs about each other. "Men Are From Mars" indeed. Even more disturbing, I have to assume that many of those spreading the meme were men. Excuse me, weren't they alerted when there was a mismatch between their own experience of life and a bizarre new "factoid"? Didn't they trust themselves at all? Apparently not.

Writing is often about a character learning and growing, or declining/decaying and learning they have been wrong. The "Hero's Journey" details the growth from one level to another in this fashion--we are either growing or decaying, and the only third option in fiction is to tell tales in which a character apparently does neither, and merely displays either skill, courage and genius (typical Sherlock Holmes story, any Bond movie) or displays their idiocy and "quirky-ness" (any situation comedy).

That's fine for fiction--a minimalization of the arc of change so that, apparently, nothing meaningful occurs but entertainment results. Bt what of our lives? How can we continue moving forward?

1) Continually question both your cosmology and your epistomology: what is true, and how you know it to be.
2) Constantly test your assumptions. This is the importance of having goals in all four basic areas of your life: body, mind, relationship, and finances. This is like a bat "pinging" a cave with squeals to map the territory. Our goals and actions teach us about the world. Our demons will hide in the arena we fail to search.
3) Constantly clean the lens of our perception. Every time I break through to a new level of meditation, it is like plunging into a cess pool--I have discovered a new world of illusion, pain, and fear. Fascinating, and the exact opposite of what many teachers suggested to their students. It is clear to me why people stop searching. The work literally never stops.

But the more I clean out the "stuff" inside, the stronger my body gets, the better my relationships, the more satisfying the career movement, and the more honest and fluid the writing becomes. Ultimately, it is just the work. A cycle of progress. And while it is as endless as the cycle of eating, sleeping, and defecating, so long as I continue to treasure truth, and accept the need for daily struggle with joy and a sense of adventure, the path is the most amazing adventure imaginable.



Angie said...

My first thought is that a lot of men read that statistic, and then start seeing sex-triggers in everything. Believing you should think about sex every eight seconds could make it come true. A lot of people really are just that suggestible, after all, and once a guy starts "noticing" that he really does think about sex all the time, the statistics will retroactively seem true to him, even if they didn't match his own experiences previously.


Steven Barnes said...

If this statistic has been widely believed, you're probably very correct.