Friday, January 30, 2009

A Trip to the Floating World


Welcome, most honorable guests, to Saturday’s stop on our free-wheeling, wide-ranging progressive blog feast. I know you have just arrived from a magical evening under the desert sky with Kirsten Monroe. My offerings today will be humble: vegetarian dishes from the Buddhist temples of Japan known at shojin ryori. I’ve taken the liberty of reserving a traditional Japanese inn for our modest banquet, and, naturally, arranged for your plane ticket to Kansai International Airport as well as ground transportation to the ancient city of Kyoto.

Ah, what’s this? We’ve already arrived! Don’t forget to take off your shoes as we step up into the entryway. Each party of guests will be escorted to their rooms by a kimonoed maid, who will offer tea and a local sweet before leaving you to change into the cotton kimono called yukata, which will be our lounging wear for the remainder of our stay. After you refresh yourselves and change, please meet us at the bath, which, because the entire inn has been set aside for our enjoyment alone, is open for mixed-sex bathing. (As an open-minded host, I’ll let you interpret the definition of “mixed-sex” as you will.)

Feel your muscles soften to taffy, breathe in the healing mists of the hot spring water. May I take the liberty of presenting some dainty snacks to whet your appetite? Here is a selection of rice crackers especially prepared for the new year. Some are flavored with plum-infused sugar, others with savory seaweed or roasted soybeans. All can be easily washed down with some Sakura Masamune sake, a personal favorite, although it comes from the Kobe area and the inn procured it for me as a courtesy. But I wanted to share this beverage with you because it was the very first fine sake I ever tasted. I’m sure will agree the complexity and depth of flavor on your palate is remarkable.

The pleasure of the drink is no doubt enhanced by the presentation in my special collection of antique Chinese erotic wine cups. Observe how the couple moves beneath the ripples of this gently bracing beverage. One might think they are enjoying themselves as much as we are.

As we bathe, our murmurs of gentle pleasure rise softly in the steamy air. Our feast thus far has involved much untrammeled merriment—and yet at this moment our gathering is rather subdued and serene. And yet, my honorable guests, a certain inward focus, not to say repression of our desires can ultimately lead to a most satisfying release. So argues the noted rope-mistress, Midori, in her shibari handbook for Westerners, The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage. And as writers, we do know that formal constraints often, ironically, liberate our creativity.


But such topics might best wait for our after-dinner chat. I’m told our evening’s entertainment has arrived. Let us don our robes and adjourn to our tatami banquet room, where we will enjoy a private concert by a geiko and apprentice maiko from the Pontocho geisha district. These accomplished dancers are performing for us thanks to an introduction by Liza Dalby, the only American to work as a geisha.



I will admit this is my first “traditional” dance concert as they were originally meant to be viewed—in intimate surroundings with a small party of friends. The elaborate cherry blossom dances open to the public are indeed gorgeous, but to have the honor of enjoying the talents of these artists in this way is exactly like inviting Weird Al Yankovic to sing a few favorite tunes in your living room. Well, not “exactly like,” but you get my drift.

May I pour you more sake? A good host sees that her guests’ erotic wine cups never go dry. I see our meal has arrived. Maids place individual lacquered tables before each of us in the formal style. To the left is a dish of Tofu with Mushroom Sauce. Those of you who’ve only tasted supermarket tofu, which is made to blend innocuously into a curry or stir-fry, will be amazed at the subtle, yet distinctively fresh soybean flavor of this “silken” tofu. I’ve asked that the sauce be lightened for our Western palates—less sugar and salt, the better to appreciate the subtle earthiness of the mushrooms, which may remind my earthier guests of certain portions of the male anatomy, but I digress.

To the right is a plate of Roasted Sesame Pumpkin with Peanut Sauce. Japanese pumpkin, or kabocha, has an edible green skin and was one of my great discoveries in Japan. I’d only known pumpkin as a stringy jack-o-lantern or a canned mush for Thanksgiving pies. But Japan’s version reminds me of good rice pudding—smooth, but with a toothsome resistance. During my first stay in Kyoto, I was taught an old saying that "real women" are fond of pumpkin. My continuing passion for the vegetable has reassured me of my femininity in times of doubt ever since, although "he-men" have been known to appreciate it as well.


As you see, the peanut sauce is a perfect blend of sweet and tart and the recipe might serve well for a crudite plate when we return to the States. The combination of tender pumpkin and protein-rich sauce is quite a happy marriage of textures and flavors.

(An aside—my apologies that I neglected to take photographs of my own miserable efforts with these dishes, but rest assured, the recipes have been tested for taste and ease of preparation.)

Although not strictly an entrée, the inn has provided small bowls of delicious steamed white rice and rustic miso soup. We eat slowly, meditatively, a nourishment for the spirit as well as the body, enjoying the “now” of each dainty mouthful. Light as it is, this food seems to have magical properties. Rather than “filling” our stomachs, it merely erases the animal growl of hunger as an inked brush might blot out the whiteness of paper. Just as easily, it seems to turn our blood to pulsing radiance. Our bodies float now--even without the buoyant water of the bath. We are easy in our skins, and our minds open out like a cherry blossom, boundaries and false dualities dissolving.

"The floating world," or ukiyo, is a Japanese term that embraces two meanings. The original sense of the word referred to the Buddhist concept of worldly illusion--the material world is rooted in nothingness--but by the seventeenth century it came to refer to the pleasure quarters and the fantasies one could only indulge in within its gated walls.

We’ve enjoyed so many pleasures over the past week of our progressive dinner—lips, hands, laughter, dance, skinny-dipping and slathering cherry-Pinot sauce on our naked flesh. I’d like now to honor yet another: the erotic potential of the airy and limitless realm of our imaginations. Which floating world shall we choose to enter this evening? Or need we choose at all?

The maids arrive to whisk away our trays, so I’ll take this opportunity to bring out some 18th century books of erotic prints by my favorite artist, Suzuki Harunobu. Harunobu has been the inspiration for a number of my stories. He also makes an appearance in my first novel as the favorite artist of one of my alter-egos, an older Japanese man who is at home in Japan’s after-hours world of sexual self-indulgence. I’m drawn to Harunobu’s work for numerous reasons—the wistful, intelligent faces, the relatively “realistic” depiction of the genitals, the stories that seem to hover above the page, whispering their secrets.

These shunga, or “spring pictures,” were of course used by their wealthy owners as a prelude to self-pleasuring. They were also purportedly used as sexual manuals and presented to rich men’s daughters as a form of education for their marital duties. Thus, perhaps it is appropriate to focus today’s discussion on sex manuals of every type—illustrated, wordy, retro or myth-shattering. Where and when did you encounter your first “how to do the deed” book? Do you have a favorite? Ones you find fitting for critique? Which sex manuals are on your bookshelf right now?

Isn’t it amusing to think that was once reserved for the wealthy is now available to ordinary folk such as ourselves? Then again, in spite of the lean times, hasn’t our feast shown us how very rich we are indeed?

Please linger awhile to chat, sip sake, and nibble on mandarin jelly, but feel free to retire alone, or better yet with a partner, whenever the spirit of Harunobu moves you. When you return to your room, you’ll find your maid has already laid out your futons--the two fluffy mattresses laid side by side and close enough for the fine cotton sheets to kiss--for your night’s rest. Once in private, there is no longer need for decorum or restraint, unless you choose to explore the latter territory with the help of the soft belt of your cotton robe and Midori's manual ;-). Do sleep well, for on Monday we will travel far yet again to enjoy the hospitality of the lovely Emerald, who will serve, most appropriately, a delectable salad.

The recipes for this portion of our feast were adapted and “lightened” from The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan by Mari Fujii. If you like fresh, simple vegan food, I highly recommend this book—everything I’ve tried has been very uplifting and tasty.

Tofu with Mushroom Sauce (Serves 4)

1 14 oz. tofu, silken if available
1 3/4 oz. mushroom caps, two or three types such as shimeji, enoki, fresh shiitake or button
1 2/3 cups konbu stock (see below)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sake
2 Tablespoons mirin
1 1/4 oz. carrot, peeled and julienned
2 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 Tablespoons water
Strips of green beans, blanched, for garnish

Wrap the tofu in a paper towel or non-fluffy tea towel, sandwich between two plates and refrigerate for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture. Break the enoki or shimeji into bite-sized pieces and cut the other mushrooms into thin slices. In a frying pan combine the konbu stock, soy sauce, sake and mirin and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms and carrot. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Cut the tofu in half and place in the frying pan, taking care that the tofu halves do not overlap. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved cornstarch, and stir gently without breaking the tofu until the sauce thickens. Cut the tofu into four pieces and serve hot in individual bowls, topped with the mushroom sauce and garnished with a green bean strip.


Konbu (Seaweed) Stock

1 2/3 cups water
1 4-inch piece dried konbu seaweed

Place the water and konbu in a saucepan and leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before the water boils, remove the konbu. Use the stock in recipe as directed.


Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Sauce for Real Women and the Men Who Love Them (Serves 4)


2 Tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons water
14 oz. Japanese pumpkin with seeds and stringy fibers removed and sliced into very thin slices

Sauce

6 Tablespoons unsweetened natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons white miso or 1 teaspoon red miso
2 Tablespoons sake or white wine
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons mirin

Combine the oil and water in a flat-bottomed bowl. Dip the pumpkin slices to coat and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until browned, turning halfway. To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Arrange the pumpkin artfully on individual serving plates and top with the peanut sauce.

54 comments:

EllaRegina said...

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Craig Sorensen said...

When I awakened this morning to find my feet firmly planted in Kyoto, I could have not been more pleased. I savored the beautiful dancing, then I rushed to my CD collection to get my copy of Nanae Yoshimura’s “The Art of the Koto, Volume 1” to continue my adventure.

My shoes respectfully removed, I venture further into this beautiful setting. The Sake is delicious, as are the snacks.

And I'm all for the mixing of sex.

My inner "Real Woman" loves feasting on Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Sauce. The rest of me is lost in the flavors of Tofu in Mushroom Sauce. I wonder if I will be able to find silken Tofu in my neck of the woods? I shall try!

It is all so beautiful and so tempting. The sexy classical erotic images do much to help me to float along.

Being a kid of the seventies, the first book on sex (other than the bone dry clinical sort) that I was able to savor was The Joy of Sex. But, to circle back to my love of kissing, I also got (I think from the book of the month club) a book that that featured kissing. It was a reprint of a small book from the 1930’s called The Art of Kissing. It had some good advice that helped me “hit the ground running.” But this was probably as much from what my imagination brought to the table as from the rather kitschy contents. Still, that little book is a very fond memory.

Erobintica said...

Slips off shoes, has a quick look around - Oh how I wish I could stay - this looks wonderful. One of my daughters spent a semester last year in Tokyo and loved it. I will be back later to enjoy and partake of the delicious sake.

Dewa mata atode (see you later)

hopes she got that right ;-)

Kirsten Monroe said...

Donna, what a wonderful world you have brought us to. I feel light and airy right now, feasting on your delicious words and these amazing recipes.

"Rather than “filling” our stomachs, it merely erases the animal growl of hunger as an inked brush might blot out the whiteness of paper. Just as easily, it seems to turn our blood to pulsing radiance. Our bodies float now--even without the buoyant water of the bath. We are easy in our skins, and our minds open out like a cherry blossom, boundaries and false dualities dissolving."

Oh, I love that. So much. Thanks Donna! Easy in our skins, boundaries dissolving!

Helia Brookes said...

Arigato, Donna! (I don't know any Japanese but I'm a huge Studio Ghibli fan and have been watching them with subtitles, so the distinctive rhythm of spoken Japanese has a presence in my head.) What a delicious interlude, especially the bath and the erotic wine cups!

Poor tofu gets such a bad rap for being bland--thank you for highlighting it. And the pumpkin sounds amazing--a must try!

Ah, sex manuals... I first encountered the Kama Sutra when staying at the house of family friends (they had a huge place, so each of us had our own room, and mine was lined with bookshelves! I didn't sleep much that night.) While some of the positions were intimidating, to say the least, as a young teen I was both turned on and reassured by the "acquiring a wife" section, specifically "creating confidence in the girl" as the Burton translation puts it. I still find that very hot--seduction is my particular button.

And then there's the good ol' Joy of Sex, which I must have first seen in a bookstore and got up the courage to buy when Jeremy and I were starting out together. Loved the grope suit--a few years ago I remembered it and went searching for more information. I was very surprised to find out that Comfort had invented it as a joke! What a great erotica concept.

Kirsten Monroe said...

Donna, I forgot to ask -- do you have a brand of miso you could recommend?

Donna said...

ER, that is EXACTLY the feeling I hoped to convey to my honored guests! The dissolution of boundaries helping us all to channel the great flowing waters of creativity (I feel like I'm back in the desert now, having a moon-madness vision), but I do like the image of Washington Square Arch floating a few feet about its usual foundation :-).

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you, Donna, for this extraordinary getaway! You've seen to every exquisite detail!

Believe it or not, I had a tofu-related dream last night. The dream was also related to our progressive dinner (which is less surprising, of course). In the dream, we all lived here in the Northeast (simple wish-fulfillment), and we were arranging in-person meals at all our homes. Kirsten sent a picture of her house, which was situated on a sort of embankment—built up from enormous slabs of fresh tofu (sort of functioning the way one might use sandbags to shore up a slope)! The "message" behind that detail was that we have, in real life, two pounds of tofu in the refrigerator, which I need to remember to slice up and freeze today.

But I can do that later. Right now, I'm sampling Donna's ever-so-silken tofu and thinking serene thoughts about sex manuals. Well, okay, maybe "serene" isn't quite the word. ; )

Come to think of it, I never answered yesterday's question, what with all that naked dancing I was occupied with. I'd better get my act together. Just as soon as I spend a little more time in the mixed sex bath.

Spamword: metyped!

Donna said...

Hey, Craig,

The Art of Kissing sounds like a must-have for any eroto-historian's collection, especially if it was a reprint from the 1930s. I'm thinking of the "racy" tales of F. Scott Fitzgerald that featured fast women who spoon and neck and no doubt needed to have some fancy techniques to keep men's desires distracted. I wonder if it's still available?

This doesn't really count as a sex manual, but my first view of a couple having intercourse was in a pile of "women's lib" publications my older sister had lying around. There was something very static and posed about this couple, the perfect depiction of "all intercourse is rape"--or so it seemed.

But yes, I'm a member of The Joy of Sex club, too. Found it on the bookshelf at my neighbor's house when I was babysitting and the tyke was asleep. I didn't find it all that appealing because I kept thinking of my neighbors doing these weird things and that idea was gross.

I found my sister's Viva magazines much more engaging. The story pictorials, the astrologer, that weird Dr. Robert Chartham who would "analyze" people's sexual fantasies and often tell them how screwed up they were because of them. Total malpractice!

Donna said...

Erobintica,

Hey, that's perfect Japanese! Please do come back soon. Japan does get under one's skin. There may be more of it in your future :-).

Donna said...

Good morning, Kirsten. I hope your trip was smooth! My Kyoto stop certainly is a "change of mood" from moon-drumming and tale-telling by the fire, sort of like plunging into the snow after a sauna, but I'm glad it's doing good things to your head!

The miso question, well, I have a pretty good Japanese grocery store close to me and I just tend to buy Japanese brands over local ones. But that's narrow-minded of me. I like red miso from "Shinshu" or Nagano because that's the classic red. Most of the whites claim to have some tie to elegant Kyoto. I've never had a bad one.

If you're interested in a good all-around Japanese cookbook, I'd recommend Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh. Beautiful food porn pictures, educational in terms of techniques and ingredients, and easy.

Kirsten Monroe said...

My parents had the Joy of Sex. My Mom, as I've mentioned before, was really open & cool about sex. I remember asking her if people really did some of those things. It all looked rather precarious to me :) She was more than happy to explain that pretty much anything is possible.

EllaRegina, love your floating!

Donna said...

Helia, I'm jealous that the Kama Sutra was your first guide to the arts of love. So much more poetic than Joy!

And seduction--I share that button.... and in fact, that may be something to add to my definition of the distinction between erotica and porn. Erotica is seductive, mmmm.

I'm looking forward to hearing about more "manual" discoveries! Ah, I see the maids have brought another several sake flasks. May I pour?

Marina said...

Oh Donna, it's so beautiful and serene here! I wish I could stay!

I just have time now for a nibble of the roasted sesame pumpkin with peanut sauce (I'm sure your peanuts are safe!), and a sip of sake (I love the erotic cups!). But, I'll try to make it back later in the day!

Thanks so much for the exquisite, exotic, erotic presentation!

Smut Girl said...

I am a total saki vergin, so I am very excited. And I covet your wine cups. This one might fall into my purse. Oops.

Hmm. It's hard to focus on books in these surroundings and with those people doing the things they are doing in those illustrations but on my shelf I see: Violet Blue's Guide to the g-spot. Never Have the Same Sex Twice AT's engaging guide that I think is my favorite 'How to" book ever. The Guide to Sexual Positions (author uknown) and...tht is all. Hmm, and don't hold me to this but I think I just ordered the book you show for review on MDM. Not sure.

I have to admit, sheepishly, that when I was coming of age I was obsessed with my mother's copy of Joy of Sex. It had been a gift. I now know that she maybe glanced in it once or twice. To this day (I dared her to look) is a fingerprint smudge on the penis page. I visited the penis page often. And I would love to have a copy of the book for old time's sake. I even tried a pencil eraser to get the finger smudge off. Cheap print, I guess, but I left a clear mark if the CSI guys ever choose to arrest me for peeking at a penis.

I hear the man just got out of the shower, so I have to run. Am supposed to be on an internet lockdown. But I"m sure he'll leave the house or fall asleep eventually and I'll be back later. Maybe just one more taste of peanut sauce for the road...

XOXO
Sommer

Neve Black said...

Hello Kyoto!
The setting is so elegant and refined, Donna. I'm going to sit down and just observe the surroundings for awhile. The music is wonderful and I do feel as if I'm floating along. It's so nice and relaxing here. Thank you.

It might be generational, but my first recollection of a "how to" sex manual was also The Joy of Sex. The book belonged to my best friend's parents. Her parents were more hippie-like then my conservative family. She and I would flip through the pages together on more than one occassion and laugh and giggle at all the various ahem, positions. We both wondered what in the world these couples were doing and why? Looking back, I think inherently knew, but are young, Western minds weren't ready. I'm trying to remember, but I think we were both right around the age of 10.

Yes, I would love more sake. I absolutely love the wine cups!

BTW: Eastern culture as it relates to the sexual and spiritual has always fascinated me -

Craig Sorensen said...

Helia, I have become a bit of a fan of Studio Ghibli too. There is such a rich imagination to those movies. I adore Hayao Myazaki’s vivid imagination. My youngest son is a huge Ghibli fan and has a nice collection of movies. We always watch with the subtitles. It’s really the only way to watch. The spoken language of Japanese is beautiful, and I think you get much more out of a movie hearing it in the native. Same for classic movies like Roshomon, The Hidden Fortress and The Seven Samurai, which I also happen to love. Voice-over just doesn’t do the trick.

Craig Sorensen said...

Jeremy, you have invented the indispensable item for the earthquake zone. Tofu footings!

Donna, I looked out on the net, and guess what? Art of Kissing is out there in reprint form! I may have to get a copy. It's another book that was lost in that dreadful basement flood many years ago.

Craig Sorensen said...

Sommer,

Saki is a very distinct flavor. I have had occasion to try a few different varieties. It has a complex flavors, but a lot of people I know don't care for it.

I'd love to try the variety that Donna recommends, but my guess is that it won't be on the shelves at the State Liquor store here in PA!

Jeremy Edwards said...

[takes brief break from mixed sex sake soaking to contribute to substantive discussions]

Goals and grails:

I guess I'm an entertainer and an aesthete at heart, so my writing goals are largely about where and how I can create little bubbles of beauty and eros and fascination and laughter. Like all of you, I love the fact that erotica can help people break free of societal hangups around sexuality—and if my work can be a part of that, I will be very proud—but in the writing process I'm mostly focused on those little bubbles (and on endeavoring to shape them into something unified and cohesive). And I guess my big goal, such as it is, is just to do that over and over again—without going stale, lol. (No one wants stale bubbles!)

Sex guides:

Joy of for me, too. I think it was a revelation to me, when I was a young man just past virginity, that there were actually more than two vaginal-intercourse positions (i.e., one with the man on top and one with the woman on top)!

Donna said...

Forgive me if I break from my formal seated position and lounge on one of these floor cushions....

Jeremy--a TOFU dream!? That begs for analysis. Do you think Kirsten and I make a good edifice together?

Craig and Helia, I love Miyazaki, too, and visited Ghibli studios visitors' center last year. It's a bit of a zoo, but I liked the "study" with some of his storyboards, etc. My favorite is Spirited Away, and my son has seen Princess Mononoke about twenty times!

Knowing some Japanese is a nice trick, but it absolutely ruined Lost in Translation for me--because I wasn't lost, lol.

Donna said...

Marina and Sommer--I do hope you can stop back again for some more wine. As for the cup, please do take it with you as a souvenir of the evening. (We've got a whole crate of erotic wine cups in the family storehouse).

I love your Joy of Sex story, Sommer. As the youngest of three girls (and with a modest dad) I had to get buy with pictures of penises for quite some time. It was quite interesting to touch one for the first time :-).

Donna said...

Welcome, Neve! I think part of the "magic" effect of this tofu might be a lingering samba beat. I've always been intrigued by our culture's sexual tastemakers. Hef, Alex Comfort, to a lesser degree Xaviera, they've all slithered into our heads with their ideas, they're all in bed with us. Group sex of the mind!

Donna said...

Okay, thanks to Sommer's example, I'll read out a few titles on my bookshelf (there are an embarrassing number, but it's "work").

Never Have the Same Sex Twice is a wonderful new addition--it's like one of those "here's the basic recipe, now soar with it" cookbooks. I love Margot Anand's The Art of Sexual Ecstacy and my goal one day is to do enough of the exercises to experience that cool energy rain thing at the end of the book.

Another big favorite is Are We Having Fun Yet?: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Sex by Marcia and Lisa Douglass. I love how they juxtapose "scenes" from life--such as a couple watching a "sexy" movie that turns him on but leaves her cold, then they go home and have sex and she's still cold--with a questioning discussion about why women come up short. They suggest that the popular misuse of "vagina" be replaced with "cligeva" that incorporates the totality of our sexual organs. I guess it hasn't caught on, but they did enlighten me that women have as much erectile tissue as men, it's just inside. That's kind of how it feels, too.

Oh, and then there's Sensual Pleasure: A Step-by-Step Program for Complete Sexual Fulfillment with a Man (sound familiar Amorous Woman readers?), which I bought in Japan in 1984. Thanks to that book, I mastered the no-hands orgasm. Not that it's essential, but I was glad to move beyond that bug-a-boo, or whatever we should call it ;-).

My, I'm chatty. I'll go order another round of sake and rice crackers. Please, carry on with the discussion!

Neve Black said...

Hi again,
As Sommer and I ooooh and ahhhh over these fabulous wine cups and what's inside the wine cups, I was letting her know she made a good point to mention AT's, Never Have The Same Sex Twice. I'm fortunate to own a copy and the writing has a fun, almost lyrical feel to it. Hmmm...I wonder if her book might be the new generations answer to Joy of....

Just so everyone knows, I'm writing all these terrific book suggestions down too, because I'm feeling very vanilla (rarely does this happen) at my knowledge of sex manuals compared to all of you.

Donna, this is so fun. Thanks for inviting me.

Nikki Magennis said...

*Crying* my last comment got eaten too!

Connichiwa! Donna, this is all just amazing and perfect, and just what I needed on a jaded Saturday! I was wondering - could substitute butternut squash for the pumpkin?

EllaRegina - I love that! Just how I felt after reading this post.

... and the first sex guide I read was the Kama Sutra. A shabby old cloth-bound copy, stashed somewhere in my (rather worldly) grandfather's study. I barely understood a word at the time, but I remember being thrilled to have found such a famous 'dirty' book!

other than that, I've pretty much made it up as I go along ...

There is, of course, Alison Tyler's wonderful 'Never Have the Same Sex Twice'-[ah, I see you've tipped that one already!] but I think that's such a gorgeous mix of anecdote and rich imagery I don't quite see it in the same section as a sex manual with diagrams. Do they have diagrams? Actually, maybe I should explore that section more thoroughly!

I had wanted a book on shibari, and if you'd recommend Midori's, Donna, I'll put it on my wishlist!

Nikki Magennis said...

Also - how come you all got to read 'The Joy of Sex'? Huh. I've never even seen it. Aren't there men with alarming facial hair in it?

Emerald said...

Oh my goodness this is so beautiful, not that that is at all surprising (I suspect Jeremy will notice my loose use of "that" again, lol). And I notice distinctly that the quiet, focused tone and invitation correspond exactly to the orientation I feel at present/today thus far....

Rather than “filling” our stomachs, it merely erases the animal growl of hunger

Oh, my goodness, that line/description is so beautiful it almost took my breath away...

That pumkin looks just utterly delicious.

So as far as sex guides, at least one that I was presented with as a young teen was one I would not recommend, so much so that I won't even name it here. :) I seem to recall it as more a book about why to not have premarital sex than an actual guide. That said, I don't remember sex guides being a very prominent part of my experience...I have The Ethical Slut in my collection, but this is less a technical sex guide than a collection of offerings about polyamory, which I used to practice. And let's see...of course I have Never Have the Same Sex Twice by Alison Tyler now.

I seem to be using ellipses a lot in this comment...but to me it somehow seems to be complementary to the floating, flowing, quiet introspection of this beautiful gathering. :) Thank you Donna!

(P.S. A technical question -- the schedule indicates the salad course is to be served on Monday rather than tomorrow. Is this erroneous? Just checking to ensure my appropriate promptness -- I don't want anyone to be waiting hungry. :))

Donna said...

Welcome, Emerald! Yes, I believe you are on Monday (sorry if that's inconvenient, you know if Sunday works better we could make it a two-day salad?)

The Ethical Slut--I have that book, because of that wonderful title and the glimpse into an intriguing world beyond jealousy (or at least an attempt at it). I lent it to my friend and she just won't return it ;-) But I'll never forget that opening scene where one of the writers in working on the intro and her husband comes in and starts talking about the other woman he just had sex with and how good it was. Memorable!

Nikki, I'm really envious of you for losing your sex guide cherry to the Kama Sutra. Yeah, in the 1970s the guy was hairy as all cool guys were. I heard a British female sexpert has revised The Joy of Sex for contemporary times and taken out Comfort's sexism. But this book is not available in the States yet (it's on my wish list)--it should be at Amazon UK. But you'll miss the original flavor, for what that's worth.

Welcome, you two lovely writers! Some more pumpkin? I know you are both "real women" to the core!

Jeremy Edwards said...

I suspect Jeremy will notice my loose use of "that" again, lol

I love your multiple that-gasms, Emerald! It's so nifty that in each of those sentences, all the thats absolutely belong there, so it's like a legitimately earned bumper crop of that-ful bounty.

(I also love your floating ellipses and ER's floating "floating.")

Emerald said...

Monday is peachy for me -- I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't be presenting it tardily (which may have not surprised some of you ;)) if I did indeed cover it on Monday, which has been my plan.

I love the title The Ethical Slut too! In fact, that's actually why I picked it up and also why I bought it. I didn't even realize it was about polyamory then -- I just thought it was about being single and having sex with multiple partners. ;)

Ah, thank you -- more pumkin would be delightful! ;)

Marina said...

Hi everyone. Let me slip out of my robe and join you in the bath! Thank you, Donna, for the sake refill and the beautiful cup!

As I might have mentioned before (at Jeremy's place, I think!), I grew up in a very conservative household. You guys are all just so cool and had cool parents and neighbors! I don't think there was any Joy of Sex in our household when I was growing up - the book or otherwise. It's a wonder I'm even here!

Hmmm - so, I guess it was in college until I managed to read any instruction manuals. The Kama Sutra may have been one of the first. I'm looking forward to reading AT's Never Have The Same Sex Twice. Through the magic of Amazon, it's zooming to my place even as we speak.

I recently read a very interesting book called Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. It's by Esther Perel. It's about keeping sex and desire vibrant in long-term relationships. She's rather unconventional by most standards, and advocates for couples to have independence and a bit of distance and mystery. Too much togetherness and familiarity can kill the mood. She's got a very open mind about eroticism. I found it a very refreshing read.

Strange, but absolutely true: my verification word is "ties." How interesting! It must be fate!

Donna - do you mind if I borrow your copy of The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage for a bit? I do think I may retire to my room and enjoy the futons, do a little reading, etc. I seem to have found myself another charming companion for the evening - first a Taurus at Neve's, and now a stunning Samurai here! We'll be back in a bit....

Emerald said...

LOL -- "that-gasms"!!! Hahaha!! Ah, how delightful. Thank you Jeremy. :)

(Take that that that...)

Donna said...

Welcome back, Marina! There is an abundance of handsome, swaggering swordsmen around here. I'm glad you found one with whom you feel a bond ;-).

I have a dog-eared copy of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence myself. And while there were some things in it I don't relate to precisely, it was full of cultural insights and thought-provoking questions about the construction of sexuality in our society. Plus there were some helpful tips. Not of the "here are 4521 new sex positions" variety, but involving deeper issues. I'm planning to blog about it one day when the in-box lightens up.

Let's see, Nikki, I guess I would recommend Midori's guide, although the real shibari experts might have some bible to their craft that is the preferred reference. What I liked about the book was Midori's focus on the aesthetics and the responsibilities of the binder. There's also a cool "side-by-side" narrative of what's going on in the dom's head and the sub's head at key moments in the scene. So, it's a good intro for beginners. I bought it as research for Amorous Woman cause any book about Japan has to have shibari, right?

Donna said...

Jeremy, I just wanted to tell you that you are my walking champagne flute bringing Joy to us all!

And yes, Dr. Alex did show us sex could come in many forms and flavors!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Jeremy, I just wanted to tell you that you are my walking champagne flute bringing Joy to us all!

: ) Wow, Donna! What a sweet, sweet compliment. I'm blushing the color of the redder of the two cups on your 2009 arrangement up there.

Looking back on what I wrote about bubbles, I'm wincing a little now, out of concern that it sounds conceited. I was trying to describe the bubbles of beauty (etc.) as a goal, a North Star—I hope I didn't come off sounding like I think I'm Mr. Bubble himself.

Jolie said...

I love the photos!

Jolie

Donna said...

Thanks, Jolie! And Jeremy, no one would ever mistake you for Mr. Bubbles. Or Lawrence Welk, for that matter :-).

Neve Black said...

...bubbles...Jeremy...? Huh? I'm sorry I'm just gliding back into the room after Lydia so kindly introduced me to someone she knows that was an expert at massage. I couldn't resist. I've had this crimp in my neck from writing...anyway...yes, I'll take some more sake, please.

Lovely, lovely party. :-)

Erobintica said...

My shoes have been shed and I'm ready for some sake - especially sipped from erotic wine cups. What at treat after a long day of shoveling metaphors - though much preferred to ice & snow. Let me settle back here and peruse the comments - oh, but there's the mixed-sex baths - hmmm, such difficult choices - oh, but guess what, my computer is waterproof!

Sake & soaking and scrolling.

Donna said...

Scrolls are big around this joint, Erobintica. Want to give us a peek at your bookshelf!

And please have more pumpkin!

Donna said...

Oh, I just saw an ad for The New Joy of Sex revised by Dr. Susan Quilliam. She does a radio show and everything. And the line drawings have been replaced by pretty photos and it's all supposedly revised with more mind to the female sensibility.

A lot can happen in thirty five years....

Erobintica said...

The pumpkin is delicious. I will have to make that for my daughter sometime (if I can find the right pumpkin) - she never liked pumpkin until she went to Japan.

Ah, books. Hahaha. There were no sex instruction books in my house as far as I know. We had "issues."

Kirsten, you are so lucky. My older sister (much older) gave me Our Bodies, Ourselves - the old version, for my 18th birthday. I've never seen a Joy of Sex or any of those older manuals. I have a copy of Sheila Kitzinger's Woman's Experience of Sex which I found at a library book sale a couple of years ago.

Then, (this is somewhat embarrassing) I bought Nerve's The Big Bang when it came out to give to my husband for his birthday about 5 years ago. He was somewhat weirded out by it (the whole idea of "instruction" is one he has difficulty with) - and he never looked at it. I stuck it away somewhere to only be refound recently - this week to be exact! So, I'm going to regift him, hahaha. We've both come a long way!

Oh, my, the sake has so loosened my tongue!

Seriously, it's wonderful to be with people who take joy in all the wonderful richness that sex brings to life.

Donna said...

Synchronicity, is it, Erobintica?

Yes, "regift" the book. I'm sure it will be interesting!

And it's a pleasure to share this evening with you. This is a way cool group of revelers.

I'm jealous of Kirsten, too, for all kinds of reasons. Her fearless ways in the kitchen, especially. I'm sure this is connected to the sexually open-minded mother....

Erobintica said...

"Synchronicity" - oh definitely.

It's so funny - it's not the only sex-related book that had "disappeared" - I had an autographed copy of BAE 2006 and that was missing too. Turned up in the back of one of the drawers in my file cabinet - which had to be emptied to move to another corner of my bedroom so I could arrange my writing space better - so I could concentrate on writing more erotica!

Donna said...

Sychronicity up the wazoo!

My Japan story is in BAE 2006, right beside John Updike, who just died too close to the time when you found the book.

What does it all mean?

Definitely that you should get writing!

I need more sake! And who took the Midori book?

Marina said...

Hi Donna - thanks for letting me borrow Midori's book. (See that strapping young swordsman over there - OMG, does he have a way with straps! And, the private rooms are lovely, by the way.)

Anyhoo - I look forward to reading your thoughts about the Mating in Captivity book. I found it to be quite thought-provoking.

Robin - we've got to compare notes some time. I'd be shocked to find someone who grew up in a household with more "issues" than mine! I hope the re-gifting goes well for you and yours!

I abolutely love blogland and this erotica community and the chance I've had to finally do a bit of writing. I need to find time (make time!) to do more. It's been such a wonderful, freeing experience. I finally feel like I'm becoming me!

OK - I'm waxing rhapsodic - it's getting late and I've had way too much sake at this point!

Thanks again, Donna, for the lovely day! Oyasuminasai (good night) all!

EllaRegina said...

I could only manage a string of floating letters as my first response to your beautiful prose and evocative images -- both moving and still -- so awestruck was I by the puzzle pieces seamlessly fitting together to present your evening. I think I can manage a few more words now, but glad you liked my initial "on air" reaction.

So, what a transition! From the wild coyote-howling desert elements to the ordered interior of a Japanese inn (refined and quiet, but who knows what's going on in the private rooms, behind closed doors on soft futons -- with rope!), where no detail goes overlooked by our yukata-wearing hostess.

(Surely, we are amassing Frequent Flyer miles like crazy this week, what with our frenetic globetrotting).

Like Craig, I'm all for "mixed-sex," any which way, especially in such lovely surroundings.

Thank you for the dainty snacks, so perfectly arranged on the lacquered plate. Is there a reason it is not perfectly circular? An aesthetic choice or practical -- so as to align with a straight table edge, for instance?

I want one of those Chinese erotic wine cups. That's what I call civilized dining!

I like the comparison you make between the repression of sexual desires and their satisfying release to the formal constraints that paradoxically free us creatively in our work.

Thank you, too, for the intimate dance concert, and furthermore for not adding Weird Al Yankovic to the list of performers.

The visuals are all so stunning; really it's no matter that you didn't take the food pictures yourself. Had you not mentioned it I would have assumed you did. Sshhhh! And mushrooms, peanut sauce, Japanese pumpkin? How did you know?

Sex manuals. East met West under my parents' bed. Under my mother's side were The Joy of Sex (icky drawings!) and similar volumes; beneath my father's side: shunga prints! The latter did more for me than the former. Contrary to what supposedly stimulates humans of the female persuasion, I am very visual. Not that written things cannot arouse me, but, well, a picture is worth 1,000 words... I also have The Art of Kissing (some visuals from same), picked up post-college in a funky store selling retro goods. I must say that I was impressed with the timelessness of the provided information. Hard to believe it was (re)issued by The Book of the Month Club!

Then there was The Kama Sutra, The Perfumed Garden; the East once again enticing me... I agree with Helia regarding that chapter about "creating confidence in the girl." I shall retroactively make it required reading for the cads and creeps I had the misfortune to encounter in Dateville.

(Loving Jeremy's dream of Kirsten's tofu-bolstered house!)

Haha, Donna -- "manual" discoveries. Well, as you can guess, I made those on my own, very early on. Books just gilded the lily, or brought in food for thought on how to entertain more than one body -- that body being my own.

"Cligeva" sounds like a verification word!

Neve, Alison's Never have the Same Sex Twice might well be this generation's version of The Joy of Sex. I smell a blurb there!

Rather than "filling" our stomachs, it merely erases the animal growl of hunger

Yeah... I second (or third) that emotion.

Donna, thank you again for this delightful and aesthetically pleasing sensual journey.

I would salute you but my wrists are bound with rope. I have no idea how they got this way. ;-) Somehow I am managing at the keyboard, but I must go now as there is more wrapping to be done and I seem to be the package. I think they are preparing a specially ornate bow.
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Donna said...

Thank you so much, EllaRegina and Robin and everyone who stopped by (and I know some of you were too shy to comment, but we enjoyed your presence anyway).

I'm so glad we had this bonding experience ;-). You were truly wonderful guests. And with a bow I bid you o-yasumi-nasai and I'll see you over at the salad!

MB (Leah) said...

Natsukashii ne. Chotto Nihon ni samishi ni narimashita.

Kimochi ii desu ne.

Oishi riyori O moraimashita, ne..

Doumo Arigtou Donna San, gochiso sama deshita.

Donna said...

Cho-Cho-san, yoku irrashaimashita!

Dozo takusan tabete, takusan nonde kudasai.

Kono sugoku steki na kare wa donata deshoo ka? Tarento no yo ni han-somu desu ne!

Go-yukkuri dozo!

(And yes, folks, we're saying rude things about you... actually it's pretty much what we've all said in English, except the part about the hot guy ;-)

Emerald said...

Whoa, switched to a different language there at the end!!

Thank you, Donna, for this beautiful presentation. I so enjoyed it and look forward to returning the hosting favor. :)

The Epicure said...

Cool stuff indeed.
Wish we had meat in this menu, and more bondage, but very cool nonetheless ...

Kirsten Monroe said...

Hi Donna,

I'm on the road, but wanted to stop by one more time to enjoy this wonderful place of zen sex that you've created for us. I am fascinated by Asian culture -- thank you for giving us this most delicious taste!

And yes, I'm all for more bondage! The Japanese bondage is definitely something I'd like to explore further!

--KM