Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

jess

Jedi Master
Last night I finished my first Julia Quinn book in The Smythe-Smiths Series, "Just Like Heaven".
I enjoyed the story immensely, I definitely felt another mood in general, I felt a lot of joy almost throughout the intertwined story between Honoria and Marcus and a subtle variety of emotional nuances mainly with the main characters.
The last few previous novels I read by Mary Balogh touched me in an intense way and I think that by feeling too much of the conflicts in the story I feel that I became too polarized in the emotions of the characters; i.e. I only perceived the bad or traumatic and the good, obvious or quite visible-noticeable, in the story.

In this novel, "Just Like Heaven", made me feel or imagine, I don't know how to say it, but while reading I felt like there was daylight, I could almost smell the cupcakes that Honoria and Marcus shared inside the car, in the first quarter of the story and and throughout history in calm way. I really enjoyed the conversations of the cousins or young women gathered together, somewhat superficial but very emotional in fraternity as they shared the musical rehearsals.
Something that touched me a bit, wondering how difficult it can be to "see" what is seemingly obvious, i.e. both characters felt something inside for each other, they "got it" or connected, but they couldn't see it or understand it, Honoria-Marcus, until after a climax.
It makes me reflect on the story, the characters always have the choice of deciding which way to go, whether to open their hearts and be open to the experience with courage, or to plunge into denying what their inner selves speak to them and the consequences of it.

A bit apart from the novel, but somehow related to the reading, is how our state of mind might be reflected in the way we might perceive the story; that is, I wonder because a few days ago when I woke up I had a light and comforting dream of meeting to formers classmates from my elementary school. And the first thing that came to me when I woke up was that I had to forgive myself. I had never really thought about it, I had never before been so attentive to track or observe myself with attention, and that made a lot of sense and had an impact, because I think I gave myself the chance to forgive myself and after realizing this I relaxed a lot, it was something very subtle but it made me feel that something changed inside me. It made me feel much more understanding for my husband and my biological family; and the people that I once encountered in my life, in another time, as well as a certain sense of acceptance of my surroundings, of what I am, and am not as a being, and of "my own illusion" or expectation of others and what could be closer to the truth.
I feel that it made me see this story from another state of my being that I didn't know or hadn't perceived since I started reading.

I am not sure if I am dealing with an emotional block or just a personal annoyance, but I am now cynical toward the sex scenes. I started out with slight interest then to indifference then eye rolling awareness of the repeating boiler plate scenes, and now I am painfully annoyed. When I read them, I cannot help but play it out in my head as if a sports announcer is doing a play-by-play with the inevitable crescendo ‘he scores.’ Lately, I have just jumped over the scenes because the negative reaction takes away from the loving relationship development. I just no longer see these scenes as a loving encounters. I suspect that the writers watch porn videos for research and use such crass matrix because it sells.

Am I missing something here or is this just part of the program development?
Certainly there are things that I cannot really understand, as to certain reactions or emotions, or maybe just try to intuit a bit randomly. It is curious your comment primeaddict about the "intimate scenes", personally in this novel, I was quite puzzled, it made me cry the fact that as a couple they were in bed enjoying each other, it is almost laughable, I just don't understand it, it certainly gave me joy but made me cry deeply, a mixture of joy and sadness. It made me wonder if in our memories, in our soul, we may have some past memory of someone we loved very much or with whom we could have a real inner connection and which may not be part of our new life.

thank you very much 🙏
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Just listened to the interview on MindMatters with Mary Balogh, really enjoyed it, such a wonderful and wise lady and it was interesting to see that quite a few of the questions asked made her think of things she hadn't thought about before, so that will perhaps have an effect on her we might even notice in future books?
Had wondered that, too

Here is the visual interview for anyone popping on to this thread:


Have slowed down a wee bit on the reading project (more chores outside with spring et cetera), however carrying on and thinking upon the stories and how to process them all together continues...

Here are a couple of 2 cent observations (subject to change):

Initially, could remember each book in detail, and that is still there when referenced back, however now the characters, their families, relations and friends, have grown exponentially (perhaps four or five hundred individuals - or more), and in a way, there is this merging on many levels, interacting through characters and the self - the emotional self is highlighted.

C's had said:

A: For what is "awakening"? It is the opening of the emotional center and merging with true conscience.

There is no doubt for many that the emotional center is triggered/opened by reading these stories (not many of the books offered here do not, in some way, do this on different levels), and it seems applicable in various ways for each reader here, as can be read in the many posts on this thread - people’s own emotional memories come into focus through the characters and pages. Some authors are better at evoking it, too. Personal memories can be entwined with the characters in subtle, yet sometimes profound ways, even from the perspective of past lives - war and suffering is one example of many, and many here may well have experience this strongly, even if they did not fight in a war in this lifetime. Parental childhood trauma is another, or a bad relationship or spouse. Thus, these experiences through characters can come back on emotional levels from within deep-seated memories that seep back into the conscious mind. Some people here have had some real clarity around this, remembering themselves and others in a new way.

So, of the hundreds of characters that one gets to know through this revealing while turning pages - every time an emotional response comes up in self, there can be at times a process of eventual reconciliation of sorts, an easing of one’s own past suffering or attitudes; okay, that happened in self, this is what it was and felt like, and this is why it was and what it negatively did et cetera. This is not just in self, it can be noticed within our families, friends and communities in so many visceral ways - and helps one to see things differently in others.

Reading a portion of these books, as Laura has said time and again, they really do seem to – well if reaching for a way to put it, there is some type of merging that is possibly taking place. Perhaps this is akin to collecting different parts of oneself that had been forgotten (ignored or hidden) along the way in life, while adding new eyes to see oneself and turn a new page.

Again, of these hundreds and hundreds of characters, the whole gambit of personalities, conditions and emotional upheavals - warts and all, there seems to be some type of merging the more one reads, and to point it out exactly has not been realized - so more reading needs to be done.

Chu said here:
I was talking to some people about the novels the other day, and it occurred to me that one of the reasons why doing the Work is difficult, and sorting out our emotions and past experiences more so, could be because, like many things in nature, the latter are "fractal-like". And that's why reading so many of these books is good, because each one can show is a small part of the fractal emotional landscape and our lessons.

That is an interesting way of looking at it, fractal-like.

Coming back to the second part of what the C's said above in quote, this merging with true conscience. Will leave this here with a couple of quotes related to Gurdjieff as discussed by John G. Bennett (1971):

When Beelzebub’s grandson Hassein asks him what is right and wrong for people, Beelzebub says, “Right is that from doing which one’s conscience is at peace and wrong is that from doing which one’s conscience makes one suffer.” But that has an awkwardness about it because it can come simply from the suggestion that something is wrong. The way morality works is to condition us to be afraid of certain kinds of behavior, and to suffer if we fall into them. We suffer because we’re conditioned to think of them as wrong. This is a false conscience, because it is imposed on us from outside, by people who may not have any objective awareness. That kind of so-called conscience is fixed; it has no freedom to discover the particular requirement of a particular situation. True Conscience is the other way round.

John G. Bennett:

Conscience is like a guest, a noble guest who comes to your house and you don’t recognize him. You make him very uncomfortable, because he is a very sensitive guest, and because you don’t recognize him you behave in front of him in a way that’s very painful to him. Then a moment comes when you begin to see that this guest is yourself, and you begin to feel this discomfort, and you feel ashamed because you’ve not treated this guest properly.
[...]
First of all, it is right to connect Conscience with clarity. When we put Conscience aside we do not see clearly, and this makes it possible for us to live in a way that otherwise we couldn’t bear to. There is a part of us that doesn’t want to be seen, that can only let itself go when there’s no one looking. This is really the negative part of us, the part of us that wants to be separate, that doesn’t want to accept other people because anyone or anything that sees it is somehow a hindrance to it.

There are things we do—all of us, everyone—that we wouldn’t want anyone to see us doing, but Conscience is more penetrating because it sees not only our outward actions, but it also sees our inward thoughts and our states. This part of us that doesn’t want to be seen by others, of course doesn’t want to be seen by Conscience.
 

jhonny

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I am not sure if I am dealing with an emotional block or just a personal annoyance, but I am now cynical toward the sex scenes. I started out with slight interest then to indifference then eye rolling awareness of the repeating boiler plate scenes, and now I am painfully annoyed. When I read them, I cannot help but play it out in my head as if a sports announcer is doing a play-by-play with the inevitable crescendo ‘he scores.’ Lately, I have just jumped over the scenes because the negative reaction takes away from the loving relationship development. I just no longer see these scenes as a loving encounters.
The sex scenes have been discussed earlier in this thread, maybe if you read them again, you could draw your own conclusions and incidentally get an idea of why they are affecting you so much. Actually, I think, this could be considered as part of the project, after all, the idea is to get to know ourselves through introspection, and how we see ourselves reflected in the different personalities of the characters, and the situations we encounter in each book.
 

Jones

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Just finished the Bedwyn prequel and had a bad dream about sex and violence after the first possibly stirred up by Lily's experiences. Her expriences weren't very explicitly described so much was left to imagination and I guess my dream was fiĺling in the blanks. I really liked and enjoyed Lily's wild streak and her ability to find beauty in the starkest of circumstances. The second book was a good antidote to the bad dream where Kit was very gentle with Lauren and it was a relief to see her relax some of her rigidities about what were considered improprieties.

A thought of Lauren:
"It would be terribly improper to go down and join him. Even if they were truly betrothed it would be improper before they were wed. But she was growing mortally tired of propiety, of her prim devotion to a way of life that put all the emphasis upon what was correct rather than upon what one's heart knew ought to be done. Perhaps the heart was a poor and unreliable guide for behaviour, but so surely was cold, blind propriety."

The idea was given that in relaxing rigidities that Lauren moved from being a lady to being a woman. It's painful to read about how so many peeps of basic good character were boxing themselves in and limiting full expression of themselves to prevent rejection from polite society. I think I'd go nuts if life consisted of managing a household, doing embroidery and attending balls so it was enjoyable to see Lauren seek adventure and have Kit challenge her with that. Turns out that she really was as passionate as Lily, but she'd suppressed herself to the degree that she appeared as an ice queen.

It's almost as though Lily is who Lauren might have been had Lauren not felt both abandoned and an internal pressure to be better than good probably to avoid being abandoned again. Their backgrounds are similar with broken families and missing parents though Lily felt secure with her papa not knowing that he wasn't her real father - even though they were living in the middle of war. Lauren was physically safer in a peaceful country, but was aware that she was not living with her real parents.

One of the things that I've come to realise throughout the project is that I thought that I didn't have very good boundaries. That's true to an extent but there's more to it. I've had boundaries but I haven't been very good at verbalising them or defending them even though I realise now that I've felt them. Not sure if that makes sense. In any case that's a realisation that has been helped by character development throughout a series where first introduction might be a limited perspective and intentions and motivations are revealed as the series progresses and each moves into the foreground of attention giving the characters more depth and colour.

The upside to the strict proprieties of the time I suppose is that boundaries of sorts were explicit and supported as part of social culture, on the surface of things at least, so learning boundaries was a part of socialisation.
 

dennis

Jedi
Beelzebub says, “Right is that from doing which one’s conscience is at peace and wrong is that from doing which one’s conscience makes one suffer.”

Running the fiery gauntlet is painful. There are the things we do that invoke conscience, and there is the realization of the things we could have done but failed to do that also invoke it. The latter is just as painful, if not more.
 

Adaryn

The Living Force
I am not sure if I am dealing with an emotional block or just a personal annoyance, but I am now cynical toward the sex scenes. I started out with slight interest then to indifference then eye rolling awareness of the repeating boiler plate scenes, and now I am painfully annoyed. When I read them, I cannot help but play it out in my head as if a sports announcer is doing a play-by-play with the inevitable crescendo ‘he scores.’ Lately, I have just jumped over the scenes because the negative reaction takes away from the loving relationship development. I just no longer see these scenes as a loving encounters. I suspect that the writers watch porn videos for research and use such crass matrix because it sells.

Am I missing something here or is this just part of the program development?

There might be something about those scenes that makes you uncomfortable, and maybe you use cynicism ("eye rolling", "boiler plate scenes", "painfully annoyed") to distance yourself from and avoid truly looking at whatever makes you feel this discomfort? It's happened to me quite a few times when reading the novels. When I start feeling angry or cynical or "annoyed", it's generally a sign that a sore spot has been hit.

I suspect that the writers watch porn videos for research and use such crass matrix because it sells.

"Porn", "crass", "he scores", and (in some of your other posts) "testosterone 'demon' "… you use quite a few loaded, demeaning terms to describe physical intimacy between 2 persons who have a special, emotional connection, as we see in those novels. Can't you really tell the difference between those scenes and porn? And why would the writers need to "research" about it, like it was some abstract concept or something that's not rooted in real life experience (or at least, in some ideal about how it should happen)? Is there some disconnect in your mind between sex and love? Is there something 'shameful' about the former? Can't the former ever be an expression of the latter? Just some very simple questions that come to mind that you might want to (re)explore. As jhonny said, maybe you need to re-read what's already been said by Laura and others about those scenes, and what purpose they serve (in the context of this reading project).
 

lilies

The Living Force
Is there some disconnect in your mind between sex and love?
I think, this is an epidemic affecting the population of ignorant youth in our current society. Marrying for material and carnal benefits. No idea what love really is. Because if we marry - loveless - but this is denied of course, then - (a) We don't have to live in our parents house anymore.. (b) In our own house we can have sex=fun(!) anytime we want..
Statistical results for my country show of such marriages ending in divorce in a couple years. I marked mine with a red circle.
Divorce_statistics.png

My [to be] wife discussed this with me openly: When we began talking (before dating), she felt mesmerized by - another photogenic rake, who was like the - described negative characters - the rich dukes in these novels keeping several mistresses at once. That gallivant guy was only interested in good looking skillful women. He eventually replaced my [then not yet] wife with a much more skillful and attractive mistress. My [] wife was heart-broken. After that she was coerced - by her parents - into any kind of (marriage) or just a fruitful relationship with any male, because her parents wanted only one thing: a child. As a typical ignorant youth, I had no idea what love was.

Lack of love is a key theme in the books, frequently solved by protagonists overcoming their emotional-intellectual blockages.

Just like the women in these romance novels, several times my wife tried to make me profess that I really loved her, but I couldn't. Any of my meek answers - "Of course I love you.." - were so thin, we both knew they weren't true. Any such attempt by her and my failure to declare love just inflated the ballooning impossible-situation of our 'marriage of convenience'.

A common theme in - Hoyt, Campbell: the husband is unable to declare his love. At first. Since those couples are polarly compatible, they can change and become the exemplar of an ideal, loving marriage. I feel they have infinite teaching potential, until I arrive to their changed state.

For example I'm mesmerized by Campbell's love declarations, because I'm unable to declare love: first of all there is no one. Secondly I'm very far from knowing what [true] love is. It didn't help that since my short marriage lasting 3 years (1998), I have been living as a hermit for 22 years now.
Being alone however did not prevent me from going through the emotional-center changes and being effected by these truly remarkable romance novels.

I had to concede defeat so many times by now, that I'm convinced this reading project is my only chance.
Every awesome post here I can confirm I feel the same. Any detected awful feeling toward a book - Promise of Spring, Balogh - is like a task received from Gurdjieff:
- The intensity of unpleasantness felt shows my lack of understanding and emotional deformity.

Change comes through admitting my ignorance and working through my issues with help of the many character examples given in these romance novels. The many similar trials our favorite protagonists have gone through have created a large mosaic by now, which I think is a blueprint exemplar for a world-governing Universal Code of Chivalry. The Futuhat.

Reading through more and more books acquaints us with the myriad pieces of this code: its continuously repeated lessons are gradually changing me on a fundamental level. I think this project is The Help, the C's were talking about. This Help needs to be transduced via reading, understood and worked through via painful realizations, so we can utilize and spread its essence to the outside world. Through our words and actions.

Reading the news, how many US states rejected the Covid-dictatorship, then recently Bill & Melinda divorcing, and what Gurdjieff said about the power of consciousness of the 200. I think this Reality Shaping is already having an effect.
 

Mrs. Peel

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I am not sure if I am dealing with an emotional block or just a personal annoyance, but I am now cynical toward the sex scenes. I started out with slight interest then to indifference then eye rolling awareness of the repeating boiler plate scenes, and now I am painfully annoyed. When I read them, I cannot help but play it out in my head as if a sports announcer is doing a play-by-play with the inevitable crescendo ‘he scores.’ Lately, I have just jumped over the scenes because the negative reaction takes away from the loving relationship development. I just no longer see these scenes as a loving encounters. I suspect that the writers watch porn videos for research and use such crass matrix because it sells.
At the risk of giving TMI, the only "personal annoyance" I got from the sex scenes was that I never, ever, felt anything like the "wow" factor that all the couples experience with each other. Man, have I been missing out! :lol:

Maybe that's what bugging you? That the scenes surely had to be created from porn situations cause that kind of experience doesn't happen in real life? (It does though.) Could it just be that we all wish we could have such a strong emotional and physical bond with another if we don't? Sometimes, like little children who don't always get what they want, we tend to put it down with a show of contempt.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
At the risk of giving TMI, the only "personal annoyance" I got from the sex scenes was that I never, ever, felt anything like the "wow" factor that all the couples experience with each other. Man, have I been missing out! :lol:

Maybe that's what bugging you? That the scenes surely had to be created from porn situations cause that kind of experience doesn't happen in real life? (It does though.) Could it just be that we all wish we could have such a strong emotional and physical bond with another if we don't? Sometimes, like little children who don't always get what they want, we tend to put it down with a show of contempt.
So far what I've read are mostly erotic scenes more than porn. And I think it's very difficult to write an erotic situation because there is more than just the bodies, the physical, but all the mental, the emotions especially, and all of it done with delicacy (Mary Balogh). But surely there are books of the long series of authors who have more "wild" scenes. And of course also when we read these scenes our emotional self participates on many levels. Are we sexually shy? Do we have a stratified idea of sex? How do we live our sexuality? So many questions and emotions, from guilt to embarrassment, from our upbringing to our own upbring afterwards, as adults, when we have had exchanges with our spouses or lovers. Every encounter on a bed (or elsewhere, on a caleche for example) is a story, and also an encounter with ourselves.

But for me, erotic scenes, if they are delicate and kind, if there is pleasure between the two characters, if there is play and humor, are an addition to understand the inner dynamics of the two characters and to feel closer to them, because they allow me, and this is perhaps one of the objectives of these scenes, to get closer to them, in their deepest intimacy.
 

Jo Bugman

Padawan Learner
I finished reading A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh, such a great character builder! Lauren also got me remembering about my feelings when I was first intimate with a partner.
I had forgotten the guilt I originally felt from the experience, thinking like it wasn't right to feel that much pleasure. My baptist upbringing I think, but also a mix of my own presumptions that life is just about suffering, and when I'm not suffering, I'm just coping or masking up my struggles. Like I should be avoiding it altogether and subjecting myself to penance to save my broken soul. It took me a few weeks, but I had a wonderful loving woman that lead me through it and showed me the real joy of being physically intimate, of sharing your body with another real living human being, all the doors it can open in learning more about them and myself.
She also helped me realize that there is nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure or enjoying life, as long as it's not my only goal. At first I was only doing it because she asked me to and I wanted to please her, but I never let myself be pleased. But in that very mindset, I was never letting her please me which came as a shock at how selfish I was behaving. It reminded me of a MindMatters discussion on the fourth way, that we not only have to help others, we also have to let ourselves be helped, which was something I rarely did.
In the end, learning not to be put off by sex turned into a great life lesson for me. I've only skimmed passed one sex scene that lasted a good 3 chapters I believe (The Highlander's Lost Lady), but so far in these Bedwyn Prequels I can find I understand connection between the characters the author is trying to show, just the pure beauty in the act of love that really can be a healing experience.

---------------------
A little off topic but I'm back to reading the Lairds Most Likely series so I thought I'd watch Rick Steve's Europe on Scotland's Highlands to visualize things better. Thought I'd drop it off here if there's anyone else that ignorant of Scottish lifestyle like me. :thup:
 

lainey

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
FYI, when I first looked for a copy of Mary Balogh's Tangled it was around £40-£50, now there are a few copies on Ebay for around £9 (shipped from US) and some on Amazon (UK) for £18. In case someone is waiting to pick up a copy.
 

primeaddict

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Certainly there are things that I cannot really understand, as to certain reactions or emotions, or maybe just try to intuit a bit randomly. It is curious your comment @primeaddict about the "intimate scenes", personally in this novel, I was quite puzzled, it made me cry the fact that as a couple they were in bed enjoying each other, it is almost laughable, I just don't understand it, it certainly gave me joy but made me cry deeply, a mixture of joy and sadness. It made me wonder if in our memories, in our soul, we may have some past memory of someone we loved very much or with whom we could have a real inner connection and which may not be part of our new life.

My comments were about my internal reaction to the sex scenes. It is something that I suddenly notice what I was doing so I posted my awareness of this change in the way I was perceiving the scenes. I am not criticizing the author's way of the development of the characters' developing intimacy. I am glad you caught this and I hope I have clarified myself.

The sex scenes have been discussed earlier in this thread, maybe if you read them again, you could draw your own conclusions and incidentally get an idea of why they are affecting you so much. Actually, I think, this could be considered as part of the project, after all, the idea is to get to know ourselves through introspection, and how we see ourselves reflected in the different personalities of the characters, and the situations we encounter in each book.

I am wondering why I have changed the way I am affected by the sex scenes. There is something deep that I did not initially feel but now it has surfaced and have not quite uncovered the reason for it. Again I am not criticizing the authors I am only trying to see my hidden self. This is the reason I posted my perceptions, just seeing what everyone also see might help.
There might be something about those scenes that makes you uncomfortable, and maybe you use cynicism ("eye rolling", "boiler plate scenes", "painfully annoyed") to distance yourself from and avoid truly looking at whatever makes you feel this discomfort? It's happened to me quite a few times when reading the novels. When I start feeling angry or cynical or "annoyed", it's generally a sign that a sore spot has been hit.

I do not sense that it is a sore spot but it is something that I need to dig deep to see and understand. I think it is more of a disbelief in spiritual intimacy through sex. My experience is that spiritual intimacy occurs through work and enduring hardships together. Sex is just the sugar that makes the bitter medicine go down.

"Porn", "crass", "he scores", and (in some of your other posts) "testosterone 'demon' "… you use quite a few loaded, demeaning terms to describe physical intimacy between 2 persons who have a special, emotional connection, as we see in those novels. Can't you really tell the difference between those scenes and porn? And why would the writers need to "research" about it, like it was some abstract concept or something that's not rooted in real life experience (or at least, in some ideal about how it should happen)? Is there some disconnect in your mind between sex and love? Is there something 'shameful' about the former? Can't the former ever be an expression of the latter? Just some very simple questions that come to mind that you might want to (re)explore. As jhonny said, maybe you need to re-read what's already been said by Laura and others about those scenes, and what purpose they serve (in the context of this reading project).

Again for not clarifying in my original post that I was not criticizing the sex scenes but just posting on my sudden awareness of how I had changed the way I perceive them.

Sex and love??? I fact there is no direct connection. It requires consciousness effort of the participants for love to be apart of sex. Love can exist just fine without sex and sex does not change love. Love is an entirely different aspect of being and is related to ones internal light. Love grows between individuals when they share that light and enhance the light that is between them. Were sex is not connected to that light. If that were so I would expect C's would have helped us with a manual on how to enhance our spirituality through sex.

At the risk of giving TMI, the only "personal annoyance" I got from the sex scenes was that I never, ever, felt anything like the "wow" factor that all the couples experience with each other. Man, have I been missing out! :lol:

Maybe that's what bugging you? That the scenes surely had to be created from porn situations cause that kind of experience doesn't happen in real life? (It does though.) Could it just be that we all wish we could have such a strong emotional and physical bond with another if we don't? Sometimes, like little children who don't always get what they want, we tend to put it down with a show of contempt.

This I suspect this is a true statement and the stories are the idealized version that we all expect but never experience.

So far what I've read are mostly erotic scenes more than porn. And I think it's very difficult to write an erotic situation because there is more than just the bodies, the physical, but all the mental, the emotions especially, and all of it done with delicacy (Mary Balogh). But surely there are books of the long series of authors who have more "wild" scenes. And of course also when we read these scenes our emotional self participates on many levels. Are we sexually shy? Do we have a stratified idea of sex? How do we live our sexuality? So many questions and emotions, from guilt to embarrassment, from our upbringing to our own upbring afterwards, as adults, when we have had exchanges with our spouses or lovers. Every encounter on a bed (or elsewhere, on a caleche for example) is a story, and also an encounter with ourselves.

But for me, erotic scenes, if they are delicate and kind, if there is pleasure between the two characters, if there is play and humor, are an addition to understand the inner dynamics of the two characters and to feel closer to them, because they allow me, and this is perhaps one of the objectives of these scenes, to get closer to them, in their deepest intimacy.

It bears repeating that I am sorry for the confusion of my original post. It was about the change in my perception not a criticism about the sex sciences.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
My experience is that spiritual intimacy occurs through work and enduring hardships together. Sex is just the sugar that makes the bitter medicine go down.
I have the opposite philosophy. An intimate relationship in the beginning should be very easy and free of hardships. That's why there's a honeymoon phase. Issues in the beginning of an intimate relationship are warning signs that the relationship is not right, and the relationship should be ended early.

Love can exist just fine without sex
This seems crazy to me. Something would have to be very askew in my marriage for there to be no sex. It's difficult for me to imagine a loving husband and wife not to have sex, as long as their bodies are functioning well enough.

This I suspect this is a true statement and the stories are the idealized version that we all expect but never experience.
On the contrary. My wife says, "They are missing out!"
 

Menna

The Living Force
I started reading “7 Nights in a rogues Bed” it seems these books are a workout for our imagination and emotional center. I guess the C’s suggest this because this is what is needed moving forward to get these aspects of ourselves in shape. Tough to keep with it as I’m not much of a fiction reader but I must eat my vegetables
 

hiker

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Finished "The Devil's Web" and man, it was a "torturous" read. It was tough to follow the trials and tribulations and "will they won't they" of James and Madeline up until the last pages, as it felt that their story "twisted the knife in the wound" in an excessive way (you can't deny the quality Balogh's writing though).

Perhaps one thing that made it somewhat more "purgatorial" read for me personally, is the way James thought and behaved. I recognized a bit of myself in his demeanour, for I too used to be dismissive, bitter and resentful. I suspect it was partly due to me being such an insecure and shy adolescent and young man, that sometimes I thought as James did in the book. For example, when observing the other lively youth having fun and enjoying themselves, I sneered that "there they go, having so much fun, the airheads". Looking back, I am ashamed of myself.

I think the atmosphere at my childhood home was such that it influenced me: my father was quite a bitter and resentful man at times, and I adopted his way of behaving. His father had a very difficult childhood, fought in the second world war for 4 years, and the horrors he experienced there understandably impacted him in a major way. All this had an influence on his child rearing methods, when he started a family with my grandma after the war. It seems to be a generational thing, but in the end "the buck stops with me": I can recognize these thought patterns and have a possibility and responsibility to change my ways.

I am thankful that I have been able to grow out of and shake off that attitude with time, especially in the recent years. Sometimes there can be flashes of unnecessary bitterness, but I recognize it now and can nip it in the bud better.

As others have written, Balogh mentioned in the recent episode of MindMatters, how she would not write Devil's Web nowadays, as it was "too harsh". If memory serves, she detailed how she read a book, which she could not finish due to it being very harsh, and that made her realize that she shouldn't write such a book again, which "stabs" the reader and twists the knife in a similar manner.

I was pretty exhausted after the read and was actually apprehensive to start the last book of the series, thinking "will it continue the same way"? The last book seemed to include two novels, "The Temporary Wife" and "A Promise of Spring", the latter being the conclusion to the Web series, the former unrelated to it.

The Temporary Wife, which started the book, was like a freshening summer rain after the Devil's Web: very easy to read and simply delightful! Maybe it was deliberately put first, to act as a "breather"? It was written in 1997, whereas a Promise of Spring and the two previous Web -novels were written in 1990. It appears to me, that there was a change in Balogh's writing style between 1990 and 1997.

She wrote somewhere (can't remember if it was in a preface of one of her books or elsewhere), how (paraphrasing) re-reading her earlier books, she was surprised how her writing style has changed over the years. She speculated how some of the readers might prefer the newer novels, while others her older writings.
 
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