Michelangelo and Charlie Sheen

Going to museums is a nice activity for family visits, so I have found myself appreciating art with my sister a few times.

Once we were at an exhibition of Asian art. My sister objected to the portrayal of breasts, perfectly round and pert ones. That’s not what they look like, she said. Maybe not, I thought, but that’s what men would like them to look like. Centuries later the silicon breast implant was created to realize the dream of these artists.

Another time we were viewing a display of drawings by Michelangelo, and she raised the same objection. This time I said “I don’t think Michelangelo ever actually saw a real breasts.” He must have, she said. “I’m pretty sure he was gay” I responded.

Indeed he appears to have been. He wrote love poetry to one of his artist’s models. He seems to have been enamored of at least one other. In his old age he had a relationship with a widow with whom he exchanged love poetry, but it never went past kissing her hand.

He seems never to have acted on any of these impulses though. He lived very ascetically and devoted himself to his art. It’s not like anything was stopping him- he was living in a Roman Catholic society, but this was Italy, not Ireland or Spain, and I’m sure nobody would have cared. He was a rich, famous artist and that’s all anyone really cared about.

In modern times we have Charlie Sheen. We learned recently that he is infected with HIV. Forty years ago nobody knew what this was, but once the virus was discovered avoiding HIV infection is simple by taking certain precautions.

Charlie however was going full speed ahead. He is very handsome, very rich, very famous, and very charismatic. So if he wants to have sex, he’s got people lined up around the block. He doesn’t need to pay for it, but he has, I guess to make the process just a little bit easier. He was not screening for anything but excitement, and not “taking precautions”, or “practicing safe sex”, as they say.

It’s easy to say he was a crazed sex addict, or a man-slut, but would you do the same thing if you were in his position? I can’t say I wouldn’t. It’s pretty much every man’s dream, from the day you notice the girls in school are starting to stick out in certain places. Most guys get a rude awakening of their place in what the pick-up artists call the “sexual marketplace” which is to say the girl you want to exchange bodily fluids with isn’t going for it, at least not without a lot of work.

I don’t think Charlie Sheen ever had any rude awakening. I think got all the sexual activity he wanted from the day he wanted it. He saw every reason to say yes and no reason to say no. Sheen didn’t live in a Catholic society, but he lived in Catholic home, so it’s not like he was totally unfamiliar with the idea of sexual restraint.

So one man did, and one man didn’t. Sheen’s logic is much easier to see. Other than getting HIV- which is pretty bad, actually, even with modern drugs- he had a great time, we are supposed to think. It sounds to me though that he got to the point where it wasn’t a good time, he was just frantically addicted and needed to have three porn stars and two hookers waiting so he could be sure there was one he could get it up for.

Sex addiction on this level is hard to achieve. Addiction to other things is a lot easier and rampant in the US. It takes a while to get addicted though. The user starts out saying “I can do this, or not do this” and decides to do it.

So why did Michelangelo not do it? I think whatever made him a great artist made him want to preserve his mind and his heart for his art, and not expend them in ultimately empty sexual activity.

The current belief, understood as scientific truth by progressives, is that sex is a basic bodily function that must be exercised for physical health and mental well-being. I’m not sure where this comes from, maybe Wilhelm Reich but I don’t know for sure. In this view expecting people not to act on their sexual urges is simply cruel and heartless.

The problem with this is it is impossible for all your sexual urges to be satisfied. If you are single, you will want to find someone to have sex with. This won’t be ideal- no matter who you have- so you will look for something else. Eventually you may get married, and then you will want to have sex with someone besides your spouse. You can commit adultery or get divorced, but the problem continues.

Our society has long been bourgeois enough that a good marriage- even for gays, now!- has been thought to solve all sexual problems. The Victorian home was thought to be a solution to the licentiousness of Regency England. But there is no solution. You can, if you have the resources, go Charlie Sheen, but even that is not a solution.

Hedonism is going to blow up in your face. But we live in a society that not only gives you no reason to say no, it says you have to say yes.

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One response to “Michelangelo and Charlie Sheen

  1. Hizzle

    I think Sheen was secretly trying to self-destruct because he knew he was talentless (or mostly talentless, aside from a couple of solid performances that were coaxed out of him by Oliver Stone). Michelangelo may have had moments of doubt (as all great artists do), but I don’t think he lacked self-respect. Vonnegut said self-respect is what keeps a man from killing himself (he meant it literally, in reference to the writer Jerzy Kosinski), but I think I mean it figuratively in relation to Sheen.

    Also, the sexologists from the late 19th century onward have preached the joys (and utility) of masturbation. I’m not sure of the theological view (aside from the story of Onan), but you can’t get AIDS from it, and if you’ve got a good imagination (as Colin Wilson pointed out in “Origins of the Sexual Impulse”) masturbation can be as fulfilling as sex. It would be a safe bet to say Michelangelo probably had a better imagination than Sheen, so who knows what kind of Bacchanalian riot was going on in his brain.

    All of this is besides the point. I usually don’t care for the modern nihilism that passes for comedy, but I think Doug Stanhope is right when he says “hooking up” (as Roosh promotes it) is just a waste of energy. He doesn’t say it’s a waste of god-given energy, but that’s how I read it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYA9DaSIddo

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